Monday, August 25, 2014

I need to forgive myself for getting distracted from my blog for a week as my intention is to write at least every other day. But this week I brought my only child to college for the first time and I am still here finishing up last minute details, ready but not ready to leave her here today. Perhaps I will write about separation tomorrow.

But today I wanted to get back to where I left off last week about forgiveness. I think that it is a medicine wheel process involving all parts if ourselves. The child in us wants to be connected to people, sometimes even when they are not good for us, like an abused child going back to an abusive mother. It is the child in us that can sometimes maintain an open heart even when it is a tough situation. This part, in the east of the wheel, can sometimes move into the next moment without holding a grudge. It is a part that knows we are all Mother Earth's children.

The inner teen/young adult in us knows it needs social interaction and though it is idealistic, has started to learn that people have flaws that need to be navigated if one is to have connections. In this place in south of the wheel we are developing values, testing them out, finding other things out about who we are. This is an aspect of ourselves that could be unforgiving, more black and white about issues, holding people to ideal standards rather than human ones.

The adult in the west of the wheel can differentiate between behaviors that are deal breakers in relationships and those that are not. In this direction one has accumulated enough life experience to have an idea of, in addition to having a picture of what life "should" be like, what works for them. This is also a place of acknowledging that one has also made mistakes and has been forgiven or has wished to be forgiven and so may be able to make this room and extend this care to others. Some dynamics may in fact be too much to forgive.

I know the least about the elder place in the north of the wheel. I sense, as I move into this stage of life, that there is more vata here, or in Ayurvedic thought, space and air. There is also ether, an element of creation and all possibilities. The elder has more wisdom and skill, perhaps to facilitate healing in situations that can be healed. And perhaps there is more room to accept and let go of what can't be helped.

As I am forgiving myself for all I have and have not done with my parenting, and as I let go of my daughter, I must acknowledge what I have done well. This includes what my daughter and I have done together in our partnership, together with the other influences in her life, especially what she has done for herself, all of which leaves her in a great position to be successful at school and in life.

Monday, August 18, 2014

I have pondered a great deal on my healing journey and in my support of others about what forgiveness is and what it is not, whether and how it needs to happen and in which circumstances. Needless to say it is a complicated topic of great concern to many. Perhaps I have more questions about it than answers.

It seems its purpose centers around releasing anger regarding a particular action or dynamic in a relationship so one can be more comfortable in their skin again. It's goal also seems to be re-establishing safety so one is positioned in the world in a way that is protected and functional. Sometimes people can forgive and stay in connection with people they have forgiven in a way that is similar to how the relationship has always been especially if there have been some new understandings such as attempts at better communication or respect for boundaries. Sometimes the relationship can not be maintained in its former form but the parties involved continue to be connected in some way, such as when people become more like acquaintances and less like friends because an action has been taken that has violated a trust. There is forgiveness in the sense that anger is no longer held but there is a wish for greater distance. When understanding and changes in behavior can't happen distance may be the only way to create safety. Sometimes the relationship really can't continue other than that the humans involved still occupy the same planet.  Sometimes forgiveness in this case means that the people involved wish each other well rather than harm as they keep their distance. Forgiveness does help people to be more comfortable and can help people to grow in understanding of our perpetual humanness.

Perhaps it is not always possible to forgive. Perhaps it is not always desirable to forgive. Most often forgiveness is an ongoing process rather than something that happens in a single moment if we are being honest with ourselves. I have been engaged in the process of forgiving my parents for a long time. First on my list is my step father who could be in prison for crimes of assault if the times were different and if his crimes happened outside the family. I can understand he was abused also but his ongoing crimes created so much damage they need to be re-forgiven when new triggering situations come up. My father was easiest to forgive since he had a serious mental illness and was a very moral person. My mother went along with my step father and although she wasn't aware of the sexual assault according to her memory, she permitted him to be abusive mentally and physically. Recently she adjusted the will regarding her estate to exclude me. I believe this was because I wrote honestly about my childhood. Apparently it takes more than thirty years of therapy to forgive some things. I can forgive my mother and my step father because they are no longer present in my life.

 I have learned through raising a child that it is not difficult to provide respect and decent treatment to any child. This highlights the reprehensibility of what they did to me.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I wish to write about forgiveness with respect to shamanism, Ayurveda, psychological thought and my understanding of life so far. I am not the best at forgiveness, of myself or others. My mother and step father as well as the Catholic Church I was exposed to growing up seemed to emphasize the punitive rather than the dynamic of forgiveness. Rather than experiencing the people in my life growing up losing it on occasion and behaving in way that was less than acceptable, apologizing and making amends so we all could move on, they rationalized their perpetual unacceptable behavior, blamed me for it and continued to be abusive. When I was a child I learned to split off from myself or to dissociate to tolerate this. One part of me seemed to always know they were wrong and there was a better world somewhere. Another part of me absorbed the victim blaming and blamed myself and was self punitive. Yet another part acted tough, pretended none of it was a big deal and joined my parents in their convoluted world of life being a playground for drunk, arrogant exploiters.

Decades of healing have helped with this fragmentation. From therapy I learned to be nicer to myself, forgiving, kind and even tender sometimes. I have learned there is no such thing as perfect, therefore not as much to blame myself for. My inner perfectionist can step aside and not take over because there are other parts of me with more reasonable standards. I have learned from indigenous thinking also to embrace imperfections and that there is a way that human interaction works when we are functional. In this value system we live in harmony with Mother Earth and we create a sense of safety and belonging for one another, encourage people to find out who they are and to master the tasks they need to learn to express who they are. We encourage independence with integrity and practice healthy reciprocity with others. Healthy reciprocity is one of my favorite practices because it means we are aware of the needs of others as well as ourselves and we are committed to practicing fairness.

So I am struggling with forgiving myself for making the same mistakes over and over again. And I am wondering how the elements and my doshas might interact to create healthy forgiveness for myself and others. Trust and safety seem to be my first concern. I didn't really get to grow up with a healthy sense of either and still struggle with both of these things. I feel that vata and the elements of air and space do support me with perspective and breath. When I breathe I can sense the whole picture of myself. Kapha and the elements of earth and water help me mother myself, so I can remember and endorse myself for all the good things I do and have done. I can bring into my consciousness how consistent I am in my work, always learning to enhance my skills, and how I have been a good mother in spite of mistakes I have made and continue to make. I can also make amends to myself by remembering that I have done a good job as an adult in spite of not having real nurturing support growing up, but trauma and abuse instead.

Then I can handle the pitta, the fire. In the fire I can see the issues I still have to work on such as continuing to speak up even though someone I am in an intimate relationship with seems to not want to hear it sometimes. As don Miguel Ruiz would say, I need to not assume anything, especially that I have been heard and understood until I get a real sign that I have been. It was so scary to speak up in my family. I often did it at my own peril. Other people aren't so scary now, especially the people I am choosing to be friends and family with and I am not so small and needy. But I am still asking, what do I do with my needs in a relationship and partnership when they seem to be at odds with the other person's? I only know I can't postpone them without consequence in the reality of my inner environment.

I can also work with the elements to see the whole picture of someone else, even when I am mad (vata) and therefore also see their good. I can express this to them and also be nurturing, enjoying the time with them (kapha). I can also use the fire (pitta) to work through the difficulty, the dynamics that are hurtful and are not working. My solidness, kapha, can help me to hold my ground around my needs as I mother myself while I also pay attention to another. It helps to have range within individual elements as well as embracing all of them consciously. Now I'm off to try this out in the real world...

Monday, August 11, 2014

Yesterday we went to the zoo for the last time before my daughter leaves for college. This was something that she felt was important for her to do with her best friend. As we observed all the animals I could see all the ages the girls had ever been and ever will be in this place that brings out the inner child and the sage, acknowledging ourselves and the magnificent beings we live with, with Mother Earth. (It is important to acknowledge that we live with Mother Earth rather than on her.) We all walked the collective nesting dolls of ourselves around this special place, sensing our so many layers, so many levels, so many simultaneous feelings, accomplishments and griefs.

I am so proud of her and I am accepting on most levels this necessary shift in our lives as she moves away and on, a natural flow to the next stage of life for both of us. But I am feeling more of my anxiety today about the profound shift in my sense of rootedness, my "family life" and I have been re-visited by a physical condition that is connected to my root chakra that has not presented itself in a long time. There have also been big shifts in the lives of many of my long term friends who I consider family, as well as changes and stress in some of the more recent connections I have made.

In an effort to feel myself more at peace with my changing roots I decided to revisit a meditation/journey taught to me by my Kung Fu teacher long ago of sitting with my roots extended deep down into Mother Earth, feeling them reach Her core. At the same time I feel the crown of my head reaching up to the sun/heavens. In this way I am connected to my spiritual Mother and Father and know I am not alone in the universe no matter what else is reconfiguring. I can trust the Yin and the Yang, the Kundalini and the Prana, to always be there. We are denying reality to whatever degree when we don't acknowledge this connection: without Mother Earth and the sun we would not be here in physical bodies. After doing this I feel a bit more spacious, open to possibilities of healing and a renewed commitment to minimize the stresses as much as possible at this busy, tumultuous time. Since my first chakra is about trust, I need to reassess what I can trust and then allow myself to lean on it a bit. In this meditation/journey I did connect to my Spirit Guides who support me in making sense of things and extend healing energy to me that I can then extend to others.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Modern psychology and psychotherapy discuss ego defenses, coping mechanisms, personalities, aspects or parts of the self. I am formulating some thoughts about the parts of myself and the elements they may contain and how these elements interact so that one part may dominate in a certain situation rather than another for better or worse. In Ayurveda I am learning that the elements I learned about in shamanic healing (earth, water, fire, air and space/etheric) also form doshas or biological, psychological patterns of energy. They are woven throughout the body and the psyche. I am beginning to explore how I sense these doshas impact my choices and behavior.

For example, the last few years for a few reasons, I have watched a lot of netflix. I think of this as my kapha taking over, the part of me that tends to be more sedentary expressing primarily earth, but also some water. I have experienced a couple of major losses in the last couple of years which have created grieving and a need to be planted, in stillness and regroup. There is also an element of pitta or fire to the netflix watching as I have a passion for stories, which are healing as I have learned from Dr. Lewis Mehl-Madrona. My viewing time consists of about 70% cop shows and I am thrilled when they focus explicitly on issues of sexual violence, sometimes catching perpetrators, always acknowledging its "heinousness" as in Law and Order: SVU. These shows and their points of view did not exist when I was growing up, so I grew up very confused, with Lolita and Freud and other such pedophilia justifying or practicing rationalizations. So my fire of pitta drives me to watch (fueled by emotional water) as my kapha keeps me still to engage in this activity. (I really hadn't been watching any TV since I graduated from high school at 16.) So I heal in the part of me that needs this seemingly endless validation for what was endlessly invalidated as I was growing up, while I waste an enormous amount of time with respect to my other parts that are intellectually curious and want to spend time in rooms with real people.

I am left to ask what dosha would have to be activated to do this in moderation? Perhaps vata, air and space. I could breathe and see this in some perspective. I could receive the abundance I have taken in, deeper into my traumatized cells. I was abused for over ten years. I'd hate to think I need ten years of daily cop shows to heal it. This pursuit of understanding Ayurveda and integrating it is good because I read more, and am expanding my thinking. We all have parts that take over some times and this may provide insight into this dynamic and knowledge about how to help myself and others make healthy shifts into balance.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

There have always been a couple of days each week when my daughter sleeps at her dad's so I have not been unaccustomed to waking up in my apartment by myself. But I have always known that she would be back soon and I'd see her later that day or at the very latest the next day. But the day she is scheduled to leave for college is a little over two weeks away and I awoke this morning with a feeling that my skin doesn't quite fit my body anymore and there is an emptiness in my chest. It is a part of me, calling out in an echoing tunnel, for the old that has past...the sleepy baby, the curious, giggling girl, the awkward pre-teen who is now both confident and overwhelmed by change. These aspects of her live within her cellular memory and mine. They live in a dimension in the present but have stepped into the periphery of the room or into deep almost untouchable recesses.

I have chosen to attempt to plug up this enormous hole in my heart with something I have been interested in studying for quite some time: Ayurveda and it's application to the yoga I have been practicing for thirty five years and teaching for twenty five. I will have the time now as she goes off to pursue her dream of of learning how to teach elementary school. She is moving on with the work of her stage of life on the Medicine Wheel: mastery leading to independence with integrity. I am struggling with my first assignment from the Ayurvedic program which seems to be related to my teenage self: what dosha or doshas am I primarily and how is my Agni? These seem like identity questions. This may be a stage of life to revisit the identity question. Who am I beyond being my daughter's mother? She has been my life's work for nineteen years if I count growing her in the belly. This time nineteen years ago I learned she was growing in there...such a sweet discovery.

I am also feeling the stage of life related to my elder self. I know there is still much mothering to be done but it will be different long distance. I will have more freedom to study and work and teach, grow in wisdom and share this wisdom. I hope to share more about this in coming posts. It is just something I am feeling, trying on today.

Lastly, I wish to say a few words about trauma-ism. As I had to get past old trauma to become a social worker as my step uncle who abused me was a social worker and family therapist, I have to get past old trauma to study Ayurveda. As I read the text books they are loaded with Sanskrit words. My step father who abused me frequently said grace in Sanskrit before meals. He practice Vedanta and was something of a Sanskrit scholar so these words are very triggering to me. I am perplexed by how people aspire to compassion and evolution and yet can allow very dark parts to take over causing great damage. I will work through the trauma to get to the soul enriching, but I know it won't be easy. I will speak more on all these topics I have introduced in future posts.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Birth of this Blog


The arch of the ancient building that houses The Hudson Valley Writer's Center is the birth portal for this blog...overlooking the waters of the river that was home to the Algonquin for many cycles of the sun. The cycle of my life is radically changing as my only daughter and love of my life embarks on her next chapter and adventure. As she begins her next phase I begin my new studies in Ayurveda, flowing along as my soul is frightened, excited and evolving at this sacred time.