Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Living with Incongruence Part III

To change, a person must face the
dragon of his appetites with
another dragon, the life energy of the soul.

Mevlana Rumi

In "Living with Incongruence Part II," we explored the different ways that incongruence shows up in our lives. Whether doing or not doing what we know we need to stop or start doing, or whether buying into limiting beliefs that hold us back, we may experience excessive mind chatter, energy drains, diminishment of our personal power related to not exercising our will power, and even disease. In this part of the series, we'll explore the role our heart's desires and thinking play in awakening our willpower. Aligning our hearts, minds, and willpower are essential to effecting positive change in our lives.

Here are some ways that incongruence between mind and heart shows up. We may find that our heart isn't into something even when our logical mind knows exactly what must be done. For example, we know we have to earn a living, but we might hate the time we spend at our current job. We may find that our mind is only interested in playing it safe without considering the whole of our lives. For example, we may stay in a destructive relationship because we're afraid to hurt the other person, live on our own, or begin life anew. We may find our mind vacillating wildly from one way of thinking to another. For example, when receiving a pep talk from a friend, we may feel wildly courageous, but then we go home or to work and feel much more humbled, even fearful of change. Believe me, living with incongruence can make us feel a bit crazy, especially as we face a major life transition when we must dig deep within, over-riding our mind chatter, in order to find our authentic way in this world.

Caroline Myss, in "Energy Anatomy," (http://myss.com/) suggests that when our hearts and minds are not aligned, like in the examples above, addictions will rule our willpower. Addictions, as Myss defines them, are not necessarily related to alcohol, tobacco, drugs, sex, or gambling. They are connected to anything we believe we need for tranquility, perhaps a person, a job, or a system of beliefs. In order to transcend our addictions, we may consider strategies to realign our heart's desires with our thinking in order to awaken our willpower. The path for all of us will be different, based on our own needs and desires. I will offer a few things that have worked for me, in hopes they are of use to you too. When practiced together, the strategies below created a synergistic transformative energy that wouldn't have occurred using each in isolation.

The most important strategy for me is to be on fire with my life purpose. However, when I feel my purpose is too big, or when I become lost in the details of making it manifest, I sometimes become overwhelmed. I may distract myself or self-sabotage my efforts with procrastination, indulgences, etc. in order to slow down the pace of my life, as well as to my destiny, making the journey more comfortable. Paradoxically, it doesn't work! It just creates mind chatter, guilt, shame, and even disgust. It's a bad trip! I find that it's healthier for me to remind myself of my life purpose each day, to say it aloud, and to feel the joyful vibration it brings to me. It fuels my sense of purpose for the entire day, empowering both heart and mind, while leaving less space for my addictive, self-sabotaging behaviors.

I also like to keep my busy mind collecting data from a place of curiosity. As a personal example, I mentioned before that my healing process has been connected with diet, so I open myself to whatever and however information appears related to my energy. I notice how I feel when I eat a salad versus a garden burger versus cheesecake. I notice how high and empowered I feel when I make a commitment that honors my higher self versus how guilty I feel when I break my commitment to myself.

Then I work to change my programming to match the data I've received. Affirmations, especially when stated aloud, can be really powerful in reinforcing new neural pathways that align with what I'm creating. When I create succinct, present-tense, powerful beliefs - Everything I eat nurtures my vibrant health! - that replace my former thoughts that keep me stuck - No matter what I eat, I never seem to heal - I find that my heart and mind align in ways that support positive changes and growth.

Affirmations help to build my internal strength for positive change. Another way is to live in a space of gratitude. I've found it helpful to journal ten things for which I am grateful each night as I process my day. It's also essential to surround myself with others who accept and invite my most authentic self to emerge, those who are not afraid of life changes I make, and who agree to support my journey.

For challenging and changing my thinking, especially with over-riding old programming that doesn't serve, I find Byron Katie's web site, http://www.thework.com/ or her book, Loving What Is: Four Questions that can Change your Life very useful. Our thoughts are much too powerful in creating our reality to allow them to run wild, especially when they work against us.

If you seek change and liberation from your mind chatter and self-sabotaging behaviors, and if you struggle with creating the changes you desire, you may want to work with a life coach to create a life purpose statement that lights you up and helps you stay focused. Life coaches support your path in an on-going way to creatively address the mind chatter and to minimize other internal and external challenges. They help you to uncover the secrets within you that will help you create the most fulfilling life you can imagine. Reiki, a form of energetic clearing and balancing that promotes healing, is another wildly valuable resource for aligning heart and mind. Treating yourself to Reiki sessions can support your positive growth and help you to release addictions and attachments.

Life is so complex, it's no wonder we humans come with so much incongruence. By exploring our own patterns consciously, we may learn to embrace our quirks and creativity and to see all the possibilities that exist in our lives, all while accepting our humanness. It helps to know that wherever we are is exactly the right place for us to learn and to grow more deeply into who we are becoming. We may release judgment or our tendency to make ourselves wrong, which only fuels what we wish to diminish. By being open to what is in this moment, and by loving ourselves just as we are, we open the doors to infinite growth, transcending our old programs, addictions, and paradigms, and embracing the world of possibilities.

What would your heart and mind like to tell each other?
Where do you find your distractions and addictions?
What strategies help to align your heart and mind?

What is one way you would like to honor your inner knowing?

What commitment would you like to make to yourself from this space of knowing?

If you would like to learn more about life coaching and/or Reiki, please contact me at denisesheehan@yahoo.com or 775.970.5476.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Living with Incongruence Part II

When I initially wrote what became my former blog post, "Living with Incongruence, Part I," I felt certain that this would be a creative, whimsical topic and nothing more. Then, shortly afterward on a road trip, my Sweetie and I re-listened to "Energy Anatomy" by Caroline Myss (http://myss.com/), and I couldn't ignore the synchronicity when Myss began talking about incongruities. I realized there would be something more to explore around creating congruence by aligning our thoughts with our actions, and so this discussion follows. What I offer below and in my next post is but a taste of a much larger, remarkable work by Myss, with some of my experiences peppered in as they relate to what she shares. I offer this because I'm seeing how this shows up in the lives of so many of us.

Myss explores incongruities in our lives, how they drain our energy, how they relate to willpower, and how they point the way to growth potential. Incongruities show up in different ways, and their effects in our lives can be quite dramatic.

First, Myss suggests that incongruities can show up as things we want or need to do, things that continuously nag at us, but that we never seem to get to. Similarly, there are some things we are doing that may be better left undone. We know better, but that doesn't seem to stop us. I see these struggles come up often with regard to exercising, changing diet, and other health-related choices that are easy to put off for another day, month, or year. When we focus our energy on what we should or should not do, but neglect to empower our will to make the changes we know are in our best interest, we lose energy. Energetically, we relinquish our power and authority over our lives to our "shoulds."

Yet the path to claiming our power and authority over our lives is not always easy or clearly laid out for us. Here's an example from my own life. During a particularly intense meditation, I had the insight that I would have to radically alter some of my habits in order to further my spiritual development, and that the process would involve something around the healer archetype. In that moment, I had a delicious sense of possibilities in stepping into my destiny, but I knew it wouldn't be easy for me to override my epicurean and workaholic tendencies, and that I would need assistance to alter my life patterns. In that moment of bliss and bravery, I embraced the transition and requested help, however it might show up. I leapt into the unknown in total trust and abandon. Turns out, I almost immediately developed a physical condition that was strongly related to diet, environmental energy (good vibe vs. bad vibe) effects, the quality of my thoughts, and my habits around workaholism. I would have to choose between either my attachments to certain foods, environments and habits or my vibrant health. Putting off the changes that I needed created lots of suffering and energy loss. Eventually, I just had to do the work, release a lot of attachments, and create life changes in order to heal. Truth be known, I still struggle at times, especially when I lose site of the grander vision of what I wish to create in my life. Also, it wasn't always easy to accept ill health as the blessing it proved to me. Yes, there were intense moments of self-pity, which were not at all useful in reclaiming my personal power. I'm so over that now...

Another way that incongruities show up, according to Myss, is through limiting beliefs that we know aren't good for us, but that we picked up during childhood or that were transmitted through our culture. Common ones that I've encountered include: I don't know enough to take the next step; If I make this choice, the people in my life that I love won't understand me and I'll be separated from them; I will have to do this all alone; If I follow my bliss, I'll never make enough money to survive. Here's a clue: These thoughts are not yours! They are old programs from years of social conditioning. Here's a new one to try on: When I break away from old beliefs that hold me back, I find amazing new freedoms!

Here are some examples of limiting beliefs that have created and perpetuated fear and victim consciousness in my life: No one can succeed starting a business in an economy like this one; I'm not good enough, ambitious enough, or smart enough. And then there's the big one, a ghost from my way-back past: Who do you think you are? Oh, ouch. Now, I don't walk around like Eeyore all the time. Most of my moments feel like wild clarity, optimism, and appreciation for the yumminess of life. Still, in recent years I've grown very accustomed to noticing the background presence of these fleeting thoughts. I've witnessed the destructiveness that they can create in our life patterns and even our health as they keep us stuck in avoidance of anything that feels like a risk. The messages grow in intensity with the degree of change we contemplate. I've learned that as quickly as the thoughts come, I must release them without judgment. To make myself wrong only feeds them, and dis-empowers me, further.

Until I release Part III of "Living with Incongruence," you may want to just notice your thinking patterns that show up for you.

What does your mental chatter should like?

What is the impact on your life?

What have you been putting off far too long?

What are the consequences of putting off your decisions to change?

If you made a choice you're not honoring, what are the consequences?