I’ve just spend a few weeks dealing with a health challenge that brought back to me all sorts of negative thinking patterns I thought that I’d dumped for good. Well, that’s one belief to let go of for a start, that anything needs to be gone for ever, because whenever it cycles around again, it brings up so many judgments about the fact that it’s still here. “Oh no, I thought I’d done everything there was to do on this one – I must have failed in some way” is the way my thinking tends to go.
So I’ve observed my process and would like to share with you some ideas that I’ve found helpful and things I’ve picked up from other people during this time as well.
At first I tend to lose myself in the sea of negativity, and my energy takes a dive. Once I’m so tired I can barely speak, I find it easier to let go of the struggling. If it’s something that disturbs my sleep at night, then I often wake up or get up in the morning with a kind of negative ‘hangover’ that colours my entire perception of life. My experience of life becomes quite blinkered seeing only the negativity and quite honestly having a bit of a sulk inside because I’m really feeling that “it’s not fair”. If my husband asks me if I want a hug, I’ll often refuse, because really I want to protect my right to feel this way. This is my denial phase.
When I can rediscover or regain my witnessing perspective, that place I can go that looks at my life objectively and with compassionate curiosity, I move into acceptance of what I’m feeling. Often in this state my mind becomes quieter and I feel myself coming back into my body, having taken all my energy up into my head to escape the uncomfortable feelings there. This is just my particular pattern and I’m sure everyone has their own way of escaping or numbing or distracting. Once in this acceptance space I can begin to become more open and curious about my current situation. Here my thoughts are often “I don’t know what to do – who can I ask for help, who has the key?” as I struggle with my feeling of helplessness.
I have learned to listen out for that key phrase “I don’t know” because it’s one I’ve said to myself such a lot over the years and it keeps me in that place of not knowing, seeking outside myself for answers and solutions instead of taking the next question deep inside myself. I believe that we each have an inner source of deep wisdom which can provide us with the answers to many of our dilemmas when we discover how to honour it and listen. So I can flip my thinking around and spend a little time feeling into “I trust that I know what this is all about, I have the solutions, everything I need will be provided” .
Then I move into the seeking phase. This used to involve a huge amount of mental activity which kept me spinning in one place instead of seeking the silent still point that I really needed to connect with. That’s just another of my patterns, trying to solve everything at the mental level, because, like most of us, that’s what I have been taught. “Think before you speak”, “think and analyse the problem”, “what’s wrong with you?”, “why is this going wrong”, “I’m unhappy because ….”
Moving from the mind and dropping into the feelings takes courage and resilience, and I have learned over the years that feelings may hurt and be terribly painful in the moment, but that they pass, and the best way out of them is through them, and the sense of relief afterwards is a great reward. “What you resist persists” has been my mantra for many years now, reminding me to look for where I am resisting my experience, and I know I am resisting when I am back into distraction activities, or feeling a constriction and tension in my body. This is the part that I have needed most help with over the years, being able to turn around and face into those fears with resolve and compassion for myself, and I’m grateful for those who have taught me as well as those who pop up to remind me when I forget.
Compassion is the great key that unlocks many a self-built cage, liberating the energy trapped there often for years or possibly even lifetimes. Having someone there to hold a safety line as I dive down into my fear has enabled me to learn how to do this for myself much of the time. The role of the witness is also invaluable, and when you cannot witness yourself because you were not witnessed in childhood, having someone there who sees your pain without judgment is a valuable part of the healing process. I call this the embracing phase. This is where the breakdown becomes the breakthrough, and the feelings which couldn’t be fully felt at the time of their original occurrence, break free and the energy that held them in place is transmuted into energy available for me to use to create the living solution. This is also the alchemy phase.
Recently I found several things helped me to go into this embracing phase with greater ease and kindness for myself. As a past trauma survivor, I tended to reproduce the trauma in all my healing, going for the great cathartic release by diving into the pain headlong and sometimes without anyone else on the end of a safety line! This works but isn’t the kindest way to treat myself. So in the past few days I’ve been doing the following:
Image journalling – creating images that portray pieces of the underlying issue. By spontaneously putting together images that appealed to me in the moment, the story was unravelled and unconscious aspects were brought into my awareness. I love playing with colours and images and these felt so easy to create yet revealed profoundly deep issues.
Spiritual Drafting – an idea which came up through a connection with someone with one of those beautiful synchronicities, just when I needed to learn it. It’s about getting into someone else’s slipstream to ease the struggle of moving forwards, just as cyclists do in their races. I chose to read rather than to write and went through the clippings I’d made from several inspirational books on my Kindle. A really helpful web site organised them all for me so all I had to do was click on the book title and all the clippings were displayed for that book.
Expressing Gratitude – this used to be a tough one for me, something I really just couldn’t do, and only served to make me feel even worse about myself for my failure at feeling gratitude. Now it’s an important part of my toolbox. I was reminded of the song that Julie Andrews sang in “The Sound of Music” to comfort herself and the children during a rather large thunderstorm. ‘These are a few of my favourite things‘ is a practice for me to collect together things that nurture and uplift me and that I can feel really grateful for having in my life. I recently posted one of these on FaceBook as an image to share with the people I was feeling particularly grateful for having in my life. It included words that nourished me and that resonate with my authentic Self, like a song of home sung by a dusty traveller out on the road. This moved me into such a beautiful state of being in which I was much better able to allow the grace of life. This is where I believe healing happens, as the limiting beliefs and dogmas fall away and pure life force loving creative energy flows unimpeded.
EFT – Emotional Freedom Techniques. I used to be an avid daily tapper but now only use it as a self-care tool when something seems to not be releasing easily any other way. It is a greatly empowering technique which anyone can learn in a relatively short time and it works with conscious thought patterns and energy held in our bodies, often unconsciously. There is no need to know or understand all of the issues around a particular problem because they tend to arise during the tapping. Tapping increases awareness as well as releasing energy blocks gently and effectively.
The resolution phase comes last and is where the final release of the limiting energy is transformed. I find it helpful to project forwards and visit a new vision of my future with the new thought, belief and feeling in place, so I can see and feel how different it is. Then I anchor the vibration in my body and that becomes my new set point for creation so my life begins immediately to reflect my shift in energy. I’ve gone from painful walking to skipping across the fields in the sun with an even deeper sense of trust in allowing. Many people have helped me in this transition, some of whom I will never meet but they were courageous enough to write their story, write about their struggles and their solutions, generous enough to share their wisdom. And that passes through me to the people who seek my help and assistance and ability to be the compassionate witness to their process of allowing more.
Spritual Drafting by Mark Silver at Heart of Business
Expressive Art Journal by Shelley Klammer. All the images in this post are from my past month’s Art Journal.
EFT – there are so many online resource for this I suggest you search and follow a few videos and see what resonates with you.
Kindle Clippings Converter – convert your Kindle clippings and save them online.