Untethered Soul, Chapter 8

If you’ve been reading The Untethered Soul, or at least these chapter summaries, you know now that you are not your name, age, or profession. You know that you are an inner witness to all that happens around and in you. You also know that experiences can become held inside of you, leading to reactions of either avoidance or grasping.

In the last chapter, the book’s author, Michael A. Singer, suggested that it’s possible to “transcend the tendency to close” when inner fears get triggered. Now, with Chapter 8 called Let Go Now or Fall, we go deeper into how to transcend. This chapter launches the next unit of the book called, Freeing Yourself. And the key word in this chapter title is, “now.” You’ll see why.

Singer says that by trying to control life, based on how we think it should go for us, we think we are protecting ourselves, but that what we are really doing is creating fears.

If you attempt to arrange people, places, and things so they don’t disturb you, it will begin to feel like life is against you. … You will feel that anyone, at any moment, could cause you disturbance. … That makes life a threat. That’s why you have to worry so much. … You’re either trying to figure out how to keep things from happening, or you’re trying to figure out what to do because they did happen. …How did we come up with the notion that life is not okay just the way it is, or that it won’t be okay the way it will be?

Instead, what if we can live without fear and just let life be what it is. Live without fear?? That seems unlikely. But what would it be like? Just imagine. No fear of money problems. No feel of being abandoned. No fear of failure. No fear of safety.

Singer says we’re hanging onto our “stuff” (our blockages, fears, etc.) and when something happens that triggers that stuff we get thrown into a tailspin. He says you have to LET IT GO IMMEDIATELY, because it’s harder to do it later. If you get sucked down into the energy of disturbance, it is through the “haze of your disturbance” that you will see things and try to handle things.  You lose control because you got pulled away from your seat of consciousness, which is where the freedom is. Now you’re in your survival instincts…again, how to protect my “stuff” from getting triggered again. And over and over we are in this cycle.

Singer paints a pretty bleak picture of what it’s like when we act from this lower energy once we’ve been triggered. We listen to our survival instincts to tell someone off, quit our job, drink a little more, whatever it might be. Other people are impacted and then THEIR stuff gets triggered. We take the energy of our own blockages and we pass it on to others. (Not very zen of us.) The negative energy we put out now has to come back in kind. We are weakened and MORE stuff gets triggered more easily. Etc, etc.

What if all you had to do to avoid all of this was to let go in the beginning?

Fair question.

Singer says when a blockage gets hit, it’s a GOOD thing. Because it’s time to let go IMMEDIATELY and get some purification!

It’s time to open up internally and release the blocked energy. If you let go, and permit the purification process to take place inside, that blocked energy will be released. When it’s released and allowed to flow up, it becomes purified … then strengthens you instead of weakening you.

Again, this takes practice.

Just turn your eyes upward and relax your heart. You do not have to leave the seat of Self in order to deal with the darkness. … Getting involved in the darkness does not dispel darkness; it feeds it. … No matter what goes on below you, open your heart and let it go. Your heart will become purified, and you will never know another fall. … let all of your blockages and disturbances become the fuel for the journey. That which is holding you down can become a powerful force that raises you up.

Readers, if you’re like me, this sounds like just what the doctor ordered, but it also sounds pretty daunting. For the rest of the week, I’m going to go for it. It’s going to be a challenge for us…maybe with certain relatives, maybe at work, maybe with kids or with pets, definitely in traffic! But isn’t it worth it to try and see what happens?

I hope that this week finds you freer than the last! Go for it!!

With faith in you and your inner Self,

~~~Simone~~~

 

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More Growth, Less Gross

Revel in your imperfections. Be entertained by your problems. And know that once you looked ahead and wished you were where you are now. And once again you will look back and smile.

Negative practice is an evidence-based technique that I like to use in my speech therapy sessions. Once a client has mastered a new way of doing something then I will have them intentionally go back and forth between the old and the new way. By doing so they experience a clear contrast between the two. This in turn builds improved self-awareness as well as control over their own communication. It can be very empowering for the client.  Let me give you an example.

I recently completed therapy with an adult who came in with an /s/ sound distortion. (Use of the slash marks indicated a phoneme, or sound, as opposed to a letter.) After I had taught her the tongue position and airflow for her “new” /s/ and she had practiced it successfully in various word positions, I began to have her say the words the “old way.” She was amazed at how she could go back and forth between the new  /s/ and old /s/. She also began to report that the new way felt more natural while the old way felt odd and more forced. Here is a picture of her old tongue position (top) and her new tongue position (bottom) for /s/.

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I was recently using negative practice with a voice client and it struck me that negative practice helps us in life from time to time as well. Not that I recommend intentionally returning to bad habits. I wouldn’t tell a recovered smoker to pick up a cigarette just to remind himself of how good it feels to NOT smoke. But sometimes situations arise that offer us a glimpse of just how far we have come. A friend of mine might have had one of these moments recently. He posted this on Facebook:

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Sometimes the gross makes us appreciate the good that we have been taking for granted.

This also makes me think of the strange tradition we have of following Thanksgiving with Black Friday.

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I wonder what the shoppers’ spirits experience as they navigate between the sensations of gratitude and kinship versus the feeling of coveting and competition.  Or for some I’m sure it is the opposite. Perhaps Thanksgiving is a lonely time while being in the midst of others at the mall provides a sense of community.

Either way, perceiving that contrast is what opens a door for self-awarenss and understanding of what is a better way for the higher self. Just like my client became aware of her communication and identity as an actress and speaker.

As a last illustration… I heard a song on my iTunes recently that took me back. It was a song that I used to listen to during meloncholy times. I remember I would listen to it over and over because the sadness felt good. It wasn’t a great choice for me to indulge in a darkness like that–it certainly didn’t seem to help much–but it was a time in my life when I had very few other ideas of what to do with my sadness. When this song came on the other day I could feel that sweet sadness began to drip over me again and sure enough, a part of me wanted to melt into it and indulge in that melancholy. But you know what? There is a “new way” that I’ve become much more accustomed to. That I have practiced and trained for. That I have mastered to some extent. I know that telling myself that things WILL pass, making a call to a friend, meditating, lighting a candle, smiling, having a cup of tea, playing a favorite uplifting movie and painting while my cat sleeps next to me and while life goes on in the big city outside my balcony door…well, that all is part of my new way. And one thing that I know that I know that I know: that old way can’t hold a candle to my new way.

So, dear readers, try to notice your moments of negative practice that present themselves to you. When you are reminded of an old habit or pattern that isn’t beneficial to you, recognize how good it feels to NOT do that anymore. Commend yourself for having developed a new way. Give thanks for the chance to see the contrast. Ask for more and more growth and less and less gross.

Here’s to that. More growth and less gross for each of us.

~~~S Wave~~~

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~~~

Higher Selves, For Greater Good

“To live only for some future goal is shallow. It’s the sides of the mountain that sustain life, not the top.”
― Robert M. Pirsig

Where did April go??

I’ve been so so busy and have missed writing for Life As a Wave. It’s a new month which means I should be picking my next Here I Am intention, too. Eek. Ive hardly had time to think about it! (Spoiler alert: it may have something to do with a redesign of this blog, so stay tuned!) Life has been good, and incredibly busy…did I mention that already?? I just posted on our Facebook Page: “I have never worked so hard so happy.” And it’s true!

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Yes, jumping man in jeans, that is good advice. The trick though is that you don’t have to wait for a job to make you jump. Jump in gratitude for EVERYTHING ELSE you have to be happy about (there is ALWAYS something) and pretty soon you’ll discover that your job makes you jump too! If it still doesn’t then okay, maybe you need to open up yourself up to the possibility of a new job.

As for me, in the last month I’ve gone from “What is my purpose?!” to “Bring on my purpose!” I’m not going to wait around for a divine calling while squandering my here and now. Every moment we have is part of our purpose. Ask for a purpose and it will introduce itself to you. And don’t you dare restrict yourself to just one purpose. In the last two months I’ve gotten a promotion in my “regular” job as a speech-language pathologist, received a request to manage a major fundraising project for a start-up, been invited to submit a painting to a non-profit arts magazine, and completed an energy-healing class. I’m not tootin’ no horn here! I have simply realized that I am more than just one thing and that my purpose is a story not a title.

Most importantly, I have realized that I can choose to be happy and that I can only do that with the spiritual practices that elevate me above all the potential anxiety and pessimism that would try to drag me down.

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So onward and upward, Life As a Wave readers! Your purpose awaits your invitation! I’m going to keep inviting mine and you do the same. Let’s say it together…”Purpose, I invite you into my life TODAY!”

Now together let’s become our highest selves…

for the world’s greatest good.