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“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead

Vector illustration of a man in jailI watched a powerful documentary titled Serving Life, narrated by Forest Whitaker. It was filmed in Angola prison, one of the most violent prisons in the US. The Warden decreased the violence by 70% by infusing humanity into convicted murderers and sex offenders. He instituted a hospice program where the felons, acting as surrogate families, took care of each other through their final passage. Their lives were no longer focused on the life they took, but the life they served making his transition.

The closest I got to Angola penitentiary was hiking outside the prison. I have always had a difficult time being in the dense, impacted energy of prisons. I had a student intern who was placed at a local prison. My denial regarding sociopathic personality disorders rendered me vulnerable to their manipulation; prisons were not safe to my psyche. My student introduced me to interesting personalities within that particular system. One such sociopath would wait for a person to walk by his prison cell and ejaculate through the keyhole. His aim was impeccable and a message was clearly delivered. I was out of my element within the prison walls.

It would be a few years before I became initiated to finally accept the intransigence of the sociopathic personality disorder. This excruciating process was described in a previous blog entry titled Dancing With the Devil.

My first male psychotherapist named Ken had spent many years in a maximum security prison until he had systematically taken down the internal walls around his heart and the prison system could not spit him out fast enough. A certain energetic frequency needs to be maintained internally, in order for the external walls to be maintained. Once his vibration raised, his environment needed to change to attain a new equilibrium. It is merely physics.

We create self-imposed prisons based on our internal beliefs and thoughts, which is what determines our energetic frequencies. As we clear the clutter around our minds and hearts, liberation is achieved. From what I have read, which resonates through my Being, we will merge into Unity once we all heal and evolve. The ramifications of this Truth are profound, if we can grasp the reality as our own. It means we all need to help each other. No one can be left behind.

The ones who have lost their way and exhibited predatory behavior are also included in this Whole. When I see the work being done in Angola, the “bloodiest prison in America,”  I can see, without equivocation, that this is possible.
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“There is no path to love. Love is the path.” –Casey Miller Atre (derived from Mahatma Gandhi)

220px-Minotauros_Myron_NAMA_1664_n1The stories I’ve been hearing lately from others living with the constellation called progressive multiple sclerosis and the people who love them, are nearly unimaginable. I almost feel negligent for complaining in comparison. Really. One friend, after having received steroids in an attempt to remediate the effects of an exacerbation, was left with necrotic hip and shoulder joints. This means he is living with the equivalent of four constant joint fractures every moment of his life. Another friend, after fracturing her femur, had to have her tendons surgically severed in order to allow for daily functioning and care. Her beloved husband, her primary caregiver, is caring so deeply for his wife, the mother of his children. From the outside looking in, it is a sacred practice of love and devotion; and from the inside out seemingly pushing him beyond his boundaries.

Really, this illness knows no bounds. To me, it is almost incomprehensible. The prospect of watching one’s body decline, one function after another, has been beyond what my mind can hold.

And it is beyond my mind where I have come to accept these circumstances and be able to live with them. What keeps occurring to me, from beyond my mind, is that we are being prepared. I don’t know how I know this, but I know this. No question. I also know that I don’t know what we are being prepared for, but we are without a doubt.

In Greek mythology, the Minotaur is the monster, half bull and half human, who dwelt at the center of the labyrinth. The Minotaur, in my Story, can be represented by MS. The labyrinth can be understood as the Spiritual Path. This is where the title of my blog comes from. Actually, some people refer to MS as their MonSter. The Minotaur represents a distortion of authenticity of Spirit perpetrated by the ego. This projection needs to be fed through continual distortions of Truth or addictive behaviors. The Minotaur becomes transformed, or liberated, through honest reflection, or finally facing one’s core limitations.

Many people feel victimized by whatever curriculum is before them, whether it be illness, caring for someone with an illness, or other challenges, whether they are physical, emotional, financial, etc. that take them to the edge of their limitations. Feeling victimized by the illness perpetuates feelings of powerlessness.

Often I feel like the heroine of my Sacred Journey through the labyrinth, by encountering my personal Minotaur. It can be said that this monster in the center of my mandala represents a battle with my own willfulness, or my bullheadedness. This encounter is as different for everyone as the symptoms of the illness is different. Each person’s struggle is their battle with some aspect of their ego, a significant block to living authentically in deep connection with Spirit, in Love. My willfulness has been a huge hindrance keeping me from surrendering deeply to the What Is. And it is in living with what is, where true joy lives.

Who wouldn’t want to live in joy? What is one willing to give up in order to live in this state of love, this state of oneness? I believe the Minotaur is the Guide who will return us to this state, if our soul is willing. Of course, our ego is not willing, the ego is complicit in the limitation whose sole purpose is keeping oneself in the illusion of safety.

I also believe, for myself, I had been given many opportunities to surrender, but was unable to comply, for whatever reason, during an earlier time of development. Agreeing to this PhD level curriculum is directly related to my maturation which has brought willingness and courage.

I have empathy for those who don’t yet know that we are being prepared. I didn’t know in the past and it was excruciating. Knowing is merely a process of being able to briefly turn aside from the suffering and allow oneself to See. That’s what it took for me. I must’ve prepared the foundation for this Knowing to take root.

One’s Sacred journey through the labyrinth, I believe, is as arduous and excruciating as one needs it to be in order to finally surrender. Many people do not undertake this Journey until they face their death. In my opinion, whatever it takes to finally have the resources to face this Sacred encounter. Each journey is perfect for the makeup of the individual. Judging or comparing one’s design is merely resistance and creates more suffering.

Many people appear incredulous that I could actually have gratitude for having the most progressive form of such a dreaded disease as multiple sclerosis. Once I have lived in Love, I would do whatever it takes to be in that state. I suspect that with the guidance of the Minotaur, my bullheadedness has morphed into healthy determination, for which I have much gratitude.

“Die before you die and find there is no death…”-many mystics

Hibert_LTD_V2I died again. Not in the literal sense, but what is literal? Is it metaphor or allegory if my whole identity shifts from who I think I am in my ordinary life to who I truly am, in a greater sense? That is what happened… again.

Sometimes, there is a shift in consciousness that makes the colors brighter and my heart burst out of my chest. Now that is literal.

I have been preparing for a ten week commitment to begin after the new year, in order to focus on increasing my sense of Presence. With the intention of giving this to myself, I felt a blow to my solar plexus in the form of deep shame. I could call it my Achilles’ heel, an issue that threatens my feeling of Wholeness, when I least expect it. When I hear of someone developing a program or protocol after healing from a life-threatening illness, that scenario can trigger a belief in my deepest failing.

It hit me yesterday, full force, touché right to the gut. Why did I not heal? I have followed all of the protocols, programs and intuitions that have seemed sure to bring total healing. In my psychospiritual work, I have attained every state those who have healed attained. Did I make a Faustian pact, an agreement based on fear of being totally who I am in every facet, emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually? I can remember feeling the fear, the contraction, like coming out of the dark room and being overwhelmed by the sunlight..

In order to fully grasp how profound this is, I have to review a similar shift from a previous blog entry:

While I was fully experiencing the all too familiar yet diminishing sense of failure of healing physically, I felt an existential shift that was much like the one I described in a previous post while I was watching The Piano. That profound shift of consciousness was from a sense of victimization of losing everything during the course of the illness, to the empowering realization of, “wait a minute. I let that go, and I let that go, and that…” I think this shift was from the egoic belief on the level of the body to the greater Truth that, “I made a conscious choice to sacrifice my physicality for my greater evolution.” I recognized that I would have otherwise gotten lost in nonstop movement, nonstop physical play. I recognized this addictive tendency and my higher self chose this teaching!

SACRIFICE–the act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to do something else or help someone or surrendering a possession as an offering to God. The root of sacrifice is SACRED; therefore, a sacred offering.

With this insight, my whole life made sense. I cried. I cried because I saw the lie in the belief in failure. I knew that this is what I would understand on the other side. I felt the difference between falseness and Truth. I felt the liberation. I knew that the illusion was that death was final. I felt the transcendence of Truth and the release from my physical body; my dear, sad, suffering physical body, my vehicle for this revelation.

If we are fortunate, we die many deaths before the final transition from our physical body to Spirit. Yes, I died yesterday, again.

helpless--large-msg-114970372439-2“One who looks outside, dreams; one who looks inside, awakes.”–Carl Jung

Alone and helpless, that was my greatest fear…always; the paradox of having so much love around me, yet feeling none. Maybe that was my deepest Work for this lifetime; maybe power was a secondary teaching.

Right after I wrote the blog entry about pain as an ally, there was a loud pop in my back that rendered me immobile, more immobilized than I had been. I thought I was vulnerable before, but this is a whole new level of vulnerability. A very wise young woman, Elise, named the syndrome the “I’ve got this” syndrome. She is gracefully working with an aggressive form of breast cancer. Well, I thought I had this. That is, until I realized I didn’t. I am not an alarmist, but we called 911. It was not a little knuckle crack; it was a whole joint that dislocated and tore a ligament. I hope it went back into place.

Alone and helpless. That is the absolute opposite expression of my true reality. I have had at least fifteen visitors in the last two days, maybe more. And they are not just casual visitors, but lovers of Love. With all of the love around me, I felt unsupported. How could that possibly be?

I woke up with no internet, no communication. At least, the disconnection must have happened during the night because multiple e-mails were ready to be responded to. None of my e-mail would send; that’s how I realized I had no connection. This disruption has been happening more frequently lately. Sometimes, however, I can text through Skype when my Internet is down. I wrote to Kirsten. It was 6 AM and she responded immediately. We watched the sun come up over Mount Blanca together.

From there, I entered my sacred meditation cave, a metaphor for going inside. I felt all of the love around me and the blockage to letting it in, that could be named “unworthiness.” The sense of unworthiness seemed to be secondary to the fear generated by this injury. It doesn’t matter how much love is around me and love is in me, when that thin veneer of unworthiness is present, it is impenetrable. It is humbling to be this far on the path and to feel this familiar intransigence.

As I began to dismantle the blockage, I noticed my appetite beginning to be regained which is a good sign, so this is recovery in real time. With awareness brings consciousness; the veneer is breaking down, cracks allow the love in. The lower back, the place of not feeling supported [by the Universe], the illusion of unworthiness was clearly keeping the support from being realized.

I used to look outside of myself to be saved from this pattern, to feel Loved, to feel lovable. I now know that this place of feeling loved can only be accessed from the inside. What I am realizing now is that “I got this” is from the limited ego, the part of me that is alive and well. “WE got this,” is the elixir, the cure. I am a microparticle of a gazillion microparticles, and we are all LOVE.

I don’t know if I will be able to return to “my baseline” physically. With this curriculum, nothing is a given; nothing is known. All I know is that I now feel connected to my Self and something greater than myself. The rest is incidental, as my mother used to say.

The Journey continues…..

butterfly

Lynne Kaplan Artography

“Most of the pain we feel is nothing more than a story that needs telling.”
― Ashly Lorenzana

depression

One of the most feared effects of suffering is the experience of bodily pain. I’ve been fortunate to have relatively little neurogenic pain despite having a progressive, degenerative illness. Besides neurogenic pain, there are other forms of pain common in chronic illness caused by inflammation, such as joint pain, effects of disuse atrophy, and more. I specifically designed my diet to exclude foods that are inflammatory. I’ve gone to great lengths to do food sensitivity testing in addition to avoiding known foods that cause inflammation.

I had much more joint pain prior to my dietary changes. For many people with autoimmune issues, a Paleolithic diet excluding dairy and gluten have remediated the symptoms, and in some cases reversed the illness completely. Unfortunately, this was not the case for me. When this became clear, I knew my healing needed to be on a deeper level.

Minimizing daily pain has not only included dietary changes, but riding a motorized stationary bike three times a week to increase circulation and promote skin health. Despite all of my strategizing, there are times that pain is unavoidable. I have undergone various medical interventions that were extremely painful including three abdominal surgeries. There were many less conventional interventions I underwent that were experimental in treating MS, like eight hours of venoplasty to open constrictions in the venous system which was thought to exacerbate progression of the illness. In India, I had a minimum of two injections per day and at least three epidural procedures over eight day durations.

Changing my relationship to pain has been a recurring theme on this healing journey through the body. One of the central teachings has been that I am not my body. I used to believe that I was my body, being identified with my reliable physicality. I used to believe that I thought with my brain. I now feel that I “think” more with my heart than my head. In going through this transformation in belief, my intuition has become stronger and wiser. My relational interactions come more from my heart, more from an inspired place. My work with my clients and friends has become clearer, more heartfelt and effective in encouraging their evolution.

When I think of what has been my greatest ally in learning to separate from the belief that I am my body, I realize that pain has been a master teacher. There have been times when I have experienced pain from pressure sores and couldn’t move for multiple hours due to my disability; there was no way to alleviate the pain. Choosing to live alone, that is a significant consideration. During those times when I could not turn away from the pain, I learned to be present with it. It has been during these times that I realized that there is a part of me NOT experiencing the pain.

This has been a significant practice, developing the “I” separate from the pain. I can remember in childhood having to be wrestled to the floor by the doctor in order to receive an injection. Our tolerance to physical pain increases as we mature. I believe that this is the process of lessening our identification with our physical bodies.

Facilitators like Steven Levine, in the area of death and dying, have been teaching medications to assist people in dis–identifying with extreme pain successfully for many decades. As we identify less as a human body and more as a soul being, our human drama and suffering decreases as our consciousness evolves. This is part of the progression that will assist us when we are ready to make the ultimate transition, to drop our bodies and return Home.

 

Lynne Kaplan Artography

Lynne Kaplan Artography

“Love motivates service, and service gives form to love.”–Robert Schwartz

There is something that happens during a caregiving scenario, when the level of disability is so extreme, that the caregiver needs total focus for keeping the individual’s life from being in jeopardy. This is the quality that develops between myself and my caregivers. The level of disability I experience is profound. I cannot move a limb in order to avoid a potential catastrophe; my caregiver is vitally important for the most basic skills.

Fortunately, only a small percentage of people with multiple sclerosis ever experience my level of disability. I have come to believe that the degree of disability is not arbitrary, but it is commensurate with what is required for a necessary outcome, the evolution of one’s higher purpose. This understanding is not held by the majority of people, but I believe it is a necessary understanding when one accepts that the universe is perfectly safe. In order to accept this premise, one must subscribe to love over fear. In order to arrive at the state of Love, I needed to move through much fear. As they say, “the only way is through,” and this was surely true for me. Surrendering to this illness was a way for me to learn to accept being cared for on many levels.

Something magical can happen during caregiving when a certain level of oneness is achieved through this intense level of focus. The potential for this to occur became clear while I was being showered in my outdoor shower. Allison is my caregiver for this blissful endeavor, as we have been working together for over two years. The level of focus required to keep me safe is not a minimal feat. There is the full transfer to the shower chair, the slippery soap consideration, and the flying insects during the Colorado summer. Yes, we have an inundation of mosquitoes, gnats, noseeums, horseflies and any other bug you can imagine. Fortunately, my alkaline diet seems to provide a deterrent for the little ones, but not for the more aggressive types.

Contrary to popular understanding about multiple sclerosis, my body is not numb. When there is a fly walking across my skin I feel every sensation. When a mosquito stings me, I feel the intrusion. Actually, my bodily sensation is to a degree, heightened. When I felt the horsefly on my leg, without hesitation Allison swatted the bug full force. In the moment, the insect was as surprised as Allison when she didn’t feel the sting in her thigh. That is how heightened the caregiving symbiosis can become. It can be a curriculum in transcendence, or oneness. Once I was able to go beyond the profound fear of the illness, to understand the bigger picture rather than feeling victimized by the loss of body functioning, I was able to open to relationships where I could receive care on some of the deepest levels.

My ego would never have chosen this degree of vulnerability and from the ego’s perspective, these circumstances are a tragedy. From the bigger picture perspective, I am learning unitive consciousness, or Oneness on many levels. Loving interactions with my caregivers are some of the more significant teachings, for which I am tremendously grateful.

“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river in you, a joy.”–Rumi

imagine

Without my two grand boys, I would not be a grandmother. I cannot write a blog of love and regeneration and not include my beautiful boys River and Luc. River was born in 2011 when I briefly lived nearby. We drove two hours to the hospital in New York City and I saw him when he was a few hours old. Luc was born exactly two years later; in a mysterious and unseen way, despite being in Colorado I felt as if I were present, experiencing the blessed event with my children. What an amazing feeling to see our families meld into one little being with so much promise.

I wondered what sort of grandmother I might be confined to a wheelchair with so much disability. I always saw myself throwing them up in the air and flying them in the air with their stomachs against my feet, like I did with my children. What sort of grandmother could I be to my grandchildren?

One day, when Casey was pregnant, I posed that question to them during a state of vulnerability. Feeling a relapse into the belief that I am my physicality, my son-in-law broke through my mood with, “It’s like, you offer a register of consciousness.” In that moment, it was like an electric shock wave sped through me that reminded me of who I truly am and what my Sacred mission is.

So my beloved River and Luc, I will not be sitting on the floor with you, I will not be holding books to read with you, but I will hold a frequency of Love and I will follow your lives, wherever they will take you. I will be in the wind if you listen closely, I will be in the water tickling you, and I will be in the sun’s rays warming your skin. You can learn to listen closely and you will hear my words of love and encouragement. You will never be without me in your hearts. And that will be true for any other siblings or cousins in the future.

My life has always brought many surprises to myself and others which has provided an opportunity for deepening. I hope that we can meet together in that field of Love and Depth.

“When you become a lover of what is, the war is over.”- Byron Katie

In order to fully understand the significance of this illness in my life and to open to the possibility that it was, in fact, for my highest evolution, I engaged in conventional and unconventional psychotherapy, holotropic breathwork, energy work, as well as hypnotherapy to open to the bigger picture perspective of my soul’s trajectory. I understand that many people do not believe in reincarnation, so the concept of past lives might be be a stretch. In those situations in transpersonal psychology, perhaps it would be more acceptable to use the term “symbolic story.”As in dreams, the symbolism is never arbitrary. Through hypnosis, I was able to explore a past life, or symbolic story, where I was in Eastern Europe during the 40s. I was a wealthy Jewish woman who clung to her material items and was thrown into the street with all my neighbors, “like cattle.” I died in a gas chamber while I realized that I had focused on materialism rather than love. Then we fast-forward to when I was exploring choices for my present lifetime, I realized why I chose a catastrophic illness as a strong possibility, and how something as horrific as that could be for my highest purpose. The hope was that I would realize that I am not my body. The body is merely a vehicle that is chosen and used for the lifetime, then dies. I chose a strong, beautiful and dependable body in order to support my evolution and the evolution of others around me. It seemed significant during hypnosis that the element of surprise was added to shake people out of complacency. A major teaching for me in this lifetime was to feel deserving of love.

The information during this hypnotherapy session confirmed earlier insights regarding the illness. Early on, I’d “heard” internally the phrase, “With the symptoms, comes the Renaissance.” Although I was far from understanding this challenge as being regenerative at the time, this was consistent with that understanding. Since my life has always been about transformation and service, I felt joyful to do my part in forwarding the evolution of the planet.

The constellation of my life has changed tremendously since my diagnosis. Many friends have moved away from me, and some at lightning speed. I have compassion for them as my circumstances can elicit much fear; “if that happened to her, it could happen to me or my loved ones.” I myself can remember feeling that way about frightening circumstances. The people in my life, however, who could hold my experience, grew exponentially. Actually, everybody grew including the friends who left. When you see your limitations, that can be transformative as well.

Accepting the comings and goings has been a large part of letting go of will and moving toward acceptance. Through acceptance, I have felt liberated and moved into a state of joy and deep connection. Inner and outer connectedness is the likely outcome when one has the spiritual maturity to stay. Pema Chodrun, a Tibetan nun teaches a whole practice of “staying,” staying in the chaos of transformational change. When I realized that I could find joy in these circumstances, I knew I could find joy in any circumstances. After all, who gets to deconstruct their life one event or person at a time? Who gets to unpack and consider every aspect of their life one event at a time? This week was spent going through all of my clothing and jewelry choosing their destinations. This is for Casey, this is for Jordan, this goes to the Free Box in Crestone. I am concurrently grieving and celebrating every aspect of my life over a sixty year span. Also this week, I completed my end of life paperwork which will enable me to have an open air cremation that is legal in Crestone when the time comes, whether it be in ten years or ten minutes I have created my closing act down to the Native American flute and Taiko drums. Who gets to do that?

I don’t want to give the impression that this process has been easy; on the contrary, it has been fraught with much grief, thoughtfulness, and life review. What have I left incomplete? What relationships are less than clean and loving? I can even project into the future, to anticipate future needs of my children and grandchildren and communicate with them, like time travel. Casey set up e-mail addresses for her boys for me to date in the future so they will have communication from me.

How fortunate I feel to be able to be present with myself and with my children through this process. Really, who gets to do this?

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Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. more...

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