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The Living Inquiries Blog

ENOUGH

By Sumitra Burton.  

I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea of “enough” lately. What would it take to make me feel safe on the planet, to be able to relax and feel at ease with daily life? How much money would it take? How much food? When would I feel I have given enough, that I am enough?

My parents were young during the Great Depression and learned to be very frugal, both with money and other resources. I also grew up with frugality – only so much food, a few clothes, very few luxuries ever. We didn’t waste anything. Our homes didn’t contain as many things as homes do now, and life was simpler.

I started working early in life, babysitting from age 8 and then other jobs as I learned new skills. My siblings and I were expected to buy most of our own clothes starting in middle school, and to supply our own money for entertainment, makeup, etc. Money was considered “precious” in a way – and very much respected as essential for survival.

One of my inherited beliefs has been that money is not easy to come by. And sometimes it feels like money is a kind of god in the sky, looming over me, that I am trying to appease, seeking a way to gain its attention so that my pleas for success and safety can be heard.

This morning I did a self-inquiry session in which I asked myself how I felt about my relationship with money. Right away I noticed a tightening around the surface of my belly. The word hollow was there and a corresponding sensation of hollowness in my belly, and then the words unknown / unsafe. These words resonated as true in my body – what was unknown felt unsafe. I can’t see the future; it’s all unknown and can have an unsafe quality about it when I try to imagine what the future will bring.

I live at the mercy of Life happening. Again the words brought a sense of being out of control, of not having control over my life and resources. How can I be at ease when I have no control? Therefore, the tightening of my belly was making great sense. Hold on tight, don’t let anyone convince me to let go of this tension in my belly. I could feel my belly tighten a bit more and my eyes squeeze tightly shut, as if the tightening would make me safe, hidden.

As I felt into the tightness in my belly and eyes, an image arose of the internal belly – a tan-colored box with the texture of bricks. The words alone – tight – hiding were there. I stayed with the image, and it began to change shape, almost as if it felt embarrassed to be seen, as if its fraud had been caught, simply by being seen. Staying right with the image, I watched the boundaries of it shatter and dissolve, allowing the contents to spill out into open space.

As the image dissolved, I brought my attention back to the sensation in the belly. There was no tension there now, and it felt safe to be open. I rested there for a while, absorbing the wonderful sense of safety and trust.

Out of that openness another image arose – this time a moving image of me in a meadow filled with flowers on a sunny day. I very much enjoyed the scene of gathering and tossing flowers, as if tossing/ spending money with ease and delight. No worries about whether there was enough; only a sense of ease around trusting the direction and flow of the universal order in my life. Trusting – safe – respectful were the words that resonated with the scene.

I’ve found that I can drift along for periods of time in a constant state of light anxiety around money or other issues if I don’t stop and take time to practice inquiry. Just taking a few minutes sometimes – to notice what’s here, to turn towards the feelings and words that are hanging around, to watch and listen and feel what comes up – provides the magic of returning to peace and calm, coming home inside my body. What an amazing gift. When I feel at ease, at peace, there is no question of “enough.”

 

To read more about Sumitra Burton, click here.

Evolving Through Learning

By Lisa Meuser.  

This is an excerpt from a larger piece…   shared the day I graduated from a conscious leadership training.  I look forward to sharing more.

An intention – which became my motto – whispered deep into my ear and into my heart as 2019 was being birthed: Be in the world and Be of Love.

Let me first say, phew. And let me second say, PHEW.
What an intention. Surely, I will be journeying to embody this for the rest of my life.

2019 was a year where 3 different learnings converged, and where I became their constant student.

Learning number one came early in the year through a BTCC (Building a Thriving Compassionate Community) think tank. Stephanie Solomon presented something she’d recently learned from a Crossroads anti-racism conference.

Stephanie shared something that stood out to her from the conference: the difference between values of dominant culture and the values of transformative culture[1].

The tenets of our current modern day culture are rooted in values of dominant culture: scarcity mentality, based in competitive and individual preservation, focused on outcome,  either/or and us/them thinking (ie binary narratives of good, bad, right, or wrong) and a hierarchy of power which is exclusionary and immersed in secrecy. Many of the institutions that we know and love are rooted in values of dominant culture. They are our “normal.”

Then there are the tenets of transformative culture: a resonance of abundance, collaboration and shared power, transparency and accountability, both /and thinking, a focus on the process/the journey, and an inclusion of history. Transformative culture is alive with paradox. WWFaC[2] is rooted in transformative values. In our current culture, this is the exception.

Learning number two started to drop in not too long after Stephanie’s think tank through Angeles Arrien’s The Four-Fold Way[3]. In this book she reveals the ways of the shadow, and the ways of ancestral wisdom.

As I was reading, I discovered that the ways of the shadow often mirrored dominant culture, while the ways of ancestral wisdom often mirrored transformative culture. The overlap was remarkable.

Angeles Arrien helps us connect to these different gifts and shadows through the study of 4 archetypes – the teacher, the healer, the leader and the visionary. In short, the four archetypes invite us to:

  • Show up, and choose to be present.
  • Pay attention to what has heart and meaning.
  • Tell the truth without blame or judgement.
  • Be open to outcome, not attached to outcome.

When we lose our way, as we tend to do as humans, we find ourselves in the shadows. Willingly learning all the while, we eventually make our way / take ourselves back to sacred wisdom. And so it goes while we are engaged in the journey of conscious embodiment.

The way learnings 1 and 2 swirled amidst each other was immensely powerful for me. In their own profound ways, they both revealed various narratives we’re taught in this culture, and at the same time showed us that there is another way, if we are willing to courageously move into what’s possible. To do so truly is a radical happening in today’s culture, which encourages and rewards the status quo, and punishes and belittles those who dare to do, or even want, something different.

Throughout this year, it was constantly humbling to discover how deeply entrenched the dominant narrative and the shadow were woven into me in so many unsuspecting ways. And at the same time, it was deeply inspiring and hopeful, as there were very real tools and practices shared which could be utilized alongside other practices I already have in place. In the true nature of transformative and ancestral values, these learnings carried a spirit of compassion and spaciousness throughout them.

These two learnings were the backdrop of a third learning– the most encompassing learning I’ve ever known – Love First[4].

There is less to write about with this learning, because Love is an experiential happening. It’s not an emotion, and not a feeling: it’s a Presence, one which is viscerally and unquestionably  Known. The first two learnings laid a profound groundwork from which I could more deeply employ Love First.

Over the course of this year I persistently asked myself questions: am I employing the dominant narrative in some way? Am I stuck in shadow territory? Am I drawing from transformative values and ancestral wisdom? Am I moving from Love First? These questions, and all their tenets, became my rubric for how I moved in the world.

I got support from trusted embodied guides as I dove into those questions. We often found deep layers of dominant narrative/shadow patterning interwoven into my personality. While my support team was instrumental in helping me reconnect with clarity, it was up to me to be willing to ask these questions, and then explore how I would participate with being in the world, as well as if that participation would be of Love.

No one could answer these questions for me. No one could give me the right answer. No one could tell me if I was in direct alignment with my intention for the year, be in the world, and be of Love. It was up to me to constantly pause, reflect, feel, and most importantly learn. It was up to me to tell the truth, first to myself, and then with those I was participating with. I stumbled over and over and over. And just as many times I found a truth that no one could sway me from because it was from a place that was between me and God, between me and Love.

These questions are now a part of who I am, and I am grateful. Thank you, Mary Ann and Beth for your wisdom and mentorship. Love First, is embodied here.

 

To read more about Lisa Meuser, click here.

 

[1] I’ve blogged about this a few times, mainly here and here.

[2] A local organization, where I completed the consciousness leadership training.

[3] We studied this extensively throughout the course. A short synopsis, or to order.

[4] I wrote about this in 2019 here.

Using the Living Inquiries With Family Constellations to Work With Trauma

By Olaug Rønningsdalen.  

Suppressed traumatic events, unsettled wrongs, broken relationships, etc. found in all families, leave behind traces that are relived by those who follow. The energy of previous generations’ unprocessed trauma is stored in the family system and can affect our lives in many challenging ways. Strong traumatic events that occurred in my mother’s family manifested themselves as a dark, threatening shadow over my life that I could not, for a long time, put into words. Those events had just fused into my experience of being. Only when I was familiar with Family Constellations did I begin to gain an understanding of the dynamics behind the fear, the bodily pain, the whole weight of all the undigested feelings that flooded my mind from birth. The family system could not start to rest until the hidden trauma had found a channel to come up through into the daylight and be seen and felt.

Family Constellation is a type of therapy that’s based on the idea that problems sift down through generations to cause stress in the here and now. Even if you don’t know the traumas of your parents and earlier ancestors, you can learn them through the morphogenic field of energy that surrounds your family. Family Constellations allow us to break these patterns so that we can live healthier, happier, more fulfilled lives. In a moment of insight, a new life course can be set in motion.

The emotional energy that oppressed emotions leave behind, finds a way to be expressed regardless of whether it originates from previous generations or our own lives. The work of Family Constellations revealed how I was woven into the family pattern, and where there were open wounds that I felt I had been dragged into – unconscious feelings which had occurred in others, but which were experienced as mine. Transgenerational trauma is something we are born with, and is most often amplified in growing up with those who have experienced trauma or who were themselves influenced by it. The traces, in the form of fear, guilt, shame, anger etc. and bodily symptoms, make an imprint in our nervous system.

Living Inquiries, with its unique tools to explore what is located in the depths of the mind and body, allows us to loosen this thumbprint of deep-seated, tangled trauma, regardless of whether they originate from our ancestors’ or our own lives. My journey of exploring layer by layer has gone across generations. It has followed an inner, unconscious knowledge that has brought up different themes in an intuitive order. Some topics have intermittently been given rest, to reappear later. Now, looking back, it is possible to see how the pieces have slowly fallen into place, making it possible to let go of it all.

To read more about Olaug Rønningsdalen, click here.

New Year’s Clarity

By Lisa Meuser.  

I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions, but I do enjoy New Year’s clarity.

New Year’s clarity?

At the start of a year, I often connect with a word, a phrase, or an intention that is calling out for me to find clarity with. Hidden gifts always await as  I the word, phrase, or intention weave their way through my being.

In 2019 I knew it was time for me to be more in the world, while not getting lost in it, as has always been my patterning. My intention for the year became Being in the world and Being of Love. This was a radical change for me in that in the years prior I had been focusing on my clients and my personal life.

Since jumping out of that bubble, I have participated more fully than ever as a waking being, in an unwoken world, and it has been one of the most rewarding and learning endeavors of my life. It revealed internal territory I hadn’t worked through, as well as a depth of agency and resourcing that I hadn’t realized was waiting within me to embody.

I have yet to identify where clarity of focus will land for 2020, but my journey of 2019 helped me to stay turned towards some vital questions that I’m sure will help. It is powerful, and necessary, for me to connect with what truly aligns in my being, in whatever it is that I’m doing – on a day to day, moment by moment, basis. As such, connecting to these questions has been immensely profound:

  • Are the activities of my life in simple alignment?
  • If not, why am I engaged with them?
  • If not, do I need to step away from them, or
  • How might I bring more of me into these areas so that I feel an alignment with what is important to me?

A year of increased integrity, a year with more alignment, a year of discovery and deep learning all came as I continued to keep asking myself these simple questions. Throughout the course of the year, these questions became living embodiments. Did I stumble along the way? Absolutely. Were there challenges? Yes! Through difficult times these questions helped me to return to what was important for me, over and over again.

Without even trying, I noticed that the various aspects of my life were aligning synchronistically with one another as I journeyed with being in the world and being of Love.  Acknowledging my hidden racism; deepened clarity of living from Love first; moving from head wisdom to embodied wisdom of Love; an amazing  conscious leadership training that helped me further awaken to ancestral wisdom and the healing power of our stories;  conscious social justice engagement in my community; a weekend of  discovering 5 Rhythms; a powerful Heal Thyself Diversity Training; continued explorations into unwinding the dominant narrative that is perpetuated by culture, and lives in all our psyches; and lastly, the paradoxical co-existence of fear, hope and dreams.

Although being in the world and being of Love will no doubt be a life long journey these questions helped me get more deeply resourced clarity again and again. When I wanted to give up, when I doubted, when I didn’t know how, I gently and compassionately returned to these simple yet wise inquiries. And of course I got help from my support team, who help me to journey into my hidden areas.

These questions – and many others(!) – will continue to burn alive in my being as I move into the unknown of 2020. I look forward to further deepening, creating, and relating with, and to, Life and Love.

What about you? What draws you into conscious participation with 2020?  May you find some clarity, and let it be so!

To read more about Lisa Meuser, click here.

Climate Change

By Kristy Johnsson.  

They march the articles out across our newsfeeds: pictures of the Statue of Liberty submerged in water up to her chest, horrifying headlines reading “Are humans going extinct?”, images of forests on fire.

When I’m in a certain emotional space around this topic, I’ll sometimes walk outside and sit in the tall seeding grass, beside the conifers, willows, and aspen. I just sit there, feeling my body pulsing under me, the subtle river of sensations cascading through me, my attention hanging close to my breath, and to the movement of the brush around me. I feel suspended in time, this precious moment.

The teeming world around me feels alive, mysterious, other-worldly. It hits me that we used to see trees as people, that some cultures still do, and I feel why. I sense a subtle beingness in those trees, and then think about how old colleagues in the sciences would have had a coronary over that statement. I used to not be able to stay this still; the pain inside me was like a never-ending torrent overwhelming and drowning me. These days it’s different. I settle more easily, these barely perceptible undercurrents of life around me more noticeable as I do.

I feel a quiet begging inside, too.

‘Please. Where do I belong in this? Is this what it will come to? After everything, is this how it unfolds? I’m scared, but I’ll do it. What do you want me to do?’

I start to cry, my core heaving, noticing the sensations in my body as I feel a gentle insight (or a response?) that I don’t need to do anything. I’m okay, sitting here, right now.

Ah, the sweet spot.

Every time I meet these feelings of desperation and fear, and yet still honor and witness the protest in me, the thrashing and chaotic thoughts, without losing contact with where I am, something magical happens:

My embodiment of the dying culture that got us here becomes palpable. Those thoughts and beliefs, and the pain that tends to be associated with them, pop out in my awareness and I can see our culture manifest in my body-mind. I don’t fight any of it. I don’t berate it for killing our world, countless people, our bodies and souls. I see it play out, and in the space of seeing it, there’s room for new life: I realize that I don’t have to do anything to save this planet, or other people, or even myself. Nor do I have to do anything to be good or enough.

And then something even more beautiful happens, effortlessly and naturally: I find that feeling my good enoughness – including my pain and struggling – transmutes into motivation to step out into this holy mess anyway. Because I’m grateful to be alive. Because I’m in love with this wild planet.

To read more about Kristy Johnsson, click here.