Causes and Conditions

I was in a horrible mood and decided to blow off steam with a walk.  I noticed a dog I had never met was sitting in the front yard of a house in my neighborhood. He got up and ran down the front yard onto the street, straight at me. I instantly went into fear and ran.

When I felt far enough away, my fear melted away and anger began to rise. I was pissed! I instantly went into a rant. “How could they just leave that dog outside without a leash or fence!?” “How irresponsible is that person?!” “That dog is out of control!” “He tried to attack me!”

From then on, I was a person who loved dogs but not THAT dog. He was an a-hole. I feel horrendous saying that about a dog because I am such a dog person but it was how I felt.

For the next 8-months, I would look to see if the dog was in the front yard and if he was, I would walk the other way. I always had a harsh comment about the dog’s owner as I did.

Recently, it was a nice day and I was going for a walk. I decided to go by the house with THE dog. He wasn’t anywhere to be seen. As I walked by the front of the house the dog came around to the front from the backyard.

The killer dog was coming for me!  I froze, ready for the attack. 

Instead of an attack, I heard the sound of happy dog feet. Next, he was gently pawing my leg in an attempt to get me to pet him. I knelt down on the ground with him and pet his head. I was able to really see him this time. He was an older dog, with grey fur. He seemed more like a gentle giant then the ferocious beast I pegged him to be.  

I got up and his owner came outside and waved. As I walked away the gentle guy (the dog, not the owner) joined me for a little bit of my walk.

And when he turned and ran back to his house, I felt confused.

How was that the same dog and owner that I had so much aggression towards for the past year?

In my meditation practice, I have had the same sort of confusion. How can the same practice seem life-saving one day and so torturous that I don’t want to do it the next?

The same practice feels peaceful one day and chaotic the next. Why?

The answer is causes and conditions.

We are always being impacted by the conditions around and within us, often without awareness around it.

How we feel during a particular day may change how we see the same person or situation.  

Did we sleep well the night before? Are we stressed? Are we in pain? Are we in love? Did we just get a raise?

These are all conditions that impact the way we react to the people and world around us. To add to that,  the person that we are in relationship with is also being influenced by their own conditions.

We also have our social, cultural, and personal conditioning that influences our perception. Our own personal experiences from the past often overlay what we experience today.

When we get into trouble is when we have an encounter with someone (or some dog) and freeze that encounter in our mind in a way that keeps those conditions in place forever, even when they are no longer present.

It seems I perceived the same dog in two completely different ways because of causes and conditions in my life.

 A year ago, I was having a bad day and had not slept (you can read about another one of these days here). This clouded my ability to see the old dog clearly. I honestly do not even know if he was running at me anymore or just walking down to the street from his yard to say hello.

In the second meeting, it was a nice day and I was feeling good. Even though the story I kept telling myself about this dog impacted my reaction to his presence, I was feeling rested and nourished. This grounding enabled me the opportunity to see clearly what was in the moment – not what happened a year ago.  

The other possibility is that the dog (and I) changed over the past year, which also happens as we are not static individuals. What I know for sure, is that I am no longer stuck to my story about this dog.

I think about some people in my past that I still have anger for or judgments about.

What causes and conditions were present during our encounters? Have I frozen them in an unfair way the same way I did to my neighbor? The blame and anger does not feel good inside me, yet it still rears its head when these people come into my awareness. 

As usual, I emphasize that anger is not bad. I actually believe anger is a healthy emotion. It empowers us to act, feel, and make changes.  I like to let it rip! (in safe, conscious ways). And there are times when anger justified. I will not argue that. What is not helpful is when anger freezes into resentment and vengeance.

When I bring insight around causes and conditions to my past experiences, it softens my reaction to whatever or whomever I feel stuck in a pattern of resentment toward. It doesn’t take my feelings about a situation away (I don’t aim for it to) but it softens something.

And while I do not make excuses for some actions or want to spiritually bypass an event, it empowers me to choose how I relate to my anger. I choose to feel it and keep it moving as much as possible. I have seen this insight empower my clients over and over as well.

Have you ever experienced causes and conditions in this way?

A great way to understand how causes and conditions impact your life is to practice the loving kindness meditation. Over time, you will start to see how your views and opinions of the same person (including yourself) change with varying conditions.

Enjoy ~

The Energetics of Dance

I started taking belly dancing lessons about a month ago.

I LOVE IT!  

 

I have no idea what I am doing, but my hips, arms and legs are slowly catching on.

So here I am, feeling the impulse to write about dance again. This time, I will try to connect it with the energetic work I do in my healing practice.

Since my practice is working with the subtle energy field found in and around the body, this is where I perceive many of the benefits of dance. (more…)

True Leadership

A year and a half ago, I followed an impulse to create a non-judgmental, safe and supportive space for women to explore being in their authenticity through dance. I had never facilitated a workshop before and followed this impulse bit by bit, finding my way.

I remember scanning centers online looking for one that might host what I was seeing in my vision. Without having been there, but going on a gut feeling, I emailed one that looked like it might embrace my intention.

At the time, Donna was the director of this center. Without having met and without knowing anything about me, she emailed me back and invited me to come in and meet with her to talk about what I was trying to create.

She asked “where else and how many times have you done this before?”

I responded “nowhere and never.”

I would have perfectly understood if her reply was for me to try my idea elsewhere. Trusting someone you just met (especially in business) to create something for the first time off an internal impulse requires a special kind of willingness and special kind of person. Not to mention, I have no formal training in dance.

But Donna opened her doors and let me create. She offered her guidance and insight from her experience throughout the process and at the same time; let me create my vision in the way I envisioned it. That in itself, is true leadership.

When the night of the event arrived, she even took the risk of participating herself.

When I saw Donna was holding a talk and book signing near me over the weekend, immediately decided to go.

Besides just being an awesome person, she is the founder of ‘Better off Well’ and an amazing nutrition/lifestyle coach. She recently released her first book “Indulge Your Way to Healthy” and I highly recommend reading it.

It was great to see her in her element, meeting people with kindness and a special kind of non-judgment (just as she did with me two summers ago).

I listened in as she extended her support to another; empowering him to make choices that were right for him (not the masses). BRAVO!

While reading her book, I read a paragraph that resonated deeply with what I want to bring into the world (and wanted to bring into my first ever workshop at her center).

On page 42, I read “None of us is perfect, but it is within those imperfections that authentic lies. The Japanese have a concept of wabi-sabi, which nurtures all that is authentic and real and imperfect. It values age and wear and the quirks that make objects unique. We need to apply wabi-sabi to our own selves and value those characteristics that make each of us unique.”

Risking being who we are (no matter whom that is) and loosening the need to feel bad about or hide parts of ourselves that we deem imperfect or negative is the intention behind my work with clients in my practice. It is also the road I’ve traveled and will continue to travel in my own life.

In other words, letting go of shame and embracing what is “authentic, real and imperfect.”

I believe this shared intention is the reason my gut guided me to reach out to Donna. The center where I created this vision (including those running it) needed to hold that vision as well. After all, it is not often we take our masks off and just let ourselves be with each other.

I meant for this to be a short post about the weekend but I’m feeling inspired. I get this way when I see authenticity warriors, like Donna, out doing their thing!

Six Keys Toward Getting “Unstuck”

My intention in my practice is to support people to be who they are, no matter whom that is.

 

Often, we try to fit ourselves into something we are not or who we think we should be. This can cause us to shut down parts of ourselves that don’t fit the mold of what it is we are trying to fit into.

 

It can also cause us to hold back from our longings. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

 

Below are the keys I often see as pivotal in working with the fear that stops us from being who we are and going after what we want:

 

 

 

Key #1 Being Willing To Question: 

 

 

Question whether your well-being, safety, happiness, growth, peace, acceptance, acknowledgement (whatever the word that resonates with you) is really found by fitting yourself into the person you think you should be or by holding back from something you long for.

With openness and curiosity begin to question if these beliefs are true.

 

It isn’t about changing our beliefs; it’s about becoming aware of them so they are not running the show. By doing this, we create more choice and we are empowered through choice.

 

Key #2 Working Within The Energy Field

 

We are often taught to set goals, work hard, etc. These are great tools but when used this advice is lacking

And when we stay stuck it can start to feel like there is something wrong with us. But there is so much going on beneath the surface of our awareness that is steering our life.

 

 

Even if we are not aware of something consciously, it will be found within the currents, patterns, and blocks within the energy system.

 

It is not only our own patterns that can be worked on within this system but also ancestral patterns, family structural patterns, and energetic structures within the country we live or were born in, they all play a role.

 

Just as we are essentially setting up a pattern interrupt with our beliefs and thought patterns by questioning them, we can do this same thing in our energy field.  This is often a forgotten place in traditional medicine. One of the modalities I deeply respect is Brennan Healing Science but…

 

there are many  wonderful modalities out there, find one that works for you.                                                                                                  

 

Key #3 Finding the Positive Intention:

 
What is fear? What does it do for us? How can we be with it differently?

 

Fear is not something to be ignored or pushed aside. It is to be respected and worked with and sometimes it has a good point to make.

 

The positive intention of fear is to keep you safe from harm. But fear can get confused. At times, your fear can still be operating from a danger that happened in the past. When this happens, a split-intention can be formed.

 

Essentially, you are playing an internal tug of war with yourself (often unconsciously). And when two parts of you are pulling in opposite directions, you stay stuck.

 

Look for the positive intention behind the part of you that may be holding back.  Is it keeping you safe in some way?

 

When you see the positive intention behind what is keeping you stuck or struggling, you can relate to it in a new way. This means you can work with your fear, rather then against it.

 

 

Try asking yourself if there is anything that fear is doing for you. You may be surprised.                                                                                   

 

Key #4 Learning To Be In The Unknown (times of transition):                                                                         

 

I often see clients start to drop beneath their patterns and beliefs into a deeper part of themselves.                                                                  

 

They start to build a new relationship with themselves and the world. Essentially, they are beginning to create their life from the inside, according to what feels meaningful and authentic to them.

 

Yet this way of creating is new, unknown. For the first time for many, they are not stepping into a structure that is already made. They are creating their life moment by moment from within.

 

This can be a point where they question themselves – is this even possible? Am I being ridiculous? Why bother!  They can become frantic looking for a solution and possibly jump into an old pattern out of fear.

 

In this stage, there has been lots of internal work, yet those shifts have not yet manifested in outer life.

 

At this point, everything seems to be all over the place without solid plans or solution. While it can feel unsettling, it is a pivotal part of the process, not a sign of failing or that something is wrong.

 

 

This phase is like swimming in an ocean with (nothing solid to hold onto) with driftwood (old patterns) floating by ready to provide false certainty.

 

Learning to be with this uncertainty is a large part of the process. It is these times, when things have not yet come together when there is the most capacity for growth.

 

This can be a tempting place to question  if we are on the right track or maybe decide to give up our dreams all together. Learning to work with each phase of this energetic pulse is key.

 

We have to be able to tolerate swimming in the unknown.  The more of our authentic self we have gained, the more we can trust and “float” in this part of the process as we watch the driftwood (old patterns) float by.

 

The un-patterning work clients have been doing allows their energy running to run in a way that is supportive and can help ground them during this time.

 

A wonderful tool for this time is mindfulness. If we can stay in the present moment, we can feel grounded, stable and calm during times of the unknown. Find a teacher, class or listen to a guided meditation on your own.

Key #5 Shift the Focus From What to Why:

 

Instead of focusing on what you want focus on why you want  it.

 

We are going to be more willing to take a risk when we have spent time feeling into the ‘why’ behind what we want to do or change.

When we take risks we are challenging our old ways. The fears that kept us stuck will show up (maybe even stronger).

 

In the midst of the fear we can lose sight of why something is important to us. The feeling behind why we want something will be the drive behind the journey. It often gives us the courage we need to take the chance.

 

At the energetic level, we are letting our energy run without restriction. We are accessing our inner resources, our unique qualities, and inner longings. We are also working to align our intention.

 

Touching into this feeling will support you to create from who you authentically are while bringing you a sense of calm, stability and excitement.

 

 

 

Why is it important to you? What does it mean to you? What will it bring you? Others? 

Key #6 Build The Energy System – Learning to Embrace Healthy Risks

 

The shifts that happen through our work in the sessions build an internal foundation so that clients can empower themselves by bringing the same shifts out of the healing room and into their lives.

 

Is there something you have always wanted to try but have held back?

 

Is there something you have wanted to create?

 

Are there qualities or skills you have wanted to explore? A way you have always wanted to live? Try it out!

 

It doesn’t have to look perfect. Striving for perfection or waiting for life to be perfect before trying something new is often hidden fear holding you still.

 

The outcome doesn’t have to look how you thought.  By continuing to take small healthy risks toward what you desire you are moving into a life that fits who you are and brings you joy.

 

Why? Because you are going to grow so much from the experience.              

 

Our energy system is like elastic. It can be constricting and held tight due to habitual patterns. Inner-work will begin to unravel and loosen the constriction. By trying to take a small risk toward what it is you want, you are going to continue to “stretch” or more so “build” your field.

 

Try taking a step that is outside of your comfort zone.                            

 

Pick one that feels scary but also seems do-able. That way you can build your field in a more ease-ful  way then taking a huge step (stretch) all at once and having the elastic band (your energy) field fling back!

 

On the physical level, this will begin to show as a feeling of excitement or openness to taking another step, rather than dreading it or not taking it at all!

 

If you are interested in exploring this further, I offer a free Exploratory Session!

 

The intention for these sessions is to help you gain clarity into what may be keeping you stuck, and how to work with it in a way so that it no longer stops you.

 

If you would like to learn more about how I work with clients and what that looks like, we can explore that too – but there is no obligation.

 

Click here to learn more!

 

 

 

 

The Basics of Boredom

We don’t leave ourselves at home when we leave the house in the morning, just as we do not leave ourselves on the cushion (or chair) when we get up from our meditation practice.   What arises during meditation practice often arises when we are miles from our cushion and busy with our day to day activities.

 

Because of a back injury, I have needed to find new ways of being in my life. One of the changes I have made has been to my workout routine. No more bear crawling, kettle bell swinging, or super heavy lifting. Not at the moment anyway.  It is now very basic and simple. Apparently my mind struggles with the basic and simple part.

 

This morning, while walking on the treadmill my mind was screaming “This is boring!!! Get off!”  It was as if the treadmill was going to eject me into the air and my mind was trying to save me from shooting through the roof of the gym.

 

When that didn’t get me to step off the treadmill instantly, my mind tried a new tactic. “Molly, ten minutes less wouldn’t make a big difference.  You could get off a bit early and have time to stop at the coffee shop. “A hot cup of tea would be nice,” I thought.

 

Honestly, I stopped the treadmill early last week. My mind probably remembered that action and thought it would try again. “You are totally right, ten minutes early doesn’t make a difference,” I agreed.

“When you pay attention to boredom it gets unbelievably interesting,” John Kabat- Zinn

Today, while engaging again with my mind in this way, I realized that I knew this voice.  I’ve heard it before while sitting in my meditation practice.

 

The urgency was there in the same way.  “You have so much to do today! What are you doing just sitting here?!” When that urgent voice doesn’t work, it becomes persuasive in a different way. “Just get up, ten minutes less won’t matter.”

 

When I first started practicing I would listen to this voice sometimes. I would get up because sitting there in this simple way was too much to bear, especially when I had so many other tasks to attend to.

 

When I started practicing with others, I realized I was not the only one with this urgent, irritated voice.  There is actually a term for it. The term is “hot boredom” and it isn’t separate from the practice as we often judge it to be. It is a normal and workable part of meditation practice.

 

Often times we come to a meditation class looking for a fancy new technique and leave thinking “That’s it!?” “That’s what all the hub-bub is about? But that is so simple!”

 

We often give more worth to things that are complicated; I know I do this.  And if it is simple, I will find a way to make it complicated!

 

I’ve learned to work with my own boredom in the same way I work with many other parts of myself that show up on the cushion. By noticing it with a light touch, and then returning to my breath.  By allowing it to show up without fighting it, bargaining with it, or indulging it I open myself to a new way of being.

 

So when I noticed the same voice of “hot boredom” during my work out, I decided to relate to it the same way that I would if it showed up during my practice.

 

If I was in pain, I would have stepped off the treadmill early. I am not talking about pushing through something no matter what.  One of the principles of meditation is learning to relate to ourselves with gentleness, and I try to bring that principle into my workouts as well.

For the past year, I have been meditating in a chair instead of a cushion on the floor.
At first, I would sit as a student in a chair but still use a cushion when on the teacher’s seat.
Cultivating gentleness toward myself during my practice has allowed me to feel comfortable also teaching from a chair.

 

But I was not in pain physically. So, I noticed this part of myself and leaned in a bit. I finished my workout. Contrary to what my mind was implying, I didn’t get ejected through the ceiling.

 

I have noticed this agitated voice showing up all over my life when my mind is not being entertained. It starts its urgent bargaining during meetings, conversations, and while waiting in line. Sometimes I see it for what it is and choose to respond to it in a new way.  Sometimes I still choose to get off the treadmill and get to the coffee shop!

 


When I become aware of principles of my meditation practice showing up off the cushion,  it inspires me to continue practicing.  Where do you notice your practice showing up in your life?