Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Sexual Healing


I once had a spiritual teacher who was a sexual predator. He was my minister, and, in many ways, my mentor. I should have seen his acting out, but I was naive and young. He raped a friend of mine, but I didn’t know that until 40 years later. If I had known, I would have left. I guess I did leave. My friend left the church and went to another church, and I followed her.

This man, a man of the cloth, opened many doors for me, although he had a shadow side that allowed him to take advantage of his position. I quoted him Sunday AM from the pulpit. I didn’t mention names, and as sad and horrifying as his actions were toward women, he helped me immensely. I don’t discount that. I would have been “out of there” sooner if I had been able to see the abuse, but my family history allowed me to deny it. I too was caught in an unhealthy sexual perspective, though I didn’t know it. I was a child of the sixties, and there was a sexual liberation movement that was well-needed, but with it came a time of experimenting. There was no AIDS, no herpes, but there were few heart-centered guidelines.

I had a friend who disclosed that he was a peeping tom. He was one of my best friends and he had always treated me with respect and admiration. He asked me to read Patrick Carnes’ book, Out of the Shadows. It’s about
sexual addiction. I cried when I read the book. It opened new doors of compassion in me. I never looked at my friend differently. I couldn’t excuse his behavior, but after hearing his confessions and reading the book, I saw a different point of view.


There are many women who are coming forth these days with stories of sexual abuse. People ask why they didn’t come forward sooner. Maybe it was fear, but, for me, it was because I was raised in a culture where men took advantage of women, and I didn’t even see it as wrong. I thought it was just, “This is what men do.” It was like a Stockholm Syndrome for our culture.

My husband has been great when it comes to sexual openness. He admits that he, too, has his sexual baggage. He was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, and, in their book, just being alive is practically unacceptable.
I once took my mom to a weekend retreat. She asked me some specific questions about sex. I was shocked at her naivete. She had three children, was married to a womanizer (I’m being kind with that assessment), and hardly knew anything about sex. I won’t go into details, but the generation I came from was one step away from Puritanism. Those values keep parents from allowing sex education in the schools and make sex a forbidden fruit, thus creating intrigue and mayhem around sexuality.

Take religious repression, violence, domination, and sexual liberation, mix them together, and you have a mess - a milkshake of sexual wounding. There are a few brave souls who address this. Of course, I had to put my toe into the turmoil, thinking I could contribute something of value. I gave a workshop on sexual pleasure and a seminar on sexual boundaries in the workplace, but I just scratched the surface. There’s not an easy solution, but there is a calling coming forth that demands that we, as a culture, take a closer personal look. Sexuality is a topic that, when explored, offers poignant possibilities for introspection. Sexuality is a part of the mind, body, spirit connection. It should be an intimate act, done in full awareness, that allows us to learn the deeper aspects of our being, because when we do, life becomes EZier and EZier.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Relationships

Relationships are the playing field from which we learn love and goodness. Without these indispensable basic elements, relationships are cold and dark. They imprison us in pain or limitations. Loveless relationships are full of competition, a relentless drive to get something, or the need to be right and prove the other wrong. Unhealed wounds are the source of punishment when the other friend, child, or partner does not meet one’s unmet baby needs! Revenge on one’s parents is taken out in the relationship.

Gina Lake puts in succinctly when she says, “What interferes with expressing love is the tendency to be absorbed in your mind and thoughts about yourself and what you want and need rather than about how you might express love.”

It’s not a pretty scene, the loveless relationship. However, relationships founded in lack, pain, power, and struggle have the potential to come alive through love. It is in the awakening to our true nature that love flourishes. Love surfaces when we surrender the egoic mind. Once we stop demanding the form love must take, we are free to become what we really are – love incarnate. This loves shines away the darkness in our relationship and even the darkest corner becomes a welcome potential to strengthen love. Focusing on love awakens deep compassion, and it is this compassion that allows us to see our partner, friend, or family member clearly. We cease to identify them with their actions and define them through their Essence.

Truly, the quality our relationships is dependent on our relationship to Source. When we know who we are and make a conscious effort to be the space for love to live, everything changes.

Are you ready for the change? How can you live love?

  • Don’t try to be right. Just drop the conversation that keeps love at bay. This is a game called right - wrong and it is designed to thwart intimacy.
  • Really listen to what your friend or partner is saying.
  • Heal your thoughts about your parents. Unhealed parental wounds not only show up in your relationships, they show up as your relationships. Acknowledge what your parents did to you. It’s not about blame. If a parent runs over a child with an automobile, it’s unintentional, but the child is hurt none the less. Truly acknowledge what happened, then forgive your parents, and drop it.
  • Pray for your friend or partner. Wish for him or her the best. Don’t try to coerce the Universe into getting more love or attention from your partner. Radiate your love toward your partner.
  • See yourself as whole and lovable when you are with your friend. Be aware of your self-talk. Don't use that inner voice to put them down. Don't think about what you want from your friend. Experience your lovability; drink in the ever-present, omnipresent love available. Keep your mind clean.
Relationships can be thought of as a spiritual pilgrimage. You enter with high expectations, stumble and fall, then discover things about yourself that would be hidden if you were alone, then heal those wounds, and finally share love from the deepest places. If you can’t go to India and see a guru and you desire the rigorous teaching of a master, just turn to your relationships and see them as your guru. If you open your heart and let them, they will lead you to love, and with love as your guide, everything is EZier and EZier.

Anne #relationships

Friday, September 7, 2018

Egonomics


There is a part of our minds that functions to limit us. Some call it ego; others refer to it as egoic mind. This idea does not refer to Freud’s concept of ego; in his model the ego is the mediator between our instincts and our social self. The term ego has undergone multiple transformations since it first appeared in Freud's psychoanalytic theory. Eric Berne brought the ego into cultural narrative with his theory on ego states. Berne divided the emotional states, or ego states, into the parent, the adult, and the child. Berne and others further subdivided these ego states until there are too many aspects of mind to keep up with without being trampled by the intellect! All respect to Berne. I think he was a genius.

People refer to someone who has an exaggerated self-image by saying she's all ego or that that's his ego talking. We say, “He has a big ego.” We use the term egotistical as a pejorative. People have even turned the word ego into an acronym. Easing God Out or Easing Good Out. Some people define the ego as a useful part of the mind; they prefer to befriend it. Others think the ego should be annihilated, and some realize that the ego must be carefully watched and tamed, lest it become the gatekeeper of our mental prisons. A Course in Miracles invites us to “Watch your mind for the temptations of the ego, and do not be deceived by it. It offers you nothing. When you have given up this voluntary dis-spiriting, you will see how your mind can focus and rise above fatigue and heal. Yet you are not sufficiently vigilant against the demands of the ego to disengage yourself. This need not be.

While many people dispute the circuitous route ACIM takes on the way to peace, the course nails the destructive element of the mind and refers to it as ego. Just as one uses the word love in different ways, people use the term ego to refer to different things. Regardless of whether we use the word ego to refer to someone’s grandiosity or use it to describe a part of our mind that takes part in the organization of the personality, it is helpful to have a word that describes a part of our mind that limits us. Egonomics provides that clarity and defines the ego as a part of the mind that limits us at every turn and thwarts our best efforts at healing unhealthy and ineffective beliefs, emotions, and behaviors.

Using the concept of the ego as a limiting device, here are some characteristics and thoughts about the ego and its function.
  • The ego’s foundation is fear. This is emotional and psychological fear. This is not the same fear one has when a bear runs toward them.
  • The ego bases its operation on protecting one from this fear.
  • The ego’s fears are illusory.
  • The ego fears its own destruction. The ego takes on a life of its own and uses the personality to fulfill its needs and pass on its legacy. This legacy is spirit poor and rich in control and divisiveness.
  • The ego feeds the mind endless stories of travail in order to cement its position in the psyche.
  • The ego’s motto is, “Seek, but do not find.”
  • The ego feeds on special relationships to get what it thinks it needs to stay alive and be in charge. This is “loving to get.” Naturally, this faux love has a self-serving agenda.
  • When we are afraid and upset and there's no bear around or other life-threatening circumstances, we are operating under the influence of the ego. When the ego rules, we live in a drunken state of fear.
  • It takes an ego to point out an ego.
  • The ego gets all its material from the past and then diverts the mind away from the present.
The above information seems daunting, but it can be liberating to expose erroneous mental constructs. It is revelatory when we understand that part of the mind is out to get us. We can refer to the ego’s plan as the ultimate plot for self-sabotage. Knowing that all its thoughts and feelings are not helpful, we can choose another way.

Operating under the influence of the ego is like having a road map that only goes to New York City. We load up the family to go to Florida, take out the New York City road map, and head out. We never get where we want to go using the New York City map. We use the same map on all trips, so whether we're headed to Hong Kong or Hilton Head, we always end up in the same place, New York City. That's what the ego wants. It wants us to end up in the same place with every mind trip we take. The ego wants us under its spell and it’s not a magic spell. It’s the spell from hell.
What is the way out? How can we sober up from the ego drunkenness? We sober up in one of two ways. We can go directly to wholeness or we can use stepping stones to wholeness. Either way leads us away from the ego and into the promised land.

The Direct Approach - Love. Love, accessed in the moment, dissolves the ego’s effect. Love is always present, and the direct approach is the fastest, easiest, and most accessible option.

The Stepping Stone Approach - Forgiveness. When blinded by ego’s effect, forgiveness walks us away from the ego. It heads us into our essence, which is love. We forgive others for not acting the way we want them to act because we want peace. Forgiveness means letting go of the upset that surrounds the situation, and, while it is difficult to let go of certain situations, it is never impossible. Why? Because we always have help.

“If you knew who walked beside you on the way that you have chosen, fear would be impossible.” (ACIM) When we believe life is hopeless, we are ego drunk. When we believe nothing works for us, we are under the influence. When we think situations or people hold the key to our happiness, we are under the influence. When we think the world is evil, we are under ego’s influence. When we stop and turn toward ever-present love, we stop the ego in its tracks. All doubt, all pain, and all hopelessness disappear. And that’s the good news. “Delay does not matter in eternity, but it is tragic in time.” (ACIM) The way out of pain is here. Jerry Jampolsky wisely proclaims, “Love is letting go of fear.” This path stands waiting, loaded with love, for a decision to abandon the map to New York City and to choose the path of love, and when we do, life is always EZier and EZier.

Anne

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Body Talk

I used to be prejudiced toward older people. Maybe I still am. I didn’t realize the prejudice existed. I thought I was cool and that I calculated people's value equally.

As I aged, the bias turned itself against me. I loved my flaming curly red hair, but at age 52, I felt the call of the wild: “Go natural.” I cut my hair into a boy-like cut and waited for the salt and pepper. It wasn’t there. My daily mirror checks exposed a crop of white hair. I called myself Quetip. I was one white-topped woman. One day a child pointed at me and asked his mom, “What is that grand mama doing?” I hold nothing against being a grand mom—really, I love it—but something snapped. That day I stepped out of my youth and became an older adult. I entered the youth of my old age.

I remember climbing the steps of the pyramids outside of Mexico City. I was greeted by an elder who said, “Welcome to the end of your youth.” I was 40 and wasn’t ready to give it up! I thought, “What does he know?” Twelve years later, I gave in. I was maturing.

I began to notice subtle changes in the way people looked at me. Maybe it was a projection, but people looked through me or past me as they hurried through their lives. As a younger woman, one who was often center stage, I was used to being noticed, but now, I receded to the sidelines of life.

My sister had a heart attack and I raced to LA to assist her recovery. When she returned home, she carried an assisted living package – a walker.  All of the sudden walkers were cool. I checked out the older passersby as I strolled through the streets of LA. I stopped and talked with people about their walkers. Behind these walkers were interesting people, not old folks. Again, my prejudices made themselves known. I previously looked down on people using canes and walkers, but now my contemporaries were using walking aids, wheel chairs, and scooters. As I awakened from a silent fog, I wondered, “How many filters and preconceived notions lurk in the dark corners of my mind? What thoughts do I look through that determine how I view others?” There’s not an answer; it was a moment of recognition: the mind has its secrets.

I’ve settled into my older years and continue to uncover and heal my prejudices. People don’t look at me the way they used to, but I’ve discovered that the transition from younger to older is not only about who I think I am; it’s about letting go of an image that I believed gave me some kind of advantage in life. No longer do I hold the success images of youth. I have less money; my wrinkled face watches the jiggles as I walk. Things hang off my body that previously stood at attention, but there’s a softness replacing the vigor of youth. There’s a knowing that I never was those things. I was never a body. I was never young or old. I was never my thoughts or beliefs. They were just an operating system. I was more, always more, and knowing that certainly makes my life EZier and EZier.

Anne

Friday, July 13, 2018

I'm a Chewer

I come from a long line of chewers. My mom was an avid gum chewer. My paternal grandmother chewed tobacco. I live in the south, and everywhere I look, there are gum chewers. Some chewers are discreet, while others noisily chomp, smack, and spray. I think of myself as a closet chewer, at least in public. I hold the gum in the side of my mouth, and when no one's looking, I bite into my crack. Yes, gum is crack to me.

Gum was my partner when my fiancé left me. It took me through divorce, a baby, remarriage, the purchase of a new home, the loss of my mom and dad, the death of my pets, and a stock market fiasco.
I write best while I'm chewing. I even think it exercises my face. It keeps me awake when I'm driving and gives my mouth something to do when I want to eat. Chewing keeps my mouth moist, takes away bad tastes, and makes me kissable.

I quit chewing gum sweetened with artificial sweeteners years ago; I figured real sugar was better for me than those mind-altering, waist-expanding substitutes. One day I decided to look at the ingredients in the sugary based gum I used. What in the heck was in my mouth? It was not a pretty picture. It was an OMG moment. I had been chewing – are you ready for this? RUBBER! I was chewing tires, or at least pre-tire material. My relationship with gum might be my longest, most secure relationship, but now my relationship was threatened.

I went for days without gum. Memories of bygone times pierced my waking moments. I missed the jaw action and that first chomp into a fresh piece of heaven. I longed for the sensuous feel in my mouth when I rolled my gum from side to side. This would never do; I went on a gum quest. Where do the real gum gods reside? I must find them; I must satisfy the deep soul call of my gum destiny. I needed a new gum mate.

I found some gum, some cool, wonderful gum, but cost made it prohibitive. I mean I would not spend 3 or 4 dollars on a pack of gum, and I found that all natural gum was not equal. But I did find one gum that stood out: Glee Gum. Glee Gum is all natural chewing gum made with sustainably harvested rain forest chicle. It is touted as the #1 healthy alternative to synthetic chewing gum and bubble gum! It contains no artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, or artificial sweeteners (no aspartame). I recommend the lemon lime sugarless gum. Glee Gum uses Xylitol as a sweetener. Xylitol is found naturally in the fibers of fruits and veggies like corn, raspberries, and plums. It can help benefit dental health, fight cavities, reduce plaque, and even clear nasal passages. It's a safe choice for people on restricted diets. It comes in bulk, is reasonably priced, and their staff is most personable.

So now I chew with Glee. My gum is with me as I sit and peck out a few words. I press it to the front of my mouth and take tiny bits. Bit, bit, bit - it's a game we play. I slide it to the side of my mouth and hunker down in a fleeting moment of gum ecstasy. I have found my gum-mate and it's a terrific relationship. Happy chewing to you, and if you are not a chewer, by now you may think I am loco. Chew well, eat well, and prosper. Da Gum, I'm Having Fun. Yum, Yum. Great gum.
 
Join the Muppets in asking that existential question, "Does your chewing gum lose its flavor on the bedpost over night?"