I’ve been rereading Michael Singer’s book, The Untethered Soul. I love the simplicity and clarity of this book and I’ve also been frustrated with the simplicity too. After his recommended step of opening one’s heart chakra no matter the circumstance, he then writes about “letting stuff go”. I have struggled with this recommendation for years. God, wouldn’t you just love to let shit go? Set your intention to “let go” and voila! When I hear this phrase I think of someone coming over and just turning a switch off on me. “Here Juanita, You’ll never have to feel that emotional about that situation again, I found the let go switch!”. Well, wouldn’t that be nice? It’s never been that easy for me and I’m guessing it hasn’t for you either. Through conversations with others I found that “letting go” actually means being fully present with whatever emotions are present and even embracing them. When I’m fully present with uncomfortable emotions, the intensity of them lessens and then I get closer to that feeling of letting something go. For some triggers in my life, I find it impossible to fully let it go, because these reactions were learned early in childhood. And just when I think I have let it go, a situation arises and I realize that there’s another layer of emotion that needs my presence. In the meditation world, this presence is often given to oneself by cultivating the witness/observer part of your Self as you feel an emotion and want to react to it. Meditation can teach us to watch ourselves instead of react. Sometimes we can see an emotion rise and fall if we sit with it long enough and our minds don’t take over. In the counselling world, there are many psychotherapeutic techniques that can help a person cultivate the wise self watching all the emotions and other parts of themselves engage with the world. But perhaps the most helpful things psychotherapy can offer is the act of presence with another as they feel their uncomfortable emotions. It can be very powerful to have another person anchoring & present as feel the depths of our pains & struggles. I’ve often found that the only way I can be present with certain uncomfortable emotions is with my own therapist. I’ve paid that person to be with me for an hour and while I could end the session early, I won’t because I’ve paid and that often helps me commit to the act of fully being present with my emotions and even embracing them. This process is closest one I’ve found to actually letting shit go. With energy healing, presence is also a valuable gift to give to others and to ourselves - fully being present as a chakra opens or shifts. Energy healing also offers techniques to help clear the blockages in our chakras which lessens the emotional intensity. Often an integrated session of both psychotherapy & energy healing can help you integrate and process things with more ease. What things have you found to be helpful or unhelpful as you try and let go of things?
|I’ve been rereading Michael Singer’s book, The Untethered Soul. I remember reading it for the first time five years ago and was in awe of Michael’s ability to capture a process towards inner peace & freedom with such clarity and simplicity. Reading this book felt like being bathed in something so pure.|
On the surface, Michael is writing about the art of meditation as a way to find freedom from our pains & struggles . He names one of the key pieces of meditative work is to open one’s heart. Many times he encourages his readers to “just keep opening and not closing [their heart]”. I remember when reading this book the first time, I was frustrated at Michael’s message of “simply open up your heart”. It has never been that easy in my experience to open my heart, especially when I’ve spent a lifetime finding reasons to keep it closed in certain situations and often for very good reason.
If you too have struggled to simply open your heart in times you really want to close it, you are not alone. Meditation is one path to cultivate awareness of when you open and close your heart, and fortunately there are others.
The essence of psychotherapy is often also to help us open our hearts. With psychotherapy I often help people to feel their emotional pain and create a new relationship with it. People engage with counselling often because opening one’s heart chakra and being present with what emerges is often met with many of our own internal resistances – the sudden urgency to do laundry, or watch Netflix, smoke a cigarette, or really do anything but feel. Then shame & self-judgment at our distraction emerges and adds another layer of protection from feeling the deeper pain.
With energy healing, attunement & techniques are used to balance and clear chakras. Sometimes the focus is on the heart and sometimes not. If you watched my Energy Healing at Home Series, the chakra series shows you a gentle way to open your chakras simply by offering your presence to each one. Today, my invitation to you is to start with awareness. Any time you notice yourself distracting yourself or pushing away or shutting emotions down, pause for a moment and notice your urge in that moment when that uncomfortable emotion arises. Often it’s anxiety, shame, sadness or anger. Notice what you do when you start to feel those emotions, even if you realize it 24 hours later. See if you can both notice the part of you that feels the pain and the other part that doesn’t want to feel it. Overwhelmed? Talk-therapy is a great way to do this in a supportive way.
Experiment with your process of being present with your uncomfortable emotions. Notice all the different parts of you that get activated when you try and sit with them in a non-judgmental way. What method do you prefer to open your heart chakra- energy healing, meditation or psychotherapy?
As always, if there’s anything else you’re curious to learn about in the energy healing world and/or how it combines with the psychological, send me a note 🙂
For those of you craving a few ways to explore your spiritual side during this pandemic, today is your lucky day. Whether you label yourself as more spiritual or religious or somewhere on the edges or inbetween, here are a few ideas to explore spirituality more deeply during this pandemic. What’s your go-to spiritual resource during this time?
1. Ram Dass
Using your current situation as your spiritual path
My husband recently shared a great talk about Dharma with me (see link below). In essence, one way to understand Dharma, is that we can use whatever situation we’re in as our spiritual path. Ram Dass is most famous for being a Harvard professor (formerly Richard Alpert) connected to Timothy Leary. After experimenting with psychedelics, researching their possible contribution to expanding one’s spiritual path, and then later getting kicked out of Harvard, he found himself fully immersed on a spiritual path after he met is guru in India. If you’ve ever listened to Ram Dass you know he is a pleasure to listen to and a naturally gifted teacher with a sense of humour.
2. The Hathors (with Tom Kenyon)
A macro lens on the pandemic with ways to soften resistance to change and fear during this time.
Tom Kenyon is an American psychologist who has studied the healing qualities of sound. He also connects to spiritual figures and beings from different dimensions. One group of interdimensional beings he has connected to over the past few decades are the Hathors. For over a decade the Hathors have shared spiritual resources for turbelent times with meditations and articles (shared via Tom Kenyon). Take a read of this interesting article on chaotic nodes, and their resources for ways to soften resistance to change and fear during this time. Chaotic nodes are times on the planet when there are multiple chaotic events happening at once.
Grounding, connection to others and something larger than yourself (God)
If you’re religious, I’m probably “speaking to the choir”, as you know how religion can be something to help find grounding, peace, and wisdom during this time. I grew up in a Christian community, and while I don’t practice it anymore, I’ve found that a few ways in which religion can help are: 1) Being in a church community supported by others during this time 2) Reading the Bible or other spiritual texts and either doing self-reflection or connecting with others 3) Prayer in times of struggle or gratitude.
Connection to animals, plants, stars, and the earth.
It’s more challenging right now for most of us to spend time in nature. The pleasure of sun on our face, the grass between our fingers, the sounds of birds and animals in the night, the stars gazing down on us, our pets, the sounds of waves or wind.. the options are endless.
It’s springtime where I live, and we’re allowed to go for walks. I enjoy noticing the leaves and flowers start to show themselves slowly each day. I enjoy seeing the stars from the warmth of inside. I enjoy being with my cats and dog.
How do you connect to your spirituality during this time?
A poem for you in the midst of everything happening right now.
O’Donohue, J. (2008). To bless the space beween us: A book of blessings. USA: DoubleDay.
Some of you will lean in closer after you read the title of this blog, and some of you will lean away. Guess what, both are normal reactions to talking, reading, or discussing anything related to female sexuality. Any woman knows that female sexuality is something that everyone has an opinion about. Morality of what is “appropriate” or good or bad often stop women from getting to know their sexuality in a deeper way. This is a detriment to ourselves and to our partners. If you can, for the remainder of this article (and maybe beyond), gather any self-judgments or opinions from your family, friends, and community and put them on a shelf as you learn a little more in one of these books.
I remember in Highschool during a biology dissection we had to go up to the teacher and label where the female genitalia was located on whatever poor creature we were dissecting. Only one woman in the room got it right, and it wasn’t me. The teacher marvelled out loud that so many women got it wrong. For many women, this story will probably not shock you in any sort of way, because we were never encouraged to become friends with our anatomy. If you grew up in a school that promoted abstinence (like mine), then this experience was probably even more likely. Can you think of any positive stories about female sexuality shared by family, educators or in the media growing up? I can’t think of a single one. That is highly concerning.
Sex and the City Cheatsheet
For fun I’ve put each of the Sex and the City characters with each book to give you sense of what you might be drawn to. I miss that show.
- Come as You Are: Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, & Samantha
- Pussy: A Reclamation: Samantha
- Three Women: Carrie (and Miranda combined) – I’ve thought about this haha!
If you want me to choose one book for you to read, start with this one. This should be required for any person coming into their sexuality.
“What it comes down to is that a lot of women trust their bodies less than they trust what they’ve been taught, culturally, about their bodies. But culture has taught you stuff that is both incorrect and just wrong.” Emily Nagoski (p. 164)
Emily is a sex-educator in the USA with a plethora of degrees and experience. This books is based on science and psychology. There is way too much in this book to give a summary that will do it justice, but here are a few nuggets. This book is not heteronormative and includes discussion about experiences for someone who is intersex. Her examples are inclusive of the LGTBQI community.
- There is less range in the range (low to high) of sexual desire between men and women than there is within a gender.
- We all have things that arouse us (our accelerator) and we all have things that turn us off (our brakes). We all have different combinations of both and often feel both the brakes and the accelerator at the same time.
- Stress can be an accelerator for some individuals and a major brake for others. When we don’t know what our partner’s accelerator or brake is (or they don’t), or if we don’t know what our accelerator or brake is so that we can share it with our partner, problems happen between couples.
- Emily spends a lot of time repeating that whatever your sexual temperament is, that you are NORMAL.
- There are many written exercises and self-reflective questions that are provided to explore different problems. I saw that she also has a workbook.
This book is not going to be for everyone, first because you’ll probably have a reaction to the title that again will have you lean in to read more or lean away because of your judgment about the word pussy. The author too started her journey cringing at the word pussy and over decades Regena decided to reclaim this word. She fully embodies a woman who owns and takes pleasure in her sexuality. She was tired of the patriarchal world-view of sexuality in which someone who has “balls” is someone who has courage and someone who is a “pussy” is a wimp. She takes the word pussy and reclaims it in a powerful and provactive way. She is highly regarded by such feminists as Christine Northrup, Eve Ensler, Kris Carr, & Gabrielle Bernstein, and it’s easy to see why.
I felt nauseous after reading the first half of this book because her reclamation spoke to me as truth and how polar opposite it is to the current patriarchal worldview and my experience growing up. Like the book Come as You Are, this book encourages women to get to know their anatomy, explore their desire and own their sexuality. Regena gives many ideas for women to start relaiming their sexuality at the pace that is right for you.
This non-fiction book is one of those rare books that gives you a glimpse into the lives of female sexuality of three different American women. All are heteronormative relationships. One is the experience of a woman who was seduced by a highschool teacher when she was a teenager and all the different emotions she felt during and after she brought him to court and he was found to be not guilty. Another is the experience of a conservative woman in a relationship with a man who does not want to be with her sexually. She reconnects with a married man who she dated in highschool. The third is a woman who is in an open-relationship and enjoys sex on a daily basis. She is empowered in some ways, but in many ways it is a big challenge for her to own her actions and be with the judgment she experiences from herself and others.
It is saddening, but not surprising that none of the women are sexually empowered in this book. All of the women have the context of living in a patriarchal society and experience the invalidation that occurs to women by both the men and women in their lives.
It would’ve been great to have a one of the women be in a relationship that wasn’t heteronormative or if the author could’ve written about a female who was empowered in her sexuality like Regena Thomashauer (author of Pussy: A Reclamation). Maybe Lisa Taddeo could write a sequal?
All of these books gave me food for thought about my own sexuality, validation for my experience living in a patriarchal culture, and gratefulness for those times when I feel like I’ve embodied my sexuality. Three Women is a great overview of what it is often like to be a woman in a patriarchal culture. Come As You Are will encourage you to change that world-view with concrete suggestions and 21st century information about female sexuality. Pussy: A Reclamation is the frontier of what is possible for a woman to experience when she reclaims her sexuality and power. Have you read any of these books? Or what book will you start with?
A quick quote from one the inspirational author of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. More on The Artist’s Way coming soon…