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The Ego is not Necessarily the Enemy February 23, 2009

Posted by admin in : Spiritual Growth Tags:, , , , , , 3comments

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There are times when life seems to be perfectly aligned with your inner purpose and everything is completely effortless, but then out of the blue, you find yourself feeling lost and totally disconnected. I spent years staggering between extremes. I was either feeling good or bad…up or down…in one direction or the other. One moment I indulged in every desire and the next I sought out simplicity and purity. I felt bipolar, as there was a part of me that loved to be wild and crazy, but then there was another part of me that liked to be settled and virtuous.

Living from one extreme to the next left me exhausted and yearning for balance. Why couldn’t I find a happy medium where both the fun wild party girl and the meditating peaceful yoga girl could live in harmony without feeling like it had to be all or nothing. It took many years of living between the two worlds before I learned how to peacefully incorporate the two. My yoga practice and commitment to spiritual growth is what brought equanimity and ease in to my life.

In finding balance and keeping my body and mind connected, I’m now aware when my ego starts to take over and pull me in a different direction because I can see the shift happening, as I find myself skipping yoga practice, being more judgmental, making excuses as to why I can’t meditate, craving sweets and partying like a rock star.  Things that don’t typically bother me start to get to me and I tend to react instead of handling conflicts more passively. A fire blazes through me, as my wild child unleashes and suddenly I become stubborn and liberated with no sense of grounding.

When these things start happening, it’s a clear indication I need to pull back the reins a bit and come back to a place of equanimity, but before I can do that, I have to look at my life and figure out what caused the shift. An imbalance usually means something isn’t working. There’s a relationship that has gone awry, a job that needs to end, or some other change that needs to happen. When something is out of sync, the sympathetic nervous system kicks in to fight or flight and I go in and hide, as the protective ego steps in to save me. I use to think the ego was bad because it took me away from my healthy yogic lifestyle, but now I see it as my body just trying to get my attention. 

I don’t have to run anymore, as I now honor the presence of the ego as my protector. I witness the body shutting down. I see the signs. I’m aware of being ungrounded and not centered or aligned with my higher purpose and the moment I become aware is the moment I find my way back to the mat and to the daily morning ritual of sitting in meditation. It doesn’t take much for me to remember my true essential nature and be back in touch with my higher self. I don’t have to live in extremes anymore. I can live in a place of balance without having to swing between the bipolar worlds of self and ego.

If familiar negative habits and patterns start showing up in your life, then it’s a pretty good indication you need to get back on the mat or do something to nurture yourself. The longer you wait, the longer it will take for you to get back to a place of center. It’s truly about living life more consciously and being aware of your habits so you can see shifts happening before they overcome you. Once the pendulum swings back to neutral, the things in your life that caused you to sway from your path will magically fall by the wayside. Everything in life is interconnected so listen to your body and honor yourself. It is your inner experience of self that guides you…not your thoughts or emotions, but your true higher self. The only way you’ll know when it’s time to end a relationship or change jobs or make a positive change in your life is by quieting the mind and going within to the inner sanctuary of self, which is where the rest of the world seems to fall in to place.

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Petrified of an MRI February 9, 2009

Posted by admin in : Fear Tags:, , , , , , , add a comment

After 6 months of weekly doctor visits and physical therapy appointments, my neck still wasn’t healed from the accident back in July so I finally gave in and told the doctor I would get an MRI, although I was terrified. Being claustrophobic, I was scared to death at the thought of being braced down and put in some tube while beams of magnetic rays captured images of my neck. I expressed my apprehension with the doctor so he wrote me a prescription for Valium. I felt relieved knowing I could take something to alleviate the anxiety, but the more I thought about it, the more I was opposed to it.

I considered my body a temple so it was important to take care of it. Although I’m a yogi aficionado, I’m certainly not a textbook purist. I just do the best I can when it comes to eating healthy and making decisions that affect my mental and physical state of being, which means putting as few chemicals in to my body as possible. I realized taking one Valium wouldn’t kill me, but it was more than just taking a pill. Part of my journey was about getting in touch with my body and mind and finding a healthy balance between the two. Covering up my fear would only suppress it more so if I was afraid of the dark and being confined, then I needed to get in touch with the fear and heal it instead of taking a chemical to mask it.

I decided to get the prescription filled anyway because I thought it would be better to have it just in case I changed my mind at the last minute, but then I got up to the counter at the pharmacy and couldn’t find my debit card. I must have left it in my jeans pocket or a jacket or something because it wasn’t anywhere to be found. I didn’t have enough cash on me so I knew it was a sign. I was meant to embrace the fear and see it through so I let it go and went home. Ironically, I later discovered my debit card in my purse. It was there the whole time so I knew without a doubt that I made the right decision.

I spoke to my mom later that afternoon and she asked me how long I typically meditated for in the mornings. I told her 20 minutes so she said I should just meditate since the procedure would take about the same amount of time. Right! Of course. Why didn’t I think of that? I felt empowered and ready to face my fear, but the morning of the appointment came and my body shut down. The closer I got, the more nervous I felt. My chest felt like it was caving in and my heart wouldn’t stop racing. The back of my throat was constricted and my body tensed with fear. I could feel the switch as the sympathetic nervous system kicked in and my body went in to fight or flight.

The technician could tell I was scared to death so she told me not to worry…that I would be fine…that she could hear me and I could hear her and we would be connected the entire time. The moment she braced me in, my entire body froze and tears welled up in my eyes, but I was scared to cry because I didn’t want to move. I was told that in order for a MRI to be effective, the person had to remain completely still and I didn’t want to go through it again so I was determined to get it right the first time.

I closed my eyes and brought my awareness to the breath just as I did every morning when I sat to meditate. Inhale…exhale…inhale…exhale. But wait…that noise…it’s really loud…oh, her voice…I hear her voice…I’m okay…she’s with me…inhale…exhale…noise….really loud overbearing sounds of magnetic rays coming from the machine…panic…I’m okay…inhale…exhale…more noise…my heart…noise…I can’t breathe…inhale…exhale. 

It was the longest 20 minutes of my life, but I survived the terror even though I was stiff as a board when the technician pulled me out of the tube and released the harness that held my neck and head in place. She smiled and said, “Now that wasn’t so bad, now was it?” I looked up at her and felt the surge of adrenaline rush out from the center of my chest, as my body released the fear and tension from being absolutely petrified. I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed and the sweet lady just sat there with me, as she gave me the space to release the emotion and fear I had harbored for so long.

I walked out feeling light and free, but being claustrophobic was not something that would just go away at the drop of a hat. It would take time and more experiences of sitting with the fear and making the decision not to run. Had I taken the Valium, I wouldn’t have released what I did, as it wasn’t meant to be a quick fix…it was about me sitting with the fear and breathing through it. Fear only has power over you if you allow it. It’s not going to overtake you or kill you. It may paralyze you or prevent you from having peace in your life, but you are the one who decides, as the only thing to fear is fear itself. 

I took the images to my doctor immediately after and he said, “Wow…these are the best images I’ve ever seen…I’ve never known anyone to sit still enough to get this kind of clarity…you were either calm as a cucumber or paralyzed with fear.” HA! I laughed and said, “If you only knew.”

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