Let Me (re)Introduce Myself

Let Me (re)Introduce Myself

Hello! There have been quite a few new folks joining us lately and I think that means it’s time to do a little intro/re-intro post and let you know who I am and what I believe. 

I’m Megan Caper and I’m an intuitive who works with complex medical issues, healing trauma, and supporting people in doing shadow work so they can find happiness, connection, and meaning in life. 

I offer a few ways to work with me – medical intuition sessions, intuitive shadow work coaching, and group workshops and classes. Let me know if you have any questions about how I can support you in any of these ways. 

I came to this work through my own life experiences of both emotional and physical trauma and healing, and along the way realized I have psychic gifts that most people don’t naturally have (although I believe everyone can develop this with practice!) 

Here’s what I want you to know – all of us are worthy and whole already, there’s no such thing as a person who “will be good enough once they do X” or who is broken in any way. Being in process and figuring it out is not a prerequisite to being worthy and adored. You are already where you are supposed to be. My deepest desire is to help others have those lightbulb moments where they realize they are worthy and good now, and they don’t have to do anything to be deserving of love right where they are. 

I want you to know healing is not a linear process. It’s more like a spiral where we work on the same lessons or issues for years by revisiting them again and again from a place of greater and greater wisdom and compassion. 

I want you to know that your physical illness is complex and multifaceted and involves physical, emotional, and spiritual issues. Treating symptoms through medication or surgery doesn’t get to the root of the problem and won’t bring balance or harmony to a system, it will only cover up the issues temporarily. 

I want you to know that all of your fears and doubts are because of stories that you’ve absorbed about yourself, oftentimes to keep yourself safe and well, but that your true nature on a soul level is someone who belongs completely and does not know anything other than love and acceptance. 

I want you to know that it’s not your fault that f*^%ked up shit happened to you, but that same shit is also your doorway to find out how to build compassion and deep understanding of both yourself and your fellow humans. We all suffer in similar ways, it just looks like different circumstances. 

I want you to know that I don’t believe in spiritual bypassing, and that you can’t heal solely through being in a place of love and vibrating at a high frequency. I believe we feel happiness and joy as a natural byproduct of doing shadow work and looking at where we can break down barriers inside and outside of ourselves. These barriers once kept us safe like high castle walls, but now they wall us off from connection and love in all its multitudinous forms. Break those walls down in a compassionate and caring way and you will come back to your natural state of love and joy. 

I want you to know that there is no “one size fits all” approach for how to heal or how to live a good life. We are all different for a reason, we have different life lessons to learn and different ways of expressing how we are a creative expression of source energy. My job is to help you find your way back to that place of love and acceptance, in whatever form that takes for you. 

Hopefully some of this resonates with you. And if not, that’s fine too. We each need to hear different messages of healing and spiritual growth, and I’m not the right guide for everyone. 

And please let me know what parts of this made you stop and think and what it is you thought. I’m no guru, I’m learning as I go, as well, and this is a two-way conversation. You are my teacher as much as I am yours. 

You are already worthy. You are already a good person. You are in the process of figuring some shit out, which is exactly where you should be. 

Xo Megan

How To Find Your Inner Caregiver

How To Find Your Inner Caregiver

Earlier this week, a video made the rounds on TikTok of Lillie, a 13-year-old getting arrested at an abortion rights protest because she used a megaphone and violated a noise ordinance. The video made a splash not only for the fact the police are arresting 13-year-olds for protesting (Hello, first amendment right to assemble and protest?!) but for Lillie’s mom who was filming and can be heard in the background. 

As Lillie’s being taken into custody, we can hear her mom, Lauren, who is following just behind her say, “Lillie don’t resist honey, it’s okay. I got ya. Lillie, you’re okay bug. I got you. Mom’s right behind you!!”  

So many of the comments on the video talked about Lauren’s words of support: 

The “I’m right behind you” is what broke me 😭😭😭

If that isn’t the most public display of MOM I’ve ever seen. Way to go momma.

The pride in mamas voice and the “I’m right behind you!” Oh my gods 😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭 STAY STRONG BABYYYYYYYY!!! 💪🏾💪🏾💪🏾💪🏾💪🏾✊🏾✊🏾✊🏾

“Just don’t resist” “I’m right behind you” wrecked me 😭😭😓

And I have to admit, this video broke me, too. I’ve watched it a bunch of times in preparation for writing this post and I still find myself in tears each time I watch. 

So, what’s going on here? 

I’m crying not because she was arrested (in fact, that makes me angry, not sad) it’s the idea of having a mom who would be so supportive and say such reassuring, loving things in a time of crisis. 

I never had that, and I know a lot of you never had that too. 

I know for me, when I see scenes of moms being loving, kind and supportive, there’s a part of me that’s reminded of my loss. It’s grief for the emotional nutrients I know I needed, but never got. Just like a starving person might break down at the sight of an all-you-can-eat buffet, those of us who had emotional neglect or abuse will also break down at the sight of emotional sustenance. 

However, my friends, there’s a way to turn that grief into a powerful tool for healing.

When I see something like this that “breaks me” and find myself crying big time, that’s a signal. It’s a sign – here’s an emotional nutrient that I really need. 

This is what I do when I see examples of loving parenting and it makes me cry: 

  1. Sit with the sadness. This is another chance for grief to come up and be acknowledged, so let it come and meet it with tenderness and validation. 

 

  1. Recognize that this type of emotional care is something you need. Be grateful that you found this out, because now you can give yourself this exact, wonderful type of care. 

 

  1. Internalize this voice of support. I talk about this in my post on your inner caregiver if you need more info on how to do this. For me, the line, “Mom’s right behind you!!” especially with Lauren’s tone and emotionality was the thing that really hit me hard. I’m adding this to my repertoire of supportive messages and Lillie’s mom is now another one of my inner moms, I can hear her voice saying just this, right when I’m going through something scary and hard.

 

Once you’ve gathered a few of these inner caregiver voices, they act as powerful tools to use when times are tough. Or even when they’re not, I know we all need to hear “Mom’s right behind you!!” as we go about our lives, because adulting is hard, amiright? 

Xo Megan

You Are Intuitive, You Just May Not Know It Yet

You Are Intuitive, You Just May Not Know It Yet

I’m on a mission. It’s a mission to help you feel deep connection, wisdom, and know who you really are. 

It’s a mission to bring back a lost art — one that’s been maligned, dismissed and vilified. One that’s even cost people their lives because it’s so powerful that it scared the bejesus out of the people in charge. 

I want you to know your connection to source consciousness, I want you to be able to access information directly from your higher self, your spirit guides and the ascended masters that have come before you. 

I want to empower you with full, unfettered access, to your intuition. 

Buț first we have to take a look at what we’ve been told about intuition and how societal conditioning has led us away from this valuable way of knowing. 

When the mainstream culture talks about intuition or psychic information, it’s often dismissed, belittled, invalidated or worse. It’s also often feminized (aka “women’s intuition”) which is the most surefire way in a patriarchal society to get something dismissed as second class or not as rigorous, serious and significant. We’ve been taught that the “gold standard” of how to know the truth is through the scientific method. Now, I love the scientific method. I have a whole-ass graduate degree in biological sciences, but it has flaws, limitations, and opportunities for oversight and failure just like any other way of knowing. Many scientific discoveries have later been found to be flawed, incomplete, or incorrect. So why is intuition any less valid? If we are really connected to a web of consciousness that has all the information of the universe embedded in it, why wouldn’t we want to develop our connection to that web as much as we can? (I’m asking that as a rhetorical question here, but I could very easily get on my feminist, anti-imperialist soapbox here and explain exactly why the powers that be have tried to belittle, dismiss or even burn these ideas at the stake. But that’s for another blog post…) 

I believe we’re all intuitive, it’s a skill you can practice and perfect like playing a musical instrument. Like with musical talent, some people may be born with more inherent skill, but anyone can practice piano and get good at it and the same is true of intuition. (If you want a place to start, you can take a look at my post on accessing intuitive information from your Four Brains. I’ll also be offering this as an expanded workshop in September 2022, so if you’re the type that learns better in a class setting, be on the lookout for an announcement about that soon.)

My mission is to have people connect to a higher wisdom, either through developing their own powers or with me as a conduit. All of this is in service of having a world where people are connected to universal consciousness, and awake to our true reality as a hologram of source energy. Can you imagine a world where we all have access to the connection, unconditional love, and wisdom of our higher selves? So many of the social structures built on fear and false power would be unable to withstand that type of revolution. 

Are you in? If you want to know more, message me and let’s talk about how to get you connected to your higher self and start accessing your own intuitive information. It’s time to know deeply why you’re on this planet and what kind of world you’re here to help build. 

Xo Megan

Why I Disagree With The “Self-Acceptance” Movement

Why I Disagree With The “Self-Acceptance” Movement

I’ve been outlining the chapter in my book on mindfulness and self-acceptance (Did I mention I’m writing a book?!) and it occurred to me that many people have the wrong idea of what acceptance and self-acceptance really mean.

I hear people say all the time, “I should love myself more” or “I should just accept my job/relationship/life and be grateful for what I have.”

That is not the right way to do acceptance. 

Any thought about your life that starts with “I should” or “I need to” isn’t self-acceptance, it’s self-abandonment. It’s pushing aside your own feelings, desires and intuition for the sake of trying to be happier. 

Let me suggest another way. 

Acceptance (or self-acceptance) is when we accept or notice what’s coming up for us right now, without creating a story about how it should or shouldn’t be. It’s also accepting what comes up without any ideas of how or why it should be any different. 

It’s like a combination of noticing, acceptance and embodying. It’s thinking, “This is what’s happening right now” with no further commentary or evaluation, just embodying the feeling, sensation or thought that’s coming up and being in it. 

Here’s an example: 

Many women I know (and some men) don’t like the look of their bodies for one reason or another. I’ve heard so many well-meaning people talk about body acceptance as learning to love your body just as it is. While I don’t disagree with this in theory, if we try to jump straight from “I don’t like my body” to “I accept my body as it is” we’re going to be bypassing a lot of important feelings and thoughts for the sake of how we “should” think about our body. 

Here’s what I propose instead. When you have a thought or a feeling along the lines of, “I don’t like my body” just notice that you are thinking that. That thought isn’t bad, or wrong, nor should it be any different. Simply notice and accept, “I am having a negative thought about my body.” 

When you’re able to have a thought like that without a judgment that you should be thinking something different or feeling another way about your body, when you are able to be who you are right now, without any judgment that you should be thinking any other way than you are, it opens the portal for true healing. 

Not bypassing healing or “should” healing, but real healing. Compassionate healing. 

When I think the thought, “I don’t like my body” and accept that I am feeling shame, I then can tend to and care for that part of me that feels bad. I don’t need to change it, I just need to care for it. I can sense into what I need to hear to comfort myself in that moment and say the exact right thing to myself. I can say, “Well of course you don’t like your body, Megan, there’s a billion dollar ‘beauty’ industry and a whole patriarchal culture invested in you feeling unworthy. They lie. They make money and retain power off of those lies. You are amazing and your beauty is so much more than the shape of your body. Anyone worth their salt will see that, and you should, too.” (That’s just what I needed to hear in that moment — your version of comfort and validation will sound different. But feel free to steal mine if that works for you!) 

In that moment, I start to genuinely feel better about my body. It’s not bypassing or platitudes, it’s a genuine shift in what I think about not only my body, but the world my body exists in. 

I’m not accepting my body, I’m accepting the thoughts about my body and through that acceptance, I can find what I need to think or hear to heal that shame I feel. 

Let me give you another example. I recently moved to a new city where I don’t know many people. It takes time to develop friendships and create routines and I’m still in that process. Even though I know that’s true, I still feel lonely sometimes. This week I had a friend visit for a few days and after they left, I found myself alone in my apartment and my feelings of loneliness got intense. Rather than try to change it or think of all the good things about my new situation in this place I’ve wanted to move to for years, I simply accepted the feelings of loneliness. 

“Okay, I’m lonely.” 

I sat with the loneliness for a while. I observed it, noticed what it felt like in my body, where it sat and where it moved to. I kept thinking, “Here I am, I’m lonely” or, “I am feeling loneliness right now” without trying to fix or change it. And eventually, I was able to bring some love and compassion to myself. I thought, “This is okay, I just moved here. This loneliness is signaling to me that I need connection, I need community. I’ll find it. It’s important to me, so I know I’ll keep making small movements towards caring for myself this way.” 

In that moment of sitting with the loneliness and accepting it, my view towards it shifted. It’s not that I felt any less lonely, but I saw it as a signpost for what’s important to me — connection and community — and I then felt the peace of knowing myself and the pride of making moves towards caring for myself and meeting my vital needs. 

Only after pure acceptance can we crack open the door for compassion.  If we jump to judgment or a “should” statement, we leave no room for self-compassion. And the door to true healing is compassion, both for ourselves and others. So I invite you to accept what comes up for you, even if it’s not pleasant. Sit with it, don’t try to change it, and accept that you are a human being having this thought or feeling, that’s it. Pure acceptance, just being in the moment of what’s arising. After a while, you’ll sense into what you need to know from that. What message is important to heal you and bring you even closer to that beautiful state of self-knowing and self-acceptance? There’s no greater love than knowing, accepting and validating where you are, right now. 

Xo Megan

Three Ways To Reconnect To Your Passion And Purpose

Three Ways To Reconnect To Your Passion And Purpose

Last week, I went to the World Domination Summit, a weekend conference in Portland for people who want to “live a remarkable life in a conventional world.” I’ve been going to this conference for several years now (with a 2-year hiatus for the pandemic) and the reason I keep going back is that it fills my bucket in a way that no other activity or event can. The power of spending time with people who are open-minded, creative, and compassionate rekindles something in me that often becomes dormant in our work-a-day world. 

I don’t quite know the name for this thing that rekindles. Maybe it’s my creative spark? Joy of being alive? Feeling connected and seen by my fellow humans? Whatever it is, I always feel extra motivated and inspired after my WDS weekends. 

One of the things that the World Domination Summit does so well is to combine motivation and play. I think we too often forget that the best type of motivation doesn’t come from deadlines or to-do lists, but comes from a sense of play, creativity and passion. If I feel passionate and playful about something, then the creativity flows. If I am excited about something, then I don’t mind doing even the mundane aspects of it because it feels like it’s in service of something big and important. 

But how do we connect to this sense of passion and play in our everyday lives? I have a few ideas: 

  1. Check-in regularly with your intuition. I taught a workshop at the conference on how to tune into your intuition and it was a big hit. I’m realizing more and more that this is a lost art. We are so used to using our brains to come up with a logical, well-thought-out plan for things that we forget to check in with what resonates with our soul. Sometimes a “good decision” will also be what’s right for our spiritual path right now, but sometimes we have to listen to that inner knowing and do something that sounds crazy or illogical to feel that sense of joy and awe. 

 

  1. Find your weirdos. One of the things that help me stay connected to my own unique purpose is to spend time with other people who are weird like me. When I surround myself with folks who are creative, intellectual and kind in the same way I am, it starts to build on itself. I find myself getting increasingly more inspired and when I share my ideas, my weirdo friends riff on them and mirror them back to me in even more creative and interesting ways. Creativity is an emergent property –it’s more than the sum of its parts. So, if you can get a bunch of creative people together, magic will happen. 

 

  1. Remember this is all a play and we’re supposed to experiment. When I’ve traveled to the place we go between lives via meditation or astral projection, I see that we come here to have an EXPERIENCE. It’s like we’re signing up for an 80-year, round-the-world vacation where we get to feel, taste, see, hear and discover so many unique and amazing things. From our soul’s perspective, there is no danger and no fear, because this is all temporary. The more spiritual work I do, the easier it becomes to remember or lean into that aspect of my awareness and let go of the “small stuff” that usually stresses me out. I ask myself,  “What would I do today if I knew this was just a time-limited adventure and my only job here was to have amazing experiences?”  I invite you to ask yourself the same question – what would you do today if you knew this was all a grand adventure that would end sooner than you realize? How would you spend your time if really, the point of this “humaning” thing was to have memories and experiences just like you do on vacation?

 

I’d love to know if these resonate for you, or what your ways are for connecting to that creative spark. Reply and let me know!

Xo Megan

Four Ways to Reduce Your Stress That Actually Work

Four Ways to Reduce Your Stress That Actually Work

Want to know why you’re still stressed out despite all of the stress reduction techniques you’ve tried in the past? If you’ve taken 500 bubble baths and go to yoga every day and you’re still stressed out, here are 4 things you need to consider to find more ease and balance in your life.

  1. PEO:

PEO stands for “Person, Environment, Occupation” and it’s a concept that comes from the world of Occupational Therapy. (BTW — “occupation” here refers to anything that occupies your time, not just work. So it could be your occupation as a mother, or a crafter, or a student.) When looking at stress reduction through the PEO lens it’s important to consider three factors. 

The “person” part refers to who you are as a person. What are your skills, strengths and relative weaknesses?  What are your preferences and dislikes? What’s your personality like? (Something like the MTBI, enneagram, human design, or Gallup strengths finder can be useful here if you don’t feel like you know this info well enough.)  

“Environment” refers to the place you’re in when you’re trying to function. Maybe your home environment feels more relaxed than the office (or vice versa). Or you prefer the mountains to the desert. Why is that? What is it about the environment that’s a better fit for you? Different environments are also better for different tasks, for example, an energizing environment would be better for work, while a calming one would be better for sleep or meditation. 

The big “O” is the occupation you’re performing. What are the demands of the task at hand?  Do you have the resources for that task? Do you have the skills? The right tools? Proper instructions, guidance, and support? 

Try looking at one of your routine tasks (either at work or home) through this lens of PEO and see if you can make any adjustments to the environment or the occupation in order to make it easier for you. For example, maybe you work better in a bustling environment full of energy. Or maybe you function better when you don’t have access to your phone to distract you. Maybe you can only fully relax in nature, and so the crowded yoga class in the gym doesn’t help you de-stress. 

Take a look at your daily occupations and see how good of a match it is between who you are, the environment you’re in for that task, and the task itself. 

  1. Sensory Profile: 

Every single human on this planet has a unique sensory profile, it’s like a fingerprint. Your sensory profile looks at each of your 8 senses and your preferences and awareness for each. Do you like bright, vibrant, crazy designs? You’re probably a visual sensory seeker. Do you like calm colors and less clutter? You are probably visually sensitive. There are quizzes you can take to find out your specific sensory profile, but you can also think about each of these and ask yourself if you’re a seeker (you like it big and bold), avoider (you’d rather stay away from too much of this type of input), sensitive (you don’t hate it, but too much will grate on you) or low registration (you’re not even aware of those types of sensations).

  • Visual (sight) like bright colors and busy environments
  • Auditory (hearing) like music and talking and louder environments
  • Olfactory (smell) like strong scents
  • Gustatory (taste) like bold flavors 
  • Tactile (touch) like strong touch or softer touch
  • Vestibular (sense of head movement in space) like swings, rollercoasters
  • Proprioceptive (sense of body position in space and feedback from joints and muscles) like dancing, moving around, lifting weights
  • Interoception  (sensations related to the physiological/physical condition of the body like hunger, heart rate, breathing, and more) like needing to pee, being hot or cold, or ASMR tingles.

If your environment is not a good match for your sensory system, it can cause some serious nervous system dysregulation. Your body will release cortisol, you’ll have trouble concentrating, your emotional regulation system will become depleted and you might get cranky or depressed, and you’ll be exhausted at the end of the day. 

  1. Interoceptors and Mindfulness: 

Interoceptors are the sensations we feel related to the physiological/physical condition of the body like hunger, heart rate, breathing, etc. When you’re are stressed, your body shuts down information from the interoceptors (who needs to know that they’re hungry when a lion is chasing them?!) and you become what’s called “low registration” for that type of sensory information. 

If you’re chronically stressed at home or at work, your interoceptors can become permanently set in the low registration setting and you lose touch with what you may need on a basic, physiological level. This is why mindfulness doesn’t work for so many people. If you aren’t aware of what your body is feeling, how can you pay attention to it? That’s like giving someone noise-cancelling headphones and then asking them to tell you about the noises in their environment. If you can’t hear it how can you pay attention to it? 

Personally, I love mindfulness as a stress reduction technique, but before I got any benefit from it I had to heal my interoceptors from years of stress and shut down. Only after slowly cultivating my awareness of these types of sensations was I able to really tune into myself and be fully aware in the present moment. 

If you think you may be low registration for interoceptive sensations, start by concentrating on one sensation, like the feeling of your belly moving in and out as you breathe, and observe it with gentle curiosity, not trying to change it, just trying to befriend it and bring it back to your awareness. Once you start to be able to feel that sensation, try another one, like tune into your thirst and see what it says. Is it there at all? How intense is it? How do you know – what does that feel like in your body? From there you can start to play and experiment with other sensations and emotions and see what they feel like in your body. 

  1. Boundaries

Oh, how I love boundaries! Boundaries start with an awareness of what we like, dislike, will tolerate or won’t. It’s a compendium of the things that make us sing with joy, the things that trigger us, and the things that are neutral. As you learn this stuff about yourself, putting boundaries in place means communicating compassionately and firmly with yourself and others about what works for you, what your needs are, and what will set you off. Having your boundaries ignored or not tended to, by either yourself or others, can be a major cause of stress. 

The first step is to get clear on our boundaries through observing what stresses us out or triggers us, what brings us joy, and what we don’t really care either way about. The next step is to learn to feel comfortable (aka not ashamed, bad, unworthy or fearful) about communicating those needs to yourself and others. Some examples could be giving yourself a 10 minute break when you feel overwhelmed or asking a coworker not to come by your desk for a chat when you’re working on a project. 

Boundaries are a life-long project, both because we get to know ourselves better over time but also because our joy and triggers change over the years, in different environments, with different people, and different tasks (Oh look! We’re back at PEO, where we started.) Having a practice of observing and identifying our boundaries can be a huge step towards a more joyful, stress-free life.

Honestly, I could write SO MUCH MORE on all of these topics. If you’d like to learn more about these, please comment with your questions and I’ll do my best to write about them in a future post!

Xo Megan

What’s the Missing Piece for Healing Your Developmental Trauma?

What’s the Missing Piece for Healing Your Developmental Trauma?

Let’s talk about what’s missing for many people as they recover from their childhood trauma. For me, doing the typical emotional and physical healing work alone was not enough. When I finally added spiritual awakening to the process, I went from being a hot mess of anxiety, depression and ill health to the more balanced, grounded version of myself that I am today. (Although I still reserve the right to be a hot mess sometimes. Hot mess is an important stage of any growth process!) 

I want to outline why I think BOTH traditional modes for healing from CPTSD + spiritual awakening are important and how you can start to use each of them in your own life. 

CPTSD is a collection of emotional and physical symptoms that stems from prolonged periods of stress without the ability to periodically reset to a state of safety and rest. For most people, this comes from developmental trauma during childhood. (If you’re not familiar with CPTSD, I suggest you read this post, then come back here to read on.) For many years, the focus of CPTSD treatment was only psychological, addressing the emotional and behavioral components of developmental trauma. More recently, because of things like ACE research (adverse childhood experiences) and books like The Body Keeps the Score and Waking the Tiger, we’ve started to expand the discussion of CPTSD effects to include physiological aspects, as well. 

The mental-emotional effects of trauma are the most widely known and are usually where people start when they first start to heal themselves. There are many ways that the mental-emotional aspects of CPTSD can show up in our lives, but the most common are anxiety, depression, perfectionism, people-pleasing, anger outbursts, ADHD, difficulty following through, quitting things when they get too hard, a harsh inner critic, or feelings of worthlessness or inadequacy. All of these are a direct result of your particular nervous system response: fight, flight, freeze or appease and the mental patterns you created in order to protect you from your particular set of traumatic experiences. There are many ways to help heal the mental-emotional damage from CPTSD. Some of the best ways I’ve found are therapy, energy healing, coaching, meditation, self-help books, shadow work, self-compassion, plant medicine, and making friendships and other healthy relationships a priority. 

The physiological effects of CPTSD can be more sneaky. Trauma and stress get trapped in the body and cause imbalances in our immune system, hormones, and other physiological processes, which eventually can lead to illness and disease. This can look like chronic fatigue, autoimmune issues, digestive issues, headaches and migraines, or even things like heart disease and cancer. There are a number of ways to address the physical aspects like yoga, TRE (trauma release exercises), forest bathing, chi gong, massage, acupuncture, vagal nerve reset, and energy healing. 

Addressing our health, both physical and emotional, is vital to healing CPTSD and it’s what most experts recommend as the best way to find healing from past trauma. 

But there’s a second aspect that’s just as important. 

For me, my healing didn’t really get supercharged until I started on the path of spiritual awakening. Let me explain why I think spiritual awakening is the secret sauce that’s missing in current discussions of developmental trauma healing. 

One of the primary reasons for all of the deleterious effects of developmental trauma is the lack of safe, consistent parents or caregivers. Whether your caregivers were dealing with addiction, were emotionally immature or distant, or had other mental health issues, the resulting trauma was the same: a stressful childhood that felt unsafe or unkind. When our primary attachment style is created in this sort of environment, we end up with dysfunctional relationships with ourselves (inner critic and bad self-esteem) and/or other people (friends, partners, bosses, etc). It’s really hard to trust yourself or other people after spending your formative years bathed in gaslighting and emotional abuse or neglect.

Spiritual awakening is the antidote to those formative, traumatic experiences. In therapy and other mental health practices, we learn that we need to move through the fear to learn how to trust the kind, caring people in our lives. But it often takes years of developing relationships with people until our inner child deems them safe enough to fully trust with our hearts and vulnerable, soft places. However, in a spiritual practice, as soon as we connect with source consciousness, we feel an immediate rush of love, acceptance, safety, and peace. This doesn’t take years to develop, it’s instantaneous. All of those feelings that we’d missed out on in our early development are there for us, ready to be experienced. When we return to our spiritual home through meditation, channeling, and plant medicine ceremonies, we’re easily able to find a model for the caregiving we never received as a child. 

These experiences of being loved and cared for unconditionally by my source consciousness have healed me in ways unlike any other practice. There’s a saying that we change our views of how our world works through “time and evidence,” meaning that it takes repeated experiences over a long period of time for us to believe something is really true or has really changed. Having a spiritual practice means that anytime we want to access those healing experiences of unconditional love, we can — all we have to do is meditate! (I’m joking about that part. Nowadays all I have to do is meditate, but it took 20 years of meditation practice along with an NDE and various plant medicine ceremonies over the years, and even so I still have days where I just can’t find that spiritual bliss during meditation.) 

This is why both mind-body healing and spiritual awakening practices are vitally important in finding balance and peace as we recover from developmental trauma. If you’re interested in learning more, please write to me and ask! I’d love to know what further questions you have on these practices and what I can do to support you through them. 

Xo Megan

Why Do We Choose To Incarnate?

Why Do We Choose To Incarnate?

As a channel and mystic, one of the things I’m asked most often is, “If it’s so wonderful in the place we go after we die, why would we ever choose to incarnate again?” I have to admit, it’s a question I often ask myself, too. When things are tough, I find myself thinking, “Why did I sign up for this!?” 

Here’s my best understanding of what’s going on and why we choose to incarnate again and again.  

As I explained in a previous post, after we die, we rejoin all of consciousness (aka source, God, universal consciousness, etc) and experience a feeling of unconditional love, acceptance, and oneness. 

So, why would anyone want to leave that and become a human being again? 

First, it’s important to understand that our perspective on existence is completely different there. In that place, we exist in all time, space, and awareness simultaneously, so deciding to spend a mere 80-100 years as a human doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. My guides have said it’s like choosing to go on an adventure vacation, like planning a few weeks of hiking in Machu Pichu or exploring the Pyramids in Egypt. You wouldn’t think it was that big of a deal to go see the Pyramids, right? I mean, it’s only a few weeks, so any inconveniences or suffering would be worth it for that awesome experience!  It’s way too hot? Smells like camel pee? Sore muscles after a long day of hiking? Those things seem minor in comparison to the experience of being able to see the pyramids! 

When I’ve looked at my life from the perspective of universal consciousness, even the things that (from my human perspective) feel huge and horrible like heartbreak, shame, or even cancer seem like camel pee and sore muscles — just minor inconveniences that are part of the larger experience. In fact, the experience wouldn’t be the same without those inconveniences. A massage at the end of a long day of hiking feels absolutely amazing! But without the hike, a massage would just be…nice. 

From your soul’s perspective, things like living in a timeline with only one direction or having a bodymind that feels emotions and physical sensations sounds like a grand adventure. If you think about it, so many of our human experiences come from the fact that a) there are beginnings, middles and ends to things and b) we are separate beings, able to feel connection, disconnection, change, free will, etc. After eons of floating around as All That Is, your soul gets almost giddy to be able to incarnate and have the full spectrum of human experiences, both what we would consider good and bad. As part of universal consciousness, you don’t get to experience any of those things, and a few decades with a new perspective sounds just like the adventure you crave. 

Even though I know all this and have guides that are constantly reminding me, sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees. I often get lost in the purely human experience of this incarnation, especially when times are tough and I just want it to get better. But then I remind myself that this is all a story, and I am the creator of worlds. As I ease back into the awareness that I am a spiritual being having an experience as a human, a sense of deep peace and a connection to that greater awareness washes over me. 

You are connected to this larger consciousness, too, I see it in every person I encounter. This means you can access that deep sense of peace and connection for yourself. Some are more aware of it than others, but it’s always there, waiting for you to remember that you are a spiritual being having a human adventure. So, enjoy both the wonder of pyramids and the stench of the camel pee, it’s all part of the plan. And if you’d like some help finding that place of peace and connection, send me a note, and I’d be happy to help. Think of me like your spiritual sherpa, I know the way and I can show you how to get there. 

Xo Megan

What happens when we die?

What happens when we die?

Have you ever had an experience where you realize something that seems so obvious once you’d thought about it? Well, That happened to me the other day. I was meditating, having a conversation with my guides, and I asked what I should write about next. They said, “You should write about us, write about the truth behind reality. Write about why we incarnate, and what happens when we die. Write about the esoterica.”  (I admit, I had to look up what esoterica means, it’s one of those terms that I vaguely knew, but felt like I didn’t have a good handle on.) 

“Oh, right!” I thought, “Not everyone can just pop into a meditative state and communicate with spirit guides.” 

Yeah, I know. Should have been obvious. 

So, I’m starting a series of essays about esoterica, that truth beyond the truth, the “Great Mystery”. Esoterica is defined as “knowledge having an inner or secret meaning” but honestly, it’s no big secret. In fact, it’s right there in front of us, waiting for us to remember it. It can feel like a secret if you haven’t stumbled on how to communicate with it in your own life but it’s right there, waiting to be revealed.

In mystical traditions, it is one’s own readiness that makes experiences exoteric or esoteric.

The secret isn’t that you’re not being told.

The secret is that you’re not able to hear.

~Ram Dass

One surefire way to get closer to that Great Mystery is to listen to other people talk about their experiences or awareness of it. There’s something inside you that will recognize, remember and resonate with what you’re hearing, and it will open up a part of you that’s ready to know more of the mystery. 

I’d like to be one of those guides, or mystics, and talk about my experience with the mystery, or the true reality of who you are beyond this human body and mind. 

Are you ready? Good! Let’s explore the mystery! I’ll be your cosmic Nancy Drew! Or maybe I’m more of a Veronica Mars? (I’m certainly not a Jessica Fletcher, as much as I’d love to be.)

I’ll note that all of the following is information I’ve seen through my NDE, meditations, and channeling. None of this is new information, mystics, holy folks, and artists have been saying this same thing for eons, but I know for me, sometimes I have to hear the same message from different sources and in different ways, and each new perspective unlocks another aspect of the mystery.

Where should we start? I think we’ll begin at the ending, and start with death.  

What happens after we die? My first encounter with what I now call my “guides” happened when I had a near-death-experience in the middle of cancer treatment. I was on the brink of death from the chemo drugs and I was given the option to die. I was so weak, miserable and in so much pain that I didn’t know if I could go on. I heard a voice say, “You can let go” and I knew in that instant I was being offered the choice — did I want to die or did I want to keep living? Since that experience, I’ve had additional downloads about what happens when we die, and what the dying process is like. 

I’ll start by saying that there are some similarities for everyone and some differences. For all of us, there is an experience of becoming disconnected from or leaving behind our human body. There is a part of us, an awareness, that continues on without our body or mind to house it. 

Some people have a similar experience to what I did during my NDE, where we suddenly are aware of being a part of this larger consciousness matrix that feels loving, accepting and all-knowing. There’s a feeling of relief there, too. For me, it felt like finally coming home after a long journey. I’ve heard others say it felt like finally taking off an uncomfortable shoe. 

Once we have reconnected with our guides and all of consciousness, there is a period of reflection on this life. It’s sort of like if you were an explorer and have come back to tell your village what you saw and experienced while you were away. This is so that you, and all of consciousness, can process and learn of its experience of itself that was the “you” that incarnated. Since there is no time in this place, I can’t exactly say how long this takes, but there are differences. Maybe it’s more accurate to say some are more intricate and complex than others. Or that some are unravelled and examined piece by piece, rather than all at once, in order to be better understood. 

After the period of reflection, we get to bop around as unincorporated energy of consciousness for a while. It’s a place with no time and space, no emotions, no beginnings or endings, just an experience of acceptance and oneness. How long do we do this? It depends! It’s until we decide to incarnate again or have another type of embodied experience. Believe it or not, floating around as all of consciousness can get boring after a while, so we want to incarnate again and spend some time as a “separate” being (I put separate in quotes because we’re never really separate, that’s just a handy illusion, but that’s a topic for another essay) who has highs and lows, beginnings and endings, and can forget their true nature at birth in order to go on the spiritual journey of remembering again, if they so choose. 

I think that covers the basics, but as with all of these topics, there’s so much more I could write. I’d love to know what esoteric, mystical questions you have about life, death, incarnation, time and space, where we go between lives or anything else about the Great Mystery. Let me know, I’ll ask my guides and then write about it in a future post! 

Xo Megan

How Do I Tell if It’s Trauma Anger or Healthy Anger?

How Do I Tell if It’s Trauma Anger or Healthy Anger?

It’s been an angry week for me (both feeling my own anger and being on the receiving end of someone else’s) and I’ve been thinking a lot about the two types of anger, healthy anger and trauma response anger. Let’s look at ‘em, shall we? 

Healthy anger moves you forward in a positive way, one of my mentors even called it the most spiritual of all emotions. In the five-element cycle, anger is the Wood element and it precedes Fire, which is joy. This means that in order to get to joy, we have to go through anger first. What does this look like in real life? I’ll give you a personal example from this week. As you probably know, this week a draft of a supreme court ruling that would end access to abortion in the USA was leaked to the press. I could go on and on about why this is horrific both in terms of women’s control of their own bodies and in how this is a huge step towards the crumbling of personal freedoms in the US, but there are people who can speak to that much better than I can, so for the sake of this post, I’ll stick to talking about anger. 

When I heard the news, I was furious. It felt like a slap in the face to everyone who has been working on social progress in the last 50 years. I felt an anger welling up inside me and I knew I had to take action to change this. This is the hallmark of healthy anger, it drives you to change something for the better, it makes you strive to create a world for yourself and others that contains more joy, acceptance, compassion, freedom, or understanding. This anger drives you forward to do something that is in alignment with your highest values and that makes a positive change in your world. Positive anger leads you to create positive changes that lead to better things.  

Trauma anger feels very different. Earlier this week, I was on a call with a client and I sensed she was repeating a trauma response pattern (appeasing) that I had seen before, so I voiced my concern. Pretty quickly, she got angry and said she didn’t like what I was accusing her of and she felt attacked. She let me know she didn’t like being yelled at and was done talking about it. It was pretty clear this was a trauma response — I was not yelling and hadn’t attacked her at all. By the end of the call, she was able to see how her anger had been a trauma response, how it had clouded her judgment of what I’d said and how I’d said it, and process through it. 

Trauma anger isn’t driving you to take action towards a better world, it’s purpose is to shut down an uncomfortable situation that reminds you of a similar, traumatic situation from your past. It could be a situation where you felt misunderstood, or like you were “bad”, or unheard, or trapped. Trauma anger is a way of derailing the conversation and making it about something else — your anger — instead of the issue at hand. It’s an escape, and works quite well to get us away from traumatic situations. But now that you’re not in a dangerous place anymore, it’s preventing you from being present with uncomfortable situations, even if you are with safe people that can give your body mind a different, safer experience and help you grow. 

The way to identify trauma anger is to check in with your body and ask, “is there fear or shame beneath this anger?” (To do this, you must be familiar with what the sensations of fear and shame feel like in your body, so doing mindfulness + somatic work is a vital prerequisite here.) If you can answer yes, then it’s trauma anger. Another sign is when, after the event you think, “Wow. I was really angry. I’m not sure why that made me so mad.” There’s a saying “If it’s hysterical, it’s historical” and the awareness that you were more angry than the situation warranted can be another good clue that it’s trauma anger.

I want to stress that neither type of anger is bad. Heathy anger drives, inspires, and motivates us to create a better world. Trauma anger helps us see areas where we still live in shadow and illuminates where we can do more healing work with ourselves. It’s through our own healing work that we lessen the harm we do in the world and simultaneously act as a model for others of what healing looks like. As Ram Dass says, “I am arriving at that circle where one works on oneself as a gift to other people so that one doesn’t create more suffering. I help people as I work on myself and I work on myself to help people.”

With gentle noticing and acceptance, take a look at your anger when you are able to be present with it and ask, “Is this healthy anger or trauma anger?” If it’s healthy anger, go out there and change the world! (Or at least your small corner of it.) If it’s trauma anger, know that you made it as far as you have today because you were smart enough to protect yourself this way. But now that you are safe, you can work on doing it another way, if you’re ready. 

Xo Megan

Before You Make Any Decisions, Make Sure You Have All FOUR of Your Brains on Board

Before You Make Any Decisions, Make Sure You Have All FOUR of Your Brains on Board

I want to talk about your brains. Yes, brains plural. All four of them. Most of us know about one of them, maybe two, but in fact you have FOUR separate brains

Let me explain what I mean by a brain. There are different areas in our bodies that have dense, semi-autonomous neural networks. One is in your head (what we commonly call your “brain”) but you also have dense neural networks in your heart, your gut and your pelvis. 

Up until a couple years ago, medical science thought that there was only one brain (the one in your head) but recent research has definitively shown you have another one in your gut (your enteric nervous system) and there is mounting evidence for neural networks in your heart and pelvis too. 

Each of these brains has different abilities and access to different ways of processing information. For a balanced bodymind, it’s important to be able to use and rely on all four brains equally. 

Let me go through the information gathering and decision-making aspects of each brain so you can learn how to access that information for yourself. BTW — Each brain can do way more than what I’m describing here, but here’s a summary of the capabilities of each one for the purposes of information gathering and making wholistic decisions.

Our head brain, or what we commonly just call the brain, is very good at logical, deductive reasoning. This can come in handy when we’re trying to figure out the possible consequences of each possible decision, weigh the pros and cons, or using executive function skills to figure out the best solution. Basically, this is the brain that gives us rational, logical information and can compare and contrast the possible outcomes of that information. This brain is very helpful for interacting with the rational, ego-driven world that we live in. Most things that people would call a “good decision” (aka well reasoned, low risk, etc) come from this brain. 

The heart brain considers things from an emotional perspective. How do I feel about each of these options? Which one feels in alignment with bringing more love, joy and connection into my life? Which one am I drawn to with a sense of emotional excitement, longing and fulfillment? Our heart brain gives us information on what would help us feel happy, connected and loved. Heart brain information is often not logical, for example, think of the saying “the heart wants what the heart wants” which implies that the decision isn’t logical but is compelling and fulfilling. 

Gut brains are tied into our sense of instinct and intuition. Our gut brain can tell us if something is right or wrong for us (which may not be right or wrong on a logical, head brain level). Gut brain information is more grounded in that 2nd and 3rd chakra energy of creativity and individuality. If you think of the phrase, “I had a gut feeling” it means you just knew it, without having the facts or logic to back it up. Our gut brains synthesize and provide information almost instantaneously. Oftentimes a feeling of deep knowing or a sense that something is the right decision comes from our gut brains. 

Finally, there’s your pelvic brain. This brain is tied into our creative longing, what we are meant to do and create and be in this world. Our pelvic brain gets fired up when we think about an option that is in alignment with what we’re supposed to do in this world, what we desire to make, create or interact with. The pelvic brain says, “Yes, I want that so I can create magic with it.”  Pelvic brain gives us information on what kind of transmutation work we are here to do and how we’re supposed to bring our unique, individual magic to the world. 

When you have a decision to make or are thinking about taking action (or not taking action) make sure you tune into all four of your brains and see what they have to add to the conversation. It may be challenging at first to hear the wisdom of your heart, gut and pelvic brains because we’ve all been trained by modern society to only ask our head brains for an opinion, but I promise you those other brains are there, waiting for you to ask for their input, happy to give you the best possible guidance you can get — the wisdom of your own multifaceted ways of knowing. 

Xo Megan

Enough With the Sandpaper of Suffering!

Enough With the Sandpaper of Suffering!

I’ve been going through a rough patch lately. My physical and emotional health hasn’t been the best and most days it’s felt like I’m having to push through. I think that’s true for a lot of us — I’ve heard from friends near and far about how burned out we all are and how it’s affecting so many areas of our lives. And while I’m reaching out to my network of healers, friends and family for support, it still sucks to go through a rough patch. 

So, today I want to talk about suffering. Why do we have to suffer? And what can we do about it? 

Let’s look at suffering from a macro, spiritual POV level and then relate it to what we can do on a more micro, daily, human basis. 

Ram Dass has two quotes about suffering that seem at odds with each other at first glance, but taken together are actually one of the great esoteric secrets of enlightenment. Here are the two quotes:

“Suffering is the sandpaper of our incarnation. It does its work of shaping us.”

Ram Dass

“The resistance to the unpleasant situation is the root of suffering.”

Ram Dass

In the first quote, Ram Dass is alluding to the rule of contrast, or the yin and yang. A classic example of this is that in order to understand the concept of darkness, you need to have experienced light. If darkness is the absence of light, then you can’t understand what darkness is without already having experienced what light is, or vice versa. In the same way, you’d find it harder to appreciate and deeply experience joy unless you’ve also experienced suffering. 

Suffering creates gratitude for times of peace and joy.  

One time, I had a particularly hard health challenge where I was basically bedridden for months. When I could finally walk again and first went outside, the sight of the trees, the sky, even the miracle of a sidewalk existing so I could walk on it (with all of the technological history and people needed to create it ) was so awe-inspiring that it brought me to tears of gratitude. I don’t think that without a few months of being inside and immobile, I would have cried at the sight of a sidewalk. The suffering shaped me into someone who appreciated things I hadn’t before. Things that we would take for granted as “normal” become a source of joy after we feel their absence. And the cool thing is, that sticks with you. I don’t cry tears of joy at every tree I see nowadays, but I remember that feeling and I can invoke levels of gratitude for things that I never would have before. That is sandpaper that has shaped me for the better. 

Suffering also helps us develop compassion for those who have gone through similar experiences

Compassion is the root of nonjudgemental love and divine action. If we can have compassion for someone, we can see suffering at the root of their actions rather than judging them for those actions. From this place, we can meet them with our common humanity. We are all learning and remembering what it means to be a spiritual being having a human experience. Who we are in the world (a.k.a. how we love and care in the world) is shaped by our suffering. In a world where our culture, corporations, and even our genes encourage us to try to “otherize” those who are different from us and “find our tribe,” compassion reminds us that all humans, animals and even the planet are all “our tribe.” 

The second quote, “The resistance to the unpleasant situation is the root of suffering,” is a bit more esoteric and harder to practice in the moment. I’d heard some version of this concept for years before I finally got it on a level that I could use to find peace in times of stress. I’d read the saying “desire is the root of all suffering” in many Buddhist texts and at first I thought it meant desire for material goods, people or situations that we coveted. But it’s not that kind of desire. It’s more like the desire for things to be different than they are in this moment, no matter how pleasant or unpleasant this moment may be. The key is to accept whatever is happening and not desire it to be any other way right now. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t desire things in your life. In fact, I think that intuitive, inspired desire is one of the ways we figure out our life’s purpose. This is why I like this version by Ram Dass. “The resistance to the unpleasant situation is the root of suffering” means that if we can accept whatever is happening right now and not wish it to be different or better, then our suffering is greatly diminished. 

Let me give you a few examples (like I said, this one is harder to grasp as a practice). When I was going through cancer treatment, I had some of the worst days of my life. My body was so weak and damaged that I almost gave up and died. However, this is also when I first started the practice of giving up resistance to what was happening. When I would get bad news from the doctor I thought to myself “Now, this is happening” and find the calm grace of acceptance even in the face of terrible news. I started using it to mark the good things, too, like when my puppy would curl up next to me in bed I thought, “Now, this is happening.” (Side note: I got this phrase from Jack Black in the movie Anchorman, proving that you never know who your spiritual teachers will be.) As I used this mantra more and more, I started to develop a powerful mindfulness, a part of my body-mind that could observe the situation without judgement and with full acceptance of what was arising. 

Here’s another example. Recently, I started on a new medication that started causing anxiety attacks after a few months of use. It took a while to figure out that it was this particular medication that was the cause, so for months I was having unexplained bouts of severe anxiety attacks for hours at a time. One of the tools I used to get through was mindfulness meditation. I would lay down, close my eyes and do my best to simply observe the anxiety in my body as it was happening. At one point, I felt my consciousness almost split in two. There was the part of me that was anxious, with my heart racing, panicked thoughts, hot and cold chills and the painful feeling of adrenaline pumping through my chest, and then there was another part, a part that transcended that human experience as I had the thought, “this body is experiencing anxiety right now.” That second part of me suddenly felt so peaceful and all-knowing. I found that I could shift my awareness, or almost lean in, to that peaceful, wise part of myself. In that space there was no suffering at all, there was simply the acceptance of what was happening, which somehow dissolved the desire for it to be any other way. In that moment, acceptance was peace. Even in the face of a panic attack. 

Which brings us right back to the first quote — suffering is the sandpaper that shapes us. Without this anxiety, I wouldn’t have been able to deepen my meditation practice and wouldn’t have discovered how deeply I could find peace in acceptance. Those few months of anxiety were the sandpaper that shaped me into someone who practiced mindfulness enough to find peace and calm somewhere that I never thought it could exist, in the midst of a panic attack. 

So while I do not wish suffering on myself, you, or anyone else, I do understand a bit of why it’s part of our incarnated human experience. However, even though I know this as true, I routinely forget it and fall back into the desire for things to be different than they are. But the key is remembering at some point — if it’s 2 seconds or 2 days into the pain — that you can experience the pain without resistance, and therefore without suffering. And to become aware that this pain is shaping you into a more compassionate, loving and understanding person. As you understand pain, you will open your heart to others and take this newfound understanding and compassion with you into the world from this day forward, helping those who could use a bit of it directed their way as they make their way through their own pain and suffering. 

Xo Megan

Feeling Like Crap While The World is on Fire Around You? These 4 Things Can Help.

Feeling Like Crap While The World is on Fire Around You? These 4 Things Can Help.

It’s been a chaotic last couple of years, hasn’t it? Global pandemics, the rise of fascism, and disconnection from so many of the people and things that keep us sane and grounded.  So many familiar things are falling apart, and I know that I’ve had to figure out new ways to find happiness and connection in these unpredictable times. As with anything new, it’s been a bit of trial and error.

But there are 4 things that I know will help and that I keep coming back to over and over.

  1. Mindfulness. The ability to be in the present moment and have the ability to access two parts of me (the part that is having the experience and the part that is compassionately observing the experience) has been invaluable. When things are rough or when things are good, I can witness myself having that experience from a place of wisdom and compassion. When I am feeling scared I can be scared and at the same time, send compassion and love to the past of me that’s scared. When I’m feeling joy I can actually register that joy and make a mental note of how happy I am, which rewires my brain to seek happiness. It’s sort of like a magic trick – being two places at once – and it’s one of the best tools I know for coming back and caring for yourself in hard times. It can create a new perspective that’s different from the trauma reactions you’ve had in the past.

 

  1. Learning to love your pain. I know, I know. That sounds terrible. But hear me out. I know mental anguish sucks. Anxiety, loneliness, feeling out of control, it all sucks. But those places where we feel pain are signposts to where we need to let in love. Doing shadow work and finding the places where you’ve been hurt can also be seen as finding the places where you can open up to love. This can be self-love (goodbye inner critic!), love from others like friends, pets, etc, or a connection with source, the ultimate field of unconditional love.  It’s not easy, and we often put up barriers in those shadow places because we’ve been burned in the past, but as Rumi says, “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.

 

  1. Being kind to yourself. I don’t know about you, but I say horrid things to myself that I would never dream of saying to anyone else. Years ago, I made a vow to myself that I would not say anything to myself that I wouldn’t say to my best friend. I’ve found that when times get tough and we feel like we’re not doing a good enough job, those voices can get stronger. Anyone feel like they’re not doing enough when really, it’s a pandemic + past trauma + late-stage capitalism + a society focused on disconnection under the guise of hyperindividualism? Coming to love ourselves takes work in the face of all of this is an intentional act and takes patience, love and care.  

 

  1. Having a spiritual practice. You can call it God, source, the universal field of consciousness, or the flying spaghetti monster, but the ability to tap into this energy and feel it in your bones and feel how much love and support there is for you out there is key. No one can do it alone. But sometimes we don’t have the perfect people around at the perfect moment to help us. That’s when a spiritual connection and a deep knowing that all of this will be okay can come to the rescue. You are part of something so much larger than whatever is going wrong. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a pit of despair and the only thing that gave me relief was the sense of grace I get when I meditate and intentionally connect to that field of consciousness. We’re all just little holograms of God, running around having incarnate experiences. And those incarnate experiences can feel BIG and overwhelming at times, but it is not all that we are. We are so much more than that and you can access that expansive feeling anytime you want through your spiritual practice.

 

If you want to know more about any of these 4 tools or want help learning how to use them in your own life, I’m teaching a course all about them and it starts next week. If you’re curious, drop me a line or check out the webpage here: https://megancaper.com/uth

Xo Megan

Using Your Spiritual Practice as a Way to Heal Trauma

Using Your Spiritual Practice as a Way to Heal Trauma

Feeling disconnected and unmoored is one of the most insidious aftereffects of trauma. Whether it’s 2+ years of pandemic isolation or the result of a childhood in an emotionally detached family, feeling disconnected and alone is such a common experience.

I know that personally it’s been a lifelong work in progress to feel the support and care around me after growing up in a family that was emotionally disconnected and spiteful. Even with good friends, loving partners, a solid found family and a community around me, that feeling of disconnection or like I’m going to have the rug pulled out from under me can come on at any moment.

A few years ago, I was meditating through this feeling and I felt myself sink into a warm, soft energetic embrace. There was a feeling of calm and safety, and in that moment, I knew everything was alright.

And it was. In that moment, as with most moments of my life, I was safe. But I usually can’t access that feeling.

The problem arises when my brain reverts to a pattern of hypervigilance and anticipation – after experiencing so many moments where I had to look out for emotional or physical danger, my brain and body have been trained to be prepared. And that state of hypervigilant preparation certainly does not feel like calm and safety, and it doesn’t feel like everything is going to be alright.

But in meditation, I can drop the worry and sink into the moment of what I’m doing – being still, observing my body and mind, in a place and time of my own creation, which is free from any potential threats.

There’s a form of meditation called Settling the Mind in its Natural State where “the activities of the mind gradually subside so that the mind comes to settle in its ‘natural state,’ which manifests three core qualities: bliss, luminosity, and non-conceptuality.” I would add the word “connection” to that list of effects because in that state I found the connection I was looking for. It wasn’t dependent on a particular person or circumstance, but was already a part of who I am. Since my “natural state” is being connected to universal consciousness, I am always connected to the one consciousness that runs through all of us.

In those moments of meditation, that connection becomes real, and (if I meditate daily) it becomes a part of my daily reality, as well. As a result, my nervous system changes, my brain rewires,  and eventually my experience of being connected and safe become the baseline instead of something I have to strive for.

I still experience those post-traumatic moments of disconnection at times, but having a meditation practice where I know I can bring myself back to that natural state of bliss and connection at any moment has been such an important part of my healing.

If this practice of feeling connected, safe and cared for sounds like something that you’d like to learn, then I’d love to invite you to join my group program Unconventional Tools for Healing starting April 25. It’s one of the many tools I teach in the class to help you cultivate the emotional balance that we all crave.

See you there!

Xo Megan

Romancing Yourself Using Love Languages

Romancing Yourself Using Love Languages

How do I love me? Let me count the ways.

Ask anyone who’s been in a long term relationship what the secret to success is and they’ll likely mention two things: You have to work at it every day and you have to make your partner feel special on the regular.

That’s sound advice, but it’s advice we rarely do in our relationship with ourselves.

Do you work on making yourself feel special every day? If not, why not? We all need to take time to celebrate and love on ourselves daily. It’s important because if we’re only relying on other people to make you feel special and loved and it doesn’t happen, it can trigger self-critical thoughts of being undeserving.

You (yes, YOU) deserve to have something happen each day that reminds you of how lovable, worthy, special and awesome you are. You are a beautiful ball of sentient stardust (shout out to @domesticblisters for that description) and you absolutely should be reminded of this, daily.

Let me tell you a trick for how I started doing this for myself. First, if you don’t already know your love languages go here to find out your top two or three. My top three are acts of service, words of affirmation, and receiving gifts.

Next, figure out ways that you can do these things for yourself!  You’ll have to get creative here. How can I perform acts of service for myself? Well, I can hire someone to clean my house every few weeks. Or order food delivery once per week. What about words of affirmation? I can make a list of all the things I’m proud of myself for that week. Receiving gifts? Easy – I make sure if I see something I like when I’m out, like flowers or a yummy smelling candle, that I either buy it at the moment or add it to a list I have on my phone of stuff to get myself later.

If I find that it’s been a few days since I’ve done any of these things, I make a point to do it. And when life is especially sucky, I make a point to schedule them in. After my last break-up, I scheduled weekly flower delivery for myself for a few months and wrote myself encouraging notes to be included with the delivery. Every damn time I looked at those flowers, I smiled.

Now, I want you to pay very close attention to your inner critic when you start to do this practice. If I’m at the supermarket and I see something I’d like as a treat (a gift for myself) and I think, “Oh, that’s a nice thought, but I don’t really neeeeeeed it,” then I stop and take stock. If I saw my best friend’s favorite candy bar in the whole world at the market right before I was about to meet up with her, would I buy it for her? Of course I would — I would be so excited to do that for her! So, why wouldn’t I be equally as excited to do that for myself? If there’s any part of you that tells you you’re not “worth it”, there’s some shadow work to do, right there. I recommend bringing in your inner caregiver or protector to help you work through feeling undeserving or not worthy.

Because my friend, I promise you that you are worthy of that and so much more.

I hope you try this out and let me know how it goes. Like any change to our belief systems of self-concept you may have to “fake it till you make it” and almost force yourself to do small acts of love for yourself at first as the inner critic “I’m not worthy” voice comes up. But once you make it part of your routine, and part of who you are, then your daily practice of letting yourself know how special you are becomes one of the best parts of your day.

If you want to know more about how exactly to translate your love languages into things you can do for yourself, then check out my group course starting on April 25th, Unconventional Tools for Healing. We go into this in-depth and you can get personalized coaching from me on how to do this to make the most positive impact on your well-being.

Xo Megan

What if You Don’t Know How to Care for Yourself?

What if You Don’t Know How to Care for Yourself?

One of the most insidious aspects of growing up with emotionally unavailable parents is that I didn’t have models of how to be cared for. I didn’t grow up with examples of what it’s like to be comforted when I felt vulnerable, sad, afraid, or ashamed. I also didn’t have examples of what it was like to have a cheerleader, someone who became happy and proud on my behalf when I worked at something important to me.

Without external models of how to be cared for in these ways (comforted and encouraged) I couldn’t internalize these models into my own self-concept. This meant that in times when I was feeling upset or needed validation or encouragement, I didn’t have an inner voice that could give me these types of messages, because I didn’t even know what these messages sounded like.

This didn’t just happen in response to external circumstances, either. When my inner critic would start spouting off, there was no competing voice in my head. Without any other narrative, my inner critic would run rampant and I’d end up feeling awful.

I decided to create another voice in my head, one that was supportive, validating, kind and encouraging. I didn’t want to call it my inner parent because the word parent doesn’t have the best connotation for me. So, I called it my inner caregiver. I used polysensory mental practice to create a new voice in my head that said all the things I needed to hear, all the emotional nutrients I needed but never got when I was growing up.

I soon realized there was a big problem. Sure, it was a great idea to have a part of me say all the right things, but what were those things?

Like I said, I never had a model. If I didn’t know what comforting and loving language sounded like, how could I start to talk to myself this way? I looked to parenting books, positive psychology research, and nonviolent communication and restorative justice models for their language.

I knew my inner caregiver needed two ways to respond to my inner critic, as the comforter and the protector. The comforter says things like, “I am proud of you,” or “You don’t have to be afraid anymore. I’m here for you.” The protector keeps my boundaries with my inner critic and says things like, “You don’t get to talk to Megan like that,” or “No. I don’t receive that message.”

I’ve used this model with clients as well. Each of us has different needs for who this new voice needs to sound like, and even for its name. Inner caregiver works for me, but for others, they need an inner nurturer, inner mentor, inner big brother or sister, inner parent, or an inner protector.

The messages we need to hear are all different too. I was raised by a narcissist, so I need to hear that I am valuable and worthwhile. Others may need to hear that they are prized for who they are, or that no matter what they do, they will never become unlovable.

Your inner caregiver (or protector, nurturer, etc) is a powerful way to develop self-compassion. But discovering what it is you need this voice to say can be hard for all of us who never heard these things from our own parents. We need to look elsewhere.

I invite you to gently and lovingly start to look for messages that feel good to you. They may be loving messages, anti-bullying messages, messages of worthiness or lovability. You may hear them in real life as you watch your friends parent their children, you may hear them in a movie as one character comforts another, or you may sense them deep down as that thing you always wanted to hear from your parents or caregivers, but never did.

You’ll know them because when you hear them, you’ll have strong sensations/feelings in your body and emotions will bubble up. These are the messages that are speaking loudly to you — they want to be part of your inner self-talk and your self-compassion routine.  

If you don’t know where to begin finding them, here’s a place to start.

I’m still working on developing my inner caregiver, and now have both a woman and a man’s voice in there helping me feel worthy, loved and safe. If you like the idea of having this loving and protective voice in your head and want some help and guidance through the process, this is one of the things we do together in my Unconventional Tools for Healing group program. I’m running it again, starting in a few weeks on the 25th April 2022. If you think this course is something that would give you the information and support you need right now, I invite you to join us.

Xo Megan

Why Mindfulness is The Bedrock of Mind-Body Healing

Why Mindfulness is The Bedrock of Mind-Body Healing

Mindfulness is one of the bedrocks of mind-body healing. Without it, you can’t accomplish any significant healing on a physical, emotional or spiritual level.  I want to look at what I mean by mindfulness and then give you some examples of how it integrates with other healing tools.

Mindfulness is really two different things: the ability to be in the present moment AND metacognitive observation of this moment.  

Being in the present moment means you are only experiencing what is going on right now in your environment, body and mind. Mindfulness is our natural state when we are feeling calm, relaxed and connected. When you are mindful, you don’t get swept away in thinking of a conversation you had earlier today, or lost in worry about how things may turn out in the future, you stay grounded in what is actually happening right now.

Metacognitive observation is the gentle, nonjudgmental acceptance of what’s going on in the present moment. It’s observing the situation and our reaction to it without adding any mental chatter about why it may be “right” or “wrong”. When you are mindful, you notice thoughts come up and say to yourself something like, “Ah! It’s worry. I’m worried about how my presentation will go tomorrow.” In this way you are not getting lost in spiraling thoughts about the worry, but rather you observe the worrying thoughts in a nonjudgmental way.

Mindfulness is a prerequisite to almost any other type of healing work because without the ability to be present and observe what’s going on and our reaction to it, we won’t be able to identify or change harmful thoughts, belief systems, or patterns of reactivity.

Mindfulness is the tool we can use to self-diagnose our own maladaptive patterns.

Without mindfulness, we’ll continue to engage in these patterns unconsciously, and the true nature of our difficulties will remain hidden from us. Doing healing work without the foundation of mindfulness is like going to the doctor and asking for treatment without having identified any specific symptoms other than “I don’t feel well”.

Mindfulness is the basis for the best healing tools for stress and trauma. For example, thought work is based on being aware of both our thoughts and our emotions at any given time. Cultivating our inner caregiver can only happen if we can catch our inner critic when they’re in action. You can only develop your intuition in a present and open state. Even physical healing from illness or injury only happens in the parasympathetic “rest and digest” nervous system state. (Note: if you’re curious about any of these tools, I’ll be talking about all of them in the next few weeks!)

Not only that, but mindfulness is incredibly healing on its own. Observing your own emotions, thoughts and reactions from a place of gentle, nonjudgmental acceptance can be the key to undoing years of bullying, emotional neglect and other trauma. Being in the present moment allows us to look around and see what’s good, safe and inspiring right now in both our internal and external worlds.

However, if you’ve experienced chronic stress or trauma, mindfulness may be much harder for you. You may feel pulled out of the present moment by anxiety, depression, hypervigilance or dissociation. For people with anxiety or depression, it can be challenging to observe our thoughts and feelings without internal mental commentary. People who dissociate may not even be registering what’s going on at all, and it’s impossible to observe experiences that you aren’t even aware of. In fact, people who have experienced chronic stress or have C-PTSD may spend most of their time in these other states, which can make both mindfulness and all of the other healing tools that stem from it that much harder to access.

If you’ve tried mindfulness or meditation before and it hasn’t worked for you, then I’d like to invite you to join me for my upcoming group course “Unconventional Tools for Healing” where I’ll teach you my trauma-informed take on mindfulness, and teach how to finally be able to get to that calm, relaxed and connected state even if it’s eluded you in the past. And from that state, miraculous healing can occur

Click here to learn more and feel free to reach out if you have any questions about the course or if it’s right for you.

Xo Megan

What is Thought Work?

What is Thought Work?

“When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change” ~Wayne Dyer

Recently, I wrote about neuroplasticity and how to use polysensory mental practice as a way to change the structure and function of your nervous system. Today I want to talk about another way to literally change our minds through thought work.

Thought work is the process of consciously changing our thoughts and thought patterns in response to our emotions or circumstances. Thoughts become automatic in ways that we don’t even realize. Research from the National Science Foundation has found that 95% of the thoughts you think each day are the same every day.

According to an article on NPR, “the human brain can process 11 million bits of information every second. But our conscious minds can handle only 40 to 50 bits of information a second. So, as a result, our brains sometimes take cognitive shortcuts.” These shortcuts can cause us to revert to the same thought patterns or the same reactions without ever bringing them to the conscious mind.

Thought work is a deliberate method that helps to bring those unconscious thought patterns to our conscious minds so that we can decide if the thoughts are helpful or something we’d rather change.

Now before I go on and explain how to do this, I want to make sure to make something very clear. There is a BIG difference between thought work and pushing thoughts down or spiritual bypassing.

Pushing thoughts down or pushing them away does not disrupt the unconscious thought patterns and in fact, can help to cement them in place. Pushing thoughts down is a pattern in and of itself, and often comes from believing that you or your thoughts are not valid or appropriate.

Spiritual bypassing is the idea that people who are on the spiritual path or working towards enlightenment should strive towards finding only joy in life and that having “negative vibes” is a sign of an unenlightened mind. I call bullshit on that. We all experience joy, sadness, anger, fear and grief at different points in our life and that is normal, healthy and part of the human experience. Yes, it’s always possible even in the darkest times to find something to be joyous about or grateful for – your child’s smile or some pet cuddles or a beautiful tree – but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t absolutely be experiencing anger, fear, hurt or pain when the shit hits the fan.

Okay, end of rant. Back to thought work!

So, how do you start to do thought work? The first step is to start to observe your thoughts or feelings as they happen. Developing a mental non-partial observer who can witness the thoughts or feelings without judgment is key here. If you find yourself reacting to the thought or feeling, like “I shouldn’t be feeling that way” or “Why do I always get triggered around this?” then you’ve already gone on to the next thought. The trick is to catch the thoughts as they happen and be open to looking at them without judgment.

Here is my step-by-step process to doing this work:

  1. Identify a feeling, thought, or physical sensation you are having.
  1. Write one down of those three and then figure out the other two. For example, write down the physical sensation and then figure out what feeling that is and what thought you’re having about that. Or write down the thought and then observe how that makes you feel and where you feel it in your body.
  1. Look at the thought. Ask yourself if it is true. Would 100% of people on Earth agree that this is true? Can you think of a way of looking at it that would make it not true?
  1. Ask yourself — is there a stress-free reason to keep this thought?
  1. Reframe: what’s another thought or belief system I could adopt that would be kinder, healthier or more inspiring?
  1. Check in with your body and emotions again. Does this thought feel better?

Let me give you an example from my own life. Recently I wanted to ask a family member for a favor. Now, this family member has not been the most generous person in the past and I’ve been hurt by some of our past interactions. My first thought was, “they’ll never say yes and I’ll feel let down, once again.” The body sensation that went with this was tightness and heaviness in my chest, which I identified as hurt and anxiety.

I asked myself if I could be certain that my thought was 100% true. I couldn’t. Perhaps this interaction would be different, or perhaps they’d grown, or I’d grown, and our conversation wouldn’t be the same as it was before. I realized my thought was just one possible outcome and it may or may not have been true.

Then, I asked myself if there was a stress-free reason to keep this thought. The only good reason I could think of to keep the thought was to protect myself from potentially being disappointed again by this person, but that certainly wasn’t stress free. In the end I couldn’t think of a stress-free reason.

I reframed my thought as this, “I am scared of asking for this favor because of past interactions, but I know that if I offer a chance to connect, perhaps it will be different this time. I’ll never know if I don’t ask. And if they don’t say yes, I’ll be okay. I have support systems in place to be able to feel disappointed and make it through.”

Do you see how I didn’t make it all roses and moonbeams? I didn’t push it down as invalid or try to make it full of joy. I still acknowledged the reality that I had been disappointed in the past, but I created a new thought that felt more supportive and caring for myself. I checked in with my body and instead of feeling fear and hurt, I now felt braver and stronger.

And guess what? In the end, they said yes and agreed to do me the favor. Woo hoo!

If you want to know more about how to do each step of thought work and get some practice implementing it with me as your guide and coach, it’s a big part of what we cover in the first module of the Unconventional Tools for Healing group program. If you want to know more, click here and check it out for yourself!

Xo Megan

How to Rewire Your Brain Using the Power of Your Mind

How to Rewire Your Brain Using the Power of Your Mind

I’m in the middle of doing research for my next book and I want to share some cool info about your nervous system and how you can change it for the better. 

Many years ago when I read the book “The Holographic Universe” I remember being struck by a study by Alan Richardson where, “he took three groups of basketball players and tested their ability to make free throws. Then he instructed the first group to spend twenty minutes a day practicing free throws. He told the second group not to practice, and had the third group spend twenty minutes a day visualizing that they were shooting perfect baskets. As might be expected, the group that did nothing showed no improvement The first group improved 24 percent, but through the power of imagery alone, the third group improved an astonishing 23 percent, almost as much as the group that practiced.” 

This idea stuck with me and later, when I was in my Occupational Therapy program, I read about how OTs and PTs were using what’s called “mental practice” to work with patients after strokes. This entails doing regular physical rehab and then doing additional mental visualizations of the same rehab task using “internal, cognitive polysensory images.” The results showed that those patients who did regular rehab plus mental practice had greater improvement than those doing regular rehab alone. 

So, what’s going on here

The gist of it is, our brains are meaning-making machines. They take information from our senses (sight, smell, healing, interception, etc) and decide what it means. Our brains are weaving a narrative out of disparate pieces of sensory info, and then matching that to our past experiences to create our “reality.”  But here’s the twist: that info can come from the outside world (something we’re actually seeing or hearing) or it can come from the inside world (“internal, cognitive polysensory images’) and our brains don’t know the difference. That’s right, we can trick our nervous systems into thinking something is real just by imagining it well enough. 

While most of the studies I’ve read talk about using this to make physical changes, like improving free throw score or improving arm use after a stroke, I decided to try using it to improve thought patterns, emotional states, and maladaptive belief systems. 

My friends — it worked wonders.

Mental practice is a lot like guided imagery, but the key difference seems to be the polysensory aspect of the visualization. When we visualize doing an activity, it’s important to imagine what you’re perceiving with all of your senses. In last week’s post, I talked about bringing a caregiver character into your mind as a way to heal our inner critic voice.  We can use the concepts of mental practice to not only make this a way to soothe ourselves in the moment, but to permanently change our nervous systems to a place of calm and safety. 

Next time you imagine your caregiver, I want you to close your eyes, see your caregiver, and then check in with all of your senses in this visualization. What does your caregiver look like? What do they sound like? Do they have a scent? Where are you? Are you inside? Outside? What does your body feel like — is it relaxed? Heavy? Light? Can you feel anything on your skin — clothing? Wind? Imagine all of the sensory details that you can — the more, the better. 

The more sensory details you can bring to this, the more your brain has no idea this is a visualization and the more it encodes it as “reality.” Which means, the next time you feel triggered, your brain will be able to call on this mental practice as a past real experience, as if it was something that really happened. And then — this is the really cool part — it will match the pattern of what’s happening (the “trigger”) to the past mental practice experience of having a wonderful caregiver and your nervous system will be soothed, it will have had the experience of a trigger, followed by the exact emotional care you needed, and it will automatically calm down and feel safe and relaxed. 

Isn’t that the coolest?! 

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Like I said, I’m writing a whole chapter on this in my upcoming book and I’m excited to share more ways that I use the concept of mental practice in real life to rewire our trauma brain into a happy brain. 

If you try this, let me know! I love hearing stories of how this went for you. 

Xo Megan

You Need These 3 Voices in Your Head

You Need These 3 Voices in Your Head

When we let the ego drive the bus without having other ways of looking at the world, it can drive us a bit mad. One of the most effective tools I know to become a happier person and make sure we’re not only listening to the ego is to cultivate three distinct voices in your head: 

  1. The Ego
  2. The Observer 
  3. The Caretaker 

The Ego — this is the you that is experiencing all of things that are happening in your life. Ego is the part of you that feels emotional reactions to events and people and creates narratives about why this is happening — people’s motives, the reason for your reactions, the fact that the events happening around you are fair or unfair, etc. Basically, if your life was a movie, your ego is both the main character and the narrator that explains it all. Usually our ego makes its interpretations and creates that narrative on a subconscious level, before we’re even aware. 

The Observer – also known as metacognition, this is the concept that there is an aspect in us that can simply observe what the ego is doing, without judgement. The best way I’ve found to practice cultivating this voice is mindfulness meditation. When you meditate and a thought comes up, name what it is. Like “thinking” or “remembering” or “worrying.” In this way, you can practice becoming the observer of your thoughts and emotions. This can then start expanding out of your meditation practice and into your daily life. Once this happens, you become able to watch your ego, thoughts and reactions in real time!

Getting to know the observer can be an especially powerful tool in working with anxiety and depression. As Ram Dass said, Learn to watch your drama unfold while at the same time knowing you are more than your drama.” When we can connect to that part of ourselves that is observing the drama, we realize that there must be some aspect of ourselves that isn’t depressed or anxious, because the observer is neutral and calm and is looking at the drama from another perspective that isn’t filled with helplessness or worry. 

Note: once you start developing a relationship with the observer, you may start to get some interesting intuition “downloads” from this POV. I believe that our observers are somehow related to our spiritual selves, or our oversouls, and that in cultivating your observer you’re actually strengthening your connection to universal consciousness. 

The Caretaker — this voice can counter the negative interpretations of the ego. For so many people, our egos can have aspects that are rooted in insecurity or feelings of shame or worthlessness. The caretaker is the antidote to that. When the ego interprets a situation as shameful or worries about other people’s judgements, the caretaker can come in and say the exact right thing we need to hear. I  recommend spending some time really imagining and developing this character. They may change over time, but start with someone that feels loving and kind to you. My current version is Carol Kane, she is both caring and sweet and can also kick some ass and tell my inner critic off when she starts saying mean things to me. 

In case you need some examples of what your caretaker could say to you, here are a few ones to start with. Pick the ones that resonate with you and make you feel cared for: 

“I love you.” 

“You are special to me.” 

“I see you and I hear you.”

“It’s okay to make mistakes. It doesn’t make me love you any less.” 

“You are a good person” 

“It’s not what you do but who you are that I love.” 

“You don’t have to be alone anymore.” 

“Of course you were afraid, that reminded you of something scary in the past.” 

“If you fall down or fail, I will pick you up.” 

“I am proud of you.” 

“You are such an amazing person. I love who you are.”

It can feel funny at first to cultivate these different characters or voices in your head, but the ability to switch from one to the other when I need to has made a huge difference for me. Now, instead of having no choice but to follow the drama of the ego, I have two other options that I can lean into and see what they have to say or how they feel about the situation. 

Let me know if you try this and how it works for you! I’d also love to know what your caretaker says or does for you. As someone who didn’t have good roles models of caring early on, I’m always looking to collect new ways to speak to myself and treat myself in caring ways. 

Xo Megan

This Email Almost Sent Me in a Tailspin

This Email Almost Sent Me in a Tailspin

The term “shadow work” has been everywhere lately. But what is it really? 

I think of shadow work in terms of healing and clearing the way for better spiritual, emotional and intuitive connections. Shadow work uses strategies or tools to look at the parts of ourselves we’d rather not look at like shame, feelings of unworthiness, or our deepest fears (You know, the stuff we’d rather have remain in the shadows if we could help it) and then find ways to heal or bring comfort to those parts. 

If you’re not sure what I mean, think of something you believe about yourself that you’d do anything to prevent from being shared on the internet. There’s a shadow, right there.  

Identifying and noticing your shadows is the first step in shadow work. Sometimes, we already know what our shadows are, like things we’d be embarrassed to admit or fears we have about how other people judge us, but sometimes they’re still in our subconscious and we have to do some work to name them and identify them. Most often, those hidden shadows will be our triggers. Someone will do something that really triggers us, to the point where our reaction seems disproportionate to what happened (“Why am I so mad/sad/terrified about this?”) and that’s often a sign that there’s subconscious shadows influencing our behavior. 

I want to share with you some real-time shadow work I did this week to illustrate both how to identify a shadow and how to work with it, aka “do shadow work.” Here’s what happened…

As part of my marketing strategy for my business, I’ve been reaching out to lots of podcasts lately to see about being booked as a guest. I usually do this by sending an email to the host telling them that I like their podcast, why I might be a good guest, naming a few topics I think could be interesting to their listeners, and linking to a few of my past podcast interviews so they can get a feel for me as an interviewee. Pretty standard stuff. Most often I get either a yes, or I don’t get a response at all. Occasionally, I’ll get a note saying “thank you for reaching out but it’s not a good fit for us.” All of which are fine and just part of the deal. 

Last week, I sent out about 10 emails to various podcasts with the usual ratio of some positive responses and some crickets. But one response I got was unlike any I’ve received before: 

[“Dear Megan,

Thank you for reaching out with your guest interview proposal.

I have visited your website and listened to one of your interviews (one link is not working at all).

While I don’t question your personal experiences or your medical intuition skills, and you can certainly talk to these topics –  when choosing my podcast guests I tune in and look at them holistically, beyond just the good fit of the topics of their professional expertise and whether they interview well.

I’m seeking the energetic resonance.  This means that if something about the potential guest bothers me, anything at all – I don’t invite them to my show, as they are ultimately not a good match at the energy level.

I don’t know how much information on my website you have read, so I will tell you that I’m highly intuitive, and interface with people and the world at the energy level, the 6th sense. I am Reiki Master, I work with energy every day, and so the energetic resonance is the most important qualifier for me.

I could have just politely declined; however, since you have addressed your email to me personally (unlike most guest proposals I receive), I feel that you deserve to hear my feedback and the reason why I decline your proposal, for your benefit – regardless of what you choose to do with it.

When I went to your website and read the big header:

“You’re here because you had a crappy childhood and you’re done letting it affect your life” –  I was INSTANTLY put off and wanted to leave. If I were a potential client – that’s what I would have done. Why?  I didn’t have a crappy childhood (quite to the contrary) and while the heading is generic of course, I found it offensive, presumptuous, judgmental and aggressive. Like many people, I have had a fair (or unfair) share of issues and traumas in my life which happened later on. My childhood was the happiest time.

Now – I know NLP very well, all about using presumptions, embedding expectations, “mind-reading” and all that jazz.  I’m a very experienced Life Coach and use NLP in my work with clients and know-how and when to use it, but my first reaction to your homepage was “how can you know why I am here, you know NOTHING about me, and you are wrong”.

Anyway, this is not a coaching session so I’ll keep it short. 🙂

As I perused your site I found few other points that bothered me (meaning- created energetic dissonance with me, like a scratch on an old record playing lovely music), including words like “shit” and “goddamn” which I would never use in my professional setting.  Your website is peppered with negative energy which you are not even aware of. This is clearly your style, your language which is absolutely fine – for you and perhaps many other people, but not to me.

I read people very well, on many levels, and your website gave me a lot of insight into your personality and your approach. I am not saying it is wrong, right or indifferent. I’m not making any judgment. All I am saying is that as a guest you are not a good match for me and my podcast. That’s all.

Thank you for considering my podcast for your interview.

Wishing you all the best on your journey

XXXX {name redacted} ” ]

I want to take you through what happened to me step-by-step as I read this reply, both to share what a trauma response looks like and how I did shadow work to address the trauma response

  1. I felt terrible. I felt deep fear, almost a feeling of terror, that I had done something wrong (I know, I know— I hadn’t — but this was my unconscious trauma response safety system kicking in) and that I had somehow been inappropriate or overstepped my bounds. Then, I felt myself dissociate, which feels a bit like I’m looking at what’s happening from a distance, with a bit of numbness and brain fuzziness thrown in. 

 

  1. I recognized that my emotional response was BIG and that I was having overwhelming, unpleasant emotions as a response to this. My dissociation happened because the response was so overwhelming that my brain decided it was better to “go offline” than experience something so unpleasant. (Meditation and mindfulness practices have helped a ton in being able to observe and identify both my emotions and dissociation in real-time.) 

 

  1. I understood that this person’s email was inappropriate, but I second-guessed myself and wondered if I was overreacting by being so upset by it. This is a complex PTSD response that happens when, as children, we were consistently told that our reactions to abusive behavior were too much in some way like, “you’re overreacting” or “we can talk about this when you’ve calmed down” or  “don’t be such a drama queen.” When this type of gaslighting happens, we lose the ability to trust our own feelings and reactions and learn to downplay them. (Jeffrey Marsh has some amazing videos on this topic if you want to learn more.)

 

  1. I started 3rd guessing myself and realized that my self-judgement as “overreacting” was also probably a trauma response, so I reached out for help with what I call “reality testing.” I forwarded the email to someone I trust, my business coach Caroline Leon, and said, “I just got this reply to one of my podcast pitches and I’m not sure what to make of it. It seems unnecessarily harsh. I mean, I usually have a thick skin, but this is over the top, right?” She replied and said, “Oh Megan, I am so sorry that you had to receive this email. This isn’t someone you ever need to listen to or feel triggered by. This person is self-aggrandizing, judgemental, lacking in self-awareness and clearly has some personal issues.” 

 

Caroline’s response helped in two ways. First, it confirmed my suspicion that my judgment that I was overreacting was wrong, this email was really terrible. Second, it made me feel seen and heard, something I didn’t get much of growing up, and something I know I need to seek out now as I reparent myself as an adult. She then offered to hop on the phone with me, and my first instinct was to say, “I’m fine, I can handle this” but, lately, I’ve realized how much I’ve “I’m fined” my way through some pretty horrible shit in my life when, in fact, talking to someone and feeling comforted was exactly what I needed to complete the stress response cycle

 

  1. Once I felt sure that this email was in fact an attack and inappropriate, I looked at why I had such a strong reaction to it. I’ve had people be rude to me or say nasty things to me many times which did not cause a trauma response, so why did this one trigger me so much? I realized that this passive-aggressive set-up of “I’m doing this for your benefit” followed by an attack on me was exactly how my mom spoke to me as a child. She’d say things like, “I want you to know that I spoke with your friend’s mom and she only hangs out with you because her mom is forcing her to. I’m only telling you this so you can look at how you could be a better friend and think about why no one wants to be around you.” (None of this was true, by the way, she never talked to my friend’s mom, but I didn’t find that out until years later. This type of abuse is common with malignant narcissists.) 

 

  1. As I came to understand why this email had felt like such an attack, I took care to do some deep self-compassion work for myself. I meditated and brought to mind what I call my “inner caregiver”, a character in my head who is kind, supportive and stands up for me against this kind of bullying. I imagined her coming to be with me, soothe me and defend me. It felt wonderful. 

 

  1. I recognized that the person who wrote this email is likely in a lot of pain themselves. “Hurt people hurt people” as they say. When I felt calm and strong enough to do so, I sent them the Mettā prayer of compassion, “May you be free of suffering and the causes of suffering. May you find happiness and the causes of happiness.” 

 

  1. Over the next few days, I made sure to check in with myself and make sure I was okay, much like I’d check in on a good friend who had been through something rough. I gave myself some extra leeway to take it easy if I felt off in any way. 

 

Within 2 days, I felt much better. I could even read the email and feel only compassion for this person without being triggered at all. (Note: it’s taken me almost 20 years of practicing this kind of shadow work to get to this place. Even 5 or 10 years ago, I would have been a wreck for weeks if I’d received this email and probably would have read it over and over or felt the need to reply and defend myself.) 

I’m sharing this story with you because I know when I first started trying to heal my shadow parts, it felt monumental and insurmountable and I didn’t even know where to start. So, I’m hoping that sharing my process can either give you some ideas for your own shadow work or at least can show you what’s possible if you work at it. Obviously, I’m still a work in progress and I suppose if I’d really worked through all my stuff this wouldn’t have triggered me at all. But I know that I’m in process, I’m doing the healing work of wherever I am, and that’s okay, too.

We’re all exactly where we should be (which may not be where we want to be, but that’s also okay) and I hope you know that wherever you are in your healing process is just as right, just as good, and just as perfect as where I am with mine. 

Xo Megan

You Are Only Dust, But Yet You Are Also The Creator of Worlds

You Are Only Dust, But Yet You Are Also The Creator of Worlds

One of the most challenging things on my path of spiritual awakening is figuring out how to reconcile my awareness of who I really am, an eternal source of energy from a place of pure acceptance and love, with the reality of my human-ness and its associated capacity for physical and emotional discomfort, pain and suffering. How can I exist as a being who is made of and comes from pure love, and at the same time feel abandoned, hurt or undeserving?

It’s quite a paradox. 

I was speaking with someone about my NDE the other day, and said, “Well, it isn’t like after I saw where we go after we die and who I really am, I then went to meditate on a mountaintop as an enlightened being for the next 60 years until I died. I came back to anxiety, depression, and the pain from chemo.” 

And that’s the conundrum, right? Even if we’ve had profound personal spiritual experiences, it’s not like we then spend the rest of our days in some blissed-out zen state of equanimity and joy. We’re still having the same human experience as always, only now, we have an expanded awareness of our true spiritual self. Ram Dass called this the process of waking up and falling asleep again, over and over.

So, what’s the answer? How do we balance being a human being and a spiritual being at the same time

What’s the way forward? 

I don’t claim to have all the answers to this question, I’m still trying to figure it out myself, but here are a few things I think are important. 

The first is to sit with the paradox. There’s a quote I love by Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Peshischa, “Keep two pieces of paper in your pocket at all times. On one: ‘I am a speck of dust,’ and on the other: ‘The world was created for me.’ You are both a speck of dust, having a transient human experience AND the force of universal consciousness that has created this entire universe. So, don’t take yourself or your life too seriously and at the same time, take yourself incredibly seriously because you are the be-all and end-all of existence.  

The second is that the awareness of these two aspects of ourselves, human and spirit, leads to the ability to have each one inform the other. As a result, I no longer feel like I am doing this human thing without any kind of guidebook or plan. Having access to the part of me that is eternal and all-knowing means that I can ask it for help and guidance. There are many ways to do this, but I primarily use intuition, emotional resonance, and meditation. Intuition usually takes the form of a strong push or pull or sometimes a direct message in the form of a thought that occurs to me over and over like, “you should ask your friend for help with your business” (even if that friend knows nothing about my biz). Emotional resonance is the experience of a pull towards something (excitement, inspiration, curiosity) or away from something (not wanting to do it, feeling apprehensive, feeling like I “should” instead of that I want to) and I have learned to listen more closely to these messages. Meditation is something that I’ve been doing for years, and now that I can reach a place of stillness and expand out past my ego, I often get direct messages from source about myself and my life while in that state. 

Lastly, we are here learning, and the lessons are supposed to be hard sometimes and easy at other times. One of the things I saw clearly from the other side was that before we incarnate, we get almost giddy at the idea of being able to be in a human body for a while. And it’s not just the things that you and I would think to be excited about, like puppies and love and chocolate, it’s also heartbreak and disappointment and grief. Weird, right? But it was so clear to me that the ability to experience emotions at all was so novel that we look forward to all of it: the good, the bad and the ugly. So, when I’m going through something tough, I try to remember that this is like a trip to Costa Rica — even if I may have just fallen and skinned my knee in the jungle, I don’t get to be in Costa Rica forever and even the bad experiences are part and parcel of this once in a lifetime “trip”.

I’d love to know what are some of the ways you balance the paradox of knowing your eternal nature with the messiness of being human? 

Xo Megan

Challenge Stress

Challenge Stress

I’m about to tell you something that’s gonna upend everything you know about stress. 

Recent research has found that stress can actually be good for you. And not just on an emotional level, stress can actually heal you physically, too. 

The problem is we’ve been doing stress wrong. 

We’ve been told that stress is harmful, that it puts us in fight or flight mode, which can cause long term health damage over time. This is true! However what researchers recently discovered is that there’s another mode we can go onto that’s not harmful and avoids the fight or flight reaction. In fact, this kind of stress can help heal our bodies and create a greater sense of well-being and self-esteem.

It’s called challenge stress. 

Let me explain the difference. Here’s what we normally think of as stress: 

Imagine you’re in a stressful situation and it feels out of your control. You don’t know how you’re going make it through, you don’t have the knowledge or skills to solve the problem, and you feel like you’re doing this on your own. This type of stress response is what causes us to go into fight or flight and yes, it is harmful to both our mental and physical health. 

Now imagine the same situation, but instead of feeling out of control, you feel like it’s a challenge, and you feel sure you can figure it out. You may not know how to solve the problem yourself, but you know someone who would be a good resource and would be happy to help. You also feel confident that you can find information or solutions that will allow you to figure this out. You feel competent, confident and like this is a challenge you can handle. You also know that you have a support system of friends, family or coworkers who will support you as you deal with this situation, both logistically and emotionally. This is what researchers have named “challenge stress.” 

Can you feel the difference in these two scenarios? The first scenario would cause all sorts of damaging changes in our hormones, heart rate, nervous system and immune system. The second scenario is quite different. It not only doesn’t damage our bodies, but when we experience this kind of challenge stress our bodies start to heal! Our immune systems go into a healthy mode, our bodies release happy chemicals like dopamine and oxytocin (the reward and bonding neurotransmitters), our heart rate becomes more healthy, and we gain feelings of self-efficacy and support from our tribe of fellow humans. 

But how can we shift from traditional stress to challenge stress? 

Next time you’re feeling stressed, here are 4 ways you can move out of unhealthy stress and into healthy “challenge” stress. 

  1. Come back to the present moment. So much of our stress response is really about what we fear happening in the future because of our current situation. We play out all sorts of ways that the stressful situation could go wrong. I call this “the rolodex of catastrophe.” When you start to ruminate about how your stressful situation might turn out badly, gently and lovingly remind yourself that you actually don’t know how this will play out. Then, come back to this present moment and think about what you can do now to move forward in a positive way.
  2. Change your POV on the situation. One of the most interesting ideas to come out of these studies is that our thoughts about stress actually affect our physiological response to stress. If you think stress is harmful, it will be. However, if you think stress is more like a challenge or problem that you can solve, it will lower your risk of harmful effects. Kelly McGonigal writes that “High levels of stress increased the risk of dying by 43 percent. But—and this is what got my attention—that increased risk applied only to people who also believed that stress was harming their health. People who reported high levels of stress but who did not view their stress as harmful were not more likely to die. In fact, they had the lowest risk of death of anyone in the study, even lower than those who reported experiencing very little stress.” So next time you feel stressed say to yourself, “I can handle this! I just need to take it one step at a time.”

I saw this meme a few months ago and I think it illustrates this so beautifully. It’s actually not that hard to change our POV on life’s stressors (or in this case, life’s banalities) and create a whole new set of feelings of excitement and joy where we were once feeling stress, boredom or anxiety. 

 

 

  1. Take stock of your resources. One of the hallmarks of shifting to challenge stress is the awareness that you have the resources to find a solution. This means not only resources or solutions you already know, but also cultivating more resources. So, when you feel stressed think about two things: how can I find more information about possible solutions?  And who do I know that may have some answers (or be able to point you towards answers)? If you feel resourceful in the face of stress rather than ineffectual or overwhelmed, it will help shift you into challenge stress mode. 
  2. Reach out to your support system. If there’s one thing we’ve collectively learned from the pandemic, it’s how important our support systems can be. There are so many studies that show the beneficial effects of reaching out and feeling supported. Having a good support system can prevent depression, lengthen life span, and of course, make stressful situations easier to manage. When you’re in a stressful situation, reach out to your support system for both practical and emotional support. This causes all sorts of positive physiological and hormonal changes in our bodies that promote health, happiness and healing on a cellular level. 

I hope these strategies give you a new way to approach stress. And even if you don’t implement them, simply having the knowledge that stress isn’t harmful will help your health! How about that? You’ve just increased your lifespan simply by reading this post. 

Take good care and have fun with your side quests today. 

Xo Megan

Why Mindfulness Meditation doesn’t Always Work

Why Mindfulness Meditation doesn’t Always Work

If you’ve tried mindfulness meditation and haven’t been able to stick with it, I think I may know why. 

Mindfulness meditation involves focusing our attention on one stimulus (like our breath or a mantra) and being mindful of any thoughts or other sensations that may take our attention and focus away. The practice is to notice when our mind wanders, and gently bring our focus back to our breath or the mantra again. This practice can be especially challenging for people with CPTSD because many people with a history of complex trauma think and process emotions differently. Here are two main reasons why it’s hard and what you can do to help fix these issues. 

Why is it so damn hard? 

  1. A heightened inner critic voice. For many of us that lived through complex trauma, especially emotional abuse, have internalized the voice of our abuser as our own inner narrative. This can lead to frequent thoughts like, “I’m not good at anything” or “There’s something wrong with me, I can’t do this.” 

This can make it challenging when thoughts or distractions come up in mindfulness meditation (and they do come up for EVERYONE, even Buddhist monks!) because instead of being able to just let the thought go, we criticize ourselves for “doing it wrong” or “being a failure” for having the thoughts at all.

  1. Hypervigilance/over planning. In order to survive as children in adverse circumstances, whether that danger was physical or emotional, we became EXCELLENT noticers and planners. 

The ability to be tuned in and notice the environment, people’s moods, and read the room was a smart survival strategy when we were in the midst of an ongoing dangerous situation. Oftentimes, we were able to avoid or lessen the abuse if we could read the people around us and preemptively make adjustments to our behavior or the situation and avoid triggering the abuser.

Another strategy that kept us safe and protected to plan for multiple outcomes. Are you someone who thinks of everything that could go awry in any upcoming situation and has not only a plan A, but also a plan B, plan C, and plan D? Then you are an over-planner. Over planning can also look like mentally rehearsing upcoming challenging conversations over and over, or planning every last detail of an event so that there will be as few surprises as possible. 

Hypervigilance and overplanning interfere with mindfulness meditation because it makes it especially hard to turn our brains off. Given any moment of downtime, our brains will fill it up with noticing and planning. So as soon as we try to meditate, here comes the tidal wave of thoughts, planning and noticing. 

What can you do to fix this? 

  1. Self-Compassion. Cultivating a self-compassionate voice in your head to counter the inner critic is vital for those with CPTSD. I call mine my “inner caregiver” and she does two things when the inner critic comes up. The first is to speak to me with patience, kindness, love and respect instead of criticism. The second is that she tells the inner critic off by saying something like, “Hey! This is our girl. You do NOT get to talk to her like that. She is a gem and we will treat her with the utmost respect and kindness.” 

During meditation, this would look like responding to the inner critic’s thoughts with something like, “Oh no, you don’t get to criticize me like that. You know what? I’m just learning this. So it’s okay for me to not be good at it yet, that’s what learning is for!” If it helps to picture a particular character when you are cultivating that voice, that’s fine! My inner caregiver sounds like Carol Kane and one of my clients says Eugene Levy comes when she needs this type of mental TLC. 

  1. Name the type of thought. Another powerful tool when hypervigilance and over planning starts is to name the type of thought. For example, if I find myself rehearsing a challenging conversation I need to have, I’ll stop and think “planning” and then gently come back to my breath. If I’m worried about something in the future, I’ll think, “worrying” and return to paying attention to my breathing.  Once I name the type of thought I often combine it with my inner caregiver voice and say something like, “Thank you, brain, for helping me with planning, but that’s not what I’m doing right now. I love you and I’m going to go back to my breath.” 

Mindfulness meditation has been one of my favorite tools for healing from CPTSD, but there is a steep learning curve, especially for those who have experienced complex trauma. It took me years to get to the point I’m at today, but now I can’t imagine not meditating each day. I look forward to it as one of the best stress relief tools I have in my toolbox. 

If you have struggled with mindfulness meditation in the past, I hope you’ll give these two fixes a try. And let me know how it goes for you! 

Xo Megan

Growth Mindset + Mindfulness = Happy Brain

Growth Mindset + Mindfulness = Happy Brain

Ready to hear one of my secrets to happiness? This particular trick is one that combines scientific research with a spiritual practice, one of my favorite things to do. 

This strategy is based on the work of Carol Dweck who researches “growth mindset” and how it can positively affect learning and self-esteem. I was first introduced to her work when I was a pediatric occupational therapist working with students with neurodivergence and learning disabilities and it made a huge difference for those students. 

The basic idea of growth mindset is an awareness that your intelligence, capabilities and performance are malleable or changeable and can grow over time. (The opposite is a “fixed mindset” such as, “I’m just not good at math.”) You can change your intelligence and capabilities through putting in effort in order to learn and grow (and make mistakes) along the way. Dweck’s research shows that if we can feel good about the process of trying and putting in effort, rather than fixating solely on the result, it leads to more resilience, grit, and better self-esteem. 

One of the key components of a growth mindset is learning how to enjoy the task itself and not just the outcome. If you can enjoy the process of trying to learn something new or achieve a goal, then you’re much more likely to stick with it and find satisfaction than if you’re only placing value on the end result — a.k.a. did I succeed or did I fail? 

So, how do we shift from a fixed mindset into a growth mindset? The secret lies in a combination of Dweck’s scientific research and an age-old spiritual practice. 

  1. Cultivate a growth mindset. Know that you CAN learn and grow — you are not “bad” at something, you are simply in the process of learning, practicing and evolving yourself into someone who is better at that thing. Make sure to recognize that there can be enjoyment not just in reaching a goal, but in the process of learning and growing as you work towards that goal. 
  2. Practice mindfulness. When you learn how to be in the present moment and keep your mind and thoughts on whatever is right in front of you, you can more easily enjoy the process. If you are thinking ahead to whether this will succeed or fail or if you’re feeling stressed about if you’re doing it right, you won’t be able to enjoy the moment. Each moment we have can be enjoyable just for itself, regardless of what happens next. Working on a hard problem can even be fun, like a good challenge, when we’re not tied up in worrying about whether this particular effort will be the one that succeeds. 

The science shows that both of these things — cultivating a growth mindset and practicing mindfulness — lead to the release of two “happy chemicals” in our brains, dopamine and serotonin. So, if you practice these things in tandem, you may find yourself with a very happy brain on an awesome natural high. 

I should note that this shift to a growth mindset can be particularly hard for trauma survivors, especially those of us who grew up with parents with narcissistic or borderline personality disorder.  The problem is that as children, our success at a task could often trigger our parent with NPD or BPD as we took the spotlight away from them, so we learned to keep much of our happiness under wraps. In addition, many of our behaviors and actions were centered around proactively preventing and avoiding narcissistic scorn or rage, so tasks were often filled with anxiety, hypervigilance and perfectionism, lest we “get it wrong” and trigger our parent. This made it quite difficult to enjoy the process.

Dweck asks us to look at if we have, “a fixed-mindset reaction when you face challenges. Do you feel overly anxious, or does a voice in your head warn you away? … Do you feel incompetent or defeated? … Do you become defensive, angry, or crushed instead of interested in learning from the feedback?” The type of learned helplessness that comes from growing up with a parent with NPD or BPD sounds very similar to what Dweck describes here. If this sounds like you, please give yourself extra grace and love when trying the process to shift that I describe above. A healthy boost of self-compassion and shadow work may be helpful, too. 

If you try this process, I want to hear about what you find! Drop me a note and let me know, I’d love to hear from you. 

Xo Megan

My NDE (Near Death Experience)

My NDE (Near Death Experience)

Just before I was offered the chance to die, I really had to pee.

I was 5 months into my chemo treatment and I was a wreck, both physically and emotionally. At this point, I was unable to get myself out of bed, I was nauseated all the time, and I couldn’t keep food down. I had no energy to move my muscles and I hurt everywhere, all the time: migraines, body aches, joint pain, nerve damage, and muscle pain. I didn’t know there were so many places where you could feel pain on a human body, to be honest.

In official medical terminology: I was a shitshow. 

I was home alone in bed, trying to rest or meditate or do something, ANYTHING, to distract myself from the pain and nausea. It was at this point, I realized that I had to pee. I then realized there was no one home to help me get to the bathroom and I was too weak to sit up in bed, let alone make it to the bathroom myself. (This was before the days of cell phones, so I couldn’t quickly get hold of anyone, and both my partner and roommate were at work.) This was a new low for me – I hadn’t ever been too weak to sit up in bed before, but 10 rounds of chemo had finally led me to this level of incapacity.

I ran through my choices:

  1. Wet the bed and lay in the mess while I waited for someone to come home to help me clean myself up and change the sheets.
  2. Roll out of bed and try to drag myself along the floor to the bathroom. I thought I could make it, but I didn’t know if I’d be able to get up on the toilet, or have the energy to make it back to the bed once I was done.
  3. Try to wait and hold it until someone came to help me.

None of these sounded very pleasant.

Right at that moment while thinking about which terrible option was the most viable one, I finally lost my shit.

I started to cry — big, heavy wailing moans with tears and snot coming down my face.

“I don’t want to do this anymore. I can’t take it, it’s too much.” I thought.

I just wanted it to end. I’d had enough of the pain, the nausea, the fear, and the suffering. Through my tears I felt myself drift off and close my eyes. I started to feel like I was floating.

Then, I heard a voice, crystal clear and with a calm, loving presence I’d never felt before. It said, “It’s okay. You can let go if you need to.” All at once, I knew what it meant. The voice was giving me permission to die at that moment, if I wanted to. It was letting me know my body was weak enough that I could just release this life, let go, and drift off to death.

At the same time, it was showing me what it would be like once I’d let go and died. It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. I would rejoin a larger awareness, my fellow explorers of this consciousness, in a place of oneness where there were no bodies, no individuality, no time, no pain, and no suffering.

I could sense that I was still crying, but now it was from elation, from experiencing pure freedom, love and oneness. I could feel the web and nodes of connected consciousness that is our true state, our spiritual self. I felt 100 % seen and understood. I cried tears of relief as I finally knew what it was like to return to my spiritual home.

I saw very clearly that when we die, we release from our bodies, almost like taking off a tight shoe, and we return to part of a larger consciousness. It’s the biggest sense of relief I’ve ever felt. This consciousness does not experience time and space like we do. There is a calm tranquility in this state. The best way I can describe it is the serene grace of just “being” with no sense of “doing.” There is an expansiveness and a slowness that’s exquisite.

There’s no sense of worry, no guilt, and no pressure. There’s no sense that I’m not worthy or not good enough or need to do better, because there is no “I” to experience that, only the sense of connectedness and love that is universal consciousness. It’s a sense of being accepted beyond anything that we could experience here on Earth because there is no way to have any experience other than feeling completely enfolded and wrapped by love and connection.

I had no awareness of my body or of the pain and suffering I’d been experiencing only moments before. I knew that if I stayed in this place, I would no longer feel any pain, I would finally be free from the suffering. I saw all of this so clearly, and I knew it was a choice I had to make. “How could I not want to stay?” I thought.

It was so alluring.

I would finally be free.

Suddenly I felt a jolt, I sat bolt upright, and heard my own voice as I screamed “NO!!” at the top of my lungs. I returned to my body with a terrible rush. My heart whomped and raced as a massive burst from my adrenal glands restarted it and returned it to a normal rhythm.

I wasn’t ready to go. It wasn’t my time.

I was still sweaty and filled with adrenaline as I recognized that I had actually sat up in bed– something I hadn’t been able to do a few minutes before. As the adrenaline subsided, I tried to make sense of what I had been shown.

I knew without a doubt that I’d seen what happens when we die. I’d returned to the place where we go between lives.

I don’t know if I can express how peaceful and beautiful it was. I wish I could show you, just for a minute, what it was like because I want you to know where you came from and where you’ll return to. I want you to know how loved you are. I want you to know it feels to be held as one with the larger consciousness that knows you are precious and treasured simply because you are part of existence. It adores you because you are part of it and it is part of you.

You are a sliver of god, of universal consciousness. You are source energy incarnate, here to experience what it’s like to be human for 60 or 80 or 100 years. It’s part of the deal that we forget who we really are, a hologram of universal consciousness that holds all of awareness inside of us.

Never doubt yourself, my friend. Never doubt that you are sacred and phenomenal and connected to all that is. I think we often walk around feeling alone and disconnected and I want you to know that’s not true, it’s an illusion that’s a side effect of incarnation.

I want you to know that all of this is temporary. Incarnating as human is like deciding to take a trip to Machu Picchu – it’s only for a limited amount of time, and you know it will be breathtakingly awesome at some moments, and full of mosquito bites and altitude sickness at others. But despite the challenges you’ll face, you decide to do it anyway, you’re EXCITED to do it, in fact. You want to go to have the experience, and you know that you get to return home when you’re done with the trip.

And what happens when you return to where we all come from? I want you to know there is no judgement and there is no evaluation of whether you were good or bad, whether you did it right or wrong. You came here as an adventurer, an explorer.  When you’re done, you come home to only gratitude, appreciation, and newfound knowledge of experiencing consciousness as only a human can.

So when you look at others today, whether they are friends, strangers or enemies, please know that you are made of the same stuff as they are. We are all here together, exploring this complex, paradoxical and often messy human incarnation experience. And we will return together, to pure love and connectedness, with open arms. So why not start now? Embrace your fellow beings, help them (and yourself) feel a little taste of that connectedness and acceptance that we all long for and in fact, has been there all along.

Xo Megan

What is a sensory profile? And how is it connected to trauma?

What is a sensory profile? And how is it connected to trauma?

I used to work as an occupational therapist for children with autism, ADHD, and other types of neurodivergence. One of the most effective treatment tools we had was the sensory profile because it allowed us to look at how school and home environments conflicted with their brains’ own natural sensory needs.

I think this tool is valuable for all of us. Knowing your sensory profile is immensely helpful, because no matter who you are – neurodivergent or not –  your unique sensory profile affects how you interact with your world on a daily basis. In addition, sensory profiles can change after a period of trauma, and knowing how trauma has affected your profile can help you take better care of yourself.

But, let me backtrack for a minute — what is a sensory profile anyway?  Let’s start with looking at our senses. Each of us has 8 senses (sorry, M. Night Shyamalan) connected to our nervous system:

  • Visual (sight)
  • Auditory (hearing)
  • Olfactory (smell)
  • Gustatory (taste)
  • Tactile (touch)
  • Vestibular (sense of head movement in space)
  • Proprioceptive (sense of body position in space and feedback from joints and muscles)
  • Interoception  (sensations related to the physiological/physical condition of the body like hunger, heart rate, breathing, and more)

Each of us has different likes and dislikes when it comes to each of these senses. For example, some people may love the smell of perfume while others find it overwhelming. Some people may love a big hug and for others that may feel suffocating. Your particular collection of likes and dislikes for each of your sensory systems is your unique “sensory profile.” 

But really, it’s too simplistic to say likes and dislikes. This stuff is so intimately tied to your nervous system it can activate either your “happy place” nervous system (parasympathetic) or your “get me the hell out of here” nervous system (sympathetic).

Imagine an environment in an idyllic location, maybe a beach, the forest, or a busy Parisian cafe. You’re wearing the most comfortable clothing you’ve ever found, you just ate some of your favorite foods, and you feel perfectly satisfied — not hungry but not too full. There’s a smell of something (Is it the ocean? Coffee? Petrichor?) That immediately makes you feel happy. Got a good image of all of this? Fantastic — you’ve just described something that fits your “sensory seeking” profile of things you like to have in your environment.

Now let’s do the opposite. Imagine you’re in an environment that you hate —it’s way too loud, or so quiet that you can’t hear anything but your own spiralling thoughts. It’s so hot that sweat is dripping in your eyes. Your clothing is awful. It’s either too tight or way too baggy and the material is creating the most uncomfortable itching sensation you’ve ever felt on your skin. You haven’t had anything to eat or drink in hours and you’re officially hangry. But also, something smells really gross and you just lost your appetite. Got that image in your mind? That’s a scenario that fits your “sensory aversion” profile, or a group of sensations that you’d try to avoid in the world.

When we find ourselves in a situation that fits with our sensory seeking preferences, our whole nervous system relaxes. That sets off a wave of other chemical and energetic reactions in our body that signals safety, security and happiness. When we find ourselves in a sensory adverse situation, our nervous system gets tense, and releases all sorts of stress chemicals that cause feelings that range from discomfort to panic.

(Side note: the reason that this awareness is so important to the neurodiverse community is that sensations that would only cause a mild nervous system reaction for neurotypical folks can cause a panic reaction in someone with an atypical nervous system. This often includes sights, smells, and sounds that are quite common and would go unnoticed by most of the population.)

So, you can see why knowing your unique sensory profile could help you navigate the world with a happier nervous system by seeking out things that make you calm and avoiding those that cause you distress.

But how does trauma affect your sensory profile? 

Let’s start with a pretty classic example. If you look at someone who has PTSD, let’s say from fighting in a war, they might now have a panicked reaction to an auditory sensation like fireworks or a car backfiring. It’s something that might go unregistered or only cause a mild awareness in people without PTSD, however for someone with PTSD this could cause a full-blown panic attack. Similarly, a woman who has been sexually assaulted may feel panic when she senses someone walking behind her in the supermarket, while for the rest of us we’d just register that there was another human shopping in the same crowded store and our nervous system would interpret it as no big deal.

With complex trauma, it’s more… um, well… complex. If you need a good primer on what Complex PTSD (CPTSD) is, I wrote about it here. Complex trauma happens over the course of years and as a result, our nervous systems, which includes our sensory systems, can slowly change and start to “hardwire” as a response to these small, daily traumatic events. Let me give you a few examples from my own sensory profile.

I have insanely acute hearing. This comes as a result of listening to my abusive mother’s movements around the house. If I heard her come in the front door, move around the house or start talking, I would freeze and listen carefully so that I could ascertain what kind of mood she was in, and therefore what the potential danger level was at that moment. Because of my acute hearing and careful attunement to background noise, I now can’t work in noisy environments. I need absolute silence to work because my sensory systems are hard-wired to listen for danger in any background noise. 

Another example would be my high pain tolerance. (Pain is part of your interception and tactile sensory systems.) I didn’t even realize I had a high pain tolerance until I was in the emergency room one night with what turned out to be a kidney stone. The nurse asked me what my pain level was on a scale of 1-10 and I answered that it was a 7 or 8. My boyfriend then added, “If she says 7 or 8, that’s a 10 on most people’s scale.” That was news to me! Afterwards, I realized that my interoceptors had probably been altered by my traumatic experiences. When I felt pain or felt unwell as a child, there was usually one of two reactions from my mother: either rage that I was bothering her with my needs, or an overly dramatic trip to the doctor where she would be in complete hysterics and insist that I undergo every medical test under the sun, and I would be poked and prodded in myriad painful and uncomfortable ways. So, I learned to keep it to myself if I felt pain. Eventually, my nervous system acclimated to that and turned down my pain receptors.

Even though I’m no longer living in that dysfunctional household, both my auditory and interoceptors were wired in a different way via these experiences in my formative years. They are now part of my unique sensory profile.

So, what’s the takeaway here? Now that you know all this cool, new stuff about your sensory profile, how can you actually use it? Well, there are three main ways:

First, make a list of the things that fall under the “sensory seeking” category for you. What are the things that you love to smell, eat, or hear? What kind of fabrics do you like? Do you like big hugs or light touch? What kinds of art do you like to look at? What’s your favorite natural setting — desert, rolling hills, or dense jungle? Then make yourself a “sensory toolkit” where you can have these things handy if you start to feel stressed.

Second, what are your “sensory aversions”? What are the things that make you feel like you want to crawl out of your skin? What smells, sights, noises or environments make you feel stressed out and exhausted? Make sure that you only get these things in small doses or use strategies to help you tune those out. For example, I use my noise-cancelling headphones with no music on when I’m working in noisy environments. That way, I get my own little cocoon of quiet in the middle of a noisy place.

Thirdly, practice self-compassion. (I mean, my advice when dealing with any kind of trauma fallout is self-compassion, really.) If you get stressed by certain sensory experiences, I want you to practice listening to your inner caregiver. Listen to them tell you how smart and resourceful you were to be able to have a system in place to sense the danger coming. Feel them send you so much love and acceptance for who you are, regardless of what your body and mind may be doing at the moment. Imagine what your ideal parent or caregiver would say or do for you to calm you and help you feel safe and sound in this situation. Know that you deserve all of this love and care and more. 

I’d love to know what you’ll take away from this post! Did you figure out anything about your own sensory profile? I hope this info can help you care for yourself in the most exquisite and loving way — you deserve nothing less, my friend.

Xo Megan

What’s the most spiritual emotion? It’s not what you think!

What’s the most spiritual emotion? It’s not what you think!

When I first started the study of energy healing, I took a course on the Chinese 5-element theory. The 5 elements represent a cyclic, spiral growth cycle that you can see everywhere around you, from the cells in your body to the creation of new galaxies. Each of the elements (fire, earth, metal, water, and wood) has different qualities attached to it and one of those qualities is that each has a unique emotion. 

 

Graphics showing the Emotional Flow of the 5 Elements

Fire —> Joy

Earth —> Contentment 

Metal —> Grief

Water —> Fear 

Wood —> Anger

 

After we learned about this cycle, my teacher, Ka’imi, asked us, “What do you think is the most spiritual emotion?” 

As dutiful students of spiritual growth, we all answered, “Joy!” or “Contentment!” for these are what we are often (mistakenly) told are the signposts of a highly evolved life. 

Our teacher paused and said, “I disagree. The most spiritual emotion is anger.” 

We were all confused. Anger? How can that be spiritual? Wars are started by angry men. Our society is divided by people who are angry with “the other side.” How can anger be the most spiritual of all the emotions? 

He went on to explain, “Our job here as spiritual beings having a human experience is to grow. We are here to experience change over the course of a lifetime, to continue through this cycle over and over again. Anger is what we feel when something gets in our way, or blocks our path forward, and therefore it causes us to take big action. Anger has the most forward motion of any of the emotions in this cycle. Anger is what generates the most growth in the shortest amount of time.” 

I think he was right. If we take a look at how the 5-element emotional cycle works, we can get a more clear view of how this works. 

We’ll start with contentment. Let’s say you’re in a good place, and nothing in your life is really going wrong at the moment. You have a place to live, food to eat, good people in your life and a way of making money that isn’t making you feel terrible all the time. 

But then, something changes and with change, there’s always grief and loss. Maybe your best friend moves to a new town. Or you hurt your knee and can’t do your favorite activity anymore. Or maybe you get a new boss at work who starts to micromanage you. You feel the sadness of losing something that had brought you joy. Things have changed and there’s a part of you that misses the way they were before. 

In the depth of this grief, you start to feel fear. What if I never find a friend with who I can have the same type of close relationship? What if I’m stuck in this job I don’t like anymore because I need the paycheck? What if I can never do long hikes again because of my knee? We become afraid of never feeling happy again and we worry that we’ll be stuck here in this unhappy new reality forever. 

This is where a lot of people get stuck, bouncing back and forth between sadness and worry. We feel the loss of what we once had, and then get stuck in the fear of never having it again, or that things will get even worse from here and we’ll never get back to contentment again. 

But if you can harness that fear and sadness, if you can look at the parts of yourself with which you’re discontent and say, “That’s it! I’m not going to take this anymore! I don’t know how, but I’m going to make some changes so that I can get back to feeling joy!” then you, my friend, have accessed sacred anger.

For many of us, it was unsafe to express anger in our families of origin and so we check ourselves when that starts to bubble up, and revert back to fear and sadness. For others, we learned how to access the surge of energy and emotion that comes from anger but we don’t know how to do the deep shadow work to move from anger to joy, so we stay stuck bouncing between anger and fear.

So here’s how to do the hard part, friends. Here’s how to move from fear and anger to joy

Most of the elements of this cycle happen without our input — we’re coasting along (contentment) things change (loss), and then we worry that we’ll never feel safe and happy again (fear), then we feel disgruntled at this new unhappy reality (beginning of anger). Those all happen without much energy or planning on our part.

When you find yourself stuck in worry, fear or discontentment, you need to do 2 things: 

  1. Look at where you’re feeling the loss. What emotional nutrient are we lacking that’s making us sad? It may be something we had and lost, or something we never had in the first place but have always longed for. Some examples may be love, care, safety, inspiration, joy, unconditional positive regard, or zen.
  2. Give yourself permission to feel worthy of this emotional nutrient. This is where shadow work and reparenting can be particularly effective. (I teach a whole class on this If you need more strategies here!) 

Here’s a little science secret about your nervous system — you don’t actually get the most happiness from having what you want (contentment). You feel the most happiness when you are working to reach that goal (joy). This is why in the 5 element theory joy is the “fire” element— it’s the period where we’re using that inner fire to create better circumstances, develop better relationships, and allow ourselves to know through our own actions that we’re worthy of this type of abundance. 

Once we have identified the loss and given ourselves unconditional permission to have an abundance of whatever we deeply need, then we can tap into anger and joy. The anger is that unwillingness to stay in fear or sadness and the joy is the fire we use to make the changes we need to get back to place of contentment.

Okay, confession time — I really should have said there were three things you should do to get out of worry, fear or discontentment. But this is where the fire metaphor becomes complicated. 

Yes, we need fire to grow. Fire is a key component of life. But fire also destroys. And the hardest thing we must do in moving from anger to joy is realize that to get to a new level of joy, we might have to burn it all down. 

The third thing you need to do to get out of worry, fear or discontentment is to embrace Kali energy

Kali is a hindu goddess, often called “the goddess of destruction and creation.” The idea here is that nothing new can be created until the old has been destroyed to create space for the new. Just as the new leaves on a tree cannot grow in spring until the old ones have died and decomposed in autumn and winter, we cannot invite in new joy until we have destroyed the old patterns that no longer serve us. This is exactly why anger must precede joy — we have to become SO ANGRY at how things are, that we’re willing to burn it all down to find a new way of being. But burning it all down is terrifying (I mean, just look at the depictions of Kali. Yikes!) and we can’t harness that amount of courage from a place of fear, we must harness it through anger. We have to use the fire of anger to move forward, to a new more advanced way of being and accept the destruction of anything that no longer serves us in the process. 

Many of us take that anger and try to move backwards, to the last time we were content. But growth doesn’t happen backwards, and true courage isn’t about fighting for what feels familiar, it’s about fighting for what you need for your next level of evolution. 

Remember, the Phoenix only rose from the ashes after the fire had killed it. Kali only destroys things so that new paradigms and new ideas can grow in that place. Anger only works if we are willing to dive into the unknown, the darkness, and trust that our next level of joy will come from what we find after we’ve totally transformed our way of being, destroying what no longer serves us in the process. 

Remember, “everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear,” and anger is the sacred fuel to get you there.

So, what’s so important to you that you’re willing to go into the shadow to get it? What circumstance, belief system, or way of being is having you become so sick that you’re willing to burn the whole thing down so you can find out what will grow there instead? What artifice of safety, security or familiarity are you willing to let go of so you can find your true self, your eternal self, in the place beyond? 

Xo Megan

 

How to Make Better Use of Your Time

How to Make Better Use of Your Time

One of my favorite novels is Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let me Go. It’s a sci-fi thriller about the moral implications of human cloning and a few years after it was published, they made a film adaptation. I went to see a screening and afterwards, there was a Q&A with Ishiguro. In that conversation, Ishiguro said something that profoundly altered my view of life and how I approach my daily existence.

Before I go on, let me tell you a bit about my situation at the time — it was 2010, two years after my stage 3 colon cancer diagnosis at age 32 and I was still in the midst of the period where they were monitoring my cancer to see if it had spread and was going to pop up in any other organs. Needless to say, I spent lots of time thinking about my own mortality and the fact that there was a decent chance I wouldn’t make it to 35 or 40.

So, here I was, facing a possible death at way too young of an age, and trying to figure out how to live life with this new “normal” of having an array of genetic anomalies that could cause new tumors at any time. I was searching for answers as to why this was happening and how I could make sense of the last few years where my life had been turned upside down.

Okay, back to the story of Ishiguro’s interview and the insights I had that day.

In order to understand what Ishiguro said, you kind of have to know the plot of the novel. It’s a mystery/thriller and I don’t want to ruin it for you, so I’ll wait right here while you go read the 288-page book….

Oh, hello again! Finished it? Okay, good 🙂

Just in case you didn’t get a chance to read it, here’s my best attempt to give you the necessary background without any major spoilers. In the novel, there’s a small group of humans that, due to technical issues, will only live to be about 35 years old. (Hmm… seeing any parallels with my situation at the time?) This group of people doesn’t know this at first, until someone lets it slip, and only then do they realize they only have a few more years to live.

When asked why he wrote a sci-fi book, Ishiguro replied, “I didn’t see it as a sci-fi book. I came to the idea for this story as I was thinking one day about our lifespan. We only live about 75 or 80 years old, but what if that number was cut down to 30? Or 35? How would we live our lives differently?” He then continued, “I realized that it doesn’t really matter whether it’s 75 years or 35 years, that’s still a pretty short amount of time we have on this planet, relatively speaking.”

That’s the line that hit me hard… “That’s a pretty short amount of time we have on this planet.

Whether cancer got me at 35, or I survived and made it to 75, it was still the same question. What was I going to do with my limited time on this planet? 

I come back to this question often. How do I want to spend my time here? This obviously informs my longer-term goals like work, relationships, etc. But it also makes me think about things on a smaller scale.

Do I want to spend my days feeling afraid or anxious about my future? Or do I want to be in the present moment and look around to find something beautiful or amazing in the here and now?

How do I want to relate to the people in my life? Do I want to let them know how I feel about them each time I talk to them, even if it seems silly or overly sentimental?

Do I want to worry about my appearance, my likability, or what other people think of me? Or do I want to dance to the beat of my own drummer, know that I only have that beat for another few decades?

You only have a limited amount of time here. How do you want to spend it? What do you want the general tone of your life to be? How do you want to feel most of the time? Silly? Serious? Meaningful? Loving?

What’s something you can do today that will feel like you made use of your time today? Tell someone you love them? Spend some time enjoying the feeling of sunshine on your face? Or the sound of your favorite song?

This may be my last day here, or I may have another 10,000 days but the question for me is the same.

How do I want to spend my time today? 

For I only have some number of days left. I don’t know how many, so the question is the same … what can I do to enjoy my existence here today?

Please let me know — what are you going to do to enjoy your time here on this planet today?

Xo Megan

What I do when worry takes over

What I do when worry takes over

I’ve spent a lot of time worrying the past few days. My worrying always tends to be about the same, familiar topics and it feels involuntary — I’ll be fine one minute and then suddenly I’ll start with a familiar spiral of worrying thoughts. Like a well-worn path in the woods, my neurons have forged paths through my white matter where they trigger the same fearful thoughts over and over.

Most of my worries are about safety and security. I worry about my business being successful. I worry if I will have enough money when I retire. I worry where I will live in 20, 30 or 40 years. And I worry about my health and if I will have people to take care of me when I get old and frail.

But I’m sure if my life circumstances were different, I’d find different things to worry about. If I had kids, I’m sure I’d be worried about them. If I owned a house, I’d probably worry about a big repair that I couldn’t afford. Even if I had millions of dollars, I might worry about never finding love.

Worry does that. It finds something to latch on to, regardless of our life circumstances. 

But I know better than to let my worries completely take over. I know that they have a sneaky way of amplifying themselves and consuming my day if I let them drive the narrative.

So today instead of letting worry take over or trying to forge ahead by forcing myself to push aside the worry, I took a walk in the park to have a conversation with my worry. 

The worry started its chatter, “Why are you in the park? You should be working on marketing right now. How are you ever going to be successful if you don’t start doing more?”

“Yes,” I answered, “I hear you. What are you really scared of?”

“I don’t want to be destitute and alone,” said my worry “I don’t want to feel like I have to keep pushing and working and struggling when I’m 80 and too tired to do it anymore.”

“But I’m pushing and struggling now,” I replied, “I’m not marketing because you’ve put so much pressure on me and my success that I can’t possibly be lit up and excited about it. What if I didn’t worry about what I was building for the future and instead just did what I enjoyed, right now?”

I reminded my worry none of us know what will happen in the future, life is quite unpredictable, so trying to live there is actually a bit silly. All we can do is live in the now.

“I’m scared,” my worry said.

“I know,” I replied.

“I want to feel taken care of,” said worry, “I want to feel connection and warmth and like I don’t have to do this alone.”

Ah, there it is. My core wound coming up again.

You see, as a small child and all through my adolescence, I had to do some really hard things with little to no support. My mother had a severe personality disorder and if I expressed any need for help or care, it was met with anger, blame, and vitriol, so I learned to do everything on my own. I still struggle with this today, and when I worry, it’s that I’ll be alone on my own again, with my heart broken and no one around to hold me or help me through.

I’m not actually scared of any particular circumstances, I’m scared to feel that heartbreak again.

But I’m not 7 anymore, and I know if I feel heartbreak, I will make it through. It won’t be pleasant, but it also won’t kill me.

So I ask my worry to show me where that heartbreak is in my body. It’s a tightness in my chest and heavy like a stone. I walk through the park and I simply feel it. I don’t make a story about being alone and unsupported in the future, or let it take over my thoughts about work, I simply let the physical sensations arise in my body.

It hurt. I felt so, so alone and so desperate for connection and care.

Then, I turned to my inner caregiver, that part of my awareness that I’ve cultivated over the last few years as a source of love and care, and I asked her to show me what care feels like.

I felt warmth, connection, laughter. I saw times with friends where I’d felt so comforted and loved. I saw the world as a welcoming place. I saw future relationships with people that I don’t even know yet that fulfil me in new and amazing ways.

Suddenly, I heard the birds in the park and I stopped to listen. Had they been singing this whole time? The grass had been freshly mowed and felt like soft velvet under my feet. There were two girls on the swings screaming and laughing their heads off.

“Right now, this world is safe,” I thought, “and I am not doing this alone. I am connected and cared for by my friends, this planet, and even by people I haven’t met yet.”

I could almost feel my brain chemistry change in that moment. Like one set of neurotransmitters had been reabsorbed while another came flooding in.

I felt safe. I felt connected. I felt like all was going to be okay.

I know it’s different for those of us that grew up in severely dysfunctional or abusive situations. I know how our brains developed differently under the constant stress, I know our nervous systems do their best to try to navigate the patterns of extreme highs and lows, and I know that all of that is now a part of my physiological makeup, and why when my worry comes along, it feels so invasive and involuntary.

But you can get to a place where you can feel comfort, safety, connection and care, even with no one else there. You can change the way you perceive the world, and when you do that, it no longer seems like such a scary place.

It takes time, it takes effort, and it takes a willingness to do some shadow work and let some intense feelings arise, but it can be done.

If you want some support in this, a sherpa to help you climb this mountain, then please reach out. You deserve to feel safe and comforted. You deserve to look at the world and see connection and care.

Xo Megan

Mother Teresa was an A$$hole

Mother Teresa was an A$$hole

Recently, I’ve noticed a theme coming up in my conversations with friends and clients — we’re all sick of being nice. By being nice, I mean doing the emotional labor to make sure our message is coming through in a pleasant way, while also scanning our conversation partners to make sure they’re not feeling misunderstood, offended, or disempowered. Being nice is a complex dance of thinking of what you want to say + crafting it so that it sounds nice + making sure the other person is feeling okay about what you have to say + readjusting on the fly if they are not okay. It’s a dynamic that takes so much more effort, intuition, and mental energy than just thinking of what you want to say and saying it.

Why is this happening now? My take is that it’s a byproduct of complex trauma from the pandemic. We’ve all had to expend so much more mental energy to get through this (reconfiguring work and childcare, worrying about getting sick, spending 24/7 with our families, etc) while losing access to so many of the things that allow our nervous systems to return to a calm baseline (connections with friends and family, activities outside the home, alone time, etc). Since all of this leaves us with less mental and emotional energy, we’ve been rethinking where we should spend our energy, and where it’s necessary to put up boundaries so we can protect and conserve the energy we do have.

And one of those boundaries seems to be around being nice.

But this can often be hard, especially for women, because there’s a social cost to it, or we feel guilty. And most of us like to make sure people feel heard, validated and understood.

But I think we need to reframe this. For those times when we don’t have the energy to do the extra emotional labor of being nice, I’d like to propose an alternative that’s still in line with the value of helping people (including yourself!) feel heard, validated and understood, but doesn’t take nearly the mental gymnastics of being nice.

You can be kind

What’s the difference? Well, let me present to you — Mother Teresa.

I think we can all agree that Mother Teresa did some amazing things to help the poor. She created hospitals, orphanages, soup kitchens, and homes for the dying. She spent her life doing her best to help those who otherwise would not have had access to health care, food, and a place to die with dignity.

I remember watching the news when she died in 1997. There was a panel of journalists who were talking about her achievements, and all she did for the poor, when one of them interjected, “But you know, Mother Teresa was, rather famously, an asshole.”  All the other journalists stopped and stared. The first journalist continued, “I mean, she did miraculous things in her lifetime, but she was notoriously difficult. She would fight for what she thought was right, tooth and nail, and she could be quite hard-headed and difficult about it.”

Mother Teresa was kind, but not nice. 

There are other examples of folks who are kind, but not nice. I think Anthony Bourdain and the character of Roy Kent from Ted Lasso also fit the bill. They’re not nice people, and could be described as assholes, but they both have such obviously kind and caring hearts. I think the reason I particularly love the Mother Teresa example is because we don’t have many role models of women who are kind, but not nice.

So when I notice that I need to create a boundary around my emotional labor, when I notice that it would take more energy than I have at the moment to think about what I want to say and figure out how to be “nice” about it rather than just saying it, I find myself repeating this mantra in my head:

“Mother Teresa was an asshole. Mother Teresa was an asshole. Mother Teresa was an asshole.”

And then I just do or say the thing. In the end, it doesn’t matter if I’m nice about it, as long as I know that it comes from a place of kindness or compassion, either for myself or others. Sometimes, there’s backlash and people seem a bit shocked that I’m so straightforward and uncompromising, but after a lifetime of people-pleasing, I’m practicing not caring how other people view me. It’s much more important that I prioritize compassion for myself and others over tone-policing my own words and actions.

I invite you to imagine a life where you are kind but not nice. Where you do and say what you want, when you want, and live from a heart-centred place where you’re free from worrying about anyone else’s opinion of you. Because remember, what other people think of you is none of your business.

Xo Megan

Compassion is the first step

Compassion is the first step

“Before we can be with one another we have to learn to grieve with one another” – Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

I’ve been thinking a lot about this quote by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. At the time, he was speaking about the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians, but I’ve been thinking about it in terms of the fracturing in our Western society in the last few decades, the widening of the ideological divide and the vilification of those on the other end of the ideological spectrum that’s happening on both sides. 

I’ve realized it’s not productive for me to go down the rabbit hole of thinking about all the ways the people I disagree with are wrong or incorrect. I could list myriad ways that I think pro-lifers are wrong or that gerrymandering is a calculated, racist effort to destroy democratic safeguards. You may or may not agree with me —  I’m sure there are some of you out there who are just as certain of their differing opinions as I am of mine. The problem is, that type of thinking doesn’t get us any closer to understanding each other. In fact, it does the opposite and only makes me feel more entrenched in my “rightness.” 

It’s not productive for me to ask what’s wrong with those who I disagree with, but it is helpful for me to ask what they are grieving. 

What is it that makes them feel sad or outraged? 

What is it that makes them feel misunderstood or dismissed? 

What is it that is changing in their world that they’re not ready for, that feels like it’s being forced upon them with no way to stop it? 

I know for me I feel sad and outraged by watching systems of oppression in action. I feel misunderstood and dismissed by daily misogynistic microaggressions. I am watching the world change from one that respects experts as sources of information to one that respects social media as sources of information and I feel like there’s nothing I can do about it, and that I don’t know how to stop it. 

So you see, I am grieving. This is the substance of my grief. 

And I also know that those with whom I vehemently disagree are grieving, too. They could answer all of those questions in ways that are just as meaningful to them as my answers are to me. 

If we’re going to try to be with one another, if we’re going to try to find a way back to mutual understanding, we have to start with learning about each other’s grief. 

This is the root of compassion. This is the root of understanding. 

Now, I’m not suggesting that I should lose my opinions and give up my ethics. Quite the contrary,  I’m not willing to compromise or acquiesce to things that, in my opinion, are morally wrong. But I am willing to ask of those who disagree with me — 

How are you suffering? 

What would make you feel more understood? 

What are you unhappy with in your life that feels out of your control? 

What are you grieving? 

And I am willing to acknowledge that although I may not agree with the substance of it, their grief is just as valid as mine. I’m not the grief police, I don’t get to decide what’s worthy or not. 

So, before we write someone off as “brainwashed by the other side” let’s understand what they are grieving, and then listen to them from a place of compassion and awareness, because one thing I know is that when people truly see the humanity in another being, they don’t wish that being to suffer, no matter how different they are from you and me. 

Xo Megan

How to turn hate and fear into love

How to turn hate and fear into love

One of the most difficult things I’ve done is learn how to love the person who abused me.

When I was 26 years old, I made the incredibly difficult decision to cut my mother out of my life. In child abuse survivor circles, this is often called going “no contact” or NC and it was not a decision that was made lightly. In fact, it was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made.

I’d tried everything I could think of — writing her letters, talking things through, therapy for myself, and family therapy with her and my sister. I desperately wanted a relationship with my mom, and I didn’t want to go through life without that type of support. The idea of not having a mom in my life felt so freakish and lonely, so I was trying anything I could to salvage a workable relationship so that I could have her in my life.

Finally, after a typical abusive episode at a restaurant where she loudly told me what I was wearing made me look fat, repulsive, hideous, and disgusting and she couldn’t imagine how I could let people see me in public like that (for the record — it was a nice skirt and blouse that I often wore to the office), I decided I’d had enough.

I was at a loss. How do you go about divorcing your mother? How do you deal with the guilt, the anger, the loss, and the intense emotional pain?

When I asked people who I thought of as older and wiser, the response was often, “But she’s your mother! You can’t cut her off. I don’t care how horrible she was to you, she’s still your mother.” I was told by so many well-meaning people that once I’d had my own kids, I’d understand how you simply CAN’T cut your own mother off. Then, they’d give me suggestions for how to work things out that I’d tried 1000 times before.

No one I knew seemed to have any answers.

And while I know they didn’t understand the depth of the abuse, and the lengths to which I’d gone to salvage the relationship, they were right about one thing. She was still my mother. I needed to figure out a way to relate to her in my own psyche, even if she wasn’t in my life. So what could I do?

About a year later, I found myself at my first meditation training. The instructor was B. Allan Wallace, a Buddhist monk who seemed like he may have some answers. One day I asked if I could eat lunch with him and talk to him about something I was wrestling with, in my life. I gave him a brief account of my childhood, my mom, and all the things I’d tried to do to repair our relationship. To my surprise, even after that brief account, he didn’t try to suggest new ways to repair it or even question my decision to go no contact. He paused for a minute and then said, “Sometimes the only way to have people in our life is to send them compassion from afar. And that isn’t nothing — sending someone the energy of compassion can be very healing.” At the time I thought he meant healing for my mom, but I’ve now come to realize he meant healing for me, too.

So I practiced sending her the Buddhist prayer of Mettā each time I thought of her (which was still many times per day).

“May you be free from suffering and the causes of suffering. May you find happiness and the causes of happiness.” 

I repeated this over and over, through tears, through rage, through confusion, through grief, and through loneliness.

Finally, I started to understand. I could be furious at how she treated me and also have compassion for her suffering. I could be brokenhearted and also have compassion for how miserable she clearly was. I could hate her for what she did to me and also have compassion for what had happened to her to create such psychological instability in her own mind.

And I could do the same for myself. I could feel broken and depressed and also have compassion for myself. I could feel shame and also have compassion for myself. I could hear her abusive voice in my head, now my own inner critic, and also have compassion for myself.

Compassion can exist at the same time as anger, grief, hatred, and shame. Fondness or affection is not a prerequisite for compassion. In fact, seeing someone in their wholeness, both the “good” and “bad” parts of them, is a huge part of compassion.

And beyond that, once you feel compassion for someone else’s suffering, even love can exist at the same time as anger, grief, hatred, and shame. You can love the part of them that hurts, the part that is suffering, and in this way, you can move towards healing the pain.

“I would like my life to be a statement of love and compassion–and where it isn’t, that’s where my work lies.”

― Ram Dass

What Ram Dass is saying here is essentially the same thing that Jesus said, “Love your enemies.” It is possible to have love in your heart, no matter what someone has done to you.

It took me YEARS to get to a place where when I thought of my mother, I was able to send her love. Now, don’t get me wrong —  I was still angry, sad, confused, and traumatized (sometimes all at once) but at the same time I was feeling all of that, I was also able to feel compassion for her suffering, and then from there, eventually, I could feel love for her.

My mother died earlier this summer. I hadn’t spoken to her in over 15 years, but when I heard she was dying, I went to the hospital to say goodbye. It took 30 minutes of meditation in the hospital parking lot to regulate my nervous system so I wasn’t about to have a panic attack, but once I felt centered, I went in.

I told her I loved her, and I meant it. She asked what had happened, why we hadn’t spoken in so long. I looked at her and said, honestly, “Our relationship caused me too much anxiety. I couldn’t handle it, so I pulled away.” She said she wished it had been different. I cried and told her I did, too.

And then I held her hand and told her all the things I loved about her. And I told her all the things I knew others loved about her, too.

She denied it all. She said, “Oh, come on” and waved me away.

I know mom. I know you never felt worthy of love. I know that’s why you tormented me, and I can see that through the eyes of compassion now. Hurt people hurt people, until we break the generational cycle.

So, I’m here to break that cycle. I’m here to “be a statement of love and compassion.” In many ways, mom, you were the hardest place to do that work. You were the person who did the most damage to me and so you were also the hardest person for me to love. But I thank you for that lesson because you know what? Now that I know how to feel compassion for you, I can feel that same love for everyone I meet.

I understand that loving someone has nothing to do with agreeing with their actions, their beliefs, or their words and, instead, has everything to do with seeing them in their wholeness and that simple Mettā prayer of compassion:

“May you be free from suffering and the causes of suffering. May you find happiness and the causes of happiness.”

Xo Megan

The Four Phases of Spiritual Awakening

The Four Phases of Spiritual Awakening

I had so many responses to my last essay, “You are the boat”, that I wanted to tell you a bit more about what I know about the phases of spiritual awakening. And of course, talk more about the boat!  

The metaphor of a kayak navigating the rapids and how it relates to spiritual awakening first came to me when I learned to kayak about 15 years ago, just after finishing chemotherapy for cancer at age 32. I was going through an intense physical, emotional and spiritual crisis and was looking to understand more about why all of this shit was happening to me. At that time, I had an epiphany where I finally understood the idea of myself and the boat as two parts of the same being — my human self and my spiritual self. My understanding of the other phases came later, as I deepened my spiritual practice.

There are four phases of spiritual awakening in this metaphor. Progression through these phases takes you from being ego-bound and unable to escape your own suffering all the way to understanding that you are both everything and nothing (the manifest and unmanifest) and that, in fact, there is no “you” there to suffer through anything at all. 

So, let’s go through the phases, one by one. 

Everyone got your kayak ready? Got your paddle? Got your desire to be one with the universe? 

Excellent! Let’s go. 

Phase 1: 

When you first learn to kayak, you’re constantly flipping over and it’s hard to control the direction of the boat. This is phase one – where our emotions and belief systems about the world feel out of control, just like the kayak. In this phase, life seems unpredictable, unfair and it feels like no matter what you do, there’s always someone or something that gets in the way. Maybe your boss is really difficult or you’re always rehashing the same fights over and over with your partner. Maybe you just can’t get a break and it feels like the world is against you. There’s also an internal struggle going on as well, and you often worry about what other people think of you or how they will react to your choices. You worry about if you’re good enough and fear people will see through you. Life feels uncertain and precarious and like you’re stuck on this emotional rollercoaster where trauma and drama keep happening in your life, over and over. 

Phase 2: 

Phase two is when you start to learn to control the boat. You learn how to steer the boat right and left, how to back paddle to slow down, and how to shift your weight so that the boat goes where you want it to. In this phase, you’ve learned some emotional regulation skills so that when you feel like life is going off the rails you can do something to “control the boat.” This could be tools like deep breathing, guided meditation, or going for a walk. You’ve been to therapy or learned how to do some thought work, like Byron Katie’s The Work and can now understand that you shouldn’t believe everything you think. You’ve done a lot of work to address the trauma in your past and look at how your thoughts, behaviors and choices come through that lens of your trauma response. Life seems calmer now and you understand that while you can’t control much of what happens to you, you can control how you react to it. 

Phase 3: 

Phase three is when you realize that successfully making it through the rough rapids isn’t about trying to control the boat much at all. It’s about learning to listen to the boat and follow its lead. The boat is designed to float, so if you react to what the boat wants to do instead of trying to control it, you’ll make it through with much less effort and a sense of partnership with the boat. This is when you start to understand that you are a spiritual being having a human experience. There are two parts to you – the human self (passenger) and the spiritual self (the boat). Once you let the spiritual self lead the way, life becomes a whole lot easier. In this phase, you’ve had some experiences with ego dissolution through meditation or with plant medicine and you’ve come to understand that you have a soul or spirit. You also understand that the idea of “you” as a separate being is just a temporary illusion you’re experiencing while you’re incarnated here as a human. In this phase, intuition becomes much stronger and you have a good sense of your “spiritual compass” or karmic area of study you’re supposed to explore during this lifetime. There’s also often a sense of comfort or peace as you deepen your awareness of universal consciousness and know that as an eternal being, you are always safe and nothing can ever really hurt you. 

Phase 4: 

Finally, we get to phase 4. At this point you’ve realized that not only are you both the passenger and the boat, you are also the river. And the rocks. And the trees. And the birds and the wind…. You are everything, all made of the same stuff, the unmanifest made manifest. This is when you’ve reached enlightenment or awakening. At this point, you can easily access a blissed-out state of feeling connected, and all feels right in the world. Even when things are going “wrong” you see that there is a rightness there. You accept all as right and good because if it’s happening, it has to be right and good. There is equanimity to joy and pain and everything in between, it all loses its meaning other than, “it is”.  In this phase, there’s a heightened level of intuition and an opening of deep reservoirs of compassion and love for everything around you. Once you understand that you and everything outside of “you” is the same thing you understand that all there is to do is be love, emit love, and receive love. 

Is there a phase 5? There could be! At my point in this journey, I’ve only been able to experience these 4, but I know that I am an ever-evolving, ever-changing being and I don’t yet know what I don’t know. 

It’s important to note that these phases don’t necessarily go in order and that we often cycle through the phases depending on the day, our mood, our past experiences, and so on. We can also be in one phase for months or years before we experience the next one, and many people never go past phase one or two in this incarnation. This is as it’s supposed to be, there is no here that is better than there, it all just is as it should be. 

I’m curious — tell me how you’ve experienced these phases. Where are you and your boat today? 

Xo Megan

You are the boat.

I’m sitting in my red kayak, paddle across my lap, staring at the class 3 rapids just ahead of me. I’d pulled over to a calm spot on the river to mentally map my path through the rapid. Three days before this was the first time I’d ever been in a kayak in my life. Six months before this, at 32-years-old, I’d been diagnosed with stage III colon cancer.

I was on a weeklong program through the non-profit org First Descents where young adult cancer survivors learn to whitewater kayak. We were also learning how to face fear again after having one of the scariest things imaginable happen at a really young age – a cancer diagnosis.

Looking out over the rapid, I calculated which course I should take to try to avoid flipping the kayak. In whitewater kayaking, you’re “attached” to the boat by a rubber skirt, so if you flip, it’s no fun to try to find the ripcord to get out of the boat while upside down, with no air, in the middle of a rocky, turbulent rapid. Like I said – I was facing fear again, but this time it was my choice and not some shitty cancer diagnosis that life had dealt me.

As I stared at the rapids, I had a realization. I was in a boat! (I know – not the most profound realization. Stay with me.) The boat was designed to float, so instead of trying to control the boat, I needed to listen to the boat. The boat knows how to stay upright in the water, all I had to do was feel into which way the boat wanted to go, try my best to be one with the boat, and follow its lead.

So, I did. And it was so much easier than trying to control the boat. I had faith in the boat’s design and its ability to do what it needed to do, I was the passenger and I let the boat do the floating.

I made it through the rapids unscathed and with a newfound understanding. As the adrenalin of the rapid run wore off, I knew that this was about more than just a boat. This was a lesson for life.

Here’s a spiritual truth – if you try to push, resist or control anything in your life, it’s going to be much harder. If you simply trust “the boat” of life and follow where your experiences, intuition and karma lead you, it’s much easier.

One of the secrets of a peaceful life is to respond to what’s in front of you rather than trying to push, resist or control. There are so many aphorisms that teach us this: “What you resist persists” or, “People make plans and God laughs.”

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have goals or go towards what makes you happy, fulfilled and inspired. It means that you should detach from HOW it’s going to happen.

When I was in my boat, I knew I wanted to get through the rapid. But HOW to get through – which path I take – that’s better left up to the boat, the boat knew how to stay afloat.

I started to use this perspective shift in my life when I got home from my kayaking trip. “Trust the boat,” I would think as a new obstacle came my way. I would lean into what felt right, or what was the easiest path forward right in front of me, and just do that, without overthinking it.

It was so much easier.

Now, the easiest path forward wasn’t always how I’d wanted things to go. I had to release a lot of feelings of control or preference about how things unfolded. But knowing that there was a larger force in my spiritual self that knew how to stay afloat through this “life” thing and having faith in that awareness was simpler and felt more right than trying to push and control.

As I’ve learned more about myself and the nature of our existence, I now know that the reason I can trust the boat is because not only am I the passenger, I AM the boat. And the river. And the rocks, and the sky and the birds and the trees. I am all of it, one consciousness.

As you deepen your intuition and your ability to communicate with your spiritual self, you can feel this too. It’s not difficult, it’s just a matter of switching from trying to control and plan to sitting and listening.

Feel into what your life wants for you.

It’s right there, waiting for you to listen.

Xo Megan

You are a spiritual being having a human experience

 Years ago, when I first heard the phrase, “You are a spiritual being having a human experience,” it felt comforting and like I was being given a pass from having to feel the burden of being human all the time. Oh yes, that’s right! This is just an experience, something I’m going through, something temporary.  

In the past few years, I’ve learned a lot more about our reality which has helped me more deeply understand this maxim. The first big leap in understanding came during my NDE, and since then I’ve been shown even more through meditation, channeling, and spirit journeys. Through these experiences, I’ve been able to travel to the place where we are all pure source energy connected with All That Is. Lemme tell you, it’s a really lovely place. If you can, you should go sometime. Five stars – highly recommend!

Here are 4 things I now know are absolutely true for all of us spiritual beings having a human experience:

1. We are limited in our perception of reality. So, here’s the deal – you have a fancy monkey brain. Our human brains are pretty awesome in terms of higher-level cognition and problem solving compared to other types of brains here on Earth, but they’re still limited in what they can do. Imagine trying to teach algebra to a chipmunk. It could be the smartest, most dedicated chipmunk student ever, but it wouldn’t ever get it. That’s sort of the way we are, too. We simply can’t conceive of some of the complexities of our reality.

We only have 8 senses, so if we’re looking for confirmation of this reality through “evidence” from our senses, we won’t always be able to get it. Did you know that there are extra patterns on flowers that only bees and other creatures that can see in the ultraviolet spectrum can sense? Yep – all around you, every day here on Earth, there are things your senses can’t perceive. So why would we think we’re capable of perceiving everything that exists? We already know we have to rely on ways other than unaided, direct, sensory experience to understand things like ultraviolet patterns on flowers, so why wouldn’t there be other things in our reality that we can’t perceive? Fortunately, there are things like meditation, plant medicine, and intuition that allow us to get glimpses of these aspects of our reality.

2. We agreed to all of this – not every single detail, but all the major plot points and narrative or focus of our life story. Before you incarnate, you know what you’re getting into. In fact, oftentimes we have many incarnations in order to work on the same issues. It’s almost like we’re studying a specific subject at university. We’re here to look at a certain issue or theme from many different perspectives and through diverse experiences. Each lifetime is an opportunity to look this issue in a new way and our job here is to grow in our experience and understanding of these perspective shifts.

3. When we come here as humans, we often experience this world with a feeling that something is off — we feel disconnected or unworthy but we can’t quite figure out why. When we incarnate, we experience ourselves as separate – separate from each other and separate from Source.  However, this is just a perception, just an illusion, so that we can go through life learning and expanding by having different experiences from everyone else. And while our souls are very excited to come here and be a human for a while, we feel that separation – there’s a part of us that remembers being interconnected and contiguous with all that is and now we can feel that we’re not. This can cause us to think that we’ve been abandoned or we’ve must have done something wrong to cause this feeling. However, this isn’t all bad! This feeling of separation, and the unhappiness it can trigger, are one of the main reasons people start on the spiritual path and eventually remember who they really are – a hologram of source energy.

4. Our perception of suffering is because we have an ego. I know that 1000 spiritual teachers have said this 1001 times, but our ego is the big source of our suffering. If we didn’t identify as having an ego or “self” then there would be no way to experience our ”selves” feeling hurt or suffering (or joy or serenity, for that matter, since it’s a package deal). Our ego/self experiences suffering when we have a desire, hope, or expectation that something would be different that how it is.

But here’s the thing – having an ego is part of the package of being a human. We can lean into the spiritual aspect of ourselves and transcend the ego for a while (or even for a lifetime for fully realized humans, those lucky rascals!) but our day-to-day experiences here on earth are a like a swing of the pendulum from ego self to spiritual self and back again.

Once I knew that there was a place without ego, where I couldn’t experience shame, anger, sadness, disconnection or hurt because there was no ME to experience this, I realized that all my suffering was only my current perspective from a place of being a human. In our spiritual state, as our eternal Selves, we are one with everyone and everything. We are connected as one consciousness, one being. So, I cannot be hurt by you because there is no you or me. We are part of the same thing – the everything.

This is why unifying with source felt like calm, eternal bliss – no perceptions or stories coming from ego. No feelings of disconnection or worry about judgements from others, since there were no others. And while I didn’t experience “emotions” in the same way as I do here as a human, there was a deep calm and a feeling of being accepted and loved unconditionally, not because I was “worthy” of that love and acceptance but because that was just a fundamental state of being part of universal consciousness or source energy, there was no other way to feel or be.

I’d love to know if any of this resonates with you. When I learn about these things, there’s a feeling of remembering the way things are, rather than learning something new and I think, “Oh yes! That’s how it is. I remember now.” How does all of this feel to you?

Xo Megan

Do you know how to be proud of yourself?

The other day, my mentor asked me, “Are you proud of yourself?”

I had just finished running my new course, Unconventional Tools for Healing, for the first time and was telling her how pleased I was to get some really lovely feedback from the participants.

I stopped for a moment and reflected on her question. I answered honestly, and felt myself holding back tears as I responded:

“I don’t think I know how to be proud of myself.”

The first time I ever remember hearing, “I’m proud of you” from any of my family members was in an email from my father after I’d finished cancer treatment. I’d been writing a blog throughout my treatment and he responded to one of my posts, telling me he was proud of me.

I cried big, wet tears for about 20 minutes. I didn’t realize how long I’d been waiting to hear that from him.

The insidious fallout for children of emotionally immature or abusive parents is that we often don’t learn what it feels like to take a moment to be proud of ourselves. If we’re hyperfocused and hypervigilant on being the good girl or boy and keeping all the plates spinning in the air, we never learn to stop and take stock of what we’ve achieved.

That moment of feeling pride is important. It’s a moment of rest, reflection and integration before starting the next task.

But in the day in and day out nature of extreme emotional caretaking, there is no rest and there is no moment to reflect.

If this is what “normal” was for you as a child, then stopping, reflecting, and being proud of what you’ve achieved can feel uncomfortable and perhaps even a little anxiety provoking. There’s no awareness of the importance of resting and feeling proud of your achievements before taking on the next challenge.

Here are some signs that you might never have learned how to rest and integrate:

  1. You feel anxious of uncomfortable when you have nothing to do. Your brain wants to know, “what’s next?” and you quickly find something to busy yourself. (This can also manifest as ADHD.)
  2. You think that your achievements are just the bare minimum of what you were supposed to do. I finished chemo? Well, I had cancer I was supposed to. I launched a successful online course? Well, I was supposed to, that’s what you do when you have your own business.
  3. You think that all of the success you’ve achieved might be because of a fluke and not because you worked hard and deserved it. The good things that happen to you are courtesy of chance. The bad things that happen to you are your responsibility.
  4. You don’t think your needs matter or are worth taking into account and this includes your need for rest and integration.
  5. You feel that you are not enough. You feel like you have to go above and beyond every time and that nothing you do is ever quite good enough.
  6. You think that you are too much and you need to work on toning it down.
  7. You believe that if you take time to rest, you will be chastised for being lazy, needy or selfish.

If any of these feel familiar, then please let me be the first to tell you:

Rest, my child.

You deserve to rest.

You deserve to take time for yourself to reset, realign, and heal.

You deserve time only for yourself, with no responsibilities for anyone or anything else.

And furthermore, I am proud of you. Even if you don’t feel like you’ve lived a life that’s anything special or you’ve done anything particularly praise worthy, I am proud of you.

I am proud of you because you have made it this far through some pretty tough shit. You’ve survived some things that probably temporarily broke you, and you’ve picked yourself up and put the pieces back together.

YOU did that. And that’s pretty amazing.

So, please, hear me when I say I’m proud of you.

And now, let us rest.

Xo Megan

“You’re sick because you want people to see you as a person, not an object.”

I heard this sentence so clearly as I woke up in the middle of the night a few nights ago. I’d been reading Ram Dass’ Be Here Now just before I fell asleep and I’d had vibrant, psychedelic dreams about the nature of consciousness. (I guess that’s what I get for reading Be Here Now right before bed.) I don’t remember the dreams per se, but about an hour later I woke from a very vivid dream to those words:

 

 “You’re sick because you want people to see you as a person, not an object.”

 

 As with most spiritual epiphanies, it was accompanied by a download of emotions, memories, and instantaneous understanding. 

 

Here’s what I understood at that moment:

 

 I was raised by a narcissist. One of the hallmark traits of that disorder is that narcissists see other people in the same way most people see objects. To narcissists, there is no qualitative difference between people and objects. And objects only have value when they are useful – there is no intrinsic value to an object beyond the usefulness that we assign to it.

 

One of my lifelong struggles has been to be seen and valued for who I am. Since I didn’t have a parent who saw my intrinsic value and reflected it back to me, which is something all humans (especially children) need, I have struggled to learn how to find this, recognize it, and take it in.  As a child, I never learned how to be seen as a person with valid needs and innate value; instead, I received the message that I was just an object that may or may not be useful on any given day in someone else’s orbit.

 

When I was a child, being sick allowed me to be a useful object to my mother AND get her love and attention.  She could take on the role of “long-suffering caregiver” and get attention from her friends who felt compassion and admiration for her, and I, in turn, would get her time and energy directed at me. It was as close to a “win-win” as our dysfunctional relationship could get.

 

I’ve had chronic fatigue for more than 10 years as a long-hauler side effect of chemotherapy. I realized in that moment of epiphany that being sick has been a way for me to have a “reason” to ask for love and support and a “reason” to deserve care. Since I didn’t believe that I deserved love and care just because, my body co-created an illness so that I could feel justified in my need for connection and care.

 

I know that this isn’t just a feature of my childhood – our culture at large objectifies us and measures our usefulness against other objectified humans:

  • How nice to look at are you? 
  • How productive are you? 
  • How pleasant to be around are you? 
  • How good of a provider are you?
  • How reliable are you? 
  • How appreciative of a sick/poor/disabled/marginalized person are you? 

These are all measures of us as objects – as things that are either useful to others or not. It’s a losing game because there will always be someone who is more “useful” than you, there is no object that can’t be compared to something more useful.

 

 But I am not an object and neither are you. 

 

I’m a human being, not an iPhone — I don’t need to have a “usefulness” to be valued. I am valued and loved simply because I am, because I exist. In fact, the more that I come home to “I am” and let the rest go, the more that people show up in my life who want to love, support and care for me. The more that I come to see that I don’t have to create stories about why I am valuable, useful or worthy, the more that my intrinsic value shines through and others can see it and honor it.

 

 I need to stop creating stories about why I am valuable in order to truly know why I’m valuable.

 

 Well, isn’t that a paradox.

 

 I’m going to use this mantra in the next few days and see what happens:

 

 “I am not an object. I do not need to have a usefulness. I am valuable because I am.”

 

 And if you are feeling any of this too, know that I see you. You are whole. You are already valuable. And if you can’t see that quite yet, please know that I already do and I already love you just because you exist.

 

 xo,

Megan

 

Questions for Saul: “What Do I Do When I Feel Stuck?”

 If you’re new here and unfamiliar with Conversations with Saul, I channel a collective of spirit guides who prefer to be called Saul.  They are  representatives of universal consciousness (aka Divine Source), here to answer questions that we as humans may have as we navigate through this incarnation. You can learn more about how I began channeling Saul here.

In this morning’s workshop, someone asked Saul a wonderful question about what to do when we feel stuck.   I have often asked myself this same question, and I’ve heard it from so many people as they try to make their way forward in life, so I thought it would be helpful to share Saul’s wisdom here. 

Being stuck is actually a need for rest and reflection.

You can watch the video for Saul’s full answer, but if you’re pressed for time or need to be strictly sound-off, here are the two pieces of advice Saul gives for what to do when we feel stuck: 

  1.  Ask if what is actually happening is that you need a period of integration, download and rest. This is a natural part of any cycle as we can see when we look at any living system, such as watching a plant grow, the cycle of the seasons (hello, winter!) and many other natural processes of growth and rest. Sometimes being stuck is actually a need for rest and reflection, which is why you don’t feel inspired to move forward. The belief that we have to always be in a phase of productivity and forward momentum is not part of the natural cycle, but rather a by-product of patriarchal, capitalist extraction culture. (That last sentence is my added commentary on Saul’s wisdom – I’m much more of an SJW than Saul.) 
  2. Ask if you are reacting to fear. This could be fear of making the wrong move, trying something new and failing, feeling overwhelmed, or making a mistake. If this is the case, you can use your intuition to decide what to do, and Saul gives some solid advice on how to do that in this video. 

If you’d like to learn more about Saul, or have a chance to ask them a question, you can find out more here.

Take care and be kind to yourself today. 

xo,

Megan & Saul 

 

How a Belly Rub Led to My Psychic Discovery

I didn’t always know that I had psychic abilities.

But, when I was about 25 years old, I was lying in bed one night, absent-mindedly running my hands over my belly. This was something I automatically did to self-soothe and relax.  When my hand moved over this spot on my left side, all of the voices in my head that tick through my to-do list or rehash that last conversation I had—all of that suddenly went …silent.

And I then I heard my own voice, but very calm and very secure. It said “there’s going to be something wrong there.”  To say I was taken aback would be an understatement.  I didn’t know what it meant or what I should do. Should I go to the doctor and tell her I was hearing voices telling me there’s going to be something wrong there– I mean I didn’t know what they could even do with that.

So, I just filed it away, and for the awhile, I paid close attention to that spot, testing to see if I felt anything, but nothing.  There was nothing . . .  until about 5 years later.  And then, it was the same thing.  I was rubbing my belly, relaxing and calming myself after a long day. My hand drifted over that spot, and the same thing happened.  All of the voices went quiet, and I heard my own voice say “there’s something wrong there now,”—which, as you can imagine, freaked me out a bit. Okay, a lot.

What do you do about that? How do you tell a doctor that? Usually when you tell your doctor you’re hearing voices, they don’t recommend that you listen to the voices. So I filed it away, and six months later I started to experience excruciating stomach pain.  But not in that spot, a little lower down.

So I finally saw a doctor, and another doctor . . . and another. They thought I had IBS, and then colitis. They kept giving me all of these medications to try but nothing worked. Finally one day my doctor said “ok, lets do this test and see what we find.”

So, after the test, they woke me up and said–“You have colon cancer.”

I was really freaked out, as you can imagine. I met with different doctors, different oncologists, and finally had surgery to remove the tumor. Afterward, I asked the surgeon where the tumor had been, and he told me where it was– and it was in the EXACT spot where my hand had been when I heard that voice.  My voice.  So I asked him if he could tell how long the tumor had been there, and he said “well, I’m probably guessing about 5 years.”

I was floored.

A) How did my body know 5 years ago that there was cancer there just starting to form, and B) how did it communicate that with me as my own voice in my own head?

I went through chemo and radiation, and after I finished treatment, I was super curious about how it all worked. I enrolled in classes on intuition and intuitive healing, and was immediately hooked. I had been Pre-Med and graduated with a BA in Science– but this system made so much more sense to me, plus I was getting all of these cool downloads about how the body works, both for myself and when I worked on other people. Soon after, I started using my skills as a medical intuitive to help other people.

That was 10 years ago, and I’ve been doing it ever since.

I diagnosed my own cancer. Kinda crazy huh?

xo,

Megan

 

 

Why It’s So Hard To Rest And Relax

The other day, my mentor asked me, “Are you proud of yourself?”.  

I had just finished running my new course, Unconventional Tools for Healing, for the first time and was telling her how pleased I was to get some really lovely feedback from the participants. 

I stopped for a moment and reflected on her question. I answered honestly, and felt myself holding back tears as I responded: 

“I don’t think I know how to be proud of myself.” 

The first time I ever remember hearing, “I’m proud of you” from any of my family members was in an email from my father after I’d finished cancer treatment. I’d been writing a blog throughout my treatment and he responded to one of my posts, telling me he was proud of me. 

I cried big, wet tears for about 20 minutes. I didn’t realize how long I’d been waiting to hear that from him.

The insidious fallout for children of emotionally immature or abusive parents is that we often don’t learn what it feels like to take a moment to be proud of ourselves. If we’re hyperfocused and hypervigilant on being the good girl or boy and keeping all the plates spinning in the air, we never learn to stop and take stock of what we’ve achieved. 

That moment of feeling pride is important. It’s a moment of rest, reflection and integration before starting the next task.  

But in the day in and day out nature of extreme emotional caretaking, there is no rest and there is no moment to reflect. 

If this is what “normal” was for you as a child, then stopping, reflecting, and being proud of what you’ve achieved can feel uncomfortable and perhaps even a little anxiety provoking. There’s no awareness of the importance of resting and feeling proud of your achievements before taking on the next challenge. 

Here are some signs that you might never have learned how to rest and integrate: 

  1. You feel anxious or uncomfortable when you have nothing to do. Your brain wants to know, “what’s next?” and you quickly find something to busy yourself. (This can also manifest as ADHD.) 
  2. You think that your achievements are just the bare minimum of what you were supposed to do. I finished chemo? Well, I had cancer I was supposed to. I launched a successful online course? Well, I was supposed to, that’s what you do when you have your own business. 
  3. You think that all of the success you’ve achieved might be because of a fluke and not because you worked hard and deserved it. The good things that happen to you are courtesy of chance. The bad things that happen to you are your responsibility.
  4. You don’t think your needs matter or are worth taking into account and this includes your need for rest and integration.
  5. You feel that you are not enough. You feel like you have to go above and beyond every time, and that nothing you do is ever quite good enough. 
  6. You think that you are too much, and you need to work on toning it down. 
  7. You believe that if you take time to rest, you will be chastised for being lazy, needy or selfish. 

If any of these feel familiar, then please let me be the first to tell you: 

Rest, my child.

You deserve to rest. 

You deserve to take time for yourself to reset, realign, and heal. 

You deserve time only for yourself, with no responsibilities for anyone or anything else. 

And furthermore, I am proud of you. Even if you don’t feel like you’ve lived a life that’s anything special or you’ve done anything particularly praise worthy, I am proud of you

I am proud of you because you have made it this far through some pretty tough shit. You’ve survived some things that probably temporarily broke you, and you’ve picked yourself up and put the pieces back together. 

YOU did that. And that’s pretty amazing. 

So, please, hear me when I say I’m proud of you. 

And now, let us rest. 

xo,

Megan

The Simple Buddhist Practice That Transformed My Relationship With My Narcissistic Parent

When I was 25 years old, I attended my first meditation training. At the time, I was struggling with how to have a relationship with my mom. My mom was a malignant narcissist, although I didn’t know that label or diagnosis back then. Back then, I was a young woman trying to figure out how to have a decent relationship with mom – so I could have someone in my life who could support me, love me, and help me figure out the turbulent transitions of young adulthood.

I hadn’t yet realized that my mom was unable to do these things for me due to her mental health issues, and I was still trying to think of ways that I could repair or improve our relationship. I felt a huge weight of “fixing” our relationship on my shoulders. If only I could figure out the right approach, maybe we could become closer and have the type of relationship I needed.

After class one day I asked my meditation teacher, B. Allan Wallace, if I could speak to him about a difficult relationship in my life and get his advice. He listened as I explained my situation. I think he knew, even more than I did, that there was no way to have this woman in my life in any way that wasn’t damaging or toxic.

He told me that sometimes the only way to have a relationship with someone was to do so energetically. To send them compassion from afar rather than trying to work out how to be together in real life. He told me that there was a way of healing my relationship with my mom that didn’t involve finding the right approach for ways to repair or improve anything.

He introduced me to the idea of Mettā, which is often translated as “loving kindness.” He showed me how I could send this prayer, this energy, towards my mom as a way of having a relationship with her.

Mettā goes like this:

“May you find happiness and the causes of happiness. 

May you be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.”

He taught me how to bring my mom to my mind and send her this prayer. He said that this was a valuable, important and effective way for me to have a relationship with her.

And so, I did.

The amazing thing about this practice was that it immediately shifted my thoughts about how I didn’t want to give up having my mother in my life, to realizing that this was a way that I could that would bring me no harm. It gave me a sense of agency in a situation that had seemed dire and hopeless only moments before.

“May you find happiness and the causes of happiness.

May you be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.”

I sent her the prayer often. I sent it to her when I felt furious and crushed by the hurtful, eviscerating words she said to me. I sent it to her when I felt deep sadness that I didn’t have the type of mother I saw my friends have. I sent it to her when my mother’s friends called me, demanding that I tell them what she had done to deserve such “horrible treatment” from her daughter. I sent it to her when I desperately wanted her in my life and didn’t know how to fix that.

Slowly, I started to heal.

I realized that I could separate from her and still have compassion. And that was indeed a type of relationship. My teacher was right, sometimes, it’s the only one we can have with someone.

Compassion is unique in that it can exist in the same moment as almost any other emotion. I can be angry and have compassion for the reasons the other person was mean to me. I can be traumatized and have compassion for the suffering that must have happened for them to know no other way than to hurt me. I can feel rage against the systems of social oppression that have convinced people it’s okay to think of other people as less than, incompetent or undeserving and still have compassion for the immense fear of losing egoic power that drives that behavior.

I still rage and cry and fight against all of this. And at the same time, I have compassion. It’s a weird paradox.

But then again, being a spiritual being having a human experience is a weird paradox.

I’ve continued to keep this practice as part of my daily life as a way to feel connected, held and interwoven with my fellow souls. Yesterday, I was at the market and the man working at the register looked especially tired. I felt the weight of his life in that moment. I looked at him and exchanged the usual pleasantries, but in my mind, I was sending him the energy of Mettā:

“May you find happiness and the causes of happiness.

May you be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.”

I do this when I pass people walking down the street, whether they are smiling or looking sad. I send it to people I read about in the news or on social media. I send it to the people I see intentionally instigating fear, divisiveness and hatred in our society today. (That last one is a challenge, but when I dig deep I know that all humans do deserve to find happiness and be free from suffering. Much of their hateful behavior comes from a misdirected attempt to alleviate their own suffering, I know.)

So, I have a request. I’d like to invite you to join me. Find at least one person per day to whom you can send Mettā. Look them straight in the eyes and think to yourself, “Hello, my fellow human traveler. I see your messy humanity, just as I see my own. May you find happiness and the causes of happiness. May you be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.”

Let me know how it goes. I can only imagine a world where everyone sends this energy to everyone else they meet every day. I don’t know exactly what that world would be like, but I know it would have to be a more loving, understanding and compassionate place.

 

xo,

Megan

 

PS – If you want to try a Mettā meditation, you can find my version of it here.

The Most Important Relationship You’ll Ever Have

We all have “inner critics” — that voice in our head that’s less than supportive, doubting, and sometimes even mean. 

Our inner critic feeds off of self-doubt, imposter syndrome and shame. This is often an echo of the way that we were spoken to as children or a reflection of the value system we grew up in, like valuing hard work or piousness and thereby shaming “laziness” or “bad behavior.”

The main problem with the inner critic is that it keeps us from having a healthy version of the most important relationship we’ll ever have —  the relationship with ourselves.

When we can learn to be our own cheerleaders, wise mentors, and caregivers, it makes life so much more pleasant. When we develop inner mentors and inner caregivers, we improve our relationship with ourself and see dramatic changes in how we interact with the world.

How do we convince the inner critic that they are wrong and that we truly are worthy, wonderful human beings?

One of the ways we can improve our relationship with ourselves is by consistently demonstrating our love and care for ourselves and by asking others to help us, too.

This is just like you’d do with a romantic partner – relationships need to be looked after and tended on a daily basis, and the one you have with yourself is no exception.

One way we can work on our relationship with ourselves is through our “love languages.” We each have a ranking of which love languages makes us feel most loved, valued and appreciated. The five love languages are Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch.

 You can find yours here: Take the quiz!

(Mine are: “receiving gifts”, “words of affirmation” and “acts of service”)

 

 Once you have found your love language profile, here’s what you can do to improve your relationship with yourself.

  1. Find your top 2 love languages and do (or pay someone to do) at least 2 things per week for yourself. For example, buy yourself a small gift (“receiving gifts”), use a grocery delivery app (“acts of service”), get a massage (“physical touch”).  Make note of the ones that bring you the most joy so you can do them again!
  1. ASK for others to do things for you in your love language.  For example, ask a friend to tell you 3 reasons they value your friendship (“words of affirmation”), ask a friend to surprise you with a gift sometime in the next week (“receiving gifts”), or ask your partner to do the dishes every night this week (“acts of service”).

 

This may feel weird to ask at first, but we have to get used to asking for what will make us feel loved. Plus, studies show that taking care of others increases people’s happiness. So we’re actually making THEM happier by asking!

Once you’ve made it a habit to buy yourself flowers every Sunday like Lizzo or get a massage each week no matter what, you will be well on your way to learning how to value yourself and understand that you deserve to be treated well and are deserving of all the love.

 

xo,

Megan

 

What Kind of F*er are You?!

Determining your sympathetic nervous system response type

 

If you’re looking to recover from childhood trauma or C-PTSD then I want to know what kind of F*er you are. 

No, not that kind of F*er! I mean, yeah, sometimes even I’m the asshole, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. 

Your particular F*er type is derived from the 4 types of sympathetic nervous system response, also known as the “4 Fs” in physiology.

When we’re in a stressful situation, our nervous systems switch from calm parasympathetic mode into stressed out sympathetic mode. Stressed out sympathetic mode is super useful for getting us out of a potentially harmful situation, like almost being hit by a car or seeing a rattlesnake on a hike. 

But what happens when most of life is a potentially harmful situation? What happens when you spent your childhood feeling neglected, scapegoated or silenced? It turns out, your nervous system acclimates to this and decides “stressed out” is just how it is. So instead of having your normal state be the calm, serene parasympathetic mode, your “normal” state becomes a stress response. 

This is what causes the true damage of C-PTSD. Over time, this stress response becomes a trauma response, and we experience much of life as if it’s unsafe or harmful. 

One of the pillars to healing trauma is to retrain your nervous system to have a more healthy baseline, a “normal” that looks like being in parasympathetic (calm) mode most of the time instead of sympathetic (stress) mode. So, it’s really important to know what kind, or type, of stress or trauma response you tend to have. 

This is where the 4 Fs come in. 

The stress or trauma response is divided into 4 types:

  • Fight
  • Flight
  • Freeze
  • Fawn (aka Appease) 

To determine which kind of F*er you are, take a look at the following descriptions, and see which one(s) fit you best. Sometimes, we tend toward two response types, so there may be more than one that fits. 

Fight: If you find yourself having a short fuse or easily getting annoyed at people or situations, then you may have a strong fight response. A healthy fight response is designed so that we can attack when threatened, like when someone fights back when a mugger tries to grab their purse or wallet. But when the fight response becomes a trauma response, we tend to go into anger/fight/annoyed/dismissive mode whenever we feel slighted, ignored, or threatened. It sometimes even surfaces to preemptively avoid a potentially triggering or stressful situation, aka “strike first and ask questions later.”

Flight: Are you someone who finds a good reason to suddenly leave your new job or break up with the new person you’re dating? Do you find that the thing you *knew* would be the right next step for you never seems to be right and isn’t what you thought it would be? Then you might be have a flight response. 

via GIPHY

The flight response is designed so that we leave a potentially dangerous situation, like when someone yells “fire!” in a movie theater. However, if most of life was a dangerous situation, then the flight response can become a trauma response. This is especially true if the dangerous situations you were in as a child were emotional abuse, gaslighting or manipulation. You learn that emotional closeness is inevitably followed by betrayal or heartbreak, so you learn to leave as soon as something starts to feel good or emotionally nourishing. While this is an unconscious response (nobody thinks,”this relationship is awesome! I think I’ll sabotage it.”) it is something that you can often see as a pattern in hindsight. 

Freeze: Many predatory animals (including humans) are much better at perceiving movement than form or color. So in order to avoid being caught or attacked, many prey animals (including humans!) have developed a hide and freeze response where they become very still, hyperaware, and try blending into the background in the hope that the predator won’t be able to perceive them, and will eventually give up the hunt and go away. When this becomes a trauma response it can look like introversion, dissociation (depression, ADHD, or frequent daydreaming), or shyness (social anxiety or agoraphobia). Many times, this is a preemptive freeze response, where if we check-out-before-we’ve-even-checked-in, we can avoid any potential dangerous or triggering situations. 

Fawn/Appease: So in keeping with the “F” theme, the 4th F is fawn, but TBH I like appease better — it’s a more accurate descriptor. Have you ever had a creepy guy say something that felt awkward or kind of freaked you out? Like, your spidey senses say, “let’s get away from this guy and make sure he doesn’t follow?” but instead of punching him in the face and running away (hello, fight and flight!) you smile and say, “Yeah, haha. You’re totally right. Thank you!” and then you say it was nice to meet him, and you gotta go meet your friends or something like that? Then you have experienced the fawn/appease response! (Interestingly, this 4th sympathetic type of response was only added a few years ago when researchers started studying how women respond to stress and found that it was different than men’s response.) What happens when this normal stress response becomes a chronic trauma response? It can look like people pleasing, HSP or high empathy, sensory processing issues, codependency, or a fear of conflict or confrontation.

My F*er type looks like freeze with a big side helping of fawn/appease. What does this look like in my life? Here are three examples from yours truly. 

When I was little, I was painfully shy. I was scared of meeting new people (especially adults), and I would run behind my mom, grab onto her leg and start to cry if anyone talked to me. This shyness was a trauma response of both freeze and appease. The “freeze” part was running, hiding and refusing to speak. The “appease” part was putting my mom back into the center of attention as the “good mom” who was protecting her child. (A good survival strategy for being the child of a narcissist is to always put the focus back on them, in any way you can.) Fortunately, I’m not shy anymore, but I can easily see how this could have become social anxiety or even agoraphobia if I hadn’t addressed it. 

I’ve also noticed that my hearing is really damn good, I can often hear sounds that are too quiet for most folks. I know this is from “freezing” and listening very closely (hyperawareness) from my bedroom whenever my parents came home. I became a expert in listening to determine their mood: How were their footsteps sounding on the floor? How forcefully did they open or close the door? Which room did they go to and what were they doing in there? 

I’m still working on the appease response of people pleasing and fear of conflict. This is a big one for me as the fear of retribution or angering people is still embedded in my nervous system, and I don’t want to do or say anything that could potentially upset or disappoint people. I call myself a “recovering perfectionist” because this used to mean always being as perfect as possible and never making a mistake in order to minimize the chance of retribution, but I’ve been working on allowing myself to be a messy human and sometimes miss the mark without fearing repercussions. 

Why is your F type important to know? There are two main benefits.

The first is you can more easily and quickly recognize and address the trauma response when it comes up. For example, if I know that I am avoiding sending an email because I’m worried about the recipient’s response, I can say to myself, “Ah! That’s my appease trigger” and I can use one of my tools to comfort, soothe and care for  that inner child part of me. 

The second is that it helps you figure out how to “complete the stress response” so you can get back into that calm, parasympathetic mode. For example, after a stressful day I often pick solitary “freeze” activities to reset my nervous system where I can be quiet, still and alone, like meditation, reading, watching movies, or crafting because I know that my nervous systems feels most safe in these activities and will be able to unwind and clear out any residual stress. If I were more of a “flight” type, then going for a long drive might help me reset into parasympathetic mode. 

I hope this helped you identify your mix of parasympathetic responses and I’d love to know what type of F*er you are!

Drop me a note, and let me know because I like hearing from all you F*ers out there. 

And don’t forget — while you may be shy or short-tempered or a chronic daydreamer, YOU ARE AN AMAZING GOD(DESS) WHO HAS SURVIVED SOME EPIC SHITSHOWS. I see you in all your human, messy glory and I love and admire you all the more for it. Rock on, my warrior friend. 

xo

Megan

Two Questions That Changed My Life: “Do I have C-PTSD?” and “How do I heal it?”

A few years ago, I was listening to a podcast, and someone mentioned they had C-PTSD. I’d never heard of this before (PTSD, yes. But C-PTSD? Nope.) 

I looked it up, and when I saw the definition and symptoms, I immediately realized, “Oh FFS — that’s me. I have this.” 

C-PTSD stands for Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and although it shares similar characteristics with PTSD, there are some marked differences. While PTSD happens as a result of a one-time or shorter duration traumatic event, like serving on active duty in a war zone or  surviving a physical attack, C-PTSD occurs when people experience trauma from on-going experiences such as childhood neglect or abuse, domestic abuse, human trafficking, or living in a war-torn or extremely impoverished region for more than a year.

Some of the symptoms experienced by people with C-PTSD include: 

  • Avoiding situations that remind them of the trauma
  • Dizziness or nausea when remembering the trauma
  • A negative self-view: Complex PTSD can cause a person to view themselves negatively and feel helpless, guilty, or ashamed. They often consider themselves to be different from other people and don’t know where they fit in.
  • Changes in beliefs and worldview: People with C-PTSD may hold a negative view of the world and the people in it, feel a loss of trust in themselves or others, or feel that the world is a dangerous place. 
  • Emotional regulation difficulties: These conditions can cause people to have extreme emotional reactions to some situations. They may experience intense anger, fear or sadness that seems highly disproportionate for the given situation. 
  • Hyperarousal or hypervigilance: they are in a continuous state of high alert or feel like they are constantly “walking on eggshells” or “waiting for the other shoe to drop” much of the time.
  •  Relationship issues. Relationships may suffer due to difficulties with trusting and interacting, and because of a negative self-view. A person may develop unhealthy relationships because they don’t know or never had models for a healthy relationship.
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating. Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or being able to nap. Difficulty concentrating or increased procrastination. In some cases, ADHD can in fact be caused by C-PTSD. 
  • Detachment from the trauma: A person may dissociate, which means feeling detached from emotions or physical sensations. Some people completely forget the trauma.
  • Preoccupation with an abuser: It is not uncommon to fixate on the abuser, the relationship with the abuser, or getting revenge for the abuse. 
  • Reliving the trauma through flashbacks and nightmares.

 

As I looked over this list of symptoms, I realized that I have (or had) all of these. I grew up in a home with some pretty gnarly emotional, medical, and physical abuse– and it had left its mark. 

When we spend a long time in traumatic situations, especially as we’re growing and developing, our very smart body-minds adapt for survival. Entire systems change and adapt in order to be able to survive and keep us safe: our nervous system, vagal system, immune system, digestive system and the microbiome, emotional regulation and response, cognitive processing–as well as all of our energetic systems like meridians, the heart torus field, chakras and more–shift and adapt to what “normal” is in this traumatic world. When we are finally free of the traumatic situation, we now have a whole body-mind that needs to be retuned to be able to thrive in a non-traumatic world. 

So, how do we heal this? 

While there’s no “one-size-fits-all” fix for embodied trauma and C-PTSD, I can tell you what’s worked best for me. 

  • Therapy. Find yourself a good trauma-informed therapist and talk this shit out. I’ve been in therapy off and on for most of my adult life because the sneaky nature of trauma is that it can rear its ugly head in new situations all the time. 
  • Meditation. I first learned to meditate through a study at UCSF on “Cultivating Emotional Balance.” It took YEARS AND YEARS of practice before mediation became something that was easy for me but, damn, it was worth it. I can switch my mood from anxious to joyous in 20 minutes and can stay present and grounded in even the most triggering of situations now. One of the benefits that isn’t talked about enough is the changes that happen when we’re *not* meditating. Somehow that daily practice of 20 minutes of meditation has ripple effects outside of that time, too. I can now get into that meditative headspace immediately at almost any time of the day and feel the same effects of calm, peaceful joy that come from being in the present moment (aka mindfulness.)
  • Books. I read self-help books all the time. I’ve found that there are two types that help me the most. There are books that give advice and teach you tools for a certain issue, like hypervigilance or perfectionism. These are helpful for when my symptoms arise and I need a tool or strategy to deal with them in the moment.  And then there are autobiographical books that are written by people who went through something similar to me.  These are sooooo validating and helpful and make me realize that what I went through was wrong and horrible (I tend to normalize things and underreact to trauma). They remind me that I am not as much of a freak or weirdo as I may imagine, and that other people have gone through the same thing and have had similar feelings and responses. (I mean, I am a freak and a weirdo, but in a totally awesome way, not in a social pariah kind of way.) 
  • Energy healing. Oh boy. This was so profound for me that I totally switched my life path and career so I could dive head first into learning all about this. Energy healing is so magical because unlike therapy or medication, it helps the body heal on the physical, mental, emotional, energetic, and spiritual levels all at once and in parallel. I originally started going to an energy healer to mitigate and heal side effects from chemo. One day about 3 months in, my practitioner said “Oh, you’re ready to transcend anxiety.” I looked at her and laughed right in her face. I’d been anxious since I was 3-years-old, and that’s probably just because I couldn’t remember back any earlier than that. But she did her thing and you know what? I left that office PROFOUNDLY less anxious. It felt like I’d had a 50-ton boulder lifted off me. My hypervigilance decreased markedly, my mood was more joyous and I had far fewer anxious, looping thoughts on a day-to-day basis. It was like 10 years of therapy in 3 months. So, I decided to figure out how that all worked. I’ve have spent the last 15 years studying different modalities and learning all that I can about the beautiful intersection of body, mind and spirit so that I can help others with their healing process, as well. 

If you see some of yourself in what I wrote here, please know that you are not alone, that there are people and groups and tools to help you heal. And please know that I see you, I know it’s been so hard, and I think you are an amazing triumph of nature to have survived and thrived the way you have. It’s no small feat, my friend, and I am so very unabashedly proud of you, wherever you are in your healing process. 

Xo

Megan

 

COVID-19 Vaccine Prep Sessions Now Available!

Now offering (due to popular demand!): COVID-19 vaccine prep sessions

I’ve been doing vaccine prep sessions informally with current clients, but I’m getting referrals from friends of clients who have heard about the great results my clients are having and want a session for themselves. So, I’m happy to offer these to everyone (yes, you!)  as a one-time session.

I’ve developed an energy healing protocol for all the major vaccines (Moderna, Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson, AstraZeneca) to help prepare your body both for the vaccine itself and for the immune response that will naturally follow. I tailor this protocol to each individual by muscle testing and taking into account individual health history, as well.

Clients report having only mild side effects from the vaccine as well as having an increased sense of calm and well-being and a decrease in anxiety and worry surrounding the vaccine. And who doesn’t want that? 😉

If you’re interested in booking a session, I recommend making the appointment 24-72 hours before your first vaccine appointment. Sessions are 30 minutes and are priced at $99.

To book in using my online booking system, please click here:

COVID-19 Vaccine Prep Session with Megan Caper

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me and I’ll be happy to answer them.

What I’ve learned about growth mindset from binging British reality TV competitions

Lately, I’ve been working on unhooking from praise and criticism in how I evaluate myself and my work. I’ve been examining my own unhealthy relationship to praise and how I’ve chased “gold star stickers” as validation for most of my life.

This started in elementary school when I would get praise for doing well academically. There’s a meme that made the rounds a few years ago that was so spot on for me, it made me cringe in recognition. 

Oh yes, all of the above. 100%

The challenges that “gifted and talented” kids face later in life can be explained by Carol Dweck’s work on growth mindset vs fixed mindset. A growth mindset is where you believe intelligence is malleable and can develop and grow over time. A fixed mindset is one where you believe intelligence is fixed and static. It turns out that  when we praise kids for specific abilities or achievements (“That was a great essay!”, “You’re so smart!” or “You’re such a good athlete!”) as opposed to attributes or intrinsic qualities (“Wow! I’m impressed at how hard you worked on that!” or “That was tough but I’m proud of how you stuck with it.”) we inadvertently stunt their growth mindset and drive them towards a fixed mindset. 

Ability-based praise leads kids to believe that labels like “you’re so smart” are true for them and these attributes quickly become part of their self-identity. While this doesn’t seem bad at first glance, when we attach too strongly to something as part of our identity/ego, we then become terrified of it being stripped away. This causes us to default to a fixed mindset in order to preserve our precious identity and we learn to fear the inevitable failures that come as part and parcel of a healthy growth mindset. If trying something and failing becomes something that threatens who we think we are, then failure becomes a painful ego distortion rather than a normal part of learning and growing. The result is that the kids who were praised for abilities are much less likely to want to try challenging tasks than the kids who are praised for attributes, and are more often up for a new challenge. 

As one of the “gifted and talented kids” my parents praised me up, down and sideways for my academic achievements. They bragged about it to friends. They told me I had such a bright future ahead of me as a result. They pulled me out of one school and put me into another to better match my intellectual prowess. It quickly became part of my identity and a great source of my self-esteem. 

However, the problem with self-esteem is this — what happens when we can no longer do esteemable things? What happens when for some reason or another, we can’t perform at the level that we’ve come to expect? 

Let me tell you, it feels like crap

It feels like shame

It feels like existential failure

This became suddenly and abundantly clear to me when I lost a good deal of my cognitive function due to “chemo brain” almost overnight. My memory, information processing abilities, recall, vocabulary, and other markers of intelligence were all severely impacted by chemotherapy and I found myself unable to be the “smart kid” anymore. How could I be the smart kid when I couldn’t even process what someone was saying to me, let alone remember any information that would help me craft a response? 

Common words eluded me. Facts and figures and ideas that I’d known by heart were murky at best. And my auditory processing was shot — if someone said something to me verbally rather than writing it down, I had no memory of it. Which made me feel like an idiot when I couldn’t remember something they’d said to me mere hours before. “Don’t you remember? We JUST talked about this, Megan.” 

It was a huge slap in the face. And while I’ve recovered a good deal of my cognitive abilities, they’re still not what they used to be. But that sudden loss allowed me to look at my core identity as “the smart one” and how deeply it had been ingrained in my sense of self and ego. Only then could I look at whether that served me or not, and make some conscious decisions about what I wanted my self-concept to be. 

So, what’s the antidote to this relentless quest for the gold star fix? And what does it have to do with British reality TV? 

I realized after chemo brain hit me hard that I needed to shift my identity to be about attributes rather than abilities. For example, I have a thirst for knowledge and a love of learning rather than “I’m smart.” Or, I am compassionate, curious and open-minded about those in my life rather than “I’m a nice person.” Can I love reading and not be smart? Sure can! Can I be compassionate with someone’s suffering and still have good boundaries and say no? You betcha. 

During the pandemic, I’ve been binge watching two British reality TV competitions: “The Great British Bake Off” and “The Great Pottery Throwdown.” These shows touch me in a way that I couldn’t quite name until one recent episode of “Pottery Throwdown.” One of the contestants, Roz, was asked to do a task that was way out of her wheelhouse. She finished the task but came in last in the judging. As she’s speaking to the judges about coming in last she says she’s embarrassed. Keith, one of the judges, looks at her with tears in his eyes and says, “Never feel embarrassed, Roz.” 

What he’s saying to Roz here is that she should be proud of herself, she should be proud of her attributes of persistence, resilience and grit rather than be embarrassed about her abilities (or lack thereof) at this specific task. You can see the interaction here: 

 

My love of these British reality competitions comes from the culture on these shows of being proud of trying your best, going out of your comfort zone, and being resilient and gritty. These are valued more on these shows than whether you came first or last. It’s not about the gold star or the winner’s ribbon, that’s just icing on the cake. (Yes, I made a baking pun, just for you my fellow GBBO fans.) The core values of these shows are about how extraordinary it is for people to show up with uncertainty, put in the effort, and try something new without knowing how it will turn out.  

No wonder I love these shows, they’re models of growth mindset that I desperately need. They feed the part of me that wants to see this in action, the part of me that wants to soak up all of these examples of how to value attributes rather than abilities like a sponge so I can turn around and do the same for myself and others. 

Here’s my challenge for you this week — try to think of a time when someone praised you for your attributes rather than your abilities. What did they say? How did it feel? 

If you can think of one, please comment on this post or email me at megan@megancaper.com and tell me about it. Like I said, I need more models and ideas for how I can do this more for myself. 

Xo Megan

P.S. For more on this subject:

Tara Mohr “Playing Big”

Carol Dweck “Mindset”

Alice Miller “Drama of the Gifted Child”

Why it’s hard to ask for help

Hi My Friends —

This week, I’ve been practicing relying on others and asking for help. This is a particular challenge for me as I’ve always been one of those people who thinks, “Oh, it’s just easier if I do it myself.”

I realized recently that the reflex to “just do it myself” is a sneakily disguised defense mechanism —  if I tell myself that no one can do it as well as I can and it would be easier if I do it myself, what I’m really doing is avoiding asking for help or reaching out for support.

Because relying on others and asking for help and support is uncomfortable for me.

I first realized how much I avoid relying on others when I was going through chemotherapy in my early 30s. I had a hard time taking people up on their myriad offers of help. I felt like it was an imposition or that I was asking too much, even if it was something they offered. I would tell myself,  “They don’t really have the time or energy to help, they’re just trying to be nice.” (I know,  the logic fails here, but our belief systems about our own worthiness don’t often pass the logic test.)

So, I started an experiment. When somebody offered something — to bring me a coffee, to clean my house, to run an errand for me — I said yes. I was very sick after all and I certainly needed the help. I didn’t think let my brain think it though, I didn’t let my inner critic tell me they were “just trying to be nice and didn’t really want to do it” and I didn’t qualify my “yes” with a “but only if you really want to” — I simply said YES.

Eventually, as with all things we practice enough, this became a habit. I am now able to let someone pick up the tab or bring me a coffee without my inner critic telling me they don’t really want to and are just trying to be nice. I can actually enjoy the feeling of someone wanting to take care of me, to do something for me. I can let that feeling wash over me and it feels good. I can actually let that love in now and feel what it’s like to be cared for in that way.

I now realize I need to take this to the next level. I need to not only accept help when it’s offered, but also ask for help. Especially to ask for help from people that haven’t offered it to me before or who I don’t know very well.

This terrifies me. 

You see, I grew up in a household where if I asked for something I was told I was selfish and ungrateful. That I was self-centered, bitchy, and cruel. Essentially, that I was unworthy of whatever it was that I needed or wanted.

Asking for help was fraught with peril. Putting myself out there and admitting I needed help was often met with anger, and so I came up with the strategy of not asking. I did everything myself because that was emotionally far safer to do.

I now know that this wasn’t normal, and that asking for what you want and need from family and friends (and even strangers!) is part of the deal, part of what we’re supposed to do as humans in relationship with each other. But knowing that something isn’t normal or healthy and acting upon what I know IS normal and healthy are two different things.

So I’m practicing. I’m practicing asking for help, and then feeling that inner child brace for anger and dismissal, and letting her know it’s going to be okay. I tell her the people I have in my life love me, want to help me, see my brilliance and magnificence and want to help me make the most of it. And then I practice asking for what I need and feeling supported, loved and cared for in return.

I’m practicing letting my heart fill and feeling the tears come to my eyes when someone says “yes” and helps me in a way I believe I don’t deserve.

It’s okay to have needs. I am worthy. I deserve help, support and kindness. 

If you’re someone who has trouble accepting or asking for help from others, I invite you to join me in practicing this. Practice letting others offer to take care of you first, and then practice ASKING others to take care of you. I know this can be hard to do for those of us that didn’t have a positive experience with this as children, either from our parents or from a society whose systems of oppression that told us our existence was “less than.” But I know it’s worth it. I know we all need and deserve to feel loved, cared for, protected and valued.

You are worth it. I see it and I know it. People want to care for you, it will bring them joy.

Why not give them a chance?
Xo Megan

PS — if you know someone who needs to hear this message, can you forward this to them? (See? See how I did that? I asked for help! From total strangers! Go me!! 😃)

Feel like you’re on an emotional rollercoaster lately? I think I may know why.

Notes on the Pandemic:

I was driving home from a hike with my dog the other day when the anxiety hit. I had just spent an hour hiking on a beautiful trail by the ocean, listening to an audiobook, and feeling pretty damn good. But as I got in my car and drove home, I felt a familiar tightening in my stomach. Oh hello, anxiety.

I wasn’t anxious about anything in particular, although my mind quickly found things it could grasp on to: I haven’t finished my taxes yet, I need to order a birthday present for my friend and have it shipped, I need to set up an appointment with the vet, etc. And while I admire my brain’s ability to find things to be anxious about, this isn’t my favorite place to spend time.

This sudden mood swing wasn’t an unfamiliar pattern and lately I’ve noticed it’s been worse than normal. One day (or hour) I’m fine and then the next, I’m anxious or depressed.

What is going on? Is this some sort of spiritual upgrade or slow ego death that’s making my emotions swing from one extreme to another?

And then I realized, oh no – this isn’t a spiritual upgrade. This is my ability to maintain reliable emotional regulation breaking down in the face of an entire year of pandemic and lockdown.

Emotional regulation is the ability to “influence which emotions we have, when we have them, and how we experience and express our feelings.” Good emotional regulation looks like being able to put things in perspective, comfort ourselves, and find support in friends, family or activities.

So many of my usual coping strategies that I use to stay even-keeled and release the pressure of life have been thwarted by the lockdown and the pandemic. I can’t go to cafés to work and people watch, I can’t go to movies and plays, I can’t hang out with friends and laugh and hug and physically support each other.
One whole year of being deprived of so many of my best strategies for helping me influence which emotional state I’m in has finally taken its toll. The result is an emotional rollercoaster unlike that which I’ve felt in my recent adult life.

Once I realized this I was able to take a deep breath, send some love and compassion and appreciation to my poor body and mind that has been through so much in the last year, and give myself permission to be a bit more of a mess than I usually am.

It’s okay my sweet bodymind, I’m here for you. This has been an exceptionally hard year. Rest if you need to. Play silly games on your phone if you need to. Do the rest of your work tomorrow if you need to. This is hard, and we can do hard things, but we must do them without pushing or forcing or shaming ourselves. We must do them with love and patience and care.

So be kind to yourself, my friends. Self-compassion is one of the golden keys to happiness and I think we could all use an extra dose right about now.