This Goodbye is Different (A Story of Love)

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Part One:

 

It’s the middle of the night. My brain is a warzone. In just two short days, my Beloved will be on a plane yet again, heading back through the clouds to his home country—more than three thousand miles away from me. I groan, turning over in bed. Right now I wish so many things. I wish I could go back to sleep. I wish artificial and archaic things like borders didn’t exist. I wish we had more money. I wish we had conventional careers—like the ones that look good on immigration paperwork. I peek out from under my sleep mask to see if there’s daylight. No. I bring my hand to my chest and notice a slight wheeze. My asthma is flaring up again.

 

Since our instant connection four years ago, the intensity and razor-sharp lightning of our love has left us both confused. What to do with this these giant feelings? How to withstand the mirror of our love? Sometimes, we have buckled under the pressure and ran away. (The revelations too heavy.) Other times we’ve sworn undying devotion and spent last dollars on a plane ticket. Sometimes five hours will go by, speaking on Skype, and it will seem like five minutes. Sometimes we haven’t spoken for months.

 

The silver engagement ring I feel on my finger now does nothing to cheer me, as I toss and turn in bed this morning. I am pissed. What a relentless, heart-harrowing situation! Other couples don’t know how good they have it. To just live in the same city—let alone the same country—is a privilege we’ve never had. What terrible luck.

 

My back feels both cold and sweaty. My pale pink sheets twist around my limbs, as I struggle to find a comfortable position. My heart feels exhausted.

 

A few minutes before my alarm goes off, I suddenly hear a very clear message. The words seems to be my own voice, yet they’re not. It’s something else. There’s a tinge of the angelic to it, a certain flash of light. Wings. Shimmer.

 

Open your heart.

 

By the time my alarm goes off, I’m already doing much better, having breathed deeply into my heart. I feel less shaky now. As my eyes adjust to the soft morning light, I embrace the coming day. I smile and think of all the things I’m grateful for. I’m teaching yoga to a group of wonderful students today; I’ve got a refrigerator full of healthy, nourishing food; I have a circle of loving, supportive friends. So many things to be grateful for.

 

Open your heart, Anya, Open your heart…I shower and prepare my morning tea…Open your heart Anya, Open your heart.

 

Part Two

 

I climb into my pale gold, two-door Honda Civic. My yoga class just went beautifully. There was a distinct eye-shine for a few of them, as they rolled up their mat. What joy; what blessed work. I pull out onto the road and sigh. Just a half-hour drive and then I’ll be back in my Beloved’s arms again. I look forward to telling him about the class. Maybe later we’ll jog out in nature together, or maybe we’ll just spend the afternoon snuggling in bed. I’m both grateful and impatient to get home to him.

 

Normally, I turn left out of the studio parking lot. But today, for some odd reason, I’m curious about the other direction. There’s a highway not too far away…maybe there’s a different route? I love variety in my drives. I turn right and flip on my GPS, allowing the computer to guide me into unknown territory.

 

My plan seems to backfire, though. The monotone voice doesn’t lead me toward the highway but rather down some random-seeming side streets, into a quiet residential area. This is clearly not an expedient route! I notice some tightness in my shoulders now. Damn. Only mere hours left before the dreadful flight and I’m wasting it by driving around in circles. I feel a bit of my morning anxiety return.

 

Within a few minutes, though, I’m back out onto a main road. Oh, good. My body relaxes somewhat. I look up at the bright blue autumn sky. A few wispy white clouds here and there. Lovely. The autumn trees, boasting their red leaves. I’m driving on narrow, two-lane road. Barely any traffic. I settle back into my seat. I’m coming home to you, I’m coming home to you. I feel both grateful and impatient. If I could snap my fingers and be back there in his arms, I would.

 

I’m driving westbound, and a black car coming eastbound suddenly veers directly in front of my car. There’s no time to think—I slam on my brakes and scream. As our cars collide, a thought flashes through my mind: I’m about to die. After an unidentified space of time, I open my eyes. There are almonds scattered around my feet. Items that were in the back seat are now in my front seat: a purple folder, a bag of candles. Everything’s blurry. There’s a woman standing next to my car in a hooded sweatshirt. I roll down my window, fumbling with the buttons like a clumsy infant. “I’m so sorry” she says. “I swear, I didn’t even see your car.” I slowly unbuckle my safety belt and stand up, asphalt like jello under my feet. “My name is Michelle,” she says. I offer her a hug and hold her in my arms. There’s blood on her forehead and I am suddenly aware of pain in my neck and back.

 

Maybe three lifetimes pass before the police arrive. First one car, and then another. There seems to be confusion because our accident happened on the border between two cities: whose jurisdiction? I call my Beloved on the phone and he reminds me to exhale. Michelle’s friend (who must live nearby?) suddenly arrives. She holds Michelle’s hand and buys me some filtered water from a nearby shop. I slip off my socks and stand on a patch of green, praying to Gaia for help and trying to shake off the trauma like I’ve seen the birds do. I gaze at the damage to my car in total awe. Somehow, only my right headlight is busted and the hood’s a bit bent. How? I look up at the sky. I remember to exhale. Michelle comes to my side. “It’s just one bad thing after another,” she cries, anger in her voice. Her eyes stare at the ground. “My husband was shot and killed six weeks ago. It was all over the news. September fifth. I’ll never see him again.” Her hands are trembling as she smokes a cigarette. I gaze at her, heart-pounding. There’s an audible click. Something is happening here. Something important.

 

 

Part Three

 

Two days later, my Beloved Ben and I sit by the river, our favorite bench. A loving willow tree to our left, its dangling branches curl over our heads like a protective mother. A heron waits for her breakfast: she’s so still that she’s become the water. We notice that the leaves are falling down in the gentle wind: red, yellow, bursts of bright orange amidst the lingering green. “I love feeling the seasons with you,” he says, and my eyes blur with tears. Last moments before the plane…so precious, so precious.

 

I look inside my heart. I search. Where is the typical, pre-airplane panic? Where is the doom I felt two mornings ago, as I tossed and turned in bed? I search, but can find only a soft melancholy. It’s almost sweet. This moment is happening in slow motion and I am savoring all of it. The white in his beard. The creak of the swing under our bodies. The still-warm wind, dipping under my scarf and reminding me of love. His body will be gone soon, yes—but we still have prayer. We still have meditation and phone and Skype and song. What luck; what beauty. Michelle will never see her husband again. His face will never hover over the bed; his hands will never offer her steaming coffee.

 

I will see Ben again, in three months. Snow will be on the ground. Our story is not over, not even close. In fact, the miracle is this: at middle age, we have just found each other, have just begun our journey together. Some people call this a Soulmate or Twin Flame relationship. Others might call us Tantric Consorts or Abler Souls. There are many, many names for what we are. And yet, in this particular moment, all possible names dissolve. I know what we are and words aren’t needed.

 

I search my heart again, breathing deeply. In a little over an hour, his feet shall carry him from my body and toward an airplane. But…this time…it doesn’t feel like a tragedy. This goodbye is different. Something has been healed.

 

As we work together, deepening and strengthening our sacred bond, Ben and I prepare ourselves for the ultimate departure. The day when we release these faces…the way things have been…these blessed hands that have touched…these yearning, ecstatic lips that have kissed. We will move into the wild unknown. Who can say what it is, but death comes to us all. What good practice we are getting.

 

We kiss and kiss, smiling and tears. “See you soon! Have a safe flight!” My hands touch his cheeks and the skin is infinite.

6 Tips for Yoga Newbies

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Is this the year you’re getting into yoga? Congratulations! What a wonderful beginning!

 

So…being a newbie might mean that you sometimes feel a little confused, hesitant, or self-conscious about your practice. You might be asking yourself: “Am I doing this right?”

 

Working with yoga newbies is my passion. I love helping people find relaxation and confidence, as they step into the yoga world.

 

Here’s my list of 6 tips to help you get started on your unique yoga journey.

 

1. Breathing is the most important thing. 

If you’re confused about how to move or how to position your body, that’s okay. Understanding the poses will come in time. For now, simply set the goal of paying attention to your breathing throughout your yoga practice. Conscious breathing is the cornerstone of yoga. When we pay attention to our breath, there are innumerable benefits to body, mind, and spirit.

 

2. Yoga is pure love.

When we practice yoga, we say YES to a world that is full of more beauty, more love. When we practice yoga, we say yes to a world where people take care of themselves and each other. At the end of a yoga class, when we bow in namaste, we are saying “I see the goodness in you, which is the same goodness in me.” When we unite our intentions in this way, we usher in a new world—a world of love.

 

3. Five minutes is better than no minutes.

If you only have five minutes today, then why not roll out your mat and do some yoga? Getting into the regular habit of doing yoga is so amazing for our wellbeing. When I hear my students complain that their lives are too busy for yoga, I remind them that if they have five minutes, they can practice. I’d rather see someone doing five minutes every day than doing one long session per week. Each time you roll out your mat, you are building new neural pathways that reinforce the feeling that yes, you do indeed like yoga, that yoga is fun. And who knows? You just might develop a pleasant “addiction” to yoga—if we skip a day, it just feels incomplete!

 

4. Yoga is not a competition.

When you’re in a class, the aim is not to do “better” than the other students. The goal is not comparison. Rather, yoga is all about community and collaboration. When we see the woman on the mat beside us holding a beautiful, complex pose, we can compliment her after class (Instead of getting jealous that we can’t yet do that pose.) When we see the man in the back of the class struggling to attain a posture, we can mentally send him warm thoughts. After class, we can strike up conversations with our classmates. “It’s so great to see you today. How long have you been practicing yoga?” Through these simple gestures, we can actually assist our teacher in co-creating an environment where we are a supportive community, rather than merely individuals taking a class.

 

5. Yoga is not a race.

Ultimately, our practice teaches us that time is not important. In fact, we enjoy our practice most when we relax and let go of timelines. We are not trying to get somewhere by a certain date. There is no rush. Our yoga practice teaches us to breathe and surrender to the wisdom of the Now. We realize that everything we need is right here, in this moment.

 

6. Explore different classes.

There are many, many styles of yoga and many, many different teacher personalities. There are yoga classes that make you jump and sweat and there are yoga classes where you sit completely still for many minutes. There are yoga teachers that make you laugh hysterically or cry tears of relief. They are yoga teachers who are more like personal trainers and seriously kick your butt. Try different classes to get a sense of what’s out there. No need to rush the process. In time, your perfect teacher will appear. For me, when I discovered my teacher, it felt like coming home.

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Hope you enjoyed these tips, dear friends! If you’d like more inspiration for your yoga journey, please feel free to drop me a line and I’ll add you to my FREE weekly newsletter. Namaste.

Healing Trauma with Rest

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In our fast-paced modern culture, we have a need for speed. The collective psyche is a blur of BusyBusyBusy.
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To put it bluntly, this is insane behavior. It’s harmful for all of us. And, for trauma survivors in particular, the impulse to rush and push ourselves is incredibly destructive.
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In order to fully heal our trauma, we need plenty of rest.
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If you are a survivor of trauma, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, more important than rest on your to-do list. In fact, I invite you to make it your number one priority.

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After resigning from a promising academic career due to sheer exhaustion, I remember so many days of just sleeping. There was literally nothing else I could do. A blue couch became my home. My partner Robert cooked my meals and rubbed my sore, aching head. I had PTSD, migraines, depression, anxiety, candidiasis, adrenal fatigue, leaky gut syndrome, severe food/environmental allergies, eczema, and other chronic illnesses. However, somewhere inside, there was a gentle, loving voice. She was telling me that I could recover, with patience and time. She was telling me that rest was a crucial part of my healing journey.
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I’m so glad I listened.
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Learning the art of rest has been one of the most valuable lessons of my life. I cured myself of PTSD and most of my chronic conditions. (I’m still working on healing my lungs). I feel so much freedom and joy. With each year that passes, I seem to be getting younger! Each year brings more vitality and health. It’s incredible.
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And yes, I still do have difficult days on occasion. When that happens, I give myself full permission to stop what I’m doing and rest.
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I have learned the delicate art of cancelling appointments and saying “no” when I’m feeling overwhelmed.
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I wasn’t always so easygoing and relaxed, though. The healthy Anya who writes this article today is a very different person than the sick Heather who I was back then. (During my healing journey, I changed my name from Heather to Anya as a symbol of my spiritual awakening.) Back then, as Heather, I was a classic Type A personality: impatient, competitive, stressed, and constantly planning and micromanaging life. I was constantly seeking validation from the outside world. I felt little inherent worthiness inside myself. And, because of this, sleeping often felt like failure because I was judging myself by the standards of Western culture. In the West, we judge our worthiness not by our spiritual wisdom but by our ability to “get things done” in the world. Our success is judged by how productive we are. Unfortunately, in my recent travels to India, I discovered that this mindset is slowly seeping into the East as well, which is a true tragedy.
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Success means not how much money you make, but rather listening to your body. Success is not about how popular you are, but rather being brave enough to stop and sleep when you are tired. Success means not building an impressive resume, but rather being brave enough to step outside the box and learn the miracle of self-care.
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If you are on the path of healing trauma, I want you to know you can do it. I thought I would be an anxious mess forever, and now I am happy, with a thriving healing business and a circle of conscious friends who support each other. Life is good.
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As we heal from our past, we can question standard societal definitions of success. We can rewrite the standard scripts and reach for something more deeply fulfilling. We can tune into our own sense of self-worth, regardless of the opinions of others. We can find we love ourselves.
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And it is this love, this unconditional self-love, that is the core of healing trauma.

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My dear love, release the guilt and shame. That’s society’s bullshit—and you don’t need to carry that anymore!
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Please know that are not lazy if you need lots of rest right now. You are not lazy at all… in fact, you are one of the bravest people in the world. You are doing what so many do not yet have the courage to do. You are lighting the way. As you heal your trauma, you allow others to heal their trauma, too.
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Sleep is vital in the trauma healing journey. If what you need right now is 14 or 15 hours of sleep at night and lots of naps during the day, then I invite you to do so. Have compassion for yourself. Listen to your body and soul.
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I invite you to not only give yourself permission to rest but also to find a way to enjoy it. And who knows?…you just might find that rest is a delicious medicine.

This life is not the only life

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The air was July, thick with campfire smoke and dandelion. He came to my apartment. It was mid-afternoon.

His soft, long brown hair…these are now stormy waves upon my neck, face, chest. A pillow holds my thrashing head.

His lips find every…single…place. Gently yet commandingly he lowers his body, full, against mine. His form is heavy and solid. Masculine. His lips. Oh his sweet lips. Slowly, he raises his head. His face is parallel to mine, hovering.

The bedroom blinds are drawn. There’s just enough light to see the expression in his wide eyes.

I know it’s time to say something…something…because I feel a restless bubbling…a heart that is growing hotter, somehow, a flame that is rising to some strange end. Without knowing what the words mean and in one breathless exhale I say I’ve known you before! My voice sounds strange—deep and husky; it doesn’t sound like mine. His eyes melt a bit. His smile is tender. He pulls his torso upward, hips now straddling my hips. He inhales deeply and speaks. At least, this time, you don’t have to watch me die.

Everything goes black.

I have no choice at this moment but to allow his words. There is a stabbing sensation in my chest. I bring hands to my heart, twisting my torso to the side in a silent request for him to move. He does, and I curl like a fetus. There is nothing now but a black, swirling, empty hole—empty yet not empty, windy but not windy.

I am nothing.

I am a tree, blown over by the storm.

I begin to howl violently. I shake and cry, a heaping mess. A small insane child. He rests on his side, front facing my front, embracing. Thankfully, he has a thousand arms.

We hide in bed for hours. Tears, mouths, kisses. We whisper of the past, remembering details from that particular death, and others. I start to write poetry without paper. We unravel the knots by speaking them. Horseback, swords, rain. I begin to understand.

A Brief History of My Spiritual Awakening

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In childhood, I’d always had a sense that I was different. I didn’t quite fit. I remember the adults around me being obsessed with sports and money—but it all seemed so boring to me. I remember my friends desperately striving to get good grades at school—while I couldn’t care less. I slept through most classes. What I wanted, rather, was to hug people, to play, to explore, to laugh, and to learn about love and relationships… unfortunately, these were not on the curriculum.
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As a kid, I longed for creative expression. I remember dancing silly, even somewhat sexual dances in front of my bedroom mirror: I was utterly fascinated by how my body would move. I remember skipping school in favor of writing long, epic poems and randomly weird stories. I remember creating incredible, off-the-cuff songs that nobody heard but me.
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And I remember the mystical moments, too. Moments when there wasn’t any explanation. Like when my stuffed animals and dolls would move by themselves. Or when I would dream something and then it would come true. I particularly loved those lucid dreams on lazy Saturday mornings, where I’d float outside my body and be taught by angels.

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And, yet, despite all of theses amazing experiences, I suffered deep depression. As my childhood years passed into young adulthood, I began to slip more and more into a coma of forgetfulness. I entered the mass delusion, the Matrix. I believed the advertising and made sure my makeup was perfect. I hated my small breasts and wanted plastic surgery.

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And then comes a poignant afternoon. I am in my early twenties, smoking a very potent strain of cannabis. Leanne, a dear friend of mine, is playing guitar by my side. She is happy and carefree. I am watching the light dance on the wall from a nearby curtained window. All of a sudden, I erupt into a rush of giggles! I begin shaking and rocking with utter joy! As Leanne watches in amazement, my giggles soon turn into howls. I begin to slap the table like a madwoman, gasping for breath, delirious in bliss. I know my friend is confused, so I try to force my mouth to make the words, to try to somehow explain to her what’s going on, but I just can’t. There is no way I can explain it in words. Some kind of veil is being pierced. I have the thought: “Everything they told me about Jesus was a lie.”

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This is the moment that began my journey as a mystic. The moment when I moved from religion to spirituality. It was the first crack. And although I didn’t stay “high” (as in, higher consciousness) and soon resumed the normalcy of my depressed life, the shell of my ego was beginning to crack.
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The crack became a full-fledged break about five years later. On this particular afternoon, I am sick in bed (as usual). Browsing through documentaries on Netflix, I discover this offbeat documentary called The Workshop. It’s about a spiritual teacher named Paul Lowe. On the cover of the documentary are a bunch of naked people, smiling and making all sorts of quirky faces. Even though what initially attracts me to click on the documentary is an interest in the nude retreat he leads, where he teaches about the value of radical honesty, I cannot help but be captivated by his deeper mystical message. He keeps saying: “Be here now. Right now. Don’t be anywhere else—just now. In this moment.”

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Although my brain is accustomed to high logic (I am in graduate school at the time, fully absorbed in the “truth” of the scientific method), his simple words somehow penetrate me. A wave of palpable relief fills my body. I slowly let my head sink downward, finally resting my forehead against the softness of my palms. Inside this dark little cave, I smile to myself. I am aware of the feeling of breathing. I am aware of being alive. I distinctly realize that my thinking mind has stopped. I am present. I am in the here and now. Whoah.

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For the next two weeks, I am high without any form of drug. (This is what’s known as a temporary Kensho experience.) I wake in the morning in ecstatic bliss and my feet no longer seem to touch the pavement. All my friends and classmates ask “What happened to you???”, their eyes a twinkle of curiosity and amazement. But I cannot explain to them anything. I just know that I’m finally free and happy.

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Since those two precious moments—the first one with plant medicine and the second one with Paul—my life has been a whirlwind of revelations. I’ve befriended shamans, healers, and teachers of all kinds. I became a Reiki Master. I travelled to India and began teaching yoga. I became self-employed and wrote a book about how to create outside-the-box relationships. My life is amazing.

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I have the very clear sense that I’m being guided by a vast power. It’s not about “me.” It’s about something greater. I’ve surrendered to the Light, to the Divine Will. It’s not about the pleasure I can gain from life, rather it’s about how I can serve and how I can grow. It’s about waking up as fully as possible in this lifetime.

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In the end, our stories are not so different. We all wake up sleeping, and then we move—gradually or speedily—towards a sense of waking dreaming. Isn’t that amazing? Indeed, we learn (to our surprise!) that everything is a very lovely illusion. We learn that suffering and trauma might seem real, but our stories shape that “reality” and we can quite literally heal the past, the present, and the future with our thoughts. We learn how powerful we are.
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We learn other lessons, too. We learn that our bodies are beautiful and it’s good to take care of them, but we also learn that our bodies are a temporary manifestation that we must, eventually, leave behind. We learn non-attachment. We learn how to say goodbye. Hopefully, through all our spiritual training, we can do it with grace.

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Ultimately, we learn that we are a speck of consciousness floating in a sea of eternal mystery. We learn so many things… we gather up so much “information”… and, in the end, we laugh. We remember the cannabis, we remember the documentary (or whatever it was that woke us up), and we laugh. We bow our heads in gratitude, saying: Thank you for this life. Thank you for helping me remember. 

 

How to Enjoy Meditation: Three Tips

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The biggest reason that meditation can be so difficult—at least initially—is that people are misinformed about the nature of meditation itself.

 

Meditation can be fun. Meditation can be easy. Really!! In this post, I’ll share three simple tips for how to enjoy meditation. Through these tips, I’ll simultaneously clear up some prevalent myths that often cause us so much confusion and difficulty.

 

Tip #1: Meditation is like dating. Keep searching around until you find the perfect partner—for you. 

 

If meditation has felt like a chore, or perhaps super confusing, I can promise you one thing: You haven’t yet found a technique that suits you.

 

There are thousands, literally thousands, of meditation techniques. Some involve sitting, some involve walking, some involve chanting or visualization. And even within a single technique, the way that various teachers will teach it are always varied. The permutations of meditation are seemingly endless.

 

Keep searching, my friend. I promise, you will find one (or two, or three) that you adore.

 

About eight years ago, I started my meditation journey. It began with Reiki. Yet, my teacher never called it “meditation.” As the months passed, however, I realized that Reiki  (a form of hands-on healing) was a powerful form of meditation.

 

I was absolutely in love with Reiki. It was literally something I could do for hours and hours and not get tired or bored. Reiki was my meditation: it helped me clear my mind of worried thoughts, it helped my nervous system decompress, and it helped me tap into an inner reservoir of self-love that I never knew existed. It was wonderful! It was amazing! My life began to change in innumerable ways.

 

Reiki was my doorway into meditation. Before Reiki, I had tried to meditate a number of times and “hated it.” I tried going to Zen centers, only to leave in annoyance. I tried using techniques I found on Youtube or that I read about in books. All of them felt weird. Nothing clicked. But then I found Reiki, and everything began to flow. Eight years later…and I’m now teaching meditation!

 

My Reiki journey led me through my transformations. And, over the years, I’ve ventured into other meditation techniques. Some have felt wonderful; some have felt tense or awkward. And, I have fallen madly in love with other practices, too. Every day I do a combination of mantra chanting, singing, prayer (yes, this can be a form of meditation), yoga, dance, and transcendental meditation. All of these bring me inner peace and help me remember my true self.

 

 

Tip #2: Meditation is NOT about trying to stop our thoughts. Rather, it’s about noticing our thoughts.

 

No wonder people try meditation a few times and then quit! If meditation was about stopping thoughts, I’m sure there would only be only two or three people on the planet who would persist in the practice!

 

Simply put, the human brain does not have an “off” switch. That’s not how it works.

 

Meditation is not about stopping thoughts. In fact, this view is a very violent way to look meditation. Why would we want to stop something that the brain was designed to do?

 

Instead, there is a more compassionate, gentle way of viewing meditation. What we are doing in meditation is simply noticing our thoughts. We learn to watch them as if we are a detached observer. As if we are a neutral witness.

 

As we learn to observe our thoughts, we can choose to gently (and lovingly) release them. As we release them, we are choosing to cultivate a calm, clear mind. This kind of mind is like a beautiful, blue, pristine lake on a cool spring morning. With that kind of beautiful mind, our sadness, worry, and suffering is also released. In its place, there is a natural, radiant joy.

 

This is our true state. Our true nature.

 

When we realize that meditation is not about stopping our thoughts but rather about patiently noticing our thoughts, we stop judging ourselves. The practice of meditation then becomes sweet.

 

When we become a witness to our thoughts, we cultivate compassion for the human predicament. We realize the veil of illusion in ourselves, and on this planet, is so thick. We realize how fortunate we are to be one of the lucky ones who have found meditation.

 

This kind of awareness is intoxicating! It’s incredible! We find ourselves drawn to meditation again and again, because it feels so good. It’s like a safe cocoon. We want to go to that cocoon as much as possible. In comparison with the rest of the loud, busy, harsh world—meditation seems like heaven!

 

Tip #3: More meditation is not always better.

 

When beginning a new meditation routine, it’s good to start small, with easily-attainable goals. We don’t want to try to run a marathon before we can crawl.

 

In the beginning, I recommend simply practicing for 5 minutes every day. No matter how busy you are, I know you can attain this goal.

 

After a few months, you can check in with yourself and see if it would feel good to increase your time spent every day. If it genuinely does not interest you to increase your time, then don’t do it.

 

Only increase your time when you have a natural urge to want to do it.

 

Too often, spiritual teachers drone on and on about the value of discipline and hard work. But does this really work? I suspect not.

 

Human nature is both cautious and passionate. Most people will happily invest hard work into things that we know we enjoy and that we know will reap benefits. Yet, in the beginning, when we are warming up to meditation, we probably aren’t certain if we enjoy it yet. We probably are still testing the waters. Thus, why would we invest so much time in it?

 

In the beginning of our spiritual journey, to force ourselves into meditation for long periods is a premature act that can actually be counterproductive. When we are too stern with ourselves, this creates a subtle feeling of tension and self-judgment, which then can create a backlash. The annoyed ego might then decide to quit meditation altogether!

 

At the beginning of my Reiki journey, I remember that my teacher advised me to practice every day. But she did not recommend a precise minute count. She just said to practice. Looking back, I really appreciate that she framed her guidance in that gentle way.

 

In effect, my beloved teacher gave me permission just to explore. To play. And, in relatively short period of time (just a few weeks), I found myself doing two-hour Reiki sessions. This was completely natural and not forced in any way. It was simply a natural desire pouring forth from the depths of my heart.

 

Your situation will be unique to you, dear friend. It may take you some time to test out various techniques. As I mentioned, it’s good to keep seeking until you find one that resonates with you. Once you do find a technique that calls to you, then allow yourself to gradually expand your practice at your own pace. Don’t compare yourself with others. Spiritual practice is not a race. Just have fun with it. See what happens. See what evolves.

 

♥♥♥

 

The choice to begin meditation is one of the most important moments of a human life. You are choosing to venture into territory that most human beings do not yet have the courage (or leisure) to choose.

 

This life of yours is blessed.

 

No doubt, on your journey, there will be times that meditation seems challenging or scary. It will not always be peaches and roses! For me, for example, there have been many Reiki sessions where I have cried tears, allowing many old, toxic emotions to be released. Practicing Reiki is not always blissful or easy.

 

But even when meditation is challenging, it is always something we want to do. It’s something we appreciate, something we gravitate toward, even when it’s hard. This is what is so remarkable about meditation. Once we taste the sweetness, the tenderness, the love of the practice, then we long to return to its arms, again and again and again. Meditation becomes our dear friend. Meditation becomes a blessing.

How to Prepare for Your Life Coaching Session: Five Tips    

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The choice to book a life coaching session is a crucial moment in your life. It is the first step, among many, that will move you toward empowerment and the manifestation of your deepest dreams.

 

Prior to your session, it is essential to prepare your body, mind, and spirit.

 

As a life coach, I have witnessed the difference between clients showing up haphazardly versus those who take the time to prepare themselves prior to our meeting. The difference is always obvious.

 

A coaching session is like a dance: it takes two to tango. The coach plays their part, and the client plays their part. If both parties are playing their part to the fullest possibility, that’s when the magic happens.

 

When you are committed to the process of transformation, the Universe will assist you—in every way possible!—so that you may have an amazing, awe-inspiring experience with your coach.

 

Now that you’ve booked your session, it’s time to begin the dance. It starts today, right now, as you’re reading these five powerful preparation steps.

 

  1. Write the specific questions you will ask your coach.

 

Going with the flow is usually sage advice; however, in this particular situation, creating a plan for your meeting is a better idea. But don’t worry…it doesn’t have to feel like “work.” It can be fun and effortless.

 

Here’s how you can make it easy. Set the intention that you will create 2-3 questions regarding a certain topic. The topic could be a relationship, finance, spirituality, family/parenting, or something else. Then, simply go about your next few days as normal. The words will simply come. The trick is to carry around a notebook with you wherever you go…and then—bam! Suddenly, inspiration will strike! While you are at the grocery store or having tea with a friend, you can pause to write down the perfect words, as they flow into your mind spontaneously, effortlessly.

 

That’s how the subconscious mind works. Just give it the right space to do its work (set the intention, have the notebook ready), and then it will feed you exactly what you need to grow.

 

After you write down a first draft of your questions, go back and see if you can refine the wording. Be as meticulous as you can. Be precise. The words you choose matter. For example, the question: “Should I get a divorce?” is not so good because it frames your concerns in terms of right or wrong. This kind of black-and-white thinking is not going to produce much personal growth, because reality is never actually set in terms of right and wrong. Reality is much more beautiful than that.

 

Reality is a dancing web of choices, in a variety of shades and colors, and we—each one of us—have the power to choose our destiny.

 

The question “Should I get a divorce?” assumes that there is a right or wrong answer. There is not. If you are feeling unhappy in your life circumstances, then there is a cornucopia of new choices available to you. Some may involve getting a divorce and some may not. What’s best? Only you can tell.

 

Ultimately, there is nothing to fear. Only exploration. Only self-reflection. There is no grim, bearded Father God in the sky judging you. No. There is only you, your heart, your beautiful intuition, and an endless play of creativity and passion.

 

In addition, the question “Should I get a divorce?” is not so wonderful because it subtly places all the power into the hands of your coach. If you’re asking a “should” question, you are looking for your coach to give you the “correct” answer. But to proceed in this way is unwise. Your coach is not a fortune teller. Rather, your coach’s job is to simply hold space for you and to deeply listen. Through that deep listening, they will gently guide you toward self-discovery.

 

When writing your 2-3 questions, allow for some flexibility, for some exploration. Questions based on curiosity and creative play (rather than the desperate search for the “right” answer) allows the collaborative dance between you and your coach to unfold. It is here that you will find the highest expression of your truth.

 

For example, a better question might be: “What might be the hidden challenges of getting a divorce?” or “Why am I feeling so afraid to stay in this marriage?” or “What are you sensing about the arguments I’ve been having with my spouse?” All these questions are excellent because they invite your coach to offer you some nuanced, intuitive insights. Ideally their intuitive offerings will then be filtered through the powerful lens of your own intuition. Which brings me to my next tip…

 

  1. Carve out some alone time for yourself.

 

A few hours prior to your session, make the conscious choice to disconnect from the voices of friends, family, and colleagues. Disconnect from your phone, from gadgets, from all social technology. If the demands of your schedule do not allow for a few hours, then at least take twenty or thirty minutes.

 

This is an important step because you are setting the tone for the session ahead. You are signaling to the Universe that this time is about you: about your own wisdom, your own healing, your own knowledge and self-care.

 

Women often have a difficult time prioritizing their own self-care. We have been trained to be the rock for others. If we do not take the time to support ourselves, though, how can we expect to support those around us?

 

As we come into a space of stillness, away from the opinions and speech and communications of others, we may choose to take a long, soothing bath. Or we may take a walk in the forest or on the beach. Or we may roll out our yoga mat. Whatever we may choose to do during this precious time, we are coming into our own awareness of who we are and what we need. We are learning to trust ourselves. And this is important, because, in order for our session to be truly transformative, the guidance from our coach must be filtered through our own intuition.

 

Sometimes what our coach says may deeply resonate—and, at other times, it may not. Some advice may be spot-on, while some might feel generic or not relevant to our situation.

 

So, how do we tap into our inner-knowing? A simple method for learning to trust our intuition is to ask ourselves: Does this piece of guidance make me feel expanded? Does this advice make me feel excited, intrigued, or happily challenged about the possibilities for the future? Or, does this guidance make me feel contracted, small, fearful, or confused?

 

If we feel expanded, then that is our inner-voice saying “Yes, yes, yes! This resonates with me! This will help me!” On the other hand, if we feel contracted or small as we listen to our coach, then that is our intuition saying, “Nope, that advice might be beneficial for someone else, but it’s definitely not for me.”

 

One part of a powerful coaching session is to be open to the fact that your coach might be wrong about certain things. And, if this happens, it’s actually—strangely!—a cause for celebration.

 

When you can trust yourself enough to truly listen to your own intuition (over the voice of an “expert”), in that moment you have become your own teacher. 

 

Am I saying that you should continue to book sessions with a coach who gives less-than-stellar advice? No. If your coach is not resonating with you overall, then it’s perhaps time to look for a new coach. If, however, you have a fantastic coach but—once in a while—they say something that doesn’t resonate and you choose not to follow it, then this is direct, wonderful evidence that you are learning how to trust yourself. You are learning the art of discernment.

 

 

  1. Practice Visualization.

 

How do you want to feel after the session has concluded? Do you want to feel peaceful? Happy? Relieved? Grateful? Focused? Energized? Joyful?

 

Listen to your intuition and allow it to name the emotional state that would best serve your healing journey at this time. And then, visualize yourself feeling that state. For example, let’s say you want to feel energized. You can imagine yourself running along a beach, arms outstretched, a giant grin on your face. You are effortlessly leaping and doing cartwheels and the warm sun is shining down upon your back.

 

When you take the time to imagine how you want to feel after the session has concluded, you are helping to manifest that very same future. You are inviting it forward.

 

  1. Move Your Body.

 

Moving your body prompts stagnant energy to unblock and release. Indeed, exercise is one of the simplest yet potent ways we can prepare ourselves for our coaching session.

 

If you are not already an avid exerciser, I encourage you to find an activity that you love to do. A day or two prior to the session, spend at least an hour doing that. It could be walking, it could be riding your bike, it could be dancing naked in your living room, it could be yoga. Whatever it is, make sure that it feels fun for you. (Incidentally, this is the way to create a long-term exercise program that you won’t want to quit—by making it fun!)

 

Before you begin your movement practice, I invite you to take a few moments, close your eyes, and speak aloud (or silently) an intention. Say something like: “I am ready to release old energetic patterns in my body. I am ready for new, healthy, fresh energy to flow through me.”

 

  1. Get plenty of sleep.

 

Be mindful to get extra sleep the night before your session. It’s so important to recharge our body’s batteries before our transformative coaching session! Your intuition works much better when you are well rested.

 

♥♥♥

 

As you explore the support of a life coach, it’s important to remain aware of the patterns and dynamics of that relationship. Working with a coach can be empowering, or it can (unfortunately) become a source of toxicity in your life.

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A great coach will want to empower you, not addict you to their advice and pressure you to do endless sessions. If you sense that your coach is not holding this high ideal, it is recommended that you find someone who will. You deserve a coach who will help you grow to your highest potential!

 

With that having been said, most coaches are wonderful. There is nothing to fear if you simply state your intention to remain awake and aware.

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Participating in the field of coaching and holistic healing is not only healing for you, but it’s also healing for the whole human family. In today’s hectic world, the person who takes the time and directs their financial resources toward personal growth is someone who is a model for others. Too often we are taught by our society that it is “selfish” to love ourselves. But that is the farthest thing from the truth! By digging down and carving out a space in our lives for coaches, healers, and wise guides, we then empower ourselves to be the shining light that is so desperately lacking in our world today. By healing ourselves, we give others permission to heal themselves.

 

Through a coaching session, we invite the wisdom of our guide into our own heart. We become like them.

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Every teacher has a teacher. Every healer has a healer. We cannot always struggle onward on our own, alone. Sometimes it is so wonderful to have a friend: someone who can be our trusted mirror.

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This is a path of wisdom, a path to enlightenment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lover

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Part One.

I fell in love
because I could not see him;
I fell in love
because I could not touch him.

I fell in love.
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In the beginning,
The Lover appeared—
once,
twice,
three times.
He seemed like a man,
a very lovely man…
lovely eyes
the shape of the moon
on clear summer nights.
Hands like lightning,
striking a nearby tree.

In the beginning, it was three times.

We met
Three Times.

—And then,
and then,
he
(the seeming man),
was gone.
He returned to his country,
and his hands were no more.
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The weeping was beyond weeping.
The winter was death.

So I began to sing.
Beg.
Offer gifts of poem and proclamation,
endless walks with water and tree.

I prayed,

I prayed,

I prayed.

The earth and the cruel, voluptuous sky:
my only companions.

They never answered.

So I prayed more.

I could not see him anymore.
I could not touch him anymore.
There was nothing,
anymore.
The way his empty hand
never fit into mine;
The way his faraway heart
never near
to whisper or soothe.

This continued.

And then…I simply gave up.

I said no.

This was too much: this terrible “missing.”

This terrible thing from the poetry books and romance films.

No, not for me.

I gave up.

 

Part Two.

Giving up was the moment I found you.

You, the real You.

The real Beloved.

You!

It was Eyes, looking
back
into itself.
It was the Girl, the girl from the convex mirror.
It was the Boy, the boy who smiled
when they said the mirror was cracked.
It was memories,
past lives
now clean:
two sisters,
swearing to sing forever…
All gone now. All clean.

All the brothers and mothers and children
finally
finally
at peace.

It was love.
It was lightning
striking the tree
from the window
we cannot see.

It was Love, in truest form.

It was Me.

 

 

Releasing Alcohol and Caffeine in the PTSD Healing Journey

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Trauma survivors often struggle with alcohol. We turn to this substance because we desire relief. We hope to numb overwhelming emotions.
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Also, trauma survivors often become addicted to caffeine. We turn to this coping method because we want increased energy. We want to feel happy, alert, vital, and alive.
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However, there comes a certain point in our journey when we realize that our coping mechanisms are causing us more harm than good.
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Embarking upon the path of holistic healing means we will inevitably have to release certain behaviors, in order to bring peace and harmony into our minds and bodies. This is especially true of individuals with PTSD, whose endocrine and nervous systems are overly-stimulated.
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In this article, we will discuss how PTSD survivors can find balance and true, deep, lasting healing. PTSD is not a life sentence. It is absolutely and totally curable. (I speak from experience!)
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One of the ways we can soothe our overly-stimulated endocrine and nervous systems and bring ourselves back into balance is by gradually reducing our intake of alcohol and caffeine.*
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The Harmful Effects of Alcohol
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I think most of us know, in some vague sort of way, that alcohol is bad news for the body. But…why is it bad? Do we really understand the mechanisms behind that feeling of being “drunk”?

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The ethanol content found within alcohol causes blood pressure and heart rate to increase. This bring a sense of giddiness and euphoria…but, also, a difficult time getting a good night’s sleep. For individuals with PTSD, getting plenty of deep, rejuvenating sleep is utterly crucial to the healing process. Sleep is the time when the body is most able to cleanse the negative effects of trauma.
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Let’s not beat around the bush, dear ones. Alcohol is a poison. True, it may help us temporarily relax, but only by sending toxins to the brain that dull our senses. Even a single alcoholic drink can do considerable damage because it puts strain on our liver and immune system. For traumatized individuals, our systems are already severely compromised. Adding alcohol into the mix only impedes our healing.
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During my years as a college undergraduate and then, later, during my PhD program, I consumed vast amounts of alcohol. I was drunk every weekend and many weeknights. At the time, I had no idea that I was suffering from PTSD.
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Looking back, I can see that my refuge into alcohol was simply my way of escaping the pain of the past. I didn’t want to face the memories; I didn’t want to face the terrifying anger that was bottled up inside of me.
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However, my physical and mental health deteriorated as I neared my doctoral graduation and I knew I had to change. I realized that I had a serious problem with alcohol. So, I began to research mind-body connections. I also began to practice Reiki: a form of energy healing that helps many people heal addictions.
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Now, five years later, alcohol is no longer a part of my life.
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I do not miss it.
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The Harmful Effects of Caffeine
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When I released the habit of drinking coffee and caffeinated tea, my body made an astoundingly rapid, positive shift. My panic attacks were greatly reduced and my sleep was vastly improved. I found that I had greater concentration, focus, and balance throughout the day. I felt happier. And to my great delight and surprise, I discovered that I actually had more energy than I ever had while I was consuming caffeine! Unbelievable, but true!
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Contrary to popular opinion, caffeine is not a harmless substance. Just like alcohol, caffeine is a poison. It’s a toxin. It’s harmful not only for trauma survivors, but for everyone.
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When caffeine is ingested, it prompts our bodies to release the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, which then cause our bodies to enter an artificial fight-or-flight mode.
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In addition to being mentally-emotionally addictive, caffeine is incredibly difficult to digest and puts a strain on the liver. This type of constant stress exhausts the endocrine and nervous systems, depleting our bodies of natural energetic resources. For those of us in trauma recovery, this is the last thing we want!
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Just like popping a pill is (usually) not the best solution for lasting healing, so too is turning to caffeine to “gain” energy. When we are feeling tired, it may seem like the smart solution is to go to Starbucks or eat a chocolate bar; however, the long-term effects on the body are horrendous.
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Back in 2011, I remember waiting nervously in the waiting room of my first-ever holistic doctor. (I’d seen dozens of traditional doctors and had undergone very expensive surgery, but nothing had worked to cure my chronic sinus infections.) After scanning my test results, she announced that I had an endocrine system that was functioning at levels normal for a 70-year old person. I was 30 at the time. She looked me squarely in the eye. She said, “If you really want to recover from this, the first thing you must do is to give up caffeine.”
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I wanted to burst into tears right in her office. Give up caffeine???? How in the world would I get through grad school????? For the past three years, I had been surviving chronic illness by drinking 2-4 lattes from Starbucks, daily. How would I make it through my classes? How would I get out of bed in the morning? As my mind raced with these frightening questions, the full impact of my addiction became clear. I had, somehow, begun to equate drinking coffee with the very ability to live my life.

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It was at that moment that a quiet, peaceful voice came into my mind. The voice said, “Don’t worry. You can do this.”
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New Life Patterns
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Since I have released alcohol and caffeine from my life, I have felt healthier and happier with every passing year. I am thirty-five years old today, and I can honestly say that I feel better today than I have ever felt in my entire life! (I was a very sickly child.)
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Saying goodbye to these coping mechanisms was incredibly challenging at times. Yet it was a crucial part of my recovery journey.
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I no longer suffer from PTSD and I live a relatively happy, balanced, peaceful life.
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One of the secrets of releasing something is to replace something old with something new. If we only focus on “quitting” something, then our efforts can often backfire: we can often feel a sense of lack or depravation. However, on the other hand, if we intentionally add in new habits, patterns, or practices, we can often feel a growing sense of abundance and excitement about our new path.
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For me, I have replaced my coffee habit and alcohol habit with positive, healing practices, such as meditation, yoga, and Reiki. I not only look forward to the benefits that I receive from these practices, but I have added motivation to always learn more and dive deeper and deeper, so I can teach them to others.
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My life looks so different than it did even four years ago. Today I have a fulfilling career in the holistic health field. I offer Reiki healing and meditation workshops in a domestic violence shelter, and coach women one-on-one about how they can heal themselves from PTSD.
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And, let me be very clear about something. I am a natural intellectual. I love to think. So, when my team of holistic healers suggested I bring the spiritual practices of Reiki, meditation and yoga into my life, I struggled at first. Because these practices are based on silence and the surrender of thought, I found it difficult to embrace them or have faith in their benefit. However, over time, I have observed the many benefits resulting from these practices and have formed what I call positive addictions to them! For example, when I skip meditating for a day or two, I feel off-kilter and sad! I truly adore meditating now; it brings me such joy.
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And, my taste buds are not complaining, either. Instead of my afternoon latte or weekend wine, I now love to sip organic sparking waters, homemade raw juices, and unsweetened almond milk with cinnamon and raw honey (iced or hot). I also adore caffeine-free herbal teas, such as chamomile, lavender, bergamot, dandelion, and spicy ginger. Yum Yum!
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Slow and Steady Wins the Race
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Dear friends, I know how scary it can be to make big changes.
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My advice is to take it slowly, gently. If you are drinking three cups of coffee or caffeinated tea per day, see if you can reduce your daily intake down to two cups per day, and then one, and then half a cup, and then, eventually, zero.
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A great way to reduce your coffee habit is to blend Teeccino in with your coffee, a blend of rich herbs that taste and smell every bit as delicious as coffee but is absolutely caffeine-free. (Seriously, thank God for Teechino…if it didn’t exist, I probably would miss coffee very much.)
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If you normally drink a bottle of wine every weekend, see if you can have just a glass with dinner once or twice a week.
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If we make changes gradually, then the pain of change is not so intense. If we are gentle with ourselves, then we are free and excited to make the changes we know we want to make.
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As we make wise choices that help us heal from PTSD, we remember that the comfortable or easy choice might not always be the best choice. Sometimes, what our bodies need may be different from what our emotions are craving. And, sometimes making changes can require a certain amount of discipline.

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Change takes patience. There will be setbacks sometimes. Healing takes time.

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Ultimately, when we set the intention to heal our body, mind, and soul from trauma, we choose to prioritize self-love and self-compassion. We listen for the loving voice within, the one that says: “You are a survivor. You can do anything.”
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Ultimately, it is our own inner guide that will guide us, every step of the way.
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*Please note: I am not a medical doctor. I am not a medical professional. I am not a psychologist or nutritionist. In no way does this article constitute a prescription or official medical advice. Rather, what I am gently suggesting here is simply personal opinion, based upon my own personal experience and research.

Healing Our Addictions with Patience and Self-Love

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It’s a cold winter day. As I plunge my hand down into the wax paper bag, I fully expect to find another bite or two. But, alas, there are only crumbs.
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A distinct wave of sadness shoots through my heart. The chocolate scone is gone. And I don’t even remember eating it.
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It is in this moment that I wake up. I quickly shake my head from side to side, as if rousing myself from a long night of troubled dreams.
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What have I just done? What about the vow I’ve made to myself, again and again?
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For years I have known that the best thing for my body’s healing process is to eat fresh, whole, organic foods (lots of leafy greens and fruits) and to avoid ingredients that overstimulate my endocrine and nervous systems, such as sugar and wheat flour.
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And yet, today, here I am again. Eating some stupid, cheap scone I picked up on impulse at the local bakery. Full of who-knows-what ingredients.
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Here I am again. Ignoring my own wisdom. Falling back into the food addiction that has plagued me since childhood.
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Today I have lost control.
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I pull my car over into a parking lot. (Yes, I have been mindlessly scarfing that darned scone while driving!) I take a deep breath.
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Now is definitely the time for some self-love.

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Addiction is a Dirty Band-Aid 

Whether you struggle with a food addiction like I do or you deal with drug or alcohol addiction, every addiction is the same. An addiction is a loss of control over one’s behavior.
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Our addictive behaviors don’t just randomly happen for no reason. They are a symptom of a deeper issue.
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Why do we get addicted?
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That scone or that cocktail or that cigarette brings about a temporary cessation of suffering. They block sadness, tension, fear, pain, boredom, and anger. They numb any and all negative emotions.
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To put it simply, an addiction is a coping mechanism. It allows us to trudge onward in life, but without really looking toward the deeper issues.
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An addiction may be a short-lived, temporary cure for the pain—but, as we all know, it’s not a long-term solution.
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Running to our addiction is like slapping a Band-Aid on the wound—a Band-Aid that is dirty. Over time, the wound gets infected with the dirt and grime, and it worsens rather than heals.

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The Addiction is Not the Problem

Here’s the thing about addiction, dear friends: The addiction is not really the problem. The addiction is the glaring symptom.
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If we can look deeper than the symptom and see the situation from a holistic point of view, then we may begin to bring about a resolution to much of the suffering in our lives.
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So, what is the deeper issue? What lies at the root of addiction?
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Ultimately, all addiction—no matter the type or the severity—stems from a lack of connection. When we feel disconnected from other people, from our society, from our deepest hopes and dreams, and from a sense of love, then this disconnection brings about powerful emotions. These emotions hurt, and so we run to the seeming solace of the addiction.
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The addiction may seem, on the surface, as if it’s the problem, but actually it’s not. The addiction is, in reality, a helpful pointer, showing us that there’s some internal healing we need to do.
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The wonderful thing about addiction is that it is a powerful red STOP sign. It screams loudly: “Look! There’s a problem!”
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Addictions help us get in touch with our inner self. Just like a cough helps us connect with the needs of our lungs (do I need fresh air? do I need more exercise? do I need to take certain herbs?), an addiction helps us get in touch with the needs of our heart.
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Our heart is the seat of all emotion. Our heart is where feelings arise, are felt, and then released.
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When we feel a lack of connection and love, we do not feel safe. We do not feel safe enough to explore the many emotions that can arise as a human being in our daily lives.
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When we feel disconnected, negative emotions can feel overwhelming and scary. This is particularly true for those with abuse or trauma in their life history.
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The addictive behavior is a misguided attempt to self-soothe. We believe that if we eat that scone or we drink that beer, then those scary emotions will stop and we will somehow be safe, somehow feel connected again.
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But we all know that doesn’t work. What ends up happening is that, once the temporary high wears off, we are left feeling crappier than ever.
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The addiction is not the problem. The problem, rather, is the false perception that there is no love, no connection.

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Rising from Bottom

The cliché of the “rock bottom” is a cliché because it’s true. Most addicts eventually experience it.
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Rock bottom looks different for everyone. It will have varying levels of intensity and consequences.
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For some, the bottom is drastic: a suicide attempt, an illness, or a hospitalization. For some, it will simply be a very sad day when they realize that the time has come to change.
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This time of rock bottom is the moment when we begin to wake up. It’s the time when the healing can truly begin.
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For me, my rock bottom with food addiction came when my body had disintegrated nearly to the point of death.
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I was on my perhaps my tenth round of antibiotics that year and having a severe allergic reaction to the medication. Delusional with a high fever, unable to lift myself from bed and barely able to call for help, I realized I probably would not live much longer if I did not change just about everything in my life. Shortly after, I began to explore the world of alternative medicine and began to clean up my diet.
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We can think of this rock bottom—this intense realization that things need to shift—as the bottom of a spiral. This spiral begins at ground zero, and it moves upward through time.
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As the days, weeks, and months pass, and we dedicate ourselves to a new way of being, we will have various challenges that arise. We will learn and grow and allow our emotions to be felt, rather than running from them. We will heal old wounds from childhood that have been lurking for many years.
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Over time, with patience, we will be slowly shifting our perspective. We will become a new and better version. We will be moving from contracted perceptions of disconnection, lack, and fear, into expanded perspectives of connection, abundance, and love.
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Through the adoption of various healing practices such as meditation, support groups, therapy, prayer, Reiki, or exercise, we come into greater harmony within ourselves. We learn to love ourselves.

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Relapses on the Spiral of Evolution

In my struggle with addiction (not just with food, but with many other substances over the years), I have realized I am grateful to addiction. Addiction has played a very powerful role in my spiritual evolution.
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Addiction is a powerful point of change. It is a journey inward. It the journey of becoming aware and conscious.
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As we humans make this journey, and break the cycles of addiction, it’s so important to remember that change is not linear and it’s often not easy. Relapses happen.
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The spiral analogy can be helpful. If we imagine that we are travelling upwards in consciousness, to greater and greater levels of joy, power, and self-awareness, then we can avoid traps of self-blame when we do occasionally relapse.
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That day when I woke up to find scone crumbs on my lap was a challenging day indeed. I’d just had a disagreement with my roommate and was struggling with money issues. When I stopped at the bakery that day, intent on buying some tea, those scones whispered sweet love songs to me and I could not find the willpower to resist.
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In that relapse, I temporarily lost sight of my own truth: That I want to avoid sugar and wheat flour in order to heal my body.
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In that relapse, I was returning to the particular side of the spiral that was so known and comfortable: running to unhealthy food for comfort.
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And yet, even though I had returned to that old familiar side of the spiral, I actually experienced this relapse from a greater height! In other words, in this relapse, I was able to more quickly move past it and get back to my own power.
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It took just a few minutes and I forgave myself and moved into self-acceptance. I did not beat myself up.
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In that cold car on that cold winter day, I placed my hands on my heart, and whispered some words of love and reassurance to myself. In the past, in the beginning of my healing journey with food, I might have added a cookie or a brownie on top of the scone, as a way to escape the terrible emotions of self-judgment and guilt. But—this time I didn’t! 

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Love Yourself and Heal 

A relapse is nothing to be ashamed of. It happens.
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If you or someone you love has been healing a pattern of addiction, please know that patience is key.
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The spiral of evolution will bring you situations that will test your courage and self-awareness. Sometimes you will succumb. And that’s okay!
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If you wake up and suddenly find yourself acting in a way that you know is not your highest good, then congratulate yourself for waking up. Take stock of your long-term changes and pat yourself on the back for coming this far.
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Notice how you can more quickly bounce back from the relapse, with greater levels of patience and self-love. Notice how awesome you are!
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Ultimately, the journey of addiction recovery is a journey of healing. And it’s a journey all humans go through, as we refine to greater and greater levels what it means to love and care for ourselves.

 

 

This post originally appeared on tinybuddha.com. You can find the original post here.