Our Obsessions Cause Us More Lonliness

Understanding our personal obsessions is an important aspect of overcoming our personal inability for acceptance. Sometimes, when I am in a dark place, I obsess over things that I can’t control. One second I am pacing around the kitchen looking for the spatula and the next I am overworking my body thinking it is going to make me a better dancer. Today when I was in dance class, I had a real epiphany. I had gotten to dance an hour early and started working on my stretches and crunches. I then did a pro-cheerleader dance class and then stayed for another contemporary class. In the middle of stretching for my contemporary class, something came over me and I felt myself becoming light-headed. “What is going on,” I thought to myself. I calmly and diligently started listening to what my body was telling me.

“I am tired,” I heard my body say. “You’re overworking me and you need to let me cool down,” it repeated back to me.

I typically have a tendency to want to be the best. To want to strive, work and exacerbate myself in order to feel more entitled to my personal ability to showcase my talents. However, I started listening to my body. I stopped doing crunches, and I just laid on the floor to catch my breath. Did I feel shame? Did I feel inadequate? Possibly. However, my body was thankful. I could feel the life-force energy coming back into the tips of my fingers, and I knew that I was doing the right thing.

I feel like there are so many times in our lives when we forget to listen to our bodies and do the right thing. 

Sometimes, my ego disallows me from doing the right thing and I can even be hurtful to others. For a long time, I never quite grasped the concept of hurting others. I think it was because I was living my life from a locus of control that ensured my personal safety and disregarded the personal safety of others. I think that is because, for a long time, I felt that other people were not safe. However, I tend to have an obsessive nature. I tend to obsess about the things that I cannot control a lot and it causes me a great deal of anxiety, worry, and self-destructive behavior. But now I have the ability to stop myself. I have the ability to trust others and see that they might be hurting more. And when I am able to sense their personal pain, hurt and agitation – it allows me to accept them for who they are. Every relationship is essentially a two-way street. No matter what people tell you. If someone is doing something mean to you, then they’re hurting – no, ifs, and’s or buts. It is the truth: hurt people, hurt people. And that is why understanding why hurt people lash out is the first step to staying safe. And what I mean by safe is understanding their words, thoughts and actions do not define who you are. Do not let the pain of another person imprint on you, and do not let the actions of someone who has hurt you allow yourself to feel less about your capability, integrity, and personal resiliency.

We have to accept the choices that people make. We cannot dwell on the past and smoother ourselves with unnecessary pain. Letting go and accepting a person’s choice is the greatest, most noble act of love there is.

Obsessive love is not real love. And your body will tell you. Your body tells you everytime you have anxiety or fear. You can feel it by the rate of your heart, the sweat in your palms or your newly disoriented perception of reality. Every time, we’re obsessing to gain something we have no control over, we’re losing control over ourselves. We’re acting in the opposite of love. We are reacting with fear.

 

 

IMG_1194-1.JPGIMG_1195.JPGIMG_1196.JPGpaige swanson

 

The Loving Presence of God Helps Mend Our Wounds

Spirituality in Nature

Many times when we think about traumas and mental health, we think about the need for individuals to improve their own self-worth. Self-worth is a large part of why we overcome shame and guilt and begin to find a feeling of wanting to belong. Guilt is the idea that we have done something bad, while shame is the idea that we’re inherently bad.

Although, shame and guilt are just as powerful as one another shame is usually the destructive part of us that believes we can no longer change or do better. Everyone at some point in their lives experiences shame. When I was working with alcoholics at the rehabilitation center, the majority of them felt shame for what they had done and believed that they could not change. People who are LGBTQ experience a form of shame for the way they were born and never learn to fully believe in themselves. Many times people deal with shame by overeating, withdrawing, exhibiting compulsive behavior and more. These are all unhealthy coping mechanisms people pick up because shame directly impacts our personal self-esteem.

Brene Brown says, “If we want to live fully, without the constant fear of not being enough, we have to own our story.”

There are many times we feel inadequate and like we will never be enough and it is in those feelings we begin to act out those exact feelings. The message we say to ourselves is, “I am not worthy.” Because of what happened to me as a child, sometimes I feel like I will never be worthy of love. However, there is one guiding principle that diversifies us from our shame. That diversification is a fire in the soul. What is a fire in the soul? That is the loving presence of something larger than us.

In Elizabeth Smart’s autobiography, “My Story,” she walked through her tragic story of kidnapping, rape, slavery and horrendous abuse. Every ounce of her self-worth and self-esteem was stripped by Brian David Mitchell. Although, there were plenty of times she thought of planning her escape and dreaded the idea of living out the rest of her days as his wife. There was not a single point where Elizabeth Smart thought of taking her own life. Seeing those words written in her book made chills run down my back.

How could you go through something so terrible and wicked and not want to die?

Elizabeth Smart had something that I believe is an essential part of healing and recovery for all victims of mental illness. She had an undying love for a higher power. I believe that there is something that happens to us as humans when we hold on to the concept of our soul – to the concept of something larger than us.

With spirituality, we are able to connect to a wholeness that is lost without it. The idea that God is inside each and every one of us is not just a Christian fallacy. I believe in order to self-actualize, there needs to be a connection to a creative force or energy that completes who we are. Many times, mental illness can be the consequence of what I consider to be a spiritual crisis. I believe my diversity is in the fact, that I am a strong believer in all religions, spiritual groups, and practices. I have practiced Wicca, shamanism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christianity.

I take and pull from each of the disciplines and create a spiritual template that aligns with my soul. Indeed, that creates an everlasting flame that will never blow out. Cultivating a resilient spirit is dependent on finding wholeness within ourselves and overcoming shame.

I believe one of the best ways to heal shame is to find forgiveness and healing with your higher self. 

 

Never Give Up Hope

 

Raise Your Vibration – Why Kindness Matters

I hate to think about the world in terms of hippy maxims or quantifiers like “you’re killing my vibe, man” or “whoa dude where did that energy come from.” However lately, I have really been thinking long and hard about a relative truth hippies get right. Your vibe is everything.

Here is why.

What is a Vibration?

Your vibration is essentially your thoughts.

What do I mean by this?

In the recent studies by positive psychologists, they find that thought patterns predict whether or not an individual feels happiness. This is not only a phenomenon brought on by positive psychologists but behavioral and cognitive psychologists as well. In cognitive psychology, we learn that our thoughts essentially dictate and control our behavior. When we think low vibrating or low unconscious thoughts, we begin to externalize those feelings, thoughts, and emotions in our behavior.

Let me give you an example of this: 

  • Have you ever been so stressed at work that you feel like the world is crumbling down around you?
  • Have you ever had an inter-personal conflict with your wife, daughter or other family members where you feel like a victim?
  • Have you ever unconsciously lashed out at an individual, pointed fingers or blamed them?

If you checked yes to all of these questions, don’t feel bad that is completely natural and normal. No one is perfect and we all make mistakes. In fact, I have recently been in situations where I was doing all of these at the same time. Trust me, it wasn’t good for my mental health. And as a psychologist-in-training, I knew something needed to change. If you’re having an inter-personal conflict with someone who is abusive, the best thing you can do is to remove yourself from the situation and work on making yourself happy.

However, in order to understand this happiness, you need to RAISE YOUR VIBRATION! 

What I am saying here is don’t get stuck in a victim mentally just because you have felt victimized. Even though you can’t always love people up close, that doesn’t mean you should stop your thoughts and start thinking negatively. The more we think negatively about people in our lives, the more we blame and hate and point fingers – the less happy we are.

Have you ever felt what it feels like to love? It is the most magnificent, wonderful feeling in the world. And we can still choose love every time. When we are stuck in our negative thought loops, we start discounting all of the beauty and life there is in the world. We also start turning that hatred towards others inward on ourselves. When we can’t blame other people for the negativity, we blame ourselves and we keep perpetuating the cycle of hate and doom.

But we can choose to be happy. We can choose to express, feel and always have unconditional positive regard for everyone we meet. We can appreciate all individuals are beautiful, lovely beings of light who have their own struggles and their own life experiences that make them who they are.

Remembering, that you are not a victim and that you have enough self-love to remove yourself from toxic situations is no one’s fault. The only thing you can control is yourself and what you experience in every moment. You cannot change other people, you cannot make other people happy and you cannot blame yourself if other people don’t understand your situation.
But you can choose kindness, happiness, and love in every moment.

  • Do you have an ex you still hate?
  • Do you have a frenemy who you think toxic, mean thoughts about?

I encourage you to sit down and send them love today. Whoever you hate, send them love at every moment and you feel the shift in your happiness. You will feel the stress dissipate and the negativity evaporate.

Practicing Mantra’s That Will Bring You More Love

A mantra is a simple phrase, or a sound that resonates deeply within us. It is a phrase you repeat over and over again. One of the greatest mantras I’ve ever used is the Tibetan mantra: Om Mani Padmi Hum. The phrase is perhaps one of the most widely used mantras in our world today and for good reason.

For newly practicing yogis or mystics like me, a lot of confusion can arise when repeating the mantra. Little thoughts surface to the top of my head like, “What does this even mean?” “Why am I doing this?” However, once you begin to practice the mantra a little bit everyday you can feel a difference. It’s true.

The first step to practicing the mantra is hearing it outside your body through your ears, saying it aloud and truly thinking about its meaning. So, if you begin to practice the mantra, Om Mami Padme Hum, you begin to think about it and you inquire “Well, what does this mean?”

According to Ram Dass, author of novels like Be Here Now and The Only Dance There Is, Om means, like Brahma, that which is behind it all, the un-manifest. Mani means jewel or crystal. Padme means lotus, and Hum means heart.

So on one level, what you’re essentially repeating is that the entire universe is like a pure jewel or crystal right in the heart or center of the lotus flower, which is me, or you, and it is manifested, it comes forth in brilliant guiding light, in manifested light, in the center of your own heart.

So to begin chanting mantras, you start off chanting Om Mami Padmi Hum and what you’re saying is, “God in pure energy is like a brilliant crystal in the middle of an emerging lotus, manifest in the center of my opening heart.” You repeat is over and over again while in a state of serene relaxation and you feel it in your heart, and what you’re essentially experiencing is a trip. You’re experiencing, an awakening of your conscious perception. Informally experiencing a journey through the gateways of your corpus callosum all the way to the right hemisphere of your brain where you’re expansive and one with the cosmos.

The benefits of this practice have lasting and serious beautiful psychological effects. Instead of thinking, “Gosh. I didn’t get the job promotion I wanted today.” “I wonder if, Bob, is ever going to call me today?” Instead of all the brain chatter, which crowds our minds on a daily basis, our inner roommate, you go into mantra and you are. Once the mantra has been going on for a while, it begins to change its nature. Instead of it being stuck in the upper part of your body, in your head, the humming and prayer moves down to the center of your body and resides in the middle of your heart. Now, at this point the linguistics or meaning of it has become irrelevant to you, and you have entered a deep meditative state of unconscious flow (Alpha State of Awareness.) This is the state of deep relaxation that is extremely beneficial for your health. When a mantra is performed correctly, the point of its practice is to become synchronized with the peculiar vibration and harmony of the universe. You’re essentially “in-tune.” You’re at peace.

Here is a beautiful mantra that is meant to evoke peace, love and understanding. May your day today be full of love.

 


  

Life in The Midst of Solitude

Notes on Being Alone

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For some, being alone is the quickening sting that strikes the center of the heart with an icy frost. Paralyzed in fear they grab the nearest body to set themselves back on fire. For me, I’m like a mouse nibbling on cheese. Scared I hide in my cave and when the daylight permits I sneak out to grab whatever morsel I can manage. However, a life lived in solitude is a courageous path. It is in the depths of solitude that creates the souls ability to harvest inner freedom. A life without a place of restitution, that is, a life without lonely compassion can become easily self-destructive.

I don’t mind being alone. In fact, being alone allows me the inner-exploration to define a clear path for myself. To expand my current understanding of the inconceivable world I see before me. Tongue-tied and washed away by the current of the moons gravitational pull. Being alone reminds me of the only opinion that truly matters in this world: my own.

In solitude, we can slowly unravel the illusionary thread of our inner turmoil and discover at the end of the spool our own self. In solitude we can hear the voice of our heart and see the center of our frustration. It’s in the depths of our isolation that we can recognize our worth is not attached to our current usefulness. We realize in the center of the self is the flowing gift of love. That the one thing we all have in common is the gift of light and love.

In solitude we are given the opportunities to grow tall like the sturdy tree in the rooted grounds of the cemetery. We are free of inner-dependencies and what it means to be found in this world. We care little about the opinions or others and more about the exploration of ourselves. Being alone is a gift. A quiet understanding that is as rare as rubies and as vital as the air itself.

The Mind of Worry

 

I’m exactly like the person in this tape recording. I am constantly worrying, constantly trying to be a better person, as if I am not already the best the way I am. I find the line between growth and self-love to be a fine one. I don’t meditate. I don’t quiet my mind the way I should on a normative basis. Instead, I find myself relinquishing my anxiety through prayer, contemplative walks through nature and other sorts of practices. However, I am still constantly filled with an acute case of anxiety. The source of those anxious thoughts are usually stemmed from anxiety. The anxiety of not feeling worthy or good enough.  I always need to be better. There are always more books to read, a new hobby to acquire, a language to pick up, a job offer at a dream company, and I don’t have mediocre expectations of my hobbies or goals.  I am programmed to desire mastery. I can’t sit still because I want to be an expert. If I show someone a painting I did. I want my painting to be on a mastery level,  and I feel like that is when time really cuts into the practice of sitting still or being in the state of ‘nothingness.’ (Ta-Ta-Ta) Whenever I try and practice meditation,  there is a constant ticking asking me, “how can you be improving right now.” I think that is the fallacy, Alan Watts, is discussing in his tape. You get better by quieting your mind and embodying peace. You get better by becoming one with the cosmic space you are accompanying, instead of trying to move faster than the cosmic space. You allow your mind to quiet so you can find clarity and purpose. So, the little ticking gets quieter and in the moments of stillness you can resonate and find complete and total inner-happiness.

The First Time I Found Daft Punk

Daft Punk’s, Digital Love, off of the album Discovery is probably one of my favorite songs of all time. I remember the first time I truly fell in love with the poppy electronic french band. Growing up I had always heard them in the back of soundtracks or my friends jamming out to them, but I had never emotionally invested myself in their music. It was after I watched the french indie film, Eden, which documented the life of a DJ during the Daft Punk/ garage electronic movement in the 1980’s, that I realized the greatness/ historical relevance that is Daft Punk. I woke up the next morning and played Digital Love. Upon listening to the track, I was slowly overcome by the bopping bass and began to dance over and over again in my underwear. Jumping up and down and feeling the music. Doing the robot in front of my mirror and having a profound spiritual awakening listening to their music. This was during a very free and expressive time for me. I was painting everyday, creating dance pieces for galleries and learning my bongos. I would do art for hours. Switching from one medium to the next expressing myself creatively. I felt so alive in that time period. Doing art is the healthiest thing I could do with my life. Unfortunately, it doesn’t pay the bills and it doesn’t help you graduate. However, two days ago, I just graduated college. I’m thinking to myself: Now What? Who am I? Where do I go? What is my path?

However, I think my soul is telling me something pretty distinct.

Let’s go back to summer.

Let’s go back to Daft Punk.

Let’s go back to art.