Tag Archives: New Kind of Rebel

Finding Light Within Loss

light

Photo by RickyLesser.com

It’s nearly impossible to find the light, any light, when lost and in pain. Any platitude will ring untrue, like a well-intentioned stranger who says, “It’s God’s plan, dear,” or “Let Go & Let God.” Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is really mis-understood. What a person ‘intellectually’ and ‘spiritually’ understands, is not felt within the body of someone who has been traumatized. Ask any veteran. Ask any survivor of horrific abuse. It leaves a water mark that I believe melts into our muscles and settles into the deep subconscious within our bones that whispers in another language—but one that triggers our insecurity, our doubt, our sense of not belonging, our sense of not being enough. One yoga class, one therapy session, one confession, one psychic healer isn’t going to fix it. Post traumatic stress is something triggered by the body, from something buried deep within. And sometimes, we aren’t even cognizant of what that is, if it’s been blocked out.

Think of the person who ducks every time she hears a car backfire because she was a young child in a war-torn area where her parents were shot. Her heart is racing, palms sweating, and she might manically race to get away from the noise—to the point of running into the line of cars. She isn’t conscious of why she is fleeing, but the noise has triggered a buried memory that she never processed fully and her body is forcing her to feel the fear, feel the anxiety, feel the terror. The problem with PTSD is that, if not treated, this flight or fight mechanism repeats over and over until a sane person is no longer sane. The woman who has been attacked, for instance, may try to shake it off. Years later, she may have a full-blown panic attack in a parking garage when her car door won’t open. Her body, reliving a time when someone grabbed her, will start an internal revolt until she is bent over, throwing up, or passes out. This same woman may begin to suddenly leave restaurants or night clubs if her friends don’t return from the bathrooms on time because her heart is racing and she can’t look other men in the eyes. Her body is forcing her to feel—but it isn’t from a healthy sense of intuition. It’s from blocked pain that has nothing to do with the reality of the present moment.

No one likes to feel pain, or relive pain. Some people may have even disassociated with what they were going through, like a child who was abused, in order to survive. Years later, she may not understand why she won’t allow men to touch her. Again, it’s the body’s memory. It’s the body echoing out through our senses to force us to feel, in order to heal. But feeling sudden panic and reactivity, spurs insanity.

That person becomes paranoid, makes bad decisions, is untrusting and desperately seeks a way to end the torture—which can make alcohol, or any escape, alluring. When trying to kick the escape habits, that person can start to isolate, become severely depressed or even suicidal.

When we can grow compassion for someone suffering from PTSD, then we can foster forgiveness for whatever escapes that person sought out—even those that caused our own suffering. Because it isn’t personal. He or she was in severe pain they couldn’t endure anymore. Period. End of story.  It wasn’t about you or me. And they didn’t mean to hurt us.

For 5 months I’ve lived every day wondering if my sister was still alive. It’s been excruciating. We both lost our mother last May and one of the last things I remember her saying at our mother’s funeral is how mom always reminded her: “there’s someone for everyone dear.” The someone my sister found hurt her badly, beyond comprehension. And she just got lost in the trauma. I won’t go into the details.

Two weeks ago I was convinced my sister had died. I grieved the loss. I cried so hard. But I also remembered her light. It’s so bright. It shines all over my house in every room with some bizarre trinket, picture or perfect gift, (usually an exotic frog of some sort, long story) that she has given me over the years. I recalled the way she played piano and sang. How rebellious and creative and genius she was. How compassionate she was: always rescuing animals and strays of any kind, lol. After two days of grieving, I found out she was alive! And I spoke with her for the first time in nearly 5 months too. She’s now getting the treatment she desperately needs.

She may think that she’s lost everything, but she hasn’t. Her eternal light is burning so bright. Her future can actually be strengthened from this, if she lets it. As a therapist, she’ll be able to help even more people, especially those going through PTSD, because she’s been there. And it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Nothing.

Those who blame, shame, or ridicule anyone who has lost their way, due to PTSD, are heartless bullies. Compassion requires that we all take a moment to think about what someone else has gone through—to imagine their pain, their anxiety, their stress—and to think about ways to extend a hand, lighten their load, lessen their pain. Once we do this, even if it is a prayer we say, a candle we light, or a note we send saying we are thinking of that person, we return to love.

Compassion always returns me back to the amazing power of love. I can no longer stay mad at you, if I love you. If I love you, and realize that nothing you did was intentional to hurt me, than I can forgive you and fill my heart with love and acknowledge your light. Whenever we are back in that space of love, that space of light, there is no room for the ego or blaming or shaming or criticizing or ridiculing. And in that light, we are one, we are equal.

This experience, like others when I’ve lost loved ones or friends from sudden tragedies, reminds me of how fragile we all are. Even so, we all have an eternal light with lifetimes of knowledge and grace within us. If we allow ourselves to feel the pain, bless it, acknowledge it, enter stillness, and risk asking for help when we need it, we can actually feel our light as bright as the sun.

May we all find our way to loving each other, as the sun loves the Earth, without asking for anything in return, except for the blossoming of our potential, like wild flowers on a hillside.

With so much love and gratitude,

Laura x

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You are the PATH: Loving from the Inside OUT

rebelwithin

Everything you seek is within. This is what the world’s wisdom seekers say. And it’s true. But that may be hard for you to feel where you are right now. Most of us seek ‘things’ from others. We have been given messages from a very early age that imply someone will save us, complete us, rescue us. The prince on a white horse is you. The angel to save you from your reckless ways and addictions is you.

YOU are the PATH.

To some, that feels like a lonely journey. I understand. This message does not suggest that you live as a hermit meditating your days away by yourself in a remote mountain village. A journey to wholeness does not require such sacrifice. But in order to attract unconditional love, acceptance, compassion, support, forgiveness from others— you must first give it to YOURSELF. As Deepak Chopra says, “You can not receive what you do not give yourself.”

If you look to others to complete you, to fill an empty void, you ultimately become frustrated, disappointed and filled with ego-centric self loathing and victimhood. When we seek external approval, success, money, or another person who may ‘fit’ a long laundry list of what we think we want, we become lost and disconnected to what really matters in life and to our true self.

Ask a cancer patient what is important in life. Another healthy and playful moment with their child? Another hour snuggling in bed with their lover? Feeling sun on her face while sipping tea in a favorite chair with a beloved pet in her lap. Walking with a good friend out in nature. These moments are what fill us up. We connect with our highest self in these times. And we connect on a deeper level with those we love, because we are reflecting our highest selves. We are connecting in a pure, authentic, vulnerable manner.

So we must peel back the layers, the fears, the wounds that keep us from living purely and authentically. Create a loving relationship with yourself first, then you will find your PATH, find your TRIBE and begin connections on deep levels.

One reason people have a hard time keeping connections with others is due to a fear of vulnerability. We fear being judged. We fear being abandoned and hurt because we have been abandoned or hurt in the past. But the reality is that in order to truly love and be intimate with others, we must be free from the chains of fear. We must love ourselves so fiercely that no one can truly keep us from our center again. Then we know that we will always be safe whether alone or with another. From a fierce, rebel heart, we can connect on a pure level.

So how do we get there? It’s a journey. A journey through meditation, yoga, breath, writing, activity of any sort: running, dancing. For me, meditating has been remarkable. I find stillness and meditate, whether guided with DavidJi or Deepak, or on my own. I feel silence and sit with my feelings and begin to repeat over and over a silent mantra to connect with my light. My favorite is: I AM. SO HUM in Sanskrit. I repeat this over and over and like a whisper from the Universe, whatever follows I AM, I know I already am, but just need a reminder of: I AM LOVE. I AM LIGHT. I AM POWERFUL. I AM ENOUGH…I set my timer to 11 minutes. When I come out of it, I feel connected to all that is and deeply to my eternal light.

Find forgiveness for yourself. Feel what needs to be felt. You are eternal, divine and worthy of love just for being alive. You need not do anything but allow the light in.

Those who have been abused or neglected must feel the wounds to heal them. I know this from personal experience. Find a community, a tribe, a counselor, a support group and begin the journey back home to yourself.

Peace, love, non-violence, acceptance begins with you. You are the PATH. You are a REBEL. You are a Goddess. Nothing that has been done to you—nothing that you have done to cope with your past—defines you. The spark of divine light shines brightly within. Peel back the layers that cover it and shine.

The REBEL in me Bows to the REBEL in you.

~ Namaste

Laura xo

An Old Friend Helps me Remember to Feel, Heal & Say NO

My Witness To Madness & the Definition of Love

Recently so many miracles have been occurring in my life, at the same time as a lot of drama. But the miracles are helping me flow through the drama, accept the scary or uncomfortable issues, detach from them, and to do what I can to help, or set boundaries when I need to most. It’s nothing short of amazing.

In mid-August I got re-acquainted with my former best friend in high school and college. So, my bff from when I was 16 years – 23 years or so. We hadn’t talked in more than 20 years. And it was just like old times, chatting nonstop from 9: 30 p.m. until 2 a.m. our first conversation. The next ran from 8 p.m. – nearly 4 a.m. These conversations were amazing, but also put me on edge too, as this person has a razor sharp, nearly photographic memory. I have selective memory. As a child of an alcoholic, highly functioning successful parent who see-sawed from random explosive violence—to razor-sharp focus on himself and work—I typically was not seen and ignored, or the witness to frightening episodes that I still do not clearly remember. I found letters outlining some of the most violent episodes when I was in the room as a child, and yet, I still don’t remember, but some day I likely will.

My bff remembered finding those letters with me, that were stuffed under a bed by an older sister for me to find. We read them together in college. He remembered all the times he tried to save me or rescue me over the years, too. The time in college when my roommate called him as I had stopped eating, stopped showering, stopped going to classes. He raced down from his school and slept on the floor by my bed. I barely remember that. He said a few times on the phone: “Why wouldn’t you love me? Why wouldn’t you want to be with your best friend? Let me take care of you?”

Hard to explain that to the best person I know. I didn’t love myself.

He reminded me of the time in college he drove to Georgia and realized I had no food in the apartment, and he shopped for me, held me all night, even though he always wanted more. I couldn’t let anyone touch me. Not back then. But I didn’t explain myself. Nor did I feel worthy of asking for help or of being the recipient of such constant love. We’ve talked about it all over this past month, he ‘sort of’ gets it now. He was so hurt when he begged me to move to Colorado after two of my best friends were killed my junior year (a super hard year), but I just couldn’t do it. No one had ever taken care of me. I drove myself up to college. No parents came to my graduations either. I had been alone for a very long time and because of the abuse and neglect, I didn’t feel worthy of being taken care of. He didn’t understand. I didn’t understand, so couldn’t explain it. So, I ran off to Europe at the end of my junior year. I was a good student. I got an internship with the BBC. I worked three- four jobs while in school my senior year too, the student paper, radio station and at a Japanese restaurant and as a lifeguard. All came in handy when my father forgot to pay room and board for a year while he was divorcing my mom and living with another woman. He was distracted. But, I could take care of myself. And I was trained at an early age not to make a fuss, not to complain, not to talk about my feelings, or I’d likely get screamed at or ignored— which is worse, much worse. So, I worked my ass off and paid my own way, even eating one potato a day for at least 2 months at one point because money was so tight. My bff came down for a weekend and saw that, tried to help, but I just wouldn’t let him fully in. See, his love was so unwavering. That had to be a mistake. I didn’t deserve that. If I had gained 15 pounds, he still thought I was beautiful. If I was down to 90 pounds with my hair falling out and so depressed I couldn’t get out of bed, he wanted to take care of me. If I wanted to just talk about everything but what really mattered and couldn’t let him make love to me, he listened and waited. And he waited for longer than anyone could imagine.

So, I was stubborn and wasn’t going to quit college and let someone who loved me, take care of me. Wasn’t I more comfortable being ignored and / or treated like pond scum? Wasn’t I more comfortable working my ass off and still never being enough or worthy of a phone call or a birthday card? See, abuse and neglect leave watermarks on our souls. And they are very hard to remove, even with yoga, therapy and mediation, if a person refuses to remember and just keeps going and going and saying intellectually that it’s all ok, but not feeling it. I know now that I have to feel to heal. I recall trying to confront my father and getting a three word reply: GET OVER IT.

And I thought I had. But maybe not. Maybe the watermarks of not feeling enough manifested in marrying someone who would leave me at the most vulnerable time in my life: with a baby and another child and a sick mother. Maybe it has manifested in me choosing men who are narcissistic and can never truly think I am enough: always looking for the younger or more hip model, trying to change me, or ignoring me. Maybe the Universe just kept putting people into my life to wake me up. To help me remember what I lived through so that I can so NO.

It’s taken me a long time to get that.

So, my former bff, who likely saved my life my junior year, came back into my life. Our long conversations have been healing but they sure dug up a lot of memories that I kept tucked deep down. And for a while I wasn’t sure why they needed to be resurrected. But maybe he came back solely to be a reminder to me of all that I’ve lived through and gone through and why I need to say no to all the men who will never be true to me, who will neglect me, who will think I’m not enough. And he has also reminded me, just from his example and his love, to set boundaries with those who will continue to dim my light, even if they are family members.

I’m more dedicated than ever to helping those with post-traumatic stress. I’m honored to be the editor of NEW KIND OF REBEL, an apparel company started by yogis who have experienced some sort of abuse, neglect, PTSD in war.  We will provide free yoga to veterans and domestic abuse victims, as well as give a percentage of all proceeds to charities that provide assistance to all who are victims of abuse: abusers and victims. Both are in equal pain. I’m honored to teach my therapeutic yoga classes to cancer patients whose disease is sometimes a manifestation of deep wounds. I love bowing to their inner light, that they may not truly acknowledge. Their tears in savasana, when I apply lavender oil to their foreheads, wash away my own pain. We ignite more flame into our own heart lights when we give and receive. I love what I do.

The past few weeks have been challenging, yet I know these events are setting me on my path. My father is having heart surgery and called me twice, for the first time in maybe 20 years that has ever happened. I lit him a candle. I visualized his highest self healing. I said a prayer. I sent him a text. But didn’t call back. And, an ex-boyfriend who broke my heart twice, who I’m still attracted to, got in touch, wanting to see me again. I said no. Saying no to someone who will never truly love me—whose actions are contrary to his words—is saying  yes to a better future for me. It’s allowing space for a future that is filled only with those who lift me up and accept me, rather than tear me down. From a place of support, I can continue to help others, and support my boys fully by being someone they can respect.

Sending love & light,

L. x

The Science Behind Sanskara

Photo on 2015-06-04 at 10.56 #2

When one carries years of regret, shame, guilt, resentment, pain within, it leaves a watermark, an imprint, on the mind and soul, resulting in a variety of behaviors and karmic experiences. It requires a burning off of all the embedded pain in order to heal. One must remember, if possible, and feel the painful experiences in order to let them go. Writing or talking isn’t enough, that’s intellectual. It takes a burning off physically and emotionally. In Sanskrit this is called Sanskara ( संस्कार). In Hindu and Jain communities Samskara (or Sanskara as most in the West know it) is described in ancient Sanskrit texts as a rite of passage. This is our journey in every lifetime. We must learn to burn off layers of pain lodged deep within the body through movement, through breath, through meditation. And then we become love again. We are stripped down to our original pure state when we were born. We strive to become the embodiment of Universal love, as nothing more is left but that. All the veils are lifted. No more self doubt, self criticism, negative programming from childhood, scars. It’s all gone. So we are now free to let go and live love. Forgiveness, joy flow through us and ripple outward lifting others and attracting others on this journey.  And of course, we are human, so to live in love can sometimes be difficult. So Sanskara may never completely end. We burn off ancient wounds (from this lifetime and others) and as we experience more loss, we continue with this burning off process. But once we learn how to do this and have burned off the oldest, deepest wounds, it becomes easier each time to accept, surrender and let go with love.

Letting go of pain and feeling love again for yourself (the Divine within you) and everyone around you—including your ‘teachers’ whom must be forgiven and thanked for the lessons learned—is transformative.

Yogis know this.

We flow. We sweat. We find a position that stretches us to our limits, like pigeon pose that opens the hips, and then we sit in the stillness accepting what is, allowing the Universe to flow through our hearts and minds to help us get through the powerful ‘sensations’ now burning within our hips. And sometimes the fascia (connective tissue that surrounds or binds or separates muscles, organs and other soft structures of the body) releases and opens. And then a powerful emotional memory may appear in our mind and heart. We don’t just remember something. We are, for a moment, there again, feeling it all. While we lay on our mats, tears may roll down our cheeks and love fills our hearts as we comfort ourselves—our younger selves who need to let go of the loss of a loved one, or pain that someone once caused us, yet we refused to deal with. I know I stuffed many experiences, frightening memories and abuse deeply—or pretended that I had intellectually mastered a loss or a painful experience that I was too afraid, or too young, to know how to heal from.

It’s hard to explain if you haven’t experienced this. But once you do, you will not question that our bodies hold our pain, our regret, our shame, our guilt. It lodges into our connective tissues and we age faster, we spiral into injury, we form bad posture and we are more susceptible to a host of dis-eases that seems to mirror our embedded beliefs and pain and negative thinking. Yoga helps us heal and let go and find love, truth and worth for ourselves, while attracting and receiving love from others. And as we physically begin to heal, we also physically appear younger, feel more youthful, joyful, energetic, vibrant.

I’ve felt this for a few years as a yoga teacher, yet was thrilled to hear Dartmouth Medical School graduate, Christiane Northrup MD, a well-respected board-certified obstetrician and best-selling author of books such as Goddesses Never Age, confirm this.

In a recent interview with Oprah on her SuperSoul Sunday TV show, Dr. Northrup explained how scientists now measure and quantify the toil shame takes on our physical health via a hormone produced by shame that releases a toxic inflammatory chemical into our body. Aha! As Oprah would say. I knew it! Since a video of this entire interview isn’t available online, I transcribed part of it here for you:

On #SuperSoulSunday Oprah says: “Ok, this is a biggie: You say, shame can take a toil on physical well being, and that’s why SO many people age rather than just getting older because they are carrying all of this toxic stuff into-”

Dr. Northrup interjects: “OK, let me tell you what that is. Shame produces hormones of an inflammatory chemical called iL6.”

“What? They measured shame?” Oprah says, leaning forward in her chair. She continues excitedly, waving her finger in the air: “That is why when you carry all that stuff around, I’ve said this for years on all the shows I’ve ever done—that it lodges in your body and actually, physically does.”

Dr. Northrup interrupts: “This is interesting. Yes. And it (iL6) lives in the fascia of our body. The connective tissue. The fascia holds our belief system into place. So when you do yoga or when you do resistance flexibility, you are literally releasing that and getting a new life in the connective tissue of your body, which is where all the acupuncture meridians run.”

Oprah then tells a story about crying as a masseuse hits a spot that triggers a memory about an old boyfriend, She said she could feel herself re-living and letting go of the experience.

Dr. Northrup: “That’s why we have to use our bodies to be with our bodies.”

Oprah: “So that shame for not forgiving people or holding onto past grudges all of that’s in there.”

Dr. Northrup: “Oh yes. But what people need to know about forgiveness is releasing yourself from self entrapment. You gave them your self worth. You didn’t know, you were too young often. The little four-year-old girl who has been sexually abused, like hello, that’s not your problem. But the little kid thinks it’s her problem and she takes on the shame that the perpetrator should have been feeling, but didn’t. And then we hold it for them!”

Oprah: “I think little children do it for sure, but I’ve seen so many women who go through divorce and then just HOLD ON to what their marriage shoulda, coulda been. They are HOLDING ON and they are STILL mad at him. And their ex has gone on, has another wife, another family and they are holding on and they ARE STILL MAD!”

Both ladies laugh.

Oprah: “And it’s interesting because some of them actually look like they are shriveling in it. They gotta let it go.”

Dr. Northrup nods and adds: “Goddesses grieve and rage and move on. … What will keep you ageless is how you deal with loss. If you are carrying that on your back … It’s painful. But if you feel the pain, it’s the old adage, if you feel it, you can heal it. It’s not easy stuff.”

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Nope it’s not easy. But you know what is more difficult? Living within a hard, bitter, cynical shell that won’t allow light in, won’t allow love in. So feel the burn people. Let that shit GO. 

Until we meet again.

With Love & Light ~

Laura