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.

 

Inner Visioning

I am preparing for a retreat that I am part of called “Invisioning & Renewal Retreat: A Day to Gather Strength and Wisdom in the Alchemy of Art and Nature.” I thought I would develop a mnemonic device for people to practice and reference as they are experiencing the day in nature and making art called AEIOU. Here goes…

What does Invisioning really mean?

A – Allowing. Allowing is that quality of non-grasping and at the same time not fullsizerender51resisting. We allow whatever is to be as is without having to control, manage or change it.

E- Easefulness. Easefulness is when you let go of all your agendas in the mind and tensions in the body. You go with the flow. There is no need to swim up-stream. Trust is the key word here.

I – Innocence. Innocence is what Suzuki Roshi called “beginner’s mind.” It is when you are looking through your child eyes. Everything means something. You see the world in a blade of grass. Your imagination is active and creative juices are flowing.

O – Openness. Openness is that expansive state we create when we connect to Source or The Field. We make space for our true selves and our deep feelings.

U – It’s all about you and your experience. Keep asking and observing – What is happening in me? There is no out there out there. GURU – Gee, you are you.

I hope you will consider coming to this special event. I would love to BE with you for this day of invisioning and renewal Sat. Feb. 3 at Elkus Ranch just south of Half Moon Bay, CA.

register here –> https://themusicwithinus.com/events/invisioning2018 

An Experiment with Being Present

Of course I want to be more conscious and more present. Who doesn’t? Being able to sustain longer periods of presence is an on-going goal of mine. Yet I spend most of my time lost in my thoughts. For simplicity sake, let’s say there are 3 major energy centers where your attention can land – your head, your heart space and your pelvis. In general, your head includes thoughts and also spiritual connection to source. Your heart space can be about connection, expansion and sense of self. The pelvis includes the whole pelvic bowl and is about creativity and power. It is interesting to consider what percentage of time you spend in each of these energy centers during an average day.

img_2810I decided to do an experiment. I set an intention to spend the whole day being present with what is in this moment. I not only wanted to be present with “this,” but attempt to take it one step further to be One with it.

I started the day sitting at the computer and became aware of a nagging pain in my sacroiliac joint. This is not new. Usually I try to ignore it and hope it will go away. Today I gently nudged right into it and heard something make a slight popping sound. I didn’t think much of it until I stood up and realized it had adjusted itself.

Okay. Good start.

Then I was in line at the gas station and saw a young man drive by in a truck. I thought about my adult son who is having some troubles and, long story short, lost his truck. I was immediately triggered and started to feel really sad as my mind sunk into that whole story. There is a bottomless pit of heartache around that, and, for a moment, I was concerned that going there and being One with that would swallow me up for the whole day. I stayed with it though and road the wave of emotion and sensation. I included my pelvis for grounding, and it was truly intense. I won’t sugarcoat it.

Okay. Not good.

I was beginning to understand why it is tempting to simply ignore this present moment. It’s intense! I had a momentary distraction doing some shopping and was starving by the time I got home. I gobbled down my salad so fast I got food stuck in my throat.

Okay. Not mindful.

I slowed down, but what was that about? I became present and got in touch with the little kid inside that was starving and wanted food now. That greedy, hungry, little animal that wants what she wants and wants it now! Do I really

fullsizeoutput_5dwant to be One with that part of myself now? Do I have a choice? Not today. So I sat down to meditate and let that part express herself fully. She goes something like this, “I want, I want, I
want. I need, I need, I need, etc…” After a while I remembered a compassion exercise in which you enlist your witness consciousness self to say “I’m sorry that you have unfulfilled wants, needs and desires.” And you keep going with specifics about your feelings at the time until you have exhausted all possible avenues. That felt deeply satisfying, and then, when I opened my eyes, this beautiful, compassionate lady (Kuan Yin) was looking straight at me from the mantel.

Okay. Not perfect, but it’s a start.

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.