Archive for April, 2011

Apr 19 2011

Getting Free From the Grip of a Mindset – Mastering the Game of Life #71

I had an epiphany watching Tiger Woods play in The Masters recently. It was the last day of play and he was in the zone, playing like his old winner self and moving up in the pack. But then he made a mistake, and another, and another. He began to grimace, obviously upset with himself. His frustration only tightened the grip of this losing self that had taken over.

It became clear to me that the real Masters game of life is to become aware of these ego mindsets that hijack us, and to shift out of them and get back to present time, back to the soul zone of infinite possibilities. The ultimate winning is when we realize that we are not who we think we are – it is knowing that we are SO much more.

On the ego level there are many selves, personas, stories that we can get lost in and think that is who we really are. Like multiple personalities, each one takes on a life of it’s own, requiring and expecting different things. Each self believes that they are the only one and that this is the only way it is and ever will be.

In the book The Bell Jar, poet Sylvia Plath writes that her episodes of suicidal depression were like being in a bell jar where she could only see life through that oppressive distortion. I know what that feels like. In my late teens and early twenties I was also suicidal and, like Sylvia Plath, I experienced that through that filter of depression life did not seem worth living. In that context it seemed that life was unbearable, always had been and always would be — from that limited perspective I could not see it ever getting better. The bell jar is a dangerous place to be.

It was about that time that I started reading metaphysical books and realized that I was trapped in a mindset. I was excited and hopeful knowing that life would change if I could change my hardwired thoughts and beliefs. That was the big challenge that life was offering me. I accepted the challenge and after much work I eventually got free of the bell jar.

I was also trapped in a mindset about relationships – I believed that I was alone and always would be because I wasn’t good enough to be loved.  This was a painful self-fulfilling prophecy that served to keep me alone and, therefore, safe from the perceived greater pain of loving and being hurt. That mindset was only able to see the possibility of hurt. When I finally realized it was just a mindset, I set out to change it. I deliberately started seeing myself as a glorious, magnificent, beautiful soul. I bought a lavender glass swan as a symbol to remind me, “I’m not a duck, I’m a swan.” Imagining myself being loved became easier and easier, until it eventually became a reality.

In the book, Love for No Reason, Marci Shimoff talks about the love-body, which is the opposite of the pain-body (that painful mindset that Eckhart Tolle writes about in The Power of Now). The love-body is who we truly are. While the pain-body is contractive, the love-body is expansive. We can build our love-body by focusing on love. Having experienced cancer nipping at my butt, I am very motivated to focus on my heart and build my love-body — I know that in the realm of love there are infinite possibilities far beyond what any of my limited selves can imagine and create.

My love-body was tested recently. I had gotten into a bit of a funk and had fallen down the ‘rabid’ hole. It was a brief but intense revisiting of an old neural pathway of misery. I hadn’t felt that bad in many years, but I remembered well that terrible feeling of being unloved, unlovable and unloving. My husband Tom was being his sweet and loving self, but being loved was not congruent with this self I was trapped in. This self feels ugly and bad. Tom didn’t fit in with this miserable self’s story of woe. This self looked at him perplexed, “What is he doing here? He loves me? How could he love me? Doesn’t he know I’m unlovable?” In the midst of my misery, a witnessing part of me was watching all this, well aware that I was stuck in a pain-body, and knowing it would soon pass. This is what was different from all my depressions in the past – I had developed a witness that was able to see the light, even while I was in the grip of darkness.

In the thick of this episode I had a dream about being on a train that was filled with drama and danger. In the dream I had an ah-ha moment when I realized that it was all an illusion sprung forth from my imagination — I knew that I could focus on my heart and all the drama would fall away. The train represented my being hijacked by a runaway train of thought. Focusing on my heart brought the train back to the station, back to the present moment, back to my love-body. The train is also a symbol of me training myself to make that shift.

The greatest mastery in life is being able to shift out of our menagerie of mindsets and return to the present moment where love resides. I’d like to share with you a simple formula I devised that helps me do this, using the acronym NOW which stands for:

Notice — my body sensations, breath, feelings, thoughts and beliefs

Own — This is one of my selves. It is not who I am. Which self is this?

What’s the truth? — Who am I really? How is it really?

Here’s an example of this is from the recent brief bout of depression I described above: I notice that my breath is shallow, my body is rigid, and I feel angry, sad, and scared. I own that I’m stuck in a pain-body, I call her Chopped Liver, who feels unimportant and bad and is sad and mad about it. I ask myself, “What’s the truth?” The truth is I know that I am loved, that I’m important to people. I know that I’m important to myself. I see the reality check that Tom is in my life, showing me how far I have come, and I deeply value myself for that accomplishment. I take a deep breath, recognizing that I am a strong woman and a beautiful soul. The runaway train has returned to the station.

Are there mindsets of yours that take over and have you thinking it’s who you really are and how it really is? What are ways you stop these runaway trains of thought and return to the station, to your magnificent, present moment, True Self?

In Love,

Jan Jacobsen

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Apr 03 2011

It’s About Love! – Issue #70

I was deeply impressed years ago by a story actress Shirley Maclaine told about her father, a gruff, curmudgeonly old man, who was on his deathbed. He was drifting in and out of consciousness, back and forth between this world and the next, when suddenly he woke up, his eyes opened wide, and in a eureka moment he exclaimed, “I get it – it’s about love! It’s all about love!”

I get it too now. It’s one of the most rousing wake-up calls I’ve received from my cancer adventure. I am galvanized to use what time I have left in this earth suit to learn to love more, to open my heart, loving all my unloved body parts, loving my unloved feelings, loving this precious moment, loving others, loving life – I have woken up to the realization that it’s all about love!

Love is a powerful energy. In the book Healing with Love, Dr. Leonard Laskow, writes about experiments where he focused love on cancer cells in a petri dish, holding the intention that they return to a natural state of harmony. Within days the cancer cells actually decreased! I believe that the energy of love raises our vibration and all that is not love falls away.

I am therefore very motivated to actively cultivate the healing energy of love. Ever since my Big C journey began, I have been doing a practice when I wake up in the morning of imagining love flowing into my head from above, down to my heart and from my heart down my arms into my hands. I place my hands over my wounded lower region for several minutes while love flows through my hands into that area of my body. That could be one of the reasons I’m healing. I know that my whole being relaxes and feels uplifted when I do that.

Tom Kenyon recently wrote about doing a similar exercise as a way we can protect ourselves from radiation poisoning – hold a glass of water between our two hands and receive love from above our heads flowing down into our hearts, then send it down our arms into our hands, infusing the glass of water with love. The water is blessed with this higher vibration and as we drink it we become safe from toxins and radiation.

The Institute of HeartMath offers another simple formula for cultivating the energy of love and harmony in ourselves:

First, focus on your heart.

Then breathe through your heart.

Next imagine someone or something that evokes the feeling of love in you.

I put this formula to the test recently when I was having trouble falling asleep. I started to focus on my heart, breathing through my heart, imagining warm pink shimmering light in my heart, and feeling love and gratitude for Tom lying beside me. My monkey mind settled down and sweet sleep finally came! I do that every night now. I fall asleep in love.

We don’t have to have a partner to focus our love on. We can love anything, and the energy of love will be activated. Nearly every day I go on “I love” walks. As I walk, I love the yellow flowers, I love the mountains, I love the blue sky, I love the little scurrying lizards. Some days I need to love myself for not feeling very loving – I love my curmudgeon self. Love is love, it doesn’t matter what we love; all that matters is that we love.

Dis-ease and challenges can be a great form of resistance training for building our love muscles. Last October when I was feeling lousy from the effects of chemo and radiation and thought my days were numbered, to my surprise I decided to join a woman’s group. I’ve never been a ‘group’ person. I have wonderful, loving one-on-one relationships, but being in a group rattles my defenses about criticism and feeling controlled. It reactivates old family dynamics — my rebel imagines opposition and braces for a struggle, and therefore, that’s exactly what I create. I wondered, “What the heck am I doing in a woman’s group?”

Now I get it – it’s about love! My trouper soul says, “Oh goody – let’s use being in this group as a probe to bring up our ‘stuff’ so that we can exercise the act of choosing love. Let’s learn and grow as much as we can while we can.” (I love my trouper soul!) In my group I’m learning to shift my focus from my head, where the battle is taking place, to my heart, where peace and love prevail. As each woman speaks, I imagine a line of light from my heart to hers. When my critical mind starts to take over again, I shift my focus back to my heart. I end up feeling all warm and fuzzy, floating in a sea of oxytocin (our inner love potion). Through this filter of love I see the beauty of each woman, including myself, and I experience loving kindness from and towards these women.

I love sending out this newsletter but sometimes it brings up my fears of criticism, rejection and the fear of making a mistake. Several newsletters ago I did make a mistake – I forgot to do the blind copy for the e-mail addresses and sent it out with all of them exposed. I cringed. “Dang! I can’t believe I did that!” Then I remembered, “It’s about love. This is an opportunity to reprogram this fear and choose love. Instead of imagining criticism and rejection, I can imagine love.” I visualized the e-mail list forming the shape of a heart, and I sent love to the list as a whole, to all of you, and imagined love coming back from you, imagining lines of light from my heart to yours and yours to mine. I do that each time now when I send out a new newsletter. It’s all part of my training to love and feel loved.

What the world needs now is love, sweet love. It has been a difficult few weeks for me and for many people that I know. I think the disaster in Japan has unsettled people, triggering pain and stirring old internal debris. Many people are having their own personal inner earthquakes, tsunamis and meltdowns. I know that’s true for me. The other day there was an exquisite sunset and my friend Joy said, “Look, it’s an angel.” Contrasted vividly against the aqua blue sky was a large, bright, coral pink cloud that looked like an angel looking down on us. This was a beautiful, timely reminder to me that we are loved and watched over.

I heard Doreen Virtue speak recently about the angels. She said they told her that we have free will and therefore we have to ask them for help, otherwise they can’t help us. I remember how years ago I was having a dark night of the soul and prayed for help and just then a greeting card floated down from the shelf to the floor! I picked it up and it read, “You are so loved.” I get it now. I get that I am loved. I get that when I ask for help it comes. I finally get that it’s ALL about love!

I am building my home in love. It is the energy I want to cultivate and live in. I used to live in fear and visit love, but now, more and more, I live in love and occasionally visit fear. Love is becoming my home base…though I can always count on resistance training to present itself so that I can keep strengthening my love muscles. Sometimes it takes calamities and discord to wake us up to love. But it doesn’t have to…love is a moment-to-moment choice. Right now, I choose love.

How about you? Are you choosing love in this moment? It is our true home – home is where the heart is.

In Love,

Jan Jacobsen

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