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Waking Up – A Rebellious Act of Love

By Lisa Meuser.

“Transform yourself to transform the world…”
Grace Lee Boggs

 

What’s going on?

Across the world, cities are coming alive with awakenings. These are important times, perhaps what Joanna Macy calls the “great turning.” Some have been on this path for a while, and for others it is rather new. Regardless, as always, we will need each other to learn from, share with, and lean on. Together we will evolve. Together we will wake up.

Including More

It dawned on me a few years ago that the matrix journeying I was doing with clients, looking into their lifelong webs and traveling back in time to generational lineages, was short-sighted. I was “progressive” in my field, but not progressive enough as I hadn’t seen that the matrix of the individual was directly related to the matrix of culture. Transformative wisdom teaches us that history is important – I had seen this from a micro lens, and, had excluded the crucial macro lens.

This seeing was my entry way into exploring how the dominant narrative culturally exists, and that our individual dominant narrative mirrors that: they are all webbed within a matrix. For example, when we live in a culture that is run by a white authoritative narrative, and we do, we will embody that authoritative narrative within ourselves, and we do.

This was pretty “radical” wake up back then. Social justice groups weren’t very interested in their own individual dominant narrative, and still often aren’t. Spiritual and psychological groups weren’t so interested in culture’s dominant narrative, and still often aren’t. But here we are – in a time when it’s clear that the micro and the macro are inseparable, and it is becoming crystal clear that as social justice advocates, we must be connected to what is going on internally, and as healers and somatic practitioners, we must be connected to what is going on with culture. As forerunners of change, we are invited to go deeper into the relationship of all things so that true change and transformation can occur.

For many of you, what I’ve just said will make sense, and for others I may be using language that is new or confusing. Keep reading… I write many posts that will usher in useful context.

Some of you have asked about my own journey of waking up with regards to racism and social injustice. I prefer to center Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) voices, however since I have written on these topics in the past, I am sharing them in this post, as many have shared that they have been useful in exploring racism and our historically racist culture.  

If you don’t have time to read any of the posts below, please consider checking out this link.
It has an extensive list of resources that are categorized, and way beyond my own personal list of resources that I offer in one of my posts below. There is also this link, which has an annotated and non-annotated option. There are many great lists of resources, these are just two.

My Journey, Through Blog Posts

These posts are shared following the timeline in which they were written. You will see my own personal evolution, as you read them. There is a lot not included in these posts, but I hope that they will provide some useful information. The waking up continues! 

*Connecting to the Heart While Connecting to the Social Justice Pain. The first in a 3 part series, in this post I explore how to be more present to social injustices, while staying in my heart. 

*The Gift of Consciously Connecting to Anger, aka Social Justice, Heart-Work, and Evolution. In this post I dive deeper into how not to fall into overwhelm and debilitating anger when we start to wake up to social injustices. 

*Heart-Work; Guiding us Forward. The third in a 3 part series, in this post I dive more deeply into what I call “Heart work” and some practical tips to stay connected to heart while exploring painful realities. 

*Acknowledging the Racist Within: confronting my white privilege and ignorance. This is my “coming out” story of my own racism. 

*Resources that help me learn: Including our bodies in social justice: voices that teach. In this blog post I share resources that have helped me along the journey. 

*Loosening the Grip of Oppression. This blog post explores the oppression that lives inside our minds; learning about this territory is central to waking up and having compassion for our self. 

*Deepening With Each Other. In this blog post I write about how in 2019 I moved from being somewhat isolated to being an active and engaged participant in life, and some key learnings that came with it.

*New Year’s Clarity. In this piece I write about questions to connect with that will help guide me into 2020.

*Learning to Exist, Safely. In this post I write about how I moved from pretending, towards honestly. This is particularly relevant in these times. 

*Journeying with Generational Trauma. In this blog post I continue to dive beneath the surface in connecting to hidden traumas in my family of origin that had been holding my trauma in place, impacting my life. 

*Out of Overwhelm: Discovering Self-Regulation, Discovering Self-Love. 

Relevant for these days, in which there is a lot of overwhelm, for so many of us, I offer practical tips on how to self-regulate. 

I hope these may be helpful for you on your journey of waking up out of trauma and into being a more full and conscious participant with life. If you have questions based on something you’ve read, please reach out. If you are struggling and/or would like me to write about specific topics, please let me know.  A reminder that I love you all, no matter who you are, or what you believe. Love is waiting and available for everyone.

To read more about Lisa Meuser, click here.

How Full Is Your Well?

By Lisa Meuser.

Almost daily, I journey with clients who are beating themselves up during these Covid-19 times for not being more productive, so I thought I’d write a little about it.

I think it’s worthwhile to consider why we might not be as productive as we think we should be. I think it’s useful to be reflective and ask ourselves questions…

  • What do we need in order to be productive?
  • What helps us to be able to be productive?
  • What gets in our way or diminishes our abilities to be productive?
  • Why does it matter to us if we’re being productive?
    and
  • How full is our internal well?While I love the terrain of the first questions, I’m mainly going to be focusing on that last question: How full is our internal well?

For most of the individuals that I’m speaking with, we have noticed that before COVID-19 came around, their well was already dry, or mostly dry. This is really common because we live in a culture that overworks, that over-thinks, that over-demands, and underneath it all, doesn’t value self-connection, self-awareness, self-love, nor the nourishment of our hearts, our minds, and our bodies. In fact, many in our culture won’t even have the luxury of considering their internal well.

When our wells are dry and then a pandemic strikes, we might immediately ask ourselves: “is this really the right time to think or expect ourselves or others to be productive? Does that really make sense?”  While it’s hard to counter those dominant narrative[1] thoughts that we hear all day in our own heads, and from the collective, it’s essential for our well-being that, if we are able[2], we slow down and ask ourselves questions.

Again I ask, “When our wells are dry and then a pandemic strikes, is that really the right time to think or expect ourselves or others to be productive? Does that really make sense?” Or, might it be a time to instead slow down and acknowledge that our well is empty, and first we need to, at least, begin to fill it. Perhaps it would be a radical act to get clear and name this, if at all possible, before we take on anymore: we need to tend to our depleted wells.

Yep, I know, easier said than done – those internalized, dominant narrative thoughts are strong, and scarcity fears and realities are intense at the moment. But, if you are someone who is wondering why they’re not more productive in this time, and if you are able to slow down… I invite you to ask yourself how full your well has been. Was it full before Covid 19? Was it full for a year leading up to Covid 19? Has it ever been full? If your well has not been full, please know this isn’t your fault. Please don’t think it’s one more thing to beat yourself up about. This is an outcome of the systemic, dominant narrative that we are all a part of that ignores our wells.

If you are beating yourself up for not being productive, or for having an empty well, I have an experiment for you. If you are able, choose to consciously decide to not be productive in all the ways. See what is possible to walk away from for a few weeks. Put the X away. Put Y aside. Acknowledge that this just isn’t the time. Give yourself permission not to be productive as you think you should be, knowing that any other expectation would just be a set up for more self-judgement. Additionally, give yourself permission to ask for help from friends, family, and/or from local service providers who are working in mutual aid.

As you put X aside, take up this curious question: what is it that fills your well, just even a little bit? What happens as you put aside X, and take up Z instead?? I took this question to heart. Slowing down to connect to the micro within moments, has been filling my well – watching the beak of a bird eating bird seed, examining the unfolding of a leaf or flower bud with my eyes and nose, experiencing a micro movement of breath within a breath, watching the tongue of my cat, feeling the aches of my heart, the growth in my garden, hearing the witty and wise comments out of my daughter’s mouth, taking part in community meditations, listening to the movements of leaves, the sound of feet on the floor…   All of these various “Z”s have been contributing to my well. What about you?

If your well is not full, the time of a pandemic is not the time to push yourself, judge yourself, pressure yourself into being a more productive human being. Instead, if you are able, gift your mind, your heart, and your entire being, the nourishment needed to let your well begin to fill[3].

When your well begins to start to fill again, it may be the time to take on some of the questions I posed at the beginning: What do you need in order to be productive? What helps you to be able to be productive? What gets in your way or diminishes your ability to be productive? Why does it matter to you if we’re being productive? Once your well starts to fill again, you will be tempting to engage in the very same behaviors that empty your well, so before you do that… I invite you to go slow, and stay connected to yourself.

I came into the pandemic with my well mostly full, as I had just taken four days off with practices and people who fill my heart, mind and being. After those four days, returning back to life as I had known it was tempting – my caregiving and fixing conditioning can be loud, and the dominant narrative seductively started blasting through organizations I was a part of, through my Facebook newsfeed, and through my very own psyche as the pandemic hit full force.

Fortunately, I am committed to seeing through the destructive ways of the dominant narrative and how I partake in them, and are surrounded by others who are too, so I immediately started to ask myself the questions I posed above. I keep returning to those questions and continue exploring whenever the “productive bug” gets in my ear.

In the spirit of tending to my own well, which I am being very mindful of these days with regards to how full (or empty) it is, I will resist the urge to share more, and instead keep this blog short.

I invite you to stay curious, stay connected to your well, and reach out for support as needed. These are challenging times for most, and you do not have to muddle through it alone.

To all my survivor friends, I love you, I care about you, I see you. You are worthy just as you are. I imagine us breathing in Love together and letting that breath be enough, knowing that we too are enough, just as we are.

To read more about Lisa Meuser, click here.

[1]  I’ve written about the dominant narrative here and here

[2] Unfortunately, many may be in predicaments where, due to a variety of reasons, they do not have the time/space to slow down, ask such questions, or even consider their well.

[3] Again, it is important to acknowledge that many people will not have the privilege to consider their own well. If this is you, or someone you love, please look into your local area’s support services as many communities are forming mutual aid groups to help care for those who are in need.

Covid 19 Invocations

By Lisa Meuser.

I pray with the unseen these days.
And yet, I pray with the seen, too.
The buds, the sprouts, the blossoms, the leaves.

I pray with the new blessings that appear out of nowhere in the shape of a flower slowly revealing itself, cloud formations from a once all grey sky, 13 deer appearing amidst my evening walk, and sun beams striking through the depths of my being: all, in their own way, waking me from slumber, uniting me with the unseen.

I pray with the unseen behind the seen.
The ever-changing winds of change,
bringing who knows what tomorrow,
who knows what today.

The angered conversations online, as well as the exchanges of sweet sorrow.
Broken hearts, clenching guts, joy, and gratitude.
There is truth in all of it.

I pray with the seen, and the unseen present to it all.
Always wanting to do more, knowing that my stamina has been my super power,
I continue to bring my breath back to the unseen, and I pause
for moments longer than ever before.

In trusting the unseen I honor the action that
has no action,
the Love that doesn’t always take form, and
the dancing tree tops who witness it all.

To read more about Lisa Meuser, click here.

Journeying with Generational Trauma

By Lisa Meuser.

2019 came to completion with clarity that some endings were coming. Historically speaking, it’s powerful when my system undeniably lands on an ending, often because the joy of a new beginning is already en route. The clarity ushers in more momentum for the new beginnings, which can be both exhilarating, and also messy. Exhilarating because, “YES! (and, Finally!)”, and messy because, hidden in that “Finally!” is some clutter due to how long it took me to achieve said clarity. Have you ever had the knowing that something was done or complete, but you delayed? It’s like keeping cream in the fridge way past its expiration date- it’s just not going to end well.

So, in comes 2020, and I’m in the midst of 3 “letting go’s.” Life is taking me forward, and a part of me has already moved on. But also, I was in the middle of some messes. Why had I delayed these endings anyway?  Why hadn’t I acted on this clarity sooner? It felt prudent to explore what was going on with my resistance to letting go. What was I afraid of? It was time to find out as my resistance was impacting my integrity and affecting others.

 

Who Would Have Known?

A lot of profound discoveries and releasing happened as I journeyed into these questions, revealing more and more clarity, but at some point, I kept feeling stuck – like I was going round and round, unable to fully move forward. I felt entangled, but it just didn’t make any logical sense. At one point, when I found myself triggered yet again, the word “displaced” came up. It felt random, and I couldn’t quite connect to the word, but I journeyed through the sense of pain and sorrow that I was experiencing, and things settled for me.

Days later, I found myself lost in thoughts again. I could feel a sense of fear, but when I looked right at it, none of it seemed real – but the word came back: displaced. I sat with the word, and it took me to remembrances of my young years, where I experienced a sense of being displaced in my own home due to various circumstances. Then my grandmother flashed into my attention, and I named how, coming to the US as a refugee of sorts, she must have felt very displaced. I saw the continued link to the word “displaced”, and knew it was pointing to some generational trauma, but it didn’t go super deep.

The next morning, I found myself once again having fears about these various endings. Again, the thoughts didn’t seem to be real, but at the same time I knew something was there. The word displaced came to me again, and this time it went right into my being. All of a sudden, a dam broke open, and I saw and felt what it must have been like for my grandmother to leave her own country because of her ethnicity. I saw generations of “her people”, being persecuted and killed for their beliefs and alignments. I saw the immense suffering she/they experienced by being who they were.

As I stayed connected to this download, I felt immense shame, confusion, pain and terror in my own body. There was a deep sense of not being safe, of being targeted, of being treated violently – all because of one’s innocent affiliation. The images were powerful. The felt sense was intense. My body was shaking, as if I was living out the images I was seeing. My very survival seemed in question. I felt like it was almost too much to be with. I reached out for support, and let my heart keep breaking open, wider and wider. Eventually breath found me, and my system shifted into the loving and life-giving flow of breath. Phew.

 

Confessing our Stories: “The heartbeat of racism is denial, the heartbeat of anti-racism is confession.”  Ibram X. Kendi

This kind of inward journeying, as uncomfortable as it may be, is an essential part of my life. I journey with those who have been horribly oppressed due to the infrastructure of our culture, in ways I will never directly experience or understand, and so I must explore my own oppression, as well as how I have oppressed others. The world is riddled with white, black and brown bodies bursting with somatic trauma, in all the nooks and crevices, with black and indigenous bodies continuing to pay the highest price, while those from south of the United States borders are being overtly tortured. These stories of oppression are sacred. Connecting with the stories and realities of oppression, and of oppressing, are vital to our existence.

It is a lot to feel. It’s a lot to acknowledge. It’s a lot to get honest about.

When we confess to the pain, suffering and legacies of our ancestors, and feel into the depth of that with loving support and compassion, we may discover our hearts opening to the suffering of /within our own lineage, and also to the suffering that others have experienced or that we’ve contributed to. What we often discover is that compassion yields more compassion; compassion for ourselves/others allows us to have compassion for others/ourselves. Through this process we may find that we are able to open our hearts to life more fully as we are no longer in denial.

 

Safety in Presence

The week of that ancestral download was a hard week for me. While processing through such deep territory brought relief from what I’d been struggling with in my personal life, it left me feeling exposed and vulnerable, without much surface area to land on. It took time, but eventually my system acclimatized to that, and left me feeling open to include life, and be held by it at the same time.

What was it that allowed me to feel to the depths of such pain and suffering that day? I’d travelled into these territories before many times, but this felt deeper – both personal, and way beyond me.  As counter-intuitive as it might sound, it seems to me that it was safety in Presence that allowed me feel into such abysmal darkness. It has been my experience many times that the safer our systems are, the deeper we can feel into the existence of humanity – into Presence itself. While this may not be the gift we think we are waiting to receive, it is truly a gift to sit within Presence, and safely feel into the pain of our being and the pain of other beings. When we are able to do this, there is no where we cannot go, nothing we cannot feel, and nothing to hide from.

 

The Journey Continues 

I am constantly humbled by the process of embodied somatic inquiry, and the wisdom present in journeying this way. Nowhere to get to, nowhere to go, no hurry to figure out or fix – just an invitation to gently, lovingly and curiously look at what is coming up, however it presents itself in that moment.

“It is only through letting our heart break that we discover something unexpected: the heart cannot actually break, it can only break open. When we feel both our love for this world and the pain of this world – together, at the same time – the heart breaks out of its shell. To live with an open heart is to experience life full-strength.” John Welwood

Uniting with Presence allows a glimpse into the vast Intelligence of life/love, and the knowing that we are a part of that intelligence – not the center of it, but woven amidst. We can’t know peace when we are not at peace with the vastness of humanity, when we are stuck in fighting, in hiding, and in denial. It may not be not pleasant to journey into “not peace”, and yet once we learn it is safe to feel, even though there is pain, and discomfort, and fear, we learn that the heart has no limitation as to how far it can stretch; that there is no end to the depths of what it includes and nothing that it is not. Love is infinite.

 

To read more about Lisa Meuser, click here.

Liar Liar! Our Dumpster’s on Fire

By Lisa Meuser.

Word is finally getting out – we’re starting to acknowledge that, for the most part, we’ve all been raised in a culture of dishonesty[1]. As a result, we, as individuals, born out of this dishonesty, often don’t have our own sense of integrity, own up to how our behaviors have impact, or talk about accountability. And we don’t often explore – and sometimes don’t even know how to talk about – how to be honest, have integrity, be accountable, and be responsible, especially without blaming or shaming ourselves, or others. Instead, we often deny and project inwards and/or outwards, to protect our hurting and often confused selves.

Let’s face it, it can be really scary to hurt and painful to be confused (or in dissonance). Pain, especially as a child, can feel like death – particularly when we don’t have loved ones to help us through it, and even more so when it is our “loved ones” who are causing the pain.

If we don’t have healthy support to be with our pain, we learn to adapt. We learn to do whatever it takes to be “fine.” We do that in lots of ways, and depending on our contexts or environments, we figure out ways to adapt or manage our surroundings (or ourselves) so that we feel safe, in control, and “fine.”


No Self

When I was a kid I was expected to be fine. I was punished for being angry, and shamed for crying. I had low levels of fear almost all the time, not knowing how to “be me” in a way that was safe. I learned how to feign[2] my way through life. Being dishonest with myself, and others, was the only way I could survive.

Feigning is a 4th fear response (when I’ve written about it before I’ve also sometimes referred to it as a strategy of not just feigning, but also to fawn, fake, fool, fuck… the list goes on, of ways humans engage so that we can feel safe in moments[3]). We’re all familiar with fight, flight, and freeze. Feign is often not recognized as a fear response because when one is in feign it can look so “normal.” This is an important adaptive skill that saved my life, but it also had a cost later in my life.

Pretending became a way of life for me, so much that “I” didn’t know I was pretending. I didn’t even know myself, because I didn’t actually have a self. I had gotten so good at adapting and feigning that I had no real me. I was safest in not even existing. As you can imagine, later I gravitated towards spiritual practices that helped me avoid myself.


Learning to Exist

I was talking with a client the other day about personality tests. We talked about how hard those tests were, because we didn’t have a self to answer from. We only knew how to answer from our imagined senses of self – based on others, based on past, and /or based on future, but without the ability to answer based on a self that lives in the now.

When we don’t have a sense of self, we don’t really know who we are, or how we are. What we do know is that we want to feel good – we want to be comfortable. Of course! Unfortunately, when we don’t really have a sense of self, we can’t be connected to a sense of comfort from within. More than that, we may not even know what our bodies like, or the simple things or practices that might bring us comfort. It’s important that we “get to know ourselves”!

Some people came over to my house not long ago for the first time. One of them said, “Your house is so comfortable! Soft blankets and pillows and warm scents and colors!”  Yes, as I became connected with my Being, I discovered that I could resource comfort in healthy, non-destructive ways.  Once upon a time, I didn’t know myself well enough to support myself in such simple, loving ways. Instead, I relied upon dysfunctional adaptation and feigning, chasing the desire to feel comfortable in unhealthy ways. This often involved trying to get comfort from others (usually individuals who were also unhealthy), and by engaging in certain behaviors that were destructive, often with those same people. Double whammy!  Getting honest that (1) I am a human being who has needs (comfort), and (2) there are ways to safely resource comfort, has literally changed my life.


Pretending to Death 

I went home to see my family not long ago. In the course of a conversation, my mom let me know that things “are fine!” at home.  I was taken aback – our metrics for “fine” are clearly very different, and also, sometimes we can’t see what we can’t see. When we’re in a situation where we don’t feel like we have any control, we will very easily neutralize dysfunction and toxicity, by adapting and/or pretending, even to ourselves, in the process. While it is understandable that we adapt so that we can feel (the delusion) of safety, it can also be unhealthy, and even dangerous.

I know the reality of this. I was in an abusive relationship – and I knew I needed to get out, but it.was.so.hard.  Many of us have been in these situations in different ways – in dysfunctional relationships with people, organizations, places, behaviors, and things. We know X is “bad” for us, or that something “isn’t quite right here,” but we can’t stop/get out.

At that time in my life, a healthcare provider was uncertain what to do. She was seeing my health suffering and my nervous system in shambles, but she couldn’t make sense of it. “Are you having fun with him?”, she asked. She didn’t know that that wasn’t the right question to ask. Sure I was having fun. There was lots of sex, some drugs, and great rock and roll. In other words, lots of feel good hormones were flowing. I wasn’t having fun because I was in a relationship with *him*. I was having fun because I was an expert at adapting to dysfunction and pretending even to myself, and those feel good hormones made it so much easier.

Being in an abusive relationship distorts everything inside one’s psyche. The healthy sense of self that I had developed could not hold up under the cleverness of his sociopathy. He was the straw that broke my conditioning’s back, so to speak, and for that I will always be grateful. But recovering from that relationship was hard – the darkest nights of my soul.

Being forced out of my world of feigning was terrifying. I wanted to die every day of my life, but to most of the world I said I was fine. My life raft was my best friend – I could admit to her that I was not fine at all. And then a short while later, I felt safe enough to mention it to a somatic practitioner, who helped me to safely feel into how “not fine” I really was. Those first steps led me into a long period of recovery – where I learned that I had developed a deeply unhealthy relationship with Love, and to manage the pain of that, I had lost my Self. It took time to feel safe enough to no longer pretend to myself.  It took time to develop a true sense of Being.

At the core of the healing (and waking up) journey is honesty. It’s not so easy, however, when we’re in a culture of dishonesty, and when we’ve not been taught or given good role models of people who live lives from integrity, accountability, and honesty. It can take a while to feel safe to be honest. It can take a while to FEEL at all. It is important to get support from loving beings while we learn to have a self, a self who needs love and comfort. In addition to the blog posts linked earlier, here are some other blog posts, here, here, and here, which may provide some more information and support. If you would like some gentle meditation/rest audios, you will find them free here and some here that can be downloaded.  And, in the footnote are two more pieces not written by me.


The Burning Dumpster 

It was a client who sent me the image that goes with this blog post. I laughed for quite a while after looking at the image, as it is sometimes the case that she can be feeling quite “on fire” but when asked, says “I’m fine.” She knows that for most of my life I also hid behind “fine”. It’s so common, isn’t it?    To feel one way, but to say we feel another way.  We are on a journey, we humans.

Just now, playing around with the words, I came to a turnaround of sorts…. After years of pretending I was fine when I wasn’t, after years of being afraid of the feelings involved, afraid of not feeling anything less than fine… after all these years, maybe it’s fine to be not fine. Maybe it’s fine to be a mess. Maybe it’s even fine to be on fire (not literally, of course).

And, maybe it was also fine to be not fine, but to say I was. Once upon a time, that was a very useful strategy. Sometimes it still is.

I appreciate how we are all on our unique journeys – not being dumpsters, but being human beings – and that here, we’re learning how to name our experiences, feel our experiences, and journey with our experiences – as ever changing as they are.

So, how are you?

To read more about Lisa Meuser, click here.

[1] Stolen lands, stolen and then enslaved people, corrupt capitalism… just to name the overt biggies.

[2] Two other blog posts where I’ve written about Feign/fawn: Fear, Hope, Dreams…and Connection . Reconnecting with our Bodies. A Journey of Allowance.

[3] Feign as strategies of “fuck” and “fool.”  One of the reasons feign can be known as a “fuck” is because having sex can become a way we try to manufacture safety. Fooling others is another- for example, manipulating people through charismatic modes of being is often found in spiritual teacher and/or narcissistic personality types who get safety by cleverly having power over others.