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Alone but not lonely

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It was a chilly day, the wind whipping across the water as we stood out on the deck of a ferry crossing Milford Sound in the south island of New Zealand. She, a stranger, held out her camera to me and asked that I take her photo. I was careful to capture the crisp mountains and rainbow waterfalls framing her perfectly. She, then asked,” You traveling alone?” “Yes.” I replied. “Me too!” She laughed, “Guaranteed good company! When you’re by yourself, you’re guaranteed good company!”

Guaranteed good company…

 
I hadn’t thought of it that way, but she was right.
One thing I always liked about traveling and venturing out on my own was all the impromptu adventures and friends I made along the way.
 
But, there are a great number of people who fear being alone. Many of us find it frightening to travel alone, to take a class alone or find there’s no one to ask for help.
 
To avoid this fear of being alone, we will socialize endlessly, from jumping from one relationship to another, emailing constantly, or becoming absorbed in social media. Often times, to avoid being alone, we’ll end up in a relationship with someone who isn’t really good for us.
 
There’s a difference between being alone and feeling lonely.
 
Alone means there aren’t people with you.
 
Lonely is a feeling of disconnect, or longing despite having a great deal of social contact with others, or being in a relationship.
 
As mentioned in an earlier post Understanding Loneliness, people who struggle with feelings of loneliness of find their struggles have deeper roots.
 
Being alone is what you make of it.
 
To truly understand what makes being alone so painful, you must recognize that it probably comes from a deeper situation that may be uncomfortable to address.

  • Sometimes can be traced back to an unpleasant experience or past memory.
  • Some simply are bored when they are alone.
  • When in solitude, unpleasant thoughts and feelings can arise that you must then reflect on and process.
  • Sometimes, as an adult you keep trying to bring people into your world to soothe the lack of nurturing from childhood.
  • Social anxiety and fear of the thoughts of others.

 
So how can we learn to enjoy being by ourselves if it seems intimidating?
 
The secret to being alone you’ll find, is that it’s empowering. You make all the decisions and can be completely focused on and present in every experience.
 
You will be learning self-sufficiency and emotional independence, which is an act of strength. Time alone is an opportunity for growth and to get to known yourself.
 
Becoming acquainted with time alone may start small and simple.
 
Try spending small amounts of time alone, without your phone, laptop, TV, or radio. This quiet will allow you to become aware of yourself and surroundings. Ask yourself things like: What is my body telling me today? How do I feel today?
 
Eventually if you keep at this, you’ll grow used to setting time aside for yourself to be by yourself. You may spend your time going on hikes, reading books, creating artwork, or even writing that novel you’ve been thinking about.
 
I encourage you to go off on an adventure of your own, my friends, and know you’re guaranteed good company!
 
If you feel I may be of help, please call me at 206-428-1975
or email me: joanna@ascension-healing.com

with love,
Joanna 

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Cultivating Self-Love

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“In order to be able to truly love another person, a person needs first to love oneself, in the way of respecting oneself, and knowing oneself (e.g. being realistic and honest about one’s strengths and weaknesses).” – Eric Fromm

Hi Friends,
 
For anyone who’s ever been on a commercial flight, I’m sure you recall listening to the airplane safety presentation before take off. It includes elements such as these:
 
Exits are in the front of the plane, back, and over the wings; be aware the nearest exit may be behind you – look around.
 
Flotation devices are under the seats in the event of a water landing
 
If air pressure drops in the cabin, oxygen masks drop down from the overhead. Be sure to put your oxygen mask on before children or helping others.
 
Be sure to put your oxygen mask on before children or helping others.
 
It may seem selfish to take care of yourself first in a dangerous or potentially dire situation, but it really is an astute safety measure. The point is to make sure you can breath and are stable before assisting others; otherwise you will become a liability causing resources and time to be used to help you whereas otherwise it would have been unnecessary.
 
When you take care of yourself first, you can be more productive and then help others. And just like taking care of yourself first on an airplane, if you practice self- love and take care of yourself, you too will be more helpful, productive and overall happier in life.
 
It’s important to point out that loving oneself is different from being conceited, or egocentric. It means you care about yourself and take responsibility for yourself.
 
“Regaining of a quiet sense of pleasure in being one’s own self.” – Carl Rogers
 
Being aware of yourself, your needs and recognizing your worth are the keystone of cultivating self-love.
 
This starts by gradually learning to accept your weaknesses along with your strengths. It builds out of the thoughts and actions that you choose.
 
A few tips to help cultivate self love:
 
Mindfulness:
Start by checking in with yourself – begin to recognize what you feel, think, and want. Your thoughts dictate your emotions and actions. Slow down and listen what you’re saying to yourself and the thoughts that you’re having. Ask yourself how these are impacting your mood and behavior.
 
Self-Care
It’s important to enroll in healthy physical activities and exercise, and make sure you’re getting adequate sleep and nutrition. Set time aside for play, social interaction or quiet contemplation. Loving yourself through an established practice to meet your basic needs sets a foundation for further personal growth and wellness.
 
Boundaries
Consider what you can tolerate and accept and what makes you feel uncomfortable or stressed. This is a good way to set limits and recognize activities or interactions that aren’t good for you. Tune into your feelings to recognize what feels good and helpful or what stresses you and feels wrong. Be direct and clear with your wants and needs.
 
Loving ourselves isn’t a one-time thing.
It’s an ongoing process.

 

 

Understanding Loneliness

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understandingLoneliness
We’re going to talk about Loneliness.

I’m not going to give you a top 10 list of ways to meet people. You can find that all over the Internet and frankly, it won’t really help and will probably just piss you off because, I know that’s how I’d feel.
 
We’re going to go a little deeper.
 
This is especially poignant because I’m writing this while living in the Pacific Northwest, specifically Seattle, Washington, which is nationally known for the “Seattle Freeze”.  A good way to describe this “freeze” is that most folks that move here find it immensely difficult to make meaningful friendships or truly experience anything beyond surface pleasantries. People here are nice enough, but emotionally and socially distant. Another way to phrase it is: “You’re welcome onto the porch, but never in the house.” Thus “lonely” is a word often heard and an experience often felt.
 
When I initially moved out here to the Pacific Northwest, I was a resident in a local Buddhist Monastery. While living there, I had a close confident in an 86-year-old nun whom also was originally from the East Coast. She told me the reason people move out here to Seattle is to heal. There’s something about all the water and remoteness that draws those who are suffering.
 
Her point of suffering is where we’re going to start addressing loneliness.
 
Being lonely can mean not feeling part of the world despite having a great deal of social contact with others, or being in a relationship.

This is Internal Loneliness, which is different than the sort of environmental loneliness brought on by something like a relationship suddenly ending or a recent move to a new location. It’s important to understand the difference because it goes so much deeper.
 
Internal loneliness is a deeper more prolonged sense of loneliness. The causes usually come from within ourselves.

This deep sense of loneliness can happen for a number of reasons:
Low self-confidence
Seeing yourself as less or unimportant
But most importantly, a deep sense of loneliness may stem from childhood, and could be linked with feeling unloved or cared for as a child.
 
That’s a lot to take in, as this requires you to look back over your life and the length and breath of this loneliness and feelings of exclusion. This requires courage, so take a deep breath and give yourself a lot of patience.
 
If you’re looking back and seeing a long pattern of loneliness, it very well may be the result of childhood abandonment, and thus you abandoning yourself. (Remember to breathe)
 
Childhood abandonment results from:
• The loss of one or both parents to death or divorce
• Physical/sexual abuse
• Neglect
• Withheld nurturing, affecting or stimulation
• Or even a parent whom had an alcohol or drug addiction or mental health condition.
 
Children are totally dependent on caretakers to provide safety and basic needs. When this isn’t provided, the grow up believing the world is not a safe place, that people cannot be trusted, and that they do not deserve positive attention and proper care.
 
When we are children, we have no other experience of the world and this being the first experience, it becomes the baseline or standard for everything else.
 
As an adult this can manifest as:
• Feelings of insecurity & mistrust

• Depression
• Anxiety & Isolation
• Inability to commit or follow through
 
A common adult symptom of abandonment issues, is finding yourself in unhealthy relationships that reinforce negative beliefs, even though you’re looking for love & acceptance.
 
Does this sound familiar?
 
What does one do?
 
First it’s important to understand that this isn’t your fault! It is by no way an indictment of your innate goodness or value.
But it does take time, hard work, and patience to separate fears from the past from the reality of the present.
 
These feelings of loneliness and abandonment can seem overwhelming, but they can be managed and overcome.
• Explore ways to care for yourself
• Develop a way to ground and center yourself when feeling fears arise
• Communicate needs
• Have appropriate boundaries
• Build a sense of trust
 
My friends, you all deserve love and happiness.

 

Accepting Love

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Lent is known as time of spiritual purification and solemnity.

Typically, it’s marked by giving something up, to discipline and provide control over oneself to purify the heart and renew ones life. In recent years, I’ve forgone giving up simple physical pleasures such as chocolate or liquor, and chosen to give up deliberately intense things such as: Fear. Deliberately seeking the things that frighten me (within reason) and doing them. The result: Fear, anxiety, rejection no longer control me. I am free.

This year, I have chosen to actively accept Love in all forms. It is surprising and sometimes disconcerting facing my inner dialogue regarding Love. But, as I found when I faced Fear, I became more Fearless; when accepting Love, I’ve become more Loving. There is absolutely something to the law of attraction when it is truly taken to heart, as opposed to merely employed as a mental construct. Allowing love, and receiving love, I was surprised by these lovely roses delivered to my door.

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So, my Friends, I urge all of you to look deeply into your hearts at the things you may be resisting, and go there. Maybe a little discipline and a inner reflection is all that is needed for profound and uplifting change in your life.

Giving & Receiving

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Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened.  Happiness never decreases by being shared.
― Buddha

I’ve been reflecting a lot on the process of Giving and Receiving.
Receiving creates a moment of connection

Why is it easier and seemingly more acceptable to give than to receive?

There are several reasons for this.
To an extent, resisting receiving, whether it’s help, a compliment or a gift may stem from a fear of intimacy.  It is a subtle way to defend the heart and the risk of connection. Giving can provide a type of control; and there also may be the belief that it’s selfish to ask or receive.

These are very sensitive observations.
Giving and receiving are two sides of the same coin of intimacy…and ultimately, love.

Recognizing we too, deserve help and love not only provides the pleasure of giving to the giver, but opens our hearts towards acceptance of one’s self. Receiving allows us to reveal a vulnerable part of ourselves. Acknowledging and staying in this tender place, we’re more available to receive the gifts we’re offered every day.

Whenever we obstruct or inhibit the flow of energy, it will result in limitation, frustration, and stagnation. Therefore, it only makes sense that we embrace the way of giving as well as joyful receiving.

By receiving with a tender self-compassion, we’re allowing ourselves to be touched by life’s gifts. Allowing ourselves to receive graciously is a gift to the giver. It conveys that their giving has made a difference.

Each day, each encounter, bring a gift may it be a smile, a compliment or a flower.

Each day, each encounter, be open to the gifts life has to offer; be it warm sunlight or first snow.

Each day commit to the flow of giving and receiving, especially the gifts of appreciation, caring and love.

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