In the Land of Smoke and Mirrors
Things are not as they seem.
In the Land of Smoke and Mirrors, do not believe everything you think.
The thoughts a barrage of unworthiness, hatred, fear, despair. Taunting us with a seemingly unending list of evidence proving this dark, grim reality. The haunting visuals, words, and feelings, can echo in our minds.
My friend, do not fall prey to these specters of your mind.
Moving through our darkness, and the themes it takes at different times of our lives, please, my friend, remember: things are not as they seem.
The show these parts of our mind create, with their lurking shadows, distorting flashing lights, and ominous voices, can distract and confuse, paralyze or enrage.
Please, my friend, remember, this is just a stage.
If nothing else, remember that this is not real.
Call to the light. Remember that it exists.
Sometimes, looking up, seeing that the light is still there, amidst all the confused mess, is enough to beam us out, and give us a wider perspective.
Other times, it may be like traversing through a dark, slippery cave, seeking the crack where a small glimmer of light enters. As you feel your way through the shadows, my friend, remember, that things aren't as they seem. Take your time, remember the light. Remember that love exists. Follow your nose to fresher air, and trust that I am here with you. Though it may seem it sometimes, you are not alone.
When you've made it to higher ground and fresher air, when the tenuousness of your journey has passed, breathe.
Perhaps, pause, look back, and see things for what they really are.
As the superfluous special effects begin to deflate, and special lighting dies down, do you see the man behind the curtain, the boggarts, the path through the "fun house" more clearly?
What was this elaborate, convincing, and even painful display all about?
Underneath it all, you may notice a small kernel of truth. A need. A longing. An ache for love, acceptance, peace, belonging, healing, safety, freedom, to be seen. A call to receive something that a part of you may have been needing deeply for so very long, a part of you hidden in shame, and a vulnerable hope that its need may actually be met.
Now your path is more clear. Learn to invite in this love, compassion, and awareness. Trust that you are worthy to receive it. You are.
If you are traversing through darkness, your Land of Smoke and Mirrors, or know someone who is, you do not have to navigate through it alone. Reach out to someone who can help you remember what is True, to call out Illusion, and feel your way back to your connection to light. I'm no stranger to these lands, and would walk through it with you in a second if you ask. I've got my torch bright and blazing and at the ready to help us find our way through.
With so much love for you,
P.S. If a thought feels like sh*t when you think it, it doesn't contain fundamental Truth.
Feelings Point to Needs
Everything we communicate can be boiled down to a "please" or a "thank you".
Over the past couple years I have been studying the practice of Nonviolent Communication (it also goes by the names Compassionate, or Conscious Communication). This way of connecting was originally shared by Marshall Rosenberg in the 1970s. As the teachings begin to sink in more deeply for me and replace old habits of communicating, I have been humbled by the healing power of this approach, and I wanted to share some of the juicy nuggets of wisdom with you.
The core tenets focus on identifying how we are feeling, uncovering the universal human need underneath it, and then offering empathy for any unmet needs.
Come on a journey with me as we explore this.
For a few moments take nice deep breathes and connect with your body. Tune into what feelings are alive within you.
Some examples are: content, relaxed, exhausted, frustrated, sad, joyful, disappointed, lonely, intriqued, calm, happy, inspired, anxious, torn, overwhelmed, confused, scared, ashamed, impatient, numb, angry, grateful, encouraged, vulnerable, etc.
Note: If something like "I feel so taken advantage of!" comes up, this is a thought and interpretation, not a feeling. In such a case, might you be feeling angry, indignant, sad, disappointed, etc? Acknowledge the presence of the thought, and try to to redirect yourself to the feeling that is within the thought.
Have you identified at least one to three feelings that resonate for you? There may be more, and they may seem contradictory. That is okay. Write these feelings down if it is helpful for you.
In Marshall Rosenberg's work, he says that feelings that are pleasant are a sign that a universal human need is being met, whereas feelings that are unpleasant are a sign of an unmet need within us. When we communicate with others in this space our words convey either a "please": help me meet this need for _________; or a "thank you": celebrate with me, my need for _________ has been met.
Now, let's take a moment to explore what needs may be underneath the feelings you identified. These universal human needs in their essence enhance our quality of life. Here are some examples of needs: safety, acceptance, harmony, predictability, integrity, connection, equality, appreciation, love, self-expression, understanding, respect, clarity, help and support, community, trust, intimacy, meaning and purpose, security, celebration, structure, autonomy and choice, space, fun and play, to matter and belong, mourning, freedom, kindness, responsibility, etc.
Returning to our example of, "I feel so taken advantage of!" we see that there are perhaps feelings of indignation, disappointment, and vulnerability, possibly because the needs for respect, kindness, and appreciation were not met.
As you tune inward, what unmet needs might your feelings be pointing you toward? And conversely, if you are feeling well, what might needs might your feelings be indicating that are being met?
Once you have identified your needs, write them down with the feelings you have identified. Acknowledge within yourself that you are feeling _________ because you are needing _______________ (or your needs for ___________ have been met).
Now, comes the true opportunity for healing. As you hold these needs in your heart, feel or imagine what it would be like if these needs were met. What would the experience of "respect", for example, feel like in your body if you had it completely? Imagine that you can breathe that quality into your being simply by thinking it, as if all the molecules of oxygen that enter your body are infused with ________. Continue to breathe and soak the energy of this in for as long as you like.
So, how do you feel?
Share your experience in the comments or email to share with me privately.
To learn more, read Marshall Rosenberg's book Nonviolent Communication, or visit the Wisconsin Empathy Guild's website to connect with practice groups in the area.
Which Wolf are You Feeding?
Every moment we have a choice to feed fear or love within us.
Every moment we have the opportunity to choose how we are going to treat ourselves, others, and what we create and allow within our life. The small and consistent choices we make will steer us into the realm we have chosen. As told by the Cherokee legend of the "Wolves Within":
A grandson comes to his grandfather plagued with anger about an injustice incurred to him by a friend. The grandfather nods and replies, "I too have felt indignant about those who have treated me without respect and without remorse. But anger slowly wears you down. It is like taking a poison, but wishing it would kill your enemy.
It is as if there are two wolves inside of me. One is loving, peaceful, and kind. It lives in harmony with those around him, and does not take offense when others lash out from their own suffering. When it is time to stand up for something, he is strong, patient, compassionate, and forgiving.
The other wolf is full of anger and fear. It feels the whole world is out to get him. He is no stranger to resentment, jealousy, false pride, self-pity, guilt, and sorrow. The littlest thing will set him off, and he will fight everyone for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and fear are so great. It is helpless anger, because it will change nothing.
Sometimes, it can be challenging to live with these two wolves inside of me, for they both wish to dominate my spirit."
The boy thought for a moment, and asked, "Which wolf will win?"
The grandfather smiled and quietly replied, "The one I feed."
We each have these wolves within us. The question is, which one are you feeding?
The opportunities are often, and sometimes subtle. Sometimes our actions remain the same, but our intention behind it, our thoughts and emotions shift. We can lift our suffering, and those of others, or we can strengthen it.
Bring awareness to your thoughts and feelings. What do you notice? Are certain thoughts stuck on repeat?
I have found that once I have noticed when I have been feeding the wolf of self-deprecation, fear, and defensiveness within myself, I can pause, breathe, and invite in the awareness of my wolf of compassion, forgiveness, and trust. As I do, my whole energy shifts. I am able to smile more. I feel lighter, and I am able to give everyone else a break. Even though we all are continuously choosing one wolf or the other, so many of us are not even aware of this choice. Perhaps, one wolf has been barking and snarling so loud and ferociously, we had a hard time seeing the peaceful wolf napping in the background.
Remember, when you feed the wolf of anger and fear, that is what you will see within yourself, others, and the world. When you feed the wolf of joy and harmony, that is what you will see in yourself, others, and the world.
Every moment is an opportunity to choose, even if you have forgotten for a while.
What do you want to see?
Reiki Master Teacher and Owner of Embrace Your Essence
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