Thursday, June 16, 2011

If I was ashamed- Once upon a time in a city called Vancouver.

For starters let me just say I in no way support what happened in Vancouver last night. I also feel a fair amount of anger and sadness and not just about last night but for the situation as a whole. I empathize with some of the reactions to the riot and I agree with some of the points being made.

However to be truthful if I was ashamed of the nature of humanity in the case of this event it real wouldn't be just for the riot. I would feel a deeper sense of shame for how much importance, money and time people spend pouring into this shit in the first place, while the rest of the world is in chaos environmentally, economically, socially and politically. I would feel more ashamed of my own nature to want to distract myself from the shit that is going on in the world because I can't handle the pain and the fact I feel powerless. I would feel ashamed that I turn my back on the happenings of the world and choose to numb out instead.

 I would also feel more ashamed at my own need to point fingers and the human nature to blame. Scapegoating others, emotionally distancing ourselves to help each of us feel somewhat superior and like we are not all part of the bigger picture. Like we are some how immune to human nature that we don't need to try and understand why those people acted the way they did because we are superior beings and that would never happen to us.  If I was ashamed it would be at the failure to look at the whole situation, and the roots of the problems. If I was ashamed it would be for the lack of understanding, or at the search into understanding of the causation of mob mentality taking place right now. This kind of unfolding and the herd mentality is nothing new and it isn't even unique to the human species. 

Yes if I felt any shame it would not just be for the flash in the pan riot where some people lost control because of feeding off hormones and the energy of the crowd. It wouldn't just be for the brief second those people lost themselves and got carried away in the moment. My embarrassment would be more for the big picture the distractions we feed ourselves with, our us against them mentality, the scapegoating and the finger pointing. 

However ashamed  I maybe of the process of what it means to be human (or even in what it means to be myself and my actions in and my reactions to the world around me)  I still love humanity both the good and the bad. I forgive myself for my imperfections and I forgive everyone involved in what happened at last nights event and what is continuing to unfold in the world around me. I feel love and empathy for all those involved from beginning to end.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Tapping the Vein: A Heart Song

Sometimes I find it very hard to tap into the heart of what I need to say and communicate it in a respectful way.  I have all these half formed words and thoughts in my head that dance around and occasionally land on my tongue but quickly there after float away. Sometimes it is hard to see through the inner conflict which resides with in me. I have thoughts and feeling about certain issues, things and people scattered all over the place.  This constant running around of my monkey mind prevents me from often seeing what is right in front of me and makes it at times difficult to speak what is in my heart.

These fragmented thoughts of mine sometimes torment me, they scratch at my brain and pick at my heart as if to tell me we are not going to leave you alone until you tap this vein and either write them or paint them out. At times they even insist I do both and I feel absolutely driven into the brink of madness till I capitulate and let these things out. I have never considered myself to be an artist or a writer I have never believed these things to be a calling for me. I am clumsy with grammar, punctuation and spelling to boot and my artistic skill though I do believe is improving is not something that comes naturally to me. I have always loved art and drawing so simply indulged my passion for them and disregarded the outcome of whatever manifested.

In my later years these things became excellent tools for me for emotional release. I think picking up a paintbrush has provided me with countless hours of free therapy. Painting and writing has allowed me to open a doorway into connecting with some of the deeper stuff that is going on within me that lies beyond that cycle of the monkey mind. It helps get me to a place where I can stand back and observe these thought processes from an unattached angle. As I type out words or as I look at the colours being spread upon the canvas I feel connected to my own innate wisdom and I feel my deep underlying emotions that can often get lost in story lines.  Story lines that mutate my emotions build upon my prejudices, my self hate, my hate for others, lead me to feel defeated and an overall sense of disconnection.

This force within me that has been driving me to write and paint especially lately seems to be coming from this place of wanting to share my own healing journey with others. I feel moved to expose myself to others and express my own confusion about the world and the internal struggles I face. This isn’t something that is easy for me or comes naturally either in fact for the most part I would say that it is the opposite of who I have been. My ego often tells me to hide myself from the world; I have huge social anxieties and hermit tendencies that have been with me since I was a child. I have this great love for people but at the same time I feel driven to isolate myself and be on my own.

But I have also felt this spark inside of me that has been waiting for me to acknowledge it for years to reveal who I am to the world. Sometimes it is only a dim flicker that I am only vaguely aware of and other times I am engulfed in flames. I have this heart song inside me that demands I share its message.  I have this passion to connect with myself and my brothers and sisters and to join with them and support them in connecting with their own ember and their own unique song playing inside of them.

I have studied and learned many forms of healing in my life both formally and informally but I never quite felt like I connected with the role of healer either. Perhaps because I always felt so fragmented and broken myself that I felt like taking on this role meant I had to disregard a huge part of who I am. I felt like I had to deny certain aspects of myself to take on this role, I needed to play this uniform part and pretend like I had it all together. And to be perfectly honest with you the times in my life where I feel like I have had it all together have been few and far between.  I am emotional, chaotic, disconnected and very dark at times and I felt like to take on the role of healer I need to suppress these things. That maybe one day when I am better then who I am now I can eventually allow myself to do that kind of work.

However I have come to the realization that the best thing I can offer the world is, myself and my own struggles.  That it is more important for me to be my authentic self then to try and fit any role or fit into any cookie cutter image of who I should be as a person. Also in my humble opinion the most important function I can fulfil while working with others is not to try and heal people at all but to be supportive of their journey in healing themselves. To help them connect with their own innate goodness, find their own way in relating to their pain and to feel comfortable enough to explore their own inner worlds. For me the idea of coming together as equals with people and being able to relate to each other in our experiences and in our own humanity is far more healing then pretending to be something we are not.

So I am not sure where this leaves me in the grand scheme of things other than as person who often stumbles around in the darkness but also has these wonderfully beautiful moments in the light. I do feel a deep calling to work with others and support them in their own personal journeys though I am still unaware of which vehicle to approach this with. I am sure the answers already lie within me sleeping somewhere but they haven’t yet fully formed yet. All I know is the message that is in my heart and that keeps demanding to get out, which is be yourself and help others to do the same. Don’t play roles or force them on others. Just simply be and accept yourself and those around you and help them to do the same.

I had an Acupuncturist tell me once that he hoped to be a teacher of peace. I found this message resonated with me in a profound way. Though it is possible that we both have a very different ideas about what this means, I think this is what is in my heart is well. I feel that I am both a student, a teacher and a guide in helping myself and others find peace. I feel like I am here to learn to be at peace with who I am and accept myself rough edges and all. That finding and connecting with this sense of inner peace and being okay with my own pain and who I am is what I am meant to take out into the world regardless of the results. I feel like supporting others to be okay with their inner worlds and more accepting of themselves is something I long to do. I feel like I am here to open my heart to others and learn from them and hear their message as well.

At this point I feel like the easiest way to connect with my hearts message and share my humanity with others is through painting and writing. To start to put my intentions out there and let things develop naturally in their own time. Perhaps some of what I write or paint will connect with a few people and help them to feel a little less alone. Maybe me allowing the outside world to see all my neurosis will help others, if even in a small way to feel a bit more okay with their own.  Or maybe it will trigger someone else to teach me something and share themselves and their passions with me. But for now just sharing my thoughts, feelings and paintings is already an amazing gift that I have granted myself in my road to self acceptance and personal healing. 


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Enter The Darkness

I am all too aware of the darker sides of life both within myself and the world around me. I have known deep pain and sadness, some days I look at the world and all I see is blackness.  I am all very much acquainted with those feelings of a gnawing self hate which never seems to totally disappear.  Rage has flooded through my system; I have become inflamed with hatred and I have felt the hardening of my heart. I have searched endlessly in my time to prove somebody else wrong, pointed my finger at them and said look this why they are the enemy.  I have made jokes at other people’s expense and sought to defame people. There were years of my youth where I lived off that stuff. I did countless drugs, disrespected others, myself and felt like the whole world was set on a course of destruction so why should I care or try for anything different.  I have tried to escape these parts of myself; I have tried to self medicating them, eating them away, denying them away, blaming them away and tried running away from them.

I have seen coldness and darkness in the hearts of people around me. I was raised in a violent household, and abuse was present in one form or another for a good portion of the formative years of my life. I have seen my friends and family struggle with overwhelming hatred for themselves and others. I have watched people I know and love drowning in some form of substance abuse or other addiction. I have seen people I love get caught up in some kind of hate campaign and blame others because they can’t deal with the pain that is within them.  

There seems to be both within me and many of my brothers and sisters this need to cover up and hide these undesirable parts of our self and gloss over the parts of the world that we wish did not exist.  It can be so hard and incredibly daunting to really to look at our own pain let alone face the pain of others. A lot of us endlessly scramble to push these things away, the first unpleasant thoughts or feelings that come up we just want to get rid of them or find someone we can blame or direct them towards instead of just really looking at and feeling what is going on within ourselves.

There have been stages of my development that I wasn’t exactly proud of and I used to do whatever I could I could to hide these things. I would find myself angry at those tried to expose these things about myself that I tried so desperately to keep hidden.  For years I hated who I was in my late teens early twenties and outside of a few friends I tried desperately to bury that part of myself.

I still do this in a lot of ways, though I am trying to learn not to and accept myself in any state I am in, but this is a challenge for me and a process.  I still find myself trying to push away a lot of my darker emotions and trying to put up an act as if everything is okay. Well it is okay; it is okay to feel these darker emotions and to identify with the darker sides of what it means to be human.  Or so that is what I tell myself but on some basic level, I have this limiting self belief that I always have to present as if I am totally joyful and everything is puppy dogs and rainbows.  I have a certain level of discomfort when it comes to sharing anything that can be construed as less then positive or that shines me in a light of anything less than perfect. I struggle very hard with the need to play roles and to let go of living up to what I think are other people’s expectations of me.

I have spent a ridiculous amount of time in my life trying to figure out who I am, while trying to shut out huge parts of who I already am. I find myself cherry picking certain more desirable sides of myself to fit them into roles, while locking away and denying other parts of who I am. I find I do this now mostly with “negative” emotions and I struggle very hard with the desire to push them away.  I strive to allow myself the freedom to experience all the things that arise within me. Embracing and learning from any experience that may come up in my inner or outer world is something I deeply value even if it leads me into unchartered territory or darker waters that I am used to.  

However I find that as open as I am to this in theory it is something that still meets with a lot of resistance within me. But for me it is worth it to continue on as it hurts me far more to shut myself off from certain feelings and from expressing myself and what I am experiencing in the long run. I feel like trying to fit into roles and not allowing myself to be a whole person and experiencing things fully has cut me off from lot of joy in my life.  Shutting things out has robbed me from many valuable learning experiences both about myself and others.

I am in no way trying to develop anger tendencies, suggesting that hatred of others is a good thing or trying to make excuses for times when I do lose control and my behaviour hurts someone else. However I do think it is important to allow room for our darker sides, to explore them and take a closer look at the things that make us feel uncomfortable about ourselves. To observe these things as they arise, without shutting them out or trying to sign blame on ourselves or anyone else as to why they are there. There is very freeing quality in allowing ourselves to fully experience things as they arise within us and around us without judging ourselves for how we react to them.  

For me learning to share the darker sides of myself has also become an important step in my journey.  For one If feel as though it helps me break out of the need to play any kind of role and helps to really illustrate all the ways I am not perfect but I am perfectly human.  I also deeply care about people and I hope that by me sharing some of my own struggles with my darker side will help some people to feel less alone with their own inner battles. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

To All My Friends Who Inspire Me

I notice Facebook now has a spot for inspirational people and yes I was quick to fill in all the various people who inspire me. I’m not going to lie I find some of Pema Chodron’s writing very inspiring and I have a huge soft spot for Carl Roger’s and some various other people I have never actually met. It seems so easy to see the “good “qualities in these people and delight in all the attributes that make them special to me. I mean it’s nice to be able enjoy these people and whatever talents they have and share with us. Perhaps for some people it is a musician, an actress, a chef, writer or activist that inspires them in some way or perhaps some of you are inspired by no one at all.

At any rate it got me thinking or over thinking as many things often do about how easy it can be to appreciate the beauty in these people but fail to see the greatness that lies in the hearts of our friends, neighbours and even in ourselves.  Perhaps it is easier to idealize the people we have never met because we don’t have to deal with their darker sides first hand. Perhaps we might read about some of their problems but we never have to come face to face with them.  Plus we don’t ever really have to give them (okay for the most part unless you’re buying some of their stuff) anything in return.

Anyway my thoughts/questions surrounding this topic was can we get so caught up in admiring the people we have never met that  we forget the gems standing right beside us. Also do we often overlook some of these wonderfully inspiring qualities that are alive inside of ourselves? Taking this even a step further down my train of thought do we sometimes place more value on the words of these strangers then our own experiences?  Do we even put more value on these people’s words/talents then the people around us who, may have similar talents/ experiences/and knowledge just because of their fame? Do we put greater value on all their truths/skills then we do on our own and others? Do we trust things we read over things we have lived?Of course there is value in these people and delighting in whatever it is their gift has to offer but can’t true wisdom, insight and skill come from many places? What is it that gets us all caught up in seeing them as so much better?

 For example I remember there was a video circulating about a year ago of a famous musician who went out and played for free in the subway, well nobody even gave him a second look. Later that same night people where paying tones of money to see the same person playing the same music that they just walked by earlier.  Now that people knew this man’s name and because he was famous did that make his music so much more valuable then when he was just a nameless man playing in the street? Why are we so convinced that these people we have never met have so much more wisdom, skill or whatever then the people standing right beside us?  Furthermore why do we often fail to see our own beauty, talent and wisdom and only see these things in others.

Anyways I know we sometimes seek out these people because they have talents we wish we had, or perhaps we feel they offer a fresh idea /perspective we feel we are missing, or maybe what they offer helps to further us down our journey somehow. But all I really wanted to get at especially on this day of love (if you’re into that sort of thing) is don’t forget to look within you and all around you to because inspiration exists in many forms and inspiring people are all around us.

So I would like to give a shout out all the wonderfully inspiring people in my life who I sometimes forget to give the full props they deserve. I know so many wonderful people who are out in the community seeking to bring about change and working tirelessly to help others.  I have much love for those who fallow their heart and their bliss. I admire all those who know they have made a “wrong” turn in life and have the courage to turn around. I give a shout out to those who trust in their own experience and have confidence in themselves.  To those who are dedicated to their families, who take care of their fellow man, to those take care of and are dedicated to their fur babies and all the little creatures of the world.  I am inspired by those who live passionately but maybe that’s the same as following your heart. I have great love for those who listen to others and look beyond pushing their own agendas. To the compassionate, the empathetic, to the bold, brilliant, independent, free thinkers I know, much love to you all.

 You are all marvelous and I am grateful for you all and all the ways you have added to my life!  So even though I may not always show my appreciation please know that it is there.  And even though my list of inspirational people is chalked full of the names of people I have never met be sure to know you are on there also if only in my heart.  

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The self hate I took out Into the World

Self hate and my own sense of self worth has been something I have struggled with my whole life. Though there are times where it seems a lot more consuming then others. You see there has always been this old nagging voice inside of me that is continuously replaying all these old tapes of why I am not worthy.  There’s this piece of me that is always saying hide yourself, don’t ever let anyone see who you really are or they will see what I already know which is, how totally inadequate you are. I feel like I better hide my opinions, bury my truths and never speak up or I might bring attention to myself. People might point at me,  and I might be exposed for being as worthless and insignificant as I feel.
This hate has never served me, okay that is not totally true when I stopped running from it and I began to face it, it helped to transform me. This isn’t to say that these feelings of unworthiness are poof magic all gone now, believe me they are something I still very much struggle with and even consume me at times. But now that I am able to take a look at and examine the nature of these feelings; they have become a lot less crippling for me and helped me to look at others more compassionately. 
Why am I telling you this? Well in part, I will be honest it serves me. It helps me to feel freer, I feel like it helps break me out of that self hate propelling habit and that constant need to hide.  It’s kind of like flipping my inner critic the bird and telling that voice that is always telling me I have nothing useful to say off. I  also feel like when we share these parts of ourselves honestly it can help all parties to feel more open and comfortable about sharing those parts of themselves  that society often suggests we keep hidden. Furthermore I just want to let others know who maybe feeling these things that they are not alone.

So now I have told you what myself hatred has gotten me let me now tell you one of the things that it has robbed from me.  For a good portion of my life I would go out into the world assuming I didn’t belong. I felt awkward, I felt like everyone I came across was judging me, like they were all staring at me thinking, wow she is so fat and useless, wow she is so boring, or can you believe how stupid she is. I know how self involved right? But my own self hate crippled me and I was always reflecting my own thoughts about myself on to others. This also somehow managed to morph into how dare they think this about me, or I hate this person, or I’m going to judge them if they are judging me.  It’s like there was always this big battle going on within myself between me and others that never even existed.

To make matters worse I would seek out relationships and situations that validated these thoughts and beliefs that I had. I would try so hard to be friends with people who let’s just say were less then nice to me and ignore those who were kind. I am not totally sure of the psychology behind it, if I was looking for the people in those relationships to confirm how awful I felt about myself or if I was thinking maybe if I won them over and made them love me, well then just maybe I could love myself. Don’t get me wrong here, I don’t wish to assign blame to any of these people after all they have their own issues and they gave me exactly what I was looking for.  At any rate I have played out these dynamics again and again with different people but it more or less always ended the same.

Anyways all these patterns and all these walls kept me so caught up and cut off from love and the feeling of belonging.  As I searched and tried to be accepted by only these certain key people, it kept my vision very narrowed and blinded me from the truth, and all the other things that surrounded me . I was so busy trying to stuff myself into one little box that I never saw that I already belonged.  When I become flooded with this realization last year and I carried this vision out into the world with me, I noticed how differently people began to respond to me and how the whole world began to look different to me. I began to feel like I was part of something larger. I felt more connected to everything, from people, to all kinds of creatures (even the little buggy guys) and to the earth it’s self.  When I began to love myself more and let my armour drop, I was able to let go of all my preconceived notions about how I was so sure everybody felt about me and really connect with them. 

Unfortunately I am not always in contact with these feeling and it is still very much a process for me. As I said before all my feelings of unworthiness aren’t magically gone now and yes I still cling tightly to some relationships where I am still in search of that validation that will never come. But just being more consciously aware and admitting to myself and seeing my own self hate for what it is and not continuing to constantly project it on others has been of great value for me. Just being aware of and being able to tap into that sense of belonging, worthiness and connectivity has helped me in ways I never thought possible.