Emotions Are Keys for Healing Yourself

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Emotions are the unsung heroes of the psyche.  Perhaps you've been thinking, "If only those pesky emotions would leave me alone, then I could have peace of mind.  I could easily become the master of my Self.  It would be so much easier to focus my mind and be in control. "  

Sure, emotions are at times inconvenient and unpredictable, but they also are what make us gloriously human.  Take away all our emotions and we are basically limited edition, inefficient flesh and blood robots.  Not only do emotions color and contextualize our experiences, but they also can serve as powerful instruments for self-healing.

Emotions are a diagnostic tool.  Emotional pain can signal that something in your life is out of balance, much the way physical pain does.  If you place your finger on a hot stove, pain tells you that something is wrong and to move your finger.  It'd be a much bigger problem if you just took a painkiller but left your finger on the stove.  Pain can be a useful indicator that a change is needed.  

If you frequently experience emotional pain, it could be signaling to you that your thoughts or your actions are not aligned with your heart's desire.  We think outside events cause our emotions.  If someone slapped me, I might say, "You made me sad because you slapped me."  But if she slaps my friend, my friend could say, "You made me angry because you slapped me!" The reality is that no one and nothing can force us to feel a certain way.  Our emotional responses are connected to the thoughts or beliefs we hold inside.

If we allow ourselves to feel our emotions, rather than stuffing them or projecting them back at someone, we can begin to notice what thought or belief underlies the emotion.  The more we are willing to sit with an emotion, the more empowered we become to know what we need and to know what's not working for us.  As you find a healthy outlet for your emotions, allowing them a path to flow, they lose their power over you, becoming valuable tools for your journey of self awareness.

 

Are You Trading Happiness for (Imaginary) Security?

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Many people have been shaken this year by the seemingly relentless barrage of disasters and tragedies.  The constant reminder that misfortune can happen anywhere and anytime pushes some people to try even harder to control their surroundings, to create a sense of security.

The reality is that no matter how hard we try to secure our situation, it can all be gone in an instant.  The company where you’ve worked for 20 years can suddenly go bankrupt.  The house where you planned to live your whole life can be demolished by a natural disaster.  The person you love and trust the most can die suddenly.  

I’m not trying to depress you!  Quite the opposite.  In fact, the recognition and acceptance that everything in the outer world is temporary can free you.  So many people feel trapped in their life circumstances, afraid to leave because it gives them a false sense of security.  Unhappy relationships, unfulfilling jobs - how much of your time or energy is wasted in the name of “security?” 

The desire for security originates from fear.  Do you want fear to be the director of your life?  A feeling of security can only come from an inner place.  It is awareness that regardless of circumstances, which are outside of your control, you can choose your state of mind, which is completely within your control.  

All of the energy that was once used towards trying to maintain this illusion of security can now be placed towards your happiness.  A fulfilling life is its own kind of security.  No matter what happens, you will feel peace from the knowledge that you did not waste this precious life.

Facing Darkness and Allowing Light In

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This is an intense, challenging time we live in.  It's easy to look at the many tragedies in the world and feel fear or despair.  Heavy emotions are uncomfortable and can give us a sense of powerlessness, so we tend to avoid our dark thoughts and feelings.  Yet it is only in facing this darkness within that we can find inner peace.  

Common ways that we avoid our feelings are through denial or distraction.  In denial, we may try to put a happy face on and tell ourselves, "It's not so bad" or "Things will get better."  There's nothing wrong with a positive outlook as long as you are not using it to repress your dark feelings.   It's called spiritual bypass when you use a spiritual concept to avoid facing emotional pain.  Wounds can fester for a long time this way, keeping us from the peace we seek.

Distraction is a seemingly innocuous defense mechanism that keeps us busy but gets us nowhere, like hamsters on a wheel.  We fill up all our days, doing more so that there's no time to feel.  We convince ourselves that if we don't focus on it, it doesn't exist. This tactic doesn't make it go away; in fact, it exhausts us to keep running from ourselves. Although it's true that it can be detrimental to wallow in heavy emotions, there's a healthy balance point between drowning in darkness and avoiding our feelings.

Confronting the darkness within gives us empowerment.  If we act as if our own feelings aren't important, how can expect anyone else to value them?  By no longer running from our feelings, we are telling ourselves that we matter.  

How can we face dark emotions when they seem overwhelming?  First, let go of the notion that emotions need to be fixed.  Resist the urge to try to solve whatever situation triggered the emotion. Simply sitting with the emotion and experiencing the sensation in the body allows it to begin processing.  Second, notice if the feeling wants to be expressed.  If so, allow it to flow, whether through tears, a sigh or scream, or through writing or movement.  Finally, send love to the part of you that's hurting - whether it's from sadness, anger, fear or any other dark feeling.  Love is the most powerful healer.

Honoring all of our feelings in this way releases them or lessens their intensity.  Often what we fear outwardly is a reflection of our own darkness.  We build our walls but it never gives us a sense of security because the true source, our own shadow self, hasn't been addressed.   As we begin to face the inner darkness, we allow light to enter, the light of inner peace.

Integration, Not Separation, Is the Path to Transformation

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Our societal preoccupation with competition and being a winner creates intense self judgment and separation.   We learn to label some parts of ourself as "good" and others as "bad."  We are taught to "Be strong. Highlight strengths.  Eliminate weakness."  This approach may be effective for becoming a better competitor, but at what cost to our wellbeing?  

Shame, judgment, self loathing, fear of failure, unhappiness, disconnection, inability to nurture ourself.  These are the effects of this win/lose approach to life.  We want to show off our "good" qualities and hide or suppress our "bad" qualities.  We think others will like us more this way, yet we feel like a fraud, afraid of our "bad" parts getting discovered.  Because of this, we may keep people at a comfortable distance, yet part of us yearns to connect more deeply and authentically. This separation exists not only with others, but within our self.  Ironically, by cutting ourself off from the "bad" parts, we diminish our life force and reduce our capacity to develop into our highest potentiality.

Self esteem based upon success and outer gratification is precarious and exhausting.  We get stuck in the endless race of trying to prove our worth to our self and others through our accomplishments.  We get drained trying to control outer circumstances to ensure our success.  The way out of this trap is through self love and compassion.

Clients sometimes ask me to assist them in getting rid of their "bad" parts using hypnosis.  Here's what I tell them:

All of your parts are good.  A lot of them were established during childhood when you had less resources and wisdom to develop them.  Then they got labeled as bad and you locked them away in the deep inner recesses of your being where they never received any nourishment.  Then they got beaten down with judgment and criticism.  How can they get better that way?  

Everything grows with love.  Imagine two bosses.  One always cuts you down.  Despite your best efforts, nothing is ever good enough for him.  The other one is very supportive.  When you make a mistake, he shows you how you can improve in an encouraging way. Who are you going to work harder for?  Of course, the suppotive one.  In fact, he builds up your energy, whereas the other guys weakens you and you become less effective.

We don't realize that our self criticism doesn't make us better.  It weakens us.  Self compassion doesn't mean pretending like we did a good job when we made a mistake.  It means changing our inner dialogue from, "You're such an idiot!  You're never going to get it right!" to something like, "Ok, let's figure out what we did wrong and fix it.  Everyone makes mistakes.  The important thing is to learn from them."

With the right inner nourishment, all of our parts can develop into their highest potential. Our "embarrassing awkwardness" becomes quirky charm.  Our "overzealousness" matures into passion for life.  Our "nitpickiness" transforms into thoughtful attention to detail.  As we accept and integrate all aspects of Self, we discover wholeness and peace within.

Uncovering the Power of Your Shadow

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The process of healing is ultimately a process of becoming balanced and whole. Oftentimes it seems like what we want is just out of our grasp.What if the answer were right under your nose? What if your greatest gifts were right below the surface, the ones you couldn't see? This is the power of the shadow.

What exactly is the shadow?  Carl Jung coined the term "shadow." He defined the shadow as "everything a person refuses to acknowledge about himself." Although everyone has a shadow, it is obviously different for each person and varies greatly with the values and culture we are raised in.  Jung believed that the shadow is the seat of our creativity.

As we grow up we begin to separate and label parts as good and bad, acceptable and unacceptable.  The acceptable parts remain in our conscious awareness.  The unacceptable parts comprise the shadow and become hidden.  Determined not to show these parts to others, we either spend a lot of energy keeping them hidden or we forget we have them entirely and instead project them onto others.  The energy used to hold this shadow down creates a pressure cooker inside.  Our fear gives this shadow strength and power over us.  We are no longer free.  We must now act carefully so that this ugly part is not exposed to the world.  Because of this internal pressure, when situations are challenging this shadow will lash out with a force doubly strong, all of its ugliness amplified and exaggerated.

If the shadow has become totally hidden and unconscious, we find ourselves attracting whomever we need to mirror back our disowned aspects. There is a saying, "what you resist persists." Although our shadow may be hidden to us, its energy is carried within us and magnetically draws people with like energy into our lives.  If we want to stop drawing these people into our lives, we need to own that quality within ourselves.

Perhaps as a child you cried at night, afraid of the boogeyman in the closet.  Your mom or dad came into your room and turned on the light to reassure you that it was safe. As adults what we don't realize is that the bogeyman we are so frightened of is just a neglected part of ourselves. We can shine the light of awareness onto these shadow parts and watch them transform before our eyes.

In each part of ourselves that we have overlooked or disowned, there is always a gift hidden beneath the dark exterior. With shyness, there may be the gift of introspection. With anger, there may be the gift of strength or passion.  Just recovering all the energy that is used to conceal the shadow is a gift in itself.  Releasing the fear of identifying with this "bad" part diffuses its energy so that it no longer controls us. Now we can better manage this aspect and use it in appropriate situations.  By summoning the courage to face each of these parts, we become stronger and more confident.

One of the greatest gifts of reclaiming your shadow is freedom from judgment of self and others.  You recognize your vulnerability as well as your strength.  You see your naïveté as well as your wisdom. You realize you have the capacity to be any quality in addition to its total opposite. This awareness awakens compassion and releases judgement, both within and without.

HOW TO ACCESS THE POWER OF YOUR SHADOW

As a hypnotherapist, clients see me because they want to change or heal some aspect of themselves and their lives.  Oftentimes people think the solution they're looking for is to get rid of a part that is unacceptable.  In fact, the solution is the complete opposite. Just like in physics, this energy cannot be created or destroyed.  Underneath the unacceptable behavior is a valid need.  While in hypnosis we access the part that is creating the behavior, for example smoking or getting stage fright. Once we address this part and discover its needs, we can come up with new positive behaviors to meet those needs. That part that was once disenfranchised can now be integrated.

Despite the fact that it's been hidden from us, the shadow is easy to uncover once we are willing to face it.  To get started, here's a couple of simple exercises taken from the book "Dark side of the Lightchasers" by Debbie Ford:

- Begin by listing all the people who really get under your skin.  This may be people you know personally as well as public figures.  Notice what specific traits of each person really bother you.  With each trait on the list, think of a time when you behaved the same way or think of a situation in which you would be capable of feeling the same way.  Sometimes you will need to break it down to the very base underlying emotion.  For instance, you may not feel capable of murder, however you can think of a time when you were enraged or when you hurt another.

- Make a list of all the parts you don't like and find at least one gift hidden in each part.  For example, if you were raised believing that people should be humble, your shadow may be a showoff. Gifts of being a showoff may be not being afraid to speak up, or the ability to demonstrate self-confidence.  If you have difficulty finding the gift in a particular trait, ask a friend to help. We each have our own unique blinders.

The point isn't to become the opposite of who you are or what you value.  You don't have to fall in love with all of your parts, just own them and see their value.  By recognizing you are also the opposite of what you identify with, you become balanced.  In recognizing you are every trait, you become whole.  When you are balanced and whole, you become free to choose how you want to be in each moment and act with awareness.   

Reiki is a Winning Lottery Ticket

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I love to travel the world.  It's amazing how regardless of what country I'm in, when I meet a stranger and say I do Reiki, invariably they say "I'm a Reiki Master too."  This isn't  happening in wellness centers or health food stores, but on airplanes, trains or busses.  Obviously everything is energy and similar frequencies are drawn to each other through resonance.  Still, it always surprises me, because in my world of frequency it seems like everyone does Reiki!

Even more surprising to me is the percentage of these Reiki Masters who don't use Reiki at all - not even on themselves!  In my mind this is like having a winning lottery ticket and just framing it and hanging it on the wall.  Why wouldn't you cash it in?

Afterall, Reiki is so simple to use.  I've even taught kids Reiki.  Once you are attuned, it requires no effort except the intention to connect to it and a gentle resting of the hands on or above the body.  Reiki does the rest!  It doesn't even require my full attention.  I give myself Reiki when I'm driving or watching Netflix.  No matter where I am or what I'm doing, I always have Reiki with me.  And Reiki gives and gives endlessly, as much as you want.  There is an infinite supply of this Universal Energy.

Everything is energy, therefore working on the energetic level is extremely useful.  If I have a headache or sore muscles, I give myself Reiki.  If I'm tired and need to be refreshed, I give myself Reiki.  If I'm sad or nervous, I give myself Reiki.   

The best part about Reiki is that it feels incredible.  The more you practice Reiki, the clearer your energetic system becomes.  As a result, you become more sensitive to the energy and it feels even better!  

It's too bad that many people don't believe in working with energy despite the fact that they use and believe in all sorts of unseen energy frequencies  - radio waves, electric energy, kinetic energy and so much more.  Imagine if everyone just tapped into Reiki and had this tool for their personal healing.  There would be an abundance of health, happiness and peace accessble to all.  That's my idea of a winning lottery ticket.

Is Past Life Regression Real?

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When people  ask if past life regression is real, I generally respond with "How do you define real?"  Afterall, there are many intelligent people who now posit that we may be living in a virtual reality.  You may have powerful experiences when you are dreaming, but then you wake up and say, "Oh, that was just a dream.  It wasn't real."  But who's to say that when your body dies, you don't awaken into an expanded consciousness state and say the same thing?

We often consider consensus reality to define what's real.  If science has proven it, if other people can validate it or if enough people all agree upon it, then we consider it to be real.  But remember, consensus reality once agreed that the Earth is flat, that it's impossible to fly or talk to someone across the planet or many other things.  Science, technology and consensus reality evolve over time. 

You have an inner reality that others often aren't privy to - the world of your feelings, thoughts and inner senses.  Only you have direct access to this world, so others can't validate it for you.  This inner world can be reached through many means, including meditation, energy work and hypnosis.  You explore this inner world to discover your own inner truth.

Past life regression is a method for exploring your own inner truth.  Rather than focusing on whether or not past life regression is real, instead I suggest you ask, "Is past life regression useful?  Can it help me in some way?"  Isn't that the true benchmark for how we choose to spend our time, energy and money?

Past life regression can give you insight into the greater you by helping you understand the dynamics of your relationships, release unhealthy patterns, discover hidden gifts and talents, gain new perspectives.  What could be more real than that?

What Led Me To Do This Work?

Clients and students often ask me how I ended up doing this kind of work.  When you ask kids what they want to be when they grow up, I doubt any of them say hypnotherapist or Reiki Master!  As a child, I certainly didn't know this profession existed.  I used to say I wanted to be a baker when I grew up.  For this, I am periodically teased by my family, because as an adult I don't really enjoy cooking.

I wasn't raised in any spiritual tradition.  As far as I know, my parents are atheists.  In fact,  in college I was one of those condescending atheists who secretly looked down upon people who believed in a Higher Power.  I believed in logic and science.  I didn't have passion about any subject, so I chose to enroll in the College of Business Administration.  I didn't like numbers, so I chose Marketing and International Business as a double major.  All very logical.

I was hired for an internship that led to a job in my field.  I graduated from college and was doing what I thought I wanted to do except......it was so empty.  I had always used logic to lead me in life, but without the heart, without passion, it leads to numbness.  What was the purpose of my life?  What was the purpose of spending all day sitting at a desk under artificial lighting in front of a computer screen, enduring office politics, making this company some money and then watching the clock until it's time to leave?  Get home, feeling exhausted, watch tv for a couple of hours to decompress and then go to bed just to start it all over again tomorrow. 

My existential crisis led me to meditation.  Although initially it was difficult to quiet my mind, one day it just clicked.  I fell in love with meditation.  I would meditate 3 to 4 hours a day after work.  During meditation I began to feel energy and it felt wonderful!  This led me to get Reiki training.  All the meditation and energy work created a big spiritual awakening.  Sometimes during meditation I would slip out of my body and explore the cosmos; other times I would spontaneously go into my past lives.  These profound experiences shifted my awareness and understanding of what's possible and why we exist.  

I found my passion for life: to help others awaken consciousness and heal themselves.  Since then, life has been an exciting adventure full of growth and purpose.  I love helping people to become empowered to live a fulfilling, joyful life.  Certainly I don't mean to belittle the business field.  If it's your passion, that's great!  We're all unique beings.  The key is to find what makes our heart sing and to live our lives from that space.