Congratulations! You’re Getting a Divorce…

Congratulations! You’re Getting a Divorce…

Caution: Divorce Ahead. Proceed with love.

“Congratulations! You’re getting a divorce!”

When you tell people you are getting a divorce, there is an awkward moment of silence. It’s the biggest party foul statement you can make. Usually, the next thing that is said is, “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that.”

But anyone that’s been through a divorce knows the emotional battle that has been waged prior to deciding to end a marriage. And putting an end to the suffering, for both parties, deserves only one comment.

“Congratulations!”

Divorce is awful. But contrary to the evil images of broken families, broken hearts and shattered dreams, the divorce isn’t the problem at this point. It’s the solution. And it’s a profound moment of relief to hear the counselor say, “children would rather be from a broken home than living in one.”

Divorce doesn’t create a broken family, it simply exposes it. Similar to having your car breakdown on the highway of life, once you decide to divorce, all of your shit is laying on the side of the road for everyone to pilfer, ponder and judge. A couple that decides to end their marriage undoubtedly has years of financial dysfunction, emotional co-dependency and passive (or not so much) aggressive habits. It’s been there, lurking behind eye-rolls and sarcastic commentary, but denial is easier than dealing.

When the only thing worse than going through a divorce is staying in a miserable marriage, you know you’re doing the right thing. Yes, the RIGHT thing. Divorce can save two good people from a toxic tailspin that is keeping them both from living a great life.

It takes a lot of courage, effort and hard work to finally take control of your life. It would be easier to stay and simply blame your own bad behavior on someone else’s refusal to participate. Staying is assumed to be the selfless thing to do.

But selfless people who deny themselves independence, happiness and passion become martyrs that demand sympathy. No one, including and especially the children, benefits from self-denial. Everyone deserves the best. Always. Being unhappy is never a productive endeavor. For anyone. You can’t sacrifice your happiness to give someone else theirs. It doesn’t work that way.

Anger is similar to pain, in that it’s there for a reason. And the message that it delivers is always the same. You’re doing it wrong. Yes. You. It’s not your spouse. It’s not your financial circumstances. It’s not your job. It’s not your kids. It’s not your friends, or lack thereof.

It’s your choices.  It’s your thinking. It’s your words and actions.

But once you realize that you are the problem, it’s the best day ever. Because then you can finally see that YOU are the solution.

Your anger serves a purpose. And continuing to live an angry life is only to punish yourself for someone else’s perceived crimes. When you take ownership of the anger inside you, and stop believing that someone else is making you feel the way you do, you will finally discover that it is only you that stands in the way of your own happiness.

Happiness is a choice, and that choice will require change. And if your partner doesn’t agree with those changes, that is their right. And if you can’t live together and be happy, then it is, indeed, time to part ways.

The spouse who finally calls the time of death on a rotting relationship will often take the fall with family and friends. If a cheating spouse files for divorce, that spouse is deserting the family. If the non-cheating spouse files for divorce, they are giving up on their family; unwilling to forgive. Because family and friends don’t want to be reminded that the rules of the game can change at any time, and vows are no guarantee of security. When life is comfortable, we want to believe it’s because we’re doing it right, and that it will stay that way. We collectively agree that if a marriage ends, it’s because someone did something wrong. (And so we pop the popcorn and tell our stories!)

But life isn’t personal. It doesn’t matter what cards you are dealt. It matters how you play them.

Marriage is more than just love. It’s a partnership. It’s two people choosing to share goals and make a team effort. But when you realize that you are no longer working for the same goals, the marriage seizes to be effective. Because then, it feels as though you must fight. And so you do. And the one relationship that is supposed to provide solace and support becomes a battleground filled with power struggles. Because if your spouse gets what they want, you loose. If you get what you want, they feel cheated.

You can’t win.

Unless.

You are willing to stop playing the blame game. Because everything on earth has a life cycle; there is a beginning and the end. The glossy brochure that promotes marriage as “till death do you part” doesn’t mention that you can feel dead when you are still walking around. A death in spirit is just as significant as the death of the body.

But you can revive your spirit, whether you decide to divorce or not. In order to become happy, you must let go of your anger. You can’t hold onto both. If you want to get what you want, you’ve got to let go of what you have. Without fear.

It doesn’t matter who did what to whom, or who didn’t do enough. You don’t need to prove why you were unhappy. It’s enough to acknowledge that you are. You can’t earn a stamp of approval by listing a litany of someone else’s sins. Worthiness isn’t something you earn. It’s something you own.

When you enter into the solution of divorce, you must do so as a team. Because until the decree is final, what you do to each other, you do to yourself. If you want to “win”, you must want the same for your partner. As long as you are married, you win or loose together.

Divorce is a reckoning, and it hurts. You now have half of what you thought you did. Accept that as quickly as possible. Everything will be split…money, possessions and time with kids. You can’t get a divorce without the divorce part. The more you resist necessary changes, the more you will suffer during the process. Whenever you argue for what “should be”, you are failing to deal with what is.

There is no reality that includes “should be”. Get over it. Do you want to be happy, or do you want to be right? It’s your choice, and it’s that simple.

But as always, you can look at the glass as half empty or half full. Focus on the empty space and see it as potential. You now have room for what you want in life. You have the opportunity to make a fresh start. To learn from your own mistakes, not your spouses. Life’s a bitch in this way: it gives you the test, and then the lesson. LEARN IT.

The more time you spend ruminating on the hurts and bad habits of your spouse, the less time you spend dreaming your future into existence. Again, you are only punishing yourself for someone else’s failure to give you what you need. This is not productive, and demonstrates that suffering is a choice.

Pain is part of life, and it’s certainly part of divorce. But suffering is a mental state of mind that only you can change. You alone are responsible for your own suffering. You must identify the thoughts that bind you and the stress that makes you sick. And then make the necessary changes to let go and be well.

After all, that’s why you’re doing this.

Congratulations! You’re getting a divorce…

If you are even thinking about divorce, get NOLO’s Divorce and Money. Purchase an extra copy for your spouse. Because you both deserve to be educated on the laws. If you approach it as a legal procedure, it will become a business transaction that will free you of the emotional chains that bind. Another great resource for both of you is divorcesource.com.

Control Your Emotions: FIRST AID FOR HAPPINESS

Control Your Emotions: FIRST AID FOR HAPPINESS

 

Hot Mess, Party of 1. You’re First Aid For Happiness Kit is now available….

How to control your emotions.

My kids range in age from 9 to 16, and I’m finally getting to that stage in life where my kids are fairly self-sufficient. My oldest can drive, and the others can ride their bikes to practices and school, be left alone, fix themselves a meal (I mean use my credit card to order a pizza) and do their homework without being told*.

*Just kidding.

So I’ve graduated from changing diapers and watching Dora the Explorer, to discussing the hardships of e-learning and passing out money instead of fruit snacks. The conversations I have with my kids are truly amazing, and are one of the best parts of being a mom. In between rolling their eyes at my naivety and blaming me for their missing laundry, they occasionally come to me for advice. For a few minutes, every now and then, I get to help them figure out how to make things work in life.

When I picked up my 9 year old, Kate, from piano lessons the other day, the first thing she said when she got into the car was, “Mom, I’m sorry I was such a hot mess before school this morning. Thank you for being nice to me even though I was being mean.”

“Hot mess” is an understatement. She can be a real treat to get ready for school. Her temper tantrums are so ridiculous they are actually funny. It makes me wonder if I look as ridiculous when I’m in the crux of a crisis that only I can see.

Probably not. I’m 40, and when I cry and stomp around, it’s totally legit.

She went on to say, “I think I need to go to therapy. I just can’t control my emotions. I go from happy to really upset way too fast. And then I can be happy again. And sometimes I feel sad even when I’m happy.”

That’s called bipolar, honey. (I said that with my inside voice.)

I told her that might be a very good idea, and that therapy has been a big help to me when I’ve struggled with issues. I, too, have a tendency to let my emotions get the best of me. My yoga practice has helped me learn how to manage myself.*

*In theory.

First, I started with her belief that she “can’t control her emotions”. The entire first year of therapy would be spent changing that belief from to a productive one like “I am learning to control my emotions.”

I offered her proof that she can learn with this scenario.

Think about how you feel when you fight with your sister. (They are usually best friends, but they share a room. Enough said.)

Think about how bad it hurts in your heart and in your head when you are so mad at her. She’s not listening, she doesn’t understand, she’s being mean, nasty and selfish. It’s not fair, it’s awful, and you just want to scream. Close your eyes and remember what those emotions feel like. Go there in your mind and experience the sensations in your memory.

Now, hold that feeling in your head and imagine that suddenly, the doorbell rings. Dad walks in with a bunch of presents for everyone, a sweet new puppy  that won’t shed or poop in the yard, and bags full of money.

What? Best. Day. Ever.

So in the blink of an eye, you go from being miserable and upset to being happy and excited. That happened because you shifted your thoughts. You were focused on what was wrong and awful and how your sister is a troll, and when you stopped focusing on that, you stopped feeling that way.

Our thoughts create our emotions, which are simply physical manifestations of our mental state of mind.  When you feel yourself getting upset, it’s because you are thinking about something that is upsetting. So if you don’t enjoy the sensation of being upset, think about something else.

It’s that simple. If you believe that it’s possible to learn to control your emotions, then it is.

One year of therapy saved, darling. You owe me $2500.

Once you realize that it’s possible to learn to control your emotions,  you simply make it a practice. 

Being a third grade girl can be tough. They expect you to write in cursive, and turn in your homework. Also, little girls can be really mean to each other. The daily dramas are exhausting–and perfect to practice emotional management. “Imagine that a friend at school tells you that another girl said something mean about you. And it really hurts your feelings. You go to the bathroom and cry. You feel like you might throw up. Your stomach hurts. Your head aches. You are getting physically ill from your mental thoughts.”

“And the more you think about it, the worse you feel. Your emotions are snowballing, and you are headed toward a full blown melt down. You know that because it’s happened before. The exact details are different, but it’s the same old story.”

“But you can have a choice here. You don’t have to go through this.”

Every thought we think leaves a trail in our brain. And most of our thoughts are repeats–we’ve thought them before. Just like a trail through the woods, the more a certain path is traveled, the easier it becomes to follow. Soon, we don’t even have to think about it.  All of our opinions, perceptions and beliefs about the world are just thoughts that are repeated over and over. And the more we think them, the less we are REALLY thinking about them.

Most of our thoughts are habits.

And habits can be changed.

The only thing required in order to change is to realize we have the power to learn to control our emotions.

I suggested, “The next time something or someone upsets you, and you realize that your emotions are taking you on a trip to crazy town, simply get off the ride. We all believe that in order to be happy, we have to fix our problems. So we go over and over the story in attempt to figure out who’s wrong and what we should do about it. We keep focusing on the problem because we think that’s the only way to fix the problem.”

“That, my sweet daughter, is a belief that only applies to problems you enjoy having. If you want to be good at math, you do need to focus on how to find the answer. Your brain is a powerful tool that can be used to accomplish anything you set your mind to.”

But we must choose carefully what we set our mind to. Spending time thinking someone else should help me, understand me or like me is a waste of my time. Those aren’t problems I can or need to solve. I can’t control other people. What others say, think and do is really none of my business, and I shouldn’t concern myself. Worrying about what others deem wrong will not make things right.

So co-dependancy is out. Narcissism is back. You’re welcome! Maybe my own years of therapy are paying off.

No one can make you feel hurt. That is a self-inflicted emotion. Feeling pained requires participation. Just because someone offers you an insult doesn’t mean you have to take it. When someone hurts you, acknowledge the pain but don’t dwell on it and relive it over and over. Your anger hurts you–not them. Feeling anger in response to someone else’s action is to punish yourself for their crime.

So how can you stop feeling hurt? Anger? Sadness?

By feeling happy instead.

Let’s start with some homework to learn to control emotions. Create a FIRST AID FOR HAPPINESS kit. Put together a collection of what you are grateful for… include pictures, memories and a list of treasured items. Make a list of things that make you laugh–comedians, movies, quotes and jokes. Then write down easy activities that make you happy, with specific dance music, singing songs, books, recipes or art supplies.

Keep your FIRST AID FOR HAPPINESS kit as close as you would an inhaler, an epi-pin, or emergency food. And whenever you smell a fire burning in your emotions, realize you have a choice. You can fan the flames and feel the burn, or you can extinguish the fire by simply ignoring it.

What you pay attention to grows. What you neglect dies.

Happiness is hard. It’s not something you are, it’s something you do. It’s a choice that requires practice. You can only learn to dance, play the piano, and ride a bike if you try and keep trying. You train your brain in the same way you do your body. You have to want to be happy more than you want to be miserable.

Sweet Daughter, you are a beautiful fairy-tale princess with a magic wand. Anytime you wish, you can wave that wand and turn sadness into happiness. Having a bad day? POOF!

When we got home, it was dinner time, so I invited her to practice being happy.. She looked at me and said, “Sure!”. I told her I was going to ask her to do the dishes, and instead of thinking, “I hate doing the dishes”, “NO FAIR! It’s not my turn!” and “Why is my mom so mean?” I wanted her to put on some music, make soap bubbles and dance while she did it.

And she did.

POOF! I’m happy, she’s happy AND THE DISHES ARE DONE.

Best. Day. Ever.

Read more about being happy…Happiness is exactly what you think!

Embracing Detox Symptoms

Embracing Detox Symptoms

Eating habits are really hard to change. We associate the foods we eat with comfort and normality, so anticipating withdrawal and detox symptoms is essential to success.

The faster you transition to a plant-based diet, the more likely it is that you will experience a detox symptoms. It can occur any time within the first month, and last anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks. Symptoms can include:

    • Headache or nausea
    • Feelings of stress
    • Fatigue and weakness
    • Mental confusion and irritability
    • Abdominal or esophageal spasms
    • Gastrointestinal issues ranging from cramping, bloating, constipation anddiarrhea.
    • Compromised immunity that leaves you susceptible to colds and virusesIf you plan for a few days of downtime, more than likely you’ll be pleasantly surprised and through the worst before you even realize what’s happened. Most likely, it will just feel like you’re having a bad day. Have some herbal tea on hand, try to get some extra sleep, and trust that it will pass.

Put your experience in perspective, and you might find a new level of motivation with the “No Pain, No Gain” philosophy. Everyone’s met the smoker who selfishly demands his “right” to light a cigarette in public, despite everyone else’s right to breathe. On the surface, he may feel that being restricted from his habit is an issue of freedom. But if he “needs” to smoke, he’s actually surrendered his power of choice. He’s not free to smoke. He’s required. Failing to administer the drug will be painful, and his body will be punished with detox symptoms.

Cravings are not about hunger. They are symptomatic of a disruption in a toxic cycle that keeps us enslaved to addiction. Understanding why this process occurs can make coping with the temporary discomfort of detox symptoms more bearable.

Vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals and living enzymes are what keep our cells functioning properly. A diet low in these micronutrients leaves our cells “understaffed”, affecting everything from DNA replication and repair, hormone function, immune response and waste removal. It’s analogous to a work force that goes on strike when they are not compensated fairly. We are oblivious to the people working in the background to keep our community systems running smoothly until our we can’t catch a cab or send our kids to school.

And when there aren’t enough “garbage men” to process all of the trash we ingest in junk food alley, it will be left indefinitely in our fat cells.

So when we need to break down fat cells for energy or weight loss, the excess waste products are released into our blood stream. This creates discomfort that we first identify as hunger or low blood sugar. Because if we eat, the breakdown of our fat cells stops, and our detox symptoms go away.

And if we eat processed foods that are chemically designed to stimulate our endorphins, we not only stop feeling bad, we start feeling good. Maybe even really good.

For about 5 minutes.

So when you feel nasty even though you’ve been eating whole foods filled with micronutrients, don’t be fooled into rationalizing that good foods don’t leave you satisfied and nourished. Actually, the presence of healthy food will boost your body’s ability to counteract withdrawal.

Detox symptoms are temporary. Good health will last a lifetime.

Don’t judge your day based on the harvest you reap, but on the seeds you plant.

Mind Over Matter: Overcoming Food Addiction

Mind Over Matter: Overcoming Food Addiction

Mind Over Matter: Overcoming Food Addiction

Is food addiction just a state of mind?

The taste buds of most Americans are adapted to high-fat, high-sugar and high-salt animal and processed foods. These foods are not inherently more enjoyable than healthy, whole food. But most people will choose to die prematurely of strokes, heart attacks, congestive heart failure, diabetes complications and cancer anyway.

Modern technology has chemically and hormonally engineered our food to stimulate the pleasure centers in our brain. Artificial foods comprise a whopping 93% of the American diet.  And when the concentrated, adulterated, and processed foods are consistently consumed, they quickly become preferred. Our palette adjusts to “normal”, and it’s a slippery slope. Eventually, these foods take on a hollow flavor, driving us to eat more in search of that initial high that we found so briefly intoxicating. Food addiction is real, but only a terminal disease if you allow it to win.

Have you ever noticed that you really don’t taste what you are eating after the first few bites? This is because the majority of our sensory nerves are only activated when something new is presented…we squint when the light suddenly brightens, flinch when the music blares as the car starts, and salivate as we take the first bite of grilled barbecue.

We simply “get used” to things quickly. When our sensory nerves fire, our brain adjusts accordingly. Our pupils dilate and our eyes adjust. We no longer notice the music in the background, and we don’t taste the grease by the third bite of pizza. This phenomenon is referred to as neuroadaptation. We become desensitized once we become familiar. But given time, the sense of deprivation fades and “normal” enjoyment returns. And creatively delicious meals that exceed expectation will provide the same sense of satisfaction as junk food once did.

Scientific evidence suggests that re-sensitization of taste nerves can take between 30 and 90 days of consistent exposure to less stimulating foods. So making the switch to a healthy diet can feel like a downer. It’s the exact opposite of jumping into cold water on a hot day, as there is little exhilaration to the “shock” of a unfamiliar diet filled with fresh vegetables.

Our food addiction to chemically engineered products quickly trumps our motivation to do what we know is right. Tragically, many people don’t have the self-discipline to recalibrate their taste buds because they don’t believe that life won’t taste this bland forever. (Only 30-90 days!) But like a frog that refuses to jump from a pot on course to boil, we don’t realize that our taste nerves are desensitized by the ever-increasing concentrations of flavor chemicals that food manufactures use to capture our dollars.

Only when we truly understand that the foods we eat create the health we experience, will we recognize that we have a CHOICE. Ultimately, it’s not modern food addiction that destroys our bodies. It’s the inability to recognize our own power, and outsmart the inner two-year-old that needs instant gratification.

Whether you see yourself as a sugar-fiend, carb-addict, junk-food junkie or meat-eating maverick, if you say, “I could never give up __________!”, then it is absolutely true. But put some space between your craving and your response, and look at who you want to be instead of who you were. And then act accordingly…

What distinguishes the majority of men from the fewis their inability to act according to their beliefs.

What is Happiness? Exactly What You Think!

What is Happiness? Exactly What You Think!

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, perception is in the thoughts of the mind. If you think you see an old woman, you are right. If you think you see a young beauty, you are right. You see what you focus on. So what is happiness? It depends on your vision. You decide…

I attended an potentially life-changing presentation yesterday on the power of the unconscious mind. 

Dr. Vic Rebman is a PhD in clinical psychology, specializing in human dynamics in business, and shared his perspective on success and happiness. In our society, we are conditioned to think that our health and happiness are simply the luck of the draw. But just as I teach over and over, we are what we eat—down to the smallest bite!, it is also true that we are what we think–unconscious beliefs included.

Basically, it boils down to this: if you think you can, you are right. If you think you can’t, you are right. I use the above image in my yoga classes to demonstrate the power we have to choose our perceptions. There is equal potential for good and bad in everything. You can’t always change what you’re looking at, but you can change the way you see it. (This is how I introduce the importance of standing on your head!) The old hag and the young beauty are equally present. They BOTH exist! And you can choose your focus. And if you don’t like your focus, you can override that choice and manually SHIFT to another paradigm. It takes effort and intention, but it’s always possible.

Dr. Vic Rebman’s discussion of success and self-actualization…

Dr. Rebman  says that mental health issues arise from 2 major factors, and are mostly unrelated to genetics.These are:  1. Stress in our home  2. Skill deficit that keeps us from achieving what we think we want. The pharmaceutical industry would have us believe that depression and anxiety are a result of a biochemical imbalance. (He says) there is no evidence of this. Smaller initial double blind studies on various medications show the placebo effect to be just as powerful, and it is only when the study is inflated with high numbers of samples that statistical significance is demonstrated. But such broad and general results then remove any clinical significance.

Depression and anxiety are most often the result of imbalance..but not biochemical. The imbalance can be found in our life experience, which cannot be fixed by medication. Something is missing for us, or something is dominating us, creating pain and snowballing into further dysfunction.

The external world and our experience of it is a mirror to our internal world, and our experience with our self.

There are 4 components to the human psyche…our mind, our emotions, our reactions (action) and the Observer. Our conscious mind processes about 40 bits/second. Our unconscious mind processes 20 million bits/second. We have 60-70,000 thoughts a day. And about 85-90% of our thoughts are the same ones we had yesterday, and are simply patterns…habitual logic that our brain follows, similar to how a trickle of water cuts through rock to create a river. The more a path is chosen, the easier it is to follow, and the deeper the gorge becomes, which is why change is so difficult.

Our thoughts are created by our core beliefs…most of which are internalized by the time we are 7 years old. These core beliefs create filters, and determine our perceptions. If we think something is true, it becomes true for us. Whatever is in our unconscious mind manifests as fate.

The only way to change our fate is to bring our unconscious beliefs that are based in fear (instead of love) into our conscious awareness. And the only way to rise above our fears is to understand that the first 3 components of who we are—thought, feeling, reaction— are simply learned behavior patterns. We must sit quietly and turn inward, and allow the Observer to SEE the patterns behind our thoughts, feelings and action. The Observer is the only part of ourself that is not programmed. It is the only part of ourself that has choice. It is our higher Self, the spiritual self…our soul (whatever word you feel appropriate.)

The higher Self can observe the lower self without criticism, judgement or evaluation.  We must have quiet space to do this. (Recommends 10 minutes a day of mind conscious creathing). What we observe in ourselves ultimately stems from either love or fear. Everything boils down to one or the other.

Obviously, we want to identify the fears that are hold us back. Self-sabatoge is the ONLY thing standing between us and success/happiness. But just like shining a light into the darkness, once you SEE the fear, it loses it’s power. Because it’s a lie. Ultimately, we all hold the key to our own prison. And we are free to go at anytime if we are brave enough to LOOK at what is holding us back.

Blaise Pascal “All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room, alone.”

Pythagoras “Learn to be silent. Let your quiet mind listen and absorb.

Lao Tzu “He who knows does not speak. He who speaks does not know.”

The patterns we follow with thinking, feeling and doing are fictional stories. But our perceptions are our reality. Our fear-based core beliefs are unconscious. We can find the root using the Downward Arrow Technique: Identify the story or thought. (I don’t have enough time to do everything) Ask, “If this is true, what does it mean?” (I can’t do everything that needs to be done.) Ask again, “If this is true, what does it mean?” (I’ll never get ahead) Ask again. (I’ll never be successful) Ask again. (Therefore, I’m a failure).

So the core belief behind I don’t have enough time is that I”m a failure. We tend to build our esteem on our achievements, our financial success, our social status/recognition, etc. These are things that come and go, and can be given or taken away by others. Remember the Bible lesson that we should build our house upon a rock, and not shifting sands? If you find that a good mood can be created or destroyed by external input as inconsequential as stranger’s comment, the balance in a bank account, a number on the scale, or the words on a business card, you’ve rooted your happiness in shifting sands.

Our worth and value is not something we can earn. It must only be accepted. We all have worth and value because we are breathing. And if we have worth, then we have a purpose. And if we have a purpose, we are fully and completely capable of fulfilling that purpose. Once we affirm this truth for ourselves and expose the belief (I am a failure) as a lie, we can retrain our patterns and our thoughts. And our path will open up, and we will move forward without effort. Once we begin to think and feel and act in authenticity (our own truth) we don’t have to do, we just have to be.

What is happiness? Happy people:

  • See problems as opportunities. The most important problems cannot be solved. They must be outgrown.
  • Are free of the good opinions of others. They do not make decisions based on how others think,  feel or react.
  • Have no need to control others.
  • Have the ability to be alone. Quietly.
  • Love their work. They work from passion, joy and service. Their work connects them to an energy they cannot live without.

Abraham Maslow, “One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.”

Life is a journey. Which way are you headed?

My Mother’s Wisdom

My Mother’s Wisdom

I called my mom yesterday because my teenage boys are fighting, and I’m having trouble knowing what to ‘do’ about that, (besides whine and ask them “Why are you doing this to ME?”). 

I have to share her response with you. It was awesome.

Colleen,

We all come into this lifetime for the purpose of healing – bringing fragmented parts of our Self back together so that we experience the “oneness” of our true nature. We form alliances with other souls for the purpose of providing the experience we need to create situations that allow for emotional healing.

Families–parents, children, siblings, partners. BOOM! The perfect incubator for the kind of intimacy it takes to bring to light our deepest darkest fears, in essence, the perfect storm. A healthy family is a scrapping, slapping, crying (laughing, dancing, singing) group of imperfect people doing what is PERFECT–facing and releasing blocked emotional energy.

Nothing is wrong.

Our only job (which isn’t actually work, but no work, allowing rather than resisting) is to honor what is “going on” not only in our own inner emotional world, but in our childrens’ emotional worlds.

In generations preceding yours, we parented by law: fear, guilt, and punishment. (You’re welcome.)

You all are more enlightened. Not because we raised you right, but because it is time. You as parents have the residual of that rearing in your psyche, and in some respects it is still how you treat yourselves,–you’re becoming whole too– but you KNOW that teaching your children to “behave” with force and fear is insane.

You understand that your childrens’ emotions are not personal to you as the parent. Their behavior is not a reflection of you or your parenting skills; therefore, you don’t have to fear for them or blame yourself (which incites your own rage AT them). It’s not about you.

Compassion is your response. “How can we help?” But sometimes you can’t help. Sometimes a child just needs for you to HEAR him/her. And say “yes, I see that going on.” They are here to find their own Self-just like we are.  Not interfering in their personal process is often the best response. What appears “broken” is only part of the healing process. “Fixing” is already in progress. 

We are not broken, emotional pain is the only path home.

We can’t even fix ourselves–healing is not external, it comes from the inside out. When we try to fix ourselves, or our children. . . the foundation of our intention is already fear…well, let’s just say I’ve seen how that works.

Your the best.

Love,

Mom

Remembering to Breathe: Breathing 101

Remembering to Breathe: Breathing 101

Remembering to Breathe: Breathing 101…

If you’ve ever watched a two year old have a temper tantrum, you’ve witnessed the power of the breath. In the beginning, the energy behind the screaming and thrashing are scene stealing events that gain momentum with every inhale. But soon, the determined little face begins to turn red, while the lips fade to blue, with splotchy hot tears and rigid, heavy limbs quickly bringing a crescendo of resistance.

But all the inhaling without exhaling, and exhaling without inhaling crashes the little system and Mother Nature lovingly hits the reset button with diaphragmatic spasms that lead to the long, even respirations of sleep. Sweet dreams redirect the focus, and a hug and a snack set the world back on it’s axis.

At the tender age of two, we are biologically hard-wired to surrender. Our breath softens our will, bringing our minds and body back into sync. But as we grow, our intentions become more determined. We must become mindful of the imbalance this creates. As adults, we instinctively know when a child needs a ‘time-out’, a few moments to ‘catch their breath’. But to our detriment, we often deny ourselves that same simple space.

When you get on an airplane, the first thing they tell you is to put your own oxygen mask on first. You can’t be of aid to anyone else if you don’t save yourself. We often get this backward…holding our breath while we furiously try to be of service. But just like the two year old, an unstable breath takes us to a crescendo of resistance where we find stress, anger, fear and suffering.

So learning to notice and properly respond to our own breath allows us stay centered, grounded and in control of our actions, words and even thoughts. Unless you’ve got time for a nap and a snack, a temper tantrum will not lead you to peace.

The first and most basic form of pranayama (breath control) is simply complete breathing, known as dirgha. Close the eyes, and take a moment to notice how you are breathing. When it feels comfortable, begin to breathe in and out through the nose. Fill up the lungs, the back and the belly, and match the inhale to the exhale. On the exhale, add a little abdominal effort to fully finish the release. Relax any muscle tension that you find and enjoy the resulting calm. Work up to 10 breaths in a row.

When you’re ready for more, constricting your throat and slowing the breath even more allows for deeper focus and calm. Ujjayi /oo’ji’yee/ breath creates a Darth Vadar-like sound, and is often the noise heard in yoga class that makes the newbies nervous. To understand the method, place your palm an inch away from your face and breathe as though you were trying to fog up a mirror, and then close your mouth. Ujjayi breathing is easily incorporated into asana (poses) practice or any physical movement, and will ground you and create rhythm.

Ultimately, breath is the gift of life, and how we breath is a direct reflection of how we live. When we work with the breath, we create the space to experience each situation we encounter as pure potential and positive karma. When we fall into unconsciousness breathing patterns, we become reactive, confused and disheartened. Putting on our own oxygen mask and using our breath to acknowledge and respond to our needs is the only way our body and mind can be of service to others.