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.

Finding Our True Heroic Selves!

Healing is all about digging deeper and deeper and looking into the shadowy corners to shed light on everything and create healing.  Today I did some more digging.  What I found may resonate with someone out there.

I woke feeling stressed again.  “Why do I feel stressed?” I wondered.  “Time to focus,” I sighed.

“How am I feeling?” I asked myself.

“Afraid,” I said.

“Why,” I asked.

“I’m afraid I will fail,” I answered — but there wasn’t much power in it.  I knew that fear was pretty much healed.

I set that fear aside and asked, “OK, good to know.  Aside from that, how am I feeling?”

“Afraid.”

This fear was a little stronger.  “Why am I afraid?” I asked.

“I’m afraid I will succeed.”

I’ve heard this before too, I thought, but I  continued, “Why am I afraid to succeed?” I asked.

“Because if I succeed, people will expect me to keep doing what I succeed at and I will be stuck.  I will be expected to keep doing it and I won’t be able to focus my life on anything new.  I’ll be trapped.”  This has been an issue before in my focusing.

As I pondered this answer I realized my fears are based on the belief that I  must do what other people say I must do, like continuing to perform certain actions if I am successful in them. Bringing this into the light allows me to see that although that may be an ingrained notion, it is not really true and I can begin to let go of that belief.

I asked, “How can I heal this?” but nothing came so I asked, “What more can I learn about this?”  I received this answer — which came in bits and pieces: “In the past I have had my ruts, my time constraints, my health issues, my feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, my feelings of depression, my feelings of being stuck.  These feelings and ruts have given me excuses to fail, or at least, excuses to not excel.  These feelings would rescue me when someone would badger me to do things, or blame me for not doing things, or yell at me for not doing something I didn’t have the time or energy for, or for something I didn’t even think of, or didn’t have the desire to do, or the intention to do.  They were my hiding place from someone elses’s abusive demanding controlling behavior.

In learning more about this fear of success I realized that in succeeding I would appear to others to be competent, capable, able, strong, and my excuses and ruts that I hid in before might not protect me anymore.

I also realized that without these familiar ruts, that I have lived in for years, I would struggle to know who I am, where I stand, what my perspective is.  I would feel lost without them.  I would be floating free without a harbor.  I understand clearly now how people identify with their wounds, their illnesses, their pain, because I clearly see how I do.

One of my teachers, Malcolm Ringwalt of Earth_Heart, explained the personality as post it notes inside of a light bulb.  When we are born we are like a light (the filament) with in a clean bulb, seeing the world as it is, our pure light shining out through the clear bulb accurately reflecting back the truth.  As we begin to interact with the world around us we gain experience based on our limited perspectives and begin forming opinions and shaping our “personalities”.  We make little notes and post them on the inside of the bulb that is our interface with the world, and our filters begin to be created.  (Scared of the loud dog.  Like the pretty flowers.  Don’t like Needles!  Kitty soft but scratches.  Man with beard mean.  Lady with brown hair gives cookie.) Each experience creates a post it note and each post it note taints the new experiences.  We become so used to our space within that bulb and our perspectives, we have a difficult time seeing anyone else’s perspective unless we have an experience like theirs.  Then we can write another post it note like theirs.

People on a spiritual path are attempting to poke holes in those post it notes, over and over, until eventually they begin to see glimpses of the world as it really is.  Sometimes in meditation one can poke a hole and get a glimpse.

Focusing is a type of meditation that allows us to look closely at our post it notes and begin to understand why we put them there in the first place, and help us peel them away little by little, or poke holes in them.

The first time Tom Brown Jr. had our class do the focusing meditation he had us out there in nature peeling back the layers of feeling for 45 minutes.  Focusing over and over for 45 minutes was excruciating.  It was work.  After I peeled back each emotion I couldn’t imagine there would be anything more to find, but there was.  I would get distracted and forget I was even doing an exercise, but when I remembered I would force myself to continue, after all, I wanted to get my money’s worth.    Looking for each new emotion was not an easy task, especially the deeper I got.  But I kept it up and I got to a place that completely surprised me.  I saw myself for who I really was, underneath all the emotions, the drama, the feelings.  I saw myself as pure energy, fearless, a warrior, and as a glittery core of energy going up and down within my body.  I wept uncontrollably at the beauty of myself because I had no idea I was anything like that! I also saw my accomplishments hanging off me like dead whitened logs.  I realized when I saw them that they were not a part of me at all, but just a residue hanging there; that the only thing that was me was this energy that was alive and was me.

I will be eternally grateful for that glimpse.

Even when Tom called us back to class I couldn’t stop crying.  I would have never guessed I was anything like that.  So today when I realized that I was afraid to let go of those ruts I was hiding in, of helplessness and incapability, and afraid to let them go because I wouldn’t know who I was, I remembered that meditation.

Why not hold onto the me I saw in that meditation?  That is the real me after all.  That is who I really am.  I can let go of my old crutches.

I believe we each have that incredible strong and powerful self under all the pain and suffering.  Curiously the painful experiences are for our growth if we can figure out how to use them for that.  I encourage us all to peel back the layers and learn from them.  Find and work to become the amazingly powerful people we really are.

I have to be gentle with myself because years of living in the rut is not an easy habit to break.  I have known for years who I really am but I still find myself in fear and that’s OK.  I simply have more to learn from those lessons.  I am still learning as I explore the layers between who I really am and the surface where I am confused and conflicted.  So please be gentle with yourself and with others you encounter on this journey toward self discovery.  We are all in this together and are all in different places along the path of total recovery.

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.

 

Do Ya Ever Just Not Wanna Get Outta Bed? “Focusing” Will Tell You Why.

That’s how I felt this morning.

I was rested but just didn’t want to face the day.  There was nothing pressing I had to do for anyone else, but I felt stressed and awful!

I decided to do the focusing meditation Tom Brown Jr., my teacher at Trackerschool, taught me, to separate the individual emotions that make up the mix of emotions we experience.

The method is this: While in a quiet place, alone, preferably in nature, you ask yourself in the most loving, non judgmental, kind manner, “How am I feeling?” and surrender (to surrender is to go to nothingness, no thought, no image, no agenda and see what comes to you) to the first emotion that presents itself.

If you get, “Well, I feel just fine,” then say to yourself, “Yeah, right!  How am I REALLY feeling?” and surrender to the real answer.  Then ask yourself, “Why?  Why am I feeling this way?” and surrender to the answer.  Then you make note of it on paper if you like, or in your mind, and set it aside in your mind.  Next, say to yourself, “Aside from that, How am I feeling?” and surrender to the answer.  Ask yourself, “Why am I feeling this way?”  Make note of it, and set it aside in your mind.  Then ask yourself, “Aside from those, how am I feeling?” and surrender to the next emotion or feeling that comes to the surface.  When the emotion or feeling presents itself, ask yourself, “Why am I feeling this way?” and make a note of it and set it aside in your mind . . . and on and on.

If at some point you get nothing in return, realize there is some reason you are not allowing yourself to know about that layer, which is just fine.  Say to yourself, “OK, good to know,” set it aside and go on to the next layer.

When Tom had us do this, he gave us a full 45 minutes on this exercise.  I got distracted a lot as I went deeper and deeper, and had to struggle to bring myself back to the exercise.  He told us, “When you think you have gone deep enough, go deeper.”  This exercise is VERY healing and helps you to see what is contributing to the mix of emotions which are affecting you right now.

–If you go deep enough, you may find something completely unexpected that will change your life.

The emotions that are affecting you now change with time.  Each day will probably be different, but you may find some consistencies too.

When you are finished with the exercise, there is more you can do with it.   Tom taught us to go through the list and ask yourself, “Which one of these emotions is the most powerful right now?” and circle it and put a 1 by it.  Then go through the list and ask, “Aside from that one, which one is most powerful or  most important right now?” and circle it and put a 2 by it.  Do this until it feels like the most important ones are circled.

If the ones circled are positive emotions you can ask, “What more can I learn about this?” and surrender to an answer.  The answer may come in an image, a feeling, an emotion, a complete knowing.  You can ask again and again, going through layers of learning about this positive thing.  You can do this about individual emotions or about the group of emotions.  I think doing both would give the greatest understanding.

If the ones circles are negative emotions or feelings you can ask, “How can I heal this?” and surrender to an answer.  This question can be asked again and again until you feel you have gotten what you need for help in healing.  You can do this about an individual negative emotion or about a group of negative emotions.  I think it would be beneficial to do both the individual emotions or feelings and the group for the greatest understanding.

Back to my exercise today . . .

The first layer showed me that I was feeling very frustrated — because I had too much I wanted to accomplish and not enough hours in the day, week, month to accomplish everything, and I felt a pressure or expectation from myself but also because I believed others expected things of me.

The second layer showed me I felt calm, relaxed, not worried — because none of that is really important

The third layer showed me I was angry, roaring, holding up the rafters of my house, wanting to break it to pieces!  Not caring if I died!  — because of my frustration and bottled up anger from past things.  (In my dream interpretations, my houses seem to represent my life.)

The fourth layer I felt like a quiet, small, amber red, elliptical shape, and very happy to be alive — because that is more real, that is more the essence of my true feelings.

That was all I needed for today.  I realized the second and fourth layers were the most important and powerful ones for me and to let the other ones go.  To do things as I can, with joy, and not worry.

We get trained in life to focus and stress on things that are not really that important in the long run and that can cause a great deal of internal strife!  Realizing how wonderful it is to simply be here, experiencing everything, can make such a difference.

If you want to read more about my first understanding this because I remembered how I felt when I was coming to be in the physical world, click here.

Do Ya Ever Just Not Wanna Get Outta Bed? "Focusing" Will Tell You Why.

That’s how I felt this morning.

I was rested but just didn’t want to face the day.  There was nothing pressing I had to do for anyone else, but I felt stressed and awful!

I decided to do the focusing meditation Tom Brown Jr., my teacher at Trackerschool, taught me, to separate the individual emotions that make up the mix of emotions we experience.

The method is this: While in a quiet place, alone, preferably in nature, you ask yourself in the most loving, non judgmental, kind manner, “How am I feeling?” and surrender (to surrender is to go to nothingness, no thought, no image, no agenda and see what comes to you) to the first emotion that presents itself.

If you get, “Well, I feel just fine,” then say to yourself, “Yeah, right!  How am I REALLY feeling?” and surrender to the real answer.  Then ask yourself, “Why?  Why am I feeling this way?” and surrender to the answer.  Then you make note of it on paper if you like, or in your mind, and set it aside in your mind.  Next, say to yourself, “Aside from that, How am I feeling?” and surrender to the answer.  Ask yourself, “Why am I feeling this way?”  Make note of it, and set it aside in your mind.  Then ask yourself, “Aside from those, how am I feeling?” and surrender to the next emotion or feeling that comes to the surface.  When the emotion or feeling presents itself, ask yourself, “Why am I feeling this way?” and make a note of it and set it aside in your mind . . . and on and on.

If at some point you get nothing in return, realize there is some reason you are not allowing yourself to know about that layer, which is just fine.  Say to yourself, “OK, good to know,” set it aside and go on to the next layer.

When Tom had us do this, he gave us a full 45 minutes on this exercise.  I got distracted a lot as I went deeper and deeper, and had to struggle to bring myself back to the exercise.  He told us, “When you think you have gone deep enough, go deeper.”  This exercise is VERY healing and helps you to see what is contributing to the mix of emotions which are affecting you right now.

–If you go deep enough, you may find something completely unexpected that will change your life.

The emotions that are affecting you now change with time.  Each day will probably be different, but you may find some consistencies too.

When you are finished with the exercise, there is more you can do with it.   Tom taught us to go through the list and ask yourself, “Which one of these emotions is the most powerful right now?” and circle it and put a 1 by it.  Then go through the list and ask, “Aside from that one, which one is most powerful or  most important right now?” and circle it and put a 2 by it.  Do this until it feels like the most important ones are circled.

If the ones circled are positive emotions you can ask, “What more can I learn about this?” and surrender to an answer.  The answer may come in an image, a feeling, an emotion, a complete knowing.  You can ask again and again, going through layers of learning about this positive thing.  You can do this about individual emotions or about the group of emotions.  I think doing both would give the greatest understanding.

If the ones circles are negative emotions or feelings you can ask, “How can I heal this?” and surrender to an answer.  This question can be asked again and again until you feel you have gotten what you need for help in healing.  You can do this about an individual negative emotion or about a group of negative emotions.  I think it would be beneficial to do both the individual emotions or feelings and the group for the greatest understanding.

Back to my exercise today . . .

The first layer showed me that I was feeling very frustrated — because I had too much I wanted to accomplish and not enough hours in the day, week, month to accomplish everything, and I felt a pressure or expectation from myself but also because I believed others expected things of me.

The second layer showed me I felt calm, relaxed, not worried — because none of that is really important

The third layer showed me I was angry, roaring, holding up the rafters of my house, wanting to break it to pieces!  Not caring if I died!  — because of my frustration and bottled up anger from past things.  (In my dream interpretations, my houses seem to represent my life.)

The fourth layer I felt like a quiet, small, amber red, elliptical shape, and very happy to be alive — because that is more real, that is more the essence of my true feelings.

That was all I needed for today.  I realized the second and fourth layers were the most important and powerful ones for me and to let the other ones go.  To do things as I can, with joy, and not worry.

We get trained in life to focus and stress on things that are not really that important in the long run and that can cause a great deal of internal strife!  Realizing how wonderful it is to simply be here, experiencing everything, can make such a difference.

If you want to read more about my first understanding this because I remembered how I felt when I was coming to be in the physical world, click here.

How This Illness Served Me

I scheduled an appointment with a therapist about a week ago (if I am suffering from conversion disorder, therapy is key in recovery) and one of the things she said to me before we got off the phone was, “I also do medical hypnotism which I think could help you get better.”  My first reaction was panic and the thought ran through my head, ‘I don’t want to get better!’

That deserved some exploring.  I began by asking myself why I didn’t want to get better.  In surrendering deeply to the question and feeling what my core feelings were, I realized that I believed if I got better I would have to do things I don’t want to do . . . like living in Florida again, going to work outside my home away from my children, spending my time fulfilling other people’s expectations of me instead of doing what brings me joy.  Those answers were very revealing.

In knowing what was causing me to be afraid of getting well, I also realized that those fears no longer had any foundation.  Maybe I needed an excuse in the beginning to move to Oregon, stay home and rest, and do the things that bring me joy, but not any more.  I can continue living in a way that brings me joy and not worry about what other people expect, or think, of me.

 

"The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up"– a book review

 

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

I just finished reading a BEAUTIFUL book by Marie Kondo called

“The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.”

I highly recommend it.  I loved the sweet feeling as I read Marie’s loving description on how to clean house.  She spoke to my resistance to decluttering in her gentle, understanding way, and brought a new spiritual dimension to cleaning that I found refreshing and freeing.

She looks upon all things with gratitude and love, and even letting go of things can be done with grace and thanksgiving.  Her perception that letting go of an unused item was freeing it to be of use to someone else, and that the item will be happier if it is used, was helpful to me.

When I saw there was a section on folding socks, my first reaction was “What, she even tells us how to fold socks?  That doesn’t seem that important.”  But that section turned out to be a very enlightening read, and one that I will never forget.

I will not give any more away with spoilers, but I have to recommend this book to everyone, and especially to those fellow hoarders out there who tend to keep things to the extent of bogging up down.

I have begun the process and I am loving it!  I plan to have some very cheap garage sales in November (I love to see peoples faces when they get really good deals!), to release all the items I have not been using, or that do not bring me joy, so they can be used again, loved again, and be happy!