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Archive for February, 2010

In my last post “Birthing New Beginnings,” I wrote of my resistance to manifesting my ideas into form. When I pondered the resistance, I discovered I had a fear of revisiting the deep trough of sadness I’d experienced a few years back in the form of a broken heart. Here is the continuation of that contemplation.

There is no long story to this. It’s pretty simple really in all its complexity. The bottom line is: I am not afraid of a broken heart. The breaking of my heart is not what caused my protracted misery. What I realize is that my own attachment to the misery, my attachment to the people, story, identity I did not want to release, my refusal to leave the chrysalis and emerge anew was what caused my pain.

There is this voice within that is not so pleasant. Some call it a gremlin, saboteur or inner critic. Others call it the negative ego or distorted voice. Whatever we call it, it still stinks. It is sly, conniving, a shape-shifter and, at times, downright malicious. I have experienced this voice as an energy that comes over me.

I remember sitting at the breakfast counter in a house I was staying in and feeling this energy pummeling me. I was in pain. I was crying. I felt myself a total victim to it. My whole body was contracted and, though I knew it would pass, for the moment I was under its spell.

I remember another time, just getting ready to go to sleep at a beautiful retreat in Punta Mita, Mexico. I could feel the energy hovering over me, ready to come in for the attack. I simply said “No, not this time.” The energy left and I drifted off to a deep and peaceful sleep. It was a pivotal moment for me; one in which I had finally stood up to my negative ego.

Moon 8_28_09

(c) Kathy J Loh

Most days, if the negative ego begins to speak to me, I hear it, I recognize it, but I don’t fall under its spell. The only spells I experience are the ones I am so under that I don’t even know it. I am a fish in the waters of the spell. Others may be able to see it, but I don’t, until I do.

This is where contemplation becomes essential. My daily sessions of going within are intended to help me awaken more and more to truth and release myself from the grip of delusion and illusion.

Once I had made the distinction between fearing a broken heart (a normal rite of passage in life) and wallowing in it because of attachments and shadowy archetype reactions, I was able to stumble upon a gem of enlightenment. I say stumble upon, because I was actually out hiking when it hit me and I stopped in my tracks and gasped out loud.

I am not afraid of a broken heart. I am not even afraid of becoming attached to my sadness. What I am afraid of, that which is trying to spook me, is my own self-loathing. I saw it. My negative ego is powerful only in direct proportion to my own self-loathing and my willingness to be mean to myself.

(note: I notice that after I wrote that last sentence, I got up and went to do a load of laundry. It’s not easy sitting with the fact that I have and experience self-loathing.)

It was my delusions of worthlessness, and of being unlovable that took me down.  Those delusions had me grasping for identities, people and things to earn and somehow give to me worth and love. I was under the horrific notion that I could fill those needs out there in people, things and doings.  (Yes, we all do it and that does not make it any less horrific.) It’s a downward spiral. Once the negative ego had me, the self-loathing led to more of the same.

What stopped me in my tracks was not so much the discovery of the truth beneath the ruse, but the simultaneous liberation that accompanied it. I don’t loathe myself anymore, not like that. I don’t despise myself so much that I am willing to tolerate days of misery bullied by my negative ego.

For over a year, I have faithfully practiced the “I Love You” exercise I made up and wrote about in an earlier post. I have found and used my nurturing parent voice. (thanks to Lucid Living) I have rewritten my story, forgiven others and most importantly, myself. In truth, my heart has cracked as widely open with joy as it has with pain.

I love myself and this life I am living. And I trust myself. This is the crux of the discovery.

I trust myself not to create protracted pain for myself from a place of self-loathing.

I trust myself to laugh at my foibles, to lean into the support of friends and unseen allies.

I trust myself to be nurturing, kind and loving to myself and others.

I trust myself to speak honestly to others and myself and to be compassionate rather than rescuing or demeaning.

I’m still on that journey. I’m still learning and growing. There are more illusions to dispel. I trust myself every step of the way. If a big wind comes and knocks me sideways, I trust myself to love myself through it. I know I will find my footing again.

This is the celebration, the return at the end of my Hero’s Journey; this particular journey within the broader journey. Because I now know that I love and trust myself, I also celebrate, honor and respect myself. In so doing, I also celebrate, honor and respect others and all of life. I celebrate the miracle of life and the miracle that is me.  I am aware of the preciousness of life, of breath and the wonder of the human spirit.

This self-loathing piece is slippery. When I look in the mirror and I catch myself thinking mean things about how I’m aging, how my body is changing; when I look around my office and berate myself for the disorganization; I know I am being unkind. There are times when my desire to improve myself mentally, physically, emotionally or spiritually, is not truly generated from love. It is born of a lack of self-acceptance, of conditional if-then love and comparing myself with others or with commercial standards.

Here’s how I can tell the difference.

If there is a resonance of self-loathing, I have resistance. A duality of imprisonment and over-indulgence takes shape in my behaviors. It shows up in statements that begin with words like “I must, I need, I should, I deserve, I’ve earned” and it feels really hard which leaves me feeling really entitled. My energy is depleted.

If I am celebrating the miracle of life and living, I have no resistance to taking exquisite care of myself in all of my practices be they mental, physical, spiritual or emotional. If I am loving myself, it feels clean, good, honest and true to exercise and eat right; to clean my home and even to say no to someone’s request of me.  My energy is replenished and vital.

I like to imagine consciousness having created each of us from an urge for a unique expression. Now, as that unique expression manifested into form, consciousness marvels at itself, through us and through our senses.

I choose to celebrate.

My mantra for the week has been to ask “How is this celebrating the miracle of me?”

I offer it to you as a practice:

How is this next action, this thought, these words you are about to speak celebrating the miracle of life and the miracle of you?

You are amazing!

copyright(c) February 2010, Kathy J Loh  All Rights Reserved

Put on your dancing shoes. Here’s a little song for you:

I’m Amazing by Keb’ Mo’ (Keep it Simple) (written by Keb’ Mo’ and Robbie Brooks) Samples on the site.

(sometimes the word “true” appears as “drue.”)


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My Tarot of the Spirit meditation this week is on birthing. The timing couldn’t be more perfect, with the new moon and the Lunar New Year introducing the Year of the Tiger.

As I sat in the quiet of contemplation (well, ok, the quiet with some mind-chatter), I pondered my first birthing; that entry into this physical world from the cosmic void, the cosmic everything, from one-ness into a singular me. I wondered when we start to forget who we really are.

I wondered what it is I am birthing now, for surely I’ve had the pangs. I wondered about my resistance.

I revisited the birthing that took place when I left my family and went out on my own. I considered my birth into the world from the womb of the ivory towers and the brief independence before I birthed myself into marriage.

Each of these later births was a grand adventure full of hope and promise.  Each was a full on commitment.

There have been, since then, births that have not felt so good. These hold the key to my reluctance to leave the womb of my half-way home.

“Sometimes a wind comes out of nowhere and knocks you off your feet.” Bruce Cockburn

… a really big wind, a punch to the gut, a canon-ball  hole to the heart. I got that about 10 years into my marriage. I can make up that I stood at the threshold of the call to adventure and refused the call, but the truth is I will never know for sure what the greater undertaking was; stay or go.

Finally, 23 years into my marriage, big winds blew relentlessly and it was time to answer another call. I’ve seen the Hero’s Journey diagrammed as a kind of curve; one that leads downward into an abyss and eventually returns upward. I’ve heard Joseph Campbell say that once you cross the threshold, there is no turning back.

I was in a seminar discussing the Hero’s Journey when someone asked the leader how long the abyss part lasts. That caught my interest, because at that point in time, I had been sitting on the bottom for quite awhile, having lost my love, my home, my pet and having waved goodbye to 16 years of teaching piano  while my new business seemed to be going nowhere fast.

A wave in the dark

Dark Seas (c) K J Loh

How long would I remain lost at sea battling demons and looking for my allies?

The seminar leader said it varies; for some it is a matter of months and for others it can be years.  When I heard that I made the decision to begin my journey home. I had no interest in remaining lost at sea forever. Whatever it took, I would keep myself navigating toward the return and celebration part of my adventure.

I will not live an interrupted hero’s journey.

My heart, spirit and mind have returned. My body is still wandering; probably because I’m just now learning how to really be in it.

So, I asked myself in my meditation, “Why have I stagnated? What’s the reluctance about?” I did not have to think any thoughts. The pain in my heart set off a minor temblor that culminated in a wave of tears. It’s the fear of more pain.

All I ever wanted, was just to come in from the cold.”Joni Mitchell

I’m like Sleeping Beauty. I’ve pricked my finger on a spindle and now I am asleep, awaiting my magical awakening. I await everyone and everything like I wait for good news to arrive in the mailbox.  This home that is a bit too cramped, this life that is a bit too safe is, at least, very comfortable. This home, this “me,” this ennui, is familiar and I really am reticent to leave and risk being caught out in another big storm. My heart may not be soaring, but at least it’s warm and dry.

There is this last push I need to complete the birthing of the new beginning to which I committed myself a few years ago.  I see the shore, but I let myself drift with the currents of social media networking, errands and menial tasks. It’s a kind of sacrosanct busyness with which many of us are all too familiar.

In the weariest of moments I complain that I didn’t want this birth. It wasn’t supposed to be this way and it’s only because it is this way that I pick myself up and move on.

Still, the promise of a full return and celebration twinkle like the lights on some distant shore. I’ve seen them. My visions and maps fill me with hope. Getting there is going to take some effort.  I will keep my eye on my North Star, pick up that oar and paddle. That’s all there is to it really, that and dumping a few items off this skiff to lighten the load.

What I realize is that this broken heart has done all the mending it can with just being. It’s time now for some action. The time of waiting is over. To surrender to the fear being hurt again will, ironically, only leave me broken-hearted.

I wrote about this before in “(Don’t) Rescue me from Creativity.” At that point I was releasing control and surrendering to creative chaos. The hurricane has passed. Seas are calm. It’s time to make some sort of landing.

Someone recently told me I put wings on their feet. That’s wonderful! You can have mine for awhile, because, as soon as I hit shore, I’ve got some earth to feel and some walking to do.

Notes:
The Bruce Cockburn quote is from his song “The Whole Night Sky” on the CD The Charity of Night
The Joni Mitchell lyric quote is from her song “Come in From the Cold” on the CD Night Ride Home
Copyright (c) February 2010, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

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I have a morning practice of journaling, pulling an angel card and meditation/contemplation. Yesterday, I wrote in my journal about the myriad of irritations that I’ve been experiencing, wondering “what’s the feedback?” What am I getting out of feeling so “put upon” that I continue to gather these small annoyances?

I decided to take it to meditation, but first I pulled an angel card for the day. Now, I’ve been doing this for so long, that it has evolved into something really amazing. The card almost always responds, in some way, to what I’ve just written. In addition, the cards right in front of and behind the card I pull (the wing cards) give me greater detail by way of the perspective they bring to the first card.

I opened the Healing with Angels card box and pulled out the deck. I noticed something in the bottom of the box. What’s this? A flea! A flea was in the angel card box. How did that get in there? I don’t have pets. (The dog I walk with belongs to my neighbor.) In my 4 years here, I’ve never seen a flea (and I would know if they were here because I’m highly allergic).

I tried to grab it to give it a good squeeze, but it hopped on to the side of the bed. I grabbed it again, but its beautifully evolved hard shell would not bend to my will. It jumped out from between my fingers and onto the carpet. I got out the vacuum and have no idea what kind of life that flea is or is not living now.

I went on to pull a card: Miracles (between Blessings and Guardian Angel)

Fleas are pretty amazing little creatures with barbed hairs that enable them to stick to animals like Velcro and they jump over 100 times their height. They even perform somersaults while leaping. They are hardy and they cause misery. It’s a miracle of creation, a miracle that it was in my angel card box.  Miracles come in all shapes and sizes and, at first glance, they may not appear to be miracles.

The angel card informs me:

“Miracles are occurring all around you right now. Begin to notice them, and you will experience even more miracles.”

Taking into account the shoulder cards, Blessings and Guardian Angel, I make up that miracles will be more visible to me when I count my blessings and accept the support of my Guardian Angels. I am blessed and I am not alone.

I am not seeing the miracles for the “fleas.”

When one itch arises, I think I have to flee.

When I see one flea, I think “oh no! It’s an invasion. They are going to overrun the place!”

Isn’t that just how I have been viewing the little irritations in my days lately? Stringing them together like beads, creating for myself a nice little choke-chain.  Trying to control everything and everyone and getting really angry when they won’t let me. I’m choking myself into isolation and insolation.

About the flea, I hear, “Remember, it came from The Mystery.”

Circumstances, too, often arise from The Mystery.

What if these circumstances, which I experience as annoying, are miracles?

Sunset Pond - trees, reflected

What's Real? (K J Loh)

In the ensuing meditation, I viewed my life from what I call the Angels’ perspective. (Those of you who get the Mystery Messages may be reminded, here, of the Merlin Hawk message.)

While holding myself as blessed and protected, I was able to see that what I get out of all this itching from the flea-like circumstances is an opportunity to suffer. Suffering supports my inner martyr. (Victim or martyr; choose your poison.) It allows me to blame, collect pity and sympathy, punish other people, throw temper tantrums, and a wide variety of other strategies to avoid taking responsibility for my life and my happiness. Basically, it is the perspective that the world is out to get me and I am bending over backwards to accommodate it, while never being able to have a day go the way I want it to. “Look at me! I’m covered in flea bites and it itches like crazy! How can you expect me to be happy?”

Here’s the kicker. My martyr voice tells me that taking responsibility will lead to suffering and struggle. It’s too hard!

Hello? Uhm…..isn’t that what martyr is doing? It’s causing me to struggle and suffer to avoid suffering and struggling. Huh?

The meditation/contemplation continued with many more insights around betrayal, anger, abandonment; all really juicy stuff. Suffice it to say, I found that all the people and circumstances were completely transformed when I transformed how I saw them.

I forgave myself for a long list of ways I twist what is into something to rail against. I took that choke-chain off. I saw my life on a big screen as it would be without martyr. I could not think it. I just sat and watched. It’s the same picture, but the feeling is different. I realized, I can’t get there through martyr. Suffering, trying to control and struggling will only lead to isolation, loneliness, and constriction. The point to martyr is to never get there anyway.

Suffering is highly over-rated. Struggling is highly over-rated.

Today’s angel card reminds me to open my eyes and see the miracles happening all around; those amazing events and people sent by The Mystery, which I’ve refused to see in order to support struggle, suffering and misery.

I can hold my goals and visions very tightly, like putting myself into lock-down. This creates an image in my mind’s eye of a vortex; a drain spiraling inward.

I can hold my goals and visions lightly, with love, trusting that The Mystery is friendly and helpful; honoring my priorities, being real and joyful; taking responsibility. This creates an image in my mind’s eye of an outwardly expansive release of energy. (I’m reminded of my Open Hands Open Heart post)

I’ve done a lot of work around martyr and victim. I’ve been through workshops and years of coaching. I know both intimately. Yet, I still find myself in retreat from responsibility at times and that gives martyr a toe-hold.

Awareness is a practice.

Here is an exercise to support your awareness practice:

For the next few days, listen to your inner voice and notice what it is saying about everything that happens to you and how others are treating you. Write it down. Become familiar with your “favorite” sayings. Then review your inner voice’s general perspective.  Is it supporting your happiness or feeding your misery?

Copyright © February 2010, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

Got a flea bugging you? Coaching helps you gain insight around the obstacles you create to your own happiness. I’m happy to schedule a complimentary consultation for anyone seriously considering hiring a coach. Email me at: kathyloh@coachkathy.com

Re: photo – that’s a pond, reflecting the trees and fence which is why they appear upside down.

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