Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Summertime Fun Poem

Oh the summertime joys

Sitting on the  back deck with the dogs crawling over me letting the heat of the sun permeate my soul

Listening to the tinkle of ice cream trucks jostle down the street luring neighborhood children of all ages to cool off with a sweet treat

Feeling the warm wind and summer breezes comb out my humid soaked kinky hair

Allowing myself to think of nothing, emptying my mind and surrendering to the enjoyment of evening light

Listening to the enchanted talk of the local birds whistling, singing, hooting and pecking their way into my consciousness

As I am waiting for my nightly walk or excursion to my sweet indulgence of summer of cool brightly colored ices 

Enjoying the flickering of fireflies to light my way in their erratic nature

As I quietly hope for Summer nights to last forever

Knowing that this summer fun too shall pass until next summer's emergence as I openly flow towards cooler nights and shorter days and watching my pumpkin vine grow its first blossom and the last of the summer`s roses fades off the vine.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Being Vulnerable

He who does not trust enough will not be trusted.
-Lao Tzu

We spend a great deal of our time in life protecting ourselves from perceived hurts from life and from others. Some of us take on the role of being a victim and so we go through life oversharing and being over vulnerable with others, bonding over our wounds and almost unconsciously asking to be hurt again. Others of us take on more of a role of everything being ok, and not easily asking for help and not easily sharing our true and vulnerable, underbelly selves. Neither extreme is one which is helpful to us, and yet we developed those ways of coping from our early life experiences. Which way of coping do you find yourself most resonating with? 

Both ways actually keep us from being truly vulnerable in a life-affirming way. They are defenses built to protect us from hurts. Defenses could also be called fences. These fences keep others out from our hurt selves and keep us in, really not allowing our further growth and expansion. We developed these fences as a way of surviving. Our old instinctive brains, our young developing brains, are all about surviving in a world that is perceived as dangerous. To us in this young developing stage of life, it is all about surviving and belonging. We need to belong in order to survive. We are willing to do almost anything in order to be part of our family group and to survive. This includes giving a part of us up who is seen as different or bad from our caretakers. It also includes building fences around us so we don’t feel the pain and hurt and so we can live. This old primitive brain then continues to rule us in life as we get older unless we are able to learn how to recognize what is happening and learn how to talk with our young selves as well as our older selves, creating a continuous dialogue between our old primitive brain, and our brain which is aware and rationally relating to us, to others and to events and things around us in the present tense. 

Our old brains get stuck in the past and don't recognize that what is occurring now in our lives is not the same as occurred when we were young and experiencing hurt or trauma. Learning to be vulnerable with ourselves and others is a part of learning how to build a bridge between our primitive brains about survival and belonging to our newer, rational brains which can take in and recognize that what is happening now is in the present and not necessarily related to the past. What this looks like in relationships with others, is that we are able to recognize when we find ourselves withholding a part of ourselves and our feelings and thoughts from a partner or friend or colleague, etc., and are consciously and unconsciously protecting us from sharing how we really feel and  how we really think. 

I have one client who is over vulnerable. She overshares her issues and what is going on with her and how she is feeling. This over-sharing comes from not trusting herself or knowing herself very well, and identifying with being a victim. We don't always consciously realize when we are identifying with a victim mentality. This can come from having someone in the family, as she does, who hasn't led a good life, in her perception. She has an aunt who is mentally challenged from early birth trauma, and she has a sister who really struggles in life. This woman almost feels as if she has to struggle, and has to make things hard and doesn't understand why. This way of behaving seems to be vulnerable, but it too is actually a way she has learned to act that in fact prevents her from knowing her own self, her own true strengths, and vulnerabilities.

I have another client who seems so defended and like he has to be strong and be the fixer and the person people come to for help, not realizing he is not really being his true self and vulnerable with them in terms of being with his feelings. In fact, he is wounded, as we all are, and works very hard to cover up his wounds until he can't anymore. He attracts women to him who think he can fix them. Then when his vulnerabilities show up, they don't know how to handle it, and they leave him. His mother was an alcoholic who could be an out of control drunk, so to speak. His father was worried and asked his son, this young boy, to let him know when his mom acted up again. He  did so, loving his father, and his mother and his father confronted his mom. Mom then knew her son told her, felt betrayed, and turned on her son. She basically disowned her son; that is how it felt to him as a young boy. So, trying to please his father and trying to help his mother, he ended up losing his mother. As he grew up he became a busy fixer. This worked well except for when his issues reared their head in relationships with women in particular. There comes a period where his fears of betrayal and abandonment become a problem, and these women don't understand, feel betrayed themselves, and the relationships end. As this man learns to feel his feelings and to be vulnerable with himself, he can then be truly vulnerable in a relationship with others.

We all have a little of both within us. Some of us have more of the victim aspect, and some of us have more of the openly defended aspect. Learning how to be truly vulnerable with us and with our feelings is the path to our healing and living more whole, vital, and healthy lives.

Change Your Story/Change Your Life

Take a moment and breath deeply. Get into the rhythm of your breath. Think about which you mostly resonate with; the openly defended, or the openly too vulnerable victim aspect. Think of an example in your life where you had to defend yourself from someone or something. What was happening at that time? How did you feel about yourself? What, if anything, were you afraid of or anxious about? How did you respond, and how did the other person involve respond? How did you feel afterward?

Now, go through that event or conversation again in your mind, but this time, imagine yourself responding differently. Imagine saying your true feelings and thoughts to yourself and to the other. Imagine how it feels to you in being able to do that, and imagine how it might feel to the other involved. See and hear their reaction to your truth. How does that feel inside of you; any different than what actually did happen? Remember how this felt to you, and then begin deeply breathing again in 2 or 3 deep breaths, and then come back to the present.

Write down how this was for you and what you learned so that it becomes more available to you. Again, would love to hear how this worked for you if you would like to share your experience.

Monday, July 25, 2016

How To Replace Shame With Acceptance

"To realize that you do not understand is a virtue;
Not to realize that you do not understand is a defect."
-Lao Tzu

I was reading a very long online conversation about shame, and some folks also spoke about the concept of healthy shame. I am of the mind that there is no such thing as healthy shame, but there is such a thing as shame, and there is such a thing as acceptance. When we carry shame of any kind, growth is almost not possible. Have you ever experienced feeling exposed and feeling bad about yourself? Have you ever felt that you were afraid to tell someone something about yourself; that if you did you may not be accepted? Those feelings are aspects of carrying shame. I think we all carry such feelings at some times. Hopefully, we don`t very often, and hopefully, we are able to recognize when we do and do the necessary feeling and thinking to transform our shameful feelings into acceptance of ourselves. We all make mistakes. We all unintentionally hurt people, and sometimes we do so intentionally. Every mistake is correctable in some way or form, with awareness and with taking responsibility, and with allowing us to move forward recognizing that it is about learning and growing and forgiving us so that love can flower inside of us.

Shame is often felt as a real visceral feeling. It is often felt in our bodies through feeling bad about us, through feeling a heaviness, a lack,  and carrying a sense of self-deprecation. Because we often feel this in our bodies, it is through feeling in our bodies that we can shift out of shame into some kind of acceptance or self-love. I know a man who often cycles through phases of self-hate and loathing and gets lost in depression and shame. His mother was very depressed for much of his young life and his parents also divorced when he was around eight years old. There is a history in his family of keeping secrets, as in many families. It doesn’t take much for him to feel shame. The problem he experiences is that he doesn’t own that feeling. It is too much for him, so instead, when he feels trapped, he lashes out and tries to transform his sense of shame into blaming someone else for something. This is not conscious on his part most of the time. He lies to cover up his part in things because he feels so badly about himself. He then forgets what he said and so lies to cover up the first lie. A good way to know if someone is lying to you is when you just can`t make sense of what they are saying. Things just don't add up, no matter how much  you might like them to.

When we are shamed when we are young, especially when it happens often, we begin to internalize this sense of shame into who we are. This man feels cornered when someone tries to pinpoint what he is saying and force some kind of honest confrontation. When he feels cornered, he no longer can own what his part was, and he then lashes out and no longer has access to his feelings because his self-loathing is too great, and he was caught. How does this man heal and begin to transform his shame into some kind of acceptance? It happens through sitting with his self-feelings. It begins with recognizing he made a mistake and feeling what that does to him and how he feels about him internally. He needs to recognize the shame he feels and then needs to see how often he might have felt that way and how much he tried to get away from those feelings. Mom was depressed, dad left, and this man might have felt responsible. If only he was a better boy, mom wouldn’t be sad and upset and dad would still be here. Add to this, dad or mom verbally blaming him for something he did. Children put these things together and internalize the self-blame. It becomes automatic. As an adult when he does something wrong or he is not proud of, he defaults to those old feelings. Being able to look back and see what happened and how it felt at that time and to separate himself from those old feelings becomes paramount to his healing.   Then, feeling those inadequate and sad and bad feelings inside instead of attacking or running and owning what is his, and letting go of what is not,  is the next step. Afterward, comes acceptance; this is what he did or said, or didn’t do, and being able to see it without the usual self-judgment. As he can begin to care for himself even with his mistakes, he can change his shame to something new and different...love and/or acceptance. Then he, and we can, can live whole, healthy and vital lives.                      

Shift Your Story/Shift Your Life:

Take a couple of minutes and just breathe deeply. As you breathe, breathe into your body and feel your breath move inside of you. Where does it move, how does it feel, and where do you feel any restriction in your breath, if you do? Do you tend to hold your breath, or let the breath move freely? Just notice these things. Now, take a moment and think about where and when you might carry shame, or have carried shame? What happens inside of you when you are caught doing something maybe you feel you shouldn’t be doing, or what happens when you feel bad about something you thought or you did, and so on? Many people feel shame about their fears or their anxieties, or things like that. Just see what comes up for you. As something comes up, again, just notice how you feel, and how your body feels as you think of the thought or experience. Many times these feelings of shame relate to families belief systems and ideas, and maybe yours don`t match in some way. Just notice again, if any old belief systems come  up for you. Now, say something to your inner self which is comforting or supportive or helpful to you. Maybe you tell yourself it is ok, you just made a mistake, or it is ok to feel this way, or such as that. Just begin an inner dialogue with the shamed part in yourself. Take a minute to see how this feels inside of you. Do you feel some better, and  less ashamed, or can`t tell, or not? When you begin to feel a  bit of relief, notice how your breath is. Is it a little easier, freer, or whatever you may feel; everything is ok here. And if you can`t tell, that is ok too. Just notice. As you tune into your breath again feel your body and your breath within your body and come back to the present. Take a couple minutes to write down your experience. If you feel like sharing, I would love to hear from you.

Monday, July 11, 2016

A Summer's Morning

The wind is dancing through the trees

The sun's heat glimmers through the leaves

I watch the boughs flow and bounce with the wind and the hazy sheen from the sun’s rays as they permeate the atmosphere

I can feel the sizzle begin as I watch my dog’s tongues loll and gag about as they sunbathe on the back deck

There is a quiet to the day as if all is hiding out in the shade…slowly emerging to the day’s heat

It is a gentle caress from the tongues of the wind on my skin, tinged with languid warmth

As I begin the day by walking my dogs to greet the summers day

It is Father's Day, and I feel moved to write about myself.  This blog is about my journey in appreciating my father. Father's Day; Mother's Day, are holidays to remember and celebrate our parents. When we are little, those days may not have much meaning other than making a card for them or spending some time with our often busy parents. As we get older and have children ourselves, often these days have more meaning to us. Today I am writing about my dad and what comes up for me.

What comes up for me mostly is: thank you, dad. Yes, he was a very flawed man as we all are. Growing up with him as my father was a difficult experience. On the surface to many from the outside looking in, my family looked to be a very happy family with a special man as my father. He and my mother by proxy took in my friends when they were having trouble in their homes, as well as some of my sibling's friends. He could be fun and funny, silly, wise, and seemed to be a person of great integrity who had all the answers. And if he didn’t, he would find the answers. He looked to be the one to go to for protection and made himself seem irreplaceable and a Wizard of Oz.

On the inside, he was mean and difficult to my mom, he needed to be my savior and everyone else's, he was blind to my mother's weaknesses, and he needed me and my family to love him and be his friends, as he didn’t have many. He never wanted us to leave him. In that way, especially as a girl, for myself and my sisters, he could be very seductive. He could be cruel to those he disagreed with or didn’t like. And, on the other hand, he was funny, witty, fun to be with, creative, loved hiking and outdoor activities, was an avid baseball fan and a coach to my brother, he played catch with us and engaged the neighborhood into summer game activities, he organized great summer vacations, he loved to sing old campfire songs, and he loved going out on excursions and out to breakfast. 

Did I say he was also a liar and a great one? He was a liar and a great one; so great that it was hard to see that was happening until he got older. Everything had to revolve around him. Family meals and discussions were all about him. If we wanted to be with him we had to do what he wanted to do. And I did because I wanted to be with him and he could be such fun. He also felt safe. He wasn’t really, but he made himself out to be the ultimate in protecting us. It was difficult growing up and leaving him. He often tried to come between his daughters and their boyfriends and then husbands. Such was my contradictory father. And such were and are the contradictory feelings I have for him. 

We all have contradictory fathers. All of us at times are complicated and contradictory. Such though was my personal experience. For me, he also was a role model for how I conduct my healing work. I am not a psychotherapist as he was, but I learned a lot about people, how they develop, how to really listen and what can be behind how they present. I learned that a diagnosis is really just a description and a description is so much more helpful than a diagnosis. I learned how not to give up especially when I really want to. Sometimes I learned that to a fault as sometimes we have to let go and move on. I learned so many silly songs that are lots of fun to sing. I learned to love baseball and to enjoy outdoor excursions and going out to breakfast.   

Sometimes our greatest learning comes from a negative learning experience. I learned the most from him in terms of how to love not only because I need it for myself, but to love for the other. He loved for himself. I learned through him who could never give up on some things, that sometimes we have to….it is time, and we need to move forward. I learned to not always speak first and to be aware of the other and their needs and desires…for him, everything was about him. And I learned what it really means to have integrity; he, it turns out, didn't really have much. I learned to do what he might say to do, but not do as he did. He would say for us to be honest and to look inside and that integrity starts with us. He couldn’t live it. I learned that it is ok to be me and to be different without feeling separate from others; to do that with inclusion. I am not better than anyone else. I am just different. He could say those things, but not do them without exclusion. I learned how to let go of him, and see him for who he truly was and love him anyway. 

Thank you, dad, for everything. And thank you for the opportunity to grow and to break some cycles in our family that needed breaking. Without you, I wouldn’t have the chance.

We all have our own experiences with our fathers. Hopefully, we can appreciate the things we really like about them, learn how to grow from the things we don't like and choose to be like the things we like the most. Happy Father's Day.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Eye of Ego

"We must not allow other people's perceptions to define us."
                                                                                                                -Virginia Satir

In the title of this blog, I spell the word, I, as eye. The way we look at the world and perceive the world and everyone and everything around us is dependent upon us and our ego. Our eye of perspective comes from our own unique, independent perspective. It is about us. It is this personification of ourselves which separates us from others. Yes, it makes us different, in a sense, and it also separates us. A bigger truth is that everyone has their own perspective and we all have egos which drive us, and most importantly, what happens or what is said by others is not usually about us, it is about the other. It is our reactions to others and events which are about us; it is our eye.

I was working with a gentleman recently who is a very gentle, generous soul, and who perceives his father as loving, but a person who was all about himself and driven by his own needs; in particular his need to drink. Everything was about him. In this gentleman's life, that was true. It was his eye of perception. His mother was loving and giving and nurturing and he was too close to her, although he did love his father. This gentleman carries a lot of pain in him, and it takes the form of chronic body pains. His father and mother divorced when he was little, and he lived mostly with his mother growing up from around the age of 10 on. He wonders about the physical pain and conditions he carries.

What he didn’t know or perceive, because as a child he couldn’t know, was that his father's parents, his grandparents, lost a child, a boy, before he was born. This boy lived for about 2 days before he died. Soon after his dad was born. He perceived his father as being all about himself, and looking elsewhere, and driven to drink. He was slowly killing himself with alcohol. As we looked at this dynamic through the lens of Family Constellations, he was able to begin to see something else at play. He was able to see beyond his own eye of perspective;  to see his father as a lost young boy, unconsciously feeling as though he shouldn’t live if his brother couldn’t. It is these unconscious loyalties which so deeply affect us without us knowing in a conscious way. 

My client realized that he carries his father's pain in a very physical way, and also realized that his patterns of pain began close to the age his parents were when they divorced. And this dovetailed with a divorce of his own. His father carried his parent's pain and this man carries his father's pain, the pain of the divorce for both his parents, the pain of not having a present father, and his own pain of his parent's divorce, and feels it in bodily issues and pains. As he began to see these dynamics at play in his life, his eye of perception changed. As we can do that shift, we can also begin the process of shifting our own lives in a way where we can live more fully, claim our vitality, claim our health, and live the life we choose instead of the life we unconsciously make. 
Shift Our Story/Shift Our Life

This game is kind of fun. Gather a close friend or family member and each of you tells each other a story of your life. After you share this story, have them say their perception of what happened and the events. Then do the same for your friend and listen to them ad their story, and share your perception of the story or event. Compare with each other how this was for you and what you learned.

And, if you would like to do something more personal, think of a situation in your life that has impacted you. What is your perception of that situation and the people involved? Now, go through each person involved in that situation or conversation and in your mind's eye see what that same situation or event or conversation might have been like for them; see if you can see their perception. Do this with everyone involved, and just take it all in. Give this time for you to feel this experience and for it to find a place within you. Write down how this was for you, and what, if anything, you gained from doing the exercise.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Move Into Joy

"We can never consent to creep when we feel the impulse to soar."
-Helen Keller

There is nothing like a move to challenge a relationship; actually all relationships, beginning with the one with ourselves. I am talking about any kind of a move, not just a physical one, but certainly a physical change of residence is a huge move. I just made a physical change of residence a couple of months ago, and even if you move a short distance, it is still a big change. For me, it has been interesting to watch what it stirs up in  myself. As I stayed focused on what it stirs in me, I also found I wasn’t reactive, much, to what it stirred up in my husband. As I witnessed me throughout the packing, moving, unpacking, and then trying to find things and wondering where things went and also where things go, as well as navigating through no computer and basement renovation, whew! That was quite an experience. At once I was grateful for the ability to do what I was doing and being able to move into a beautiful new place with lots of stuff, and also holding the parts of me that felt scattered, forgetful, tired, sore, lost, overwhelmed, and finally owning how chaos around me is not something I do well. Holding all of that was difficult at times, but also kind of fun in that I was conscious of my doing that and also realizing how grateful I was for the whole experience. This may sound kind of weird, but this change has helped me move more into joyfulness. 

Have you ever found a move or change helped you move into joy? There is a letting go, a sense of faith and connection, a greater sense of self and not sweating the small stuff. It does take some risk to make a change, and it is this very risk which helps to create the change. The move or change doesn’t have to be moving homes, but a movement towards something new or some wholeness or some new idea or a new job or following a new interest or letting go of feeling and thinking you need to take care of others, and so on. As we step into that new place through the journey to it, there is a sense of accomplishment, humility, and also, in my way of thinking and feeling; joy.

I was at a dinner party recently with a bunch of girlfriends whom I see every 6 months or so. It is always fun when we get together. Sometimes we are more vulnerable and revealing with each other than others, and there is always at least one of us going through major life changes or having a difficult time, as well at least one of us who is celebrating something. We go around and share with each other what is going on with us, and we all listen and comment and celebrate and commiserate and support. One friend was describing how she really just wanted to teach but found she ended up having a full business where others depend on her for work. She was feeling slightly overwhelmed and like she needed to keep doing what she is doing; yet not what she really wanted to do. As a result, she is in burnout. She goes home at the end of the day and doesn’t want to go out or do anything else. We were talking about how it is when we do something we really enjoy. My friend is at a place in her life where her move is more towards supporting old ideas and thoughts, so there is not a place for new joy there. But, when she spoke about something she is learning that she absolutely loves and is following up on, she just blossomed. We can move into old antiquated thoughts and beliefs and we can move out into something that brings us life and joy. We can move into new in an instant; with the fear and anxiety and risks, we feel when we take this other, new road. We are such creatures who can be ruled by survival, and we are also creatures who can be ruled by growth. Usually, we do a combination of both. When we move into our bigger selves, growth happens, and with growth, is often joy.

Change Your Story/Change Your Life:

Get yourself comfortable and close your eyes. Make sure you are in a place where you won`t be interrupted. Breathe deeply 2 or 3 times, and settle into your own internal rhythm. Feel the feeling of love and appreciation throughout yourself. Just allow the feeling to come, if possible, even if you may not be feeling such feelings about yourself right now. If you can`t, imagine someone who you do feel love and appreciation for or with. Feel the feeling and notice where you feel it and how it feels. Let that feeling blossom inside of you. Now think of something you really want to do or have wanted to do for a long time and haven`t done. As you think of this, pay attention to how the feeling inside of you changes. How do you begin to feel? If you can tell, where do you feel it in your body? Now imagine yourself beginning that very thing you have been thinking of, but haven`t. How does that feel; scary, exciting, overwhelming, joyful, conflicted feelings, and so on? Imagine now you are actively engaged in that activity; class, move, training, trip, relationship, etc. How do you begin to feel inside? Breathe deeply. Now, go back to thinking about it but not doing it. What does it feel like to want to do something and all the reasons you aren't?

Lastly, go back to the feeling of appreciation and love, and let's add joy to that, and let those feelings infuse you. Breathe deeply 2 or 3 times and slowly come back to your surroundings and when you are ready to open your eyes. Write down what you learned from this experience.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Putting The Pieces Together

"When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy."

As we learn and grow and are open to going to deep places inside in order for us to put pieces of our puzzle together, we can feel like we are a mess or in chaos. If we don`t understand what is going on we can certainly feel lost in the process as well as feel many feelings like anxiety, fear, anger and so on. We go to our default way of feeling in the world when we are reactive or triggered. If we are used to feeling angry in response to things then we are angry. If we are used to feeling anxious, then we are anxious. As we trudge along, this can feel like it takes forever to put pieces together, and then suddenly, one day, it seems as if they just suddenly make sense.

It can take a long time and many years for us to be able to understand something that was said to us. There is a story one of my teachers told me which still resonates with me. She had begun facilitating family systems work in the form of Family Constellations many years ago. At that time, one of her friends had taken the workshop. Years later, the two of them were taking a walk and just talking and my teacher`s friend asked her if she remembered that workshop many years ago; thirteen in fact. My teacher said, no she didn’t remember. Her friend went on to tell her that what had transpired that day thirteen years ago finally makes sense to her. 

It doesn’t matter how much time goes by, it matters that we are able to put pieces together for our growth, and the movements of our soul and our understanding have their own time frame entirely. I have a patient who, during a recent session, had a powerful aha moment. We had been talking about a dynamic regarding health and being able to take care of ourselves and when we unconsciously might take on a condition or illness so that we can be cared for in ways we were not able to be cared for when we were young. When we are little, we need our parents in such fundamental and profound ways to just survive. For some of us, when our needs to be cared for can not be met, it is such a strong need that as we grow up, there is an unconscious energy at work which creates an illness or condition where we have to be cared for. It occurs so that a young part of us can finally heal. Yet, as an adult, this type of handicap is not consciously wanted or desired, and can greatly impair our lives; on the outside looking in. This patient has had a few occasions where a physical condition made him in some ways unable to care for himself. As an adult, it played havoc with his relationship with his partner. We were discussing this in terms of how it has affected him in the relationship with his wife. All of a sudden, this made such sense to him. It impacted him in a way of deep understanding. Would he have understood this many years ago during his first bout with his condition? Most probably not; but this day all the pieces fell into place for him.

At these moments all the hard work we have been doing suddenly make sense. Is it really a sudden movement? No, that sudden feeling is a result of lots of internal churning in aligning the pieces of the puzzle in such a way that a new image or picture and perspective takes shape. It is this process which helps us to live healthy, whole and vital lives where we can be in life who we really are.

Shift Your Story, Shift Your Life:

Take a moment and close your eyes.  Think of something you would like some insight into from when you were growing up. What would you like to know more about? Take your time. Then imagine yourself right smack dab in the middle of a family dynamic that you found yourself in when you were growing up. Breathe into that space while reminding you that you are just imagining. It can be any dynamic that comes to you, or any situation or event or family occasion; it doesn’t matter. Don`t force it and just let it come. It might not even make sense why this image is coming up for you. Just be with it and live it for a minute or two, but this time as an outsider looking in. You are looking into a situation that you might have found yourself in while growing up, and one in which you have asked for some insight or clarity into. Just watch and let it unfold. You are revisiting in order to be open to learning something that impacts you in your life today. After a couple of minutes come back into the present and just breathe 2 or 3 deep breaths and open your eyes. Get out a tablet or paper and write down a feeling or thought or piece of understanding or anything that you saw or felt or experienced while revisiting. See if this little piece of information helps you to put a piece of your puzzle in a different place. You can do this exercise as often as you find helpful. If nothing came to you, that is ok too. It could be very subtle, or it could just be that you can see how difficult things might have been for you.