Vulnerability: A Wise Guide Through Tight Spaces & 4 Ways To Cultivate It

In a world of loud, quiet really wakes up the soul.

In a world of fast, slow magnifies power.

In a world of hard hitting, of slamming it, banging it, crushing it, the soft touch can slide through the tight spot with insuperable strength.

Vulnerability can be seen as the synergy of opposites such as rigid and flaccid, tight and loose, hard and soft.

Synergy is the blending of things such that the sum of effects of those blended things is greater than all effects of any one thing going about its business alone.

Vulnerability can be felt in body, heart, and mind. It’s felt as the outcome of blending opposites like rigid and flaccid, tight and loose, tough and weak in good measure such that each half of the pair of opposites tempers the mix with its finest quality.

Part body sensation, part feeling, part mental awareness, vulnerability can present from within as a scary openness at first. If you’re not comfortable with it, even the suggestion to open to your vulnerability can agitate.

Like cracks in a wall that leave you open to frigid blasts and malignant insect attacks, like cracks in communication that leak top secret intelligence, like cracks in an emotional armour that leave you open to getting hurt, vulnerability feels too undefended, too permeable.

Vulnerability might be scary because we’re not used to the soft-hard art of allowing.

In many martial arts, in the yogas, in the training of hunters and gatherers, in the long apprenticeship of a magician or medicine person, in the cultivating of a master artist, the intimate practice of vulnerability keeps the initiate open in a tight spot, ready to flow in any direction, poised for a leap or a roll, positioned for opportunity.

Vulnerability might be scary because deep in the ancestral language centres of our collective awareness we hauntingly remember that vulnerable comes from words that mean to wound, to maim, to injure, to pluck, to tear, to strike. That’s scary!

But today, vulnerability means an intimacy with body, heart, head, and soul in such a manner that you could no longer hurt yourself or others intentionally.

In The Yoga Sutras, Patanjali describes this power of yoga: When you are steadfast in your abstention of thoughts of harm towards others or yourself, all living creatures will cease to feel fear in your presence. (sutra 2:35)

That might be called vulnerability in extremis and vulnerability in extasis.

Vulnerability, then, might be described as the taming of the fear reflex and the absence of a blame and shame conditioning.

Vulnerability could be called the necessary angel, to borrow Wallace Stevens’s phrase, of empathy. Now, that’s a beautiful thing.

Invite your vulnerability to guide you and hold you. It has beauty, courage, and magic in it.

4 Actions To Invite Vulnerability:

  1. Tune in to your senses and sensations. Walk in a safe place in nature. Sit quietly, close your eyes, breathe, and practice developing eyes in the back of your head. Walk gently, sense the earth beneath your feet, and practice developing ears in the soles of your feet. Smell as if every pore of skin were a nose. Taste with your fingertips. Open to the subtlety of sensation.
  2. Acknowledge reactivity. You can develop a practice of tuning in to the tight place in the body that’s attached to a reactive trigger; then identify an emotion that goes with the trigger; then observe any meanings, ie, conclusions, perceptions, thoughts attached to that trigger.
  3. Simply sit and allow yourself to embody sensation, emotion, thought, without reaction. Just let it flow through. No judgement. No blame.
  4. Daily, track triggers, emotions, feelings, thoughts, behaviours through tight spots and tender spots. If any of those are uncomfortable, if they hurt you or someone else even in thought, write yourself into a next best perception or meaning. Write about the beautiful, helpful, good, blessed boons in your life even when going through trial. Stretch yourself. Notice something that has a deep and encouraging beauty to it in spite of any anguish or confusion. Focus there.

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Relaxed~Yoga’s Middle Way Between Limp & Rigid

In yoga, relaxed and rigid are not opposites. Limp and rigid are opposites. Relaxed is the middle way.

Relaxedness arises as the breath eases, the head clears, and the heart opens. Relaxedness is a result of discipline. Discipline is the way to liberation.

Dancers know that the dedicated practice of technique frees the body to leap as if gravity didn’t exist. A great pianist practices daily scales, knowing that years of repeating scales is the ground from which flights of improv soar.

If your body is limp or rigid, check your mental stance, check your feeling stance. The body is a reflection of thinking and feeling.

A rigid body reflects rigid thinking and rigid feeling, a stiffening of the authentic, fluid vitality of being into a very narrow artery of clog.

A limp body reflects limp thinking and limp feeling, a puddling of your authentic, vital, alive, and magnificently wild self into shapeless, shallow pools of blah.

The spacious silent abode of yoga mind liberates us from a rigid resistance or limp resignation to the frustrating finitudes of life. Relaxed is the transcendent third, the middle way, the balancing agent, the springboard into radiant possibility.

Relaxed synergizes the good fortitude of the rigid stance and the good softness of the limp stance into an energetic powerhouse of magnetized potential. Rigid becomes flexible with softness loosening it. Limp becomes resilience with fortitude strengthening it.

A daily practice in yoga mind enhances our energetic radiance and liberates us into the infinite potentialities of the relaxed, non-attached awareness.

The relaxed, non-attached awareness frees our wild potentialities into useable energy and useful attraction action that helps dreams come true.

 

Are You Hogtied To Habit?

Are you hogtied to habit?

When we’re not aware of where our attention is and what our intention is at any given moment, the cramp of conditioning is at large, in charge, and running the show.

The cramp of conditioning is a memory imprint, the stuff that happened, set into the subconscious by experience and consolidated by repetition. It runs on auto-pilot and usually keeps us small, playing safe–cramped. Left to its own devices, it’s repeating what it knows over and over. And what it knows is the same-old-same-old.

Have you ever paid attention to the images and thoughts your mind makes all day?

How many pictures a day do you make of angst and urgency or of desire and fulfillment? How many thoughts of despair and damnation or of hope and vision? Of rage and revenge or of serenity and wonderment? Of complaint and criticism or of compassion and co-operation? What’s your mental default mission?

Bringing attention to your habits of thought gives you the lead-in to change your cramp of conditioning.

It may take time and it will take dedicated repetition. But if you apply your attention to noticing the cramped conditioning, and if you set your intention to shift to more liberating thoughts and images, that old cramp will loosen and you will develop new, refreshing, healthy memory habits.

To untie those hogtied knots, try meditation, creative envisioning, tapping. Pay attention to your self-talk–how the voice in your head talks on its own–and build a devotion toward correcting any self-talk that holds you back, puts you down, keeps you small. Practice self-encouragement. Do things that stretch your comfort zone and things that make you feel good.

You’re worth the dedicated attention. And every little knot you untie liberates your greatness, one golden thread at a time.

 

 

The Old Bugaboo Doesn’t Have To Bug You Forever (or Believe It To Achieve It)

girl dandelion

Have you ever wondered: why people who actively desire to make good changes in their thoughts, feelings, habits, and actions don’t succeed in the long run? why people don’t believe in themselves or in their innate capacity for deep change? why counselling doesn’t always stick? why intention or affirmation practice alone doesn’t seem to fulfill its promise of big change? why we stay stuck in the mud, caught in the fence, treading the same old pattern pathways over and over?

The answer comes down to subconscious belief and the locus of deep change. Our subconscious beliefs guide our choices and actions. The locus of change is the subconscious beliefs. A deep change practice has to reach through the mind clutter and touch the subconscious.

Thinking Isn’t Enough

Thought alone doesn’t reach deeply enough to shift an old defunct pattern. Thinking alone doesn’t cavern into the place where the old patterns live inside you.

Therapy helps. Counselling helps. Positive self-talk helps. But talk therapy and positive affirmation don’t touch the neural grooves in the brain that represent the hidden beliefs in the subconscious.

It’s those hidden beliefs in the subconscious that need to be targeted and bull’s eyed.

So what is this subconscious? And why is it so important in the process of deep transformational change?

The Subconscious

The subconscious is the whole body and all its functions and gifts, instincts and intuitions, illuminations and limitations. It’s the nervous system and neural grooves; it’s the gut, the heart, the head; it’s the deepest operating system and the lifelong companion; it’s the warehouse of daily events and storehouse of memories and memorized patterns. Our learned beliefs and habits live here. The subconscious comprises about 80-90% of us; our conscious self is pretty small in comparison.

Imagine the subconscious to be a magnificent, powerful animal of transport, like a horse. A well-trained horse who trusts its rider and its instincts blends with the movements and guiding directions of a rider who respects its horse and trusts its horse’s power.

Imagine the subconscious to be like a work ox of old, attached to the arm that turns the grinding wheel, walking round and round all day doing its work faithfully, entirely limited by harness and ingrained habit. An oxen who has always moved like this will always move like this, harnessed or not.

The subconscious is a magnificent evolutionary survival mechanism, filled with all the inherited codes of our DNA and imprinted with the learned behaviours of our lives. The deepest learned behaviours, and often the ones that hold us back the most, are the earliest ones learned. Our deep patterning, housed in our subconscious and reflected in neural pathways, unconscious beliefs, repeated thoughts and emotions and behaviours, governs most of what we do and how we behave. We like to think that our conscious waking mind is in charge. It’s usually not. The subconscious deep patterning is in charge, making our choices from learned patterns that became entrenched over the years and through repetition.

The subconscious isn’t trying to be the boss. The subconscious isn’t trying to be subversive. The subconscious isn’t trying to trip you up. It’s a loyal companion, a faithful friend, doing what it was told to do over and over and through many repetitions.

For example, most of us were taught to look both ways before crossing a road. It’s automatic. The behaviour was taught, we do it without thinking. It’s a very good pattern to have had set into us from the earliest years of our lives.

Conversely, some of us were taught that another way of thinking or believing is wrong. That teaching gets in deep, too. And we react to that foreign way as if it were actually wrong and not just a different way.

Learned Belief

Three core beliefs—deeply entrenched neural patterns that represent deeply held convictions—are: hopelessness, helplessness, and worthlessness. And most of us got stuck with some dose of at least one of these, and some of us got dosed more heavily in one or more of those self-beliefs. We subsequently live without believing in our abilities, dreams, selves.

We learn to believe what we were taught. The belief gets set into the neural structure which means that our entire psycho-social-physical-spiritual self is governed by beliefs we may not even know we have. You can’t see a belief. But you can experience its results.

How often have you looked at your reactions and behaviours and choices that trip you up; acknowledge they’re not healthy or helpful; but feel powerless to change them? No amount of thinking about them helps. Positive thinking helps a bit. Talk therapy helps a bit. But mostly, the old bugaboo keeps bugging you.

The Way Out

But the old bugaboo doesn’t have to keep bugging you.

The old sacred wisdom and the new scientific understanding about the subconscious, the neural patternings, the power of core belief, and the way out of the cul de sac of I-Can’t-Change now align. There is a way out of the dark psychological alley. The old psychologies provided tools and techniques to get free. The new scientific psychologies have found that these old sacred psychologies work.

Hypnosis, deep meditation, visualization toward a specific target goal, or behaviour, or change all work to change the deeply entrenched faulty beliefs that hold us back. In the yoga psychologies, these old neural grooves are called samskaras. In neuroscience: neural patterns. In psychology: subconscious core beliefs. Whatever the language or tradition, hypnosis, deep meditation, and visualization targeted toward a specific goal work to manifest that change in your deep neural structures and therefore in your beliefs, thoughts, emotions, choices, actions.

An old adage says: You must believe it to achieve it.

Old beliefs that hold you back can be changed. The old bugaboos don’t have to bug you forever. Try these therapeutic techniques: hypnosis, meditation, visualization. Target an old belief and become a new you.

Contact me for information on a 6 session engagement to repattern the old stuck neural grooves and install that new, shining belief. Believe It To Achieve It

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Will Serves Balance, Balance Is Power

stones balanced

Will serves balance. Balance is power.

Any significant change in the good direction needs the support of your will. Does that sound scary? How many times have you said you have no willpower? How often do you hear others bemoan their lack of that big ingredient in the optimal change recipes: willpower? Well, let me tell you: you have all the will power you need. You just have to engage it and exercise it. And ahhh ha. There’s the rub, right?

What I mean by will or will power is not the common notion of a gruelling grit that hunkers down, muscles up, locks the jaw, girds the loins, secures the perimeters, and sets to with a stiff upper lip.

I don’t mean lashing yourself to the mast of masochism to quit smoking, do the housework, do the homework, do the yardwork, scoop the poop, get up, get fit, get off X-Box, get off Facebook, get off Netflix, get off binge watching, get off binge eating, get off oxy, get off meth, get off drunk fighting, get off mean texting, get off complaining, even though these actions are beneficial and involve self-control and self-discipline.

Will power isn’t the act of yanking yourself to do any or all of the things that are good for you that you’d rather not be doing but which you feel compelled to do by some outward force like The Laws Of Society. And will power isn’t the act of fighting the inward impression left by The Laws, the impressions which have become The Long Learned Laws Of Self-Limiting Mind—those locked-in subconscious belief paradigms that stake us to compulsive repetitions of self loathing or self effacement or self aggrandizement, mystifying in their autonomy and stupefying in their self-sabotaging economy.

I don’t mean a whip master will, like a military mandate in the mind, the coercive, the ironshod, the pushy, the punitive; nor the shackling of any good and healthy faculty of creativity or wellbeing to a shaming or blaming or gaming directive. I don’t mean force. In fact, studies are discovering that willpower decreases as force increases. And force only consolidates the The Long Learned Laws Of Self-Limiting Mind.

By will power I mean an ability to direct the attention where you want it to go, to notice when it wanders, and to bring the attention back to your focus of choice.

By willing your attention to go where you want it to go and in willing your attention to return to your chosen focus when you notice your attention has wandered, you’re learning the illimitable skill of awareness, you’re strengthening your innate faculty of choice, you’re honing perception, you’re fine tuning equanimity, you’re giving yourself the golden scales of right balance. You’re exercising your Amazing Super Power of Will. Will is one of the significant skills in effecting positive transformation. Will grows strong through exercising it, through creating a willingness to exercise it, and through sane and sensible practices of reflection and restoration, attention and intention, motivation and inspiration, that support you in your desired direction toward destiny.

At LivingFlow Integrative Essentials, I use and teach therapeutic interventions, partnered with a cognitive behavioural and appreciative enquiry approach of what’s holding you back, that support positive transformation: hypnotherapeutics, meditation, mindfulness, yoga, or aromatherapy. Doing a practice consisitently will get you unstuck, will get you out from under the thumb of The Long Learned Laws Of Limiting Mind. Do the practices—and you will grow into a greater being than you ever dreamed yourself to be.

A New Year, A New You: Hypnosis, Meditation, Creative Visualization for Deep Change

come come again heart 37

Whoever you are, you’ve most likely made New Year’s Resolutions before, and wrestled with the acts of fulfilling them; and you’ve probably had some success with fulfilling them—for a time.

Whoever you are, you’ve probably known the plop of defeat, the weight of guilt, the sting of shame, and the bite behind as the old habit sneaks back in and sets to holding your goals and dreams hostage, holding your health or relationships for ransom.

You may have made deals and bets and vows and promises, with yourself, your spouse, your friend, your god, your devil, your soul.

You may have put out a lot of money at a gym, or on a diet product, or on a new age transformational healing programme, and been sold on the idea of a quick fix.

You may have got wise to the gimmicks and elixirs and exhaustions of the quick fix, and just hunkered down, girded your loins, and dug in for the long haul, making yourself and everyone else around you miserable as you stuck to your vow and browbeat positive change into your old habit.

Some of you may have given up trying by now.

It’s not that any personal growth intervention or a combination of them don’t or can’t work. It’s that we fall into other old habits that are different and deeper than the habit we want to change, and that in fact support the habit we want to change. We fall into our subtle sure-fail practices. We lose interest, lose energy, lose patience, lose faith. We slip up once and beat ourselves down. We begin on a high, but don’t prepare for the low. We get stuck in either/or splits. We forget how it is to walk in the mud with boots too big. We insist on a sprint toward success. We delude ourselves into believing that anyone who has succeeded must have some special magic in their footfall, and that we ourselves do not.

It’s also because we haven’t been taught the key state of mind and heart essential to stimulate and consolidate the deepest change for the better.

The best working recipe that I know for stopping an old habit and creating a new one includes tried and true practices of truly ancient origin, modified for our times, but still totally rooted in our nervous system, coded into our DNA, and directed at real change.

These key tools are: quiet mind, good intention, repetition, and commitment (or devotion).

And the practices that teach these tools and use these tools to effect transformational change are old practices that go by names like: meditation, hypnosis, creative visualization, prayer.

We’re designed to change. We’ve evolved through change and with change as individuals and as a species. We are adaptable, teachable, flexible. These meditative practices when done repeatedly, in quiet mind, and with an attitude of lovingkindness toward one’s self, work with the subconscious itself.

The subconscious is almost our entire being and it’s the storehouse of everything we are and have been. Much of it was born with us. And a lot of it got taught into us by the examples and practices of everyone and everything in our lives. The practices I’ve mentioned actually reach into the neural structure of the brain and repattern the neural grooves that represent a particular subconscious bias or pattern or belief.

The subconscious is deeply suggestible. The brain is remarkably fluid. We can change old habits by reaching in and changing the old belief biases that neuroscience sees as particular neural patterns. And these ancient healing practices are the practices that work toward changing the set neural structures, that is, the primary subconscious beliefs that hold that neural structure in place.

Whoever you are, you can always begin again. Ours is not a caravan of despair, as Rumi says. Most of us have broken a vow. We are each only ever beginning again, every day, every breath, every moment.