The Mirror of Relationship (part one)

Have you ever had the experience of seeing a stranger across tbeauty is skin deep - bulldog looking at herself in the mirrorhe room at a workshop or a party and you instantly decide that you don’t like them? Or maybe you find yourself moving across the room to meet them or to ask them to be your practice partner in the workshop. People are great reflectors. They reflect back to us things we like about ourselves and things we do not like about ourselves

In our lives we regularly encounter clients, friends, family members, or lovers that “push our buttons”. We might find them annoying, pushy, demanding, needy, or aggressive for example. Our tendency might be to become defensive, shut down or to avoid them. Or we might find ourselves bending over backwards to please them all the while judging and resenting them.

Did you know that those “button pushers” can become our deepest and best teachers? The mirror of relationship is an important tool for personal growth and transformation if we are willing to bring some consciousness into the relationship.

Let’s look at the mirror of relationship. I will briefly go over 4 mirrors.

The Clear Mirror: This is someone you are attracted to, you move toward them. They are someone you like to be around. They are reflecting back to us aspects of ourselves that we like or admire, or parts of ourselves that are ready to bear fruit.

The Smoky Mirror: This is where we are repelled by someone.They are reflecting back to us aspects of ourselves that we do not like, aspects that are shut down or laying dormant. They could be aspects we are in denial about or aspects that we wish we had.

The Split mirror: This is a mix of smoky and clear. We like some aspects of the other person and there are aspects that we don’t like.

No mirror: This is where someone is invisible to us. Nothing is reflected back. You might have been in a weekend workshop and at the closing circle you see someone that you did not notice all weekend.

Let’s look at Smoky Mirror since this is likely to be the one to grab the most attention. It usually brings up the strongest feelings.

The Smoky Mirror can get in the way of deepening a relationship because we are often on the defensive, busy criticizing ourselves or we are busy judging the other person. A sense of self-righteousness is often a clue that a smoky mirror is in action.

Look at a relationship in your life – your spouse, a challenging client, a sibling. A useful exercise is to inquire into a relationship that elicits a strong emotional charge – someone that “pushes your buttons”. Take a moment and write down all of the traits that bother you – annoying, pushy, rude, impatient, they don’t speak up for themselves, needy, complaining, manipulative, controlling, etc.

Now … ask yourself, “Do I possess any of these qualities?” If we are honest with ourselves, we will likely see that we also have exhibited these qualities of rudeness, impatience, etc at one time or another. These behaviors often emerge when we are under stress.

If you find yourself saying, “But I would never behave that way”, it is likely denial at work. We have probably behaved that way and feel embarrassed or ashamed and can’t quite admit it to ourselves.

When we can gently accept that we may at times be pushy, demanding, or needy, liberation is at hand. The more we accept ourselves – the negative and positive, the more authentic we can be. You will find more ease, grace and spontaneity in your life.

If we are willing to inquire into the nature of the relationship, we get to see that we have more in common than we have differences. And if we are gentle, accepting and forgiving of our “faults” then we can be kinder, compassionate and understanding in our relationships.

You may come to a point on your journey that you welcome the Smoky Mirror into your life. What an opportunity for self exploration! You will learn to recognize yourself in other people. You will be given opportunities to heal and come back to wholeness.

Enjoy your Self!

The Healing Power of Presence

We often hear the suggestion to “be present” in our work. But what does that actually mean?
featherPresence is being here, now – meeting this moment without judgments, agendas, effort or ideas of what “should” be happening. It is being open, curious, aware and mindful.  It is a simple state of being. And sometimes the simplest things are the most powerful. The simple practice of being present with someone can be the most transformative ingredient to a healing session or in your relationship with yourself.

Gay Hendricks and Kathlyn Hendricks make a powerful statement in their book At the Speed of Life: A New Approach to Personal Change Through Body-Centered Therapy, “Problems persist to the extent that we fail to be present with them and with the feelings associated with them. When we can simply be with an issue (rather than judging it or trying to change it), the issue has room to transform in the desired direction.” Gay Hendricks and Kathlyn Hendricks promote “presencing”: being deeply, mindfully, non-judgmentally present with yourself or another — as THE fundamental healing technique.

An important aspect of presence is being willing to be with “what is”. It takes courage to be with someone else’s or our own pain, fear, sadness, or anger. In the book Compassion: A Reflection on the Christian Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen, Donald P. McNeill, and Douglas A. Morrison state “Simply being with someone is difficult because it asks of us that we share in the other’s vulnerability, enter with him or her into the experience of weakness and powerlessness, become part of the uncertainty, and give up control and self-determination.”

When we have painful or sick areas of our bodies or lives, we tend to wall off tsweet_white_trilliumhese areas or dim the light of our essence. The shining light of presence reconnects us to those ailing, hurting parts that have been abandoned. Our spirit yearns for wholeness and all of those walled off parts are yearning for reconnection. Presence is a simple statement “I deeply see you and I am ok with you just the way you are.” That illumination and allowing brings a melting and a spaciousness to enter. “Being present has a great deal of power in it: the power to alter irrevocably the structures and assumptions by which we live.” ~Gay Hendricks and Kathlyn Hendricks

Consider this… (without any judgment)
How often do you approach something whether it is your client, your relationships, yourself, an illness, a pain, or an injury with no agenda? No agenda to fix, to change, to make different or wish it away. But to meet it exactly where it is, as it is, in this moment.
How often do we experience someone just willing to listen to us without trying to advise or guide us, lessen our pain, make helpful suggestions, etc.?

It is very common and natural in our work to want to help or heal our clients. After all, we feel called to serve. Yet, it is a common tendency for our desire to help to get in the way of truly seeing or hearing the deeper needs of our clients. It is hard to be a good listener if I have an agenda to heal or fix this client, or to prove myself, or to feel special with my healing capabilities. It is important in a session to put aside our agenda, be present and hold the intention for the highest good. We can still do our work, whether it is massage, craniosacral therapy, counseling, etc, but presence puts us in an open and receptive state where we more able to listen to what is needed.

I had a very affirming experience recently. I work with a very sweet man with multiple illnesses including a degenerative brain disease which manifests in many ways from emotional bouts, to tremors, full body contractions and overwhelm. I was moved to tears when he shared with me what impacted him most about our sessions together. He said”Nobody knows how to be with me with this disease. You are the only person who is willing to just BE with me in this condition.” I really got what a rare gift this was for him. And it is also a sweet gift for me.

The practice of presence begins “at home”. How would it be for you to meet your own sadness or anger with presence, kindness and compassion? Can you give yourself this rare and beautiful gift? I invite you to the Self-Healing Presence Meditation below. Remember that presence is an ever evolving, deepening practice. Begin where you are and ALWAYS be kind and gentle with yourself.

Self-Healing Presence Meditation

Take a few minutes to sit quietly. Take some time to get in touch with your breath. Just be willing to be here and now. Let yourself settle.

After several calming breaths, notice if there is any tension or pain your body or think of an area in your life where there is pain, discomfort or distress?

Bring your compassionate Awareness and Presence to this area in your body or your life. Just meet it there without thoughts, without an agenda, without effort. Allow it to be exactly as it is. Notice the sensations in your body. Be aware, open, loving and curious. Open to it. Breathe. Don’t be attached to the outcome. Change or no change. Just be with it.

Notice what you notice. Notice if you become impatient, or a tendency to shy away from it, or if you have a hidden agenda under the guise of “no agenda”. And allow that too. With no judgment.

When you are ready, come back gently to ordinary time, giving yourself a few moments to transition.

Take comfort in the fact that presence and consciousness are always healing and transformative.This simple meditation has brought you into a greater state of balance and harmony.

May the healing power of presence infuse all aspects of your life.
Infinite Love and Gratitude!

“I learned how to listen, to listen with a still heart,
with a waiting, open soul, without passion, without desire,
without judgment, without opinions.”
~ Herman Hesse

Healer Practitioner Preparation

featherLet’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start. When you read you begin with abc, when you sing you begin with do re mi. Do re mi fa so la ti do!
Such wise words from the Sound of Music.
As my first official blog post, I think it is important to start at the very beginning.

Practitioner preparation. It is of utmost importance and often overlooked or moved through much too quickly. It is important to build a good foundation for your healing sessions whether your sessions are Craniosacral Work, Energy Work, counseling or massage.
As my teacher Hugh Milne says “If you want to go deep, BE deep.”

Preparation for a session involves consciously bringing your nervous system into a calm state. Many of us are running around in sympathetic overload – fight or flight. We need to learn to turn the volume down on our own nervous system – into a parasympathetic state so that we can “model” this to our clients. We can’t expect our client’s to relax if we are not able to relax.  And trust me… it feels a lot better to be in ”rest and digest” than “fight or flight”.

I highly recommend a daily practice of quieting oneself. Notice, I am not calling it meditation. I LOVE meditation but the term meditation sometimes conjures up ideas of discipline, and sitting in lotus position until your knees ache. “Quieting oneself” can be as simple as stopping for 5 minutes here and there throughout your day to practice dropping into a calm state. I will suggest 2 simple practices that you can easily incorporate into your day.

1: Grounding is a very important practice for your healing work. Most of us like to trip out on higher states of consciousness. They do feel kinda cool. However, it is recommended that we have a connection to our root – rooted to Mother Earth and grounded in our Being. Grounding helps to keep us present – in the here and now. Healing takes place in the present.

Here is a simple practice for grounding. The more you practice this, the easier it will become to drop into this state very quickly.

  • Sit or stand. Feel the contact of your feet to the floor or ground and/or feel the of your sits bones on your seat. Begin to grow roots down into the ground like a giant tree. Keep growing them deep into the earth and at the same time invite the earth to rise up to you. Don’t rush through this. Do it until you feel a palpable shift in your nervous system.
  • Once you have that sense of ground, then allow the energy to rise to your low belly area – to your hara (2 inches below your belly button and 2 inches deep). Allow it to accumulate here and then expand it all dimensions. Keep a sense of the ground as you do this.
  • Then allow the energy to rise to your heart center. Allow it to accumulate in your heart center and then allow it to radiate out in all directions – front and back, side-to-side, and top to bottom. Again, keep some awareness of ground as you do this.
  • Now allow the energy to rise to your third eye area, allow the energy to accumulate and then expand it in all dimensions. Again, keep some awareness of ground as you do this.
  • Then allow the energy to rise to your crown area, allow the energy to accumulate and then expand upwards. Again, keeping awareness of ground.
  • Now sense the “plumb line” or a cord that runs down your center. Imagine it to be like a rope with a rock tied to it. Get a sense of “center” – it is pliable, moveable yet anchored with a sense of ground.

2: Sonia Cochette recommends a simple breath pattern that she refers to as the “Grace of God” breath.
Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth just behind your front teeth. Exhale through your mouth as if you were blowing out a candle. Exhale to the count of 7. Inhale through your nose. Hold for a count of 4. Exhale to the count of 7. Repeat this pattern for 3-5 breaths. On the last exhale just let a nice sigh breath out – ‘ahhhhh’.
Notice the shift in your nervous system. Calmer. More present. Repeat as often as needed.

Now you have 2 simple, fairly quick practices to enhance the quality of your sessions.

Before every session, before putting your hands on…
Please, ground and center yourself.
Set your intention to be present. Presence alone can be the most transformative practice available to you and your client. (More on presence in my next blog post.)
Set an intention to remain open, curious, and in a neutral state – no comparisons or judgments.
Maintain a sense of non-attachment to the outcome of the session.
Allow, allow, allow.
Enjoy Your Self!