Wednesday, May 30, 2012

To Pursue a Thought...


As humans we have one power: to pursue a thought. What thought are you going to pursue--I am infinite, or I am finite?

Yogi Bhajan said that on a video I watched a few weeks ago. 


He was proposing that we don't necessarily create our own thoughts. They just sort of pop in.  The unconscious mind is full of stuff we don't have any idea about, as well as a whole lot of programming from outside sources. These all just pop up like popcorn --thousands per second. And then there is also this spin doctor in your mind that is sometimes called the ego that is always scrambling to keep your story together. I  also believe that sometimes our thoughts are actually whispers from beings outside of us--sometimes light, sometimes dark.

But where thoughts come from doesn't really matter. What matters are the ones we pursue. One thought alone can shape your destiny--if you pursue it. One thought can destroy you--but only if you pursue it.

Too many people think we are our thoughts. My 2nd favorite bumper stick in the world says: DON'T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU THINK.

Ha!

It can be fun to observe your own thoughts with this perspective. I like to notice all the nice touches my spin doctor adds. One day I got kind of annoyed at all the chatter and I actually spoke out loud to that part of my mind and said, "Why can't you just stop?"

I heard a tiny pathetic little voice inside answer, "Because then I won't have a job...."

I laughed that I got such a straight answer. But I also listened. "What if I gave you another job?" I asked.

We are still working out the details


Some people think that the purpose of meditation is to clear the mind of thoughts. I would like to set the record straight. If your mind is totally blank you are probably dead. The truth is that meditation helps us direct the mind, rather than allowing it to be directed or scattered all over the place by all these incoming thoughts.

I'd also like to clear up another misconception. It's not actually what happens when you are meditating that matters, it's what happens when you are not. It's the same with hypnotherapy. It's not so much what happens in the session as what happens between sessions. Although what happens in the sessions is often magical, the suggestions meet reality between sessions.

Now that the book is out and people are reading it and using it, I have been getting a lot of questions about meditation. In the book, I challenged everyone to do a 40-day meditation, and people want to know where to start and what to do. They want help, and I couldn't be happier. I love to teach meditation--or rather, I love to get people started. The real magic of meditation (what happens inside you and between you and God) can't be taught. It has to be experienced and that is why we practice meditation and not just read about it. The real magic happens as you accumulate days in a row and then more days in a row of consistent practice. For a long time I used meditation on a triage basis, and it still helped, but as soon as I got serious and consistent about doing it every day, every cell in body changed and my behavior transformed.

Because I love it so much and I'm excited to help more people learn, I am putting together a series of videos about meditation and videos of sample meditations for people to try. Thanks to input from some blog readers, I will be doing both a learning video and a do-it-with me video of each meditation, for those who want to do it with the video and not listen to the how-to over again each time.

If you like what you've read here, and don't want to miss any new videos or more info about meditation, make sure you sign up for my newsletter on the right. When you do, you'll also get a free introductory video course on Meditation.

Who wants to shout hooray right now?



 


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Breaking In Positive Change

Baseball Mitts 
I was feeling a little bit of anxiety that first day of the Virtual Book Tour, and I thought it was about the book, but I realized it was really about the brave thing I did a few days before. So for the past week I have been breathing through these feelings. I realized that the undercurrent of anxiety I was feeling was not about the actual thing I let go of, but about being free from a long held negative pattern.

It's hard to admit that this positive change was creating anxiety, but this is how the mind works and I was getting a real taste of it. It's uncomfortable to let go of old knowns even if they are negative, the mind sees knowns as pleasure and unknowns as pain! And here I was feeling the pain of positive change.

I wanted the discomfort gone, of course, as soon as as possible. But my lessons these last few months have been about sitting with things and allowing myself to feel them. As my dear mentor told me, any time you put on something new, whether it is a pair of jeans or a baseball mitt, it's stiff at first. But over time, it begins to conform to your body--rather than you conforming to it--and pretty soon it is the most comfortable thing you want to put on.

Thinking of my favorite jeans or a baseball mitt feels good to me. I can sit with that. I have had a few more days of discomfort and may have more, but I see now how life is begging to conform to me now, rather than me conforming and reacting to an old story. It is starting to feel more comfortable. 

I wish I could give more concrete details. Maybe one day I will, but for now I'm feeling private.

Have you ever made a positive change and experienced discomfort afterwards?


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

GOGL Virtual Book Tour - Interview with Meleah


This interview is a stop on the Virtual Book Tour for The Gift of Giving Life. I decided to interview Meleah for this post because she is one of the unsung heroes of this book. She has answered my interview questions below and of course I had to interject my 2 cents here and there in pink .

Do you remember when you first heard about The Gift of Giving Life? Tell me about that.

My SIL referred me to the GOGL blog a few years ago and I was instantly intrigued. Someone was writing about childbirth and the gospel, my two loves! 

How did you get involved with this book?

 I instantly wanted to help but I am in no way a writer but I love to organize and research so I offered my services figuring they didn't need them, but I thought I would email Felice anyway and sure enough they needed help.

In reality, I thought, we really need an assistant. There is no way this book is going to get done if we don't have someone organized on board. Then Meleah appeared. God provides.

Why did you get involved?


Because this has to be one of the most important topics in my life. I want The Gift of Giving Life to be read by every woman I know. Not just my LDS friends. The insight this book provides is unlike any other book I have ever read. I know that this book was inspired by the lord.

What was your role in working on the book?

 I helped keep the Birth Stories and the essays organized and compiled.

She did way more than that.

How has working on this book effected your life, personally?

I want to do more, although my life doesn't always allow it, this book has continued to increase my interest in spreading the word about being educated, informed and spiritually prepared when conceiving, being pregnant and giving birth. I have started a blog, although I haven't written much yet and plan to become a childbirth educator in the near future.

What is currently going on with your life right now? :)  Hee hee.
 I am waiting on baby #2, any day now and have loved reading the Gift of Giving Life while I wait, in fact I was reading it right before doing this interview! I love this book! I keep hoping that I will go into active labor while reading it, because I feel so spiritually connected to my Heavenly Father when I read it.

I think Meleah is the only one so far to have two Gift-babies, which is what I call babies born under the influence of The Gift of Giving Life. Congratulations Meleah! As of this writing, she is still waiting patiently. 

What do you hope this book does for women?
 
I hope that it provides them with more insight and encourages them to research more, become more educated about the childbirth process. While i understand that natural childbirth is not for everyone or possible for everyone, I do wish for Women to make educated decisions about their childbirth choices and remember that they are their choices, no one else's. I also hope that when Women open their minds to childbirth choices that it will also lead to more conscious parenting. Our children are precious gifts from our Father in Heaven and they deserve the utmost respect and love us from us.

Make sure that you read Meleah's personal story in the book about finding her motherly intuition.

Visit The Gift of Giving Life site to sign up for their newsletter and to receive a free Meditation MP3 as well as tips to help increase spirituality in your pregnancy and birth.  
For my readers I have a coupon code for 10% off a copy of The Gift of Giving Life.   Click here and after you add the book to your cart use this coupon code.  GWFWXR3F  This code is good until Father’s Day 2012.



Monday, May 14, 2012

First day of Virtual Book Tour

Today was the first day of The Gift of Giving Life's Virtual Book Tour. Our first stop was at Sheridan's blog EnjoyBirth, where I am interviewed.

Tomorrow, Sheridan and I are appearing at a small book party/signing here in Los Angeles. I have to say that I have been very calm about all this considering it is the culmination of 6 years of work for me. It didn't feel real. I think it is finally hitting me. Deep breath. I just had a baby. Deep breath. I am now no longer in control of that baby's life. Not that it was mine to begin with. It's okay. Deep breath. So far it is getting rave reviews. I am just trying to process how involved to be in this baby's life. Part of me is ready to move on to the next thing, but I also know that we will always be connected.

Deep breath.

Would it be too much if I wore the book in my Moby wrap? Hee Hee. Just kidding.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

If you don't feel lonely...

I know a man with a long, long beard and white turban who looks like a wizard. Every now and then I take his yoga class and he says something profound that I have known all along. He just says it in a way I can hear it.

"If you don't feel lonely, you are not paying attention. All human beings are lonely because we are separated from God."

Oh my. Can I ever see it now. Loneliness is part of the human existence. No matter how many people and how much love surrounds you, there is still loneliness. Sometimes people can stay busy and distracted, but eventually, if you pay attention, you'll feel lonely. If you don't realize that is a longing to be at one with God... Well, when that happens, most of us reach out for something outside of ourselves to fill it, when what we really need to do is reach in.

In the past, I have been that person who looks for the keys that are in my hand. But the last few years I have been on a mission to use the tools that I have, and the most precious and powerful of them is the breath. Our breath is the thing that connects our spirit and body. It is what makes a living soul. It has been said that God "lends" us our breath. So even though I want to reach out for my cell phone or for physical affection when I feel a sense of loneliness, I have started to reach in and breathe deep. As I do, I open the connection with God and, not surprising, I no longer feel lonely.

*  *  *

As today is Mother's Day I am thinking about the other side of this too, like how our Heavenly Mother feels, being separated from us. It must be difficult to say goodbye to your children knowing you might never live with them again. And I think of my daughter--when she was in my womb we were one. Even after she was born, we shared an aura for 3 years. But now she is older and separating more, but whenever she wants to, she can always come back and lay her head on my chest and hear my heart beat. She especially likes to do this when we are in the pool, which is like a giant watery womb. She pops her thumb in her mouth and her breath slows down. This is her conscious connection with a mother who is flesh and blood and close by. I am glad I am physically alive and near for her to do this.

So I suppose if there is any loving logic in the universe, Heavenly Mother is just as close by, waiting for me to deepen my breath and tune in to the strong and steady heartbeat of the universe.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

I just did something brave


I just did something brave. I have to be private about the details, but basically, I just opened my hand and let something fall away from me that I have been holding on to for 11 years. Sometimes when we think we are setting someone else free, we are really setting ourselves free.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Triangles - Anger Part 4

Part 1, 2, and 3.

If you were hoping that I'd have it all figured out by part 4, you are not alone. I like it when a story is tied into a neat bow, too. Okay, not really. As a writer, any time I read a story that is tied into a neat bow I get a reaction in my diaphragm, because I know it's not authentic. That's not how life is. But I have learned much  more I can share and maybe I'll even give details on what I have done in the last few weeks and the reactions I am getting.

First, I have to talk about geometry. Specifically the triangle.

Triangles are one of the most recognizable shapes, but seem to be the most difficult to recognize when you are in one.  Harriet Lerner explains "It's not simply that we displace a feeling from one person to another; rather, we reduce anxiety in on relationship by focusing on a third party, who we unconsciously pull into the situation to lower the emotional intensity in the original pair." (P. 156)

This triangle existed in my marriage when my ex constantly brought his mother into a triangle with us. He would complain to her about me and then to me about her. Now he and his new wife drag me (and my daughter) into their triangle. By being united in their efforts/anger/whatever against me, they don't have to face their problems with each other, which are numerous. 

The question is, why am I allowing this? How do I get out of it, and stay out? And how do I show my daughter how to disengage from it, when they try to use her, too? Another question: do I triangulate as well?

The Road to a Clearer Self
The great thing about this anger journey is that has led me to define a clearer self. In Lerner's book she discusses getting to clear, non-blaming statements about yourself. The classic "I feel..." statements rather than "You did..."

In the discussion on triangles above I have some blaming statements. I did that on purpose to see what it felt like as I wrote them (and hopefully you noticed how you felt for me as you read them). The truth is that they haven't dragged me into anything. I have allowed this to happen, for some of the reasons I mentioned in Part 3, and other reasons I still don't know. But I am now choosing--no, I  am making a VOW--that regardless of how provoked or justified I may feel, I will not participate in negative energy exchanges with them or others. I choose to examine my anger and make choices for myself and not against others. I can choose to put my energy back into my own life, with dignity and without hostility. When I make mistakes or misplace my anger I will get back on track as soon as possible and apologize where it is due.

How have I actually done this in concrete examples? Well, I can't give too many details, but I am composing a letter that I will send to one party in this triangle that I don't usually communicate with directly. It's taking a while because I have to communicate about what i want clearly and without blame and without hostility. That is difficult. But I can do it. And when I do, I will send it. It will probably confuse everyone at first because they will think it is not authentic and a trick and will try to provoke me to anger again or they will think I am being a nice lady and try to take advantage of me, which, if I let them would just make me angry. See how it keeps you in the cycle. But I am neither nice lady or raving angry anymore. With practice I am coming to a neutral mind. That doesn't mean I don't still feel anger, but I have the power to direct that energy in a neutral way. I truly think this would not be possible without my mediation practice.

There is one other example that I tempted to share, but I'm still not sure I should. I'll meditate on it and if I think it will have value to readers then I will share it later.


Reactions

So far, the reaction to all my changes, which have been super subtle, has been positive. Not just with the persons that I am angry at, but all around. Everyone has been noticing that my energy is different.  But it has only been a few weeks. I am sure that all these learnings will be put to the test in two more weeks when there is something uncomfortable on the calendar. Look for more then.



Thursday, May 10, 2012

What's the Opposite of Anger? - The Journey Part 3

Part 1 and Part 2.

Sometimes the opposite of anger is just anger in disguise. I see this pattern all around me. Some people want so bad not to be angry that they go to the opposite--either apathy, or love and compassion. They want to pray for them they hate.

It get it. But really, is it getting the results you want? Why open that door every morning and use your energy trying to feel love when you are really just angry. It's just the opposite side of the same coin and it takes just as much energy. Hate has a smell as love does....

My wise teacher told me this: He said, "Forget compassion. If I get pulled over by a cop on my way home am I going to have compassion for him? No. I am going to use all my energy to try to get out of the ticket."

Basically, it's not important for me to forgive or have compassion right now. I have a finite amount of energy and I need to use it to get my needs and my daughter's needs met. (The greatest need is to get out of this cycle of abuse we are both still caught in). My goal thus should not be to be in the positive mind or the negative mind, but in the neutral mind.  

That doesn't mean I shouldn't feel what I feel--even Christ felt angry. But trying to turn it to the opposite is not going to be authentic at this point. It's just a way of tricking ourselves into thinking we are not angry. But the energy is still the same. What right now is about is using my anger to clarity and get myself off the karmic rat wheel. Change the cycle. I still wasn't sure how I was going to do that yet, but in my pondering and study here are some other lessons I realized. They were mind blowing and a little uncomfortable to share here, but I think that they might have universal value. 


#1 - Anger Reduces Worry
If there is one thing I know it is that every behavior always has a positive (unconscious) intention behind it. so I looked for mine. I realized that being angry at my ex and his wife is actually serving as a little bit of an anxiety reduction behavior for me, because it keeps me from worrying as much about my daughter. I see this everywhere now. A lot of couples fight with each other about the child, so they don't worry as much about the child.


#2 Less Energy = Less Worry or Sadness
 When I don't use my anger in a focused way, it just disburses my energy and I have less for my daughter. Here's the totally messed up part. This is also an anxiety or sadness reducing behavior--because, when I am totally in the moment with her, it's so sweet I can barely handle it! Really. I might cry about how sweet it is.

It takes an enormous amount of courage to be in the present moment for long, because you have to face the fact that your life is slipping by, that your children are growing up. That's why billions and billions of people are checked out most of the time. They are afraid of the joy of the present moment because it will remind them that they don't feel that joy all that time or that life is finite.

 #3 The Over-functioning /Under-functioning Dynamic
Basically, when one person in a relationship over functions, the other starts to under function. For example, as I feel lots of anger about what is happening to Phoebe, Phoebe seems to be more fine, because I'm doing all the expressing for her. When I breathe into it a little and show her that I'm doing that, she has more space to feel and is beginning to do that. There has been lots of expression of emotion around here. But that has been a good thing because it has given me the opportunity to show her that it's okay. (Which is the problem with most of us over age 1--we always got the message it wasn't okay to express anger.) I practice stay-listening and emotion coaching and help her figure out what she is angry about and what she can do to help herself.

This over/under functioning dynamic also plays out with the other parties in this situation, but I am not sure what to do with it yet. I just keep breathing.

 #4 I Can't Change Other People
I can't change other people and wanting them to behave differently is part of my frustration. It will NEVER HAPPEN. The harder you try, the more frustrated you will become.

#5 I Can Change Me

Even if they are 97% of the problem, I am still 3% and I can change that.

How I was going to DO that was the question, which hopefully I have figured out and will answer tomorrow. But in a way, every deep breath of this journey was already changing me.




Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Swimming Deeper- Anger Journey Part 2

If you missed Part One, read it here. 

The first thing I did was add a meditation for releasing anger and negativity into my morning practice. It is 3 minutes long. (I'll post it at the end of this post). That is the maximum time allowed for this meditation. Could 3 minutes really be enough to release all my anger? I was sure that it wasn't, so I called my hypnotherapist/mentor and told him, with some glee, that I was angry. "I'm not in denial about it. Hooray!" I said. "Progress."

I wanted to go and have him fix me up--take away all the problems/pain (like many people expect me to do for them), but, wisely, he steered me back to the meditation. He said it just sounded right to be releasing a little bit at a time. Then he said, "Anger is normal." This was not meant to be profound. But it was the turning point in my anger releasing mission. Somehow in all my self improvement who-hah and not feeling angry for a while (or not much), I forgot that anger is normal. It's just a feeling.

I learned this a few years ago when I read Harriet Lerner's The Dance of Anger. She compares it to being thirsty. Do I question the validity of my thirst? Do I think, I can't be thirsty again, I just drank a glass of water 30 minutes ago? I drank a gallon yesterday. Surely I should not be thirsty?

No. I just get a glass of water.


If I don't get water, I will eventually get sick and die. But for many reasons Lerner points out, angry women are viewed negatively in society, which causes us not to use our anger in productive ways. We either suppress it and become nice ladies who are really making ourselves sick inside, or vent it at men and get called bad names and make little progress that way either.

So I revisited her book to see what I could learn. In the beginning she offers advice on how to use the book--very slowly.

What? Slowly. I want to be on the other side of this now. I want happy, compassionate, loving feelings.

But I knew she was right. Anger is a great catalyst for change. But change freaks people out. Other people feel threatened when we change, and part of us feels threatened too. Lerner counsels not to try to change everything all at once or you'll just encounter so much resistance from the relationships involved, and it will be so anxiety provoking for you that it is easier to just go back to the status quo.


Hmm. I took a deep breath. I didn't have to have it all figured out by tomorrow. When I read this I was sitting under a beautiful purple tree on a park bench, waiting for my daughter. I looked up and felt the breeze tell me it was right to slow down. I let the breeze remind me to breathe into the discomfort a little and examine it. 


What I do know is that there is an enormous amount of energy in anger. But directed inacurately or randomly vented, it just wastes energy and keeps people stuck in the same situation. The first thing I needed to do was figure out what I was angry about and how was I going to use it to create change. I needed to know what the war was really about before I marched off into it. I thought I knew what it was about (the way my ex and his wife are treating my daughter), but what I have been doing the last several years hasn't been working, so clearly I'm not clear how to use it. So I decided to sit with it, keep meditating, get drink of water, swim deeper and see what happened.



MEDITATION FOR RELEASING ANGER AND NEGATIVITY

Sit in Rock Pose (on heels) or Easy Pose (cross-legged) with slight neck lock. (chin slightly pulled inward) so spine is strait)

Eyes are closed. 

Mudra: Touch each thumb to the base of the Mercury (pinky) fingers. close the rest of the fingers over the thumbs to form fists. Raising the arms, begin a backstroke type movement over the head, alternating each side (right/left) as you swing up, over and back around again, just like you are doing the backstroke in a swimming pool.

Breath: Through O-shaped mouth, begin strong, rhythmic inhale/exhale in sync with arm movements. The breath becomes a breath of fire through the mouth. Keep the lips in an O-shape throughout the meditation.

The mudra, movement and breathing are continuous and strong.

Intentionally think about anything and everything that makes you angry, weird, negative or commotional. Continue this focus on bringing up the anger and negativity throughout the meditation, increasing the movement and breath.

Continue this movement for 3 minutes. Do not exceed 3 minutes.

To End: Interlock the fingers, stretch the arms up over the head, palms facing up, deep inhale throught he O mouth--picture yourself surrounded in white, healing light--hold the breath for 10 seconds, exhale out the O mouth. Repeat this ending breath 3 times.

For visual learners, I made videos: Here is the anger meditation. Which, interestingly looks like the backstroke. Sort of. With any meditation, always make sure you tune in first and tune out at the end.


Tune In
 

Anger Meditation
   
Tune Out

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

An Anger Journey

A few weeks ago I swan dived into anger. I did it intentionally, bravely. I balanced on the precipice of the denial cliff and consciously jumped into the water. 

But let me begin earlier.

That Family Emergency I posted about in April was, without going into details, a mother's second-worst nightmare--and I was angry, but kind of in denial. Finally, one of my teachers kindly called me on my anger. I wanted to deny it then, but there is no denying true words fitly spoken.

She's right. I am freaking ANGRY!


At first, I just wanted to get rid of it. I was angry that I was angry. Sometimes I can get a little self-righteous about all the work I have done on myself and think, I've let go of all those primitive emotions...I just don't have anger anymore. It's just so not me. So at first anger at being angry was all I could feel about it.

I did a yoga set to release inner anger. I did a forgiveness (of self) meditation. I did a healing circle meditation and let myself be in the center to receive healing. The next day I did a forgiveness (of others) meditation.

I felt great, but yet, I knew that this was not going to be a quick fix, and so I spent the next several weeks on a conscious anger journey. I was unsure where it would lead, but I knew I had spiritual guides as I explored these questions:

Why is it not okay to be angry? Or is it?
Is the opposite of anger really compassion? And is/should that really be the goal?
What am I really angry about?
If anger is usually a secondary emotion, what's underneath my anger?
What does anger do for me? For others?

For the next several blog posts (I plan to post every day this week) I will be exploring these questions in depth and hopefully showing you how anger can change everything in good ways, if we understand how to use it.