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.

This year I am thankful for . . .

So many thing I could list but for this year I am especially thankful for the release of my long held pain which I thank God for the help in healing, as well as all my wonderful friends and family for being so supportive through my long journey to recovery.  Life can throw us some pretty difficult lessons and I have always believed we could get through them with God’s help, but I wondered when it would happen for me.  I guess I was finally ready to let go of the pain, and I asked God to help me let go of it.  He did.

Though my rage has been uncovered and understood and finally embraced for it’s function, I now look upon it as an ally when I need protection.  I am thankful for everything along the path to this new understanding.  I am thankful for God helping me let go of my hurt and anger toward others who have hurt me in the past.  If I have hurt anyone in the past, I am truly sorry for causing you pain, and I ask your forgiveness.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

"When The Body Says No; Understanding the Stress-Disease Connection" by Gabor Mate, M.D. A Book Review

I am reading, for the second time, “When the Body Says No; Understanding the Stress-Disease Connection”.

The connection between the emotions and the physical body play a more important role than many people realize.  Dr. Mate recognizes and writes about this in very definite ways.

The first time I read this book I was looking to find my own symptoms and understand what is going on with me, and skimmed through most of the text.  Now I am reading for greater understanding of how emotions affect all our body systems.

According to Dr. Mate, many diseases these days are diagnosed through a process of elimination, when the physical cause cannot be determined.  Auto immune diseases, cancer, nerve pain, IBS, and fibromyalgia, to name a few.  The medical professionals are not sure what causes these diseases, but there is a connection to emotions according to Dr. Mate.  Why do some smokers get lung cancer and others don’t.  Emotions and stress play a role.

To seperate the treatment of a physical condition without taking into account the whole picture, including the emotions and levels of stress, is like looking at only a part of the picture.  What is not seen is often an integral piece of the puzzle in understanding the disease, and in prescribing treatment.

Like with me, to take medicine is not enough.  When I continued to live my life with the same stresses I had previously been experiencing, I was only getting worse each year.  To get better, I believe, I have to stop worrying.  In fact, I am not “allowed” to worry or stress any more; my brain scrambles when I do and I can’t think straight.  In order to think clearly, I must focus my attention on relaxing, appreciating each moment, and loving myself.  To do this, I relax into my center and stop living in my head.  I find I am not so concerned with doing, I am more aware of “being”.  In this state of “being” I still have desires, and act on them, but in a more centered and relaxed way . . . I guess I would say in a more Zen like way. Many of my old ideas, what I thought I should be doing, or needed to be doing, have fallen away.

I wonder what would happen if everyone in the world could only function in this way.  Would everything crumble or would we all begin to live better?  I wonder.

 

 

“When The Body Says No; Understanding the Stress-Disease Connection” by Gabor Mate, M.D. A Book Review

I am reading, for the second time, “When the Body Says No; Understanding the Stress-Disease Connection”.

The connection between the emotions and the physical body play a more important role than many people realize.  Dr. Mate recognizes and writes about this in very definite ways.

The first time I read this book I was looking to find my own symptoms and understand what is going on with me, and skimmed through most of the text.  Now I am reading for greater understanding of how emotions affect all our body systems.

According to Dr. Mate, many diseases these days are diagnosed through a process of elimination, when the physical cause cannot be determined.  Auto immune diseases, cancer, nerve pain, IBS, and fibromyalgia, to name a few.  The medical professionals are not sure what causes these diseases, but there is a connection to emotions according to Dr. Mate.  Why do some smokers get lung cancer and others don’t.  Emotions and stress play a role.

To seperate the treatment of a physical condition without taking into account the whole picture, including the emotions and levels of stress, is like looking at only a part of the picture.  What is not seen is often an integral piece of the puzzle in understanding the disease, and in prescribing treatment.

Like with me, to take medicine is not enough.  When I continued to live my life with the same stresses I had previously been experiencing, I was only getting worse each year.  To get better, I believe, I have to stop worrying.  In fact, I am not “allowed” to worry or stress any more; my brain scrambles when I do and I can’t think straight.  In order to think clearly, I must focus my attention on relaxing, appreciating each moment, and loving myself.  To do this, I relax into my center and stop living in my head.  I find I am not so concerned with doing, I am more aware of “being”.  In this state of “being” I still have desires, and act on them, but in a more centered and relaxed way . . . I guess I would say in a more Zen like way. Many of my old ideas, what I thought I should be doing, or needed to be doing, have fallen away.

I wonder what would happen if everyone in the world could only function in this way.  Would everything crumble or would we all begin to live better?  I wonder.

 

 

Is Someone Shoulding on you? Are You Shoulding on Yourself?

One of the words Patricia Evans talks about in her book “The Verbally Abusive Relationship” is the word “should”.  To tell someone they “should” do this, or “should” do that, is a controlling way of communicating.  Shoulding is of the ways we abuse ourselves and others.  Shoulding suggests shame if you don’t do what you “should” do.  A less abusive way of communicating with others, or with yourself, is to say, “You might like to do this,” or “Have you considered doing that.”

This approach may sound mambsy pambsy, but in reality it is simply more respectful.  To tell someone they “should” do something is implying you know better than they do and have the authority to tell them what to do.

Changing the way we communicate can be challenging.  I should on myself all the time, and on other people too, and don’t realize it.  My daughter Melissa, the amateur psychologist in the family, catches me doing this and calls me on it.  She was visiting the other day and pointed out that not only was I shoulding on myself, I was shoulding on everyone else as well.  When Melissa pointed this out, repeatedly, I began to catch myself and correct myself before she could chime in with, “You’re shoulding on yourself again.”

Shoulding is a way of putting pressure, or putting power over on someone else, or on yourself.  Shoulding can kill happiness, making life a chore instead of a joy.  This nerve condition I have (see My Very Spoiled Nervous System) is teaching me the evils of shoulding.  I had a conversation with my husband last night and he was directing me by using sentences beginning with, “You need to . . . ” and, “You should . . . ” etc.  All the things he said were valid things I “should do”, but because he was shoulding on me, I began shoulding on myself and woke up with burning skin and scrambled brain.  I overloaded myself with shoulds.

Honestly, a person could think of so many things they “should” do, it would take them many lifetimes to do them.

The only cure for my burning skin and scrambled brain, aside from increasing my medication again, is to relax, stop shoulding myself, and ask myself, “What is most important to me today?  What would bring me joy?  What does my heart long for?”

This sounds idealistic, I know.  I have a difficult time letting myself do what I want to do and not what I think I should do.  It’s working for me though.  Even though there is a very angry dragon inside me (see The Dragon and Guardian of Memyselfandi), I am happier than I have ever been in my life because I am learning to follow my heart.

 

About Michele

At this point in my journey I believe the most important thing we gain in this life is our relationships. This means connecting with others. Not only with other people, but with everything that exists. I know this probably sounds a little “woo woo” but I guess I am a little woo woo. Lol!

To treat everything with respect, and to appreciate all things, can help to create relationships with everything. See my blog entitled “Alone In The Woods” (yet to come).

I created this blog and website to connect with other people through sharing my thoughts, lessons, and possible insights. I hope you glean a few things which will benefit you on your journey through life.

I was married, had 5 children, and was divorced. Devastation. I remarried and had 4 more children. I was raised in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a wonderful family oriented and supportive Christ centered church which I still attend. What I blog about has less to do with my religion or my upbringing and more to do with lessons I have learned as an adult searching for happiness and peace. My church teaches “If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” Articles of Faith #13.

At different times in life I have experienced extreme joy and also extreme depression. In searching out help for depression I found many wonderful teachers and philosophies. I love that I was taught to seek after any praiseworthy thing. My journey to overcome depression led me to attend many classes. I started with survival classes (to survive life) and moved quickly into the more spiritual and philosophical classes (to find myself). I attended Tom Brown Jr.’s Trackerschool (see Resources for more info) for 10 years as an avid student (some would say addict). I have also attended three years of Malcolm Ringwald’s Earth-Heart training classes, and three years of Niaszih healing system training with Karl Direske and other teachers at Wilderness Fusion.

My search for knowledge in the world of herbs and herbalism led me to take Roots of Herbalism and The Family Herbalist series with Emily Ruff at Florida School of Holistic Living.

At one point I attended a women’s retreat with Allyson Rice (she has a website now: Allyson-Wonderland), where I brought home new deep understanding about life, see blog about “We Are Universes” (yet to come).

I have read extensively, especially self help books, books on relationships, and spiritual awareness books. I have listed a few of my favorites in the Resources page on this website.

I value my family more than anything. I love colors and color combinations, they bring me joy. I love working with wool, it feels amazing to my fingers. I love nature. I love horses, when I touch them I am very present and not off in my head somewhere. I love making connections with people. I also love disconnecting from everything to be still and be with myself, quietly, deep in my core. But even in there, there is connection with The Great Everything.

I recently moved back to Oregon, with my two youngest children, to be near my extended family. My husband is still running his business in Florida and visits when he can. My health has deteriorated to the point that any thing that causes me stress or worry makes my body hurt (see blog entitled My “Very Spoiled” Nervous System). I work on things that bring me joy. I have limited energy, but I can do some things, even physical labor for short periods of time, and I am careful to rest when I need to. I am happy and content to focus on joy, and share the things I’ve learned on my personal journey.

I wish love and many blessings to all of you.

Michele

Source: About Michele

The Belly Brain: Exploring Emotions

I have noticed in the last couple of years that my belly thinks . . . or rather, I should say my belly feels.  When I want to know how I am feeling, my awareness falls into my belly to see.  When my awareness is in my brain in my head, I think, I don’t feel.

I took The Family Herbalist class from Emily Ruff, of The Florida School of Holistic Living, and she said she believes the belly is a brain.  She mentioned that the belly and all the nerves that go into the intestines and digestion are much larger and more complex than the brain in our heads and our spine and nervous system.

If that is true, the belly must be a brain!  As I have become more in touch with my feelings, and the energy in the belly, I find that I do a sort of “wide angle thinking” with my belly.  It is a type of thinking that is on a broader scope and includes feelings and emotions.  The belly is also a place to sense things.  I think the brain in our heads may be an augment to the belly brain, and not the other way around.  Maybe the belly is the center of intuition.  That’s why we get a “gut feeling” about things.  We are sensing things energetically that we can’t detect otherwise.

There is a point of awareness that can be moved around your body.  Notice what happens when you put your hand to your cheek and you want to know if your hand or your cheek is warmer.  To find out, you have to move that point of awareness to either your hand or cheek to see.  To be able to tell if your hand is warmer than your cheek, you have to move your awareness to your cheek and feel your hand.  To notice if your cheek is warmer than your hand, you have to move your awareness to your hand to see if the cheek feels warm or cold to your hand.  You can move your point of awareness to any part of your body to see how that part feels.  If you move your point of awareness to your belly, notice what you experience.

“How am I feeling, and why?” is a question that can help you explore your emotional state at any given time.  The question can be asked over and over to tease out the various emotional ingredients that make up the cookie dough mix of your emotional state at the time.  After asking each time, and surrendering to nothingness to see what emotion emerges, you can ask why you are feeling that emotion.  When you surrender and get the answer, you can say, “Great, that’s good to know.”  Then you set that emotion aside and ask, “Aside from that, how am I feeling?” and surrender to the answer.  Doing this over and over separates the emotions and reasons to make understanding yourself easier.  This is a technique I learned from Tom Brown Jr., and he mentioned that it is also described in a book called “Focusing”.

There are many layers to our emotions and when I do this exercise, I am often surprised that a buried emotion is often stronger than the emotions on the surface.  If you write down the emotions that come up for you, when you are done you can ask yourself, “Which of these emotions is most important right now?” Circle the one that stands out to you.  Then you can ask, “Aside from that one (the circled one), which one stands out the most?” and circle that one and put a little #2 by it.  Do this until none stand out to you as important.  By doing this you can see which emotions are the most important to be aware of at that time.

For me, all the emotions seem to emerge from the “belly brain” and not my head, which never feels like the belly.

If anyone tries this, I would love to hear how the exercise worked for you.