E-nsanity

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This morning I unplugged my smart phone, my Chromebook, my Android tablet and my old school very heavy laptop from their  nightly chargers.

I then proceeded to have texting conversations with three different people on topics of a homemade thunder shirt, a middle aged romance, and contract clinical work…all while drying my hair.

Oh my gosh, I’ve become that person.  How did this happen?  Well it’s not hard when information is coming at us in so many different ways.  It takes intentional effort to stay present and mindful.  My daily meditation practice is a key part.  But there are also other ways of limiting the insidious brain drain.

Thankfully there is middle ground.  I can set boundaries for myself.  I can turn the cell phone off (yikes!) or at least leave it in another room on silent for certain parts of my day.  Or I could give it business hours.  The phone is only on from 8-6.  I could commit to only checking email twice a day.  There are plenty of options. But it takes commitment.

I recently read a FB post where someone was considering putting her phone in her purse and her purse in her trunk while she was driving.  I almost had anxiety just reading it.  If that causes me anxiety, then I need to give pause and evaluate how technology is running my life.

And now I will click publish on my handy lightweight chromebook…and then I will click it shut.

 

Deacon Claybourne…Meditate Already!

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If you’re a follower of the show Nashville, then you’re probably wondering if Deacon Claybourne is going to relapse (yet again). I’m thinking no. He’ll pull through on his own and with the help of his 12-step program this time. But if I were writing the script, I would have Deacon start meditating.

That would shift everything in his drama filled world. With a daily meditation practice, Deacon’s amygdala would not go into fight or flight every time he feels threatened in a relationship with another hottie (his age or half his age). Yes, remember he tapped Juliette in the pilot season! Dude has been around the block. But back to his amygdala…finding out he has a daughter that his been right under his nose for fourteen years would not phase his amygdala (nearly as much) if he were a meditator.

It might play out something like, he discovers the big secret and he immediately feels a knot in his stomach. He is able to be very present, take a few deep breaths and recognize that he is feeling a mix of emotions. Angry, hurt, deceived, powerless, etc. And then he is able to notice that the feelings seem to calm when he acknowledges them. And then he has a passing thought about a bottle of whiskey and he recognizes it as an old thought pattern that just doesn’t work for him anymore. And the process goes on of noticing what is coming up, but not having to act and react in irrational ways. He senses a bit of a buffer between the emotions and his need to react.

Now all of this doesn’t happen just by stopping to take a few deep breaths. No the Mindful Deacon in my script would have been meditating on a daily basis and THAT is what caused him to be able to deal with drama in a mindful way when it arose. It’s not a matter of using the tools when you need them, but rather, meditating as a regular practice so that you can manage life in all of it’s forms as it is dealt out to you.

And if he were meditating on a regular basis he would have calmer energy and a calmer demeanor and wouldn’t attract as much drama to begin with. Which I guess defeats the purpose of having him on an evening drama show. But that still wouldn’t stop me from writing Deacon onto a meditation cushion every episode.

Growth…One-Square Foot at a Time

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I have spent most of my life being willing (eager!) to take on big projects.  But it seems with recovery, meditation and perhaps aging that I am slowing down, being more intentional and not so grandiose in my endeavors.  Take this greenhouse for instance.  

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When we bought our new home in the country it came fully equipped with this ginormous green house.  I happen to have a black thumb which makes having a ginormous green house an exciting challenge (or perhaps a poor choice in recreational activities).    Last Saturday I was ready to take on the project of overcoming my black thumb with this green house that is ridiculously large.  I stepped in and immediately knew it was time to back up, regroup, and rethink this project.

 Instead, I went to Lowe’s and bought a teeny-tiny starter kit.  

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It is 1-Square foot instead of 800 square feet.  And the amazing thing is that a week later I actually have live, green things spurting up from seeds. It’s a miracle!  

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This is not the kind of thing I anticipated would change when I started meditating and working a recovery program.  But ultimately what this type change does, is make my life much more fulfilling and manageable.  And that is what I’m interested in these days.  The grandiose, manic, big energy of the past feels very ego-driven and I am much more intrigued by challenging myself to stay focused in the present and be grateful for the smaller things in life.  These little seedlings feel like a great accomplishment…just for today.

Nascar Wisdom

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As I was scanning the sports section of the newspaper this morning (hey why not..you never know where wisdom will crop up),  I noticed an interview with a race car driver that included the question, “If you could give your younger self a piece of advice…what would you tell yourself?”  

Hmm, I was intrigued.  I quickly skimmed for speed racer’s response.  He said things like, “I was always worried…put way too much pressure on myself…”  He goes on to tell how he would talk himself down from the craziness (my words not his) to get to a calmer, more confident place.  And finally, he said, “If I had any advice to give it’d be, Don’t act like such a dumbass sometimes.”  Amen brother.  That is going in my journal today.  Perhaps pasted to the dash of my car or maybe even tattooed on my knee.  

That’s keeping it simple.  Don’t act like such a dumbass sometimes.  I especially like that he didn’t say, Don’t BE a dumbass.  No, he said don’t ACT like one.  Brilliant.  Today I will not act like a dumbass and will attempt to just BE.

Enter the Fog

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I’m sitting in my meditation room, gazing out at the woods and I start to notice a fog rolling gently out of the woods.  It’s slow and subtle, but it is definitely getting foggy.

It’s a siren call from the forest.  I am lured out of my cozy, warm meditation room into the woods.  As I enter the woods I believe I have discovered the origin of the fog.  The temperature is rising and the ice is melting and this is creating a misty, moist fog.

I compare it to the place I am in my life at this particular time.  I’m doing the inner work of dislodging, old, stuck, frozen emotions and allowing them to rise to the surface and then hopefully simply dissipate like  this ice that is melting away.  Once again, nature is teaching me the simplicity of allowing things to occur.

The forest’s ice is simply melting and gently dissipating.  This is creating a fog in and around the forest…but I know that it too will soon dissipate.

I’m using this as a metaphor for my own inner work and to relish the fog and immerse myself in the mystery rather than fighting for clarity.

 

Incessant Stream of Mind

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I am re-reading Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth and finding new layers of awareness within it.

Since I first read it 8 years ago, I have put 8 years of daily meditation under my belt, gotten sober and started working a recovery program, and have done numerous neurofeedback sessions.  No wonder it makes more sense to me now!

Tolle says that most people are completely identified with the incessant stream of mind aka compulsive thinking.  Amen to that.  Even after all that I have put under my belt (see above) I still have periods of the incessant stream.    I suppose when you think of how it took 40+ years to get to that point, it may take a while to undo it as well.

Being able to observe my thoughts and make a conscious choice to stop them or at least try to ignore them has brought so much peace to my life.  And neurofeedback provided a great jump start for making this happen.  Combining neurofeedback with sobriety and meditation has been a perfect cocktail (pardon the pun) for my recovery.

Neurofeedback is EEG biofeedback and it trains the brain to calm and regulate itself no matter what the situation.  The beauty of this type of regulation is that it not only works on incessant streaming, but it also calms the nervous system which affects the body and other systems as well.  It regulates hormones, reduces pain and discomfort in the body, regulates sleep, and makes an overall systemic change to body and mind.  With enough sessions it creates sustainable change.

To learn more about neurofeedback and how it works visit http://www.eeginfo.com

You can also schedule a session with through http://www.neuroclaritynashville.com or http://www.tammyroth.com

If you Love it So Much…

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I love writing.  I love the act of creating something with words.  I love the click clack on the keyboard.  I love notebook paper and a #2 pencil.  I love being surprised by what shows up on the page.  I even love reading about writing.  I simply love writing.

It makes me think of that adolescent retort of, “well if you love it so much why don’t you marry it?” That’s a really good question.  If I love writing so much, then why am I not more committed to it?  Why have I not posted on my blog in 4 months?

Yes, very good question.  And I know the answer.  Because I don’t make it a priority, that’s why.   Even though I know that my creativity is directly linked to the peace and contentment that I feel in sobriety, I still find myself going months without painting or writing.  It’s not a healthy thing for me to be abstinent from creativity.

Writing, painting, physical exercise, healthy food, and meditating are essential to my sobriety.  For some reason I always make exercise, good food and meditation a top priority (thank god), but creativity is an area that is more easily put on the back burner.

By writing about this, I’m publicly committing to a more valiant effort of keeping my creative fires stoked.  Especially throughout the winter!

What about you?

Orange is the New Black is the New Addiction

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I’m quite taken with the show “Orange is the New Black” that I’ve recently begun watching addictively.

Not long ago, after watching Denzel Washington in the movie Flight, I started thinking about writing a play (no I’ve never written a play and have no idea how one goes about writing a play…but I like to dream) about a WASPy woman who gets a serious DUI charge and goes to prison.

I envisioned it as a dramedy.  It would be funny watching her ask for the gluten free and vegan options in the cafeteria while longing for pedicures and colonics.  The dramedy would also include touching moments as she has growth and insight about her addiction and her recovery.  I thought it was a brilliant idea.  But then I didn’t know about O.is.the.N.B.  So actually there is no need for the play that was dancing around in my mind and I can mark it off my bucket list.

Then after watching a few episodes, I discovered it’s a true story!  No wonder it’s so intriguing.   I’m obsessed about how this young woman is having to pay for a crime she committed 10 years earlier that was based on one really, really dumb decision. I know watching 8 episodes in 4 nights doesn’t help with the obsession and I’m really trying to titrate down, but in the meantime, I feel like Piper is my new BFF.  Except she doesn’t know I exist.

But, in all seriousness, it has made me think about how grateful I am that I somehow managed to escape any terrible consequences in the years that I was an active alcoholic.  Granted, I’m also raking my memory to make sure there’s nothing that could come back and bite me in the booty now almost five years later.  I think I’m safe.  But it’s such a scary thought and there were so many close calls.  When I think about how many times I had numbed out the pre-frontal cortex of my brain and became absolutely fearless and did impulsive, stupid things…aghhh so frightening.

I am immensely grateful for all the grace given me and for sobriety given me.  It truly is a miracle.

Now, on to episode 9 to see what happens with Piper and Alex and the handholding in the laundry room.

Dreamwork (Part 3) How to Interpret your Dreams

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Write your dream in as much detail as you can remember as if it is happening, “I am walking into the woods…”  include color, details, and especially the feeling of the dream.  What were your emotions?

Next, make three columns with the following labels:

Symbol     My Interpretation     Dictionary Definition

Make a list of the significant words, symbols, colors, numbers, and details.  For example:

I am walking into the woods and feel confused and lost about where the trail is.  I notice two deer at the edge of the forest, and then I see the trail head with a giant red mark on a tree.

Symbol

woods

trail

two

deer

forest

giant

red

mark

tree

 In the next column using first thought/best thought, list associations with each word:

Symbol             My Interpretation

woods                forest, trees, would

trail                    path, direction

two                     pair, duo, balance

deer                   gentle, dear

forest                  wilderness, Forest Gump

giant                   huge, jolly green

red                     passion, energy

mark                  target

tree                   grounded, strength

Then go back and look up the definition in a dream dictionary.

Symbol             My Interpretation                  Definition

woods                forest, trees, would                life, fertility, rejuvenation

trail                    path, direction                        progress in life

two                     pair, duo, balance                  balance, diversity, partnership

deer                   gentle, dear                            grace, compassion, gentleness

forest                  wilderness, Forest Gump        transitional phase, follow instincts

giant                   huge, jolly green                     great struggle between you and opponents

red                     passion, energy                       passion, sexuality, rage

mark                  target                                         ?

tree                   grounded, strength                   solidly rooted, family tree

Then read through the dream using the symbology rather than the specific images.  For example.

I’m moving through a fertile, rejuvenating time in my life.  I’m feeling lost and confused because I can’t see the forest for the trees.  I’m trying to find my path and my direction in life.  I see that there is balance ahead…possibly a partnership coming up.  I must have compassion and be gentle with myself though this transition and trust my gut.  And the green tells me to trust my heart chakra and don’t allow a struggle to occur between gut and heart.  This is a passionate time in my life. I simply need to stay on target, stay grounded and rely on my roots to get me through this phase.

Share your dream with others and see what insights they have.  Dreams can have multiple layers of meaning.  You will know when you’re on the right track when you have somewhat of an aha moment as you’re working the dream.  This is insight occuring.  When the insight occurs, energy shifts in your body and you bring what was unconscious to the conscious shedding light on it.  Your personal development will speed up dramatically and synchronicities will begin occurring…hold on and enjoy the ride!

The more you work the dreams, the more dreams will work with you.Image

Dreamwork (part 2) – How to Remember your Dreams

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So you are interested in doing dreamwork but you can’t seem to remember your dreams?  And, you know you’re dreaming but by the time you fully wake up they have slipped away.  Don’t worry, this is very common.

To start remembering your dreams, here are some tips:

  •  Set your intention to remember them.  As you are crawling into bed at night, take a moment and silently or aloud, ask that your psyche make your dreams available to you during the night and when you wake up.
  • Set paper and pen at your bedside and if in the middle of the night you realize you have dreamed, without even turning the light on, reach over and just jot one or two words down.  You’ll be surprised at how it will help you retrieve the rest of the dream once you awaken.  Plus it’s always fun to find words like dancing monkey and roller skating ice box awaiting you.
  • As you are waking in the morning before you even open your eyes,  is the time to catch a dream.  Immediately, scan your memory to see if a remnant is there.  Grab it before it’s gone.
  • As soon as you can after waking up, write all that you remember down.  Get it on paper as soon as you can so that you don’t lose the information back into your subconscious.

Dreams want to be noticed so once you start acknowledging them and working with them, you’ll be dreaming like never before.

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