Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Asking for help

It is good to be able to write. I haven't been able to get on to msn since yesterday. I was struggling to figure out what was wrong and trying my small repertoire of trouble shooting tools over and over. Tonight I talked to Gary and asked him for help. He gave me some ideas and showed me how to get to my e-mails and this blog from hotmail. I still don't have direct access to msn. I am grateful to get into this blog to write this.
It is such a blessing to have a partner that I can ask for help. For so long I had to either do everything myself or hire someone to help. It is difficult for me to ask for help. Somehow I believe I am supposed to know how to do everything already even the stuff I know nothing about. It feels so good to reach out and ask for help and actually get help. How are you at asking for help? Is there something you'd like to ask for help with that you are holding back? Would it be useful to stretch and ask?
I started sculpting again. I think I had given up, deciding that sculpting was something I did when I wasn't in a relationship. I starting sculpting eight years ago when Monnya was sixteen and left to go study dance in India. I figured I had better get a life and took a sculpting class. Making bronze sculpture is very time consuming and extremely expensive. My last piece took two years and two thousand dollars. Woking with the hard clay that is used under a rubber mold to create a piece was also very hard on my hands. They would ache like crazy after I worked for several hours. I also didn't think I was good enough to scult without my teacher and a model. It was discouraging to stop sculpting. I started writing again instead. When I started this blog I hadn't written regularly since completing my book many years ago.This blog was my sole creative outlet for the past 18 months. I so appreciate having this vehicle to express myself and to learn and grow.
Monnya asked me to make a sculpture of her and Issac to put on top of their wedding cake or pie or whatever they have for dessert at their wedding in August. I procrastinated for so long that there was no way I could do it in bronze. She said she didn't care what it was made of. I went to Hobby Lobby and looked at sculpting materials and found this stuff called Sculpty that was malleable, stays soft until you bake it, and bakes non-toxically in a regular oven. What a find! I have been so enjoying creating my new piece. It is so much fun that I have to make myself stop and go to sleep at night when I work on it.
In order to create more time in my life to sculpt I am going to be writing this blog once a week from now on. If you want to send me your e-mail address I will write and let you know I have written. Also there is some site where you sign up and they let you know I have written a new blog. I forgot the name of it and i can write to the person who told me about it if you ask me to. Otherwise just check periodically. I am excited to be continuing writing this blog and sharing my process with you. It is a pleasure to have a place to share what I am learning. I appreciate your participation. Do you have a passion that is a way to express yourself creatively that you are holding back from doing? I get into a place where I think I have to be "really good" at something to do it. I am learning that it is OK to do something creative for the fun of it and let go of being so attached to the end result. When I focus on the process and let go of judging the product it is easier to enjoy myself. Why not give that creative activity you've been fantasizing about beginning or beginning again a whirl? Is it something you'd like to find a teacher and ask for help with?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Feeding and draining energy

I just read an interesting article about energy drains. What drains your energy? What feeds your energy? In this article she talks about three things that drain energy: people, food and thoughts. Starting with food, processed food and sugary food and drinks are energy drains. Although it might seem like a pick-me-up, a candy bar or a can of pop is really a let- me -down. People can drain our energy too. Is there someone in your life who when you spend time with them you feel energized and alive? Your vitality seems to get a jump start when you are around them. On the other hand, is there someone who after you've been with them you feel tired and/or irritable? Does that person complain a lot or focus on negativity or gossip about other people? Our own thoughts can also be draining. If we are constantly judging ourselves or telling ourselves we are not enough or not good enough it is very draining. Also a job we don't enjoy or meetings or social events we attend out of obligation that we don't want to go to drain our energy. I am aware of how draining it is for me to say yes to another person when I am saying no to myself. Setting clear boundaries with other people and standing behind them is very enlivening for me. I sometimes think I am being helpful to people to fit them in to my schedule when I already have as much as I can handle. I'm not doing anyone any favors to be with them when I don't have the energy. Of course there is a balance here. Being useful to others does feed my energy. However, if I am in a depleted place it is challenging to be really present. Balanced energy allows me to be more fully present.
What is one thing that you know drains your energy? What is one thing that you know feeds your energy? Would you be willing to create an intention let go of one thing that drains your energy? It could be a gradual process. You could start by being mindful of how you feel when you do it. Eating late at night drains my energy. It effects my sleep and the energy I have in the morning. I eat healthy food now and it is still draining to ask by body to be digesting food when I am asleep. In order to acomplish letting go of this energy drain I want to ask myself what it is I really need when I think food is the answer before I go to bed. Being compassionately mindful seems like a good first step. It is important to acknowledge myself everytime I notice I want to eat late at night and soothe myself. What is draining for you? Experiment with choosing one thing to bring your attention to letting go of. What energizes you? Is there one thing you'd like to allow yourself to have or do or a person you'd like to spend more time with? Choose one of those and experiment with what it feels like to expand your permission to yourself to be energized. I am energized by meditating before I go to bed.
I have been sitting before I go to bed most nights for about a week.I sleep better and wake up in a more positive state of mind. Last night I ate pistachio nuts and didn't meditate before I went to sleep. I recognize the difference in my energy level. Forgiving myself is very energizing. In the same way that judging myself is draining, forgiving myself is energizing. My intention is to let go of eating before I go to sleep and allow myself to meditate. I told myself that what is important is getting myself to my cushion before I go to bed no matter how short or long a time I sit. Play with this if it feels useful to you to see how you might let go of something that drains your energy and allow yourself something that feeds your energy.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Three centers 2

More about the three centers and relationships. Remember from last time there are three centers within each person: thinking, feeling and doing. Each person overuses one , is supported in that overusing by the second and represses the third. As I said, I overuse feelings am supported in that overusing by thinking and repress doing. That means I sometimes overfocus on my feelings and thinking about my feelings and am challenged about getting things done. Since I wrote the last blog I have been doing up a storm. I watered my whole lawn last night and washed all of my hand washables. It really helps me to write about things I am challenged by. By bringing mindful compassionate attention to things I would like to shift in myself, the shift begins to happen. Sharing it with you jump starts that shift.
Gary and I went to my friend Linza's 60th birthday party on Saturday night.
Linza and her husband Erick are in the Wisdom course, a personal growth course, all weekend. She asked us to come to the guest community part since that's where they were going to be on her actual birthday. As part of the night's activities we got into a circle and shared with the other people what we liked about each of them. Some of the people who were all Linza's friends, I had met before briefly, some not. In the past in a similar social situation with people I barely knew, I would have sat in the circle being afraid and thinking about my fear." What if I don't know what to say and can't think of anything to say? What if what I say comes out stupid? yada yada yada" I would spend the entire time worrying. When it came to me I would be breathing shallowly and not thinking clearly. What I said to the person may have been fine but I would rehash it over and over and judge myself. By the time I was the recipient of the compliments I would be so beaten down by my own invalidating that I wouldn't be able to take the complements in and would immediately forget them. Thinking about my feelings would have interfered with the doing of being receptive to the appreciations. This time I was way more focused on the doing. I sat quietly and listened. It was amazing to me how much I could get out of a sharing exercise when I was listening to what was going on. I was able to make contact with each person and breathe and say what I wanted to say without very much planning.
I could show up much more clearly for myself and others. When it came to be my turn I felt relaxed and receptive, even a little excited. I took in what people shared and felt grateful. The whole experience was a very positive one. It also let me see the power of people sharing from the heart with each other even if they didn't know each other well. The depth of the level of energy that got created was palpable. I appreciated the opportunity to practice what I am teaching.
Is there someone in your life or a situation, you could practice balancing your three centers with? What would that look like?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Three centers

Sometimes I am really inspired to write this blog and sometimes I am not so inspired. Sometimes I have a clear idea of what I want to share or to teach and sometimes I don't. I have been writing these first few lines because sometimes saying what is, inspires me to write about something. If I focus on my fear that I have nothing to say and build on that story then that is what my experience is. My story that I have nothing to say is not conducive to writing a blog tonight. Doing something like beginning to write instead of thinking about the story about my feelings is very helpful to me. So, I ask myself if I did have something to say what would I want to say.
I would want to share about thinking, feeling and doing. Each person perceives the world and relates to the world in these three ways. The way these centers are ordered has a great deal to do with how the person operates in their life and communicates with others. Each person overuses one center, is supported in that overusing by another, and represses the third. For example, mine are ordered feeling thinking doing. That means I overuse the feeling mode. It is a good thing I am so in touch with my feelings. Sometimes it is not so useful that I lead with my feelings, before I think things through. Also it isn't useful that sometimes I am so lost in my feelings that it is hard to get things done. So how it works is I overuse feelings and am supported in that overusing by thinking. That means I spend a lot of time thinking about my feelings. Sometimes it is more time than is useful to my growth. The center I supress is doing. That means it is often hard for me to get things done. For instance tonight I got myself to begin to water my lawn by telling myself I only had to do the sprinkler in one position. I get myself to wash my hand washables by doing one item at a time. Then I acknowledge myself for doing it. It's way easier to do things I want to do or like to do. I bet that is true for most people.
I just got off the phone with my brother. It was fortuitous that he called because I wanted another person to use as an example but I had noone's permission. It didn't feel right to me to share Gary's or my daughter's order of centers with out asking if it was OK. I didn't want to call and ask either. Ben said his order is doing thinking feeling. He said he sometimes does things rashly without thinking first. He is often thinking about what he is doing and he represses feelings. That brings me to the next point. When people have different ordering of their centers they can be challenged relating to each other. People often think that everyone approaches life just like they do.
For instance a person like my brother who leads with doing might connect with me by asking me what I have been doing? I, who leads with feelings might connect with him by asking him how he feels about something? It can lead to lots of misunderstandings. I don't really remember what I have been doing nor do I care. My brother doesn't want to talk about what he is feeling much and probably thinks about what he is feeling even less. It might seem to him when I ask about what he is feeling that I am being invasive. We both may have the best of intentions. This information is especially useful to me when I see someone glaze over when I am talking to them. Then I may approach them from a different center to see if there is more of a connnection. The growth edge, whatever center you lead with, is to focus on strengthening the repressed center. By focusing more on my doing I can bring the three centers into balance. Being balanced with thinking feeling and doing is the ideal. How would you order the centers for yourself? Could it be useful to you to see which one you overuse, which second center supports that overusing and which one you repress? How could strengthening the repressed center support you in being more balanced?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sitting practice

On Sunday morning Gary and I went to a half day meditation retreat. Before I went I had been obsessing for two days about why it is wrong for me to be in my relationship. Sunday was also the four year anniversary of when Gary and I went on our first date. For some people four years doesn't seem like that much time. For me, it is an accomplishment to be in this relationship with a loving man who supports himself financially and supports me emotionally. So, my ego was especially loud this weekend letting me know what a bad idea it is for me to be in an intimate committed relationship with Gary. My ego-voice lets me know that that there is someone out there who I would be much happier with and that I need to dump Gary right now and go find him. My ego is strong and convincing and it is a challenge to me to not believe the story it is telling me and run with it.
Going into the retreat I was agitated and anxious. The retreat was led by vippassana teacher and yoga teacher Terry Ray. She is a heartful person and wise teacher who I feel great love for. We meditated for an hour, then did yoga for 90 minutes, then meditated either sitting or walking for another hour. We ended with a sharing circle about what spiritual practice brings to our lives and what are our obstacles to practicing more in our daily lives. It was a powerful morning for me and the combination of meditation and yoga is joyous. Four hours of practice brought me to a greater place of presence in mind and body. My heart was open to myself and to Gary. I notice that consistent practice gives me the strength to dissern my ego's voice more readily. I can more easily interrupt its story and center myself. I am less reactive to my own ego. I want to recommend beginning a regular spiritual practice. Chose a time to sit and a focus. It could be your breath or a phrase or gazing at a candle. Sit for one minute at first if you want to. The idea is to show up for yourself and honor the source inside of you that you are, with time and energy. Regular practice makes it easier to accept what is without resisting so much. Suffering is caused by resisting what is. If you already practice think about the benefits it brings you in daily life and acknowledge yourself for your practice. If you've practiced before and aren't now think about recommitting. It is often when we want to sit the least that we need it the most. Start with something doable and follow through. I support you in using some of your time to nurture the still small voice within you which reveals itself in silence. Meditation supports presence in a way that nothing else I've found does. I am so grateful to my meditation practice for the insights it brings to me in my daily life, and the support it gives me in being more of all that I am. May it be that for you, too.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Tonight I am feeling very grateful for my life. I have had a rough couple of days feeling separate from my partner and judgemental of him and myself. I want to thank my supportive friends for listening to me once again, holding their vision of my loving heart and giving me honest and clear feedback. I am grateful for my therapist's support in getting clear that my ego was running amuck and suggesting that I respond to its relentless chatter with, "That's a thought." That statement is neutral and lets go of fighting. It helps me to stop pretending that my ego is the enemy. By protecting me from connection and keeping me separate from myself the ego maintains itself. It is survivng by keeping me in the fear that there is something wrong with me. That is all it knows. Moving from the language of fear to the language of love requires being present with the fear based distraction. Being present with the distraction by using mindfulness and compassion allows me to move toward the source. The ego isn't out to do me in, only to protect its own existance. I usually say ,"Thank you for sharing." in a sarcastic tone when I become mindful of my ego. My ego doesn't like sarcasm any more than I do. We agree on that. When I am sarcastic it gets louder. Saying ,That's a thought, validates the ego's point of view without agreement. I often say that if we could learn to validate each other's truth regardless of whether we agree with it or not, we would no longer need war. I think this is true internally as well as externally. I declare peace with my ego.It is my intention to acknowledge my ego's point of view and then use that as a vehicle to reflect on what my truth is. Speaking the truth from my heart rather than withdrawing and shutting my heart down allows me to feel connected to myself and to my partner. I relearn that lesson over and over. It's easy to judge myself for how easy it is to forget that the truth heals. The content of my truth doesn't matter. It's making myself vulnerable and risking my separation that opens my heart. I am grateful that Gary has learned to be a very good listener. Once I have suffered long enough feeling disconnected he is good at showing up to hear what I have going on. He is also more skillful at sharing what is going on with him.For all of this I am very grateful. I am also grateful for the person I do Aston-Patterning with. She has helped me to open up space in my body which supports me in opening up space in my heart. Gratefulness floods me for yoga and meditation.Through my practices I find a way to return home to my center.I relocate myself in my circle, my own sacred space. No matter how many times I lose my way I know there is a well used path leading me home. I am also grateful to be writing this blog. It is such a reliable expansion to express myself creatively. I am grateful to you for reading my blog and helping me to teach and to learn with your presence in my life.Thank you.I notice that focusing on what I am grateful for brings a sense of well-being and peace.I am grateful for that, too. What are you grateful for? Would you be willing to set aside some time to focus on gratefulness?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Loving kindness

I have this morning off. I woke up feeling gritchy and didn't want to get out of bed. So, I gave myself permission not to. I lay there and did some healing work with myself instead. Sometimes it's hard to face the day without a little compassion for myself. I did a metta practice that I've been doing lately. Metta means loving kindness in pali. I learned this practice from Lloyd Burton at the vippassana meditation retreat I went to in April. Metta directs the energy of loving kindness to yourself and/or others. It is a prayer that comes in many forms. The one I did this morning is one I really like because it's simple and easy to remember.
May I be happy
May I be peaceful
May I be free
In this body
On this earth
In this moment.

Breath the energy of lovingkindness into your own heart. Repeat as many times as you'd like feeling your sincere desire for lovingkindness. Let yourself receive lovingness with your breath into your heart.
If you'd like to send metta to someone else, imagine that person in your mind's eye.
May you be happy
May you be peaceful
May you be free
In this body
On this earth
In this moment

Imagine the energy of lovingkindness moving from your heart to the other person's heart. Imagine them receiving this energy. Metta is something to do when there is nothing to do. That means when there is someone you want to help but there is nothing you can think of that would actually be helpful to do on the physical. It is also a good way to send loving energy to a loved one or someone who you are challenged by.

Then if you want to you can extend Metta to all beings:
May all beings be happy
May all beings be peaceful
May all beings be free
In this body
On this earth
In this moment.
Imagine the energy of loving kindness moving out from your heart to all beings everywhere. It is a wonderful feeling of connection. What a lovely way to feel that lovingkindness connects us all.
I felt much better after practicing metta this morning. Phillip Moffit, in his wonderful book Dancing With Life, suggests doing metta practice for a few minutes before getting out of bed in the morning.I am going to start the practice and I invite you to also. Couldn't you use a little loving kindness?

Thursday, June 4, 2009


What about the rest of the kids? According to a paper written about co-dependency each child in a dysfunctional family(and they are all at least somewhat dysfunctional) has a limiting role they get stuck in. This map is useful to gain mindful awareness into the patterns we develop as children and then carry into our adult relationships. All of these roles are an attempt to survive. Luckily all of us did survive. In looking at moving from survival to thriving, it's helpful to have some guidelines about how the past may affect the present. Of course these roles don't fit for all families and the birth order and the roles can be switched around due to other things like gender, culture and chance. In my last blog I wrote about the first born or only child called the hero child. As I said this child takes on the heroic but impossible task of making sure one or both parents is happy. That child learns to validate externally and see his or her worth according to whether or not the parent or parents are happy. I am the eldest and have spent a lifetime being aware of and working my way out of my pattern of emmeshment with my mother 's emotions.
The second child is often called the scapegoat. This child can be the child that the family thinks is "the problem". When the parents aren't willing to look at their own issues with each other somebody has to be the problem. The hero child makes sure he or she is so good it couldn't be him or her. The hero child has the attention in the family for being the golden child so what's left for the second child is to get negative attention from acting out. The first child is busy being just what the parents want so what's left for the scapegoat is to be just what the parents don't want. Troubled families who are looking for someone to blame when things aren't working sometimes come into family therapy with the agenda of "fix this kid". This kid is called the scapegoat because he or she is being scaprgoated by the family. I remember my parents throwing up their hands and asking me what i thought they should do about my brother . Boy did that feel heroic for me. That was so inappropriate for a child to be dealing with. I felt so special and grown-up being asked for help. It took years for me to realize how being pitted against my brother was detrimental to both of us. I became a caretaker in training and he sense of competence was squished. None of these limiting roles allow a child to develop fully and express who they really are. The third child is called the lost child. This child removes his or herself from the family and goes off and does their own thing. They may spend their time lost in books or outside playing with friends. These lost children may have another family that they spend a lot of time with and fantasize being a part of. They seem to be separate from the family. Lost children can learn to be detached from the family and from their own bodies and emotions. The forth child's role is called the mascot. That child is the jokester whose role is to keep everyone laughing and distracted from their pain. He or she might do the distracting by being cute or by being funny. This child learns to use looks or cutesy behavior or joking to distract from their inner self. All of these roles are vehicles to come back to ourselves. Awareness of a long term pattern provides the impetus to return to the source inside. In that way all of us can see our roles as solutions to the problem of not being accepted and honored for who we are. We can begin to take on that job for ourselves and to create relationships with others where we are accepted , honored and encouraged. Of course, our parents faced the same limits in their families of origon. The challenge is to notice when we are on automatic pilot and ask for help, either inside or from someone we trust. What is your take on all of these roles as they relate to you and to your family?

Monday, June 1, 2009

hero child

I am very excited to be writing tonight. I am back from my trip to visit my mother and sister in Alamagordo, New Mexico. As many of you know, my mother has had alzheimer's disease for nine years. Last time I visited she didn't recognize me at first and this time she didn't recognize me for a while. Her short term memory has worsened considerably and she was more irritable and dissatisfied. I realized that all of my life my mother and I have been able to connect emotionally at a fairly deep level. This is the first visit this didn't happen. The first day I was there I cried all the way back to my sister's house because I felt such a loss. The second day I began to let go. It became clear to me that the price of the emotional connection my mother and I shared was that I always felt special because of it. I worked hard to be there for her and to make her happy. I did it partly because I love her and care about her and partly because I became identified with being the "hero child." The oldest child is usually the hero child. In a dysfunctional family, this child has the role of emotional supporter for one or both parents. She learns that her sense of self and self-esteem depend on her parents being happy. This dynamic creates co-dependency. The hero child comes to believe that external validation is what makes her safe and whole and happy. My mother's happiness became the gauge of my sense of being OK. Since my early twenties I have been working to detach from my dependance on my mother's approval. Her disease has helped me to let go. Yet this time I could see the subtle ways I still felt responsible to make her happy. I took my Mom to a playground to watch children play. Mom used to be a teacher and loved kids. Now she rarely gets to be around children or be outside. At one point she was wrapped in my flannel lined hooded jacket in 90 degree weather complaining that she was cold. After listening to her complain repeatedly and trying to be patient, I asked her if she was willing to relax and enjoy herself. She said "I don't". Something let go inside of me. I felt a sense of freedom that she was choosing not to be happy and that nothing I could do or say would make any difference.
In some deep way I was off the hook. My growing sense of self-reliance and my ability to support and validate myself from the inside got a booster shot. The inner child care center with my spiritual core and nurturing and protective adult parts is the real hero. I asked my inner resource team to surround my little inner hero child and let her know it was OK for her to just be a kid. It was OK for her to be playful and silly and to have fun. I am looking forward to being less heroic and having more fun. That is supported by the continuing development of healthy boundaries. The inner child care center is where I go now to know I am safe and whole and OK. Being resourced from the inside is where I go to find happiness. Happiness really is an inside job.
I appreciate my mother for giving me the opportunity to learn to love myself from the inside by providing me with this hero child's role. I feel strangely grateful. I kind of get it that this is the cirriculum. We learn to love and accept ourselves as we are by being loved conditionally. The suffering created by external validation, looking outside ourselves for a sense of self , is the practice field for searching for something more.
Where are you with external validation? Mindfulness is the first step. Notice the ways you are overly focused on what others think of you. Forgive yourself and gently use it as an opportunity to go inside and validate yourself. Then acknowledge yourself for doing that.