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16 February 2018 1 Comment

What Are You Like Right Now?

What Are You Like Right Now?

Self awareness, spiritual presence, motivational impetus, real will, clarity, excellent boundaries: All of these advantageous states of being have in common knowing what we are like, right now in this moment.

Let’s talk about this speech pattern we’re hearing so much of lately, where people stammer: “And I’m like, I’m like,” or even more deeply still, “I was like, I was like.”

By definition, “like” is always similar, never definite, always indistinct, always approaching, never arriving. Never fully here. Like is “not quite.” Like is “sort of.” Like is “almost” or “maybe.”

In energy work, healing and diagnoses, the more exactly one perceives actual conditions the more power one has to influence, impact, heal and change them. Sort of, almost and somewhere-in-the-ball-park, leave a great deal of margin for error.

It is old news that our speech patterns reflect inner processes. What does this one reflect?

Sometimes uncertainty. Sometimes a need for approval. Sometimes being overly porous and letting in the energetics of people with the same pattern—which is one reason this linguistic virus has spread so much.

Discussing this speech pattern with people when it is active, I’ve explored what is happening inside as this almost spasmodic linguistic loop is taking over their communication. They usually don’t even hear it.

What about self awareness? If we’re saying something constantly and we do not hear it or notice it, let alone assign any meaning or value to it, what does this communicate to others? How does it impact us?

Indeed, everyone of us is asleep to ourselves to a lesser or greater degree from moment to moment. We think we are self aware. We generally don’t notice our bugs, twitches, automatic behaviors, or habitual speech patterns. Yet we can use any of these to wake ourselves up a bit more by observing them and feeling into how they arise within us. Being present to them and relaxing any judgment we may have about them allows us to view them instead of checking out and becoming unconscious.

Underneath the patterns that put us to sleep, we’re almost always uncomfortable or in some kind of dismay. Self observation really does require the ability to lean into our underlying discomfort. Discovering it gives us an opportunity to minister to it with kindness.

“I was like,” shelters discomfort. I feel nervous and uneasy when I hear people saying it. I know this is true for other people too because friends, colleagues, and even strangers have mentioned it. Some want to shake people who say it and demand, “What ARE you like? Right now?”

That speech pattern runs counter to my drive to wake up, and to help others wake up—expression of which may or may not be welcome in the moment. Part of my reaction is childhood stuff about not being heard or feeling valued. So when someone who is not present is talking to me, a young part of me feels uncomfortable. I aim to lean into that discomfort, to relax it, to affirm to myself that I do indeed exist, giving myself the compassion that was absent in the past.

If you have that speech pattern, or if you react to it in others, you can use it in your spiritual work to wake yourself up. Notice what is happening inside and make a kind and intentional response.

If you say, “I’m like, I was like,” give yourself permission to HEAR and FEEL yourself doing it. Meet it with curiosity. Relax any shame. Treat it like a stone that you roll over gently with your toe. Look underneath.

Ask yourself: “What is going on in this moment? Who AM I right now? What do I want? What do I need? What are my boundaries?”

Nail it exactly! What are you—right now?

Be sincere—not rhetorical. Rhetorical in general questions, posed to one’s self, like “Who do you think you are?” tend to be aggressive or shaming. A beautiful fix for the internal impasse this piece of meanness creates is to answer the question with full sincerity.

Sincerity is a real response that makes defense unnecessary. If you respond to, “Who do you think you are?” with an accurate and compassionate summary of who you are and what is important to you in the moment, the mean voice will bow out. By defining yourself in the moment, you are not subject to being defined by shaming voices.

Much spiritual growth relies on being able to hear and make constructive responses to our internal voices. Whether those voices are shaming ones or the voice of inner guidance, learning to recognize them is a big advantage. Then we can tell the difference between guidance and desire or compulsion.

With time and application, we learn to feel in our bodies the difference between these voices by the vibrations they initiate and the states they establish within us.

Where and how does a particular voice resonate inside? What does it lead to?

27 January 2018 0 Comments

Addressing Reactive States with Compassion

Addressing Reactive States with Compassion

Sometimes I still get reactive at recorded messages thanking me for my patience. After being on hold for ages and being disconnected repeatedly, trying to take care something that ‘shouldn’t be’ going on in the first place, I’ve been reduced to screaming that I don’t HAVE any patience (plus a few expletives). Most large companies do not care about their insidious impact on thousands of people’s lives. I justify my outrage with this care. Reaction still raises my blood pressure, floods me with stress hormones, closes my heart, etc.

My underlying core distress in this situation has to do with not mattering as a person. When I successfully address this inside it relaxes the reaction.

Without compassion for our distress it is very hard to intervene, especially if we feel bad about our behavior. Judging it doesn’t help. We need to create a loving opportunity to step out of it, right in the moment.

If we think in either/or, we may think: “I have to accept or tolerate this and go along with it even though it’s wrong OR I have to be mad.” There are always other choices. Either/or must not be allowed to reign. It’s a trap.

As I observe my reactions I begin to invite myself gently to make a different response. I ask myself, “What might that response be? It has to be something possible right now.”

Sometimes it’s fine to blow off steam and yell at recordings. I might feel better for expressing. Other times the same expression makes me feel bad and doesn’t help. Staying in touch is essential since one-size-fits-all responses are not sufficiently present.

It’s so easy to get down on one’s self. If I can take on the situation as a challenge to personal mastery and manage it with equanimity, this does not preclude giving a company clear feedback about their technology and methods. Useful feedback may help save thousands of people from enduring the same frustration.

Observing my motivation and my desire to have things work well for everyone instead of criticizing myself for being in distress, begins to open up options.

Then I relax more and I can ask the person I’m talking with to bring the issues up at a meeting, to their boss, or otherwise do something that may change the problem. I remind them that it is demoralizing to deal with faceless companies that don’t manage their impact on the public. Feeling like we don’t matter increases depression and stress. When I can enroll their assistance, the employee can feel good about taking a constructive and proactive attitude instead of shutting out people’s distress. I can do this without first losing my own peace.

What I would like to do in those situations is to integrate lessons from meditation: Breathe, relax my body, access love, ground myself, connect with the universe. Sometimes I can.

When we become disturbed or unpleasant, it’s a call for our own compassion and for the compassion of others. It’s okay to ask for that compassion, even though we may or may not get it. It’s even better to generate it ourselves.

It takes time and intention to learn how to bring compassion into our own distress and to minimize the distress we cause others. Judging ourselves, trying to be good, or making anger a bad thing doesn’t work. Neither does splitting off from the parts of ourselves that are in distress. Developing skillful means takes time, but feels good and keeps our hearts alive.

Mastering reactiveness can be an act of love for others as well as a way of loving one’s self.

What kind of situation casts you into reaction?

What is the underlying or core distress that drives your distress?

How can you make a compassionate response to this distress?

What happens when you do?

23 October 2017 7 Comments

Emotional Overload? Do Something Real!

Emotional Overload? Do Something Real!

The energies are quite intense these last few days and lot of people are feeling emotionally intense. Kindness, human connection, and simple action help with this type of energy.

This morning I felt ready to blow a gasket after several full hours trying to get customer service help for an item I purchased and found defective. The phone system repeatedly disconnected me after long holds. The “chat” option led to useless and frustrating non-solutions. The email function on the website disappeared my email when I was almost finished, and so forth.

The problem with this kind of modern aggravation is that it is meaningless, draining, and since there is no possible target for the frustration, it amplifies feelings of helplessness. We deal with way too much of this kind of thing, wedged between the indifference of machines and the incompetence of people trained only to do something that’s not what we need.

Lately many of us are concerned or anxious about what is going on in the world, and don’t know what to do about it, making any additional frustration and helplessness hard to bear.

Sometimes small things can make a big difference in how we feel. Here are a few things I’ve done that reduced pressure and increased my sense of meaning and connection:

When I finally got a good customer service person, he was comfortable letting me express my frustration. IMG_8310Talking to a real human about my actual experience helped. I thanked him, told him they were lucky to have him, and offered to tell him a joke. He loved my joke, and said I was the only person in years of service who had told him one.

Authentic interchange is meaningful and relieves stress. Meaningful interaction usually requires authenticity, but it doesn’t require knowing someone.

I make it a point to ask for the person I like best at a business I order from weekly. This small adjustment makes the routine task more fun and connected when it might otherwise be mildly annoying. It adds humanity.

Out of business envelopes, I used a nice greeting card to mail my state taxes this quarter, including a kind note to the person at the department, just to shift their day a bit. Remembering one another’s humanity and intentionally being kind is meaningful.

Doing spiritual practice helps sustain meaning. It helps more if we can bring the intentions of our practice into day to day interactions.

Doing something real helps relieve stress and anxiety. Here are some examples:

Do physical work. Mow the lawn. Get your heart rate up and sweat. You can see things getting done and this has inherent meaning. It relieves stress. It saves you money.

Rearrange a room, closet or drawer. Bringing new order to something in front of you increases your sense of control, helps with the need to change or improve something, and decreases helplessness. It makes you feel better about something.

Walk to the store. Go hunter-gatherer and find food with which you can intentionally and lovingly nourish yourself. This has inherent meaning. Eating kindly relieves stress much more than binging or using food for entertainment. Learn to prepare your food with intention and kindness.

When we get stressed, we tend to pull away from what is in front of us and let things back up, like dishes or laundry. They seem unimportant. Then the environment contributes to the stress. Getting into simple action taking care of these things may seem trivial or meaningless, but actually doing them generates positive momentum, making it easier to do the next thing. Getting things done gives you energy. Take care of what’s in front of you, and if you can, do something that makes a difference in the world. Don’t let feeling like you need to do something important put you in deadlock.

How are you doing out there?

What are you doing to relieve stress?

12 February 2016 5 Comments

What is Genuine Love?

What is Genuine Love?

“How few understand what love really is, and how it arises in the human heart. It is so frequently equated with good feelings toward others, with benevolence or nonviolence or service.  But these things in IMG_0108themselves are not love.  Love springs from awareness.  It is only inasmuch as you see someone as he or she really is here and how and not as they are in your memory or your desire or in your imagination or projection that you can truly love them, otherwise it is not the person that you love but the idea that you have formed of this person, or this person as the object of your desire not as he or she is in themselves.

“The first act of love is to see this person or this object, this reality as it truly is. And this involves the enormous discipline of dropping your desires, your prejudices, your memories, your projections, your selective way of looking . . . a discipline so great that most people would rather plunge headlong into good actions and service than submit to the burning fire of this asceticism. When you set out to serve someone whom you have not taken the trouble to see, are you meeting that person’s need or your own?” ~ Father Anthony de Mello

Contrast this understanding of genuine love with your conditioning about what it means to be loving.

What do you discover about yourself?

18 December 2015 6 Comments

Managing Your Energy Part 71: Skill Set to Keep from Giving Away Your Energy

Managing Your Energy Part 71: Skill Set to Keep from Giving Away Your Energy

It is not unusual for intuitive people with big hearts to become drained in interactions, especially with people whose lack of clarity tend to call forth our intuitive skills. Here are behaviors and attitudes that help: P1080147

Monitor your level of confusion carefully. When you begin to feel confused, take a step back and take inventory. Are you confused because of your own unclarity? If so, ask yourself questions to clarify your motives and needs. If you are confused, however, because someone is being confusing, you may make an effort to sort it out—but do not make heroic and exhaustive efforts. If the person actively resists your efforts to clarify what they mean or where they are coming from, take the following steps:

Bring in compassion for yourself. Confusion is painful, and you are probably being kept at an emotional distance.
Focus on connecting to Source, to the greater spiritual whole, so you feel connected instead of painfully isolated.
Release your need to feel connected to the person. This does not mean you never connect. It means you take care of your energy first. If you try to connect, you make sure it’s not draining you.
Tell the person that the interaction seems to be a lot of work. Ask them to get clear about what they are trying to communicate or what they want and get back to you when they know. Then they can do their own work internally instead of relying on you to do their work as well as your own.
If the person continues to block your communication or makes it too much work, withdraw and try at another point in time.
Comfort your Inner Child if you feel pain that the person is not connecting with you.
Be clear about what you want from interaction. Do your needs belong in interaction, or are these needs the sort one must care for in one’s self, like the need for validation or approval?
Quit being too “nice.” If the person is obstructing communication or out of touch, ask them directly to let you know what they want. It may be necessary to give them time to come up with it. If you choose to wait, spend the time practicing a simple energy-based, body-centered meditation, such as watching your breath. This helps with patience, nourishes you, and keeps you from picking up their energy. It works much better than defense, resistance, or most attempts to shield.
Stay clear about who you are. Do not reinforce ego-based identity, just keep an eye out to see whether what the person says about you matches who you are. If you are clear, you are not defensive. Take in what they say and try it on to see if it resonates. If it doesn’t, push it back out. Let this be a relaxed and natural process, like eating and pooping.
Notice if you start to get emotionally triggered. If so, delve right into your discomfort and find its core. What is the deepest and strongest emotion at play? What are you reminded of? What are you afraid of?
Breathe into any body parts that get tight.
Remind your young parts that you have adult resources now and can take care of your needs. Determine exactly what you can do yourself that will soothe and support you. Self support includes making appointments with professionals, but you still do what you can for yourself.
Take breaks if the person becomes unreasonably demanding.
Practice the skill of detachment. Detachment is not aloofness. Do not push anything away or resist, but relax any part of yourself that gets stuck to or wrapped around it. For example, let your relationship go—while staying right where you are. Leaving is unnecessary—unless it is necessary.
Keep checking in with yourself as to whether your response of helping is coming from an ego pattern, old wound, or unconscious need. If so, stop. If helping stems from your essence or a clean desire to be of service it will not cause you problems.

Which of these skills is the most necessary in your current interactions?

At what point in your interactions do you need to employ them?

13 March 2015 0 Comments

Managing Your Energy, Part 38: Death by a Thousand Paper Cuts, Choice, Meaning, Spiritual Freedom

Managing Your Energy, Part 38: Death by a Thousand Paper Cuts, Choice, Meaning, Spiritual Freedom

“Brother, stand the pain.
Escape the poison of your impulses.
The sky will bow to your beauty, if you do.
Learn to light the candle. Rise with the sun.
Turn away from the cave of your sleeping.
That way a thorn expands to a rose.”

Some of my worst moments occur when I feel forced to squander countless hours trying, for example, to download a year of financial information that some mandatory update has eaten, and telephone “help” no longer supports the platform I just repurchased. With the thousands of people in mind who are in the same position, being treated to casual cruelty, irresponsibility, and the company’s rhetoric about their lack of support for the products they inflict on the public has reduced me to shouting. It’s the helplessness.

I know this is trivial. The triviality makes it worse. Stress from major life events at least seems meaningful. Real trauma is vitally alive. It demands transformation. In contrast, dry and useless waste of precious days is like death by a thousand paper cuts. Meaningless stress deadens us and erodes societal well being.

Inability to accept the mundane increases my pain. Aiming for self mastery or contribution offer a sense of choice about some part of the experience, adding some meaning. When I am willing and able to practice this it reduces my distress.

One of my spiritual goals is to be able to remain in my heart—or at least avoid spiking my cortisol—in frustrating, trivial circumstances. It helps me to take a strong stand for everyone who may have to deal with the same thing. I seek to enroll anyone who may be able to make a difference in the way that company does business, asking them to help reduce meaningless planetary stress by advocating positive change during meetings, and by notifying policy makers. Breath practices help me too. IMG_0028

We may be unable to control circumstances, but we can at least gain some influence over our responses to them.

When we do not participate in the ways that ARE possible, we suffer more.

Looping back into our several-post topic of spirituality and suffering:

When we feel that God will cause us suffering, I think we must ask ourselves What we take God to be. (Please substitute your own word or concept if you don’t like the G-word.)

When we experience ourselves as separate from God, we can be messed with by God. When we feel we are an integral part of God, like a cell within the whole of the body, we play our part. We are impacted by the whole but it is not doing anything TO us; we are part of it.

Someone once said to the spiritual leader, Hazrat Inayat Khan, “I don’t believe in God.”

Inayat Khan replied, “You haven’t experienced God. How can you believe in something if you have not experienced it? Wait until you have some experience and then believe.”

Inayat Khan also said that god is a vibration, and that we create that vibration. We bring it forth from within us as an ideal, and train our energy to resonate with that ideal, making it real by bringing it through us into the world.

No matter what we believe or what we call it, we can practice bringing love into the world. It’s not easy, but it is inherently worthwhile.

Working with love and forgiveness AS ENERGIES invites expanded and redemptive experience. Working through the mind is less efficient. We need to FEEL it. When we are willing to love ourselves during our moments of distress, and to forgive ourselves for our wounds, we move toward happiness that transcends circumstances and conditions.

What do YOU resist, and how does this resistance ultimately increase your distress?

Can you identify some way to create a sense of choice or freedom within your experience?

7 March 2015 4 Comments

Managing Your Energy, Part 40: Rapid Spiritual Growth and Rage

Managing Your Energy, Part 40: Rapid Spiritual Growth and Rage

“Because true belonging only happens when we present
our authentic, imperfect selves to the world,
our sense of belonging
can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”
~ Brené Brown

Exposure to energies that promote rapid spiritual growth almost inevitably brings us up against the that prevent us from sustaining those energies within ourselves. When we are passionate about transformation, we view this as an opportunity to stretch ourselves with respect to these limitations. We are, however, rarely of one mind about it. When the going becomes painful, we are apt to view these challenges as an affront. Here we are, doing our best to be all that we can be, and it feels like we’re being tested or tormented, let alone receiving support.

One of my readers brought up what she aptly calls “the universal 2-by-4.” I would like to speak in part to those who have experienced sudden awakenings and transformational life experiences which they were not actively courting. My reader was brave and authentic enough to admit that she felt resentment toward God after having such extreme experiences.

I understand. In the face of this kind of experience it is easy to feel resistant to growth, fear of more pain, angry, and stuck.

About twenty years ago I went through an episode of acute spiritual agony. I was mad at God. Even if one kills one’s self, I reasoned, one could not escape suffering because it is nearly impossible to step off the Wheel of death and rebirth. I did not recall choosing to participate, maybe back at the beginning of being a distinct, individual soul, or agreeing to the intensity of the challenges. I resented that so much learning comes through distress. Why not through love?

Whatever we believe and however we couch it, intense suffering can bring up rage. On the bright side, rage can assist with transformation. It focuses a huge amount of energy. Rage itself is life-affirming. We do need to use this force toward positive ends.

While I do not hold with rigid belief, I do believe that the urge to grow is part of our nature. We experience fulfillment through growth. We experience fulfillment by cultivating our hearts, and meaning through involvement with The Greater Whole.

The more we feel separate from God, others, the Universe, etc, the more we suffer. When we feel at One with It, we feel better and are more likely to experience meaning. If we cannot feel it now, we can aim to remain open.

IMG_1785Life is what it is and does what it does. We want to think it could be “fair.” We attempt to apply logic, to hold life to human standards of what should and should not happen. These standards were usually taught to us as children. Sometimes we regress when we cannot understand Life with our minds.

Apparently The One Being That embraces Everything does not maintain our biases against suffering and death. Much that we can experience directly, through our hearts, cannot be rationalized or explained. This includes the paradox of Divine Compassion.

Life is a big fat mystery. It full of paradox and both-ands. It does not and will not conform to our expectations. When we resist, we hurt more. I can understand resenting that.

The more I do practices that increase my ability to remain in my heart the more I experience myself as participating instead of feeling done-to.

How do YOU feel about using difficult circumstances to grow?

What brings you a sense of having a choice?

To progress in our Inner Work, we need to be willing to observe
our resistance to reality, our attachment to our self-image,
and our fear. (Understanding the Enneagram)

27 February 2015 0 Comments

Managing Your Energy, Part 39: Personal Context on Suffering & Spiritual Growth, Part 2

Managing Your Energy, Part 39: Personal Context on Suffering & Spiritual Growth, Part 2

This narrative follows and completes my story about grappling with the enigma of suffering:

Working in tandem with and being close friends with a powerful a clairvoyant, clairaudient healer I learned a great deal about energy. Unfortunately, when I began to confront him about various breaches of ethics, he did not address them and we parted ways. We had come to count on one another’s assistance in clearing our energy if we became too compromised to scan ourselves. Doing advanced energy healing without this safety net made me hypersensitive to energy.

Through Qi Gong, I was learning how to protect myself from energy that did not belong with me. At the same time, I was becoming even more sensitive, outstripping my ability to keep myself safe. Fortunately, ongoing work with several advanced healers and the accumulated results of my Inner Work were reaching critical mass. I learned how to cultivate positive energies to assist me both in staying clear and in clearing myself if I became compromised. Now I was able to strengthen my energy fields, effectively ground myself, and manage external energies. I quit having creepy energy experiences.IMG_1771

Before I began this blog, I wrote what would have been a long book. I intended to reach out to people who felt isolated owing to unusual energy experiences. I wrote autobiographically, to model the skills and attitudes I was developing in order to stay balanced and clear while encountering all manner of bizarre and unnerving energy phenomena.

I imagined people passing my book along to friends who had become isolated or felt crazy dealing with paranormal phenomena without support. After all my work I realized that publishing it might make me the go-to person not only for intuitives, but for those who were mentally unstable or ill. It is not my life work to serve in that particular front-line trench.

At this point I pursued and later co-taught some Gurdjieff-based spiritual work. It was very practical, emphasizing Inner Work rather than God. It felt good to engage in transformative work without worrying about belief. I withdrew when one of the main proponents of that work, a powerful narcissist, began to mess with my energy. He had asked me to co-author a book and I had declined.

Several years ago I was drawn to meet a spiritual teacher I had seen briefly when I was twenty. To my shock, I realized quickly and unequivocally that he was my Teacher. I had long before given up even the remotest desire for a spiritual Teacher. The several teachers I initially worked with were like stepping stones, without a deep inner link, full conviction, or any sense of permanence. My Teacher was not looking for students. I had to assert myself in a spiritually classic manner to forge a real connection. (How I managed that is a different story.)

Now I am extremely fortunate to have an absolutely genuine, astonishingly congruent Teacher. Treating each person as unique, he suggests specific spiritual practices to address distress and imbalance that stand in the way of experiencing spiritual Unity.

I used to fear that God or life would torment me in this way or that to make me grow. At first I formulated and reformulated several questions to my Teacher, seeking answers to make sense of suffering. His responses were the only things he has ever said that to me that didn’t quite strike home. They never in the slightest rubbed me the wrong way—which is a minor miracle. Neither did they satisfy.

Since then my experience has changed. It’s as if I absorbed the question into my growth, and don’t find myself circling in that particular eddy. Understanding encompasses more than the mind. Some questions are uprooted only through direct experience. My questions about suffering were formulated from a perspective that has begun to dissolve. It is not that I don’t have moments of fear, distress or overwhelm with the intensity of life. But such moments have less purchase on me. They have begun to dissolve into the Whole as I experience greater unity with Life.

Who do you know who accepts life as it is—including the trauma and atrocities—yet is able to remain genuinely positive?

What do YOU do to cultivate positive energy?

20 February 2015 10 Comments

Managing Your Energy, Part 38: Personal Context on Suffering & Spiritual Growth

Managing Your Energy, Part 38: Personal Context on Suffering & Spiritual Growth

When it comes to learning to manage energy, let alone coming to grips with suffering, there isn’t a quick fix. I find myself drawn to share some personal background before proceeding with other commentary. This will take two posts:

In my twenties and for eleven years, I was intensively involved with a different branch of the mystical school with which I am now linked. A leader’s serious abuse of power caused me to leave that school. Oddly, an independent teacher from a path I had never heard of sent a student to find me. This was before internet and occurred totally through Guidance. This teacher did fairly extreme (and fascinating) work with me for about seven months. When our stint came to completion, I became involved with a different spiritual group for seven years.

That group does a powerful fire ritual during which participants throw something they want to renounce into the fire. They caution that this act can put in motion difficult processes necessary to bringing about renunciation. Determined to learn through joy rather than suffering, I threw “learning through suffering” into that fire. Whether or not I was fully in belief, I thought I’d give it a sincere try. My next seven years were even more difficult than the previous. I asked experienced members of the group how to come to grips with suffering. Few engaged my questions. No one shared anything useful, just platitudes or party lines.

During a spiritual camp I had an episode of agony, through which I encountered rage with God. I have heard it said, and agree, that engaging with God in rage maintains a relationship and is cathartic—which creates more possibility than does withdrawing. I did not find it loving to set up Creation so we learn through suffering. I wanted OUT. For those difficult hours I felt acutely that even suicide was futile because one would simply find oneself back on the Wheel of Life, probably in less salutary conditions. I let these feelings arise but did not dwell on them later.

For three years I led a committed small group. We met in secret to evade attendance by superficial persons who permeated the local chapter of the larger group. A significant trauma dismantled this group.

During this period I became involved with a man who began to use spiritual rhetoric in an attempt to force me to caretake him. When the title of a book called, “God Talk and Domination” jumped out at me in a book store, what he was doing suddenly became clear. I practically developed an allergy to spiritual talk.

At this point I was feeling rather defensive toward God. I avoided spiritual groups for more than a decade. I had withdrawn from P1070852belief. Sometimes I felt that I had lost faith, and yet I could sense it hiding, way down deep and private. This faith was not “IN anything.” It stands like a spinning top that rights itself if pushed over. Paradoxically, this faith—for lack of a better word—was completely hidden beneath a wry unwillingness to fake anything or take anything ‘on faith.’ I came to sense that real faith could not be shattered (it was like water), or lost (it was part of me), or influenced by conditions and circumstances (it did not stand upon them). This was not faith that something or someone would somehow save me, but a kind of internal compass that drew me in a wholesome direction.

I became flexible enough to support people in their spiritual processes, no matter what belief systems they engaged.

When I carefully took stock, I realized that in dismissing belief systems and spiritual practices because I did not fully buy in to groups’ dynamics, politics and rhetoric, I had a deficit of positive energy. Without intentionally bringing in positive energy, I was being exposed to the “stuff” body therapy clients were releasing. These energies were creating unpleasant experiences—whether or not I “believed in” them.

“The distress I am feeling is the engine that drives me forward.” RR

Have you ever been angry with God, or do you reject whatever “God” might be because the enigma of suffering is confounding?

What does “faith” mean to you? Can you locate faith as a resonance or vibration instead of a concept or belief?

13 February 2015 4 Comments

Managing Your Energy, Part 37: Types of Distress & Spiritual Distress

Managing Your Energy, Part 37: Types of Distress & Spiritual Distress

It is challenging to approach the topic of feeling that God or the Universe is causing us suffering. I don’t want to be glib about this, or to dodge it because it is so difficult to write about without rhetoric, platitudes, or too much to believe. I find myself with a number of different things to say about this topic, in different contexts. I truly hope you find my reflections useful.

Much of the suffering we go through through is due to attachment, reactivity, old wounds, rigid biases about what “should be,” and so forth. It is useful to differentiate between:

  • Distress that has been there all along, now surfacing into awareness (an opportunity for greater personal freedom)
  • Distress sourced to mistaken opinions and beliefs about live (an opportunity for positive disillusionment)
  • Distress that might be referred to as karmic, related to unavoidable life events (long term lessons that require integration over years)
  • Reactivity and resistance because we don’t like the way things are (calls for developing greater acceptance of Life)
  • Pain caused by lower-self resistance to the higher-self bringing in more light/awareness (ugh. Good luck, fellow Travelers! We’re in an unprecedented planetary growth spurt and the going is intense!)

The latter can be viewed as suffering that is brought about by spiritual pursuit. It hurts, yet at least when we incur suffering in pursuit of something of real value, it has inherent meaning.IMG_1791

This type of distress, when it is real, is an indication of achievement. We have managed to make a significant enough change in our energies that it is invoking internal resistance. It IS possible to regress in our trajectory of growth. An established habit of intentionally selecting the Highest Possible Option in the moment serves well during this kind of juncture, as does access to genuine Guidance.

If we are not on board with the changes we are going through, and experience no sense of choice, our distress is exacerbated.

We may also suffer when we are calling out for help and do not receive it. Sometimes we need to formulate ourselves through grappling with a particular challenge over time, alone. This is especially painful when we do not understand the purpose and direction of our growth, and feel we have not chosen this course.

It is possible to have chosen a course unwittingly. When we pray for greater understanding and compassion, for example, we may have experiences by which we learn them. How else are we to fully comprehend if not through direct experience?

When we are suffering, it is easy to feel uncomfortable or even annoyed by people who lack sufficient understanding to be in rapport with us. Trying to manage relating to people who don’t ‘get it’ when we hurt is emotionally frustrating. We may protect ourselves from disappointment, frustration, or shame by withdrawing from superficial or hyper-positive people, by whom we may be judged. It’s okay to crawl under a rock for repairs.

When I share positive experiences, values, directions to focus on, and highly positive experiences, I feel concerned about inadvertently pushing buttons for those of you who are in pain. (I’m trying to get over that.) Being positive can be scary because it can alienate people for various reasons. Those of you who know me know that I am all about wholeness. I have limited patience for people who adopt an external attitude that appears positive without doing their Inner Work—particularly if they regurgitate memorized platitudes when I am in distress.

The most positive and integrated people I know can and do stand fully in rapport with those who have been shattered by atrocities. They do not act “nice,” sugar-coat anything, or withdraw from distress, their own, or that of others.

Do you differentiate between different types of distress?

If so, how does that serve you?