Squeezing out Crap & Letting in the Good.

sidewalk in the sun july 2014

I feel it happening, little by little, as each slightly embarrassing bead of sweat that leaks out of my skin and hits the yoga mat.

I’ve been doing hot yoga for two weeks now and sometimes when one of those little suckers hits the mat I still instinctively think…ew. But I already don’t think it as often as when I first started. I am trying to think of each little teeny plopping sound that is made as a marker of progress…like I’m letting go of little bit of of myself that I don’t need anymore.

Little salty tear-like drops of myself, just coming out.

Our bodies are strange and unpretty things.

With every little push then it just falls away. But the pushing part is work. It’s good work, but not always comfy.

That that is part of the growth process, after all. That it is why we are all in that steamy stinky intense room together.

Those little sweat droplets are the pathway into the new life that I am building. Middle-aged. Single. Insular. Footloose. Unsure.

Free free free.

Maybe too free.

You could call this a kind of detoxing—but that implies that it’s possible to get it all out in one go. It doesn’t come out in one go. It’s much more complicated than that. It takes time to actually transform.

Even to “lose” one pound (change our body) takes time.

Squeezing my body (fat) into pretzel-ish formations. Looking at it in the mirror. Not being happy about what I see, but doing the thing anyway. Trying anyway. Knowing that after each class I can feel it getting there. Such small steps.

Drip…drip…drip. 

The scariest thing about changing your body is that to do it for good you have to step away from the habits that are so deeply engrained. Sometimes that means friendships, family, other things that make you happy.

With every little bit of trying, with every little push into dropping that sweat, it gets easier. What gets easier is not the yoga, but the understanding that the loving (ourselves, another) is in the doing, not the seeing.

It is not easy to know when that is not what you’ve really known for the past 36 or so years. I’ve figured a bit of that out, but mostly what I know, deep down, is not that. It’s not engrained in my psyche that doing something active daily (and leaving out a ton of other stuff) is what will keep me the most solid and genuinely joyful in the long run. We are taught that an 8 hour work day is the priority and then if we’re lucky/determined we get an hour on a treadmill every other day and that that’s enough.

Except this is absolutely not enough!

And that makes me mad. Nothing to do with my particular upbringing, but with how deeply we are generally conditioned to just do what we are “supposed” to do—which generally does not leave much room for deeply caring for ourselves or our space or our planet.

How are we living like this? 

So this is sort of a metaphor of all that most of us have to spend time unlearning in order to find the spaces where the real joy comes through. Exercise is just a facet of this, an example of the kind of thing that most of us just aren’t offered or taught or brought up with.

So with this as an example, what I didn’t quite know before is that the belief in self—in change—comes with the action of grounding down, of something that feels like pain but is actually just feeling.

There are so many bits and pieces to unlearn and let go of, each facet of life affecting the next. Each piece of crap that’s let go of affects the others. We have ourselves so deeply convinced that a specific thing is “good” that we don’t even know that it’s crap. Or maybe we know that it’s crap but we don’t understand how that one thing deeply affects the rest of our lives and the lives of others.

For instance: insisting on buying the cheap soap at Wal Mart because it’s on sale. It’s just one thing but over and over again it’s so much more.  Or not keeping an extra bag in your purse. It’s just one thing but it’s a habit that in the grand scheme of things is about so much more.

It’s freaking hard to unlearn the crap.

But it’s the only way we can let in the good.

For  me, a part of this was was releasing my hold on most of my possessions about seven months ago with the long term intention of not having much stuff. But with an influx of money and time that came with moving to a new city, that meant more money and time to buy stuff.

And holy crap is it amazing when I invest in something quality that I know I’ll use regularly for years to come.

But there is still lots of crap to be sorted through and dropped off.

So this is a lifelong thing, this getting lighter. But I’m doing it. It’s not a smooth road. I fell off the path a couple of times but I’m back (still) on it.

I know that the people that do and have and will love(d) me for real don’t care about the new creases on my face or the growing patches of cellulite on my body. Maybe I can change those too sometime. Maybe not.

That’s not really important in the long run but it’s a part of a bigger picture that is scary: aging.

Change is scary. I’ve read and felt that a thousand times in small ways. But actually figuring out what the crap is that you have to drop and admitting that it’s crap is the scary part.

With every real thing dropped I’m lighter and freer to actually live right, to do this life thing in the best way I possibly can.

That’s where I’m at.

Onwards.

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Why energy healing works (just maybe not in the way that you expect)

IMG_0591I recently had a healing session with a friend at Quantum of Solace Healing.  She is trained in several modalities, one of which is called Emotional Freedom Technique, or EFT.  In EFT, healer and client work to identify a key problem and rate the emotional intensity of it.  Then, via several rounds of repeating phrases aloud while tapping on various parts of the body (the client can do this themselves with guidance and/or the practitioner will do it for them), the emotional intensity that the patient feels gradually decreases, so that they should feel lighter and calmer about the problem in the end.

As our session progressed, I struggled to pinpoint the real issue(s), the reasons why I was still anxious and sad about having broken up with my partner a few months before.

We tried one round of tapping, then went back to revise, refine and dig deeper.

As we progressed, a sense of discomfort arose in my heart, and I began to choke up.  Like a massage therapist might work on a knotty muscle, we had found that emotional tender point, and she was – gently – loosening it.

As we went through the repetition and the tapping, she sensed the exact moment when something shifted for me.  She actually noticed when when I welled up, even though I struggled like crazy to hide it.

In her ability to sense this place of fear, she was compassionately pressing me to acknowledge things that I didn’t want to admit about myself.  

In these moments, I felt raw, vulnerable, exposed.  I recognized just how much I was still grieving my last relationship, and it scared me.  After all (I’d assumed), wasn’t I the strong, independent woman who was ‘moving on’ with her life?  Especially after several months of being apart?  Especially after a relationship that wasn’t truly serving either one of us that well?

How could I still be so scared about love, so lonely, still grieving this thing that was supposed to be long over, when I knew that splitting up was the best thing for me (us)?

That kind of shift can sometimes ease into a sense of peace fairly quickly.  But, the stuff that the session brought to the surface sat with me for the next couple of weeks.

What I realized from this is that one healing session doesn’t necessarily lead to immediate lightness.  The ‘feeling better’ part of the healing doesn’t always happen right away: sometimes you have to hang out with the discomfort for a while, get to know it a little, before your load is lightened.

In this case, I needed to acknowledge these things that I was feeling and process them so that I could really break free of that weight and move forward.

A good healer should be able to recognize this kind of a shift, to loosen the knot and understand that discomfort can be a part of the process.  The shift might manifest as a lightening, or a breaking, an opening, or some sense of uneasiness, but it’s the practitioner’s job to acknowledge it.

It might not be that comfortable, but it (often) needs to happen.

You know the Leonard Cohen quote: “There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

For me, this time, deep fears had been unearthed, and I had to stare them in the face.  And this was a key lesson of the session: it didn’t fix me.  It opened me up, it exposed me, it shook me, cracked me, but it didn’t fix me.

By offering a safe space to acknowledge some of this pain and help me be OK with it, my healer friend helped me understand how I could help myself.

When I told her later how I’d felt, my friend (bless her giant gentle heart) asked me if she had been being too pushy.  I told her that if I had felt a little bit pushed, it meant that she was doing her job well.

In order to help another change, grow, heal, there has to (sometimes) be a compassionate nudge beyond their comfort zone.

An effective healer (or trainer, friend, partner) will be there to nudge you forward, will know when you are feeling uncomfortable in the right way.  They will sense your pain, and will be there to help you through it – if and when you are ready.

It can be scary – really scary.  But if you aren’t scared, you aren’t growing.

Sometimes in the EFT sessions my friend says something in a really cute way, and we giggle, or I giggle at myself out of nervousness.  And there is something about that little moment that reminds me of Pema Chodron’s concept of smiling at the fear.  So in that way, just being there with someone with the mutual intention of facing a fear can lighten the load.

The people in my life that I love the most are those that challenge me, stretch me, open me up.  They are people that are willing to have radically honest dialogue, who are self-aware, compassionate, conscious.  Something unspoken connects me with them, and them with me.  And we each thrive on this to grow.

So, if, energetically speaking, this is the kind of relationship that can be healing, then why wouldn’t an energy healing mode like EFT be successful?  Why do scientists sit around arguing the ‘validity’ of alternative healing modes, when maybe just this connection and mutual intention is exactly what makes it effective?

So, let us establish the kinds of connections where both parties are moved to examine and question themselves so that they may grow in whatever aspect is needed.  Let us create safe spaces where we can practice radical honesty in facing our deepest dreams and fears.

The right person at the right time will sit with you through the pain of cracking open, guiding you into your own light, which will in turn help another.

Daily Post: Toot your sensitive horn

Most of us are excellent at being self-deprecating, and are not so good at the opposite. Tell us your favorite thing about yourself.

Hee hee, I said ‘toot’.  My silly side is one thing I like about myself, but enough of the immaturity.  Here is some serious stuff.

One thing that has always been difficult, that I’ve always not liked about myself, is that I’m sensitive, really sensitive, probably in the HSP category of sensitive.  Like in the way people have called me: crazy, neurotic, emotional, intense, unstable, reactive, overly analytical, etc etc.

I am a Cancer, which is a notoriously sensitive and emotional sign.
I am a Cancer, which is a notoriously sensitive and emotional sign.

I never knew how to handle this before, and sometimes it came across as a negative trait.

So I figured it was a negative trait too.

I’ve also often overcompensated by appearing so cool and calm and collected.  Then it surprises people when they realize how sensitive I actually am, so they probably feel deceived, or uncomfortable, or turned off when they discover this – and I don’t blame them, in a way.

So I’m trying to not hide it anymore, to just put it on the table, up front, in the best way possible, and also to just manage it better socially.  For instance, by setting healthier boundaries, forming close relationships with those that can truly honor this side of me, and by consciously caring less about peoples opinions about me.

I’m practicing embracing it and using it as a tool for (com) passion, and for (for instance) positive and constructive reflecting. Writing (here) is one of my tools.

So, I’m growing into it, and I’m loving myself more as I do!  I’m learning that it’s not a bad trait…I just didn’t understand how to manage it before: it seemed to have a mind of it’s own, rearing it’s ugly head when least expected, sometimes in unflattering ways.

I’m not going to be sorry about it anymore.  I’m going to accept it, work with it, and apply it in only the best ways.  I’m going to develop a career that uses it (writing, teaching) and really try to look outside my head so that I may use that energy compassionately instead of bottling it up.

I’ve recently realized that I relate to other sensitive types very well.  We make fantastic mediators and mediums.  We can be wonderful friends and have a keen intuition about others.  We have the ability to ‘sense’ things that some others can’t.

So from now on, instead of going ‘ugh, I’m so sensitive, it causes so many problems,’  I’m going to say ‘wow, I’m so sensitive, it’s such an amazing gift.  How can I use this to better myself and others?’

NOTE: I don’t even know how ‘valid’ the HSP concept is (I’m no psychiatrist).  I think that everyone is sensitive to some extent, and we all could all use an assessment of how we can learn to be more so (eg: empathetic) to others, or to work with our sensitivity to use it in meaningful ways.