There's a beautiful quote by Rumi that says, The wound is the place where the Light enters you.
Leonard Cohen expressed a similar sentiment when he sang, Ring the bells that still can ring \ Forget your perfect offering \ There is a crack in everything \ That's how the light gets in.
I love these quotes, but I've come to realize, I love them when I'm applying them to someone else. I have a really hard time allowing them to be true about myself and my work.
Especially when it comes to the issue of perfectionism.
I never realized this was an issue for me because I am the last person who fits the perfectionist prototype. I certainly never struggled with feeling I had to look perfect, thanks to a case of cystic acne in my 20's. I never felt my life had to be perfect either, as I have been broke and crashed and burned more than once. In college, I got really depressed and failed an entire year. Two semesters of f's and incompletes. Needless to say, I felt like a loser and almost gave up on myself.
In other words, I have fallen and picked myself back up many times over.
This was integral in splitting me wide open for the spiritual awakening I would go through. It also helped me to let go and just be me in many ways.
What I didn't realize is, it was giving me the illusion that I'm immune to the pitfalls of perfectionism.
I couldn't even allow myself to consider this I was so entrenched in one way of thinking. I full on believed I knew I made mistakes and I loved them and myself for it. However, at the same time, I knew I was making mistakes, and I was terrified of them.
Which means, I only kinda-sorta accepted myself as an imperfect being. I was caught in a very deep conflicting belief, and this conflict was ripping me apart.
On the one hand, I knew my work wasn't perfect. No creative work ever will be. That's why it's so scary to create art, music, or pretty much anything at all. If you want to create something, a business let's say, and have it be perfect, you're either going to stop before you start, or struggle with massive inner turmoil, as I have been.
On the other hand, I feared if I embraced this inner conflict I would appear to be a total hack. I didn't want to share that I think my work is flawed and imperfect, because then what faith would you have in me and the things I create?
But the thing is, I know you have something you want to do, and that the fear of not being perfect might be holding you back on some level also. Maybe it's consciously, or maybe you're like me, and it's completely below the surface, buried so deep an oil rig is going to have to plunge in to get it out.
Aside from perfectionism holding us back from doing what we really want to do, it can also hinder the meditative journey.
If I create meditations that take you deep inside, to see all of who you are, so-called flaws and all, and then I fear on the deepest levels of my being my own flaws, I'm being a pretty big hypocrite. I was telling myself that my flaws in my creative projects weren't me. I had created a separation, and that was causing me inner discord. My creations are me. So if I refused to see flaws in my work, then I was refusing to accept a very big part of myself. A part I love so dearly, and that's where the pain comes in.
You can't lock out one part without locking out the rest.
I shut out feeling the insecurity over creating imperfect work, and therefore, also shut out the love, joy and pride I felt for my creations. I shut out remembering why I created what I did. I shut out the fun and focused only on the fear.
I can only take you as far as I take myself. And I want to take you to the center of your soul. I want to take you right into the source of your being. Into the eternal place of love, beauty, light and divinity you always have been and always will be.
So for all of us, for you and for me, I'm stepping into this fear. I deeply fear that by proclaiming I know my work isn't perfect that you will put be completely putt off to my meditations and anything else I do or say.
And let's be honest, I have tons of fears about the imperfections of the meditations I created.
I fear my voice is too inconsistent and varies too much in pitch and volume. I fear you can hear weird sounds my mouth makes (I had no idea I made so many weird sounds until I recorded myself). I fear the pacing is off and you'll think I rush some parts and take too long on others. I fear the whole story is stupid and you'll hate the journey I am so eager with delight to take you on.
And I fear above all, you'll contact me and tell me all of the things you hated.
This is by no means a request that you never tell me what you think of me and my work. These are my fears, and I will never get through them by insisting you conform to me. By all means, tell me what you think, because this band-aid I've got on my fears needs to be ripped off.
What I've come to realize is, if I don't embrace the flaws in my work, I stop doing it in myself. The more I reject cracks in my work, the more I reject cracks and parts of myself. This in turns feeds into a fear I have that I can relapse into my old, depressive ways of self-loathing.
This, like most fears, is irrational.
I have made so many changes since then that it would take me years of reversing my momentum to get there. Decades really, and because of the changes I've made in people in my life, nobody around me would let this happen. And yet, I felt it would happen RIGHT NOW, and I had to hide from seeing my flaws in order to protect myself from going there.
So here I am to say, My name is Melissa, and I have cracks. They are a part of me and I them. We need each other, and together we will grow into my true potential.
I was so afraid of appearing imperfect that I became an emotional bully to myself, demanding I hide this side of me and suck it up, going on as if everything was okay.
And that emotional bully, that's a crack. That's another place the light is getting inside of me.
If you enjoy reading/listening to Abraham you know they are always reminding us to find what feels good. To put our attention on what we love. Put your attention on what brings you joy, whether that be some flowers, a sunset, a favorite TV show, some music you adore, or a pet. I followed through with that and got myself this kitty Banjo. She was a street cat, and she kept hiding from me until I managed to get her into my car with some Fancy Feast. I thought she was pretty plucky so I called her Banjo. I am totally in love with her, so I'm going to be super cheesy and be "one of those people" and share a photo of my pet. Here is my weekend dose of love.
What's bringing you feelings of love and joy this weekend? Will you give it your full attention and allow yourself to feel into where that joy wants to take you? Will you allow it to be simple? A bird that flies over head. A lady bug on a leaf. A cup of coffee. Allow yourself to feel it without any thinking, any hows or whys. Just feel the love. It's more than enough.
”The certain pathway to all things that you want is through the corridor of joy. Most of you say, ‘When I get that I will be joyful.’ And we say, until you are joyful, you will not get that. You must start with the decision - with the determination - with the insistence that, ’I will not settle for less than feeling good.’"
- Abraham/Esther Hicks
I have just been introduced to The Universal Breathing Room, and I'm so thankful and excited to share it! I was sitting here feeling a little off. I could feel there was something there, something that was the faintest feeling of sadness and longing, but I couldn't shake it off and I wasn't sure what I needed. I was following a discussion on self-sabotage and fear and someone shared the UBR (Universal Breathing Room) from the Do As One site.
On the site, you enter into a virtual room and join with others and just... breathe. I was instantly curious because I know when you join with other people an experience increases in intensity (which was studied and is now called the Maharishi effect). So if I was breathing with the intention of feeling better, and others were too, then my good feelings would rise even faster. I did some deep breathing in the room for a few minutes and yeah, it was awesome. This is so simple and so effective. The best part is you can see how many people are there (when I first went in it was 7) so if you're feeling lonely you can imagine all those other people, breathing, chilling out, choosing to feel good above all else, sharing this experience with you, breathing with One with you, and you won't feel so alone. You can experience the sense of connection without having to do anything except breathe. And deep breathing is so healing. It connects you to your life force, the now moment, cleanses and detoxifies and clears your mind.
There are several settings in the room. I tried to start breathing right away, and then lost my pacing as I played with the settings. I recommend relaxing at first and seeing what the settings do before you go into the breathing pattern. I would also recommend keeping the visual off at first. It can be hard to see the inhale/exhale instructions with it on (I also found it a little distracting, I preferred the solid color anyway). The intention setting is fantastic, however. Today I went with a purple color and intentionalized it to "Unconditional Love."
I stopped following the breathing and came here to write this post. Without thinking I left the breathing room open in my web browser. Even the act of just listening to the breathing was so calming and soothing. I wondered if it was creepy I was enjoying listening to breathing, but it felt good, so who cares (and after awhile it started to sound like the ocean). As I was listening to the deep, rhythmic breathing I saw on FB someone posted this angel image. I started to follow along with the breathing again while staring at this and then I really started to feel good! I hope you get a chance to try The Universal Breathing Room today or sometime this week! If you enjoy it and feel comfortable sharing it please do so! The more people who join the more its energy will grow and expand.
Meditation Monday is a series of blog posts to help you start your week off with the intentions of healing, relaxation and a deeper, more positive connection with yourself. I wish you a wonderful week!
In one of the Facebook groups I'm in a discussion began about fear. I started this discussion because I am feeling totally fed-up with feeling fear can overtake me at any moment. I'm done with that powerless feeling. I had gotten really overwhelmed about something and reached out for help. As the discussion went on one of the women posted a poem she spontaneously wrote, in that moment, about fear. When I read it I felt the poem was so much more than the words written. It felt like it carried this divine energy, and that the poem, the combination of her words and this energy, had been divinely channeled through her as a gift for her and anyone it reached.
I wrote the poem down and kept thinking about it. One line in particular really helped me, and I kept repeating it. I took it in and made a shift, a real change, based upon it. When I started to feel overwhelm I asked myself, "Am I breathing out the fear?" I could see then how in scary moments I didn't allow myself to feel I had a choice. Remembering you have a choice is so crucial to reclaiming and maintaining your sense of self power. So I began to breathe the energy of love deep into my stomach, let it surround the fear, and then slowly breathed out the fear.
I'm taking this moment by moment. When that fear comes up I breathe into it. I acknowledge it's there, and then I say, "Thank you but no thank you," and I breathe it out. I am commanding myself to remember that one of the few things I can control in this world is how I feel. And by remembering that, I am realizing that fear can only overtake me if I let it.
What a difference this has made! This is such a simple tool and one I can use for the rest of my life. Breathe in love / breathe out fear. Since this was all inspired by this beautiful poem I asked Carol-Anne if I could share it here. She graciously allowed me to, and here it is for you to reflect on.
Before you read it, take a moment to calm and center. Take a deep breath in through your nose, feeling your chest rise. Slowly let it out through your mouth, pulling your stomach in to help push the breath all the way out.
Relax. Let go. This moment is for you.
We all have moments that leave us breathless
Some happy, some sad and some that are just plain ugly
It's how we respond in the moment that matters
Do we exhale our fears
Or bottle them up and hold onto them
It's our reaction that heals or hurts
The next time we are breathless
If we close our eyes and allow our fears to escape
We will be able to feel the beauty of our breath
- Carol-Anne Schneider
I'm back to check-in after my 24 hours of self-celebration (see the post below for the first part on this). It was an interesting journey, and one that ended with perhaps one of the most healing experiences I've had in a long time.
As the day went on, things got a lot easier, and I began to really embrace the idea of celebrating EVERYTHING. The great thing was it got me to remember that things I do that seem mundane are in fact totally awesome and worthy of a pat on the back. For example, I gave myself three silent cheers for finishing a guided meditation in a course I'm doing. When I'd first started meditating I was really excited for myself and the courage and self-discipline it took to try this new thing. I used to feel such a sense of completion and accomplishment for the smallest thing, like sitting quietly and breathing for a few minutes. Once meditation became a regular part of my life I stopped feeling like it was anything special I was doing. I'd forgotten that the 1,000th time meditating is as worthy of praise as the first. It shows a sincere commitment to something, and an ability to grow with something as I was ready to go to the next threshold. So when I took a moment after the meditation to say, "Great job, Melissa!" it felt genuine and like something I would benefit from doing more often.
It was also the same when I went running. Normally I would think things like, "I could have run farther," or, "well, I've got to go running now". But yesterday I celebrated my commitment to my health, to my motivation and to the fact that I got out and ran, even though I was tired.
This morning I discovered this really fun website called Write a Letter to Your Future Self. This sounded like a good way to celebrate where I'm at now, and look at it in a new way. So I wrote a letter to myself from my future me, giving me accolades and praise for the journey I've been on and each and every step I take.
As my day of celebration ended I was listening to music and relaxing. I have to say, I felt the most calm and relaxed I have in a long time. I then had this sudden urge to write down my blocks, and then get clear about the bridge beliefs that would get me through them. A bridge belief is something that connects what holds you back to what you want. Here's an example:
I had a lot of these kinds of blocks, and the more I wrote the more the deep ones surfaced. I felt safe doing this because after my day of celebration, I knew these were only beliefs. I knew I had a lot of good stuff going on, and no matter what I wrote or I saw about myself, I would have plenty to celebrate and feel good about after. Writing down your blocks and then looking for the bridge belief (and there is always, always a bridge) can be an incredibly healing thing to do. It usually gives a feeling of relief as you no long have to wrestle between the desire and the fear. Here's one of my own that helped me get a lot of clarity on what I'm trying to do that I personally wrestle with:
So my blocks and bridge beliefs might have seemed really obvious to you. You might have already felt both were divinely inspired acts, both were spiritual, and both had grounded elements. That can be the funny thing about this, is that as soon as you write the whole thing you think, "Yeah, that makes perfect sense. It's so obvious I don't know how I didn't see it!" If you're feeling up to it, try getting down some blocks and bridge beliefs yourself. I would highly encourage you to write this out with pen and paper, if you can. It's been proven that writing, rather than typing, gets your brain thinking in different ways. You have to concentrate more as you're not just pushing buttons, but forming the letters. You will feel more connected to what you're doing, really tune out all else, and also engage your creative mind (through the writing process), which will bring up all kinds of fresh insights for your bridge beliefs.
Here's a challenge that you might think sounds easy but can be quiet a button pusher: For 24 hours, make yourself the center of a one person celebration. Every cup of coffee you buy is a reward for being awesome. Every set of stairs you climb, every work task you complete, every meal you prepare is a feat worthy of a moment you pause, look around and say, "Yes, I did that, nobody did that for me, and I'm fucking awesome for it." Everything you do, no matter how small, is going to end with, "My name is Melissa and just by being me and showing up for life, I deserve a freakin' parade." (And of course you'd change Melissa to your name.)
I decided to do this because I have a hard time celebrating myself. As someone who spent a long time in the dumps of "I hate myself," and feeling my life was a worthless vacuum going nowhere, this was a hard move for me to make. I feel good about myself now. I think positive thoughts. I surround myself with people who support me but are also honest with me. But... to celebrate myself and my life? That makes me uncomfortable. And that holds me back. Big time.
So from 1:30 PM today until 1:30 PM tomorrow I'm celebrating myself. I am declaring myself worthy of being celebrated. And I'm going to push through the discomfort of everything this brings up. There's already gunk and tar coming up, and I just started. The fear of being arrogant. The fear someone will step in and say, "Actually, you're not awesome, you're not worthy of being celebrated." The fear of losing perspective and suddenly feeling I'm better than others (which shows how irrational fears can be - see the previous, countering fear for proof).
And maybe the biggest fear of all: If I celebrate myself, so will others, and then I'll be seen.
The desire to hide is an ongoing thing I'm working through. I tend to declare myself ready, show up, and then tremble with fear and run to the shadows as soon as I gather others around me. But hey, it's okay. Because the thing is, if I never showed up at all, if I always waited for the perfect moment, guess what? I'd always be waiting. I would never have to 1.) acknowledge I like to hide 2.) do anything about it or 3.) look at where these feelings come from.
So here's a little list of things I want to celebrate about my life so far. As I prepare to write this my fear that I'm going to seem totally arrogant and wanting only to brag is rearing it's ugly head. But damn it, I'm done with that. I must write it and push through the discomfort.
I hope you start your own 24 hours of self-celebration, and if you do, comment or message me so I can come over and celebrate you!!! Also, keep in mind this is my list, based on my life, and what you want to celebrate is personal to you. Only you know where you started, and so only you get to declare what's worthy of all your praises.
* You don't have to read this list, but please read my check-in at the end, where I share briefly what this brought up in me.
Okay, so I just finished my list and I'm back for a little check-in. Despite listing some pretty cool things, I don't feel so great right now. I feel a little down. My energy is not soaring and I'm not popping confetti bottles in my honor right now.
I'm thinking about the things that aren't on the list that I feel should be. So I wrote screenplays - but I haven't sold one yet. How can I celebrate them if they're still unsold? And so I was in a few triathlons. So what? That was over a decade ago and I'm not in a fraction of the shape I was in then, so I can't celebrate that. And I certainly can't celebrate the fact that I lived in Buenos Aires. I didn't learn Spanish like I'd hoped and I was a nervous wreck most of the time about the novel I was writing...
Mixed in with it all is that awesome, overarching belief, "You can't celebrate your life because you've made too many mistakes! TOO MANY! No amount of achievement, travel, or goal completion will make up for the ways you fucked up."
That's a doozy.
This is why this can be such a button pusher. All those countering beliefs that pull you down, they're going to come up. But the thing is, whether you let them come up or not, whether you acknowledge them or not, they're there, sabotaging your life. I'm feeling pretty done with those sneaky little bastards, so I'm going to say, "Come on up. All of you, get up here, let's get this over with. Here's the deal: I see you. And I hear you. But I refuse to be defined by you. I refuse to be ruled by you. I refuse to give my power to you." Boom! Take that countering beliefs.
I'll come back tomorrow and let you know how my 24 hours of self-celebration ended. I'm hoping with some balloons and a bottle of champagne, but I have to be honest, I have no idea what this is going to lead to. Whatever it is, I'm ready and I'm willing, because nobody puts Baby in a corner.
People often say your inner critic is far harsher and scarier than any outer criticism you'll face. Personally, I've never found this to be true, and I find both can knock me on my ass with equal force.
I'm going to write about something that just happened in regards to receiving criticism. Months ago I sent in one of my guided meditations (the abridged version of The Golden Thread) to the Insight Timer website. It took so long to get approved I forgot I did it (and have since updated the audio slightly). When it was approved I felt excited and nervous. This was a new experience for me, and I knew it would expose me to a lot of new people.
Today I logged in to see the comments on my meditation. There were some positive ones, and there were some negative ones. I was surprised to see that many negative reviewers felt that my voice was irritating. I felt totally floored by this. No one has ever said this to me before. I have heard from many people they find my voice soothing, and they like the way it sounds with the music. I was completely shaken by this feedback. My voice is me. My voice is the guided meditation... and it's not something I can change. I've only got one voice.
As I sat staring at this criticism the waves of self-doubt, sadness and embarrassment began crashing into me, one after the other. If my voice is annoying then what I've created is annoying. If my voice is annoying then I must be annoying. I've created shit. Total shit. I am shit.
I began seriously considering taking the meditation off the site.
I felt too exposed. I had that feeling you get when someone has called you on your bullshit and all you feel is that burning shame that reduces you to two inches tall.
I could feel the shut down coming on. I wanted to run and hide. I wanted to stop creating, anything, ever, for the rest of my life. I can't do this. I can't handle criticism. I can't handle feeling exposed and vulnerable. I can't handle people shitting on my creations I treasure and love. I can't. I can't. I can't.
So it's been about ten years I've been creating and putting my stuff out to the world (the meditations are more recent - I started with creative writing). That's a long time to learn how to take feedback, both good and bad. That's also a long time to learn nothing and be on a constant roller coaster of highs and lows, soaring up and crashing and burning down. As I started to go into the shutdown there was a voice coming below all of the shame, fear and insecurity. A single message, repeating, louder and louder until I could hear it: I REFUSE TO LET THIS CONTINUE.
It was yelling out I REFUSE TO REPEAT THIS PATTERN! It was yelling at me to stop all of this. Stop the pattern. Stop the shut down. Stop taking on what other people think. Let that be theirs. Let what I know to be true be mine. Know the difference.
It was like being in a tornado, with this inner voice yelling one thing and the chaos of my thoughts swirling around me, and despite everything inside of me wanting to shut down and crouch in the center of that tornado, I embraced the voice.
I was totally losing it at this point, with tears in my eyes and a trigger finger on that "delete" key on the website. But I knew if I went into that old pattern of hiding and shutting down I would regret it. I would only be sitting in my own struggle, and I'm so done with the struggle. I'm so done with being knocked over each time there's a strong wind. I want to center. I want to thrive in my creative process, enjoying what I create rather than fearing how much it can hurt me in the end.
Normally, I take these things and command myself to be strong. I internalize them, lock them away, steal myself over, and power through. But that clearly doesn't work, and it always blows up in my face later. I had to reach out for help, I had to essentially make myself more vulnerable, to put myself out to people, even though that went against everything I was craving.
I shared my experience with a friend and the feedback I got immediately started to calm the storm. I got some much needed clarity, and also some much needed support.
She asked me what limiting belief this was triggering in me. As she said, if someone's critique is tearing you apart, it's because there's something you're afraid of lurking under the surface. Are their comments triggering unvoiced fears? Or reflecting unfair harsh internal criticisms?
I could then see clearly when I read that why this experience seemed to cut so deep.
I have always doubted my voice. Not my literal, physical voice, but my message. My words.
I have doubted what I wanted to say was important. I have doubted I could defend what I say. I have feared deeply that the things I write and create are worthless. And so when these people said my voice was annoying it went right to that trigger. Calling my physical voice annoying pushed that fear that my metaphorical voice was also annoying, and therefore, worthless.
Okay, so I can see this now. Now what am I going to do it about it? That's the question that follows any big breakthrough. What now? I've already made a firm commitment to choosing different. It already feels better. And I'm following through with that with this blog post. I'm choosing to share rather than retreat. I'm going to embrace rather than smother.
I feared writing this post, because I thought it might instill complete doubt in me and my ability to create guided meditations. If I shake like a leaf when things get tough, then how can I have created things that will help others?
All I can say is, I'm on a journey also, and it's times like this, when I see myself stumbling, that inspire me the most to reach higher. If I never went down and rose back up I wouldn't have the slightest idea what I wanted to share with others who want to pull themselves up and shine also. I suppose they go hand in hand - when I see my shortcomings I see a chance to grow, and from that growth comes the inspiration to create, whether that be for a meditation here or a short story or something else.
And with that, I would like to end with a quote by Teddy Roosevelt. You may know it if you've read Daring Greatly by Brene Brown.
Immersion in music as a form of therapy, healing and spiritual connection is something I am beginning to explore and enjoy, and for that I must give thanks to my hosts of the drumming circle. I have listened to music before with the intentions of healing, and experienced how it can uplift my mood or help in meditation. But I've never taken part in the creation of music, which is mostly because I am not musically inclined and therefore felt frustrated over my lack of ability. Piano lessons at a young age where far from spiritual experiences, instead feeling more like weekly hours of torture for me and the piano teacher. I am now seeing that there's this whole other world available to me, and it's perhaps the greatest discovery I've made in a long time.
To be a part of the drumming circle is always such a mystical feeling for me. It's the embodiment of letting go and embracing spontaneity, inspiration, intuition and your Higher Self. There are always aspects of our lives we're trying to control, and during different periods, we may be trying to exert more control than usual. The thing about a drum circle is you can't control it. It constantly flows in tempo, style and sound, and this in itself creates so much deep, inner healing and release. I would say it's a far more opening and expansive feeling than in traditional meditation. I even love it as much as traditional meditation because it IS meditation, but combined with action. You could also say this about yoga, but again, that has an element of control to it. You are usually following with a routine or an instructor, and rarely do you do spontaneous yoga poses, moving about as you feel inspired to. To be able to go into the open and free feelings of meditation, while feeling my body move, feeling the vibration of the music, in my body, is something I wish I had better words for.
I hesitated to use the word "sacred" in the title of this post because I associate the word sacred with something serious. Spirituality, connecting with the divine, letting go, those are not serious things, but fun, joyous and free things. So the drumming circle is sacred... but it's also playful and full of joy and spontaneity (at least the way we do it - I know some drumming circles like to do chants and have planned drumming beats. I tried that way once with a different circle and I found I prefer the unplanned way).
The feeling of a group of people drumming together without any specific plan or direction is one that vibrates in you and through you. It's almost as if our Higher Selves weave together over us, guiding us in creating harmony as we drum our own beats, and yet, make a divine sound together. The feeling of the drum vibrating as you strike it goes through you, out of you and out into the cosmos. It truly feels like you are drumming with the whole Universe. As our energies meld the tempo goes up and down, the intensity rises and falls, we feel our individual selves and we feel ourselves as part of the whole. In our group we also have lots of noise makers, and so people pick up bells, shakers, rain sticks, and even spoons as they feel called to. I love this aspect as it really enhances the variety and opens us up even further to totally letting go and surrendering to the musical free flow.
There is a feeling that this harmony, which seems to constantly verge on chaos, is a reflection of life and the creation of everything itself. It's the perfect middle point of allowing things to unfold while taking part in that unfolding. It makes no difference who we are, what we want or what we do. All that matters is that we have come together for this shared experience, which can only be accomplished through trust and a desire to simply let go...