Church Face – The Reveal

 

 

 

It has come to my attention that I may act one way while feeling another.  “The church face” was how it was phrased to me.  I felt the internal cringe as the words were uttered.  I’ve learned that this is the way my body says, “Do something.” Now, on the surface being “fine” or “good” sounded normal and right in line with how I grew up.  No sharing of dirty laundry needed…ever…at least not your own.  Conversly, this suppression can dampen the positive emotions as well – those of love, gratitude and joy.  No wonder so many are uncertain how they feel.  This laundry often gets funneled into some neurosis or addiction – symptoms of dis-ease.  Cleaning up  one’s own  laundry is essential for our mental health. .

Recent news about the arrest of Ghislaine Maxwell for the sexual abuse of young women reveals layers of deception and grooming.  I can’t help but feel the sting of victimhood from my own life and the pain of the abuse cycle seen repeated endlessly year after year to others.   We live in a culture that makes it easy to minimize, justify and look the other way and often we don’t even realize we’re doing it.  Grooming can happen in many walks of life.  Values are skewed, emotions reacted upon and instant gratification is promoted…while the inside voice of the heart is often silenced.  Often, the consequences show up as suffering or pain depending on the each individual’s path.  Mine involved physical and emotional pain, self esteem and relationship stress.

What is that inside voice of the heart?  When does a person get to that tipping point where they are able to discern for themselves what that voice is about? The ego can be quite elusive and good at avoiding deep emotions.   I wondered about the drama that must have played out in this woman’s life and how adept she must have been in living out these parts meanwhile ignoring others. It’s like we’re all living in our own parts party drama.   I could have easily fallen for the lines Ghislaine Maxwell used on those girls and what were the lines used on her growing up?  How did those experiences translate into bad choices and hardening of the heart?  The answer to these questions as it usually is for me – look within myself and ask myself the same questions.  What were the lines I was given?

Malcomb Gladwell in the book Talking to Strangers refers to that tipping point where there is a perceptual shift from one way of thinking to another.   In the case of the me-too movement, there was a moment of time, several key cases of abuse and the tide shifted.  I was moved at that time to write my own story of abuse as an adolescent and speak up to myself mostly.  My family was surprised at how things like this can happen in a family and community without really being noticed.

It was something about that young woman, Emily Doe as she was named,  lying by a dumpster in CA, her perpetrator, a student from Stanford  was basically caught at the scene by two passer bys.  He was convicted of assault with the intent to commit rape.  He served 3 months in prison.  This light sentence  reverberated throughout the country as the sentence was so minimal considering the crime.  Chanel Miller had someone read a 12 page statement as to the impact of this act.  This was in 2016.  Since then she revealed her name and wrote a book called Know My Name.  In it she refers to her anger at the system and the unseen impact on the victim“The slivers we show, the mountains we hide.”

While I’ve learned that my body gives signals to “do something” I was unaware that it really “did something” to react to the assault I experienced.  The body constricts to protect – commonly known as the fight, flight or freeze response.  If the the emotion isn’t fully processed and the signal for safety given, our bodies can hold on energetically.  This holding on isn’t something we may be conscious of; in fact, most of the time we’re not, but the chemicals of stress are kept active and often result in symptoms due the vulnerability that is created by the stress.  For me, trauma associated into muscle tension, lack of flexibility and anxiety symptoms.  Many symptoms and conditions are stress/trauma related.  The first step is always awareness and knowledge of how this struggle in the body works. Identifying the lines we believed about ourself  is also important in healing and living with vitality.  I  often suggest working with skilled body healers that are tuned in to such energy patterns to help heal and find that safe place once again.  Talk therapy is a great place to uncover  traumas and reclaim your power.

Ghislaine Maxwell has been described as “evil monster, a narcissist and cruel. She comes from a family of wealth, deception, complex legal problems and entitlement.  Wealth and power can corrupt people and it’s a fact that most people don’t grow up in similar circumstances.  Consequently, there is speculation after speculation.  Eventually, her story will emerge and point out the craziness of living with the belief that something external  will make us happy.  Whether it be money, power, sex, status or possessions, history has traveled this path over and over.  What makes these times unique?  Technology and information has transformed how the world is operating.

The pandemic, Black lives matter, the climate crisis are combining to “force” a shift from an external to a more internal source of power.  Most people have been traumatized just by living.  Now, we are seeing the chance to go within, be kind, and live from the heart and live with a new type of abundance….less things and more love.  Love continues to be the most powerful energy of the universe.  Let’s beam into our own healing and find a new path into our own abundance and power.all the arrows are pointing in that direction.  Looking within is not as optional as it used to be.  Finding new ways to think are beginning  to be the norm.  It’s a crucial time to face yourself in a different way.   In past blogs, I referred to the importance of mirror work where you have the opporunity to take a mask off and feel the feeling of who you are at that moment.  I believe each one of us carries a  precious soul blueprint that waits to be revealed…or not.  The choice is ours.  Effective strategies in healing are learning mind calming practices and online supports.  I joined several practice groups that I wouln’t have prior to the crisis.  Leaders and teachers are stepping up to offer many free opportunities.  A meditation group and Spring Forest Qigong are ones that I gratefully take advantage of each morning. 

The reveal for me is clear –  I don’t need to hang on to the old “church face.”  My intention is to act on those activities that create healing, freedom, beauty and love.  Life is a work in progress at any age.  What do you want to create?  

 

 

 

Sparky-The Wonder Dog-A Story of Fear and Transformation

These “unprecedented” times have shaken the leaves from the tree of my status quo and cracked open parts of myself that were needing attention.  During the drastic changes in activity and schedule as well as the collective uncertainty of the world and our country, I think that counts for a justifiable core shaking.  While still working from home, I’ve engaged myself in personal self-growth opportunities and practices to find new ways to show up to myself and others better.  Living from the power of your heart in practice.  Since we needed to postpone the workshop of the same name, I decided to engage its wisdoms.  I was in for a ride.

One of the jobs of a psychotherapist is to encourage others to face their present challenges and fears in healthy ways.  The other is to help them access their own true potentials with the idea that living authentically and with purpose can not only empower themselves but all that influence.  I recently heard that each person has an impact on 100,000 others.  No hard data here but when I thought about the idea, it inspired me more.  What you do matters!

Sparky showed up in my dream. He was one of those “little dogs” that are prone to lots of barking.  I’m a cat person so dogs don’t usually hang around my space – and even in the dream I was walking Sparky for his owner and was “doing my job.”  We walked together down the city street. The barking started  suddenly and  I reacted with alarm as he pulled on the leash to get me to go the other way.  I was resisting yet he found a way to break free from the leash and collar.  He started running the short distance away where, slightly hidden from the sidewalk, sat a man holding another “little dog” only what this man was doing to this dog was abusive.  There was blood around the dog as the man continued his abuse.  I was horrified and frozen.  Sparky wouldn’t relent.  He bravely continued to bark in alarm.  I wanted a way out….I had to see the perpetrator’s eyes to realize there was no way to turn away from this  evil glare.  I knew I had to act.  I found myself with a garden hose in my hand with one of those multiple setting attachments like the one I use at home.  I struggled to find just the right angle to hit him with the water spray in the face. He became even angrier and grabbed a mouse from the sidewalk and crushed it in front of me.  I kept spraying until he started to dissolve into oblivion.  Simutaneously, time fast forwarded and a small storefront with an arcade and kids playing emerged in the same spot.  A total shift.  I didn’t get to follow Sparky through the dream but when I awoke, I sensed a new awareness of fear and desire to break through my own fears, face them and transform them with love and compassion….my own Star Wars battle with the garden hose.  I appreciated the ordinary means used to stand my ground amidst the drama of what the dream unfolded.

The dog symbolizes loyalty and personal integrity.  When we respond to life out of fear of disapproval or to avoid conflict you deny your own authority and give away your power.  Accessing your inner power or wisdom rather than assume others have better capacities or authority is called for when a dog enters your space.  In my case, this dream brought forth this quality of integrity and inner strength that may not have been acknowledged as it should be.  Sparky was able to break free from the collar and the leash and do what he had to do to protect one of his own.  What am I willing to do to be loyal true to my own heart’s wisdom and truth?  How can you break free from the negativity and fears that may have been triggered during this pandemic in the world? What are the big questions coming up in your life?

Pay attention to any dreams, events or experiences that are coming in front of you during these new times.  Find honor in your process and  keep walking forward.  There is support pouring in….it’s finding what you need that will make things interesting.

May the force of love and honor be with you.

 

 

 

 

Uncharted Land Ahead – Caring For Your Emotions

 

The mountain lion showed up in my dream this week.  Here he was in the middle of the street outside our home.  He snarled and curled around me as he prepared his next step.  I froze yet remained acutely aware of what was happening.  It was the moment of the ages.  Suddenly, a neighbor walked outside and distracted the lion which worked to allow me the time to run to safety.  I was so grateful to this neighbor and the courage displayed.

The virus lion has made its appearance in our land and pounced on the top of our surprised heads.  Even though epidemics are no stranger to the world arena, they are to the US.  I now realize the complacency of my train of thought when it came to this subject.  Images of the Ebola crisis and all its tragedies would flash in my mind and I reacted with a complacent empathy of people worlds away.

The awareness of the global community is taking shape in a new way.  I can no longer sit in the bubble I’d been in basically my whole life and career.  What was this virus doing in my space?  Within the last week, I have ridden the roller coaster of emotions that may be expected in a crisis like this – one we had so little preparation for – so little real knowledge.  As a psychotherapist I witness many types of emotional traumas yet feel ill prepared for the collective reaction I am seeing now.  The aftermath of 9/11 is as close to that as I have experienced, and I thought that was huge.   It feels to me like the snowball is unloosed from the mountain, grows bigger each second and is on the path of destruction with anything in its path.  Only this little virus can’t be seen.  To be honest, my anxiety felt like its own snowball and I saw the land of feeling out of control in my sight.  At this writing there is snowballs flying around but the landscape is changing.

My First Step

The antidote for stress is creativity.  I don’t know how many times I have told that to people. I say it because I believe it.  The test is now.  The test is NOW.   I started this creativity search with an intention.  And that was to find my way back to a sense of control and well-being and to do it in the most loving way possible.  Connecting love in this intention is important for as we know, love carries with it the highest energy frequency in the body.  Love Heals All is one of those spiritual wisdoms and my guiding light.  It’s been murky lately so as I’ve done before in my life, it’s back to step one.  In the 12-step program that step indicates a surrender to what you are feeling/experiencing and allowing openness for help from Divine/Spirit/Higher power.

Step 2 – Education

I’m learning, listening, and taking it all in.  What is fact/fiction and all the gray?  Given that there remains unknows, this gray awareness is important to understand.  I chose the sources I felt best reflected the govt, science and the spiritual community.  I began the filtering process from more the observer perspective and tried to keep my alarmist personality tendencies at bay.

Colorful enneagram of personality diagram in white background

There are distinct personality types that we all have as humans.  They exist in humanity so we can get the job of living done.  Understanding your own personality type can empower you when you experience your “automatic” reactions and wonder where they came from.  The enneagram is one such personality test I often suggest.  There are several tests out there but this one is free and takes relatively little time to take…and time is what we might have a little more of these days.  https://www.eclecticenergies.com/enneagram/test

Once you have this knowledge, you can use this information to understand some ways to take more control of your thoughts and emotions and simply be kinder to yourself.  Kindness and survival emotions of fear and anger don’t mingle well.

Step 3 – Get busy…. with adjusting activities.  Worry/concern is one thing – engaging with the fear or other negative emotions is the immune buster.  I can make a list now of the new stressors that have developed as a result of what’s happening and felt on the edge of a big screaming roller coaster deep dive until I realized I was there.  It was so easy to get there as all of this took me by surprise.  This is the first day of the rest of your life.  Another common phrase that I will often refer to that until now was underappreciated.  Here is a list of adjusting activities that I am beginning to develop for these times.  Check back for more in the future.

Adjusting Activities for Mental Health

  1. Start the day with meditation. Find your style whether it be prayer, conscious breathing, singing chants, Tai Chi or Qi Gong, or a gratitude practice.  Do it every day.  60-120 minutes is the goal!
  2. Develop a new daily routine – and treat it as such. Any new habits take awhile to gel so set the intention and be reassured that you are made for this.  The human body needs routines and after an initial resistance will cooperate.  Respect your unique situation.  Play something motivational.  I’m listening to one of Tony Robbins audio books for that. Joe Dispenza’s Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself can be eye-opening as well.
  3. Take special attention to your diet. This is not the time for processed food.  Immune boosting foods need to be the focus for all of us.
  4. Connect with others! We’ve been hearing a lot about that in the media.  Go with that!  There are so many great formats/technologies.  Be open to visiting with neighbors.  In modern times, this has gone by the wayside.  Community may be making a comeback.
  5. Get outside – That’s another no-brainer. If you can’t get out that day look outside, focus on something you see and stay with it and listen to that inner intuitive voice.    What I’m beginning to realize is….
  6. Start a journal of some kind. We are living in historic times.
  7. Have faith that this too shall pass.

The mountain lion symbolizes courage, leadership, strength, integrity and grace.  What animal may be showing up in your path?  Be aware and let’s step forward together.

Heart Power – Transforming Stress and Anxiety

Heart Power – Transforming Stress and Anxiety

 

Stress and Anxiety – Synonymous with life in the current culture.  Sometimes we are oblivious to its impact on our very lives.  At other times we minimize or rationalize it, “normal” for  living in today’s world.  As a therapist for many years, I have a unique perspective of how this all works – on our beliefs, attitudes and relationships.  Emotions, real and perceived have a powerful effect on our lives and lifestyle we choose to follow.  One way humans are unique in the mammal world is that we can create stress with a thought.  Compare that with a deer.  When they perceive a threat, they go into high alert with all the stress hormones working together to assess and deal with the threat.  When the threat passes, they quickly return to their regular routine, all body systems operating at the parasympathetic level – meaning relaxed and ok.  We have an 18 yr.  old cat that reminds us daily of these differences.  For many years, I lived the life of worker bee with the passion to help others and a desire to be seen in a positive light from others around me and in the community.  When I did take time for myself, I tried to manage a marriage, exercised, went to church and tried to create the best home life for my children.  In other words, time was at a premium and stress levels were high.  As life would have it , there were more bumps in my life than I had anticapated.

Get ready.  I hadn’t intended to get divorced or co-parent and found myself coping with the stigmas of relationship failures and parenting challenges.   In my 20’s I went through 2 divorces and had one child.  In my 30’s I had another marriage and another child and later in my 40’s I had another divorce.  I couldn’t figure out why my life wasn’t going according to this grand plan that I had dreamed up.   I was filled with anxieties that I had no vocabulary for.  I was educated in the realm of social work, had spent many years in service to helping others have a better life, yet didn’t have the answers or understanding to tune into what I needed to change.    From a young age I was passionate about helping and relationships. Unfortunately, the road to understanding was long.  Despite theses  failures life did take some wonderful turns after the decision was made to find the way in to understand myself and tap into the wisdoms of my heart.  My son introduced me to this quote from Samuel Beckett that is now a tatoo of character:  Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better. 

I walked the walk and tried to fit the mold and still wonder why I missed the many flags along the way.   I sometimes ponder the life that would have been if I had really understood the ways of anxiety, mood and thought.  I walked around with chronic anxiety and didn’t even know it. Now, I am realizing new perspectives of hardships and challenges that all humans have in one way or another.  Joe Dispenza refers to genetic destiny as the path that many will follow based on the learnings and conditionings of their earlier life, sometimes way earlier life.  We bring into this life emotional DNA which is related to the physical DNA characteristics we are born with.  Some refer to these energies as karma or perhaps past lives and there are many theories about this phenomenon.  My focus keys into the choices we have at various times throughout our lives.  These choices involve questioning ourselves and learning lessons we need to learn given our soul essences.  We can make changes and are not locked into our genetic destinies if we make the choice to do so.   “Be all you can be” or “Live up to your potential” or “You have to go through the fire to get to the gold” are some of the phrases that come to mind related to these critical times in our life.  Failures can turn into successes beyond our knowledge at the given time.  The key here is intention.  What do you really, really want.  I really wanted healthy love relationships.  Later on in my life path I met my husband; the one I had envisioned in my heart but not been able to realize until I had made significant changes and learned the lessons life was giving me.  Other positive and supportive  relationships have evolved and hopefully will continue.  Learning is a life long pursuit as they say…and very good for brain health…challenging the status quo and stepping into the unknown.

I recently returned from a conference in Sedona, AZ where the energies of the earth are particularly strong.  I was reminded again of the importance of stepping out of the comfort zone to “Embracing Bliss” (the name of the conference) where many new and creative ideas were shared and experienced.  Prior to this conference, I had decided to read and implement some of the practices of one of the presenters.  Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Joe Dispenza was the book that tapped into my mind.  Learning ways to quiet the mind and be in the zone of No-thing the goal.  To design the life you desire and taking the steps on this path to see it manifest are highlighted in the book.  Mind blowing, yet I was open to experiment and work the steps so to speak.  Sometimes we are drawn to things – books, experiences, opportunities etc. that make us Feel.  This is the time for questioning yourself and following up on the draw of emotion in the response to whatever grabbed you.  I learned that about 60% of us humans have addictive behaviors that cause us suffering and that the keys include knowledge about ourselves and practices to tap into this self…and the better we know ourselves the less we fear change.

A primary job of a therapist is to help others tap into that inner self that really does know what to do and release those negative beliefs/emotions that have caused untold havoc.  We all have the secret knowledge and keys to a good life underneath all the stress layers formed over time.  The puzzle is how to tap into it without having to retreat from life and meditate/pray for long hours.  Greg Braden, researcher, scientist and spiritual teacher spoke about the heart brain – that our hearts contain 40,000 sensory neurons that are active in affecting our behaviors.  It’s where the wisdom lies in a sense.  You may have heard the phrase, “Listen to your heart”; now there is science to back this up.  Heartmath’s website indicates that “the heart’s input to the brain during stressful or negative emotions also has a profound effect on the brain’s emotional processes—actually serving to reinforce the emotional experience of stress. In contrast, the more ordered and stable pattern of the heart’s input to the brain during positive emotional states has the opposite effect – it facilitates cognitive function and reinforces positive feelings and emotional stability. This means that learning to generate increased heart rhythm coherence, by sustaining positive emotions, not only benefits the entire body, but also profoundly affects how we perceive, think, feel, and perform.”  I purchased a bio-feedback tool that connects with your heartrate, measures the variability of the beats and lets you know when you are “out of coherence”.  It works with a smartphone and an app.  Finally, a gadget I could figure out!

When you learn how to tap into this inner wisdom, there is the potential to access deep intuition on demand.

Heart/brain coherence practice: 

The best part is the ease of this practice.  There are 3 steps.

  1. Touch your heart with your hand of fingers, whatever feels comfortable.
  2. Breath into your heart and slow down your breath just a little.  Maybe count to 5 on the inhale and the exhale.
  3. Think/experience gratitude, thoughts of appreciation, compassion or love for at least 3 minutes.
  4. Notice how you feel.

This has been powerful as I have worked with this practice and have seen the benefits in with those I teach it to.  I encourage you to research this and practice yourself.  It does involve closing your eyes from the environment that is so seductive with all its constant distractions.  We can easily succumb to the addictions of stress hormones of the daily grind but the power of really getting our heart’s desires is to create this quiet state; to really listen to what it is your heart – true self really needs to create happiness.  Couples that can enter this practice together have the potential to bypass trouble and create the life best for each other.  I am excited to experiment and see the results.    Let’s get to work!

 

 

 

Emotions/ Lifestyle and Upcoming Classes

 

Summer in Fargo, ND is embraced by most of us who live here as a gift that is time limited. Trees and vegetation are lush and happy; the gardens are growing and the markets are outdoors….like the farmers markets of the city.  The topic today is related to nature, balance and some of the bumps in the road.    I continue to be amazed at the workings of the relationships in the  body.  In my own healing journey I am realizing more and more the power of knowledge and discernment.  Scents that hit our noses are packed full of knowledge in the chemical molecules.  In recent studies from Science AAAS, humans can distinguish up to 1 trillion scents vs the 10,000 that had previously been thought to be our human capacity.  Even those with rather poor sense of smell had the ability to distinguish 80 million.  Our immune network is a vast combination of interactive cellular communities, chemical potions of molecules, and the individual’s daily experience: attitudes, emotions, stresses, and happiness.  The immune organization is truly a body-mind experience.  In one of my classes with Alexandria Brighton, the aromatherapy formulator, we explored the system of the white blood cells defense/types of immune cells and was in awe of the different classes of cells and how they can learn to detect and protect.

 

NK “Natural Killer” cells are the earliest defenders against viral infections, killing virus-infected cells directly within hours of attack, even before the rest of the immune collaboration takes place.  These cells are sensitive to lifestyle and emotions.  This has been measured in the labs: If you are feeling lonely or depressed, your NK cells may become sluggish.  Meditate, find something funny to watch and you pep up these cells. (This validates laughter Yoga and comedy) Previously, I have referred to Candace Pert’s research in emotions and health.  A series of experiments performed in the 1970’s isolated minute chemicals called neurotransmitters, which are used by the nervous system to transmit information, including thought processes, throughout the body.  Scientists were excited to find that these neurotransmitters existed well beyond the physical boundaries of the brain.  They have been found in the adrenal glands of those with anxiety and in their blood as well.  We now know that our immune system does not exist in isolation from our emotions.

 

Alexandria Brighton has developed a line of essential oil blends that target the imbalances of life.  It is called the Release and Restore or Dispel and Restore – they are referred to in both those ways. There are 20 blends targeting fear, victimization, anger, unhealthy relationships, fear, judgement and self-sabotage.  Each negative emotion connects with its positive emotion such as courage, independent self, unconditional love, empathy, prosperity and reality check.  Changes have been observed.  They are a great tool.  I encourage you to research them.  goDesana.com/newpath

 

Google has been in the news lately with the controversial memo about how men and women perform in the workplace: that men may perform better and could handle more work stress.  Women tended to less driven to work insanely long hours and live the good life in corporate America so to speak.  The ability to power work is still glorified.  The series of Mad Men is recalled and the image of those skyscrapers, bars in the offices, and chain smoking and sex on the couches with the secretaries.  Science has not transmuted to our everyday culture yet.  Living a healthy lifestyle is still not the norm but is becoming more popular.  One of the positives of this memo was the response by so many.  People are standing up and noticing.  We are evolving despite what the news, governments and others may say: and this evolution is positive.  Let’s get to work then.  There is a man employed by Google called the Happiness officer.  His job is to teach others the practice of mindfulness and balance. I hope the author of that memo finds his way there.

 

Developing healthy lifestyles is a choice.  The question:  “What is best for me?  What is best for me?  What is really, really best for me?”  These are the questions I pose to those I work with to help the wheels start turning in a creative way.  When there is high stress, there is usually rigid or polarized thinking. (It’s either this way or that) It’s often hard to get out of our usual ruts of thinking and making up things.  Our brains make up solutions if we don’t have them, and sometimes these “solutions” are negative and not in the best interests of our whole self.  Anyone that is challenged with depression or anxiety knows the power of negative and critical self-talk.  These are some of the made-up solutions that I’m referring to.  I created my own business some years ago, It started as a leap out of the employee status motivated by a businessman who frankly told me I shouldn’t do it…that I didn’t have the skill set.  I was after all rather sensitive and with that some of the side effects of focus, anxiety and insecurities.  Still, in my 40’s I ventured out of my own box into the world of creativity and shades of color.  There have been many twists and turns but long story short, it was one of the best decision I ever made.  One common “solution” that my brain came up with was “I won’t have enough money” when my business would slow for some reason and “You must not be a good enough therapist.” When we hear things like this our bodies take it seriously and react in some way.  You may not notice it but it is recorded.   As time passes the jug fills up so to speak and the body has symptoms…all sorts of emotional or physical problems you have heard about or may have experienced.   This is a similar process in relationships.  You can run but cannot hide from your emotions.  The best way is to decide to be open to whatever they are and do something about them.

 

5 Steps to Transformation  (insights of the day)

  1. Decide to live more authentically and set that as your intention.
  2. Hydrate – drink lots of fresh, filtered water and use 1/2 of an organic lemon/lime in the mornings.  You can also add a drop of lemon essential oil and a drop of peppermint to cleanse the liver during high stress times.  Do this for a week and see how you feel.  It can be energizing.  My husband does this periodically and has noticed significant decrease in allergy/asthma symptoms.
  3. Wellness plan – Develop one…find good support from trusted friends/mentors/professionals.   Striving for your own excellence is a not done in a vacuum.
  4. Nutrition/complementary/medical care – Seek to understand your own body, use the best essential oils/herbs for healing and be check in on your medical Dr. to get the numbers so to speak on your internal health.  Medical school doesn’t educate doctors to understand personalized nutrition.  There is a product out called Gene SNP that is used by mental health professionals to assess DNA and best lifestyle practices.  It’s the science that we have available now although it is still in the early stages of being utilized.
  5. Think in abundant terms…You are loved on this earth.  Even though all these things may happen remind yourself in front of the mirror each day that You are Loved.  Google mirror work and see some of the results.

 

 

Classes:  I have 2 classes coming up on Friday, August 25th  that I am doing with Veronica Ortega.   Emotions and essential oils is from 11 AM-12 PM.  Healing with whole foods and introduction to Mind, Body Soul anti-inflammatory nutritional products is from 12 PM-1 PM.  For details about Veronica or the classes,  please refer to my facebook page – Tina M Johnson, MSW 

Location:  1321 23rd St So.  Ste H  Fargo, ND    Cost:  Free!  

 

As always, please contact me if you have questions or need additional information.

 

 

Scammed – the Trauma, Tragedy and Repair

Being scammed is more and more the norm of this technologically based culture.  I hear about it all the time, have seen its effects with others, myself in a few situations and clients who have shared their stories.  I do not consider myself scam naive and have done my best at keeping up with security issues.  The rug was jerked out from underneath my feet recently when I found myself the victim of one of the “old” scams.  The computer freezes, commands you not to shut it down and puts on a reputable Microsoft logo underneath the pop-up urgent request to call the Microsoft helpline which I did. I was simply buying movie tickets for that evening, looking forward to some leisure with my husband and within moments was hearing all about how my network wasn’t protected by the appropriate security.  I let this unknown person take control of my computer to “fix” the problem which led into the cost of the security products I was buying.  I kept going!  My intuition was sending me warning signals but the panic which I was not fully aware of was running the show.  It gets worse.  The fees for all these fixes were $375 with all the “fees” and “taxes’ that were applied in the end – even with the “senior discount.”  He wanted my checkbook account/routing numbers and I had it out before I stopped yet quickly he said, “No problem, we can go through your Amazon account.”  Sounded somewhat legit (not really) so I did it.  Amazon sent back an email questioning this purchase on Gold Coins, which is apparently a way to send money to a third party.  He then told me to go back and change my password on Amazon to validate the charge.

I finally felt the sinking nausea of what was really happening.  I put myself on hold and called the “real” Microsoft company which confirmed my body’s reactions.  They told me to turn off my computer immediately and that I could be helped by them if I paid the fee of $149 for a year contract of service.  It seemed I had no options and I paid it.  I was referred to the New Delhi computer techs to trouble shoot my problem and hopefully fix it.   Unfortunately, the language and background noise of his co-workers and the slowness of the process, it took me another 2 hours to hear that I needed to take it “into the store.”  I assumed this meant the computer repair shop.  I didn’t think there was a Microsoft store in Fargo, ND.  He couldn’t clarify this when I asked him.  By this time, it was 7 PM.  I had started my movie ticket purchase at 2:30 that afternoon and was mentally exhausted not to mentioned full of muscle tension.

As the evening progressed, I became more aware of what happened on another level.  I had let myself be victimized and was self-critical; chastising myself for being so stupid.  Then I felt the anger – what right do people have to hurt others all in the name of control and money? Then, the awareness of past traumas experienced in my life…. When I was a teenager, when I was hurt and taken advantage of in my life.  Slices of childhood memories before I had to grow up meander through with the mixed feelings of longing, joy and sadness.  The real world keeps you on guard.  Watch, always watch.  I have the scenario of what I would have said to this perpetrator when I saw that his call was coming in after I shut down the computer and his cold reactions of ruining my system.  Of course, I thought of his mother and what she would think of him doing this to someone.  I wish I could have grabbed the call and give him a piece of my mind so to speak.  I don’t think I’ve ever really done that.  Mid-westerners act with the most reserve…. that’s the world I grew up in that anyway.  As a therapist and one trained in critical incident debriefings, I knew the material.  Living life assertively and with maturity is a life worth striving for. Faking that is difficult.

Recovering from this trauma began almost immediately. Knowledge helps for sure but it didn’t save me.  I went to my stress tool bag and reached out to a few support people via text.  Just knowing that they knew and were sending love made a difference.  Next came my thoughts and focus on the bigger picture….my responsibility for panic and forgiving myself for not being perfectly composed/logical.  Positive, positive and even more positive thinking about any good that could possibly be gained from this ordeal. In this phase I would suggest thinking before speaking to loved ones…. emotions can be easily projected. I tried to keep the excess negativity away from my spouse.  He didn’t do anything.  Venting is great, dumping all your complaints isn’t.  I practiced one of the most powerful self-healing techniques that I use myself and teach to many of my clients and friends.  It is called Ho’oponopono which is an ancient Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness.  It consists of four statements:  I love you, I’m sorry, please forgive me, Thank you.  These energetic words, when said from the heart can be healing if not transforming.  There is some quality You Tube videos that take you through the practice to use whenever you create stress for yourself.  I do this practice along with EFT, a tapping strategy to use to help calm the body.  There are certain points on the body that when stimulated help the body calm, when you combine tapping with emotion awareness and positive affirmations one can significantly lower stress levels in the body.  These are practices that are easy to learn and have a long track record of benefit.  I use one of high frequency essential oils while I’m doing the tapping which only makes the practice better.  Transform is one such oil blend.

I got a call from Microsoft the next morning and they went through the process of refunding my $149 given the circumstances.  They were proactive on this and I am grateful…haven’t seen the refund on my card yet but I felt good about the effort.  I also attended my church, shared my experiences and did some singing…these activities were good for my soul and a great positive distraction which is another tool in the bag.  I also reached for my healing essential oils such as Lavender Vera and others supportive for the nervous system.  It’s always good to have some basic essential oil knowledge when you can really use it!  This afternoon I got a good walk in and went to the movie I had hoped to go to yesterday. Therapy for the mind.  My computer is non-functional and I assume it will be a rather big fix not to mention any other fall out from being hacked.   Even though things aren’t back to normal, I feel hopeful that they will be soon.  The computer repair man reiterated how easy it is to fall victim and how clever they can be to dupe the public.  “They keep doing it because people pay them money.”  He said if there are no global regulations of the internet these kinds of activities will continue.  Bottom line – Be aware, do your best to keep up be logical and Be Kind to yourself if it happens to you.  Still, I wonder about the hackers and how they reconcile their behaviors.  I’ll send them the Ho’oponopono message energetically.  That, I can do.

Six months later – I have retained the awareness of my experience and been able to assist others caught in the same computer trap.  I’ve worked on the emotion of frustration and learned that this emotion connects with many other negative feelings.  How have I worked on this emotion?  I regularly visit my own stress tool bag and look around for any new ones that might be effective.  The one I found for this emotion was a book called Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Dr. Joe Dispenza.  He highlights specific steps one can take to be who you were born to be, not taught to be.  Powerful and transforming if that’s the tool you choose.  I challenge readers to create their own stress tool kit.  Let me know if I can be of assistance.

 

 

 

How To Stay Sane On Election Day and Beyond

 

November 2016

stress-2-people-imageOK, It’s coming and I have some “Inspirdrive”, to coin a phrase, of how I feel at this moment in this country’s history.  Being in the mental health field for 30+ years I am bamboozled by this election season’s long and snarly road.  I’ve heard more frustrations, rage, confusion, depressive and anxiety symptoms that I can remember in the past.   Our mental health is stressed!  (As if you didn’t know) The impact of stress is well documented in research.  More than a little stress in our lives impacts our bodies and health and most of us have been told that at one point or another.  We are designed to deal with stress on a short term basis.  Our bodies are marvelous machines made to solve problems and get our needs met and once that’s done, calm down.  Our animals have this figured out.  I talk to my cat about all that is going on here, the political media blitzes, the polarizing of social media, the Protest in western ND, you name it.  He lifts his head up while I get activated, assesses that it’s not going to hurt him and sinks his head back down on the rug…. although when the vacuum cleaner is brought out, he freaks out and disappears until its quiet again.  This political season has brought out the low drone of a constant vacuum cleaner that follows us around and as much as we may want to avoid any fallout it is almost impossible.

Many of the clients I see have reported significant impact in their lives, whether it be work, social or family relationships.  It brings out the Stress in them, meaning that when we are triggered by anything either in our external or internal environment that creates a negative emotion, a resulting reaction occurs.  Research suggests 4 Stress Styles that are most common.  The first one is Placator/Peace at any price style.   If we are unaware, this can be rather automatic such as “I think Clinton should win” comment to a Trump supporter.  “What, are you crazy?  Can’t you see she’s a crook?”  The response here may be related to what style of stress that is carried.  Let’s just say the Clinton supporter was brought up to be agreeable and not to rock the boat.  Her response may be…”Well maybe you’re right, I’ll have to check it out or Yes, she did do lots of things.”  The second one is the Blamer/I’m right, You’re wrong  style which would trigger a different reaction.  “What? You’re the one who’s crazy.  Have you seen that video?”  The third approach is called Super Reasonable/Computer style which downplays any emotion.  “Well, it says in the polls that there is a slight lead for Clinton.  Let’s look at the statistics.”   The fourth style is called the Distractor/Ignore and the problem vanishes.   Responses may be completely unrelated to the issues at hand.  “Hey, let’s just forget all this and go out and play cards/shop/clean the house/work/drink…you name it.”    These reactions to stress triggers are usually tied back into our childhoods and that software is pretty tightly woven.  In order to bypass these automatic reactions, we need to first be aware and understand the power that they have on our everyday behaviors.  Once you do this then comes the good part.  You can take parts of each of the styles and integrate them into your own style for a positive outcome.  For example, the positive aspect of the Placator is being sensitive and compassionate to another’s emotions; the good part of the Blamer is the assertiveness it brings to the table; the ability to speak our truth without blaming.  The Super Reasonable/Computer can remind us to use logic and reason when managing a situation and with the Distractor, comes the reminder to play and take breaks…. but we will get back to the problem.

stress-imageEven though we can’t eliminate our negative tendencies to react in these certain ways, we can transcend them with practice.  After the election will come all the waves of uncertainty of “what’s going to happen” until the dust settles in January.   Then, it’s likely to resurface again given the roller coaster media ride we’ve all been on.  What I’d really like is to feel a sense of stability and trust.  One way to keep sane is to focus on things we can control.  Look at your hands and for most of us we can move them.  Let that be a reminder for the moment that what may be most important is self-management or as I like to call it Mindfulness.  How am I going to cultivate stability and trust in myself given that I’ve just heard or seen someone make a triggering comment?  The goal here is to catch your style going into action and allow yourself the chance to create the mindset that is best for you.  Is this easy?  It gets easier with practice but the rewards are great; one being the expression of your authentic truth rather than the automatic stress style dribble.  The more you practice the more dribble you can experience which leads to a stronger sense of self and a better outlook which of course is a stress reliever.  Although this is not the immediate “keep yourself sane” technique but it is one to work on daily.

Some of the best strategies for this season relate to catching yourself, breathing deeply and evenly and repeat to yourself 10 times “All is well”.   There is a great mirror exercise written about by Louise Hay that confirms the power of positive affirmations to yourself daily.  Check out the mirror exercise on You tube if you are interested.  Even though you think all may not be well on the outside, this exercise calms the mind. If you want excitement and drama go for it.  Media will be hyping it all up but keep in mind the balance of nature and the power of small practices to keep yourself sane.   Don’t forget to add the water, herbal teas and lemons/limes.  These are detoxing for any type of stress you are facing.   One of my favorite essential oils to calm anxiety is Frankincense or Lavender Frankincense which combines two calming essential oils.  Just make sure they are of therapeutic grade and organic.  For more information on that check out  http://goDesana.com/newpath   In the short term, do-nuts, diet coke, a good stiff drink or any number of mind medicating substances may be calling your name   What your brain really needs is care!   Finally, on Tuesday let’s not forget that we are all in this together.  Let’s do what we can – in our own ways – one task or practice at a time.   Good luck!

 

Tina M Johnson, MSW, BCD

1321 23rd St So, Ste H

Fargo, ND  58103

https://www.relatecommunicate.com

tmjohnsonmsw@gmail.com

 

 

 

The Body and Love Relationships

 

hug imageCan the type and quality of your intimate relationships affect your health?  You are probably wondering, “What doesn’t affect your health?”  There are many studies that indicate stress as a trigger for most of today’s ailments and problems.  Emotions and the stress we feel are intimately connected.  We can’t control our emotions but we can learn to be aware of them and  the good news about managing these emotions is  that love is the big winner here.  So, how does love affect our health? It has a lot to do with it!  I’ve really only been tracking this with intention over the past 5-10 years  after I met and married the most authentic love of my love and, might I add the best teacher of myself.  The other factor was turning 50.  Nothing like a little age factor to wake up to the physical body.  Glasses and menopause came on the scene and life changed again.

Menopause in most women enters their lives in the 50’s….give or take a few years.  I entered this decade relatively naive – despite “education” I had little experience in the process of menopause in the women of my family history.  I grew up in the era of “grin and bear it” or “It’s not a subject worth mentioning” or “It’s not that big of a deal”.  Each woman has her own set of beliefs for this life stage too, and hand them down to our family, we do.  I often encourage women to examine the women in their lives for information to unearth their own guiding rules.  What does menopause have to do with love and health?  For me, these transitions melded together.  Other transitions include the birth of a child,  moving, caring for parents, or others that require major shifts.  I won’t speak to men’s mid life transition to this decade here.  That will be another piece to work on with my husband.  It’s a big deal too!

I have  worked with many couples in my psychotherapy practice over the years and noticed patterns of stress management depending on the stage of life, stressors experienced, and family history – meaning here the  family dynamics and biologic/personality traits inherited.  Humans generally have a huge capacity for doing what they believe they want.  We’re designed that way. We have strong defense systems.  Denial, minimizing, avoiding and blaming/projecting are examples of how we deflect our stressors.    How else are we going to survive?  I remember the drive I had earlier in my career to make a living and do something good for the world.  I choose a traditional path of social work and walked the way I was taught at home, school and at work.  I got married when I thought I was supposed to and ….well that’s when life’s twists and turns really started showing up.  Negative emotions fuels stress and if you don’t have the emotional skills, they will erupt into depressive or anxious periods, self- medication with any number of addictive substances or things and physical illnesses.   I’ve experienced divorce in all its complexities and traumas, been a single parent twice and all the while still believing that I would someday find the trail of happiness.  I eventually realized that it is usually not the most trodden one.  I had to find my own path outside that “box” of what I thought life was supposed to look like.  When I realized that it was OK to go outside the box, life changed dramatically.   It lined up with finding a healthy love relationship.   Interestingly, I needed to learn that before I was ready to begin that relationship which reflects one of those wise truths about tending to yourself first.

baby imageThe body is your first intimate relationship.  I was spending time with a baby this weekend:  Lucy, her 7 month old body in hand, reacted to impulses and stimuli with her whole body.  Her ear hurts, her fists try to go in, her curiosity aroused, she observes intently, tired, she reacts with fussiness.   She responds in relationship to how she is treated when she reacts to her body.  Much is written about child development and there are various theories of why we learn to behave in the ways that we do.  The point here is that our body is our best guide…always.  We just have to evolve back and integrate our first true and authentic relationship.  How does that relate to love relationships?   When you give your partner a hug next time, just notice what happens to your body.  Notice what happens in your mind.  That’s all you need to do to get started on a new path.  Your body won’t lie.  Notice if you are feeling any tensions, sensations, especially in your stomach. (the second brain)  If you can communicate what you are observing and your partner understands what you say then you have practiced a core communications strategy called Confiding.  Confiding is the ability to communicate what you think and feel and feel safe with your partner. Confiding is not complaining.  It is stating your reality of the moment.  If you find yourself rehearsing what you should say, then you are filtering and feeding your stress.  For more information on this skill I will refer you to www.pairs.com.

Another way into your body is a technique called muscle testing.  There are simple strategies to access your own body’s wisdom.  One easy one is called the sway test.  Stand with balance and a calm mind.  Make a statement that you know the answer is Yes.   For example:  I like chocolate.  Then, watch the way your body moves without intentionally moving it.  Make a statement with a No response and observe your reaction carefully.  Practice for awhile and soon you will notice a pattern.  When the answer is Yes, your body will sway one way and when the answer is no, it will sway another.  Once you have it mastered, you can use this technique whenever you want.   Anyone can learn it if they want to.  I suggest you don’t use it when you are emotional – wait until you are calm and able to focus in on yourself.  website couple image

My husband and I recently organized a workshop called Re-Awakening Love Relationships.  One of the main experiences of the day was learning to do just that –  are at any given time.  If you can master that one, you will never be one of those couples that sit in a restaurant with nothing to talk about.  You can always go back to your body and ask it what it is noticing and share these observations with your partner. It can be very sensual!  See where the conversation goes and you will be surprised.  Our bodies can talk and we can listen!  Loving our own selves is the best investment for a long and lasting love relationship.

If you are interested we will be doing the workshop in the near future.  Info on my website at https://www.relatecommunicate.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Releasing the Raging Bull – Transforming Trauma

angry bull  It’s time for me to let the bull out of it’s congested cage.  That cage is, of course, a metaphor for my thoughts and the sometimes overwhelming control of this bull despite being in that rather small brain space of mine – the approximately 3.5 lbs of matter that is the governing force of my life.  The question is “Am I the chairman of this operation?”  Or am I being overwhelmed and controlled by the many forces that be – external or internal as the case may be.  What have I been paying the most attention to?  I remember high school biology class and the image of Mr. Olson informing us of how to complete the “leaf project” and the importance of the project in passing the class.  I wasn’t incredibly ambitious during my sophomore year and remember the resistance my mind put up to this project and the difficulty in completing it.  As I look outside today, I see the brilliant fall colors and autumn leaves everywhere, the result of a bountiful summer coming to an end and the likelihood of similar images that fall many years ago. horse vault
fall leaf project
 I actually liked  nature; what  I disliked was the categorizing and organizing  of each leaf and the  overwhelm felt within.  Consequently, this   created a negative set of thoughts and beliefs about myself.   “I can’t do this”  “Something must be wrong with me”   “I’m not smart enough,”  Gym class creates a whole other set of memories and beliefs.  The one that comes to mind is the one in 7th grade when the students all lined up to jump over the horse which is a gymnastics feat that was introduced in the class.  I stood there, with my snap up royal blue cotton gym suit, probably a little tight on my overweight body, and tried to muster up courage to get over that hurdle.  I ran, slowed and stopped just before I leaped, the motion pushing me into the horse. This resulted in  a clumsy fall over is what I would call it.  I remember the frustration that my body just didn’t do what I wished it would and I didn’t understand why.  I always liked the beauty of the gymnasts bodies artfully moving through their routines and the same is true for the colors of nature but what do you think has more sticking power?  The velcro of traumatic experiences cannot be understated.  Granted, there are temperaments that can predispose one to being more vulnerable to emotion but for the most part just being human creates the scene for drama and the importance of awareness of these created patterns.   My raging bull has taken various forms throughout my life and career and like for everyone, my life has internal drama.  It is time for this one to come out of it’s closet.  It’s been pounding around controlling my vary existence for too long.  I experienced an injury in the mid 2000’s – fell over the foot stool and landed on my sacrum fall which weakened my lower back.  Over the years it has gradually worsened and eventually  began to really cause problems in the last couple of years.  I’ve had to give up some things I liked to do, adjust my life and do my best to maintain a busy work and home life.  I want my body to work the way it used to and then….wait, when I thought about how it used to be I became aware of the tendency I always had to feel that I was rather weak – not like everybody else.  And when you’re not like everybody else as viewed by a child, especially a girl child. bad things can be felt.  More old negative beliefs.  The accident and injury only drew more attention to the underlying and most unacknowledged themes of my life.

This raging bull is the symbol for my steady stream of negative thinking about my condition, its limitations and possible consequences for the future.  I’m identifying the main ones as an exercise to exorcise and transform negativity to divine creativity….and one antidote to stress is creativity.  “How will I work?  Will I have enough energy?  What if I can’t work? What if pain overtakes me and I can’t do what I want to do?  Things in life I like are being taken away.  I don’t have control.  What should I do?”  Even as I write these statements by body is reacting – it feels like it is squirming as I reveal my inner ruminations.  One of the symptoms of my injury is nerve sensations at different areas of the body – like the nervous system has its own language when it comes to these things.  Each sensation has the potential to arouse my brain and be alert to it.   In psychological terms this reflects problems in the orienting response in my brain.  Instead of processing smoothly between the stages, I  remain stuck  and fail to effectively  evaluate and integrate what is actually being experienced.  Rather, old schemas patterning the trauma/old beliefs take over.  For example, I may feel a tingling in my foot, pain in my lower back, uncomfortable sensations in my body and immediately be on guard and negative thoughts which often ends perpetuating more self doubt and fear.

It’s a spinning machine, one that has remnants of past behaviors and habits.  Can I just say I hate this spinning machine?  That I wish it would just go away and then get mad at myself when it doesn’t.  All this internal spinning can be exhausting because in the meantime my life goes on in clock time and the emotions are kept within.   Writing is one of my creative outlets and  I enjoy spinning words so when I decided to tackle this subject, my heart stirred dare I say  with joy?   Strange but true.  I also came out and told my pilates/yoga teacher that I couldn’t maintain in the “easy” class and had no idea what my options could be.  Logical processing of the situation was laced with old trauma schemas and I stumbled over my words, worrying that she would say there were no more options for me.  “I’m hopeless” with remnants of my fall over on the horse.  A smile came to my lips as I imagined the incident in comedic form and I now take some liberties to alter the story just a little as they say.  I imagine the teacher giving me a great big smile for trying and reassuring me there is a way to accomplish this goal “if I wanted it”.  She would point out things like activities I may like such as dancing or power walking or better yet a class to help understand my body.  She would highlight differences and give me hope.  I love the image where I walk away with lots of options vs the sense of embarrassment and failure.  One add on – I altered my gym suit and found a very cool outfit.  I am curious about this new outlet for the spinning and may just have to write another update blog.  Transforming my  raging bull may be a long process…maybe not.  One of those noble truths comes to mind.  Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.  It’s one day at a time.    And about that pilates class…my teacher said there is hope for me and that we’d work together to come up with solutions.  cat in a basket

Who Am I Trying to Fool? The Jester Pain Body Strikes Again

fire image sillouetteWhen you least expect it, the pain body can jump right in the midst of your day…the moment  you were just minding your business.  The phone call may come in, the comment at the other end of the line, a person cuts in front of you on the street, the interaction with a loved one  sparks the fire.  I tried not to pay attention to the my reaction…”no big deal” I told myself.  “I’m beyond these kind of things.”  I’ve read numerous articles, even books on the subject of cognitive restructuring.  This is the fancy term for reorganizing your negative thoughts into ones that are more realistic to the situation and applying them to replace the negative thoughts you have identified.   “Who am I trying to fool?  I’ll never be a success.  I’m just not wired up the right way.  What’s wrong with me anyway?  Why can’t I be like ….? ”  I felt the fire start to go from a spark to the kindling stage each time I noticed another negative thought – one just slipped in after the other; some slipping in between the ones I could catch.  It wasn’t long before I felt the  waves of emotion begin to impact my body.

Life as a therapist has allowed me many opportunities to practice what I preach so to speak…but this one was a big one.  It involved one of my core issues…being good enough.  This, of course is what the researchers call shame.  Again, there are volumes out there; a recent body of research by Brene’  Brown,  a social worker and  researcher  is making all the media headlines with her emphasis on vulnerability and shame and strategies to re-think and re-shape our attitudes and perceptions of these emotions within all of us humans.   She slogged through many challenging times, learned some hard lessons and persevered all the way to the Super Soul Sunday with Oprah.  She is all about realizing our inner gifts and being who we were meant to be.  Sometimes just Being is plenty.

sloth imageThis is all well and good but today I slogged  – The good news about slogging is that it does end.  Once the pain body fire gets ignited and goes through it’s fire dance it gets played out and like a fire burns itself out where, according to Eckhart Tolle, the author of A New Earth,  it goes into it’s quiet place until it’s re-ignited again. He states that an emotion can be a response to an actual situation or event, bit it does so through the filter of a mental interpretation, through mental concepts of good and bad, like and dislike, me and mine.    For example, Tolle points out that you most likely will not feel emotion when you are told that someone’s car has been stolen, but if it is your car, the emotional impact will be felt. “It’s amazing how much emotion a little mental concept like “my” can generate.   Our body’s intelligence is amazing in its ability to function but it has trouble discerning worrisome, fearful thoughts as just thoughts.  It treats them as if they were reality.  If we have past conditioning that have created unconscious belief such as “people cannot be trusted” or “There is never enough money” or ” I don’t deserve love”  then these unconscious assumptions create emotions in the body which in turn generate  mind activity and /or instant reactions.  These negative emotions are connected to our egos and again cause all kinds of chaos and conflicts.  The good news here is that with each new breath one takes there is another opportunity to move forward.    Through practice I have learned to be more aware of my own pain bodies and can sometimes trace them back to their origins, whether that be in childhood or beyond.  Sometimes we can inherit these pain bodies from our families where they take up residence on the emotional level and cause havoc when triggered.

What does a wave of emotion feel like?  Pay attention to your reactions sometime and you will begin to experience your own unique expression although it usually involves the brain and the stomach, the 1st and 2nd brains according to the literature.  I feel heaviness, mood changes, irritability, some back/neck aches and pains as well as anxiety symptoms; not the ideal way to spend a beautiful fall day in ND.  There is much to learn about the power of these emotional pain bodies and no matter what stage of life we are in there is hope.  I need to hear this again and again when my mind/body is in this state of agitation.  So what did I do yesterday?  I lived through it.  I began to write which is a creative activity to counter negativity.  Painting, singing, music  and any number of mindful movements can help tame this lion. I would avoid any compulsive exercises where it is easy to numb out.  There is a place pushing and working hard but this is not the time.    I used my centering prayer ideas – to the best of my abilities and tried to be compassionate with myself.  I’ve been following Pope Francis as he has traveled among the people in this country.  I noticed the feeling of warmth and love whenever I would see him move throughout the different environments.  I became curious about the lives of others, the role of the Jesuit, the special roles of each and every one of us.  Everyone matters.  The truth of this is overwhelming yet it connects with each and every pain body reaction that occurs.  Pain gives us an opportunity to dive deep and look for what needs to change and  accepted with that same base of Love and Truth.   Here’s to encouragement and perseverance.  Taming the pain body lion is an act of your own truth and a connection to the Universal one.  I wish myself and the reader the tools of a compassionate Lion Tamer.fire lion