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Monday, June 29, 2009

Just say "I love you"

With the recent deaths in Hollywood (Ed McMahon, Farrah Faucet and Michael Jackson) as well as the recent death of an Aunt of mine the thought of how quickly life can end has really been on my mind a lot. One of the biggest regrets I’ve heard so many people say when they find out that someone they love has died is “I didn’t get to tell them I love them one last time”. Perhaps you’ve even lost someone where you found yourself saying that. When someone is struggling with a health issue and the prospect of their death is close at hand, it’s easy to remember to tell them you love them because you know you might not see them again to do it. Yet none of us have a guarantee that we’ll see anyone else ever again because accidents happen and life is so precarious.

Why do we resist telling those in our lives that we love them? Love is a very powerful force. All too often out of fear of scaring others or having our words misconstrued or our intentions misunderstood, we resist saying “I love you” to those in our lives. I’m as guilty as anyone else of doing this but it’s certainly an area of my life that I try to constantly improve upon.

If you think about all the people in your life that you know you love right now, who all would that include? Of those how many of them have you told that you love them to their face? For many of us, these three tiny words have such an emotional charge that they scare us. It’s easy enough for us to say “I love you” to our spouses, partners and relatives but when it comes to friends we seem to resist because of what they might think.

Think about those in your life that you’ve yet to tell them that you love them and ask yourself why you resist telling them what you feel. Is it because you’re afraid they might not love you back, it’s too soon or that they might think that you are “in love” with them? We all have our reasons but for the most part these reasons are based upon our experiences with others and our own fear around loving. We’ve all been hurt by those we love and we’ve no doubt hurt those we care about but we can’t let past wounds dictate current behavior. Life is too uncertain for that.

My partner and I have a habit that we chose to create consciously. When either of us is leaving our home we make sure that the last thing we say to each other is “I love you”. It sends both of us out into the world on a positive note and ensures that we’ll never have regrets about not speaking our love no matter what happens. It’s also something that we say quite frequently when neither of us are leaving but we make sure we say it when we are parting because you just never know what might happen.

Today I invite you to examine what holds you back from sharing what is in your heart with those you love. It costs you nothing to say “I love you” and it makes us feel so good to be able hear those words from someone else. Challenge yourself to say it to someone that you love today that maybe you haven’t told or haven’t told enough. Take a moment to tell them that you appreciate them for being in your life and just tell them that you love them for being the amazing person that they are. Feel free to tell them that someone challenged you to do it if you have to but take the time to tell them. You won’t regret it and it just might make someone else’s day and it’s certain to change yours.

Thank you for continuing to read this blog. Thank you for seeing the worth in these messages. Thank you for being a part of my life and allowing me to be a part of yours.

I love you. (Feel that inner smile?)

Oh and direct some of your love at YOURSELF. You deserve that the most! Loving yourself unconditionally will always take you farther than judging yourself.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hitting the air waves

I have some exciting news to share. It appears that my friend Mistress Monica (aka Moneek) and I will be on an AM Talk Radio Show tomorrow night (Wednesday, June 24) at 10pm PST. The show is called “Sex once a week”. As the name implies the show is a vehicle for discussing sex and relationship issues. At some point they take calls from the listeners so if any of you happen to be up late and trying to find something to do, give a listen or better yet call in and ask a question. The station is KKNW 1150 AM and goes until midnight. If you can’t make it live then check out the audio on their website once it gets posted. You can also listen to the station via their website at http://www.1150kknw.com/rwn.asp?contentguid=%7b9CA8F409-CDEA-41BC-8112-0B24DD15EDE1%7d. You can also email your questions to them at terisagreenan@comcast.net. The call in phone number is 425-373-5527.

Wish me luck!

Friday, June 19, 2009

A very busy God

A few postings ago (Perspective) I told you about a star, The Pistol Star, in The Milky Way that is as big as the orbit of the four inner planets in our solar system. This star is about 25,000 light years away. For those not familiar with it, a light year is the distance that light can travel in one year. Light travels at about 186,000 miles per second so that makes 1 light year about 5,865,696,000,000 miles. Now multiply that by 25,000 and you have a number too large to really digest but you get the idea of the distance. It’s farther than we could ever go even with the very best technology that we currently have anywhere on the planet. For all practical purposes to our species, it is useless. The other amazing thing is that 25,000 light years away is STILL in the Milky Way. The real kick is that the Pistol Star is tiny compared to our galactic center.

Beyond our own galaxy however, there are countless other galaxies with countless stars and limitless planets. Any direction we travel from our little planet just leads us to an infinite array of planetary bodies and stars. For the majority of people reading this, probably none of this information comes as a surprise. It may not be something you spend as much time thinking about as I do but it’s probably not news. I’m fascinated by outer space. I dream of being in a space ship which could take me to see these places. Alas, currently no such ship exists for me so I sit here dreaming.



When I think about the teachings that the current world religions offer us and the belief about whom and what God is that comes from these teachings, I’m left mystified. These teachings basically project all of our tiny human qualities onto some judgmental super-human-being which has peppered this planet with little clones of it. They teach that this being did a little magic and presto we had a planet with plants, animals and people. According to the “literal interpretation” of the Bible it took six days to make all this and another one to rest. (I say “literal” because clearly Genesis is a metaphorical story and not a documentary.) Given that, how long must it have taken to create the rest of our solar system, the rest of the Milky Way and the Universe? Remember, that text was written at a time when we thought the Earth was the center of everything and the sun revolved around our beautiful little lonely planet. The truth of our existance hasn’t changed though but our understanding and awareness of that truth has. That is the nature of expanded consciousness.

So if this is true, as those who follow Bible based religions believe that it is, then this means that God also created the Pistol Star. My question then is why would this superhuman being spend the time necessary to create a massive star like this and put it so far away from us? That star and the infinite galaxies which exist even within just the small portion of the Universe that we can see, are all beyond our reach and for the most part, our comprehension. Why would this being of unlimited potential and power waste its time and energy making all of that stuff if we are its only offspring? That just does not add up. Of course that is based upon using a limited human brain with the same qualities that we project onto our notion of God to try and figure it out.

For those following these religions, even the notion of questioning the existence of God is taboo. That is very sad to me especially as someone raised in the Baptist Church. I used to feel that questioning God’s existence was certainly a one-way ticket to hell. I understand the fear associated with stirring those contemplative waters. I hope those reading this that are holding on to that fear will stay with me through this because I’ve found that for me this questioning has led me to a more expanded understanding of the concept of God.

Anytime that we try to use words to convey concepts, the depth of the comprehension of that concept is limited by the definition of the words we use. As Samuel Johnson, author of The Dictionary of the English Language said “words are the daughter of Earth…(the) things (they represent) are the sons of heaven.” The words we choose unlock images and thoughts in the mind of the receiver. Those words pass through the filters of experience and knowledge and the resulting understanding is what the recipient is left with. This is why two people can hear and/or see the same thing and two different interpretations of it will result. The experiential data is the same but the filters are different.

Given that, when you hear (or read) the word “God” what ideas arise in your thoughts? Take a minute to notice those thoughts without judging them or trying to pick and choose the thoughts. Just allow whatever thoughts arise from thinking of the word and simply make a mental note of them. Think about the qualities you associate with this being. Think of the stories you’ve heard, things you’ve been told and perhaps even the experiences you might have had. All of these inform your understanding and definition of God…but they also limit it.

Examining those definitions now, what are some of the words which surfaced in your mind? Were they all of our more desirable human traits but perhaps magnified to a degree that you feel is beyond your ability to achieve? Doesn’t every one of the qualities that you associate with this infinite being reside within you, even if you believe to a somewhat lesser degree? Perhaps the abilities that you associate with this entity however are far beyond those you believe that you possess. Aren’t those abilities however based upon what you’ve been told or read? Perhaps you’ve even embellished those stories to make them seem even more superhuman. Remember, what we believe to be true is true to the believer because our thoughts shape our reality.

The point here is that no matter what word, phrase or concept you associate with God, it’s limited by those very words. Words are human creations. Anytime you try to describe something you have to use words and concepts that we’re all familiar with to comprehend the subject. In the very act of trying to describe the Indescribable, the Infinite, the Unknowable, we immediately limit it by the words we choose. Yet to convey a concept, words are necessary. In this case to describe it is to limit it but to limit the Infinite is to miss it. It is a tricky catch-22.

My purpose here is not to negate your understanding of the Divine but rather to attempt to encourage you to expand the concept. I think it’s important to see how we project all of the qualities that we know of as ego-based human beings onto a being of infinite potential. Even thinking of the Divine as a “being” is limiting it. I think it’s also important to understand what is the work and product of man and recognize its limits. Understanding those limits helps you begin to expand your consciousness. Helping you expand your consciousness is my purpose here. By letting go of limits and surrendering into the Infinite everything becomes possible.

How do your limits restrict your view of the world? The Universe? The Divine?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The energy of emotions

Last Thursday through Sunday I was in BodyTalk training for two of the advanced modules. The more I learn about this system, the more I love it. It is such an amazing system in its simplicity and effectiveness. This is truly energy medicine and I’m thrilled to be learning more about it. There were 14 of us in the class and I was the only male. This seems to be pretty common for any energy healing classes I’ve gone to for any modality. The females always outnumber the males. I’m always curious as to why that is but my belief is that it’s because energy healing is still kinda wu-wu stuff for most people and women are more open to that.


ACKWARD ICEBREAKERS

As with most classes we began by introducing ourselves and talking about our background. While I waited for my turn I tried to figure out what I would say that I do. How open, honest and authentic would I be? Was it safe? Was I ready? When it was my turn to speak, I just left it at “I do bodywork” without going into too much detail on that. I recall at the first BodyTalk class I went to I said that I was a Sacred Intimate and since it is such an obscure job title I decided to keep it simple this time. I wanted to be authentic and honest but I also noticed my need to feel safe and accepted first.

At lunch the first day however I let that genie out of the bottle. The beautiful thing about the women I ate lunch with is that it didn’t really seem to faze them. They were a little thrown by it at first which is to be expected but they were also interested in hearing more and asking me questions. I didn’t feel judged by them at all and that allowed me to open up to them even further and share more with them. It was a beautiful exercise in living more authentically in every area of my life.


E-MOTION

One of the main focuses of the class was how the body processes emotions and how BodyTalk addresses them to be released. One thing our instructor said was “Emotions are simply energy in motion thus e-motion.” I hadn’t ever seen that word broken down that way before but I quite like it. It’s a very accurate and a helpful way to remember it. Most of us don’t think of emotions as energy but that is exactly what they are. If you begin to view them as energy-in-motion, a deeper understanding of how our bodies process emotions can emerge.

Our bodies are pure energy; dense, slow moving energy imbued with consciousness. The brain releases specific chemicals (called neuropeptides) that trigger specific reactions in the body. When these chemicals hit our blood stream the body responds by moving them into the muscles and organs where they can be most effectively utilized for the response needed. For example when we are frightened our bodies move the chemicals to the heart, legs and arms (and other specific organs and muscles) so that more blood will pump and we will have the power needed to fight or flee. When the event is over and the body has expressed the emotion, the neuropeptides are neutralized by the body and released. When emotions are experienced they have to be expressed to be released. If they are repressed then they are stored in the body. Contrary to popular belief, they do not simply go away. That energy has to go somewhere.


EMOTIONAL STORAGE

When our bodies are comprised in some way that storage process doesn’t go quite so smoothly. If organs aren’t functioning as they should the neuropeptides can get stored in areas of the body which were not meant to process that emotion and dis-ease results from that. (Dis-ease is any energy which moves our bodies from a place of free flowing ease into a compromised condition.) Stress is a major cause of this type of malfunction in the body system. The body is amazingly resourceful and when one organ or muscle is compromised, other organs and muscles help take up the slack to keep the body functioning. Survival is the instinct which drives the body.

Referring back to my Yoga training meltdown, I was hunched over putting strain on the muscles in my shoulder blades, I was stressed out by the intensity of the training and the self-examination that we had been doing and then an old painful memory got activated. My body responded and the pain I felt from the original event, shame (a combination of sadness and anger), got stored in my shoulder. Remember, the brain doesn’t know the difference between an actual experience and a mentally recalled event. When I experienced the emotional pain I recalled, that shoulder muscle was being strained and the energy went there for storage. The crying released the sadness from the rest of my body that typically handles the emotion of sadness but since that shoulder muscle isn’t typically used to store that emotion, it wasn’t fully released thus my lingering pain.

Think about what happens in your body when you cry. If it’s just a sad little thought, a tear or two might be shed but when it’s a bigger sadness, your body shakes from the muscle contractions. These contractions move the muscles and stimulate the organs so that the emotion can be processed and released by the body. Unfortunately most of us, men especially, are taught to not show our emotions and so that process gets overridden and the clearing can’t occur naturally in the body. This unexpressed sadness or grief is then held in the muscles and organs until it can be released. Exercise is how much of these emotions are released when the body utilizes the fuel (the stored emotions) from the muscles. That’s why all sorts of memories from past events can surface in our minds when we exercise.


5 ELEMENT THEORY

Much of the BodyTalk class was dealing with Chinese 5 Element theory and how it is balanced by the BodyTalk system. The Chinese believe that we have 5 primary energies which enliven our bodies. They are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. These are not literal definitions but rather labels for the energies. They also believe that we have 5 emotions connected with these elements. They are Anger, Joy/Sadness, Worry, Grief and Fear (in order by element). Sadness and Joy are considered to be the same emotion but just different extremes of the emotion. Additionally muscles and organs within the body are controlled by each of these Elements. Under normal conditions the emotions (emotional energy) are stored and processed by the organs and muscles associated with their Element.

When the system is stressed, these emotions can get stored in muscles or organs from a different Element. This is where problems start. The muscles for example are now holding on to a foreign energy that they weren’t meant to process. These emotions are then held by the muscle and never get processed and released because the body doesn’t look for this energetic fuel in that location. It’s sort of like if you were filing medical patient information and you put some of Tom’s information sheets in Bob’s folder. When you went to treat Tom, if you needed those sheets you’d just assume they were missing and you would have to get the information recreated. Now of course Bob’s folder is holding information that doesn’t pertain to him and if it weren’t labeled correctly it may be assumed to be his and he could be misdiagnosed and treated improperly. Unutilized information is left behind, taking up space and potentially causing problems in Bob’s file. Tom would be fine but Bob might suffer.


LOST IN STORAGE

That’s what happens when a muscle group holds a foreign energy. The body never looks for that particular type of fuel there so it just stays in the muscles. Now that muscle isn’t operating at peak efficiency because it never gets to release that stored fuel. That’s basically what had happened with that spot in my back that I talked about in the “Body Memory” post. I was hunched over stressing the muscles of my shoulder blade, recalling and re-experiencing my sadness and so the energy of that emotion got stored improperly in the shoulder muscle. I never really got that emotional energy cleared from that muscle and when some experience I had recently reactivated that “body memory”, I became aware of the soreness and tried to get it worked out (to no avail). I wasn’t able to release it until I was able to make the mental connection between the original childhood “shame”, the physical injury and its emotional component. That allowed the emotion to be expressed with a focus on the soreness that had resulted.

Without the BodyTalk session getting things set to release the emotion and bodywork being done on the muscle I might never have gotten to the root cause of the soreness and released it. There was certainly nothing there that any x-ray could have detected nor pill could have fixed. It would have just been one of those phantom pains that remained unexplainable and untreatable. This is why “energy medicine” is important. We are energy beings inside energy bodies being nourished and enlivened by energy (food, water, air). By deepening our understanding and awareness of how the body functions on an energetic level, as well as our understanding and acceptance of the power of energy, dis-ease could become a thing of that past very rapidly.


CHANGE IS AHEAD

It should come as no surprise that as we see the major systems on our planet breaking down (environment, finance, health-care, energy, etc) that new technologies and health care systems will begin to emerge. I believe that BodyTalk is one of the emergent healing systems that holds great potential for us all. As all those systems which have served their useful life begin to reach the end of their life cycle, new technologies and systems will emerge which can help us grow and evolve as a species and as a planet as a whole. Healing systems which take the whole person into account, rather than focusing on just one organ or muscle is the way we must go. Our bodies are not just a collection of parts rather they are whole systems which much be treated as a whole.

Until that shift can occur it’s important that we learn to fully express our emotions, find ways to reduce the stress in our lives (bodywork and pleasure are great stress relievers) and begin to see life from a more evolved energetic view. Everything comes down to the energy level. We are all waves of energy moving through fields of energy (people, objects and experiences) and existing in the dense realm of the physical. At the level of energy, we are all connected and we are all one.

What prevents you from expressing the emotions which arise in your energy field?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Body memory

For the last three months or so, I’ve had a small sore spot in the middle of my back near my right shoulder blade. I really notice the soreness when I extend my right arm which I do a lot of when I’m doing bodywork. It’s not an intense soreness but a definite awareness of pain. I’ve discussed it with my chiropractor who continually says that the muscles are holding it too tightly for him to get any type of adjustment to happen. I’ve told all of the guys that I go to for massage about it and they have tried to get the muscles to let go but it hasn’t happened. Nothing I do seems to get the muscle to release that inner soreness. I’ve just grown used to it being there and have learned to deal with it.

About three weeks ago I went to a BodyTalk session with my Level I/II BodyTalk instructor, Suryo. (Details on BodyTalk are on my site.) In that session, my “body” (Innate body wisdom) told her that it had to do with shame and something that happened to me at age 4. When she said that, an old memory immediately popped into my head. As a child I always had a lot of stuffed animals and loved them very much. Like most children at that age I thought of them as my friends. One day I decided that I needed to teach them about my body and how to pee. (Even at that age I was a teacher!) I took them all into the bathroom with me, took off all my clothes and began the class.

At some point my mom heard me talking to them and came into the bathroom to scold me for what I was doing. She scolded me and handled the situation poorly and left me feeling ashamed for what I was doing. I don’t remember a lot from my childhood but I do remember this event. (Parents please be careful about projecting your negative beliefs onto your children this way. I know it wasn’t my mom’s intention but it was the outcome.) Suryo finished the BodyTalk session and told me that my body was processing this and it would take a couple of weeks before I really noticed any difference.

Two weeks ago, I was having an email dialogue with one of my clients (I’ll call him Chad) in preparation for his upcoming appointment. He had recalled a high school experience where he had gotten an erection in the gym locker room and one of the other guys started teasing him about it and drawing attention to him. Chad told me that he felt a lot of resentment towards his tormentor because of it and was still holding a grudge at some level. He was also feeling resentment towards his current neighbors because they had built their house too close to his and that had led to having territorial disputes to the point of involving lawyers. He also felt he was holding a grudge towards them as well.

Chad is a very kind man but grew up learning to suppress his anger as a way of keeping the peace. This is something that we had been working on in his previous visits helping him to express this anger and release the resentment, or as he called it the “grudge”. It was a very powerful session for both of us in a lot of ways. Because of the intensity of the session I knew there was something seeking healing within me as well but I couldn’t quite tell what it was yet.

Last week I went back to see one of my massage guys, Tod. On the way there I was trying to figure out when this soreness in my back started and I recalled injuring it while I was in Yoga teacher training back in 2000. During a “laughing meditation” that we were doing, I recalled a painful childhood experience and I began crying almost uncontrollably from the memory. After the meditation experience was over, the instructor asked if I would like to share what happened for me. As I told the story, I was sitting on the ground cross legged and slightly hunched over…crying.

On the first day of third grade, my parents chose to make it a special day for me (or perhaps I simply interpreted it as special because it seemed focused around me). That morning they took me into our small town for a nice family breakfast. The year was 1972. Despite the changing hair styles of the time, my father still insisted that I have a crew-cut and so breakfast was followed with a trip to the barber shop. I remember leaving there feeling like I was looking good and feeling special because of all the attention I was getting from my parents. By the time we arrived at school the bell had just rung for class to begin. I distinctly remember walking down the empty hall with my huge book satchel and feeling like I was on top of the world. It was one of the few days in my childhood that I really felt special and important because of all the positive attention I had gotten from both of my parents.

The teacher wasn’t in the room yet and so the kids were hanging out and socializing. I was the last one to enter the room so everyone noticed me because they were all expecting the teacher to arrive. By third grade in a small town everyone already knew everyone and the cliques were clearly formed. As a nerdy, petite, poor kid not only was I not in the cool-kid jock-type clique but I was one of their targets. Since it was 1972, kids were starting to wear longer hair and “hipper” clothes. Needless to say, the “jocks” lit into me laughing at my clothes and my hair. As kids will be, they were incredibly cruel and immediately reduced me to tears. I remember going to a desk, putting my giant book satchel on the desk and laying my head down behind it and crying. Fortunately the girls in the class were my friends and they came to my rescue and provided comfort for me until the teacher arrived. I spent the next 9 years despising and avoiding the jocks and was a constant target for their taunting and teasing.

As I recalled this long forgotten memory during the mediation debriefing I was crying so hard and so hunched over that I threw a muscle out in my shoulder. It was in the exact same spot as the pain I had been feeling these past few months. The good thing that came out of the injury was that two women at the class were Reiki practitioners and they came to my aide to try and relieve the pain and so it was my first introduction to Reiki. Based upon the positive impact Reiki has had on my life, I’m glad it happened.

The thing is that at that time I simply recalled the memory, went into emotional trauma and never really processed the emotional component because I was so focused on the physical pain. Our bodies hold what is known as “body memory”. These memories are in the muscles, tissues, organs, cells and chakras (info on chakras is on my website). The healing component behind bodywork and energy work is the releasing of these old emotional memories. In my work pleasure leads to relaxation, relaxation leads to physical and emotional release, release opens the gateway for healing. It is the mechanics behind the Tantric principle “Deep pleasure leads to deep healing.”

In sharing this story with Tod and holding my awareness on the sore spot, I was reduced to uncontrollable tears again. The pain came from recalling how special I had felt before and the shame I felt after their ridicule of me. Fortunately he allowed me the space for the emotional release and then helped me work though the resentment to reach a place of forgiveness for the pain they had caused me.

The real issue however was the shame I was holding on to that was beneath the resentment. When their taunting began, the first feeling that came up in me was shame. I did not like the way that made me feel. Our human response is to blame external sources for our feelings and so I resented them for the way they made me feel. Mirroring that was the resentment I felt towards my mom for making me feel shame towards my nakedness and around peeing.

Once I was able to recognize that the resentment was just my response to the shame that I felt, not only was I able to release the resentment but the shame as well. By turning to forgiveness for these boys and then for myself for holding on to it all these years and combining that with the bodywork to open the place where my muscles had stored that memory, the pain in my back was fully released. That was over a week ago and I still have no pain plus as a result of it my chiropractor was able to adjust my spine more easily the next day.

Just like the client I mentioned in the “Coincidences” posting, Chad’s session was a strong mirror for me. Reflection brought that mirror to light you might say. By expressing the anger I had towards the jocks and the hurt and shame I took on as a result of their actions, I was able to release it all. I was then able to return to the joy and love that I felt before the incident. As a self-aware adult now I know that “resentment” was a choice that I made in that moment based upon the knowledge and coping skills that I had at the time. In this moment I chose to fully love myself and not base my opinion of myself on what others think, say or do.

I know that beneath the “shame” was the love that I’ve always held in my heart. By choosing to love myself because I can and focusing on the amount of love there everything else can be released. Love is all there really is and all we really need. By choosing to love the self and knowing that the self is just a small, individualized spark of the Divine, I am choosing to align myself with the loving, creative energy of the Universe, the Infinite, or as some call it, God.

That’s what it has to come down to for all of us, love of self. That has to come first and foremost. If you can’t feel love and compassion for yourself, how can you ever feel it for others? Every spiritual tradition teaches us that we are children of the Creator (whatever the tradition labels that as) so loving the self is also loving the Divine. Believing that and living a life of love based upon that knowledge is what will help us to evolve and grow from the children of God into the Gods that we already are. The only thing which separates us from that awareness is our thoughts, beliefs and fears. Ultimately it’s all either Love or Fear. The Fear is the fear of loving.

Our beliefs are products of the mind. The mind controls the body so our emotional triggers (those things which challenge our beliefs) get stored in the body. The body tries to express these emotions as aches, pains, mysterious ailments, excess weight, depression or other similar issues. It is how our bodies draw our attention to these issues if we listen. Our fears ALWAYS point the way to an issue that seeks to heal. Can you love yourself enough to release all the fears and judgments and simply live fully and completely in unconditional Love?