Sunday, November 22, 2009


I will be taking a break from writing until the week of December 15th. I am going on vacation and won't readily have access to e-mail. Maybe you would want to browse the achived blogs while I am gone. I look forward to reconnecting when I return.
My friend Lori is a superb teacher of the enneagram. She interviews nine people, one from each type in the Enneagram in front of her classes. It is a great way to get a real life experience of the personality strategy of each type. For those of you who don't know, the enneagram is a psycho-spiritual system of understanding nine different personality strategies. Understanding the type you most resonate with provides a map with which to move from automatic pilot to conscious healthier choices. The enneagram is a tool to learn mindfulness and compassion for ourselves and others. I have studied the enneagram for 30 years and am quite passionate about using it to help myself and others. I was the representative of the four in Lori's Enneagram workshop on Saturday.The four is called the Tragic Romantic or the artist. It was exciting and scary to be interviewed about my take on the world in front of a group of people. Gary came to the workshop to learn more about me and about the Enneagram. I was very pleased that he came.
I learned a lot about myself from Lori's skilled questioning. For instance, abandonment is a much bigger issue than I had realized before. A lot of my anger and judgement toward Gary is because I feel abandoned by him. Our long distance relationship has separation built in. We see each other on the weekends. It often takes me most of the weekend to feel reconnected with him after we have been apart for a week. I feel protective ,critical and edgy when we first get together. I think that we both understood more about why this is so difficult for me and how important it is for me that he validates my feelings instead of trying to fix them. We have both been confused about which type he resonates with the most. I was frustrated because it is such a helpful tool for couples. Part of what I wasn't listening to was that he was confused, not that he wasn't interested. One of my growth edges in this lifetime is to learn to take things less personally. I sometimes see Gary as my enemy and attribute him with deliberate unkindness. I am realizing that his jibes are more often his way of protecting himself from communicating his anger directly. I can tell him that I feel hurt without making up a story that I need to leave the relationship. My friend Wendy was very helpful to me on Saturday before the workshop in helping me to see that I could ask Gary for what I wanted clearly and directly. He heard me and I felt so much better and was able to go into the workshop feeling more centered. Neutrality is rare for me. I often feel very strong feelings. My challenge is to know that I have feelings, not that I am my feelings. Then it is easier for me to get underneath the story I am making up to the sensation of the feeling in my body. In this way I bring my presence to my experience and the emotion can release. Emotion is energy in motion. I am learning that equanimity follows this experiencing and releasing process. What do you notice about your own experience of emotion? Are you learning to discern the story you are making up and wrapping your mind around over and over and to go underneath it to the sensation in your body that the emotion brings?
Maybe this time would be a good time to learn more about the enneagram. If you wish to, has some good clear information and several assessment tools. Have a lovely Thanksgiving whatever you are doing. I am grateful for you, for providing me this vehicle to share my learning and growing with you. I look forward to writing and sharing with you the week of December 15th.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

being real

Last week I wrote about my envy of the skilled and lithe yoga teacher Angela Farmer. One of my yoga students was moved by my blog and sent it to a woman who was in contact with Angela. Yesterday I received a warm and lovely reply from Angela acknowledging my being real. By writing about my shadow self, the part of me I think I need to keep hidden to be accepted, surprising and heartwarming things come my way. I am finding the more I am willing to be my authentic self the more easily my life flows. Now this has a caveat. In the beginning it was very important to me to make myself emotionally vulnerable with people who supported me. I don't think it is smart to be real with people who will ridicule or get defensive in other unpleasant or unkind ways. We live in a culture that values pretense. In many situations what works the best is the presentation that appears the most confident. In the beginning of my journey toward increased authenticity I made the mistake of sharing my soul with people who judged me for not having it all together. I ended up feeling misunderstood and messed up. At first I thought if I shared myself honestly it would motivate other people to share themselves honestly. Then I would create the deeper connection I was seeking. Two problems: One is that when I am giving to get I rarely get what I imagined. The second is that I needed to develop discernment about taking care of myself with my sharing. If a person wants to share honestly my doing so could create some safety for him or her to do what he or she wanted to do anyway. I began to develop better detectors for my own emotional safety. How do I tell whether a person will be receptive to dropping down below a superficial exchange? In the beginning I resisted having a superficial exchange. I began to see a value in small talk. I saw how jumping right in was pretty intense for most other people even though they might be comfortable in a few exchanges. What were some good ways to drop down? It's always a good idea to ask the other person a question that you really want to know the answer to and then to listen to the answer attentively. It's amazing how much safety this can create and how much spaciousness for a satisfying exchange to occur. Also a comment about your present time experience provides an oppportunity to connect in the present. For instance," I am enjoying this party. It's kind of surprising given how challenging social situations can be for me." Eye contact and slowing down my breathing are helpful tools to relax and show up. What has worked for you when you want to connect?
After alot of practice being myself with other people has gotten much easier.I used to worry much more about what other people thought of me. Now I realize that other people are not usually thinking about me at all because they are more concerned with what I am thinking of them. I am now more able to validate internally.Internal validation is knowing I am OK from the inside rather than seeking external validation from others. This is not to say that I don't still take things personally. I am still the queen of taking things personally. What's changed is that I can sometimes notice my own reactivity with mindfulness and compassion. What do you notice about being more of your authentic self with others? What's scary about it? What's in it for you to do it?Is there someone you'd like to get to know better? A good place to start is to tell the person you'd like to get to know them better and suggest a meeting. Is there someone you'd be willing to practice on? I appreciate praciticing with you. Feel free to write comments to my blog. The e-mail link is now working.

Monday, November 9, 2009


In the Enneagram, each point has what's called a passion. The passion in the enneagram is the energy that moves us away from our center toward our personality. For the one it is self-righteous anger, the two is pride, the three is vanity, the four is envy, the five is avarice,the six is fear, the seven is gluttony, the eight is lust and the nine is sloth. Today I read an article by Sally Klempton about envy. Since I identify the most with the four type, envy is my passion.
The article suggested that envy can be subtle. It can masquerade as irritation or annoyance with another person. Sally directs us to explore underneath the annoyance to see if envy lurks underneath. Envy is an embarrassing emotion for me. I judge myself harshly for begrudging someone else their talents, successes or good fortune. It feels so unevolved to secretly hope another will fail. Sally Klempton suggests that underneath envy is our own disowned self. When we feel envy it is often with a peer. The envy is about some quality we are jealous of in another that we don't own in ourselves. She advises getting underneath the story of the envy to the feelings underneath and being willing to be with them.
One of my yoga students lent me a DVD by Angela Farmer called Inner Body Yoga. It is a wonderful yoga class taught by this beautiful woman who appears to be in her sixties. She is incredibly flexible, fit and sensual. She seems so comfortable in her body. She has long luxuriously curly silver hair and wears no makeup. Her husband Victor who is a yoga teacher and an artist, painted these gorgeous pictures of women in yoga poses that illustrate the DVD.
Angela has created her own form of yoga and teaches internationally. As I moved through the class I was very aware of the limitations of my own body and a familiar feeling of tightness in my heart. The green monster was rearing its head within me. I wanted Angela Farmer's body. I wanted Angela Farmer's husband. I wanted Angels Farmer's comfort and ease with her sexuality. I was making up a story about how she does it right and I, by contrast, do it wrong. In my story of being one-down, she is beautiful, talented and lithe and I am dumpy, inflexible and aging rapidly by the minute. Feeling these feelings I am awestruck by the creativity in my story. I could see I was using Angela Farmer and the story I made up about her to feel crappy about myself. Sally Klempton suggests looking at what you want for yourself and sending these qualities to the person you envy. So I want to age gracefully and be grateful for my body and accepting of what it can and can't do, I want to be more and more comfortable with my body and my sexuality and I want to be a creative and inspiring yoga teacher. On top of all of that, I want to have fun. I imagine sending all of that to Angela Farmer and her receiving it smiling and bowing. Sending it to her I am more aware of my own generosity of spirit. I feel lighter and more spacious. It feels true to me that we are all one and that sending these things I want to Angela Farmer I also allow the space to see them in myself. This is fun. Envy doesn't have to be kept in the closet. The shadow is the part of me that I find unacceptable and keep hidden. I shine the light of day on my envy and invite her in for tea. She sits down and faces me and I let myself open to her and accept her as she is. She is a vehicle for me to empower myself. I ask her if she'd like some lemon and a few carrot sticks and allow her into my heart. When I can notice what I find unacceptable in myself without judgement, the charge of shutting down my own heart to myself releases a bit. Angela Farmer and I are sure a pair of passionate, creative sixty year old yoga teachers. I open to allowing myself to be inspired by her body and her talent as a teacher.What do you find unacceptable in yourself? Is there something you envy in others that you aren't owning in yourself?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Circle of protection

An update on my brother. He is in a shelter with many helpful services where he can stay for ninety days. He is commited to making a new life for himself. I am so glad. Thanks for listening.
Today I have been thinking about Peace is in my Heart. When I protect myself within a circle of white light it allows me to open my heart. That circle is a boundary that helps me to stay open-hearted to myself and chose what I take in and what I don't. In the past I have shut my heart down to protect myself from the unwanted energy of others. Abandoning myself leaves me drained. When I am in my circle I can be around other people and chose what to take in. Then I my heart can be open and I don't have to feel drained and overwhelmed. When my heart is shut down I am also much more vulnerable to the criticism of my own ego.
Draw a circle around yourself and see it extending above your heart and below your feet. Imagine it infused with white light which comes from the universe through the top of your head. Breathe into your heart and feel the protection for your heart which this circle gives you. Spend a minute breathing into your heart and when thoughts come up bring yourself back to your circle. You can place one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly. Breathe so that both your hands move. Breathing into your heart connects you to the source of all there is and breathing into your belly connects you with the earth. Within your circle you are connected to the universe and the earth at the same time. After breathing and feeling connected and grounded in your circle feel the sense of peace that protection brings. Peace is available to us because it is the source of all there is. When I am protected and openhearted I can interrupt the warnings of my ego. For instance, right now my ego is telling me I am not making any sense. It also says that noone is reading this anyway so why even bother to write? In my circle I can protect myself from my own ego too. It is easier to reply to my ego
and calmly say, "That's a thought" when surrounded by white healing light. It is easier to be the witness to my ego's attempts to convince me of its fear stories. It isn't necessary to defend myself or to treat the ego angrily. When I can witness it as energy I don't want to take in, acknowledge it and move away I move toward peace. So now I am picking my nails. I have learned that means I am anxious. If I allow myself to feel the energy of the desire to pick my nails and be with the anxiety it begins to lift. It doesn't go away. What I notice is that there is more spaciousness created in my heart when I am willing to be with what is. The story my ego is telling me is that I don't know what I am talking about. I can acknowledge that as a story and say, Thank you for sharing. When I move to be present with the anxiety under the story I can feel the pull to pick my nails instead of feeling the anxiety. I have been picking my nails since I was a small girl. As I feel the desire and be with the anxiety I am protecting the little girl inside me from my negative core belief that there is something wrong with me. My little girl is safe inside my circle protected from the negative core belief. I see her inside the circle and imagine the belief outside the circle. I feel more peace and more space in my heart to allow the peace that lives in my heart to be there.
Experiment with your circle and see what you would like to be protecting yourself from right now.