The Sacred Questions and Self Awareness

There was a time in my life when things were just so bad!  In my mind I felt hopeless.  I could not see a way out.  I was stuck.  I had been taught all my life, however, that we are special and that we humans are meant to overcome our difficulties in life; to learn and grow from them even.  In those dark moments I thought to myself, “If I could just know who I am, I could overcome my problems!”  My question was, how could I know myself?

Like many of us, if not all, we have been taught how to behave since childhood.  Stuffing our emotions is often part of that learning.  As we grow we become more and more disconnected from ourselves, disconnected from who we really are.  Instead we play a role set out for us by society and our families.  This is normal for a society, but in my opinion, when the disconnect is strong, broken people are the result.

“Know thyself!” is an admonition given to us students by our teacher Tom Brown Jr. in Scout Class at Tracker School.  “Know thine enemy!” is the second.  “Sometimes thine enemy is thyself!” he states, almost an after thought, but likely is key to the awareness of self.  These are sayings handed down by the Apache Scouts, Tom says.  “Know thyself, and Know thine enemy,” seems to be a common theme in warfare.  Self awareness can help us learn if we are thwarting our own progress, if we are the enemy we face.

The Sacred Questions are the key to knowing ourselves.  “How am I feeling?  How can I heal it?  What more can I learn from this?” and many other questions that can spin off them take us on a journey of self discovery.  As we move through the layers of emotions and feelings, learning what we feel, why we feel this way, and what we can do about it, we move closer to who we really are.  Meaning, the emotions are not us but are reactions to things in our lives based on our experiences and the people around us.  The problem is the reactions are based on limited perspectives; what we can see and understand from our limited viewpoints.  Our perspectives are so limited we can in no way understand everything around us and therefore our feelings and reactions are skewed by our limited perspective.  In stronger terms, our perspectives and reactions are wrong simply because they are based on limited understanding.

What I am proposing is to get past the emotions and reactions which are the byproducts of our living experiences, and get to the pure self; the essence of who we are, which is hidden beneath the layers and layers of feelings and emotions.

When our class was sent out to our individual sit areas in the woods (where we could be alone) to do this exercise, we were given 45 minutes.  We wrote down each layer and why we felt that way.  I worked very hard to move through the layers because I had paid a lot of money for this class and I was going to get the most out of it!  Shortly, I found myself being distracted after each layer.  My mind would wander off in a day dream until I remembered the exercise and pulled myself back.  Going deep in those layers was surprisingly difficult.  There was some resistance by my physical mind; almost a little tantrum of not wanting to look for another layer, thinking there could not possibly be anything else, and being tired of the exercise.  This resistance was almost painful.

I remembered, though, when Tom sent us out he hollered after us in his booming voice, “If you think you have gone through the layers far enough, keep going!!!”

I am so glad I forced myself to move doggedly through the layers.  This exercise gave me a priceless gem of understanding.  I got to the point there were no more layers of emotions, only a vision of energy, symbolism which I understood, and a sense of who I am at the most pure level: strong, powerful, amazing.  I was shocked at that revelation and couldn’t help bawl my eyes out for the next half hour; not even stopping when we were called in, it was that uncontrollable.  I was full of joy and gratitude for what I saw/understood.  I can never forget that moment and the change it brought to my sad, hopeless and helpless little life.

I share this exercise with you.  Could you make use of peeling back the layers to learn who you really are?  Would this enable you to approach life from a greater understanding.

If you should choose to do this exercise you may share your results here.  I would love to see how it works for other people.

The Sacred Questions and Weight Loss

The Sacred Questions are questions we ask when focusing.  The Sacred Questions can be anything we want to know about.  The Sacred Questions are asked to bring greater awareness to anything we might encounter.

When I asked myself the Sacred Question, “Why do I want to lose weight?” and I got a faint hearted or wishy washy response I realized I was not asking the right question.  My heart was not cooperating with my idea to lose weight and I needed to change the question.  I asked a different question, “Why do I NOT want to lose weight?” and got some very powerful core reactions and answers to why I would NOT want to lose weight.  There is a lot of fear involved with the prospect of my being my best physically.  This is something I will look deeply into as I am ready, day by day, asking many more Sacred Questions.

Some Sacred Questions might be, ” What am I afraid of?  What can I do about it?  How can I heal it?  What more do I need to understand about this?”  With each of these Sacred Questions I will go to nothingness, thoughtlessness, and see what returns.  There may be an image, a word, an understanding, a feeling, an event relived, or other type of answer.  There may even be something in the environment that answers my question.  Each Sacred Question can be asked over and over, peeling back the layers of answers to that one question.  New questions may spin off answers received, taking me in a new direction of understanding.

The Sacred Questions can be asked by anyone, whether looking within or looking outside ourselves, at our environment.  The Sacred Questions can be asked about absolutely anything.  I learned about the tool of the Sacred Questions from my teacher Tom Brown Jr.  He learned about the tool of the Scared Questions from his teacher, an Apache elder, Stalking Wolf.

If you have not tried this technique for introspection relating to weight loss, or anything else, I encourage you to try asking and see what you find out.  As Tom Brown says, and I paraphrase, “The only failure of the Sacred Questions are the failure to ask them.”  And, interestingly, the simple act of asking will uncover a lot.  Exploring our psyche through asking ourselves questions and surrendering to the answers that return will shed light on dark places; bring hidden things to our attention.

This can be painful but the pain does not last.  This is what is called ‘leaning into the sharp places’ and by doing so, and feeling those painful spots, we can help heal them.  After all, it is impossible to remain in a feeling forever, the emotions will come and they will go.  From my experience, as I feel into those painful places, it hurts a lot.  I know it is not fun.  I have had some things that have taken me years to get over, but I believe by occasionally shedding light on those wounded places, usually unwillingly I must admit, I was able to gradually let go of the pain.

Now I have some work ahead of me and this introspection may take awhile.  I want to understand my aversion to looking and feeling my best.  Why does this image repulse me?

What introspection might you be curious about?  Remember — and this is paramount to the success of this exercise — there must be only kindness and non judgement when asking the questions and receiving the answers.  Only through love of self and understanding that there are reasons for everything can healing occur.

I would love to hear about your experiences if you should decide to try asking the Sacred Questions and surrendering to the answers.

If you would like to read another post about focusing, click HERE.

Motivation, Self Sabotage and Weight Loss

Motivation.  We may think we know why we are motivated to lose weight and look our best, but could our idea of why we are motivated really be holding us back?  Sometimes we think we intend to lose weight but in reality we intend to stay the way we are, only that intention is hidden.

This morning I began questioning why I am having difficulty losing weight when losing weight has been easy for me before.  Why do I lack conviction?  Why do I sabotage myself?   I found some answers through focusing, or as my teacher Tom Brown Jr. would call it: inner vision or looking within.  I began with the question, “Why do I want to lose weight?”  I surrendered to nothingness and waited for the answers to arise, one by one.  The answers that returned were wishy washy and lacked conviction: “I want to look good.  I want to be healthy.  I want to feel good.  I want to be my best.”

I was puzzled by the lack of conviction I felt so I asked myself, “Why do I not want to lose weight?” and surrendered to nothingness to feel the answers arise within me, one after another as I peeled back the layers of my motivation to stay as I am: “Looking my best scares me.  I feel safer when I am heavy.  Looking less than my best helps me to be invisible.  More will be expected of me if I look and feel my best.  I’m too angry to want to look good.  Thinking about looking my best makes me feel like I want to cry and die.  I feel vulnerable when I think about looking my best.  I feel broken when I think about looking my best.  I want to scream at the image of me looking my best.  I want to scream at everything when I think about looking my best.  I feel pain when I imagine myself looking my best”

Wow.  These answers, as I go deeper and deeper are getting more painful and violent the deeper I go.  I have some very real issues regarding looking good.  I have some strong programming about staying heavy and tired and ill as I am.

This is a lot to take in.  I am going let this information simply be for a while and let my conscious mind ponder these answers..  I will work on this later.  My brain is on overload right now.  More later.

 

Living in the Present and Weight Loss

Living in the past and in the future, in our minds, gives way to positive and negative influences or self speak.   The negative talk in our heads may be based on how we did yesterday or the past week when we didn’t reach our goals, or maybe even when we failed miserably.  We might hear echoing in our heads, “You’re not going to lose this weight.  You are tired of this diet.  What’s the point?”

If you did well, you might hear, “Well, that may have been a good week, but remember two weeks ago?  You haven’t even gotten back on track yet.” Or, “Well, maybe you did well this week, but that doesn’t mean you will do well next week.”  That kind of negative talk can discourage the best of us.

On the other hand, positive self talk can lead to expectations which occasionally back fire.  For example, you are doing well and say to yourself, “Wow, I am doing great!  I can’t wait to see how much I lose next week!  It’s going to be great!”  Setting up these expectations can backfire because if we don’t do as well as we thought we should, we might beat ourselves up about it and our experience becomes negative.

Living in the past or the future can lead to us telling ourselves we did bad, or we did good.  Living in the present there is no good or bad, it just is.

Truly living in the now, in the present, with no past in our memory, is difficult because how would we have language if we had no past to draw upon?  Would we even think about losing weight?

For our purposes lets say we can live 80% in the present so we can still have our language and our goals yet still quiet all the talk in our heads about the past and the future.  From that space, the chatter is quiet.  While keeping our awareness in the present, we are more aware of the physical self, the spiritual self, the emotional self, and even the intellectual self.  In that quiet we are more aware of who we really are and how we are connected to the world around us.

Learning to quiet that little voice in the back of our heads can be a daunting task.  However, the more we practice quieting that voice the better we will become at it because we will be increasing our awareness of the ongoing commentary.  For me, as I have practiced this, when I hear the voice chime in, I instantly ignore and hum to myself to push the voice off the audio stage in my mind.

The main reason I wanted to bring up living in the now for weight loss is because in the now there are no failures, there are no expectations, there is no beating ourselves up.  There is only our beautiful and wonderful self and our connection to the Great Everything.  In that state I find everything to be so much gentler, easier, and beautiful. I believe we can learn to superimpose the state of being in the “now” over our daily lives.  I can manage this for short periods of time until I forget, but then when I remember, I begin again.

Peeling back the layers of emotion also helps with living in the now.  There is a stillness deep within that is majestic, powerful, and is you.

I would love to hear from anyone who tries this and how living in the now works for you.  Thanks for listening!

 

Nature Inspired Scarf

img_4818-1
Here is one view of the finished scarf based on colors from the bark of a tree trunk (see next image).
img_4805-1
This is the image that grabbed my artistic eye. I love the color and texture of tree bark and this tree bark is stunning!

While watching nature documentaries with my son I saw this tree the bobcat is climbing up with his catch.  I felt my heart flip when I saw the magnificent combination of colors.  I got a screen shot of the tree on my computer and used it as a model for the scarf.  Also, notice the bobcat’s amazing camouflage against this tree!

Below, you can see the layout of the fibers before felting:

 

And here, below, you can see images of the finished scarf in different positions.  I made a couple slits on one end to allow the other end of the scarf to be pulled through.  Or, for a more traditional look, a button looking pin can be used as a brooch.

Below is a close up of the finished scarf.

img_4823

This will be heading to the art store in The Art Center in Corvallis soon.  This scarf is made with “against the skin” soft merino wool, silk, and baby alpaca; the flip side is lined with super soft baby yak, silk, and merino wool in creamy white with slight hints of color showing through.  This art scarf will be priced at $100.

Below you can see how the “dread lock” fringe is created.  First cuts are made on the edge of the scarf to the desired length, then each flat strip of fringe is rolled between the hands to create the rounded dread lock look.

Late Night Creativity and Weight Loss

img_4814-1
Felting the “dread lock” fringe on the scarf I made last night.

Late night creativity and weight loss go very well together, YES, YES, YES!

Making things is one of my favorite activities!  I totally bliss out while I’m creating something new, especially if my creation has color and texture involved.

I had been wanting to make a scarf like this for probably a month or more.  So last night, instead of spinning wool and watching TV, I plunged into this little scarf project I had been wanting to do.  I was engrossed for at least three hours, blissing out over matching the colors with what I had in mind, felting the piece, and creating the fringe.  After rinsing the felted scarf, it was time for bed.

I felt tired.  I had taken my sleepy medicine early and it had kicked in.  I went to bed and did not eat again.  This morning when I weighed myself, I had lost half a pound.

I know, at least for me, I eat out of boredom.  Finding something you crave so much that there is no room for boredom will breathe life into your world, and allow you to not only lose weight but accomplish something that brings you immense joy at the same time!

I would love to hear from you about this idea, or if anyone would like to try this, tell me how it went for you.

My next post will detail the scarf I made and how I did it.

Late Nights and Weight Loss (also update on zoom balls)

Late nights and weight loss do not mix.

At least for me, I find the later in the day the less will power I have to ignore the comfort foods that make me feel full and sleepy.  I would go to bed earlier but I have a difficult time going to sleep, even when I take the sleepy medicine the doctor gave me.  That medicine does help me sleep in till noon or later the next day, however!

So, what to do?  For one, I am going to start taking my sleepy medicine several hours before bedtime so maybe when I go to bed early I will feel sleepy.  Another thing, I must be careful not to eat the Zoom Balls (I mentioned in my previous post) in the afternoon after about 2:00 because those may be keeping me awake.  I’m not sure though, because I have had trouble sleeping for over a year now and I just recently started eating the Zoom Balls  (click for video of Rosemary instructing on how to make the zoom balls) from the recipe in Rosemary Gladstar’s book: “Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health“.  If not eating zoom balls or chocolate doesn’t work, I might do some exercises before bed to tire me out.

Report on Zoom Balls:  They work!  They are great and make me feel very energetic and alert.  The taste is not great but the recipe can be altered I imagine, for better taste.  Not tasting great helps me not eat too many though, which I am glad of.  When we made the balls I think we made them a lot smaller than Rosemary does, like four small balls to Rosemary’s one larger one, but I like that because we can take smaller amounts more easily.  The recipe says it makes 60 balls, but I am sure we made around 240 smaller ones.  Anyway, a two thumbs up on how well the zoom balls work for energy!