Today we will dismantle the second major myth about work. (Please see Part 1 to learn about the first myth.)
Myth #2: Resources are scarce, so it is necessary to compete.
The myth of competition has been so embedded into our consciousness that we might not even notice it. It’s been drilled into us since we were little kids. Remember in your school textbooks, the stories about Darwin and evolution? Ideas about how “nature” is a harsh and brutal survival of the fittest?
Did you ever think about who wrote those textbooks?
The people who wrote those textbooks, the people who promote the myth of competition is propagated by those who are not yet spiritually awake. These are ignorant people, clouded by deep misperceptions about how life really works.
The myth of competition and survival of the fittest serves the wealthy elite—but it certainly doesn’t serve you or me.
Simply put, the myth of competition serves to excuse bad behavior by those who would like to mentally justify their actions of greed.
If we believe that the Earth has scarce resources, then we will, naturally, feel justified in fighting over them and not playing together as a team. We will allow hierarchy. We will not cooperate. We will turn against our brothers and sisters, mistakenly seeing our fellow humans as enemies rather than as family.
The myth of scarcity creates fear, which leads us to work at jobs we don’t like.
Here are some of the common fear-based ideas we have, that stem from this outdated myth, that keep us trapped in passionless jobs:
It’s better to have a job I don’t like than it is to be homeless
It’s better to have a job I don’t like than it is to or to be a burden to my family or to “the system”
It’s OK that I don’t like my job because I’m lucky to have a job at all—so many other people are unemployed…so I shouldn’t complain
My boss is a real jerk, but hey, I’m grateful that he hasn’t laid me off yet
I’m not happy here, but at least I have health insurance and a retirement package
I’m not happy here with this salaried job, but at least I get a vacation every year
I have to stay in this job because I have to make my mortgage payment and car payment
If I quit this job, someone else will take it
If I start my own business, I won’t have any security and what if things don’t work out? At least with this job, I have a safe, steady paycheck
There’s too much competition out there to start my own business. Where will my clients come from? Who would really want what I have to offer? It’s all just too risky.
I have invested so many years into this career. To walk away now would mean failure.
I want to get to the top, even if it means I sacrifice some happiness every day. The stress is worth it in order to achieve my dreams.
As awakening coach Isabella A. Greene says, we humans are waking up to “a new paradigm of purpose and sharing our gifts.”
Indeed, humanity is evolving to understand that we are in this together. Truly, there is no such thing as competition—there are only our brothers and sisters. We can take each other’s hands, and walk this exciting path of work—together.
As we wake up, as we find our true selves on our spiritual path, we realize that we are stronger than the 1% elite, because our powers are the powers of love and sharing. We have the power of the entire Universe behind us!
As we share, we infinitely multiply the resources that exist. We see that resources are not scarce when they are shared sustainably and equally. For example, programs like regenerative agriculture show us that the concept of abundance is not just a silly new-age pipe dream, but an actual concrete reality that can be manifested.
Currently, the world economy produces enough food to feed every single person on the planet. If this is so, then why the heck are people still starving? Why are women, children, indigenous peoples and minorities struggling to make ends meet? The answer to this vexing question is simple: Humanity as a whole is still running the old programs of scarcity and competition. These programs keep us enslaved: sad, desperate, and in poverty.
In this New Earth paradigm we are co-creating, we share light (knowledge) with others, and then they share it with others … and then they share it with others … and so on and so on …
We are so powerful! The process of awakening has begun, and it cannot be stopped!
If we consciously change our ideas about work, the consequences will have a ripple effect that will, quite literally, change everything in humanity.
As the old systems fall apart, we can, finally, begin to free ourselves from the mentality of competition and see our brothers and sisters as allies. We are in this together. Each of us has a unique contribution to share: a contribution that will leap us out of bed every morning—excited to share, learn, grow, and discover, together.
If you’ve found this blog, chances are, you’ve been asking yourself this question a lot lately.
Well, you’re in good company! Welcome to the deep question zone. These days, so many of us are asking deep, profound questions about what it means to live with purpose and passion.
As we wake up to the joy of living, as we awaken to our true identity in this time that many of us call “The New Earth,” we realize there are some old ideas about work that we no longer wish to support. We realize that it would be in our benefit to release these old ideas and adopt new, more empowering beliefs in their place.
It is indeed time for a radical restructuring of belief about work!
In this post, I’ll debunk one of the major myths about work from the old paradigm. (In my next post, I’ll debunk the second major myth. Stay tuned!)
These myths are fear-driven and energetically keep us stuck in patterns that do not allow for us to live our lives to the most beautiful fullest.
Once these myths are cleared from our minds, we can begin to truly plan for our beautiful future—for what truly excites us!
Myth #1: Work is hard.
Did your parents ever tell you that work is hard? I bet they did. For most of us, our parents, grandparents, teachers (and pretty much everybody else!) told us, over and over and over again, that work is hard, that work sucks.
The idea that work sucks is so prevalent in our global human society. However, we are beginning to question it. We are beginning to break free.
As we question it, we ask ourselves: Whom does this myth really serve?
Well … this myth serves certain people, but it certainly doesn’t serve you or me!
To put it simply, the myth that work is hard serves a wealthy elite: the tiny sliver of population (“the 1%”) who control the financial systems and wish to keep you enslaved in subsistence/survival living.
If we believe the myth that work is hard, then we will sheepishly slave away, plugging away at work we dislike, for crappy pay—while their pockets grow ever-fuller.
This myth keeps us trapped.
If we believe that work is hard, then our standards for how employers treat us is going to be low.
If we believe that work is hard, then we won’t ask ourselves if we truly enjoy the work. We will just do it, like a robot, because … well, we gotta earn a paycheck, right?
In truth, work is meant to be a beautiful, life-giving, nourishing experience! Work is meant to be serve others in their awakening and healing process, as well as serve ourselves, serve our own curiosities and passions and learning goals.
In the New Earth paradigm, the giving and the receiving are One. There is equal joy in both.
I remember the first time I ever got paid for giving a Reiki healing session. I remember the woman handing me the cash. I stared at it for a long time, in nervousness and disbelief. I thought: “Wow, I’m actually getting paid to do this???”
At that time, I actually felt quite a bit of guilt for accepting money for doing something that was easy and that I actually enjoyed. Back then (this was about 7 years ago), there was that old programming deep within me that said, “Hey, work is supposed to suck. You are only supposed to get money for doing things that you dislike.”
It’s taken me a few years of intentional self-work and deprogramming to unravel the myth that work is hard. I’m currently in the final stages of learning this lesson.
I realize that not only do I wish to receive money for doing what I love—but that doing so is a requirement for the kind of life I want to create! I want my life to be a testament to others for how life can be in the New Earth paradigm. I want my life to be an inspiration.
In this new age, we are coming to see work as an expression of one’s unique soul signature. We each have particular inclinations, passions, and areas of interest that we incarnated to Earth to explore. Work is a major aspect of a human lifetime.
As we wake up out of the fear-driven old paradigm, we gather the courage within ourselves to take leaps of faith. We start our own business. Or we join an intentional community. Or we buy a cabin out in the woods and go off-the-grid.
Whatever we choose, we do it courageously, knowing that life is meant to be joyful and that the work we do is meant to feed not just our belly but our soul.
Indeed, rather than being overly difficult, work is meant to be a fun, flowing, uplifting experience. A way to invest our life force for the betterment of all.
When we are exploring our own unique passions through work, everyone benefits—because the quality of service, then, is naturally going to be higher when it is performed by those who love doing it.
Yes, of course, there’s still going to be routine, “mundane” tasks that need to get done. We’ve got to wash the dishes, chop the firewood, and clean the toilets. Fine. We can certainly work out fair, sustainable ways to share that labor. Of course! But the key is that, in the New Earth paradigm, a majority of what we’re doing on a daily basis is suited to our own unique soul. We are living out our dreams.
In the old paradigm, work is shit, and we are all expected to cram ourselves into uncomfortable little boxes in exchange for some dollars so that we can pay some bills. We drag ourselves from Monday through Friday and then fall into an exhausted heap on Saturday. Why? Is this really living? Is this really what we really came here to do?
In the new paradigm you and I are currently building, more and more of us are rising up and saying NO to the myths of the old system. We understand that what we offer to the world in exchange for monetary (and other types) of abundance are, truly, works of art.
Through our awareness and joy, we become a channel for the Divine, and birth our own unique manifestations into the world. In this way, work is never drudgery, but always an ecstatic adventure into the sacred unknown.
A few minutes into the dance, and my eyes begin to burn with tears. My breath comes faster and faster.
This is the moment of the dance. Here it is: the moment of the unveiling. Today, the act of dancing is like looking into a mirror after rolling around in the mud. It’s a bit scary.
This is the moment of the dance; the time when the fear is released. There is a gorgeous song playing, haunting female vocals. I am allowing every note of it to invade the universe of my cells. I am one with the song.
Sometimes, as I dance tonight, I am a soft and subtle priestess: swirling, delicate, my wrists articulating the swoosh and grace of my subtle gossamer being—and, at other times, I am a forceful, angry, ferocious masculine beast: my feet kick and stomp, my fists pump and punch the air. I am hungry; I want blood.
The tears come faster now. Wet and thick like sludge. Some of these tears fall onto the carpet underneath my feet, and some of them fall into my open mouth and I digest them. These tears are primal and necessary. I must release them.
These tears let me know that I have accidentally taken on too much weight, lately, from the world. I have absorbed too much from the (seeming) brokenness around me: the poverty, the violence, the hatred, the fears. The bruised woman, tattooed from head to toe, who came to me for counsel, her traumatized child at her hip, who barely made eye contact. The friend who I watch killing himself with every cigarette. The glaring president on the television screen who says “build the walls”…
… somehow, somehow, in these past few days, since my last dance, that woman with the tattoos, that friend with the cigarettes, and that president have somehow broken my heart. I have allowed them to. I have forgotten who I am.
HOW TO DANCE
The dance doesn’t have to be pretty today. The dance doesn’t have to be perfect.
These are the words I tell myself on the days when it’s tough to get off my couch. These are the words I say when I feel lazy.
The dance can be whatever it is, Anya. It can be slow or it can be fast. I can spit or I can smile. I can be wild and mean or a delicate beauty. Whatever. Just dance. Just do it! Just do whatever comes …
For no matter how awfully, no matter how awkwardly a dance might begin, it will always always end in joy—if you give it enough time.
Yes, the secret of dance is to give it enough time. Give it as much as it takes. Stand up, turn on the music, turn off the clocks, and dance. Allow the dance to feel weird or laborious until the precious moment comes when the dance is a true dance. When all the fears are gone, and the music possess you.
For the past few years, I have made the commitment to myself to dance two or three times a week. And, recently, I have just completed a 30-day dance challenge—where I danced every single day, no matter how tired, no matter whether I was in the mood.
It was incredible.
So, what have I learned about dance?
I have learned that dancing is one of the most freeing things a human being can do.
And I have learned that I, personally, love to dance alone. It has become a sacred ritual for me. I do also love going to my weekly dance class when I can, but my home dance practice is deeply fulfilling.
When I begin my dance, in my humble living room, on freezing winter nights or on sumptuous summer afternoons, I begin with a prayer and I end with a prayer. At the beginning I say, “Please make me a vessel for the divine light to dance through me.” At the end I say, “Thank you; I am so grateful for this dance.”
Yes, friends, I dance with intention; I dance as a healing art. I dance for my own sanity and for my own self-compassion. I dance to fall in love with myself.
I dance freeform. No memorized steps. Just feel what emerges.
Some days the dancing is short: ten or twenty minutes is all I need: it’s a full busy day, and I’m already feeling good.
On other days, however, the dancing is a long and twisting journey: I turn off the phones and the clocks and everything else that beeps and I promise to dance until that blessed moment comes when I begin to feel good. I wait for the serotonin; I wait for the sigh of relief and the smile. On those rather rough days, I know that nothing else is as important as my empowered decision to dance.
Dance is a commitment I have made to myself.
It is a commitment to my own evolution and healing.
On the tough days, indeed, the dance is absolutely imperative to my wellbeing. I know that until this fear departs, I am utterly useless. I cannot serve myself, let alone serve others. Until this fear subsides, what can I possibly do?
So, I dance. I dance the fear away.
I choose to dance and I come alive within the dance. I lose myself, my typical notions of what “me” is.
I blur. I become a goddess and a god when I dance: I reach both, the place where gender has no meaning. I put on my comfiest sweatpants or my sexiest skirt, and I dance until the time comes when sweat slides down my neck and I am intoxicated by the smell of my own armpits as my head thrashes from side to side. I find I actually like this smell.
And now comes the moment when I strip. I peel off all my sweaty clothes, throwing them triumphantly onto the carpet in a beautiful, crazy heap. My roommate is not home. At this moment, I am naked and dancing. At this point, I have reached ecstasy. No drugs needed, except the delicious batch of chemicals my brain has made, especially for me.
HEAL YOUR BRAIN AND YOUR BODY WITH DANCE
Where does anxiety come from?
From whence does fear originate?
Why are some people able to cure their depression while others commit suicide?
Where does the darkness come from, and how can we bring in the light?
These profound questions about what it means to be a human being are no longer simply relegated to the province of priests—now, in our modern age, scientists, sociologists, and psychotherapists are joining the dialogue.
In the holistic community, dance is being used as a treatment for depression, PTSD, autism, eating disorders, and many other conditions. There is much research out there now, showing how dance is an extremely effective healing tool.
For example, Christina Devereaux, spokesperson for the American Dance Therapy Association, describes dance as a way of shedding light upon what’s hidden within the psyche, as a way to explore, purge, and clear painful emotions. “We really believe in the body/mind connection,” she says. “Dance is a way for people to use what’s happening inside them and express it in an external, expansive way.”
In a 2015 peer-reviewed study, neuroscience researchers found that dancing boosts self-esteem, lowers anxiety, and increases psychological wellbeing.
And at the Stanford Neuroscience Health Center, for elders with Parkinson’s meet weekly to dance to live music and spoken word poetry. This “Dance for PD” class is a truly holistic therapy: it heals on the physical as well as the emotional and mental levels as well. Incredibly, the program was launched 15 years ago in Brooklyn, New York, and is now offered in 16 countries around the world!
MY OWN DANCE JOURNEY
For over three decades, I struggled to live. The combination of undiagnosed PTSD (derived from physical, emotional, and sexual abuse as a child) plus being gifted with a number of intuitive gifts and sensitivities (gifts not recognized as valid by my culture) left me disabled and suicidal. I simply couldn’t figure out how to function in the world.
In my early thirties, I had no choice but to leave behind a promising academic career, shortly after earning my PhD, due to my rapidly-disintegrating immune system and an advanced case of adrenal fatigue syndrome. (These are, unfortunately, quite common issues for those with unhealed trauma.) For a while, my friends and intentional family had to take care of me. I intuitively knew that if something didn’t shift soon, I would die.
Today, my life looks so radically different that sometimes I shake my head in grateful disbelief. I am healthier now in mind, body, and spirit than I ever have been in my entire life.
In my healing journey, I have been blessed to receive help in many beautiful forms: a highly-intuitive counselor, trusted spiritual teachers, a community of loving friends, and daily holistic practices such as reiki, raw juicing, yoga, and meditation. All of these tools greatly aided my recovery.
And it was that the final, powerful piece of my healing puzzle clicked into place a few years ago, the moment I discovered dance. It felt like nothing short of a miracle. A way to radically rewire my brain and detoxify old, clogged-up emotions.
A way to experience pure joy!
DEFINITIONS OF DANCE
Dance is moving faster than the speed of thought.
Dance is immersion in sound.
Dance is instinctive. It connects us with our ancestors, the ancient tribes who danced for rain and to celebrate the hunt.
Dance is primal and sacred. It’s an opening of the heart. It’s a healing space where we feel the music so intensely, so fully, that our bodies cannot help but move.
Dance is being possessed by the dance. The dancer becoming the dance. The body becoming a channel. A vessel of light.
Indigenous cultures throughout history have practiced dance as not only a celebration, but also as a divine healing art. During the height of my healing crisis, about six years ago, my friend Pattie, a Native American medicine woman, began to teach me how to dance. Her lessons were not formal nor were they complicated. They simply arose, organically and simply, because I was ill and she loved me.
We sat by the fire in the open air. Barefoot. Summer evening, fireflies. She began to drum. And she asks me, before the dance, “Are you finally ready to let go of your fear?”
I remember her watching me. I remember melting into the realization that she knew things that I did not. She possessed a knowledge deeper and truer than could be expressed in logical language. As I began to dance around the leaping fire, my feet stomping and grinding with Mother Earth, I wept. I moaned and sighed: anger that had been bottled since my childhood was finally leaving me.
In those beautiful moments with Pattie, I felt all the benevolent spirits who guided her nod their silent, loving assent. (Maybe those spirits were my friends, too?)
On those blessed summer evenings, I danced. I finally felt connected: to her, to her Ojibwa tribe, and to all the people of the Earth who understand the simple ways of healing.
We humans in modern cities lose a bit of life energy every day. Pollution, noise, stress, crappy jobs, poisoned food, living in squared-shaped boxes made of toxic materials. Our feet rarely touch the Earth.
Indeed, we lose our balance in one thousand ways and we become ill. We forget our connection to Source. Through sacred dance, however, we bring our awareness back into our bodies, back into our holy temples. We get our blood flowing again. We turn off our gadgets and our thinking minds, and we return to a simpler, more loving way of being.
What is dance, you ask?
Dance is a mode of reconnection. A testament to the truth that: every body, no matter how seemingly damaged, wants to heal.
Dance is a mode of evolution.
When we are dancing, we forget our stories. We forget our successes, our failures, our labels, our concepts, our To Do Lists…these all vanish, in the glory of the dance. The story of “me” dies.
And what remains? The true self. The healed self.
THE UNEXPECTED MIRACLE OF DANCE
Dance is a miracle. And we don’t even need music to do it.
Next time you’re in line at the grocery store, try and see what it feels like to gently sway your hips back and forth. Or, when you’re talking to the teller at the bank, what does flexing that smile on your face feel like? When you’re at home washing dishes, what does the soap and hot water feel like as you move your hands in rhythmical patterns across the glistening porcelain?
Can you feel the movement and graceful shapes of your body as you go through your daily life?
Can you make a game of it?
Can each moment of physical expression in this incarnation be an art form unto itself? Can life itself be a joy?
It’s time to turn up the music, my dear friends. Transport yourself to a miraculous place, beyond time and logic. No need to plan, no need to think. Just be. Just be you.
Feel the grace and splendor of your limbs, and breathe in this beautiful thing called life!
What would our world be like if we could all just sit with our sadness?
What would our world be like if world leaders frequently took time off to sit by the river and meditate? What would our world be like if CEOs felt it was okay to cry and show vulnerability?
What would our world be like if we all felt the freedom to express our authentic selves, in each moment?
Dear friends, let’s imagine such a world.
SHIFTING TO A SELF-CARE PARADIGM
How do we create this new world?
The journey begins with each one of us.
If you’re sad, simply sit with your sadness. No need to smile. No need to run to addictive behaviors. No need to lash out and point the finger of blame at someone else.
Just sit and breathe.
Just be sad. Don’t worry about doing anything in that moment. No need to pretend you are available to be nurturing to others when you cannot.
You must fill your own glass before you can share with others.
Let’s all just sit in our sadness from time to time. Let’s give ourselves permission to do that.
Let’s sit with our tears. Our heartbreak. Our grief and confusion.
And during those periods, if it feels right, we can phone a loved one and ask for support. We can seek a professional healer. A massage therapist. We can call in sick to work. Take an epsom salt bath. Dance naked in the living room and sweat out the pain. Play some healing music. Do whatever it takes to feel and be present.
Through your commitment to your own healing journey, you give permission to the rest of the world to adopt a new paradigm of self-care and compassion. You help humanity shift.
And … here’s the ironic thing. Once we are reminded that it’s okay not to smile, that it’s okay to drop our masks and be our genuine authentic selves … we often find that what is most genuine and most authentic is a clear space of love.
Even when we find ourselves in the throes of anxiety and depression, what we find, underneath, if we let ourselves surrender to that space of pure feeling for just a little while, is that a vast space of love that opens up.
In other words, once we give ourselves permission not to smile, we may find that, rather quickly, we are ready to smile again.
TELLING THE TRUTH OF THE DARK WITHIN THE LIGHT
Chances are, if you are reading this article, you identify as a helper, healer, caregiver, lightworker, or wayshower. You understand, intuitively, that your presence on this planet is a source of inspiration for others. You have deep compassion in your heart and want to relieve suffering.
People like us, we are born to feel. Born to help. However, we must temper that natural inclination with giving ourselves permission to be authentic to ourselves and to always look after ourselves first.
This is not wrong or selfish! By loving ourselves, we build and strengthen ourselves so that we may then go out into the world and use our own life as a testimony to others.
As we love ourselves and set the example, it is important that we remember to tell the truth of the dark within the light.
If we hold ourselves to overly strict, rigid standards about “always being positive” or “always bringing the light”, then we may inadvertently carve a mask on top of our natural face.
The darkness (sadness, grief, etc.) has much to teach us about acceptance and unconditional love, too. The darkness is a wonderful teacher.
In Thich Nhat Hanh’s essay “The Dandelion Has My Smile”, he asserts that forcing ourselves to smile when we feel sad is a good practice, because eventually that forcing will become genuine. While I do agree that there are certain situations in life where it’s good to stretch ourselves out of our stale comfort zones and cultivate gratitude even in the worst of situations, I also think that his advice misses the point for some of us who hold the martyr archetype or those of us who tend to over-carry for others.
Indeed, I believe that we can go overboard on always feeling the need to smile. We can get hooked on “always being the shiny happy one.” We can become addicted to it, in an egoistic way, creating a split between the sad self we feel in private and the happy shiny self we display in public. This can only lead to disjointed, schizophrenic feelings of isolation and despair.
As a highly sensitive person and empath, I have felt for many years that is my duty to smile and make eye contact with every person I see on the street and in public spaces. And now … I realize the fallacy of that belief.
On the one hand, my intention has been good: I have wanted to use my life, every waking moment, to be a shining light, helping wake others to their own power and divinity. Such an intention has indeed brought great joy into my life.
On the other hand, that day in the park was terrible. (Please see Part 1 of this article.) My obligation to be smiley felt more like a burden than a blessing. I felt like a fake, a sham. More than anything, I wanted to just hold my own hand and not speak to anybody. I wanted to just walk by everybody without a word or even a glance.
This realization—about wanting to be real in public—is something that many of my friends and clients are realizing, too. There seems to be something in the air, at this time on our planet, about wanting to make peace with our emotions.
Indeed, we as human beings have an aching desire to show all the parts of ourselves. Not just the shiny parts.
I desperately want to show the Anya without the makeup. To show her tatters and scars. I don’t want or need to show this side to everyone, of course (especially not the narcissists or those misguided souls who delight in harming others), but I do want to show this side of me more and more to a growing number of loved ones, clients, colleagues, and intimates.
I don’t want to create a false image of myself on this blog or in my life in general.
I want to show the real me to you: the good, the bad, and the ugly. I want to give you the chance to embrace me for all my facets: my dark, as well as my light.
I want to be real.
SHARING OUR DEEPEST QUESTIONS TOGETHER
As we awaken further and further, we dive into the deepest of questions.
Who am I? What is life? What am I doing here? What is the point of all of this?
As I write this article now, I am asking: Who the heck is Anya Light?
As I pause to sip my tea, I smile, knowing that, ultimately, Anya Light is a label. A concept. A reference point in a sea of mysterious energy.
Paradoxically, when I think of life in this way, my body relaxes. I take myself down off the hook of needing to be perfect, and I can just enjoy my life—just as it is, just as I am.
Is Anya Light always blissful and bursting with light? No. Is she always compassionate? No. A fully enlightened yogini? Certainly not.
Here are some truths about the realities of living as “Anya Light.”
I am the archetypal “wounded healer.” I have come to know healing only through intensely plunging into the depths of suffering.
I have pulled myself out of some very dark holes, and I teach others how to do the same.
These holes that I dealt with can be described as chronic illness, suicidal depression, and PTSD. Even though I am healthier now than I have ever been in my entire life, and even though I facilitate safe spaces for others to heal themselves, I sometimes still have relapses.
Sometimes when I’m lacking food or sleep or when stress hits, certain old PTSD symptoms flare up. On these days, I am sad and frightened, like a little child. (Part of healing from trauma is the undeniable fact that even after the worst has passed, and even after the time has come to let go of the label PTSD, sometimes symptoms still come back.)
The truth is: Anya Light is not always light.
Sometimes I’m so fearful of this world that I hide myself in my apartment.
As an empath, I get super overwhelmed sometimes. I feel too much: the terror, horror, and injustice that is unfortunately commonplace in our modern world. Sometimes I cannot comprehend or cope with it!
Why would people pay good money to sit in a theater and watch violence on the screen and consider that “entertainment”? Why would people start rumors and gossip about their coworkers? Why would a parent fail to hug their child? Why would politicians steal money out of pension funds? Why would there ever be such a thing as homelessness? These are the questions I ask that I do not have answers for—and they sometimes send my head into a worried, tired spin.
Sometimes … the truth is … living on this planet just seems like too much. And I lose my sense of who I am and why I’m here.
But, dear friends, I don’t want to hide any longer! I don’t want to be overwhelmed by the world’s madness. I want to come out of hiding.
I want to say to the world “Hey, I’m sensitive and that’s okay!” I want to show others my tears and fears. I want to hold so many hands. I want to surrender to the light that resides within, no matter how dark that light might sometimes appear to be.
I want to be the change I want to see in the world.
I want to reveal my vulnerability.
I want to let others truly see me.
I want to be the change.
As you ponder all that I’ve shared with you, I encourage you to read, re-read, and journal about the following questions. Bring them up with your friends and loved ones. Seek answers, throw out the answers, laugh, and start again.
What is it you desire to experience in this lifetime?
What is your purpose?
Are you willing to show your true self?
Who is your true self?
What are the emotions you’ve quarantined or dismissed as “not evolved”?
Are you ready to come out of hiding?
Are you ready to show the light and dark within you?
Recently, I was walking in the park near my home. It was a beautiful day outside: sunny, warm, blue sky.
But … inside … I felt rotten.
I had slept poorly the night before. I was going through some difficulties at work. My brain was tied into a million worried knots.
My reason for going to the park was to relax. I wanted to reconnect with the simplicity of nature. I needed to breathe and reboot. My plan was to be alone, without words, without other people, and just be with the trees and allow my emotions to flow.
However, when I began to walk the myriad paths through the sycamore and oak, I began to pass by many people from my small town. It was strangely crowded at the park that day. Apparently, my idea to take advantage of the gorgeous afternoon in the sunshine was not my idea alone!
As I passed person after person, I realized, suddenly, that I been forcing myself to smile at all of them. I had been putting an artificial tone of cheer in my voice and had been saying “hello!” and “good afternoon!”…when all I really wanted to do was cry.
I wanted to feel and really allow the sadness. I didn’t want to be fake. I didn’t want to smile.
But I was fake that day. The smiles and the hellos were forced.
Why did I feel an obligation to be cheerful? Why had this happened?
THE BEAUTIFUL DESIRE TO HELP
If you are a naturally giving or naturally upbeat person, you may wish you could smile all the time. Of course! It’s lovely to want to smile.
If you are a caregiver, parent, healer, therapist, minister, motivational speaker, teacher, coach, or helper of any kind, it is your natural tendency to want to uplift others. You want to make this world a better place. You want to bring the light. That is so awesome!
And … yet … we can get ourselves into tricky situations when we fail to honor our authenticity. When we force ourselves to smile or try to help too much—at the expense of our own needs.
I’ve seen it all too often. The genuine desire to be a beacon of light becomes, unfortunately, the mask we feel obliged to wear 24/7. It becomes a heavy burden, a façade. Slowly, over time, we begin to live solely for others, instead of acknowledging that we ourselves sometimes need help too.
Sometimes we are sad, too.
GIVING YOURSELF PERMISSION TO BE REAL
My dear friends, you don’t always have to smile.
Sometimes you have a bad day. Sometimes you feel like shit. Sometimes you don’t get enough sleep or you catch a cold. Sometimes you are triggered by this crazy world: politics, taxes, paying your bills, the cruel treatment of children or animals.
You don’t always have to smile.
You don’t always have to shine.
For example, if you’re feeling lousy today and you’ve got to go to the grocery store, cut yourself some slack. Visualize a protective bubble of light around yourself and just breathe. Love yourself. Go to the store and don’t worry that you don’t have the energy to do what you normally do, such as make abundant eye contact with the cashier or cheerfully chat with your neighbor.
If you’re feeling low, it’s okay to turn off your “empathy button” for a while. Be in your own world. Give yourself permission to be exactly who you are in this moment: empty, flat, tired, and sad.
You don’t always have to smile. You don’t always have to be shiny. You don’t always have to be the perfect embodiment of joy, confidence, peace, and happiness. You don’t always have to bring the light. You don’t always have to help.
THE WONDERFUL TEACHINGS OF JIM CAREY
The comedian Jim Carey is a wonderful example of someone who has realized the value of being genuine.
In recent interviews and speeches, Carey talks a lot about letting our masks drop. Having the courage to set them down and be real.
He reminds us the value of being raw and authentic, genuine and vulnerable. In order to fully step into our beautiful humanity, it is essential to intentionally show our weakness to others. By allowing ourselves to be seen as “imperfect,” then we give others permission to relax and do the same. In this way, more compassion comes into the world. And more realness.
Carey’s message is the same as countless sages throughout history. He realized that only through daring to be vulnerable can our true light shine through.
The true light of God, Divinity, the Universe (whatever you want to call it) is within us—but if we pretend to be feeling that light when we are not, we are only hurting ourselves.
Sometimes, what we need to do is cry.
Sometimes, what we need to do is reach out to a trusted friend and say, “I need help—can we get some tea and talk?”
Sometimes we need to go to our Mum and say “Hey Mum, I’m scared. Can I have a hug?”
Sometimes we need to call in sick to work.
Sometimes we need to say “no” or let someone down in order to take care of ourselves.
Carey tells us about how, early in his career, while he was striving to become famous, he not only played the roles in the scripts, but he also played a role in his larger life: that role was called “Jim Carey”! But, he didn’t realize that he was doing this until he began to spiritually awaken.
In his awakening (the unraveling of his ego), he realized that in order to continue his evolution as a soul, he must drop even the role of Jim Carey! He must dare to let others see him, truly seehim, moment to moment.
Who is underneath the mask, the persona?
When we make the choice to step outside the boundaries of the tense, anxious, ego-self (even if only for a few minutes, even if only for a little bit), we will find a free-flowing relaxation. A loosening. A delicious unravelling. A peace. And we will realize, incredibly, that we are not limited to form.
We are boundless.
What is underneath the mask is what the mystics have always spoken of. The collision of this moment and the infinite. The conflagration of spirit and emptiness. The person and the being. The Tao. The way. The everything.
Jim Carey dares us to be authentic.
And so do I.
What I learned in the park that day was a turning point in my life.
I realized that I needed to take care of myself first. And what that sometimes means is having the courage not to smile. To just feel and honor my own sadness. To just be human.
Even the inspiration of seeing yourself as a healer or a helper can become a false idol, a mental image. If we believe we “are” that thing that we do—even if it’s positive such as being a teacher or a nurse or a minister or whatever—then we will ultimately drown in that form. We will ultimately sink, into the darkness of confusion and untruth.
If we can relax our human role identity, it is then, paradoxically, that we can allow the full range of humanness—all our sometimes seemingly crazy, chaotic emotions—to emerge and be truly felt.
THE BEAUTIFUL TEACHINGS OF BRENÉ BROWN
Another person who has helped bring these lessons of authenticity to the light of our collective consciousness is Brené Brown.
In her infamous TED talk “The Power of Vulnerability” (with over seven million views on Youtube), she teaches how being vulnerable is a radical act of courage that can change the world. She shows how vulnerability is ultimately an empowering act: one we can intentionally choose in order to liberate ourselves from fear and step more fully into our joy.
Instead of reaching for that banana nut muffin and a beer, as she reminds us, do we have the courage to really feel what we are feeling? Do we have the courage to just breathe and be, instead of rushing to numb ourselves with food, drugs, or other addictive behaviors?
Can we find the courage within ourselves to reach out for help and be honest with those we love about our challenges?
Can we be honest about our sadness and our fears?
Brown’s questions are potent and transformative. In a world that’s waking up, it’s exactly what we need to hear.
She helps me remember that I don’t always have to smile. Sometimes I can be sad, and that’s okay.
THE CONTINUING CONVERSATION
This post has two parts, my friends. Please tune in next week, as I explore this conversation further.
In the meantime, I’ll leave you with two simple questions:
Many of us are familiar with a few popular methods for healing trauma: counseling, exercise, meditation, and hypnotherapy. But what if we were still missing a key piece to the healing process? What if there was another powerful tool? p
For over a decade, I struggled with panic attacks, chronic fatigue, severe allergies, and other PTSD-related symptoms. I constantly felt sick and had trouble maintaining my energy levels. I tried various methods of healing, but it wasn’t until I changed my diet that I noticed significant changes. p
Quite simply, the food we put into our mouths is one of the core elements of healing. p
Since I changed my diet, I have felt healthier and healthier with each passing year. I am thirty-five years old today, and I can honestly say that I feel healthier than I have ever felt in my entire life! p
I currently work as an intuitive life coach in a variety of therapeutic settings, including yoga/wellness studios and in a domestic violence shelter. In addition to my own healing journey, the work I’ve done with traumatized individuals has proven to me that food plays an ENORMOUS role in how quickly we can recover. p
In this article, I’ll discuss 3 keys to a trauma recovery diet that promotes deep, lasting healing.*
NOURISH YOUR BODY WITH PLENTY OF ANTIOXIDANT-RICH FOODS. p
Antioxidants are natural substances that promote healthy circulation of energy through increased blood flow. Healthy circulation helps the body cleanse itself of toxins as well as reduce out-of-control inflammation. p
As you can imagine, getting enough antioxidants is important for every human being… but for PTSD and trauma survivors, antioxidants are especially crucial. Antioxidants help us by uncoiling tension and stuck energy within the body. This promotes peace and relaxation, which helps us feel safe in the world. p
Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and beans are all rich in antioxidants. Some specific foods that have the highest levels are: blueberries, blackberries, goji berries, pecans, artichokes, elderberries, kidney beans, cranberries, cilantro, basil, ginger, and any type of dark leafy green.
INCREASE YOUR PROTEIN INTAKE. p
The intense experience of trauma forces us to adapt. In response to the wounds, we learn coping mechanisms that allow us to numb or even energetically flee our bodies altogether. In soul healing methods, such as those discussed in the peer-reviewed article “Trauma and Dissociation“, deep-rooted healing happens when there is a reunion between body and spirit. p
Common symptoms of unresolved trauma include the reoccurring sensations of feeling floaty, shaky, dizzy, unbalanced, or ungrounded. Protein helps us resolve these symptoms. p
Protein calms the nervous and endocrine systems. On a spiritual/energetic level, protein helps us to connect more solidly with Mother Earth. Protein helps us to come back into our bodies and to feel strong and safe there. p
Some foods that are high in protein are: nuts, seeds, beans, peas, lentils, brown rice, tempeh, kefir, mushrooms, and spinach. p
A Note on Eating Meat
People usually think about meat when they think of protein. The question of whether or not to eat it is entirely up to your judgment. p
Eating meat is your choice and no single rule works for everyone. At certain phases of a person’s healing journey, meat can be beneficial. At other phases, though, it can be destructive. p
Listen to your body. Eat a bite or two of meat and then observe your body and emotions for the next few hours afterwards. Do you feel renewed? Grounded? Queasy? Sluggish? Angry? Be open to the messages your body is telling you, whether positive or negative. p
If you feel that eating meat is good for you at this time, I encourage you to think about what’s easiest to digest. Allowing your digestive system the lightest possible amount of “work” frees up more energy that is then available to your body for healing. Typically, red meat and pork are the most difficult for people to digest. Fish is often the easiest.
Also, if you are going to eat meat, I suggest limiting yourself to eating only happy meat—meat that comes from grass-fed, free range, organic, humanely-treated animals. p
Why? The answer is about energy. As trauma survivors are quite often energetically sensitive souls, it is not advised to consume meat from an animal that has suffered greatly. An animal that has been tortured (what happens in factory farms) will have vibrations of fear, pain, and terror imprinted into each cell. When a human being then eats the meat from such an animal, they are—quite literally—ingesting those difficult emotions as well.
As we eat increased amounts of protein, in whatever form our bodies ask for, we connect energetically to the Earth and we re-enter our bodies in a more balanced, grounded way. We have the energy to complete our daily tasks without overwhelm, and we build the functionality of our muscles. We become strong in the world again.
AVOID TOXIC, STRESSFUL FOODS p
We survivors can often become addicted to certain unhealthy foods. We do this as a kind of coping method. We want to find relief from negative emotions. p
However, when we are working on healing trauma, it is so important that we do everything we can to calm our physical body. To put our body in certain conditions that will promote peace and tranquility. When we are traumatized, our fight-or-flight mechanisms have gone haywire, and so our bodies are typically poised at the edge of fear on a constant basis. p
Unhealed trauma means an overly-adrenalized endocrine system and an overly-stimulated nervous system. p
In trauma recovery, there is a core group of substances that cause more stress on the body. These substances need to be gradually released for a full healing process to occur. In general, it is wise to avoid: processed sugars, processed white flours, foods laden with artificial chemicals, foods with pesticides (non-organic foods), GMOs, alcohol, and caffeine. p
Dear friends, as you walk this beautiful path to wellness and to a vibrant, peaceful life, please know that you are not alone. There are countless others who walk this path. p
I have healed myself, and now I’m here to tell you that you can heal yourself, too. p
Trauma is not a life sentence. You can heal. You will heal. p
As you make choices about what’s most nourishing for your body, remember that the comfortable or easy choice might not always be the best choice. Sometimes making changes can require a certain amount of discipline. And, it takes gentle patience. There will be setbacks sometimes. Healing takes time. pp
Ultimately, when we set the intention to heal our body, mind, and spirit from trauma, we choose to prioritize self-love and self-compassion. By listening for what is the most loving, compassionate choice, we then naturally begin to make better choices that promote our long-term health and vitality.
*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 medical advice. Rather, what I am gently suggesting here is simply personal opinion, based upon my own personal experience and research.
It is easy to heal panic attacks once you understand what a panic attack truly is. p
A panic attack is simply a message from the universe. It is a wake-up call. p
The next time you feel panic coming on, if you can remember the words I’m writing to you here, I assure you that the feeling of panic will begin to dissipate. p
I am here to tell you that you can heal your panic attacks, permanently and completely! p
Before I share the details of how to heal, please know that I deeply empathize with what you’ve been going through. I struggled with panic attacks for over a decade, stemming from a long battle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I have now reached the point in my life where I no longer have panic attacks. p
So, my friends, what is a panic attack? p
Well, on a surface level, a panic attack appears to us as a seeming loss of bodily and mental control: rapid heart rate, sweating, weakness, dizziness, nausea, shaking, unexplainable feelings of paranoia and impending doom, racing thoughts, and a wish to retreat from others and hide in a cave. p
Panic attacks feel awful and scary. They make us feel like we are our own worst enemy—like we can’t even trust our own bodies or our own minds. p
It’s a feeling of total distrust. It is fear and horror. p
But what is a panic attack, really? What is a panic attack at the deepest level? p
Dear friends, a panic attack is a message. It is an invitation from the universe to go deeper into ourselves.
Quite simply, a panic attack is the universe’s way of saying: p
Dear one, it is time for you to come back into your body. Dear one, it is time for you to come back into your body. p p
Yes, my friend, it is indeed time for you to come back into your body. That is why you have been drawn to this article. You have reached the point where you are ready to heal. p p
Panic attacks happen when our spirit (some people also call this “soul” or “life spark”) has been living primarily outside of our body for a period of time, and the pressure has built up. When the pressure builds to a certain extent, the universe brings us a panic attack, so that we are forced to retreat from the company of others and go be alone. It is through this aloneness that we begin to feel ourselves, from the inside, for the first time in a long while—or perhaps for the first time in our lives. p
A panic attack signals we have lost our mind-body connection. p
A panic attack reminds us to bring mindfulness into our lives. p
Through the seemingly “negative” experience of a panic attack, we are forced to bring our attention inward to the body.
Even though it seems negative, a panic attack is actually a good thing, because it forces a moment of mindfulness. Even though it feels scary, we are suddenly paying a lot of attention to our body’s physical sensations. We are noticing our rapid heartbeat. We are noticing our fast and shaky breath. We are noticing our dry mouth and queasy stomach. We are noticing the weakness in our limbs. We are noticing all these different sensations. p
It is the sheer act of noticing that begins to heal the disconnection from our bodies. p
Perhaps, at first, it may seem nonsensical to hear that your spirit has not been fully living inside your body. How is that possible, you ask? If I have been alive and walking around, how have I not been in it? p
Well, if you have experienced any form of abuse, trauma, chronic illness, or severe pain in your life, there is a good chance that your spirit (the indwelling spark that is uniquely you) has felt very unsafe and has tried to protect itself by not fully occupying your physical vessel. You have been, instead, hovering near and around your body. You have been near your body, but not often fully in it. p
Another scenario that can provoke the spirit fleeing the body is our genetic or karmic histories. If you have suffered in an extreme way in a past lifetime—or if your genetic heritage includes extreme trauma such as war or violence, and those core wounds have not yet been healed—then those past energetic wounds have led you to not feel safe enough to fully occupy your body. Genetic and karmic histories explain why some people who’ve had easy, pleasant, or even wonderfully pampered life experiences still have unexplainable anxiety and panic attacks. p
Another reason why you may not have felt safe inside your body is that you are an empath or a naturally gifted intuitive, but you were raised in an environment where your gifts were suppressed rather than nurtured. Thus, when you were a child, you unconsciously shut down certain chakras and partially fled your body. p
There are many, many reasons why we don’t feel safe in our bodies. Your reason(s) may be one of the ones I just listed, or it may be totally unique to you. p
Regardless of the reason, however, the point to understand is this: if you’ve been experiencing panic attacks, then, most assuredly, for some reason or another, your spirit has not been fully dwelling inside your body. In other words, your mind-body connection has been severed. p
So, how do we move forward? p
What does it mean to fully occupy the body? p
To be firmly rooted in the body is to have attention focused into the body consistently and at various intervals throughout the day. This is what mindfulness is all about: feeling the sensations of our bodies without mental judgments or mental labeling. p
To be firmly rooted in the body is to feel you are truly safe there, to feel that it is your home.
When a panic attack strikes—or if you feel anxiety building—you can prevent a panic attack, and you can heal your anxiety. Simply take a few deep, slow breaths and say the following mantra yourself: p
I am safe to come back into my body. I am safe, here, inside my body. p
And, then, simply look down at your body. Notice your hands and feet, your legs. Notice your arms and torso. Gaze at your body while breathing slowly. Bring your attention to all the various sensations within your body: the aches, the pains, the shivers, the tingles, everything. Imagine in your mind’s eye that your soul is entering your body and fully occupying it. Imagine that you are taking up residence there, inside your body, and that it is fully safe to do so. p
Our culture teaches us to neglect our body. It teaches us to poison ourselves with unhealthy foods and unhealthy lifestyles. Our culture teaches us that what others say or think about us is more valuable than what we feel within. p
Our mainstream culture is a fear-based culture. It wants to enslave us with thoughts of lack, competition, scarcity, and violence. No wonder we have panic attacks! It can feel pretty scary living on this planet right now. Even if we did not experience any major abuse in our childhood, all of us were raised on a planet where there are some people who starve to death while some people live in mansions. That is emotional abuse, plain and simple. And this emotional harshness affects us deeply and creates lasting (often subconscious) feelings that it is not safe to be here in our bodies here on planet Earth. p
All of us, to some extent, leave our bodies from time to time. We get carried away in daydreams. We sit in front of the computer for hours at a time and lose all connection with our breath and the sensations in our limbs. We stay indoors watching television and forget to go out into the rivers and forests for exercise and deep replenishment. p
We all get disconnected from time to time; we all get disembodied from time to time. p
So, when a person has a panic attack, it is a very clear and loud wake up call from the universe. p
Yes, panic feels frightening; it feels awful, yes—but that’s only the universe doing its best to grab our attention. p
My friend, you are being protected and cared for by the universe.
Because of your panic attacks, you are reading this article and pondering deeply about what it means to be a human being and what it means to be alive in a body. These are deep issues. These are issues that not everyone has the courage to explore.
And while this may seem odd to hear, I want to congratulate you for reaching this stage of your evolutionary journey. You have now thoroughly explored the land of anxiety and panic, learned all its corners and routes and territories, and now you are ready to emerge from it: deeper, wiser. p
Eventually, you will grow so confident in the fact that panic attacks are a past issue that you will feel an urge to share your wisdom with others. You will teach. You will help humanity heal. p
Thank you for being you, and blessings on your journey back into the body. p
Many thanks to the awesome folks at elephant journal, who also published this article.