Home » Blog » Support

Tag: Support

Releasing Strategies, Finding Life

By Lisa Meuser.  

I’m driving, and all of a sudden it goes dark, and the road becomes enclosed. I know how to work the breaks, the gas, and the steering wheel, but everything is different so I’m completely disoriented. I‘m not sure what **to do**.  I no longer see ahead of me, and I can’t get back to where I was. I’m just here… in the dark, where almost nothing is familiar. All the previous tactics I’ve used to drive effectively are suddenly out of context. It’s scary. I don’t know what to do or where I’m going, and yet I must keep driving. I keep hoping this is a bad dream, but I don’t wake up out of this nightmare.

Does the above feel at all familiar? There has been a theme emerging amongst clients lately, and when enough similar experiences are shared, I tend to write about it because I know others are likely experiencing it too.

Although it feels like it was lifetimes ago, my own dark night[1] (ha! I wish it were just one night) will always be a part of me. It is hard to describe what it was like, but for those who have journeyed through such nights, or are currently journeying… we know.

We know what it was like to suddenly lose a kind of functioning that we had taken for granted… strategies that had once become our way of life, snatched away.  Replaced with a knowing that we simply could not go back from whence we came, no matter how much we wanted to.

 

A Way of Life

There is nothing wrong with having strategies – or approaches that help us to deal with life. To be human is to have strategies – little things we do to help us feel safe and comfortable. Most of our strategies got formed when we were young, and they usually formed to help us adapt to dysfunction. Over time, those strategies became how we lived in the world and, well, who we were.

Most of us have survived through varies strategies such as: Pleasing others. Care-taking. Making jokes. Being stoic. Eating too much, or not enough. Playing dumb. Stealing. Invisible-ing ourselves. Rebellious behavior. Obsessive reading. Over-sexualizing others and ourselves. Attention-getting. Isolation. Day-dreaming. Thinking and not feeling. Fanatic studying. Skipping school. Being numb. The list goes on, and on.

Many of these strategies are simple, but they can stack on top of each other. They can limit our full expression, and put us on trajectories filled with harmful relationships – inner and outer. They can cover up pain as well as beautiful aspects of ourselves. Even though they can make our lives miserable, they can make life tolerable, and give us a sense of identity, safety and familiarity. Until…

 

An Egg Cracked Open

Some people’s strategies will be maintained their whole lives. But for others of us… something will happen[2] so as render our strategies ineffective, or not as useful as they used to be. When this happens, it can feel like everything is falling apart, because, on a certain level, it is.

In my experience, those strategies will never again work like they used to. And yet, without proper guidance, we might try to keep using them. Eventually the dam will break, it’s just a matter of how mangled up our lives will get in the process. Traditional psychology or other approaches may try to help individuals reclaim those strategies or find other strategies, in an attempt to put things “back together” for a client. Or, individuals may keep trying to find refuge in their tried and true strategies of the past. There may sometimes be a temporary “fix,” but it’s short-lived. In my own experience, my life got more and more unmanageable as I held onto the familiar yet unhealthy strategies, which elongated the change process, making it more painful, confusing and torturous. At some point, I hit that point of no return.

 

What is Left after we Crack?

The good news is that there is something else beneath the surface of our strategies. In my experience in working with clients and traversing through my own dark night, there is true well-being beneath the layers of strategies that were originally created to adapt to dysfunction. There is Wholeness, and it is waiting for us.

One challenge is that we have to be patient enough to live through the chaos and discomfort of no longer having those strategies that made “everything ok.” There are other invitations that weave in alongside patience. As a friend shared with me:

…it seems to require courage, hope that {things will} change, openness to experimenting with choosing differently – plus a growing capacity to sit within the discomfort, pain, fear and shame and tolerate it. 

In my experience, these resources developed over time, and were not automatically accessible, but something my system learned over time.

It can scary to be without a road map. It can be terrifying to find oneself in a dark tunnel, with no end in sight. In my experience, it felt like death itself: a death while living that felt utterly unbearable. In fact, it was during this time that I lived with constant suicidal ideation. Shame and self-loathing was immense. Isolation and hiding, my learned patterning, made it that much more unbearable. It was only when I found a trusted guide who really heard me, who had been there herself, that my nervous system started to find hope and was able to start the long journey of repairing itself.

In my experience, we need guides during this time – so that we can fall apart, but be supported while this is happening. No one can experience someone else’s terror, but someone can be present while the terror happens. This support communicates deep wisdom to a nervous system, and prepares the being for sustained evolution and deep communion with life.

Through habitual patterning of my life, my attention had included certain aspects of my humanity, but excluded others. My guides helped me include that which I had excluded and they helped me direct attention towards reservoirs in myself that I had never known. This also paved the way for me to experience true self- compassion for the first time in my life. Over time, my neurology changed, and my nervous system’s relationship with life changed as my being was able to open up to discovery, instead of getting lost in hiding and protecting from life.

I didn’t know it at first, but eventually I found that there was something waiting to be found – true well-being. This discovery changed my life, and became a sustainable expression moving forward.

 

Moving Forward

I am sharing this short blog for a few reasons. I hope that sharing some tidbits from my stories and journeys with my clients will help let you know that, if you are journeying in this territory, you are not alone. I hope that it will communicate that there are those who can help shine a light during this pathless time. Lastly, I hope that it may drop at least a single drop of hope and light into your Being.

Please feel free to reach out for support. [3] There are those who have journeyed before you, who are journeying with you now. You are not alone.

[1] often referred to as the dark night of the soul

[2] This life changing event can vary from person to person. It could be from something that seems random, or tied to something very specific.

[3] I also recommend Fiona Robertson’s book, The Dark Night of the Soul: A Journey from Absence to Presence.

To read more about Lisa Meuser, click here.

Fear, Hope and Dreams… and Connection

By Lisa Meuser.  

These words plopped into my system one afternoon when I was in “way deep”. By way deep, I mean in communion with the raw essentials of life – that place where the universe whispers wisdom.

I could feel the universality of these words as they dropped in my lap, so to speak. Amidst all the differences that humans possess, it seems to me that we all have these three flavors running around in our being to varying degrees.

More than that, they are often co-existing and happening at the very same time.

That felt profound because we often try to have, or create homogenous experiences. In other words, we have beliefs or ideas that X is bad, and Z is good. And so we strive. We fight. We push and struggle to try to have a certain kind of experience whilst trying not to have another kind of experience. So, we may try to be “all happy”, for example, with no sadness. Or, we may try to feel “all good (comfortable).” A hidden assumption is the idea that if we have some sadness, all we are is sad, or if we have some discomfort, we have no comfort.

The reality is that humans are vast, and varied. We have the capacity to hold many resonances at once – even conflicting ones. We can be both hot AND cold. We can have some pain, and some experiences of comfort. We can be sad, and ok. All at the same time.

Being conscious of this frees us from having to resist or constrain our experiences. When we leave the restrictive and limited territory of either/or, and enter the vast territory of AND, we find a very different relationship with life. And, in the process, we discover allowance and kindness.

So… when it became clear to me – from the depths of my being  – that we can have fear, AND have hope, AND have dreams all at the same time, something big popped open and my system felt safer than it ever had.

There was a time when life was different for me – when fear wasn’t allowed, and when safety was not a lived reality.

 

FEAR. Hope? Dreams? 

For most of my life, I lacked a conscious relationship with fear. Instead my system had built up a habit of denying fear. Rather than acknowledge fear, I got lost in hope and dreams, and stayed disconnected from the reality of my experience.

This may not sound like such a bad way to live, except that to live in denial is to live in separation. Because I wasn’t able to connect to fear, I had to stay disconnected from my body, and I had to live in my head. My fear of fear kept me out of my body, and as such, kept me out of full participation with life. The hopes and dreams that I had weren’t embodied – they were rather superficial, lacking substance of being, and were mental replacements for being fully engaged with life.

It is not possible to fully participate with life when one is in one’s head, when one is trying to discount the human experience, and when one is pretending one’s way through life.

In trying to avoid fear, I fawned, faked and fucked my way through life in a way that helped me survive, but didn’t help me thrive. From the outside I seemed fearless. On the inside, I didn’t really acknowledge that fear existed. I was disconnected from my body to such an extent that I had very little self-awareness or conscious relationship with my experiences. I was involved in a façade that even I was unaware of.

 

Fear. Fear. Fear. Hope? … Dreams?

A series of things happened in my life that woke me up and brought my ability and desire to pretend to a screeching halt. As my psyche fell apart, so did my strategies. I went from being disconnected from fear, to being consumed by fear. All the ways I had maneuvered through life were gone. It is devastating when a personality loses its way – when all the pretending and strategies don’t work anymore.

I think back to those days, which I think of as my own personal hell, but which others have named “the dark night of the soul.” The hardest part of that time period was the over-abundance of fear, and minimal sense of hope or dreams. During that time, I could not see through my fear. Hence, the dark night reference.

When we’re in a dark room, we can’t see what is coming, or where we’re going. And it can be terrifying. As my psyche crumbed, my lack of knowing if things would ever get better, and the fear that they would not, led to constant suicide ideation.

It was a compassionate friend and loving somatic therapists who allowed me to keep going, to see what might happen…  to have a sliver of hope. The love and support they provided was a balm to my nervous system, keeping the flame of hope and shadows of dreams a possibility. The gift of heart connection was powerful in ways I didn’t fully understand then. It allowed me to keep on keeping on, whilst wanting to be done (i.e. dead) every day.

 

Fear. Hope, Dreams, too.

It took me a while to get real with fear. It was uncomfortable, humiliating, terrorizing, destabilizing. It was a scary time. Until it wasn’t.

Slowly, over time, I started to have spontaneous moments where small resonances of hope started to pop through as things started to feel different. It was as if, even in the darkness, some light had made its way through. The darkness became less threatening and less suffocating. I started to experience space.

This makes me wonder if it’s programmed into our DNA coding to hope, and to dream, amidst fear and darkness. Maybe it is our ability to imagine – to dream – that allows the chemicals needed to boost hope, even when the reality of our lives is dismal. Maybe it is in honoring fear, that these others once again find life. And maybe it is through connection that these sparks of hopes and dreams stay lit.

 

Fear, Hope, Dreams

One day the fear of fear switched into a sincere and safe relationship with fear. The over-abundance of fear softened, the resonances of hopes and dreams increased, and a trust in life revealed itself. No longer were hopes and dreams a way to evade the present moment, or to fake my way through life. Instead hopes and dreams were the resonances of life and creation in motion.

As my system is now safe to acknowledge fear’s existence, my system feels so much stronger, so much more empowered and has a deepened sense of trust. It is strange to think that getting honest about fear can lead to empowerment. After all, wouldn’t it just yield more fear? In my experience, no.

Waking up can be an unbelievably counterintuitive process. When I fully acknowledge fear, instead of turning from it, hope springs forth with ease and playfulness and curiosity. It doesn’t come as an escape, or as a bypass, or as a strategy to feel ok. Hope comes as a form of creation, birthed from creation.

From creation comes something deeper – dreams. Perhaps it takes some safety to dream, to have vision. We’ve all likely either been in difficult spots ourselves, or known someone, or seen movies with characters, who have had their dreams beaten out of them. Trauma can do that to a person.  However, I have a hunch that it is in our human coding to dream, and I think, even in those darkest times, something lies dormant, in-waiting, that sustains the existence of dream energy.

I’m thinking of a time in my life when vision melded with dream energy, hope, and fear. It was after the experience of a miscarriage, a time that was filled with much confusion and devastation. On the heels of that experience, a life-altering vision came my way. I was gifted an understanding of how trauma works as a part of the human matrix, and it became my dream to connect with people using this new approach. It was this vision that birthed my private practice, which I named Integrative Healing.

There was also fear during this time: I was beginning a new business, utilizing an approach that didn’t have reputation or proof, and moving from mothering full time back into a potential career for myself. It felt as if hope and fear held a tension that catapulted me into a great adventure. I didn’t let fear hold me back, but met it full on, as I stayed true to the hopes and dreams that were birthing. Honoring the fear, as well as the hopes and dreams, allowed me to move deeper into my passion of building connection with people and with life.

 

Fear, Hope, and Dreams… and Connection

I wonder if science will one day find a way to measure the accuracy of this. I can only go off of my own lived experience, and the experiences I have as a somatic therapist. I’ve been in dark places. I have had clients in dark places. Did we have hopes, and dreams, amidst our fears? While sometimes experienced as dormant, it seems to me that yes, we did. In the darkest of times, the power of love and connection brought me back to possibility over, and over, and over again.

The more conscious we become of that which holds us back – fear – the more hopes and dreams are free to birth themselves into creation. We are at a pivotal time in history – it is the perfect time to learn how to develop a healthy relationship with fear, rather than be immobilized by it.

May we all move towards accessing the creative energies necessary to birth a better tomorrow. May we all learn how to tap into the resonances of embodiment. May we all feel safe to be with the magnitude of being human, and learn how to connect with each other – to support and love each other together – in our dance of fear, hopes and dreams.

To read more about Lisa Meuser, click here.

Both Individual and Collective: Meeting Rapaciousness

By Fiona Robertson.  

When we engage consistently and deeply in inquiry, our experience of it changes over time. Embodied inquiry develops and evolves, the process itself deepening as we individually and collectively deepen. True to its name, this inquiry is indeed living.

I’ve been inquiring for over seven years now. While self-focused beliefs took up much of my looking in the early years, what comes up now is often collective as well as personal. There’s a sense that what I’m looking at isn’t just mine; sometimes it’s obviously from my family system or ancestry, and sometimes it feels like an aspect of the archetypal human pattern.

Last week, for example, I was aware of some strong energy that felt like a residue from the old beliefs about myself. I sensed that it belonged to my creature-self. (When I’m inquiring, I often find words and descriptions arise that I wouldn’t ordinarily use, and which I may not understand intellectually). As I stayed with this residual creature-self energy, little spurts of emotion or thought sprang up, then quickly faded into almost-nothing.

After a while, the word ‘rapaciousness’ came and fitted the energy perfectly. Not entirely sure of its exact meaning, I looked up the dictionary definition:

Rapacious: from the Latin rapare, to seize. Grasping, extortionate, given to plundering or seizing by force, predatory.

Yes. This was the energy of never-ending rapaciousness, of covert, manipulative wanting, of taking what you are not entitled to, the energy of predation. As I felt it through my body, I sensed how I had cut off from it, how consciously I abhorred it, yet here it was within me, as it is in so many of us. As I felt it, I began to see memories of times when I’d taken more than my fair share, times when I’d lied to get what I wanted or to conceal my greed. I had to acknowledge this rapaciousness had manifested in me over the years in all kinds of ways. Taking that extra doughnut while no-one was looking. Lying to myself that the brief dalliance with a married man was justifiable because we hadn’t had sexual relations according the Clintonian definition. Staying in relationships that I knew weren’t right because having something felt better than the nothing I assumed would result if I left. Minor crimes by comparison to the more extreme expressions of this energy, but expressions of it nonetheless.

After a while, it became apparent that the rapaciousness tries to magnetise things and people, pulling them towards itself. It wants to take things without having to make any effort to earn them. Recognising this rapaciousness as the energy of abusers, predators, conquerors and takers – the energy that fuels capitalism, putting profit above all else – I began to sense that monks, nuns and their ilk withdrew from the world in an effort to control this energy, attempting to rein it back by taking vows of chastity, poverty and simplicity. As we know from the history of the church, both ancient and modern, this strategy didn’t work too well. We cannot simply lock out or deny the rapaciousness, because it gets through in whatever ways it can, and will not be naysaid.

More insights came as I continued to feel the energy of rapaciousness. Envious of others, it is underhand and conniving, finding loopholes, justifications and get-out clauses, sneakily framing events or situations in ways that allow it to believe its actions are okay, or even noble. It has no idea what or where ‘enough’ is. It is very different to desire; desire feels simple, natural, gentle. Rather, this energy is greed and avarice, unchecked appetite which knows no limits. I saw that some people who are bad at controlling their rapaciousness end up imprisoned or vilified, while others, equally bad at controlling it but afforded privilege by dint of their class, race, gender or background, end up in powerful positions, feted around the world. A question came with a wave of emotion: How did it come to this, that we are run by our rapaciousness?

Suddenly, I noticed: the rapacious energy is utterly desperate for attention. Its mantra is like me, like me, like me, with the emphasis on me. But however much attention it gets, it remains insatiable; in fact, giving it unquestioning attention seems to make it even more pronounced. I sat with the energy for a long while, unsure how the session would unfold. Even though it was deeply uncomfortable to feel, I began to feel grateful to have identified it, to have seen it for what it is. Gradually, another part of me emerged, a part that can’t bear the pain the rapaciousness causes. My sense is that more and more of us are connecting with this part within us that cannot countenance what the rapaciousness gives rise to, both within ourselves and the world.

Over the next few days, the rapacious energy itself began to change. An insight into its origins came; when I was young, my creature-self needed support to be itself but no support was forthcoming, so it became rapacious as a way to support itself. The rapaciousness developed as a way to deal with the pain of not having my dependency needs met. It is a distorted outgrowth of that original, natural need for support. Only by becoming more fully conscious of it, and meeting it as it is – neither denying it nor feeding it – can we hope to integrate it and so end its excesses, however great or small those excesses may be.

Fiona Robertson is the author of The Dark Night of the Soul: A Journey from Absence to Presence and a Living Inquiries Senior Facilitator/Trainer.

To read more about Fiona Robertson, click here.