When we are young, so many of us stop following our own internal compass towards the things that cause us to feel alive in favor of the approval we get from adults around us when we do what they want us to do instead. To survive this self-abandonment, we tell ourselves that those things they want us to do make us happy. But what really makes us feel good (like a drug covering up the pain) is having their approval. But eventually, just like a drug, their approval cannot numb out the pain. The side effects become too much to live with. We realize that we may have external approval for the choices we have made in life, but something is missing. We do not know what we like and don’t like. We don’t know what we want.
If we try to numb out this internal pain for long enough and continue to ignore our internal guidance system, our soul will create a crisis for us to try to get us back on track. And sometimes, this crisis brings us face to face with death. We are match to this experience because we have been preventing ourselves from really living anyway. We have been living a waking death. I have spent countless hours at the bedside of people who are terminally ill for this very reason. And those who tend to recover are the ones who can manage to let the visitor of death educate them about life. The ones who let a brush with death bring them back to life. The bottom line is that when a person is terminally ill, priorities change. And they change into what they always should have been. The absolute gift of surviving a brush with death is that you can make this change in priorities without being physically ill or dying. You then have a shot at really living.
Some of us are catastrophe thinkers. We feel we are always mentally and emotionally in a life or death scenario. And we are always living life like tomorrow may never come. The downside to this is that we are not happy because we are always in a state of fear. If you are this kind of person, I urge you to watch 2 of my videos on YouTube. The first is titled “How To Stop Worrying”. The second is titled “How To Stop Expecting The Worst”. The upside to this is that we often live our lives like tomorrow will never come. And it is this mentality that we can teach the world. It would benefit all of us, but especially those of us who feel like our life is routine, empty, stuck and unfulfilling, to start to live our life like tomorrow may never come. So, I’m going to give you a practice. This practice is to be used as a tool to get your life back on track. I urge you to throw yourself into it with vengeance.
Close your eyes and imagine that you died yesterday. It’s over. How did you die? Try to see the way that you died and try to see who was there with you when you died. What circumstances surrounded your death? Spend some time really making this imagined experience believable and real to you. And when you are ready, I want you to ask yourself the following questions…
What do I regret the most about my life?
Who do I most want to say I love you to?
What am I incomplete with, or what do I desperately wish I could have gotten complete with before I died?
What was I the most afraid of? And if I weren’t afraid of those things, how would my life have been different?
Regardless of what my priorities were while I was living, looking back on life, what do I now see is the most important thing in my life?
Was there anything I worried about that in the end did not really matter once I died?
Is there anything I needed to say to someone, but didn’t?
Was there a time in my life that I chose something else over love? Would I have made a different choice?
What am I the most glad I did in my life? What was the best decision I made?
What were the top three best memories of my life and why were they the best memories?
What fed my spirit, what did I love doing that I didn’t do enough of? Think about those things that make you fall to your knees in awe or give you goosebumps and make you feel full of life. Why didn’t I make that thing or those things the center of my life?
Knowing now that I could chose anywhere on earth, where would I have moved to and lived?
What will people remember me for? What legacy am I leaving behind? (Keep in mind that the truth that arises may not be a positive one)
If I could have chosen, what legacy would I have liked to leave behind and be remembered for?
Now that I am dead and looking back at my life, if I could have written a bucket list, (essentially a list of things I want to experience, accomplish or do before I die) would be on that list?
What life that other people lived, was I envious of and didn’t give myself the permission to go after?
Now that you are dead, what advice would you give to anyone who is living, especially your children?
Looking at life now that I am dead, what would I say is the meaning of life?
If I were given one more shot at life, what would I do differently?
If I were given one more shot at life, what would I now have the courage to do that I didn’t have the courage to do before?
Now imagine for a minute that an angel or some other transcendent spirit being comes to you. Imagine this being informing you that it is going to grant you a second chance at life. You are going to wake up to live another day. Imagine this being doing so. And as you open your eyes, imagine that you are coming back to life after having died. You get to live life from scratch. Everything was put into perspective. Look back over the answers you gave to the questions you were asked while you were dead.
I am not concerned about you making the right decisions for your life now that you have been handed this perspective. You know based on the answers you gave what you need to do and what you need to change and you even have the awareness you needed in order to be brave enough to make those changes. Make those changes and make them today. Your world is being created through you and the decisions you make every single day. You may think that you have lots of time. But the truth is, you can’t know that. The truth is, you may not be alive in an hour or a day. So there is no time to waste. You cannot afford to live a minute of your life thinking or saying or doing something that is not worthy of your life. You may have a list five miles long of things you think you should be doing. But would those things really matter if you were dead?
This is your life and you came here to live it. And no soul on earth came to this life to play it safe. None of us are getting out of this life alive. So all that will happen if you don’t follow your passion to the ends of the earth, including all the risk, is to arrive at death safely. Which is not much of an accomplishment if you ask me. All of us need to start living our lives as if next year may never come. So if you knew you were going to die tomorrow, what would you do with today?
Thousands of years ago, Siddhartha Gautama (who would come to be known as the Buddha) stumbled upon a truth about the universe. The truth was about the danger of extremes. At the point that he discovered that truth, he was very much living a life of extremes. He had dedicated his life to the path of asceticism. This way of life was so extreme that it was said he grew thin enough that he could feel his hands if he placed one on the small of his back and the other on his stomach. While seeking enlightenment in this way, he overheard a teacher speaking of music. He heard the teacher say, “If the strings on the instrument are set too tight, then the instrument will not play harmoniously. If the strings are set too loose, the instrument will not produce music. Only the middle way, not too tight and not too loose, will produce harmonious music". This perspective changed everything for the Buddha. As a result of this awareness, he developed an entirely new spiritual practice that he called the “middle path”.
One could easily say that the middle path is a practice of balance through moderation. But when we think of balance through moderation, we think of taking away from extremes so as to achieve a kind of equilibrium. As a spiritual teacher myself, I have never liked the idea of balance through moderation. Trying to find or create balance in your life through moderation is a difficult task and it is a task that slows expansion. It causes people to temper themselves. For example, if I want a balance between work and play and in my life, I must cut back on work. Often when following the traditional practice of the middle path, it feels internally like you are putting the brakes on.
Some months ago, I had the pleasure of visiting with a particularly talented somatic therapist named Diane St. John. In that meeting, she introduced me to the concept of “And Consciousness”. Essentially, ‘And Consciousness’ is a state of mind where you develop the ability to hold space for extremes. She explained that from her perspective, this is an important part of the development of both mental and emotional maturity. For example, if I am starting a new job, I may be afraid and reluctant to start that new job but also excited and ready to start that new job. If I have not developed the capacity to be present with that contradiction, I will be desperate to side with or line up with one or the other of these contradictory truths. It will lead to confusion. I will want to make rash decisions to release me from this feeling of wanting to swing to either extreme instead of feel torn.
Well, this meeting with Mrs. St. John got me to thinking about ‘And Consciousness’ in a more expansive way. I began to see that that feeling of being torn between two extremes or seemingly opposing truths felt a lot like being stretched. And this stretching is in fact a feeling often experienced in conjunction with personal expansion. And this got me to thinking about the teaching of the middle path.
I now believe that the practice of ‘And Consciousness’ has the capacity to be the modern day replacement for the middle path. ‘And Consciousness’ does not call for you to limit any extreme so as to find a state of balance, so it does not put the breaks on any aspect of being. Instead it requires you to expand wide enough to be able to accommodate these extremes and contradictions. This in fact makes the contradictions complimentary. And there is another, deeper truth behind ‘And Consciousness’ that is even more promising. In the moment that we acknowledge a contradictory truth or state of being and expand wide enough to be able to hold both, as if holding both is ok, we have dis-identified with both extremes. We have ceased to become either or and instead have become the thing that is holding both. By holding both, instead of aspects of our self being separated by them, we have created a state of integration or wholeness within our being. Essentially, ‘And Consciousness’ becomes the unifying factor.
It is quite possible that ‘And Consciousness’ was the idea that the Buddha had in mind all along, a conscious state of un-attachment to either extreme. Middle means upright, unbiased, neutral or centered. This is the very mindset one achieves when practicing ‘And Consciousness’. For example, in life I could say, I am both living and dying everyday and so I am neither living nor dying. What does all this boil down to? Whenever you feel stretched or torn between two extremes and you feel the need need to either pick an extreme or to strike balance between them, practice ‘And Consciousness’ instead. Instead of taking the approach of moderation and tempering either extreme (which is a control tactic), consciously imagine yourself expanding large enough to accommodate or hold both extremes. And ask yourself… If It was ok to contain, hold space for or embody both extremes and thus be attached to neither extreme, what would I think or say or do that was different?
The conscious control of your breathing induces various mental, emotional and physical states. This is the basis for the therapy modality called breath work. Today, I’m going to focus on one method of conscious breath control that is my own personal favorite. Breathing through the pores. You can use this technique as your daily meditative practice.
It is common knowledge that as humans, we breathe through our lungs. But what the average citizen is unaware of is that we also breathe through our skin. It is called cutaneous respiration. We can use our skin to breathe in much more than just air. We can use our pores like mini chakras to pull non-physical energy into our embodiment. Our skin also exhales. It helps the body release toxins. It sweats. This is wonderful on an energetic level because it means we can use our pores to inhale any positive vibration and exhale any negative vibration. The baseline technique for pore breathing is to begin by watching your breath as it is drawn in and out of the lungs. Then gradually, shift your conscious focus to your skin. Begin to intend that your skin take on the quality of a sponge. See the breath coming in as energy. Consciously focus on your skin beginning to soak in that energy with every inhale so your whole body is breathing it in, not just your lungs. Feel it accumulating inside you. This is a Prana practice. You can keep the practice like this. Or you can add the element of exhalation.
To add exhalation to your practice, intend that with every exhale your skin exudes whatever energy is stagnant, negative or unneeded within the body. Alternatively, you can imagine that you inhale energy through your skin which accumulates and with each exhale, the un-needed, negative or stagnant energy is exhaled like a channel through just your your lungs, throat and mouth. Keep in mind that this technique works better when you are in warm conditions unless you specifically want to work with the cold or vibrations that directly involve corresponding cold temperatures. Now that you have the baseline technique, you can modify it any way you intuitively feel guided. My favorite use of this technique is to breathe in and breathe out specific feeling signatures. Every feeling state is unique, like a signature. The way it feels for you to be kissed by someone you have a crush on feels a very specific way in your body physically and emotionally. And it feels differently to be kissed by someone you have a crush on than it does to be hugged by a friend as they are saying goodbye. These individual feelings, though we may give them names, are ultimately something we feel. We know and remember them by how they uniquely feel inside our body. I call these feeling states, feeling signatures. To learn about feeling signatures in depth, watch my video on YouTube titled: How To Feel Better (Feeling Signatures).
To use a feeling signature in tandem with the technique of breathing through the pores, you imagine an experience or circumstance that creates the feeling signature of your choice in as much detail as you possibly can. Make it real to yourself as if you were experiencing it right now. When you feel the sensation of that specific feeling signature strongly, imagine it spreading out into your aura so that it is around you like a cocoon. From there, imagine your pores opening wide to suck in this feeling signature every time you breathe in. Imagine that each time you breathe in with your lungs, the suction created internally functions like a vacuum and sucks the feeling in through your pores so it accumulates inside you.
The sky is the limit with breathing through the pores. Allow yourself to be creative with how you want to use it in practice. Here are some suggestions of ways to use this practice:
Breathing in and out states of being. Such as breathing in peace and breathing out confusion or breathing in joy and breathing out grief or breathing in health and breathing out illness.
Breathing in and out the location you are in. Such as breathing in and out Chicago or breathing in and out the beach or breathing in and out the concert.
Breathing in and out the elements such as breathing in fire or water or earth or air.
Breathing in the essence and personality of people whom you wish to understand so you can “walk in their shoes and see through their eyes” so to speak.
Breathing in the energy of people who inspire you and whom you want to emulate in specific situations. They could be living or not. For example, breathing in Buddha, or breathing in angels or breathing in Jesus. Or breathing in my grandmother or breathing in Ghandi.
Breathing in and out thoughts such as breathing out the thought “I am a failure” breathing in the thought “I don’t have to accomplish everything this red-hot minute”.
Breathing in nutrients your body needs or breathing out things your body is excessive in. For example, breathing in Vitamin D, breathing out toxins. Or breathing in water, breathing out fever.
Breathing in the essence of specific herbs or minerals or natural things that would assist you. For example, breathing in frankincense or moonstone or mountain or tree or glacial lake.
Breathing in light and breathing out shadow
Breathing in consciousness and breathing out unconsciousness
If you are struggling with this technique, you may want to try a full body relaxation technique first before attempting to breathe through your skin. Though simple, you will find this technique to be particularly powerful. So go ahead and add this powerful tool to your repertoire.
At one level, we are one with everything in this universe, at another level; we are individual expressions of that oneness. We perceive ourselves to be singular and to exercise free will. These seemingly contradictory desires create an endless push and pull within us relative to other people because we think we have to choose between them. However, if we are traumatized at some point in our early lives by relationships, we tend to polarize towards one or the other desire. If we are traumatized by enmeshment or by being controlled, we tend to polarize towards independence to the point where we are terrified of relationships and our boundaries are too strong. On the other hand, if we are traumatized in our lives by disconnection and loneliness, we tend to polarize towards merging to the point where we are terrified of autonomy and our boundaries are too weak. This week, I received a letter in the mail that struck me. It was from a girl who wanted to know why she is so afraid of autonomy. She wanted to know why self-help feels so bad and why it feels wrong or even sad to create healthy boundaries for herself. The spiritual and self-help field is all about helping yourself and it is all about the development of a strong sense of self. Think of it, the self help and spiritual community is littered with ideologies like “fill up your own cup” and “everything you could ever want or need is inside you” and “the only approval you need is your own” and “no one else can make you happy, only you can do that”. These are essentially self-centered ideologies that exalt the idea of spiritual, emotional, mental and physical independence. For some people, these ideologies are entirely liberating. For other people, these ideologies are incredibly painful. And I’m going to explain why.
Having a sense of self vs. other is part of participating in this physical dimension. The individual perspective and experience is what is currently serving the expansion of this universe. And so, we perceive a difference between ourselves and the rest of the world. This individual perspective is a kind of boundary that defines us from everything else. This is why in a world where we operate from an individual perspective, it is important to develop healthy boundaries. But what are boundaries really? Boundaries are not walls between you and the world. In fact boundaries are nothing more than a defined sense of self. If I say I like chocolate ice cream and you say you like vanilla ice cream, those preferences are in fact boundaries we both have. Those boundaries do not conflict with each other. A person may say, “I want to keep my life private” and another may say, “I want to be open about my life and you are part of my life”. Those boundaries are in conflict and it is these conflicting boundaries that cause the conflicts in our relationships. A sense of self (therefore boundary) includes a sense of how someone relates the self to the rest of the world. They are rules of conduct built out of a mix of beliefs, opinions, attitudes, past experiences and social learning. Personal boundaries operate in two directions, affecting both the incoming and outgoing interactions between people. Personal boundaries help to define an individual by outlining likes and dislikes and what is right for them personally or wrong for them personally. Defining these things helps us to know how we will and wont allow ourselves to be treated by others.
How do healthy boundaries develop? They develop as a result of parents allowing you to have a healthy sense of self when you are developing and being socialized. Not many parents are in fact knowledgeable enough about boundaries to accomplish this. Also, most parents are so identified with their children that they forget the child is an actual person who is different to them and thus has his or her own likes and dislikes, wants and needs (boundaries). Parents often violate a child’s boundaries again and again by trying to make the child a mini version of themselves; a reflection of their desires, likes and dislikes. When a child in this kind of environment tries to express a boundary, the parent feels invalidated. And if it is an unconscious parent, the parent then reacts defensively to this invalidation. They react by violating the boundary in an incoming (intrusive) way or an outgoing (distancing) way. When most people think of boundary violation, they only think of intrusive violations, such as someone controlling someone else or calling names or hitting someone else. But there are also distancing violations as well. These are sometimes the most painful. A distancing boundary violation occurs when you have a connection with someone and they withdraw to leave you isolated, which is to cross a boundary away from you.
The child who experiences intrusive boundary violations as a part of the process of socialization, is the one who learns to fear relationships and thus becomes unhealthily independent as an adult and avoidant of intimacy. This child has been educated that it is not ok to have a sense of self or to have boundaries. The subconscious message growing up was “you can’t have you and stay emotionally or even physically safe around me at the same time.”
On the other hand, the child who experiences distancing boundary violations as part of the process of socialization, is the one who learns to cling for dear life to relationships and closeness because they develop such an extreme fear of the starvation and loneliness caused by isolation. This child has been educated that it is not ok to have a sense of self or to have boundaries. To have a sense of self or autonomy was to be isolated. Isolation is a form of torture.
Let’s take a look at how this takes place in a real life scenario. A mother and her 3-year-old daughter are about to go to church. The little girl decides that she wants to wear jeans, cowboy boots and her lucky Star Wars shirt. She asserts this boundary, but her mom wants her to wear a dress because she wants people to see her as an appropriate mother and her daughter’s outfit choice conflicts with this desire. So, instead of explaining the situation to her daughter and coming to a meeting of minds or lovingly enforcing a limitation where neither party has their boundaries violated, this mother chooses to shake her head in disgust and walk away. The message this mother has sent her child is “you can’t have you and have me at the same time.” If you are a person who has found their way to spirituality or self help because you are looking for a way to feel better in life, but spiritual truths like “fill up your own cup” and “everything you could ever want or need is inside you” and “the only approval you need is your own” and “no one else can make you happy, only you can do that” cause you to feel deep grief, it is because these self-centered ideologies (that are liberating to the person who feels trapped by connection with others) are re-triggering the trauma of isolation. They are reinforcing the idea that you are all alone and always will be and that needing connection is not ok. We tend to be people who view our boundaries as bargaining chips that we can use to bid for connection. We will take our boundaries down or abandon them entirely if only it will guarantee that we get to be close to someone and escape the potential of falling into the grips of that demon isolation. The most common forms this takes in females is that we abandon preferences for other people’s preferences, so we can just be with them. We also have loose sexual boundaries because sex becomes our transactional way of guaranteeing we will not be lonely. So, today, I have news for you. It is news for not only you but also for those of you who LOVE those self-help sayings and are terrified of the trapped feeling you feel when you are in relationships… The door to your heart will be unlocked the minute you get that you have adopted a very unconscious and extremely painful limiting belief that you cannot have yourself and have other people at the same time. And guess what? It isn’t true. There doesn’t have to be a conflict between your sense of self and connecting with other people. Right now you don’t have much proof to back this up. But you have to start somewhere. So start here. What if you can have a sense of self and also merge with others? What if you can have boundaries and have connection. What if you can have yourself and have other people at the same time? What if these seemingly contradictory desires are in fact complimentary? To deepen your understanding relative to this topic, I want you to watch two videos I created on YouTube. The first is: “How To Develop Healthy Boundaries”. The second is “And Consciousness, the Modern Day Replacement For The Middle Way”. We can think of a boundary as an imaginary line that uniquely defines your personal happiness, your personal integrity, your personal desires, your personal needs and therefore most importantly, your personal truth relative to the rest of the universe. But none of that means you are all alone. You can have that and have intimate connection and companionship at the exact same time. Sometimes when we are with people who are incompatible to us, there are too many boundary conflicts to stay united in the physical dimension. But if we can live according to our own values, desires, needs and truths, we will not end up all alone. Instead, by living in alignment with our own boundaries, we are no longer abandoning ourselves and so we are a match on a vibrational level to deeply committed, consistent, present relationships with people who are so compatible with us that they will never abandon us and we will never feel alone. You really can have yourself and have other people at the exact same time. You don’t have to choose between one and the other.
We all know there are some genuine bigots out there in the world. But for most of the modern world, being racist is a big faux pas. You can’t be seen as a good person and be a racist at the same time. Our ego is primarily attached to one thing, how it looks to other people. So, we made racism unacceptable in ourselves. As a result, most of us have denied, disowned, rejected and suppressed any aspect of us that could be perceived as racist. We became politically correct relative to race. But just because we made racism unacceptable in ourselves, doesn’t mean it went away. In much the same way that making anger unacceptable doesn’t make it so you aren’t angry anymore. You simply created a conscious and subconscious relationship to racism. There is a difference between what is right and what is real.
Everyone in this world is racist. Most of us just don’t admit to it because we need to see ourselves as good and to be seen by others as good. The human mind wants to understand things and assign meaning to things. To do this it goes about the work of organizing and categorizing things in the world. It puts things into boxes; most of which are black or white. It wants to make order out of chaos. The mind does this without us even having conscious awareness of it. This relatively benign tendency is the first layer of racism. If you see people of the same race doing certain things or behaving in certain ways, the mind goes to work equating those behaviors with that person’s race. We call this a stereotype. The human mind wants to stereotype everything we come across. Stereotyping when it comes to race is a form of racism. But we all hold these stereotypes and it is important that we admit to them and become consciously aware that we have them. So what I want you to do is to make a list of all the racial stereotypes both positive and negative that you have that you can become consciously aware of. For example:
Black people can’t swim or black people have the best rhythm White people are self-centered or white people are classy Hispanics are greasy and dirty or Hispanic people are good lovers Asians are poor or Asians are smart Your answers will be unique to you because of your upbringing, nationality, race, culture and personal life experiences. But this is the time to become completely aware of what they are, no matter how bad or good it may sound. Be real about what actually resides in this aspect of your own shadow.
The second layer of racism comes in response to the structure of the human ego. The ego is nothing more than a sense of separate selfhood. A sense of self is not innately a negative thing if it is a tool used by the soul. But if the tool begins to use the user, it is very dangerous indeed. The tool of consciousness evolution, called Ego, begins to use the user when it feels threatened. It goes into a state of defense. It pushes the threat away from itself. This is when the ego becomes dangerous. The ego perceives itself (and is therefore strengthened) through comparison. It compares itself to other things in the world. And the ego needs to see itself as good, superior, right and justified. So, the ego uses the mind to look at these stereotypes and decides what those observational stereotypes mean in relationship to itself. The ego uses the mind to look at these stereotypes and seeks to make itself feel good, superior, right and justified by contrast. For example, if a stereotype I hold is: black people are unsophisticated, my ego can feel sophisticated by comparison and therefore see that person as inferior to me. That then determines how I treat them.
It is this second layer of racism that creates the real problem. It is to believe that all members of a certain race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races. This leads to prejudice and discrimination and antagonism. Positive racial stereotyping does create pain in the world but obviously the reason we are not worried about positive racial stereotyping is that it doesn’t lead to as much pain in the world as negative appraisal often does. Appreciative notice creates a condition of inclusion whereas negative appraisal creates a condition of exclusion. If my mind has perceived multiple Hispanic people to be greasy looking or dirty, my mind decides that is how Hispanic people generally are and then my mind goes to work deciding what that means for me. It draws conclusions, which enable me to function in the world relative to Hispanics. If my mind decides that Mexicans are dirty, my mind could then make it mean that they are unhygienic or unsophisticated and so I need to keep my distance from Mexicans so I can stay clean and keep my status. It is what we make the negative stereotypes mean that causes real damage. To understand more about how this works, watch my video on YouTube titled: Meaning, the self-destruct button. If the mind assigns meaning to racial stereotypes that causes the being to feel threatened, prejudice, discrimination and antagonism is the result. It is at this point that I want you to look over the list you made of racial stereotypes. Ask yourself relative to each stereotype, what do I make this mean? Then ask yourself, how does that meaning change my relationship, thoughts, words and actions relative to people of this race?
No one on earth is born a bigot. We are not born racist. We are socialized into families and cultures where racist perspectives exist. We adopt those perspectives so as to establish solidarity and belonging with our social group instead of being ‘cast out’ and ‘made inferior’ by our social group. We are not born with meaning intact. When we are young we are fed meaning by the adults in our lives. We are fed painful meaning about other races by the social groups we belong to. We also become racist based on painful personal experiences that we have.
The most important thing to see is that racism doesn’t just hurt the people on the receiving end of the racism. There is pain inherent in being racist, lots and lots of pain. To carry around painful beliefs and painful meaning and to live with a worldview of exclusion is painful. Living life according to the ego’s estimation is an acutely painful state. It also means we cannot actually connect with people because we cannot see beyond the race of the person in front of us.
For example, if a stereotype I hold is that whites are rich, I might make that mean that they are going to see me as less than them and this may cause me to feel bad about interacting with them. So I can see that in response to that meaning I say demeaning things about them to try to make myself feel a sense of increased status. I avoid them all together. I only take jobs that cater only to people of my own race. If I look deeply, I can see how I have not been able to get to know a single white person deeply because of this. I am separated from an entire group of people in the world. I fear them more now because I avoid them. This makes me uncomfortable and tense in the world. I have given up many job opportunities just because of this. And this has caused me considerable pain.
So, for a moment I want you to look over the list you have completed with your racial stereotypes and what you make those stereotypes mean and how that meaning makes you think and behave. This time, try to see the various types of pain this has caused you and does cause you today. Also, try to see if you can figure out where these stereotypes came from. Which stereotypes were adopted and which ones came from painful personal experiences.
What we don’t want to admit to (but what I’m going to tell you today) is that stereotypes exist for a reason. They don’t just come out of thin air. This is why most of us spend incredible effort trying to disprove stereotypes associated with our specific race. There are exceptions to every generalization. For example, there are black people who are excellent swimmers. There are Asians who are bad at math. There are white people who are poor. There are Hispanics who are absolute neat freaks. But we have to be adult enough to go beyond our defensiveness and to look at these stereotypes that exist in the world and see if there is any basis in truth to the generalizations that are being made. This is the only way that we can collectively address these issues. If we are being too politically correct to face these issues, no change will actually be made to the world. For more information about being politically correct, watch my video on YouTube titled: Political Correctness. We become racist as the result of pain. The ego takes over when the being feels threatened. So, if we become racist as a result of pain, the question is, what pain? I believe the reason we cannot overcome racism is because we are addressing the very real pain of the person who is on the receiving end of the racism but not the very real pain of the person who is being racist. Being racist is unfair to people, but we turn the racist into the bad guy and the victim of the racist into the good guy so we cannot recognize that what unites them both is pain.
The racist himself does not know that pain is what the racism is about. The pain is the vulnerable root of the racism and if that pain was resolved or healed, the racism (which is just a branch off that root) will not exist. We may have had a painful experience in our personal life (or several) relative to people who belong to a certain race. Or we may be in pain because of pain passed down through the generations so that each generation will grow up with it. Sometimes racism becomes a part of our own racial identity. This is especially true relative to the issue of slavery, genocide or other forms of racial injustice. For example, at first part of white racial identity was prejudice against blacks for inferiority. Now, this is reversed and part of black racial identity is prejudice against whites for the injustice of slavery. So the pain you could have relative to a certain race could be the empathetic pain you feel for your ancestors as a result of the stories your parents have told you about the bad things a certain race has done in the past to your race. After we become aware of this root, we need to be willing to have open dialogue with one another about the vulnerable, painful root below our racism. We need to be open about HOW we became racist. And this openness must be met with understanding and empathy and emotional validation. Not attack and defense. To understand more about how to deal with someone else’s negative emotion, watch my video on YouTube titled: “The Emotional Wake Up Call”. I encourage you to be open about it to a friend or in Teal Tribe or even in the comment section below this video. We need to clearly SEE the pain on both sides of the racism issue to transform it in any way. Once you are open about this vulnerable root pain behind the racism, look back over your list and ask yourself the question. “Can I see the kind of pain this racism of mine might have caused, or could cause people of that race?” This is the time to look deeply into the impact you have had on people, the impact you currently could be having on other people and the impact you could have in the future on people as a result of this racism. Imagine if Hitler had developed this kind of foresight before his Aryan regimen was put into play.
Once you are done with the exercise ask yourself, “Am I open to having a different experience relative to people (or even one person) who belongs to these races?” The vulnerability we have established relative to our racial stereotypes, coupled with openness to a different experience is the critical shift we need to make. It will make us a vibrational match to different experiences relative to specific races. And our racial prejudices will come falling to the floor on their own. The universe will put us in situations and introduce us to people who will disprove them for us.
We are moving in the direction of a socially unified world. A world where people are essentially a beautiful soup made up of different flavors. These different flavors do not need to conflict with one another. They can compliment each other by bringing the strengths inherent in each of them to the table. Races are like flavors. They are expressions of consciousness. They are perspectives. They are not who anyone is. You are non-physical consciousness that is currently expressing itself in human form. This means you are ultimately not even human. You are not a person having a spiritual experience; you are spirit having a human experience. Do not let it define you and do not let it define other people. Help me to make conversations about race, no longer taboo. If we can face these stereotypes and the pain behind them on both sides, racism might just become a thing of the past.
What causes hatred? The perception of threat. The perception that something or someone in your life diminishes something you hold dear. A threat is something that is likely to cause danger or damage. In other words, it is something that is likely to hurt you. When a person feels as if they are in the presence of a threat, they feel fear and that fear is quickly converted into anger, which is a state of defense. You can think of anger and aversion as a person’s attempt to keep their boundaries intact so as to stay safe. The person tries to push that thing away from itself or somehow eradicate the threat. Hatred is the human ego in a state of defense. When we find ourselves hating something, the questions we have to ask ourselves is: What threat does this thing pose to me? How is it hurting me? And what am I afraid of?
For example, a woman may feel hatred towards another woman who is very beautiful and when she looks deeply she may find that this woman is a threat to her own self-concept or self worth. Or a man may feel hatred towards another man who is flirting with his girlfriend and when he looks deeper, he may find that this man is a threat to the closeness and security he feels in his relationship. Or a group of people may feel hatred towards another group of people with different religious views. When this group looks deeper, they may find that they believe this other group is evil and therefore cruel or wicked and intends to cause harm to earth.
The safer we feel, the less we hate. The problem is that hatred tends to snowball. When we perceive a threat, the body goes into hypervigilence mode. We begin to look diligently for danger and in a universe based on the law of attraction, our focus upon it guarantees we will get more of it. We find proof we are unsafe because of this thing that poses a threat to us so we feel more unsafe and we attract more proof that we are unsafe until we have so much proof that we believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that a person or thing is a threat to us and our life on all levels and we hate that person or thing with a passion. Some of us find ourselves more frequently on the receiving end of hatred. This is especially true if we experienced shame or the idea that we are bad as part of our childhood wounds. We tend to take this hatred personally. We make the hatred we receive from others mean that there must be something bad about us. This pushes us into self-doubt, self-hatred and self-distrust. But we need to see that the hatred does not exist because we are bad. It doesn’t exist because they are right about us. Hatred exists because the other person perceives us to be a threat to something they treasure and are therefore attached to. What we have to ask ourselves is: What threat do they perceive me posing to them? For example, we may discover that someone feels we are a threat to their physical safety or to their self worth or to the way they want the world to be or to their beliefs or to their sense of rightness or goodness. It is much easier to feel better about someone or something when we feel compassion for them. Compassion comes naturally when we can clearly see the pain behind someone’s hatred. When we see the hurt or fear there, we don’t feel the need to defend ourselves as violently because it isn’t really about us, it’s about the fact that something about us makes them feel threatened. Perhaps we can even help them to feel less threatened about whatever they feel threatened about relative to us. When it comes to hatred, whether it is us hating them or them hating us, we need to address the fear underneath the hatred. We need to address the vulnerability inherent in the threat we perceive. This means that we have to: 1. Question the threat. As well as explore and loosen our negative attachment to the thing we think they pose a threat to. 2. Find non-reactive, conscious strategies to diminish the potential threat without causing the other person harm. 3. Increase our feeling of safety and integrity. This means deliberately thinking thoughts that help us to feel safer relative to the threat we perceive, and doing things in our own life that cause us to feel safer. Any form of positive focus about the situation we feel threatened by will diminish the feeling of threat. By doing these things, we will experience a decrease in hatred. At its root, hatred occurs when we feel powerless to how we feel. We feel bad and don’t think we can feel good as long as the thing we think caused us to feel bad still exists. Taking our focus off of those things that cause us to feel bad and placing our focus on things that cause us to feel good allows us to see that we do have the ability to alter how we feel. This empowerment helps us to see that we aren’t just at the mercy of the world and thus, we feel less threatened by things and thus we don’t feel hate towards them.
For example, lets say that you feel hatred towards your boyfriend’s ex. Let’s say that when you ask the questions: What threat does this thing pose to me? How is it hurting me? And what am I afraid of? The answer is she is a threat to my feeling of closeness and connection with my boyfriend and the idea of him growing distant from me, hurt me and I’m afraid that she will break us up. First, you question the threat. Is she really a threat to your connection with your boyfriend? If so, how? Question the validity of this threat completely. Then, you may want to explore how the attachment you have to your connection to your boyfriend is painful and therefore negative because what you really want is a man who will choose you and whom wants you enough that you don’t have to work hard to earn closeness with him. So it may even be better to have his closeness tested in this way so you can either see his true colors or develop real security with his connection to you. Then, you may decide to have a proactive and vulnerable discussion with either your boyfriend or his ex or both about your fears of losing connection. Then, you may wish to focus on proof that helps you to feel as if the connection you have with your boyfriend is in fact secure.
This world functions like a mirror. And so, in order to end hatred in the world, we must end hatred in ourselves. But the thing is, to end hatred in ourselves we must address the aspect of us who hates, as it truly is. It is like a small child that is terrified and in a state of fear is reacting by trying to push the thing it is afraid of away from itself. We need to have love and compassion for the aspect of us that is feeling threatened. By doing this, we create more safety for ourselves on an internal level and this subdues the hatred. In the spiritual field hatred (like anger) has been turned into an unacceptable thing. This means we cannot even admit to it in ourselves when it is there. Hatred is very dangerous when it is suppressed and not dealt with directly. So I encourage you to lay down the attachment to seeing yourself as a peaceful and loving person long enough to admit to any hatred that may be resident within your being. When we are not in the practice of suppressing our hatred, but are also not conscious enough to work with it directly, we mistake the fight or flight peak in energy we feel in hatred for power. Hatred is the opposite of power. It only occurs when we feel powerless to a threat. We then become reactive. Instead of addressing the internal world in its state of fear, we try to eradicate the threat itself. We wage war against it in order to try to get rid of it. This does not work in a universe based on the law of attraction, where whatever you resist persists. This is exactly why people in the media say that bad press is good press.
Hating someone feels bad. It causes pain not only to the thing on the other side of that hatred, but also to you. When we feel hatred, we tend to think that feeling of hatred is done to us by the thing we hate, they caused it. When we have to see is that even if they have done things to justify hatred, the hatred is not their problem, it is our problem. It is our reaction to them or what they did. This is good news because it means we are not powerless to our hatred. Hatred is a cover emotion for fear and hurt. So address the fear and hurt directly then focus on things that cause you to feel empowered and safe and watch the hatred melt away.
Do me a favor…
Close your eyes and for a few minutes, think back to your childhood. Think about being emotional in your childhood. Try to remember those times that you were happy or excited or sad or mad or afraid. How did the people around you react?
Now try to remember times the people around you felt strong emotions. How were they treated by others? How did they deal with having those emotions?
What did emotions mean in the family or culture or society you grew up in?
Mentally review each emotion. Which emotions were good and therefore acceptable? Which emotions were bad and therefore unacceptable? Which ones were expressed, which ones were suppressed?
What were you told or indirectly taught was the bet way to handle your emotions?
What emotional control strategies did the people around you use?
Look at your life today, what ideas or control strategies are you still using that are a perfect reflection of the way you were subconsciously programmed to deal with emotion growing up?
I want you to watch my video titled: Meaning, the self destruct button and while you are watching it, think about how this video applies simply to emotion. What did you decide that anger meant or sadness meant, or fear meant?
It is normal to want to feel good. The basic survival instinct is to shy away from pain and go towards pleasure. This is not in and of itself a problem. This instinct in and of itself does not cause suffering. Suffering is caused when instead of going towards pleasure, we resist the pain. And this, is what we have done with emotion.
I want you to imagine that in the back of your head, there is a control switch, like a light switch on a wall. Except instead of light and dark, this control switch controls good and bad. This switch is designed to be triggered and switch on whenever you encounter something that you have judged as bad. If you register something as bad, you register it as a threat. So when this switch goes on because it thinks it is encountering something bad, your body responds to that threat by going into fight or flight mode. You either try to escape or fight with that thing. Escaping from something and or fighting with something is an attempt to CONTROL that thing, yourself or the course of events to follow.
The problem is, when we judge certain emotions as bad, this control switch is triggered by those emotions. It is essentially an emotional control switch. We immediately try to control these emotions by escaping from or fighting with them. The thoughts we think about the emotion we are having, cause us to immediately add emotion to emotion and this is like adding kerosene to a fire that is already blazing. No matter what we do to feel better, nothing works.
For example, lets say growing up when you expressed anxiety your parent turned to you in an exasperated manner and said “stop being such a fraidy cat, there’s no reason to last like this come on now” you would have gotten the message that anxiety is bad and perhaps that if you feel it, but your parents are right that there is no reason to feel that way and yet you feel that way that there must be something wrong with you. In the future, if you feel anxious, your control switch will turned on because you have been conditioned to see anxiety as bad. you will start to fear yourself because you’ll feel like something is wrong with you and therefore, you would feel anxious about feeling anxious.
This is how to know that your Control switch has turned on. You will start to feel bad about feeling bad. for example, you’ll feel angry about feeling depressed or anxious about feeling anxious or afraid about feeling anger or sad about feeling depressed.
You will also immediately revert to all of the emotional control strategies that are linked to that control switch such as: Drinking alcohol, reading a book, going running, eating, shooting up heroine, distracting yourself, obsessively writing affirmations, positively focusing, arguing with and contradicting your negative thoughts, All of which are an attempt to make the emotion go away because you have judged it as bad. You believed the story that a particular emotion is bad.
This is the reason that it doesn’t work to positively focus negative emotion away. Control in and of itself is resistance. So, the minute positive focus becomes a tool of maintaining control, it now serves resistance instead of allowing or deliberate creation.
It isn’t helpful or useful to judge your negative emotions as bad. For more information about how to deal with negative emotions, watch my video on YouTube titled: The emotional wakeup call.
Now before you assume that we only have this reaction to negative emotions, it’s important to know that we can be conditioned to believe that positive emotion is bad as well. For more information about this, watch my YouTube video titled: When Happiness is a BAD thing. The more your parents and caregivers needed to maintain control over how they felt and therefore control over how you felt, the more resistant they were to all emotions, both good and bad.
It is time to become aware of this emotional control switch when it goes off within us. The time has come to notice ourselves resisting our own emotion in the moment it arises. This is in fact the initiation of a downward spiral. It ensures that our emotions will work like quick sand where we struggle against them and end up drowning. If we are in a situation where we feel like nothing ever works and like we will never feel better no matter how hard we try, it is because we are approaching our life from that very angle… that we must feel better because negative emotion is not ok. Anxiety is not ok, anger is not ok, sadness is not ok, grief is not ok. The way we feel is bad and so it has to change. We think thoughts like, “what have I done to deserve this or what is wrong with me or I wish I didn’t feel like this or I can’t handle this or why am I like this or the very worst… I shouldn’t feel like this.”
When you feel this emotional control switch go off, switch it off by practicing releasing resistance to the emotion you are feeling resistance towards and wanting to control. Allow and accept the emotion. Question the idea that this emotion is bad or good. Ask yourself, what am I making this emotion mean and then go to work dismantling that meaning. Thoughts and emotions themselves don’t cause us pain. It’s believing them that causes us pain. If you have judged an emotion as bad, get outside the box by trying to find approval for it. Why is that emotion good? What is this emotion trying to tell me, what is it asking me to do differently or to change about my life? Allow yourself to go back in time to when you were programmed to believe that the emotion was bad and un-do that trauma. To learn how to do this process, Watch my video on Youtube titled: How to Heal the Emotional Body and when you’re doing the process, begin by going into the sensation of the resistance to the emotion for example go into the anxiety you’re having about the anxiety. If you want additional information about this concept, you can watch my youtube video titled: Positively Embrace Your Negative Emotions. Painful emotions only become chronic (as in nothing you do ever works to make you feel better) if your emotional control switch is switched on and as such you are in resistance to the emotion you feel. This is the difference between temporary discomfort and long term suffering.
So… is your emotional control switch turned on?
So much focus in the field of spiritual, mental and emotional health has been dedicated to the healing of dysfunctional relationship dynamics. Essentially a dysfunctional relationship is one where two people make an emotional “contract” and agree to meet each other's needs in what ends up being self-destructive ways: For example, one person feels unable to take care of themselves and the other feels inadequate. And so, they make an emotional contract that if the other person takes care of them, they will make them feel better about themself. A dysfunctional relationship is a relationship that is destructive instead of constructive. It is a relationship that ends up being powerlessly dependent instead of interdependent. As a result, it is never secure. It is never secure because it is a transactional relationship. The relationship is only ever as secure as the ability to fulfill on the subconscious contract involved in the transaction.
The most common form of dysfunctional relationship is the classic relationship between the narcissist and the codependent. This classic dynamic can appear in a non-alcoholic home with a person who suffers from what mainstream mental health professionals would call a mental illness or personality disorder for example. But it is nearly always the dynamic that is occurring in an alcoholic home. I encourage you to do your own research on the narcissist/codependent dynamic and how it creates the dynamics of a dysfunctional home.
Regardless of how much your parents or family defend the idea that they are healthy and it is you who are dysfunctional, it is a sure thing that if you have dysfunctional relationships as an adult, it is because you witnessed or experienced dysfunctional relationship as a child. You have learned that this dynamic is how to have a relationship. You don’t know any other way to be in a relationship.
The reason I am doing this video today is that I am going to expose another dimension relative to transcending this dynamic. Much of the focus of healing from dysfunctional relationships is placed on establishing independence. It is essentially a strategy of meeting your own needs. What I want to expose today is that this strategy does not work. In fact, it re traumatizes people and makes them twice as likely to never get out of dysfunctional relationships and here is why…
When a child is born, that child cannot conceptualize of themselves as separate from their parent. Obviously to have a ‘relationship’ a person has to have a concept of a self and something other than the self. They have to be able to conceptualize of something other than the self to be in relation to. Therefore, relationships are part of development. The heart of relationship development begins at the age of separation and individuation. Mature differentiation resolves the relational tension between agency and communion. In other words, healthy individuation involves both autonomy and connection, whereby one can be a separate autonomous self without being isolated, alienated or not having their needs met.
From a spiritual or more inter-dimensional perspective, a human baby is in fact born three month premature. Coming out of the womb too early is a collective contract people have which immediately creates separation trauma. Because of this premature birth, the phase of separation and individuation actually begins at about 3 months old. For the rest of our life, we work with the contrasting energies of togetherness and separateness. There are several developmental stages where we are particularly focused on individuation. In my opinion, if I were to generalize it, the most fundamental happens from 3 months to 3 years old. We are familiar with this phase because we usually say a kid has “the terrible twos”, meaning they are defiant because at this age they are establishing a sense of what they want as separate from what the adults in their life want. The second happens when we enter teen hood and develop independence from the adults in our life within the context of our home. And the third, when we enter young adult hood and develop independence in the world when we leave the home.
When we begin this life, we cannot meet our own needs. Our physical and emotional needs are met by other people. It is by having these needs met that we feel the sensation of them being met and then become curious about meeting those needs ourselves. We develop a desire to meet those needs ourselves. Beings initiate their own autonomy because it is in alignment with expansion, a progression from powerlessness to empowerment. And this is where developmental trauma comes in.
Developmental trauma is essentially trauma that effects one’s ability to progress, develop or mature in a certain area of their life where we would normally see progression, maturation or development. We see developmental trauma clearly in situations where a child is completely abandoned and because they are not spoken to, they fail to develop language and speech in their adult life. You can think of a person as a garden. Each aspect of our lives are like seeds that then grow into a tree. When we experience trauma that we cannot find resolution for, it halts our development in the area that trauma effects. So, if that portion of ourselves were a seedling growing, when we experience that trauma, that seedling stops growing and stays a seedling even if the rest of us matures.
For example, say our self-concept were a seedling, if we experienced our parent repeatedly shaming us, this self-concept seedling would stop growing. Our need to feel good about ourselves was not met and we couldn’t meet it ourselves, so that aspect of our life halts in its progression. We progress into adulthood with an underdeveloped self concept and no way to create healthy self esteem in and of ourselves because we have no reference for it.
Why is all of this this important? Because dysfunctional relationships in adult life are the result of developmental trauma revolving around the separation and individuation experiences you have in your life. What I have seen is that individuation trauma experienced in the phase from 3 months to 3 years old is the trauma that creates the bulk of dysfunctional relationships in adulthood. Of course, it is repeated separation and individuation trauma that creates the very worst developmental damage.
Let’s dive even deeper. The very earliest phase of separation and individuation is a phase where you recognize yourself as separate from your mother or caregiver, but you have a desire for that person to meet your needs. You have no capacity or even desire to meet your own needs yet. It is trauma experienced in this phase that creates the biggest problems in adult relationships and in fact causes things like personality disorders, attachment disorders and co-dependency. When we experience a trauma at this phase and thus experience a developmental delay, like a very small child, we experience ourselves as being unable to meet our needs even as an adult.
What’s more than that, we do not even feel the desire to meet our own needs. We feel the desire still for someone else to meet those needs. This is why we enter into a dysfunctional relationship in the first place with someone who also has likewise trauma. In fact, we find the idea of meeting our own needs traumatizing because it is often a mirror of the wound we received growing up when we were expected to separate before we were ready or experienced a consequence as a result of trying to individuate with an adult that found our individuality threatening.
Here is an example of how this can go, Mary is two and she is just now learning how to say the word no. To her, the word No is a way of asserting boundaries, meaning that she is beginning to sense that she has a will separate from her mother’s will. This is healthy and normal. But Mary’s mother finds this threatening and invalidating, so every time Mary says no, she is shamed for it and put in a timeout. This is a trauma involving her sense of autonomy. Because her exploring individuation from her mother is met with the punishment of isolation, she stops becoming autonomous. Her desire for autonomy in fact becomes suppressed. She learns that she cannot have her autonomy and have connection with other people at the same time. For more information about this dynamic, watch my video on YouTube titled “I can have me and I can have you too”.
To continue, as a result of suppressing her need for autonomy, she only experiences the need for closeness. She becomes very clingy. As Mary grows up, she experiences separation anxiety and hates to be alone and fails to experience herself as someone who can take care of herself. She then gets into relationships based on a needs transaction. The transaction of “If you take care of me and never leave me alone, I will make you feel needed and appreciated all the time”.
There are so many trauma scenarios that can cause developmental delays that then translate into adult dysfunction within relationships. But what all this boils down to is that dysfunctional relationships are the result of developmental delay involving the development of individuation. Therefore, the area of life that is affected is the area of autonomy and connection. It is trauma involving needs. We do not know how to meet our needs involving autonomy and involving connection.
When people with developmental delays get into spirituality, self help or therapy, they are told that the way to heal is to realize that no one can be relied upon to meet your needs for you and that wanting them to is unhealthy dependence so they have to “meet their own needs”. But this does damage. Remember that the aspect of them that is still a seedling, not only experiences itself as being unable to meet it’s own needs, but also doesn’t have the desire to. And remember that the trauma is that even though it wants those needs to be met by someone else, that someone else isn’t meeting those needs. So there is no one there to even give them a reference for what it looks and feel like for those needs to be consistently met. This means the aspect of them that is stuck as a seedling is often not even developed enough to desire autonomy, much less have it forced on them by someone’s independence building technique. We are essentially skipping a step in our development that cannot be skipped in order to reach maturity. Doing so is like trying to build a house on a wet foundation.
So what must we do to heal dysfunctional relationships? We have to mentally and emotionally go back in time to resolve the developmental trauma and provide the unmet needs for our child self. I have developed a process for doing this; it is called The Completion Process. To understand more about this process, you can buy a copy of the book I wrote about it, which is available for purchase as of Fall 2016. You can watch my Youtube video titled, How to Heal the Emotional Body. And alternatively, you can sign up to my newsletter and contact a Completion Process Facilitator who can walk you through the process.
The second thing we must do is to follow a basic formula.
1. We have to realize and recognize the pattern of dysfunction in our relationship. 2. We have to become completely aware of what needs we are trying to have met through this pattern. 3. Instead of meeting that need in the way you normally would, the way that causes destruction, find a way to meet that need in a different way that is constructive. To do this, we must meet ourselves wherever we are in terms of our delay of development, not try to skip a step and to meet the need we have directly so that development can begin to progress again.
The main reason that any form of therapy is even remotely successful is that the secure connection provided by the therapist is healing a lot of individuation and connection trauma, which therefore causes those underdeveloped aspects of the client to begin to develop and mature.
We must begin to meet our unmet needs. For more information about this, watch my video on YouTube titled: Meet Your Needs! The fear that prevents people from ever getting out of dysfunctional relationship patterns is the fear that doing so means they are never going to get their needs met and that they will lose connection with the person who they want to meet those needs. How are you supposed to know how to meet your needs? Have someone teach you by first meeting them for you. Ask directly for those needs to be met by people in your life instead of going around the back door to try to get them. For example, ask for appreciation instead of becoming a nurse so that people will appreciate you. There are some very interesting new therapies developing that enable people to experience having their developmental delays addressed and unmet needs met. Some even go so far for example as to simulate being in the womb for people who were born premature or provide the experience of breast-feeding to people who were never breast-fed or were weaned too early.
And when you have needs that involve other people, needs that are not needs you cannot meet on you own (yes… those exist) look for healthy ways to meet those needs to that are not destructive, but are instead mutually beneficial. I know a bunch of you just recoiled at the idea that it’s possible to have needs that cannot be met independently of other people. But it is true, you want to know why? Because people need each other, we need connection and there is a bunch of very real needs that directly involve connection with each other. It’s ok to directly seek those needs out too.
A funny thing happens when you consciously meet a need that is perceived as an immature need. That need matures. The aspect of self that is developmentally delayed begins to develop. This means, a person will eventually gravitate towards progressively healthier and more autonomous ways of meeting the needs that they can meet and finding healthier ways of meeting the needs they cannot meet alone. I am becoming increasingly more and more convinced that therapies involving somatosensory healing are the way to treat developmental trauma because the most detrimental developmental trauma happens before we have a thinking brain, the body is forced to store the memories of the trauma somatically. So, I encourage you to seek out any form of somatic therapy that appeals to you. How are you supposed to know what a functional relationship looks like and how to create one if you’ve never experienced it? That’s right… you’re not. So stop expecting yourself to know what you do not yet know. You wouldn’t expect yourself to speak Spanish if no one ever taught you how to speak Spanish. All you can do is set out to learn.
Developing a healthy sense of self, your wants and needs, your likes and dislikes, your values and priorities along with developing the capacity to connect deeply with other people, will inevitably lead to healthy relationships that are not dysfunctional.
At the most basic level, your body is made up of energy. That energy organizes itself into the physical body you are looking at in the mirror every day. But before that energy organizes itself into physical body parts, it organizes itself into meridians and chakras. These chakras are centers of energy that lie along energy channels and each one holds a very specific vibration and has a specific purpose. Each chakra is a specific expression of Prana (otherwise known as life force or source energy). The chakras look a bit like funnels of energy or vortices. They both absorb and emit energy. When a chakra is out of alignment, meaning it is not letting life force in or is out of alignment for any number of reasons, it starts to affect your equilibrium. It becomes a serious imbalance within the system. When chakras are out of alignment, they appear small and do not absorb or emit much energy. They also change in their color, patterning, texture and sound. The traditional name for the heart chakra is Anahata. In Sanskrit, this word translates to unhurt, which is important to know because it gives you some key insight about this particular chakra. The heart chakra is the center chakra. It is located in the very center of your chest. Though all chakras are doorways for spiritual energy, it is the heart chakra that unites the physical and spiritual aspect of your embodiment. The heart is the first organ that manifests physically in a fetus for this very reason. You can think of the heart chakra as the central power point generator of love. Love is the central theme of the heart chakra. This is why it is seen as the chakra most associated with healing because vibrationally speaking the frequency of love is the most healing frequency of all. The heart chakra is also the chakra that is associated with compassion, forgiveness, emotional safety, absence of fear, gratitude, hope, trust, generosity, joy, altruism, kindness and connection. Because it is the unifying chakra, it is the chakra with the capacity to bring you into integration and therefore wholeness. Your heart chakra maintains the truth that you are connected to all that is. You can never be alone because you are an integral part of the web that connects and makes up the entire universe.
The heart chakra is associated with the color green and is associated with the air element. The heart chakra governs the heart as well as the circulatory system, emotional regulation, the lungs, shoulders, arms and hands, breasts and lymph system beginning with the thymus gland. A little known fact is that our brains are governed by our heart. Our brain obeys the messages it receives from the heart. This is why emotional hurt is the root cause of mental illness. Any time you see an issue with these aspects of the body, you can be sure that the heart chakra is out of alignment.
What causes the heart chakra to go out of alignment? Hurt that impacts or is caused by your connection with others. This is why I find it fascinating that the Anahata translates to un-hurt. This is what it feels like when the heart chakra is fully open. But conversely, it is hurt that causes it to close. It is pain experienced in conjunction with love, things like grief, jealousy, hatred, loneliness and isolation, resentment, the inability to forgive and betrayal that cause the heart chakra to close. Both the negative emotional states and the positive emotional states that apply to our connection with others are governed by the heart chakra. Around your actual heart is a membrane that encloses the heart and the fluid around your heart like a sac. This membrane is called the pericardium. On a non-physical level, this membrane is a “protector and nurturer” of the heart. It is like a spiritual amniotic sac for the heart. But the emotional energy that you feel, affects this pericardial fluid. This fluid adopts the vibration of the emotional energy and ultimately the heart is bathing and gestating in this energy. This is a good thing if the emotional energy you feel, is a feel good emotion. But it presents problems if the emotional energy you feel is a painful emotion. This is especially the case with grief. The pericardium is an in-born wall that protects your heart, but it does so in such a way that it allows energy like love both in and out. However, when you are hurt at an emotional level, you will start to armor the pericardium on a non-physical and even physical level. This is when we say that someone has an emotional wall. The term we use for this is a heart wall. The painful emotions associated with the hurt you experienced become trapped inside this heart wall, they strengthen the heart wall and love cannot flow in or out. To understand more about this dynamic, watch my video on YouTube titled: Building Walls To Keep Pain In.
If you’d like to look more deeply into the concept of a heart wall, I’d suggest exploring the work of Dr. Bradley Nelson, who has dedicated the majority of his career to the healing of heart walls. All this being said, nothing affects the health of your heart chakra more than a heart wall. One thing we need to get out of the way before continuing is that people in the spiritual field have become preoccupied with the idea of balance. They try to achieve equilibrium through control. An adjunct to this idea is the concept that chakras can be too closed or too open. As it applies to the heart chakra, you’ll hear theories going around that a heart chakra can be too open or active and this is what creates weak boundaries and co-dependant relationships. Though logical, this is inaccurate. If your chakras are fully open you will experience your being naturally coming into equilibrium. And weak boundaries have much more to do with trauma that effects the solar plexus chakra and sacral chakra.
Co-dependent relationships are not relationships that occur between people with open heart chakras. The opposite is true. A codependent relationship is a transactional relationship based on meeting needs in an unhealthy way. It is the byproduct of a closed heart chakra. This myth comes from the desire to see the codependent as the underdog and victim of a relationship and thus… the good guy. It comes from the myth that co-dependent people are “just too loving”, when in fact they are not in their codependent relationship because of love. So contrary to some warnings you may encounter, don’t worry about opening your heart chakra. How do we open our heart chakra and bring it into alignment?
First, we need to connect with our heart in order to become aware of what is keeping it out of alignment. Intuitively, what emotions do you think you are struggling with that are keeping your heart closed? Have you been hurt in the past or recently? What emotional memories are unhealed? What do you feel in response to the word relationship? I created a video called “Connecting With and Healing Your Heart”. I encourage you to pause this video and watch that video first before continuing on.
Also, nothing affects the heart chakra quite like grief. Grief is the cardinal trauma we are dealing with when the heart chakra is out of alignment. It is this situation that causes us to say we are “heartbroken”. Greif is often the result of having an experience where we feel we have lost love. So, if you are dealing with heartbreak, I encourage you to watch my video on YouTube titled: How To Survive a Break Up and/or Heartbreak.
Be open with your emotions. Emotional repression is the undoing of the heart chakra. We need to become aware of them, express them and then let them fade away like leaves being taken downstream so as to not cling to them. To learn how to do this, watch my video on YouTube titled: How To Express Your Emotion.
The heart chakra is the chakra that is thrown out of alignment by hurt in conjunction with relationships. An often-overlooked aspect of health relative to the heart chakra is self-love. If you have a painful or self-hating relationship with yourself, it is as if you have locked your heart inside a prison where it is tortured by its jail keeper every day. So cultivating self-love is crucial to the opening of the heart chakra. If you feel that you are struggling with self-love, I invite you to try out my book titled: Shadows Before Dawn, Finding the Light of Self Love in Your Darkest Times. It is a practical guide to loving yourself that tells you how to actually do it.
Many of the dimensional realities outside the physical dimension do not have a time/space aspect to them. This means to think something is to cause the thing to happen or to be instantly. It’s a “think open, it opens” kind of thing. Where as in the physical dimension there is a time and space buffer between thought and thing. The chakra system influences the physical but is a multidimensional aspect of you (which is why they are invisible to most people). This means if you think of your heart chakra opening or visualize it opening, it opens. The visualization I see working the best is when you place your hands over your heart and imagine your heart chakra as a rich emerald colored vortex like opening in the center of your chest. Then visualize expanding it with the help of an opening movement of your hands to about a foot wide. Then visualize it spinning clockwise. When you are ready, open your arms and hands wide, with your chest to the sky and sense this chakra pulling in energy from the world with each inhale and emitting loving energy to the world with each exhale.
Imagine your heart wall. If it were made of something, what is it made of? The answer could be granite or glass or wood for example. Feel into the reason that this heart wall is there and see if you can intuitively feel what caused it to be there. Then ask your heart what it needs in order to be able to let go of that heart wall. Don’t try to tear down a heart wall. Remember it is there to protect you and so, it will only go away if the energy you approach it with an attitude of helping it to realize that it doesn’t need the heart wall anymore. If you get to this point with the heart chakra, imagine this heart wall being lovingly dissolved or released in whatever way feels best to you.
Stimulate it with sounds. You can find binaural beats on the Internet designed specifically for the heart chakra. You can expose yourself to crystal singing bowls designed for the heart chakra. You can also stick with thousands of years worth of toning tradition. To do this, sit in meditation and stimulate your heart chakra by chanting LAM or YUM depending on which one resonates in your chest the most. Play around with the tonality of these sounds to find the one that causes your chest to vibrate the most.
Surround yourself in the color green. Wear this color, decorate with this color and eat foods that are this color.
Eat green, leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, lettuce, dandelion greens, cabbage, chard, broccoli and collard greens. Vibrationally speaking, this is the food that benefits the heart chakra the very most. Also include green tea, basil, sage, thyme, cilantro and parsley.
Use essential oils to help your heart chakra align. My top picks for effect on the heart chakra are rose, melissa, neroli, marjoram, chamomile, yarrow and eucalyptus. I find that using these oils in conjunction with placing something warm (like a warm water bottle) over your heart area is the most effective.
Bring certain mineral spirits into your life. In my opinion, the best for the heart chakra are tourmaline (especially green tourmaline, watermelon tourmaline and pink tourmaline) green kyanite, chrysoprase, rhodonite, rose quartz, malachite, emerald and jade.
Move your body in ways that open the chest. The tradition of yoga has many poses that are designed to facilitate heart opening. Doing so outdoors is the best. Go to places that are lush and green with plenty of fresh breeze.
Practice “living from the heart” and “speaking from the heart”. To understand how this is done, you can watch my video on YouTube titled: How To Live From The Heart. Criticism closes off the heart chakra amazingly fast. For this reason, practice directly caretaking the aspect of you that feels negative and thus generates negative appraisals of the world. And when you speak, speak from the heart. To do this, when you speak to other people, imagine literally taking the thoughts you think and are about to verbalize, down through your throat to your heart and filtering them through your chest. So that even if the sounds come out of your mouth, the thoughts themselves are being fed to the throat from your heart instead of head.
Deliberately think thoughts and say things and take actions and seek out experiences that cause you to feel love, compassion, emotional safety, absence of fear, gratitude, hope, trust, forgiveness, generosity, joy, altruism, kindness and connection. Any experience that causes you to shift into these frequencies will cause the heart chakra to open and come into alignment. For example, start a gratitude journal or do something loving for someone in your life or initiate a gathering with like-hearted people or go out into the world and do random acts of kindness. Especially form connections with people. When we experience trauma within relationships, we rehabilitate that trauma and find resolution within relationships as well. For this reason, I want you to watch my video on YouTube titled: How To Connect With Someone. I also want you to watch my video titled: How to Receive.
Practice Metta on a daily or weekly basis. In the Buddhist tradition, Metta is a practice of embodying unconditional love. For 12 minutes, imagine allowing your breath to come and go from your heart area. See if certain loving intentions or words emerge from your heart. For example, "May I enjoy peace, may I enjoy good health, and abundance of love." Continue this way until you feel a sense of well-being. Then, visualize or imagine this wellbeing radiating outward in a series of concentric circles, like ripples from a stone dropped in water. See it reaching out to other people. Starting with people you do know in your private life to and then expanding outward gradually to the people you do not know and then to your country and then to the world at large. For example, "May my husband enjoy good health, peace, and abundance of love." Then, “May all beings on earth enjoy good health, peace, abundance and love.” Continue radiating this well being outward until you feel a sense of completeness. You don’t only have to focus on people. You can focus on sending wellbeing to anything and it will cause the heart chakra to open.
By intentionally doing things which enable your heart chakra to come into alignment and open, you will be setting yourself up to live in harmony with the world. All relationships in your life will reap the benefits of this decision, most especially the relationship you have with yourself.