Friday, July 12, 2013

A birthday wish...

"Wherever you go, go with all your heart."

In a few days, I'm going to be 35. 

I'm sitting here, because I know there are things I want to say, I'm just not quite sure how to verbalize them without writing an epic novel of the events and relationships that have transpired over the past couple of weeks. 

It might be enough to say for now that everything's turned upside down, which apparently is actually right-side up. There's a settling that's happening, an adjustment and reevaluation phase. Life is exactly where it's supposed to be and while I'm having a bit of difficulty in not wanting to run away from what I'm experiencing, this is as close to truth as I've ever felt myself to be. 

There are lingering parts of me that tug at insecurities, and I'm asking for grace in clipping and untying each string by string. If my gift for this 35th year on the planet is that I become the woman I've always wanted to be, that would be the best way that I've ever honored myself. 

It used to be that I didn't like my birthdays, that in fact, not very nice things would often happen on them, sometimes caused by the person I was dating at the time. This year, I've opened myself up to more love than I've ever thought possible, and the outpouring of people who tell me that they want to celebrate me — and would do so day in and day out a thousand times over — is phenomenal. 

This one is going to be special. I can feel it. And, even if it didn't turn out the way that I expect, I have faith it'll turn out even better. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Finally, just me.

"Never does nature say one thing and wisdom another."
~Juvenal, Satires

Y'know, sometimes, you just reach a limit. There's a max capacity for certain things, and occasionally, you stumble upon it without realizing that you hit it weeks, months, maybe even years earlier. That's what happened with my mind-body therapy program. I had enough. I hit a wall and have been banging my head against it for months. 

I walk into my session with Barry and the first thing I say to him is "I just want to be done with this already."

Barry then goes on to offer 30-minutes of knowledge as to why I'm likely being resistant, why my admonitions or ego might be getting the best of me. Yet, while he's talking, all I keep thinking is how I want to get out of there and move forward with my life already. 

"This is only the start of the program," Barry continues to tell me. "After releasing these admonitions for your mom and dad, there's more to do."

I could not believe it. "There's more to this?!" I exclaim. 'Oh no no no,' I think to myself. There's no way I'm doing anymore of this. 

And, this isn't denial, as he's alluding to. I'm a very self-aware person, I know what truth is for me, because I can feel it in my body and in my heart. 

"Barry, I've been in some form of therapy or healing since I was 26, if not earlier. I'm done. It's time for me to trust myself and be empowered to make my own decisions."

Just the day before, I went to see a very experienced bodyworker about my knee, which still needs healing from the accident. During our conversation, he suddenly wouldn't let up on the idea of my having a Peter Pan Syndrome. 

"Judy, you're very much like me. You'll always have this youthful spirit about you. But, you need to grow up. I can see two very clear-cut paths for you, I've seen a lot of people choose the one that won't serve them in the end. I mean, you're highly intelligent and accomplished, but sometimes, you act like a bimbo. And, I have to give you credit, for you to act like a bimbo takes quite a bit of talent, because you're anything but that. You could easily get into a relationship, and you'd likely stay in it, since you're very agreeable. But really, you've GOT to stop this Peter Pan Syndrome."

I wasn't sure whether to be offended or grateful, because though he's known me over the course of the past couple of years in and out and remembered lots of details about my life from our sessions, I'd never heard him impart such definitive advice and really want me to take heed of his warnings. In fact, he even emailed about it afterward.

Of course, Life presented this dialogue at just the right timing, as it'd been something I'd already been mulling around for awhile, this idea of growing up. As my birthday is right around the corner, and I'm embarking upon my 35th year, it makes sense that I'd feel a transition is coming. 

What our conversation also spurred was this understanding that I have too many cooks in the kitchen, and I'm over it. Which brings me back to Barry. The more he talked, the more I could see a new revelation coming up, a truth a part of me had always known, yet hadn't really tapped into quite yet. 

'He wants me to continue therapy with him, because I'm helping to heal him,' I thought to myself. This isn't a thought that comes out of nowhere. In working with my life coach, he's also told me, "It's such a joy to work with you." And, more and more, I'm realizing that my presence in any situation, personally or professionally, has a healing effect. None of this comes from a place of ego, but rather an understanding of undeniable purpose that's rooted in both experience and innate wisdom.

After our session, I made a beeline for the ocean. I texted my next meeting that I needed a breather, and marched to the sand until my feet stood in the cool and clear lapping waves. The sun glimmering on the water looked like a cascade of shining lights and the sensation of water on my feet allowed me to sigh into the moment of being loved by what I believe is my most tangible connection to Source — Nature. 

I felt free. I felt like I finally, just like when I got my tattoo, took my life into my own hands and started trusting myself more. That I know what I need. And I don't need someone else to get into my psyche to tell me what's best or where I need work on. Because, for the rest of my life, I'll be working on learning and growing and resolving and expanding. There is no point of perfection I'm going to get to, and so long as I can be okay with the unknown, with being patient and living with grace and awareness to the best of my ability, then I'm more than all right. 

Now, it's just me. Maturing into the woman I've always wanted to be. And, it feels beyond amazing.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Keep the woo-woo stuff to yourself?

"What is soul? 
It's like electricity — we don't really know what it is,
but it's a force that can light a room."
~Ray Charles

Recently, I started offering more and more group and individual sessions at an eating disorder recovery center in San Diego where I work with both teens and adults. It's been an absolutely amazing experience thus far, combining all the things I've always been passionate about (psychology, healing, eating disorder recovery, yoga) with the freedom to offer new process modalities to these clients, more along the lines of what I wish I had throughout my intensive outpatient treatment. 

In fact, a lot of what my role at the center has become is one of nurturing — I provide the comfort and the sacred space for these clients to move through what can be quite intense during their other sessions and simply create a bit of reprieve from the thoughts in their heads and the feelings in their hearts. 

However, during a recent treatment team meeting, it was brought to my attention that a bit of what I say can be perceived as too "woo-woo" for several of the clients and that they're afraid my spiritual beliefs may conflict with that of others. 

It took me a moment to catch myself before becoming offended, because I know that I'm open to every belief system available and that what I offer doesn't adhere to any specific one. But, I could see how my words, languaging, and intention could come across in a way that either puts others off, scares them, or challenges them. 

"I teach in a yoga studio that's very spiritual," I explain, "so I can see why I'd need to tone that back a bit for the general population or for others who either aren't open to any sort of spiritual beliefs or have very strong beliefs of their own."

"We know that what you're doing is incredibly therapeutic and valuable," the owner of the recovery center shares. "And we definitely want the clients to try it out or keep coming, but maybe you could change the phrasing of some of what you say or just be cognizant of that?"

A few weeks ago, I interviewed Philip Goldberg, author of American Veda, a book that features a fascinating study of how ancient Vedantic philosophy has made substantial impressions upon much of Western culture and its leading luminaries, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and The Beatles, without our even realizing it. We chatted over lunch about the idea of "Westernizing" Eastern teachings in order to make it palatable to a different palate. 

"What I came to really appreciate after the book was done," Philip told me, "is that all these teachings and teachers who had an impact on our society had this important skill of being able to adapt these universal ancient teachings to a new era, a new audience, the English language, and Western culture's norms and values. At the same time, they protected the integrity of the teachings, because you can adapt them in a way that corrupts or distorts them. It's a very delicate balance."

So now, I get to learn the balance of stepping back and learning how to teach in a way that's not compromising these ideals, yet at the same time, appealing to those who aren't open to pursuing more than the benefits of what they would get from the practice. 

It's funny, because it took me quite a long while to step forward in what I believe, so perhaps it's not so much a "stepping back," as it is a growing around deepening my tolerance, compassion, and openness about others from different backgrounds and life stories. 

What an interesting way for me to further develop as a teacher, to stand in my truth while also being welcoming of others' realities. I'd spent all of my life being a people-pleaser to garner love and affection, and thankfully, I don't feel that I need to do that anymore. 

Instead, for example, when one of the teen girls was pressing against my authority, I didn't want her to like me — I actually surprised myself that I could care less if she did, because my setting healthy boundaries would be the best way to move forward with her treatment. 

The Universe loves me so much that it continues to present opportunities for my growth and healing, along with that of others. I'm grateful for this chance to define who I am irregardless of what others think or feel, while simultaneously respecting that everyone has the choice to love and feel however they'd like to. 

As one adage goes, "What you think is none of my business." 

How are you learning to find the balance of being you in the midst of a world of both challenges and supports that?