Wednesday, July 29, 2015

I do have an evening Netflix addiction which I need to deal with. I am trying to figure out which part of me takes over when I loose entirely too much time on stories that don't have anything to do with me. I do love a good story. I know something in me rests when I can pay attention to stories that I don't have any responsibility for. This is because most of my work day is spent listening to and supporting people in healing their usually traumatic stories. I truly love my work and feel it is a privilege, but sometimes need a break from it. So I guess Netflix is a break for me. The problem is that in Ayurvedic terms, most of what I watch is rajasic and over-stimulating or tamasic and dulls the senses and mind. Most of it is not sattvic or peaceful, except at the end when the bad guys get caught or the couple gets married.

I spent my traumatic childhood watching a lot of TV and getting lost in various stories. I believe it was a form of disassociation. After age 16 I didn't have another TV that I watched regularly for...well I still don't have one that I ever watch. (I was 16 a very long time ago.) But about 5 years ago my daughter introduced me to Netflix and I have gotten involved in all kinds of stories. They mostly involve abuse of power. Sometimes the characters get brought to justice and sometimes they do not.

The first story I got involved with was Law and Order SVU. This was very healing for me because back in the day when I was being abused in this special victims sort of way no one was doing anything about it. Not family, school or law enforcement. I also really like that the main character has her own story, so it was a survivor leading the way to deal with perpetrators. Her experiences of coming from victimization and being a victim herself enhanced her capacity to do her job with authority. In my field of psychotherapy being a survivor seems to diminish your authority in the eyes of colleagues as the profession still seems to be based on an antiquated patriarchal model of being neutral and/or perhaps above the patient or client. The years over which this story unfolded were healing. I think our best voice against power over violence  and for healing its aftermath may actually be happening on TV. But I still don't want to loose so much time...

I caught up with the last episode last night and it was a good example of the power of telling our stories. The young women who were witnesses told their stories bravely and bluntly and in its way it brought the bad guy down. If we all could be brave to keep telling our stories, all of us who have been or are victims of power-over abuse, perhaps this old, destructive patriarchal paradigm would change for good. I can dream...and energize the dream...and it may finally be realized!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A brief reflection on gratitude

I am thinking about gratitude today. Through the cloud of my many fears I am trying to feel what I am grateful for. There is really so much. And I am not terrified in that day in day out sort of way that I was in my childhood so I am daring to ask myself how gratitude feels in my body, so I can really get to know it better.

I am grateful for the tea I drink each morning that gets me going. The earth of the ceramic cup holds the water that has been boiled by the fire to bring me the fragrance and taste if the tea. It warms me. I receive it into my cells and the comfortable fire in my belly.  I look out at the sun and the trees. I feel the blood pulsing through my body. I sense the roots of the trees and I too can feel my connection to Mother Earth. I am grateful to the trees for reminding me of this. I feel this in my relaxing feet.

I sense the strength in the trunk of the tree and I know that I too can be strong to face what I am afraid of. My arms or limbs can reach out for what I need and this can create a favorable healing. I can reach out to others to try to sooth and support them. This helps me to feel warm in my heart. I am grateful to all my relations.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Making the Circle Again

I have felt fairly lost lately and I am aware I haven't written in this blog for over a month. Lost is not necessarily a bad thing but it is not such a comfortable state of being. I realize that having my daughter far away has changed my whole life. She had been my organizing principle for more than eighteen years and while things don't look so different from the outside (except for the time I don't spend with her), things are very different in the inside.

I honor my work tremendously and love it as well my students and clients, and I do have wonderful friends. But choosing to bring a child into this world is an awesome responsibility and I have tried to follow through, structuring my whole day for the most part to meet her needs appropriate to her age and development. It helped me to know her needs were more important than the obsessive thoughts in my head. She did in fact develop herself all the way to college, so I am alone in a different way. It is good as we are each where we need to be, each transitioning in a different way.

Now I don't know what to put first. My whole nervous system is confused. I am also mourning. I am disorganized and I don't know what is to come. I can't seem to impose a structure on myself and that is difficult because I am studying Ayurveda and we are asked through our assignments to implement structure and I am finding this impossible. I can't seem to follow through with much of anything. It is as if my life energy is asking me to wonder aimlessly for a time. Some part of my soul is searching and I can't rush the finding.

I can't follow the clock as the Ayurvedic system recommends. I feel a bit of a failure. I don't feel like cooking. I want to sit in my apartment and watch netflix about families with protective parents. (I did not have protective parents but very much tried to be a protective parent.) I am aware that my home is becoming more disorganized and part of me is really frustrated with this and part of me doesn't care.

I find that I seem to be able to manage a very informal fifteen minutes of yoga on either side of my day, between waking and sleep and sleep and waking. This is the only formal/informal practice I seem to be able to get myself to do. But I felt a sense of true relief yesterday when I took my sacred objects from the window sill and put them in the circle of the Medicine Wheel. A lava rock my dear friend Leigh brought me from Hawaii went in the east, a beautiful spiky conch shell my daughter found me on a beach holding the sea of Cortez went in the south, a split rock that in its wholeness held the heat of the fire from a sweat lodge led by my friend Dennis went in the west, and a quartz crystal he had given me before his death went in the north.

There was something healing about seeing these objects in the circle rather than a line that brought me together with myself. I checked in with a part of me that has been feeling vulnerable and I tried to reassure it. I felt a sense of being rather than a sense of having to do. I am keeping this version of the Medicine Wheel on the table for now.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Another way of sensing

I can't believe it has been over a month since my last entry. I have actually been to a major learning center for ten days to take the first half of a Foundations in Ayurveda course. One would be able to study Ayurveda forever and would still just be scratching the surface. That being said I am glad I went because I learned a lot that has already found its way into my teaching.

It was hard for me because the hours of the course were long: 6:30am to 9pm, leaving no down time, something I really need. But I plugged away within this structure, a bit confused because I am sure downtime is part of a balanced life. I am still waiting for the "how to heal from trauma" course that doesn't further traumatized people. I will have to wait a bit longer. The blessing and the curse of the situation includes there being eighty people in the class: a blessing because this many people were serious about studying Ayurveda and a curse because a group half this size would be maximum for the kind of interactive learning experience I like best.

It's been a week since the course ended and I am still recovering. I'm still hoping that perhaps the course and the ancient truths I will learn will help me get out of the fog of grief I've been lost in for a few years. The loss of a good friend to a car accident and my mother's inappropriate estate appropriation left me with a heaviness it has been hard to come out from under. I have learned from Ayurveda that this heaviness may be called guru.

It is also interesting being a beginner to Ayurveda and yet not being a beginner in some ways to some of the ideas because of my at least 25 years of teaching yoga and practicing shamanism. It is hard to know where to put the part of me that is not a beginner. For example, we have a great assignment this week about exploring the sense organs, becoming aware of our relationship to them and how we can connect with them to enhance our life, health and spiritual path. The usual sense organs are ears, skin, eyes, tongue and nose.

So I had a dream about my proprioceptive sense and simply knowing, like a third eye knowing. My guides seem to want me to remember this sensing, even though it is not a part of the beginning Ayurveda that I am learning. So today I will honor this proprioceptive sense, leaving the rest of the week for the other five senses. It used to be hard for me to take a course and feel very entitled to hold fully to what I know. I embrace that I am both a beginner and not a beginner and spirit is speaking to me.

I had a dream about being part of a course and sometimes I was teaching and sometimes other people were teaching. We were all appreciating the different talents people brought to the table and celebrating the ways of knowing that everyone seemed to have. I was enjoying this appreciation. We were beginning to become teams of people with complementary talents rather than any one person being the expert. People were being healed by the way we were working with each other. We seemed to just know how to do this from a deep place inside ourselves...

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Are we using yoga to regulate our affect so we can accept more unacceptable behavior?

I feel pretty peaceful after a yoga class and I know this is a good feeling for me to have sometimes, for my healing, for my well being. I teach so I can support people in getting to know their processes and so that they can feel peaceful like this sometimes. I see people everywhere carrying their yoga mats around so I know yoga has gotten very popular. I am hoping it has not become another opiate of the masses.

Bessel van der Kolk, MD, who has done the research, touts its capacity to heal trauma of all kinds more effectively than drugs or therapy. And I believe this is true: another reason why I teach it. But does it also increase our resilience in such a way that we have an increased capacity to tolerate behavior that is not yogic. In yoga we practice ahimsa or non-violence if we have chosen to contemplate the yamas and niyamas or ethical precepts first (before engaging in asana or postures) as Pantanjali suggests. In this way we may learn to have a nonviolent response to a violent behavior. Ideally this leaves room for more creative approaches to issues and problems.

But we must move on to Satya, which means truth. Practicing Satya we embrace the truth of our experiences which can include our own limitations as well as our perception and interpretation of the behavior of others. Hopefully, at the end of a yoga class we are relaxed and can see ourselves clearly and perhaps we have taken responsibility for our own stuff so we are not projecting it out onto others.  But hopefully we are not so calm that we ignore abhorrent behavior such as mistreatment and exploitation of the poor, classism and racism.

Since yoga has been more popular for twenty years, is it and it's relaxing effect contributing to how we are allowing Wall Street to rip us off, millionaires to buy politicians and resources to get plundered while the environment suffers? Yoga itself has become ultra commercial with the sale of products. When I started back in 1978 any old household towel or blanket would do for practice.

Are we getting stuck in the blissed out state at the end of the yoga class and not remembering Satya, bramacharya (balance) and asteya (non-stealing). Gandhi spoke about how when people have more than what they need they are stealing from people who do not have enough. I would like the yoga I teach and share to relax people so they can heal in their nervous and other organ systems but to also energize them so they will address, in a small everyday way most of the time, the challenges we all share as humans, on Mother Earth, Divine Mother Kundalini Shakti and all her beings, from whom all blessings come. If it continues to become another tool to release narcissist fear and guilt that is not so good.

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.