Posts Tagged ‘love’

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Ten Signs of Awakening

July 7, 2012

How do you do it and how will you know?

Awakening can be sudden or gradual – sometimes it happens as the result of a trauma or upheaval in our lives, other times it happens entirely spontaneously with no obvious trigger. You just know that life, the Universe and everything appear very different and that the truth about all this is perhaps not the same as the story you’ve been told by your parents, your teachers, your peers, society etc. However your awakening occurs though, you can guarantee you’re in for a bit of a bumpy ride.

But why is such a wonderful life-changing experience seemingly beset with difficulties?

It’s due to the healing and shedding of our ‘stuff’ which is a necessary part of the process, to make ourselves a clear channel for the Universal Energy (akin to what Jung termed the ‘collective consciousness’, though perhaps more amazing than even he realised) which is the most powerful – but underused – resource in the universe.

Pain is also a good indicator that something in our lives is out of balance and needs to change. Like the pain we feel in our physical selves to alert us to potential damage to our bodies, emotional and psychological pain alerts us to those areas in our lives which need healing so that we can tune into the energy of the Universe and of our own authentic soul-selves, instead of having our signal distorted by the chatter of egos – our own and those around us.

The process of awakening has a number of emotional, psychological, physical, spiritual and social implications, which are listed below (with some links for further reading if you’re interested in finding out more):

1) You see the bigger picture on a personal and global level.  And become very clear about where we’ve lost our way and what needs to be done about it. This can create feelings of anger, frustration and despair as we feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task which seems to stand before us. If you feel this way, remind yourself that you may only be one person, but you are still powerful enough to create great change – think of the ripple effect. Your efforts will reach way further than you can possibly even imagine. Just follow the path which together the Universe and your soul are leading you towards – the path of your true life purpose.

2) You feel good in your own skin and enjoy solitude and leading an authentic, uncomplicated life. And you become aware that to feel like this on a more constant basis, you need to ditch your baggage to discover and strengthen the authentic core you.

https://empathicguidance.wordpress.com/2009/06/01/time-to-de-clutter/  (There are five parts to this article)

3) You recognise that inner peace can only come from within, not without.  Once you recognise this you begin to lose your unhealthy attachments to material things and to people.

4) Due to the mindbody connection, you may also experience unusual physical symptoms. Often repressed feelings get stuffed into parts of our body. Use the ‘bodyscan’ to keep yourself in tune with your physical and emotional self. (The ‘bodyscan’ is a straightforward exercise where you simply mentally  scan through your body and verbalise what is going on in there, and why you feel it might be happening eg churning in stomach area (solar plexus chakra) due to power issues; menstrual difficulties (sacral chakra) due to relationship issues; pain in left hand side due to problems with your feminine energy or a female in your life, and so on.)

5) You begin to understand how our energy systems affect us all. The basic seven chakra system (mentioned in point 4) is a really good place to start if you want to find out more about how you and the world operate.

https://empathicguidance.wordpress.com/2009/05/05/the-chakra-system/

6) You become a clearer channel for Universal Energy. This is due to simplifying your life and digging beneath the layers to reach your authentic core so your energy is no longer blocked by your ‘stuff’. Try the ‘white light’ breathing exercise to increase your connection. (Visualise  white light (universal energy)pouring into your crown, flowing through every cell of your body and into the ground, then back up round your body and out of your crown again. Do this any time during the day to keep the connection fresh and clear.)

7) You become increasingly uncomfortable around lower vibrating energy. And therefore find it harder to be around certain people. You will feel repelled by anyone who is ‘toxic ‘ to your energy. If possible, simply choose not to be around them. If there are people you have to interact with, then at least minimise contact and try the shielding exercise to protect you during that time. (Visualise yourself protected and surrounded by a cloud of white light – again you can do this any time of day, quickly and easily, and can add to it too, by visualising drops of whilte light feeding into it. There’s no limit to how big the cloud can be so keep feeding it!)

8) You become intolerant of lower vibrating and overstimulating environments. In particular, environments you know to be embodiments of the wrong path. Because of this, you may also find yourself increasingly avoiding the media, especially certain news items.

9) You crave a more healthy, serene and compassionate lifestyle. You recognise how the mindbody connection works and begin to take care of your body as you appreciate it as your means to interact with the Universe. Bad habits fall away as your fears diminish and you may want to live and work in a different place. Increased empathy may also mean a vegetarian and more eco-friendly lifestyle too.

10) You start noticing nudges from the Universe. One of the fun aspects of waking up! As you become a clearer channel for the Universal Energy, you begin to receive messages from the Universe to nudge you in the right direction. These can take a number of forms, such as:
Synchronicities
Signs and symbols
Dreams
Telepathy
Intuition

https://empathicguidance.wordpress.com/2009/06/24/so-what-is-synchronicity/

https://empathicguidance.wordpress.com/2009/06/16/dreams

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On Being An Empath (part two)

May 30, 2012

Part Two – The Delights

Empathy: the state of identification of personalities in which one person feels into the other as temporarily to lose his or her own identity. It is in this profound and somewhat mysterious process of empathy that understanding, influence, and the other significant relations between persons take place.  – Rollo May

In part one of “On Being An Empath” we examined the difficulties of being an empath. In this second part, we’ll now explore how to take care of yourself once you’ve recognised you’re an empath, and the delights which being an empath can bring.

TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOURSELF

Now you’ve recognised that you’re an empath, the most important change you can make is to take care of yourself by minimising the number of negative influences in your life. As discussed in part one, as an empath you are susceptible to the detrimental effects of negative energy, whether it’s surrounding energy or your own.

This susceptibility affects your life in a number of ways. Firstly, you will be unable to tolerate an unhealthy relationship at any level. Some people are able to exist in such a relationship for many years, perhaps by operating as though it were simply a business arrangement, but as an empath you are unable to do this. Indeed, if you do attempt to follow this course of action, you will end up becoming physically, emotionally or mentally sick – I have know more than one empath who has become suicidal when stuck in a loveless marriage. I have also known other empaths who have ended up becoming completely numb – unable to cope with the negative energy, they simply cut themselves off from ALL energy and feel nothing at all. What a horrible (non) existence. Consequently, the aware empath would rather remain single than be in a negative relationship.

You will also be unable to tolerate work which is meaningless – what Barry Jaeger in Making Work Work for the Highly Sensitive Person calls ‘Drudgery’. Though many people are able to tolerate a dull job purely for the money, you are not one of them and if you make such a sacrifice, you will ultimately pay for it with your emotional, spiritual and physical health. The aware empath values their time, their well-being and meaningful work far more than they value money and consumer goods. Sadly, our society revolves around the masculine principles of economics whilst the more feminine attribute of empathy is often derided and neglected. And whoever dreamt up the work ethic certainly did not have people like us in mind – and was definitely not an empath.

The empath’s preference for meaningful work means that you will find many of us working in creative fields – the writer, the musician and the artist will often have this trait to some degree. Creativity is food for the soul for the empath and I personally find it vital to my well-being to use creativity in my work. I’ve done many jobs over the years but this is the only work I’ve truly enjoyed – even the more stressful and tedious aspects are easier to cope with when your work means something more to you than just a way of paying the bills.

As an empath, you will also benefit from periods of solitude to recuperate after any energy bombardment. In part one I discussed the difficulties for the empath of being in an urban environment. As I’ve got older (and empaths often become more sensitive to energies the older they become) I find that if I spend the day in a nearby town, I can only last a few hours before I have to get the hell out of there.

I also used to have what I call ‘brain in the jar’ moments. Before I recognised my trait, I would spend too much time amongst other people and become so overwhelmed, that it literally felt as if my head would explode. I would also find myself becoming overwhelmed by stressful situations or issues in my life. Whenever I felt like this, I would comment that I wished I could ‘take my brain out of my head and put it in a jar’, as a way of giving myself a break. At some subconscious level, obviously I knew what I needed – complete and utter sensory rest.

Fortunately I eventually recognised this need so I now make sure that I regularly recharge my own energy by spending time alone, meeting my need for time to contemplate, read, write and generally take care of myself – and my ‘brain in the jar’ moments no longer occur. I also realised that, for the same reasons, empaths need more sleep than most people. If you have commitments such as work and family, this can be easier said than done, but at least try and take half an hour to nap or lie in a dark, quiet room during the course of the day to revitalise yourself.  Some empaths are so unable to cope with energy onslaughts that they become recluses or hermits, but for most of us there is no need to go to this extreme, although time spent in retreat for a few days can be a positive thing now and again. This can be particularly useful for urban empaths, as time out in a tranquil rural environment can really give you a boost as well as indulge your passion for nature, which occurs naturally for many empaths.

Finding a pastime which absorbs you is also a good way of giving yourself a break. My personal favourite used to be jigsaws – you’ll find that  ‘geeky’ pastimes like model-making or stamp collecting are particularly good for this, as are creative pursuits such as gardening, painting, sculpting, or cookery. So long as it takes you out of your conscious mind for a while to give you time to balance your energy, any pastime you choose will do.

Basically then, the rule is to be your own best friend – take care of yourself, eat and sleep well and give yourself little treats now and again. Time spent relaxing with a good book in a local friendly coffee shop is my idea of bliss and is a really cheap and simple way to give yourself a lift and recharge your batteries. And remember to talk kindly to yourself – empaths tend to analyse everything and can end up being hypercritical of themselves. Whenever you catch yourself judging yourself harshly, ask yourself ‘Would I speak like this to my best friend? Would I tolerate my best friend saying this stuff to me?’ If not, then perhaps you need to reconsider.

Ultimately, self care is crucial. The more you nurture yourself, the more you will be open to the following benefits of being an empath.

 UNIVERSAL KNOWLEDGE – TELEPATHY, SYNCHRONICITIES AND DREAMS

Because of your high level of resonance, you will probably be tuned into the ‘universal energies’ or what Jung called the collective unconscious. This gives you a deep sense of knowing – you just ‘know’ things despite there being no rational explanation as to how you know – as well as a strong feeling of connection, which can lead to the spiritual belief that separation is an illusion and ‘we are all one’. This connection and knowing also opens us up to the ‘universal guidance’ which is contained within these energies, which is why many empaths are natural problem solvers, able to resolve any issue which they put their hearts, souls and minds into.

I mentioned in part one how my daughter and I are so close that as soon as we’re in each others energy range, I start to feel her physical symptoms. This energetic connection with others, often referred to as telepathy, is one of the fun aspects of being an empath. As well as those little tricks which many of us do such as thinking about someone just as they call you, or bumping into someone you haven’t seen in years the day after you thought about them, you may also find yourself connecting energetically with people in other less obvious ways. I find that I often tune into people I’m close to through my dreams, perhaps because my mind is more relaxed and therefore more receptive. For instance, if my daughter wakes before me in the morning and reads a book, I often have a dream which reflects the contents of that book in some way. A recent example was a dream I had about Glastonbury music festival one morning shortly before I woke. When I asked P what she had been reading, it turned out that there was a character in her book that had the nick-name ‘Glastonbury’! Even more bizarrely, I have even on occasion had the same dream as my daughter or my partner.

I also have prophetic dreams which you can read about in my blog entry The Magical World of Dreams. Empaths are often fascinated by dreams and we are natural dream analysts, due to our ability to see the deeper meaning in things and make lateral links using subtle details. This ability also works in the waking world too and helps us to interpret signs, symbols and archtypes, as well as synchronicities. Aware empaths delight in synchronicities and as our understanding of ourselves and our connection to the universe grows, we find that the universal guidance which appears in the form of synchronicities becomes ever more fluent and clear. You can read more about synchronicities in my blog entry So What Is Synchronicity?

PEOPLE AND OTHER ANIMALS

The aware empath is often described by others as ‘a beacon of light’. You will find that people are drawn to you and babies in particular will adore you – I often notice little children staring and smiling at me from their pushchairs when I’m out and about.

A similar thing can happen with animals. Empaths have a deep connection to animals and love to be around their energies. You may even find you prefer their company to that of people, as you feel animals – and their energies – are simpler and don’t have an agenda. Perhaps those ‘crazy cat ladies’ who prefer to live alone surrounded by felines are actually misunderstood empaths.

As an empath, you will also be able to resonate with the emotions of animals and unlike most people, you will view them as sentient beings who should have the same rights as humans. Because of this, many empaths become vegetarian or vegan at some point in their lives.

As far as people go, the empath makes a great friend for life, as we are loyal, warm and, humorous as well as very loving and affectionate. We are also good listeners, who are unembarrassed by strong emotion as well as being pretty much unshockable. However a healthy empath will have no tolerance for drama queens who seek attention through emotional behaviour. Though we are highly expressive about our feelings and ourselves, with the ability to share openly and honestly, we are also natural peacemakers, so prefer calm discussions to overwrought emotional spectacles or aggressive confrontations.

If you befriend an empath, then they will probably be your greatest champion. Empaths recognise your inner potential, so are able to identify your positive attributes and will remind you of your strengths when you forget you have them. (Paradoxically though, they often find it hard to take a compliment themselves.) They may also subtly alert you to any negative patterns in your life in a helpful and non-patronising way, as your empath friend has the ability to sift through all the confusing emotions you are experiencing which may be clouding the issue, to help you achieve clarity and find the root cause of your problem. And should they ever feel angry with you, you can rest assured that they will express this without attacking you personally – empaths are not judgmental and they recognise that just because a particular behaviour is bad, it does not mean that the person is bad too.

YOUR BODY SPEAKS YOUR MIND

Being an empath means you have the ability to sense the truth behind someone’s facade. You intuitively know when someone is attempting to mask a negative emotion. One theory is that when we are in the presence of an emotion we have personally experienced, we recognise it and feel it within ourselves, due to our high level of internal resonance. The empath is also able to read body language, mostly at a subconscious level – you will pick up on things like tone of voice, body movements, the words people choose when they speak, the words they avoid, the logic they use – all factors which help you to tune into others and know things about them which other people probably miss. This also makes you very difficult to lie to! Not only are you able to detect a lie, you can also tell whether the intent behind that lie is malicious and selfish, or whether it’s a white lie, told in an attempt to protect someone else.

Empaths are also highly expressive themselves. They project an incredible amount of energy releasing their emotions, with many gesticulations, and as they are so open about themselves, the empath is usually the person of whom it is said that you can ‘read them like a book’. We also delight in using our bodies in a sensual way – empaths can literally become ‘lost in music’ when they dance, their bodies becoming one with the music to create one wonderful mass of  flowing, sensual energy.

NATURAL HEALERS

As you become aware of your empathy, you will recognise more and more how sensitive this makes you to the energies around you. The fact is that as an empath, energy is literally absorbed by you far more easily than more thick-skinned folk (hence the expression) so by increasing your awareness, you will be able to be more selective about which energies you allow yourself to absorb. This also means you will be able to experience a high level of resonance with another, without being overwhelmed by a multitude of outside influences.

When you have achieved this level of balance and awareness, you will find that all your empathic qualities as discussed above – your deep inner knowing, your connection to the universal energies and so on – make you a natural healer and counsellor. Indeed, for an empath a good way of sublimating the energy we talked about in part one – which attracts the energy vampires and lame ducks – and drawing boundaries around your own propensity to give of yourself to others, is to channel it into training in a helping or healing profession.

Being counselled by an empath is an amazing and life-changing experience. After just a few hours of conversation, you will feel as if the empath knows you inside out. This is due to the afore-mentioned ability for high emotional resonance, which allows the empath to tune into your energy and emotional state, giving them an uncanny ability to pinpoint what you most need and want. They will also ask the questions others may be afraid to ask – if you’re willing to face up to some possibly uncomfortable truths about yourself and your life and recognise your negative self-destructive patterns in order to grow and be true to the real you, then working with an empath will change your life.  An empath will not shy away from talking about feelings of loss either, and will help you to gain perspective on your issue as well as heal from emotional wounds, past and present.

In addition to helping you to heal, the empath will point out strengths and abilities you perhaps never realised you had. Personal empowerment is very important to the empath so they will always respect your courage and sense of determination to survive and will trust in your ability to heal and take care of yourself. All this creates a very safe environment with a high level of trust and a strong intimacy. The relationship between an empath and their client is more than just a business transaction – an authentic and caring relationship will be formed between you as the empath helps you to be your best self and to live the truth of who that best self is.

Empaths may also find themselves being drawn to other types of healing work directly involving energy, such as Reiki. With our natural ability to tune into the universal energy, learning to channel this energy through ourselves to help others is a path which many empaths naturally gravitate towards.

I do hope this article has helped you to understand your trait a little better. If you feel that anything here resonates with you, do please leave a comment – I would love to hear from you!

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Support The Animal Sanctuary!

September 15, 2011

If you’re ever in Cheshire and you or your loved ones are fond of animals and care about animal welfare, then I would highly recommend a visit to the Animal Sanctuary in Wilmslow.

As part of the Humane Education Society,  a charitable organisation working for a more compassionate society through education and practical work with children and animals, the Sanctuary offers permanent and temporary homes to animals in need of some loving care, including cats, horses, hens, rabbits, ferrets and pigs.

We were shown round the sanctuary by a lovely woman called Jenny (thanks, Jenny!) who is clearly devoted to all the animals and had a tale to tell about each and every one, telling us how they ended up in the sanctuary in the first place and sharing little details about each animal’s individual personality.

All the animals are extremely well cared for and well loved by the staff. Whilst I would love to work in a sanctuary like this,  I think it would break my heart to say goodbye the animals which are rehoused, even though I knew they were going to a good home.*

Not all of the animals are rehoused though, and some – like the pigs Erica and Babe, and Flea, the office cat – remain permanent residents of the sanctuary. It was wonderful to wander around and be followed by little black cats, some hens and a duck – and my partner was particularly taken with Daisy, the resident donkey!

Of course, sanctuaries like this cost money to run and as a charity, the Animal Sanctuary at Wilmslow is reliant on public support. Having spent some time in its wonderful warm and welcoming atmosphere, I can assure you that any donation you give will be money well spent. I’ve personally signed up to make a regular direct debit payment each month and plan on doing some fundraising too.

If you’d like to find out more about the Animal Sanctuary, then please check out their website here.  And do pop in if you’re ever nearby – you will always be guaranteed a warm welcome by both humans and animals alike 🙂 The Sanctuary also welcome group visits so if you run any kind of group which you feel will benefit from a visit the sanctuary, then drop them a line via the website.

*As an empath and HSP, I was bracing myself for the floods of tears I thought I would be reduced to – in the past, I’ve visited other animal rescue units and I’ve ended up sobbing the whole time and left feeling desperate to adopt all the animals. However, the vibes I picked up at the Animal Sanctuary were so loving and compassionate, and the animals were so well-cared for that I left the centre with a warm glow in my heart and a feeling of joy that there were such places in the world (although I did still want to adopt all the animals!). There was only one heartbreaking and tearful moment – we visited a little pony who hadn’t been there long and had been the victim of a cruel former owner. The terror in this little chap’s eyes, despite the gentle reassurance and kindness he was being shown by the staff, was something which will haunt me forever. I do hope that when we visit again, he is much happier and has learned that not all humans are bad.

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Kobi – a lesson in acceptance and unconditional love

March 3, 2011

Irish Setter 2

Kobi and Me

By Carolyn G Miller

Kobi was an Irish Setter puppy who belonged to my roommate Helga, and he was a holy terror. From the day he moved in, he began destroying everything he could get his paws and jaws on, every time he was left alone in the apartment. We’d come home after a day’s work to find curtains ripped off  windows; potted plants lying smashed on the floor; furniture gutted; and books and items of clothing chewed almost beyond recognition.

Helga, of course, felt terrible about inflicting this hellhound on me, but she loved the puppy to distraction, and couldn’t bear to give him away. Being an animal lover myself, I couldn’t help but sympathize. Anyway, we comforted ourselves, the problem was only temporary. It would soon stop as soon as she was able to train Kobi not to do these terrible things.

Helga assembled an impressive array of books on dog training, each of which guaranteed a well-behaved pet if one would only follow its recommended procedure religiously. No one could have been more conscientious than Helga, yet one technique after another failed. Kobi simply developed still more ingenious techniques for opening doors, getting into sealed garbage cans, and detaching breakable items from high shelves.

When Helga had to leave town for a week, I was left to carry on alone. The current technique hinged upon whipping the dog lightly with his leash for five minutes – no more, no less – in the presence of the mess he had made. The strokes were to be only symbolic taps. It was the duration of the punishment that was supposed to do the trick. I faithfully promised Helga to carry on in her absence.

I came in from a party late in the evening of the day she left, and there was that demon dog standing defiantly amid the wreckage as usual. My pleasant mood evaporated instantly. Dutifully I got out the leash, informed Kobi that he was a ‘bad dog’ and sat down on the floor to begin the whipping. Kobi just lay there beside me, submitting to this indignity with a sigh of resignation.

All I can tell you is that at some point in the five-minute process, I was simply overcome with shame and self-disgust. There was no getting around the fact that I had never liked Kobi – there wasn’t much to like as far as I could see. The quality of my life had deteriorated precipitously since he’d moved in. Still, it was pretty pathetic carrying a grudge against an animal. And now here I was whipping a dog who was obviously too stupid to learn to behave better.

Now, I knew I wasn’t hurting Kobi physically, but the whole thing just seemed so degrading! Ever since Kobi had come into our lives, he’d been doing mean things to us and we’d been doing mean things to him. He was still little more than puppy, yet his life had become variations on the themes of rejection and punishment!

And then it occurred to me that Kobi wasn’t going to change. It was time to face the fact that this was who Kobi was, and that as long as he lived in our apartment, this was wheat we could expect. Since I knew that Helga could not bear to give him up, and since I wanted to continue having her as a roommate, I was going to have to live with the problem too. So far as all of that was concerned, there was nothing I could do that I was willing to do.

But there was one thing I could change, I realised. I could change my attitude. I looked down at this miserable sinner of a dog, and felt my heart open up to him. Poor jerk – too stupid to learn not to chew things up – too stupid to avoid these tiresome punishements that punished Helga and me as much as they did him! I actually found myself weeping with compassion for this pathetic canine moron. I was unutterably ashamed of myself for having added to his misery.

I threw aside the leash and dragged Kobi’s huge bony head into my lap, sobbing out an apology I knew very well he couldn’t understand. “Kobi, I am so ashamed of the way I’ve treated you. You can’t help being the way you are, and if Helga and I aren’t going to give you away, we’re just going to have to accept you. Please forgive me for hitting you, and yelling at you, and hating you. I promise I’ll never do it again!”

By now the dog was alert, gazing into my eyes with real interest. “From now on, Kobi,” I continued “you just do any damn thing you want and I’ll deal with it. Tear the place up if you have to! I’m through trying to change you. I’m just going to try to learn to like you. And I’ll see if I can get Helga to give up on all this dog training stuff, too. We can’t make you do anything you don’t want to do when we aren’t here to control you. Not without hurting you a lot more than we’d be willing to do. So let’s just be friends, okay?”

Kobi panted up at me with that wide, clueless Irish Setter grin and I had to duck out of the way of a wet kiss. Following this exchange of civilities, I tidied up the mess – complimenting Kobi on the extremely thorough job he’d done on the wastebaskets – and took him out for a late run. In the morning when it was time for me to leave for work, Kobi walked me to the door as usual. “Okay, kiddo!” I said, giving him an affectionate ear ruffle. “Have at it! You might want to start with the sofa today. I think there might still be a little stuffing left in that middle cushion. See you later.”

When I climbed the stairs that evening it was with a sense of relief that I no longer had to upset myself about the mess Kobi would have made in my absence. But my front door opened on a very unfamiliar scene. There was Kobi standing in the middle of a perfectly clean, intact room. His head was up, and his tail was wagging. He looked me proudly in the eye and grinned. I burst into tears.

This “dog from hell” whose intelligence I had so often maligned, had responded to my friendly overture with one of his own. I suddenly realised that he had understood me very well the night before. His destructive behaviour had been his way of paying Helga and me back for withholding our love. We withheld love as a punishment to get him to stop destroying our stuff and he punished us for withholding it by destroying even more of our stuff. The problem wasn’t that Kobi was too stupid to understand what we wanted. He had always known exactly what we wanted him to do – he just wasn’t going to do it until we gave him what he wanted! Unconditional love.

I am happy to report that in the rest of the time Helga and I shared the apartment, Kobi was a model of canine decorum. It may seem strange that the change I had tried to extort from Kobi by force was given to me as a gift once I decided to accept him without conditions. But then, isn’t that the way it works? Even animals know better than to settle for conditional love.

Soulmates: Following Inner Guidance to the Relationship of Your Dreamsby Carolyn G Miller

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Living without money – Native American wisdom

February 24, 2011

Before our white brothers came to civilize us we had no jails. Therefore we had no criminals. You can’t have criminals without a jail. We had no locks or keys, and so we had no thieves. If a man was so poor that he had no horse, tipi or blanket, someone gave him these things. We were too uncivilized to set much value on personal belongings. We wanted to have things only in order to give them away. We had no money, and therefore a man’s worth couldn’t be measured by it. We valued the exchange of love, so we did not deal in fear. We had no written law, no attorney or politicians, therefore we couldn’t cheat. We were in a really bad way before the white man came, and I don’t know how we managed to get along for millenniums without the basic things which, we are told, are absolutely necessary to make a current civilized society.

— Lakota Sage Lame Deer (from John Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions)

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Is it love or is it projection?

October 20, 2009

animus

Back in June, I wrote an article about dreams in which I briefly touched on Jung’s theory of the animus/anima. I mentioned that I would return to this topic in more depth in the future as I feel that an awareness of how the animus/anima affects our relationship choices is empowering.

After making a few disastrous choices myself on the relationship front some years ago,  I elected to spend some time being single to give myself the opportunity to get to know and value myself. During that time, I sketched out a  rough draft for a novel which explored the theme of the animus and how it impacts women’s relationships. The story initially appears to be a simple love story – the female protagonist meets  a man early on in the book and through their relationship she learns many truths about herself which she had previously denied, consciously and unconsciously. Eventually however, the woman reaches a point in her self-awareness and personal development where she recognises that she no longer needs to be with a man as she already has everything she needs psychologically within herself. It is at this point  – when the woman’s desire for the man is no longer steeped in immature need – that the couple finally make love; and it is at this point that the reader realises that he was actually an element of her psyche made real, for as he enters her body he literally vanishes. The woman has taken her projection of the animus back and incorporated it into herself. (I also toyed with the idea of the woman then giving birth to herself at the very end of the book but thought that might be a symbolic metaphor too far…)

Learning about the animus/anima – and incorporating that with dreamwork and counselling – helped me learn a lot about myself and paved the way for the more positive relationship I am in today. The article below explains some more about this concept – if , after reading this, you feel you would benefit from some personal guidance on this matter via an e-mail session with me, then please feel free to contact me (currently unavailable)

IS IT LOVE OR IS IT PROJECTION?

The Anima/Animus Phenomenon

by Rebeca E. Eigen

http://www.shadowdance.com/articles/isitloveorprojection.html

There is something very magical about the experience of “falling in love.” Psychologically it is their feeling function (the water element) that gets activated when two lovers first meet. Emotions burst forth and sparks fly that ignite a passion and an unmistakable bliss. When you are with that person, you are “in heaven,” so to speak. And when you are away from them, you are longing for the next encounter and there is a poignant angst that replaces ordinary consciousness. As the song says, “Suddenly life has new meaning to me,” and they are transported into the realms of the Gods (the archetypes). In our Western culture, our movies provide us plenty of examples of this experience — so much so that we all yearn for it.

We mistakenly call this love, and many find themselves searching for their other half, their “soul mate.” We believe that this is what will complete us and that this magic is what we feel we must have in order for us to truly value another person. As you will see when you understand the nature of the “Anima” and “Animus,” this is only the beginning of an encounter with our unconscious.

It’s interesting that the word “soul” also means psyche. In the psychology of Dr. Carl G. Jung, he explains this phenomenon of projecting our Anima and Animus (the contrasexual soul images in our unconscious) onto each other. The psyche seeks wholeness, and a union of our inner opposites is what Jung called the process of individuation. When projection occurs, this process has begun as these contrasexual images within us are now out in the open. We will learn a lot about ourselves by the people we either extremely love or hate.

Many times we will fall in love and get involved in some very unsuitable, destructive and soul-destroying relationships, but these, too, are showing us aspects of our shadow. In order to grow and be a whole person, we need to become aware of what is really happening to us. When someone is “into us” (as a current book on the market calls it), we need to ask ourselves, is it love or is it just projection? Two people won’t really know until a period of time has given them a chance to see who each other actually is — and this requires self-honesty and self-disclosure.

Jung teaches that there is no other way to see these parts of us, so it’s inevitable that they will be projected. The intoxication and the intensity of the experience are clues that we are into a projection. Ordinary human beings do not evoke the instant passion that “love at first sight” evokes.

The Anima and Animus

A woman carries an image of her male counterpart made up largely of her history with her father, the first male in her life, brothers and any early experiences with men. This inner masculine, the “Animus,” helps her to achieve her goals, gives her greater intellectual clarity, helps her have clearer boundaries and becomes a mediator between her ego and her unconscious. This unconscious inner male is her God (soul) image that gets projected onto a man in the outer world. As inner and outer create a mirroring effect, she will know a lot about what shape her inner partner is in by the person upon whom the projection lands. This can be a real eye-opener if the person is willing or ready to see his or her own shadow.

As I said, the clue to knowing a projection has occurred is the peculiar feeling of intense fascination or obsession with a man whom she will feel is her ideal mate. He, of course, unless he has a huge ego and enjoys the power that he now has over her, will feel as if something sticky and uncomfortable is smothering him. He will make comments to her like “You don’t even know me.” His perception is a correct and valid one. She doesn’t know him at all. She is seeing only a reflection of her shadow or her Animus — as the two can become contaminated with each other.

According to Jung, a man faces a similar dilemma. When a man projects his perfect God (soul) image onto a woman, she becomes the carrier of his “Anima.” His Anima, his inner feminine, can help him get in touch with his feeling nature, his receptivity, his personal relating and nurturing skills and his ability to create. His Anima acts as a muse to bridge the gap between his inner and outer worlds. She animates him from within.

When this happens to both people at the same time, we call this “falling in love.” They definitely fall. They fall into their own unconscious image as each projects part of himself or herself onto the other person (same sex or opposite sex), evoking a feeling of fantasy and Eros. The erotic and sexual nature of the encounter is psychologically quite symbolic. It is each one wanting to merge with or penetrate into themselves. In reality, this is an unconscious, narcissistic impulse and a distortion of reality. If either of them remains stuck in this kind of projection for too long, it can even be a deterrent to any real or authentic, long-term, loving relationship. Its primary importance for both people is that it heralds the beginning of the individuation process.

A very good movie that came out last year that describes projection perfectly is the romantic comedy Alex and Emma with Kate Hudson and Luke Wilson. Another example more recently was in the film called Shall We Dance? In this movie Richard Gere meets Jennifer Lopez, a beautiful dance instructor who has caught his “Anima.” In time — and time is of essence to see what is going on — he is able to see that the reason his inner feminine has been projected is that he is bored and unhappy with himself. Instead of blaming his wife, Susan Sarandon, for this unhappiness, he takes dancing lessons, which help him feel alive again.

Now as time goes on, it is inevitable that these projections are going to fall off. They actually have to so that we can see who the other person actually is and relate to a real person instead of a God or Goddess (a symbiotic extension of oneself). When a relationship reaches that stage of familiarity, many people addicted to this kind of high start looking around outside their primary marriage or partnership if their maturity level is still in the puella or puer aeternus stage of consciousness. This is the archetype of the Peter Pan, an adolescent eternal child, where we want to be mirrored instead of related to the people in our lives. Many relationships end at this stage and the alchemical process begins all over again with someone else. Some go on to marry the person with whom they feel they are in love, and become disillusioned when they realize that they have married a person who is not who they thought they were.

On the other hand, if the two people are committed to their relationship, growing and becoming conscious, when the projections wear off, there is an opportunity that arrives for both people. They can now discover and embrace their missing halves. This is not an easy task as it takes work and often involves a painful encounter with the self. In his book, Mysterium Coniunctionis, Jung says that an experience with the self is always a defeat for the ego but that the death of the ego (the self as you knew it) allows one to be reborn into one’s own wholeness as projections are taken back.

The value of taking back our projections is that we can now see and accept our partners for who they are — not what we wanted them to be; not what we wish they would change into; not for what they can give us; but who they are. The love that can now grow between two partners is profound because it is REAL. Real love, unlike projection, is a willingness to see and support another person to be their own unique, separate self. This will untangle us from seeking in them the perfect parent-mirror image of ourselves, for as long as we are still seeking to be completed by another person, we will not allow them their own autonomy.

As the Rune “Partnership” describes it, two separate and whole beings — equals in the true sense of the word — can help each person feel their own union with the Divine within instead of through projective identification with their partner. As the love between them grows and expands to the entire cosmos, this kind of love gives each partner their freedom — the greatest gift of all. As the duet by Barbra Streisand and Celine Dion professes, LOVE will be the gift you give yourself.

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The Meaning of Life (part three)

September 4, 2009

Jack White

In part two, I discussed the first step towards finding true meaning in your life, referred to by Frankl as ‘your attitude towards unavoidable suffering’.  If you are able to deal with your past and present negative baggage with a positive attitude, you  will find that the way becomes clear for you to discover what you – as oppose to your parents/peers/partner or society – really value. To illustrate what I mean by this, I’m going to share some of my own story with you.

The Free Dictionary offers this definition of an epiphany:

A comprehension or perception of reality by means of a sudden intuitive realization: “I experienced an epiphany, a spiritual flash that would change the way I viewed myself” (Frank Maier).

There have been two significant epiphanies of this type in my life. The first occurred in my mid-twenties when I lost my job (also mentioned in the ‘On Being an Empath’ article) and finally faced up to the fact that the way I was living my life was unsustainable. I was well and truly stuck in the vacuum and it was killing me – my life had no meaning, though this was hardly surprising as I had no idea who I was and what I really wanted. Consequently I decided enough was enough and embarked on the path of personal development which would change my life.

Over the next ten years, I made many momentous discoveries whilst on that path. I acknowledged that a lifestyle based on consumerism wasn’t for me and that working purely for financial gain was akin to selling my soul, prompting me to retrain as a counsellor as I sought out work which would give something back. I reframed negative past events and, after learning the important lessons those experiences had to teach me, was finally able to make peace with them and let them go. I learned a lot about how I related to others including how to be assertive rather than passive or aggressive, and how to establish healthy personal boundaries. I also learned a lot about the real meaning of love through my relationship with my child and I most definitely learned the hard way what I didn’t want from my more intimate relationships. And best of all, as my false self image – created from the distorted reflections of other people – crumbled, I grew to like the person I really was and began to enjoy spending time in my own company. Yet something still seemed to be missing. It was as though I’d stripped my inner self clean of all the baggage and now my authentic self stood there raw and fresh and blinking in the sun, saying ‘well, here I am at last – so what next?’

Fast forward, then, to my mid-thirties. Over the previous decade I’d come a long way and now it felt like the final pieces were clicking into place. However, like running a marathon or climbing Everest, this last stretch was proving to be particularly difficult, not least because I’d ended a relationship with someone who I loved deeply and who I still believe was a true soul mate but who, due to difficult circumstances, was unable to show me the level of respect I deserved. Though I learned some valuable lessons about my own behaviour in intimate relationships which would stand me in good stead for the future, the feelings of hurt and betrayal due to his casual treatment of my finer feelings was still hard to take.

In an attempt to move on, I agreed to go on a long weekend break with a friend. Unfortunately the break was a disaster and I was forced to finally admit to myself something I had tried to deny for years – that this friendship was a little too one-sided for my liking. I’d been hurt and let down by this person several times over the course of our friendship but because I’d known her for so long – and had, at one time, looked up to her – I’d put my misgivings to one side. Now I’d finally reached a point in my personal development where I cared about myself enough to no longer tolerate relationships – be they with partner, friend or family – that were detrimental to my wellbeing. The rationality of this decision, however, belies how difficult it was for me on an emotional and psychological level. I literally felt like my heart was breaking and found myself plummeting into a particularly intense ‘dark night of the soul’.

During the break, I treated myself to a CD copy of Get Behind Me Satan by the White Stripes. I hadn’t really listened to them before but I’d recently seen their Glastonbury set on TV and was really blown away by Jack White’s powerful performance and the way he took command of the stage. The day after we returned, my daughter left to spend the week with her father so I decided to make the most of my free days and enjoy some much needed solitary time. Whilst relaxing, I played my new CD continuously, and the more I listened, the more impressed I was by the way Jack White expressed his feelings so vividly through the music and lyrics. In yet another marvellous piece of synchronicity, the theme of the album reflected perfectly the emotional turbulence I was going through love, betrayal, grief, anger, all exquisitely and impeccably portrayed. Even the title of the album seemed appropriate in reflecting how I was putting the negative aspects of the past – events, relationships and my own behaviours – behind me, once and for all.  (A bit of research uncovered the fact that prior to making this album, Jack had suffered a relationship break-up and been badly burned by a number of old friends ).

In my early years, creative writing had been a very important part of my life. Even as a child, I spent much of my spare time producing stories and poems but for some reason as an adult I kept closing the door on that intrinsic part of myself. That week, thanks to one man’s work, I rediscovered how powerful creativity could be and I finally realised what was missing and what my authentic self was screaming out for. Expressing my ideas through the written word to help others is simply what I was born to do.

As you can see, then, the second step towards discovering meaning in my life, as described by Frankl, was experiencing something – in my case, experiencing the power of creativity. I was still unsure how I would express this creativity – I initially began by simply pouring out my feelings onto paper then moved on to working on a novel – but further experiences and synchronicities ultimately lead me to the final step, referred to by Frankl as “creating a work or doing a deed”. That work is, of course, my Empathic Guidance project which so far includes a website, this blog and an upcoming book.  I also have people in my life who seem to thoroughly enjoy being with the authentic me and who support and encourage me wholeheartedly in expressing that. It’s taken some time and effort – and a vast amount of soul-searching – but I can safely say that my experience of the existential vacuum is a long way behind me now.

To end this article, we’ll revisit someone I mentioned in part two, Stephen Hawking. His positive attitude towards his suffering, coupled with his sense of purpose and encountering someone who he fell deeply in love with gave his life more meaning than it had ever had before, and for me, this quote sums up much of what I have attempted to express in this article:

My dreams at that time were rather disturbed. Before my condition had been diagnosed, I had been very bored with life. There had not seemed to be anything worth doing. But shortly after I came out of hospital, I dreamt that I was going to be executed. I suddenly realised that there were a lot of worthwhile things I could do if I were reprieved. Another dream, that I had several times, was that I would sacrifice my life to save others. After all, if I were going to die anyway, it might as well do some good. But I didn’t die. In fact, although there was a cloud hanging over my future, I found, to my surprise, that I was enjoying life in the present more than before. I began to make progress with my research, and I got engaged to a girl called Jane Wilde, whom I had met just about the time my condition was diagnosed. That engagement changed my life. It gave me something to live for.”

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