Friday, March 15, 2013

Meditation: Anal Retentive?

There are hundreds of ways to meditate, and there is no "right way."  One of the dangers of learning specific techniques is that we grab onto the technique, and never really get beyond it.

For me, techniques can be so seductive.  They whisper in my ear, “If you just do this thing, you'll be enlightened!” or “If you get it right, you'll have a mind blowing experience!”  But, I’m going to take the risk of sharing some techniques anyway, because, well, let’s face it, meditation is one of those illusive “shoulds” floating out there that can be quite daunting.  I've found that there are some doorways that can help point the way - as long as we don’t turn them into a specific map or formula for our egos to glom onto. 

Warning: read the following with caution.

I start with taking deep breaths.  The breath seems to be a universal gateway to shift out of habitual patterns of thinking and being.  When in doubt?  Take a deep breath, anytime, anyplace, and we’ll feel a bit better, a bit wiser.  For a sitting meditation, however, it can help to get a little creative.  I imagine connecting with pure life force.  I visualize pure white light coming into my body, and out from my body like a generator.

I used to imagine the energy coming in through my crown, and one of my dear colleagues and practitioners told me I was getting “too much heaven and not enough earth,” which was throwing off my body's energy system.  Then I began breathing in energy through my heart center and I discovered that this was somehow throwing off my thalamus – too much heart energy.  That’s why there should be a warning label: experiment, adjust, customize.
So, now I breathe energy in and out through my whole body, and that seems to be doing the trick.  Then I mix and match some of the following breath holding techniques (uh-oh, there’s that word):
  • Breathe in through your nose
  • Hold the breath at the top of the inhale for 3 counts
  • Release the exhale through the mouth, almost with a sigh

For a quickie (in- the-moment shift):
  • Imagine drawing in what it is you want
  • Hold for 3 counts
  • Exhale out what you don’t want 

For example, inhale trust and exhale worry.  This is a good one when you’re feeling too full of stuff to sit quietly, or when you're moving about your day and you feel stuck or overloaded.

Here’s another one I really like.  The premise is that in order to meditate, it helps to first have energy built up in the body.  So, this practice helps meditation become easier, and I figure I’ll take any help I can get.

With any breath holding practice, I have found that it’s good not to think of it as holding the breath, but rather as a gathering of the prana/chi/energy, allowing it to distribute throughout your whole body:
  • Inhale for a count of 4
  • Hold for 4 counts and focus on the area around your navel (in Chinese Medicine, this is known as the “lower dantian” – our energy center)
During that count, I used to say to myself, “hold 2-3-4,” but I found this caused tension rather than expansion.  So I changed it to “prana 2- 3-4” and I picture a sun radiating in my solar plexus.
  • Hold for another 4 counts as you clench and draw the energy upward toward your naval. 
Ok, how do I diplomatically describe the clench?  Heck, I’ll just say it: anal clench.  There I said it.

The clench draws the feminine energy (in all of us, male or female) upward toward the navel, creating a union between male and female energy.  So for that part, I say to myself, “Union 2-3-4” as I hold my breath.
  • Then exhale for 4 counts, and begin again for 3-5 rounds

The teacher I learned this from describes this practice as an actual alchemic process of unity consciousness that prepares you for meditation.  Sounds good to me!
He recommended a hold of 8 counts for the navel and another 8 counts for the clench, but I haven’t been able to get there yet.  As always, we start where we are and go from there.  Any amount is still a good practice, and I’m finding it’s getting easier the more I practice, as with anything else.
Here’s another word of caution: I find that I often don't drop into what I imagine meditation should be, aka: a quiet mind.  

The thing is, meditation isn't always (and for most us, rarely is), a blissful trip into the void of a quiet mind.  Most days it's a scrolling through the favorite concerns and worries, and then an attempt to bless them or ask for help.  Or, it’s an uncontrollable prioritizing of my to-do list for the day.  Or, it’s a pleasant little vertical nap.

What I’ve learned over the years, however, is that this is not such a bad thing.  In fact, the things that pass through our awareness while we’re attempting to meditate, is the meditation.  One of the jobs of meditation is to cleanse, heal and return unconscious material to a conscious, purified state.  So, when we try and get quiet, it pops up for us to see.  And this is such a blessing.
In a state of intention and connection, we sit and allow the material to pass through so it can show us what it wants us to see, or tell us what it wants us to hear.  It’s a purging of the unconscious that is hugely life giving and healing.  It’s like waves crashing into the shore after a large boat goes by.  Eventually, the waves become smaller and smaller, but this takes time.  That’s why it’s so important to have some type of daily meditation practice.

Then meditation becomes medication.  And all we have to do is sit, and observe, and attempt to love ourselves amidst all the internal chaos.  If we can release the Buddha-image ideal, we may just experience something we are yearning for: connection, peace, truth.

Today, after doing the breathing stuff, I thought, “Ok, let go of the techniques now.”  I heard myself try and settle into a focus on the word, “love.”  Oops, another technique.  “So, let go of that too.”  A soft inner voice whispered, “Presence is not an exercise of the mind.”
Then, miraculously, I dropped into something very simple.  Presence.  I was just right there, in the chair, and yet, I was everywhere at once.  I could hear the various hums of the house that normally go unnoticed.  This heightened sensory awareness (in-the-moment-hearing, feeling, sensing) brought me into a buoyancy, like being enveloped in a sea of loving energy.  

It felt like warm goo that connected me to the table, the window, the air molecules….to everything.  And when I noticed how good that felt, I naturally wanted more (attachment), and poof it was gone.  I took a deep breath, and slowly opened my eyes, grateful for my brief, yet indescribably delightful, taste of what’s real.  

I can only hope that this fleeting moment might actually be potent nectar that can’t be measured, yet provides everything I need to move through this world of smoke and mirrors.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Part 2: Detoxing Our Bodies and Minds - A Journey of The Soul

Several of you have asked me recently how I'm doing since the publication of the first Detox Article (aka: "that crazy rash").  In response, I decided to post a work in progress... Part 2 of a four part article series:

Part 2: Detoxing Our Bodies and Minds - A Journey of The Soul 

As I was wrapping up Part 1 of “Detoxing Body and Mind – A Journey of the Soul,” I asked a good friend and colleague to give it a final read through.  Among her feedback was a comment that stuck with me.  “You lost me when you got to the part about our bodies evolving.”  Here is the passage she is referring to:

In the bigger picture, why does it seem that so many more of us are reacting to foods and environments?  Yes, there are more toxins in our environment than ever before, but my experience has led me to understand that there is more to the story.  I believe that our bodies are changing.  Some would even say evolving. 

In this time of breakdown, we are also at the dawning of expanded human consciousness.  This expansion requires a vessel that can handle more “wattage” (light or energy).  As challenging as it can be at times, detoxing on all levels allows us to grow and strengthen so that we can live into our soul’s potential and destiny.  I feel like I’m a phoenix rising from the flames, transforming so completely that I may be wonderfully unrecognizable on the other side of this amazing journey. 

Perhaps now is the time to expand on this notion that “our bodies are evolving.”  Before we go there, an update on the rash and my detox process might be helpful.

I am happy to report that the move to my new home has allowed me to clear my reactions to environmental toxins (mold, carpeting, lead, etc.).  That’s good news.  The mystery, however, is that I am still reacting to foods.  

In Part 1 of the article, I refer to “the rain barrel spilling over.”  That was at the heart of why I began reacting to foods…the rain barrel was full.  Now that the rain barrel is no longer full, why am I still reacting to foods?  The million dollar question…

In search of an answer, I took a blood test that revealed around 50 foods that I was reacting to.  For foods that showed a “moderate” reaction, it was recommended that those foods be eliminated for three months.  For foods that showed a “severe” reaction, six months of elimination was recommended.  I began eliminating those foods, as well as doing a diet rotation that prevented me from eating the same foods within two days.

For example, if I had rice on Tuesday, I wouldn’t eat rice again until Friday.  For many people with food sensitivities, rotating foods is key to reducing sensitivity.  But after a month of no relief, I learned that there are practically an infinite number of ways to rotate your diet, and the trick is to figure out which type of rotation is best for your body’s healing.  I used Kinesiology (muscle testing) to fine tune the rotation and determine which type my body wanted.
In order to keep track of what I ate when, I created a chart to track everything I ate.  It took a great deal of focus and energy to sustain it, but I was determined.  My family suffered through my seemingly endless obsession with what I put in my mouth.  

I became fixated on food as though it was my enemy or my god, depending on the day.  I got allergy free cookbooks, and lived for the treat that was “ok” for me to eat.  I could rarely eat out, and when I did, I became annoyed and frustrated with servers who didn’t get my obscure requests right.  

Finally, my husband called me on it.  He was right.  I was out of balance.  Fear was driving me.  I was afraid of the rash and I was afraid of food.  As you can imagine, I wasn’t very much fun either.  I made a decision that day to shift my focus.
I continued avoiding certain foods, but I decided it wasn’t going to run my life anymore.  I focused on having fun, lightening up, and letting go of control.  This was a huge turning point.  

I would play with my thoughts, “So what if I have a rash? Maybe that’s exactly what my body needs to do.”  When I looked in the mirror, instead of focusing on how bad the rash looked, I’d say, “Hello, beautiful!”  I stopped talking about it and wondering what people thought when they looked at me.

I accepted it.  I even thanked it.  I loved myself more deeply – even with the rash.  I paid attention to every negative thought that passed through my mind and changed it to a loving thought.  I used EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) to clear my worry, fear, frustration and anger.  The rash became my greatest teacher.
As I let go of the fear and worry, I still needed to take action to support my body healing.  It was a balancing act of, “How do I let go of outcome (the rash going away), yet still take action toward what it is I want (health and well-being)?”  

The challenge of setting intention, taking right action AND letting go of outcome has always seemed like a paradox to me.  How do I envision what I want and yet not become attached to whether I actually get it or not?  I think it’s a life-long practice that reveals its magic as we go.

One of the most difficult parts about letting go was feeling close to an answer, and then the disappointment that followed when it didn’t resolve the symptoms.  The roller coaster can be exhausting when we’re attached to fixing and not in a place of loving acceptance of what is.  

Acceptance, however, doesn’t mean giving up or falling into hopelessness.  Many people with chronic conditions can attest to how tricky this dance can be.  We learn to get up, dust ourselves off, and take the next step.
In the past, I leaned heavily on practitioners and doctors to tell me what that next step was.  I figured they knew best.  When I was so overwhelmed by the symptoms that I couldn't think straight, it was a good idea to let them steer me.  The tricky part was knowing when trusting a treatment plan had crossed over into a loss of trusting my inner compass.

I experienced yet another turning point where I stopped looking solely to the experts, and really began to trust my own inner guidance.  Of course, I had always checked in with myself to make sure their recommendations felt right, or to decide who I should go see next.  But I’m talking about really taking the helm.  

I now feel I’m in the driver’s seat, and that is hugely empowering.  The truth is, we possess the answers to even the most challenging experiences.  The real challenge is to be able to hear those answers.

In Part 3 of this article series, I’ll share an inner inquiry where my body communicated with me information about the rash on a cellular level and how my brain was going through a complete transformation.

And, in Part 4, I’ll finally circle back to how this all relates to the question of “our bodies evolving” and this controversial business of expanded consciousness.  Sounds like fun to me!  See you then…

Friday, December 14, 2012

12-12-12 Thoughts

What if we focused everyday like we all did on 12-12-12?  I felt so connected to like-minded people around the globe, and close to home.  We were calling or texting, wishing each other a happy 12-12-12.  I got together with friends and meditated and shared food and stories.  We tuned into the global meditation at 8:30 Central, and simply practiced “smiling” all at the same time.

What if this could be just the beginning of a more organized, focused effort to connect around healing, love and light on behalf of the entire planet?  It would simply mean to continue to consciously monitor our thoughts (and beneath that emotions and beliefs), to ask for help, to stay connected to Source throughout the day as best we can, and to take positive action from there.

I’d say many of us are attempting to do that anyway, but why not bring it even more forward as a priority?  After all, isn't that what we’re here to do anyway?  That, and to co-create.  Maybe we'll get to discover a new version of co-creating something really good.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Units of Time

In the movie “About a Boy,” Hugh Grant is an heir to a one-hit-wonder.  As he meanders through his meaningless day, he reports, “I find the key is to think of a day as units of time…taking a bath: one unit, exercising: three units, having my hair carefully disheveled: four units.”

Don’t we all feel this way most days?  With the endless demands of daily life, it's so easy to lose spontaneity, creative drive and passion.  Our days are broken down into units of time.  

I first noticed this years ago when we went to Brazil.  One of the benefits of traveling is, of course, getting out of our routine.  But going to Brazil had an especially dramatic effect on me because they relate to time so differently than us.  Although Brazilians are becoming more and more “North American-ized,” I could still feel that there's a different relationship to time there.

Time seemed more like a guideline than a master.  Saying we’ll meet at 2:00 really means we’ll meet between 2:00 and 4:00.  I don’t know how they manage it, but it seems to work pretty well.  There's a flow in the moment.  Schedule decisions (outside of work mostly, but still within the work ethic as well), are made more by what is happening presently and not by what the clock says we should do or where we should be.
I know this all sounds pretty unrealistic and certainly unpractical.  However, it made me view my life differently.  I saw that my life had become units of time, especially with my kids: wake up time, breakfast time, get ready for school time, snack time, dinner time, bath time, bedtime.  Whew.  Done.  It’s as though I valued my day (and myself and others) based on how well I stayed on schedule (stretch the word “schedule” to mean all the to-dos of life).
When I stepped outside of my schedule in Brazil, I was able to see how much I was missing: the look on my daughter’s face as I sat across from her at breakfast, the fun of playing with the hamster before bed, the timelessness of pushing them on the swings over and over…

Ok, now this all sounds like mindfulness practice.  But there’s something more that I want to get to here.  Time has become our master.  It’s a great management tool, but we've let it suck the life out of us.  For me, I think it literally did.
We can only maintain this for so long.  Eventually it becomes an unsustainable way to live.  It hit me the hardest when I was running an import company several years later.  My body let me know that the fuel of “driven by time” (aka lists, tasks and to do’s) was tapped.  My adrenals (get-up-and-go juice) literally said, “enough.”

So what’s our real get-up-and-go juice?  I believe it is essence – life force – the invisible energy that is keeping my heart beating right now, the infinite intelligence that is behind everything from babies being born to planets not crashing into one another.

My adrenals feel like a receptor for that energy.  However, when my consciousness is stuck in units of time, it’s like I’m living in a “closed-circuit of energy.”  It’s limited and not sustainable, it burns out.  So my body gave me a great blessing through the adrenal crash I went through.  It was telling me, “hook up to source and live from there.” 

The “how” of a request like that is where the fun begins.  


Sunday, September 2, 2012

So What Happened?

For those who would like to know more about the "healing crisis" I referred to in  my last entry (aka: "The Old Ways Aren't Working Anymore"), I decided to share with you an article that was published in the Alive and Well Journal, Spring 2012.

Detoxing our Bodies and Minds – A Journey of the Soul
By Bernadette Wesley

It was over a year ago that I texted my husband from my practitioner’s office, “Cancel our dinner date for tonight – I won’t be eating anything for a while.”   I know that sounds pretty extreme. But at that point I would have done anything to stop the painful rash that was progressively covering my face, neck and body.
Through Applied Kinesiology (muscle testing), I learned that I was reacting to pretty much everything I ate.  I had already eliminated the big ones – wheat, dairy, corn, and soy.  But the rash raged on.  If I ate the same food two days in a row, I would become allergic to that food. My body was on high alert and was basically reacting to food as though it was the enemy.
For anyone who has had food sensitivities, or needed to detox, you know the drill: mono-diet.   I ate one type of vegetable per day for one week (as much as I wanted to eat each day , but only one type of vegetable at a time, rotating so as to not repeat the same one every day).  Each week I added in one food group, usually meat or fruit and eventually grains.  I also took high doses of specific probiotics as well as powdered medical food supplements to get the necessary nutrients, reduce inflammation and help the intestinal lining heal.
I remember carrying in a baggie of organic broccoli to my brother’s house for Christmas dinner.  Rivers of treats lay before me on the decorated tables, and I felt deprived and alienated from the collective eating ritual.  After only a week, though, my sugar and carb cravings diminished and I started feeling the benefits.  The mono-diet is a great way to detox and reset the body.  For me, however, it wasn’t the whole picture.

For many of us with food sensitivities there are underlying root causes that can be very difficult to uncover.   Through Applied Kinesiology and blood tests, I discovered that I had heavy metal toxicity.  Toxins accumulate in the body from childhood environments as well as current environments, and like a rain barrel that’s full, one more drop of water causes it to spill over.  The toxicity level in my body had accumulated to the point where I was reacting to everything.
We began exploring every possible source of the toxicity, and eventually figured out that I was reacting to the house we were renting!  The concern in my two daughters’ eyes turned to disbelief as we walked through the house testing everything.  The message was getting really clear: I had to get out of that house.  I immediately reached out to my community of friends and colleagues to find a place to stay.  Within 24 hours I found myself packing up my suitcase, my laptop and some groceries, waving goodbye to my family as if I was leaving for college.  It was such a strange feeling, but we all knew I had to go.  We pulled together and got through the six surreal weeks of living apart while we looked for a new home.

We discovered through this process that old linoleum flooring can contain asbestos.  We learned that in old houses, even if paint lead tests show negative, there can still be off-gassing.  Carpets and drop ceilings can contain toxic chemicals.  And last but not least, old basements contain mold.  Any one of these alone might not be an issue, but after six years of this combination, my body’s toxic levels “spilled over.”  In England, this condition has a clinical name.  It’s called “Sick House Syndrome.”
After months of physical detoxing, my body is still releasing and healing.  Detoxing can occur in layers, and emotional, psycho-spiritual detoxing is very much part of the process.   Like a neon sign with a hidden message, this rash has led me to discover some core toxic beliefs that have been the bedrock of my family line for generations.  I have unconsciously built my life on them as well.
When we look beneath the surface of the elusive “allergic” diagnosis, many practitioners agree that when the body is in this constant alarm response, there is often a hidden belief that we are not safe.  To really heal, we must engage in deep self-inquiry and ask ourselves, “In what ways do I not feel safe in my life or in this world?”  Most often these beliefs are held in our subconscious and we need an “other” to help us lovingly see and move through our blind spots.  With support and powerful energy medicine tools like Kinesiology, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), Homeopathy, and Qi Gong, I am clearing these deeper levels of toxicity.
In the bigger picture, why does it seem that so many more of us are reacting to foods and environments?  Yes, there are more toxins in our environment than ever before, but my experience has led me to understand that there is more to the story.  I believe that our bodies are changing.  Some would even say evolving.
In this time of breakdown, we are also at the dawning of expanded human consciousness.  This expansion requires a vessel that can handle more “wattage” (light or energy).  As challenging as it can be at times, detoxing on all levels allows us to grow and strengthen so that we can live into our soul’s potential and destiny.  I feel like I’m a phoenix rising from the flames, transforming so completely that I may be wonderfully unrecognizable on the other side of this amazing journey.
As I sit in my new toxin-free home, I wish I could tell you that the rash is completely gone.  My skin is still healing, but more importantly, I feel clear and strong deep in my core.  I have been given the gift of feeling truly beautiful from the inside out. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

It’s hard to believe that my last entry was almost a year and a half ago. And yet, it in some strange way, it’s perfect. Needless to say, I took a bit of a break from the blog. But I didn’t take a break from the left-right brain experiment. The experiment has continued on and has taken me to some unexpected places.

I’ve hesitated to jump back into the blog because, well, it’s daunting!  Where to begin? How to express all that has happened? In the spirit of the experiment, I will dive in from my non-linear, right brain while attempting to fill in the linear gaps as they are needed.

What is most apparent to me at this leg of the journey is this business of adrenaline. Some of you have taken my class “Adrenaline Alternatives” so you have dabbled into this vast arena with me. I had no idea how pandemic  this adrenaline addiction really was. I am just beginning to understand it after almost a decade of exploration and personal experience with the subject (aka: adrenal fatigue recovery).

In my last entry, which in some ways seems like only yesterday, I promised to explore this idea that “I am not a doing machine.” Little did I know that this question – this challenge – would take me down a road which involved some pretty serious rewiring in my “hard-drive.”

For me, this rewiring took the form of what some people call a healing crisis. I don’t really like that phrase, but I am grappling for a better one. How about, “the old way doesn’t work anymore so hang in there until the new program is in place. It may be a little (or a lot) uncomfortable, but it’s worth it.” I agree, it’s a bit long.

I feel I’m on the other side of this, at least enough to begin to share it. My hope is that it will be of some help to others who can relate to being ruled by the to-do list, to deriving self-worth through accomplishment, and the many exotic masquerades of the “doing machine” program.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Can Chocolate Cake Lead to Enlightenment?

In my last entry I talked about the expansiveness of the right brain (ocean), and the constriction of the left brain (drop of water), and how my left brain still gets caught in the “doing” cycle as it attempts to implement the ideas generated from my right brain.

My intention last week was to practice living from right brain dominance, rather than all my energy revolving around “how much I get done” (see last entry).  Each day, I would wake up and ask myself: “I wonder what will amaze me today?”

The biggest shift I’ve noticed from asking this question is that I am noticing how much my children amaze me. Sounds pretty typical – but not when you know how much I get REALLY focused on my work, and on getting a lot done (that high productivity/creativity mode). 

I tend to go there and STAY there – missing other parts of my life like really connecting with those I care about, having fun, taking down time, etc.  This “chronic doing” is a pattern that in the past led me to getting adrenal fatigue.  So take note, you don’t want to go there and stay there.  Trust me on that.

I also found myself being more spontaneous.  On one of my late afternoon breaks, I spontaneously decided to bake a chocolate cake (if any of you know me well, you might be laughing out loud at how out-of-character this is).  I had a TON of fun, my kids joined in, and it really fed my right brain (and my chocolate craving). 

The other biggest insight from this stage of the experiment:

“I am not a doing machine.”  Doesn’t it sometimes feel like life is all about how much we get done? 

In Daniel Pink's book, "A Whole New Mind - Why Right-Brainers Will Rule The Future," he talks about how we are entering the “Conceptual Age:"

“Today, the defining skills of the previous era - the “left-brain capabilities” that powered the Information Age - are necessary but no longer sufficient...and the 'right-brain' qualities of inventiveness, empathy, joyfulness, and meaning increasingly will determine who flourishes and who flounders.”

More on this in my next entry…

Have a great day,

PS: BTW, the Chocolate Cake Recipe I used is SUGAR FREE, DAIRY FREE  and GLUTEN FREE - FLOURLESS.   It uses black beans which sounds really weird, but trust me, it tastes wonderful - no bean taste at all, just yummy, rich chocolate.  It calls for different sweetener options, I found Agave to taste the best.  Click here for the recipe.

Inspired Leadership.Thriving Productivity.Whole Mind Solutions.