Living Free

On dictionary.com, independence is described as freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others.  This morning I read an article about why Katie Holmes filed for divorce from Tom Cruise – who knows if it’s the truth or not, but allow me to use it as an example that could be true.  The article gave many examples of how TC has not allowed KH to live independently – where he stifled her ability to live her life in a way that made her feel free to make her own choices.  The reason I use this example (not just because I secretly think I could have been a celebrity reporter – a legit, respected one! ) is that I think this type of relationship can be common.  I would bet each of us knows of a couple where one of the people is overbearing in a way that is not healthy.  It comes from a place of fear – for both the one controlling and the one allowing themselves to be controlled.

On this day, the day our country gained its independence, my wish for all of us is to recognize when others are attempting to control us or influence us in a way that does not resonate with our core values and belief system.  Oprah often talks about when something in our life is not quite right (a choice, a relationship, a job, etc.), that the universe lets us know and when we really pay attention, we truly know the right thing to do.

“I say the universe speaks to us, always, first in whispers. And a whisper in your life usually feels like ‘hmm, that’s odd.’ Or, ‘hmm, that doesn’t make any sense.’ Or, ‘hmm, is that right?’ It’s that subtle. And if you don’t pay attention to the whisper, it gets louder and louder and louder. I say it’s like getting thumped upside the head. If you don’t pay attention to that, it’s like getting a brick upside your head. You don’t pay attention to that—the brick wall falls down. That is the pattern that I see in my life and so many other people’s lives. And so, I ask people, ‘What are the whispers? What’s whispering to you now?'” — Oprah

Oprah’s mentor and friend, Maya Angelou, says – ‘when you know better, you do better’.  I think the knowingness of what we need to do and the reality of putting it into action can be scary.  Another powerful woman, Pema Chödrön,  asks us to ‘smile at fear – live from the heart’ and be filled with potential.  You cannot do that if you are controlling someone else or when you are living a life controlled by another person.

‘Be honest with yourself and be open to the world.’
Pema Chödrön

TIMBo Training and Wholehearted Living.

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photo: Tracy Rodriguez Photography

“Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.” Brené Brown – The Gifts of Imperfection

We all have a natural tendency to focus on the story. The story of why we are sad, depressed, angry, lonely, bored (insert other emotions here) and the feelings that result from them: guilt, fear, shame, resentment. The TIMBo (Trauma Informed Mind Body) Program is designed to more strategically address the effect that stress and trauma have on the body and the mind.

It’s okay to share and process our stories and equally important to recognize when we get caught up in the drama of the story rather than doing what we can to work toward healing the hurt associated with our emotions and feelings.

I’ve attended many workshops and trainings in my years of preparing to be a yoga teacher trainer and health/life coach as well as for my own personal development. The TIMBo Training has reinforced much of what I have learned in the past decade including:

> The Saber Tooth Tiger Syndrome (or as I affectionately refer to it: STTS) – a real or perceived threat to survival (when we have the urge to ‘fight or flight’) is the root of many of our reactions to people and situations. In the caveman (I prefer ‘cavepeople’) days, if you were dismissed by the clan, they would throw you out of the cave and guess who was waiting for you? Yup – the Saber Tooth Tiger – and it would be likely there would not be an option to fight and you’d be running for your life.

Watch this YouTube video about the affect of stress on our body.

> From the Buddha’s Brain book – the Path of Awakening
Being with what arises (mindfulness), working with tendencies of the mind to transform (virtue), and taking refuge in the ground of being (wisdom)

> There is nothing to fix! This is one of the first things Sue Jones (facilitator and creator of the TIMBo program – and also an EJ writer) said to the group. Five seemingly simple words. Sit for a moment and think about that. How often do we act and react from a place of trying to fix something or someone (including ourselves)?

> FEAR – False Evidence Appearing Real
Lao Tzu wrote:
If you are depressed, you are living in the past,
If you are anxious, you are living in the future,
If you are at peace, you are living in the present.

When we live in the present moment, we are aware of how we are ‘being’ and decrease our likelihood of being depressed or anxious – which is excellent since both those feelings can lead to feeling fearful and being stuck in sensations that don’t serve us. When we are living in the present moment, we can be present with something we need to process without being stuck in the past or the future.

Sue also reminded us that regardless of the trigger, fear is the same. We feel it in our body and it invokes a physiological response – which can be addressed via verbally processing the emotion/feeling, intentional breathing, yoga, and meditation. Sue reminds us that it’s a process – it is about learning to be okay where we are at and moving toward happiness. Not labeling an emotion as negative, being with it as it is.

ImageThe TIMBo Program is great for self-development as well as learning to facilitate groups and yoga classes for women who want to live more authentically and let go of emotions that no longer serve us/them. In this 4-day training you will meet women who will be your friends for life. The day after the training Sue wrote on her Facebook page: “Laugh with me and we connect for a day. Cry with me and we connect for a lifetime ♥.” This pretty much sums up how powerful the training was and how deeply connected I feel to the women who were at this training.       
photo: Tracy Rodriguez Photography

Post-TIMBO days/weeks also remind me of the post-Reiki training days – it’s emotional (in an awesome, powerful way), you feel fully present in your life, and you are really clear on what is leading you toward your life’s purpose and what is not. This training will change your perception and will provide you with the strength to move toward that which energetically and intuitively feels right for your life and will help you release from that which does not resonate.

ImageYou will need to be prepared to get in touch with how emotions are stored in your body – which is why it quickly becomes clear why Marika walked into the training room with multiple boxes of tissues. It’s quite cleansing and healing as we realize that life is not always about being happy and that we cannot truly know happiness without being familiar with sadness.

And we understand that we can experience confidence by recognizing our shame and we can move toward the light by having knowledge of the darkness. We need to allow ourselves to be vulnerable – which according to Brené Brown is an accurate measurement of courage. When we live truthfully, with courage, we are living authentically. (Two links below to Brené’s powerful TED videos):

TED talk: Vulnerability
TED talk: Listening to Shame

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What can we all do to live more wholeheartedly?

Consider one or more of the following to begin to build our toolbox:

> Shift judgment of reaction to the stories/feelings with Mindfulness Practices: Practice Pranayama, Yoga, Meditation

> Breathing off the mat – pay attention and lengthen our breath to change the physiology of your body

> Read, Learn and Be Inspired – here are some of my favorites: Brene Brown: The Gifts of Imperfection; Buddha’s Brain: Richard Hanson; Life Lessons – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross & David Kessler; Anatomy of the Spirit – Caroline Myss; The Power of Intention – Wayne Dyer; Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life – Wayne Dyer; Seven Spiritual Laws of Success – Deepak Chopra; A New Earth – Eckhart Tolle; Mudras – Yoga in Your Hands – Gertrude Hirschi; Creative Visualization – Shakti Gawain

> Life/Health Coaching

To process the stories of our lives so we can release the emotions that we attached to the story, when we are no longer attached to them in a way that is creating harm to our body, we begin the healing process and to understand yourself, learn about how your values and beliefs contribute to your actions and reactions.

> Attend a TIMBo session and learn to ‘put space between what you FEEL and what you choose to DO’.

> Recognize, and take time, to do what grounds you – nature, reading, yoga, spending time with friends & family, etc.

> Believe that you have the resources within to accomplish anything you want in life.

> Understand the concept of choice – Living Life, Making Choices

Every day we make choices.
We choose one thought over another,
we choose one behavior over another,
we choose to take one path over another.

When we investigate our lives,
existing with awareness
and taking responsibility for our choices,
we are choosing to live an authentic life.

For more info on Sue Jones:
www.yogahope.org
www.suejonesyoga.com

Change

Change is saying goodbye to an old, familiar situation and facing a new unfamiliar situation.  Sometimes it’s not the old or the new that unnerves us, it’s the time in between.  Ronnie Kaye, author of Spinning Straw into Gold and two time breast cancer survivor says “ In life when one door closes another always opens, but the hallways are a bitch.”  That is how change works, it usually begins with a door closing, an ending, a completion, a loss, a death.  Then we enter an uncomfortable period, mourning this completion and living in uncertainty of what is next.  This period of uncertainty is hard. But just when we feel we can’t take it anymore, something new emerges:  a reintegration, a reinvestment, a new beginning.  A door opens.  If you fight change, you will be fighting your whole life.  That’s why we need to find a way to embrace change, or at least to accept it.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross ~ Life Lessons
Permission to use this excerpt was granted by the EKR Foundation:
www.ekrfoundation.org

Can you remember a time when you were in the hallway or perhaps you are currently there and wondering if you will ever find your way to the other end of the seemingly never-ending hallway?  According to a 1967 do-it-yourself stress test (called the Social Readjustment Rating Scale, developed by Dr. Thomas Holmes and Dr. Richard Rahe), the top 5 most stressful life changing situations are the death of a spouse, divorce, marital separation, detention in jail or other institution, and the death of a close family member.  Even though the birth of a child, moving from your home, personal illness or injury, an empty nest, job change or loss, or ______ (insert your stressor here) are not in the top 5 stressful life changes, these may be additional examples of life changes that create anxiety or worry in our lives.  Clearly some changes are within our control and some are not – the hallway does not distinguish whether or not the stressful situation is a painful divorce or the death of a loved one.   In order to embrace the change, we need to cultivate new habits to overcome the difficult time and create a new way of living our life.

Whether or not we initiate a change is not indicative as to whether or not it will be stressful.  I know of two people who initiated a divorce and they are experiencing tremendous stress related to the change that is a result of their choice.  I remind them that the hallway is impermanent and that by continuing to move forward and face the adversity, they will come through to the other side of the hallway and they will be stronger for it.  Those are the words I say as my heart aches for the pain they are feeling.   I know the feeling of being so distraught and wondering if that feeling will ever diminish.  When I was grieving after my mom died, I was so sad.  Her death was traumatic not only because she was no longer with us in physical form, but because our family had spent 10 days caring for her while facing the sudden, shocking news that she only had days or weeks to live.  In addition to grieving, we were tired – emotionally exhausted.   After my mom passed as I was driving back to NH, from Mass., I cried in the car, when I got home I cried in the shower, I cried and I cried – Oprah would call this ‘the ugly cry’.  I thought to myself, crying has a healing component, but I really want to stop crying – it’s extremely draining and I needed to regain some strength to get through the wake and funeral.

Since I have a regular yoga practice, I practice being present – being in the moment.  I made a conscious decision to do this with my sadness and experience my grieving in a way that was new to me because I thought it would be beneficial.  So, I thought, OK, I will be in the moment and give this “going through the feelings” thing a try.  I decided to get in touch with the sadness, to really feel it.  The choice to do this with full body and mind awareness created an experience I have never felt before.  I truly FELT sadness – felt it in my body, felt it in my soul.  After some time (maybe 15-30 minutes, I don’t really know) I thought, ok that was interesting, now what?  I found myself thinking ‘I do not have a mother – my mother is dead and I am scared because I do not know how this will change my life?’  Even though the death of a loved one is different than, say, divorce – all of the major life stressors are a death of something.  A death of a marriage, a death of a person, a death of the way life was as we knew it.

Two meaningful components of Elisabeth’s wonderful excerpt that captured my attention, and I could relate to my personal experience, were just when we feel we can’t take it anymore, something new emerges and If you fight change, you will be fighting your whole life. Whether or not you created or were amenable to the change is irrelevant, the fact is that change happens.  If we let go and do not fight it, we will open ourselves to the next phase of our life and will often discover the life lesson.  It will become clear why we went through what we did or we may have a better understanding of the situation.  With this understanding we will have the opportunity to help another person through their journey and share the knowingness that they, too, will emerge from the hallway.

Thanks to my cousin Meeghan for the photo from her trip to Japan!