All posts by Shirley

Wellness in the Mind Leads to Wellness in the Body

YOU CAN HEAL YOUR LIFE

An interesting fact: Did you know that we can change our biochemistry by changing out state of being? Literally, we can equally make ourselves ill or heal ourselves depending on our mood, disposition, outlook, and frame of mind.

This might sound “New Agey”, but take a moment to think and you will find it is nothing of the sort. Notice that when you are happy and excited about life in general, your aches and pains seem distant and less bothersome. When you are engaged in a meaningful task, like happily looking after a baby, your aches seem to recede to the background. Your headache, which sometimes transforms into a debilitating migraine will be bearable. That is, if it does not fade away all together.

If you feel put out, stressed and bothered when someone comes to your door, the simple act of being grumpy and agitated, gives your migraine a place to manifest and fester. Your aches and pains will show themselves with a vengeance. If you believe that being angry all the time does not affect your health you are deluding yourself.

We are in, actual fact, more in control of what we allow to take root in our bodies than we, or the medical establishment gives us credit for. I am not saying that there are external and mitigating factors such as trauma, environmental toxins, or actual microbes which can gravely affect the body. I am saying that the extent to which these things can disrupt our natural homeostasis is in direct correlation to our ability to stay in a state of calm, and allow our body to do what it does best: heal.

Part of accepting the fact that you can heal yourself, is accepting the fact that, you are the direct cause of much of your suffering. Of course there is natural law that states that we only have a certain number of years on the planet, and people do fall ill. However, let us think about who is actually suffering when a child, or sickly person of advanced age, succumbs to illness. Or, who is it that that signs paperwork that allows a dying child or elderly person to be resuscitated over and over. We batter failing bodies, destining them to a lifetime of suffering or months more on a machine in pain. It is us who cannot let go, we are trying to avoid our own pain not prevent suffering in those who have already let go.

We are so scared of death and pain in any form, that the fear of these things permeates our daily life. We see what we fear around every corner. What we don’t realize is that avoidance or total focus on our fears, call those exact situations into being. This is so that we can face the fear and overcome or give in to it. Most drug and alcohol addicts are so scared of the pain and discomfort of sobering up that they run around in more suffering from anxiety of getting the next fix than they actually go through in the process of getting clean.

The truth is we are so scared of the truth of who we are as human beings that we will do almost anything to shine a light elsewhere. Whether it is sickness, addiction, blame, pain, our children, lack of time, we will go to almost any length to hide the truth from ourselves and others. By doing this we remain in a place where all we can cultivate for ourselves is suffering. In this state we create chaos, which breeds illness in body and mind.

I used to live in constant pain because of actual physical injuries. I was sure that the only ‘Band-Aid’ was medication for my injuries, mental and physical. I was also convinced that there was no way, absolutely no way, that my broken leg, wrist, pelvis, and ribs would improve at my age. I was 34 at the time and I thought that the road was only downhill. Three years after I leapt out of a third story window, having had a devastating experience with post-partum depression, I knew that life was not going to get better. Of course every year I got worse and required increasing levels of medication. It was only when I came to peace with the fact that I was going to have some pain for the rest of my life, did things turn around.

My pain today, is less than it usually was before I injured myself 6 years ago. I am taking less medication than I have in the past 20 years. All of this came about because of a shift in my attitude about pain and suffering, mental and physical. It surely is not easy to come to this place. I had to accept and take responsibility for the fact that I was, in fact creating my reality, and only I had the power to change it. Whether the pain is actually less or I just don’t notice it as much because I am not focused on it, there is no definitive way to tell. I simply know that my life does not revolve around pain. My life is fabulous and it is my responsibility to keep it that way. I know that I do not wake up fearing the day and what it is to bring. I no longer lie awake at night in a state of perpetual anxiety. Whatever there is in store for me it can hardly be worse than what I have already been through in my life. If it is, then there is some lesson urgent enough to really take a major upheaval I still have to learn therefore I welcome the opportunity to grow.

This change in my outlook, and view of self, has improved my physical and mental health to a place I thought was outside of my reach. Being able to recognize what comes my way as a gift and not punishment, has reduced my suffering to a point where what I do is, notice any pain. I am able to observe it, and try to work out what that pain is telling me. I look at it from the position of the observer rather from the position of someone suffering because of or due to something. I do not indulge the pain. Then I take action or not depending on the situation. Illness and pain are simply signals to shed light on an issue. The more one realizes this fact, the less any pain or illness can take a hold of your consciousness and take permanent root in your body.  “Amor Fati” “love your fate”.

Artwork titled “Tentacles of our Mind” painted by blog author Nonaine Levy

 

EMERGING FROM MADNESS – PART 3

For the Families, Loved Ones and Caregivers

How exciting! You see a profound change in the behaviour, outlook, and energy of your ‘crazy friend’. With every fibre of your being you wish, hope, and pray that this time, the change is for good. However, there is more than a sliver of doubt and worry in your heart.

If you act based on fear, you will definitely make your life and the awakening of your friend much more difficult indeed. Nobody is saying you must blindly trust every action and intention of someone new in recovery. Nevertheless, allow their baby steps or leaps towards improvement as firm, credible steps.

The old adage you reap what you sow is very true. If you approach this situation with fear and treat this person with kid gloves and like a child, you are not leaving them room to grow.  Accountability and uncomfortability are in fact platforms for growth. If your actions are fear based, you are laying the groundwork for your fears, and worse, to allow them to come to fruition.

An example of this is being too scared to tell your loved one that they are not doing well at a given moment. You might think it is better to spare their feelings and tell them that they are doing great, when in fact they are struggling. This is a fear-based action.

How can this possibly have a positive outcome? By lying to them you are denying them a chance to calibrate their internal compass. By not speaking your truth, you are strengthening their ego, making fooling themselves much easier.

Of course, you only have the power to change your own actions, not another persons. Yet you can lay down hostile or fertile ground for the person in recovery. It is also akin to putting down soil just for roses, then planting corn and expecting a bountiful rose harvest.

We as human beings are so accustomed to resistance and anguish, to change the status quo requires serious levels of awareness. You might have to step outside of yourself and look at situations as an observer, to even notice the negativity. What you don’t realize is you might actually be addicted to the role this person plays in your life. The group dynamic must shift in order to create space for the unit to settle into a new normal.

Identifying the fact we all have a part in creating madness is the only way to break the bonds of suffering.

For all parties involved; don’t be scared of falling into the cesspool of pain. Remember you have had swimming lessons, you are not going to drown. Also, there is a turbojet, hot springs water, massaging, adjustable shower waiting for you, the minute you decide you want to hop out!

Artwork titled “Heart Burst” painted by blog author Nonaine Levy

EMERGING FROM MADNESS – Part 2

Ego: the part of us that blinds us to our truth, and keeps us addicted to negativity.

Now you have made the decision to leave suffering behind, life should be easier, right. The answer is yes and no.

When you master the tools to remove yourself from blame, self-pity, self-flagellation and being a victim of circumstance, your ego is also learning. It also becomes a master of finding your hidden triggers.

Your ego is the single enemy within that will drag you back into the underworld of negative emotions before you even notice. You know that you are feeling and doing better.

Meanwhile, your ego recognizes that it is being edged out. It tells you that you are great, no perfect! Now you want to show the world how amazing you are and that you have all the answers. That is simply your ego using arrogance to make you believe that you are superior. Steps forward are now much tougher but vastly more rewarding, as we eradicate the last vestiges of our ego.

When you are standing in your glory, as a whole person you have no need to be right. In fact you know rightness and righteousness are merely a perspective of your very limited view of the world. When you are secure and your ego is not engaged, you have no need to prove anything to anyone, everything just is. That knowledge in and of itself will sustain a person standing firmly in their truth.

When we can re-frame any personal interaction, experience or situation; when we can remain calm in the face of any situation, we have left ego behind and are now in truth and power. This process does not have to be instantaneous, you need to have compassion for yourself before you can truly extend that courtesy to others.

If you are walking this path of enlightenment, there will come a point where you feel truly at peace almost all of the time. Not everyone around you will be ready to board your ‘happy train’. Some of the people in your inner circle will probably be suspect of your serenity. This can be a very difficult point when you are finding yourself and trying to remain in your power.

Remember, those around you have probably heard this story before. You say “I am okay this time, I am great!” Wives, husbands, family, friends, and caregivers have been fighting to get their loved ones back for years if not decades. Some have abandoned us for fear of being dragged up and down a mountain of feelings again.

This can be utterly exasperating for you. It is hard to stay the course at this point. Bear in mind that those people have been picking up the pieces of your life for a long time. It is your turn to be patient and understanding. Your internal compass north, is more important than ever. Having compassion and empathy for the people who doubt the integrity of your awakening is a quintessential, undisputable sign of your growth.

There is nothing to prove. Your calm, when facing skepticism and others fear, will show the staunchest disbelievers you have arrived. Your reward for your hard work is your inner peace. Nobody has the power to take that from you unless you allow them to!

Artwork titled “Balancing Act” painted by blog author Nonaine Levy.

ELIZABETH LESSER IN CONVERSATION

ELIZABETH LESSER IN CONVERSATION

HOW TO LOVE WELL

We’ve heard it said before, by poets and sages and songwriters: “All you need is love,” “love conquers all,” “love your enemies.” We know that love is the answer; we agree with the golden rule. So, why then, is it so difficult for us human beings to be the love we long to see in the world? Why do we struggle and fumble in our attempts to give and receive love with our mates, our kids, our friends and colleagues? These are always relevant questions, and they are even more pressing now, when we as citizens we are being called to love beyond the boundaries of difference.

It takes courage to love well—to love oneself, to love our family, to love people with whom we may disagree at work and in the world. Elizabeth Lesser, author and co-founder of the Omega Institute, has spent her life seeking understanding about what it means to be true to oneself and at the same time, authentically connected to others.

She’s a modern day ‘Anam Cara’, soul-friend in the Irish language. Her new book, Marrow: A Love Story, a mesmerizing and courageous memoir, is the story of two sisters uncovering the depth of their love through the life-and-death experience of a bone marrow transplant.

Join us for this magical evening as we explore together the complex question about what it really means to love, and the healing process of putting aside pride and defensiveness to make way for soul-baring and truth-telling. She will also share the deeper transformational lessons that can be learned from difficult moments.

Lesser will be joined in conversation by TED PRIZE storyteller and Executive Director of Women, Action, & the Media, Jamia Wilson.

We Will Explore 

  • Insights into how to authentically communicate with people you love
  • How to have the difficult conversations with the people you love
  • How to develop stronger relationships with people you love
  • When, if and how to say the ‘unsayable’ between 2 people
  • How to steady ourselves in the presence of evil
  • How to stand up for your moral integrity with love
  • You don't have to wait for a life-or-death situation to clean up the relationships that matter

Out beyond the ideas of wrong doing and right doing there is a field I will meet you there. - Rumi

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Emerging From Madness – Part 1

Madness is the inability to remove yourself from constant suffering.

To come from insanity to a semblance of normalcy is a difficult path to walk. The steps are rather simple, but to follow them fearlessly is to take a journey wrought with awakening, upset, feeling “off kilter”, tears and acceptance.

The moment you decide that you do not want to suffer anymore is the day you must become brutally honest.

It is really that simple. Realize, that we as human beings love to suffer and all suffering stems from fear. Fear of not being enough, fear of not having enough, fear that when we have enough we will lose it all, fear we are going to be hurt, fear that someone or something is going to control us. If you bring all negative emotions back to its core, all fear stems from those two worries. Fear of being hurt or controlled.

The way out of this hell is to be honest with oneself.  If I am fearful in this moment, I must accept it.  With this acceptance, interestingly, the fear fades away into a distant glimmer of emotion. If you are judgmental accept that, in that moment then try to look at the world from the position you were judging, you might then find understanding.

With brutal honesty of where and what you are, and fearlessly accepting who you are, hell becomes more heavenly. Mad becomes more normal, with this understanding, you breathe easier.

As it is so easy to lie to oneself, emerging from madness is much easier done if you have a person in your sphere who is immune to your whining. Somebody or people that will let you know if you are being dishonest with yourself or otherwise.

Having a person with whom you can calibrate North on your internal compass is very helpful indeed. Especially when you are early in the journey of recovering your mind. The further along you are on the road the more you can trust yourself to find North.

Talk therapy can help you identify sources of trauma that you must work on to become whole. However, solutions in conventional therapy are few and far between.

Once you step outside of being a victim in, of, or because of a given situation; you can understand that anything you perceive as trauma, or being hurtful to you, is simply an opportunity for personal growth.

If you are standing in your truth and power you realize that wallowing in anger or hurt is giving up your chance at happiness.  In being and remaining angry you have given up your power to anything and everything but yourself.

It is a wonderful thing to realize that you are hurt or upset, if you use your negative emotions as the impetus to move from anger, and grow. You can re-frame any situation so that you are at least calm. This a powerful method you can use to remove suffering from your life.

When in an honest and accepting relationship with oneself, seeing the other side of the situation and moving from upset to acceptance, is the key step to emerging from madness.

Artwork titled “Cups of Chaos” painted by blog author Nonaine Levy

 

ANAM CARA

John O’Donohue, poet, philosopher, and scholar, guides you through the spiritual landscape of the Irish imagination. In Anam Cara, Gaelic for “soul friend,” the ancient teachings, stories, and blessings of Celtic wisdom provide such profound insights on the universal themes of friendship, solitude, love, and death. Nowhere do the beauty, mystery, and soul-sustenance of friendship come more vibrantly alive than in this masterpiece.

Deference To The Rich

People tend to look at rich people and wish they had their money. The nice car, house, bank account, amazing vacations, the yacht, things, and more things. And, we tend to think rich people must have worked really hard to get those nice things, and some of them have. We tend to think they deserve those nice things, and some of them do. We may even wonder what’s wrong with us, why can’t we have those nice things? Why can’t we be rich? But rarely do we consider character when we view the rich. Their clothes seem to tell us all we want to hear. The glitz and the glamour blinds us to what’s beneath.

Nobody questions too much how rich people get their money? How about the CEO who makes millions and millions of dollars while their full-time employees can’t adequately feed their families or live in a decent place to the point where they need food stamps and subsidized housing? Or the manufactures who make inferior products and sells an extended warranty WHEN you are buying the new product. Or, the investor crooks who make a profit by coming up with schemes, some legal, to get your hard earned money away from you. Or, companies with a “charitable” arm that use that leeway to reap profits and exploit people? We have people in companies who hide behind the company’s legal entity to do horrible things, often to their customers, and they get away with it. And, they make money, lots of it. Ask yourself: do you really want to do what it takes to have money when you have to steal, deceive and be unfair to get it?

Yet, a person with money is usually considered smart, someone to be looked up to. We give so much deference to people who have money. We want to be in their presence more. Why? Are we hoping they might share some of their wealth with us? With this whole 99% v. 1% thing, that’s not working out very well. Maybe we show deference to help us make the “right” connections. Well, seems they like connecting with each other. So why do we do it?

We are seeing what lies behind the lives of some of the rich and famous. We see the decadence; the parties flowing with drugs and girls. The illegal enterprises they control while they attempt to keep their image squeaky clean. The biggest mistake we make is confusing being rich monetarily with being rich. We need to stop giving deference to people just because they have money. We need to see behind the green. Better yet, we need to redefine the word rich so it includes not just things but character.