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Sept-Ober Newsletter: "Pleasure, Pain and Beyond "

“You are in this time of the interim
Where everything seems withheld.

As far as you can, hold your confidence.
Do not allow your confusion to squander
This call which is loosening
Your roots to false ground,
That you might come free
From all you have outgrown.

What is being transfigured here is your mind,
And it is difficult and slow to become new.
The more faithfully you can endure here,
The more refined your heart will become
For your arrival in the new dawn.

- John O'Donohue

The Tudors. Have you watched it? I have always been a sucker for period pieces, so when I saw an ad for this Showtime drama, I just had to Netflix it. And it does not disappoint. Beautifully produced, the sets and costumes are magnificent -and most of you know how much I love a good costume! (Side note: It is not for the faint-of-heart. It can be eye-coveringly brutal).

In the last juicy episode I watched, young King Henry VIII had suffered a major injury to his leg from a javelin joust. It seemed to be infected and was so painful he could barely stand up. However, our protagonist is also a bit of a casanova. In this one scene, he was limping about his quarters angry and frustrated. Then, the beautiful Jane Seymour enters the room. Entranced, he sits on a chair and invites her to sit on his lap (on the bad leg I notice). She does (I grimace), and they kiss.

Henry and Jane
Henry VIII and Jane Seymour

And I am fascinated.

Not because King Henry VIII is flirting with yet another pretty girl, but because in that moment, the moment when he was entirely focused on kissing her, he appeared to be without pain. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Well sure, that’s TV. He’s acting.” And that might be true but a few days later, I was reminded again of this scene when I was at the hospital picking up my beautiful friend Patricia. She was there recovering from surgery from a severely broken ankle. When I arrived she was clearly in distress from the pain. As we waited for the nurse to administer the last round of painkillers before being released, I started to give her Reiki. As I gave her Reiki I started telling her a story about something that happened to me that week. As she listened, the pain seemed to lessen and she even laughed. When the story ended, the distress reappeared, so I moved over to her other foot. I pressed her big toe and asked her to focus instead on what didn’t hurt. She did as I asked and the pain seemed to once again become part of the background.

Broken Ankle
Broken Ankle

When we focus our attention away from what pains us, and allow our minds to think other thoughts, we have shifted our reality. Patricia went from tears to laughter in moments. King Henry went from pain to desire. This is a fun rule to play around with. And think about how powerful this is. At any moment you have a choice. You can choose to focus on the pain, anger, or hurt. Or, you can focus on what gives pleasure and joy. In that moment of choosing pleasure over pain, you take your power back. Victim to god/dess. Just like that.

It does take practice. Our ego loves the drama. All of us have a storybook full of juicy little vignettes of all the things that happened to us or what people did to us: spouse leaving, relationship crashing, accidents happening, market diving, loved one dying, sickness occurring. We savour the question, “Why is this happening to me?” or “What did I do to deserve this?” Which triggers an arsenal of wounding beliefs: “I must be bad, unworthy, unlovable.” Then we skip ahead to the future with, “How am I going to survive?” or “What will I do?” “How am I going to live without him/her/my house/the car/my job?” And because the future is unknown, we have just given ourselves a fine dose of anxiety. With dodged determination, our ego rolls these stories around and around like a puppy with an old sock not wanting to let them go. The worse the story, the happier the ego is.

So, it is our responsibility to manage the story.

Patricia and Henry taught us that we can move fairly swiftly from pain to pleasure simply by putting our attention on pleasurable things. Peace comes when we are at one with and in acceptance of the moment; Henry with his girl, Patricia with my story and my touch. A few days later I invited Patricia to our Divine Goddess Experience thinking it would be a good distraction. Despite the discomfort and heavy cast, Patricia was talking, and laughing, and dancing along with the rest of us. Without a doubt more healing than sitting at home with pain as a companion.

Spiritual teachers encourage us to 1) observe our thoughts, and
2) question the ones we attach ourselves to –positive thoughts as well as negative thoughts. Our stories come when we want things to be different to how they are. We end up focusing on what isn't rather than what is. "I don't want to move", "I wish my job was more interesting", "I want you to be the way I want you to be." Byron Katie asks you to ask yourself the best question, “Who am I without my story?” or “Who am I beyond my thoughts?” When we ask this of ourselves, all resistance stops. The story fades and what is left is the present moment. The present moment is. When you are truly in the present, your story doesn't exist.

So, who are we beyond our thoughts?

Often clients report a feeling of "being aware but not there" during a Reiki session, which is consistent with the space between thoughts people experience in deep meditation. Or, when repeating a mantra during a Kundalini Yoga class; the merging of the senses as sounds become one sound, the thought one thought. When we transcend the body and mind in this way, our awareness ultimately expands into a connectedness with all things. In the time I have been doing Past Life Regression Therapy, I have heard this space being described many times. At the end of a Past Life Regression Therapy we always ask to speak to the person's subconscious or higher self. That part of the self has all the information relating to this life and all the lives the person has ever lived. It is to this awareness we ask questions and ask for (and often get) physical, emotional and spiritual healing. It is this level of awareness that has talked about the 'one-ness'.

Rainbow after a storm
Rainbow after a storm

I'd like you to take a minute to listen to two different clients speak of what being one with everything is like. Track 1 is Tom, the same man who spoke with the nature spirit in last September's newsletter (5mins 52 seconds), and the second one is D who revisited a very spiritually oriented life in Egypt (1min 23 seconds):

Track 2 will start automatically.
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Helpful hints on focusing the mind:

Tame the Monkey Mind: In the Divine Goddess Experience, we teach you a simple exercise I learned from Sonia Choquette on how to manage what Buddhists call “the Monkey Mind”. As the monkey swings from tree to tree, our thoughts flit through our minds in an untamed way. It is up to us then to choose to tame this paradoxically unmindful creature. The first step is to choose an animal that suits the thoughts. For example, a breast beating gorilla, a quivering cat, a barking bulldog. Then, give it a name. The next time negative thoughts arise, tell Gary the gorilla to go eat a banana, or stroke Sally the cat with phrases like, "You are safe" or tell Bruno the barking bulldog, "Down!" or "Stop!"
3 I am not my Thoughts : Deepak Chopra says, "You are not your body." Equally, you are not your mind. Your "True Self" exists beyond the physical in an energetic field connected through love. Because we are so used to identifying with our thoughts and physical bodies, it helps to remind yourself on a day-to-day basis that you are not your thoughts. When you do this consistently, a shift in perspective occurs. You become the observer of your thoughts (and emotions) and suddenly the stories you were so vested in become inside jokes. How much lighter you feel when you are laughing at yourself and not taking everything so seriously!
2 Choosing Love & Gratitude: When life comes at us with a round of fast balls some hit harder than others. It can be immensely challenging to find the silver lining. And honestly, it's unreasonable to expect to right away because doesn't everyone need a little space to throw a good tantrum every now and again? But ultimately, when you believe your stories and focus on what we don't want, you create resistance -you are swimming against the tide where what happened is not what you wanted to happen. You are now focusing on what you don't want, and therefore attracting more of the same. To be ok with what is, ask yourself, How can I appreciate this experience? What is this experience teaching me that I could not have learned without it? How can I shift my focus, or alter my perspective, so that it becomes less painful?
One more thought before I go:

"Focus on fun and more fun will come!"



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