How do you expend your mental energy?

One of the lessons I’ve received and continue to receive when needed is about how I expend my mental energy. When I find myself carried away with thoughts about a frustrating experience I had, I am reminded that it’s over and it’s time to be present. Even when I am present and dealing with say a customer service dilemma, this is an opportunity to learn. There seem to be plenty of these opportunities in today’s climate and on one such occasion, while I felt my frustration begin to build, I was taken through various outcomes in my mind and realized that under no circumstances would getting angry serve me or help to improve the situation. It didn’t mean that I wasn’t encouraged to be persistent when it was appropriate, I just didn’t expend the kind of intense energy on the matter that I might have previously and in the end, things always worked out better for me. The outcome was always measured by how I felt, not what transpired. However, soon I began to notice that I not only felt better but the overall outcomes improved considerably. I made better choices because I was in a better frame of mind to do so.

The energy of the mind is something that is worth our attention. It is an environment that needs to be taken care of just as our physical environment needs tending. The thoughts we entertain send signals to our body and out into the world around us. Both our bodies and the world responds. When I invest in fear, worry and doubt, I end up feeling tired and experience a loss of energy. This state is reflected outward to others around me and they respond accordingly. There may be superficial activities and responses that seem to ignore this inner state but on a deeper level, this is what we’re all responding to all of the time and this is the level at which real change is possible.

We are sending out signals all the time with our energy and when we choose to engage in those highly charged negative emotional exchanges, we’re sending out the kind of signals that invite that same negative charge in whatever form it may take. Understanding this helped me to begin to take an active role in what I allowed to fill my mind because it was my engagement with certain kinds of thoughts that ultimately sparked this negative energy. We all have a choice in this. Our thoughts are not who we are but they affect how we feel and behave and that affects everything else. I began to actively refuse to entertain thoughts that I realized were continually intruding and causing harm. I used visualization techniques that seemed strange to me at the time but I soon realized that the method isn’t what matters, it’s the results that matter and the results were and still are consistently good. I began to treat negative thoughts as though they were people intruding in a harmful way and I would no longer engage with them.

This is a powerful exercise. It taught me that by using my will to cast out these intrusive and negative thoughts, I was beginning to take control of my life. I soon began to do this gently but firmly with some people in my life too. It became a ripple effect showing me clearly how my state of mind reflected outwards. By clearing out negative space inside of me and around me, I began to invite the more positive experiences and the kind of community that I had been craving. It has been the most liberating experience of my life and it all happened because I began to pay attention to what was going on in my mind and to actively participate in changing it in a positive way. We all have the power to do this and if we are willing, it can change everything.

 

 

Everything You Need is Inside of You… Trite and True..

One of the first messages that ever came to me was one that I’m sure I had read on a plaque with a picturesque photo somewhere before or heard in an uninspiring speech at one time or another – probably many times. The message was: “Everything you need is inside of you.” If it had been any other time under any other circumstances I might have laughed – probably bitterly. But I had been suffering from a deep depression for 4 years at this point and having exhausted all conventional forms of treatment, I had moved beyond the point where I cared where the help I needed came from. If there was some profound truth to be found in this overused statement I was determined to discover it. I had begun to work with energy not long before this, which led me to explore shamanism (the origins of energy work my research revealed). All of my preconceived notions about life had long since fallen away and I was surprisingly open as a result. I was single-mindedly determined to end my depression. This seemingly trite message came in response to my request for help after making what was deemed a connection with my spiritual helper in a shamanic workshop. The message was delivered into my mind in such a powerfully direct way that I was compelled to respond with “How do I access what I need?” “Show me how”. The answer to this is the guided work I’m doing today.

At the time that I received this message I was ‘sick’. I now realize that it was actually a healing. I had been severely congested for years. I had lung issues after the birth of my son and although I had an operation, my lungs continued to be sluggish and my sedentary lifestyle didn’t help. Being exhausted all of the time (and depressed) didn’t lend itself to an active lifestyle. This ‘sickness’ came in the form of pneumonia and I had a temperature of 104 degrees at times. I recovered fully and after evacuating much of the mucus that had been weighing me down for so long I took the first long and deep breath I had taken in years. Things were beginning to change for me. Not long after this I came across information on an obscure African plant medicine called “Iboga” which was renowned for addressing issues like depression among many other things.

My involvement with plant medicines changed everything for me and I still work with them today. These particular healing tools are not for everyone but many of us who have been lucky enough to be called to experience them know why they’re called ‘teacher plants’. The lessons that come out of these experiences often have to do with changing things about ourselves. If we heed these lessons, they can change our lives for the better. Having emerged from depression I’m now learning about the many other things inside I must emerge from to achieve my goals. Through some intensive work, I’ve begun to navigate this inner world that contains the key to my well-being. Previously, I had been heavily focusing on external factors when really, I needed to understand what was happening inside of me. Inner work is not visible or easily recognized by the outside world but the results definitely are. It can be a solitary endeavour at times but that is by necessity to avoid the kinds of distractions that can reinforce all of the things I’m working to change within me.

This is why altered states are so important to this kind of learning for me. It takes me beyond this world of distractions and set perceptions to one where messages and lessons can be delivered in a more effective way. Dream work can be like this too and although there are times when things are very murky indeed, there are other times when messages come through my dreams with startling directness and clarity. We all go into an altered state every night and it is integral to our health to do so. It is an optimum time for healing and not only physical healing. I think it’s important to explore the extraordinary healing that’s possible during the many hours we spend in this altered state every night.

All of the work I have done and continue to do is based on my agreement or intention to engage in it. All of it begins with this small exertion of free will. It can be a very powerful thing. None of this was possible for me until I was willing to entertain the possibility of it. Just doing this can open the door to life changing experiences that defy description at times. I have learned more about myself in this way than I could have from any other source. It’s an important endeavour that I had neglected for most of my life. Now it’s transforming my life in a way that for the first time in a long time, reflects who I really am.

Becoming the custodian of the landscape of my mind…

I remember people always remarking to me that I was ‘in my head’ a lot and this statement carried with it some negative connotations. I understood this at the time because it meant that I wasn’t engaging with those around me and that created a sort of distance. Who knew that ultimately, this would become a strength that would help me engage so much better with those around me?  I have been working with plant medicines (Iboga, Ayahusca, Peyote & more) for some time now and although the immediate results of taking these medicines is pronounced and inspiring, I know that it’s just the beginning of the work that needs to be done to bring about lasting change. All of the healing work I’ve done has required me to engage with my mind in new ways. One of the things I learned to do was to take note of the nature of thoughts that occupied my mind. One by one I became aware of different kinds of harmful intrusions. One was ‘The Bully’ which was something I needed to address head on so that it no longer imposed upon my thoughts and ultimately affected my outlook. The word ‘outlook’ pretty much says it all in terms of how these kinds of thoughts affect your reality. The outlook is the lens through which you see the world and getting rid of intrusions in your mind can improve your life enormously.

Another form of intrusion I dealt with was an invasive form of panic. It’s not like an all out panic attack. I had those in the past and they are long gone. I think that the panic attacks happened to let me know that there was a lot of deeper work I needed to do to become healthy. It was a messenger and instead of receiving the message, I did what a lot of people do. I treated the message as a disease in itself rather than the symptom of a greater issue I needed to address. Ultimately, I had to endure a long and painful depression to bring me to a place where I was able to face the many issues that had been making themselves known to me in various ways (illnesses and other physical and psychological conditions). Now I have the tools to address these issues and the work is intensive. When I feel an emotional or physical discomfort, I know that it’s a message and that I have to take time out to discover what’s behind it. Not long ago it was a slight but persistent panic. It was very subtle so I had been diligently ignoring it in favour of getting other daily tasks done. This is a long standing habit – to ignore pain or discomfort whether it’s physical or emotional. Most of us do this and it’s understandable. I had to acknowledge this slightly panicked state, which was brought to my attention, and then make time to deal with it. When you realize the degree to which something like this impacts your daily experience and know that there’s a chance to address it, you have all the incentive you need.

As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, sometimes film is used to illustrate lessons and provide me with messages. This time, it was used to show me the many experiences I’ve had in my life that helped to construct this state of fear and panic. The sense of panic had a charge – a potency – and to release it, I had to acknowledge its origins. Sometimes this can be difficult to do but the stories that accompany this healing have the power to reach right inside of me and expose something deeply ingrained. Once I acknowledge this deeper reality and release the charge it has, sometimes through some tears, I’m able to then let it go. This panic had become a fixture in my mind no longer attached to old events and I would attach it to just about everything. In this way it became a constant part of my reality and I expended a great deal of energy to support it. Given that this was my everyday experience, I became so used to it that I didn’t even realize it was happening but felt the impact of it constantly. Once this was brought to my attention and I agreed to deal with it, the process of healing commenced. It takes time and commitment to do this but it’s well worth the investment. I often question this while it’s underway, while I’m watching movies thinking: “Can this possibly be good for me?” “Does this really constitute work?” I do this time and again despite the consistently positive results I’ve been getting from exactly this type of work. This questioning mind of mine is also constantly at work. But I have managed to not engage too much with this questioning side so that the other important work can continue.

Sometimes I think I allow the questioning to continue so that I can still remain connected to those who find this extraordinary work baffling. There are times I find it baffling too but I move on from this baffled state into a state of wonder.. a much more enjoyable state indeed. I’m still very attached to the world of thinking which can be helpful to a point but then it can become a barrier of intellectualizing. Perhaps it’s a unique form of intrusion in itself. I’ve found myself moving beyond the questioning so many times to a sensing, which leads to a deeper place of knowing – a much more peaceful place. It’s a profound state that needs no justification. It doesn’t pay homage to the endless struggle of the mind – the intellectual callisthenics we often think necessary to achieve knowledge. I’m now taking action within the mind itself and ordering it according to what serves me. It seems to me now that much of this intellectual wrangling is for its own sake. It wants to be acknowledged for the act itself – the thinking rather than the result – the result in this case being the evidence of thinking. This impressive tail chasing is a familiar scenario. When the result of these efforts of the mind is a knowing that can’t be evidenced by logic but by reality – by a healthy and peaceful state of being that can be experienced – I think it’s pretty clear which one will better serve me. It makes sense!

Movies, Healing and Emotional Detox

After returning from Peru in the spring of last year I underwent an unusual form of healing. It was a long and guided process that was tailor made for me and involved one of my favourite activities: watching movies. Initially upon my return from Peru I participated in what is called ‘The Presence Process’ as I had been guided to do in one of my Ayhuasca sessions but after that, the guidance continued and I have been continuing on in this guided way ever since. While in Peru, experiencing group Ayahuasca ceremonies, like many others, I was witness to some outpouring of emotion by various members in the group as part of their healing process. I was surprised to find that only one night in the entire two weeks did I find myself becoming emotional and it was fairly mild. After returning home and finding that I was being guided to do specific things to continue my unique healing process, I soon came to understand that there would be many opportunities for me to pour out my emotions.

One of the most consistent ways that I engage in this emotional healing is through film. It’s hard to tell at this point what I find more surprising, the guidance or the fact that watching films has become an act of healing for me. I think this pronounced internal guidance I’m receiving tops the list of surprising things hands down but it has become so much a part of everyday life for me that I begin to put it down to the regular internal dialogue that I’ve always had and that most people have. The difference is that my internal dialogue was never so wise, instructive, healthy or supportive. Shortly after completing the ‘presence process’ which was a revelation in itself, I was guided to watch certain movies. The first such instruction came to me while at home going about some regular tasks and the movie title would not leave my head. It was reinforced over and over. It was a film I didn’t really want to watch which helped me to accept that this was more than just some kind of preoccupation I was having. I watched the movie and found that I was very emotional during certain parts of it. It was not a normal experience. Of course I had been emotional during movies before but not on this scale and not in this way. During this movie there were parts that struck me in such a profound way and my response was immediate. Through these certain parts of the story, I was made to understand the message that was being communicated to me. There were both messages and lessons that formed an important part of my healing.

This form of healing continued and I was guided to watch other movies. Sometimes through a certain part of a film or during an entire film I was made to see certain parts of my behaviour that was not impressive to say the least. This is a common phenomenon when working with plant medicines so it was apparent to me that this medicine was still having an effect. This has been known to happen but everyone’s experience of it is different. There were also many other kinds of insight I received through this form of healing. I was made to see certain events in my life in ways that changed my perspective and gave me a better understanding of what I had experienced and how it had affected me. Other times I was given greater lessons about humanity. Some of these lessons we all know theoretically: the tragedy of how we hurt one another and how this is perpetuated generation after generation. We do this because we’re unaware of things we carry inside of us that cause harmful behaviour which is difficult for us to see from our own standpoint – unless we make a concerted effort to do so that is.

This lesson is one of the most important ones because it’s so universal. We hear it and it makes sense but somehow these lessons for me took on a whole new depth when watching these movies. It was something I had agreed to do for the purpose of healing and this is what took it beyond the usual movie watching experience. The movies became a tool or a vehicle to reach me and they did with tremendous impact. It’s really quite startling the difference between just passively watching a movie (as I had done so many times before) and being guided to watch one for the purpose of healing. I could watch the same movie an hour, a day or a week later and have no reaction at all. The agreement I made each time pertained to a specific movie to be watched with an intention of healing at a particular time in my life. This combination was what seemed to bring about this extraordinary experience.

The messages I receive in this way rarely have anything to do with the subject matter of the film. Sometimes the subject is used to convey certain concepts but mostly it’s the mystifying power of stories themselves that have been traditionally used to convey ideas, concepts and lessons for centuries. Sometimes an actual sentence will stand out in a way that I know it’s meant for me. It’s very clear and the messages are always full of wisdom, compassion and insight. It’s been such a fascinating experience and the best part is that after I commit to watching the film that has come up for me, I feel so much better afterwards. There is a distinct difference between this and having a good cry at a movie. With every tear, something within me changes and afterwards the feeling of release is unmistakable. This change happens on a deep level and I feel lighter. Through this process I’m often relieved of something that had been dogging me for a very long time – an emotional or psychological weight has been lifted. This is often in stark contrast to the way I feel beforehand.

I’ve come to refer to this process as emotional detox. I do this because the build up to the healing itself is a feeling of emotional toxification. The things inside of me that need to be healed rise within me and it feels awful. Sometimes I need to live with these uncomfortable feelings for what seems like a long period of time before they are relieved through this form of healing. The word uncomfortable is really too mild a word to describe what happens. Sometimes it’s almost unbearable. It varies of course like illness often does from mild to more severe. When it’s severe I pity the people I’m around and try to minimize the casualties in my midst through containment. I try to manage my reactions to things. This is something I agree to as well and it can be quite the challenge. Given how long I’ve been at it, the severity of the build-up has reduced significantly. I still don’t like the feeling of each build-up but I’m reminded of earlier days and know that it’s well worth the progress I’ve made. It seems that this healing happens in stages related to layers of pain that have been lingering deep inside for years. The timing of these healings is still a mystery to me among so many mysteries I will probably never understand.

Some movies I was guided to watch were very hard to get a hold of. They were movies from my childhood – obscure ‘70s movies – but the response once I watched them was so powerful. Other times it was obnoxious ‘80s movies I had no interest in seeing and I really had to muster up some faith to bring myself to watch them. This was especially true because of how miserable I was feeling working up to this point and yet my motivation to relieve these awful feelings always eclipsed my reluctance. No matter how consistently I was healed by this process I questioned it every time. I still do. It’s something I had to get used to. I often laugh about the tenacity of my doubt given the consistently positive results but after a lifetime of believing that this kind of thing is not possible, it’s difficult to shake the part of myself that still doubts. I’ve become accustomed to doubt now and allow it to flow through me without giving it too much energy.

It’s been and continues to be a remarkable experience. I’ve been asked to watch films where I can relate to every character in the film – even the nasty ones and ones I never could have imagined relating to before. It’s been enlightening, astonishing and liberating. It has released me from issues that had been clouding my judgement and holding me back in so many ways. It has alleviated maladies I didn’t even know I had and healed others that I felt were beyond anyone’s powers. It has strengthened my relationships with those closest to me, especially my young son, and has helped me to face things in my life in a more honest and direct way. This has been a result of not only this peculiar movie technique but the constant guidance I’ve received daily. It’s been an extraordinary experience that I doubt words can do justice to but I’m utterly compelled to try.

I’ve always been a questioning sort of person and continue to be although I don’t always get the answers I want. Sometimes I don’t get answers at all but what I get is far more important than that. I get positive change. That’s far more valuable than anything that answers can provide. These changes within me are worth embracing any notions I previously considered to be strange or impossible or flighty (the list goes on). The truth is that I’m not asked to believe anything really. I’m just asked to agree to do certain things to heal. One of the things that I know is part of my healing is to speak and it would be impossible for me not to speak about this inner guidance. I know it’s inside of all of us. It’s a phenomenon that has such possibilities to end suffering and to bring about peace. It has astounding potential and yet it is a very personal and unique experience for everyone. It can’t be bottled or marketed but it can be shared and people can be inspired to pursue their own experience of it in their own way and that’s what I hope to do.

 

Observing my thought patterns… the reason I never have to watch disaster movies

Inner work has been quite an adventure for me at times. I began this inner work after becoming involved in shamanism and ultimately working with shamanic plant medicines such as Ayahuasca and Iboga. These plants can do amazing things to propel people forward into a state of improved mental health, but often the work begins after taking the medicine. The most popular term that people use to describe the application of the gifts that these medicines bring is ‘integration’. I have worked steadily over the last couple of years on integration and one of the most important aspects of this work is observing the mind. I have come to a point where I’ve been able to observe my thoughts and begin to change the kinds of thoughts that occupy my mind. Some repeating themes have surprised me. I wrote previously about getting acquainted with The Bully Within and the inner adventures continue.

Becoming mindful can be a bigger experience than I had ever imagined. Of course, I had never imagined becoming ‘mindful’. I just wanted to cure myself of a deep four year depression. This led me down an astonishing path of revelations that continue to amaze me daily. A requirement of my healing was to observe my thought patterns. What havoc! I will start out by saying that this is an ongoing process as is all of this inner work but one of the first things that struck me was how often I had conjured up images of disasters. It reminded me of listening to my mother’s worries when we were kids. “I could see you falling and breaking your back and the ambulance coming!” There were lots of references to the spinal cord. My father was a big one for “you’ll crack your head open!”. This always inspired interesting images in our little heads but the point is, that although there were some accidents when we were kids (I was one of 5 children) reality could never compete with the incessant vivid catastrophes that took place in my mother’s mind – it simply wasn’t possible. Well, as it turns out, I take after her and far too many of the thoughts that came to my mind with alarming frequency were disaster scenarios. Not only related to my child, although that one I’m sure many can understand.

I was surprised to discover that I was haunted by such thoughts on a regular basis. The internal stress that this caused was immeasurable not to mention the effect it had on my outlook. These thoughts would come unbidden at all times of the day, completely unrelated to anything I was doing at times. I would have images of accidents and all manner of painful or dangerous events happening either in my house or on the street.. things falling, me falling, tripping and getting caught under a bus, stepping on cut glass, getting electrocuted, fires, injuries, natural disasters, you name it. Granted, sometimes these things were related to issues I was dealing with i.e. while cleaning up a broken glass or getting on a bus but I realized after observing my thoughts long enough that this was sort of like a program that continued to run completely independent of anything I was involved with at the time. These little images flew into my mind and out again and I was left with the impression of them and the internal reaction to these impressions. It’s hard to believe that this had been happening for so long without me being aware of it or taking note. I guess I had never thought that this was something that could be changed or that I had any control over. But I did and once I became aware of this pattern, I began to address it and intentionally change it.

I remember that the idea of being on the edge of my seat in a movie theatre (or in my living room for that matter) was never appealing for me and now I understand this better. I had a disaster movie marathon running through my mind on a regular basis. Having worked to change the landscape of my mind, I admit that I’m still not in any way tempted to watch disaster flicks.. I don’t think it was ever meant to be my thing but I’m grateful to be at liberty to find my ‘edge of the seat’ experiences in other ways. Of course there was a point where I breathed easier and was pleased with my progress about this. After some diligent work I can honestly say that this doesn’t occupy my mind much at all anymore. Did I feel peaceful as a result? Of course, and then I was presented with the next challenge but this is a path I have chosen and there’s always more work to do.

I will admit to having more of an attraction to adventure films rather than disaster films (or thrillers) and although that’s still true, I have found that this inner adventure is quite enough for me at times. This work has also involved its fair share of external adventures as well involving travel and plant medicines (travel on many levels) so I think I am sufficiently sated in terms of stimulation. And as far as movies go, there are times that this work for me involves watching films and receiving lessons, insights and healing using this medium as a tool. It is a very customized regime that is also ongoing. I will write about this more fully in another post but for the time being, I just wanted to share about the nature of my thoughts past and present, both thoughts I have worked to oust from my mind and thoughts about observing my thoughts. Is that enough thinking for today? I think so, we can always move onto feelings soon, which is quite the adventure too.

The World of Conflict and Coming to Terms with Who We Are..

Some of the major issues in the world that loom large and seem ominous are larger and more extreme versions of the kinds of issues we face in every day situations in our own lives and more importantly, of issues we face or often don’t face within ourselves. One of the things that I have discovered on my path of healing is how much conflict there is within me. It’s been the focus of most of the work I‘ve been guided to do on myself, and it’s been an incredibly insightful experience. Once I got past the ego driven resistance that didn’t want to acknowledge there’s anything ‘wrong’ with me, I was able to learn about the things I needed to change to help make my life experience richer, more peaceful and more fulfilling.

The truth is that there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with me. This notion of being ‘wrong’ was a misinterpretation. It was my response to the idea of recognizing the things within me that I needed to address. Even the worst parts of my behavior were and are just a reflection of internal conflict and addressing this internal conflict is an ongoing process. Orienting myself to this view has helped me a great deal. It has helped me to become more gentle with myself and to become less judgmental of others. The reason that many of us have a strongly negative reaction to this notion of being wrong is because we associate this wrong behavior with who we are but deep inside, we know that this wrong behavior is not who we are at all. In fact, it’s at odds with who we are and therein lies the conflict.

Working through internal conflict can be challenging but so consistently rewarding and with this work comes a change in perspective. It doesn’t take long to see parallels between internal conflicts and the conflicts that exist within close personal relationships. From there you can see how our immediate community and ultimately, the global community is a reflection of these same kinds of conflicts that exist within us all. It’s clear to me now that we’ll never be able to solve these greater world issues of conflict unless we can recognize and begin to address our own internal conflicts.

I think that this is part of what Jesus meant in the “throw the first stone” lesson. I’m not religious but billions of people have been profoundly moved by similar tenets in religions and belief systems worldwide for a reason. There’s a part of us that recognizes the truth of it. Underneath all of the conflict inside of us resides a source of wisdom – an intuition – that can be the guiding principal in our lives. This guiding principal contains the essence of who we really are. It is a unique aspect of our being that is often ignored to our detriment. By simply forming the intention of connecting with this wisdom, we acknowledge its existence and from there the journey of healing ensues. If we allow ourselves to be guided by this internal wisdom we may begin to address internal conflict that reflects outwardly and in doing so, we can take the most important step towards addressing conflict in this world.

 

 

Movies, Emotional Detox & A Glimpse into the Human Condition

After dropping off my son this morning, I was overcome by emotion. The emotion wasn’t really attached to anything – maybe a general desire and appreciation for community but really, it was just one of many episodes designed to release pent up emotions. This is not an unusual thing for me these days and it’s not an indicator that anything is wrong. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I began a path of healing two years ago to heal myself from a very deep depression that lasted for years. This path has taken all kinds of twists and turns and has become the greatest and most intensive education I could have ever imagined. I’ve learned a great deal about myself and the world and my particular role in the world through a connection that has been unfailingly wise, supportive and loving. Many people make this connection through meditation and I’m sure that each person’s experience of this is as unique as they are. My connection was created through a shamanic process I engaged in two years ago as part of my efforts to cure my depression. Little did I know back then that I would be embarking upon an extraordinary adventure that would lead me through astonishing experiences that continue to this day. I’m not sure what my reaction would have been if I did know this back then. At that time, I would have done just about anything to relieve my suffering but I can say that it would have surprised me to know that I would be involved in anything that was deemed to be spiritual.

I’m sure that I was hoping for a quick fix but any kind of fix would do for me at that time as I was in such pain. I now realize that healing is a life long journey and it’s really a matter of taking a lead role in the direction and quality of my life. One doesn’t have to be depressed to see the benefits of this but being depressed forced me to see it. I think that this is why some people who have recovered from addictions, depression or other serious illnesses find themselves feeling grateful. Like many of them, I know that I would never have embarked on this journey if I hadn’t found myself in such a deep state of despair.

I have used various healing tools on this journey and many of them were prescribed through this connection to a deep intuition or presence. I have been taken through a process of emotional detox that has been quite a long one. I have been guided toward certain media – movies and books – that evoke a specific emotional reaction within me and often teach me a lesson. Mostly these lessons are about experiences I’ve had in my life and how they have affected me. Sometimes through these stories (either a movie or a book) I am introduced to a situation that needs to be addressed or more often an experience I had that needed to be acknowledged for what it was and how it made me feel. I often respond with tears and as I shed the tears there is a sense of release, understanding and peace. Sometimes there is pain but almost always a pain that is being brought up to be released so it’s a relief really – like finding the knot so it can be massaged. In these cases it is a gnawing pain that’s deeply embedded and causes untold problems until it’s brought to the surface to be acknowledged and released.

This process is quite remarkable. It’s obviously been custom designed for me. The movies I’ve been guided to watch are mostly movies I’ve seen before (or at least knew about) and sometimes they are not necessarily ones I want to watch. Just about every time I have this strong intuition toward one of these movies I’m doubtful and think I must be imagining things. Doubt is a constant that I’ve just gotten used to and I don’t even bother anymore to swat it away like a fly as I used to. Now I just allow doubt to run like a necessary computer program doing regular maintenance. Having experienced such extraordinary things through this process so far, I’m motivated to move beyond the doubt enough to watch the movie and every single time I’m amazed at how new and profound the experience is. There’s always something that stands out in the film that didn’t when I watched it before and it resonates so deeply with me that it’s unmistakable what the personal message is. Sometimes I respond emotionally before I fully understand why but the understanding comes as the tears fall. I always feel much better afterwards. It’s not like a regular cry at all (although I suspect that’s healthy too). It’s actually an elevating feeling – like I’ve achieved a different way of being afterwards. Sometimes it’s more pronounced than others but it’s always there and it always changes me for the better.

Sometimes these stories provide me with lessons about humanity. There is the prevalent issue of the senseless conflict in this world. This is something that we’re all aware of on some level but this message reaches a whole new level when this kind of lesson is underway. It’s like waking up to something so ridiculously simple and knowing that we’re failing to see the reality and impact of it. There is another persistent yet unique theme about humanity that becomes clearer and clearer to me each day, which is that humanity itself is an ecosystem. Initially this concept helped me to address my questions and anxiety about so many things that I found to be disturbing in this world. It became apparent to me that although I didn’t agree with every philosophy, system or approach to life, they all have their purpose – even those that may seem dark and destructive. I am often reminded of my depression which I saw no sense in at the time. This idea of humanity as an ecosystem gave me a great sense of peace. It’s a concept that I will expand upon more completely in my writing and in my book but it will also be an idea that I will continue to explore and engage with in responding to the world around me. It helps me respond more peacefully to the world and to expend my energies in a more appropriate and healthy way. This issue of the appropriate expenditure of energy is a lesson in and of itself that is continually reinforced and it’s worth sharing but I’ll leave that for another day when my energy reserves have been sufficiently replenished!

Credibility: Belief & Trust

To address the issue of credibility, in relation to the experiences I’ve been having and writing about, I decided to look up the definition of the word. It was quite a revelation as it often is when you pursue this kind of inquiry. There is a sense of chasing your tail. One word leads to another, which leads back to the first. Credibility definitions all have to do with belief and trust. As usual there are synonyms and examples of the use of the word and you inevitably come across other words and themes like reality and truth. Looking into the definitions of these related words is a very similar experience and I recommend that everyone do this but just in case you don’t think you’ll find the time, I have printed my findings at the bottom of this post.

Looking at the origins of words is often more intriguing than looking up the definition and it can provide more insight. I looked up the origins (etymology) of similar words: credible, credentials, credence. Eventually it led to the word Credo literally meaning “I believe”. I think the most important aspect of this exercise is that it shows that what we believe is what is considered to be credible. It reflected back to me the same kind of theme that repeats itself often on this journey of healing: when I look outside of myself to discover anything it always circles back to me in the end.

There are other interesting discoveries to be made in definitions for related words. Within the definition of the word ‘reality’ I found this most revealing statement that is meant to illustrate the meaning of this word:

  • a thing that is actually experienced or seen, especially when this is grim or problematic.

It’s interesting to consider the fact that we find something more credible – more reality based – if it is negative. I think we have all experienced the word reality more often than not being used in relation to something grim or unpleasant which is always contrasted by the idea of fantasy. This leads me back to why I made this inquiry in the first place. The word incredible is often used as an overwhelmingly positive description of something. It’s usually understood that whatever is being described as ‘incredible’ is actually witnessed or experienced. All of this would seem to indicate that what we experience as overwhelmingly positive, we find hard to believe. What does this say about our collective state of mind? At the very least, I think it can be changed for the better and I believe that this change is already underway with the growing interest in meditation, intention and consciousness. Areas of thinking that have been traditionally perceived as separate and opposed (science and spirituality) are now coming together to form beliefs (credibility – reality) that represent great progress and promise for humanity.

End Note: If you look at the definitions below, when you come across the part of the definition for the word ‘reality’ that states: “existence that is.. not subject to human decisions or inventions”, I hope you either have a good chuckle as I did or refer to this material if you want to look into this matter more deeply: http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/ciencia/ciencia_psycho08.htm

End Note II: If you want a further chuckle, look up the definition of ‘reality’ yourself and see all of the references to ‘reality TV’.

 

Credibility/Credible

 

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/credible

: able to be believed : reasonable to trust or believe

: good enough to be effective

Full Definition of CREDIBLE

:  offering reasonable grounds for being believed <a credible account of an accident> <credible witnesses>

 

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/credibility

 

The quality of being trusted and believed in: the government’s loss of credibility

Origin

Mid 16th century: from medieval Latin credibilitas, from Latin credibilis (see credible).

Late Middle English: from Latin credibilis, from credere ‘believe’.

 

Etymology

 

Credible:

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=credible

credible (adj.)

“believable,” late 14c., from Latin credibilis “worthy to be believed,” from credere (see credo). Related: Credibly.

 

Credentials

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=credentials

credentials (n.)

“letters entitling the bearer to certain credit or confidence,” 1670s, from Medieval Latin credentialis, from credentia (see credence). Probably immediately as a shortening of letters credential (1520s, with French word order); earlier was letter of credence (mid-14c.).

Credence

credence (n.)

mid-14c., from Medieval Latin credentia “belief,” from Latin credentum (nominative credens), past participle of credere “believe, trust” (see credo).

Credo

credo (n.)

late 12c., from Latin, literally “I believe,” first word of the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, first person singular present indicative of credere “to believe,” from PIE compound *kerd-dhe- “to believe,” literally “to put one’s heart” (cognates: Old Irish cretim, Irish creidim, Welsh credu “I believe,” Sanskrit śrad-dhā- “faith”), from PIE root *kerd- (1) “heart” (see heart (n.)). The nativized form is creed. General sense of “formula or statement of belief” is from 1580s.

 

 

                When you look up the word ‘Truth’ you find many references to                                   ‘Reality’:

  • that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality.

 

                                     This led me to examine the word ‘Reality’

 

re·al·i·ty

noun: reality

the world or the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them.

“he refuses to face reality”

synonyms: the real world, real life, actuality; More truth; physical existence” distinguishing fantasy from reality”
antonyms: fantasy
  • a thing that is actually experienced or seen, especially when this is grim or problematic.
  1. 2.

the state or quality of having existence or substance.

  • Philosophy

existence that is absolute, self-sufficient, or objective, and not subject to human decisions or conventions.

Origin

late 15th century: via French from medieval Latin realitas, from late Latin realis ‘relating to things’ (see real1).

My conclusion about reality? It’s all relative…

Exposing the Bully Within

I just returned from a trip to England with my young son and during this trip I became more acquainted with the bully within. I first encountered this concept of the bully through a dream that illuminated the fact that my writing was suffering due to internal interference. In this scenario, I was both the bully and the victim. The guidance I continue to receive on this and many other issues is a result of my involvement in shamanism and plant medicines for the purpose of healing and growth. During this recent trip to England it became clear to me that this bully inside of me interferes in every aspect of my life if I allow it to and I have done so because I’ve been unaware of it. Thoughts arise in my mind and are often immediately responded to by the bully sometimes in the form of ongoing harmful chatter. This affects the way I feel about myself and about everyone and everything around me. It also affects how I make decisions both big and small. I have identified it as the voice inside that asserts itself as soon as I come up with a thought or an idea – going to a store to pick up something I need, redecorating a room in a way that I have wanted to for so long, embarking on a project that intrigues me or even as I begin to imagine myself in some pleasant circumstances. Usually the reason I have put off some project is because the bully comes up with an endless list of reasons why it won’t work out or why it’s a bad idea. Sometimes this is expressed in arguments or images and other times it’s a pressure – the kind of uncomfortable pressure you might feel when you’re being scrutinized. What follows is a discouraging heaviness. Sometimes I avoid the heaviness by moving on but of course the ideas and bullying tactics simply resurface.

This situation has created a harsh atmosphere within my mind that has affected my daily experience for a very long time now. It’s been exhausting. I believe that this is what ultimately led to a deep depression that lasted for years. It was just over a year ago that I began to fully emerge from this depression although it’s been a long and involved process that became the path that I am still on today. This discovery of the bully within has had a tremendous impact on me. It was a deep knowing that I’ve experienced before when receiving these spiritually communicated insights. It occurred when I was wandering the streets of London with my son. We were venturing out to explore the area around the place where we were staying. I was excited and daunted at the same time. It was the first time that I traveled overseas alone with my young son (6 years old). We were looking for a café and some shops and as the feelings of excitement became eclipsed by the daunting feelings, there was a pause and then it was made clear to me what was happening. My inner guiding voice made me aware of the fact that the bully had taken over and that this was a common occurrence in my life.

The truth of it descended upon me and began to permeate my mind and body. It was a physical, spiritual and intellectual event. I didn’t need to rationalize it – I knew it to be true instantly. This knowing is superior to rationalization. Rationalizing is bully territory. It gives the bully an opportunity to legitimize all of its assertions and tear down the notion of its existence. Instead of rationalizing, what usually follows these revelations is processing – allowing all of the pieces to fall into place in my mind and they often do with startling effect. It’s the kind of experience that inspired exclamations like “Eureka!” or in modern times “Aha!”. As this revelation occurred, the bully subsided and I continued to walk the beautiful streets of London, marveling at both the outer and inner events of my life. I was enjoying exploring London with my son and moving through this revelation that I knew would change my life for the better although not without some work.

During this trip to England, some stressful situations arose and that is when the bully began to encroach upon my thoughts again. My son became ill and there were times that I began to question everything. It was at times like this that I was most vulnerable to the bully. Instead, I was guided: “don’t enter the victim state”. It was true that I was on the verge of tears and that my capacity to navigate this situation was being compromised by this pull towards the victim stance. I was tired and confused. I even began to write about it while my son was playing loudly with some toys in the waiting room of a walk-in clinic in Weymouth. I didn’t have long to write or to do anything but attend to my son and try to address his needs in this unfamiliar environment. My son was up throughout the night with a high fever and I used damp cloths to cool his head and read to him. We watched bad late night television until he finally fell asleep just before dawn. The next day we prepared to travel again and I wondered if he would be well enough to get on the train. The next day we prepared to travel again and I wondered if he would be well enough to get on the train. As he lay on the bed my son looked up at me and said “we’re really having an adventure now aren’t we!” I smiled at his attitude after such a night and the wisdom of his statement stayed with me as I realized that challenges are pretty much an essential part of any genuine adventure.

 

The adventure continued as later that day I saw that my son’s eyes were becoming disturbingly red – beyond bloodshot. I knew that as soon as we got off the train and arrived in the next town, I would have to find another doctor. I heeded the guided warning each time it was given but it was a struggle. I’m so thankful that it was repeated many times as I was made to see that things would have been made so much more difficult for me (and my son for that matter) if I gave into the familiar victim state. I’ve been learning about how the external world responds to or is a reflection of our internal state and that this is why inner work is the most important work of all. Not only is this notion of reality shared by some pioneers (both new and old) in the world of quantum physics and science, it was also revealed to me in an Ayahuasca session during which my curiosity about the matter was responded to with “your reality is a result of your state”. All of the work I’ve been guided to do since then has been about improving my state. Now that I’m home safe and sound with my son who is feeling better, it’s time to address the issue of the bully within. I have to try to become more aware of this bullying in action so as to expose it and in doing so, render it powerless over me.

It has been revealed to me that this bully entity within is a composite of many negative and judgmental voices and influences that I have heard and experienced throughout my life. This is quite an extensive collection of opinions, assertions and attitudes and it will take a huge effort to oust this internal influence but I know that it’s something I must do if I am to move forward. I have been so used to tuning into spiritual guidance over the last few months that it’s almost as though this bully snuck up on me. However, now that I’m becoming more familiar with the rhythm of this healing path, it makes sense that this bully is being revealed to me prominently now so that I may address it. The voice of the bully must be heard so that I can recognize it, acknowledge the role it has played in my life and officially say goodbye to it.

Recognizing the voice of the bully within is no small task I can assure you. Often it’s like there’s a low volume radio program on inside my head and although I’m not aware of listening, the content is registering. It feels as much a part of me sometimes as breathing but I know now that it’s not a part of me at all but it’s a part of my experience and thankfully, I have a spiritual ally that will help me change this. After all, I wouldn’t even be aware of it without the help of this guidance. It’s an inner guidance that comes from an authentic place that cannot tolerate the bully. I think this bully within is the root of many issues in my life so this is an opportunity for extensive growth. In a shamanic workshop over a year ago I asked for help to silence the harmful voices within. I think that so much of the work I’ve done since then has led me here to this point of addressing the bully within. There were steps I needed to take to get here and the path continues to take twists and turns with peaks and valleys but ever upward. Sometimes the upward climb can be a strain, but it’s always rewarding.

I have been constantly given tools to negotiate this path and I can’t imagine life without them now. Some of these tools are available to anyone (the presence process, plant medicines etc.) but not necessarily appropriate for everyone and some of the tools are customized for me. I’m often given phrases, intentions and concepts that help me understand and address various issues in my life as they arise. Once I became committed to this path, the guidance was more pronounced and accessible to me and has become a way of life for me now. I’m ever grateful for this guidance I’m receiving and it’s this guiding voice that urges me to share these experiences as much as possible. The very act of sharing these experiences is healing for me and it has been very clearly indicated to me that this is my purpose. I feel the truth of this every time I share my experiences.

The Presence Process

During one of my Ayahuasca sessions in Peru I was instructed to start “The Presence Process” right away. I had bought the book before I took the trip as I had read about it on the website for the organization I visited in Peru. I had the book with me on this trip but had yet to read it and of course, Ayahuasca knew this along with all kinds of intimate details of my life. Most people who do Ayahuasca can tell you that this plant spirit reveals things that make it very clear that it has in-depth knowledge of who you are and it can be surprising at times how completely it understands you – often more than you understand yourself which is why it can be an extremely insightful experience to connect with this spirit. I had the intention of changing my life completely according to the revelations of these spiritual experiences so that I may live a more meaningful, authentic and powerful life. After reading the substantial intro to the book “The Presence Process” (almost half the book) I embarked upon a remarkable healing journey and realizing the powerful tools it had to offer, I knew why it had been recommended to me.

It’s a very difficult process and many times during it I had been desperate to find some kind of support beyond the book. I looked for some feedback about it online and it was only after I finished the process (or the main part anyway) that I found some questions and answers on the portal that was somewhat along the lines of what I had been seeking. However, I realized in retrospect that if I didn’t find it when I was looking, I wasn’t meant to. I’m beginning to have a lot more faith in these kinds of things in my life as I am now being guided in so many ways that I can’t fail to see that most if not everything in life has a rhythm and is a result of some part of who I am and where I’m at. In fact, Ayahuasca responded to my curiosity about the nature of reality by stating that my reality was a result of my ‘state’. And ever since, this spiritual presence that has remained with me has been guiding me in ways to help me change my state for the better. Some of these changes are painful and this process is a powerful vehicle that facilitates these crucial changes.

During the process I experienced a great deal of emotional upheaval. I began to realize that this was (and still is) a sort of emotional detox. It’s helpful to remember this while experiencing it because it can be confusing and discouraging. We all associate healing with good feelings but when we feel bad, we immediately think that something must be wrong. We often have this reaction when we’re feeling physically sick but again, there can be symptoms of detox that facilitate healing that are quite uncomfortable. I remember a couple of years ago having pneumonia at Christmas time. I had a fever of 104 and needless to say, I was quite seriously ill. I purged a great amount of mucous (my apologies for the graphic description) and afterwards, my chest and lungs felt better than they had felt in years. I could breathe much more easily and felt so much stronger for it. I realized then that my body was actually healing me. I think this happens far more often than any of us realize.

On an emotional level, it becomes very difficult to keep a steady view of this necessary part of healing and I still marvel at how often I am taken off guard by it when these bouts of emotional detox occur. Although I have completed the process, I am still undergoing the healing process in a more relaxed manner so to speak. When the need arises, I am able to put the tools I learned in this process to work and of course the need does arise often enough for me to know that in order to fulfill my intention, I must do a lot more healing and in so doing, continue to change my ‘state’. I often still balk at these feelings when they overcome me and once I catch myself in this familiar reaction, I realize that I must accept these feelings or I won’t be able to integrate them and therefore overcome the way they affect my life (and my reality). I can’t pretend that I always react well. It has been a huge learning curve to respond to these emotions differently than I have done for so many years but I am determined to do better each time – or to try anyway. One way or another, with a great deal of help from my guiding spirits or this ‘presence’ I’ve felt since I returned from Peru, I have managed to make progress.

It has been and continues to be a tremendous challenge and an empowering experience. I’m not sure what other people’s experience of this process is but I know that I’m just so grateful for the guidance I received during it and continue to receive. I would be interested in hearing about other people’s experiences and whether or not they felt a presence working with them. I want to make it clear that I’m not in a position to guide or advise anyone else because I know how unique everyone’s situation is, and from what I can gather, this process is about working one on one with presence itself to sort out these very personal issues. Having said this, I also know that sometimes it can be helpful just to share experiences and give and receive support when going through such a challenging process. My process was and continues to be fully guided and I was given some very specific instructions while going through this experience. I continue to be guided and although I may still get confused at times and feel doubt, I know that my life is immeasurably richer in every way due to the guidance I receive. I can only hope that others find their own way of seeking internal guidance, as I believe that this is the way that our world will truly change for the better.

Post Script: The source for Q&A provided by the author of The Presence Process that I found after the fact can be accessed now through this link: http://presenceprocessquestions.blogspot.ca/2009/07/i-have-done-presence-process-twice-but.html