Untethered Soul, Chapter 4: Get Me Lucid!

“What differentiates a conscious, centered being from a person who is not so conscious is simply the focus of their awareness. It’s not a difference in the consciousness itself.… Just as all light from the sun is the same, all awareness is the same.”

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Are you lucid?

Now that you know you are aware, based on the last four posts we’ve shared covering the topics in The Untethered Soul, have you found yourself being more aware that you are aware? Chapter 4 is called The Lucid Self and wraps up Part 1 for us. So let’s see what Singer has to say about all this awareness stuff before we launch into the very exciting Part 2, Experiencing Energy.

A lucid dream, as you probably know, is a dream in which often you are flying but especially in which you know that you are dreaming while having the dream. Michael Singer says that similarly if you are aware that you are Awareness, then you are lucid.

Throughout the day you might not be aware that you are Awareness. But when you’re seated in the self you’re lucid, aware that the thoughts, feelings, judgments, labels, emotions that you are experiencing are not you but that they are the dream in which you are immersed. Or, if it resonates more with you, they are the movie in which you are immersed.

Singer uses the analogy of TV to make clear that we can allow our awareness, or our consciousness, to wander. When you’re watching TV, you often don’t focus at all on what else is going on in the room, or the time that his passing. In the same way, we can get wrapped up in what Singer calls our “inner show.”

Let me get a little personal to make this more relevant. I don’t just want to write chapter summaries here. I want to be real and I want you to take something from this for your OWN lives. In thinking about all this in relation to my own life and trying to think of a way to make it functional for you readers, I ended up noticing that there are three levels of lucidity for me. (Nothing is really so easily categorized, but for the sake of ease let’s say three levels.)

Level 1: I Love Lucid!

This strongest level of lucidity happens for me during times of meditation and prayer when I can remove all distraction and “go inside” to be in the witness seat. With practice, I am more and more able to remain there fairly steadfastly and commune with whoever/whatever I want to from that place. When I began the exercise of silent mediation a few years ago it was MUCH harder to quiet down and let the monkey brain relax. Now, I can get myself into that seat of witness with more ease and once there, I let the prayer begin…if that is what needs to happen. I rarely start with prayer anymore (unless I am praying with someone in person) because it is much better for me to get into the seat of Self and pray from that spot instead of just sitting down and praying from a more ego-run place.

Level 2: Lucid or Lose It!

My Level 2 is the point where I have to work out my awareness muscles. It is where I am inundated by distractions of my external movie and internal reactions and so my intention and effort to remain aware of my awareness is in full effect. This would be for example while I am driving my car in busy traffic, while at the grocery store, hiking at the busy and bustling Hollyridge Trail, or surrounded by energies at a family gathering. Basically, anywhere that is not my quiet meditation spot requires me to flex my awareness muscle!

The great thing though it that I fully believe that the more I flex, the easier it will become. It is very liberating to be among people and egos and be in the seat of witness, from which I can interact with them with less attachment, emotion, and defensiveness. Things get to me less, traffic is okay because all things unfold as they are meant to, people are more lovable because they are on a journey just as I am, etc. You get the idea. Stuff is just better.

Level 3: Luciwhat?

This Level is where I am not at all lucid. Not even thinking about it. Forgot all about my Self. Totally engrossed in my movie and emotions. What are we even talking about?

This inattention happens most frequently and intensely when I’m at work. Work is busy, busy, busy; I have anxieties that get triggered easily at work; I am almost constantly in someone else’s presence so there is little gratuitous alone time. In a social situation I can step aside and get reentered before entering back into the pool of egos. At work, not so easy.

No guilt though. This level just gives me a challenge, helps me set a goal. What would it be like, after all, to be more Self and less Ego at work?? It probably would be pretty amazing. I probably wouldn’t feel as stressed or nervous.

So those are my levels. What about you? Where is your awareness throughout the day? Is it in your movie, in your emotions? do you remember at different points in your coming and going that you are much, much more than all of that external and internal gunk?

“You will find that you are tremendously expansive.… You realize that your consciousness only appears to be small and limited because you are focusing on small and limited objects. ” Pg. 37

I’m setting a goal. I’m going to try recalling my true identity during my work days. That’s at least 40 hours a week in which I have a chance to be more of who I want to be! To be more free! To be more authentic! What a great opportunity.

Will you join me? If you have already grasped your true identity through reading the previous Untethered posts, now think about when and where you can bring that awareness of awareness into your daily life. I’ll meet you there!

With Love,

~~~S Wave~~~

Saturday Mindfulness

Saturday is a good day to practice mindfulness. For many of us it is a day of relaxation and respite from the hectic weeks that are behind and ahead of us.

But, just like the past and future can consume or thoughts and usurp our awareness in the present, so the previous and future work weeks can sneak into our Saturdays. Today, let yourself practice mindfulness in the small moments. Taking a shower, preparing a meal, doing the dishes, driving with the kids. These activities pass by unnoticed as we rush about but they make up a majority of our time. Notice the sensations that you experience and appreciate the small details during these seemingly mundane tasks. Even just pick one to practice with. Be aware of how much you are thinking about Monday or last Friday versus thinking about the present instant that is happening.

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I just began a new chapter in Living in the Moment by Anna Black. The chapter is titled, Cultivating Well-Being. Here is an excerpt for you to think about…

“Oftentimes we are on automatic pilot to the degree that we look back and have no recollection of the process of getting up and going out of the door. In this way we lose the moments that make up our life and once lost, they are gone forever. By paying close attention to these regular activities we can reclaim the lost minutes of our day, and by connecting with our experience during these activities, we can connect more deeply with our life.”

Have a wonderful weekend, Waves! May you be alive and vibrant in your NOWs.

IFS: YOU in the Pilot Seat

 For me as an individual to be free, I have to confront myself with questions about who I really am, and this is done in large part by examining the layers of false identity that I mistakenly call me.    -Deepak Chopra

On and off, over the past nine years, I have connected with a very special woman. Her name is Sherry and instead of a therapist, I like to think of her as a teacher. Yes, I began seeing her to get “therapy” for “depression” and “anxiety.” Or, that’s what I thought I needed. Sherry however doesn’t work like that. Sherry introduced me to a way of caring for myself that had nothing to do with meds, with diagnoses, or with criminalizing my own thoughts or feelings. The approach she used to get me to that level of self-care is called Internal Family Systems.

Internal Family Systems Therapy is based on an integrative model and believes that each sub-personality of the mind possesses its own characteristics and perceptions. This therapy technique sees each level of consciousness as having these sub-personalities, or “parts,” and each plays a distinct role in achieving self-preservation for the client as a whole. Every part within a person is responsible for warding off any behaviors, actions, or reactions that can result in dysfunction or disharmony within. In this type of treatment, each part is validated and recognized as significant because of its primary function. Parts can be identified as having either healthy, productive roles or extreme roles. The latter category is made up of parts that require transformation or alteration through the therapeutic process.  – Mona R. Barbera

In my own words IFS allows different sub-“parts” of a person to express themselves and receive the care and compassion that they need from the higher Self. These parts are like little personalities that we all have and ultimately they are all good. There is no “bad” part of you. Sometimes our parts just get a little extreme because they need some help.

There are three distinct types of parts in this model:

  • Managers: These parts are responsible for maintaining a functioning level of consciousness by warding off any unwanted or counterproductive interactions, emotions, or experiences resulting from external stimuli.
  • Exiles: These parts are most often in a state of pain or trauma, frequently resulting from childhood experiences. Managers and firefighters exile these parts and prevent them from reaching the conscious level so that preservation is preserved.
  • Firefighters: These parts serve as a distraction to the mind when exiles break free from their suppression. In order to protect the consciousness from feeling the pain of the exiles, firefighters prompt a person to act on impulse and to engage in behaviors that are indulgent, addictive, and often times abusive. In addition, firefighters redirect attention to other areas such as sex, work, or food.

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To understand “parts,” consider this hypothetical scenario. One day you wake up feeling so excited to do a particular thing but then you get a little nervous and don’t do it then you get mad at yourself for not doing it then you begin to fear that you’ll never be good at doing anything and you’ll always procrastinate then you start resenting someone else for how they used to procrastinate then you hate yourself for resenting them then you begin to listen to music that makes you feel more angry because in a weird way you kind of like it then you tell yourself to regroup and to stop beating yourself up and you make a list of reasons to not beat yourself up then you find yourself getting all excited about something again and on and on…..

Ugh! It’s like “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” except the dark adult version where an ending of self-destruction instead of happily ever after is a very real possibility. But consider for a moment all the instances of the word “you” in that scenario. There are at least a dozen, right? Can all those “you”s really be YOU?  Could it be possible that there is another way of looking at it besides calling all of that “you?” Try to consider that you are perhaps a multiplicity of fears, needs, dreams and comping mechanisms. It would make sense then that these fears, needs, dreams and coping mechanisms might be in an ongoing struggle to be heard. Once we take out the word “you” and give these other parts some identity, then the scenario isn’t quite so muddled. For the fun of it, let’s do just that. In the scenario above, let’s exchange “you” with a cast of parts. Introducing,

Adventurer

Insecure Child

Fatalist

Judge

Bodyguard

Mechanic

Let’s say these are the inner parts of the person experiencing the scenario. Now, the story goes something like this:

Your Adventurer feels so excited to do a particular thing but then your Insecure Child gets a little nervous and refuses to do it then your Inner Judge  gets mad at your Insecure Child for not doing the first thing then your Fatalist begins to fear that she’ll never be good at doing anything and she’ll always procrastinate then your Bodyguard tries to protect Inner Child by resenting someone else for how they used to procrastinate then the Inner Judge hates yourself for resenting them then your Fatalist begins to listen to music that makes you feel more angry because it wants to keep being fatalistic then the Judge tells you to regroup and to stop beating yourself up and your Mechanic who wants to fix, fix,fix makes a list of reasons to not beat yourself up then your Adventurer gets all excited about something again and on and on…

Once you see that “you” isn’t specific enough and that what is really going on is a complex dance between competing fears, needs, and dreams, not to mention managers each trying to step in and choreograph the dance in their own style…well once you see that, the situation is easier to manage! Then the healing can really begin. How does that happen?

First, believe that you have a higher Self. Remember that YOU are not ANY of these parts. YOU are something higher and wiser. You have a Self with a capital S that can approach these parts with genuine calm and confidence. Your higher Self has the ability to lovingly and confidently take care of these parts like you might imagine a good parent extending unconditional love to their child, or god extending unconditional love to us if that comparison suits you.

Second, get as connected with and embodied in your higher Self as you can. If you’re not sure how to do that, maybe this will give you some ideas: 6 Soulful Steps to Get Reconnected With Your Higher Self. For me, I like to take steps like these:

1. Sit still on the floor.

2. Take a series of deep, slow breaths.

3. Imagine all my cares and worries on shelves behind me. I can get to them later. They’re not going anywhere.

4. Turn my attention to god without making it into a conversation. I just sit with god and recognize my connection to it/him/her.

5. Imagine that I feel completely at ease, completely strong, completely confident, and completely peaceful with myself and others. It doesn’t matter if you really feel that way. Remember, how you “feel” is a reflection of your parts. The NATURE of Self is to be at peace. So you ARE at peace.

Once you have found yourself resting in your higher Self that is the time for the next part of the process.

Third, turn your attention to your parts and have a conversation with them! One at a time, invite them to sit with you and tell you their needs and their motivations. Don’t judge them, don’t hurry them, and don’t put words in their mouths, just let them tell you about themselves. This is where you DO have a conversation. When I am doing this, I get an image in my mind of what this part looks like…maybe it’s a person (man, woman, child,) maybe it’s an animal (like my dove,) or sometimes it’s an object. Let it show you what it is. Don’t force it.

Fourth, if you feel like to have been able to hear and understand what a part of you needs, invite that part to trust you to love and protect it. Ultimately, the idea is that all the love that they need—or whatever it is they need, only they can tell you—will come from your higher Self where there is no shortage of love and compassion. Invite a part to rest. Promise it that you will listen to it with love from now on.

This is as good a place as any to emphasize that I am NOT a trained IFS therapist. Obviously there are theoretical depths behind IFS and steps in the therapeutic process with which I am not familiar. But, IFS is known as being a “user-friendly”approach so go for it and start exploring yourself! If you really wanted to go deeper with this kind of exploration you could start by reading Jay Earley’s book or by searching for an IFS therapist.

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As for me, little by little I  began to operate in life from my higher Self. Now, my parts are more at ease as they continue to trust that their needs will be met. I can quickly recognize when one of my parts is spiraling into an extreme again and I can help restore it back to harmony. There are no meds. There is no more weekly therapy (though I would happily go if I needed to!) There is no sense of being destined to be defective. No, it is not a perfect process every time, but it has become so much easier for Me to take care of the me’s. 🙂

So why did I write this very long post? Because I want all of us to be free! I want all of us to be happy. Together. And recently I’ve had a lot of conversations with people who can’t seem to untangle themselves from all the thoughts and feelings swirling around inside them in a battle for attention. Hell, I am that person too from time to time and I am so grateful for the person who comes around and reminds me of my true identity so I can sit myself down and let the inner work take place.

If you are at the whim of every thought and extreme action of your parts you are like a plane being flown by the passengers. They don’t know how to fly that plane! Where is the pilot for this thing?? Your Self is the pilot. YOU have a license to fly that plane and it was given to you from the day you arrived. Only YOU have the ability to help each part find its seat, sit back and enjoy the flight. YOU. I don’t know about you, but I want to take my plane to wonderful places. I want to love my passengers so much that they can’t even believe how lucky they were to get a ticket on MY flight. Maybe we can all caravan in the sky….you get your higher Self in the pilot’s seat and come join me. We’ll see where we can all go together.

Be well. Always, with great gratitude for each of you,

~~~S Wave~~~

Month 4: Rise & Whine Becomes Rise & Shine

“The alarm in the morning? Well, I have an old tape of Carlo Maria Giulini conducting the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in a perfectly transcendent version in Shubert’s seventh symphony. And I’ve rigged it up so that at exactly 7:30 every morning it falls from the ceiling onto my face.”
― Stephen Fry

I asked a friend who is searching for a passion-producing career the obvious question, “Well what do you love doing?” One of the first things on his list was: Sleeping.

Fair enough.

I love sleeping too! I wish I could get 9 hours of sleep a night while also being able to be a night owl since I’m so productive in the evenings and be able to rise early to enjoy the dawning of a new day without the pressure to rush into it. Alas, that hasn’t worked out for me. I inevitable and invariably snooze and burrow under the covers until the very last minute possible.

So, dear readers, this new month brings me to a new intention on my Here I Am journey. I don’t believe in the myth of the early bird, but I do know that I will be closer to my best me if I begin my day with some calm, centering activities instead of rushing off to work. And don’t forget, approaching your best you means the betterment of your life, of the lives of those in your sphere, and of the world at large. That is not hyperbole! It is true! After this past month of amazing spiritual growth and elevation which continues and will remain, I am eager to bring healing and balance to every part of my life where malaise or imbalance exist. I want to get in there and get it worked out!  So for this month I’m letting “rise and whine” become “rise and shine!”

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Getting out of bed earlier than I have to…this is a monumental feat of will and focus!! That is also not hyperbole! Okay, maybe a little. It is HARD for me though. Like my friend, I LOVE sleep. But let’s not be naive…it isn’t just that I love sleep. There are other reasons I have a hard time getting up. Most of them related to stress, anxiety, and worry that I allow to live in me. It takes me a while to fall asleep because of thinking about the next day. I have very vivid and VERY stressful dreams that leave me feeling like I’ve been working overtime by the time I wake up. Then I arise and almost instantly feel stressed about something awaiting me in my day. That all sounds awful doesn’t it?! It’s hard for me to even believe that is me when I see it written.

The good news is that for the last month, I have politely escorted stress and worry out of my mind and soul one room at a time. It feels amazing to fall asleep soundly and to wake up with more joy and excitement for the day than I am used to. I still have very stressful dreams and I’m not sure what to do about that yet, but two out of three isn’t bad!

Despite these great changes, I STILL have a hard time opening my eyes when that alarm goes off. I still feel like I need a nap after all those frenetic dreams. So, knowing how hard this month would be, I decided that I better make a calendar for myself to help me along. Remember, there is no guilt in Here I Am…just curiosity, compassion, attention, and intention. This is NOT a calendar for gold stars; it IS a “calendar of perspective” to help me see and grasp how few days really make up a month, how far I’ve come, and that the world won’t end if one day passes without a perfect performance. The next day and its fresh start will dawn.

April Calendar

I won’t lie. The first two days of the month I slept right through that snooze button and right through my intention to get up early to have Me time. But yesterday came, April the 3rd, and TA-DA! I was up. I was meditating. I was stretching out. I was sipping a cup of coffee. It felt marvelous. (Interestingly, the night before I did an energy clearing meditation with mudras which is supposed to help you sleep.) Now I’m looking forward to discovering what lies ahead for me in these morning hours. I feel like I’ve discovered a whole new part of the day that I had forgotten even existed. Good morning, sunshine!

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I don’t know if any of you are still doing your Here I Am intentions, but if you are then I connect with you now…from my heart to yours…and send you positivity and energy to propel you onward.

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Elephants and a Watchtower Moment

I have all these posts planned in my head and drafted here on wordpress, but sometimes you need to just click on that “New Post” button and let the words flow in the moment because something has just resonated in your heart and reminded you that you are on the right path–doing what you need to do and learning what you need to learn…

photo by ~~~S Wave~~~

To set the scene: I have been dealing with some life anxiety. Work, relationships, big decisions, little decisions, health…you know how sometimes it all culminates and seems as though you’ve got too much in your brain and not enough synapses to handle it all? Well that has definitely been happening. But this evening I was feeling better and had planned to attend a massive gathering at the Los Angeles Staples Center to protest the Ringling Brothers Circus which has just arrived. It is an annual event (hopefully an unnecessary one next year!) and even though I only had an hour to participate after work, being there reminded me sweetly of my first time going two years ago. It had been my FIRST protest. So each July since then when I attend, it is a time for me to reflect on the progress I have made toward being my most authentic self—-being a person who speaks up for what she believes in and is learning to face some pretty daunting fears.

I came home, spent some time in prayer, ate dinner, and continued reading Laszlo’s Science and the Akashic Field (which you may remember from my summer reading list!) This book is opening my mind up to new ways of understanding interconnectedness…beyond a sentimental ideal or a farfetched fable. More to come on this book in a future post. I’m chomping at the bit!! For now, I will say that this book is scientifically fortifying my belief that there IS something connecting us all with each other beyond time and space. I had just finished reading the section titled The Puzzles of Coherence in Consciousness where the author introduces concepts of transpersonal connection (think twins who feel each others’ pains), telesomatic effects (minds affecting bodies), spiritual healing and intercessory prayer.

As I closed the book for the night, little did I know that I would shortly receive what I will call a “watchtower” moment. These are those moments when you are reminded that you are entirely known right where you are, that the path under your feet is not so much of a mystery as you might sometimes think, and that there will always be something to guide you when that is what you need.  A fellow protestor posted an article on Facebook. It made sense that she would post a story about elephants, but what I hadn’t expected was the message of interconnectedness—-demonstrated in an almost otherwise inexplicable witnessed event—-between our two species. A man who was called The Elephant Whisperer, died in March. During his life, he rescued hundreds of elephants that had been deemed too aggressive for rehabilitation. By connecting with them through hours of talking to them and communing with them in a spirit of patience, compassion and humility, they came to trust him. When he died, his family recounts that dozens of these elephants began marching through his preserve toward his house. One person said it was like a funeral procession. How could they have known he had died?

Click here to read the article: Elephants Mourn

“If there ever were a time, when we can truly sense the wondrous ‘interconnectedness of all beings,’ it is when we reflect on the elephants of Thula Thula. A man’s heart’s stops, and hundreds of elephants’ hearts are grieving. This man’s oh-so-abundantly loving heart offered healing to these elephants, and now, they came to pay loving homage to their friend.”

For me, it was a moving and confounding example of true interconnection, yes. But it was also a fusion of the most wonderful and inspiring parts of my little, human day; it was a message of, “I know where you are in your life…even down to this very evening. Keep going. I am with you.” I hope it will mean something equally benevolent and sustaining to you as well.

In love,

~~~S Wave~~~