The past years have been “hell”

If we are honest,

most of us went through hell

these past years and months.

The pandemic,

stress at work,

no social contacts,

isolation,

crumbling relationships,

unhealthy dynamics.

We are in need

of finding our way back –

back from hell to earth.

Let’s ground ourselves

in practices of self-reflection.

Let’s share how our trauma and pain

has been like.

Let’s heal the wounds

and tend to the broken places.

Let’s strengthen our spirituality

and practice better self-care.

Let’s laugh again,

and feel the ground under your feet.

Maybe whisper to yourself:

“I am still here”

“I am still standing”

“The ground is holding me,

and I will heal and grow

through all I went through.”

Trauma recovery

Trauma knows no time.

It freezes our brain

or makes us run away and flee all the time.

It makes us angry and we want to fight,

or we give in and please others as a way to escape.

Some of us nurture others without stopping,

all in an attempt to overcome trauma.

Yet trauma does not know time,

it gets us stuck,

or makes us repeat certain behaviors endlessly.

However,

when we carefully invite the trauma into the present

we can begin to heal our brain,

we can stop running.

We can learn to calm our anger

and slow down.

We often discover

that underneath the numbness or anger

are unaddressed feelings of sadness, helplessness or fear.

As we engage our past trauma with compassion,

we can stop fighting,

and we learn to stop pleasing

or nurturing beyond our capacity.

Trauma knows no time,

but when we invite it into the present,

we have a better chance

at leaving it behind.

Joy of Being

Sometimes just sitting still

and doing nothing,

wanting nothing,

thinking nothing –

can open the door

to the joy of being.

Just observing

the leaves swaying in the wind.

Just hearing

the kids’ laughter.

Just breathing deeply

and feeling the body relax:

Moments of deep joy,

the joy of just “being”.

Being refreshed.

Being connected.

Being grounded.

Sometimes just sitting still

holds surprising joy.

Show up for Life

Show up for life

Sometimes we feel like hiding

from the world.

It seems so hostile, so corrupt, so difficult.

We even consider

checking out completely,

like living in the woods

or disconnecting and just spending time

playing video games all day,

as a virtual reality.

Our thoughts about yesterday,

our regrets, our resentments

are all virtual reality,

as the past no longer “is”.

Our worries about tomorrow,

our anxieties and even our plans

are all virtual realities,

as the future is “not yet”.

We want to flee into a virtual world,

be it through video games or

simply through our thoughts

living in the past

or in the future.

All the while life calls us,

invites us,

beckons us

to “be”

to be ”here and now”

to be here and now “only”

while letting go of all virtual realities –

and show up for life,

embrace life,

accept life

as it is.

Sometimes all we feel is fear-

nothing else.

We imagine the worst.

We predict that everything

and everyone we care about

will just disappear.

Our heart rate goes up.

Our shoulders get stiff.

We brace for something that has not happened,

but that our brain predicts will happen.

Trauma and loss experiences do that.

Everything is being shed in a different light.

The film industry and the news channels

thrive because of our receptiveness

to end of world scenarios and

trauma or horror stories.

It can become like an addiction.

Adrenalin rushing.

Heart pumping.

Survival speed living.

And yet: inner peace is lost and tranquility.

Hope gets overlayered with negativity.

Others become objects of our fear,

anger or hatred.

Sometimes all we feel is fear and anger.

Let’s remember

that there is peace,

there is presence, and love and hope.

Let’s breathe and be still…   “This moment, the only moment.”

Your Heart can transform…

There is space in your heart

to hold more than you think…

The pain and injustice of the past

seem overwhelming –

and yet with deep compassion

you can hold and transform all of it.

It might take a while,

yet as you practice self-compassion

and forgiveness

the space in your heart will grow.

It will hold you

all of you:

the hurt inner child,

the abandoned inner teenager,

the struggling young adult,

and your current self.

And then it will also let go

of those who hurt you.

Had they known you

and known themselves

they would not have hurt you.

And now your heart can grow

as you let them go, forgive them, forgive yourself

and make space for new beginnings

and new ways of living:

Vulnerable, compassionate and loving

Your heart can transform the past…

Counseling as the practice of non-judgment

When we grow up in not safe environments

physically or emotionally,

we develop a judgmental attitude –

either towards others as “not being safe”,

“not being good enough”,

“not meeting our standard or our needs” –

or we turn against ourselves,

judging us as “stupid”, “deficient”,

“not good enough” or “a failure”.

Neglect, abuse and traumatic environments

create this unsafe space of judgment.

Therapy can become a judgment free zone,

a safe space to explore, learn, observe, remember

and make meaning.

We practice non-judgment with ourselves first,

and then also with others.

Accepting our past that we cannot change,

while developing compassion

for the child, teenager and young adult we were –

this creates a safe space.

We develop a new secure attachment

first with ourselves,

and then also with others

who share this non-judgmental space

and compassionate attitude with us.

Welcome to this safe space…

Breathing deeply

Taking deep breaths

can sometimes make all the difference:

It grounds us in our bodies.

Following our breath with full attention

helps us stop overthinking.

Deep breathing creates the “time out” experience

that is needed to stop the fighting.

It calms our reactive brains

that feel compelled to fight, flee or freeze.

Taking deep breaths

is a spiritual practice.

Breathing itself reminds us that

this very breath is a gift –

a gift that no one can give to themselves.

Breathing deeply is a practice

that changes how we get out of bed in the morning.

It lowers how intensely we react to persons who trigger us.

Deep breathing is the amazing path to peace and freedom.

It can heal our grieving heart and our injured “trauma brain”.

How have I ever taken my breath for granted,

not aware of its power to heal and ground me?

Endings

What if endings are just part of beginnings?

What if endings open up new paths?

What if endings produce the “mud”

for new lotus flowers to bloom?

Why do we fear or grieve endings so much?

We might have gotten attached to the familiar.

We might have taken the status quo for granted.

We might have identified completely with roles and functions.

Endings can be painful as they mean we need to detach,

we need to disidentify and take nothing for granted anymore.

Endings can also be hopeful,

As they mean

a new beginning,

an open door,

and a “muddy” journey

filled with growth

and new beauty.

Gratitude

In gratitude I trust larger invisible realities

to surround and guide us.

Gratitude holds the awareness and belief

that life and love are ultimately stronger

than death and hatred.

The attitude of gratitude

changes everything:

If I only had one prayer to pray,

one wish to make,

and one element of wisdom to hold onto:

It would be the prayer and wish to be grounded in gratitude:

Aware that everything is a gift-

I will take nothing for granted.

Grounded in the awareness that all will perish

while all is granted.

Cherishing my dependence,

my interdependence and

my freedom –

Holding these realities in grateful awareness,

knowing all three to be true at the same time:

Grateful for dependence on Acceptance and Compassion

extending to me every moment anew.

Grateful for interdependence

creating eternal networks of love.

Grateful for freedom of not clinging,

not attaching,  but flowing in the coming and going of life…

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