One of the most important things you can do from an emotional and spiritual perspective to begin healing autoimmune and other diseases is to establish good boundaries. Yet many of us find ourselves shackled to the opinions and expectations of others, hindered by a deeply ingrained fear of invoking anger. Life is a journey of self-discovery, and to navigate it wisely, we must set boundaries that honor the integrity of our souls. This article aims to guide you toward the empowering practice of setting boundaries without being held captive by the fear of other people’s reactions.
The Sacred Space of Self
Boundaries are not just invisible lines; they are the sacred spaces where your spirit breathes freely, nurtured by the values and principles that define you. Setting a boundary is an act of self-love, a statement to the Universe that says, “I am deserving of respect, and I honor the Divine in me by respecting myself.”
Understanding the Energetics of Anger
Anger is an energy, a vibration that can either consume us or teach us. When we step back to look at anger from a higher perspective, we recognize its dual nature—it can act as a barrier, but it can also serve as a catalyst for change and growth. While the anger of others may seem frightening, our own anger—stemming from feelings of being marginalized, trampled upon, or victimized—can ignite a transformative journey of change and self-compassion.
The Fear That Holds Us Back
Why does the potential to provoke someone’s anger paralyze our ability to set healthy boundaries? The answer often lies in old scripts, stories we’ve been told or that we tell ourselves about the dire consequences of displeasing others. If others’ anger was a terrifying experience in your younger years, it’s time to rewrite those scripts and replace fear with the courage to fully express ourselves.
The Cost of Living Without Boundaries
When we fail to set boundaries, we pay a high price. We not only betray our true selves, but also compromise our emotional, mental, and even physical health. This neglect drains our life force, much like a river losing its vitality as its banks erode. Remember, you can rebuild those banks; you have the power to direct the course of your life.
Embrace the Divine Courage Within You
Overcoming the fear of setting boundaries is not a one-time event; it’s a journey. It involves continuously aligning your life with the values that uplift your soul. Wisdom traditions teach us that courage is not the absence of fear, but the recognition that something else is more important than fear. That ‘something’ is finding and expressing your authentic self.
Practical Steps for Spiritual Empowerment
- Begin Small: Transformation doesn’t happen overnight. Start by setting smaller, manageable boundaries and build from there.
- Speak Your Truth: Clearly articulate your needs and limits. Use “I am” statements to affirm your own experiences and perspectives.
- Respond to Others with Love and Firmness: It’s inevitable that some people will react unfavorably to your boundaries. When this happens, it’s crucial to stay rooted in your own truth, responding with a firm yet loving demeanor. Understand that their reactions are more about them than about you; hold onto your inner peace.
Your life is a sacred journey, and setting boundaries is an integral part of that journey. The fears and obstacles you face are not barriers; they are lessons that must be learned to live in harmony with your true self. You have the power to turn fear into freedom and transform your life into an empowering affirmation of who you really are. I believe in you. Now, it’s time for you to believe in yourself.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.