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Archive for May, 2011

RELATIONSHIPS

 

 

It took me years and so much work to realize this: Relationships are ultimately not about the other person. Our external world is merely a reflection of our internal world. When we don’t like something in our external world, this is an INVITATION calling on us to go to work on our internal world.

 

This is especially true of relationships. Have you noticed that you can’t really ‘fix’ or change someone else? You can try to modify their behavior by shouting , screaming, withdrawing, shaming or manipulating, but in the end, they remain essentially the same. If you spend your life trying to make others fit neatly into a vision of how you need or want them to be, you will end up bitter, frustrated and disappointed.

 

This is crucial to understand because as long as you are making it about someone else, you are essentially powerless. You cannot solve a problem with the same level of consciousness that created the problem and so this is a perfect time to look to see where and how you can get to that next stage of evolution in your awareness and look at the issue through a new pair of lenses. It is time, really to access a deeper truth.

 

The deeper truth is that relationships are mirrors showing us what we cannot see in ourselves and are a rich source of information about the world and ourselves. Being prepared to look at yourself from the outside in, is the most humbling yet powerful thing you can do and is the first step towards taking back your power.

 

We need to pierce the veil of illusion that tells us that we are separate from one another and that our experiences are random.  We need to stop complaining and partner with the cocreative forces of the universe to see where and how we can take responsibility and create something new, from the inside, out. We need to look at our underlying beliefs about ourselves and how they drive our responses and interpretations, and replace them with new , truer and more empowering beliefs. We need to be prepared to work with the concept of projection, and own and embrace in us, the very qualities we despise in others.

 

There is so much we can do to shift the dynamics, and in the process,create a whole new relationship with ourselves, one that is supportive, authentic and powerful . All of this is the promise of spiritual divorce coaching. xxxx

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Our article has been published in Odyssey Magazine. Here it is without the graphics.


You are a conscious individual. You know it because you have consistently been attracted to everything to do with spiritual growth and improving yourself and your life. You yearn for empowered self -expression, ‘spiritual partnership’ or finding a way to make a significant contribution to the world. We know it because you have this magazine in your hands!

However, like many conscious, awakening people, you may also be feeling unsure and overwhelmed about how to go about creating the life you desire, how to bring all the wisdom you have accessed over the years into your daily life and you may feel like there is something ‘indefinable’ that is holding you back. Perhaps you notice that however hard you work to create peace, harmony and love in your life, you always seem to find yourself stuck in the middle of some drama or discontent or some form of self- sabotage!

You are not alone. That was exactly how we felt, prior to being exposed to the transformational work of Debbie Ford, the New York Times bestselling author of several books including ‘Dark Side of the Light Chasers” and “Spiritual Divorce”. What we realized, after working with her, was that we had not yet awakened to the kind of authentic power that comes with having an extraordinary relationship with yourself, which enables you to go forth boldly to create the life you so deeply desire. And in order to forge that kind of relationship with yourself, you need to CARE enough about yourself to uncover, embrace and integrate your shadow. You need to be willing to work with intention, with your internal knowing to heal your heart. This work is for people who are serious about transformation.

One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light’, said the great Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung, ‘ but by making the darkness conscious.’ That journey begins with a few key shifts in perception:

1) Life seems as if it is happening ‘to’ you, but on the contrary it is happening ‘through’ you.  As long as you think it is happening to you, you are a powerless victim. The reason it happens through you is because your beliefs, both conscious and unconscious, drive your choices, behaviours and experiences . And only YOU can do the work to change your beliefs, which in turn alters your experience.

2) Another key shift in perception is to accept that you have a shadow, and be prepared to work with it knowing that it holds the key to creating an extraordinary self. To be human is to have a shadow. It is made up of all those qualities in you that you disowned, suppressed and then projected onto others in an attempt to express only those aspects of yourself that you believed would guarantee you the love and acceptance of others. In so doing, you suppressed your most valuable attributes and ‘sentenced’ yourself to a life of reenacting the same drama over and over. But running from your shadow only intensifies its power. To quote Debbie  Ford, ‘Reclaiming those parts of ourselves that we have relegated to the shadow is the most reliable path to actualizing our human potential. Once BEFRIENDED, our shadow becomes a divine map that reconnects us to the life we were meant to live and the people we were meant to be.”

3) We need to learn how to distinguish the whisperings of our inner wisdom from the noisy negative internal dialogue of our wounded egos. We need to learn how to stop identifying with those persistent negative thoughts that drain our energy, keeping us trapped and playing small and begin to make choices and take actions based on faith, rather than fear. We also need to explore our choice to reinterpret our past experiences in a way that is empowering, rather than disempowering.

Ultimately, transformation is a shift in perception. But it is difficult to transform when there is a big chunk of you still in darkness, just beneath your conscious awareness. By seeing your shadow as a fertile field to be lovingly cultivated and by embracing all aspects of who you are and all your life experiences, by taking responsibility and connecting with your inner wisdom, you become open to receiving the gifts that the people and circumstances in your life came to deliver to you.

Who could you be then? The possibilities are exciting and infinite.

Philippa Levitt. Ba LLb. Integrative Coach.

Dr Jennifer Gardy  (MBBch, BSc .) Integrative Coach.

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SPIRITUAL DIVORCE

The end of a relationship can be a devastating experience, leaving deep and lasting emotional wounds and rocking the very foundation of our beings. As a former divorce lawyer, I all too often witnessed the loss,hopelessness and emptiness caused by the separation of two worlds pitted against one other, which left two embittered people left trying to pick up the pieces, once the ordeal was over.

BUT the experience of divorce need not remain a damaging one to be deeply buried and left to time and hope to heal. It can be a profoundly enlightening experience, if you have the wisdom and desire to see it as such. I am referring here to the shadow work of New York Times bestselling author, Debbie Ford and the promise of spiritual divorce coaching.This work is about healing your heart. A key insight is to realize that only YOU can do the work to heal your heart. No one and no thing can do it for you. Believing you can simply replace your relationship with another one, be it food, anti depressants, another person or even work, is a mistake and are simply ways of avoiding dealing with the underlying issues.

Another key insight is to realize that relationships are ultimately not about the other person. Relationships are mirrors, showing us what we cannot see in ourselves and they are a rich source of information about our hidden beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. These beliefs, which we call shadow beliefs (because they are most often hidden from our conscious awareness), were likely formed when we were very young, before we had the ability to understand ourselves and our world. These beliefs then become the underlying matrix of our identity and we then develop ways of relating to the world based on that belief. That in turn becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. Only a little enquiry can put you in touch with a deeper truth and literally change the trajectory of your experiences going forward.

So for example,it seems to be a pattern that men always leave you . You feel not wanted and not valued.When you go inside you find that you had a parent who always seemed busy and distracted and didn’t have time for you. Or who left you. You decided you were not wanted or valued or lovable or whatever your interpretation of the situation was through your young eyes.That becomes your core belief. You then unconsciously live from that belief and behave in ways that generate evidence for its truth. You are always on the look out for signs of people not wanting you , you reject people before they reject you, you see their involvement in other activities as proof of the fact that they don’t want you and react accordingly and so create your deepest fear. Sound familiar?

The good news is that the breakdown of your relationship is a fertile time to uncover those shadow beliefs. It is also a HUGE opportunity to shift them . Shifting them from within, not as an empty affirmation that you really don’t believe , but as an embodied experience of connecting to a deeper truth, is extremely powerful, and it LASTS ! Why spend your life miserable and living under the dictates of a belief you formed when you were five years old ?

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He was dubbed by Le Journal du Dimanche as ‘le grand seducteur’ . An anonymous book released in May 2010 portrayed Dominique Strauss-Kahn as a serial seducer whose interest in attractive women could derail his presidential ambitions. A writer, Tristine Banon , has now come forward with a story of a similar attack.

But the news about the IMF head’s recent arrest and arraignment on charges of sexual assault , forcible confinement and attempted rape of a hotel chambermaid in New York this past weekend, has come as a huge shock to the financial community . The notion of the trusted head of the IMF being someone capable of attempted rape is simply inconceivable.

What is fascinating to me is that here we see the devastating effects of ignoring your shadow.

We all have a shadow. To be human is to have a shadow. Our shadow is made up of all those qualities in you that you denied, suppressed, made wrong and disowned in your attempt to express only those aspects of yourself that you believed would gain you the acceptance of others.

But pushing away those parts of yourself, only intensifies their power and left unattended, this dark side, the ‘underbelly’ of the human psyche, as Debbie Ford calls it, becomes the progenitor of every single act of self sabotage.

This one was spectacular. So how does it work ?

Lets imagine (and I do not know this as a fact, I merely use it as illustration) that as a young child, Dominique had a strong impulse to take that which did not belong to him by force. He had, as many do, a strong predatory impulse.   Moreover, in pursuing his prey, he needed to be a little manipulative, a little bit smart and so he knew deep down that he could not really be trusted.

He soon gets discovered and shamed for his behavior by his caregivers, peers, parents or teachers.  In their anger and fear, they withhold their love , approval and appreciation, and that hurts. So young Dominique learns to suppress or hide those predatory instincts within him that get him into trouble. There follows a split, a split from his authentic self and Dominique now goes about creating a fabricated or false self. He does this by developing characteristics that are the exact opposite of predatory and untrustworthy. He works really hard at showing the world (and himself ) that he is trustworthy and definitely not a predator.  He becomes a pillar of society- a university professor, Minister and even runs as a candidate for the French Socialist party. He becomes head of the IMF, an organization of 187 countries working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability and foster international trade. This must be a trustworthy man who has everyone’s best interests at heart.

But the predatory impulses persist. They never leave. The more he tries to hide them, the more he is glued to them. He hides them even from himself. And in the darkness, they have gained momentum. They keep on surfacing at the most inopportune times and threatening to ruin everything. He seems powerless to stop them, even after a book has been published about his weaknesses. Debbie Ford likens it to a beach ball, kept just below the surface of water,that comes flying up in moments of weakness.

And so it ends up with him chasing a chambermaid around a $3000,00 a night suite . His demons are OUT. Exposed. Taking on a life of their own. Preposterous for the head of the IMF who is also a member of the French Socialist party and possible contender in France’s next presidential elections. Or is it ?

( I acknowledge that Strauss Kahn is innocent until proven guilty and as a lawyer I know how onerous the burden of proof is in a case like this because the evidence is based on the uncorroborated evidence of a single witness. However please forgive me for using him as a theoretical example. I also acknowledge Debbie Ford and her shadow work for so much of the insight expressed in this blog.)

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It is four am in the morning and I have been up for the past three hours  . I have finally surrendered to my sleeplessness and switched the light on to write this blog! What happens is that a second after I wake up, I start thinking and once that occurs, I am beyond the point of no return.

I know there is a lot I could have done to quiet my mind again and fall back to sleep. I could have slowed my breathing (that slows thought), I could have meditated in the hope of slipping into what Deepak Chopra refers to as the gap between our thoughts (and in my case a gateway to sleep!), I could have done a little yoga nidra, I could have taken Eckart Tolle’s advice and become present in my body and accessed my ‘Beingness’.

But my thoughts are so compelling! My dramas are so fascinating.. they beckon me, imploring me …’Think me! I am real. Think me! I will lead you to the solution!’ And as I oblige, my emotions kick in.. a little fear, a little worry, a momentary excitement, a possibility. I am hooked and allow my thinking mind to take me wherever it desires.

Ram Dass said that the spiritual journey ultimately is to get you back to the place you were, before you got so busy thinking! Descartes was wrong when he said ‘I think, therefore I am’. The ‘I am’ existed long before the thinking began and will exist long after the thinking ceases.

This conscious awareness exists just beneath your thought and if you get very quiet, you can access it. Within that silence, resides your inner peace, your inner sense, your innocence, your connection, your Knowing. Here lies the seat of your authentic power, the engine room of your  creation. Some of the world’s greatest discoveries have paradoxically arisen from this place of ‘no thought’.Trust and faith arises from this space.Your logical thinking mind cannot find it,because it exists outside of your logic. On the few occasions that I have accessed it fully, I have been overwhelmed by the genius I have found there. But as soon as I noticed that I was there, however, my thinking mind kicked back in, and I suddenly find myself back home in the prison of my limited thought.

You have escaped the prison of your logical rational mind to find solutions too. Think about how often you go to sleep with a problem and wake up the following morning with the solution, before you can reconstruct the thought process of the night before.

You don’t have to go that deep. Know that you can always breathe deeply and access your inner wisdom and if you desire to change your outer reality, it is from this space that you need to source a new intention, a new vision, before you act on your outer world, where,  as you know, you very much need to use your thought to action your intentions.

Isn’t that more compelling than the endless  internal dialogue about our problems that lands up changing nothing and giving us more of the same? Goodnight!

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I am so excited! I woke up this morning to an email in my inbox from The Ford Institute (‘TFI’), advising I have been selected to serve as a mentor in Debbie Ford’s upcoming Integrative Coaching Training Program ! I now will be able to continue to develop my leadership and deepen and enhance my proficiency as a coach and leader in this work.Best of all, I get to make a huge contribution in the lives and skills of my mentees, who will be the world’s future coaches.

Our students in module 1 ‘will discover their deepest truth in every area of their life, as they remove the blocks and limitations that stand between them and their highest self. They will embark on one of the most unique and cathartic personal transformations in the world as they experience the benefit of Integrative Coaching in a group setting,’  according to TFI. I feel really privileged to be a part of this.

I also woke up this morning to a shivering little girl who I think has tonsillitis! She looks so sweet, small and vulnerable and well… sore!  Off to the doctor now. Ahh, the yin and the yang of life!

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It was my beloved dad’s third open-heart operation to replace a damaged heart valve. Three cardiologists had advised that they could not operate a third time, as his heart had become too scarred , but one heart surgeon had agreed to go ahead, giving my dad a fifty, fifty chance of coming out of the surgery alive.

My mom, sister and I were all in the hospital waiting room from early that morning. My sister was a doctor herself, but in this situation, she felt completely helpless.

And then my mother turned to us wordlessly and handed us each a valium. We were going to take it to help us deal with the fear. That was our coping mechanism- a valium!- to keep those awful feelings at bay.

That was roughly 20 years ago. I have learnt so much since then!

First and foremost I have learned that pushing your feelings away, perpetuates your weakness and ironically keeps them glued to you. You become trapped in a self- imposed prison, as you seek not to put yourself in any situation that would bring those feelings up again. Whenever you deny, suppress, eat over, medicate, work or even drink over your natural feelings , in an attempt not to feel, it defeats the whole purpose of the experience and deprives you of a great learning  opportunity – a chance to step into the next level of your evolution. How on earth could I have known this, then?

Allowing yourself to feel the feeling, breathe into it, be present with it as an actual physical sensation in your body and watching that feeling, observing it with curiosity and NOT making it wrong, is perhaps the most powerful response you can have to it. As the Persian poet Rumi said in his poem The Guest House; Welcome your feelings as if they were honored guests in your home. Open the door laughing and see them as having been sent to you as a guide from beyond.

Then realize that you do NOT have to believe or identify with everything your ‘voice of fear’ says. Your voice of fear (a term coined by Debbie Ford) is the voice of your ego, that part of you that sees you as separate and constantly under threat. Learning to dialogue with, observe and soothe your voice of fear as if it was a small, lost child, enables you to disidentify from its power and lessen its impact. Have you noticed that your fear is often well out of proportion with what is actually happening? Fear mixed with imagination, can be a toxic cocktail. In fact reality is seldom as bad as your thoughts about it.

And I want you to become aware of another voice deep within each and every one of you. It’s a still, silent voice, that Knows. A voice that you can access anytime if you just get quiet enough to LISTEN and TRUST. This voice can best be described as a wise, calm mentor to a terrified child. This is what Debbie Ford refers to as your ‘voice of faith.’ This is the voice that you need to learn to listen to, draw upon, and act upon. Honour it. Focus on it. Treat it as sacred and with reverence.

You must however remember : your voice of fear will not just go away. You cannot ‘get rid’ of it. It is part of your humanity.In fact you will notice that the more you push it away, the louder it gets. But if you learn to BALANCE it with your voice of faith.. in fact make the CHOICE to put your FAITH more in your voice of faith and less in your voice of fear, your entire life will change. You will build up the trust that we all so desperately need in order to feel safe and free in this world and you can finally begin to taste your own greatness.

My dad survived the operation, went back to work as a Supreme Court Judge, but died about two years later. Had I known how to listen to my voice of faith that morning, it would have told me that the outcome of his operation was not in my hands. It would have asked me to trust and have faith that whatever happened that day was going to be in his highest good, even if I couldn’t see it in that moment. My silence would perhaps have allowed me to feel how supported I was and how supported we all are when going through these traumatic experiences.

It would have invited me to begin learning more about the process of death and to begin reading the works and insights of some of the world’s greatest minds on the subject, now easily available in print to anyone who is in search of a deeper truth. Most importantly, my voice of faith would have encouraged me to feel whatever I was feeling, knowing that just by going through my emotions and not attempting to skirt around them, it enabled me to deepen my love for him, and to find my compassion for all of humanity and all our struggles.

Here is a tool I use every time I am in fear. I take a blank piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. On the left hand side I write Voice of Fear and under this all my fears, unedited. On the right hand side, I head it Voice of Faith. I get quiet, take a few deep breaths and listen. I may ask myself what is in my control here and what is out of my hands? How best can I handle this situation? Is there something I need to do? What wisdom does this experience hold for me and those around me ? I write down the answers and then , read my voice of faith back to myself whenever the fear surges up again. Then, when it is all over, I go back to the paper and check, in retrospect, which voice was closer to the truth? This is an excellent way to begin to build up trust in your voice of faith.

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