A purpose-filled life. What would that look like for you? For some, it may mean being with the right partner, while for someone else it may mean a great job, for another still it could be being a parent. There are also those wonderful beings who want to serve humanity, make a difference, and do good.
I have clients who fit into each of these categories. Some have the perfect partner or kids and some have dream jobs. All of them, even the ones who are doing good by serving others, wonder what their purpose in life is.
I remember wondering about that in my early twenties and just the other day the thought came up again. A few days before, I had watched a lovely movie called,”The Lunch Box” about a friendship that develops between a lonely housewife and a widower. Both are drawn to each other because of that something, let’s call it “purpose”, missing from their lives.
Thinking about the 2 characters brought me to these questions: what does a life filled with purpose look like? How is it different from any other and how will we know when we have one?
For me, purpose is directly related to curiosity, both its pull and its satiation. The impulse to look and the satisfaction of discovery.
Imagine living your life in pursuit of your interests rather than waiting all week to escape the cubicle, forced to endure something that no longer interests you or never interested you in the first place (school, anyone?). Or, being able to switch to other things until curiosity brings you back to the original pursuit.
I think of curiosity as an invisible conductor calling forth different melodies from within us; different parts sprouting, growing, maturing and becoming more authentic us as we can be.
Picture the freedom to explore, taste life as you go along with guidance and support from others as you become you; one minute deep in meditation and the next working diligently on a project.
You see, most people deeply yearn for the permission to be in the zone and fully realized as their journey unfolds and completes its course.
When we are not allowed to chase our own dreams and instead are bent to someone else’s agenda, we can’t truly discover what it is that we like or dislike. What it is that moves us deeply or resonates with different parts of us.
We are brought up to believe that our purpose will be one singular idea, activity, or way of being that will satisfy us for the whole of our lives, but nothing could be further from the truth. Purpose is curiosity driven, fluid, and needs to be able to adjust daily, hourly, by the minute.
Having one overarching purpose to anchor into is comforting – “I’m a humanitarian” “I like to help people get job skills” ”I am an educator” or “I’m Mother Theresa”. But if we were to look a little closer at all these people with their identified purposes, we would see that they too experience emptiness or yearning and wonder what their life purpose is.
That is why I look to curiosity to fill the emptiness when that “What am I doing with my life?” question creeps back into my thoughts. I have learned, over the last few decades, that following the scent of my curiosity will lead to destinations that nourish my head, heart and soul. Destinations that feel like purpose.
I start by revisiting existing projects, to get my feet firmly back on the ground and a solid sense of self. It’s never long before new ideas and projects emerge, navigating and positioning me in such a way that I hear myself saying: “I’m exactly where I want to be. Being me: engaged, interested, clear, trusting, fun…”
How about you? What would you like your purpose to be? Are you searching for that ah-ha or deep knowing to connect to your purpose? If you need a little help with that come over this way. It would be my honor to help guide you.
I was out walking and I couldn’t shake this piece of news off: “More than 20 million people in four countries are at risk of starvation and famine.” That’s what UN humanitarian chief, Stephen O’Brien, told the UN Security Council.
I find that going without food, even for as little as a day, can be very destabilizing. Does hunger have that effect on you, as well?
Imagine not having any source of food, for yourself and your children; for a day, for 2 days, for a week. Add to that a lack of clean drinking water and you have pure agony.
That is what 20 million people are facing or could be facing in South Sudan, Yemen, Nigeria and Somalia this year.
Suffering on that scale is nearly unimaginable, but that’s not the worst part. What is bothering me today is that there is more than enough food. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (F.A.O.), there is enough food production on the planet to feed the 7 billion people living today, and even the estimated 9-10 billion population in 2050.
So, why aren’t people getting this food when global agriculture is producing 17% more calories per person today than they did 30 years ago?
We have seen that neither governments nor industry (agri-business, transnational corporations) do enough to protect access to adequate nutritious food for those in need. For them, it becomes about policies, regional goals, and economics. For us, however, it is a no-brainer. Letting people die of hunger as we throw away more than enough food to care for them all, is unconscionable, unthinkable and wrong. I’m not going to speculate on why these two views are so different, but I will say that if those charged with representing us are incapable of action, we are not.
O’Brien says,”To be precise, we need $4.4bn by July”. What can we do knowing all that we know?
There are 20 million people on the verge of starvation. 20 million more reasons than we really need. Even in the face of such a daunting financial figure, we need to care and we need to act. We can not wait for government or industry to get around to it.
“To be clear, we can avert a famine,” O’Brien said. “We’re ready despite incredible risk and danger … but we need those huge funds now.”
If you’d like to pitch in and help, here are some agencies that can make things happen on the ground through your financial donations:
Action Against Hunger
The Hunger Project
Save The Children
We don’t have to wait for governments or for things to get worse, we can do something right now. We have good hearts that want us to make a difference and save lives.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and thank you for doing good.
Butterfly Landed On My Hand
Resetting Reality is a game I play when I go for a walk or watch the world go by through the windshield, especially on days when my senses are feeling hyper-aroused by the news, or life in general.
Perhaps the level of effort required these days to sift through all the fake news coming from all sides in search of what’s actually going on in the world, the information formerly known as news has become too time consuming and unpalatable. Life feels murky as fiction passes for fact and I like many others want to press the reset button.
Nature provides that reset button or “palate cleanser” for me. I know myself in nature; I trust the experience I am in – I come alive! The sky above, the horizon beyond, the flowers in the spring, teach me and remind me of what is real and what is illusory.
No alternative facts or truthiness, but rather an isness abounds.
I have found myself being drawn by nature more and more in recent months; a gorgeous sunset or a morning stroll feels more inviting than reading the news or checking my Facebook feed. Instead of staying in the grips of the news or social media commentary, I’m listening to that call and letting myself do a reality reset and create equilibrium within.
I would love to share this exercise with you.
Please start by setting aside a little time from your day to practice this calming and nourishing exercise.
Begin this exercise by asking yourself a question, pick one from one of the examples below. The questions are like a little riddle or amuse bouche to get you started. Allow thoughts and feelings to freely associate and congregate. Notice your breath and how your body responds as you continue to contemplate the question.
What could a swallow teach you about flying?
What could a road teach you about journeys?
What could water teach you about transformation?
What could a nightingale teach you about singing?
What could a snail teach you about time?
What could a tree teach you about relationships?
What could a star teach you about the dark?
I can think of a dozen, hundred more such questions. When I contemplate such a question as one of the above, I feel myself being humbled and communing with teachings that life in its many forms offers: as a bird, a tree, a star.
From the questions above, I am especially drawn to this one: what could a star teach you about the dark? Thoughts and feelings flow from my mind and heart. My body begins to relax as I contemplate the dark and a star.
I imagine the dark. Vast space. Cold and quiet. I imagine a star surrounded by this darkness. Not separate but entwined. I sense particles, gasses, heat and massive nuclear reactions. In my mind’s eye I see the star convulse, roar, shake and all the while, the dark is just there as the star expands and contracts.
Thinking of the dark in this way i.e. vast, quiet and ever expanding makes me relax. On a profound level of being, I realize, that I too can expand and contract in my life and the dark of space holds me regardless of my mood, shape or status. Or, that I can be vast, never ending like the dark universe.
Just a few moments of this contemplation can turn my thoughts away from worry and things that need fixing to feeling part of a bigger whole in which all is as it should be.
How about you? What helps you reset? Did any of the questions resonate with you? Do you have questions for us? Please share them with us as we’d love to hear from you.
Continued from Part 1
Last week I shared about how my body and I went through a difficult time. I promised I would share which therapies helped us from almost breaking up to dancing the night away, rock climbing, and sharing laughs like we did as kids.
We never know what is going to push a relationship to its outer limits. An injury, disease, death, inertia, lack of communication, it literally could be anything. For us, it was an injury.
Today I want to share the steps we took to get us back on track. Regardless of how we were treating each other, one thing we knew for sure: we weren’t giving up.
In his book, The Body Keeps the Score, Dr. Van Der Kolk writes about his experience using several groundbreaking techniques that have helped people overcome trauma, anxiety, and PTSD. Along with his suggestions, I would like to add some of my own for recovering and healing fractured bodies, minds, and spirits. The list below is not in order of preference or exhaustive.
Osteopathy and Cranial Sacral Therapy – therapists move and listen to the body. They retrain/rewire the trauma and pain pathways (heightened amygdala) and return the body to a calm, connected, self-regulating state.
Light Institute Multi-Incarnational Sessions – these were helpful in gaining a footing for the narrative the injury was spewing out. By being able to stretch what was happening on an axis of many, many lifetimes made it easier to see the themes that were arising to the surface. Lots of light healing involved.
Vitamin C IV – detoxing/nourishing the body. Trauma/neglect/abuse/anxiety can set the body off sideways which in turn can have a ripple out effect on emotions and the mind. By introducing vitamin C into my regimen of self-care I was able to stave off possibilities of infection for over a year until my skin healed from the burns. I also added UV light, ozone, and L-glutathione to the IV treatments.
I would recommend that anyone suffering from trauma looks to detoxifying their bodies and adding nutrition of the highest order. We may be starving for minerals, vitamins or other nutrients even if our bellies are full.
Somatic Experiencing – attempts to promote awareness and release physical tension that remains in the aftermath of trauma.The focus is becoming present to the discomfort/dysregulated (i.e. is aroused or frozen, demonstrated by physical symptoms such as pain or numbness) and then iteratively helped to return to a state of regulation. Very powerful and effective.
Meditation– becoming aware through conscious choices and redirecting awareness. This is a tool that can be extremely useful and can be built upon. However, during times of extreme distress, it wasn’t easy to come back to this. In fact, I did my best not to sit and meditate.
Mindfulness – this was far easier than the usual meditation practice. I observed the sensations in my body and listened to it without judgment.
Nature – walking, sitting in the sun, listening to the wind, river rafting. Letting go of expectations was made easier by being in nature. This, in turn, provided the much-needed relief.
Acupuncture – helpful for rewiring and revitalizing the body and bringing ease, calm, comfort, and sleep.
Massage – helpful for re-aligning body, releasing tension and fatigue. Sometimes, massage in of itself cannot heal deep emotional blocks or trauma. But it can be a powerful place to rest, reacquaint with oneself and feel held. Listen to your body to see if that is what it wants. Sometimes, physical touch can be a trigger for people with trauma.
Yoga/T’ai Chi – any movement performed mindfully will be restorative, supportive and energizing.
Advocates – having people around you that understand what your needs are and how you want to move forward with your healing process. People who will speak up for you when deciding which treatments to pursue or when you feel like giving up they embrace and encourage you.
You – no matter how bad you feel, or how defeated you are by life and life’s follies, no matter how alone or lonely the experience may be, you have to show up every single day. Make that commitment to yourself for your welfare and well being.
Money (honorable mention) – I am going to tell it to you straight – money helps heaps. It helps in being able to try different therapies and getting as much or as many treatments as you need. It helps in being able to tell the doctor in the network covered by your insurance company to bug off when they don’t take care of you.
Money worries can also contribute to existing trauma-related anxieties or fears. Facing financial challenges can make us retreat further into ourselves. If you have even an ounce of imagination or desire left within you for healing then apply your imagination to creating ways to get the treatments that resonate with you that you need.
If you can’t afford to see a therapist, then watch youtube videos on the subject, read about the subject. If you cannot afford books then turn to the internet; there are plenty of free resources. Write to the person you want work with; read their blogs or ask them for suggestions or resources that may help you.
Our healing will take work and some elbow grease. More times than not the knight in the shining armor or Florence Nightingale will not show up. So, it is up to us.
I found doing the Somatic Experiencing, Osteopathy, cranial sacral therapies and the multi-incarnational sessions were instrumental in releasing the thick, gel-like cloud of trauma. Each one of these therapies brought pieces of me back to me.
I also noticed that with some of these healing modalities, it was difficult to get traction because I was so far out to sea because of physical pain. I would go through the motions of sitting for meditation or doing yoga and still feel knee deep in the weeds.
Eventually, I found the correct combination of therapies that worked for me. It has taken me since 2010 to arrive at these shores. Step by step, day by day, I worked on my recovery until moments of relief became hours and days.
With these treatments, something began to heal on a deeper level within the body/mind and I began to say yes to going out. I found myself going from watching my son rock climbing to rock climbing myself. I began to feel a desire to dance and play without the drag that I used to feel.
Happiness began to bloom within my being. And best of all, I began to dream about traveling.
It is my hope that if you are in the midst of a healing journey that you will find the right resources for your healing and that the sharing of my journey shines a light in the right direction for you.
If you would like to talk to me or need guidance for your journey of healing, please feel free to contact me and set up a free Discovery Session. Please share this post and the previous post with anyone who may need encouragement or support as they transform trauma.