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    Mental Health, Spirituality

    Inadequacy

    I have moments where I’m completely swallowed in a feeling of inadequacy. It’s like a continued feeling of sinking deeper and deeper into quicksand- I try to maneuver my way out of it, but sometimes I just have to surrender to it. I 100% know that this feeling is shared by many of us. It’s not just me who finds herself locked into the uncomfortable, confusing feeling.

    The Buddha teaches that all suffering is a direct relation to this feeling of separateness. Identifying as the separate self makes us feel disconnected, alone, and like something is missing within us. This identification as a separate self can also cause us to become victim to the comparison game. Comparing our lives to an image we see of others, seeing their lives as so different and disconnected from our own. I’ve been trying to witness the moments in which I feel inadequate, in which the “incompleteness” wound becomes re-opened. To just witness them and not fall into the stories that come with this wound is one of the greatest challenges of them all.

    Here’s the thing: I find that so many of us feel inadequate because we’ve been conditioned to think we need to be fixed- we’ve been conditioned to believe that holding onto this feeling of incompleteness and developing such a strong feeling of self-hatred for ourselves will make us tougher and take us further in the long run.

    I was asking myself this week- where is this feeling of inadequacy arising from? What triggers it? For me it’s always getting caught in the tight grip of individualism, and seeing myself as disconnected from others… seeing myself as incapable of measuring up to others and questioning over and over again my worthiness. When I  measure myself up to others, I’m forgetting how connected we all are by this thread of humanity, by the thread of our human hearts. The measuring up to others- it’s something we’ve been conditioned to do, a behavior rooted in individualism. I have found that this feeling arises when I hold onto the old story that loving myself does not make sense as I am so flawed & imperfect. There is a part of me that holds onto the story that I am incomplete and inadequate because it makes me tougher, have you noticed that our western culture drills into every crevice of our brain that you have to keep hating yourself until you are worthy of love? When I get caught in this train of thought, love and acceptance slip through my fingertips.

    Pema Chodron says that the truth we believe and cling to makes it impossible to hear and be open to anything new. How can we be open to the feeling of wholeness and completeness within ourselves if we keep clinging onto inadequacy and incompleteness? To surrender to this story so many of us have been telling us seems easy on paper but applying it to our everyday lives is tough.

    Tara Brach’s “RAIN”  approach to these uncomfortable feelings is so helpful.

    R: Recognize what’s going on

    A: Allow the experience to be there

    I: Investigate with kindness

    N: Natural awareness that comes from not identifying with the experience

    -> Recognize the feeling of inadequacy. Allow the feeling to simply be there. Investigate this feeling. Gain awareness of it without grasping onto the feeling/ situation.

    My Wednesday night prayer is this:

    May all humans awaken from the false idea that we are incomplete, inadequate, unworthy. May we all release our firm grip to these feelings. May we awaken to the idea that we are truly all connected in this experience on earth, that we are never alone in any of these feelings. May we find solace and comfort in the idea of connectedness and togetherness. May we look at ourselves through a lens of compassion. May we not get lost in the swarm of thoughts that can arise in our minds, may we learn to let them go and let ourselves be. Lyss.png

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    Lessons

    Lessons on Being Human

    I had a dream two months ago- I climbed a mountain and we were almost at the top, but there was a higher point I just had to get to. Everyone that was with me told me if i tried getting to that point I could possibly die. Or get caught in negative degree temperatures overnight. In my stubborn nature I climbed to that point, and I woke up wrapped in fear and a lump in my throat. I told three different people about this dream, trying to figure out what the hell it meant. Did it symbolize the preciousness of life? Or how I could literally die at any moment?

    Death- such an interesting thing, to be in this body and then just… not. The amount of times I’ve flirted with death brings a tight feeling to my chest. But when I think of this dream, and two months later I still find myself thinking of it… I am reminded this: I am going to have my last exhale one day. My last breath. And my god it’s not going to fucking be wasted over how I look. What i’m eating. It’s not going to be over this physical body. This body isn’t even me- I just somehow dropped into it which is a miracle in itself.  In the Bhagavad Gita Lord Krishna instructs Arjuna to detach from his body to find liberation, to find peace. So, I look at all the times I’ve identified with this body and it’s brought me nothing but pain. I still have a lot of work to do in this “healing” process. But I know this, even if it’s something as little as a dream I had one night in February: white-knuckling my way through this life gripping onto the bits of my eating disorder that are left behind is a precious waste of energy. and if you are struggling with an eating disorder, it’s a precious waste of your energy too.To grip onto ANYTHING to help numb ourselves from our pain and give us that brief feeling of control: drugs, alcohol, exercise… it’s just not going to do it- you aren’t going to be set free. Because ultimately so many aspects of this life are out of our control. Ram Dass says that in this freedom we will be emerged in both the lightness and dark. THIS is our humanness. And because we are human we can bear it all.

    Within our humanness comes the highs and lows, the light and dark. Many of us are chasing for the highs and self-medicating when we feel the lows. This self-medicating can feel never-ending. In my personal experience it has. I compare my eating disorder to an addiction. Because when I gave into it, it always asked for more. Bits and pieces of my heart chipped off for a disease that helped me escape the deep rooted feelings of inadequacy I felt about myself. Lately I’ve been asking myself these two questions: are we all addicted to these feelings of unworthiness? Why are we holding onto that feeling? Maybe it’s societal conditioning. Or maybe it feels more comforting to get lost in the feeling of unworthiness, as worthy can sometimes feel like being caught in a new town with everyone speaking a different language. When I dive deep into this feeling of unworthiness and why we all run from it with destructive behaviors, I notice that we run because we don’t want to ever feel the lows. The self-medicating takes us away from fully feeling those feelings. We have all been removed from our truth at one point or another: this truth of being capable to embrace it all-  being able to embrace these feelings knowing we AREN’T actually the feeling, and being able to embrace the beauty of our humanness. 

    My mantra is this: I want to be here for ALL of it. Every single bit of it. Not just in the sunshine and light, in the darkness and cold. And when I find myself in the dark spots of my mind, I will BE in them. Not running from them, or numbing them out with a behavior that will hurt me. These emotions we feel, they are like waves. Some big, some small. I ask myself this: something that my yoga teacher told me almost two years ago: “How can you learn to ride the waves?” I believe we can all learn to be surfers- every single one of us.

    Thank you for reading and being here with me. May we all drop into our humanness today, living from our boundless hearts that have the capacity to carry it all.

     

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    Mental Health, Spirituality

    Our Stories.

    The stories you and I have told ourselves are most probably false.

    “I am stuck in this pain. I can only find happiness if I get this relationship, or morph my body this way, or make x amount of money a year. I am stuck in pain, I will never heal. I am only good at doing this one thing. I have to get a certain job to please those around me even if it makes me feel miserable. I will always be depressed and anxious. Food controls my life. Addiction to exercise is all I have.” – False stories 

    Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield discusses in length how we need to detangle ourselves from these stories. So often we can get lost among these stories. And when we are lost in the stories, our beliefs about ourselves often get misconstructed too. If I attach to the story that I am not good enough, and that pain will never fully leave me, how am I setting myself up for a chance to liberate myself and find happiness? We essentially are digging ourselves into deeper holes of darkness and confusion when we attach to these false stories. We are also taking ourselves out of the present moment- instead of living with what is here and now, we are living in the story that is on repeat in our minds.

    I still cling onto stories I tell about myself. Last fall, I clung onto the story that I was going to be stuck in the pain I was feeling. I clung onto the story that people didn’t like me. I gripped onto the belief that I had to constantly be busy to find a greater sense of self-worth. I spent many days in front of mirrors ripping myself into shreds because of the acne I was experiencing. All of these attachments I was holding to these stories was causing me greater pain. Humans are so wonderful at making things harder for themselves than necessary.

    Maharajji says, “love everyone, serve everyone, remember God, and tell the truth.”

    I believe it’s truly that simple. But our ego makes it complicated- getting caught in false stories and believing these stories as true. When we tell ourselves these false stories, we aren’t telling ourselves the truth- or practicing the yogic principle of satya (truthfulness).

    Often times our stories get longer and maybe even louder when we add comparison to the mix. Comparison is a deceitful action towards the self. A mental affliction that I believe we have been conditioned to do. An action that can in turn, lead to an influx of stories being created in our minds. “I’m not as good as Suzy at school. John makes x amount of money and has 3 different degrees. Lucy has flawless skin and the most perfect boyfriend.” We are measuring ourselves to another, and determining our worth based on something outside of us.

    Sharon Salzberg says, “As we constantly try to decide, through comparison with others, who we are, what is important about us, whether or not we are happy, that churning of the mind in itself undermines our happiness. Comparison or conceit is a gnawing, painful restlessness. It can never bring us to peace, because there is no end to the possibilities for comparison.”

    So where does it end? The story telling in our minds, the pain, the suffering. The pain and suffering doesn’t end: that’s part of our human experience, the first noble truth of Buddhism stating that suffering and pain is part of this reality. But our ability to rewrite our stories is something we have control over. I really believe that through spiritual practice, one can do this. One can work to recondition his/her brain to let go of these painful stories. One can work to recondition his/her brain to stop having these stories be on repeat. One can learn to quiet the noise.

    My prayer continues to be this: that people start telling themselves new stories. One’s that feel light in their heart instead of heavy on their shoulders. One’s in which people smile when they get out of bed in the morning instead of pull the covers further over their head. One’s in which people hug their bodies instead of closing their lips to food or sketching marks across their wrists. This is my prayer- that we all be happy,  that we all be safe, and that we all find ease. And my prayer for myself of course is the same, the same act of metta (loving kindness) I’ve been meditating on. But my prayer is also this: something I have awakened to over this past year: I pray I can help  alleviate the pain and suffering others are feeling using spirituality and the knowledge I have gathered as well as the knowledge I will continue to gather. I pray I can help people be free from these stories and relinquish the suffering buried deep in their chest. 

    Ram Dass said, “Go behind your own polarities too- not to “I am good” or “I am lovable,” but go behind them to “I am.” “I am” includes the fact that I do beautiful things and I do crappy things. And I am. As you start to rest in the space of “I Am,” you begin to feel emotions from a different perspective and become impeccable in the way you play the game. Loving those emotions helps to release them.”

    We just are. I am, you are. And because we can all rest in this “I am” statement, we are already so much more connected than we think. Connected by our pain, our stories, our happiness, our suffering. In this state of connectedness is when we can open our hearts to compassion- compassion for ourselves, for others, and for all beings.

    May all beings be free from danger. May all beings be free from mental suffering. May all beings be free fro physical suffering. May all beings know peace. OM.

    Thank you for reading this far. My heart is with you always. Lyss.png

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    Mental Health, Spirituality

    Thoughts- 3/11, 10:41 pm.

    I wonder why teenage girls pick up habits of self-destruction- do you think it’s because mistreating ourselves is portrayed as a sort of seduction?

    But when I see young women in this world I want to look into their eyes and tell them to not run down this hill of self-hatred, for this hill holds nothing sacred.

    And I wish I could look at my 14 year old self in the eyes and ask her this- who strayed you away from the idea that this life can feel like bliss? I’d love to look at my 14 year old self and whisper into her ear, “everything you need is truly right here.”

    For when I see the “not-good enough wound” being opened and opened throughout this world, I fear for the state of the female population, and wonder what will it take to abolish this fixation? This fixation of looking at ourselves with holes that need to be sewn together, seeing ourselves as incomplete and something that always needs fixing. But what if we taught women, young and old, that there is truly nothing missing?

    But maybe some were meant to run and run down that dangerous hill, or take those pills, or feel like they were sinking into a hole of nothingness because they were mentally ill.

    Imagine who you’d be without all of your experiences in this human life, who would you be now if it was not for your sometimes deoxygenating pain and with the wound of not feeling enough that left you feeling completely drained?

    What I think is this: we are all living our stories, we are living our karmas. And these karmas can certainly be our dharmas.

    I do not regret the years I spent anchored to my pain, anchored to my eating disorder/ depression/ anxiety. It was all a part of this plan that is unveiling before my eyes as I am committed to not run from the shadows I have found myself hiding from. I am learning to forgive myself over and over again for what I have done to my body, for the thoughts I have cultivated in my mind about myself. I am learning to see that this earth holds me so tenderly, that this body is a creation of love, and that happiness is my divine birthright. I am learning all of this.

    But-

    I would still like to understand this: why are so many feeling caught in such destructive behaviors, why are so many on this rotating ball of mass feeling trapped in this “not good enough” feeling, why are so many suffering.

    I thought for many years my purpose was to help those specifically with eating disorders, and while I do believe this is a purpose of mine I know I have to go deeper. Let’s get to the root of our pain. We are linked together through these feelings of pain. This feeling of pain that so many are numbing through eating disorders, drugs, alcohol, self-harming, excessive exercise… we are a population that has succeeded with the art of numbing our pain. I’ve been trying to understand suffering more. Buddhism has helped me tremendously. Hinduism has as well. The Bhagavad Gita teaches me how much pain can fall into our laps when we grip onto the idea that everything is permanent, instead of realizing that this life is constantly flowing and changing, and nothing lasts forever.

    I would like to hug every person in this world suffering with something or who is numbing their pain with some destructive behavior and tell them to open their fists and let go. Sometimes I feel as if we hold onto the idea that suffering makes us stronger, that without pain we can find no gain, but I’d say that’s a load of shit. I’d say that sometimes society has conditioned us into believing that we are not worthy of happiness, or that we will be more worthy of happiness if we have this body/ this job/ this relationship/ this amount of money. So how do you choose to escape that sort of thinking?

    Unlearn what you have learned. 

    To my sweet sisters and brothers in the midst of suffering, in the shallows of discomfort-

    My prayers are for you that you sink into that feeling, and give yourself support.

    For sometimes our discomfort can feel we are caught in an endless expansion of darkness.

    But if there’s one thing I’ve come to learn, it’s that allowing ourselves to sit in the mess can be our biggest success.

    Our suffering is part of this reality but not something we must get so firmly attached to.

    And when you are looking for answers on how to make it end, when you are seeking and seeking for that one thing that will make it all better, can you hold the mirror to yourself and see that person… that answer- it’s you.

    So when Rumi says that you are the universe in esctatic motion, when Rumi says that you are not just a drop in the ocean but the entire ocean in a drop, Rumi was correct. And to know these facts yet feel as if we are nothing but our pain, to know these facts and think that we aren’t good enough- we are giving UP. Giving up on seeing the vastness of our potential. Giving up of the brightness that is our own light.

    Healing is a journey. It takes time. So my prayers today and always are for greater healing across the nation. May we know that we are NEVER alone in our pain.

    Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu.

    Peace, peace, peace.

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    Mental Health

    On feeling.

    Feeling. What a beautiful gift to be given. To feel this life so strongly.

    I was driving a few days ago down the highway. No traffic, the song “Sedona” playing and a decaf almond milk latte in one hand. An empty road, a favorite song, and a warm drink had the capacity to evoke so much feeling in me. And in those moments all I could think is wow, what a gift to feel this life so strongly.

    I think I’ve always felt things pretty strong. My heightened sensitivity has served me in this life, but has also felt like a curse. It has left me crying on bedroom floors. It has left me beating myself up non-stop with any sort of criticism I received. It has left me questioning if someone likes me because of a certain energy I felt from them. It has left me shying away from large crowds, or being afraid of louder personalities.

    But man, what sensitivity has given me… what the ability to feel this life has given me is indescribable. But, I wanted to try to describe it here. And share some moments where my heart felt like it was outpouring love from the seems, and where my heart also felt like it was slowly being pounded and buried into the ground.

    ~~~~~

    *One time when I was 18 I was driving home from giving a speech to an eating disorder recovery center. The center I went to. At this time in my life I felt like I was waking up to the divine power of using my voice and speaking my truth. Sharing our stories… a true force to be reckoned with when we open our lips and share the times in which we wanted to crawl out of our skin but somehow, in someway, forced ourselves back in. And learned to live with our shadows. Learned to nourish our bodies and befriend ourselves. At 18 I shared my story to a group of girls that were hurting. A type of hurt you can feel when you look into someone’s eyes and their glance back is just screaming to actually be SEEN. To be seen for an individual who yes, is suffering… but an individual who is no the wounds found on their wrists but an individual who is SO much more. Who is love.

    *November 29, 2016. I turned 20. I spent the entire day walking around feeling like a black hole was growing in my stomach and my heart was slowly being pulled in. What outsiders see as a smile and a put together life was simply a girl feeling like she needed to escape from this reality. A feeling that is utterly terrifying, one you wish upon no one. But a feeling that taught me everything. Wanting to end my time on this planet and close this chapter of my existence showed me the beauty of living. Of each step. Of each breath. Depression- you have taught me so much, so many lessons that came in the path of pain. I am glad I continued to walk this path instead of being swallowed into that black hole.

    *Hiking to the top of a mountain= freedom. Badass sort of feeling. You feel so small and so expansive at the same time. Powerful and mighty, yet your problems become so small. Me on a mountain, the air is crisp and silence surrounds me. A thank you to my legs for carrying me. For me feet for continuing to take steps.

    *Laying sprawled out on my bedroom floor crying in another country. An interesting combination of feelings bursting out of my body. Frustration, sadness, anger towards myself. How could I have welcomed demons back into my life that I thought I outcasted for good? To struggle with nourishing your body, to restrict your body from what it truly needs is like whispering to your heart- to your soul… “I don’t love you enough.”

    *Teaching yoga. Humbling. Exciting. Joyful. A combination of it all. Not feeling good enough as a teacher. Feeling proud. To be able to lead a group of humans through a practice I love so much, to a practice that has touched me in more ways I can describe: something I will always be grateful for.

    *Sitting in a coffee shop, looking around at unfamiliar faces and wondering what each person’s story entails. Did they experience the same pain I did? The same joy? Knowing that the answer to both of those questions are yes, for pain and joy are our birthrights. We are connected together as humans by both. Making eye contact with another, smiling as we sip on our hot drinks being careful to not burn our tongues. Students working, people chatting. Books being read, the quiet and chaotic feel of something as small as a coffee shop.

    ~~~~~

    To feel, to feel is a gift. Please do not think of it any differently. All of these feelings. We can witness them all without latching onto them. To feel is a blessing. A blessing we all get to experience in our short time on earth. To cry, laugh, smile- all serve as expressions of energy housed within our cells. Don’t be afraid to express this energy. Paint. Write. Cry. Scream. Dance. Give yourself permission to feel. Keep your heart open.

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    Lessons, Spirituality

    On Happiness.

    I believe we are all searching for this idea of happiness that is totally unattainable.

    Society has painted this image of happiness being something we have to keep seeking. I have personally fallen into this trap of equating happiness to something outside of me, without even realizing it.

    I often ask myself: If I stripped away everything I had, all of these things that do bring me joy: could I still cultivate happiness? To answer yes is my goal. Because answering yes would mean that I can be happy in whatever conditions I am living in. Answering yes would mean I do not have to run for better conditions to be happy. Answering yes would mean that there are plenty of conditions for me to be happy with right here, right now.

    Happiness is not “I am happy because I have this job that makes me a ton of money.” Happiness is not “I am happy because I feel super productive today.” All of those things can produce a SENSATION of happiness, but sensations do not last forever.

    Thich Nhat Hanh says that it is possible for us to be happy just by simply being alive and taking a breath. He says that we can find happiness with each sip of tea or through washing dishes. “We must stop running,” he said. 

    A story from my personal life: 

    I realized this past winter how much I was running. Not legitimately running, but running from my uncomfortable feelings. And trying to run towards happiness. I used to place my happiness in all external things or in the labels I created for myself. This lead towards a lot of running, instead of dropping into the happiness and contentment that is present within each moment. I used to be SO happy because I was “that gym girl” and got up super early every morning to go lift heavy weights. I used to be SO happy because I was that “perfect student” that received praise for her grades. I used to be SO happy because I was super busy and had a jam packed schedule. But I was never happy for simply just being. It always took running to cultivate this feeling of happiness instead of realizing I didn’t have to run, I didn’t have to do all these things to be happy. I could be happy on an empty bedroom floor.

    *Important note: I am definitely not perfect at this practice of happiness. I am a work in progress like the rest of us humans on this path. *

    “A man asked Gautama Buddha, “I want happiness.” Buddha said, “first remove ‘I,” that’s Ego, then remove ‘want,’ that’s desire. See now you are left with only ‘happiness.'”

    The thing is that my life does not fall into society’s definition of perfect. I found myself in depression this past fall, and I am still working on overcoming that. I found myself in some struggles with my eating disorder that partially manifested from a desire to heal my acne and using food to do so, yet just continued on taking over my life in an unpleasant, very unhealthy way. I am not in a romantic relationship. I don’t have tons of friends. I cry on my bedroom floor in fetus position. I am simply just a human being. But with all of these things that are deemed “imperfect,” I am happy. I am still capable of happiness because that’s all we have- happiness for each moment, for each day, for each breath. Happiness in knowing that we can cultivate that feeling without another person giving it to us, or another thing, or activity. Happiness in knowing that there are endless amounts of conditions to be happy RIGHT in this moment, so we don’t have to keep running to find more. Happiness in feeling PEACEFUL in our minds and CONTENT in our heart.

    “The most complete and true happiness comes in moments when you feel right there, completely present, with no ideas about good and bad, right and wrong- just a sense of open heart and open mind.” -Pema Chodron 

    As Pema Chodron says, searching for happiness prevents us from every really finding it. So, universe. To the humans who are reading this, let’s stop searching. Divinity is in us all. That is something to smile about. In our hearts we house peace, contentment, happiness… let’s tap into that. We are all that we need right here in this moment.

    Prayers for peace and a greater understanding of what happiness truly is. Love and light to you. May you see that you are composed of love and light- may we all see that within ourselves.

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