Exploring Balance in our Life
A short episode reflecting on the nature of balance and how it moves throughout our life.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download
A short episode reflecting on the nature of balance and how it moves throughout our life.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download
In this episode we explore some big concepts to find our personal path towards growing equal ground in our day to day lives.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download
This is the first podcast in the series and it took the shape of an interview between myself and Sam Fisher. He asks questions about this practice and why I began developing and sharing it. This podcast will explore our being human and offer tools and insights through the Sound Body Wisdom practice. It’s a space of possibility expanded by science, mind-body practices and personal wisdom.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download
I have noticed that my energy this last month has not been outward in my writing/sharing. I have been digesting and unwinding threads in my research about human trafficking and labor/sexual slavery (as I am about to work with 2 organizations in Nepal/India focused on these issues).
I suppose I am not surprised that as I research more I find how everything is connected. That all paths lead back to the core questions about:
~the roles we play out as humans
~whether or not we choose to question our conditioning no matter how ‘status quo’ it looks
~what happens when we are disconnected from our core sense of self love
My intention is to breathe into a practice of non-judgement and to look at these injustices through the lens of these essential questions. I don’t see how it is possible to separate any of it…..
How can we isolate human trafficking and forced sex labor as problems unto themselves. The issues are always complicated when it is about money and control/power. The threads of this go way back into history and in every geographic location. It is undeniably linked to prostitution, pornography, the sex industry, socio-economics, gender inequalities……it goes on and on.
Even the impressions I have personally had about strip clubs or prostitution (as becoming increasingly about an empowered choice more often than not) are being pretty much blown out of the water. All of it has been based on assumptions or misguided information that is far from accurate and simply convenient ‘smoke screens’.
Again, I am not here to judge….that is not my desire or my style.
I want to understand even though it is incredibly uncomfortable most days as I continue to learn more.
As I read and research about the rise and development of the sex industry here in the United States along with:
~the increase of violence in pornography in the last few years
~the rapid growth of internet pedophile sites/clubs in the United States (coinciding with the accessibility of the internet)
~ what is unraveling and being learned about the priests within the Catholic Church
~ American companies outsourcing to developing countries to run their pay per view live sex channels and the increase in violence and use of children for American clientele.
~ Perceptions men and young boys have about women in relation to violence and sex cultivated by exposure to pornography
~ The ‘why’s and ‘how’s of men choosing to pay for sex (with women and children) and what they expect and desire
……I realize all of this and more is shaping this territory of human trafficking and forced labor.
We have all allowed for this ‘settling in’ to an accepted sense of ‘norm’ when it comes to living our lives. We see every day (as the presidential race heats up) more prominent topics debated around the nature of religion, marriage and the Occupy Wall Street movement…..
So many judgements being cast and assumptions based on historical ‘values’ and ‘norms’…….
but how do we truly come to know ourselves and live in this diverse world together if we simply perpetuate old standards and imbalances?
How do we create common ground when each of us, to some degree, buys the ‘norms’ without question?
This includes our perceptions around:
~ ideas of success and competitive drive towards this ideal
~the gender roles we each accept and perform without question that shape the world we live in (in comfortable and disempowering ways)
~the inherited conditioning that shapes our choices and personality
~sex and our own sexuality
I understand to some degree our inclination towards this…….
…..if something is the accepted ‘norm’ why on earth would we question it?
That would seem like undue work wouldn’t it?
So I suppose that it is exactly this that I am pondering……that it comes down to each of us questioning our/the ‘norm’ and our comfort zone. To enact this ‘undue’ examination because it is perhaps the core of how atrocities such as human trafficking, slave labor and sex labor can be dissolved.
(Just look at something as recent as slavery and the Civil Rights Movement in our American history alone to get an idea of how this plays out)
What I speak of is a challenge on many levels for myself as well.
I have never had a direct issue with pornography or prostitution…..it has fallen into a category of ‘to each their own’ (to be honest I had not perviously put much thought into it). And I have no puritan ideals about sex to impose on anyone…..I believe in ‘let your freak flag fly’ as long as you are not harming someone else and not labeling, judging or imposing on one another.
And I am ALSO seeing how inherent the proliferation of pornography and prostitution is in the problems of sexual abuse with children, violence against women, sexism, pedophilia, forced sex labor and on and on…..
It was much simpler when I generally thought of these as separate issues….and yet the more I learn the more intertwined it all reveals itself to be. And the more I realize every choice we make can underlie these societal conditionings around gender subservience and sexual dynamics (what it means to be a ‘man’, a ‘woman’ and how we repress or express our perceived sexual drive).
They say (and I agree) that you can pass laws and legislation but the only true way to eliminate this epidemic (of trafficking and forced sex labor) is to decrease demand.
How can we do that?
What is it in our humanity that perpetuates the instinct to exploit those we see as weaker or vulnerable?
How do we continually act out injustices on others to have power, control and financial gain?
What is it about our sexuality and gender roles that feeds such a demand for the sex industry to exist?
Why do we allow and make room for anything that does harm and makes any person or group ‘less than’ and abused?
I am not judging people for what they do….instead I am trying to understand what drives us to want those things that directly or indirectly harms another person. In my opinion, condemning people for these choices does little to understand the ‘why’…..it just allows us to point fingers.
There are ways in which each of us perpetuates less than nourishing stereotypes and prejudiced ideas about what it means to be a woman, a man or simply a ‘successful’ human being.
How can we each create awareness and responsibility for the subtleties of our own thoughts and perceptions as a form of revolution?
Or at the least….a slow unwinding of prevailing inequalities……
Thanks for riding this with me…..
take care of yourself and one another….
feel free to check out:
to learn more about the work I am doing and human trafficking.
I recently spent substantial time with 6 month old twins (the children of dear friends). Being with them in abundance and so closely I was reminded so profoundly of the wide eyed wonder we are at that age. I was able to see these eyes and minds shaping to every little stimulus of touch, visual, sound and intention. Yes….intention. By this I mean the energy behind the actions. Everything is picked up by them…..and there really is no room for what we call subtlety. It all has an affect.
And I think we too often forget the profound affects we have on one another and ourselves in these more subtle realms. We have come to integrate so many underlying themes of degrading language and content as ‘acceptable’. Or we allow our unattended ‘parts’ to drive the car and kick mud up along our paths. We think ‘oh, it’s just a little mud’. We don’t even notice anymore the impact these have on our growing young and then continually on us as adults.
Is it the end of the world?
Will we live through it?
Most of us
And so we don’t seem to bother taking a closer look at the nature of our conditioned thoughts and how that leaks into our language and actions in these subtle ways. We simply accept that criticism, judgement and constant evaluation of ‘success’ and ‘better than’ is the path of being human. But I still ask ‘why not’?
Why not try something different……or is it we believe that the experience of suffering and struggle simply is part of being human?
I don’t know……but I am curious.
Even in a space of loving myself every moment of the day…….I still have personality. (My humanity is part of my divinity.) I am not trying to get rid of my personality, opinions and quirks……I am simply trying to shift the ways in which I have learned to be judgemental of them. I am understanding how to respect and appreciate them even while noticing the time has come for some to grow.
Unconditioned love grants space to let go of ‘judgement’ of self and other…..you can have opinions and walk in the world as human, yet let go of our need to elevate or minimize ourselves or others. To let go of a need to be right or wrong. It is a balanced space of simply ‘being’ and noticing all the feelings and thoughts along the way.
During the course of the day I try to notice where things get sticky for me and where I feel attached. I try to feel when the waves inside me are calm and when they are turbulent. I cannot always shift these feelings in the moment but simply noticing them and being curious, I come to learn so much about habits and conditioned patterns that aren’t always helpful or healthy. It is not always comfortable because I don’t often let myself get too distracted from what I am feeling. (I always seem to be there observing in some way.) Some days I have more energy and other days it is all I can do to breathe. But all along the way I don’t ever slip back into anything less than love and kindness for myself….even when I am frustrated and confused. Eventually if I follow the thread, it untangles.
And it is this base I have (re)built of unconditioned Love that supports all of this.
It starts with a little practice and it grows from there.
It’s never as far away as you think.
I thought I would talk about one of the main ways I function in life since sometimes it sounds confusing to people when I talk about my ‘parts’. For me, the term ‘part’ makes perfect sense but I realize it might be a stretch for others out of context. So, here goes……
Many years ago I began to notice there were times when I felt completely at ease and without constriction and other times where I felt the opposite of that. I decided to see what I could notice in these shifting moments and the shades in between. It was within this exploration that I noticed threads of different aspects of myself. It’s all ‘me’ but I chose to recognize different emotions and thoughts as distinct aspects or parts (of me). This came from a time where the ‘volume’ or quantity of emotions and thoughts was too much when it would happen all at once. So, I learned if I could see distinction in the feelings then they were easily addressed and didn’t overwhelm me.
The cool byproduct of this approach was that I began to develop a deeper sense of relationship with myself and I have learned more about my ‘inner workings’ than I could have imagined.
Okay, let me try to describe the process more and move from the realm of vagueness.
In the beginning, I would aim to notice times when I went from feeling good to feeling less than good. As soon as I noticed this shift I would try to also notice all the qualities of my environment inside and out…..just notice them. There would tend to be a thought pattern/soundtrack/voice that had a conditioned response to some form of stimulus. For example, it might be I would read an article about someone achieving a grand ‘success’ in the newspaper and a litany of thoughts/voices would begin that were not loving but harshly critical of me. In that moment, I would address this unhelpful commentary direct and personally. This was a key tool in the process. If I simply noticed and made general statements to contradict it or just observed and reminded myself there was other ways outside this conditioned pattern…..it stayed sorta vague and distant for me.
when I addressed these thoughts direct and personally the game changed.
Imagine the difference between trying to have a relationship with an amorphous mass and a distinct entity. (For me, knowing myself is very much a form of intimate ‘relationship’.)
The process of how it went from amorphous to personal came when I simply asked questions. I spoke directly to the thoughts and feelings without expectation or concept of reply. In the instance of self deprecating thoughts……I would simply ask them what they need. That is where I started my relationship of getting to know them. I would continue to inquire until I heard something….anything from them. From there it would evolve and grow. The questions would shift and sometimes it took longer than others or there would be unexpected answers. There were also times I would simply wait and let them know I would be there to listen when they were ready to talk to me. I wouldn’t force anything or get frustrated with them.
As you may notice, there is a ‘part’ of me speaking directly to other ‘parts’ of me. It was important that the part asking the questions wasn’t simply another part or thought pattern based in feeling bad about myself or limited in any way. The aspect of me that does the ‘noticing’ and asking questions is what I call my wise woman. Someone recently asked me to say more about that. My ‘wise woman’ is this place of expansive and unconditioned love/kindness. It is without judgement or attachment to opinions. It simply shows up with these wide open arms and says “I am here to listen and hold space for you’. (This quality is clearly the ‘medicine’ that works for me and I imagine each persons ‘wise part’ would offer what that individual uniquely needed……but I would dare suppose that unconditioned love is something that is healing for all persons…not just me)
So this expansive presence simultaneously exists along with the self deprecating, scared and small feeling parts.
The moment I can notice when the ‘lesser than’ parts are ‘in the house’ so to speak and affecting things……I need to pause. The pause is critical in this work because it helps me differentiate these ‘limited’ parts from my more expansive wise presence. When I can notice this and realize it is not all the same amorphous mass, I can then begin the direct conversation. From here I can learn and shape my relationships with these thought patterns or conditioned parts.
The more I have gotten to know these parts, the more they ‘heal’ and then simply integrate within the overall system of ‘me’. There is no intention to ‘get rid’ of some part of me. I find that when I give them attention, listen and don’t simply ignore them…..they stop ‘acting out’ the way they once did.
I love using the analogy of driving the car. I might ask myself ‘who’s driving the car’. Ideally it works best when my wise woman is driving (in ‘control’) but there are times some other part gets behind the wheel. (When I notice a disgruntled or insecure part has gotten in the drivers seat ……it is usually my wise woman noticing the shift.) She can then simply ride shotgun as opposed to demanding the car back. She can cruise around with them and simply make small talk, turn on the radio, comment on scenery etc. At some point she might say something like “I enjoy driving so if you get tired let me know”. Eventually trust is established and the part driving willingly hands over the keys. In the end, the wise part doesn’t kick this challenged part out of the car, she asks the part to go for a drive with her. They have a relationship rooted in trust and caring so it is far less adversarial.
All in all, this process is one of curiosity and creativity. I am always improvising…..no book or person could have fully prepared me for the scenarios I have encountered. I have had to be willing to step out of pre-conceived methods and ideas. It is like raising children…..where they are always surprising you. So I open myself to the mystery and stay on my toes with love and kindness.
Okay, if I was to break it down into steps……
1. Notice when you shift from ‘wise expansive’ part into parts having ‘limiting’ thoughts or emotions.
2. Pause or interrupt it from continuing as usual.
3. Choose to differentiate by speaking directly to the thought or emotion.
4. Be curious, kind and respectful when speaking to this part of yourself.
5. Ask it questions to establish trust and get to know more about it.
6. Let your intention be to develop a relationship which brings natural integration as opposed to ‘getting rid of it’.
Try these steps with thoughts or parts that are not too intense for you. This will help you experiment and explore. You will truly map your own path in this unique expression called ‘you’. And don’t forget to trust your intuition in the process……it is a great guide.
Enjoy the blessing and the challenge.
Thanks for reading…….Jacqueline
Tell them I’m struggling to sing with angels
who hint at it in black words printed on old paper gold-edged by
Tell them I wrestle the mirror every morning
Tell them I sit here invisible in space
Nose running, coffee cold and bitter
Tell them I tell them everything
& everything is never enough
Tell them I’m another cross-wired babbling being
songs coming out all ends to meet & flash above the disc above my
Tell them I’m a dreamer, new-born shaman
sitting cross legged in trance-stupor
turning into the magic feather contemplated
Tell them there are moments when clay peels off my bones
& feeds a river passing faces downstream
Tell them I’m davening & voices rise up from within to startle
Tell them I walk off into the woods to sing
Tell them I sing loudest next to waterfalls
Tell them the books get fewer, words go deeper
some take months to get thru
Tell them there are moments when it’s all perfect
above & below, it’s perfect
even moments in between where sparks in space
(terrible,beautiful sparks in space)
are merely metaphors for the void between
one pore & another
“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”
What does power mean to you? Are there different types of power? Do you think there is a difference between ‘power over’ and ’empowerment’? How does power play out in the most subtle ways in your day to day exchanges? Or on a larger scale around you?
And then I guess one might ask…….do you want ‘peace’?……..and what does that mean both inside of you and in the world around you?
It is a word and concept that has been tossed around so prolifically that I wonder if we truly even understand what it means to experience it.
How does it feel when you begin ‘peace’ within yourself?
1 the ability to do something or act in a particular way, esp. as a faculty or quality :the power of speech | [with infinitive ] the power to raise the dead | ( powers) his powers of concentration.
2 the capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events.
Just one little thread. That’s all. Notice one small thread and just tug at it and see where it goes.
That is my love of metaphor speaking to the fabric of each of us. We are such an elaborate ‘weave’. So why not today…..or even right now…….take a few minutes. Let yourself think of a basic opinion you hold……nothing too emotionally ‘charged’. Once you think of it….simply get curious and perhaps start with the question ‘why?’. Let go of any passing of judgement or commentary/criticism. Just notice the thread of the opinion and follow it. See where the thread goes in the weave and perhaps what other threads or opinions it might be connected to. Is it integral to the integrity of the overall garment? Does it get lost in the intricacies of threadwork? When you get distracted just go back to the thread again and do this for a few minutes…..use your imagination as much as you need as that too is part of this weave(you).
That’s it…….just let it go. There doesn’t ‘need’ to be some grand revelation or insight. It is a practice of attention and focus……questioning and choosing. It feels like as a society we like having bigger pay outs for doing something……more reward. Try doing this for the satisfaction of small growth that might at first be imperceptible. If you can start with simple threads where there isn’t a lot of attached complexity you can learn this practice less encumbered. You can have more space to enjoy it and notice all you notice for the brief time you engage it. Over time you will find your own technique and ‘way’ with these more simple threads…..and you will have developed the muscle or skill for the more complex aspects of this ‘weave’ of you. Like any practice, the more you play with it the easier it becomes. Eventually the ‘effort’ becomes less, and almost like breathing, many threads will simply reveal themselves.
Okay……..what is your simple ‘thread’ this morning? I am going to follow my thread/opinion that I am a ‘good’ driver. Hmmm….ha ha……why not……
I was talking with someone who was reflecting on her adult son and how she felt that he hadn’t lived up to his ‘potential’….and he was wasting his life and was ‘lazy’. Her thoughts didn’t seem mean-spirited and in fact she expressed a desire for him to be able to better take care of himself. I have found myself in a few conversations about the nature of living up to ones ‘potential’. Whew….talk about an amazingly subjective slippery slope. Many of these conversations have been one person reflecting on another person they care about and their frustration over their ‘wasted’ potential and all the ways they could stop wasting it. (and I am sure each of us is also familiar with how this same thinking can be put towards ourselves with thoughts/feelings of wasted potential).
It seems curious to me how when we care about someone and have a sense they are not living their ‘full potential’……. that we then choose to be frustrated with them? Why are we quick to ‘blame’ people for our own perceptions of their ‘wasted potential’….especially if it isn’t ‘hurting’ anyone else? It’s interesting that I don’t seem to hear people say, ‘that leaf falling from the tree is wasting its potential’ or ‘that wind is sure lazy’. But as humans here we go with our sharp minds to knock ourselves and others down when we perceive (even if it is based on intelligence tests or past achievements) they could ‘do better’ and live up to their ‘potential’.
It seems to me that energy without the subjective opinion we impose on it is simply …..’energy’. And I believe we ‘live up to our potential’ within the abilities of our personal environments. I thought of the example of a car. Let’s say you have a sporty car with a beefed up engine….one that has incredible power and speed potential. If someone placed a ‘governor’ on the accelerator pedal…..no matter how hard you tried, the ‘potential’ speed of that car will not be reached. When there are limitations or ‘governors’ placed on something or someone, they live within those limitations until or if those limitations might change. Another example would be water pressure in your house. The water pressure might have a certain potential but can be limited by the environment of the pipes, sediment, other systems functioning in the house etc……you get the idea?
We are like the car and the house in the sense that we are a unique system of ‘energy’ and design….and we are affected and ‘limited’ by our environment or certain ‘governors’ that have been put in place over time. Some we might be aware of and others not at all. The reasons for how we developed these limiters is unique and varied for each of us……but often they came into being for reasons that seemed good at the time. One possibility is that our systems of self protection or conditioning installed these ‘limiters’ as a safety device of sorts….which was probably helpful at the time.
So how do we come to know, understand and respect the limiters within our own design and conditioning? How do we invest in our awareness of these limiters and our choice to perhaps change them over time? How can our expanded personal awareness create more empathy for ourselves and other people? How can we shift the standard way of thinking to not ‘blame’ (or be frustrated etc) with those we ‘perceive’ as not living up to their ‘potential’? How can we be kind all the more as we realize how each of us has our unique set of limitations and is living exactly within our current ‘potential’? And how can we do this while still having our opinions and wanting ‘the best’ for someone and ourselves……realizing that all of this can co-exist with a little effort of gentle awareness?
All of these questions…….each of us with our unique response to it all. What is possible if we meet life…even things we accept as ‘that’s just the way it is’ or as ‘givens’…..with curiosity? Hmmmmm……..
I will leave you with one definition of ‘energy potential’:
The potential energy is a function of the state a system is in, and is defined relative to that for a particular state. This reference state is not always a real state, it may also be a limit. Any arbitrary reference state could be used, therefore it can be chosen based on convenience. Typically the potential energy of a system depends on the relative positions of its components only, so the reference state can also be expressed in terms of relative positions.
thanks for reading….Jacq.
Make a list of all the ‘titles’ you identify with. For example: mother, daughter, employee, caretaker, friend, lover, teacher etc.
Then also list all the adjectives or descriptives you identify with: friendly, adventurous, smart, talented, stupid (include all sides of the coin), insensitive, funny, abrupt, intense, charismatic, musical, boring, talk to much, prompt, unreliable, stingy, generous etc etc. You could make a very long list if you take the time. Now right down anything else you feel like describes ‘you’ or identifies you.
Okay, look at the piece of paper with what I imagine has many words on it if you really sat with all the different arenas of your life and let it flow. Now, one by one just let them go. Yes, let go of every ‘title’, identifier or role that you either play willingly or is put upon you. Just let it go. See if you can get to a place of spaciousness where these aspects/qualities, and all that is attached to them, fade to the distance.
Now notice how you feel. Notice if some were a little stickier than others for letting go. Notice which felt easier to let go of. Notice which ones make you feel ‘better’ and which make you feel ‘lesser’. Notice which ones help you feel ‘safe’. Etc etc. Just notice.
Then slowly and with attention let them each come back. (They are never far away). Again, notice what you notice.
Practice this every week or couple weeks and see if you can not automatically identify with all of this. See if you can strengthen the muscle of observation. By observing and listing them, letting them go and inviting them back……all the while noticing the feelings and thoughts that are connected to it all……you develop a practice and skill of awareness and choice. You interrupt the standard auto pilot and begin a practice of awareness and empowerment. You also, over time, learn that not all of them need/want to ‘come back’ anymore. Some might be ready to ‘retire’ if you give them a little break from being actively engaged.
Play with this and see what you notice….get curious and ask yourself questions……..oh, and have fun. Why not?
Why not try a mix of kindness and empathy instead of criticism and passing *judgement? Why not see how it feels to both offer this but experience it from others? Why not find out what gets in your way of offering this to yourself and others?
To clarify- *judgement as I am referring to it is not about the development of discernment for choice or opinion based on factual information. I am speaking to the more often used quality of ‘passing judgement’ to criticize without prior knowledge or to jump to conclusions from opinions that tend to diminish a person or group.
general word definitions:
Criticism- 1.the act of passing judgment as to the merits of anything. 2. the act of passing severe judgement; censure; faultfinding