To Be Lost in the Right Direction

(Written during the Super Blood Moon & Lunar Eclipse, September 27, 2015)

 

Feeling deep sadness, exhaustion and insecurity was not how I had anticipated feeling after selling my business. In fact, all I could imagine was how free I was going to feel. And yet, during those first months, there was nowhere I had to be, nothing to accomplish and no one expecting anything from me. Exactly the reason I thought I would feel free to do whatever I wanted, to finally have the time for me that I had always yearned for. Yet in reality, I felt completely lost.

Perhaps you have experienced something similar when you went through a divorce or made a career change or after your children left for college or you retired from your life’s work.  Even though we may choose to make a change in our life doesn’t mean we don’t feel the affects of the loss of that structure.

The death of an identity is like the shedding of armor, which exposes the soft, tender, vulnerable places and opens the heart in ways we couldn’t have imagined without the loss.

Upon reflecting on the last time I experienced feeling lost, at age 27, I realized that the process of losing an ego identity at that time (also a career change,) although excruciatingly painful, eventually led to more peace, clarity and magic than I knew was possible.  It is clear to me then, that there is an emotional and spiritual rebirth that takes place when we let go of an identity. This rebirth is essential to becoming who we are meant to be.

Any life transition means the loss of one thing in order to move into what is next.  That loss must be grieved, felt, experienced in order to let go of it and be fully heart-open to embrace what’s next.

"The road in the end taking the path the sun had taken,

into the western sea, and the moon rising behind you

as you stood where ground turned to ocean: no way

to your future now but the way your shadow could take,

walking before you across water, going where shadows go,

no way to make sense of a world that wouldn't let you pass

except to call an end to the way you had come,

to take out each frayed letter you brought

and light their illumined corners, and to read

them as they drifted through the western light;

to empty your bags; to sort this and to leave that;

to promise what you needed to promise all along,

and to abandon the shoes that had brought you here

right at the water's edge, not because you had given up

but because now, you would find a different way to tread,

and because, through it all, part of you could still walk on,

no matter how, over the waves.”

― David Whyte

 

Moving through the waves of change develops a faith and trust that everything will be ok, that the universe will support and guide us. And yet when we are at our lowest of lows, trusting can be the hardest thing we will do. We want to feel better now.  We search for a quick fix to feel better.  Some way to not feel the gnawing fear, even terror that can feel so overwhelming it seems we will completely lose control.   

My experience has been that losing control is exactly what I needed to do.  To allow myself to be enveloped in uncertainty, to melt down into nothingness for a new version of me to emerge.  If I fight and resist the pain of the loss then I will get stuck there and I won’t allow the light of my soul to write the story of my destiny.  If I keep holding on to what my ego fears that it won’t be or have anymore, I will be holding back the magic that is trying to be birthed.

If I allow, even though it feels paralyzingly scary, my heart to open, I can fall in love with myself.  This cannot happen if I am holding on to something I think I can’t live without. So I am asking myself as often as necessary – Am I saying this/eating or drinking this/avoiding this, so that I will feel better?  Seeking to feel better is grabbing for a life ring.  Allowing myself to sink into the abyss is trusting that I am going to be alright.  By letting go I am allowing myself to be launched into a new experience of life with opportunities I could never have imagined. Opportunities that I wouldn’t have seen because my eyes weren’t focused.

I stand in a circle with all my former selves – I look around at the striving 26 year old, the wife, the mother of a child at home, the daughter, the seeker, the store owner, the child needing approval, the teen longing for acceptance, the friend, the listener, the healer –  my heart is full to over-flowing with gratitude. I tell my beloved selves that I’m moving on.  I weep not for what they've gone through, nor for the pain they have experienced, I weep in gratitude to them for who I am today. I am who I am because of those previous versions of myself.  I have not lost them. They remain within me as the many facets of my love.

I have found the true love that I have been waiting for my whole life.  Me.

The poet William Stafford's simple question: "Who are you really, wanderer?"  

Why not find out today?

In Finding Your Own North Star, author (and my teacher) Martha Beck reminds us that many cultures value the times in our lives when we lose one identity and have yet to pick up another. Indians go on spirit walks. They leave their tribe and wander without knowing if they will ever make it back, and in that no man’s land, they encounter something magical. Those who return are barely recognizable. Only remnants of their former selves remain. Cleansed by a holy fire, this human metamorphosis is part of our journey.

I guess the only way to get there is to be stripped of identity and to learn to somehow be okay with not knowing who we are or where we are. To be willing to strike out, nameless, faceless, and to give our all and have no idea of who we’ll be when it’s over and trust that whatever lessons needed to be learned were learned, and if not, they’ll come around again.

I recently watched Tom Hank’s film, Cast Away from 1995. Somehow I had never seen it.  Towards the end of the film, Chuck (Tom Hanks) has miraculously made it back home after 4 years stranded on an island in the middle of the ocean. His savior – a metal door that washed ashore. He is home but nothing is the same, most especially himself.  He says to his dear friend: “And I know what I have to do now. I gotta keep breathing. Because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?”

With much love for your journey.

Tricia

Fast, Crazy, Busy - Is This How Life Has To Be?

Society values busy. So often, we ask someone what's new in their life they say, "busy, really busy."  We stay busy because this makes us seem more productive or more successful.  We often feel like we never get enough work done or the work isn't good enough. We don't spend enough time with our kids, or exercising, or meditating.  We stay up too late to get that one more thing done and don't get enough sleep.  We are exhausted and frustrated with our partners for not helping enough. We take anxiety meds to help ease the tension. Is a better, less harried life possible?

What would happen if you let go of being busy?  What is being busy getting you? What are you avoiding by moving from one thing to the next without pausing?

Living in doing-mode keeps us from existing in being-mode which is how we experience human emotional context - fear, sadness, anger, even joy and happiness. Without a felt sense of our life experience, we are living a shallow and meaningless existence.

With smart phones and email, we are spending more time in doing-related activities than ever before. We try to multi-task which is really just a myth.  When the brain assigns equal importance to several things at once, a bottleneck occurs which causes anxiety.  As the anxiety increases, it literally overwhelms the brain by affecting neurotransmitters and hormones.  This causes the brain to shut down which causes paralysis.  Overwhelm paralysis. 

If you're like me, you refer to a To Do list each day.  Likely there are more things on the list than is humanly possible to accomplish in one day. In order to ease overwhelm and create space around your anxiety, the first step is to identify what you value most in life. Seems simple right?  Take a moment with this though - what brings you a felt sense of joy in your body? Your WHY.  This felt sense of what inspires you is the light that brings clarity to what is most important to you and your happiness. Your why is the road sign that will help you assess where you want to focus your energy.  So, what is your WHY?  What is the unique driving force that inspires and energizes you?  What do you feel most passionate about?

Once you have a handle on your why, then you can assess each item on your To Do list by asking these questions -

1. Do I HAVE to do this item?  Question any assumption that starts with "I have to...."  Most likely there is a belief hidden behind this assumption.  You have to do it because if you don't you won't be... the perfect wife, perfect mother, perfect cook, perfect boss, perfect employee, perfect neighbor, perfect homeowner, perfect parent....  Do you feel you have to do this thing because of how you want someone else to view you?  Continuing on this track only leads to exhaustion and sadness - because you aren't living your life, you are living according to what you think someone else expects of you. Most likely these very same people don't expect what you think they do!  You are only believing the thought that they do. 

2. Am I the only person who can do this task?  Is there someone I can hire and train and delegate this task to?  Really stop and think about this one. We often believe that we are the only person who can do something the way we want it done. The old adage "If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself."  In reality, the task can most likely be given to someone who has more time than you do and would enjoy doing the task more than you would.  Sure, they might not do it in exactly the same way that you would and the outcome might not meet your ideal expectation. That's ok!  Why do you have this ideal anyway? (This brings us right back to the same inquiry about why you have this standard of perfection in the first place.)  Who will judge you if it isn't perfect?  Or rather, who do you think will judge you? What would be so bad about it being done differently than you think it should be?

3. Is this in alignment with what is most important to me? (Remember your WHY.) Once you are aligned with what your true priorities are, then you can question all the ways that you are spending time and energy that isn't supporting your WHY.  You can start saying "no!" to any commitment that doesn't feel congruent with your passions, goals and visions.  When questioning a commitment, stop, get still and check in with your inner wisdom, your body compass, and see whether it feels like a "yes" or a "no."  Trust that.  Chances are when you tune into what it feels like in your body, and follow that guidance, you will be making the best choice for you and your right life. This will lead you towards what you really want instead of just living a busy life trying to be something you think someone else wants you to be. Follow what feels like joy in your body.

4. Am I doing this because when I take on more and more, I get something for it?  Many people stay busy because they are in the habit of being a helpless, angry, complaining victim.  Don't let this be you.  Stand up for your joy, your peace, and your health.  You're the only one who can!  If being busy gets you sympathy, think again about whether you would rather have sympathy or happiness.  So much of our overwhelm can be attributed to a shared social acceptance in which we are constantly in frenzy, and talking about that frenzy which elevates our feeling of being overwhelmed. How much of your overwhelm is just the reality that you are doing everything you are doing because of choices that you have made?

Stay conscious.   How many of your leisure hours are you using up with miscellaneous and mindless activities that don't support your mental, physical, or emotional health?  Or support the things that you are truly passionate about?  Research has shown that living a life of passion and purpose leads to inner peace, and ultimately a joyful existence.  Aside from actual time spent at work and in sleep, how much of the rest of your time are you filling with activities that keep you busy but not enriched or enlivened?

Staying busy keeps us from feeling emotional pain.  What might you be trying to avoid by keeping busy?  On days where I feel uncertain or insecure unless I have my security blanket, my To Do List, this is when I know it's time to do my inner work - stop, get still and feel whatever emotion is showing up.  Notice if I'm feeling fear.  Allowing the fear to just be there.  "I'm just feeling fear and that's ok."  

Try just sitting, closing your eyes and taking a few deep, slow breaths.  Notice if you feel any tension, fear, or anxiety.  Maybe even terror.  Just keep breathing through it, allowing it to be there without fighting it or avoiding it.  Allow it to move through you.  The next time you notice you're looking for the next thing to do, stop and just sit, even for just a few minutes and allow whatever feelings that are there to move, surface, expand and dissipate. They will move through you if you allow them to.

"The best way out is always though."  Robert Frost

We humans are given the gift of free will in this beautiful life.  Like everything else, overwhelm is a choice.  Choose YOU, your own unique way to love, your passion, and your genius, and don't settle for anything less than living the joy of your WHY!

For more information on transforming your overwhelm, join us for a 4-week telecourse, starting October 22, 2015.



Is Enlightenment A Myth?

by Tricia Acheatel, AHG, CCN

The term enlightenment is the western translation of the Buddhist term bodhi which means awakening.  Is enlightenment only accessible to the masters, a myth for the rest of us? No, I don't believe it is. So how do we become enlightened then?  Enlightenment is never far away and out of reach in each and every moment. It is freedom here and now, to be tasted whenever we are able to open to it.  A choice in each moment. Some touch what Buddhadasa called “everyday nirvana.” Others come to know a deep purity of mind and to experience a taste of liberation directly.

I recently attended a retreat where I was blessed to be able to witness suffering as a pathway to enlightenment. As humans we suffer and because of that pain, we search for enlightenment, to awaken from the suffering. The grasping and yearning for enlightenment only then leads to more suffering as we see how we fall short. Over and over. 

There are four paths or stages to enlightenment, according to Buddhist philosophy. What I witnessed is one of these four paths, the path of Kensho. Inspiration allows for a subtle shift in perception about how we view the shame, guilt or pain of our past. We are able to see the stories we have been telling ourselves over and over about something that happened in the past.  This event or series of events no longer exist however we relive it every day or multiple times each day by reliving the thoughts or beliefs about ourselves because of that event, beliefs we emphatically accept as truth.  

When we begin to examine the thoughts that we previously believed to be true beyond questioning, for a lifetime, we begin to see that we are not our thoughts. A crack of light enters where only darkness resided.  Hope expands.  Freedom.  We realize in that moment that enlightenment was always there as a choice. Kensho literally means seeing into one's own nature.  

Byron Katie is an American speaker and author who teaches a method of self-inquiry known as "The Work of Byron Katie" or simply as "The Work".  While in a halfway house for women with eating disorders, Byron Katie experienced a life-changing realization: "I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but that when I didn’t believe them, I didn’t suffer, and that this is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that. I found that suffering is optional. I found a joy within me that has never disappeared, not for a single moment."

The Buddha declares, “If it were not possible to free the heart from entanglement, I would not teach you to do so. Just because it is possible to free the heart, there arise the teachings of the Dharma of liberation, offered openhandedly for the welfare of all beings.” We suffer in order to awaken.  The gift of suffering is to make it unbearable NOT to be who you truly are.

Suffering is a path to enlightenment and is one of the most effective ways to dissolve ego-based identities. To continue to exist, yet not exist in the same way, ever again. As we allow ourselves to shine a light on our deepest fears, based in shame or guilt, and allow them, we begin to disbelieve these closely held beliefs about ourselves.  Here begins the process of self-acceptance.  The grip that the thoughts or beliefs based in past circumstances have on our present moment begins to loosen and light begins to shine in the inner most parts of that which we haven't been willing to look at or allow anyone else to see.  Bit by bit, the fear begins to dissipate and the space created allows for light and joy and self-love to enter. We discover our enlightenment. Simply a matter of what thoughts we choose to believe, not as the mind but as the wise one, the watcher, the higher self.  It has always been there.

Enlightenment tastes free. The truth feels light.  If your thoughts feel sad or heavy in your body then they are a lie.  Your body is the ultimate truth barometer.  The next time you notice your chest tighten or your gut sink, pay attention to what your last thought was. Ask yourself if you can be absolutely sure that thought is true.  The more you are aware of and question the ticker tape of thoughts going across your mind, the more you will be free. Let the warmth of the truth of your beauty come in.  There is within you an invincable summer. 

I have come to a point of truth in my life.  This is my manifesto - I have suffered enough!  I will follow my joy now!  

May your path be blessed with love.

 

Tricia is a Martha Beck Life Coach, Registered Herbalist and Clinical Nutritionist, working with women, men and teens who may be challenged by a recent life transition or catalytic event - entry into the workforce, divorce, empty nest, retirement, illness, or the loss of an identity. She helps her clients to find confidence, remove blocks, and gain clarity. Tricia’s laser coaching will help you turn life’s messes into magic so that you can understand and navigate the next steps, move forward successfully, and deliver on the beautiful legacy that only you can bring to the world.

 http://www.triciaacheatel.com/life-coaching/