The "Explorer" and Weight Loss

I have successfully used many different diets, but I never want to use the same one twice because Continue reading “The "Explorer" and Weight Loss”

The “Explorer” and Weight Loss

I have successfully used many different diets, but I never want to use the same one twice because it’s boring to repeat something I’ve already explored.  Instead I will try something new.  I am beginning to think that is why there are so many fad diets; people want to try something new rather than the tried and true.

I am an explorer.  I love to learn new things, and once I’ve learned, I want to move on to something else.  To stay with the same old thing would be like torture.  Some of the things I’ve explored are public school, college, marriage, motherhood, divorce, another marriage, art school, water color painting, oil painting, acrylic painting, ceramics, jewelry making, printmaking, drawing, sewing, quilt making, drying and arranging flowers, herbal remedies, holistic medicine, wild edible and medicinal plants, survival school, philosophy, spirituality, friction fire, building structures like: log and cob, traditional stick frame, barns, art studio, shed, gazebo, remodeling, decorating, accounting, gardening, to name some.  These attracted my attention and I explored them with passion for periods of time.  I have loved learning and doing each of these things and I still dabble in all of them, but if I thought I would have to do any one thing on a daily basis I panic!  I can’t do that, I’m too restless and curious to stick with one thing.

The diets I have tried that work for me are: counting calories, food combining, the “don’t eat anything after 5 pm except grapefruit” diet, the Suzanne Somers diet which is also based on food combining, the pH balancing diet, the blood type diet, to name some.

Now, I can start using any one of these diets, which I know work, but sticking to them is a real challenge because I have already used them.  It’s boring to repeat a diet because the learning has been done.

I have been trying to develop something new.  I would like to be so in tune with my body that I can sense what I want to eat that is good for me and supports me becoming my ideal weight for health and happiness.  Remembering to check in with myself deeply, and asking the Sacred Question about what I would benefit most from eating, is where I slip up.  Changing my habits can be hard, but doable if I am curious enough.  I have to want it bad enough to make it happen.

I have to ask myself, “Do I want it bad enough?  What do I need to do to make it happen?  Am I willing to do what it takes?”  I have to be still and listen to the answers emerge from the stillness.  I can ask more than once and peel back the answers, layer by layer, all contributing to my understanding.  With these answers I will know how to proceed.  I will have the power to move forward and accomplish — I will also have the power to let it go and not pursue it.  The choice is mine and the way is shown by the answers to those Sacred Questions: “Do I want it bad enough?  What do I need to do to make it happen,” and finally, “Am I willing to do what it takes?”

These questions can be used for anything we might want to pursue in life.  I spent about 10 years going to classes at Tracker School to learn to trust myself.  By asking the Sacred Questions I learned I have the answers within me, I just had to learn to uncover them and trust myself.

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.

Focusing For Happiness and Weight Loss

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Focusing will help you give your attention to one of the many, like picking one flower to look at from the garden.

The other day when I was focusing away my depression (click here for previous post) I hit upon an idea which I started immediately using.  I spent moments throughout the day centering my attention inward, as is done in focusing to discover emotional layers, but instead of asking how I am feeling, I quiet myself and center my awareness deep inside my core and touch the place where I feel peace, relaxation, and love for myself; I then ask myself, “”What do I want to do right now?”  This sets me up for working on something I really want to do, plus I am always much more productive when I am doing what I most want to do.  Surprisingly, the answer to what I most want to do is often to organize something, or do the dishes, or help one of my children with their homework, or some other chore.  My answer is not always to make art!  That doesn’t matter though, because I am doing something I really want to do at that point in time, that fits in my overall life plan; something that is calling for my attention, and gives me pleasure to accomplish.

I am realizing that this first focusing question, “What do I want to do right now?” does not remove any of the myriad of chores that were overwhelming me when I wrote about focusing away depression in my last blog.  Instead, this process allows me to temporarily place all those things in a holding pattern, patiently waiting in line, as I accomplish the one chore that will bring me the most satisfaction at this time.  Then I can ask again for what is the next thing I really want to do.  This first question takes care of reducing stress, allowing me to enjoy the process of accomplishing things, and have more joy in my journey.  I am finding that in my core, I do want to accomplish all the things necessary for success in my goals.  In other words, I am not wanting to play all the time, but asking what to do first allows me to let go of the rest until they pop up as what I want to do next.

For the weight loss part, I focus again to that deep centered place within my core, where I am calm and relaxed.  I remind myself that I am me, one person, centered on myself and my needs right now; knowing I have to take care of myself (no one else is going to do this for me) to be healthy and balanced; reminding myself that I answer only to myself and no one else for my health and well being and happiness; reminding myself I do not have to let anyone stress me out or make me feel less than I am; creating a protective shield of seperation around myself that allows me to rest when I want to, eat when I want to, and focus on a chore or fun activity when I want to.  Once I am centered and balanced and ready to take care of myself, I ask myself, “What do I want to eat that will make me feel good and help me be my best self?”  My answers have been the healthy foods I know are good for me and make me feel good and will help me lose my excess weight.  When I then proceed to eat the healthy food, I do feel good.  When I have not centered myself and focused on what I want to eat that will help me be healthy and my best self, I find myself reaching for chocolate, or ice cream, or bread and butter, or cereal, etc.

The key is focusing away from external stimulation that cause me to want to eat fattening sugary foods.  Resting when I am tired.  Pausing when I feel stressed, evaluating that stress, and focusing for what I want to do next.  Eating sugary starchy food, which makes me feel sleepy, is a way I have been self medicating and dulling my senses so I don’t have to feel stress.  Or, I reach for the giant (and I do mean giant!) bar of chocolate to rev me up and give me a big push, which gives me a high I enjoy, but does not benefit my health in the long run, nor does eating chocolate help me put my finger on what I really want to do.

I understand that this method is not easy when there are so many demands made upon us by external sources (and to be honest, most of the stresses and demands in my life are self induced).  Regardless, I have to do something to get my happiness and health back, so I now give myself permission to experiment with focusing for happiness and weight loss.  Once the simple meditation is accomplished a few times, it really takes very little time to recenter and ask those two questions again: “What do I want to do right now?” and “What do I want to eat that will help me be healthy and happy and be my best self?”

Focusing for happiness and weight loss worked so well for me yesterday (I know . . . only one day) that I wanted to share the process.  I will let you, dear readers, know how it goes as I continue with this experiment.  Also, if anyone wants to try this, I would love to hear how it goes for you in the comments section!  Love and happiness and health to you all.

Focusing Away Depression

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I awoke today frustrated about how I was feeling.  For the past few days I have been feeling depressed and overwhelmed.  I wanted to call my daughters and whine about it, but I couldn’t find my phone.  I thought about going to see my therapist but remembered I have all the tools I need, I don’t really need my therapist for this; I guess I just wanted to complain to someone.

“I need to focus” I reminded myself.  Focusing is a technique I learned from my teacher Tom Brown Jr. and the basics of which are also described in a book called “Focusing”.

I lay down on my bed to begin the meditation, and there was my phone!  I chuckled to myself because I realized that I simply need to focus instead of relying on the crutch of complaining to my family, and that is why I couldn’t find my phone!

Focusing is like peeling back the layers of emotion, one by one, to see what is going on in that mix of emotions you might be feeling.

I began by asking myself, kindly and gently as a loving mother might, “How are you feeling?” and the first layer popped up.

“I am feeling angry!” came the feeling.  There was roaring and screaming and gnashing of teeth inside me.  I let myself feel it.

“Why?” I asked.

I was surprised that there were so many things I was angry about and they were all swirling around me: Too many things I want to do; Overwhelmed by all of it; Can’t get things done fast enough; Don’t even want to do them; Angry that I have to; People I have been angry with even popped up . . . it was like everything I have ever been angry about was there.  It felt sharply painful in the center of my chest.

“OK, that’s good to know,” I said to myself, reassuringly, trying not to get stuck in this first layer and remember the next step.  Oh yeah . . . “Now, set that first layer aside . . . and aside from that, how am I feeling?”

I let the anger move up and out of me and I felt for the next layer.  “I’m feeling depressed.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because I feel ineffectual, like there are so many things I feel like I am supposed to do: build my art studio, finish the barn, learn the edible and medicinal plants, work on genealogy, do school with the kids, run errands, make food, lose weight, clean the house, etc. and I have so little energy.  I feel like a failure.”

“OK, that’s good to know,” I tell myself.  “Now, aside from that, how am I feeling?”

I let the second layer move up and out of me and I felt for the third layer.  I felt a glimmer of timid joy.

“Why?” I asked, “Why am I feeling this little bit of joy?”

“I love color,” was the answer.

“Tell me more,” I asked.

“I love making art, I LOVE working with color!” The feeling of joy was getting stronger.  I began blissfully thinking about making a scarf, and began designing it in my mind.  I started thinking about the necklaces, and tunics, I have been designing in my mind the past week or so.

I had stopped working on art after the art fair because I was spending all my time with organizing and working on the household and the building projects and had not made any art since before the fair.

I felt guilty even thinking about making art because of all the other things I felt like I was supposed to do.

Somehow I have to find a balance.

I can stop beating myself up and forcing myself to spend my time entirely on chores.  I can have the fun time in order to balance everything out and be happy.  In fact, the joyous pursuits can be my main focus and everything else can fit into the nooks and crannies around the fun.  Why not?  After all, I came to Oregon to heal my mind and body, and what better way than to live in joy?

I didn’t need to go any further in my layers today, even though I know there are many more amazing layers, because I found my answer.  I feel relieved and happy, looking forward to making art and balancing my life better.

Dealing with Depression

I recently made a comment in another persons website about one of the ways I deal with depression so I thought I would share it here.
I have an approach called Focusing which I learned from my teacher Tom Brown Jr. (which approach I received by going out and going to Wilderness Survival classes at Trackerschool). The concept of focusing is also taught in a basic way in a book called Focusing, but Tom took us further in the exercise.
First, you get yourself in a quiet place away from others, preferably in nature, be quiet for a minute, just enjoying relaxing, then after a few minutes, ask yourself, “How am I feeling?” and surrender to the first feeling that comes up. If the first feeling that comes up is, “Fine, I feel fine.” Say to yourself, “No, really, how are you REALLY feeling?” Then in a VERY LOVING, NON JUDGMENTAL way, you say, “That’s good to know!” Then you ask, “Why am I feeling this way?”, and surrender to the answer that comes to you. Again, no judgement, only love and understanding. Say, “Well, that’s good to know!.”
Next, you set that feeling off to the side and you say to yourself, “Great, now aside from that, How am I feeling?” and surrender to the next feeling that comes up. Once you identify the next feeling, in a very loving, understanding, non judgmental way, say to yourself, “Good, that’s good to know. So why am I feeling this way?” Surrender to the answer and acknowledge that answer with love and understanding.
Next, you set those first feelings aside and say to yourself, “OK, Aside from those, How am I feeling?” Surrender to the answer. Again, in a very loving understanding way say to yourself, “Good, that’s good to know! Now, why am I feeling this way?” Surrender to the answer and acknowledge it with gratitude.
Tom told us to peel back AT LEAST 4 layers of feelings as a minimum, but he also told us, “When you think you have gone as far as you can go, keep going.”
More likely you will find many, many layers of feelings and reasons why.
This is peeling back the layers that make up that confusing mix of feelings which may be making you feel stuck, depressed, or confused. Bringing the individual emotions up and the why’s behind them, is healing because those feelings are being acknowledged in a very understanding way. There are reasons why we feel the way we do.
The first time I did this exercise we were given 45 minutes. I kept being distracted after the first 10 minutes or so. We were each sitting out in nature away from anyone else. It was very difficult to stay on task of peeling back the layers of feelings, but each layer was a revelation to one degree or another. I had no idea each of those individual feelings were carrying on at the same time, contributing to how I was feeling overall. It’s almost funny, looking back, I would uncover a feeling and the way behind it, and get caught up in thoughts about it and completely forget I was doing an exercise! Then I would remember, and almost be startled that I had forgotten that fact! Then I would go to the next layer. Going deeper was difficult for some reason. I couldn’t imagine there could be another layer, but there always was! And the deeper I got, the more surprised I was at what feeling was in that layer (I kept going with dogged determination because I paid a lot of money for that class and I wasn’t about to waste any of my time learning all I could)!!
Then the jewel . . . under all the feelings, I found myself. I had no idea until then who I really was. I can’t describe to you how I felt when I saw myself for who I really am, but I can say it was good, and I couldn’t stop weeping in absolute joy!
When they called us back in to the lecture hall, I couldn’t stop crying. Tom said, “It’s about time you got rid of all that sh#*!” I don’t know if he understood I was crying for joy or not, but the experience was life changing.
Before Tom sent us out to do this exercise, he told us to write down the feelings and the why’s as they came up. Once the exercise was done, he had us go through the list of feelings and circle the one that felt the most important to us. For many the most important feeling was not the first one we felt come up. He had us circle it and write a little #1 by it. Then we went through the list again, looking for the one that felt most important aside from the first feeling that was circled. When we found the next one that felt most important, we circled it and put a #2 by it. We continued circling and numbering the feelings until we felt we had circled all the important ones.
By doing the second half of this exercise, circling the most important feelings to us, we might be surprised which feelings are most important or strongest, and which feelings that have not been circled are clouding or hiding our most important feelings.
Some logistics:
Sometimes the same feeling may come up more than once. Typically because of a different “Why?” That’s fine just write it down.
Sometimes we may hover with a feeling for awhile before wanting or being able to move on to the next one. That’s perfectly all right, that feeling just needs a little more time to be acknowledged before setting it to the side and moving on to the next feeling.
Sometimes you may not have any feeling come up. That has happened to me more than once in the past. What I do is say to myself, “OK, that feeling is not ready to be seen, or I am not ready to see it . . . that’s good to know.” and I set it aside and move to the next one.
The most important thing to remember is to not be judgmental of yourself for your feelings. They are there and they are valid to you because you are feeling them. There will most likely be baggage contributing to some of your feelings, and that is all great and part of the layers you’re peeling back. It is all good. Digging deep, through it all, is a very introspective approach, and therapeutic, and healing.
One of the things that makes this exercise such a jewel to me is that underneath all the feelings, I found the purity of me. I don’t know if others will experience the same thing, but I do believe that under all those emotions and reasons for the feelings, our true selves exist: pure, beautiful, amazing, powerful, undimmed, and beyond description. So peel away, be patient, enjoy the comfort of being able to feel your feelings and love yourself fully and unconditionally no matter what you are feeling. There is a reason you have your feelings, and you can be a comfort to yourself, but your feelings are not you. You are underneath all the feelings, at the core. YOU are truly amazing!
At one time I thought that if I only know who I really was, spiritually, I would be able to handle anything. I have to admit that has not been the case. I still struggle and find myself knocked off balance. I still get depressed at times, always because I fear something. I can say, however, peeling back the feelings and getting the mix separated out, helps me identify what’s really going on. Awareness in an incredible tool.
Thanks for letting me share, and I hope you can try this for yourself!

Peeling Back The Negatives, Finding our True Childlike Joy

I have used the tool of focusing that I explained in my blog called “Do ya ever just not wanna get outta bed?  “Focusing” will tell you why.” many times since learning the meditation in Trackerschool almost 10 years ago.  The meditation is getting easier for me and I am more quickly able to pinpoint the problems and the good things I am looking for to assist me in my life.

I woke from a wonderful dream this morning which held all sorts of hope and confidence symbols, to a day clear of scheduled duties and full of possibilities, but a feeling of being overwhelmed and not up to the opportunities.

After feeding my horses and letting them out, taking the dog out, and setting up my computer, without any change in my feelings, I decided to peel back the layers and get to the bubbling over excitement and unrepentant confidence I knew was in there because I had felt it so recently!  So I lay back on my couch as my computer was warming up . . . my meditation went something like this:

“How am I feeling?”  I surrendered to the answer with no judgement, only love and acceptance, and waited for the first feeling to arise like dew forms on grass.  It took awhile for me to identify the feeling, it just looked like a carpet of darkness all over me and the landscape around me.  After several moments of being in that darkness I understood what the feeling was.

“I’m feeling inadequate, ‘less than’, incapable.”

“Why, why am I feeling that way?” I asked myself, again with only love and understanding, no judgement.

Again I waited in the feeling for awhile.  The understanding was not quick or easy in coming, and even when the answer came I was a bit surprised.  “I’m feeling this way because I have been taught since childhood not to trust myself, my feelings.  I was taught to look to others for approval, for what my path should be, for how I should be feeling.”

After sitting with that understanding for a minute I said to myself, without judgement, only acceptance and love, “OK, that’s good to know.”  I proceeded to attempt to set the darkness aside so I could go to the next layer but it really didn’t want to go.

I wondered why the darkness of inadequacy didn’t want to go.  I felt reluctant to force it to go.  I felt like maybe something bad would happen if I made it leave.  I wondered if I would be hurt somehow, ripped apart somehow, incomplete somehow, if it was gone.  Then I remembered I was just setting it aside.  But I also remembered that setting it aside often healed it and sometimes it didn’t come back.  I wondered if setting it aside was like giving it to God.  I wondered if giving the darkness to God is what the scripture means when it says to cast your burden on the Lord.  I tried it by saying, “Here God,” and imagined the darkness going to the light. It went, but very slowly, almost reluctantly or doubtfully, and I wondered if that was my doubt, or even my fear of being incomplete without it.  I wondered if I had been too hasty in setting it aside, maybe I had more to learn from it. . . maybe . . . anyway . . .

Next I asked, “Aside from that, How am I feeling?”

I was a little bit surprised when I found I was feeling afraid.

I asked why and surrendered.

“I am afraid I will fail, than I will know I was inadequate, not good enough.”

“OK, that’s good to know,” I said, meaning it and so grateful for that understanding!  I thought about giving that to God too, but wondered if setting it aside myself is the same thing, in a way.  I set it aside and it was easier that the first darkness of inadequacy.

Next I asked, “Aside from those, how am I feeling?”

This was the layer I had been looking for; buried under the layers of self doubt and fear.  I could see all the pictures in my mind, the colors I have been playing with for a project I am working on, the sketches I have been making, the shapes, the compositions, the textures!  This layer of feeling held the excitement of creation and joy!  “I feel energy, creative, full of life and ideas!  I don’t care if I make mistakes, it will be fun!”

“Why?”

“Because this is living, wondering, experiencing, tasting, smelling, making, seeing, doing, touching, trying, showing, talking, smiling, laughing, hugging, sharing, energy, everything.”

This layer isn’t hampered by fear, negativity, or self doubt.  This layer is pure.  This layer is more who we really are. This is the light that we are.  This is the layer I want to live my life from and I just had to get past the film of negativity to find it again.  I believe this layer is always in there, for everyone.  We simply (or sometimes not so simply) have to make the effort to find it under the other layers.  Focusing is a great tool to help with that!

I will forever be grateful to my teacher Tom Brown Jr. for his teachings and his healing methods we students benefitted from.