Don’t Gaslight Yourself

A friend and I have been discussing the experience of facing the truth – in relationships, in the world, in how we show up as ourselves or not as ourselves, in how we treat our bodies, in how we treat those close to us, and in how we experience the inner-voice.

First of all, any message – within our own minds, from the media, from a lover or a friend or a group or a cause or a family member or a psychic or a guru or a teacher or a guardian – any message we receive that tells us we are inherently bad, or “they” are inherently bad  – is bullshit.

In so many ways – we must re-learn how to trust our gut.

If the message feels bad, that’s our first cue to check it out.  

Why does it feel bad?

Before having another beer or going shopping or watching porn or yelling at someone or going cold inside or eating too much or driving too fast or having disconnected sex or making another compromise or going after more money or proving your point — pause for a minute and ask:  Why do I feel bad right now?  What is the feeling inside that I’m trying to get away from?  What is it, and what is it telling me? 

Is it uneasy?

Is it hard to pinpoint?

Is it grotesque?

Does it contrast (at all) with the feeling of being inherently OK?

Does it derail me (even a little) from knowing that I am good?

What is this feeling that is telling me to escape?

Don’t feel this this.

What is this feeling that keeps me from letting myself pause?

Rest.

Feel.

For many of us, pausing will feel uncomfortable, especially if we’re out of practice.

Pausing can feel downright irritating, painful or even horrifying.

Like the whole house of cards might come crashing down.  

These illusions about what we are chasing and what we are running away from….they might not survive the fire of awareness that exists in one singular pause.

Pausing  and noticing will often sound like a terrible idea (or even a terribly boring idea) when there is inner work waiting patiently for us to show up and buckle up.

For me personally, I don’t know how I would be able to handle the inner work at all without the experience of Guru, without my beloved chant teacher, without the healing love from family and a few close friends.  Although I have been blessed with my share of struggles, I also recognize that my soul was drawn to certain experiences to lead me to Guru, which I understand as Supreme Consciousness and Bliss.  Less of me and more of That,  please.  

And yet, I continue to find myself faced with experiences of needing to create boundaries, dealing with ego, finding out how to become more truthful within myself, how to change patterns, how to pause when I feel angry, how to pause when my heart is closed, how to pause when I feel doubt.

When we follow any train of thought that derails us from knowing that we are (inherently) OK, that we are (inherently) good, and that we are (in fact) the embodiment of pure love — we naturally want to escape.

Because want to feel better.  

And because somewhere, deep inside, we know that those self-destructive thoughts are simply NOT TRUE.

Even our subconscious mind is pulling us back to recognizing our essential nature, and even in our ignorance we are chiseling away at uncovering the true brilliance that is our birthright.

Even self-sabotaging behavior is another way of trying to feel better.  We want to distract ourselves from the real pain and the real feelings by creating alternate overwhelming feelings or numbness to feelings.  We are pulling the wool  over our own eyes.

The common self-sabotaging behaviors that are discussed widely include: remaining in abusive relationships, seeking out abusive relationships, food/eating disorders, cutting, alcohol/substance addiction, gambling addiction, porn addiction, you-name-it addiction, etc., etc.

But it can also look like not speaking our truth in our relationships, and even in our day-to-day dealings with people. It can look like all the little transgressions that we don’t speak up about, that we settle for, that we perpetuate.  It can look like staying on the surface of things and sweeping important issues under the rug.

Smiling when we feel like shit inside.

This kind of self-sabotage, or what I call “self-gaslighting,” can look like experiencing jealousy and not talking about it because I’m not supposed to feel jealousy.  Because feeling jealous is not very cool or evolved or hot or sexy or mature or kind or whatever it is I’m supposed to be.

If I hold that energy inside, I don’t feel good.  If I go into denial about having jealous feelings, I’m suppressing my own awareness.  The more I attempt to numb out to that feeling, the more I am derailing myself.  The mind will likely chip in a few thoughts of condemnation (like “wow, you are so weak for having this feeling” or even “you’re so self-absorbed for feeling jealous; someone more evolved wouldn’t have that problem”). This kind of situation can become its own catch-22, full of feeling bad about feeling bad!  

Anyone who has allowed self-defeating thoughts to derail them a lot or a little will relate to the rabbit hole of self-criticism we can wander into — the checklist of failures appears and suddenly the proof is all there for the various ways that we have somehow not measured up.

In a situation that happened earlier this year, an experience of Grace occurred when I was staying out at my friend’s house on the island.  I had gone there to clear my head and my heart and reground.  It was late, and I was lying in bed under clean sheets in a room that is filled with my Guru’s energy.  Suddenly, I was prompted to energetically pull all of the love that I had been giving back into myself, and I could reach back for years or even lifetimes and pull all that love and all that effort into my current self, the one experiencing the suffering of jealousy.

The love of my ancestors was also present, like love attracting more of itself and pulling even greater love into the receptive vessel that is my heart.  My Gurus and my Angels were in the room, as well.  It was truly bright, and I have never felt so protected.

I suddenly realized: I can trust myself.  

I can constantly turn to this Love that is completely free and ever-available.

All I have to do is open my heart to receive it.

I went to sleep content that night, knowing I didn’t have to be or do anything to be cradled by the Infinite experience of Love.  Knowing…in truth….I am That.

And when I woke up, guess what?

The work was still waiting for me.  It was still necessary to deal with that icky feeling.  It hadn’t quite left yet.

Jealousy.

Dammit.  Gross.  

I feel ugly.  

I feel less than whole.

 I feel less worthy.  

I feel unloved.  

I feel abandoned, rejected, lonely, scared.

I feel out of control.

I feel blah blah blah.

It doesn’t matter if I’m in a relationship or not.

I don’t actually need another person to fix this for me.

I need to hear an inner voice (the voice of Truth) say:

I love you.
You’re OK.
Your outer identity is not you.
Your experiences are not you.
Your feelings and thoughts are not you.
The life within you is good.
The life within you is sacred.
You are more than OK.

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And if you ARE in relationship, having these feelings – hopefully both you and your partner have the bandwidth to hold space for each other when jealousy or other sticky-tricky emotions come up.

When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable enough to share our truth, however awkward and shadowy it may be, we are honoring the is-ness of our state of being.

When others receive us with love and kindness in our vulnerability, they are also honoring the is-ness of our state of being.

Most likely this comes from their ability to honor themselves.

*

For me personally, telling my shadows to be quiet and invisible has never actually worked.

Telling my uncomfortable feelings and my intuition to shut-up was the self-gaslighting that let me stay in more than one shitty relationship.

It is quite possible to drive yourself mad through self-gaslighting.

*

If you have forgotten that you are OK, don’t run and don’t go numb, just pause and feel for a moment.

Most of us don’t transform our lives and behaviors overnight.

It becomes a series of remembering, bringing our attention back to the truth of our nature, which is goodness and effortlessly deserving of love.

If I am full of bad feelings, I can pause.

I might cry or breathe or cuddle my cat or pray or call somebody or go into a process of self-inquiry, with real curiosity and non-judgement.

From a more loving place, I might still drink a beer or eat more ice cream.  But I might enjoy it more.  I might have less desperate and escapist feelings about it.  I might even consciously free myself of any thought that is not compassionate, kind and loving toward myself.

Eventually, I might not even go for the ice cream or the beer.

But that won’t make me a better person.

The objective is love.

If I can love myself more, as I wake up daily to this thing called life…then I know I am on the right track.

*

Grace be with you.

Namaste.

*

 

 

 

Undateable

As the day of love approaches, I find myself considering putting myself back on “the online market” so to speak, as in online dating.  I’ve done it before, but it’s been over a year and I stopped because I wasn’t having very much fun.  However, I’ve heard of a couple of newer sites that sound like they might be worth a try, and besides – it’s all about where you’re at in the moment, right?  We attract that which we are vibing, that which we are putting out in the Universe.

I question the validity of my efforts, though, for there are a few “snags” in my fabric that make me feel a bit ~ you guessed it ~ undateable:

  • I’m a cat lady. I’m also a little crazy, but that is not a diagnosed condition, just my own self-assessment.  I only have two cats, but they are my children.  And they are the glue that holds my family together.  So my potential mate must like cats.  He must not be allergic to cats.  And he must specifically receive signs of approval from MY cats.  No pressure.
  • I am a single parent of teenage boys. I have been a single parent through the majority of their childhood.  I’m decent at it, but I won’t lie – the challenges are real and constant.  I love my boys something fierce.  And I bow to them as my greatest teachers.  They come first, always.  I need and desire a relationship in which I am understood as a mother.  I wear many hats and my superpowers are vast.  But damn, I could use a break sometimes.  Men I’ve dated often think they get it, but then they don’t.  This does not seem to be contingent on their own experience of raising children, but guys with kids potentially have more of a clue. “Potentially” being the key word….
  • My mind is cracked open to the awareness of human suffering. I care deeply.  Specifically, issues regarding sexism, violence against women, racism, violence against people of color, economic oppression, disregard of people living in poverty, violence against children, and the subtle yet violent brainwashing of men.  I want to talk about these things.  I want a meaningful discourse about these realities with the person I am dating.  I crave an ongoing conversation that makes our hearts softer and our words more kind, even as the pain of understanding suffering breaks our hearts and minds.  I don’t want the band-aid or the kool-aid!  Please, travel in this space with me.  Not for me, but because your soul is aware of its own contract and you, too, have come here to awaken and forgive, love and forgive, be and forgive, forgive, forgive.
  • I have experienced the end of myself. For many years, I kept hitting a cement wall (the end of myself), and it would feel painful and it would be a huge learning experience, but I kept re-creating my identity and my attachments.  Somehow, over time, I have given myself over to this death.  I still attach myself to my identity, but it is somehow looser, kinder and more porous.  The “me” I thought I was isn’t real.  This I know.  The “me” I identify with today is only temporary.  I long to constantly experience the end of myself, for that is the glimpse I have into a life of freedom.
  • When “I” stop clinging to “me” there is a letting go that usually makes me weep because I am so grateful and so relieved.  It is like a load of ten thousand bricks has been lifted from my mind and I can feel, for a moment, that the life that breathes and moves in this body is eternal and sacred and unaffected by conditions.  This presence is deathless, changeless and undeterred by my creative displays of suffering and story-telling.  In fact, it is through these experiences of suffering, these “dreams” if you will, that I seek the end of myself more and more.  Suffering was my introduction to freedom, for it was in times of trial that I rigorously pursued the presence of unwavering love.  I chased my lies until I found the thing that was far more interesting, and to this day I drop to my knees in my heart center when I feel this end, this death, this eternal nature.  I feel it as the the living water, and still I know that I am only grazing the surface of how brilliant it really is.

 

I suppose these are not too many deterrents, but in my experience, the trail gets less and less crowded on the path of soul-reckoning.  There often seem to be more women than men on this trail.  It is somewhat inconvenient that I am primarily straight.  So good luck to me!  Ha! 😉

Also, blessings and love to you – whoever and however you may be – on your love journey and in your seeking.  Namaste.

 

 

 

The Yoga Teachers are like Cats

 

Cats and yoga teachers are very similar.  They are like deities.  We bow very low to these advanced creatures.  We bow low enough to scoop kitty litter, clean up cat puke and deal with an eternal sheath of cat hair.  We bow low enough to give up our comfort-zone for 90 minutes in order to complete their class.  We bow low, and these deities grace our lives and keep us humble.

My girl cat, Tova, is my daughter.  She has the entire household wrapped around her pinky claw.  She is the Natalie Portman of cats, perfect in every way.  This morning she was cuddled up next to my shoulder when I awoke.  I got up and put my feet in my slippers to find UGHH!  Little perfect Tova had left me a nice wet hairball in the right slipper, ready and waiting for me like a dead bird.  It was so very unpleasant.

This is akin to when you are in one of the more strenuous postures from the Ghosh lineage, such as Bow pose, and you’re doing great, following the yoga teacher’s voice, following her cadence, and you’re giving it all you got, you’re holding out until the end: “Lift up, Lift up, Lift UP!”  But then she keeps going: “LIFT and surrender into the posture.  Find stillness.  Hold, Hold, Hold.  NOW release.”  That felt like eternity.  Half the class had dropped at that earlier point when we all thought we were done.  But the yoga teacher is sneaky and surprising, offering gifts that in the moment make stepping onto a wet hairball seem like a pleasant sensation in comparison.

These avatars, cats and yoga teachers, they can both peer into your very soul with their transcendent gaze.  By watching how they live, by following their teachings, we can learn to put ourselves in the role of observer more and more.  Learn to respond with a sense of knowing our own avatar nature, our own regal state of being.  When I tap into that, I am forgetting about “me” and “mine.”  It feels good.  The lid comes off the brain.  Gardens begin to grow again.  The doors of the heart open.  A smiling sun, a radiant jewel and a pool of clear water are revealed.

I bow low.

Namaste!