Tag: healing

My Safe Place

My Safe Place

3670679730_5c947acfb8As I began my healing work, I was guided ever so gently toward the discovery of my safe place. It did not come easily, nor was it anything like I expected it to be. I did not expect to go inside of myself and find an anchor, a lifeline, a living, breathing being that was at once me…and not me…that was a guide, a teacher, a lover and a friend.

I remember so clearly lying on the floor in the great room of my Lamaze instructor’s home. Propped up by the pillows I had dutifully carried, one under each arm, my belly leading the way from my house to hers each week, I lay in wait not only for the birth of my first child, but for the guidance I so desperately needed during the last months of my pregnancy. Her classes gave me an opportunity to literally and figuratively lay down my burden and be cared for just a bit.

The class was large. I was mostly silent, but I took it all in. Each lesson on one aspect or another of pregnancy and birth helped me feel a bit more prepared, though I instinctively knew that nothing could prepare me for the real experience.

At the end of each class, the instructor guided us through a relaxation and meditation exercise. “Your calmness will carry through to your child,” she would remind us. “Now, let’s get comfortable, close our eyes and breathe in peace.” She joined us on the floor and the room grew quiet except for the swish of air in and out in random bursts of good peace intentions. With each breath I took, I turned inward trying desperately to forget the drum beat of time that was catapulting me toward an unknown and terrifying experience.

Try as I might, I could not breathe in peace. I could not shut off my chattering mind and go inward to capture that peace everyone else seemed to be holding.  Each week, I’d place my hands on my tummy, trying to hold and love my beautiful unborn baby while my brain went to war with itself.  I wanted that peace she described and yet I remained saturated with fear and despair…and when I left her home I carried with me a layer of shame and guilt. I failed at bliss.

Decades later, at a very different time and in a very different place, I was handed another opportunity to enter in.  This time I was either ready to let go, or, more likely tricked into letting go. The universe had seen to it that I lost every battle I waged for thirty long years. Then, a young woman was placed in front of me, whose guidance I would have to make a conscious decision to accept. I had no more tricks up my sleeve, no more clever nuances of intellect or ego to help me escape.

Deeply traumatized and frightened beyond reason, my body and mind were ravaged by life. I would either take her hand or die. It was that simple.  I guess I wasn’t ready to die, though I wasn’t convinced of that when I closed my eyes and followed Crystal’s lead into our first guided imagery meditation.

Her gentle voice led me and I followed, breath by breath. It was if she knew exactly what I needed and exactly what to say. She held my spiritual hand and showed me how to allow the breath of peace to do its work.  Step by step, breath by breath she led me to the door of my soul. It was only the beginning. The merest start, and yet, it was huge.

That day, I came face to face with the door of my safe place.  A large, thick wooden door with decorative square panels and a large gold handle, its large brass knocker seemed to mock me. When Crystal suggested that I open the door I was overwhelmed with fear. Everything in my body resisted forward motion. I could not move my mind to allow myself to open the door. I stood frozen in place, shaking inside and out.

“What is keeping you from opening the door?”, she asked. What, or who, is taking your strength and blocking your path?” Eyes shut, tears running down my cheeks, I was one with my imaginary world. As I stood in that place in front of the door I told her what came to me in that moment, “I am terrified to go in alone”.

“Is there someone you would like to invite into the room with you? Someone who will hep you and support you? Remember, this is your space. You are the only one who can invite someone in and you can ask them to leave whenever you want.  Is there someone who you can ask to help you open the door? They can be real or imaginary.”

Immediately, my husband came to mind. He reached for my hand. As I took his hand, he pushed the door open, but he did not go in first. He held the door for me as I walked in. He stood behind me for a few moments and then gradually disappeared. I was safely inside. I knew I no longer needed him there with me.

I breathed in the sunshine and fresh air as I tentatively and  slowly explored the space in which I found myself.  Surrounded by beautiful, lush green gardens and soft, colorful flowers I sat down on a smooth, round, rock beside a small pond. I watched the birds flit from tree to tree and the bees buzz from flower to flower. I listened to the water trickle down a tiny waterfall at the edge of the pond as cool breezes washed over my skin and the sun warmed my shoulders. This was a peaceful place. This was the place where my soul lived. I had come home.

It was hard to leave that day,  but I learned quickly that it is always there for me when I choose to visit. Throughout the course of my healing journey from PTSD, and the continued healing of all of life’s woundings, I  find strength and guidance here in this place. My imagination, my soul self, is my guide and teacher. Through guided imagery meditation with Crystal and more and more frequently alone in quiet private meditation, I find strength, peace, guidance, answers, direction and healing.

Creating a New Life

A Grounding Place

 

Righting the Ship

Righting the Ship

painting A Winning Yacht
“A Winning Yacht” by J.O. Davidson, engraved by W. Wellstood

It seems that it is time, well beyond time, for me to begin to gather my thoughts around all that has transpired in my life over the last decade. To offer what I have learned in case it comes in handy to you, dear reader, or someone you know. I don’t write here for my own aggrandizement. In fact, I often don’t write because I wonder what use another would find in my journey, and yet, I have learned so much from others. Perhaps my insecurity actually causes me to be stingy with my experience.

I’ve written much in the midst of my pain, but now that I’m in a clearing space I find my perspective is different, my view broader and broader by the day. I was listening to an audio by Andrew Harvey today and he talked about his “dark night of the soul”. He spoke of a specific experience that he considered to be THE dark night of the soul of his life, not just “any old dark night of the soul”. It made me wonder how one quantifies such a thing.

In many ways, I feel that my entire life was a desperate attempt to pull myself out of just such a place – I lived in the dark night way more often than not. And yet, my deepest despair, the closest I came to giving up and giving in came three years ago, when everything I had worked so hard to make happen in my life seemed to crash in on me…literally and figuratively. in spite of all of my efforts to do otherwise.

This time, however, I think I finally got the message that was trying to be sent to me. Or at least I am starting to get it.  It’s a multi-faceted, multi-dimension message that I will try to filter into some basic principles, truths and guidelines that might help you in your own journey toward a conscious life.

FIRST: The biggest and most useful step one can take to bring about change in one’s life is to seek one’s true, authentic inner voice. (I didn’t say it was going to be easy!) Finding our essential or core self takes some serious sorting through of all the voices and messages that exist and deciding what is what.  It’s not as obvious as one might think, or at least it wasn’t for me.

I listened to my feelings my entire life as if they were the gold standard for the truth.  I really thought I was listening to my true self. If I felt it, it must be real. Right? Wrong. Feelings are valuable, don’t get me wrong, but the psychology of my generation, elevated them to a height that was way beyond healthy. In reaction to the feeling deniers of our parents generation, it made sense, a necessary over-correction. The bad habit I had acquired from my training and reading wreaked havoc on my life. It wasn’t until I understood where feelings truly belonged in the overall scheme of things and began to put them in their proper place was I able to find some balance and some semblance of inner peace.

Just as harmful as being ruled by one’s feelings is mistaking one’s mind chatter for our true selves. More often than not, the mind chatter that directs our decisions and disrupts our self-confidence is chatter we acquired from our family of origin, the culture and the other significant people in our lives. Refusing to listen to this type of guidance takes us one step closer to finding our own true and authentic voice.

I deepened my connection to my essential self, my soul self, my real self through the practice of meditation and guided imagery meditation at the same time I was consciously sorting through the this-es and thats of my poor self-esteem using psychological and psycho-spiritual tools.  It’s a very fluid process, this strengthening of the core self and the quieting of the fear mongers in our psyche. It’s a push on this and pull on that until the ship begins to right. But it’s worth the effort.

BANISH THE DARKNESS
IN SEARCH OF MY EDGES
Gut It Out

Gut It Out

378a445020743408715c4111ffb81adaSometimes it just takes guts. Sometimes we can’t think our way to a solution. We can’t whine our way to the answer. We can’t emote our way to healing. Sometimes it just takes guts and putting one foot in front of the other and doing the thing we think we cannot do, facing that thing we think we cannot face.

I haven’t been writing lately. I’ve been gutting it out, head down, leaning into the pain. Pushing through, breathing the baby into the birth canal. She’s so ready to be born, so done with carrying the weight of the past, so ripe for life.

There’s a bit more pushing to be done before I can embrace the miracle of birth that will set her free, though it feels as though the hardest work is done. The months of sickness and burden, the trimesters of struggle and straining toward freedom and understanding.

A new consciousness has awoken. A new beginning is at hand. Birth, life, death. Birth, life, death. The cycle of life continues unfolding the fullness of you, the fullness of me. Lean into the pain. Gut it out. Let the birth take place. It simply needs your cooperation and above all else, your fearlessness.

REACHING

REACHING

ANTON PAVLENKO LANDSCAPE OIL PAINTER

REACHING

When I bent down to pick up the pieces of my life,

I shoved my hands into the black soot of death and

reached through the bitter haze of unspent emotions,

to find fragments of me, inert, motionless and suffocating.

*

When I bent down to pick up the pieces of my mind,

I found a tiny girl child, wrapped like a mummy

in wordless memories weightier than her

tiny shoulders could carry. Though carry she did.

*

When I bent down to pick up the pieces of my soul,

I found an embryo who bargained with the devil,

who gave up choice in order to live, an uneven exchange

that lasted nearly a lifetime. She kept her promise.

*

When I bent down to pick up the pieces of my will,

I found a stomping mad two-year old who knew

her own mind, and suffered the consequences

for the knowledge. She stomped anyway when she could.

*

When I bent down to pick up the pieces of my heart,

I found an innocent, carefree child with

a passionate love for all things seen and,

a deep reverence for that is unseen.

*

When I bent down to pick up the pieces of my body,

I found a source of energy and flow

that I never knew existed, for it had been

traded at birth…or before.

*

When I bent down to pick up the pieces of my spirit,

I found light and power, guidance and vision,

angels and guides  a thread through my life

never to be broken.

*

When I bent down to pick up the pieces of my life,

I put down the yoke of fear, set aside the sorrow,

and abandoned the dark rivulets of despair.

I cancelled the bargain with the devil.

*

Now, I no longer bend down. I reach up instead.

Outstretched arms, fingers pointing toward the sky.

I stand anchored, connected, grounded in the earth,

heart wide open, assembled.

All the important pieces collected.

Banish the Darkness

Banish the Darkness

Poem
“In the Middle of Nowhere”, A Poem by NARYABUTTERFLYLEAVE Click on picture to read.

I’ve come to see that when darkness resides in our soul it’s because we dare not look in the corners and crevices that contain our pain. We fear the darkness when we could choose to shine a light to banish it.  A self-protective mechanism no doubt. Still….

In recent years, I’ve more often chosen to shine a light in my dark places, when I see an opportunity.  They are so well hidden sometimes, so evasive and sneaky. I find it’s worth persisting. I poke and prod, track and wander until I am weary with the effort and then wonder if it is, in fact, worth the effort.

After a rest, at the dawn of a new day, I usually decide it is. Turning over one rock at a time, I have found a measure of freedom, a modicum of peace, a self-awareness that knows itself. What more can one ask? To stand firmer, and taller and more certain, and to have a little more of what it takes to tackle the uncertainties of life…and death…is a welcomed thing.

Caroline Myss, a modern-day mystic, sheds so much light on the workings of the soul and the energy and anatomy of the spirit.  This excerpt from her book was posted on her Facebook page today. I have found her words to be true.

“Every thought you have had has traveled through your biological system and activated a physiological response. Some thoughts are like depth charges, causing a reaction throughout the body. A fear, for instance, activates every system of your body: your stomach tightens, your heart rate increases, and you may break into a sweat. A loving thought can relax your entire body. Some thoughts are more subtle, and still others are unconscious. Many are meaningless and pass through the body like wind through a screen, requiring no conscious attention, and their influence upon our health is minimal. Yet each conscious thought—and many unconscious ones—does generate a physiological response.” Caroline Myss, Anatomy of the Spirit

I highly recommend Caroline Myss’ books to all who travel the path of healing.

Still Learning

Still Learning

HydrangeaWhen I stop and close my eyes and breathe in what peace I can find around me…in the breezes that blow, the hum of the chime as the air lifts it in song…I find fear when I want desperately to find comfort. It is a hard journey finding my way out of fear. It nips at my heals and haunts me at every turn. Just when I think I’ve escaped it, it’s back sitting beside me on a quiet evening.

I’m surrounded by beauty. Lush green trees, fields of grass, the sun low in the sky casting its golden touch across everything. The mountain air is fresh and the smell of boxwood lingers on the breeze. There’s everything to be grateful for and yet, I want to run away, to hide, to stop trying, to stop yearning to be something. I want to rest and be satisfied. I want to be enough just as I am.

But the fear awakens my fight or flight response and makes me want to move, to do, to try again, and yet, I know it won’t work this time either. Running frantically never does. The fear locks me in its trance and mounting desperation clings to my throat.

Fear, or more precisely, the feeling of not being safe takes over and when I look deeply into its eyes. I realize the feeling is more that I don’t know how to protect myself. The unknown is shapeless and threatening. My edge-less, boundary-less being seems only to be able to lie in wait, vulnerable to any attack, and there’s no way of knowing from which direction it will come.

I am still learning. Still defining myself and learning to live from within. Still seeking my edges, my truth, while standing in love. New lessons come almost every day, as long as I stand open to change and movement and learning.

Knowing where we begin and end, and where another begins and ends, is a lesson that most wounded children must learn. Wounding causes one to put up barriers of protection, to pull back within oneself, to create false facades to fool the oppressor, which once defined morphs into the planet at large. As children, we feared. I feared. I feared the utter alone-ness that became my constant companion.  Not known, not allowed to acknowledge what I saw in others. Isolation. Annihilation.  I learned to pretend that I was wrong and they were right so as not to feel alone.

To begin to speak one’s truth, to state clearly what one knows to be true is to begin to find our edges. To stand up for that truth as we grow stronger, to state ever more clearly what we see and know and experience and our edges stronger. It’s one thing to know oneself. It’s another entirely to bring it forth into the world.

And the process of healing continues. For a lifetime, or longer.