Congratulations! What happens when you get on the other side of your shit.

Many years ago, at a retreat, I had an intentional encounter with a horse. I timidly walked toward the horse. Within me was all the anxiety and doubt of my struggling and unprocessed traumas. I stood with the horse for a few moments and then it led me to a pile of shit. I thought: of course. Of course this horse would bring me to a pile of shit. Only me….At first, I thought it was a cruel joke. Then, it became one of my more profound lessons: it’s just shit.

Which brings me to now~ A quote that keeps running through my mind:

This is a time of divine fulfillment. The fruits of my labor and purpose of my life now unfold in a clear, harmonious way.

This quote is a favorite of my mothers. I will forever associate these words with her and today they ring true for me. I can’t help but wonder if this was her gift to me, not just the words themselves, but to have the experience of the words. 

To experience is the shift I have made, where the words I have grown up with, surrounded myself with, and those that live within me come alive— and it’s absolutely splendid. 

As I write, on my vision board are these words: The rebirth of Awe. And….

  • Finding real
  • Second wind
  • Instructions for life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it. (Mary Oliver)
  • Born to write
  • Join the thousands of people around the world who are opening up, digging deep, and transforming their lives!

It is very possible I have known all along what I am up to. Yet, for many years I had doubt, insecurity and practiced indecisiveness as if it were an appreciated art form. 

The words, so many words, are coming alive right before my eyes!

It is also very possible, that as I earlier said to my father in conversation, that the signs and mystical experience I seek, are all around me and have been with me every step of the way. 

All of this to say, and most importantly, experience the turning of an important corner where the fruits of my labor and purpose of my life now unfold and where I live in the energy of Congratulations!

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash
 

This is where I am. And it does not come without some old guilt-ridden programming. The kind of guilt that needs reminding such as: Nikki, you have worked diligently for 32 years to know and understand yourself. You have opened up to your desire to get through “your shit” sooner rather than later. You have dug deep, so deep to the literal “big mother wound” of neglect and abandonment. You have been twisted and turned through many dark crevices and have come out the other side only to be taken in yet again. You, dear heart, have transformed your life AND you’ve earned every minute of celebration and awe you now experience. 

Own it. Stand in it. Experience it. It’s yours. And if and when you feel ready, share it. 

This is where I find myself today. It is where I have been for the past few weeks and because it was such a new experience, I did not have the words to express what it has been like. But the words come now, through my own voice, but mostly through the voice of others who have come before me. I relish in their generosity. Especially from my dear poet friend, Rumi. This, what Rumi writes, is on the other side of the shit we must all travel through. Bless you dear hearts as you journey through yours. 

 
Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

You have fallen in love my dear heart

Congratulations!

You have freed yourself from all attachments

Congratulations!

You have given up both worlds to be on your own

The whole creation praises your solitude

Congratulations!

Your disbelief has turned into belief

Your bitterness, into sweetness

Congratulations!

You have now entered into Love’s fire, my pure heart

Congratulations!

Inside the Sufi’s heart there is always a feast

Dear heart, you are celebrating

Congratulations!

My heart, I have seen how your tears turned into a sea

Now every wave keeps saying

Congratulations!

O silent lover, seeker of the higher planes,

May the Beloved always be with you

Congratulations!

You have struggled hard, may you grow wings and fly

Congratulations!

Keep silent my dear heart, you have done so well

Congratulations!

~Rumi

~The Soul Reporter

July Soul Report: The Future is Here~ Slow Down & Surrender

My first and foremost curiosity is: How are all of you doing?

This afternoon, my daughter said she felt off. Tired. Unmotivated. Had no inspiration. Didn’t even want to put on makeup— had tried several looks that weren’t working. The makeup part is unusual for her. She is an esthetician and a talented makeup artist. 

She asked me if I was feeling off. I told her no. I went on, “You might think mom is being woo-woo, but a veil has been lifted for many of us right now. This veil protected us from certain realities and allowed us to live in illusion.” 

I went on, “For some this is an incredibly difficult time. For others it is a time of celebration. I am celebrating. And, it makes sense that you are feeling off— you’ve gone through some big changes.”

Weep, and then smile.

Do not pretend to know something

you have not experienced. 

There is a necessary dying…

Very little grows on jagged rock. 

Be ground. Be crumbled,

so wildflowers will come up 

where you are. 

You have been stony for far too many years. 

Try something different. Surrender. 

~Rumi, A Year with Rumi, Coleman Barks 

Btw: Rumi is a fucking gem! If you’ve not read his poetry, find some. If you have, find it again!

Currently, I am not engaged with a large circle of people, but from my small circle, I can tell you EVERY SINGLE PERSON I know has made seismic shifts in the last few weeks. I am also hearing from fellow therapists and social workers that clients are coming in with an unusual amount of challenges and traumas. 

Me

For myself, during this time, I’ve faced the deeper, if not the deepest, psychological wound within myself. It is a wound made from neglect. A wound that has caused incredible suffering, and has been passed down to my daughters, and was passed down to me. It is the generational trauma of neglect, which so many of us feel. Which so many of us endure. It is silent. It is insidious. It is ours. Many don’t know it is there. But now is the time to surrender to our childhood, generational and historical traumas. To bear witness to them. To feel the pain, fear, and sadness they hold. To understand them and their message. To release them and be transformed. These traumas need not stay in our minds, our bodies, our souls any longer.  

These traumas wreak havoc and prey upon EVERYTHING— from our relationships to the countries we live in. For example, President Trump has an entire closet (and then some) full of unprocessed trauma that is damaging the United States. But, in this post, I am not going to go into that. The focus for this post is to report that the FUTURE IS HERE. The new paradigm, the cosmic shift, the new reality— that some of us have been talking about for a while— happened. In a very real sense, we made it AND there’s more to come. 

For July’s Soul Report the message I am sharing to help assist us is: Slow Down & Surrender 

June’s Soul Report was also about slowing down, slowing down in order to sense the subtleties of energies, patterns and dynamics. This was to help us prepare for this big shift that has now occurred. 

July’s slowing down is about getting clear now that some internal debris has been lifted. It’s about commitment and being conscious participants in our ongoing personal growth and transformation. It is about creating our own Bodhi Tree (under which Siddhartha Gautama became enlightened) moments. These moments are glimpses of insight about who we are and who we are not. These moments build upon each other to become a lighted chain that leads us to greater awakenings of who we really are.  

The root of suffering is attachment.

~The Buddha

As I reflect upon my own journey thus far, it is indeed true that the root of suffering is attachment. How I experience attachment comes from a psychological perspective that has to do with attachment trauma. As infants and small children, if we did not securely attach to an adult, we have already made our first step into suffering. If a secure adult did not answer our cries for nourishment, protection and affection, we attach to this trauma. If a secure adult did not answer our questions about life or we were reprimanded when doing so, we attach to this trauma. If we were exposed to a caregiver who was addicted, we attach to this trauma. The list of traumas are many. 

As adults we now have attachment trauma. We feel neglected, abandoned and empty. We put out our feelers, literally our feelings of fear and insecurity, and find our fix- the thing to fulfill us. Mine was, and is, a 32-year codependent relationship. For others it can be anything: shopping, success, drugs, gambling……….and the list continues. The cycle also continues. And I, who have spent my entire life living and processing my attachment trauma, want to do whatever I can to help and assist others as many have done for me.  

And that my friends, was a tangent, but apparently a needed one. 

And brings me to what occurs as we process our traumas: space. Space in our minds. Space in our bodies. Space in our souls. This space allows for generosity for ourselves and every living thing. This space allows for greater efficiency so that when new traumas or challenges come, we can process them more quickly and easily. This space allows for our natural desires and tendencies to surface and create a more satisfying, deliberate and peaceful presence. This space allows us to see, perhaps for the first time, what our burning desire is— that blue flame inside us all that keeps us going and brings us everywhere. 

What once kept me going was the desire to fill my empty space. But this was only part of the journey and leads me to discover what actually is within that empty space. I am here now, and I celebrate and anticipate its unfolding. 

I am here to process and hold space with any of you moving through these shifts and changes. I am here to answer any questions you might have about this month’s Soul Report. 

Contact me here.

Thank you, and you’re all doing great work!

~The Soul Reporter

The Beauty Way

My latest article as the Mental Health writer with The Volk Magazine (3 min read):

IMG_5015

“Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.

Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground. ”

— A YEAR WITH RUMI, HARPER COLLINS (2006)

In the current state of affairs, it is all too easy to wake up empty and frightened. To wake up this way is often also an experience of people experiencing mental illness. The past four years I have lived and breathed social work, learning in school about mental health and social justice. The learnings have made me even more aware of the issues facing humanity, while creating a certain kind of rigid mind set needed to manage the academic work in order to attain a degree. I’ve also stayed up nights and woke up mornings reading one troubling news story after another. This combination has caused anxiety, and at time bouts of depression, making it difficult to, as Rumi says, take down a musical instrument. Taking down a musical instrument is a metaphor, which invites us to seek the beauty, even in the struggle. Continuing this article, I will share two experiences where I lived Rumi’s words. The article will conclude with suggestions of how you, the reader, can find your beauty in the struggle. So come along toward the Beauty Way.. Click here to continue. 

Childhood Trauma

The Information about childhood trauma, in my opinion, is the most essential information of our time. This TEDtalk is one of the better ones I’ve heard on this issue.

He quotes Rumi: “The wound is the place where the light enters you.”

I believe this information is coming out now because so many of us, if not all of us, are wounded and for far too long we have been unconscious of our wounds and acting out through them- hurting ourselves and each other.

It’s time to wake up and get educated about trauma and its effects. It’s time to dig in our selves and find our wounds and feel what we have not let ourselves feel and heal so that we can be the light that we are.

The time is absolutely now. It’s what is going to save us.

Exploring Unprocessed Hurt*

In Rising Strong, Social Scientist, Brené Brown says, “Depression and anxiety are two of the body’s first reactions to stockpiles of old hurt.” Further, according to Brown, depression and anxiety, although have “organic and biochemical reasons…unrecognized pain and unprocessed hurt can also lead there.”

There was a time, many years ago, where I began experiencing intense anxiety. Eventually I was having daily panic attacks, sometimes several a day. This was making life difficult to enjoy. I thought there was something seriously wrong with me, which only made the anxiety worse. In a way, the anxiety was fuel for me to figure out what was wrong. This led to years of inner work where I experienced sadness and pain and discovered patterns that were connected to my childhood. There, is where I dug deeper into my unprocessed hurt. The more I dug, the more I understood the unrecognized pain and released the unprocessed hurt, which eventually led to less anxiety.

So, what is unprocessed hurt and further, if it has anything to do with our childhoods, why would anyone want to go back there? Who has time, right? I think this might be a tough sell, but I am going to try anyway: go back there. And, here’s why: many of us are there anyway, especially emotionally. Let me give an example. We are at work, or in my case, a classroom. There is a large group discussion. We raise our hand or attempt to speak up, but our instructor or boss doesn’t listen or respond to us. We quickly put down our hand or shut our mouth and look down awkwardly. How are we feeling— rejected? Embarrassed? What are we thinking— no one cares what we have to say? My ideas aren’t valuable?

Now, it could be that the instructor or our boss just didn’t hear our voice or see our hand. Yet, we have a story that says we’ve been rejected. This story gives us certain thoughts and feelings, and very often, anxiety, which moves us away from the present moment where we might see that we just weren’t heard or seen because of a simple mistake by the person leading the discussion. It wasn’t personal. If this is relatable, maybe we can think of similar experiences as an adult where we felt rejected or ignored. Maybe we notice a pattern. What if we went deeper? Are there any childhood experiences where we felt this way? At school? At the family dinner table? Maybe we notice a connection to experiences now and experiences then. Maybe this connection makes us feel sad for the child that felt this way. What if we felt that?

This is inner work. And yes, it takes time. But more so, it takes a curious mind and the courage and willingness to go a little deeper beyond our stories, in this example, a story of rejection. When we begin to move our attention beyond our stories, the story of rejection being a common one, we find patterns and make connections and begin to recognize our unprocessed pain, and we begin to feel the unprocessed hurt. The more we do this, we might notice our anxiety dissipate. When anxiety dissipates we are more present. When we are present, we see more clearly and breathe more freely.

Now, this is just a theory of mine. It comes from years of inner work, along with years of learning and reading about self-help, psychology and social work. This theory does not discount the organic and biochemical reasons for anxiety, some of which are often treated with medications. It also doesn’t dismiss the varying environmental and social issues that can cause anxiety. It only serves to offer another perspective, one similar to the psychoanalytic framework, which considers unconscious forces that affect our behavior and emotions.  In this way, connecting current emotional and mental patterns to childhood experiences and other unconscious pain, gives another potential cause of anxiety and how it might be relieved.

To engage in more inner work, I suggest beginning to notice your thoughts and feelings in your day-to-day life. I would also suggest using a journal to record experiences in your day that brought up noticeable thoughts and feelings. After a while, see if you notice patterns or triggers, which prompt noticeable thoughts and feelings. Be present with your self-inquiry and see where it takes you. There is a passage from the poem, The Sunrise Ruby by the Sufi poet Rumi that can be used for inspiration on the path of self-inquiry and discovery:

Work. Keep digging your well.

Don’t think about getting off from work.

Water is there somewhere.

 Submit to daily practice.

Your loyalty to that

is a ring on the door.

 Keep knocking, and the joy inside

will eventually open a window

and look out to see who’s there.

~Coleman Barks, The Essential Rumi, p. 101

*Article originally published: The Volk, Fall 2017

What Space Are You In?

Do you ever notice if you are having a new experience with yourself? Are you aware you are having an experience with yourself?

I am having a new experience with myself. Suddenly, I find I don’t have much to say. I notice less chatter inside of my head. I notice I don’t have much to feel. The presence inside feels smooth, almost void of conflict. It kind of feels like death. But, really it’s just a foreign state of less inner conflict and disturbance and more inner silence.

 

WaterIsThereSomewhere

The Devil’s Kettle, Northern Minnesota

Sometimes, in this unfamiliar state I watch myself try and create drama and conflict within me. Sometimes, I question the silence. Sometimes, I wonder if it’s depression or sadness. But I know those states and that is not what this is. This state is not peaceful. It is not joyful. It is not sad. It just is.

The silence allows me to notice life outside of me, people mostly. I watch the drama people bring onto themselves. Then I watch them blame others or their environments. I think some of us don’t feel alive unless there’s drama and conflict. I think many of us fear the silence. I want to say to the people— you are creating this chaos and you don’t have to. This is the lesson to be learned.

But, how?

The Sufi poet Rumi said, “Work. Keep digging your well. Don’t think about getting off from work. Water is there somewhere.” I have dug my well in many ways. I dug through journaling, through reading, through therapy, through processing out loud, through walks in the woods, through crying my eyes out, through running in the streets not knowing where to run, through fighting, and most recently through a yoga and meditation practice I learned from a guru. In my digging I hit rock, branches and mud. I got hit, kicked, pummeled, bruised and I thought, broken. I also hit some clear spots, and rested. I cannot say I have hit water yet or if I am even close. What I can say is the current space is dark, unfamiliar, quiet and still. And for the first time in an unfamiliar space, I am unafraid. Instead I am slightly curious and mostly present.

Your how comes with desire. You must want to find the water. You must want liberation more than you want drama. You must keep digging even when it’s hard. You must keep working even when you think you’re not getting anywhere. You must want to be free more than anything else. And then, you’ll come to a space that feels different than all the others. You’ll wonder where you are, but you won’t be afraid. The space will be clear. Vacant, but oddly alive without any more limitations, without any more rocks to hit or stones to throw or vines to be caught in. You’ll be suspended in this space. I don’t know where you’ll go next, but water is there somewhere.

 

The Soul Reporter.