GPS for the Soul

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I am still working my way through Eckhart Tolle’s Power of NOW (1999). Something he said made me realize that we have an inner GPS system which pokes us when we aren’t living the life we are meant to live. If we know when to recognize it and listen to its guidance, we will experience greater contentment and a healthier mental state.

On page 27, Tolle says, “The pain that you create now is always some form of nonacceptance, some form of unconscious resistance to what is. On the level of thought, the resistance is some form of judgment. On the emotional level, it is some form of negativity. The intensity of the pain depends on the degree of resistance to the present moment…”

This observation really resonated with me! First, I was reminded of my last few years in the Jehovah’s Witness religion. I was in mental anguish and couldn’t figure out why. I went to see a therapist because of it–something frowned on by JW’s, in general. I was seriously decompensating. I couldn’t focus. I was saying and doing all the wrong things. I thought of death on a daily basis.

After reading the above in Tolle’s book, I now realize that I was resisting something that had become painfully obvious. I don’t know if it was my subconscious mind, authentic self, Higher Self, or Spirit Guides, but something was prodding me to get out and I wasn’t listening.

On more reflection, I could trace similar periods in the past. When I was a full-time minister for Jehovah’s Witnesses back in 1997, I went through another comparable phase. I would break down into tears during the meetings for no particular reason. I attributed it to my own “sinful inclination,” which only made it worse. In this case I decided to leave English and start attending a Spanish Congregation. Things improved for a short time while I was distracted, but the red-eyed monster kept popping up and getting progressively more insistent until I finally figured it out and left the religion.

I’ve been going through something similar in the past few weeks. Since we moved to PA, I have been helping my husband with his Ebay business while my ankle heeled. Initially, I loved going to auctions and researching items and seeing them sell. Then we went to a few auctions where there was a lot of negative energy. I came home distraught. I couldn’t get over the feeling that I was a total fuck up. I got yelled at by a cashier at the local Giant grocery store and left the store crying. I started thinking about death again.

Then I read the above words in The Power of NOW. Was it possible I was causing my own pain with my resistance? “What was I resisting?” I asked myself. That same day, I decided to go back to work doing massage. I had been toying with the idea for a while and finally decided to take the plunge. I felt some fear after making the decision because I have been a basic shut-in for a year.

The next morning, though, I awoke with a whole new perspective. For the first time in weeks, I felt genuine enthusiasm and confidence. Is this what I was resisting? Was my subconscious mind trying to tell me, “You’re not a hustler. You’re a healer!” I went from being afraid of venturing out of the house to eagerness in getting the process started. I couldn’t believe the about-face!

All I can attribute it to is Tolle’s observation that unconscious resistance creates disharmony and pain. It’s like we have this inner GPS system that keeps us on our prescribed path, and lets us know (in no uncertain terms) when we get off-course. All we have to do is recognize the signs and adjust when necessary. Remember, 1) Pain, 2) Judgment, 3) Negativity. If your every thought is consumed with one, or all, of those, ask yourself what you are ignoring that needs attention. Is it your job? Your relationship? Your roommate? For the sake of your mental health, stop resisting and embrace the sweet relief that comes with following your innate guidance system! Resistance is futile.

 

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Heal Thyself

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I have been battling my weight for more than ten years. Until I got married at 30 I never had a weight issue and could eat and drink whatever I liked without consequences. I married someone who had his own weight problems. Suddenly food took on more importance as I was eating more regularly, eating out more consistently, and hitting the drive-thru more frequently. Marriage was also a huge adjustment for me and I battled with depression off-and-on. By the time I reached my late 30’s I was 100 lbs heavier than I had been on my wedding day–and no, I can’t blame any pregnancies.

I had an “aha” moment a little over a month ago. I was going into the local YWCA for a massage. (I have a membership to the club, but I don’t use it for anything but the pool and the massage therapists.) My physically fit massage therapist came out to greet me and I followed him down the wide hallway past gyms, racquetball courts, and Zumba classes. We weaved our way around ellipticals and treadmills. I kept my eyes on my feet trying to look small despite the fact that I am almost 6 feet tall, 255 lbs, and wearing baggy clothes that only accentuated my size. I imagined everyone looking at me and judging me. I wanted to crawl into a hole.

As I lay on the massage table I thought, If I could just lose the weight I would be happy.” Then it occurred to me that this had been my mantra my entire life. My weight was just one more reason to hate myself–as I had done since primer school. The first thing I hated about myself was my red hair. Then it was because I was too tall. My eyes were too far apart. My mouth was too wide. I had bad acne. I had bad acne scars. My hair was frizzy. I had no personal style. My teeth weren’t white enough. I had an awful personality. I was too fat.

I asked myself what I would do if I lost the weight. Would things really be better? Or would I just find something else to beat myself over? Is it possible the problem isn’t my diet, but me? Why should I take care of myself when I find myself so undeserving? I didn’t have any motivation to improve my physical appearance because I believed it a hopeless endeavor. I had reached a point where I realized that I was my own worst enemy.

As I drove away from the “Y” that day, I squinted into the summer sun and stuck my right index finger into my mouth to chew on the already non-existent fingernail. I asked myself, “What can I do to make myself feel more attractive?” I replaced my right hand on the steering wheel and looked at the fingernails. I had chewed on my fingernails since I had stopped sucking on them at age 8. I had learned about Oral Fixations thanks to my college psych class, but was it possible my ferocious attacks on my digits had a deeper meaning? Wasn’t I literally trying to devour myself–chewing the fingernails down until they bled and hurt? (It’s probably a good thing I am not flexible enough to get my foot up to my mouth…at least not literally.)

I resigned, right then and there, to see if I could stop my habit of feeding on myself. I wanted to determine if that wasn’t somehow contributing to my tendency toward self-annihilation. I have attempted to quit in the past, but it was always very hard and I eventually caved.

This time was different, however. Once I made the decision, I didn’t even have the urge to chew my fingernails. I went out and bought a manicure kit and some black fingernail polish. The black polish appeals to my latent Goth personality. I love it! I have started wearing jewelry more often and it makes me feel a little more feminine.

I have also started a regimen of positive affirmations. I have a wooden rosary (no, I’m not Catholic) and I use it for  affirmations on a daily basis. I have also started meditating again.

My peace of mind is improving. I know exercise would help enormously with improved self-confidence, endorphins, and increased energy. I determine every day to do some exercise and always find reasons not to. So, I am still working on that one.

My husband and I have stopped eating out all the time and we avoid the drive-thru. We are endeavoring to eat better food from better places.

So far I have lost 6 lbs. It is slow progress, but I believe that life-long changes must come gradually or we just return to our old habits.

I wonder how many of us battle with weight, addictions, relationships, or depression because of deep-seated self-hatred? Is that self-hatred brought on by the Western world’s definition of beauty or masculinity? There could be any number of reasons a person may consider themselves unlovable or unattractive. But instead of focusing on what we need to do to change the way we look, we should focus on changing the way we feel:

  1. Look in a mirror and look past the usual flaws you focus on. See the beauty. Look into your eyes and see your incredible soul.
  2. Don’t allow a negative criticism to cross your lips. Everything you say about yourself must be said with admiration and gratitude.
  3. While you’re practicing the art of not criticizing yourself, maybe extend it to others. If you are in the habit of saying negative things about others it creates a dark energy that will only drag you down.
  4. Practice gratitude for your life, body, family, and wealth of knowledge and experience you have gained. You’ve come a long way, Baby!
  5. Stop living in the past and remembering only the parts that include you as being young and/or thin. You had problems then too. Being thin/young doesn’t solve everything.
  6. Stop imagining the future as a time where you will be thinner, healthier, more confident, and more successful. If you push those goals into a nebulous future, that is where they will always remain. Make those goals part of your present, and the future will take care of itself.
  7. Be present! Stop regretting the past and dreading the future. Be completely immersed in every moment. See the wonders of the world around you and bask in the excitement of every minute we are alive and breathing. Live in the present and, trust me, the gratitude will overflow!
  8. Don’t meditate to lose weight (I’ve tried that, it doesn’t work). Meditate for your own mental health. Meditate because you know that anxiety and stress only contribute to weight gain. Meditate because a healthy mind will inspire you to develop a healthy body.
  9. I’m not telling you to keep a food diary. Pour out your thoughts, fears, dreams, ambitions, and disappointments. Download all the mental gobbledygook onto paper so you don’t have to carry it around with you.
  10. Finally, be consistent. I have ADD when it comes to personal improvement. I can’t tell you how many times I have wished I had stuck to something a year later when I have gained 20 more pounds. You will have bad days. You will cheat. Just make sure you keep getting back on that horse. You won’t regret trying, but you will regret not trying.

 

Thursday’s News & Reviews: Who’s A Psychic

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I remember the first time I ever heard the term, “Old Soul.” I was in my mid-20’s and fully entrenched as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I didn’t even believe souls existed. I was taught that we were souls, we didn’t have souls, and those souls died with our physical bodies. There was no after-life. No immortal soul. Death was simply the opposite of life–nothing.

I can’t remember where I was–a coffee shop, a book store, a park–but I overheard two women talking. They were watching their children play, and I heard one say to another, “He’s an old soul.” I didn’t stop to look. My steps hardly faltered, but I knew exactly what she was talking about. I knew she spoke of a child that was more serious than the other children. A child who may prefer looking at the pictures in a book than playing interactive games with the others. I knew, because I had been that child. I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I was an old soul.

How could I be an old soul when I didn’t even believe they existed? Some people would call that cognitive dissonance. I spent my life giving mocking lip-service to the idea of reincarnation. I used to make my fellow JW’s laugh in the car groups, by telling them I was a dandelion on a golf course in a previous life–but my life was cut short, tragically.

For someone who didn’t believe in reincarnation I gave it a lot of thought. I remember vivid dreams when I was under the age of 5, in which I would dream about people and places  I didn’t recognize but would miss with a melancholy fervor upon waking. Or the dream I had in Junior High of dying in a Nazi Concentration Camp.

I have spoken to a few psychics in the years since I left the JW’s. All of them confirmed what I had already figured out–I was indeed an old soul.

Until I spoke to Joe Who, celebrity psychic and frequent visitor to the paranormal radio show Darkness Radio.  He is a voice recognition psychic. I had listened to a few programs where he told different ones that old souls were night-owls and young souls were morning people. I have always been a night-owl. I have way more energy and ambition after 7 pm than I do before 1 pm. I can count on one hand how many years I’ve spent at jobs which required an alarm clock. I become so miserable after a few weeks that I quit for mental health reasons.

Mr. Who told me I was a young soul. He also said my night-owl tendencies were a learned behavior. I don’t think so. I remember hating the sound of my dad’s chipper voice in the morning. He used to ask me, “Cheri, why are you such a bear in the morning?” “I don’t know dad,” I would say sarcastically, “Maybe you should lower the volume of your voice and try not to sing sunshine songs!” I started drinking coffee at 12, which was unheard of in 1984.

Then Joe Who went on to tell me that my mother’s energy was nowhere near me, whereas my father was always around. Again, this runs counter to what I feel intuitively. Am I a medium? No. Am I psychic? No. I only have my gut instinct, and everything he said conflicted with it. He also told me that my mother and I didn’t get along very well. I adored my mother until the day she died when I was 19.

In the days following the reading, I tried to force myself to succumb to his version of my life. Even now, about 6 weeks later, I am still torn  as to whether or not I am an old or young soul. I believe I am slowly starting to realize that I may not be as old as I thought, or maybe our interpretation of what constitutes an old/young soul is not quite accurate.

I always enjoyed listening to him do readings on Darkness Radio because he does teach a lot about soul age, but I am less impressed with him as a psychic. I believe everyone has a bad day. I could give an awesome massage on some days, and then fall flat on others. A few days after that Malaysian airplane disappeared some months ago, Dave of Darkness Radio asked Joe if the passengers were still alive. He said they were, whereas another woman who was channeling that day said they were all dead. Again, I think he got it wrong.

I have read a lot about psychics and how they channel their messages. Most, if not all, get images they have to try to interpret based upon their own experiences. Sometimes, they might misinterpret  a message. Does that mean Joe Who is not a good psychic? No. I have heard him read many people on the radio and most are impressed at his abilities. The reason I sought him out was because I liked his tendency to tell people what they needed to hear rather than what they wanted to hear. He’s not very tactful about it either, which is kind of fun–when it’s happening to someone else, that is.

Give him a try and judge for yourself. I’d be interested in hearing your experiences with him.