TRANSFORMATION

images-2

How do we change?  How do we break old habits?  How do we stop behaviors that we know are not good for us?  I believe these are questions that everyone asks themselves at some point or another.  Yet probably many are left feeling frustrated, discouraged or even depressed when their efforts to make positive changes fall flat.  We try controlling ourselves using diets and discipline but these methods usually fail.  So what is the secret?

My experience of transformation happened in two parts.  The first was the wake up call I received which gave me a forceful shove and the second was intentional awareness.  Now I don’t recommend waiting until you get the wake up call because it often comes in the form of something unpleasant like a health problem.  And sometimes even the wake up call goes ignored if we are living deeply in our denial.

That leaves us with the second option:  awareness.  As far as I can tell, the first step towards deep and lasting change is always awareness.  When you start to shine the light of awareness on the negative thoughts and beliefs in your mind, they lose their power to control your actions.  With awareness, it become impossible to treat yourself with disrespect or cruelty.  With awareness, it becomes impossible to continue bad habits.  There can be no darkness once the light on.

In Osho’s book, “Awareness”, he tells the story of a thief who wants improve himself but still wants to be a thief.  Everyone else had told him that he had to stop stealing and it hadn’t worked.   Finally, a man tells the thief that all he has to do is be aware; ‘Do whatever you like but do it with full awareness.’   So the thief followed this man’s advice and found that when he was aware he could not steal.  The thief then realizes that he must choose between being aware or being a thief because these cannot exist together.

You can’t make transformation happen;  all you can do become aware.  Once you are aware, you will no longer let weeds take over your garden.  Once you are aware, you will carefully tend to the plants and flowers making sure they receive all the water, nutrients and sunlight they need to grow.  You cannot force a flower to bloom;  it will bloom when it is ready.  All growth in nature happens at its own pace and so it is with human growth.

Yesterday I stood under a tree and looked up.  I watched as a water droplet fell from the branches above.  I watched another and another.  It seemed so amazing and beautiful to me.  These droplets of water seemed to be saying, ‘Jeronimo!’ and then letting go as if free-falling from an airplane.  They just allowed themselves to be pulled down by the force of gravity; no resistance.  These droplets were transparent.  I could see right through them.  What could I learn from them?

I had a dream that I lost my jacket and I was so distraught.  I believe that my dreams of jackets represent the layers of protection that I wear.  The idea of losing these layers is quite unnerving.  I have worn them for so long, thinking they would protect me from being hurt but in reality they only keep me from deepening my connections with others.  What if I could become transparent?  What if I just let go and allow myself to surrender to simply being?  What if I stopped trying to restrict and control myself?  What if, instead of molding myself the way I think others want me to be, I was authentically me?  What if, instead of worrying about how others might react, I acted in accordance with my own integrity?

I believe with awareness, there is no gap, no distance, between your innermost needs and your external actions.  When you start to see through your reactions and habits to the fear that lurks behind them, they start to drop away just like those droplets of water.  The jackets of protection are no longer necessary and all that remains is your consciousness.  Then there is no confusion:  there is no–should I do A or B?  There is no judgement or resistance:  there is no Ahh–that is bad!  Go away!  There is no fear:  there is no anxiety about saying or doing the wrong thing;  no concern about being able to handle the future.  All that exists is love, serenity, clarity, openness and acceptance. 

A woman asked the question:  What is the difference between ‘acceptance’ and ‘putting up with something’?  I pondered this question and came up with some ideas.  I interpreted ‘putting up with something’ as being the same as ‘tolerance’.  So I will compare acceptance and tolerance.

Tolerance basically means to disapprove of something but to endure it anyway.  This way takes effort and time and it brings fear because we have no idea how long this undesirable quality, person or situation is going to be around.  Tolerance is shallow.  We may appear not to care but beneath the surface, it leaves us feeling disturbed since we would actually like to change the bothersome thing.  With tolerance, we put our heads in the sand and try to pretend it’s not there.  We do not seek understanding.  Tolerance is a kind of resistance to reality.  It breeds close-mindedness, indifference and hate.

On the other hand, the fundamental aspect of acceptance is approval.  Because it happens in the present, there is only love.  We are seeing reality, moment by moment.  Acceptance is a peaceful surrender to what is.  It is passive, restful.  There is no struggle underneath the surface; no attempt to try and change the uncomfortable or ‘negative’ condition.  In fact, conditions are neither negative or positive, good or bad;  they simply are.  Having acceptance, we are open-minded and curious;  we seek to understand that which triggers feelings of unease, vulnerability, embarrassment, irritation.

If you start living with awareness, you will notice your negative self-talk, you will see all your flaws very clearly, you will recognize your foolish behaviors.  You may be shocked with all the mess in your closet!  To me, it sometimes seemed like I was regressing rather than progressing.  How could seeing all this muddled ugliness lead me to anywhere peaceful and happy?!  And the ego is tricky and tenacious–you will keep getting lost in your thoughts, caught up in your emotions.  You will keep forgetting to be aware.  Be gentle with yourself and continue pulling yourself back to awareness, back to your centre.

I am sticking with it, and more and more I am moving toward acceptance.  I believe acceptance naturally follows awareness.   Acceptance of self includes welcoming all your qualities and feelings.   Traits which don’t serve your highest good will fade out as the life-affirming qualities flow into the lit-up space you created.  “There I go being a perfectionist again!  This is really not helping me here.”  I take a breath a let it go.  I am becoming less afraid to admit when I am feeling a so-called ‘negative’ feeling.  Facing these feelings is a big step.  Who wants to concede that they are feeling envious, uncaring, judgmental or enraged?  These feelings are merely passing through your consciousness.  And those qualities that you think make you YOU are nothing more than temporary states of being.

I think it is important point out that YOU are not this solid ball of thoughts, feelings, memories, experience and knowledge.  You are fluid, continuously changing.  When you take the time to be silent and still;  to step back from your own internal stories and dramas, you will see the ego for what it really is–a false self.

Be aware.  Be a witness to your mind.  Watch, as all that stuff you once identified as ‘you’, quietly disappears.  At the core, is the real YOU–conscious awareness.

Advertisements

THE WEB OF LIFE

imgres

On Friday, we had our Halloween party with the kids. I dressed up as the spider lady—I wore a black and purple wig and had a spider on my head. I really got into the character and was feeling very creative and in the flow.

Saturday morning, as I was tidying up the apartment, I saw a big spider crawling on my books. I screamed in surprise and then moved the book towards the door so the spider could go outside.

I read a little in my book and the chapter I came to was called ‘the web of life’ which was about the interconnectivity of all life; and a spider was also mentioned. I looked up the symbolic meaning of a spider and found that it can represent feminine power, creativity or “a powerful force protecting you against self-destruction”.

As I was trying to go to sleep Saturday night I was thinking of a couple of things I had heard earlier that day. I heard one person talk about each of us having the inner resources we need and another talk about the need to seek others for help. So I was asking myself—What is the truth here?

I thought about the health challenges I have had and how I have healed myself to where I am today. There were times on this journey where I really struggled and I felt I needed someone else to support me and help me—I didn’t think I would be able to get through it on my own. But it turned out I was stronger than I thought. Although I did have some supportive family and friends around me, the person who has traveled through jungles of emotions, rivers of thoughts and forests of bodily stress was me.

I had woken up with a couple of songs in my head—1. Applause, by Lady Gaga and Make me come alive by Niki Minaj. I remember my friend talking about this guy who she is dependent on and obsessed with and I wondered why this bothered me so much? Why did I react so strongly? Was I still seeking validation and approval from those closest to me? Did I “live for the applause”?

Was I still dependent on someone in my life? Was I still expecting someone to “save me” or “make me come alive”? Did I still carry the belief that if the right person did all the right things, loved and supported me and gave me exactly what I needed, then I would rise up out of the mud like a lotus, becoming this beautiful, amazing person?

I recalled hearing someone talking about how she struggled because she felt she didn’t get the instruction manual on how to live life and I thought about my frustration with this same thing—Why hadn’t anyone given me more information or advice?

The book I was reading had the theory about womb healing and how babies are cut off from the umbilical cord to early. The author postulates that we become shocked by the separation; frightened and insecure because of the sudden disconnection from the safe and nourishing womb.

There is a definition of anxiety which says—anxiety is the shock of freedom. And this rings true for me. The shock that we are actually completely free in our minds—we have the freedom to make our own choices and really create our own lives. Yet this complete freedom is absolutely terrifying to most of us—the thought that there are infinite possibilities.

Feeling separate, our ego builds up walls of protection. We strive for independence in hopes that this will give us comfort, peace and a sense of security but inside we are still insecure, anxious and afraid—dependent on things or people outside ourselves to make us feel strong, powerful. This is really a false kind of ‘independence’—we are still clinging, still addicted and obsessed.

It’s not until we find our own inner strength, security and peace that we can become an interdependent adult—a person who can surrender to the truth that—I am here alone and yet I am connected to everything and everything around me. Real freedom is knowing that we are all interconnected in the web of life. It is only when we become free from our dependency that we can be interdependent.

Yes, you can seek people to help you, guide you and give you advice as you travel along your healing path but the ultimate truth is that no one can heal you but YOU! You are the one who has to do all the work. You are the one making the choices.

As a person who has recovered (is recovering) from an eating disorder, I know the temptation to play the role of the helpless victim—I need HELP! I want someone to save me and “make me come alive”. If I just get the right help from the right people then I will become healed and whole. (Tales of princesses being rescued by princes don’t help!!) I also know the temptation to get a stamp of approval for my decisions; thinking I need someone to tell me—Do this. This is the right way. Don’t do that. That is the wrong way. “I live for the applause”.

In my experience, what it really comes down to is realizing that you are already whole and you DO have all the parts you need inside in order to heal yourself. And you need to start to trust yourself, your intuition, your choices. If you listen to your body, you will know the right way for you. Don’t get on or off a train because someone else told you to or because that’s the train they are taking—Go YOUR way!!

A huge part of healing is making peace with the past and forgiving people who you felt hurt you, betrayed you, disappointed you or abandoned you. When you can cut these strings, then you can truly become an independent and interdependent person. Being dependent means relying on others, clinging to others and seeking others to try to fill the void. Being interdependent is recognizing that you are a whole person, a person who is free, a person who is connected to everyone, a person who can ask for help yet does not depend on others to fulfill their needs.

As the saying goes—You can’t say fully YES until you can say fully NO! Being interdependent is saying NO to all of your addictions, obsessions and dependent relationships and saying YES to yourself and to the world!

There is no magic wand in the healing process. It means going to places inside yourself that you many never have been. IT means facing feelings that may have been repressed for decades.

I think it is also important to note that the healing journey is not linear. You don’t go to step A and then once completed, go on to step B and so on until you reach the finish line. There is no instruction manual telling you what to do next. Logic and linear thinking is masculine. Healing is feminine. Healing is intuitive and non-linear—it happens in spirals, in layers. You may partially heal one are and then move on to something else, weaving through time and space, circling, peeling off layers, mending, opening, striping away, surrendering…it’s never-ending.

Healing for me involved a lot of changes: eating more and eating healthier, eliminating toxins and addictions, stopping destructive thoughts and behavior, sleeping more, listening to dreams, feeling my feelings, releasing pain, meditating, doing yoga, finding peaceful place to live, finding more space, reconnecting with family, developing new friendships, redesigning my partnership, saying NO, expressing myself, writing a blog…

I don’t know if this post has made any sense…I have just now realized that I have written it in a feminine way, in spirals. I am the spider lady—a woman who is creating herself and her world as she heals her heart and feels it beating in the center of her chest. She spins her web of connections, words, ideas and insights…