What if you could subvert suffering, improve health and wellness and live contentedly? There is a way. Let's escape into the present.
The Practice of Letting Go
Meditation is the practice of 'focusing one's mind.' Many of us have a skewed understanding of what that means. I for one, thought it meant turning off my brain and not having thoughts.
"My brain is overflowing with thoughts and ideas non-stop,' I thought. "Meditation is not for me."
A few years ago, I discovered a meditation place in the town I'd just moved to. Always eager to try something new, I decided to give it a go. They offered all sorts of meditation experiences and teachings. Not knowing what any of it meant, I just went to the first thing that fit my schedule.
As I sat facing the wall, I was hyperaware of the room full of people behind me. There's an unsettled anxiousness to having my back turned to so many people. From this position, I was unable to scan and assess, something my nervous system had been trained to do through a lifetime of trauma. Hypervigilance, it's called, though I didn't know that word at the time.
There were no instructions, other than to face the wall and don't move. My mind raced.
What am I supposed to be doing?
Am I doing this right?
I can't see what other's are doing to gauge what I should be doing.
And just for some added fun, incense was burning. I am allergic and my head was splitting. As the room continued to fill with smoke, my lungs burned from lack of oxygen and I could feel the asthma attack ramping up along with the anxiety.
Finally, in a full blown panic attack, I ran, humiliated, from the room.
I seemed to move in slow motion. My rising panic short-circuited my brain, causing me to fumble as I tried to insert my feet into my shoes to disappear from this horrid place forever.
The meditation leader approached. I tried to be polite. I really just wanted to scream, 'What the hell's wrong with you!?"
She recognized I was having a panic attack and gently talked me through it. In the end, she explained that meditation is not about turning off the brain, that's not possible - I instantly relaxed a little, but it's about not becoming attached to the thoughts as they arise. She explained that anxiety is normal in the beginning because we've been so conditioned to 'control' and meditation is about surrender. I relaxed more.
With a bit more explanation and guidance, she had me fully intrigued. She offered to get rid of the incense. Though my head was still splitting, airing out the smoke-filled room allowed my lungs to calm down a bit.
I was able to go back in and resume my first meditation experience, complete with hyper awareness of every ache, pain and tickle. I I began practicing letting go.
A Different Type of Meditative Practice
That was a few years ago. I can't say I've since established a thriving meditation practice. I can't even remember to take my fish oil every day. While I rely heavily on certain daily routines, introducing certain others simply doesn't work for me.
What I have done is to bring meditation concepts into daily practices, such as eating, working, playing. What I've discovered is quite intriguing.
That Was Then, This Is Now
Over the past few years, I've become increasingly aware of a difference in me. A profound, somewhat debilitating difference that has been elusive and for years, unnamable.
In the early 2000's, I was a single mother living in poverty. Someone offered to hire me to clean their house. I quickly realized I could make much more money cleaning than in my current job as a preschool teacher.
Behind on every bill, facing disconnect notices, and the car breaking down constantly, I quit my job on a prayer. I decided that until I had a full client list, my full time job was to find housekeeping clients. I printed hundreds of copies of flyers and drove around for 8 hours a day putting them in mailboxes. I kept many gallons of water in the back and stopped every 10 minutes to let the overheating radiator cool and add more water.
In just a couple months, I'd more than replaced my previous wages. In less than 6 months, I had a full client list plus 30 names on a waiting list. Poverty was a thing of the past.
My life has pivoted a few times since then, most recently when I decided to become a Life Coach and Trauma Recovery Coach. I decided to do what I'd done last time: until I had a full client list, my full time job was to find clients.
The world is way past putting fliers in mailboxes and marketing this time around is very different. I wasn't worried though. I believe fully in the power of intention and manifestation because I've done it my entire life. It's less about the method and more about the energy you put out there.
So, with that thought in mind, I eventually had to ask, 'What is going on?' Clients were simply not rolling in the way they had with my first business.
While I'd experienced a ton of abuse, neglect and trauma throughout childhood and early adulthood, I'd experienced a bunch more in recent years. Had that shifted my beliefs or left me with limiting beliefs? I assessed and reassessed and reassessed.
My rock-solid, unshakeable faith has always been my lifelong friend. Yep, still intact. I fully believed that not only can I do this but that I was meant to do this. Faith is still strong. So, what gives?
I marketed myself in circles, throwing all the marketing spaghetti I could find. I attended masterclasses and trainings, hired professional marketers, the whole nine yards. Zero results. I started lamenting that I felt the universe was conspiring against me.
That phrase caught my attention. 'Hmmm, I know the power of intention and energy. What am I unwittingly putting out there and why?'
Walls of Fear and Panic
Digging into energetic healing, I've been finding answers to that question in layers. With every uncovered layer, I gain, not only more clients, more professional opportunities that are in alignment with my values and goals but also more internal peace.
I discovered tons of fear and panic hanging out in my sacral chakra. Tons of anxiety infused with every cell like a cancer. That was all a very different reality for me.
I'd never done anxiety or fear. Of course I felt fear but I seldom allowed it to control me. I felt plenty of fear when I quite my job while behind on every bill and unable to feed my children. I felt the fear and did the thing anyway. That's always been my MO.
And I'd certainly experienced anxiety but mildly, for the most part. Depression was always more my thing.
Now that I was becoming increasingly aware of this new type of fear and this new anxiety, I was beginning to see how I was allowing it to hold me back. I'd unknowingly erected a wall of fear and panic that was blocking anything productive God might be sending my way.
Tearing Down the Walls
In 2017, I experienced a traumatic event that sent me reeling into something of an identity crisis. I spiraled into a remaking of myself from the ground up. As a result, I learned much about identity, trauma and the many culturally pervasive norms that keep many of us disconnected from ourselves. Helping clients reconnect with themselves is now my specialty.
I started wondering if my walls of fear and panic were somehow linked back to my lifetime of being disconnected. Sure enough.
I'd healed so many layers upon layers upon layers. And I was living a life that showed all that deep healing. I have more confidence than I've ever had. I'm more outgoing, feel more joy and in general feel stronger, happier and healthier as a result of all my hard healing work.
But I had not yet tackled the energetic layer. We hear about the Mind, Body, Spirit, but I was defining Spirit differently. Raised as a Christian, when I thought of spirit, I thought of God and religion. What I was missing is the stuff our spirit, and indeed everything is made of: energy.
Think of a large body of water. The wind kicks up and ripples the surface. Each individual water molecule transmits their now moving energy into the neighbors they touch. The wind moves faster, the waves move faster. Energy moving through each individual molecule of air, then water. We've all heard of the butterfly effect.
If all matter is made up of energy, that includes our spirits. This is how manifestation works. When I emit the energetic frequency of my dreams, then the wave action of those frequencies ripple through the universe and eventually circle back, bringing my dreams to fruition.
While in the grips of fear and panic, that was the energy emanating from me. No wonder my business wasn't taking off!
As I began untangling this knotted up ball of yarn in my gut, I became increasingly aware of certain psychological aspects too. Due to the nature of my trauma, my fears were tangled up in someone else's stuff. I had unconscious terrors of losing someone close to me if I were financially independent and if they didn't feel I 'needed' them.
That awareness led me to focusing on my sacral chakra. I didn't know the first thing about chakra or energy healing. So, every day or so, I'd research it and find just one thing that spoke to me that I could do that day.
After only a few days, I had a new client. After a few weeks, I was being presented with incredible professional opportunities that were beyond anything I'd hoped for.
Encouraged, I continued.
Below are some of the things I did in my energetic healing.
Energetic Healing Practices and Resources
I've already said I'm a novice at energy healing. I'm all about experimentation, though. In healing and just, in general.
I tell clients, we all have our own trauma recipe, meaning that there are countless potential symptoms that can arise out of trauma. No one has all of them; rather, we each have our own unique blend. Likewise, we each have to find our own healing recipe. Below is some of the spaghetti I threw at the wall to see what would stick.
I met with an amazing Intuitive Coach and she's the one that helped me hone in on my sacral chakra.
Every day or so, I'd look up sacral chakra and read different resources. I'd read many recommendations and would pick just one that felt right or supporting or interesting that day. In that way, I was doing something to balance my sacral chakra daily without feeling overwhelmed and pressured.
I played with Feng Shui around the house. I follow Dana Claudat. I love her work and her personality. Every time I get intentional with feng shui, I see results. It's pretty incredible.
Most recently, I read The Energy Codes: The 7-Step System to Awaken Your Spirit, Heal Your Body, and Live Your Best Life, by Dr. Sue Morter. Rather than reading cover to cover like a regular book, I treated this more like a workbook. I spend a couple weeks playing with the practices for the Root Chakra before it felt right to move on to the sacral, and so on.
I worked with a Body Code and Emotion Code practioner.
I worked with an Applied Kinesiologist, including many NET sessions. NET is Nuero Emotional Technique and is a profound way to work through trauma at an energetic level. Truly profound.
Prayer, of course.
I wrote my own affirmations and read them out loud daily. I read the same ones for many months and several absolutely materialized in various ways.
Learning to recognize and consider the energetic layers has been revolutionary. The coolest part is that I now know that much of the suffering can be avoided when we cut to the chase and get right to the energy healing.
While I've always focused on holistic healing (even my professional training is as a Holistic Life, Career and Executive Coach), I've deepened my understanding of what 'holistic' means.
I used to say Mind, Body, Spirit (thinking of spiritual philosophies and religion). Now I see it more as Mental, Physical, Emotional and Energetic.
All that was just the first step. I used my new awareness and understanding of energy to heal and to dissipate those walls of fear and panic.
The second step was in realizing that the way I'd shown up in the past was more than a mere lack of fear and panic. I showed up energetically, much of the time in the present moment. When I would remember painful things from the past or consider frightening future potentialities, it was in a detached sort of way.
Life as a Meditation
What does life as a meditation look like?
I was intrigued when I first learned of the Observer Self. Mostly I was stunned to realize I'd always done that intuitively.
When most of us think, we perceive our thoughts in our own voice in our head. We may often perceive our experiences as things being done to us. Or as being somehow attached to, connected with, or a part of the entirety of the experience. As if 'I' and the experience are enmeshed.
We can access our Observer Self by mentally stepping out of our head and perceiving the situation as someone outside our head might. We talk of accessing empathy by 'standing in someone else's shoes'. The Observer Self is similar but your focus is directed at understanding and feeling for yourself rather than someone else.
This offers countless gifts.
From the Observer Self:
You have a bigger picture perspective which provides you with more accurate information to make decisions with
You see the situation or event as something separate from yourself
You access self-compassion and empathy for others simultaneously
Meditative and Flow State
As I mentioned earlier, I've also tended towards a meditative approach with whatever I'm doing at the moment. This can often lead to that wonderful flow state creatives speak of. The cool thing is that you can do it on purpose and with anything.
Yesterday, I was in such a state of flow, that when someone spoke to me, it took a moment for me to register them. I'd been deeply in that flow state while hiking and it took a few moments to 'come to'. I did it later in the grocery store too. And again at the gas station.
I come at this from a couple angles. Sometimes it starts with the Observer Self. I can just hang out in that mind space and all of the thoughts that float up are from that detached perspective. This is exactly what we're doing while meditating.... notice the thought, watch it come up, watch it float away, without ever attaching to it, enmeshing in it's story or reacting to it in any way. Just simply notice in a detached sort of way, unattached to the outcome.
Another way I might enter a meditative state is to focus in a similarly detached way on whatever I'm doing. In meditation, you might focus on watching the thought float up, then float away or on your breath or on a chant all while ignoring anything else that might be going on such as surrounding noises or aches and pains. I will focus my attention on what I'm eating or on the article I'm writing or on the client in front of me and become so 'in the moment' with whatever I'm focused on, that distractions become less and less distracting.
Depending on my internal state to begin with, sometimes that meditative approach deepens into a full-blown flow state. I will lose track of everything else. It simply falls away as a distant background murmur.
The difference between a meditative state and a flow state is that in a meditative state, I may become distracted and continually have to refocus myself. In flow, I am ALL IN and there are no distractions.
Dissociation and Meditation
This second realization of how I show up energetically spoke volumes to me. I'd spent much of my life in that meditative or even flow state. For me, it was precipitated by trauma. I dissociated (my consciousness was not often in my body) and this was very much how I protected myself from the overwhelming emotions I didn't know what to do with.
As with many such attempts to protect ourselves during abusive or terrifying situations, if we continue the behavior in a general sense, it becomes maladaptive. Meaning that what may save us in the moment, can hurt us if continued as a way of life.
Dissociation to some degree is completely normal and everyone does it.
Tunnel vision while driving.
Arriving somewhere and not remembering the journey.
Walking into a room and not knowing why you're there.
Getting lost in a daydream.
It becomes maladaptive when we cannot control it, when we think we're feeling fine but really we're just not feeling, when we lose time. Countless times I've been sitting at my desk and 'come to' only to realize I'd checked out for hours.
In my 20's, when I started my first business with mad success, I was living, had only ever lived in that sort of dissociated state. While there were aspects of it that clearly worked out well for me, there were other aspects that very much held me back.
During my healing, learning to control my dissociation became a huge focus. It still is. I've learned lots about when and why I dissociate, parts that are helpful, parts that are harmful and how to mitigate it all. Returning to my old MO, meditatively approaching whatever I'm doing at the moment has been instrumental to the success of my current business and indeed the success in every area of my life.
This is just one of many wonderful gifts that came from my trauma. While I'd certainly prefer to learn the lessons and receive the gifts without the torment, I am grateful that if I had to experience such awfulness, at least some good came of it.
As I evolve, I share my findings with my clients, helping to deepen and broaden their understanding and perspectives. Together we are learning, growing, healing ourselves, each other and the world.
As an Empowerment Coach, I support ambitious entrepreneurs and other big dreamers who are ready to do the hard work to reconnect with themselves, heal the hurts and live the life of their dreams with confidence, authenticity and prosperity.
For support join the Thrivers Collective and enjoy free resources such as Virtual Work Sessions to boost productivity, writing workshops and Emotion Processing Sessions to move the needle on reconnecting and healing, https://ascensionwellnesslife-community.mn.co/settings/landing-page and for more information, visit https://www.ascensionwellnesslife.com/