Category Archives: Healing

A Prayer for World Peace

monk-hands-faith-person-45178.jpeg(This excerpt is from the book is called “Pray, Meditate, or Both?”)

A common question is, “What’s the harm in praying for world peace?” And the problem is in the idea that it’s somebody else’s responsibility to make peace happen. It begins with you. So if you want to know how close we are to world peace, look within.

Prayer and meditation are both wonderful. In-fact, reciting a prayer is a common meditation practice (like the prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi, for example). Where there is hatred within, train your mind to sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy. Do not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; or to be loved as to love; for it’s in giving that we receive, it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it’s by letting go of the concept of a separate “self”, that we are born to eternal life.

By being grateful for what we have, we generate energy toward more of the same. So don’t focus on what you DON’T have, because energy flows where attention goes (you would just wind up with more of what you don’t want). Meditate to keep your mind firmly fixed in the right direction, and it will raise your awareness of things to be grateful-for in your prayers. See the beautiful relationship between the two practices?

 

The Courage to Feel Pain

Deep inside of us lies a pain that continues to mask itself as anger. And whenever something triggers this pain, we put our mask on and lash out in anger. We seek revenge to the person who reminded us of that pain. We demand revenge, or justice, not realizing that what’s really going on is a pain that’s been hiding deep inside of us. When awoken, it is simply asking for us to release it, to free it from its mask and let it come out just as it is. As pain. As tears. But we deny it’s freedom. We refuse to cry. It is far too scary for us to feel pain than to feel anger.

For so many years, the mask of anger has protected us all too well, so well that in fact, we have forgotten what it really was. Anger becomes our mighty shield, and we turn to that shield as a default, because it always works. It deflects any accountability and keeps us a victim. We continue to blame all our problems and discomforts on everything and everyone but ourselves. We get to shift all responsibility onto that which is causing us discomfort and this makes us feel in control. We believe that if they were not in our way, we would have what we need, and what we want. We make life, peace, and happiness conditional on external forces changing for our comfort and pleasure. And this keeps us a victim. And when we continue to hold this belief, and continue to allow our mask of anger to cover our truth, we get nothing but more anger. And we imprison ourselves and give our keys of freedom to those that continue to disappoint and anger us. Because after all, if it weren’t for them, life would be perfect… right?

But what if they weren’t there to blame? And what if, even in their absence, life wasn’t perfect? Then who is to blame?

So long as we are human, we will always experience disappointment and betrayal, and as much as we prefer differently, we don’t get to choose what disappointment and betrayal we get to experience. And to those who have hurt us, we don’t get to choose what type of justice is served, or even if it is served at all. But what we do get to choose is our attitude and response to the disappointment. Do we hold tight to our suffering, hold it as a weapon, and hide behind our disappointment with the mask of anger? Do we draw our sword and inflict pain on those who have hurt us? Tempting? Yes… But it does not solve the problem.

Healing is always an option and unfortunately, the only way out of our pain is through it. The first step to healing is to accept that the pain is there, it is real, and to actually feel it. That means to feel pretty crappy for a bit. And then you move on. Most of us aren’t comfortable with feeling crappy for even a short period of time.  When we can put the blame on something outside of ourselves, it somehow makes the suffering less intense- because we have suddenly relieves ourselves from having to feel any responsibility in dealing with the pain that came as a result of experiencing the disappointment.

Sadly, we spend the most energy on maintaining our victimhood. We want the person who disappointed us to feel as bad, if not worse, than we do. We demand that pain be spread evenly, and that all the world go blind in our effort to honor our sacred belief of “an eye for an eye”. Never once do we stop and think, “Maybe it is not just “me” that is suffering, but that the whole world is suffering”.

Not one person on this earth is immune to pain, suffering, disappointment, grief and loss. Rather than see outside our own immediate frustrations, we ruminate. We hold hatred and anger deep in our heart. It is so difficult to see beyond ourselves. It is so difficult to see the pain in others when we are so focused on our own.

The truth of our humanity is that we all are hurting in so many ways, and more often than not, we have absolutely no control over it. Knowing this reality, where do we want to invest our energy? There are only two choices: contribute to the pain or to strive to alleviate it.

May all beings be peaceful.
May all beings be happy.
May all beings be safe.
May all beings awaken to
the light of their true nature.
May all beings be free.

 

How to Let Go

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Most of us struggle with letting go, not because we really needed that thing (relationship, situation, job, environment, behavior, etc.) in our lives, but because the concept of letting go is so overwhelming.

We know we have to “let go” of things that are not good for us, but aren’t quite sure what it means to let go, if we are ready, when we’ll be ready, the consequences, or even how to go about doing it. The idea of letting go sounds like something we have to do physically, emotionally, and simultaneously. But the truth is, it doesn’t happen overnight.

We may imagine letting go to mean having to cut our ties, burn bridges, and run away as fast and as far away as possible, “then everything will be alright…” Sometimes we might even think that letting go means completely giving up on our goals, ambitions, hopes, dreams, or precious relationships. We may even see “letting go” as denying the importance of that person/place/thing in our life. Seeing “letting go” in this way is overwhelming, to say the least, and very unattractive. Letting go on those terms makes sitting in our discomfort far more appealing. Fortunately, letting go is none of that. It might help to understand what letting go really entails, and how to do it effectively (or at least less painfully).

You see, we often see the thing in front of us as the cause of our unhappiness, and thus jump to the conclusion that it must be immediately removed from our lives in order for us to be happy. I’ve seen two extremes: some will stay in that place that we believe causes us a great deal of unhappiness, thinking there is no way out of it, so we might as well suck it up. And some will completely escape the situation because they believe there is no way to find happiness in that given situation.

Eight months ago, my husband left me. For some reason, I really thought that he would be nicer, given that his new life was free from all the things he said he hated about me. He blamed me for making him so angry. Surprisingly, even after 8 months apart, his anger has worsened. He became more verbally abusive. He lashed out more often. He blamed me for even more things (crazy random things like his cell phone not working). His attitude and words were filled with such hatred and, I have to admit, every word he said felt like it was a spear lunged into my heart and laced with poison. My heart hurt for a long time. I thought, “What did I do to deserve this? Why is he causing me so much grief? When will he finally stop hurting me and let me be happy…?” Even ignoring him didn’t stop the attacks.

I lost a lot of sleep over every text he sent, every glare he gave me when picking up our son. After loving and caring for him for so many years, all he did was hurt me and hate me… I was truly unhappy. I tried being nicer, more generous. I spent countless hours going over our texts, wondering what I did or said that was so wrong, and planned how I would respond next time to elicit a better response. Maybe I could say or do something that resulted in him being more kind…more…loving?

What I thought was the cause of my unhappiness (his attitude and behavior), however, was actually not the cause at all. I had to dig deep, but really questioned myself. Why does what he say and do bother me so much? Why does it change the way I feel about myself? Why do I let this affect my health, and energy? Something had clearly triggered something much deeper inside of me, and I had to figure out what it was.

It took many months, and tons of therapy to realize that I was holding on to some kind of subconscious need inside of me for validation. I needed his reaction to me to validate my worth. What I really wanted to do was move to a different state so that I never had to see him ever again. I even considered quitting my job. I thought that my happiness depended on him changing.

I found that it is the letting go of THAT which makes letting go so hard. That thing inside us that says, without that changing, or without this condition, etc., I will suffer… I will be unhappy…my life is pointless… I thought I needed him to be a kind co-parent, for the sake of the kids, at minimum. But what it really was, was an unspoken need to be validated. To prove that I wasn’t a failure, a bad wife, or a bad mother. I rationalized my need for him to change by saying things like, “if he doesn’t change, he is setting a bad example to our child. So he MUST change. He MUST learn how to be kinder to me.” In reality, perhaps life would be better if he was more kind, less hateful and angry. Unfortunately, that’s just who he is and I don’t need him to change in order for me to feel good, or even confident, about my life, my value, and my future.

Letting go of that need drastically changed my life, my happiness, and how I saw him. After a while, it didn’t matter what he did or said. It was just him, doing his thing, and saying things that reflected, not me, but a really dark place in his heart that wasn’t ready or willing to heal. And perhaps it never will. And that is fine because my happiness doesn’t depend on it.

We hold on so tightly to that sense of identification we feel, or our attachment to the outcome that we become almost blind sighted from alternatives and positive solutions.

It is a great challenge, but one worth trying, to dig deep into what it is that we are really holding on to and why, and then…let it go.

What’s interesting is that once we finally do manage to let go, we realize that we never actually let go of the thing we thought we needed, but our attachment to it. Originally I thought I needed to let go of my husband being a real meanie, when in reality, all I needed to let go of was trying to define my value according to how he (or anyone else) treated me.

To Live Your Message

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What’s your mission statement?

I was asked that a few months ago and was like, “ummmm…can I get back to you on that?”

What sucks about having a mission statement is the accountability that comes with it. So you have a mission statement that boldly states what you’re all about. Your purpose, your passion, your whole reason for existing… and then the big question that inevitably follows it: So what are you doing to achieve that?

Gulp…

I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but it took me a few years to respond to that question. And here it is:

To live my message.

If ever a mission statement, this for me, felt like a truly powerful and empowering one. I didn’t need to be perfect, I was allowed to make mistakes. Having a mission statement with a specific “goal” in mind (like world peace, or eliminating poverty, or curing cancer…whatever) is extremely intimidating, and honestly, probably unrealistic. But this- living my message, sounded pretty practical and like something I could definitely do.

It was basically daily accountability to do the things I say I’m going to do,
avoid doing the things I say I’m not going to do,
and find flexibility and forgiveness somewhere in the middle.

So the real question isn’t about having a mission to change others or to make some dramatic dent in the world, but to be as truthful, honest, and real as I can possibly be at all times, and hopefully, that helps others feel free to be as truthful, honest, and real as they can be as well. In that, I find freedom, hope, and love. No rules, no super out-of-reach impossible goals to achieve within x-amount of time. No one-size-fits-all rules and expectations.

To do this only required one thing: to be brutally, rigorously honest about who I was and what I was about. No more people-pleasing. No more looking outside me to fill what was lacking inside.

As I began my path of discovery, healing, and self-love, I began to have a lot of “aha moments” and “epiphanies” that I was desperate to share with others (hence this blog). It was tempting to insist that my friends and family do what I was doing, think what I was thinking, and heal the way I was healing. I secretly judged… Sorry…

Little did I realize, though, was that by focusing on the progress and struggles of others, it would not only take away from my own recovery but pull me back. Significantly…

What I found was that in order to help others, or carry a message of healing to those who still suffer, was that I can’t “pull them along” in my own struggles. I had to live my message.

We learn only through our commitment to our own healing and growth. We carry that message of hope and strength by living it; by serving as an example. I believe it is not us who share the message, but the message that shares itself as it comes out in our daily actions and attitude.

If so, what was I sharing?

Self-improvement, personal development, healing, recovery- whatever you want to call it, is all a very intimate process that somehow unfolds itself uniquely in each individual, which is why it requires rigorous honesty, intention, and personal effort and commitment. We recover not through the advice of others, and not by doing things the way others do them, but by committing to healing ourselves, every day, in whatever way works.

No matter how far we have come, we do not have the ability to “teach” people how to live. We do not have the divine knowledge of what is the best path for others to take, and we do not have the right to insist that one way is better than another. We rely on a “program” that works for us and our personal relationship with some form of Higher Power, even if that Higher Power is your dog. Seriously. Whatever works. We never attempt to be another person’s “Higher Power”. All we know, by walking our talk is what worked for us, and this is evident not though an intense advising session but through our actions, thoughts, and behaviors.

It would be truly arrogant of me to try and teach something in which I had no experience or knowledge in, and that lack of experience or knowledge isn’t the things I’ve learned.

The thing I know absolutely nothing about and have no experience with is,
“what’s best for someone else.” 

What I learned through my unfortunate failed marriage with a sex addict, alcoholic, problem gambler is that the more I tried “teaching” him how to “overcome his issues” (as opposed to just living a better life for myself), the more I enabled his addictions, and the more distance I put between us.

All I know is that I have found my “program” transformative, healing, and a vital part of my recovery. Through doing my own personal work, I have met others who have experienced the same recovery and healing. While our stories are all very different (and in some ways very similar), our core commonality was in our commitment to our personal healing and co-witnessing how it transforms and heals us.

No matter where we come from and what our background, we had been supported and encouraged to continue working through our issues in a positive, loving, and supportive way, and this was all we could do. This was ultimately the most effective and influential for everyone involved.

Naturally, when we find something that works to make our lives better, we want to share it with the world. We want others to know and feel the freedom and joy that we once only dreamed of having. But our message, our product, that “thing” we hold dear to us, we only carry it because it carried us. Through a lot of inner-work, and commitment to bettering ourselves, it has now become a part of us, and through this, we are able to carry it in return. And that is how we live our message.

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I Surrender

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“I surrender”

I know it sounds silly to talk about movies, but it was 2012. I watched the movie, “The Life of Pi” and had forever been changed. The take-away for me (which may be different for many) had a significant impact on the way I currently live my life. The first time I heard him say those words, “I surrender” I felt a chill down my spine. It was calling out to me, urging me to say it. “Try it… Say it…say, ‘I surrender”.

My body felt a sudden tension. “No way!” I thought. “I’m not ready! If life is anything like the message in this movie, just look at what happens when we surrender!

It had seemed that Pi had gone through enough pain and suffering. He literally lost EVERYTHING: his family, friends, country, and when he thought he had nothing more to lose, he lost the last of his food, the boat that kept him afloat on an ocean that could care less about about whether he lived or died, and his best friend was dying next to him. On the surface, it felt like he was being punished horrendously…for what…why…?

And yet the storms kept coming…hitting him harder, and stronger. If surrender meant opening my arms to a bigger storm, count me out!

This was not encouraging at all. To surrender meant an increase in suffering. I was not willing to suffer more. I had had enough. But the message kept ringing louder and louder in the back of my mind for years. Something inside me kept calling, begging almost, whispering, “say it..say ‘I surrender‘.”

I knew I had to at some point. But I wasn’t ready.

To surrender meant having to endure greater suffering, isolation, and the loss of all I thought I knew and believed (i.e., my “ego”)… What I hadn’t realized at the time though, was that through surrendering the ego, I was to discover myself and my purpose.

 

There came a time in my life (a few  years later) when I finally got the guts to say it. When I thought things couldn’t get any worse, I was desperate for freedom, so I said it. I didn’t whisper it either. I screamed it loud and clear: “Ok, God. I’m ready….(gulp)… I… surrender!”

And sure enough, I was granted what felt like Pi’s epic storm scene. A true shit storm. My husband’s infidelity came to the surface, my own ugly demons came staring me in the face, and eventually, my marriage came to crashing ugly end… and I was left thinking, “I’m a failure. A loser. Who on Earth could possibly ever love someone like me…?”

But what came out of that shit storm (shit storm being a serious understatement) was exactly what is promised when we surrender.

Dr. Wayne Dyer says, “your ego wants you to look for the inside on the outside.” He adds, “The outer illusion is the major preoccupation of the ego.”

In other words, when we let our ego lead, the ego feeds us false ideas of what will make us happy, constantly encouraging us to focus on things outside of us to fill that empty void inside of us.

But when we surrender the ego, we are forced to look inside- something we’ve been avoiding our entire lives. And yeah, when we finally have to take a peek at all of that mess…it is NOT pretty… Yet, when we courageously do look inside, we discover…the universe.

The cost is high, and the fear induced by it is great, but it is sooooo worth it. If you think about it, letting go of the ego to discover the universe…and as a side perk, suffering seems to decrease significantly. Now that’s a pretty good deal! An investment with HUGE return.

Suffering is something no one wants to do. And certainly, if we don’t have to suffer, why suffer? If there’s something we can do to remove the suffering from our lives, why not? But there are times in our life when we must endure the storms. There are times when we must embrace the suffering. And it is precisely this- suffering- a very necessary consequence of growth and evolution as a human being.

While it seems counter-intuitive, as we learn to surrender to the universe, we actually find peace. We find the universe, we find our true power, we reconnect and discover that full, infinite loving wholeness inside ourselves.

So perhaps the key to happiness, and yet quite a scary path to embark on, is to surrender. Don’t get me wrong: to surrender is not to give up on your dreams, or to aim a little lower when we don’t get what we hoped for, but to maybe aim a little higher next time, and let go of the outcome…each..and every time.

Life Hack: Feeling is Healing

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Feeling is healing. But “feeling” is not the same as “expressing our emotions”. A great example of the difference between feeling and expressing is this: The other day my older son took a toy from my 1 year-old. My 1 year-old felt really upset about that. He expressed his feelings in two ways: first, he screamed, and then he tried to hit his big brother. While neither are what we would call “good behavior”, unfortunately, they both are pretty normal for that age. Fortunately, we grow up and realize that hitting and screaming don’t get us what we want and usually don’t solve the problems we think we have. Ideally, with the help of positive role models and experience, we learn alternative, more healthy and productive ways of expressing what it is that we are feeling and are able to discern if expressing is even necessary.

Paradoxically, when we feel something and are unable to express it, the feelings are left unattended and can lead to personal and internal negative consequences like a build up of resentment, anger, self-loathing, and sometimes even depression. What’s interesting, though, is that even if we do express what we feel, if we do it in an unhealthy way (like hitting, yelling, screaming, threatening, hurting ourselves, getting drunk, engaging in unhealthy sexual behavior, etc.) we are still left feeling pretty crappy in the end, maybe even a little embarrassed, and mostly unresolved.
*** This is the beauty of life. ***
I think being human IS THIS. An experiment (maybe even a game?) of feeling something and then trying to express it so that it can be resolved. If we are successful, we identify and implement the healthy ways of expression (which for me usually comes with trial and error…lots of error…). If you think about it this way, literally EVERYONE can be a winner! Every opportunity that passes through our life is an opportunity to learn expression – and from expression comes resolution. From resolution comes resilience and ultimately, an openness and love for all that life has to offer (good and bad).
Feeling to heal isn’t just about expressing negative feelings. Positive feelings also need equal expression. Did you know there are actually people that have a hard time expressing gratitude and joy? I know because I used to be one of them (and sometimes still struggle with this). People afraid to show ANY emotion. Interestingly, the consequences of not expressing even our positive feelings leave us (and sometimes others) feeling bummed. Imagine feeling immense joy at your baby’s birth but being completely expressionless and not showing any emotion? Imagine being at your own wedding with an expressionless face? This is why how we express our feelings is so important! It’s a way to connect with ourselves and others.

But in order to heal what’s hurting inside us, we first have to feel it, and to “feel” it means we open ourselves up to it. In other words, we look at it, we allow ourselves to have those feelings, face them, and honestly acknowledge them. They are real! If they weren’t, you wouldn’t have them. To open ourselves up to what is going on inside of us and allow it to flow through is key. Yes, sometimes that means shedding a tear or two! But sometimes the feelings can be so intense we freeze or want to run from them! The good news is that feeling our feelings doesn’t require us to express it immediately or at all. It just requires you to honestly see it and say hello to it.

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This is where the magic lies! Once we are able to honestly see it and say hello to it, somehow, we then are able to successfully and productively express it.
So the next time something happens and you feel something (let’s take anger for example), try saying something like, “oh, something in me is feeling anger. Hello anger. So this is what anger feels like. Yes, I am feeling anger right now.”

I know it sounds cheesy, but it works! What do we do with that anger once we’ve said hello to it? We’ve owned it, we’ve acknowledged it, and we’ve totally taken it in our complete control. We are now empowered with a life-changing opportunity to ask ourselves, “OK! I see am feeling anger right now. How do I want to express that?”

Oftentimes, we realize that we either don’t need to after all, OR we are at a MUCH better place emotionally and mentally to find a truly positive and productive (and less harming way) of resolving the underlying problem.

Life can be hard. Why make it more difficult than it has to be?

Work In a Relationship 

I was with a friend at lunch who was talking about struggles with her boyfriend and I was caught of guard when she said, “I want to get married. If we get married, all these problems will go away…”

This morning I reflected on that. What is it that makes a relationship “work”? I can’t speak for everyone but what I’ve come to believe is that, regardless of a paper document confirming the legal connection between two people, what really makes a relationship work, is…”work”.

I know I’m going to get a lot of people that are going to say “if it takes work then it’s too much and you should just walk away.” That’s of course not the kind of work I’m talking about. The work I’m talking about isn’t helping around the house or being patient enough to sit and listen to your partner complain or talk about stuff you’re not interested in.

The kind of work I’m talking about is the commitment to stay when you want to run away. The capacity to hold your partner’s flaws and not hold it against them. The work of doing your own personal and emotional healing so that your own emotional baggage doesn’t become a subconscious and silent weapon of attack on them. The work of being able to say you’re sorry and admit when you’re wrong. The strength to overcome your own fears and insecurities so that they don’t cloud your judgement and bring you to do or say things you’ll later regret. The capacity to step back and allow your partner to work on their own problems without your intervention. The work of trust, faith, acceptance. The work of looking at a flaw and instead of seeing it as a problem needing fixed, a starting point in the relationship to ask yourself, “can I fully and wholly embrace and accept this or is it a deal breaker?” And if you’re already in a relationship, being able to see the flaw and ask yourself, “is this something I can let go and be content with?”

The list is probably endless, but it really all boils down to the work we do internally, learning what it really means to LOVE another person, to love yourself, and not get stuck in that one way road of “what my partner is or can do for me” or the masochistic “I must kill all parts of me to make my partner happy, and then once they are happy I can be happy.”

It’s about being real with what is. Because what is is all that there is. What comes after that is the result of love or lack of.

This Takes Courage, But Mostly Determination To Heal

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Finishing up the book, “Love Your Enemies” (Salzberg and Thurman) they provide some “at home” meditation practices. Since I’ve taken several meditation courses and practice daily, the loving kindness/compassion meditations were no stranger to me. The idea that you wish well everyone, including those that you don’t like, is actually very effective in cultivating compassion and getting over a lot of unresolved anger and bitterness- the poison to your soul.

But one of the meditations the authors recommended in this book, while similar to the “I pray that ___ receives all he/she wants in life, including the experience of inner peace, joy, and unconditional love” thing I’ve been doing, had a drastic difference in that it required me to see my “enemy” as my “partner”, my teammate, and someone “winning the battle with me”.

It’s hard to change our image of someone we’ve determined to be an enemy into genuinely believing they are an ally. And maybe this isn’t something that can be applied universally…I don’t know… but you never know until you try! So I tried.

The idea was to open your mind just enough to consider that your enemy sees you just as horribly as you see them, and then see yourself just as they see you. I know my ex-husband saw me as a controlling, selfish, bitch. He said I was manipulative, judgmental, and crazy. Of course I didn’t want to see myself as that kind of person! Me? Nooooo… All of those horrible things? But seriously… why not just try it? So I did.

Ok.. So here I am, standing in front of him (this is in my imagination) and I’m a manipulative, judgmental, crazy, controlling selfish bitch. Ugh… I don’t want to be anywhere near this person. I can’t talk to her, I can’t share my feelings. I don’t feel safe, and I want to be defensive with everything she says and does. I want to give her the cold shoulder or maybe just pretend she doesn’t exist! I can feel my bitterness and anger toward her grow. She talks of love and forgiveness, but she’s so bitchy and crazy! I hate her!

Ok…now step out of that. How did it feel? How does this person feel whenever they think of you or see you?

It felt horrible! I am not that person!

Great! Now think how the other person feels when you put ALL of your judgments and opinions about them on them. Even if you don’t say it out loud, even if you think you can fake your way to a “pleasant” encounter with them, your feelings about that person pour out of you through your attitude and behavior even if you don’t think they do.

Can you now try and paint a positive picture of them in your mind? Can you? Just for pretend. Just for fun. Try. Try to see them as being extremely happy, full of joy, and having all the things they want in life, a new lover, a new child, a new home, maybe even having tons of money and going on really awesome vacations with their new family… (oh…I can feel my heart sinking already…)

As Salzberg and Thurman put it, “if you’re really daring, imagine your enemy winning the battle with you, imagine your enemy being happy to see you!”

Yes…the natural instinct/reaction for me was a defiant “NO!”

But keep in mind, this is all just pretend. You are safe. You can pretend…

Ok…So I did…

The end result… magic.

Salzberg and Thurman state, “in visualizing yourself from the enemy’s perspective, you start to see that what makes you vulnerable to your enemies is your SENSE of being fundamentally different from them…When you truly grasp that it is the projection of your own hurt and anger and fear that turns someone into your enemy, it releases the energy you previously invested in defending yourself and your ego.”

It took a bit of creativity and imagination to paint my ex as my co-partner in winning the battle. I had to think of ways in which we were winning together. Where in this life were we partners, happy, successful, and united?

I came to realize that even if the marriage didn’t work out, and even if he never loved me, he and I are the Mommy and Daddy of our baby, literally, FOREVER. We, together, created this magnificent, amazing, miracle. Not only did we create this miracle together, but we are also on the path together to raise him to the best of our abilities. We can make it a pleasant path or a miserable path, and we, together, get to make that decision (the battle!) The commonality may not be the “method” or “beliefs” about what is the best way to raise our baby, but the hope and intentions for making the best life for him are the same. The hope and intentions for making the best life for ourselves as well, is the same. We also partnered up in the marriage, and we now have the same path in life moving forward: both of us have to navigate our future lives, fill our lives with joy, peace, and love. How we go about that might be different, but we are technically on the same boat. So why do I need to get in his way as he navigates his path? And why should I allow him to get in my way?

It’s tempting to hold things against him, the betrayal, the abuse, and hostility. I could hold that story and keep it with me as I move forward on this journey. But why would I do that? What purpose does it serve? How does that benefit me? What joy does it give me? How does it serve my baby and his future? It doesn’t. So let it go already. Let the story go and re-write it into a heroic wonderful ending.

The more I see him as this “partner”, the more I grow to truly love (i.e., accept and respect) him, and genuinely hope, from the bottom of my heart, that he finds all the happiness he can get on his journey. Instead of spending my precious energy feeling bummed that the relationship didn’t turn out the way I had expected, I can spend that energy resolving my personal feelings of anger, fear, and jealousy. How amazing and empowering it is to be able to transform that negative feeling into one of support, compassion, and cooperation.

Yeah, I didn’t get what I want. That’s life. How long do you want to spend bitching and moaning about that? Transforming all that sadness into something so much more powerful and wonderful is where we BOTH come out a winner. As Salzberg and Thurman put it, “now that enemy you so disliked becomes your ally: your teacher, your helper, even – dare I say it – your friend.

He may never know about any of this, but the good news is, it doesn’t matter. The next time you have an encounter, you can be positive knowing that the energy radiating out of you toward him is that of loving kindness, cooperation, support, compassion, and good will.

And the next time you have a slight feeling of negativity creep up, continue to practice this meditation. Because the fact of the matter is, we’re all just walking each other home.

A Journey to Inner Peace

I think we spend our whole life wandering for something we lacked at some point in our young lives. For me, it was a relationship bond. Since I didn’t get it from my parents or siblings, my whole childhood and young adult life was spent on a subconscious journey looking for something or someone that would make me feel “bonded” like one would feel in a deeply intimate relationship found in a parent-child relationship. That feeling of being unconditionally loved, protected, supported, maybe even adored… Even if I thought I had found someone to fill my void, somehow I always felt afraid, anxious, and isolated. Would they leave me? Hurt me? Abandon me? Abuse me? Betray me? I felt as if I was a beggar for “love”, and that even a small crumb of affection was enough, so long as I felt someone “cared” about me. This was truly a life lacking inner peace.

What I’ve learned through years of failed relationships, rejection, and loss is that we will always feel fear, anxiety, and “lonesomeness” if we are always looking for strength from external sources (other people, money, sex, drugs, you name it). It’s cliche and frankly pretty annoying to hear that over and over again, but unfortunately (and fortunately) it’s true. It’s unfortunate because that leaves us completely responsible for our own inner peace and strength. It’s fortunate because that gives us complete power over our own inner peace and strength. When we are at peace, genuinely, from the inside, there is no sense of lack. We feel full and are thus not grasping at the false sense of security we cling to on external matters like money, what our body looks like, and the “bonds” of relationships, etc.).  In other words, we are at peace with what we have and who we are, and we are not obsessing over what we feel like we need or currently don’t have.

I was always looking for security in the bonds of relationships when I was supposed to find it in myself. Even now as I am grieving the loss of my marriage, I have to be honest about what it is that is shaking my inner peace. Is it truly grief? If it is grief, how much longer is it going to be grieving before it’s me just throwing an extended self-pity party? Perhaps this sadness is me feeling bitter for not getting the “bond” I was hoping to get through my marriage.

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If I had to be brutally honest, the ironic thing is I never “really” had it in any relationship. That “bond” never existed in any previous relationships, nor did it exist in the marriage I was so desperately trying to hang on to. The reason I didn’t have it wasn’t necessarily because the people I was with were jerks (most of them were! But that’s not why I didn’t get my “bond” I was looking for). The main reason was because I was looking for it in the wrong places.

I was SO desperate for that bond that I kept desperately grasping for that thing that I’ve never had like a mad man blindly grasping for anything in the darkness. I started noticing a pattern in how my relationships developed. When I thought I was close to getting that “bond” or even thinking that maybe I “had it”, somewhere in my subconscious I may have thought that it was something I was naturally entitled to, and thus when my relationships didn’t make me feel secure the way I thought they should, I got angry.  I lashed out. I blamed. Maybe I even subconsciously believed that the other person “owed” it to me…?

But is it possible to miss something you never felt? Is it possible to grieve something you’ve never had and thus never “lost”? If I had never known the flavor of chocolate, would I live my whole life searching for my long lost chocolate? Maybe I had a sniff of it, or thought I saw someone else with it… or maybe I even heard an amazing story about it and it peaked my interest so much that I set out looking for this amazing chocolate…It sounded divine…It sounded like heaven… “I MUST HAVE THIS!” I told myself…

Getting out of meditation is usually when I get my “aha moments” and today I had this one:

“Just let it go. You never had it and you obviously don’t have it now. It doesn’t mean you’ll never have it, but just that you don’t need to throw a fit because you can’t have what you currently don’t have. If you really needed it, you would have it! The fact that you don’t have it and have made it this far in life, means you don’t need it. At least, for now…”

**Granted, I actually do have this with my children, and with so many of my friends and family members. Sadly, I was only looking for it in a romantic partnership and thus couldn’t see that I had it already.

While I can’t say this is true across the board, it just resonated with me today. It told me it was time to get over it and live life already! I’ll be fine! Just like I’ve always been! Me chasing after something I obviously didn’t need has only gotten in my way, kept me from my purpose and passion, and created unnecessary suffering. Ugh…so much needless suffering… Why would I do that to myself?

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be loved and valued, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with wanting to be in a meaningful and loving relationship, but there is something seriously wrong about demanding it and throwing a fit or allowing your happiness and inner peace to disappear if you don’t get it.

Reminder to self: 1) If you want something, you have to be willing to give it, and screaming and demanding shit isn’t going to make you or anyone happy. BE LOVE. That shit makes people happy, including yourself (yup, even when things aren’t going your way). 2) Sit tight! Enjoy the ride. Literally, that’s your only choice at this moment anyway! By being love, you get love. By being present, you find inner peace. And THIS is where true strength and joy are found.

When it hurts just enough…

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From birth to 15, my life was spent looking for acceptance. My father was a functioning alcoholic and my mother MIA. We were financially well off, but my clothes were worn, tattered, and filthy. As a child, I was abused both physically and emotionally. The pain of feeling neglected, abandoned by my mother, not having any parental affection, and so ashamed and embarrassed by my appearance and fear that people would find out about my situation at home, I kept my head down, stayed quiet, and rarely spoke unless spoken to. For 15 years I grew up thinking my voice was not important, my thoughts were worthless, and my life had no value to myself or anyone else. After a series of traumatic events, I attempted suicide twice and was hospitalized. I was diagnosed as depressed and put on medication. I hated that feeling of being on medication. I couldn’t have ups and downs. It was all just…blah…

There was this little spirit inside me that demanded I fight for my freedom, so I did. I decided that I didn’t want to feel blah. I wanted the opportunity to feel ups and downs and to deal with them. So I stopped my medication, did some research, and fought like hell to be free. I started an exercise program, changed my diet, changed my circle of friends to positive supporting people, and started doing things that inspired me. I have never needed medication after that. I’m not saying depressed people reliant on medications should stop their medications. All I am saying is that it was a personal choice that I was able to make and follow through with.

When I was 30, although I was no longer “depressed” I always felt a little anxiety when in social situations. The lack of self-esteem and fear of rejection from childhood was so strong that my tendency was to shut down and avoid social events at all costs. People called me “shy” and an “introvert”. I had liked those labels because it gave me an excuse to not have to get out of that comfort zone. Yet it was so lonely and I didn’t want to feel lonely. So I decided I was going to stop having this social anxiety and just start saying hi to people and make conversations and go to social events. Similar to when I was a teen, the transition was hard. It took so much work and determination (and a few rejections) but I was absolutely, positively committed to bettering my life. As a result, I made tons of friends, tried things I’d never do, and am free from social anxiety.

There are tons of examples of how I saw something I didn’t like about myself, or felt insecure about, and decided I didn’t want it anymore, and determined to change it. But the key to achieving it all was simply determination and a changed mindset.

Here’s a story (not sure of the author) that reiterates my point:

One day, a child was walking down the street and saw a dog on a porch that was just sitting there, whimpering, whining and moaning. The child was curious as to why he was whimpering, so he went and knocked on the door and an older woman came out and said, “Can I help you?” The child said, “what’s wrong with your dog?” The older woman replied, “What do you mean?” The boy went on,”he’s sitting here moaning and groaning.” The older woman said, “Well, he’s actually sitting on a nail.” The boy was startled, “What! Your dog is sitting on a nail!? Why doesn’t he get off?” The older woman replied, “Well, it just doesn’t hurt him enough.”

I loved this story and is one of the reasons why I was able to turn my life around. I was in pain. For years. I was in so much emotional pain I thought it was worth it to end my life. I hated that pain and I didn’t know what to do with it. I had no adult role models, and no one even noticed that I was suffering deeply inside. For years, I did all kinds of manipulative tactics to get people to notice me, give me attention, validate my existence, show me some affection. I wanted people to prove to me that I was lovable. I don’t say this because I was not lovable. I say this because I didn’t feel lovable and was always looking outside of me, desperately, for someone to take on that job of loving me. NEVER in all my years had I thought that I could be the first person to love me…

It hurt so bad, but I stayed on that nail for a long time. If I whimpered loud enough, someone would surely come to my rescue! If I moaned deep enough, someone would surely feel pity for me and give me the attention I wanted and needed. If I cried and whined about my sad, sad stories, someone would swoop me up and save me from my woes and loneliness… I had hoped.

And it never happened. And the pain just kept getting deeper and deeper.

There is a way out of suffering, and it isn’t through something outside of you. It isn’t found in others, it isn’t found in food, drugs, alcohol, sex, anger, fear, and violence. There is a way out of suffering, and it isn’t through preoccupation, distraction, social media, your cell phone, and definitely NOT located in simply working harder towards your goals (yeah, you read that right…).

The only way out is through
and because the problem is within,
you GOTTA GO WITHIN.

I spent years and years in therapy. I looked actively for positive and loving mentors, and I took their advice to heart. I tried things I didn’t think would work. I read things I didn’t fully agree with. I kept an open mind. I did things that made me feel like a fool (like meditation circles). I had to get immensely honest with myself, intimate with my thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. I had to learn to be humble and say sorry. I had to own my mistakes and make amends when possible. I had to get vulnerable… I did the work required to find what I needed to free myself from suffering and inner turmoil. I had to fight my inner demons, the ones that were screaming distraction, to take the easy way out and blame others or expect others to change.

You see, when I finally took personal responsibility for my life, my goals, my happiness, AND MY PAIN, I had found freedom. Being accountable for who you are, where you are, what you are, how you respond, what you think and feel… it’s an extremely empowering and positive place to be. You can be that dog sitting on the nail, complaining about how bad it hurts… or you can look deep inside yourself, and do whatever it takes to turn that inner turmoil into inner peace. BOTH of them are not easy. BOTH of those paths probably come with some discomfort. But if you wanna stop suffering… get off the nail.

After that is the healing process. Healing is hard work. Healing is NOT distraction and forgetting how bad it hurt. Healing is not “F*** him! I don’t care!” It means cleaning up the wound, so that it is not susceptible to future contamination or infection. It means figuring out why the hell you wanted to sit on that damned nail for so long anyway! Honestly! Why!? And then, CHANGE your thinking, your daily habits, and behavior.  Commit to it. Commit to yourself

The whole moral of the story is this: THIS is YOUR life. Literally, only YOU can decide how bad you want it to hurt and how much longer you want to suffer before you… (gulp)… gotta own it and change.