Hold Your Methods and Expected Outcomes Lightly

Written by Kate • December 13, 2018 •
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Hold The Methods Lightly

Sometimes I marvel at our ability to deceive ourselves. Or forget that the lesson we thought we learned but that we need to learn over and over again until it’s actually been absorbed.  For me, I tend to fall back into my old habits of visualizing an intention/outcome and allowing a way forward to swirl out of the fog in the back of my mind. I forget that the way forward that I’ve visualized may well be an imperfect solution and that course corrections or lessons may appear, swirling out of the mists in my mind. These course corrections or lessons can be amazing and such “a ha” moments. And I’m clearly a better person for having started down a path and then altered my trajectory based on this input.

But sometimes I forget this. I hold onto my intentions and fixate on the path before me that I get utterly rigid and forget to hold my expect outcomes lightly. I attach to both the method and the outcome and I forget to allow space for my intention or something better to show up. And the truth is that I tend to forget that I WANT the mystery of life to be utterly apparent in my life. I WANT to be in the flow of the magic that life can be. Life is easier and just so much more fun when the mystery that is life bubbles up right before me. I am always amazed and grateful when it becomes apparent that there is something out there giving me boosts towards my “right” life and blocking my old habits.

In my case, recently, I have the opportunity to provide some consulting services for a short term effort. The effort is relatively lucrative and it would help us achieve a better financial reality. But when faced with doing the work, I find it very difficult to bring myself to do it. It’s not in line with my authentic desires and I’m working by myself, both of which are just not suited for me. Trying to force myself to do the work, without anyone to spark off of through conversations and batting ideas around, simply aren’t working for me anymore.

And so I despaired. I had a great deal of anxiety about my inability to just push through and “do the work”. This lasted about 5 days until I realized that I was feeling anxious and out of alignment. Why not delegate the work to someone who would enjoy the work? I’m focused on hiring fellow consultants to help with the work. Without getting too deep into the weeds of this situation, I’ll just say that another way forward presented itself to me. It’s perhaps not as directly lucrative to me but it helps me find a way forward so that my authenticity and my need to work with colleagues are both honored. And so more of my needs will be met in a much more loving supportive way.

And my anxiety vanished. My despair, which was highly tied to the feeling that I HAD to accomplish my original goals in a strict and rigid way, eased.  I can make money, be authentic, and work with others. I just needed to open myself up to new possibilities.

What Do You Really Want? Interim Goals or the Whole Enchilada

It wasn’t until I learned about giving the methods over to the Universe that I realized I can easily ask for the end, desired outcome. For example, I remember putting it out to the Universe that I wanted a job working from home so I could save time on my commute and work on my own business. Why didn’t I instead focus on supporting the effort to launch a successful business? Or now, I want to move overseas and live in Ubud, Bali for a time. I want to live there and have the full on spiritual experience, with yoga, sound bath sessions, kundalini yoga, kirtan, and more. So I put that out in the Universe and my partner has been wanting to just go an do it.

I’ve been holding back because of all my limiting thoughts and concerns:  My Dad is getting elderly and is not in the best of health. My sister is my nanny and how can I bail on her? Do we have enough money, will I have enough help, will there be enough for the twins to do in Ubud, and on and on.

And so instead, I checked out getting an au pair, so I could get additional help taking care of the kids, while Dion travels and so I can do my yoga and launch my business. But that’s the interim goal to living my authentic life. Instead, go for the whole enchilada and hold the outcome lightly. It’s far more fun to live your life, expecting the mystery that is Universe to guide you forward and show you an easier.

I’m ready!

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What To Do About that Mean Critical Voice In Your Head

Written by Kate • December 12, 2018 •
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As I’ve visualized a different way to live, dropping behaviors and habits that don’t serve me- all the while doing it imperfectly, I find my mind whispering critical and painful thoughts to me. Before this shift, these thoughts were there but I was attaching to them and allowing them to have their way with me without noticing their presence or effects on my life.

To be clear about the “voice”, it’s not some voice whispering to me do violent things. It’s just the self talk that occurs on a daily basis that we normally are so identified with that we can’t separate it from our true self.  But we are the container who can witness the self talk and therefore, we are not the “voices” in our head. Our true self is the witness to the thoughts. But I’m using an easy convention of a “voice” in my head to describe what’s been going on with me as I make changes in my life.

In the past few weeks, I’ve cleaned up my act. I’ve had some painful conversations with important people in my life about what I need. I’ve been as kind as I can in saying what I need.  But telling the truth about some changes I need to make in my life has made me feel vulnerable.  That I may have cast myself adrift from my usual moorings and I feel like I may be abandoned at any point, which can feel like death.

Now, demonstrably, no one is abandoning me and I’m not going to die if they did. It’s just a new and scary place for me and goes against pretty much everything about how I was raised. The subtext, the subconscious message given in how I was raised, was:

  • Give till it hurts your soul and then keep giving, because it’s not really giving unless it hurts to do it.
  • Don’t worry about your own needs. Just worry about what the family needs.
  • And whatever you do, don’t follow your own inner compass.
  • Stay small so you don’t hurt anyone’s feelings.

It’s long past time for me to finally bring these internalized messages to the light to heal and release them.  They are, each of them, so wrong.  But in casting them aside and actually being authentic, telling the truth, and following my own inner compass feels incredibly scary at times. Like I’m betraying my family and going against our “tribe’s code”.

The painful conversations I’ve had recently felt scary to do but they were the right thing to do. On the other side of the conversation, I feel a sense of peace, a rightness to it. And my courage muscle feels like it’s gotten a bit of work out and I’m stronger for it.

But yesterday, I began to be aware of the mean, critical voice whispering quiet scenarios of doom and destruction, emotionally speaking. And for once, because I wasn’t immediately attaching to them, I became aware of what the voice was saying.  Mainly the feeling that these scenarios engendered in me was of fear, that I wasn’t safe. It was quite disempowering and I wanted to escape from what I was feeling.  I thought about have a few drinks after the twins went to bed so I could feel better. And I was definitely not in body much yesterday.  I certainly ate too much as a way to cope with these feelings my old thought patterns were engendering.

But Pema Chodron’s lesson of staying, of witnessing the feelings and just staying through it without reacting came to mind. Pema, who is beyond awesome, talking about how these types of feelings can be likened to a wound that’s not yet healed. This wound can itch as it’s healing and the worse thing you can do is scratch it. Scratching the would can open it up again and you have to start the healing process all over again. So she says you just stay with the itch. Above all don’t give in to the need to scratch it. Just stay. Scratching the itch is a metaphor for avoiding the painful thoughts and feelings in your life which are causing you to pop out of the present moment and doing anything to resist what is going on in your life. Behaviors such as eating too much, drinking alcohol, gambling, spending too much, the usual suspects in how you avoid feeling your feelings and doing something to make you feel better.

This lesson came to me again as these thoughts burned me up with the resultant feelings caused by being scared of saying an uncomfortable truth. And in some strange way, I realized that there is this powerful, old behavior pattern that was struggling to assert itself. This old behavior is to having a few drinks in order to feel better, which I’ve been doing practically my whole damn life.

[As a child, I saw how my parents used alcohol to calm themselves down and I internalized this message oh so long ago. My mom came home after having been in a car accident, shaken up and a bit distraught. My Dad strode over to the liquor cabinet and made her a rum and coke, which she threw back. The stiff drink immediately calmed her nerves and helped her “feel” better rather by avoiding the uncomfortable feelings. The drink helped her avoid the truth, helped her avoid just letting her feelings come up, be dealt with, and dissolve. And I remember thinking, ah, so this is how we deal with strong emotions].

Now, I’m not blaming my parents. They probably learned that from their parents. I’m saying that a really old and powerful thought and behavior pattern arose in me yesterday and I finally became aware of it in the moment and I didn’t give in to it. I didn’t scratch the wound. Instead I let it come up with its powerful drive to reward it with my habitual patterns and I just witnessed it. I have to say it felt like it burned my brain and my nervous system for a bit and the whole situation was acutely uncomfortable.  But I allowed it without resisting it and instead found myself curious about what was happening.

I know physiologically speaking that the reward center of my brain was jonesing for the dopamine hit that came with responding to these types of thoughts and feelings with a drink and when I didn’t give in to or resist what was happening, my brain’s reward system didn’t like what I was doing. It’s time to create a new behavior pattern that doesn’t involve scratching the wound, that doesn’t involve escaping what is through booze, food, distractions of any sort. Instead, I’ll allow what is and I’ll find the peace that follows it far more rewarding to my brain, my nervous system, and my soul that any temporary distraction could provide.

So when the mean, critical voice arises in your head, try to allow it to come up on your mental screen so you can witness it consciously. Allow it to come up and allow the feelings to be there too. Witness the whole behavior pattern. Allow it. Try to not give in to it and also don’t resist it, which somehow causes it to burst forth later as a deep urge. Just be the space in which is arises, you witness it in all its facets, and allow it subside.

At first, it will be tedious and somewhat unpleasant to go against very ingrained behavior patterns. But through acceptance and non-resistance, the behavior patterns will dissipate, become less strong. And then the new, healthier behavior pattern will be the new normal and you won’t have to the thoughts and feelings much after that until they just fade into memory.

An Easy Short Cut- Change Me Prayers

Of course, a great way to get a boost in helping you adopt new behavior patterns is through Change Me prayers. Tosha Silver, another amazing light out there, has a great way of asking for Divine help to just change you into someone who no longer has these urges. Praying for healing, with true feeling, can give you such a boost on this path. Definitely something worth trying if it speaks to you!

 

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Feel it for reals

Written by Kate • December 11, 2018 •
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In addition to following your dreams by doing it imperfectly is to remember your big reasons for why. Why do you want to make a change? What’s the vision for you? Because once you have a vision that you can see in your head, one that you can increasingly feel, smell, see, and be is one that your mind will work to create.

Christine Kane talks about acting as if, as if you had a million dollars, or as if you weighed your goal weight, as if you had a fulfilling loving relationship, as if you felt amazing in your own body.

Jon Gabriel has talked about visualizing with as much feeling as you can. Really see what you look like at your ideal weight. Really feel your body as you walk down the beach with the wind in your hair, the sun on your face, and the sailboats out on the sea.

Mike Dooley talks about sitting on your sofa and spending a quality 5 or 10 minutes profoundly day dreaming about what it is you want to experience. Just 5 to 10 minutes a day, really visualizing what it is you want. See yourself traveling to some foreign land, for example. Imagine the sites you’ll see, hear the language of those around you as you try to figure out what it is they’re saying, and smelling the amazing food as you sit down to tuck into one of that country’s signature dishes.

Kyle Cease talks about “Kylego-ing”: spending 10 minutes a day talking about what your life looks like a year from now as you’re living out something that makes your heart race and you more fulfilled.

Perhaps you get the picture and I’ll leave off with the various approaches to feeling your vision of a better feeling, more authentic you. Feeling it for reals.

I experienced about a decade of infertility. I lost two pregnancies at six weeks each when I was in my late 30s and early 40s and then for about 4 years I never got pregnant again. But each month I had hope and each month my hopes were utterly dashed. Because of how painful it all was, I never talked about how I felt and I never discussed with my partner if we had truly given up or not. But a few years later, I was having a deep, far ranging discussion with some new friends and one asked, which no one had for years, what my plans were for having kids. I immediately burst into tears. It was only through this honest and immediate reaction to a simple question that I knew there was still a lot going on that hadn’t resolved. Long story, short, my partner and I decided we were going to get some medical help and give it one last try.

We planned for the trip to the Czech Republic, where we had found a clinic that could help us that was both within our price range and that had an excellent reputation with great reviews. The trip was about 10 months in the future. During those 10 months, I would go for a walk and I would visualize being pregnant with twins. (I thought twins were a good idea because we would be such older parents that I wanted them to have each other no matter what happened.) 6 to 7 days a week I would walk and I spent the entire time visualizing being pregnant, what it feel like to feel the twins moves, the delight for me from my friends as they saw me for the first time and realized my dreams for kids were finally coming through, feeling my belly, looking down at my belly and seeing how huge it was. All of it. It was so real and I explored the vision from so many angles. It became very real for me and I could truly feel being pregnant and how happy it made me. For 10 months.

And then we went to the Czech Republic and worked with the clinic and had the procedure. For the week prior to the procedure, I truly asked the Universe to only give me children if it was for my highest good, and for theirs. I asked the Universe to let my dream pass me by if it was not the absolute best thing for me. I wanted what I wanted, so very much. But I didn’t want it if it wasn’t the best for me or the twins. I truly was not attaching to the outcome. I put myself in a position where it could happen but allowed the Universe to have different plans for me if it wasn’t meant to be.

And it happened. I got pregnant, with twins. I had a very easy pregnancy and a ton of support. It just flowed so smoothly. It was surprisingly easy, every bit of the process. And even now, when I’m so tired running after toddler or when I see a lady sitting quietly in a restaurant, reading before her meals arrives and feel more than a bit of envy to have an hour to myself, I remember that I offered it all to the Universe. ALL of it. And still I got pregnant and had my babies and I rest with utter confidence that it was meant to be and somehow I draw strength from that knowledge, strength to keep at it even though I’m so very tired and slow compared to twin toddlers.

I have so many examples like this. But still I have remind myself some times to see it and feel it for reals. And then allow the Universe to bring it to you if it’s best for me and to keep it away if it’s not.

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Doing It Imperfectly

Written by Kate • December 10, 2018 •
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There are a lot of tasks and calls for our time. As Christine Kane has said, some are urgent and not important and some are important not urgent. So it’s important to get into the habit of doing the important work first and not get called away by the urgent. And I’ve fallen in this trap. I spent the weekend doing urgent tasks, like expense reports that needed to be done. But it wasn’t important to do. And I then spent some time with my family which was important. But I didn’t get any time to exercise or write so I feel like my weekend wasn’t as well spent as it could be.

But as I mentioned in a previous post, Kyle Cease talked about the pendulum swinging in ever smaller circle as you get more and more centered and the pain of the big swings is finally too big to be continued to be borne. In the past, when I’ve reached this stage, where my old habits have temporarily taken hold, I’ve allowed the critic in my mind to berate me into creeping back to the old way of life.

Finally, I see instead that the critic I hear in my mind isn’t helping me do anything than stay small. But I’m not resisting the critic. I’m hearing it, acknowledging and it, and accepting that it’s there but I’m not attaching to it any more. As Rumi says, it’s welcome but it’s not something I need to pay attention to.

The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
— Jellaludin Rumi,
translation by Coleman Barks

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Day 4. And the pendulum swings back

Written by Kate • December 6, 2018 •
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It’s been 4 days since I’ve committed to getting up early and exercising and meditating for an hour and writing this blog. It’s going quite imperfectly but I realized yesterday that expecting perfection is perfectly stupid. I don’t fully know how to be in this new way. I’m feeling my way through a new behavior pattern and I’ve got powerfully strong habits that are pulling me back to my old, familiar patterns.  So last night I was so tired and I didn’t feel well from dehydration that I laid on the couch to recover so I could head upstairs. And fell headlong into a novel and didn’t go to bed until past 10pm. I could beat myself up about this or I could learn from it and begin again tomorrow.

And still I woke up at 4:15 and got out of bed at 4:45. I meditated and now I’m writing.  This is definitely a win in my book. I can nap and do my exercise later on. Also, the “voice” has been talking to me telling me that my writing is boring. I’m not funny or real or interesting or whatever enough. And maybe I’m not. But I also know the more that I sit and allow whatever needs to come through to come through, I’ll get better, more practiced, and confident in what I’m doing. So here I sit, writing.

I’ve been watching and participating in Kyle Cease’s the Limitation Game. I highly recommend it. It proved to me that you can hear the same thing multiple times but until you’re either ready or it’s said in a way that pierces you to the core, this important nugget of information just doesn’t resonate. Until it does. In terms of the Limitation Game, Kyle talked about the Universe speaking through you to give you guidance. But the guidance is just the next step. Not the step beyond or the whole path or even the why. Just the next step. And that really hit me in the feels. But Kyle then juxtaposed the current GPS system we all know and love from our apps or car GPS with the old way of doing it, like MapQuest.

The old way was you’d hit your computer and use MapQuest or Google Maps, tell it your starting and ending points and it would spit out the directions for the entire trip. You’d print that out and have it with you in the car as you headed out. I remember how I managed my trips with MapQuest. Even if I got a nudge to go a different way, I still stayed on the known path. I spent the entire time clutching it in my hand, nervous that I’d miss my turn and I’d have to turn back and waste a ton of time. I was constantly consulting it rather than enjoying the trip. It didn’t constantly update me with a new way to travel based on ever changing circumstances like traffic or an accident. This metaphor is just so incredibly apt for living a life without being the flow, without allowing the Universe to guide you in the moment.

Whereas the Universe is really like a current GPS system. Go left in 1000 ft. It’s quiet. The voice is firm and doesn’t argue or try to bombard you with information you don’t need about another step in the path. Just go left. And if you’re stubborn and you ignore the directions and pass the left turn you were directed to make and keeping on going down your own path, it helps to redirect you back to where you are going on the fly, updating the directions based on what’s actually happening now. So you don’t need to do more than make the change the GPS Universe is giving you.

These metaphors, juxtaposed against each other, highlighted to me weaknesses and flaws in trying to live a life based on a MapQuest kind of way and showed me the power and simplicity of relying on GPS for just the next step. And, in fact, having the whole journey written down for you to hold in your hand makes me rigid and unwilling to travel down a new road that looks interesting and fun. Because I have the plan and that’s the how I’m supposed to get there.

He also talked about the power of needing and wanting to make changes to your life, especially through meditation. he talked about living a life where you are swinging from one situation to the next, like big swings of a pendulum. Likely they’re the same situation with slightly different nuances, like a different boss who’s giving you trouble or a different boyfriend who’s breaking your heart. But fundamentally, it’s the same story being played out again and again. he says through meditation, we can slow the pendulum down and lessen the swings so that you’re more centered and there’s less big motions.  The more you sit and meditate, listening to the stillness, the pendulum can be halted and there you are, in peace and stillness.

By staying up late last night, my old habits tried to get me back into a big pendulum swing of drama where I’m once again not living my life in a way that supports my true self and the guidance I repeatedly get over and over and over and over again (seriously repeated guidance of just sit the hell still and listen- Stop running away!) But I got up and I meditated and I feel like I’m back in stillness and a more peaceful life.

To me, it’s so helpful to view slipping back into old patterns as just the pendulum trying to pick up again so I can marinate in my old patterns of drama and victimhood. I see now that I can lay that one down and easily step back into my new way of life without engaging in any mental self-flagellation for finding comfort in old routines when I’m at my most tired.

And I’m routinely finding that I can bang out 1000 words or more in 45 minutes whereas before trying to even write one blog, when I wasn’t feeling the topic, was so brutally hard.

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