Monday, May 16, 2016

Filling Our Wholes

"A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking because its trust is not on the branch but on its own wings."

Did you ever have the experience where so much was going on and you were either wanting something to happen and it just wasn't happening, or you were contemplating something and sharing it with folks and they had differing ideas, or you were in conversation with people you respect and you found yourself losing your own perspective in ideas and things? I think this type of thing happens to all of us at some point in time. At times like these, we lose touch with our authentic selves. How do we lose touch with us; what happens in our lives in which we felt we had to give something of ourselves up, or that we just couldn't trust us? I think it begins with just that; giving some part of us up. Our task becomes filling our holes with ourselves. Or, as I put it in the title, filling our wholes; becoming whole. 

Many times in our lives we unconsciously fill our holes through other's thoughts and influences, not realizing that we are allowing them to have precedence over our own. Sometimes what happens is that in different times and places in our lives, it didn't feel safe to have our own opinions. We might have felt that if we even took some inner time to discover our own ideas and opinions and had the audacity to express them, that not only would we be discounted, but that we might lose someone important to our survival. It felt important to agree with our caretakers, whether we actually did or not. If we do that often enough, we can begin to believe and take on as our own their beliefs. To become whole, we then need to go back in time, so to speak, to the places where we gave up something of us, and to consciously reclaim that part of yourself, or that idea and belief, and even the confidence in us. We then need to learn not to doubt ourselves in most matters; especially in matters of the heart and soul. 

It needs to be okay to be wrong about something and to know that even if we are wrong or if we are not agreed with or even believed, that we will be ok and we will do more than survive, that we will prosper. I have many patients who find their selves in the place where they often doubt their selves and don't know what the truth is about things. They lose their own inner knowing. We then have to help them to believe in their gut feelings again. Sometimes the actual details of events get lost or not remembered, but to trust the gut feeling and energy of what they do remember; even when others tell us otherwise. 

I have a patient who was lied to so much growing up, that she doesn't know what the truth is. Important people in her life either continue to lie, or begin to believe their own stories that the truth of what happened is not able to be retrieved. The task here is to help her to begin to believe what she is feeling in her heart and gut to be true; even without knowing the details of the events. So she doubts herself and finds that she no longer is able to know her own memories; she gave them up. Our task is to help her to feel her own feelings and to own them as hers and have them take priority over anyone else's. She is in fact in the process of doing that and is learning how to become whole again. 

Shift Your Story/Shift Your Life 
Where in your life have you let go or given up something of yourself in order to be approved of, accepted, and to feel loved? Take a  few minutes and let us do an exercise. 

Close your eyes and breathe deeply two or three times. Deep, full breaths. Go back in time to a time and place where you can remember surrendering something of yourself in discussion with someone, or in a relationship with someone where you wanted to be approved of, or you were afraid you would lose something if you said what you felt or remembered or believed. What was happening at that time? What was happening and how did that make you feel? Were you afraid, or anxious, or feeling doubt, what was it that you were experiencing? Now, how could you do things differently knowing what you know now? What might you think or say to that other person or in that situation? Imagine your self-expressing your true thoughts and feelings at that time. Feel how that feels. Take it in. Now take two or three deep breaths and come back to the present and slowly open your eyes. Take two more minutes to write down what you learned and how that experience was for you.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Holding The Pieces Together

Poem of Life

I woke up this morning to a clear day
The morning sunlight piercing through my early morning dreams
Looking out through my window of time I witness the opening of the budding trees, as they gracefully and trustingly open to the gods of nature
Each tree and bloom and unfolding is a  winking of their eyes at me and the world
Their silent social network greets the day and smiles at each other
Full of mischief and beauty they collude to their daily opening and gifts
Each day a further revealing of their inner workings and beauty
Until one day soon, they are fully unfurled
Joyfully contributing their essence to the web of life itself
And I just an active witness and contributor 

It’s May, the beautiful month of May. Everything that grows is going into bloom, and walking outside is a warming, colorful experience. The pieces of winter and early Spring , with fallen and broken branches, muddy and clumpy yards, stark and more barren landscapes while beautiful if their own right open up to bright and full vistas and the disjointed feeling of nature comes together in a beautiful expanse and explosion of color. The same nature of seasons happens inside of us. As we work through major issues and go into and come out of our inner dark winters, the pieces come together for us  in a new way and open us to new vistas and often colorful expanses within us.

I talk about the importance of seeing bigger and greater perspectives than that of us alone as we peer out at our families, communities, groups, countries, and so on. It is often too easy for us to stay within our own inner images and stories rather than to branch out and do the work involved in seeing us as an important, but a small plant in the greater whole, with each moving piece having their own story and perspective. We all together make up a whole. Again, the same holds true for our inner pieces. It is too easy for us to stay within each small piece of us that holds a memory or trauma or story, rather than to see that all parts of us have a story that needs listening to and learning from. It is difficult to do for many reasons as our brains are wired in such a way as to remember the hurtful and traumatic pieces as a way of survival. Re-learning and rewiring will take work, perseverance and a true commitment to us. Our whole selves matter.

I was working with a young woman recently who often feels as though there are at least three of her. At the flip of a switch often one of the three parts of her speaks to her. One of the parts of her she would rather not look at and feel as holding and feeling the pain is very difficult. This particular part carries with it many negative feelings and thoughts. So I had her do an exercise which I invite you to do with me.

In one hand hold one part of you; maybe a part that feels one way about a person or a situation or an event or a memory. In the other hand hold another part of you that feels a different way than the first. You see, both sets of thoughts and feelings hold some truth that needs to be seen and heard and felt. If you have many hands, so to speak, many parts of different and yet valuable information, you could put out some footsteps or shoes that symbolically hold another part and perspective that you carry. Now feel how each feels. Is one different than another? If you also put out footsteps, then go and stand on them to see what is going on with each set. What do you notice? Again, how are they different, the same, and what happens with each in your reactions to them. Do you want to let one go? Do you feel one as heavier than the other or one lighter than the other? Is there a feeling in one that is had to hold or find you don't want to hold? Hold them all so to speak, while acknowledging that they all have a voice that is part of you and that holds some truth in them. If you feel you can, begin to turn one or another in such a way that they can also begin to see each other and maybe even hear each other. How is that? Check in with all the voices and parts. If some of you feel you can even bring them closer to each other, then begin to do so, but very slowly so you can be aware if it is too much for one, or not. In this exercise, we are just noticing what is happening. Now go back to their original positions and just take a moment to register the parts of you. Take them in. They are all inside of you and each part is important. Breathe them in. When you are ready, you can bring your hands down, and if you have footsteps, you can put them up.

Take a few minutes and write down your experience. Each part of us is important and these pieces make up our whole, and as we can be as whole as possible, our world explodes in beauty and color. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Feeling We Don't Belong

"Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.”
-Marilyn Monroe

Do you ever feel as if you don't belong, or feel so different from others or from your family? I think that this is a feeling that many of us share. Recently I have worked with many people who feel that way. When that is our early experience in life, that feeling can be a difficult one to shake. Yes, we are all unique and have different backgrounds, feelings, thoughts, life experiences and also gifts in this world. That is also true. In addition, in a very large perspective, we are all alike in that we all have thoughts, feelings, gifts, our bodies and brains and construction works similarly, and we all live together on this earth. When we have young experiences in life with our caretakers where bonding was interrupted, or when we have an early loss in our families, or when our parents were so wounded and flawed, we often grow up feeling so different from them and so apart and like we don't belong. Then as we grow up we attract people into our lives and have relationships with people and children where we don't feel we connect well, or where we aren't able to communicate well our thoughts and feelings, or where we feel very different from them. The cycle continues.

Recently I had the privilege of working with people who feel that way. One woman was having great difficulty in her relationship with her husband where she wasn’t feeling heard and seen, and also difficulty in her relationship with her child where she even experienced the feeling where it would be easier if he/she weren’t there. When she was young, her mother went back to school to get a degree. Her mother was a teenage bride and was still figuring herself out and needed help in mothering her two children. She had my client and her brother spend large periods of time with their grandparents, her parents as she finished school. Even though my client and her mom do well now and love and enjoy each other, when she was little, she missed her mother dearly even though she was well taken care of by her grandmother. She remembers as a 12-year-old speaking with her grandmother about feeling like she must be adopted as she felt so different from her parents. 

This feeling of difference continues today. She feels different from her husband who she also feels doesn’t hear her or see her, and also feels great guilt as a parent and a failure. I can't help wondering how much those feelings of failure and guilt also come from how her mother might have felt and also how she herself, as a young child, must have felt. Why else would her mother not want to be with her if she wasn’t so bad and a failure? This feeling of fault, guilt and failure is a frequent feeling that children feel when something  happens to their parents or if someone isn't available. We all feel if we were good enough they would be there, or they wouldn’t leave….at that age, it is all about us as it has to be in order for us to survive. So now her child struggles with addictions and with subsequent failure in school, and she feels guilty as a bad mom and also guilty for her feelings of wishing her child wasn’t here. 

Often behind the feeling of guilt hides a deeper feeling. The guilt disguises feelings of great sadness or even great anger, and even both. Not only did she have these feelings regarding her parents, she also had and has them regarding her child. Feeling different also helps her cope with her feeling so hurt by her mother; a feeling she doesn’t want to feel, and one she doesn't consciously feel now. As a child herself, if she was different from her mother, then it couldn't be her fault. Healing now comes from recognizing and owning her feelings and bridging the separation from her mom that she felt growing up. She does that by understanding how it was for her then, realizing it wasn't her fault and allowing herself to have all her feelings and then can navigate back and forth through time from young to present so she can also be present for her husband and her child.

This navigating through time begins with awareness and being able to feel our feelings;/past and present. As we begin to time travel in this way we also can begin our journey towards wholeness,  health, and vitality.

Shift Your Story/Shift Your Life

Let's take a journey together. Find a comfortable seat and ground yourself with your feet on the ground. Do your best to make sure you will be uninterrupted. Begin by breathing; one deep breath at a time. You are breathing in life and breathing out old stuff you no longer need. Breathe slowly 2 or 3 more times breathing in life and breathing out old stuff. Close your eyes and find yourself on a mountain path, surrounded by pine trees on both sides of you. The path is slightly rocky and not very steep. You stop and breathe in the smell of fresh pine and look up past the treetops to see the sun's rays peeking in at you. You follow this path until you come to a clearing over a large rock where you can sit down comfortably inhaling the pure, clean air. As you sit on your rock, you ask for help in seeing any old places inside where you might feel different, or that in some way you don't belong. This might not fit now in the present, but if you have assistance and look backward for a few minutes, let some scenes unfold for you where you can see and feel any of these old feelings. Watch the scene unfold before you as you feel held by the rock you are sitting on and the sun shining and the assistance you are receiving. As you watch this moment on the past you have the perspective with you of the present. Just as an angel in A Christmas Carol shows Scrooge his Christmas past and present and future, imagine your angel showing you how this old event impacts you in the present; maybe in ways, you have not seen before. Take a moment and thank those assisting you and welcome in this new perspective. Maybe a word or a feeling or a color or a smell stays with you from this new insight. Open your eyes and stand and stretch and enjoy again the sights and smells around you. Start back on the mountain path, retracing your steps until you reach the beginning of the path. Begin to feel yourself sitting in your chair and take two or three deep breaths. Slowly open your eyes, and if you are so moved, take a few minutes and write down what came to you during this visualization.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Joy To The World Poem

"Confront the dark part of yourself, and work to banish them with
illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your
demons will cause your angels to sing."
-August Wilson

Taking in the frigid blue of the sky
The brightness of the sun cutting through my inner gloom
Living within the dark middle of the tunnel as also knowing that if I keep moving, the light will re-appear to my eyes
There is a deep knowing that all is alright
There is a deep knowing that I am feeling growing pains as I am living through the unknown
Letting go of a need to know and feeling the very old, buried memories of a little child with no control, living with a very sad, depressed mother and a blind father
Feeling the uncertainty and even terror that I try to moderate with my mind
If I feel the terror there is a part of me that wants to give up, certain I will lose
There is a bigger part of me, growing by the day, that is certain I will win
The win is winning myself and knowing the light is always there
Even in the middle of the tunnel, the light is there
I feel it within and I feel my terror and I love myself as no one else can 
I feel the subtle joy in my belly joining with the memories of my anxieties in the lining of gut….always there and ready to pounce in an instant
The joy combines with the fears and something new emerges
A deep glow of understanding and empathy for me
As I revel in it as a dog revels in the good smells of the earth I feel a joy that transmits to others
Joy to the world

Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Power of Words

"You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire
universe, deserve your love and affection.”
-Guatama Buddha

I was speaking with some old friends recently and we got on the topic of words, and the power of words. Words are very powerful, and our choice of words means so much more than we often are aware of. Often times our word choice comes out unconsciously. Yet, when we really listen to them, which we often don't, what we said made much more sense than we consciously meant. And, as we look at the words we choose, they say so much about us now, about our past, and about what we are creating in the world. 

One of the things we were talking about was what words spoke to us  this past New Year. The words that are important to me for this new year are: create, joy, prosperity, peace, and choice. As these words were taking shape for me I put them into a sentence: I choose to and am creating a life of joy, peace, and prosperity. In fact, what I would like the world to have is a life of peace, joy, and prosperity for everyone. If I can create one for myself I can be one small part of creating this for and with the world.  

Continuing in this vein, I realized that what I am helping to create for my patients is for them to be able to live a life of health, wholeness and vitality. If we have our health, and we feel good and vital, and we reclaim our lost selves so that we are whole, we then have the ability to create the lives we wish to create for ourselves. Even just saying this makes me happy and joyful. So, as I work with my patients as a chiropractor, I help them to hear and understand what their bodies are saying to them. I am helping to translate their bodies voice so they can understand them and understand their selves more fully. As a facilitator and coach, I help them to know and honor who they are as people separate from and yet connected to their families and communities so they can live their own individual, unique lives. As they reclaim their lives and selves they can have the freedom to create the life of their own dreams.  

This word smithing is fun for me. Yet so much of the time we unconsciously choose words to speak out loud and to speak to us unconsciously which undermine what we consciously want for ourselves. As I work with myself and others I so often hear our underlying fears in our words. For example, I am worthless, I am not worth anything, I don't count, I am not enough, I am bad, I am stupid, I can't succeed, and so on. Can you imagine how many times we say these words to ourselves over the years, and the impact of these words on our psyche and our lives? Those words live within us from the old wounds and injuries in our lives, especially when we were very young. It is our young selves who often think it is our fault that our parents split, or that dad left, or that if we weren't so worthless, mom would pay attention to us, etc. We believe these words when we are little. As we grow up, we consciously want to feel worthy and good enough and don't realize how much these early feelings impact our sense of worth in the present. 

Here is an exercise which I find fun, we can all do together. Take out a sheet of paper, fold it in half and without conscious thought, write out 10 words that come to you immediately, without changing  or censoring them. Now, once you have written out those ten words, on the other half of the paper write out ten words that speak to what you want for yourself in your life now. Turn the paper over, and on the back side, write out ten words that speak to you of how you felt when you were a young child. How many words were repeated on the first half of side 1 and the back side of the paper? How many words were repeated on the second half of the first side and the back side of the paper? 

What do you notice about your thoughts? What can you do to help yourself to create a life that you want? As we create the lives that we want, we can live whole, healthy and vital lives. 


A homework assignment you can do for yourself on your own time is to notice what words you are using as you speak with yourself, and what words you find yourself using as you go about your day in dealing with co-workers, friends, acquaintances, folks at the grocery store, and so on. What words catch your attention as you listen to others? This is an exercise in just noticing, which is the first step in becoming conscious of your thoughts and your words.   

Change and Our Bodies

"Progress is not possible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything."
-George Bernard Shaw

This year is a year my plans involved focusing more on a book I am writing about relationships than I am on my blogs. Yet I find that life happens, no matter what we are planning, and there is a bigger plan if we let ourselves follow it instead of trying to control things. As I am making room for the book I am writing, things keep happening which prevent me from doing much writing. One of the things happening is that I am and have been in the process of selling my house and buying and moving into another house. This, as you know, is a lot of work, time and energy. In addition, every time I sit down to write on my tablet where I enjoy writing, I find something isn't working right and it won't let me save or share what I have written. When you write, you want to know that you can build on what you have written, so this has been a frustrating time for me. As these things are going on I find I am having some physical aches and pains which I ordinarily don't experience. Being a chiropractic physician, I also deal with the aches and pains of my patients on a daily basis. Our bodies house who we are and are a reflection of what is going on inside of us. As change occurs in our lives, we often find that the change is shown and experienced in some way in our bodies. 

How we experience change is a very individual thing. I was speaking with a couple of friends just today and we were sharing moving residence experiences. One gentleman spoke of how being a child of a military father, he moved so many times growing up he lost count. Now as an adult, moving does not phase him. Another friend was saying how his wife is like a gypsy in that she loves to move, and even with three children, they have moved four times in the last ten years. It becomes a way of life for them. Of course, change occurs in many ways and is an inside job.  

In my work, I see this phenomenon of how we work with change daily. The more we are able to flow with what is going on in our lives and our reactions to people, things and situations, the amount of dysfunction reflected in our bodies are usually minimal. When we have resistance to what is going on in our lives and we have unconscious reactions to things and people, we often develop pains in our backs, our shoulders, our necks, our heads, and so on. These physical symptoms are actually a guide for us to find our way back to what is going on inside of us. An analogy is in the fairy tale, Hansel and Gretel. When they are walking through the woods, they decide to put down bread crumbs as a path so they can find their way back. They didn't realize that the crumbs would and could be eaten by small animals and birds, and so got lost because the path was no longer evident. 

In our bodies, the pain we feel is our path, but we have lost or misplaced our connection to what it is there to help us to understand. Part of my work is to help by being a facilitator  to locate the meaning of the pain and to regain a connection to our lost parts or memories. Part of the dilemma is that our early memories are stored throughout our bodies by our sensations and body reactions and they are a memory before words to understand or make sense of our early life experiences. So often it is hard to locate an exact memory, but we can see that our current pain, headaches, for example, show us part of what things were like for us when we were little. They become part of the quilt of our early experiences. I have a patient who gets headaches quite frequently, and some are quite intense. She knows that there are many factors which contribute to them, including hormone fluctuations, trigger foods, and also events, dreams and emotions. Locating them and making sense of them are difficult until we can see them as part of a large quilt that she is putting together again through her body experiences. Without those physical symptoms, she would lose the thread to part of her unconscious. 

So change can be difficult on many levels, and yet, through understanding the language of the body, it can be a path to understanding us on a greater level so we can live more whole, vital and healthy lives. 

Shift Your Story/Shift Your Life 

Take a minute and think about something in your life in which you might be having trouble flowing with, or find you have some resistance to. Have a tablet or sheet of paper and pen with you and just begin to write about that situation. Just write without censorship of what you are writing. What is going on? How does it make you feel? What do you want to do in response? What is your initial response, and how would you like to be able to respond? What is the story you find you're telling yourself? Is there a fear that comes up? How and where do you feel this in your body? Tune in and see how is your breath, the tension in your neck or shoulders, any pain in your head as you think about this, do you tense your feet, how is your stomach feeling, and so on. Just notice and write down the sensations and feelings.  

Now take a minute and write down: What could I do now that I couldn't do before if anything? What does this person or thing or situation remind you of? How was it for you then? Is there a correlation to then and how you are feeling now? Breathe into it and breathe into the part of the body that feels tense or however it is feeling. Just breathe. Now write down one word or one sentence that comes to you that gives you insight, part of a memory, describes a feeling, or just anything that comes up for you. Let this go. 

Read what you wrote and keep it next to your bed or desk and read it again tomorrow and see what comes up for you. 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

When To Let Go

"The only way we make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance."
-Alan Watts

Life can be so much fun. There is such a richness of being with our feelings as opposed to trying not to feel our feelings. And in a shift of consciousness, it is actually more work intensive to try not to feel than it is to just feel. Much of our time, though, we do spend distancing us from our feelings, staying in our heads and our cerebral intellect, allowing anxiety to live within us, or even harboring feelings of guilt with which we can hide from our deeper feelings. There is a good reason for this. Our intellect, our reason, our anxiety, our guilt, our trying to stay busy all help to protect and defend us from feelings that are too much for us to be with. As the saying goes, life happens when we are busy planning. 

With that said, as things get tough in life, as things look like they are falling apart, as houses flood, as forest fires destroy our homes, as relationships are crumbling, as we are dealing with deaths of someone important to us or to an idea or to a career, and so on, when is it time to feel the pain and disappointments and humiliations and to let go and move on? This is such an iconic question and one which only each one of us individually can answer for us. No one else is close enough to us to answer that question for us. Yet many of us try to answer that question for others as if we know for them. 

I recently watched the movie called Joy in which Jennifer Lawrence stars as the main character, Joy. I will not be a spoiler here if you haven`t seen the movie, so I won`t say much about it except that it depicts a great example of how when everyone else is telling us to give up to let go, and we know in our very beings that it is not time, and we will not give up on our dream and we will carry on and we will not let go, and we can and do succeed. In this movie despite what everyone else was telling her, she followed her dream, and with a lot of work, she was successful. Being able to do this also involves knowing a part of us, our essence, and not compromising it. We only have one soul, ours, and only we know it if we open and allow us to. 

In other situations, we continue holding on and trying to make something work and continue planning and trying and never let go. Sometimes we do that because we can`t let go of something we want to believe about us, about our parents or an important family member. Sometimes we hold on far too long and continue telling ourselves the same story of people and events over and over again and are not able to accept things as they were and people as they were and are. So we keep trying and trying and hope that this time, finally, things will be different. It is much like doing the same thing over and over again with the same result, and hoping that this time it will be different. That is a definition of crazy. It doesn’t mean we are crazy in all ways, or that we are suffering from a mental illness necessarily, it just means that in that particular way we are acting kind of crazy, or irrationally. When do we finally do something differently, and/or just let go and realize that this is not working, and we are just making ourselves sick?

Have you  ever had the experience of someone you love that no matter how hard you try, or how many times you explain something, or no matter what you do or say that this other person will not get you and understand you and be able to hear you and step in your shoes? How painful that experience is, especially if you love that person. Many of us have such experiences with our parents, our siblings, our partners, our children, etc. When that is our early experience in life, it is especially hard because we need our parents and caretakers to hear us and see us and love us...even to survive. So we keep trying, thinking, maybe this time...they will hear me. This pattern continues throughout life until we can accept and reconcile with ourselves that this was our early experience, and nothing can change that. We have to feel the pain of it. And importantly, we need to know that it is not our fault, it wasn`t our fault, and it never will be our fault. It is not about us, even though it certainly feels like it is. It is really about what is going on with the other person. But it hurts, and often it is too painful to feel, so we run from it through drinking or staying busy, or feeling physical aches and pains, or feeling anxious, or trying to explain it away, and so on. Who in your life is this true of? Or maybe you have experienced a situation where no matter how hard you try  or what you do, nothing is making the outcome you want. When to let go, and how do you know that it is time to just let go, or time to try a different way or this last time, just when you were going to give up, it will work out?