Balance Blog

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The Why Behind My Practice:

Frankly, it’s so simple: I know it works, because I have experienced it for myself and then it to be effective with clients.

My therapeutic background has been shaped undoubtedly by my own journey to awakening. It was my own struggle with anxiety and depression that formed the foundation of my practice. When I felt hopeless and in despair, I contemplated ending my suffering. It was this rock bottom that lead me to a psychiatrist who informed me “you’re not going crazy” and wrote me a list of books for me to read. This started my spiritual journey of self-exploration. I started reading his recommended books, exercised for 3-4 hours a day with the insistence of my mother and within 5 weeks I recognized I was not as sad. I realized that something had shifted. The full work to diminish the majority of my suffering took years but I can honestly say that with the dedicated efforts I made and with the support of my family, I have alleviated a tremendous amount of suffering I carried with me and now live in a state of peace. This work still continues today and is not, let me say that again, is not easy. But it is worth it. Once discovered, going in to what we fear and what we don’t want to look at, actually becomes much easier. I then applied to a master’s in Clinical Mental Health program so that I may learn the empirical and evidence based practices to help clients in the way I moved through myself.

Above is my story. Often times when clients ask, did you take medicine I am honest and say no. I want to clarify two things. One, I did take vitamins, St. Johns Worts, and ate a really healthy diet- all of which I consider the best medicine. I meant I did not take any prescribed psychiatric medicine. I will also clarify that this does not mean I am against medication. I am actually extremely for whatever science has created to alleviate human suffering, in the short term. However much of our society has become “instant gratification” obsessed and wants a quick fix for their depression and their anxiety. The quickest and most lasting fix I can provide you is to simply show you that you are not your feelings or your thoughts. The minute you realize this, the suffering is seen in a space, from a new perspective- as a witness. You are not it. You are the awareness that experiences the now, in whatever form it takes. Then you can start to work to dissolve whatever it is your experiencing. Let me clarify, dissolve does not mean avoid. Dissolve means to look lovingly at your experience with acceptance and discernment. Questioning the validity and the purpose. When you do this you bring your attention. Your attention in the moment is enough. That alone is what transforms the experience and heals. Much of our experience in the now, is programed from the past or thinking of the future. Therefore, mindfulness is much more about undoing then doing.

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IF.. THAN.. THINKING; HAPPINESS IS NOT OUTSIDE OF OURSELVES

It is helpful to understand that if one is not happy with the present circumstances, the chances are that happiness will still be elusive when conditions change to meet one’s current desire. That is, if happiness is elusive now, it will continue to be so in the future because the ability to locate the source of happiness has not yet been found.” Dr. David Hawkins, I: Reality and Subjectivity pg. 190

When discussing with many clients, I have pointed out this phenomenon of: If I have _________ than I will be _______; If he changes… than I will be happy. I thought since I could see it clearly in others, I myself had moved passed it. I was wrong. So often we see it in others because they are our perfect mirror.  Without that mirror, we get swept away in an unconscious program that believes “if this happens, then I will feel better/be happy/be able to do my job/be successful/be loving or in love/ conquer my fear/ get up early/ have a lot of money/ have a good golf swing/ become enlightened”… Whatever the story is; the belief is: If I have this thing (person, thing or situation) that is outside of myself, then I will be ok, happy, content and at peace.

THIS IS FALSE. This is the error in thinking that must be forgiven.

But in order to change we must first become aware of this belief. Reading this, you might say “yes that that makes sense” but you will not know this to be true for yourself until you have experienced it. You may see but you can only understandwhen you have the awareness of catching this pattern. So now the seed has been planted. Now the awareness comes up and in the next moment we watch this program arise and we catch it. We see it for what it is. We take full responsibility for the error and now can adjust our beliefs and align ourselves with what it is that we do want. And that is….. wait for it… WHAT WE ALREADY HAVE.

Think about it: if you’re not happy now, with what you have, what makes you think you will be happier with more? when the situation changes?  It is all an illusion. A false game of chasing our own tail.

So the truth is.. You are the source of the happiness you seek for. 

We have to become happy with what we have now, cultivate that feeling of gratitude and realize our true nature is more than any one person or circumstance. Gratitude will shift your perspective from being the victim of the “thing” (person, thing or situation) to realizing: the thinking in error aims to fill the void of lack or not feeling enough within ourselves. Then we must forgive, ourselves. We see we are enough. It is enough. Then we realign with the next moment which is just as good and moves us from our old habits to our new intention. This does not mean manifesting what we want, to avoid the now. This means accepting that we are not the victim of our boss, our husband, our situation, cancer, illness, lack of money- WE are the perpetrator that created the situation so that we can become conscious of our deepest held beliefs. The “thing” is the nagging fly which won’t go away. That is our greatest teacher pointing us to where we must change our belief and shift our self-perception.

This means that everyone we hate is just as much of a teacher as the beauty in our life.  Every situation we resist is just as much of an opportunity to see clearly. We must break the habit of believing happiness is somewhere outside of ourselves or something to get or something to change in order for us to be happy in the now. An empowered recognition I’ve found is that- we are already that which we want to become. When we really feel that, believe that, it will come with alarming speed because we realize it was always there. We’ve always been enough. The now has always been enough. Our thoughts about what it should be are the only error. There is nothing outside of us, in our way, or keeping us from what we want… other than ourselves.

Now that is a hard realization, a hard pill to swallow, that keeps many people resisting accepting responsibility because in the moment our ego feels better blaming others, blaming the situation, blaming our past for our own internal discord.

Now you have a choice.

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CHANGE-MOVING THROUGH THE OVERWHELMING FEELING

This video for me has so many powerful messages. The two I use most often with clients is when your feeling overwhelmed, get out of your head and focus simply on“what is the next right move?” Getting still and centered allows you to then  focus on just the next right step. Even if it is as simple as attending to your hunger needs and making a pb&j, asking yourself what is the next right move for you to make can make an arduous problem seem a little more doable in small bites. Whether the situation is going through a divorce, the death of a loved one or significant change in life can be extremely overwhelming. Focusing on small but incremental changes is the best way I know how to move through the chaos. Second, it is a great reminder that when you feel you experience a failure “you get as much from your losses as from your gains”. In the big picture, everything is moving you, shifting you expanding your learnings and awarness. This is once again calling us out of our little minds and stepping into a bigger perspective. Looking at the whole scale of your life- everything is happing for you, not to you.

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ADVICE FROM PHYLLIS- FOR ANYONE MOVING THROUGH CHANGE

Below is a copy from a email I received, from a great friend Phyllis. After a moment of making a great change I emailed her, she replied with this. This is a gentle reminder for when we make a decision, fearlessly, for our highest good and yet are faced with the unknown.

Read below to yourself. All truth is the same and let absorb whatever resonates with you. The rest forget.

Dear ______________,
Those moments when we have been true to our highest good are the ones that let us know what it feels like to be alive in the truest sense.  Our first taste is exhilarating and there is a tendency to conclude that it is an end of story moment.  Then daily life with its barrage of feelings and thoughts comes upon us.  It is then that doubt, fear, loneliness can seep in.   That is when our eyes have to stay open.  It is in daily life that vulnerability rises up and full acceptance of the moment becomes our way forward.
Life is very moment to moment.   It is tired moments, fearful moments, lonely moments that define the character.  Yes, the joyful and triumphant moment when we live at our highest and truest are part of the human  experience too but it is during the daily ones that our character is formed.  Remembering that the truth of God is with us every single moment of life is the key.
I am thrilled that you had that moment of triumph over a time of high temptation, but now daily life begins.  I want you to know that I am by your side as a friend whatever the moment brings.  One suggestion.  Don’t linger in moments, even the high ones but especially in the low ones.
With Love,
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LIGHTHOUSES- STANDING IN YOUR TRUTH

“LIGHTHOUSES DON’T GO RUNNING ALL OVER ISLANDS LOOKING FOR BOATS TO SAVE, THEY JUST STAND THERE, SHINNING” – ANNE LAMOTT

Above is one of my favorite quotes that a recent victim of violence stated as she chose her new position in centering and standing in her truth. Whether your life is “going well” or “everything has gone to shit”, like one of my client’s like to put it, you have a choice each moment to stand in your truth. First, you must discover what is your truth. What I still strive to discover is the truth that I have heard over and over, that truth is love and there is nothing else. Standing in love, with yourself and life as it is- is the most powerful, joyful, wondrous knowingness I have ever felt. I have touched it many times but do not live in that state always.

The key is that once you touch it and you realize that – then when you are not there – you know then what you can return to.

So often we have to dissolve beliefs about our self, life and how it should look and surrender to what is. When we do that we can be lighthouses, emanating our truth, our power, our lovingness. That joy and love that comes through us is the shinning that illuminates everything that is not that. The illumination is what brings awareness for us to see blocks, see areas of forgiveness and continue to go on shinning. The beauty of this whole paradigm is that when you do that for yourself- you also are that for others. Out of consequence for what you have become, you have changed the world and transformed others in your presence. You go then unconsciously giving others the permission to see themselves in that way, to behold that for themselves.

An error in thinking for myself comes, when I see someone who has embodied that and I then seek out that person, to learn from or more honestly – to try to get what they have. I have been the seeker and the receiver of this manipulation. I have watched myself cling to people and become attached out of the nature they live their lives and the joy that emanates from being around them.. only to return to myself and feel void and incomplete.IMG_2034.jpg

That is the gift. That is the illumination. The gift is to see, that you feel void and incomplete in your own presence. It has nothing to do with the other person, for they only mirror what you are, underneath your faulty belief of ‘not being enough, as you are’. So we work, we surrender, we accept that feeling that emerges and we lovingly forgive ourselves.

The illusion and fog eventually clears and we see that we were always capable of that joy and once assured we are the source, never live in fear again that we could be without.

Now imagine two lighthouses standing together, in the world. Standing on their own but together in what they are. Two, then three, then blossoms of lighthouses. That would be a powerful, awe inspiring illumination.

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THERE IS NOTHING TO HEAL; SOMETHING TO KNOW

I could boil down every single “issue” that clients or friends state they have it comes down to this: a deep sense of unworthiness, feeling we are not enough and a lack of self-love. That may be the collective pain body Ekhart Tolle talks about or the collective unconscious every human shares that so many Zen teachers  and mystics discuss.

What became transformative to me is when I saw this “wound” not only in myself but everyone around me.  I realized we all believed this. It wasn’t until I started to heal my own wound of not “being good enough” that I saw life and people differently. The messy disorganized yard, was enough. My family member who yelled and was angry, was enough. We and it- the situation, is all enough. It is just our judgment that it should be better or different.

The healing comes when we bring our concentration to whatever it is that we are experiencing. And experience it fully, with our full consciousness. When we do that, the moment becomes transformative. Then there may be a new understanding, a shift in self perception. That new knowledge is power but only powerful when applied. The lesson is learned when we experientially feel the understanding and it turns to a knowingness. That is profound understanding. The truth is all of life’s “problems/flaws” can we “solved” by this process. Because it is the act of awareness that dissolves the illusion that there ever were problems to begin with. Now I know that when I first heard these concepts, I felt residence and began to defend my positionally “no that behavior is unacceptable, if he loved me he would have, that person shouldn’t have cut me off”. The positionally is – being wronged. In order to be wronged – you are stating you are in the right, and they or it is wrong. There by choosing to be wronged with the gratification of being “right about it”. Dr. David Hawkins states: “There is only one thing you have to surrender- the payoff you get out of whatever positionally you are stuck in”. Once you have identified it, you’ll see it each time it comes up in the future and that is where the awareness builds.

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FAITH = KNOWING BEFORE SEEING

This poem really captures faith for me. The author wrote it out of the grief of loosing his first wife.

I AM THERE

BY JAMES DILLET FREEMAN

Do you need Me?
I am there.
You cannot see Me, yet I am the light you see by.
You cannot hear Me, yet I speak through your voice.
You cannot feel Me, yet I am the power at work in your hands.
I am at work, though you do not understand My ways.
I am at work, though you do not recognize My works.
I am not strange visions. I am not mysteries.
Only in absolute stillness, beyond self, can you know Me as I am, and then but as a feeling and a faith.
Yet I am there. Yet I hear. Yet I answer.
When you need Me, I am there.
Even if you deny Me, I am there.
Even when you feel most alone, I am there.
Even in your fears, I am there.
Even in your pain, I am there.
I am there when you pray and when you do not pray.
I am in you, and you are in Me.
Only in your mind can you feel separate from Me, for only in your mind are the mists of “yours” and “mine.”
Yet only with your mind can you know Me and experience Me.
Empty your heart of empty fears.
When you get yourself out of the way, I am there.
You can of yourself do nothing, but I can do all.
And I am in all.
Though you may not see the good, good is there, for I am there.
I am there because I have to be, because I am.
Only in Me does the world have meaning; only out of Me does the world take form; only because of Me does the world go forward.
I am the law on which the movement of the stars and the growth of living cells are founded.
I am the love that is the law’s fulfilling. I am assurance. I am peace. I am oneness. I am the law that you can live by. I am the love that you can cling to. I am your assurance. I am your peace. I am one with you. I am.
Though you fail to find Me, I do not fail you.
Though your faith in Me is unsure, My faith in you never wavers, because I know you, because I love you.
Beloved, I am there.

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BEING IN THE FLOW

Kotler has coined the terming Being in the Flow and how the act of being consciously present in the now can profoundly impact your work productivity and creativity. That is because BEING is everything. Instead of swimming against the current of the river, you float down the river and allow it to take you where it goes. Not only is it much less exhausting, it FEELS better. You feel more alive, more inspired (which by definition means In SPIRIT) so that must mean that when you are “being in the flow” you are really in alignment with the source, in the present moment. That is why the most genius ideas happen in the now, or people describe being creatively inspired. As I write this, I feel it is not I but what comes through me as I type.

That is being in the flow. I am the being. I am the flow. I am that.

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THE AVOIDANCE OF PAIN- THE TRUE PERPETUATOR OF SUFFERING

We all know, Pain in life is inevitable. It’s the suffering that is optional. Yet why do we continue to suffer. I have come to observe that we as a human species are pain-avoidant creatures which may simply be an evolutionary program. We touch the hot stove as a child and never want to touch it again. It instantly is scared in our memory that pain is not fun and we must avoid it to keep us alive. This pattern of pain avoidance, especially with emotional pain is what I have found to be the continuation of suffering. The avoidance of emotional pain is one of most pervasive problems for human kind. The epidemic with addiction (specifically prescription pills) and individual’s desires to self-medicate is evidence of this. No one likes to experience pain, but if pain serves a purpose until is no longer is needed then what is it trying to teach us? I think it’s trying to teach us not to run, not to avoid, not to be led by fear. I think it is trying to remind us of who we really are. We are not the pain in the body but rather the witness to the pain. Therefore, the pain is there to teach us, who or what we are identifying with is not our true nature and must be let go.

We can begin to let go of 1025390298-An-inspirational-picture-quote-about-dealing-with-pain-through-changing-thoughtsphysical and emotional pain once we identify with our true nature. This requires non-attachment, non-resistance and non-judgment of our current experience. Which all sound easy, but require significant work to master. When I think of the most painful event imaginable it would be the death of a child or loved one. Radically accepting this seems so hard. Yet what are we resisting, what we are hurt by or angry with? These questions, of self-exploration are what create conscious awareness in the moment.

“Pain is a sensation accompanied by a motor intention to withdrawal”

I forget who first spoke this but this definition points out an alarming yet relieving fact: Pain is simply a sensation. Pain therefore can be observed as a sensation in the body. It is not who you are and does not have to create such fear or desire to avoid. That is a faulty error in thinking that can be corrected. Pain I like to think of as discomfort, not ideal but tolerable. Suffering is not necessary if you radically accept what your experience. Suffering requires you live in the past, resist what happened or resist that you are experiencing pain now.

For example: When I went through what felt like at the time a devastating breakup, I remember waking up in the middle of the night to dreams of him and then panic hit me that my reality was true that we were separated and this was my new reality. My heart felt physically like I was dying, I could pin point the lower part of my heart, where if I was 80 years old I would be convinced I was having chest pain consistent with heart failure. My heart felt so bad, the situation felt real. It’s in believing my thoughts about the situation that caused me suffering; that the engagement shouldn’t have ended and I should not be experiencing this now that caused me suffering. *I was resisting the now, vehemently.

As I sat crying watching the pain, I then remembered something that changed that situation and now everyone. I remembered the thought “this is just growing pains; my heart is growing.” Change and growth may be painful, but are necessary. I remembered waking up as a little girl crying in the middle of the night for my mom to bring me Tylenol. The “growing pains” in my legs felt at the time excruciating. And in that moment I wanted to avoid the pain. Just like now so many years later. But it was temporary, it only lasted as long as it should. And then I saw that I was observing the pain and no longer identified with the chest pain, the story changed. I was the witness to it and therefore not it.  If you get this one sentence, you will begin to see all things are this. And the minute I saw this, the pain became just an ounce more bearable. As time went on, the story continued to change and once again the pain only lasted as long as it should.

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HOLDING THE SPACE, IN COUNSELING

e most important aspect I think in counseling, is for a helping professional/therapist  (regardless of title) to hold the space for clients. This sounds easy but requires tremendous work on the counselors part to clear their own mental noise to be fully available, fully present. Second, it requires that person to have the willingness to hold that space for the other. This can be done in intimate relationships as well. The more mindful you become the easier it gets. Holding the space, entails the power of intention. The intentionality behind it is being available for the other person, for their healing of past wounds or for their growth in this moment. Both of which are sacred. Check out my blog on Love, The Greatest of All where I explore Thich Nhat Hanh’s mantras to prepare me for consciously meeting with any client or loved one. This is the epitome of what Carl Rogers defines as unconditional positive regard.

When you hold the space in an individual therapy, you allow the present moment to unfold without your own agenda. You allow the here and now to guide the session to the most prominent need. And simply by being clear and available, change happens. Moments of awareness come and the client is led by their own knowingness (even if they are unconscious) to their potentiality. This is what counseling theorist refer to as Self-Actualization.