Why is it so Difficult to “Let it Go?” #PTSD #IBS #dreamhealing

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Photo Credit: <a href="http://Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Pixabay

“Oh my god,” I thought. “She’s singing it again. Why does she need to keep practicing that song?!”

I was dreaming I was back at school, which is no surprise. This time I was inside a dorm room with some of my high school classmates. They, and my adolescent angst, had followed me to college. I’ve had these dreams before, and just in case I didn’t know why, that famous song from the movie “Frozen” was being belted through the hallways by one of my dorm-mates. “Let it go! Let it go!”

“Oh my god,” I thought. “When will it be over? When will she be done singing that annoying son?!”

When the message sinks in, I realized once I woke beside the satisfied dog who had snuck her way upstairs and onto my bed after my husband had disappeared into the shower.

Least we think it is easy to let go of our stories, we need only look into the mirror to be reminded. If a mirror is not available, or we cannot read the lines our stories imprint for us, we can settle into the weight of our bodies and listen to their moans and groans. Although our cells divide continuously, the new cells are encoded with the memories of the old ones. Sometimes this encoding is a choice.

Before I want to sleep last night, I found myself thinking about how I can hardly remember the two years I struggled with severe IBS more than a decade ago. Those restless nights when I woke to the body’s attempts to expel its painful memories. My digestive system had felt like literal bowels of hell. Bloated with sulfuric gas and knotted in pain. Yet, I can hardly remember those years. I marvel now at the will to hold onto what I no longer wanted. It’s illogical on so many levels, but our cells carry our truths even when we don’t want to hear, see, or feel them. They are the story of us until we rewrite the narrative.

I marveled, also, last night, at how in one night the unconscious aligned with the conscious on a quantum level in its decision to heal and release, finally, what I had struggled to keep. Yet, although my IBS may have vanished in one night, I was reminded once again by my dreams that there are still stories trapped and waiting to be “let go.”

Particularly in my throat. The seat of the voice and our expression of our truths.

I have been struggling these last several days since I watched the choking out of George’s Flyod’s life filmed by helpless bystanders. I have been struggling with irony and injustice, as well as a pervasive feeling of helplessness. I have been struggling with the collective unwillingness to see, hear, and feel truth as I try to come to terms with this unwillingness to “let go” the individual and collective stories to explore beauty and truth beyond the surface.

When I drive to the lake, a place where peace usually washes over me with ease, I find myself troubled by the signs. Passing through rural towns filled with residents struggling to hold onto the middle class sense of security, my eye is drawn too many times to the symbol of irony. Moving through the discomfort of despair, I will my mind to imagine the life inside those doors and why the individuals who reside there are holding onto the notion that the POTUS is their savior.

It took me days, instead of minutes, to remember why my own body struggled for breath when I watched George Flyod’s being extinguished. To remember the white man who used to squeeze the words back into my throat with his hand at the dinner table. It took me nearly two weeks to realize that we all hold the stories of oppression. Even if we are a rare and lucky few to never have experienced the suppression of our own truths, and our voices, our ancestors have. Oppression is so deeply embedded into our collective history that there is no way any of us have escaped its encoding in our cells.

No wonder we are struggling to let go. No wonder we struggle to hold onto what we are used to. The bully reigns upon his mighty throne because we have placed him there. And the bully reigns within because we let him hold the history of our narratives.  We have all heard the term “healing begins within,” yet how many of us refuse to look inside and examine the narratives of the self? We may not like what we read inside. We may have the impulse to bring our hand to our ears and shout, “No more! Stop singing that awful song over and over again,” but the narrative repeats until we change it.

The power is not in the holding on, but the letting go. Freedom is the opposite of repression, and ultimately the letting go must begin within.

In my dreams last night, I replayed the narrative of acceptance in the form of my friendships. I was reminded of how much I still struggle, at times, to honor my own boundaries and truths when friends approach me with their own needs. I was reminded that I still carry the narrative of rejection and the fear of being left “friendless,” rejected, and alone.

I find it interesting, or perhaps perfectly fitting, that this dream came to me after a day spent mostly in a state of peace. My body must have remembered lying prone on the ground and feeling the ever-present security of Mother Earth below me. The smell of dirt and crumpled grasses mixing the interconnectedness of all life for me to both witness and be a part of. Yet disbelief must still linger inside the narratives of my cells.

How can it not? We’ve held it so tight for so long. We weave the narrative of oppression and rejection over and over again on large screens that form plays for our eyes, and inside the type-faced print of pages of books, magazines, and newspapers. We’ve read it and watched it so many times and in so many ways inside a world that holds the narrative as truth. Who are we to release it?

Who are we not to?

We must, at some point, let it go and right a new narrative.

To Journey (or not) into the Joy of Darkness #altrusim #fear #climatechange #yoga #anger #innerdemons #kindness

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

It’s been a strange couple of weeks, but then again, strange seems to be the new normal. Barely a minute goes by when the POTUS does not make some angry outcry or ignorant blunder. It’s so common, most of us barely bat an eye. Others rise up to toast hatred. Rage is infectious. For some strange reason, it’s now normal to be inhumane. Which begs the question, what are we striving for?

Last week, I posted a brief notice on Facebook in support of a teenager in town who is championing an environmental cause. She is seeking signatures to bring a petition to the legislature. And, like so many young and not-so-young environmental activists who are actively looking for ways to save our planet in crisis, her only M.O. is altruism. Imagine my surprise dismay when 9 out of 10 people who chose to comment, did so from a place of anger. When did altruism become a bad word?

Also last week: a senior in my children’s high school banged a teacher’s head against the cafeteria wall because he wasn’t happy with her, and three men armed with machine guns robbed a house in my town. My children are wondering if the world is going mad. They don’t know how lucky they are. Things like this aren’t normal around here. But, are they becoming normal?

A few weeks ago, school officials in neighboring towns came together for a common cause. Teachers are living in fear. Elementary school teachers. Children are acting out in anger and rage on a daily basis, and no one knows what to do. Yet, thousands of years ago, a group of people discovered that they could calm young and restless bodies and minds through the practice of yoga. The end result, peace. The answers are more ancient than time itself. Five minutes of silence everyday in inner city schools where crime and violence used to be the daily norm, have resulted in dramatic shifts towards harmony. Yet, many of us still resist the doorways within.

Two hours ago, I was wrapping up my walk with my dogs when I saw two of my neighbors across the street from my house. I thought I’d stop over to say “hello,” but on my way I followed their fingers to a stray dog hanging out in my front garden. After hurrying my agitated pets inside, I went back out to see what I could do.

The dog in question was a gentle spirit, and I was pretty sure I’d seen her on my walks before. As one neighbor pointed out, she had no identifying tags, so while she leaned into the other neighbor, I photographed her to post on FB. I was certain she’d soon be identified. She was a pure-bread, and someone had probably spent a pretty penny on her.

Seconds later, a car zoomed around the corner, and, suspecting the owner, we waved it over. Instead of relief and gratitude, we were confronted by an irate man filled with accusations and blame. Blame not for himself for losing his dog, but for the dog and its dog-nappers rescuers. Alter, my neighbor told me she was sure there was another dog in the car. I was certain there was also a child, in a carseat.

The entire scene played out in mere minutes, and all I could manage to do, as well as my neighbor (the other neighbor had gone home) was to try and help corral the dog as kindly as possible while her owner yelled and raged at it. It was distrubing at best. Yet, it also seems strangely like the new normal.

If you follow the POTUS and his army of supporters (which I try my best to avoid), all of the above will seem like mild day in the land of the good old USA. We are a nation gone mad. Or, were we always mad, but just did a better job hiding it?

Six or so years ago, I decided, or rather it was decided by some unseen muse, that I would write a book about six teens who would travel a labyrinth filled with darkness to bring back the light. Thinking they are on a mission to repair the light in Earth and heal the planet, each teen is faced with the discovery that the darkness inside the labyrinth in Earth is also inside of them.

The outer is a mirror of the inner. Always. We all know the saying, “peace begins within.” And, to get to that place of peace, we must travel the darkness within. We must face all of its ugly and fear-filled forms. We must confront it. Untangle it. And above all else, we must love it.

In one of my first yoga classes with preschoolers, there was a young girl who troubled me. She had blue eyes and stringy blond hair she’d often twist into knots with her fingers. She could be cute, but during my classes, she most often wore an ugly face twisted by inner turmoil. Some might say she looked possessed. And, in a way, she was. There was clearly something that was eating away at her happiness and ability to share joy with others in the class. And to find her own joy with the class. Sadly, she made it through one 6-week session, but never returned.

In some ways, I felt like I had failed her. I was not able to give her the individual time she probably needed, and was instead often looking for ways to ensure she wasn’t pestering her fellow classmates. I shared concern with her parents and teachers, and it seemed to be understood.

Even though she is no longer attending my yoga classes, I still see her in passing most weeks. She stands in line when I arrive, waiting to head outside for recess while some of her peers wait for me on the rug. Each time I see her, I make a point of catching her eye, as I do with all children who are waiting. And each time she catches mine, I smile at her.

In the first few weeks, after our time together had ended, my former student would look at me with the eyes of distrust. As though I was perhaps mocking her, or in some way had an intention other than kindness. I continued to look for her eyes and smile. About two weeks ago, amidst all this recent chaos, I caught those two blue eyes looking at me and my smile was met with a smile. A smile of trust and friendship.

I can’t say what this little girl’s demons are, or why she was more tormented by her darkness than some little kids are, but I do know it exists inside all of us, in various forms. We carry the fears of our own lives, and the lives we lived before this one. We carry the fears encoded into our DNA passed down to us in our genes, and we absorb the fears around us. We are solitary beings intricately connected with all life. When one of us is in pain, we all are.

I know that man who collected his wandering dog was acting out of his own deep seated fears, even though it presented itself outwardly as hostility. Our POTUS is doing the same thing. As well as his devoted followers. What troubles me is not their fear, but their unwillingness to travel inside of it. To follow their own labyrinths of darkness to find the light. A light that is filled with the core of love that feeds joy. What troubles me is that so many seem to be okay with, and even embrace, a life fueled by self-righteous anger and hostility, rather than choosing the path of darkness in search of their own light. Granted, it’s not an easy path to take, but unlike with anger and fear, we don’t walk it alone. The POTUS and his followers, and the many others around the world who are choosing hatred as their M.O., may think they are united in a cause, but there is no union with fear. There is only destruction, of the self and the community.

I think perhaps that little blue eyed girl with blond hair who used to take my yoga classes has already discovered this. Yoga may not be her M.O., but kindness now appears to be. I’ve noticed she not only smiles at me, but holds the hands of her classmates eagerly on her way out to recess. I image the fresh air and being close to nature is a balm for her, as it is for all of us. I embrace her choice to find joy in her chosen way.  And, more than anything else, I am happy in the knowing that she seems to know, in her five-year-old self, that joy is her birthright.

The Roots of the Circle

My mind is still ruminating on the circle. Last night I dreamt of water surrounding me on all sides, getting ever closer to my body. I fled before I could be stranded, not wanting to become an island, cut off, with a relentless tide washing over me.

Later, in my dreams, I found myself in a classroom as a student with my husband. The teacher was giving us assignments, and my husband and I were to write an essay about the root chakra. He told me he wanted to write about a place he calls “Blueberry Mountain,” and I found myself wondering how this related to the first chakra, where we hold our sense of stability and our fears of instability. Yet I relented, agreeing to partner with him on our shared task. While we were writing, there were interruptions. A girl I’ll call Margot, because that’s the name I gave her in my memoir, who was also in the class with us, teased and taunted, trying to disrupt the flow of our work. Trying to cut us off from our collaboration.

When I return to the circle, I think about the space in the center that is shared by all who form the perimeter. I think of the energy mingled into one collective body that is the source of all life. And, I think of an invisible network of roots feeding and nursing life.

A tree, upended, will eventually starve and wither away.

Why did my dream mind lead me to the classroom with my husband and Margot, I wondered when I woke, until I began to think about the upending of my own roots.

I met my husband when I was seventeen. In the years preceding our relationship, I had experienced multiple compromises to my family and social networks. My structure of tribal unity, held within my root chakra, was severely compromised by the time I met my future husband. It had left me feeling compromised, fearful and distrustful. Then, one day, I sat in the library of St. Paul’s School in Concord, NH, and found myself falling in love with a boy from Manchester who was writing an essay about a place he called “Blueberry Mountain.” Maybe you can go there with me someday, he told me.

The individual who finds him or herself cut off from the circle, whether willingly or unwillingly, can always return to a place of unity.

Just over 26 years ago, while siting in the library with a boy I barely knew, I began to reclaim and regrow my network of roots. I began to realize that I was not, in fact, an island of one struggling to survive amid stormy seas. I began to trust in love again.

In the center of the circle, which is also the self, there is Love.

For the past month I have been feeling naked and vulnerable. The birth of my memoir, A Girl Named Truth, has called into question my very stability. When I find myself succumbing to old patterns of thought, fear slips in and threatens to topple my roots. I temporality forget that I am not an island, even though I feel, in many ways, raw and alone. This, though, is a temporary feeling, a cruel game of the ego’s mind. When I settle my thoughts into peace, I feel the presence of all life. I feel the Light at the core, and I remember that I am never alone. That at any moment I can rejoin the circle of invisible hands and feel whole again.

Beneath the veil of fear, the body is always searching for the breath of love. When the veil is removed, nothing else exists. Without fear, the roots reach and mingle into unity and the body bends toward light.

A wheel of life found in the woods
A Medicine Wheel in the forest near Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum with legumes in the center bending and growing toward filtered light.