A Real Reset Part Three

 

Something that has been profoundly beneficial in my life is the practice of looking across disciplines, and drawing from a wide range of perspectives and practices to help make my life better in terms of health. This has gifted me with all kinds of healing that I have come to rely on for myself, my family, and for those I work with. My only criteria in this gathering is that whatever it is that I am drawing on, serves real human needs, supports the body without harm, includes all of me, and carries with it a resonance of truth and wisdom.

For a while, I did not fully see the value in the amalgamation I was engaging in. At times, even going so far as to hide or downplay what was working for me. I thought maybe there was something wrong with this kind of approach; that I was being some kind of flighty mutt by not committing to just one thing. But then I spoke with my daughter whose degree is in interdisciplinary studies. Not only was there a name for what I was doing, but a deep understanding that when it comes to the really big issues in Life, it is only by drawing from a number of perspectives, that we can hope to come to real and lasting solutions.

Which brings me to where we currently find ourselves with the health crisis we are in. One, by the way, that we have been in long before a virus showed up, but that is revealing all the more, all of the ways, that our current medical paradigm is just not working. Unfortunately, instead of opening up the view around what we are up against, we are further entrenching ourselves in a system that emphasizes disease, insists an expert knows more about your body than you, deals in fear to gain compliance, and justifies the treatments offered as being the only way to deal with what we are facing.

What would it be like though, if on a national level, our conventional medical system opened up the discourse around how best to approach what it is that stands before us? What if the vast array of health approaches that have been safely and effectively practiced all over the world for hundreds and thousands of years were included in how we bring health back to our people?

But that would require a loosening of the monopoly the current medical system in power has over our health. It would require that the AMA stop demonizing other traditions. (Something that dates back to its inception when it declared other legitimate approaches like herbalism, midwifery, indigenous healing and more, unlawful). It would mean the accusations from a system that routinely kills people every year through properly prescribed medications and procedures, would need to stop. This one has even got a name. Iatrogenic illness. Which translates to “doctor induced,” and which claims hundreds of thousands of people’s lives each year, while disabling millions.

If there was ever a time to explore and include other traditions, it would be now. Right now.

The Indian system of healing, Ayurveda, is the longest continually practiced health care system on the planet, being 5000 years old. Chinese Medicine, Homeopathy, Herbalism, Naturopathy, just to name a few are hundreds and thousands of years old with rich traditions of not only healing in general, but possessing the very solutions we need right now. There is also the old, accessible standby, food. The very same thing that Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, spoke so eloquently about when he said, “Let thy food be thy medicine, and thy medicine be thy food.”

Alternative health care approaches need two things from us to claim their seat at the table. They need to stop being referred to as “alternative;” being pushed to the periphery for the whackos or as last ditch attempts. And they need our trust and our willingness to explore their vast offerings. We, as the consumer, have the right to determine what it is that makes sense to us in terms of how we care for ourselves. And we have the right to demand medicine that does not hurt us. With that said, the biggest shift in our current “health” care system will never come from the government, the doctors, the hospitals, or those who train and credential them. It will only come from us.

This will require an enormous shift on our part. One where we must learn to take full and personal responsibility for our own health. One where we begin to question what is not working, recognizing that it is not, as we have come to believe, that the lack of results is due to the virulence of something, but that it is an indication that we are looking in the wrong direction. And that is where we begin.

Is there some place inside of you that wonders if there is a better way? A place that is willing to ask another question, look a little deeper, challenge what is being offered when what is being done is not working? If so, start there.

A Real Reset Part Two

 

There is a big ask in front of us right now on just about every level of living. That being, can we take what is happening and open ourselves to new possibilities? Or will we hunker down, lock down, and wait for it to be over?

The reason why it is such a big ask is that when we are in a state of trauma, which we all are now and have been long before this past year given the world we live in, we are locked out of accurately assessing what is happening. In other words, stuck in a collective trauma response, we are destined to see everything through the lens of false fears and exaggerated dangers. We are subject to looking at the world and what is happening through the window of all the past hurts and harms, large and small, that we have ever experienced, and that have never been recognized or resolved.

From this place, creativity shuts down because truly who needs to be creatively solving a problem when you feel as though your very life is at stake? I know this may sound extreme, or that it might be impossible for you to believe you have been traumatized because our old way of understanding trauma was to believe it had to be the really big things like being abused or raped. But all of the current understandings in this area now rest on the fact that trauma occurs in all shapes and sizes. And that it is subjective with the impact depending on so many things. Like the level of support you do or do not have, constitutional factors, your ability to re-write the trauma experience, and more.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because without a thorough and deep examination of what each of us is bringing to the table at this particular time in history, we will never be in a position to effectively and accurately resolve what stands before us. Instead, we will be fated to repeating over and over again what we fear most.

I’ll give you an example. Because I grew up in an alcoholic home where the wrong things were in charge, where real human needs were denied, and where we were all controlled by something harmful, I have a tendency to look out at what is happening now and fall into a kind of fear and desperation when I see agendas or mandates that I believe are not in keeping with real human needs. So this has been my work for the past year. The process of clearing up those old hurts and trauma-based projections so that I am in a position to not only heal myself, but to be part of a real solution for the world.

Make sense? If so, try this. Pinpoint what you are most afraid of at this time. And then see if it in any way links to anything you have ever experienced. It is a kind of following bread crumbs through the forest with no agenda other than to find the next one, while allowing it to lead you where it will. It is helpful to do this when you have some space. So make the space.

And if not for you, how about for the rest of us?

A Real Reset: Part One

 

The opportunities for greater clarity around health abound at this time. Why? Because as we come up against all that is not working, there comes an opening of such magnitude for greater well-being, that it might actually be difficult to imagine given what we have come to expect as “normal.” But what I am talking about is available for each and every one of us when we allow ourselves to be open to creating a greater understanding of, and connection to, the very bodies that we inhabit. The very bodies that we are. The very same ones, unfortunately, that we often fear, disparage, criticize, harm, ignore, and deny.

How can this be? We are mammals after all. That one biological truth alone serves as both a cautionary tale when it comes to where we have separated from our own nature, as well as being a True North in our ability to return to caring for ourselves. You see, as mammals, it is built into us. It is innate. Inherent. Available always. So it becomes both interesting and essential to wonder why it is that no other mammal other than us makes choices that undermines it health, well-being, or very nature. What’s the deal with us anyway?

It can be summed up in one word: Conditioning. We have literally been trained away from the basic biological truths of our bodies. Without which we become lost and susceptible to what is not true. Either through our own confused minds or through the information we receive from the external world, we convince ourselves of the wrong things. And because we see the results of this conditioning on other bodies nearly everywhere we go now, it can be easy to believe.

Want to find your way back? Go to the body. Be with the body. Learn about the body. Get some basic information, and I do mean basic, on how a body works from a source that is not trying to sell you something or get you to do anything. From a source that is actually living what they are talking about, as opposed to experts who give lots of disembodied and unlived information.

I have been working with something that I think of as The Body Primer 101 that may be of service. A set of understandings and nourishments that are a prerequisite for health, and that without the satisfaction of, you actually do not know what you are looking at when the body becomes unwell. These are universal satisfactions that must be met for health. I see them both working together as one, as well as having a bit of a hierarchal nature to them at times.

They are: The Breath, Hydration, Whole Food, Sleep, Movement, Good Company.

The Breath is your single most important nutrient. Literally every one of your trillions of cells requires a continuous, unobstructed flow. The sad truth is that we can breathe enough to stay alive, but not be thriving.

Hydration is critical for many things. One of them being to keep your tissues moist enough to serve as a protective shield against invading microorganisms.

Whole Foods speak directly to the old adage: You are what you eat. The food you ingest makes you; your body, your mood, your energy, your thoughts, your actions, and your contributions.

Sleep is an absolute biological necessity. Did you know that Johns Hopkins did a retrospective study after the 1918 pandemic and found that the single factor predicting how people fared who had gotten sick was how well they took to sleeping and bed rest?

Movement equates to vitality, aliveness, and the overall health of your body and your brain. Forget about exercise. Find something that moves you.

Good Company serves as an insulation against stress, and is an undeniable prerequisite for health and longevity. Loneliness and isolation kills.

Pick one, focus on it, and it will eventually lead you to all the rest. And in the end, all of it will lead you back to not only health, but to your truest Nature.

What If…

 

Every thought was a prayer, and every prayer was answered?

Your thoughts really did create your reality?

You knew that what you thought, said, and did mattered?

You knew that you mattered?

The state of the world was not separate from your state?

Your happiness really was in your own hands?

It really was possible to break with a past that no longer served?

You got exactly what you thought about, whether you wanted it or not?

What then?

 

Our Collective Past

 

I am just now making my way back from a very emotional and psychologically painful week. One that plunged me into the darkest recesses of my own past, along with that of our collective past. It all began innocently enough while I was doing my weekly shop at the Co-Op I belong to. The story goes like this.

As I was shopping, an employee approached me from behind, brusquely saying “Your mask isn’t covering your nose.” Caught off guard, I turned around to face him, pausing for a moment to catch up with what was happening. At which point he said “Are you going to do something about it?” Pause. Pause. Pause. “Sure,” was my reply.

As he walked away, saying loud enough for all in the general area to hear, he declared, “Someone’s gotta do it.” And then went on to rip into me with a fellow employee, the likes of which I did not stay to listen to. But as I walked away, like a bolt from beyond, the word “vigilantism,” dropped into my mind, and I began to get what I will call overlays of past times. I saw lynchings of black men. I saw women being raped. I saw Jews being driven out of their homes and annihilated. Through it all I could feel the righteous indignation of those bringing the harm as they justified to themselves and to the world, “These people deserve it.”

Now, I recognize that this is very, very far out there. But is it? For modern science is finally catching up to what people have always known. That being, we carry the traumas of our past encoded directly into our DNA. As a matter of fact, recent research is saying we carry the trauma of our ancestors for fourteen generations. Fourteen generations. This means we all carry a past of harm. And, this means we all have access to learning and healing from our collective histories.

Why am I telling you all of this? Partly because I am trying to be with the undercurrent that is building. A kind of undertow that carries with it atrocities large and small if we do not intervene. I am trying to understand my role in all of this. And partly I am telling you this because I want to start a conversation based on respect and the inclusion of differing view points. This is how that conversation would go.

Should my mask have been up over my nose? According to the current mandates, yes. But not according to the wiser and deeper part of me that says I need to breathe freely in order to remain healthy, and that my health is the greatest contribution I will ever make to the common good. Was that man within his jurisdiction as an employee of the Co-Op to say something to me? Sure. But his thinly veiled hostility and dangerous self-righteousness smacks of past atrocities. Ones where we were so very certain that we had the fix on the truth, and that because of that, any and all words or actions were therefore, justified.

I keep wondering how history will judge this time period. My bet is that it will not be favorable. My bet is that people will shake their heads at how we have allowed fear to drive us, dehumanize us, and separate us. So whether you believe I “deserved” it or not, how much are you willing to sacrifice of our shared humanity? How much dignity are you willing to strip from another? How many edicts will you agree to in the name of this?

 

A Higher Appeal

 

Many years ago, after dropping out of the doctoral chase in the 11th hour, I found myself in Lenox, Massachusetts at The Kripalu Yoga Center where I had stumbled my way into a Yoga Teacher Training; having gotten there through a series of unlikely and serendipitous events. I had no clue what I was doing. What I did have going for me though was that I was very, very open, having recently let go of how I felt I needed to show up in the world.

It was that time in Life where I had released one well-known trapeze bar before I had my hands fully on the next one. As a matter of fact, not only could I not see the next bar, I had no idea if one was even there to take hold of. Or, as I sometimes feared, if I would be left plummeting, embarrassingly and publicly so, to my professional and personal demise.

It left me in a position that when I got to this training, it was like all bets were off given the realties I had been subscribing to. Looking back, I guess I should not have been surprised by some of the things that started happening to me, but I was. I would enter deep states of both expansion and relaxation, where much to my surprise, for it was nothing I knew anything about, Swami Kripalu, the yoga master, Indian saint and namesake of the institution I was at, would show up and tell me things. And while what he was saying was spot on and blowing my mind, it was nothing I talked about because, well, you know… he wasn’t actually there. And oh, by the way, he had been dead for nearly twenty years.

After a time I got used to it. More than that, I began to count on it. I believe I was able to do this because I had just released long-standing beliefs and models around who I was and how I needed to show up in the world. Given that I was wide open, my ideas around what was possible had broadened. So while I knew nothing of what was happening, I knew it was working. Whatever it was.

At one point, I began to go with questions, and have “little” conversations with him. During one of these interactions, I was painfully aware of the rift that I felt inside of myself regarding who I was, and of not trusting that I could be that in the world. I was becoming ever more aware of the ways that I would either feel like I needed to hide or to fight. Hide the truth about who I was. Or, try and defend my right to live in a way that made sense to me.

I was stuck. I knew that neither way was working, but I couldn’t figure it out. It felt like I either had to be who others thought I should be and do as they thought I should do, or, go to war in order to win my right to do so. This left me feeling either bad about myself, or feeling at odds with others. When I asked him about it, he simply said, “Nothing that separates.”

Nothing that separates. I have never received more profound guidance around how to be in the world in a way that honors myself and what I know to be true, while doing the same for others. Nothing that separates not only includes all of each one of us, it includes all of anyone else as well. This is not something many of us understand, or would believe to be possible in our zero sum game world, where it is either my way or your way. Either I get my needs met or you get your needs met. Either your candidate/issue wins or my candidate/issue wins.

It’s not working. And it is not because of those of us on the other side of the divide. It is because of the divide we have created. It is because of the separation itself. Let us stop talking about this as if it is someone else’s fault or doing. Let us recognize that we are part of the equation, and that our inability to entertain anything outside of our frame is not the other side’s doing or fault, but an indication of how little faith and confidence we have in our own beliefs and ways of being. So much so that we cannot tolerate a “dissenting” view as it challenges in a way that we cannot bear.

For the Truth is, anything that is true and real and worth living for, cannot be ruined because of a dissenting view point. Anything that is real and true and worth living for is only made better by open challenge. And because in the end, anything that is worth fighting for takes it orders from beyond our particular and conditional ideas about how the world should be. Accordingly, if you yearn for something else, seek a higher perspective on how you approach things and I will lay odds that you will get the same message that I did: Nothing that separates.

I leave it to you to work out what that means for you.

Why Not?

 

I was co-leading a series on women’s health and their journey into healing when unexpectedly, the woman I am facilitating with began what felt like a very channeled outpouring. All of which fell under the heading of, “Why Not?”

As in, why not be better to yourself? Why not take charge of your life and your health in a way that makes sense to you? Why not claim this one life of yours? Not only was the question unexpected, it was downright inspiring. Exactly where I most want to be in my life and in the company of others; exploring what is possible while blowing up false and distorted limitations.

The way this question was posed sat on the other end of the spectrum of a conversation that I had had earlier in the day. One where I was listening to a long list of “why nots.” Not in the inspiring sense, but as in why it could not happen. (Interesting that the same phrase can work in both directions.) Why they could not find a job. Why they could not do what they really wanted to do. Why it was not possible to be OK given what is going on in the world.

My goodness how easy it is to feel that way right now. So easy to fall into the mindset that what we really want cannot, or will not, happen. Given the state of affairs, who could argue? You would have to be a mad woman, beyond naive, or living in a bubble to believe anything else. Right? It seems so logical to go with gloom and doom and everything that could not possibly happen. So very, very justifiable. So realistic.

How foolhardy, foolish, risky, dangerous even to believe in the why not? of possibility and no-holds-barred. So, instead, we go along with a program that none of us actually wants; believing we have no other options. And while it may be true that the times are especially challenging, don’t we do this regardless of the times? That being, focus on why not, and not in the open and curious way, but in all of the ways that it will not happen.

But the truth is, we always have options. And somewhere deep down we know this, which is why we are so enamored with heroes and heroines across history. And do you know why we love them? Not because they were guaranteed an outcome or had all the answers. Not because they were being realistic or level-headed, but because, against all odds, they said why not? in a big and brave way. Because they decided on something and went for it. Stood by it. Lived and breathed it in ways large and small. Whether it was easy, difficult or approved of by consensus reality. Or not.

I do not think anyone has said it better than Abraham Lincoln when he stated, “Determine that the thing can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way.”

And that is precisely how it works. Something must be determined, first. And then the way reveals itself. Not, the other way around, as many of us would demand. Want in on something that links you to the greatest among us? What can you determine today? Something that you can hold to long enough to be shown the way. Because truly, why not?

Conditions

 

This past weekend, I attended a virtual retreat that, among other things, included lots of what would have looked like from the outside, as not much at all. But a much different story unfolded based on what was happening inside of me. As in, on the first night, in the midst of the stillness and the quiet, an earth shattering proclamation floated itself into my mind saying, “There are no conditions to you being here.”

It made me weep with the pure Truth and resonance of it. And it made me weep with both relief and sadness. Relief, that I do not have to do all of the things I believe I need to do. And sadness because of all of the wasted efforts and false ideas around who and what I think I need to be. It was like passing through a montage of humanity where I was witness to all of the ideas and stories we hold around who we think we need to be. How we think we need to act and speak and present and think and want and laugh and move and, you name it. On and on it went.

I must look a certain way in order to be loved. I must please you in order to exist. I must be somehow important enough, well-off enough, smart enough, thin enough, funny enough, accommodating enough, pretty enough, well-mannered enough, enough, enough, enough of something, just to occupy space here on this earth. It was excruciatingly sad to bear witness to all of the conditions that we impose upon ourselves to feel like we are deserving of love, acceptance, safety, belonging, and approval.

With the most basic and fundamental error of all being, what we feel we must do to even have the right to be here.

Worst of all? We do not even know we are doing this. We do not even know we have based our lives on sets of conditions we feel we need to submit to just to have a right to exist. That is how ingrained it is. How invisible to us it is. How woven in. How accepted. How “normal” it all feels to be constantly driving ourselves and containing ourselves based on this inner set of conditional mandates. Never recognizing the trade-offs we have blindly agreed to.

One of my favorite thought leaders is Dr. Zach Bush. I once heard him describe the experience of bringing patients in the ER back from near death experiences. To a person, the first thing every one of them would ask was “Why did you bring me back?”

The second thing they would talk about was the deep sense of acceptance they had felt wherever it was they had just come from. A level of unconditional acceptance experienced for the very first time in their lives. No conditions whatsoever on who they were, or how they needed to be. No wonder they were not so interested in being back here.

Could we not begin to aim for some semblance of accepting ourselves without condition, without needing to be on the brink of death in order to do so? Or maybe, at least, less conditions than we currently impose? And could we not recognize that as we place less conditions on ourselves, we place less conditions on those around us?

And that the combination of more tolerance, acceptance, ease, and patience with ourselves and with others would actually set the very conditions for everything every one of us is yearning for?

There are conditions that help living things thrive. Find out what those are for you at the deepest and most basic level, and then open to the Truth that there are No Conditions To You. Being. Here. Say it. Say it to yourself each and every time you catch yourself believing you have to be a certain way.

There are no conditions to me being here.

 

Helping Or Hurting?

 

I was recently facilitating a webinar on taking care of yourself in the digital age when a question came in around how much news you should be watching. Beyond any answer to this, the question itself reveals a lot about not just what we are up against with 24 hour news cycles, but also lots and lots of essential awarenesses to be had around what we feel we need to watch. Or perhaps, more to the point, endure, in order to be part of the world. In order to be informed. In order to know what is going on.

In order to belong.

The question asked speaks volumes about where we go to find our answers. In other words, how often we look outside of ourselves to tell us not only what we should know, but also how we should feel about what is going on. More to the point, whether or not we actually have a choice. But the truth is, to live well in the world we currently inhabit is to cultivate a sense of sovereignty over our own life when it comes to where, when, and how much information is in our best interest to take in.

This requires a deep sense of self-trust. One that gives you the permission, the fortitude and the strength to opt out of what is not working for you. Believe it or not, this can be simple. This can be something you determine without an expert or some culturally accepted metric. And it is nothing more, or less, than posing one simple question to yourself:

“Is this helping or hurting?”

Sound naive? Maybe. Sound like an out-of-touch-with-your-head-in-the sand approach? Perhaps. But what if deciding what you take in and what you do not graduates you to the position of someone who has taken full responsibility for how they feel. Someone who has recognized that to be on constant overwhelm is to harm both themselves and those around them. And that to decide your own mind, what it is that you will put into it and what it is that you will not, is to make you a trustworthy source in the world.

Think about it. We believe we need to watch the news to know what is going on. But in the process we often lose touch with, or override the reality of, what is going on within ourselves. And when we are lost and disconnected from ourselves, how can we possibly believe we are in any position to make wise and discerning use of what is coming at us from across a screen? As a matter of fact, from this place all we can do is to spread the contagion of overwhelm and fear.

Just how many times do you need to see images of places burning and out of control to know what is happening for others? Just how many times a day do you need to watch the maps and follow the numbers to be aware of what we are up against in terms of world health?

Watch yourself. Feel yourself. Trust yourself.

Are you more or less empathic after the umpteenth image or news report? Does what you watch leave you paralyzed in your own life? Are you left afraid to be alive?

These are your answers.

Puzzle this out for yourself. Do not look to anyone else. And when in doubt? Get truly single-celled amoeba intelligent as in move towards, move away. Move towards what is life-affirming. Move away from what is toxic or depleting. It is that simple.

P.S. And when the rational mind comes in to tell you why you must do something that feels harmful to you, I will leave you with what someone once said to me; “Two drowning people are not better than one.”

Save yourself and you are now in a real position to help others.