Showing posts from August, 2017

Relaxing the Over-Controller: Letting Life Be Just As It Is

We are designed through evolution to protect and further ourselves. While this is universal, if you look closely at your life, you might find that the navigating ego goes beyond the call. Have you noticed how many life moments are devoted to navigating obstacles and solving problems? How often your mind is worrying about something, anticipating what’s around the corner, preparing for what might go wrong? I call this mind-set the Over-Controller, and the more we feel threatened, the more the Over-Controller is on duty. Recognizing the Suffering of the Over-Controller The suffering comes when our effort to be in control becomes chronic and we forget who we really are. The Over-Controller is addicted to doing. An image that comes to mind is Sisyphus pushing the boulder up the hill and then just watching it roll down over and over again. When we’re pushing the boulder — pre-occupied, straining to get somewhere else — we forget the consciousness, the tender heart-space, that is right in ever…

The Wisdom of "It's Not My Fault": Finding Freedom When We are Caught in Self-Blame

I sometimes think that the most basic truths are the ones that we most regularly forget, and one of them is: If we are turned on ourselves, we cannot love this life. The turning on ourselves contracts us. In those moments, we are disconnected from our inner life and from each other. We move through the day with an undercurrent of I’m not okay, but are unaware of how much it’s affecting our capacity to relax and enjoy our moments. The Second Arrow of Self-Blame In Buddhist teachings, the Buddha described two arrows. The first arrow is the natural experience that arises in this human animal that we are, for example: fear, aggression, greed, craving. The second arrow is self-aversion for the fact of the first arrow. We have the experience of being nasty, selfish or greedy, and we don’t like ourselves for that. That’s the second arrow. The Buddha says: “The first arrow hurts, why do we shoot the second arrow into us, ourselves?” And yet we do. He goes on to say: “In life, we cannot always c…

Soul Recovery: Healing the Shame of Trauma

In Shamanistic cultures, it is believed that when a person is traumatized, their soul leaves their body as a way to protect itself from intolerable pain. In a process known as Soul Retrieval, trusted community members surround the person with tremendous love and safety. In this sacred space, the soul is invited back in so the person can become whole. When Our Coping Strategies FailIn the simplest terms, trauma happens when our nervous system becomes overwhelmed and our most primal coping strategies fail. If we are unable to fight or flee what is attacking us, we freeze and disconnect or dissociate in a way that the unprocessed fear gets locked into our body. We become “stuck” in a biological state of stress, fear and reactivity, leading to chronic anxiety, depression, addictions and, often, the constellation of symptoms that we call PTSD. This process of disconnecting and living with reactivity to the unprocessed fear is not a rational choice. Rather it’s a coping strategy that is drive…