Tuesday, January 27, 2015

How to structure the ego

So this is a follow-up to yesterday's post about how I managed to break a cycle of addiction by encountering and matching the energy of a person with ego-structure in a place where I was using addiction to replace that structure.

A few hours after I wrote that post--actually, coinciding with my kids coming home from school, I went into a complete tailspin back into my addiction. I engaged in this circular thought-form like a toddler jamming his finger again and again on the button of some toy that makes a horribly irritating noise. The problem wasn't that I became really unproductive with regard to getting anything done, even though that was the case--the bigger problem is that when you engage an addiction, all it does is make you crave more. So I craved--reached for something to feed the circular thought-form--didn't find it, crashed emotionally at the epicenter of my unfulfilled primary need, and ended up feeling just kind of bad about myself.

So I'm thinking today about what happened, how I can prevent it from happening again, and what to do if it does happen. Since I can't just randomly call up these people whose energy I matched and ask them if I can match them again.

Our systems thrive on balance, rhythm, and loose structures. Limitations make us more creative, because most of us aren't the types who can create in a vacuum. (I'm going to talk more about Human Design System later. In HDS, only 10% of the population are the Manifestor types--and only these people have the makeup to initiate within a vacuum. Most of the population are Generators, who need to respond to something in order to do something that's natural to them.)The very act of us incarnating into human bodies brings us into a space-time continuum--we create boundaries, a container within which we can have a concept of change and movement--linearizing a multidimensional reality in order to develop self-awareness. Because limitless dimension can't gain more dimension unless it separates out of itself in order to gain micro awareness of a macro structure.

We need structure--we need a heartbeat and breath to give our bodies a regulatory rhythm. We need a certain amount of sleep, we need a certain amount of alone time to recharge, and time to connect with others. Many of us--especially the pure Generator types--thrive best on regular work schedules. (I'm a Manifesting Generator--which is 25% of the population--and which loves to work, but does not do so well with structured work schedules.)

Our bodies are porous and made mostly of water, and we are made for matching the energy of our environment, of people, of music, color...we are separated from something but we love to merge. To find resonance with something other than ourselves. It's a constant reminder that we're part of something greater, and that affinity will always pull us back to it.

We are also easily destabilized, particularly in areas in which we--either by nature or by nurture--didn't build our own structures or habits of being, our own way of doing something. These are vulnerable places. Yesterday I talked about how the unfulfillment of a primary need is one thing that creates this place of vulnerability, of unstructured ego (where I don't know who "I" am). This is a nurture element creating vulnerability. There is also a nature element, and that I'll address through a HDS example. Here's what my chart looks like:
Each of the colored-in centers represents an area in which I have structure--I have a way of running those spaces, and when I go into a room, others will tend to match me unless their own center is filled in there, in which there'll be a bit of a battle, a negotiation of whose information dominates. The one at the throat is the communication space. the two triangles on left and right on the bottom are roughly health info and emotional info. The two bottom squares are sacral energy (sexuality, pure energy) and survival/grounding.

The white centers are places where I don't have a set way of doing things, and I'll tend to match my environment. My white centers are the head centers--regulating how one thinks and sets energy--the middle diamond is the ego, where because mine is empty I'll never have a strong self-concept, and will always be searching for identity. The other little middle triangle is called "heart" but really is more about will. People with an empty will center are constantly trying to prove themselves, because they don't quite trust their own worth.

The reason why I find one of my children far more destabilizing than the other is partially because that one has the top two centers filled in. So whenever he steps into the room, I start being influenced by the thinking patterns of an 8-year-old boy. Naturally, I get easily irritated because I'm so inefficient. People with a lot of empty centers tend to be a lot easier to be around--I find them more comforting, and people with a lot of filled-in centers can either be extremely stimulating and exciting, or annoying, depending on how their energy complements my own makeup.

The first person who I matched to come out of my addiction has the middle diamond filled in--strong self-concept--and because he's a highly addictive person himself, he has built many structures just to be functional on a daily basis--so matching him, I also matched those structures. He doesn't do so well around me, because his emotional center is empty, and he finds my somewhat intense emotional space uncomfortable to be around for long periods of time.

The second person has every single center filled in. He's like a personal revolution, a transformation-machine. I don't know him well, but I am certain he's transformed many people's lives.

The tenuous ego-structures I'd built up until my kids got home were destabilized by their coming home. I once again reached for my addiction, which gave me a quick and habitual ego-structuring fix. An unsustainable one.

How can we, then, structure the "I" in a more sustainable way? Only by the slow building of healthy patterns, particularly in the places of vulnerability. We won't ever have a natural, automatic way of dealing with destabilizing energies, but we can train ourselves. There are general ways of addressing the chaos, and specific ones.

The general ones are mostly about taking care of our bodies. Without adequate sleep and nutrition, we have little chance of getting anything done on the specific level.
  • We need enough sleep to allow the conscious to have resting time, and the subconscious to do its balancing work on the psyche during the various stages of sleep. 
  • As for nutrition, without eating good food, we'll get mood spikes and hormone imbalance. The body will delegate far too much energy to simply digesting the nasty food, and there'll be less around for other functions--including self-healing, and thinking.
  • general detox--this can occur on so many levels...turning off electronic devices and wireless...
To specifically address places in which we're vulnerable to being destabilized, to going into addiction, I'm thinking of these things:
  • Identify where we need structure--more sense of "I". We can do this by looking at where our centers are empty in a HDS chart. I think HDS is even better than astrology for quickly identifying these places.
  • Meditation: this clears emotional charge off of our patterns so we can see them better--calms habitual thought-forms to allow natural wisdom to arise from the body. Meditation is the single best method, in my opinion, to unmatch from places where our empty centers are getting all frazzled from unwillingly matching others, or where our filled-in centers are fighting with others' filled-in centers.
  • Using crystals--these are particularly effective because our bodies will easily match the resonance inherent in anything with crystalline structure. It will feel better to us than the resonance of computers, emf, all that shit flying around everywhere these days. We will naturally attune to the best-feeling energy available. Crystals can be chosen for their personal feel or by their known attributes.
  • Even hair or items of clothing can help block energy or channel it. Hats and headscarves can give impart structure to thoughtforms.
  • Mantras or affirmations: At the Berkeley Psychic Institute, I was taught that we shouldn't use mantras (like repeatedly chanting Hare Krishna, for instance) because they erase information. I think this is true on some level, but if we pay attention to what we're erasing, then it can be a useful tool. They can erase unhealthy thoughtforms or habitual patterns. 
  • Writing: this is what I'm doing right now--linearizing my reality through language and expression in order to organize it and make my way through something uncomfortable.
I'm just listing some of the things that are most appropriate for me. There's any number of ways that healthy patterns can be built to structure the ego--the point is to find something that gives one rhythm or routine and particularly in the areas of vulnerability. Smokers, for instance, are generally suffering from a primary unfulfilled need for breath--for being able to feel that they have a right to live, to draw in life. (There is a whole other fascinating topic about smokers and body patterns and movement--like their ribs tend to be shaped a certain way because they have this fear of exhaling completely--and when you ask them to breathe they'll often force it. But I should probably not go off on this tangent right now.) For a smoker, I'd think about creating small spaces of personal ownership, perhaps. Something like that. It's about making a solution that matches the need.

Monday, January 26, 2015

How to transcend addiction

I haven't been posting lately partially because apparently there's someone in Brazil who reads it and tells my ex his version of what it says. And just like the game of telephone, when one is involved with multiple issues of hearsay, communication gets severely fucked. So I ended up having to go through a long and unpleasant several arguments about things that I didn't actually say or do. I think that has got to go on my list of the top ten biggest time- and energy-wasters of my life. Anyway...so if you happen to be that person...please be compassionate. Let him read it on his own, or just don't mention it at all and let him talk to me himself. Regardless of the divorce, I have to deal with him for many more years and so I have an interest in keeping things clear, direct, and relatively friendly.

So I've started studying for the bar exam in July. I had considered doing it before, but it didn't feel right to commit to it until recently, when certain events and issues catalyzed an interest in my doing so again. I won't say yet what I'm planning to do with it because those things are still in a pre-nascent stage--nothing more than a few visions and ideas that I'm allowing to sit around inside me to ripen, or not. It's not as boring as I thought it was last year, mostly because I actually purchased a bar exam course which really streamlines what I need to know. So I mostly memorize and then practice applying what I've memorized. It's not fun--it's sort of like eating a meal that tastes kind of bad for about two hours a day. But it's not hard and since I'm committed, it's getting done.

There's something really interesting I've been noticing. It has to do with addiction patterns. Most everybody has an addiction to something--it may not be a substance, but I think of it as anything we reach for in order to create certain pleasure-chemicals in the body, usually dopamine. I think of addiction as being caused by having a primary need unfulfilled in us, usually in childhood, and so we created a secondary need that was easier to fill. Because as much as we fulfill the secondary need, the primary need never gets satiated, this is why we always want more of the substance we crave--we're never satisfied. Same deal behind craving bad food--our body will keep wanting to eat more and more, because we never fulfill the primary need for good nutrition. 

Anyway. Recently on Facebook I was talking with a friend who said that addictions were something that structured the ego--that the routines, the cycle of cravings, and the use of the addiction structured the ego especially in late-stage addiction. "The grandiosity [of the addiction] serves as a huge field where one is incorporating the structures, cycles, and relationships, and thus meanings, to stabilize the self," he said. 

My main addiction is to a set of thought-forms that I'll use to cycle through my brain and create rushes of dopamine. It's not healthy--it goes nowhere--it wastes my thinking-time! But I do it because it feels good. Sometimes I can't stop doing it the entire day long. And since our most frequent thought creates our most tangible reality, if I'm wasting all my thoughts on this unreal set of thought-forms that isn't about visioning something greater in my life, all I do is reinforce my disconnection from the present and what excites me about living in the now.

So here's what I noticed. Two times in the last year, I've met people with this indefinably strong connection between head and heart--a confidence in who they were that I rarely see. I noticed it immediately--they impressed me, made me feel intellectually and emotionally alive--it felt like these people, through knowing themselves and that knowledge serving as a mirror to me, gave me a context to see my own self, its tenuous borders--I gained a sense of up and down regarding my needs and desires. And I felt like a fog burned away and I rose above my own addiction patterns and got these tantalizing glimpses all around me of things I could do and become. While I matched these people, I was free of my addiction. Their ego-structure helped me structure my own.

Recovery programs for addicts work because they structure the ego for the addict. We can't all go through recovery programs--especially for things like circular thought-forms. :) But there are amazing ways to transcend our traumatic patterns, to experience other ways of being--to start becoming something other than our pain. One of the ways is to be open to making these connections with others--because everyone has something to teach us, and I think that when we acknowledge how much we are affected by others, that's when we too can become catalysts for others to become greater versions of who they are.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014 Review

Overall, a nice year. I'd give it a 6.5 or 7 on a scale from 1-10, definitely.

It's the year I turned 40, when according to my human design I began the transition from a general life theme of being like a queen, to being more like a used car salesman (you find these general life themes by looking at the south node--which dominates up to age 40--and north node, which dominates from age 40 onward).

It's also the first year I started emerging out of mother-identity (mothers are connected by an energetic cord to their children through their first chakras until age 3, and only then do they really separate their beings) into some strange new identity that is still taking shape. Who is this person and how did she develop in 2014?
  • She is a writer above everything. She finally found a loving home for her first novel (ETA March 2015?) and is soon launching a crazy-great series of novellas with Karen, her critique partner from her first novel! (ETA Feb 2015?)
  • She is a bodyworker. She did a bunch of experimenting with new forms of bodywork this past year and learned a lot about boundaries--when they're needed and when they can be released. She did not quite get over her resistance to creating a thriving structural integration practice, but by the end of the year she found a bodywork job she quite likes, because it's easy, enjoyable, doesn't require an energetic commitment like her Rolfing practice needed, and she's meeting some great people--both colleagues and clients. Like many writers, she has an inherent fear of people and has never worked well with others, but she's getting better.
  • She is somewhat emotionally broken and terribly mistrustful, but she has a deep faith in spirit and in process and makes visible progress all the time. She has learned to take things less personally and to appreciate what others have to offer as they are, and the unique things each individual can draw out in her, rather than trying to pigeonhole them into roles and into giving her what she believes she wants or needs.
  • She made a few friends and lost most of them by the end of the year. She needs to work on her social space and on cultivating the ability to rest in purposeless connection--to allow life to flow through her without having this be a goal. Quality over quantity. From years of isolation and being in a mother-cocoon, she is rusty and out of practice about how to effectively connect with others in a gentle way. She is impatient and wants to utterly consume those she likes although she recognizes that this isn't a sustainable way to relate.
  • That said, she is able now to recognize when toxic people are in her life and she is learning how to disengage.
  • She is more appreciative and grateful for what she has and for who truly loves and supports her than she ever has been before.
  • She is a little strange and she knows it. She doesn't really know why she's writing in third person either.
So I had to modify my mini-NY's Eve ritual a little bit because I'm on my period and thus couldn't do the 15 minutes of inversions as I'd planned. I wasn't even sure I could make it to midnight because I was so tired, but I ended up falling asleep for an hour in my far-infrared sauna and I woke up with all the sweat dried on my body and my butt totally numb, but with me feeling completely alert. I worked on checking off the rest of the items from my to-do list and did a little writing about goals and a 2015 overall vision, and then I did a wheel pose through midnight, to represent opening up my heart to set the tone for the year.

Then I had my planned "New Year's Feast" which consisted of a couple bowls of bone broth, a teaspoon of raw beef liver, and I did a bit of urotherapy. (Don't judge it till you've done your research and/or tried it, please!)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Making changes

So I've got these two things written on a tiny slip of paper that I want to record here before I lose the paper. They're about making changes:

  • You never change things through fighting the existing reality
  • You can't solve problems in the same consciousness that created them
I like just reading those sentences over and over--they cause something inside me to deeply relax...to know that I don't have to solve anything at all, that there are organizing principles at work around us that will smooth out the wrinkles of our lives so we keep evolving further. It's about setting intentions and surrendering. Of course, it's important to work hard as well--but what actually makes the work effective is in finding a vibration in which it's somehow without effort, flowing in concert with an enthusiasm that makes it an end in itself as well as a means to something greater. 

I think I didn't quite understand that last year when I concocted this elaborate New Year's Eve ritual that lasted eight hours and had me meditating, exercising, doing yoga, goal-setting, emailing, and other items--making up 14 in all, each lasting some variation of the number 14 and with a planned ending of 12:07 a.m. Although I finished it all, I did so with a sort of grim determination that had me likely creating an intention for my 2014 that was of items to be forced into creation one at a time, often in a vibration of unconsciousness or effort. 

So I think this year I'm going to keep it very simple: 15 minutes of freewriting on goals, visions, intentions for 2015, followed by 15 minutes of inversions--5 minutes each of headstand, handstand, and vipareeta karani. Maybe I'll call my best friend too.

I liked having the relatively short focus of a 40-day sadhana, so I'm doing another one. I'm doing daily  the Five Tibetan Rites, which is five simple exercises each repeated 21 times. These rites 
...represent a system of exercise that affects the body, emotions and mind. The Tibetans claim that these exercises activate and stimulate the seven key chakras that in turn stimulate all the glands of the endocrine system. The endocrine system is responsible for the body's overall functioning and aging process. This means that the Five Rites will affect the functioning of all your organs and systems, including the physical and energetic systems and that includes the aging process. The man who brought these Five Rights out of Tibet stated that "performing the Five Rites stimulates the circulation of essential life energy throughout the body".
Sounds pretty good, eh? I'm combining it with doing 1/4 of the exercises from my heart sadhana daily, and daily inversions. It's not a huge commitment and I'm trying to keep the focus not on the amount i produce daily, but that whatever I produce is done with presence and pleasure.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Zombie redux

I'm a bit self-conscious about talking about my dreams after reading that article a while back that mentions that dream-sharing constitutes narcissistic small-talk that no one really wants to hear. But hey. It's my blog, and if you've been with me this far I assume you don't mind my Sauron-like self-analytical bent. And, this was a pretty cool dream:
I was imprisoned in a building, living in a room with another woman and a child. Our jailer was this unfriendly old woman and the purpose of our entrapment was to sell us into slavery. She and our other jailers bought used clothing from Goodwill by the pound and thus had piles and piles of clothing all around the main room. I was given a denim blue empire-waist dress made out of a linen-cotton blend, with an ankle-length a-line skirt. Because it was so hot at night and all the doors were open, it was easy for me to escape. There was an additional force field around the building that I needed to get through, but somehow I managed to steal the keys necessary to unlock the doors, get through the force field, and make it out.
Then I went to join the dwindling group of rebels that had not yet been converted into zombies. Unfortunately, the process of zombification was a slow one--contact through fighting with zombies would take over one part of a person's body at a time. For some reason, the arms were the last to go, and part of the face, and only when the whole body was converted into zombie flesh did the person's mind become that of the zombie-enemy. So I stood on top of a tall building with the other rebels, looking at how everyone's body was patchwork green and scaly--except for the whole golden flesh of one woman who'd escaped with me from the slavery building. Everybody was on alert with their guns. Then, when the zombies came for us, and we saw them dotted on the ground and approaching us slowly, a few of the rebels with me leaped to the ground and splatted into pieces that reconstructed themselves to fight. It bothered me that they did this because every time they fell into pieces it made them a little bit more zombie. But they had to because the time it took to climb down the building would have allowed the zombies to organize and attack more efficiently.
Then I had to go back to the slavery building and I was with the same woman and child in the cell-room. It was cold this time, so the doors were closed and locked more securely. We went to get more clothing and the woman I was with was handed a strappy sleeveless cotton minidress of off-white with light blue trim. Its bust looked strange and artificial and the woman objected to the dress, and the old woman who was giving it to her took scissors and made a few cuts on the dress, at bustline and below, to reveal more flesh. Wearing this dress was mandatory.
I became that woman putting on the dress, but once I did, it became an ugly Christmas sweater. I looked super frumpy but it was appropriate for my escape. So I went to the cell and talked with the woman about planning our escape. The child was being loud and I decided that one of us would have to escape alone and go to our brother to rescue the other two right away, before they could get punished. I told the other woman to go--but as I was a lot better at escaping, I ended up doing it.
It was easy to get out. I waited until it was pitch dark outside and when a car came through so the force field had to be momentarily deactivated, I slipped through--or perhaps I was seen, but then I ran and managed to escape.
Obviously there is a little anxiety represented in this dream--feeling trapped by problems that refuse to die. Even with escape, responsibility for others pulls us back into the problem. But there's love in this dream, and a little bit of change as the scenario recurs, and so there is always a good reason to stay hopeful.

Friday, December 19, 2014

40 days of heart energy

Today I finished a 40-day sadhana--this is a spiritual practice which is repeated over a length of time, usually with some sort of an intention behind it. For mine, I did daily an hour-long kundalini yoga set that's intended to open up the heart chakra (which is typically portrayed as being green). It's mainly composed of backbends, with a few forward bends to balance out, and most of it doing the breath of fire.

I don't really feel like blogging about it, but I feel I ought to record something about it because it really was transformative. 

First of all, the physical effects were amazing. My belly flattened out for the first time since I became pregnant with my first son, nine years ago. This was due to stretching out my shortened psoas fibers in the front of my body--which balanced out my core, allowing me to lift objects much better, to have less chance of falling when I slip on ice (which happens frequently in Minnesota) and got rid of a pattern of stress going through my right quad and up around my greater trochanter and into the iliacus on my right side.

But of course, those were just side benefits. I chose to work on my heart chakra because my husband was visiting during this time period, and we started our divorce process. I wanted things to be amicable and to create a good foundation for smooth co-parenting. The heart is significant here not only for my need to forgive on a number of levels, but before we separated, my heart felt shrunken down and stone-like, and I lived like a zombie for my last two years in Brazil. Because we tend to degenerate to familiar patterns with people in our lives, I feared that I'd become this way while he was here. But as Einstein said, "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them," so I wanted to be in a different space, to create a different dynamic in present time.

For the most part, it worked. We were pleasant and polite, and co-parented beautifully. I was feeling guilty for my still desiring to split up our family. Then, the message from the universe that I am right to do so came on the final day, when I left the house for work and returned early to catch him red-handed trying to translate my emails into Portuguese so he could try to figure out if I have a boyfriend.

I can't really describe what a betrayal that is, on top of all the other betrayals. I've never lied to him, but being from a culture where it's more important to be "kind" (by always saying just what you think the other person wants to hear) than to be honest, he can't comprehend the concept of someone who tells the truth even if it doesn't always immediately serve her to do so. And he can't comprehend the concept of someone who would rather be alone than have a partner who is incompatible.

Anyway. It's good to be able to be open-hearted and not to have that feeling of running love through one's space--or stopping its flow completely, as I did in Brazil--be contingent upon other people. I suppose I mostly succeeded in not matching him or reacting by becoming this zombie-self I adopted in Brazil for self-protection; overall I achieved my goal (except I was really, really pissed on that last day). 

The other place where I saw dramatic effects with this sadhana was in my relationship with my older son. Because he's very like me, much more so than my younger son, my parenting dynamic with him is much more like the one my parents had with me--there's not much warmth in it. This has bothered me a great deal--but somehow over the last 40 days it's changed so I can unmatch that old parenting pattern and treat him the way I would have liked to have been loved rather than how I experienced being loved.

The rest of what I experienced I won't share, because the main lesson I think from this past 40 days is this: you can't change anything in the world around you, or anyone around you--you can only change how you respond to it, or don't respond. And along with openness, it's particularly important to be very aware of boundaries. Open-heartedness doesn't mean sharing all or giving trust easily--a bitter lesson I've had hammered into me again and again.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Writing half-assed stuff is better than not writing at all

This is my monthly post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

I'm afraid this is going to be another half-assed post. In an ideal world, I would plan all my posts ahead of time, do like three a week, and they would all be helpful, interesting, and to the point. Instead, most of them I write feeling like a chicken running around without a head--basically saying I know this sucks and I really hope to one day be a good blogger, but, as Arya was taught to say, "Not today," is what I tell the God of Good Blogging.

I did have an insight today. My kids' dad is visiting, so I actually haven't been a single mom for the last three weeks. It's been really nice in many ways. But I realized that when I'm a single mom, I take a lot better care of myself and I observe my limits a more--just because I can't afford to fall apart. Okay, that's not entirely true because I did completely overwork myself over the summer and had adrenal exhaustion as a result. But what I mean is that I know I have no safety net as a single mom, even if I sometimes take the risks anyway. Now that I know someone else is around, though, a part of me knows that there's a safety net, so it's harder to make myself go to bed at a decent hour and be realistic about the amount of projects I can take on.

So I've been awash in self-created chaos, I'm afraid.

Anyway, even times like I'm having now in which I am no longer the cause of my life, just trying to keep up with the effects of my creations, I recognize that it's good to keep writing, keep expressing, communicating, connecting, even if it's not perfect, not planned.