On Quitting the Drink

I haven’t read it, but there is a book named “Alcohol Lied to Me”. I love the title because it holds true. The stuff is just a lie.

I’ve been meaning to blog a piece about alcohol, but I’m a newbie to sobriety and I don’t feel seasoned enough to give advice or proclaim victory. What I do know is that my life and every experience I have had has changed and I have no desire to feel the way I used to.

Tonight I’m sailing with my husband Daren. Around 4pm we both started getting hungry. Daren suggested some appetizers. He went down below and a few minutes later appeared with a gorgeous spread of cheeses, olives, crackers, pate, hummus and roasted bell peppers.

I cracked open a Diet Coke and took a bite of the manchego cheese. Oh my goodness- it was so good! It is the same brand we often purchase, but depending on the temperature and sliced thickness it always tastes somehwhat different. Tonight it was slightly nutty and had a melt in the mouth kind of consistency. I took a sip of my soda and sampled the gruyere.

It’s been a while since I’ve marveled at the fact that I experience eating in a totally different way since I’ve quit the drink. It’s been 6 months and 2 weeks since my last sip of a spirit and shocking to what was my old self 6 and a half months ago would have believed, I miss absolutely nothing about it.

I would not have even wanted appetizers if we didn’t have wine on board. Not that there was a chance akin to the possibility of an ice cube surviving in hell that I wouldn’t have ensured there was at least a month supply for a small army on board before leaving the dock.

For a long few years before I quit, there was hardly a food that I wouldn’t want without wine or beer. White wine particularly was my vice. Chilled white wine. It made EVERYTHING taste better. It soothed my nerves. It made me relaxed. It made me funnier. I didn’t have a problem. I didn’t do anything dangerous. I just really really loved wine and beer. I could quit anytime I want to. I often did. I went back because I missed the taste. My food wasn’t the same without it. I didn’t relax the same. I could quit. I could…

Right?

Haha. So wrong. So so very wrong.

I quit at least every two months or so and actually didn’t drink for a few days. But then there was a celebration, a party, a fun dinner with friends, a romantic dinner with the hubby, a stressful day. Trump said something offensive. I had a good show to kick back with. My soap opera was on. It was Tuesday.

There was always a reason. I was always wound up. I “quit” for a few days every few months but honestly I tried to quit every day. Every single night I went to bed feeling like crap and wishing I didn’t drink. Every morning I woke up feeling determined to quit. I’d meditate on it. I’d write love notes to my later day self about how good I feel and why it’s a bad idea. By 9am each day I would decide that ‘today’ would be my last day and begin planning when to start drinking for the day- when to chill the wine and what I would eat with it. It was downhill from there. It was the same sad ass story every day. By mid afternoon I wrestled with why I even felt guilty. I rationed how every single last person around me drinks daily too. I convinced myself I was normal and craving alcohol was just a normal part of life. I loved it. But I hated it.

Six months after my last gulp I am 100% in the know about how unbelievably wrong I was. Wrong about every last “good” or “normal” thing I attributed to alcohol.

Like the book I didn’t read’s title states “Alcohol Lied to Me”. Food is sooooo much better without it. I don’t even know if I had taste buds with it. I have the ability to realize I’m full and stop eating. When I drank I thought I was enjoying food and wanted more because it was so good. I believed that lie too. I already passed the honeymoon phase of realizing this. Tonight I just happened to remember and feel a bit marveled by how duped I was.

I am now way more relaxed. Somehow nothing, even stressful events bother me like they used to. Food is better. Nothing in my life has changed. I have the same life with the same good, bad and ugly parts. I just feel differently about them and can embrace whatever it is. I now have experienced what I knew before but never practiced, that all those cliche sayings comparable to “this too shall pass” or the Serenity Prayer are really true. It all passes. Like the weather in New England. If you don’t like it, just wait a few minutes. If you do, don’t be too excited. Enjoy it but be prepared for it to change without warning.

I’m in no way cuter, smarter, funnier, braver or more honest when drinking. I might be. But I slur my words, think hurtful things are funny, and lose the filter of “Is it True/Kind/Necessary” in light of ‘Being Honest”. If my mood isn’t good I could be a bitch. I make really stupid decisions and I often regret things that I would have absolutely not done if sober. Why would I put this poison in my body that turns me into a kookie alter ego?

Because alcohol lies. Because it’s a chemical that makes you crave it. It’s almost like a host body that needs more to keep the host alive. It took me as it’s servant. Everyone else is doing it too. They are actually jumping off the proverbial bridge.

A book I did read that made an enormous difference is “The Naked Mind” by Annie Grace. It inspired me to quit about a year and a half before I was ready too. A huge point the author makes is that it is easy if you look at it as a positive in your life.

I wasn’t ready to do that at the time but I understood the message. I might never have been ready unless I hit bottom the way I unwilling did this year on 2/8/21. While laying out on a gurney in the hallway for hours in the middle of the night at the ER, I knew it was time. Episodes like that one were far and few between, but one is too many. People who don’t drink would never end up in that kind of situation.

I didn’t want to be one of those people. I didn’t want to want something bad for me anymore. I didn’t want it to be that there wasn’t a snowballs chance in hell that I would leave a dock on a boat without knowing that alcohol will be with me. It seemed normal at the time, but there is absolutely, positively nothing normal about that. That feeling is the sign of a problem. It’s so common we rationalize it.

I can’t tell you how good it feels to be free from the grip of believing a drink makes anything, even temporarily better. My intellect knew it, but until I did it and embraced that I wasn’t missing out on anything, I didn’t want to believe it.

I am happier. I still dance around and act like my clown self. I am missing out on NOTHING worthwhile. I am missing out on 18lbs, a lighter wallet, stupid decisions, regrets, headaches, cravings and obsession with what I will eat and drink next. Good riddance!!!

That is how I feel 6 months in. I hope to continue. I have plenty of AA people warning me to be careful. It scares me enough to not be cocky about it and stay the path. But I do want to share that it’s wonderful and if you even think for a moment you might have a problem, then you do. If you wonder if you can say goodbye to it forever and feel good about it, I’m telling you from a very little bit of experience that you can.

Alcohol lies. Sober is the new cool. I love everything about quitting the drink.

On Being Middle Aged

When I was a teenager, then a twenty something; I thought middle age or (gasp) older was absolutely an dreadful place to be. Like many younger adults I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I knew better. I was always right. I did things the best way. Older people were out of touch.

I don’t want to be younger, nor do I look back at my own life or the younger beings around me with envy. I like where I am. I will even go the mat and say I think middle aged is the best part of life. After the crisis part of course. If you are “lucky” enough to have a mid life crisis at all.

I’m 45. To some that sounds like “only 45?” and to others that might sound like “45??? Gulp”.

The crisis was the worst/best part of coming to terms with life on life’s terms and with who I am. Not everyone will have one, and many who do have one will not change. With that aside, I believe that even without one; mid life is an awesome part of life.

The best thing is a combination of experience and health. If you reasonably take care of yourself, you can be fairly healthy during mid life. With almost 30 years of driving and workplace experience, these years are a sweet spot of cruising with confidence through otherwise tricky or unknown areas. No major physical decline yet combined with good reflexes, memory, and ability to pick up and respond to life’s surroundings.

By middle age most people (not all of course) are financially comfortable. Less worries about paying bills, less interest in having more, staying fashionable or climbing the ladder. It allows me to live and work with comfort. I’m old enough to be taken seriously, experienced enough to understand life/work dynamics, and still young enough to switch in a dime to learn new programs, policies, software, phone apps…

Aside from my far sightedness slightly declining each year at my annual Optometry visit, I’m in the best physical health of my life. I’ve learned to make sleep important, exercise a routine part of life, and to make wise food decisions for the sake of my health.

Mental hygiene takes a front place as well. I’m no longer embarrassed about having human responses to stress and pressure, so I don’t pretend they don’t exist and take an active stance in dealing with those types of things. I no longer view self care or down time as a reward or something for others, but a necessity to keep myself fresh, in good health and useful to society.

Speaking of embarrassment, caring about what other people think just isn’t a thing anymore. I’m not afraid to be myself or of failing. I know it’s a part of life and if anyone else judges that, it’s none of my business. As long as my intentions are pure I have nothing to hide or be ashamed of. I enjoy realizing when I messed up or was wrong and it feels good to acknowledge that to myself and others.

I have enough years of cooking experience to cobble things together from my pantry that taste phenomenal. I try all kinds of art projects I would have felt like a poser to attempt. I love the way I dress, decorate, garden, clean, cook, love others, and live my life. I have go-to recipes, outfits, and ways to entertain that work. I am comfortable with the skills I have and know my limitations on the skills I do not. I am so ok with what I lack. No one can have all they want.

In taking risks, I am excited to try new things. What is the worst thing if I don’t like it? I just won’t do it again.

I believe I can now live life with a good balance of safety and risk. Being young is often accompanied by an irrational idea of invincibility. I see many older people living with too much fear of too many things. I might get to that point too, but at this point I know I do not like the way fear feels. It makes me feel small and trapped rather than safe. Instead of succumbing to it, I live safely in my actions but am courageous enough to push through what a rational mind knows will be ok. That wasn’t the experience in my younger days!

There is so much more to say, but I’ll stop here. Honestly the mid life crisis and coming into what Richard Rohr calls “the second half” is what got me to a really beautiful place where acceptance of what is, is how I want to live life. It was about 8-10 years of chaos, and something for another blog.

I do not know better. I am absolutely not always right. There are so many ways to do things and different ways work for different folks. Older people have wisdom and our elders are our teachers.

So, I will ride the tides and adjust the sails instead of fighting the waves and expecting days of perfection. And I will enjoy this moment that will too pass where I am grateful to be healthy and middle aged.

Namaste.

On Crossing the Line

I stayed up late a few nights this week binge watching the Dirty John series while knitting or painting. Last night I was up long past midnight finishing the second season which told the Betty Broderick story. I can’t stop thinking about human nature and what it means to cross the line and go crazy this morning.

Is there any point where we can understand how an otherwise rational human being can “go crazy”?  

What does “going crazy” mean? Where is the line? 

Things that are invisible are difficult to quantify but we all understand them. Depending on our own experiences and how much we have been “pushed”, we often empathize or judge. How we have been treated and our own life experiences will so very likely dictate how we will respond to and sympathize with others. 

Unfortunately it takes pain and suffering to understand pain and suffering. I personally think it’s an Achilles heel to have a charmed life or to be given more than the basics. A person who has charm or has been given ‘things’ believes they understand everyone else. But they will never know they really have no idea and even more unfortunately it is those very same people who end up in positions of power and judgement over the rest. 

Generally, the rest of the people are trapped whether or not they know it. Whether or not they know it, they are being imperceptibly challenged for being born into their circumstance. This is undetectably mentally draining and creates indiscernible anger and resentment. Most people are completely unaware of their anger and resentment because they have lived with it so long, it is part of their baseline being. 

What percentage of society is walking around like this? Ticking time bombs being quietly pushed to their limits. When someone does go off, it is those who are walking around just like them that understand that it is inevitable. The ‘charmed’ who don’t understand judge, make the rest feel worse for their unwanted circumstance. So the time bomb groups tiptoe even lighter, creating even more fuel for what will be an inevitable match somewhere on their path unless they happen to get lucky. Like a minefield in a war. 

This morning I couldn’t help but do an Internet search about the Betty Broderick story. Her children are split on whether or not she should be released. Written about two of her 4 children when they testified regarding her parole as recent as 2017 “On one hand, Lee [Kathy Lee] argued her mother could live her life “outside prison walls” while Dan argued Betty was “hung up on justifying what she did.”

The show presented reactions from the public at the end of Betty’s first trial. So many women empathized and understood her. It’s not surprising to me that her children’s gender’s fit the bill of bias when advocating for/against her parole. I was painting and not looking up at the moment, but it sounded like a black male defending how far a person could be pushed before we can completely understand them snapping. 

I don’t want to be stereotypical but I am going to be for a moment. This doesn’t apply to all – but a person with an outward appearance of a white male will likely be the least sympathetic. Why? Because as a whole, white males experience the least prejudice and push back from society. I’m going to also be a little presumptuous here. White males in general have it easy. They are generally trusted. Have almost nothing to fear while walking down most streets. Have not been looked at suspiciously or accused of using their sexuality. Are not thought of as weak. They are treated with respect by most of society just for being white and male. So throughout history when opportunities arose and a white male is in the running they have been given opportunities because they seemed like no brainers. More so than any other type of person, a white male will have it easier than a female or individual with a different skin color in the same exact circumstances. 

In Betty’s case, such a man can cheat in a marriage, call their spouse ‘crazy’, and be believed and able to carry on successfully with confidence throughout and after a divorce. 

I’m surprised more women and nonwhite males aren’t crazier and angrier. 

I am completely aware that this story told for the sake of entertainment. But the writers and producers are artists. Art as part of the humanities is a luxury because it allows us time to think and contemplate. Like a piece of static visual art, there is more often than not a deep story way below the surface.  

I’ve also been binging Call the Midwife before taking a brief break this week for Dirty John. How is it that we put a man on the moon before figuring out solid contraception in a marriage without condoms?  Condoms were mostly reliable yes, but most married men at the time thought it their right to not wear one. Women were trapped until very recently in history by unwanted pregnancies. 

How in the world did we make homosexuality a crime? How could a homosexual possibly have felt comfortable in their skin when their very being was criminal and thought to be cured with some treatment? 

And racism… Enough said there. 

How could anyone not feel ‘less than’, manipulated, and put into a small box? How could these parties possibly spread their wings and contribute to their fullest potential in making our world a better place?

Betty Broderick thought she was part of a couple hood where her role was to raise the family and not spread her own wings but share on the ride of her husband’s flight. Very few people want to ride on someone else’s coat tails unless they have no way to make it on their own. Those of us who can make it on our own but decide to support someone else who has a better opportunity (historically the white heterosexual male) will always feel like they had more to give but were stymied. When that is taken away – when someone gave up their own livelihood for someone else, and then that person took what they helped that person to get away from them… I get it. I get the anger, frustration, rage… 

But how does one express that without crossing the line? 

What is the line? 

Because someone crossed it, if we forgive them does it mean we make it alright and they believe it will be ok to cross it again? 

Who are we protecting on the other side? 

Does the person on the other side really need protection? 

Who were the laws created for? 

Why are they changing now? 

Why aren’t we thinking about preventing some of these human reactions? 

If we are all equal as a species, then we should listen to those in low places as much as anyone else and hear where we are going wrong. Because somehow, we are getting it wrong or the jails wouldn’t be full, there wouldn’t be cities and towns where anyone would not want to walk, and every person would feel full and safe when they laid their head to sleep. 

The term “crossing the line” carries many meanings and applies to so many situations. In my own food for thoughts this morning I am relating it to human limits in ordinary situations in the first world. 

And that’s all I wanted to write about that. Just some thoughts from the crazy side out here. 

Namaste. 

The Chakras and Lent – Weeks 5-7

We are a product of nature. The things we do, the thoughts we have, and the habits we gain or lose mimic the physical world around us.

I would liken trying to do something or working toward a goal to climbing a mountain. At first it is very difficult. The road is all uphill. Once you reach the top you can pause and take inventory of what is around you. The road down is easy and faster.

I have really, really, really slacked on the past few weeks of keeping up with the 7 weeks of lent. I posted the last blog for the 4thweek and the heart chakra 11 days ago already. Palm Sunday is only 4 days away.

I have been blogging about the journey toward shedding old habits for lent and relating the journey to opening the 7 chakras during this 7-week period; while on my own sobriety journey.

While the chakras themselves are aligned from dense to light, so is the work. The motivation varies. My writing has reflected the motivation. I can explain further.

At first when making the firm decision to give something up like many Christians do for lent, there is a lot of motivation to do this. The will is there and it is something we think about constantly. As we start up a long mountain road one step at a time, it seems like a really huge task that will require a lot of work to get to the other side. Each step feels momentous.

As we continue up the mountain and toward the habit we can see the progress, but the road ahead is still long. 

As the weeks go on, the actually shedding of the habit could be as difficult as the start of the journey up the mountain. At some point we reach the top and are able to look around and see the beauty of our work. But it is not over – we still need to go back down. Going back is so much faster and easier. 

I took most of this time to get to the summit. 

Last weekend my husband came over to where I am staying. I hadn’t seen him in nearly 6 weeks. We talked and caught up on all that we have missed. We enjoyed one another’s company. We went out for dinner and had tapas. We had breakfast the next morning and we spent much of Sunday talking and walking the dog. We decided to put our rings back on and see where the next few months takes us. We will continue to live apart and came up with a living arrangement that works for the both of us. I’m excited about this journey with him. As excited as I have been about my own individual recovery. 

From that point the last few days have seemed easier. Akin to coming down the mountain. I’ve slept better than I have in over a month. I’m more focused. I’m more determined than ever to stay on this new path. I’m on the other side of the mountain now. It is a new place I have not seen before. I do not know what it will bring or what other mountains I need to climb, but I’m excited and I really don’t want to know. Discovery is part of the fun. 

To wrap up this chakra series I will write about the last 3 in one blog. 

The 5th Chakra is Vishuddhi. It is also known as the throat chakra. It is blue and located in the region of the throat. 

The 6th Chakra is Ajna. It is known as the Third Eye. It is Indigo or in some places it is shown as violet. This chakra is located right between the eyebrows. One of my teachers often quotes that we have two eyes to look out, and one to look in. 

The 7th Chakra is Sahasrara or the Crown chakra. Depending on what material you read this chakra is violet, white or crystal – meaning it contains all the colors of the spectrum. It is located at the top of the head. 

The three below symbols are in order from 5, 6, and 7. I painted these in January of this year.

Throat chakra 

In this area we use our voice. We speak up and communicate what we believe in. Similar to the Root Chakra, the triangle points upwards. In this location it symbolizes “the gathering of knowledge toward enlightenment”. The Vishuddhi chakra has 16 petals. There are also 16 vowels in Sanskrit. The number of petals symbolize the light, breathy sounds of vowels and liken this to the quality of air.

The element associated with Vishuddhi is air. We communicate through air either through voice, audibly with vibrational or radio waves, written language that see with our eyes through the medium of air, or even telepathy. 

The throat chakra is associated with truth, self-expression and communication. Communication not only with others, but within toward our own self and our higher power. When in balance it is easier to communicate with others and to be honest with ourselves. When this chakra is not in balance, we may experience a communication breakdown. We may not be able to allow ourselves to be effectively heard or able to really listen to others or our own higher self. All that passes through this area can either help or hinder the opening of this area be it love and truth or lying, gossip, smoking, drugs and overeating. 

Third Eye

The seat of intuition. The downward facing triangle here “represents the knowledge and lessons of the lower six chakras being gathered and expanded into your divine consciousness” There are only two petals on this symbol Lens Eye writesthis “ transparent lotus flower with two white petals, [is] said to represent the nadis (psychic channels) Ida and Pingala, which meet the central Sushumna nadi before rising to the crown chakra, Sahasrara” These two nadis from my understanding are major energy changes that run through the body. They are similar to the Yin Yang in that Pingala contains Yang qualities and Ida contains Yin qualities. They help to keep us in balance. 

The element associated with the Ajna chakra is ether. Or space. Or Light. It is something lighter than air that connects us all with one another and the unseen. It is an element that remains more of a mystery because we know it is there but it’s not as tangible as the others. This element and the third eye are the gateway between the known and unknown.

The qualities of this chakra are intuition, inspiration and inner vision. When in balance we are able to trust our intuition and tap into our creative imagination. When out of balance it may be difficult to channel our energy toward goals.

Crown Chakra 

The Sahasrara Chakra is the divine connection to all that is. The circle holds the risen energy and there are innumerable petals of the lotus. 

There is no element associated with this chakra. It is pure consciousness. 

The qualities of the Crown Chakra are divinity and limitless wisdom. It helps us to recognize our true nature and our connection to all that is. When in balance we are able to connect with the world around us and partake in the serene understanding that we are all one. When out of balance it is difficult to see through the chatter of the mind and we may be consumed with the accumulation of stuff and other distracting activities that cut us off from our true nature and connection to everything else. 

Similar to Maslow’s triangle, the top is smaller and easier to transverse. The qualities associated with the upper chakras are where we begin to understand ourselves and how we fit into the universe and can use our gifts to aid in it. At the top part of the Hierarchy of Needs we find, morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejudice, and acceptance of the facts. 

It is if all the chakras are clear and the connection from the base of our humanity is directly in contact with the celestial world where we accept things as they are and use our tools and gifts to navigate the cosmic waves. 

I love this quote. We cannot control the sea, but we can control what we do in it. Once we accept the world as it is and people as they are, we can learn to use our own tools to not be afraid and navigate with ease. 

I have been writing about the koshas for the past several weeks. The 5th and inner most kosha is the Anandamaya kosha. It is known as the “bliss body” or the “bliss sheath”. It is where we connect to our higher self that is always here within us in a central, calm, harmonious state. This serene, still place cannot be affected by outer circumstances. 

All three of the higher chakras (throat, third eye and crown) are associated with the Anandamaya kosha. 

Only the Throat chakra and the Third eye have seed mantras. 

The Crown chakra’s sound is silence. 

The seed mantra for the Vishuddhi chakra is HAM.  

The seed mantra for the Ajna chakra is AUM or more commonly said as OM. 

Chanting HAM when creating a new habit would assist with the desire the hear your inner voice more clearly to make better decisions. Chanting AUM would assist with connecting to your intuition to do what is right. 

Of the three higher chakras, only the Throat chakra has a prana vayu associated with it. Udana is known to govern speech, growth, and upward movement. It helps to promote mental clarity. The triangle pointing upward in my artistic version above symbolically pulls the energy up from the lower body to the higher parts of the self. 

As we reach the summit of molding new habits or breaking old ones, it becomes easier. We tell ourselves more truths, it is more difficult to make excuses and easier to listen to our intuition and higher selves when an old craving starts to creep around. That upward moving energy of the three higher chakras makes the end easier than the beginning where every step was an effort. Similar to how it would be coming down from a mountain.

Today is day 42 in my sobriety. Lent is almost over and all of those who have chosen this sanctified time to give up a habit have almost hit their sacred 40 day mark. In my first blog I wrote about the sanctity of the number 40 and why it is a marker in many religions and texts. 

Living without an old habit should be easier by now and hopefully a new lifelong practice is in place. If you have gone over your own big mountain as I have, you are in a new place too. I’m thrilled to be here. It’s a place I have not gone before. There is a new path to navigate, new unknown places to check out, and undoubtedly new mountains to climb. With the knowledge and lessons learned from finishing this recent climb, we now have some firsthand tools to make the next one a bit easier. 

Hopefully you learned a thing or two about your energetic system and the chakras along the way and can keep them open and flowing for your upcoming life’s adventures. 

Some poses to keep these last 3 chakras open are:

  • Throat chakra: Neck stretches, Shoulder stand, Bridge, Fish 
  • Third Eye chakra: Forehead to ground – as in Child’s pose
  • Crown chakra: Inversions, particularly head stand

My last 3 short videos cover a few more basics and are not particularly aligned with the suggested poses above.

I cover Downward facing dog in Week 5, the Half-lift in Week 6, and finally Tree in Week 7. Tree to balance it all out – because hey… who doesn’t need some more balance in their lives?

So grab a mat and let’s do a little tune up on these basics.

Thanks for taking this journey with me.

Namaste! 

The Chakras and Lent – Week 1

The Chakras and Lent – Week 2

The Chakras and Lent – Week 3

The Chakras and Lent – Week 4

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https://esterinaanderson.com

On How it Takes a Village

Last Friday was my birthday. Before the invention of Facebook and smart phone, my family would always call. I would get a few cards in the mail from family, in-laws and old friends. It felt very special.

For the past 12 years-ish, it is an avalanche of birthday greetings on social media, text and messenger apps. The calls and cards are nearly gone. Times have shifted. It is very nice, but it does not feel as authentic. Quantity does not trump quality. 

Every handful of people takes some extra time to write a few lines about how happy they are for me, or how they see my pictures and it looks like I’m doing so well. It is kind of them to put in the effort to reach out and say something specific to me. However, I realized last week that they are only seeing the façade that social media unwittingly enforces.  

We’ve all fallen prey to believing what we see, forgetting that as humans we aren’t capturing painful moments with our cameras; or putting out the dirty laundry for the world to see. Social media platforms are full of the good times, the beautiful moments, platitudes of gratitude, showcasing political affiliations, hating on articles or something that happened to you, asking for prayers for a situation, etc.

But how many people are being truly real? How many people do you see wear their heart on their sleeves or share with the world how they are suffering with personal issues? Or tell the world their worries about their loved ones (outside of disease or death)? 

I find it ironic when I talk to people off of social media that I do not know too well; they will comment that I wouldn’t understand something they are telling me because I don’t have issues with my family, that my kids went to college, or that I have a healthy life. I question why they think this, but it’s obvious that they see my feed where it’s tulips and daisies. 

I’ve used my blog in the past to communicate more heart wrenching stories. Honest truths about things I suffer with and unpleasant things that have happened. Most who read it thank me for being open because it helps them to realize we are all alike and suffer similarly. Some others question how I can possibly put it all out there? I’ve even been accused of being too negative on my blogs.

Yikes. You can’t win. 

I don’t post or blog for anyone’s benefit. I don’t post to make people feel good or bad. I post and write from my heart about what I’m experiencing in that moment. Life’s moments are not all good. It’s just as normal to feel negative emotions as it is to feel positive ones. So why pretend we are always happy and that everything is great? 

I’m day 18 into sobriety.

On February 8th I had an alcohol induced mental breakdown and went a bit crackers. It has resulted situation I never thought I would be in. It damaged relationships and my self-esteem.

I’m getting the level of help I never wanted to ask for because I saw such things only for other people. I believed that only a failed, broken person needs intensive level of services. Where did those beliefs come from?

They came from my environment. From stigmas. From the false belief that something is wrong if you aren’t happy because look around at everyone else – they are blissfully happy. Even though I share the ways in which I’m not happy, most people still see the tulips and daisies.

Human connection is at an all time low. We have so many platforms and mechanisms to communicate, but they strip away authentic relations. It’s easier than ever to show the world only what you want the world to see. When everyone does that, everyone else thinks they are the only ones who suffer and feel more alone and ashamed than ever. 

We end up trying to live up to unrealistic expectations of what it means to live out a human experience. 

I don’t want to do that. 

I have quit drinking for good. I have PTSD and it affects the way I perceive situations. When I drink and my brain slows down all bodily reactions, it also slows down my rational mind to pick up the signals that what is happening around me is not what my body’s fight or flight auto response thinks it is. 

I need help. Help to stop drinking and help to process old trauma that comes up because it would like to leave and finds opportunities when I’m not paying attention (drinking) to burst out. 

I’m getting help. I’m not perfect. Not getting help sooner has done a lot of damage. Some damage cannot be undone. 

It takes a village for each individual to be the best version of themselves. If a village has no real connection and facades of perfection, the result is that the people in the village are going to feel damaged, alone, anxious and depressed. 

Being real is what makes life and relationships real. Without pain there is no opportunity for growth or change. Pain is part of life too. It’s real and no one amongst us doesn’t feel it. 

I am asking anyone reading this who sees me in real life to honor the fact that I am no longer drinking. I’m asking anyone reading to be real with me about your life or anything I’ve done and how it has affected you positively or negatively. 

I’m real. I’m imperfect, angry, sad, hurt and suffering from my past and an unhealthy way of dealing with it (alcohol). I’ve hurt others because of this and trying to make it not true about myself. But I’m also really loving, funny, kind, creative, brainy and friendly. 

I wrote a blog not too long ago about embracing your Shadow self. We all have one. So let’s all embrace our own and learn to live with it and forgive others for their shadow sides as we would like to be forgiven. https://esterinaanderson.com/2020/10/30/on-halloween-and-our-shadow-side/  

I’m asking to be a part of a real village, even if I have to create it myself 

Peace 

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The Chakras and Lent – Week 2

The word ‘Svadhisthana‘ is derived from two Sanskrit words, ‘Swa’ and ‘Adhisthana’ where swa means ‘one’s own’ and ‘adhisthana’ means abode” Svadhisthana Chakra – Everything You Need to Know

Day 14 of my sobriety journey. We are just under a week into lent. The initial shock of making a change may be starting to wear off as our minds begin to accept that there could be a new reality where an old habit no longer resides. 

It is at this point we may start to become a little creative to find ways to adjust to a different way of being. We also may wish to share what we are doing with others now that we are a few days in and the initial thought of giving something up has some gravitas behind it. 

Today I am writing about the Svadhisthana chakra. It is the second chakra and it is Orange. 

This is the painting of the Svadhisthana Chakra I made in January 2021 

From Learn The Meaning Behind Each Chakra: this symbol represents a lotus flower and circles to “represent the cyclical nature of birth, death, and rebirth. The tangential circles also create a crescent moon shape, which is a nice reminder of the connection between creativity and the phases of the moon

It is known as the Sacral chakra due to its location at ­­­­­­­sacrum. If you were to envision this chakra at the front part of the body, it is located below the naval in the mid-abdominal area. 

Svadhisthana is also known as the Creation chakra or Sexual Chakra. It is the place in the body where creativity, sensuality, and worthiness abide. Our nature is to create; be it life, various forms of the arts, or using our minds to problem solve. Reproduction as a form of creation derives from sex, which is why there is a link between sensuality and creativity. This chakra also represents the power of choice, individuality, as well as relations to others. 

Creation is a part of the circle of life. The moon and its phases are often associated with the female menstrual cycle. It is during the reproductive years when this cycle governs the ability to create new life. 

Of the 5 elements (earth, water, fire, air and ether), this chakra is associated with the flowy and loose nature of water. 

The flowy, moving quality of water represents moving from the individualize self to others, building relationships and creating new things from inside the self into the outer world. If we were to move up Maslow’s triangle to the next rung past survival and security, we find ourselves at a place where a sense of belonging and relation with others is needed.  

When this sacral chakra is balanced or open, our ability to “go with the flow” is strengthened, and our ability to surrender and tune into our true feelings is heightened. However, when this area is imbalanced or blocked we may feel unable to express ourselves emotionally or creatively. We might also feel overly emotional.

To break old habits or create new ones, we can tap into the qualities of this chakra where the power of choice and the ability to create can help us to solidify new ways of doing things.  When we are able to go with the flow and be in touch with how we are really feeling, it will be easier to find solutions that work for our personal needs. 

Last week I explained how the koshas are akin to 5 sheaths that are layered in between our own individual light or soul and the outside world.  The next layer of the koshas which is associated with the sacral chakra is the pranamaya kosha. 

Prana means life force energy. It is similar to what the Chinese tradition refers to as chi. Prana is everywhere. It governs our energetic body. 

The visual below shows how the sheath of prana or life force is what is in between our mental body and physical body. It is the gateway or link from mental to physical. It is related to the miracle of bringing life from seemingly nowhere into the outer world. That miracle is managed by this vital energy we call prana. 

We can strengthen prana by doing breath work. We can also direct it through our mind and movement. 

When we suddenly crave or desire a habit we are trying to break, that craving originates in the mind before we do anything about it. Not unlike every other thought, if we notice the thought before we act on it with the physical body; we can adjust our auto response and make better choices. When we do that, we are redirecting prana from a well-worn auto pattern, into a new pathway that will help to govern the outcome we desire. The Svadhisthana chakra represents the power of choice. Prana is the force behind that power and it will move in the way the mind directs it to move whether we are making those choices consciously or unconsciously. 

Seed mantras as I wrote about last week are shortcut words to a lengthier explanation of an intention that we can chant repeatedly to connect to the universal energies and help will aid in making this intention a reality. 

Since Sanskrit is a vibrational language, the words correlate to the energic vibrations of the intention, mood, or object they describe. Repeating mantras help us to fill our mind with something we consciously want to put in there. 

The seed mantra for the Svadhisthana chakra is VAM. Chanting VAM helps to cleanse blockages in this chakra, allowing for creativity to freely flow, as water does when it is not otherwise blocked. 

The way I could use the seed mantra VAM to as an intention for a new life of sobriety would be to create more space between the moment I may desire to drink and the old auto response to do it. Where there is space and freedom, there is the clear ability to notice the desire and direct the outcome from the old habit to the new. 

As mentioned above, the element of this chakra is water; which is a solid. If the old habit is blocked and locked in, like water; the only response is to go down the tunnel that it is directed toward. However, once we create space for water to flow, it can be directed through a myriad of endless possibilities in any direction. Particularly possibilities we desire. 

The Prana Vayus are the 5 ways in which energy moves throughout the body. Yoga poses aid in moving energy in particular ways. The prana vayu associated with the sacral chakra is called Vyana. 

The force of Vyana moves from the center out into all directions in the entire body. Isn’t that how unencumbered water would flow? Isn’t the creation of the universe via the Big Bang just that? A force from the center leading into every direction. Vyana is what coordinates and connects prana. It is not generated from the sacral chakra or any place in particular. But Vyana is what this chakra represents – creation and life energy. 

Yoga poses in which Vyana can be directed are through folds and hip openers. Every good hip opener begins with a core understanding of a proper seat, as they are mostly done on the ground. Some poses that grow out of seat are Butterfly, Cow Face, Head to knee pose (seated forward fold), Wide legged straddles, and Pigeon to name a few.   

Going slightly off the beaten path here I can’t help but think of the phrase “the issues live in our tissues” when I think about hip openers. It is not unusual for a student to cry in pigeon. I’ve done it myself. It is said that the hips hold a lot of emotion and when we open the hips the emotions are able to pass. Emotions usually block us from moving forward to a desired outcome.

Whether or not there is truth to “the issues live in our tissues”; I’m willing to try something that can’t hurt in order to break old habits and create space for new ones!

Until next week…

If you are ready – come grab a seat with me and let’s talk about Easy Sitting Pose to calm the mind and get the creativity flowing.

Easy Seated Pose:

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On how what you pay attention to, pays attention

The first time I heard the line (and perhaps the only time?)  “What you pay attention to pays attention”, I was sitting in a yoga teacher training session and the line felt so meaningful to me that I wrote it down. Something in me understood this and knew it to be true. 

This line makes perfect sense at an initial surface level consideration of it’s meaning. If you pay attention to your pets, spouse, or even someone you hardly know; they pay attention back. It could be a stranger you see behind the coffee counter each morning who doesn’t like you, but if you pay attention to them, you have their attention. Attention can be positive or negative. It doesn’t discriminate. 

But what about the inanimate? Does that pay attention too? This is where my curiosity was piqued because I feel that it does. 

The line struck a chord with me because I remembered in 2001 when my ex-husband and our two children moved from Cape Cod, MA to Naugatuck, CT; I experienced my first understanding of energy and the things we cannot see. This isn’t any kind of supernatural story, don’t worry! 

In Cape Cod we were living in military housing. After the hired movers packed our belongings and put our items in storage, we were moved to the four- unit temporary housing building on the lot adjacent to us. Temp housing is a place individuals and families stay when they first arrive or depart a base. At Air station Cape Cod at the time, they were are mostly identical and fully furnished. They were cleaned by professionals before and after use. We lived there for approximately two weeks. When we left a housekeeper was waiting outside, ready to clean. 

After leaving Cape Cod but prior to being able to close on the condo we were purchasing in Naugatuck, my ex was slated to start his new job in Connecticut. Since we had no home, his job put him up in a hotel, and my children and I crashed on Long Island with my two brothers in their shared condo. 

One day during this period on Long Island I went into a bookstore. In the front area of the store were a bunch of books for sale that were only $1. Without really looking closely, I picked up one of these $1 books on Feng Shui. I had heard of it before in passing jokey comments, but had no idea what it was.

I took the book back to my brother’s place and started to read about “Chi”. I was 25 years old and never exposed to eastern thoughts. I was fascinated and almost immediately understood the concept of chi. I related this understanding to the temporary housing unit we just moved from in Cape Cod.

While we were there, we were the only occupants of the 4 separate identical units. When we moved in just weeks earlier, we were able to tour each place and choose one. Chi made me think of the next family who moved it. They were all the same, and all clean. However, I seemed to intuit that a family taking a look at all four of them like we did would have a different feeling about the one we just moved out from. The chi in that place would be different from the ones that had remained untouched for a longer time. 

I talked to my brothers and some others about this new thought I had. They all agreed it would feel different in there, but they didn’t quite agree it was the energy we stirred up and left behind. There was all kinds of answers for why this would be such the air from open doors/windows to microscopic dust that we couldn’t see but would detect.

That made some sense, but I still had this underlying sense that it was chi. 

I went back to this thought about invisible energy in the coming years. What I always found strange was how people noticed what I had recently paid attention to. This is where I’m describing the inanimate.

I always loved to clean (don’t hate me). My home has always been impeccably clean. I used to be extremely busy, but still cleaned. I also had hired help on a regular basis to keep on top of it all. However, when I had some time I would clean. Often I would get into little areas, corners, nooks, tops of door frames, inside drawers, whatever – whenever I could to dust, clean, purge and give love to an area. 

What I found incredibly coincidental is that when I focused on specific areas, even when no one was home and it was shining before I started working on it, later that evening one or two family members would separately comment on it. For example, they would comment on what a great desk or end table we have. Even if I did nothing on the surface of that object but only cleaned the inside drawers. I never said anything, but knew that the energy I gave it was radiating from it and because I paid attention to it, it was paying attention and catching others attention.

Odd isn’t it?

This happens a lot. At work I may have noticed my own shoes that I often wore but didn’t pay attention to. I would look at the stitching or heel and just think “What a great shoe”. Then behold… I’d walk into a meeting and someone would comment on my shoes. How does that happen?

This works in other ways too. When I was a pre-teen and my facial features were changing, I was horrified to see that the big bump nose all the women in my family had was appearing on my very own face. I hated it. Somehow it attracted all kinds of negative attention. Another girl in my class had the same nose, and no one noticed it at all. 

As the years went on I forgot about it, and seemingly so did everyone else.

Then when I was around 26 or 27 I saw a woman with a nose just like mine, and it looked amazing on her. It defined her face. I wondered if that is how I looked and began to see myself that way. And what do you know? Others began to comment on how beautifully my nose fits my face? An Italian nose. A goddess nose. Really? That nose I HATED and was so insecure about as a kid? 

I was paid attention to in the exact same way I paid attention to it. 

Attention is nothing more than a direction of energy. We can’t see it, but it is real. In the same way we can’t see the energy that is wired to our home, but that energy is real. Also, like the energy into our home, attention can be controlled, it happens whether you believe it or not. Whether it is intentional or not. But it only works to the level we believe it ourselves. It is a “power” (pun of power akin to energy intended) that we all have. 

That means that what we think about, what we focus on, where we spend our time, what we proverbially feed ourself – all radiates from us. Not only is it the experience we have, it is the way we are perceived in the world. It’s how that line “Fake it until you make it” works. 

I know this to be true, but I don’t always remember or believe it. Just yesterday I had an experience with it which is why it is on my mind again today. I’ll close this blog with this story and hope that I can remember this lesson that I first understood now 20 years ago already! But I can’t seem to always believe enough to put into place. As one of my favorite yoga teachers often says “I’ll let you know when I’ve mastered it”. All easy lessons, but more difficult than it should be. Because we get in our own way. 

Yesterday morning I went for a long walk around my neighborhood. While heading down a street that ends at the marsh I was passing a dog that was barking loudly and chasing me down the property behind an invisible fence. I was going to have to pass him twice. Having a dog of my own I’m not bothered by it, but the noise was disturbing the otherwise very peaceful scene; and heck the dog couldn’t feel that great about being so riled up. I thought about energy and radiating safety and kindness out from my being. And what do you know? Immediately the barking stopped. I was rather impressed and feeling superior, thinking how easy this is; but the dog started to bark again. Disappointed for a moment I chuckled to myself realizing that it was because I dropped the good energy. I was no longer radiating safety and kindness, but control and something less than an open, understanding being. Upon this realization I switched my thoughts back to being open, safe, loving and kind. The barking stopped and remained that way for the remainder of my journey down that street.

Life is a journey. We keep going down different streets, learning new lessons. If we look at it from a place of love, kindness, curiosity – it’s a lovely, beautiful welcoming journey. If we look at it in another way – it will be just that way, the way you are looking at it.

What you pay attention to, pays attention.

So pay attention to what you pay attention to. 

Change your thoughts, change your life. 

Namaste. 

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Anderson-Messeder Holiday Christmas Card 2020

A different year to say the least?

There are both plusses and deltas. Plusses being that we slowed down. A LOT. Daren and I both are working from home. That means most meals are prepared at home, with love and eaten in a non-rushed away. We get as much rest as our bodies need. We exercise as much as we have always wanted to. We are on top of the house and did all the work and repairs we have been putting off.And we have time for our pets and hobbies.

But we do miss socializing, seeing family and friends – and our kids as much as we used to.

Speaking of the children – Tom is working in Watertown outside of Boston at Perkins School for the Blind in the residential program with the teen population. Gabby is finishing up her senior year at the University of Rhode Island studying Geology and Water Conservation. Kieran took a year off from Harvard and is interning in a small start-up company named DietID. Devin is a senior in high school and has begun the college application process.

With time for arts and crafts this year I have had my fill of creativity. But found the well never dries up! Daren has had plenty of time for sailing and the piano. Most of all we spent our first summer in Branford really enjoying the area, the beach, kayaking, and time right in our own corner the world with our neighbors who turn out are a LOT of fun!

Here are some highlights of the year

Then there was ART AND CRAFTS

PHOTOGRAPHIC HIGHLIGHTS FROM 2020

Hopefully like the sunrise below – we will start 2021in a beautiful manor. Cheers to the end of 2020 and may all the good things that are new help transform the world into a better place as we create new norms from all we have learned this year.

Happy Holidays from our family to yours.

Namaste

On Karma

I absolutely love this Van Gogh painting. It is called “Sower with Setting Sun”. It is simple but holds a very deep message. 

We reap what we sow.

Karma.

Every so often at an unintentional level of awareness; while walking, waking at night, or doing something else random; an explosive revelation of understanding takes me by complete surprise, and I consider something very deep that makes so much sense it overwhelms me with the “truth”. Soon after it is lost and quite difficult to conjure up again. It is like a sheet is pulled back, or the lights are turned on. However, it is gone in a flash. I’m only left with the memory of having a brief moment of understanding of a higher truth. 

One topic that came across a few times is the relationship between Grace and Karma. Since today is Veterans Day and most of us think of selfless service when we think about the Veteran population and what they have done for our country, I feel inspired to write about it. 

Afterall, acting in Grace really means acting in self-less service. It’s outside of the Karma wheel.

Whether or not you practice religion of any sort, most of us have heard the story of Adam and Eve, the apple, and original sin. 

“Original sin”

The Christian tradition teaches that we are born of sin and cannot escape it. We will always be sinners. Jesus died for our sins so we can be saved.

What in the WORLD does that mean? 

As a young girl in Catholic school this sounded incredibly daunting. The art and wall hangings at school and church looked dark and ominous. The music was heavy and full of what seemed like cryptic messages. I thought I would burn in hell for all eternity if I didn’t repent for fighting with my brothers. Jesus died for me to be here, wasn’t I grateful? How dare I sin?

These tenets are a lot for anyone to grasp. So many of us don’t and eventually either mentally or physically check out of the church. Those who do not check-out and spend their days on their knees with the rosary are likely not faring any better, however I think the idea is that they will go to heaven by suffering now. 

Heaven is everlasting peace. It is a way out of this world of suffering. But escaping Karma and the wheel of action that creates action is not about suffering. In fact, suffering keeps you trapped in the Karmic circle.

I am using the word “Suffering” for lack of a better word to include any unpleasant feeling that you would rather not have. Suffering is the word that the Hindu and Buddhist traditions use in their texts to describe this sentiment. A chief principle of these teachings is that suffering can be eliminated through non-attachment.   

Non-attachment is another term to pause at.

What is Non-Attachment?Non-attachment means moving through life without letting things, people, or places have such a hold on you that you make wrong choices. Don’t Let Things Own You. No one’s perfect

Non-suffering takes place when we become unattached to any outcome of our actions whether or not those expected outcomes are good or bad. Non-attachment is to accept that being here on earth, in the flesh, enjoying the sunshine, enjoying taste, sight, sound, and anything else our 5 senses can enjoy WILL including suffering, hurt, let down, mistakes – a big ol’ hot ugly mess! Non-attachment means to take it all in as it happens. Let it go when the moment passes. Be in the next moment as that one happens – and accept that one too. 

Unpleasant experiences are to be expected. Doing something to avoid any type of suffering will only cause more suffering because you are doing something with the expectation of feeling a certain way. This is the same (other side of the coin) as doing things to feel good, because doing something to feel good is an attachment to the outcome too and an attempt to not feel “bad”. 

Non-attachment allows feelings to pass. Accepting this and doing the right thing no matter what all of the time is Grace. 

Grace does not mean being a doormat. Grace does not mean putting forth effort where it is not received or is fruitless. 

 “Fruitless”

Fruitless as in a tree that is not bearing fruit. When there are other trees nearby to nurture and prune, it is literally fruitless to put forth pruning effort. It is not to say you should rip it out and kill it (unless it’s killing something else that is alive since you are the gardener). It is to say if you spend 4 hours pruning the fruitless tree and become too tired to tend to the fruit bearing ones, no good service was done. 

Being fruitful is to use our energy in ways that will move life around us positively, remembering what serves the purpose of greater good vs. what is a fruitless. 

To think about what you are doing and the effects of your action, without concern about how it will affect the way you feel. To always do the right thing. To live in Grace. 

The central tenet is to avoid being attached (by your own feelings) to the outcome, but use your energy in ways that do the greatest good.  

Sowing seeds in the spring to harvest later and live through the winter is important. It behooves us to do the best we can to keep the garden growing and prolific. The intention of gardening may be food to live, however; taking pride in the outcome is where we are toeing the line because we are [again] attaching to an outcome. Pride is one of the Seven deadly sins for a reason. It is not to be confused with self-respect. 

It is not a sin to feel good. It is a sin (or our own self-inflicted suffering) to be attached to the outcome of what we do. We cannot avoid being human and feeling good or bad about things that happen. But letting that pass is where we will begin to feel free and enjoy life. 

What if the garden fails after all that work? It could. This is where expecting bad events as a part of life fits in. What if a hurricane blew through, or some crazy invasive bug species descended upon the crops?

If the garden tending included pride, the destruction would be a set up for disappointment (suffering). If the garden tending was done with grace, self-respect and included non-attachment… you get the point.

It does not mean that since it could happen that you give only a small hoot all year and go fishing every afternoon.

It also doesn’t mean that going above and beyond is a great act of heroism either. Taking out every single last weed or being obsessive about testing the soil or water when there is no evidence it needs it would be a waste of energy. You will deplete yourself.

Knowing the sweet spot of where to quit for the day and revitalize the body with activities that fill you with joy (maybe that is fishing) is the way to feel satisfied and full of life in this karmic dimension. 

Filling your own tank so you can fill the idiomatic tank of the realm around you is where the beautiful balance lies. Right in the middle. A little bit of effort, a little bit of ease. Just enough to yield the best results. 

Karma means action and action motivated by compassion is good. To complain that what happens to you is just the result of your karma is lazy. Instead, confidently recalling the advice that, “You are your own master,” you can change what happens by taking action. Dalai Lama.

I’m going to switch lanes here, but not the direction. The Lord’s Prayer in the Christian sector has recently come to mind while contemplating the relationship between Grace and Karma. Particularly the line Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us

Consider that line…

On a surface level it means saying “sorry” and the other person saying “I forgive you”. But when you consider this automatic response that we are taught as kids and take Karma into consideration, this line from is incredibly powerful and takes on a much deeper, spiritual meaning. 

I forgive but don’t forget

A popular saying. What does it mean to you? 

If you have a sound mind and memory, forgetting is not possible. 

Consider whether or not ‘forgetting’ is with good intention. Meaning that all ill feeling or suffering you have felt prior to forgiveness is completely gone. Your heart is truly light and empty. When a situation conjures up the memory of what you ‘forgave’, is there a lack of reaction in the body and mind? If there is no reaction, that means you have really forgiven. Grace is present. 

Forgiving but not forgetting could also mean that you will not make the same mistake twice. That would be toeing the line as well. If any feelings come up (positive or negative), whether or not you are aware of it; you are stuck in the karmic circle. Grace is not present. 

Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Think about that again if you have never really considered it deeply before.

If you have not truly let go by forgiving someone, your body or mind will react with an unpleasant feeling. If you haven’t really let go, YOU (not the other person) will suffer. 

You will be free and forgiven (hence, not suffer from the pain of sin) when you forgive and let go. No one can do that for you. 

That is Karma. The only way to travel outside of it is to act with Grace. With self-less service. 

In the beginning of this blog I wrote about original sin and the Christian teaching that Jesus saved us by dying on the cross. 

If we strip away all the religion, artifacts, dark art and music; and consider the message – I can see Grace and self-less service in it all. 

From the article The Distance Between Grace and Karma with regard to the teachings of Jesus: 

In calling His followers to a new approach that extended beyond the rule-keeping of the Law, He later said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (5:43–44 NKJV). In other words, Jesus was saying, “You don’t have to respond to evil with more evil. Instead you can respond with good.” Karma would dictate that we should always reward evil with evil, and only reward good with good. But the law of grace demands a new approach, one that directly opposes karma.

You do not have to be a Christian to agree that a spiritual man who we now call Jesus was on this earth about 2000 years ago. This man preached kinder ways. This man was content living as an example of not being attached to an outcome and consistently doing the right thing. 

This man did not put forth extra effort where it would not be understood (he did not mingle with the rich and powerful). He took time for himself to fill his own cup when it was needed. And most importantly, He ultimately showed us that it is possible to not suffer through accepting whatever life threw at him with Grace. He did this on the cross. It was his ultimate sacrifice. 

This was the ultimate self-less service. It is not because Jesus was special, au contraire; He taught us that we all have this amazing power to do the same. And we do! That is how he saved us. 

Beautifully enough, not so dissimilar to how our nations Veterans saved us. Through. Self-less service. Grace. 

Karma vs. Grace: A Psycho Spiritual Analysis

Grace offers us a way out of our ego’s grasp. With grace, we do not have to earn our salvation. In fact the effort to earn it is precisely what we most want to avoid. Instead, we surrender to the will of the One who knows us better than we know ourselves and wants to give us something beyond our imagination. Grace sets us free from spiritual anxiety that everything we say and do might determine our final destiny.

Namaste! 

Similar blogs of mine: 

On Grace

It’s Through the Heart

You are the MOST important person on your gift list

On Halloween and Our Shadow Side

On Giving Gifts that heal this holiday season

If you enjoyed my writing, consider leaving a comment, sharing with others, or following my blog

https://esterinaanderson.com

On Halloween and Our Shadow Side

We were made from the universe, so we contain the same elements of the universe. The universe is both dark and light. So are we.  

But who are “We” really? 

If we can agree we are not our liver or kidneys which are vital organs, is it feasible to agree we are not the organ of the brain? 

If we are not our brain, are “we” what is in the mind – which is function of the brain? It would be analogous to saying that we are not detox, which is the function of the liver.  

Hopefully the answer is no, because “we” are the substance that hears what the mind is saying. We are the part of the body that isn’t cells or substance. Just because it is only us that can hear what our mind is saying, doesn’t’ mean what the mind is really us.   

Our mind is influenced by the physical world around us. Jingles in our head, the constant replaying of a conversation we had or show we watched, the proverbial angel and devil on our shoulders justifying a decision in two different directions. Those things happen without conjuring them up. If we notice it, that part that notices is really the part that is us; not the part that is providing the commentary. 

That is IF we notice at all. The commentary, songs, dialogues, internal arguments or justifications for being ‘right’ or bad feelings of being ‘wrong’, and all the random and not so random things our mind is consistently chatting about are so ever presently constant; that we actually believe what we are thinking is who we are. But that is not true. Who we are is the witness to this chatter. 

I will refer back to the Angel and Devil relation above. How can you proport to be (as a person) the Angel who is advocating for the right decisions, when the Devil is right there doing exactly the same thing but advocating for something else? We may feel it is right to do with the Angel says because it is what morals and laws are built upon. But the Devil is in there too making a case. How is that dark side not as equal to who you profess to be? It’s not a pretty part to acknowledge, but that Devil is as normal as the Angel. 

That Devil part is the shadow side. 

Shadow side: 

“What is the ‘shadow’ self according to psychology? The ‘shadow’ is the side of your personality that contains all the parts of yourself that you don’t want to admit to having. It is at first an unconscious side. It is only through effort to become self-aware that we recognise our shadow.”

Your ‘Shadow’ Self – What It Is, And How It Can Help You

Neither the angel or devil is really who you are. 

You are the part that notices the angel and devil. 

Both will equally influence the decisions you make unless you learn to separate your true self from what your mind chats about. 

The best way to learn to notice your thoughts is to sit in meditation. That is another topic for another day perhaps. 

The point of this blog is to explain that you are not your thoughts. It is as natural to have good and bad thoughts as it is for the day to be dark and light. Our physical bodies are made of the physical universe, so our bodies are governed by the same laws. Both the good and bad exist. I believe the purpose of the Yin Yang is to visually demonstrate these natural laws that exist in our dimensions.

No human alive is above this law. Perhaps Jesus and Buddha had a better understanding and in their teachings of attachment in various ways, were showing us ways to live more humanely and to ignore the monkey mind. We didn’t have the language of the various levels of brain function at the time, but it’s not different from the unconscious, conscious, and superconscious. Or the Id, Ego & Superego. 

  • Unconscious: autonomic system that regulates bodily functions, influences the conscious to act in fight or flight to protect the body and their systems.
  • Conscious: thoughts and mind chatter about inner and outer world. 
  • Superconscious: part that notices thoughts

We would be missing the mark of having higher superconscious brain function over animals if we do not take this knowledge and work to separate identifying who we are from our thoughts. 

If we do not understand that we are not our thoughts, we attach to our Angel side, then expend time and energy hiding the Devil side away from ourselves and others. We attempt to un-attach to the shadow side by saying it is not who we are. But we are not the light side either. We are a witness to this very duality that exists in nature.

Ironically, embracing this shadow side and allowing it to feel natural is like breaking free and opening up to a beautiful new world. 

Embracing the shadow self can lead to a greater understanding of our whole self, as it helps us to understand, control and integrate it. Because when we shine a light on our shadow, we become conscious of the unconscious and gift ourselves with the power of conscious choice.” (Embracing the darkness within)

Embracing does not mean it is ok to take it out to the world and inflict it on others. 

Acceptance of the shadow side is personal work to in order to provide yourself clarity of the drivers you are unaware of because you didn’t want to acknowledge the thoughts the angel part of you didn’t like. No one is judging you but you. It is important to accept all thoughts that come up. It is difficult unless you really understand that these thoughts are just passing images and words. They are not the real you.

Halloween is a time to let out the Devil inside. A time of the year to celebrate the murkier side of life as we transform from summer to winter (light to dark). 

Samhain is the pagan celebration at the point in time believed the veil between the worlds is thinnest. In the Northern Hemisphere it is celebrated on October 31st, while in the Southern Hemisphere is it celebrated April 30th. Samhain is the transition of when the real switch between seasons occur, where it is impossible to deny that Winter is Coming (Sorry – I couldn’t help the phase [Game of Thrones] – Haha).

Accepting that it is natural to go from light to dark and celebrating nature helps to those not wishing winter to come to accept it as a natural part of life.

Now, transform that sentence (bolded) to the one below:

Accepting that it is natural to go from light to dark and celebrating nature helps those not wishing to acknowledge their shadow side to accept it as a natural part of life.  

Not accidentally, November 1st and in parts of the world the days leading up to 11/1, are a time to celebrate the dead and death as a natural part of our world. 

Death is natural and should be as expected as living is. Just as the shadow side is natural and should be as expected as the good in us is. 

These next few days is naturally a time to be in touch with the laws of nature, as the veil between worlds is in thin, so it’s easier to grasp. 

When I taught yoga classes regularly, I had a theme each month that I used. In October I had always used the theme of Embracing the Unknown in honor of world-wide Halloween traditions. I began each class with the same words in which I will end this blog. I asked students to consider perhaps incorporating some of these thoughts into their practice, and allowing whatever it is they fear to be welcome. 

Embracing the Unknown

  • Facing the scary, hairy thing under our beds
  • Not being afraid of death, but honoring it
  • Knowing our deepest renewal begins with surrender
  • Embracing the concept that life requires the presence of both light and dark

How Do Day of the Dead and All Saints Day Compare
Halloween-time traditions around the world

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