Monthly Archives: April 2016

The Shift from Attachment to Letting Go

One of the many reasons I loved Wayne Dyer’s writing so much is because he seemed to connect to some of the same lessons I’ve experienced over my life. Having been in the recovery field and having worked my own program for so many years, I’ve learned to love some of those 12-Step Slogans. The slogans are used so routinely at times that they can seem trite. But in the context of immersing yourself into the program they can become empowering. My favorite has always been Let Go and Let God.  Just saying it, or thinking it gives me a sense of freedom from carrying the burden all alone.

Below are some excerpts from Dr. Dyer’s book THE SHIFT, Taking Your Life From Ambition to Meaning that explain his perception of this concept:

Perhaps the greatest lessons of my life have revolved around the slogan of the recovery movement: “Let go and let God” – a notion that involves relinquishing ego’s attachment to, or fear of, something. The single most pronounced attachment for most of us during the morning of our lives is the attachment to being right! . . . Letting go of an attachment to being right is a fairly simple exercise.

Most stress results from hanging on to beliefs that keep us striving for more, because ego stubbornly refuses to believe we don’t need something. When we make the shift . . . we replace attachment with contentment. Chasing and striving – and then becoming attached to what we chased after – is a source of anxiety that invigorates Ambition, but it won’t satisfy the need for Meaning at our soul level. . . .

Dyer explains that one exercise he used to let go of an attachment to being RIGHT was to say “You’re right about that” in the middle of a discussion.  If you just can’t go that far and really believe the other person is wrong, then maybe you can ease into it by saying, “That’s an interesting way to look at it.  I’ll give that some thought.”

Another practice to break an attachment is to clear out the garage, cupboards, and closets. Let go of material possessions, and practice not being attached to them. If they haven’t been used in the past 12 months, they belong elsewhere.

Something else I do is to ask myself, “am I going to be upset about this in a year. . .6 months. . . tomorrow?” When I can back up & look at more long-term effects of my interactions with other people or even with material possessions or strongly held beliefs, I usually find that my perception begins to change.  It’s often a slow process, but I am able to see situations and people from a different perspective.

This need to be right is so prevalent in our country right now, with the political environment becoming more and more antagonistic. It’s easy to get caught up in all the emotion and let it interfere with our personal relationships, if others believe differently. Any attachments we have as human beings are human obsessions.  I encourage you to back up a little and open yourself to the possibility that, at another level, they are meant to help you understand yourself – NOT TO DEFINE YOURSELF.

We are all spiritual beings who have come here to learn.  Maybe that attachment you have is part of the lesson.  ?  Only when you can truly release it, will you learn from it.

Shutting Down Our Thoughts

In my business it’s not unusual for clients to come in consumed by emotion, feeling stuck and unable to find their way out.

People experience emotions in different ways. Some are completely overwhelmed and taken over by the emotions. Others are totally detached from them – an effort to avoid feeling them at all. Although we all probably lean more towards one or the other of these, neither extreme is healthy for us.

As always, balance is the key – somewhere in the middle is the healthiest way to deal with our feelings. Emotions are a part of being human, but they are only part of us. If we can recognize this, and allow ourselves to feel them without getting caught up in the memories of the events that brought them on, we will be able to move forward. If we can experience the physicality of the emotion without staying in the story that is tied to them, we can usually move through the emotion much quicker than we ever imagined. THE THOUGHTS ARE WHAT GIVES THE EMOTIONS ENERGY.

Most of our thoughts just blow through our minds – sort of like the ribbons that scroll across our TV screen when we’re watching the news. We have to choose which one we’re going to pay attention to. If we choose one that makes us feel bad, we can change our mind and choose another one that makes us feel a little better.

But some thoughts have been around for so long that they seem to find a corner and set up house in our minds. These are usually those core negative beliefs we’ve developed over the years. Often they were taught to us by our parents or society, as a social meme, and we’ve fed them until they gained weight in our belief system. They eventually develop into patterns of attitudes and behaviors that usually don’t serve us very well. But because they’ve become so much a part of how we see ourselves, we don’t think we can rid ourselves of them. We can – but we have to make a conscious decision to put our energy toward different, more positive thoughts.

One way to find the middle ground in our experience of emotions is to imagine stepping outside ourselves and becoming the observer of our lives, almost as if we’re watching ourselves in a movie. This allows us to feel what we need to feel, yet remain a little more objective and in control of our behaviors. It gives us that distance to recognize and own the feelings without letting them take over our decisions.

Even though our emotions run deep, our thoughts are on the surface. Finding a way to shut the thoughts down – through meditation, relaxation, visualization or even just soft soothing music – can help calm us and connect us to our inner strength. We’re similar to the ocean. On the surface it’s often very dangerous and chaotic with huge waves and turbulence. That turbulence is our thoughts – the intellectual violence. But if you go to the ocean floor (shut down the thoughts), it’s calm, quiet and peaceful.

Bozos on the Bus

This is repost of one of my favorite posts on this blog. I use this concept in sessions a lot, because ALL of us feel like this from time to time. I’ve posted this several times, but it’s been a while. . .

I’ve been re-listening to the audiobook BROKEN OPEN by Elizabeth Lesser, and it blows me away. I read (listen to) a LOT of audiobooks – mostly spiritual and some “self-help”. I love doing this because they lift my day and inspire my work. But for some reason, this particular book  really hits me where I live. No new concepts – but a unique way of explaining things I try to help others understand.

Here’s an example: Elizabeth speaks of Wavy Gravy (Hugh Romney) who was the MC for Woodstock and has spent the rest of his life inspiring others through humor.

One of his one liners is how we are all “Bozos on the Bus” – in other words, we are all vulnerable, human, have problems and occasionally make huge mistakes. Direct quote from the book:
“We should welcome our defects as part of the standard human operating system. Every single person on this bus we called earth hurts. It’s when we have shame about our failings that hurt turns into suffering.”

When we’re engulfed in our shame, we assume there’s another bus. One whose passengers are all thin, healthy, happy, have fulfilling jobs and are from loving, functional families. These passengers never do mean or stupid things, get all the great jobs, and generally just manage their lives appropriately – living happily ever after.

“But we are on the bus that says BOZO on the front, and we worry that we may be the only passenger on board. This is the illusion that so many of us labor under- that we’re all alone in our weirdness and our uncertainty; that we may be the most lost person on the highway. Of course we don’t always feel like this. Sometimes a wave of self-forgiveness washes over us, and suddenly we’re connected to our fellow humans; suddenly we belong.

It is wonderful to take your place on the bus with the other bozos. It may be the first step to enlightenment to understand with all of your brain cells that the other bus – that sleek bus with the cool people who know where they are going – is also filled with bozos – bozos in drag; bozos with a secret. When we see clearly that every single human being, regardless of fame or fortune or age or brains or beauty, shares the same ordinary foibles, a strange thing happens. We begin to cheer up, to loosen up, and we become as buoyant as those people we imagined on the other bus. As we rumble along the potholed road, lost as ever, through the valleys and over the hills, we find ourselves among friends. We sit back, and enjoy the ride.”

Looking at the Big Picture

A couple of questions I ask clients the first or second time we meet is: What do you believe spiritually? and How do you practice that?

Probably 90% of the responses are about whether or not the client attends church – which is not at all what I’m asking. I don’t care what their belief is, but I have repeatedly seen that those who are really successful at making a change in their lives and finding a sense of peace within themselves, are those who have some concept of their spirituality, and continue or begin to practice that. It’s a huge resource because it gives us a sense of direction and meaning in our lives.

Many of us turn to our faith when things get difficult. How that looks is different for each of us, and that’s the way it needs to be. Spirituality is not a cookie-cutter fix, as some would have us believe. There are many paths to the same door.

My belief is that religion tells us what to believe. It gives us a set a rules to follow, which allows for a sense of comfort for some. But spirituality informs our sense of connection with something greater than our humanity; and also something that is within each of us. It’s a personal relationship that we each define for ourselves. (That doesn’t mean we can’t have both. I was one of the lucky ones. The religion I was taught as a child aligned with the sense of spirituality I have developed over the years. That doesn’t happen for everyone).

So, as a therapist, one of the things I love to do, is to help others explore their own sense of who they are and who they strive to become. In my mind, this is a spiritual journey, but it may not look like one would expect. There was an advertisement for the US Army a few years ago that said “Be all that you can be.” That’s how I approach it with clients. I want them to explore their own set of values and beliefs in order to determine which they want to expand, and which may need to be tossed. It may align with their religious beliefs, or it may just be a bond with nature – or animals – or a particular kind of music. . . The possibilities are endless.

Having a bag full of spiritual tools can make life simpler. But becoming more spiritual does not necessarily mean our lives become easier. The more spiritual we become, the more wonderful our lives can become. But along with a more exceptional life comes more extraordinary challenges. I’ve learned to appreciate – and even sometimes to be grateful for those obstacles. They’re not something to dread. They are our assignments in this school of life. We’re being asked to learn skills – like endurance, self reliance, unconditional love or patience, etc.

Living our spirituality means that we’re not facing these times alone. We have support. We can become more conscious and in the moment, which slows things down, and we learn that instead of reacting from emotion, we can choose to respond with love. In short, we develop strength and personal power.

I’ve developed a way of thinking about the situation at hand that helps me look at the whole picture. I imagine how it must look from God/the Universe/Source’s perspective. All the minutia that feels so overwhelming to me is just a drop in the bucket – and from that perspective, it’s probably much easier to see the path I’ve taken and the direction that is leading me. (Consider looking at an ant farm. As humans, we can see exactly where the tiny creatures have been and where they are heading. But to them it must feel like we do as we’re driving around a strange city. We have no idea where we’re going or how our destination will look).

So as we polish the skills our lessons teach us, we move closer to the Divine. However, our purpose here on earth is not to reach a destination, but to experience the excursion. The goal is not perfection – it’s practice.

What I’ve Learned

This is one of those posts that I repeat occasionally – partly because I receive feedback that it helps others, and partly because I need to remind myself of these lessons. I also change and add to it each time, because I keep learning my lessons!

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Like many of you, there is someone in my life that challenges me in just about every way possible. That person is someone I love very much. I’ve spent lots of energy trying to understand, help this person, and at times, to realign my side of the relationship so that it feels better to me.  Sometimes, it’s eventually possible and even healthy to eliminate toxic people from our lives.  In my case, this is not an option.

The realization I’ve come to is that this person has been and continues to be my greatest teacher. I now believe that we are joined together on a spiritual path through which both of us are meant to learn.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned (and often am even able to practice :)) so far:

-To enjoy the moment. Yesterday may have sucked and so may tomorrow, so when it’s good, I relish in it. Even if today is the one that sucks, I’m learning to appreciate the lesson and the fact that if nothing else, it will propel me upward eventually.
-When I know I’m going to be in that person’s presence, I prepare myself emotionally and spiritually to remain conscious during that time.  This helps me respond to behaviors and comments, rather than impulsively react (which I usually regret later).                                                -To love unconditionally, with no strings attached, is the only true love. Anything other than that is either obsession or some other form of self indulgence.
-To allow the other to live their life in their way, even though it feels very wrong or unsafe to me.
-To want the peace that I want for myself even more for the other person.
-To send that person love every day (at LEAST once a day) – and those days when I’m not feeling the love to ask my Source to make me an instrument of the loving energy that comes from the Universe.
-I’ve learned and practiced a meditation where you breathe in the pain of another and breathe out the healing energy of Love.                                                                                                                -We don’t have to be in each others lives every day. Sometimes the best we can do is love them from a distance.
-To honor the other’s perspective on life and understand that we each see our environment through the lense of our own experiences. Based on that person’s belief system, I can respect their choices.
-I can’t hurt enough for the other person to make them better. All that does is double the amount of hurt. It doesn’t help the other, and it certainly doesn’t help me!

In order to do ANY of the above, I have to allow space in my life to let something new in. If I keep myself obsessively busy trying to understand it, control it, fix it or worry about it the only thing I’ll be successful at is numbing myself. Any of these behaviors will keep me from having the space in my life to allow anything else to come in. Peace, true understanding or love will not be able to squeeze in. And I will have drained myself dry of any energy I had to be of help if and when the opportunity comes.

I’m not saying I can practice all of this all the time. Life isn’t all or nothing, and sometimes, even though we learn, it takes several reminders before it becomes a part of us. But each time I get pulled back down, a new light eventually comes on and I’m that much further ahead than I was before.

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SANAYA SAYS: Donning Your Cape

“Oh, but I don’t want him or her there!” you cry, and this is understandable if that one’s energy is so very dissonant to yours. If you are unable to see from your soul’s perspective, you will spend your time together focusing on how your two vibrations grate against each other. Ah, there’s the rub. That other is in your life for a purpose. If they rub you the wrong way, there is growth to be had. Can you be in their presence long enough to ask your higher self why the discord? Yes, you can choose not to include another in your activities, but when you can include them and find peace, then you have turned what would have before been an unpleasant situation into a triumph of the spirit.

How to survive a clashing of vibrations? Be like Superman. Put on your spirit cape and your giant “S” and rise above the clatter. Do you recall how humble Superman was? He did not go about telling the world that he was the caped crusader, and we recommend you do the same. Quietly shift to your greater role and see why that other acts as they do. Now muster all the compassion in your heart and silently send it their way from that giant “S” on your chest. Suddenly it will not matter who is in the room, for your love will have changed the whole dynamic. You have saved the day for your lower self. Isn’t it powerful to be a superhero?

– Sanaya (a collective consciousness channeled by Suzanne Giesemann)