- No one thing “works” and what works may change
- Pursuing a spiritual path has potential pitfalls & upsides
- Somatic (body) based modalities should be a part of a healing plan – talk therapy is not enough
- The independent / do it myself pitfall
- Healing the nervous system pays HUGE dividends
This morning I am feeling especially grateful for my deepening sense of well being. I taught three TRE™ Workshops this week in Bend and shared a bit about my wellness journey through the past 35 years of my life. Hearing myself tell my own story has reminded me of ALL the different paths, tools and resources I have utilized on my path to self-actualization and inner peace. When I wrote down all I have pursued on one page I realized how MANY DIFFERENT WAYS I have been chasing what, for many years, seemed like a goal post that kept moving down the field.
This morning I awoke with a thought that felt revelatory: No one thing, and all the things together, has lead me to this moment where I am feeling satisfied, whole and peaceful.
Today, I can lovingly accept my journey in its entirety and laugh at the part of me that sought THE ANSWER for so many years. Perhaps my older, wiser self is ready to accept THERE IS NO ONE ANSWER.
This post will highlight a few themes of the mosaic of my learning and express gratitude for my journey.
A spiritually centered approach
I have passionately pursued spirituality in many forms. Each spiritual tradition, teacher, and even some “gurus” filled me with new ideas and suggestions on how to achieve “enlightenment.” I have arrived at a place where I question the value of strict belief systems. Humans seem to love having the answer. Perhaps we find comfort there. I have decided that any belief system that separates me from others, or from any part of creation, is not the right approach for me. My deepening relationship with the Divine Mother and Divine Father has mostly been an inside job. I use a few simple guidelines to keep me centered. I wake up each morning with the prayer: God/Goddess: Let me be your hands and feet and let me be a blessing to all I meet. My AirBnB journey as a Superhost since 2016 has given me an abundance of opportunity to welcome the stranger. I try my best to host everyone with graciousness. Sometimes it is easier than other, but the ongoing practice has strengthened my ability to accept others who think, feel, and pray differently than I do.
- In my late 30ties, a dear friend and former college roommate, suggested I might want to consider therapy. I was surprised and asked her “why?” Her answer was simple: to work on my dysfunctional childhood and family dynamics. It seems silly now, but my first response was “I had a dysfunctional childhood?” I thought it was pretty “Normal.” I now know that MANY children live in dysfunctional families and think that is normal. What else would we think?
- I am grateful she suggested a somatic (body based) therapy, Bioenergetics. She joked that I was too smart and too verbal for “talk therapy.” I spent 5 years discovering intellectual insights could only get me so far. My therapist lovingly and gently established rapport and trust and then guided me to release emotions and stress that had been tucked inside my body. I was blessed to have this experience long before the science proved that deep healing must include somatic and neurological components.
- Confronting the materialistic and “do it yourself” lie embedded in our society. During my 30ties and early 40ties I aggressively pursued success in the business world. I thought I was doing it “on my terms.” Hindsight has revealed that the programming to “be successful” to “drive a nice car” and “own a nice home” was intertwined with an unhealthy drive to PROVE I WAS ENOUGH. It is a slippery slope to keep chasing after things and thinking “This will make me happy.” I did not realize my 80 hour work week as a Vice President of Operations was taking its toll on me. Apparently the monthly massages, chiropractic visits and occasional spiritual workshop was enough to keep me somewhat balanced and help me keep driving forward, chasing success.
- Living in the moment: When I suddenly become a full time caregiver to my 13 year old God Daughter with cystic fibrosis, I was thrown into a world that was obviously beyond my control. I could not control Tara’s behaviors, her disease or the medical teams who were critical to her survival. I was thrust into a 10 year period where the best I could hope for was to put one foot in front of the other. I often felt overwhelmed and less than confident I knew how to handle very difficult things well. Although I had been a “meditation failure” earlier in my life, I discovered being mindful was the best tool to stay centered in chaos. My perfectionist tendencies became obvious. I prayed harder. Through the 55 hospitalizations and 10 years I cared for Tara, I found a different kind of joy being a Mother that I had experienced as a career woman. My “Tara years” led me to believe acceptance of “what is” produces more satisfaction that the incessant pursuit of worldly achievements. Tara’s brokenness and inappropriate behaviors taught me to “set better boundaries” for my own health and well being AND know that I could NOT control everything. Perhaps Tara’s doctor summed up the emerging “new me” best when he said I was “an intense person in a laid back sort of way!”
- Grieving Mindfully. When Tara died I was presented with a shocking set of feelings I was ashamed of. Luckily I had met a coach who provided grief counseling free of charge. I also read a very powerful book “Grieving Mindfully” by Same Kumar. I learned grief is a journey full of ups and downs and unexpected floods of feelings. Learning to be mindful and accept the feelings helped immensely. I gained confidence that the feelings would pass. My internal critic, who had the expectation that a truly spiritual person would be happy all the time, seemed to be causing less havoc.
- Healing the nervous system benefits the entire body. I have been working on healing my nervous system using TRE™ (tension and trauma release exercises) since 2015 and the results are astounding. As a former long distance bike rider, I used to think of my body as muscles, lungs and organs. Now I understand that the massive vagal nerve, combined with the brain, are the masters and controllers of my health and wellness. I have learned to know what it feels like when my nervous system is “calm” and when it moves into “high alert status.” When it gets aroused or starts pumping the stress hormones into my system, I now know how to shake off the incoming stress. I can more easily return to a centered state of openness and curiosity.
- I am so grateful for all the mentors and guides I have met along my path so far. They have been a blessing to me; catalysts for my learning and continued evolution. I am committed to “paying it forward” and being a blessing to others.