Being an empty vessel

Being an empty vessel 

Neurological bombardment

bombardedAll day long we are bombarded with things, people, thoughts, feelings and sensations.  Our nervous system is pretty much always taking in information and almost never throughout our day are we completely quiet or empty of these things.

For most people quiet or empty is scary.  It triggers our wounds of not doing enough, contributing enough or being enough and also feelings of being alone and separate.  Simultaneously, on a deeper level many people crave inner stillness and emptiness yet can’t seem to experience it because they are so entrenched in these patterns of production and doing.

In our culture production and achievement is honored, while quiet stillness is seen as lazy or unproductive.  The thing about production and achievement is that it keeps us continually out of the present moment and always into the future of what we are creating and doing.  It sets up the conditions of getting our “to do list” done and that equalling a productive day.  Rather than movement, action and productivity being inspired from inner stillness, it is an effortful process that is directed by our minds.

Now I’m not suggesting to stop all doing and action, but instead to value the quiet as much as the noise.  Since we are predominantly noise driven in our culture (whether externally or from our own minds) we have not learned how to rest in stillness and therefore can never really hear much beyond our own mental thoughts about things.  This limits us to one perspective, which is our own.  Our perspective is only one piece of the whole and therefore provides a limited amount of insight and wisdom.

Being of ultimate service 

Neurological freedom

58762013 - silhouette of woman meditating with energy beams surrounding himOne of our fears about stopping inner or outer activity is that we will not be in as great of service to others.  When we begin to value inner stillness it may require us at time to say no to things or not help people when perhaps we think we should be.  So we do and we do, and our doing fills a need, a need in us to feel significant through helping others or being productive, yet we also ignore the part of ourselves that actually feels a stronger no than yes at times.

It is not until we can become innerly still that we can really be of service.  When we empty out ourselves of our thoughts, feelings, sensations, and things we become present.  In presence all information that is needed is readily available.  Learning to rest in inner emptiness teaches us to be present.  Presence is the most powerful and energizing state that there is.

Being an empty vessel is of being in ultimate service.  Though it may seem that then you have nothing to give or contribute in this state, the opposite is true.  You now have everything to give and contribute.  You are dynamic and alive and also rested in presence.  You have emptied yourself of yourself, of a you, of a being that has needs, wants, desires and preferences, at least temporarily.  In a way you transcend your ego, which is your small, personal self in order to be of even greater service.  A service of which is yet unknown to you and to be revealed.  Surrendering the need to know and being ok in the mystery are necessary.  Things are revealed to you exactly when and how you need to know them when you are in a state of presence.

The clearer your nervous system is, the easier it is to be an empty vessel.   When you experience level 2C of Network care it is called a “clear out.” What that means is that your nervous system temporarily suspends all anchors to you as a sense of self (person) through your spine.  Momentarily you experience a state beyond who you believe yourself to be.  This is a pattern interruption and provides the opportunity to experience yourself differently (beyond yourself).  It requires surrender and the result is inner stillness, emptiness.   When you enter and progress through level 3 of Network care you realize that the emptiness is filled with light and the light is who you actually are.  Hearing the unheard and seeing the unseen become your reality.  I call this neurological freedom and find it is essential for being more empty of self so you can know even more of who/what you truly are and be in ultimate service to all.

Dr. Amanda Hessel, Chiropractor, Network Spinal Analysis & Somato-Respiratory Integration, Boulder, Colorado

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Conscious resting

Conscious resting 

The need to check out 

man sleeping at deskStress and overwhelm seem to be the norm of everyday life.  We go, go, go until something stops us.  Sometimes what stops us is pain (physical or emotional), sometimes its sickness, and clearly death will bring us to a complete stop.  These “stops” are typically not chosen.  Instead they are “given” to us by life, to slow us down, so that ultimately we can wake up and become more conscious to greater degrees.

When life forces us to stop in these ways it’s usually an unpleasant experience for us.  We don’t want to stop, even though on some level we know we need too.  Sometimes we don’t want to stop because we are thoroughly enjoying life, but are not participating with it in ways where we are fully awake and conscious.  At other times we don’t want to stop because we are afraid that if we do everything will fall apart.  The later is more common.

Whether these “stops” are forced from being so overwhelmed and overstretched, or self-chosen stops, such as sleep or vegging out on the couch watching TV, rest of some kind is inevitable.  This is what I call unconscious resting.  Your system or body have been on overdrive, or checked out on automatic pilot mode, for such a long stretch of time that when you stop you simply crash and check out.  This is often needed to allow the body to recover.  Most people get caught in a cycle of stress, stop and recover, stress, stop and recover.   When feeling rested they go back to doing their life in the exact same ways and never actually become more conscious and aware through the process.

Rested and conscious 

Inner silence

conscious restingHow do you engage with life being both rested and conscious?  Being consciously rested is totally different from unconscious resting.  Unconscious resting is what we do to decompress or unwind from the activity or stress of our day or life.  However you can learn how to consciously sleep, work, watch TV,  and do anything including even die consciously.  One of the key questions to ask yourself when resting is are you decompressing, “taking a break” from stressful thoughts or feelings, or are you becoming more present and aware?

Being still, not doing, and not thinking are radical notions for most people.  Even if you aren’t actively engaged in doing stuff you most likely never stop thinking for more than a few seconds at time.  This is still considered activity and creates stress.  Silence, particularly inner silence, is a foreign experience for most.  Its something that seems to be reserved for monks, meditators or spiritual teachers and seekers.

The thing about conscious resting however is that it doesn’t mean that you need to be totally still sitting on a meditation cushion (though this may help to learn the skill of quieting your mind).  Instead it means that you are in an internal state of rest, ease and relaxation and also simultaneously participating in your life.  When you start to embody this state you realize that activity does not have to equal overwhelm, disconnect, tiredness and stress.  You begin to experience that you don’t need a break or a vacation in order to relax from your life.  Instead the real goal is learning to rest and be present in every moment of your every day life so that you are never taking a “break” from anything.

In conscious resting you are fully present and engaging in such a way that it becomes energizing for you, not depleting.  Next time you find yourself tired or exhausted notice where you went into simply doing to get things done and ask yourself how you could be more aware and present.  Notice what thoughts, sensations or emotions seem to interfere with you being present.  The more you do this the more you will learn how to rest consciously and never need a break from your life again.

Dr. Amanda Hessel, Chiropractor, Network Spinal Analysis & Somato-Respiratory Integration, Boulder, Colorado

Dampening out love

Dampening down love 

Dumbing it down, numbing it out 

34249675 - metaphorical expression of squashed heart on a black backgroundMost of us are afraid of our own hearts.  True story.  We can use a myriad of excuses as to why we can’t love, feel love or be love, but what is boils down to is that we are afraid to love.  Afraid to use that thing that sits in the middle of our chest and is the core essence of what every person is striving, consciously or unconsciously, to feel more of.

So what are we really afraid of?  We fear rejection, being “too much”, not being received by others, or feeling too much.  We also create stories about what it means to love, which limit our expression of it, and thus of ourselves.  The level of love that we choose to express in most situations is correlated with how much of it we think the other can receive.  If it seems that the other can only take a certain amount in, then we dumb it down or numb it out.  Meaning we numb and dumb what we are feeling which then influences the actions we will or won’t take.

This simply choice dramatically impacts the level of passion, desire, and drive we have for life.  Our fear of rejection, need of acceptance, and inability to be vulnerably safe overpowers that of anything else.  We will squash our own selves to significant degrees just to make sure that others receive us.  Then we wonder why we “can’t feel” anything and seem to wander aimlessly claiming to not know our purpose in life. Its because we have compressed, shut down, or numbed out the very thing that is our compass and guide on this journey of life.  Our heart.

Love in expression 

Reconnecting with your inner compass

92561896 - heart with compass isolated on white backgroundLove is love.  It has no limits.  Its bound by nothing and is the essence of everything.  Regardless of how much you participate in the expression of love has no effect on love itself.  Love itself never changes, is always present and is abundance itself.  It is your truest nature and core essence.  However most of us do not know this, believe it or really get it.  Instead we believe that we are separate, isolated, distinct beings, and thus live disconnected from the source of what we are.  With this we think we can be cast out, not included and need to fit in and fend for ourselves.  We fall out of alignment and feel that things are not right or could go wrong at any moment.  The result of this is protection, defense and being “on guard”, which is also known at chronic stress or fight/flight.

Reconnecting with your inner compass, aka your heart, requires noticing when you are in reaction and defense in your body and in your day to day life interactions.  One of things that Network Spinal Analysis (NSA) assists you with is noticing where you are in defense and protection mode in your body.  Where you are holding resistance and tension patterns.  NSA does not magically eliminate these tension patterns, but instead illuminates them so that you are more aware of how you do you.  Without this illumination and awareness it is impossible for you to create different choices or hold yourself differently.  How you hold yourself in your body is a reflection of how you interact with life.  If you hold yourself in tension and protection then your participation in life and with others will reflect this as well.

Love in greater expression also takes risk and courage.  Courage to look or feel dumb, to not be received in the way you hope and desire, and to do it anyway.  There is not a single guarantee.  It is simply a matter of how you desire to show up and be with life.  This life really is a momentarily glimpse.  I invite you to stop dampening and numbing it out.  Be bold, take the risk and let love express through you in the myriad of ways you desire to express it.

Dr. Amanda Hessel, Chiropractor, Network Spinal Analysis & Somato-Respiratory Integration, Boulder, Colorado

Disconnection disguised as independence

Disconnection disguised as independence 

The cost of detachment 

7085655 - woman running with usa flag on beachWe live in a culture where independence is the primary value for most people.  From the time we are little kids on up we are praised for being able to do things for ourselves.  One of our biggest fears is losing our independence or perceived freedom.  Along with this there is the notion that the more detached we are the better we will be.  The underlying belief is that being “detached” keeps us open and available to life instead of tying us down and threatening to take away our freedom.

When it boils down to it detachment is always based in fear.  Fear that something will be missed, taken away or that we will get hurt.  One example of this can be seen when people have “commitment phobia”.  They can’t commit to be in a relationship, or to a job, or to stay living in one location for very long.  These people often have a horrible time making definitive decisions for themselves.  They have an underlying story of “what if I commit to this and then there is something else that arises.”  They often feel that they won’t have a way out if they need one and will be trapped (lost freedom).  There is also a fear that they will get hurt or hurt others with their decisions and by remaining detached they avoid emotional pain.

There is also what I call “pretend detachment”.  This is where people act detached, but underneath care so deeply that the only way they can cope is to appear aloof and non-caring.  This can show up as having low motivation, being rebellious, appearing distance, not giving opinions and pretending not to care what happens.

One of the coping strategies we use to detach is to quit desiring or taking action in our lives.  Its ironic that so many people don’t know or are perpetually seeking for their life’s “purpose”.  Most of them have numbed out their desires and with that their passion for their life’s mission.

True freedom and interdependence

Secure attachment

When it comes to attachment, there is both healthy (secure) and unhealthy (insecure) attachment.  When attachment is not healthy we are clinging on for dear life.  We may cling to another person (called co-dependent) or we may cling to a job or any life circumstance where we are perceiving we NEED it in order to survive.  Unhealthy attachment is survival based.  There is a fear that we will not have enough without our attachment.  Our security is outside of ourselves and we always feel at the mercy of our circumstances.  We can experience this as a feeling of neediness inside of ourselves, feeling not ok unless others are ok, or not feeling ok if circumstances are unstable.  We feel internally constricted, our breathing may be hard, people/things are not allowed to come and go out of our life and we feel trapped (yet circumstantial safe) and simultaneously afraid of freedom.

56329448 - free happy woman over sky and sunSecure attachment on the other hand is healthy.  Being securely attached allows you to rest in connection with yourself, others and the rest of the universe, of which you are already a part of.  Secure attachment provides freedom rather than feeling threatened that it will take your freedom away.  Being securely attached in relationship with others allows you to both share your desires and wants and simultaneously be ok if the other cannot respond to your desires in the way that you want.  It also allows you to care deeply about others (rather than be aloof pretending you don’t care) and also to be able to let them go, be who they are and listen to their inner calls as they need even when its different than yours.  When this isn’t allowed within relationship we grow stagnate, feel stuck and can’t move forward.  The same is true for jobs, careers, passions, etc.  Being able to show up fully, feel fully, open our hearts and also to fully let go is only possible when we are securely attached.

When we stop demanding that support come from certain people, jobs, or circumstances, and open our perspective to include the support of seeming strangers and ordinary circumstances, we begin to see that support is always there.  Rather than valuing independence as primary we begin to value interdependence.  We realize the web in which we live and how each person/thing/situation is supporting us.  We stop feeling that we have to do it on our own and that there is no one there to help us.  In secure attachment we feel vulnerably safe, all inclusive and have the ability to care as deeply as we desire too without losing connection to our inner essence.

Dr. Amanda Hessel, Chiropractor, Network Spinal Analysis & Somato-Respiratory Integration, Boulder, Colorado

Perfect health: attainable or not?

Perfect health: attainable or not? 

The age of disease prevention 

woman meditatingWe live in a disease prevention age.  Medical science is discovering more and more ways to test for potential and actual malfunctions in our bodily systems.  The idea is that the sooner we can find out if something is potentially wrong with us the better off we are because we can take action now before the “thing” has progressed.  Mammograms, pap smears, prostate exams, colonoscopies, DNA marker tests and list goes on.  We begin our “race to survive”.

So the question becomes first and foremost, how do you really know if you are well?  Does the absence of disease or disease markers indicate that you are well?  And does the presence of disease or disease markers indicate that you are not well?  According to Webster dictionary health is “a condition in which someone or something is thriving or doing well.”  There is nothing about the presence or absence of disease in that definition.  Another definition is that of “the condition of being sound in body, mind and spirit.”

The next question becomes can you thrive and be “sound” with disease or disease markers?  Or do you go into survival mode, with the consciousness of attacking this foreign or malfunctioned part of your body.  Most people initially gear up attack mode.  This is natural.  Their survival instinct kicks in and they go on the race to find that which may allow them more life in this body.  This is an important stage in the healing process.  It corresponds to stage 2 of SRI where we go on a search for magical cures outside of ourselves to fix us.

Magical cures are not typically what people define as woo-woo work, but instead they are things that we think will really fix us when we believe we are broken.  Most of the time they are drugs, surgeries or other procedures, but also do include alternate therapies that are aimed at restoring you instead of empowering you.  So when the magical cure fails (and they all fail at some point because they are based in an underlying false premise that you are not already whole) then a person will slip back down into suffering, stage 1 of SRI.  People can cycle between stage 1 and 2 for a very long time, sometimes indefinitely.

Beyond magical cures

Empowered health

The good news is that it is entirely possible to not suffer, however to not experience pain is unlikely.  All suffering is created when you believe that something is not supposed to be the way that it is.  Suffering is different than feeling pain (which is a physiological reaction) or experiencing feelings such as sadness and grief (emotional body reaction).  Suffering is the resistance to what is, believing  its supposed to be different or that its separate from you.  It doesn’t matter if what you believe shouldn’t be is a physical pain or an emotional pain.  If you believe it shouldn’t be, and it is, you will suffering.

Since we can all agree that death of our body is inevitable, than we can say that disease/illness of some sorts is most likely going to happen to us along the journey.  That is at least until we realize more of who we are through expanding our awareness and than can choose our exit out of this form consciously, rather than unconsciously through disease.  I personally believe that this is where we are headed.

sri stage 11So where do we start?  I think a better question to ask ourselves is not “can we be disease free and have idealized perfect health” and instead change it to “how can we have empowered health.”  Rather than trying to prevent “bad” things from happening to our body, can we instead be empowered in our own health processes so that whatever occurs we can navigate it, and navigate it not in fear but in trust.  This in my opinion is a much better measure of health and I call this being “innerly resourceful”.

Inner resourcefulness requires that you have the ability to observe when you go into survival mode, when you are getting hijacked by your survival instincts or by fear and your emotional body.  As soon as you observe where you are now you have choice available.  Prior to that you were simply at the whims of your physiology and emotions.  This is the beginning of empowered health care.  Now you are in charge again.  Now you can make choices and decisions that help you thrive rather than just doing stuff to survive/keep yourself alive.  Through asking yourself new questions you can begin to expand your consciousness and come up with new insights and clues.

Dr. Amanda Hessel, Chiropractor, Network Spinal Analysis & Somato-Respiratory Integration, Boulder, Colorado

Imperfectly lovable

Imperfectly lovable 

Striving for perfection 

43728320 - beautiful spa girl touching her face. perfect fresh skinPerfectionism is so pervasive in our culture that we are all affected by its influence in some way or another. Our ability to be perfect is also largely connected to how lovable or unlovable we feel that we are.  Most of us live with this unconscious story that we must be perfect in order to be loved.

You can see this story played out through your thoughts and behaviors.  Perhaps you are overly focused on your image, either physically or professionally, and can’t really let anyone see you undone or see your “faults”. Or maybe you are constantly striving to do more, achieve, be better and get it right, which on the surface can give the illusion of you being a personal growth master, but what you are really doing is avoiding feeling like an unlovable failure.   It can also show up as an over attunement to others, so that not much focus is on yourself, and in that way you can stay hidden or unseen.  You may also see it in trying to control a “messy” or less than perfectly planned outer circumstance, to look a certain way, so that you are not an inconvenience or disappointment to others.

These subtle patterns that most of us engage in daily can give us clues as to where we are still resisting or rejecting ourselves, believing we are less than worthy and where we are giving our power away.  Your ability to begin to see these patterns in yourself is key to your ability to be with and transform them, so that your lovability is not connected with your ability to achieve, not fail or be perfect, but is simply owned by you as your natural birthright.

Errors in perception 

Humaness & divinity coexist

90754124 - pair of imperfect organic heirloom strawberries isolated closeupWe are both human and god coexisting in this one form or expression.  This means we are both divinely perfect and massively imperfect.  There really is no separation, but from the limited human perspective there is quite a gap.  The mind cannot perceive how one can be both perfect and imperfect, as that seems like an impossible paradox.

Our ability to embrace this human, imperfect nature of ourselves resolves this paradox in our mind.  As we learn to accept more and more of our human, flawed nature, the more we see just how perfect it is and we are.  This must be experienced as the mind can not ever make sense of it.  The mind will always try to convince you that you are not right in some ways and that you must strive to be better to ensure that you are loved.

The practice then is to embrace the vulnerable, tender, wounded, hurt, failed and lost parts of ourselves.  These are often what we are always trying to either hide, get ride of, heal or transform.  If you have been trying to “heal or transform” a part of yourself for years and you are still not healed, essentially what you are saying is that you still have not embraced this part of yourself.  That is really all healing is; an embracing of what is.  From this embracing transformation and reorganization of yourself occurs naturally.  Not through massive effort and doing, but in effortless, clear, determined action.  If you are massively efforting in your transformation process you have more accepting and embracing of your imperfect parts to do first.

So this is how you become imperfectly lovable.  You rest into the messy, disorganized, uncontrollable, inconvenient, ugly parts of you.  You love them even though you don’t like the way that they feel, and even though you are afraid that if you really see them (thus allowing them to be seen) you won’t be loved.  This is your only opportunity for liberation.  For in them holds the key to what you really want, which is full, unconditional self-love.  The only love you are really ever looking for is love from yourself.  When you embrace you, no one and no thing can un-embrace you.  You have completed the circuit in and with yourself.

Dr. Amanda Hessel, Chiropractor, Network Spinal Analysis & Somato-Respiratory Integration, Boulder, Colorado

The many parts of you

The many parts of you 

All of your facets 

facesWe tend to identify with certain aspects of ourselves.  Perhaps you see yourself as kind, gentle, fiery, accommodating, wise, giving, helpful, stern, dedicated, anxious, angry, hard working, nurturing, caring, etc.  These are the aspects you most see in yourself in every day life so you believe that they are all of who you are.

The truth is that in each of us lies a little bit of everything.  For everything you can identify yourself as being the opposite (or polarity) of that exists and lives inside of you too.  Some people find this impossible to believe, however in order to have one side of the polarity you must have the other as well.  Meaning if you are kind, you also have mean parts, if you are giving, you also have parts that take, if you are hard working, you also have lazy parts, if you are anxious, you also have calm parts and if you are angry, you also have gentle parts.

The tendency is to only look at one end of the spectrum, that being the end in which you are more comfortable in knowing yourself as.  If the polarity or opposite part arises in your experience of yourself it tends to come along with judgment, shame and blame.  For example say you see yourself mostly as kind and helpful, however a situation arises where you say something you perceive as mean or you choose to not help someone.  What typically happens is that you begin to feel bad about yourself, or go into blame of others.  This is because you reject this opposite part of yourself and  deem it as unacceptable.  You in essence alienate a part of yourself and perpetuate separation (aka suffering).

Learning to live with all of your parts

Parts become a whole

So how do you learn to live with all of your parts, not just the ones you most identify yourself as?  You must recognize your tendency to judge yourself and others.  When judgment arises it’s a sure sign that you have gone into polarity and are seeing from a single perspective.  Once you recognize that you are in polarity bring in the opposite part.  Acknowledge that you are both what you believe yourself to be and also the opposite of it.  You are what you are judging; kind and mean, gentle and harsh, calm and anxious, right and wrong.

Once you acknowledge and accept both of these parts of yourself you can relax into a larger perspective of yourself and life.  A lightness comes into your experience as opposed to the harsh, heavy, serious judger.  Being able to see from an expanded perspective always brings with it more options.  You begin to get to choose which parts get to play and participate, and rather than being reactive your ability to respond develops.

SRI stage 2

SRI Stage 2

The more quickly you can embrace all of your parts the more empowered and free you will feel and be.  Stage 2 of Somato-Respiratory Integration (SRI) teaches you how to recognize, acknowledge and eventually accept all of your many parts.  Learning how to be relationship with all of the parts of you is vital to your health, personal growth and evolution.  Through embracing the parts you move into wholeness.  Just like each piece of the pie is required to make a whole pie, so to all of the parts of you must be included in order to embrace and realize your wholeness.

Dr. Amanda Hessel, Chiropractor, Network Spinal Analysis & Somato-Respiratory Integration, Boulder, Colorado