Morning download, 3.13.2019

It’s a coolish, rainy morning here in the outskirts of ATX. Haven’t heard the mockingbird yet, but a cardinal made itself heard just outside my trailer. The rain now hitting the metal roof is drowning out all birdsong. It can get quite loud during a heavy downpour!

A friend texted me yesterday that her mother, in Missouri, is passing. She got to talk to her on the phone, texting me later, “Lots of Love exchanges. She said goodbye and to take care of myself.” The mother was conscious, in no pain, but very weak.

That’s a good way to die. I’d like to be conscious, unmedicated, and not in pain when death comes for me. It’s got to be quite the experience!

I wish I could tell you afterwards what it was like, but that seems to be against the rules. “Just one more blog post, please? This is too amazing not to share!” But I don’t think you can bargain with death. It might play with you, but it always wins, in the end.

Today: loving my matcha/sitting/breathing/downloading early in this day, then hairdresser, then biodynamic session for my friend who’s losing her mother, and then a visit with a shaman to work on some emotional/empath issues that i haven’t been able to resolve on my own.

Some friends have been studying with this shaman, and I look forward to meeting her and experiencing how she works. I received a yummy practice session from one of those friends, now studying energy medicine, who told me about a class for empaths, but the class had filled, so I’m doing 1:1 with the shaman.

I’m seeking something of a superpower for me: the ability to not feel others’ deep suffering. I can suffer well enough from my own losses and traumas and don’t need to experience the broken hearts and minds of others in order to be compassionate and supportive and resourceful. I can be more useful with a healthier boundary.

This image cracks me up. It came up when I googled “image empath”. It is a beautiful image but I don’t see myself like this at all. I do have green eyes, though. The rest of it is someone’s fantasy! Except that ajna chakra, third eye, is real. https://articles.spiritsciencecentral.com/empathy-101/.

It’s the biggest downside of being an empath that I can think of. If you’ve been a reader for a while, you will know that calling myself an empath is new, something I’m starting to dance with. Once it occurred to me, a lot of mysteries about me and how I’ve chosen to live began to fall into place.

What is being an empath good for? You tell me. It served extremely well once, may have saved my baby daughter’s life, but there’s a lot of weirdness, and some fun, that comes with it, so far. Premonitions, insights, auras, dreams, beginner’s mind, flow states, obviously empathy. I have marks in my hand indicating clairvoyance, but I don’t practice it.

There are some superpowers that with the right teachers, I could probably develop. Not sure I need or want to, though. For now, becoming a healthy empath is my intent.

I’ve begun paying more attention to the people and environments that are nurturing and those that are not. I had to go to the mall a couple of weeks ago. The commercialism — the bigness of the “buy this — enter this store — take this free gift bag” messaging — was overwhelming. Giant words are scary! Pushy people are scary! It was not a friendly place, and I felt like an alien — I wish I could say that was unusual, but it’s not.

I felt my resistance and stayed focused on my errand. Found a chair and closed my eyes and just breathed while waiting for a genius to replace my phone battery. Once outside under the big sky, trees in view across the vast parking lot, so much better.

I notice I have better rapport with intuitive feelers who may also be empaths. I’m so lucky to know and love a few!

If you are an empath and are reading this, what has helped you? Books, people, classes, practices, learnings. I want to hear it, please.

The rain has paused and the mockingbird is singing its heart out. Enjoy this promising day.

Intuition, microexpressions, hypervigilance, and trauma

When Intuition Is A Curse.

When people come into my office and tell me, very early in a conversation, that they are ‘intuitive’ and ‘can see into people’ I often wonder if they have had trauma. The longer I do this for a living the more I realize that some of us developed our insights into humanity as a protection mechanism. It makes sense. People who have experienced trauma tend to be more intuitive. We’ve experienced hypervigilance where we are constantly scanning our environments for signs of danger.

Have you experienced trauma, and are you intuitive, psychic, an empath, and/or clairvoyant? I’m curious.

This article reminded me that early this year, I witnessed some microexpressions, when emotions that someone is trying to suppress appear briefly on their face. Paul Ekman has done a lot of research into them. The TV show Lie To Me is based on his work. Reading them may have a lot to do with intuition.

I noticed hatred and contempt appear fleetingly behind a mask of apparent calm and reason on the face of a man I had dated for a couple of months as he spoke to me. He was unaware of them or that I could read them.

It was disturbing. I could not think of anything I had done to merit those emotions, and I felt hurt and puzzled. From that and other puzzling oddities, I suspected he’d been emotionally abused. He hadn’t mentioned it to me, but his behavior had been strange at times. A mutual friend confirmed years of past abuse. Apparently I had unknowingly done something that triggered his memories of being abused.

After learning of the history of abuse, I felt compassion for him. I also realized I didn’t want to be alone with him in private again.

Later he got his wires crossed again, in public, right in front of me. Curious (because he still hadn’t told me anything about the abuse), I then had a clairvoyant experience in which I “saw” that he’d been the subject of horrific psychotic rage repeatedly for years.

I had a major fight-or-flight reaction.

I rode it out with mindfulness as much as I could. Once the biochemical cascade was underway, there was not much to do but wait for it to fully subside and do what I could to recover my equilibrium. It took a few months for that to happen. I watched my fearful, self-protective mind at work, influenced by deep stress. It wasn’t pretty, and I’m glad it’s over. Although unpleasant and difficult, being able to witness my own experience was useful.

I learned a lot from this. A main take-away is that if I am relating to someone who’s been traumatized, I want them to be up-front about it pretty quickly, if they have any awareness of it at all. It leaks out anyway if they try to hide it, and they come across as untrustworthy.

Over 60 percent of Americans experience trauma at least once in their lives. It’s not that uncommon.

I gained compassion for my past traumatized self, before I had done any healing work. I didn’t know myself well enough to understand how much trauma had shaped me.

During that time of riding out the biochemical cascade, I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue. I am grateful for the healers who helped me recover, including the healer inside me.

I felt compassion for him. He was admittedly clueless, dissociated, and good at compartmentalizing. In my opinion, he seriously needed professional help.

I grokked his disappointment at leaving an abuser with hopes for a better future, waiting six months after divorcing and taking a course on building new relationships before dating, only to discover that the abuse had made him both easily disturbed by those with positive intentions and disturbing to them.

It was sobering to refer someone I dated to therapy. In hindsight, I think I showed him how a fairly healthy person responds when they are dating or befriending someone who shows signs and symptoms of mental illness, who is either hiding it, discounting its seriousness, or so injured he doesn’t even know he has a mental illness.

I let him know that I knew, told him that I would not have dated him had I known, and I ended our relationship until such time as he has recovered, urging him to get professional help to that end.

It seems probable that he needed to know how someone would do this. But damn, that was really freaky.

May his cluelessness become curiosity.

May his compartmentalization become wholeness and expansion.

May his fears become worthy of reconditioning.

May his dissociation occur only when useful, and may he learn to live in partnership with his body.

May his awareness include an appreciation of the gifts of the unconscious mind and a more conscious partnership with it.

May his contempt, hatred, terror, shame, and secrecy be transformed and his burden be lessened.

“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” ~ Joseph Campbell

And after I think of him and send energetic blessings his way, I dissolve all thoughts and images of him and bring my attention back to my own body and experience peace and gratitude.

But was my intuition working because I’ve experienced trauma myself and learned to be observant? I don’t know. Here’s a possibility: Apparently some long-time meditators are also adept at reading microexpressions.

From studies with thousands of people, Ekman knew that people who do better at recognizing these subtle emotions are more open to new experience, more interested and more curious about things in general. They are also conscientious — reliable and efficient. “So I had expected that many years of meditative experience” — which requires both openness and conscientiousness — “might make them do better on this ability,” Ekman explains. Thus he had wondered if Öser might be better able to identify these ultra-fast emotions than other people are.

Then Ekman announced his results: both Öser and another advanced Western meditator Ekman had been able to test were two standard deviations above the norm in recognizing these super-quick facial signals of emotion, albeit the two subjects differed in the emotions they were best at perceiving. They both scored far higher than any of the five thousand other people tested. “They do better than policemen, lawyers, psychiatrists, customs officials, judges — even Secret Service agents,” the group that had previously distinguished itself as most accurate.

“It appears that one benefit of some part of the life paths these two have followed is becoming more aware of these subtle signs of how other people feel,” Ekman notes. Öser had super-acuity for the fleeting signs of fear, contempt and anger. The other meditator — a Westerner who, like Öser, had done a total of two to three years in solitary retreats in the Tibetan tradition — was similarly outstanding, though on a different range of emotions: happiness, sadness, disgust and, like Öser, anger.

I’m not nearly as experienced at meditation as these men, but even at my level, meditation can slow the experience of time down until there is only the present moment, which becomes vast, and awareness simply expands.

If you can experience time like that, microexpressions would be much more apparent.

That’s one explanation. Or maybe I’ve just been around the block a few times. Or maybe these long-time meditators had also trauma in their histories. The article didn’t say.

I do know that for years, I’ve been interested in people-reading, and I imagine at some point early on, there was a connection in discerning whether they were safe to be around. But once you realize someone is not out to murder you, there’s still a lot to learn. We humans are pretty fascinating and diverse.

If you want to learn more about reading microexpressions, Paul Ekman (link above) has a newsletter and online training.

Election, holidays: with respect for grace and sanity

The election is over. This time it was different. I felt more detached, less prone to let others’ emotions affect me.

I don’t own a TV. I do listen to public radio in my car sometimes, and I sometimes check out the headlines online, so I’m not completely unfamiliar with current events. I check Facebook and Twitter almost daily, and I caught a lot of people’s posts/tweets about the candidates, issues, things the candidates ignored that should have been issues, spin, and so on.

I didn’t get wound up about it. I knew who I would vote for, and I followed through. The candidate I voted for won, which isn’t always the case. Now we’ll see how the nation and the world fare for the next four years.

It was surprisingly serene.

Thanksgiving was also very low-key this year. I cooked, and a couple of friends came over for potluck, talk, and play. Then we went to see The Life of Pi in 3D. I’d read the book and thought the film was well-done.

I went to another movie the next day with my family. Did not go shopping. Worked Saturday morning. Danced with my ecstatic community in our new space on Sunday morning. Worked Sunday evening.

We’re supposed to feel grateful at Thanksgiving. I have gotten leery of “supposed to” thinking. I could have posted a feel-good post about Thanksgiving, yet something inside made me hesitate.

Even better than feeling grateful because it’s Thanksgiving: Listening to how you really feel.

What if your highest purpose in life is to be yourself and to love yourself no matter what?

Anyway, my best wish for us all is to get through this holiday season with grace and sanity.

Day 5: What happens when you believe that thought?

Yesterday was a very busy day. I didn’t have an opportunity to work another question, but I did notice that I was applying The Work.

In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s a presidential election coming up. There is a lot of talk in the media about it. I notice myself hearing soundbites from the candidates and their supporters or opponents and asking myself, when someone says something disturbing (that is, full of fear, contempt, hatred), “Is that true?” and “Can you absolutely know that it’s true?”

The third question to apply to the statement “My father didn’t care about me” is this:

How do I react when I believe that thought?

Okay, I’m thinking the thought and believing it’s true. Something happens. My state changes. I feel very, very contracted. I feel sad. I feel hurt. My shoulders round into a forward slump. My head drops. I feel heavy, slow grief. I feel like I want to cry.

My self-talk adds, “…and that means I’m worthless, if my own father doesn’t care about me. I feel ashamed of who I am. Something must be wrong with me.”

It also reminds me of other times when I felt hurt that someone didn’t care about me. Images of a few faces pop into my mind.

My dad died years ago, but if he were still around and lucid, given who I am now, I’d want to tell him, “Do you know that for much of my life, I felt like you didn’t care about me?” It wouldn’t necessarily be angry, accusatory, or blaming on my part. He’d be a very old man, after all.

I imagine he’d ask why, and I’d tell him “because you didn’t make eye contact. You didn’t look me in the eye, and I felt like you didn’t really see me, like I was invisible, like you could not ever give me your full attention, and therefore, I was unimportant to you.”

Honestly, I have no idea how a conversation like that might have gone. If he were still around, he would know whether he had Asperger’s Syndrome. Aspies have difficulty with eye contact and social norms. But even if he didn’t have it, that all of his children think he probably did says something about his social skills.

When I think that thought, “My father didn’t care about me,” I don’t like how I feel. I don’t feel much like going out and being sociable myself. It puts me in a funk.

Can you see how I’ve spun off into my own little mental and emotional world here? I’m deep in my story about “my father didn’t care about me.” I am not present.

I’ve already answered question one, “Is it true?” No, it’s not true. But when I try on believing it’s true, I understand that my belief that my thought is true causes me to pain.

Wow. I can really use this tool. Any time I am feeling unhappy or stressed about something, I can investigate what I’m thinking and do inquiry on it.

Before I started writing this post, I gave a massage, and that felt really good. I was peaceful and happy. Now, believing this thought has brought me down, disturbed my peace, brought unhappiness into my day. I’ve entered a world that isn’t real, that’s in the past or the future, that’s anywhere but here, sitting here in my trailer on my sweet new sofa with my laptop, drinking delicious cold homemade pomegranate ginger kombucha, feeling the fan blowing.

A follow-up question to this is:

Can you see a reason to drop that thought? (And please don’t try to drop it.)

Yes. Before the thought, I felt peaceful and happy. After I believed that thought was true, I felt unhappy. Reason enough.

I don’t need to drop the thought. The thought drops me because I know it’s not true.

Another follow-up question is:

Can you find one stress-free reason to keep the thought?

The only stress-free reason I can think of for keeping it is to put it on a shelf in my Museum of Old Beliefs, where it can gather dust peacefully.

Next: the fourth question.

Immobilization/shutdown/dissociation/frozen, a trauma response built into the nervous system

Back in March 2012, I posted that I had started reading Peter A. Levine’s latest book, In An Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness. My post included excerpts from Levine’s description of being hit by a car and his experience afterwards.

His experience serves as a useful model for being and staying present through trauma and recovery. He knew how to allow his body and emotions to process naturally so that he did not get stuck in a traumatic state (i.e., PTSD).

Well, I am still reading that book. It’s very, very rich. Some parts are rather scientific. I’m taking my time to really understand it.

Levine uses polyvagal theory (I just posted an interview with Stephen Porges, who came up with the theory) to explain the states that people experience and can get stuck in from traumatic experiences.

Because Somatic Experiencing Practitioners and other therapists (as well as astute loved ones) who are helping someone recovery from trauma need to know which layer of the nervous system is dominant at any given time in a traumatized individual, I am going to describe them.

First, the primary job of our nervous system is to protect us. We have senses that alert us to danger. We may react to a perception of a threat in our bodies before it ever becomes conscious in the mind. That’s because the autonomic nervous system (which is not under our control) is involved when trauma occurs. We react instinctually.

This is good to know. It means that your trauma reactions are automatic, not something you can control, so there’s no need to feel shame or blame yourself. You were doing the best you could.

There are two defensive states that occur when encountering trauma: immobility/dissociation/shutdown (freeze) and sympathetic hyperarousal (fight or flight).

I’m going to write about them in separate posts to avoid being too lengthy.

The more primitive nervous system state is immobility. (Primitive in that evolutionarily it comes from jawless and cartilaginous fish and precedes sympathetic hyperarousal.)

It is triggered when a person perceives that death is imminent, from an external or internal threat.

Levine also uses the terms dissociation, shutdown, and freeze/frozen to describe this state. Note: If you’re an NLPer, dissociation means the separation of components of subjective experience from one another, such as cutting off the emotional component of a memory and simply remembering the visual and/or auditory components. (Source: Encyclopedia of NLP)

Keep in mind that Levine is talking about dissociation as an involuntary post-traumatic physiological state that trauma victims can sometimes get stuck with. There may be some overlap. According to Levine, symptoms of being in this state include frequent spaciness, unreality, depersonalization, and/or various somatic and health complaints, including gastrointestinal problems, migraines, some forms of asthma, persistent pain, chronic fatigue, and general disengagement from life.

Levine notes:

This last-ditch immobilization system is meant to function acutely and only for brief periods. When chronically activated, humans become trapped in the gray limbo of nonexistence, where one is neither really living nor actually dying. The therapist’s first job in reaching such shut down clients is to help them mobilize their energy: to help them, first, to become aware of their physiological paralysis and shutdown in a way that normalizes it, and to shift toward (sympathetic) mobilization. 

The more primitive the operative system, the more power it has to take over the overall function of the organism. It does this by inhibiting the more recent and more refined neurological subsystems, effectively preventing them from functioning. In particular, the immobilization system all but completely suppresses the social engagement/attachment system.

Highly traumatized and chronically neglected or abused individuals are dominated by the immobilization/shutdown system.

Signs that someone is operating from this state include:

  • constricted pupils
  • fixed or spaced-out eyes
  • collapsed posture (slumped forward)
  • markedly reduced breathing
  • abrupt slowing and feebleness of the heart rate
  • skin color that is a pasty, sickly white or even gray in color

Brainwise, volunteers in the immobility state exhibited a decrease in activity of the insula and the cingulate cortex. In one study, about 30% of PTSD sufferers experienced immobility and 70% experienced hyperarousal, with a dramatic increase of activity in these brain areas. Most traumatized people exhibit some symptoms from both nervous systems, Levine says.

I feel the deepest compassion for people in this state, because I have experienced it myself: the spaciness, depersonalization, sense of unreality, and passive, disengaged attitude toward life. It was many years ago. If I could, I would reach back in time to that injured woman and give her resources she just didn’t have back then.

I feel so grateful for the trauma recovery work I’ve done, both with a therapist and on my own. I haven’t experienced immobilization for years, except briefly.

Next up: sympathetic hyperarousal/fight or flight.

The anatomy of lying: An interview with Sam Harris

Anatomy of Lying | Brain Pickings.

This repost from Brain Pickings is worthwhile reading, very good food for thought. It’s an interview with Sam Harris, author of Lying, which is available as a free ebook on Amazon through August 5.

As one who has valued tact over honesty in the past, I’m rethinking that stance. I have opinions, biases, associations, memories, judgments, emotions, rules, blind spots, and an internal bullshit detector, like everyone else (I assume). Redefining “the truth” as accurately communicating one’s subjective experience (and presenting it as such) motivates me to be more honest.

Why not share our subjective realities? Why not put my integrity first, instead of protecting someone else’s feelings so they’ll like me? Every interaction between people creates a bit of consensual reality. Why not share what’s really going on? Honesty is liberating. I love those people with whom I can really be myself.

And yes, maybe not everyone needs to hear your truth. For instance, telling your mom’s boss at a Catholic school that you’re an atheist will not go over well, especially when her job is putting food in your belly. But what about your friends and those you’re closest to? Do they know the real you?

At least one study suggests that 10 percent of communication between spouses is deceptive. Another has found that 38 percent of encounters among college students contain lies. However, researchers have discovered that even liars rate their deceptive interactions as less pleasant than truthful ones. This is not terribly surprising: We know that trust is deeply rewarding and that deception and suspicion are two sides of the same coin. Research suggests that all forms of lying — including white lies meant to spare the feelings of others — are associated with poorer-quality relationships…

But what could be wrong with truly ‘white’ lies? First, they are still lies. And in telling them, we incur all the problems of being less than straightforward in our dealings with other people. Sincerity, authenticity, integrity, mutual understanding — these and other sources of moral wealth are destroyed the moment we deliberately misrepresent our beliefs, whether or not our lies are ever discovered.

And while we imagine that we tell certain lies out of compassion for others, it is rarely difficult to spot the damage we do in the process. By lying, we deny our friends access to reality — and their resulting ignorance often harms them in ways we did not anticipate. Our friends may act on our falsehoods, or fail to solve problems that could have been solved only on the basis of good information. Rather often, to lie is to infringe upon the freedom of those we care about.

What do you think? How do you feel about this issue?

The fear of emotional overwhelm

Ann, a new reader of this blog, recently sent me a message on my MaryAnn’s Bodywork and Changework Shop Facebook page that she is doing the trauma releasing exercises, and I thought I would move the discussion here so more people can participate:

hi maryann!

i have just discovered your blog online. thank you for sharing your story and advice to the world. i feel a kinship to you, as i am in the third month of my trauma releasing process.
i practice spring forest qigong (5 yrs)

i have done tre exercises 3 or 4 times a couple of months ago and now i can do them at will.

as fear and anxiety are aspects of myself that i am reclaiming/ integrating… i tend to stop the tremors that seem to want to happen a lot now because my mind wants to understand what is actually happening and will this clear the messages from the subconscious. i have apprehension that the amount i release will then need to be felt consciously afterwards and maybe i shouldn’t do them a lot so i can maintain a balance/ keep up with the processing of the emotions…. or do they just go away?…i saw that you posted to do them as much as they want to come out at first. any thoughts?

i have read that the symptoms come back if you stop…so how do they clear?

maybe they get pushed out in a continual cycle that allows you to consciously release what you can… the release just keeps them suspended for a time?

well, that’s enough thinking… any thoughts?

you are lovely.

heartfelt gratitude.

ann 

p.s. the other day i tremored, kicked, wailed, spoke in about 6 different languages… very grateful i have read waking the tiger as i guess you do need to release the things you would have done when you froze. in the english parts i said “no, i said no!” and i didn’t just “say” it. and at the end of it i went back into english and i said “NO. YOU GET OUT OF ME!” it felt awesome.

A little later, Ann sent the following message:

in re-reading this i could sum it up as : fear of emotional overwhelm 

Well put, Ann. To Ann and everyone else who has ever feared being overwhelmed emotionally, whether by grief, anger, or some other emotion (even bliss), I just want to say that this is very, very common.

We all have emotions. Infants and toddlers seem to have a very full range of them and express them freely and with their whole selves.

And at some young age, we begin to receive messages about emotions: which ones are good, which are bad (or positive and negative, if you prefer), which ones are not okay to express in public, maybe which are not okay to even have, which ones are harmful to repress or bottle up.

Maybe we’ve been on the receiving end of someone’s rage, bad boundaries, or lack of feeling, or have felt/not-felt those ourselves. Maybe we’ve felt emotional pain so strongly we’d do anything to avoid feeling it again, including numbing out for years.

No wonder we get messed up emotionally.

It can feel unsafe to let go emotionally, as if we could die or crumble or never come out on the other side. We fear our own emotions, especially the strong ones, because part of us wants to be in control, and emotions can be very intense.

Ann, it seems to me that needing to experience a balance between release and conscious processing is a belief you have acquired. Try on this belief and see if you like it: allowing the emotion/trembling/etc. to flow through you IS clearing the subconscious. You don’t have to understand it for it to work!

And if understanding does come, it will come AFTER you clear the channels and return to a calm state in which other parts of your brain can come online to create whole-brain insight.

I also imagine you experimenting with releasing as much emotionally/physiologically as you feel comfortable with for a few days, letting your conscious mind work at its own pace, and seeing for yourself what happens. That cannot mess you up—it’s just you discovering what mix of emotion and thought, conscious and unconscious works best for you.

I remember feeling rage about 10 years ago for the first time since I was about two, because it wasn’t acceptable in my family or in much of society. I was alone, remembering something I hadn’t thought about in years, when suddenly I had a different understanding of it that brought up hot, intense anger.

I didn’t know what was happening at first, so I kept allowing it to happen because I was curious—and alone. I am sure I got red in the face. There was definitely an upward surge of hot energy toward my head and a stiffening of my posture. I stopped in mid-stride.

Right after I was feeling the most intense anger, my inner witness was marveling, “So this is what rage feels like! I get it how steam comes out of Elmer Fudd’s ears and the grimace and posture he makes!”

It actually had a very, very cleansing effect. It renewed my self-esteem and motivated me to protect my interests. Afterwards, I felt like I had on a cloak of protection. It was actually near the beginning of my trauma recovery process, but I didn’t know that then.

Interestingly enough, fully allowing that rage to flow through me and feeling it completely took maybe 30 seconds. A very slow 30 seconds, to be sure.

Imagine: I had spent years denying/repressing my anger, and when I let it ripple through me, it only took half a minute of intensity, and the benefits were enormous and lasting.

Lesson 1: Emotions have two components. You experience them in your body, and they change you (you resolve an inner conflict, and then you take action: set a boundary, express a concern, reframe your identity, make a decision, right a wrong, and so on).

Lesson 2: You can allow yourself the experience of feeling the emotion fully without having to take action right away. That can come later. Unless the situation is life or death, you can let it settle before doing anything. That provides time for other less emotional parts of your brain to add their gifts on the wisest course of action for you to take. Meanwhile, you’re not bottling up something toxic.

Lesson 3: This is easier said than done. We’re all here in the School of Life. We mess up, we learn, we forgive, we grow.

So this is the thing. I can’t really tell you what’s right for you, but maybe these lessons can help you get through the labyrinth.

I found this quote on Tricycle Daily Dharma, and it’s perfect for this post:

The ebb and flow of life is not unlike the sea. Sure, sometimes it’s calm and serene, but at other times the waves can be so big that they threaten to overwhelm us. These fluctuations are an inevitable part of life. But when you forget this simple fact, it’s easy to get swept away by strong waves of difficult emotions.— Andy Puddicombe, “10 Tips for Living More Mindfully”

I would be remiss if I did not mention one of the best books I’ve read about emotions and their messages, The Emotional Hostage: Rescuing Your Emotional Life by Leslie Cameron-Bandler. It’s an oldie but goodie that helps you decode the purpose of each emotion and use your emotions to live more authentically.

It’s spring cleansing time! Liver/GB cleared, reduced allergies, reduced anger

I’m reblogging a post about spring cleansing from last March because it got a lot of views back then and it still applies! I’m currently nearing the end of this year’s spring cleanse, which I started a couple of days after the solstice.

Last spring, after doing the colon/parasite cleanse, I finally cleared my liver and gallbladder of hardened bile (green stones). This may seem like not a big deal, but it is. There appears to be a link between the health of the liver and allergies.

In Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, there’s also a link between the health of the liver and the emotions — specifically the emotion of anger and its relatives, irritability, exasperation, annoyance, outrage, hatred, fury, and so on. You can google “liver anger” to learn more.

Since clearing those organs of stones, anger appears less often and dissipates more quickly in my life. Of course anger is part of a full, healthy range of emotions, but have you ever noticed that some people are inordinately angry (at others or themselves)? That is not pleasant to experience or be around!

If you go through life feeling angry, consider that your organs play a big role in your biochemistry, including emotional, and you can change your emotional makeup toward less anger and more happy feelings by cleansing those organs.

Here’s the original post, dated March 30, 2011:

I started the colon/parasite cleanse today. It’s spring! Time to clean out the system! I do this twice a year.

I wrote about this last fall. You can click this link to my earlier post, which contains instructions for the colon/parasite cleanse, which is fairly simple, and information about the liver/gallbladder flush, which is more complex but worth doing.

I didn’t provide instructions for the flush because it’s complicated, and in my opinion, if you’ve never done it before, it’s best done under the supervision of an expert, experienced health care practitioner who’s quickly available should you have any questions or problems.

One new bit of information to note: The company that makes Paracidin, which rids the body of parasites in the liver, gallbladder, spleen, and pancreas, has changed the name of that product to Paratosin. The labels, including dosage and ingredients, are identical except for the name.

Another new bit of information that I’ve heard or read from several sources: allergies are related to liver toxicity. I’m not sure about this, but thought I’d put it out there. If you have experience or information on this, please share.

My respiratory allergies have decreased dramatically over time. I had NAET acupuncture treatment in 2000 (when I moved back to Austin, allergy capital of the world), and it made a substantial difference.

Before NAET, Seldane or Claritin every day, year round, plus at least one sinus infection per year requiring antibiotics.

After NAET, I’d take an occasional Claritin, and I’ve had only one sinus infection in the 10 years since, when I walked to and from work on a windy day last spring after a long dry spell — exposing myself to lots of pollen. Acupuncture helped me recover from that.

NAET worked pretty well for me.

I’ve done the liver/gallbladder flush twice a year (two nights in a row each time) for about 3 years. I rarely take medication for allergies any more. I feel unpleasant side effects if I take Claritin, so if I’m having nasal congestion and sneezing, I take a homeopathic remedy, Histaminum hydrochloricum, and that does the trick. I use it maybe once a week at peak pollen times. My body doesn’t respond to allergens like it used to. (Another day I’ll post on the NLP allergy cure, which has probably also made a difference.)

So it’s possible that the flush has improved my liver’s health and reduced my allergies. They haven’t gotten worse. (This does not apply to my gluten sensitivity, just to airborne allergens.)

Here’s a link to an article I found with much more information on the liver/gallbladder cleanse, including what actually happens in those organs.

The instructions are pretty close to what my acupuncturist says. She has me test my pH before doing the flush to make sure my body is clearly alkaline, and she has me do it two nights in a row. She also suggests taking magnesium malate when it’s difficult to make fresh, organic apple juice in quantity.

my personal guesthouse

i’m typing this post with my right hand, cradling my laptop in my left, because my bee-yoo-tiful purry, furry cat mango has claimed the real estate that is my lap — no room for the laptop.

cat love is so good. mango, i love you! and yes, i know it’s not quite unconditional love like a dog’s love, but i am so grateful for it. the furry orange prince mango comforts and soothes.

i am grateful for every bit of love that has come my way, ever. when i think of all the streams of love energy (affection, attention, positive regard, laughter, eye contact, smiles, support, kindness, help, teachings, advice, loving touch in its many forms, love from a distance, and countless other ways), that have pierced my energy field in all my years of life on this planet, whether i was aware of it or not, i am especially humbled and full of gratitude for being part of this 7 billion strong tribe of odd-looking, ungainly (especially compared to cats) mammals called human beings who love.

maybe not all the time, but we humans do love. we. love. we love.

love rules the emotions. it conquers all. love > fear — someone recently gave me that bumper sticker celebrating her recovery from cancer. thank you. it’s very handy to have that reminder.

when a relationship changes direction, as i recently experienced, i become a guesthouse for all the emotions passing through, the feelings stirred from having taken a risk and opened my heart to someone i really, really liked a lot, and then needing to find a way to change my way of relating.

i’m actually not sure of the distinction between really, really liking someone a lot and loving them. loving seems to be the scarier word for some, so maybe fear is the only distinction. not for me. i use the word love a lot.

i realized early on that i wanted to love this man, that it would hurt me not to open my heart. sometimes you just know that you need take the risk. you see who they are and where they’ve come from and what it took to get here, and it moves you. you look at their face and can see their young self shining through, and you adore that self and the current self struggling to find the light and sometimes finding it.

i’m glad i opened my heart, even though hurt is one of the horde of emotions flooding through the door of the guesthouse today, along with appreciation, respect, admiration, fear, sadness, doubt, relief, grief, dismay, disappointment, pride in both of us for coming to this conclusion and moving through with it, deeply grateful for time and space to process on my own and for him knowing i’d need that, vulnerability, gratitude for having been seen/heard/felt and for all the laughter and loving touch.

and a sudden hindsight about a comment that i puzzled over, more awareness of how i relate, recognition that i wasn’t looking or ready for this and that’s okay because i will be more awake the next time love knocks, that mental penetration to truth that i enjoy so much when it happens, awe that two people can manage to communicate at all about anything that really matters, understanding that he and i have really different values about certain things, recognition of both our foolishness and our bravery.

and feeling shot for unwittingly bearing a message that scared him, a lot of compassion for us both, eye-rolling exasperation about some of his expectations and thinking, some real anger, recognizing a man’s gonna do what a man’s gonna do, seeing foolishness (and not just his), remembering how much i looked forward to seeing him and realizing it wasn’t enough time to really jell, tragic, managed, dogged fix-myself-ology, hope, perspective, acceptance, happiness that it happened.

and excitement and anticipation about what amazing new relationship could possibly come next and what i now bring to the table for having had this experience, great insights into timing, awareness that this experience is cooking me in some great mysterious way, respectful for whatever he might be thinking and feeling during this time, a bit of worry for him, hope for him, a desire for him to succeed too, wanting to let go of wanting to fix anyone or anything, and a beautiful vision of a new and different relationship between two amazing people who really, really like each other continuing to be present and open in a friendship that contributes to each other’s lives and benefits all sentient beings.

i don’t know if that will happen, if that’s my idealism, or if baggage, shadows, or egos will get in the way, or even if there’s mutual interest. but it’s my fantasy, and i get to have it.

i don’t usually post such personal writing, but this topic of love and change is so personal and universal. may this writing benefit you, and all sentient beings.

my heart chakra already feels so much better for having written this, for greeting all those guests, and the traffic through the guesthouse is already slowing to a trickle of visitors whom i can spend quality time with.

as within, so without. here’s the original poem by rumi.

The Guesthouse by Rumi

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

The gut’s “second brain” influences mood and well-being

This article from Scientific American is about the enteric nervous system (gut intelligence).

Some excerpts:

The second brain informs our state of mind in other more obscure ways, as well. “A big part of our emotions are probably influenced by the nerves in our gut,” Mayer says. Butterflies in the stomach—signaling in the gut as part of our physiological stress response, Gershon says—is but one example. Although gastrointestinal (GI) turmoil can sour one’s moods, everyday emotional well-being may rely on messages from the brain below to the brain above.

The enteric nervous system uses more than 30 neurotransmitters, just like the brain, and in fact 95 percent of the body’s serotonin is found in the bowels. Because antidepressant medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) increase serotonin levels, it’s little wonder that meds meant to cause chemical changes in the mind often provoke GI issues as a side effect. Irritable bowel syndrome—which afflicts more than two million Americans—also arises in part from too much serotonin in our entrails, and could perhaps be regarded as a “mental illness” of the second brain.

In a new Nature Medicine study published online February 7, a drug that inhibited the release of serotonin from the gut counteracted the bone-deteriorating disease osteoporosis in postmenopausal rodents. (Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group.) “It was totally unexpected that the gut would regulate bone mass to the extent that one could use this regulation to cure—at least in rodents—osteoporosis,” says Gerard Karsenty, lead author of the study and chair of the Department of Genetics and Development at Columbia University Medical Center.

Serotonin seeping from the second brain might even play some part in autism, the developmental disorder often first noticed in early childhood. Gershon has discovered that the same genes involved in synapse formation between neurons in the brain are involved in the alimentary synapse formation. “If these genes are affected in autism,” he says, “it could explain why so many kids with autism have GI motor abnormalities” in addition to elevated levels of gut-produced serotonin in their blood.