The Power of Vulnerability

ImageOver the past several years, I’ve needed to get really good at owning my, well… owning my s#!t.  Not only so that I can help my clients own theirs, but so that I can be a happier, healthier, more well-adjust human being.  That’s the plan anyway.  Whether that certain brand of personal baggage looks like pain or anger, personal shadows or the gut-wrenching fear of a broken heart, I’ve had to work on embracing it all.  I have to own my faults, my imperfections and the fact that no matter how hard I try, my body will never look Gisele Bundchen’s.  But there’s more than meets the eye here.  It’s more than surging bravely forward into the gaping maw of an uncertain world.  It’s all about accepting these “flaws” as my own and really, truly understanding that I am not perfect and in that realization comes liberation.  Which is strange, right?  To admit imperfection and flaws makes ones vulnerable.  But there is real, appreciable personal freedom in understanding and embracing one’s own vulnerabilities.  It comes with a sense of profound personal power.

I know that some of you are reading this and thinking, “Heather, dear, how is vulnerability powerful?”  That sure does sound like a conundrum, especially from the conventional standpoint that revealing ones vulnerability somehow relinquishes power.  Why show weakness to someone who might abuse it?  However, by embracing vulnerability, you are acknowledging, even loving, the pieces of yourself that are imperfect or scary or crazy or broken.  You ultimately own it all.  No one can use those “imperfect” pieces to extort your emotions or shame you or exert power over you.  It’s all yours.

When we don’t embrace these pieces of ourselves, we are ultimately denying ourselves love.  In the context of external relationships, we end up offering only small portions of who we really are.  This creates a provisional relationship, one in which the best we can hope for is to survive on the scraps of love that others can show us.  After all, how can someone else love us completely if we can’t love ourselves? This externalizes both our love and our power until we are literally giving our power away – selling to the lowest bidder.  We withhold, so they withhold; this creates a vacuum.  Nature abhors a vacuum, so we find ourselves compromising and giving in just to feel loved.  We fill that void with nonsense until we are so disempowered, we would do anything to feel safe, whole and loved.  But what if we just stopped running from the darkness just for a moment?    This is counterintuitive to most people; but embracing your faults and allowing yourself to be vulnerable is the greatest source of personal power you can choose.

This is not an easy process.  To voluntarily look at darkness in another person is terrifying, let alone when we look at it within ourselves.  So start where you are.  Start small.  The next time you find yourself in the midst of self-critique, stop and stare.  What is that?  Who’s in there?  Can that “flawed” piece of you be loved?  The truth – the answer – is, yes.  

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Empathic and Authentic Dating

Dating imageAfter several years of being quite distinctly (and, to my mind, quite permanently) “Off the Market,” I abruptly found myself back “On It,” or “In It,” or however that works.  It was all a little disconcerting, really, since after an epically bad break-up (I won’t flatter myself by saying it was “The World’s Worst”…. But it was up there…), I had absolutely no business dating anyone.  I was so emotionally fragile, romantic involvement was resolutely out of the question.  Until it wasn’t.  That is, I started thinking, “Hey, maybe I should give this another shot.”  What had actually happened was that I realized that I really was strong enough to move forward.  I had done a lot of work on myself, and confronted many deeply sequestered demons.  I had reconnected to who I am and emerged stronger, with a renewed sense of purpose and commitment to myself.  And what if it isn’t terrible the next time?  What if I actually do find love – real love?  So, I dusted myself off and waded cautiously into the dating pool.

Almost immediately, a few things became pretty clear.  First, I must have started out in the shallow end of aforementioned pool.  Next, I realized I had no idea what I was doing.  But most importantly, I realized that dating is veritable gauntlet under normal circumstances, let alone for someone like me.  Several men had made it through the initial screening process (e.g., I was fairly sure they weren’t serial killers), but I quickly discovered there were a whole bunch of other sorts of predators out there.  And, as one of my would-be suitors put it, there’s a lot of “false advertising.”  Which I completely understood, since his online profile said he was 5’9″.  He may have been 5’2″.  Maybe.

But back to the predators.  That sounds like it may be rather harsh thing to say about someone, when in reality, these were actually very nice (albeit, boring) men.  But they had developed predatory behaviors that I just couldn’t let myself fall for.  Not again.  I met men who preyed on my time, my energy and my good will.  I had men lure me in with promises of a bright future, only to catch them in lies.  I have to admit, it was an exhausting process.  And I hated it.  I constantly felt like I was interviewing someone, instead of getting to know them.  My friend Jessica (The Engineer), says that dating is a numbers game.  The more you do it, the more likely you’ll actually find someone worth spending the rest of your life with.  My friend Janelle (The Scientist), said that I needed to give each man three dates so that I could get a statistically representative sample of their personality.  See? Exhausting.  And it just doesn’t work well if you happen to energetically sensitive in any way.

What I was running into was a whole lot of inauthentic individuals who were desperate to be completed/healed/saved/coddled by someone else – namely, me, or anyone. (Gentlemen, if this is you, I am not your girl.)  And I’m not looking down on these guys; that was me for so many painful years.   I am actually really, truly thankful for them and thankful for the immense insight that my previous experience has given me.  Each one of these bad dates was a lesson in reinforcing what it is that I actually want in a partner.  They also reinforced my own method for dating.  That is, I’m a psychic and an empath, and my intuition is damn good (so say my clients, anyway).  So when my Spidey senses say get the hell out there, I get the hell out of there.  But when my intuition prompts me to stop and look deeper, I honor that.  If this process has done nothing else for me, it has helped me to re-learn how to feel my way through, to trust my discernment, to realize that true partnership and love is possible.  The more I honor myself and stay close my authentic self, no matter what is going on around me, the more I can sense the quickening of what’s to come.

And maybe it’s already arrived.  Who knows…

If you’re reading this, and if you’re walking this same path, please take my insight to heart (pun intended).  You don’t need to give your power away to find love.  You don’t need to rely on someone else’s ideology or methodology or psychology to find out what is actually right for you.  You have the same intuition that I have.  You have the power to discern what is right for you and what isn’t.  Sure, you might be a little out of practice, but I assure you that that personal power of yours is there.  Guard it and hold it fiercely.  And do not, under any circumstances, give it away to anyone who will do anything other than honor it.

Namaste

–h

Lay Down Your Weapons – Living With an Open Heart

I wish I could say that I have walked through the trials and tribulations with ease, grace and joy, embracing each new experience, not as a trial or tribulation, but as a lesson to be savored.  But, as my grandma would say, I would be a big, fat fibber.

In fact, if anything, I’ve made the burden unnecessarily large by virtue of the fact that I’ve taken the lessons that I have learned and tuned them into weapons of regret against myself.  I’ve been using hindsight to beat myself up over decisions that I’ve made and things that I’ve done, not understanding that I was only doing the best I could at the time.  I wasn’t operating with all of the information that I have now.  It’s a classic case of Monday Morning Quarterbacking.  And it’s something that we all do.

Whether it’s something as seemingly mundane as a decision you made at work or something more grave like guilt over how you raised your child, we all have a tendency to judge ourselves using the knowledge and information we have now instead of seeing ourselves with compassion.  We can not be perfect – we can never be perfect.  There is no such thing.  So why would we continue to raise the whip and debase ourselves?  We weren’t perfect then and we certainly aren’t perfect now.

This was, and continues to be, a tough lesson for me.  This may be one I struggle with for the rest of my life.  And the tendency that I think we all have when we go through this is to close our hearts and shut down, both to others and to new experiences.  We become desperately afraid of making a mistake again – I know I am.  Why would I want to get burned again?  But here’s the thing, when you get burned, say by fire, you don’t go the rest of your life never seeking to find warmth again.  You would die.  You are always open to the possibility of, and in fact actively looking for,  warmth without the  burn because that is how you are meant to experience things (you know, being the warm-blooded, relatively fragile mammal that you are).  The same is true for everything else.

If you make a bad decision, don’t let that stop you from making other decisions using your new insight.  If you feel regret over how you raised your own children, don’t not love your grandchildren or think that you will make the same mistakes with them.  If you’ve had your heart broken, don’t let that stop you from loving again. These experiences are not meant to be ammunition to use against yourself or to use as an excuse not to open fully or as a reason to throw yourself a pity party.  They are there to serve as contrast and as lessons.

However, regret is a natural part of the human experience. But remember, regret is just another word for ammunition – the kind we use  against ourselves. The remedy for all of the things that you regret is to continue to live with an open heart and to continue to move to a place where you are feeling through, and leading with, your heart.  You must let the experiences move through you as music moves through a flute; the openness of your heart will dictate the tone and strength of the song. More and more, you will have a knowing about what is “right” and what is appropriate, and you will instinctively gravitate to those things.  It is a place of all-that-is-possible and a place of miracles.

And remember, you make your own miracles, after all……

In love and light,

heather

Staring down the Shenpa

“I am a train wreck,” I said to a friend of mine one day.  “What the hell?”

“You’re not a train wreck,” she said patiently.  But, as I felt she was biased, I didn’t believe her.  “What do you do when these things crop up?  How have you been handling it?”

“‘Handling it’ seems like kind of a pipe dream,” I countered. “I’m a basket case.”

“No you’re not,” she said calmly (again with the obligatory platitudes).  “You seem to have named these feelings.  That’s good.  You’re observing them.”

“Well then how come it’s not getting better?  It’s worse,” I said.  I was getting fairly desperate at this point.

“Because you’re just observing them,” she countered.

“Are you saying I’m copping out?”

“Yep.”

Dammit.

It seems like somewhere along the way from personal devastation to near-recovery, I had developed a few defense mechanisms to deal with the really deep and ugly stuff.  The stuff that we all have that’s lurking around in our depths; its been down there so long, it doesn’t have a name.  It’s just a bulky mass in the darkness.  And when it moves around, it knocks us off balance.

So what was I supposed to do about it?  I was effectively thrown sideways and felt as though I was watching my sanity slip.  Whatever I was doing wasn’t working.  It was the equivalent of a scared child trembling in bed, transfixed on the closet door, waiting – just waiting – for the monster to come crashing out.  I had to get out of bed and fling that door open, but I was just too damn scared of what was actually in there.

Luckily, I was not the first person to feel this way.  It turns out that Tibetan Buddhists are experts on this kind of thing, and have many practices that they teach to scared, half-crazed souls such as myself.  My friend told me about Pema Chodron, a Tibetan Buddhist nun who teaches meditation (among other things), and her recording “Getting Unstuck – Breaking Your Habitual Patterns and Encountering Naked Reality.”  I was game to try anything, so I went home and downloaded it.

Even after years and years of mediation, I had never done a Buddhist meditation on mindfulness.  There are many significant differences from other practices, the biggest (for me) is that you do this practice with your eyes open.  You can’t run. You’re there. It’s intentional for many reasons, but for me it meant that I very literally had to stare down what was going on inside my head.

But what made this recording really resonate with me is the teaching on shenpa – or the things that hook us and drag us down or lure us off into fantasy so that we don’t deal with the issues at hand.  The things that are so painful, ugly or disconcerting that they start us on the downward spiral towards numbing the pain with defense mechanisms or addictions just to be able to escape from them for a little bit.  And I was staring down some big-time shenpa.  This was what was pulling me into insanity, making me feel frantic and out of control.  The source of the shenpa is irrelevant to this discussion, its the process of working through it that I want to share.

Coincidentally, shenpa is the exact same thing that sneaks up on you in meditation.  Sometimes it pokes you, sometimes it takes you by the hand and drags you down some fantasy road or another.  And sometimes it mauls you like a Bengal tiger. I fell into this last category.  So there I went, armed with Pema’s recording and a frantic mind, I decided to sit through the practice to see if it would make a big difference.  Immediately I hated it.  This is mostly because the second I sat down and tried to focus on my breath I began hyperventilating – not good.  But, as Pema teaches, you must stay.  As big and painful and horrible as it is, you must stay with it.  You can not name it, rationalize it, escape it or destroy it.  And so I stayed.  I sat  for many hours over the next few weeks and stared at this shenpa until I got to know every crevice of it.  Over time it began to soften and melt a little bit, as though my gaze were warming it.  Little by little, it faded into the background – not gone, not completely.  Just a more manageable piece and something that didn’t have power over me any more.

That was a significant event for me, but also a deeply hurtful shenpa.  I have more; so do you.  And that’s ok.  What is important is that it is very possible to move through it and, as Pema says, face “naked reality.” You need only have enough self love to recognize that you must face these fears head on.  Be brave.

Namaste.

A Message from the Angelic Realm

Yesterday I had the privilege of spending the evening with a group of amazing people.  What follows is a message that was channeled from the angelic realm for them, but was so powerful, I just had to share with everyone.

Enjoy!

“For most in the group, you’ve completed a change and a shift and are ready to move onto the next thing.  But fear of the unknown and fear that you can’t ‘handle it’ are keeping you in a holding pattern.

“Release your fear.  Trust that you have manifested the perfect circumstance for the service to your higher soul.  You are in the perfect place at the perfect time.  There are no accidents or coincidences.  Also know that in this space you can not ‘mess up’ or make a mistake.  What you experience and how you choose to react is perfect.  There is no such thing as ‘good’ or ‘bad.’  There just ‘is;’ you just ‘are.’

“Release the burden of self judgement.

“Release unrealistic constraints on yourself.  Be kind to yourself.

“Release self doubt and self loathing.

“Know that you are perfect, loved and whole.

“Know that you are powerful.

Love and Light.

–Heather