When you are feeling anxiety, know that you are, in that moment, operating from some snag in your psyche that isn't true. You've turned against yourself and it feels very unstable and you want to escape but you can't escape because the anxiety is being produced inside you.
We've all ingested beliefs that are contrary to our true nature and at times these beliefs kick up as defense when something is ruffling us. Maybe someone is doing something or saying something that your belief says shouldn't be happening. Maybe you're having to do something your belief says you can't do or aren't supposed to do. Maybe you're just sitting around and suddenly your mind wanders over to a scenario from the past or imagined future that engages a belief in you that gets you trapped in a spin. It happens to all of us.
The best way to approach this is to become aware that you're feeling the way you are and allow some space to open up inside you. It may help to have a meditation practice as an awareness tool but the act of noticing your inner mood and creating space to keep noticing is meditation in itself, so don't worry about it.
Learn to create your own safe space inside yourself and become a good listener. The anxious feeling may subside on its own or you may need to do a little friendly investigating. Ask your body what this is. What am I believing right now? You're not asking your thoughts, you're asking your body to tell your conscious mind what your subconscious is believing. Give yourself space and don't think it. The answer will come clear when you are in the right listening space with yourself. Consciousness opening up to subconsciousness. When you hear the clear answer, that may be all it takes to free you. If you need another step, ask yourself if you agree with that belief. Again, just feel and listen.
Answers that are true are relaxing and freeing. Truth does not produce anxiety, it allows up to live in reality and to act appropriately and responsively to the need in the moment. Aligning to truth frees us to function well and create a better situation.
Depression is the other side of the same condition. Believing stuff that's not true about yourself is very depressing. Don't buy it. Keep moving into clarity. There is nothing inherently wrong with you.
Yes, our world functions in big ways on control & fear tactics. Most advertisements are telling you what you are missing and what you need to buy to be complete. The economy is based on dividing up the earth and creatures into commodity to sell and burn - an unsustainable model. Health care tends to tell us what's wrong with us instead of promoting our amazing living health. We are taught spiritual insecurity by childish religions that say we are bad bad bad and doomed to hell unless we drink the cool-aide savior, and they all sell different opposing saviors.
But, you know, it's our own inner subconscious landscape that's really what we fear and it's the societies of humans limiting our natural capacity to be awesome that create these messed up systems. We can get free in ourselves and we can correct what needs correcting and change what needs changing in the world. Next time you feel anxiety coming on, take a friendly pause to listen to what you're telling yourself in there.
I don't believe there are different types of people. We're all essential spirit in form. Spirit is undivided and undifferentiated from all of spirit. Oneness is the nature of spirit, maybe sort of like the nature of air only less solid. I don't know. Form is a mysterious gravitational spinning process. This is easy to know. Just rest down and open to the feel of it right now. It's unmistakable when you attune to form. And it never looses its mysteriousness. Knowing is not an answer. Knowing is a relationship of presence, curious for a new discovery each moment.
We are here to wonder about who we really are, and to wander into the intimate question of our soul. Soul is like the desire of the spirit. Profound. It doesn't speak any of our languages exactly but our languages try to speak about it. Thoughts and words are never the real thing. It's more an experience of presence. Like breathing. We can't really know breathing, we experience it. Sure we can try to control it, but not for long! Breathing is wild, like soul, like spirit.
Intimacy grows both directions ~ spirit into form & form into spirit.
We are here to be blown away and return home, over and over, to the spirit's question of embodiment & the body's question of inspiration.
Apparently, along with our form and the way our minds are conceiving & creating & evolving, we also have an aspect of function we call ego. There's also an aspect of ego called personality.
Personality is a suit made up of threads of all of our earliest experiences and conceptions of limits and who knows what else. Personalities are characters in a novel or a play. We do drama even if we say we don't.
Our little ephemeral packages learn by playing with each other and younger packages do it with conviction. By the time we reach our late teens, maybe 20s, we may have our suit on so close we think it's our true skin most of the time.
Luckily, as life wants it, suits start to itch, snag, rip, wear thin so the true body and the light can be felt through spots. The question of the soul begins to sing, louder, in the spaces between and the personality suit threads continue to loosen their twist. Dreams become colorful wild invitations.
New roles become desirable and the very next day or in a minute or movement we shift out of one character into another. Feeling that question asking itself into the body, the many characters start to dance and there's a freaking amazing freedom breaking through within a normal moment of life on earth. The new normal emerges. It is freedom.
The ego sees itself. It relaxes like no previous relaxation. Its ears grow deeper to hear the soul's question which becomes its very special life song. The previous loneliness of perceived separation, what egos believe, simply vanishes from the body. All the rivers, all the streams and tributaries are flowing into the sea. The ephemeral inner tide.
We're here to wonder and wander and dance with each other, to learn and teach each other how to be fun improvisers. There are no types of people, just spirit bridged into form by soul singing its special question as a life song, just life songs playing in these character suits that fool each other for a while with a story of identity. Spirit laughing.
A cultural trap to exit is the story that we’re here strictly to serve others selflessly. It's a trap because most of us are also conditioned by culture to live from the ego's perspective, not understanding how to listen to and live the soul's purpose. When "serve others selflessly" is thought only by the ego’s small mind it creates a world of hurt and confusion. Our modern culture has been pretty dismal at following the source of wisdom. We've shoved our brittle egos out front to lead and these egos are scared when out front because they aren't supposed to lead. We need to reorient to our souls.
In the process of reorienting, the best advice I see for our scared ego minds is "do unto others as you’d have them do unto you". That Golden Rule can be deep learning because it shows us over and over where we are stuck and unconscious, if we’re really paying attention. It's a great way to help the ego relearn it's right place.
The niceness model is not the point, and when we live long enough in a curious approach to ourselves, we can see that prioritizing niceness is a loosing game that can trap us in a routine of shaming ourselves and each other for not being nice enough. It’s how abuse is able to happen.
Nice is just a story and we can let it go, along w all the other stories that aren’t true. When we’re aware and committed to truth and honesty in ourselves, then the quality that we describe as “nice” emerges from a deeper place and "service to others" finds its real meaning, with far more depth and capacity than our ego attempts could ever bring about.
We are here to listen to the soul and discover how ego and personality can take direction from the generous, uncontested power of Spirit. Generally, in our culture, we're doing it the opposite. We’ve trained our egos to think and defend our ideas and lead the way, and that's so blocky and icky. But we can take the blocks off our tires and we can roll, gracefully, where life wants us to go.
Big Red soda
pink on white t-shirt
White ranch truck
vinyl, cigarette ashtray, hay
cow patty, gasoline, beer can
man sweat, rust
Legal documents filed on blue dashboard
warm open window air
Evant, Texas, 1975 or 6
Salt lick blocks
yellowed and rounded
slow cow tongues
death and life and memory
intimate with once muddy ground
dry and cracked
long stalks of clump grass
playing dead over
holes and walls built by heavy hooves
when ground was last muddy
creak, sputter, thunk
The best way to honor the lives of my ancestors is to become free from the beliefs that kept them down, to recognize their efforts and become a wiser and more caring person with the tenacity to change and grow as life goes on. It's the same as maturing and developing autonomy from my parents. They did the best they could, and my life gives me the freedom to find my own honest way, to experience connections that my parents could not see. In a certain way, I help them and their legacy by discovering my own living truth, by being an awake and responsive human on the totem that I am a part of.
When a person dies, beliefs and constrictions release. Anything that separates falls away. I recon that if an ancestor or a parent who has died could see us now, that personified love would include wanting us to be free from their antiquated ways of thinking. They'd want us to live life unconstricted by the constraints they experienced and taught to us. The stuff that we got trapped by. There's an inherent forgiveness about that, and an ability to move on. It's a strong sense I've gotten since my dad died. I've spoken with other people who have lost a parent and had similar insights.
That was something I wrote on Facebook, which came up as a memory from this day in 2015. What I wrote then fits just right into the work I'm doing now with Biodynamic Craniosacral, since this work helps the body tissues release their conditioned patterns. We can actually release the stuff from the body rather than just managing ourselves for the rest of our lives, which actually speaks to the impermanence of conditioning. It may seem like we get permanently changed from life's hard knocks but the underlying health and vitality that knows about freedom is always here, ready to re-emerge and rejoin the joyous openness we truly are. Who knew Leonard Skinner was so in touch?! FREEBIIIIIRRRRRD!
And before Leonard there was Rumi ~ "But how should the cage-bird know about the air?"
Our human ancestory has many voices, all singing about the same thing.
This is true: we never arrive at the final resting place while we're breathing and our hearts are beating. That truth is settled for me. ...Life is all about contradiction so I'll accept it and continue.
Given that we never arrive at the final resting place while we're living in bodies, what matters? I'll tell you what matters! (wink - don't take me too seriously. i'm just playing with what I understand.) Orientation is what matters. How we orient ourselves. It might be a question - "How am I oriented right now?" or "In what direction am I oriented?". The answer can change by the moment so it's good to be paying attention in a friendly way.
Yoga postures are helpful for practicing orientation. Each pose has particular anatomical focus so when we engage the pose and orient toward it's focus, we can discover things about ourselves. Take pigeon pose and it's primary focus - the deep hip muscle called piriformis. Since we live in chairs these days and since we tend to manipulate and manage ours emotions, we are people of tightened piriformises/piriformi, however you pluralize it. Over the roughly 18 years since I began practicing yoga, I've been learning about myself in pigeon pose. When I engage pigeon pose, I can either orient to my piriformis and allow layers of discomfort to be felt and sometimes released (usually intense and sometimes illuminating) or I can just hang out in the territory of normalcy and easiness. A useful thing about yoga poses is that we can physically engage our orientation, our focus. To find the piriformis, I engage both legs to be turning my pelvis forward: front foot active as if I was standing on it, shin perpendicular to my back leg, hip rooted back and down (there's the piriformis!), and my back leg is internally rotated, usually with my foot flexed to help that leg stay engaged. It's a workout to stay focused that way and no matter what I do with my upper body (rising up or lying forward) my front leg piriformis is given most of my attention.
Orientation is more than physical activation, though. It's really an internal focus, which can seem bewildering. Luckily it is something we can practice and learn to recognize how to engage in subtler and greater ways. What I said above about being friendly is a necessary quality to the internal orientation. Not pushing, punishing or fixing, just befriending and turning in the direction of the hidden stuff. In the direction of freedom.
In the pigeon, as I orient to my piriformis I can discover a letting go of my well-practiced demands on myself, aka tension. It doesn't matter if the pigeon looks great. How am I aware inside my hip? How am I orienting as I do anything at all? Yoga and life are not for showy presentation. I don't care if there are yoga competitions and lip injections... whatever.... True presentation happens, uncontrolled and unpredicted, from how we are orienting within ourselves. That's how love is. Love gets out of the chair and unlocks what's stuck. Love says "You can be free from that tight grip! You can be free. It might seem scary and it might hurt for a moment, but it's ok. I'll go through it with you, sweet hips!"
The only reason for
communicating is for
passing on what is
forgive me when I bully
with words that are trained
conditioned stories of what
should be true
According to who?
In moments when I'm speaking
from the small mind of
(you'll know it by it's usualness)
I hope to be cartwheeling my
mouth and hands
I hope to let heavy ideas learn to dance
feel them through
as the suggestions they are
hilarious yard signs
pro and con
Sad or happy beliefs
I forgot to either
inhale or exhale
Squeezing ghost fingers
inside my right temple
clingy catch inside my pelvis
wringing twist around my voice
It's just what I was taught
Why not rejoin light?
pouring words from
Everything is One
unrehearsed and true
Pouring words share the light
It almost doesn't matter what
Communicate as the fibers of light
The sound of nothing to learn
Thinking about the themes in my life, the one that rises to the top is about authenticity - being who I really am so I can relax and connect with other people as they really are. I'm not saying I've got this down, I'm saying I've got a deep yearning to be authentic, because I don't think it's been my go-to experience. In pursuit of myself (isn't that weird? me pursuing me?) I've been influenced a lot by various religious and spiritual guidances, academic doctrines and social expectations, but I've come to see that anything that rings true is not really an instruction for self-improvement but an indicator of authenticity. I notice that when I'm not trying to be agreeable I fall into agreement with myself, which is easy for other people to be around. When I'm not trying to be helpful I become honest, which is actually helpful! When I'm not trying to memorize concepts a bigger picture becomes clear. And when I'm not resisting myself I become tolerant, understanding and capable.
For a few years, I was a facilitator of a class in a women's prison. It was a volunteer gig with an organization called Truth Be Told. The class was called Talk To Me in which we all did background investigation into our current prisons. For the incarcerated women, they could look at what lead them to prison. For all of us, prisoners and facilitators alike, we identified our internal prisons. Then we wrote about how we got there and we took turns over several weeks reading our stories to each other and also did Authentic Movement to express the story though our bodies. It was an act of freeing ourselves from the silence and internal manipulations that were coming out in our lives in hurtful ways. It was an invitation to be authentic.
I took on that volunteer gig because I needed a platform of honesty for myself. I felt that I was missing the interactive, relational capability that I longed for and it was difficult for me to come clean to myself and others in my life. Facilitating that class, along with several other good decisions and commitments I've made over many years, helped me learn something powerful about authenticity. When I accept my own experiences I become free and I become a safe person for others to be free around. Now that's true facilitation! Not perfect, not an exact science, not someone else's idea of how my life should unfold - simply discovering that my own way is just right.
Through the lens of authenticity, the whole concept of "help" is turned on it's head. It's about embodying myself and discovering that I have faith in others to embody themselves. I don't need to hide behind stories, beliefs, theories and techniques, although those things do inform my understanding and they come in handy at times. But in those moments when I'm free in myself there's a natural outflow of helpfulness that does not require recognition or belief in a theory, technique, etc. And it really is a moment to moment thing. I don't believe any of us ARE authentic or not authentic, it's a matter of how we're relating in each moment.
I'm generally comfortable with my disposition these days. It's different than it was. I think that "just be yourself" doesn't come easy for a lot of us in our culture, so it's relaxing to embrace this imprecise experiment of being me. There is no ultimate program to follow or package to buy and sell; no theory to learn and defend, no religion to swallow as truth, no degree or costume or moniker to stand behind - not in my understanding of authentic life. Sure, those things exist, but I'm not defined by them. Sometimes it seems lonely to let go of all those identifiers, because that's supposedly where all the groups of "like-minded friends" hang out. Will I be alone without identifying with those clubs and products and beliefs? In the best way, yes. Alone and not lonely. Because authenticity includes autonomy - intimately alive in my own body, in the moments of my life, moving freely and touching reality, leaving the door open to those beautiful moments of true connection that remind me why I let go of the confining safety boxes I squirm around in. And it means that I can appreciate this in others, so relationships can stop being about expectations and pre-designed agreements and they can become discovery and creativity and mutual freedom. Yes, I think the world needs this.
To me, the story of Easter, the resurrection, is about each of our awakenings, beginning with our physical birth and continuing with each healing, reunifying experience throughout life. The more subtle we become in our awareness, the more we do ease back into our unified essence. This is what the wisest meditation practices are about. I think the word "namaste" is a spoken reminder to open the door of consciousness to ourselves and each other and the whole thing. This has been a lot for me to make honest room for in my mind, but through healing experiences I feel a gradual embodiment of "namaste". I've been noticing this recently, even though my mind is a strong protester. But what a surprise. It's not something I can honestly stay with all the time, but when I notice I've dug myself into struggle and complicated divisions in my mind I can at least remember my body knows about the undivided ease of it all. And sometimes I fall back into the ease.
Biodynamic Craniosacral involves a lot of embryology. It really involves deep investigation of the entirety of the human body experience and super pivotal stages such as conception, igniting of our vital systems, development of body in utero and the birth process. The design of the body is carried through our genetic information, referred to as "original blueprint", and the building of the body in utero and even during birth - lungs start working when we are in air, nutrient intake switches from umbilical cord to mouth - is done through the actions being carried out by the blueprint information. Arms are not built to reach, it's the other way around. It is the intelligence of our systems to reach, and it's the reaching action of the early tissues that actually builds the arms! When I learned that, it was just awe. What's elegance and amazement. Life is movement indeed. And the whole coming into air from a fluid world? What a transformation we each had on our birthdays!
We are sparked into being by the dynamic passage of human encoding carried through all the bodies before us. There is the blueprint of the human function/form and there is the limitation on that function/form imposed from disruption and repeated harm that gets internalized. Think of your own life and how many things have happened that are still hard to be with, things that have narrowed your view of safety and possibility since childhood, experiences that sparked a belief in separateness. Consider how the genetic information, passed through eons of human lives just like yours, might be carrying a narrowed expression of the vastness of human possibilities. The fullness of our nature gets pulled, twisted and blocked over the course of a life. Trauma (uncompleted process, segmentation of the whole) is a biochemical/material story that's being told for eons that we each carry. Trauma, passed along unrecognized and unhealed, creates a story of body disharmony coupled with mental beliefs we cling to, and our culture designs all sorts of medical procedures, laws and churches based on a belief that the uninvestigated trauma creates, and vice versa. I don't mean to be a downer at all here. It's just that, "if you can't feel it you can't heal it" (that's been said - it's true) and when we embody ourselves, our true and honest experience of living, even if we don't know what the hell happened to create that hard place in the belly or that familiar recoil in the nerves or that weird sounding voice that we know is not our true voice (ok, these are a few of my things), if we can just fall back into our true experience of all of it in the moment in the body, as a good friend who will not leave in hard times, the bodymind's urge toward wholeness, unity with self, unity with all - our essence beyond all conditioned traumatic holdings - does engage, and healing happens. It does.
We don't have to remain traumatized and separate. As meditation and self-inquiry becomes more widely practiced and as mindfulness-based therapies such as Biodynamic Craniosacral, Somatic Experiencing, Hakomi, etc. reach more of us, amazing resolutions begin to happen in our lives and in our collective awareness. I included the graphic "Physiology of an Uninterrupted Third Stage" because it shows something so simple that can make a huge difference in human lives - not rushing things right there at birth. We are actually capable of feeling the residue in our bodies from any trauma we experienced at birth, and by feeling it in a safe way we might find some understanding of how that very early trauma has shaped our lives. When it is felt in a safe and aware environment, such as a bodymind therapy session or well-resourced meditation, the twists and turns in the tissues actually begin to heal. As a society of humans who are healing, reunifying and rising, our collective awareness leads us to change the way medical interventions are routinely done that cause trauma to our systems. Just as what's considered normal societal practices change and become more humane over time as we understand the actual life effects of all sorts of behaviors, such as human enslavement, sexual harm, ritualized killings for ceremony, etc.
When trauma at any level is resolved through our own bodies, harmonious connections are remade that go beyond our own lives. We participate in telling the ultimate story of unity and we enjoy living here and now and helping each other thrive. Namaste.