Anger – Plain and Simple

I am starting to write a book called Craving Closeness: A Creative Work-It-Out Eco-Psycho-Spiritual Journal for Your Mental Health. I realize that’s a mouth full, so let’s just call that the working title. The first thing I am called to address is anger. So here goes.

Anger – Plain and Simple

The best strategy with anger is to accept that you are indeed angry. If you resist, which you can do, it will come back to haunt you, plain and simple. Feelings buried alive never die. “So how in tarnation do I accept my anger?” You ask. The first task it simply to just sit with it. Feel all the effects it has on your body, your physiology, your biological functions – your heart rate, your blood pressure, your muscle tension, your digestion. Get really close to these sensations in your body that are ever changing. Get down to the atomic and molecular levels where the anger is causing the neurotransmitters in your brain to work or stop working in a variety of ways. It affects your hormones. Imagine, if you will, the stress hormone, cortisol, squirting out into your system wreaking havoc on your physiology. Or adrenaline pumping out getting you ready for flight or fight. Again get back to feeling the effects. Get quiet and tune in to your heart, your breathing. What muscles are firing right now?

This is up to you to do. No Fitbit or Google Watch can do this for you. You are the only fullsizeoutput_715one who can feel your feelings, except in the case of resonance, by which your feelings have a frequency and a vibration, which can be felt by other sentient beings whether they are conscious of it or not, and whether they are even in close proximity or not. But I’ll save that subject for another time.

This is powerful stuff! You are having an atomic reaction after all.

You should be feeling pretty uncomfortable at this point. That’s good. Now get into the uncomfortableness. Where do you feel that? How do you experience that? This is where the cravings come in. They start protesting. “Why do we have to feel this? This is too much for me to take. I need relief.” Then the Victim chimes in. “I don’t deserve to feel badly. What did I ever do to deserve this?”

Before we entertain them, locate a piece of paper you can write and draw on, and start writing. Keeping it plain and simple, just start with “I am so angry.” Again. “I am so angry.” Then just “Angry.” And again write out the word “angry” over and over again until you can’t write it any more. Now perhaps repeat the same process with the word “uncomfortable” until you have had enough of that.

Now locate some paints, markers, crayons or pastels. And continue by adding color however you feel drawn to express yourself at this point.

And then rest. Good job! That’s all for now.

 

Shining Light on Victimhood

I awoke last night with this nagging sense that it was going to be a while until I fell back to sleep. I was activated, for sure, but I couldn’t pinpoint exactly why. My mind tried to analyze what being activated was about. What’s the opposite of that – numbness. Okay that’s one axis – activated on one side and numb on the other. To flesh it out, however, I wanted to create another axis.

Numb ————————————————-Activated

After much restlessness, I remembered a recent retreat when we were asked to place ourselves on a numb-activated continuum to get an idea of where we were in terms of nervous system arousal. With trauma, you tend to bounce back and forth between getting overly excited and triggered, and then burning out your adrenal glands and crashing and burning into a puddle of tears. (Or is that just me?)

After walking in nature in sacred silence, one of the participants shared that he was activated, but in a conscious way. In other words, he was feeling a vibrant sense of awareness and aliveness. That’s interesting – We can be activated and grounded in a way the leaves the circuits open. What’s the difference? Consciousness.fullsizeoutput_5d0

You are unconscious and activated when you are angry, perhaps fighting with your spouse for instance, which is how I was feeling laying in bed next to a used therapeutic wedge pillow my dear husband had bought at a garage sale from a man who had used it for his recent recovery from heart surgery. It even had stains on it and everything! I was beginning to realize how vehemently opposed I was to this intruder, i.e., I was becoming conscious.

At long last, I gathered some ability to get into witness consciousness about the situation. I could see and be with that part of me that was suffering, a victim of circumstance. I sent unconditional love and support to the victim, bringing it into the light. That did the trick. A little compassion for my poor pitiful self went a long way toward unhooking me from the deep freeze.

So there you have it. I think we are so aware of not wanting to be a victim that we create more shadow space for it to comfortably hang out in.

I grabbed the offending pillow and walked it outside to air out. In the morning, I told my husband I couldn’t sleep. He asked why, and I told him the story of how sorry I felt for myself for having a husband who buys filthy wedge pillows from garage sales.

He laughed.

 

 

Karma vs. Causality

We are entering the dimension where we have control – the inside.                                              ~Byron Katie

When bad things happen to you, how you explain it to yourself and make sense of it can make all the difference in the world. Many people use the concept of Karma. Karma is the idea that what goes around comes around, and it is satisfying to use when you are singing the ‘someone done me wrong’ song. But it feels a little like blame when you apply it to yourself. Another way to explain things is that it’s God’s Will. There’s not much that is more irritating than hearing that when tragedy strikes.

In my book, Chasing Serenity, (buy here) Jasmine, Maya’s unseen guide, explains the Law of Causality to her one day when Maya is in a pit of despair.

“This is the Law of Causality. You will inevitably attract the opposite reality of what you IMG_0079_2desire until you come fully into resonance with it and learn the lesson. You are always given ample opportunity to heal the aching illusion of lack and to heal the separation wherever it manifests in your life or body. Life circumstances cause us to wake up if we dare. Do you dare to be aware?”

Then Maya says, “So that is always the point – when life happens, and we feel unloved or unlovable or have fallen into a pit of despair, it is urging us to look past the mundane, childhood programming, and ego-mind chastising.”

Jasmine continues, “Yes, but of course, my darling. You are basically love and light, plain and simple. That’s all you need to know ever.”

Harsh realities are not designed to induce guilt, shame, blame, hopelessness and self-reproach in us humans. They are realities plain and simple. They are not intended to cause us to brace ourselves against life and hold on tighter to the past.

No matter how bad the outside circumstances look, the key is to make the switch and img_2814begin to notice how you feel inside. Just notice. Maybe your boyfriend did cheat on you, maybe your boss is never going to give you that raise, or maybe a family member is always going to treat you abusively. It is still not about what’s happening outside of you. You probably don’t have much control over that anyway. It’s what’s happening inside you that counts.

People struggle with the Serenity Prayer notion of accepting the things they cannot change. Acceptance starts with accepting yourself for how you are feeling first – whatever that might be. No need for spiritual by-pass. Get real with yourself and what’s inside right now. Let what is be as it is right now. From there, it is just a short hop, skip and a jump to start to question how much longer can you stay angry, depressed, jealous, resentful, feeling disrespected and rejected? That is the question.

As Byron Katie is fond of saying:                                                                                                     We are entering the dimension where we have control – the inside.

Yoga Teacher Goes Crazy

I started teaching a yoga class called Yoga Nidra. Yoga Nidra is a deeply relaxing guided meditation. It’s similar to Corpse Pose or Shavasana that you may be familiar with at the end of many yoga classes. Yoga Nidra means “yogic sleep” and takes you to the place between waking and sleep where you can experience such profound stillness and silence that you can awaken to your essential nature as pure awareness.

I consider it a privilege to have the honor to be a guide for people in this way. The only problem is that I find myself having reactions to people’s reactions. People love to IMG_1004give you feedback which is their prerogative, but what they might not realize is that just because they like it a certain way that doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone is going to like it that way. One person likes this; the other likes that. I was starting to go crazy managing all the needs and responses of my students when I decided I needed to take my own advice and use my reactions to dive deeper into my own defensiveness and resistance.

Yoga by its very nature is a contradiction in terms. On the one hand, you are there to reach that blissful state of union with the All, and, on the other, there are forces conspiring against your ability to get there. It could be an external distraction like traffic noise that just gets stuck in your craw. Or (more likely) it could be an internal disturbance like “I can’t do this yoga pose perfectly, so the teacher shouldn’t ask me to do it. I’m going to talk with her after class about the scientific research that shows IMG_0688that pose is bad for your body.” It is these internal conflicts that disguise themselves so well that we don’t recognize that they coming from our own conflicts between our ego minds and reality.

Yoga teachers, myself included, make sure to provide the precaution to “Listen to your body,” and give you adaptive poses for the more difficult ones. But still our comparing minds persist and insist.

So why was I getting so upset by the feedback?

Then I remembered a phrase that my yoga teacher, Yogi Amrit Desai, often uses. “Let go of the need to do it perfectly.” Ah ha! I was putting pressure on myself to do it perfectly not only so that everyone had a great experience, but also so I wouldn’t get in trouble for not doing it perfectly. This deep belief goes back to childhood when we would get punished or lose love and attention if we spilled our milk or pooped our pants. Many of us learned that it is essential to try to control our impulses to avoid the shame and embarrassment, and, when that failed, try to control the environment. A lot of us also learned that adults often blame outside circumstances for their mistakes, and we adopted that approach by default.

So where do I go from here? What if I could let go of the shame and blame just long enough to be with the impossible imperfection of the All?

I Get Mad When I’m Sad

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Somewhere between hurt and happy is healing.       ~A. O. Sullivan

One thing you learn growing up in an alcoholic home is how to cover up grief with anger. It’s a very handy trick. Grief makes you feel vulnerable, and it’s not okay to feel vulnerable. Anger serves as a good cover up. Blame works well too.

The grief can be ancient, from past generations even. No one may be able to connect the dots anymore. All that’s left is the anger. I could feel the depth of sadness and loss in my parents, but that’s the other thing you learn – don’t talk about it. I see it all the time in couples who fight. Fighting is often just a reaction to the threat or fear of loss of love.

The other night, I found myself in a sleepless state with a whole laundry list of complaints going through my head. Nothing was right!

It reminded me of a Thanksgiving a few years back when one young member of the family, whose parents were going through a divorce, declared, “I’m not thankful for anything!” when it was her turn to share around the dining table. We all got a chuckle out of it, but in retrospect I think it was a grief reaction.

When I finally gained some perspective amidst the tossing and turning, I remembered that there had been a recent death in the family. It took awhile, but soon I was able to just watch as the little kid in me had a tantrum about it.

This poem came out of that experience.

I Get Mad When I’m Sad

We have fleas. I hurt my knees. I’m neurotic as hell. My nose runs, and my feet smell. I gained weight on my diet. I’m sure you’re dying to try it.

I tell everyone what to do. What’s wrong with you? I’m really good at correcting and pointing out mistakes. What were you thinking, for goodness sakes?

With an air of superiority, I cover up my own, push them into the “under the rug” zone. I’m getting lazier as we speak. I’d do more but my energy level’s bleak.

I’m jealous and angry half the time. Penis envy.…Why don’t I have mine?

My husband said, “You need some humor, honey.” I hit my funny bone, and that wasn’t so funny.

Life is a beach I can’t seem to reach. Something is missing….

Oh, yeah. Someone is missing. We’ve had a death in the family.

But I don’t have time for grieving.

There’s a death in the family. I’m having a hard time believing.

I get mad when I’m sad.