You Matter

 

 

You matter. You have always mattered. Let the dust settle that contains all the reasons you thought you didn’t matter. Ah!–there is your gem self! Welcome home, my love, welcome home. 

Here’s a self-friendly compassionate perspective to help you shift:

  • My clients are wonderful-hearted people who can be so very tough on themselves because they still believe the “error” messages they got ten, twenty, fifty years ago. As kids, one of the most hurtful things that can happen to us is when the important adults in our lives don’t explain to us what is going on in difficult situations. As a child we get confused and start to believe things like “I don’t matter,” “There’s something wrong with me,” “If they find out who I really am they won’t like me.”  
  • Meanwhile, what’s really going on with the adults are things that are totally out of kids’ control, like parents being mean, rageful, distant, anxious, having affairs, depression, being neglectful, losing a job, reacting to a death in the family, illness, parents having unhealthy relationship patterns, and being abusive emotionally, physically, or sexually to their kids.
  • Our internal critics–the “tapes,” the peanut gallery, the mean voices–these critics all got “hired” by you as a kid when the only way to make sense of a hurtful situation was to start believing these “error” messages. Kids can’t handle not understanding a difficult situation, and in the absence of a grounded adult offering help, support and understanding about life’s difficulties and especially taking responsibility for their actions as caregivers, kids have to make some kind of meaning in order to stay sane. If an adult isn’t there to take responsibility and explain to their child what is going on, then what all kids do is to take the blame onto themselves and begin to believe that there is something wrong with them. That’s just how the psychology of children works. Kids have to make some kind of sense of things in order to stay sane, and even if it’s the wrong message that’s better than no message at all. Because to not have anything make sense on the one hand, or on the other hand to clearly realize that a parent is out of control somehow, that would be utterly terrifying. In the bind of loving the person who is causing the hurt, kids blame themselves, not their caregivers. That’s when as a kid you began to point at yourself and started to believe you were not enough, didn’t matter, were faulted. At the time, you simply couldn’t afford to believe that parents or caregivers were being hurtful, or neglectful, or out of control, because that would be too frightening.
  • Here’s the good news. You can look at it this way–when your only option was to start believing the negative messages about yourself in order to survive, you also did something else really important: You put your Wise Self, your unique Gem, away on a shelf and you did this to keep yourself safe. Now is the time to let the dust settle and come home to who you have always been. It’s time to begin to take yourself off the shelf and be you!
  • Something that might sound odd at first but that really helps is to sit quietly and actually thank the negative voices. You might say something like, “You just don’t want me to get hurt, and that’s the only way you know how to do it. Thanks for trying to protect me.” This often brings some settling and calm. Then notice who is doing the thanking. That is your Wise Self, being generous to your kid and to the security team of negative thoughts that was the only option you had to deal with the pain. And when you are seated more in your Wise Self, and in the self-compassion and generosity to yourself, you start to come home to you and that just feels so much better!
  • Then give yourself a little hug, each hand on the opposite upper arm, squeeze, and breathe, 
  • Even if you feel the release for just two or three seconds, even if you begin to believe in yourself just one-hundreth of a percent, even if the voices come back three seconds later, that is enough! Congratulations, you have started to come home to You, to make a new neural connection which you can continue to build on as you discover yourself as an Amazing being.

Take-Anywhere, Awesome Reset Practice

The Body says:
I am a fiesta.  

-Eduardo Galeano 

Here’s an easy practice to press your reset button. It quickly gets your brain and body producing harmony-hormones instead of stress-hormones. 

  • Take-Anywhere, Awesome Reset Practice:
  • Big stretch
  • Yawn
  • Sigh out loud with a sound, Ahhh
  • Follow the warmth, release, flow
  • Three breaths, in nose, out mouth with a sigh.
  • Enjoy the stillness.

Say you’ve been slumped over looking at your computer for several hours. Did you know that the brain reads posture like opening a software program! 

When you are slumped or hunched over, you literally can’t get a full breath: your lungs can’t fully expand because your ribs are contracted. The result is that blood flow—and thus the amount of oxygen delivered to your brain—is noticeably less. Here comes the software program part: 

Because there is less blood delivered to the brain, and thus less oxygen to the brain, the brain reads “less oxygen” as “threat.” The brain doesn’t know you are just sitting too long staring at a screen. Instead, it reads the less oxygen as threat and signals your organs to produce hormones that deal with threat, and you start to feel a vague background sense of unease. 

In order to wash the stress hormones out of your system and bring a brighter view of life back online try the following. You can do this seated at your desk: 

  • Stretch your arms up and arch your back 
  • Yawn—a big one—show your fillings!
  • Make an audible sigh while you sigh, a sound, ahhhhhh. Making this kind of actual sound signals to your nervous system the you are safe.
  • Follow the warmth, flow, release from the stretch and yawn. Savor these feelings, like you’d savor a bit of biscotti dipped in a latte. Sit with the pleasure a few moments.
  • Now slowly breathe in your nose and out your mouth three times with an audible sigh on the out breath.
  • Lengthen yourself by “finding your sits bones”— wiggle your sits bones a few times, then let your spine rise from your pelvis, and sense your head floating naturally on top of your spine. It’s fine to use the back of the chair for light support. Don’t “sit up straight” as that is effortful. Instead find your sits bones and your body will naturally find peace with gravity.  
  • Finally, visualize something beautiful or remember a kind act you witnessed.
  • Then “take the elevator down” into your chest and let the felt sense of this fill you for a moment.

If you’d like some relaxing music, please check out my award-nominated Blue Lilah trance-ambient-worldmusic album Medicine Songs

Send You Love In The Morning

One of the first songs I ever wrote arrived in my heart and mind when I was on a wilderness quest in Death Valley many years ago. It’s called Send You Love. You can find the words below. I send you love this morning! Please remember you are a unique and amazing being. Let’s keep supporting one another during this challenging time.

  • Watch a short snippet of me singing Send You Love in a recent live performance here: WATCH HERE
  • Listen to the complete song on my first album Finally Home on Bandcamp
  • Explore my music website at kathleendunbar.com

 

Send You Love
By Kathleen Dunbar
Copyrighted by Kathleen Dunbar

Send you love in the morning
Send you love when you open your eyes
Send you love in the morning
Send you love when you open your eyes

Send you peace in the evening, my dear
Send you peace when you’re closing your eyes
Send you peace in the evening
Send you peace when you’re closing your eyes

Send you hope in the darkness
Send you hope when you are alone
Send you hope in the darkness
Send you hope to welcome you home

Send you joy in the spirit of love
Send you joy with arms spread out wide
Send you joy for you just as you are
Send you joy from all that’s alive

Send you love in the morning
Send you love when you open your eyes
Send you love in the morning
Send you love when you open your eyes

 

“At the Beach”–A Short, Easy and Refreshing Grounding Exercise You Can Do Anywhere!

At The Beach* 

*A variation is to go into the forest where a river is flowing nearby. 

  • Sit or lie comfortably in a quiet room. 
  • Let yourself softly breathe in and out several times. On the outbreath make a sighing sound. 
  • Now imagine yourself at your favorite beach. It could be a real beach you’ve visited, or an imaginary one. 
  • For this exercise, this is a beach where only you may go, so you have a lot of privacy. 
  • Begin to fill in the details of your experience: Feel the warm sand under your feet, or the cool pebbles if it is a shingle beach. See the immense sweep of the beach. What trees are there? What birds? What color is the water? Smell the salt air. Fill in all the details. 
  • Now especially listen for the pounding as the waves fall upon the beach and feel the reverberation in your bones. Hear the ssssst as the waves withdraw. Be with that rhythm, ever constant and ever varying. 
  • Now, give one layer of anything that you’d like to let go of to the outgoing tide. It could be a tension, an ache, a worry, a tightness. Just one little layer at a time. Don’t worry about trying to give it all away. Just give a little bit to the outgoing tide, knowing that the tide will take care of it. If a thought or worry returns, just give that next layer away also to the tide. Notice your experience as the layer leaves out, out, out to sea. 
  • As you let go of little layers, allow yourself to begin to notice yourself feeling more space for yourself or perhaps it is yummy softening. You might notice you are taking a bigger breath—savor the bigger breath and the spaciousness in your chest. You might notice the pleasant weight of your bones, the warmth of your breath, your feet on the ground. As you feel yourself slowing down and your mind empties, savor the quiet and the slowing pace. Let yourself take time with any relief, peace, spaciousness, weight of your bones, calmness, slowness. 
  • Notice in a playful way who is noticing—this is your True Self, your Home Base You. 
  • Thank the world for it’s beauty, and notice what that thanking brings. 
  • Thank yourself for allowing yourself to be with the beauty, and noticing what that thanking brings.

Take a Free Virtual Tour of 12 Famous Museums from your Couch!

While you are at home during COVID-19, take a tour of a famous museum! Here are 12 famous museums that offer you free virtual tours of fascinating exhibits that you can enjoy from your couch! Follow the link: Take A Virtual Museum Tour

Countering the Effects of Social Distancing through Live Video Connections with Friends and Family

Here’s a short video from Stephen Porges, one of the leading specialists on healing trauma through social engagement. It’s so important right now to reach out and both see and hear our friends and family on video and phone because that regulates our nervous systems, restoring resilience, aliveness, compassion and generosity. Texts and emails are helpful, but not enough: We are biologically wired to need to hear, see and feel others as we co-regulate. Though we can’t use touch during this time as we normally would, hearing a loved one’s voice and seeing a friend’s smile go a long way to help us ground and relax. Here’s the link:  Stephen Porges on Co-Regulating and Countering the Effects of Social Distancing 

Coming Home To Your Untarnishable Golden Self

All your choices have brought you to this moment. You did the best you could. Thank the voices that criticize you by telling them “I know you’re only trying to help.” I mean it–really do this–thank them! That’s an audacious and sophisticated act that results in a healing shift in the following way: When you thank your critics, you are actually adding some needed separation between yourself and them and you’re doing something very healing. The self that has the ability to thank your critics is your True Self, so capable and amazing, and untarnishable as gold. Because after all, the critics are the valiant security team you hired as a kid to make sense of a disrupted and hurtful world. They just go into overdrive and that’s the problem. But here’s one way to begin to change the channel. Give it a try, tell them thanks. Feel for the little bit of space and calm that comes. Breathe. Congratulations, you’ve just come back home!

Share Fav Recipes With Friends!

Change up your dinner plans by emailing your favorite recipes with friends! I’m gluten free, but hands down these are the best brownies I’ve ever had, gluten or no gluten. 

Paleo Brownies a la Yum! 

1 cup blanched almond flour  (notalmond meal, must be almond flour)
¼ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp baking soda
4 oz unsweetened baking chocolate (100% cacao) (hard, notmelted)
7 large Medjool dates, pits removed, cut in thirds
3 large eggs
½ cup coconut oil, melted—buy it in a glass jar not plastic, so you can melt it in microwave or set it in a pot and boil the water to melt it
¼ tsp vanilla
1/4 to 1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 to 1/2 cup walnuts (optional) 

  • Heat oven to 350. 
  • Grease a 8”x8” square pan greased lightly with coconut oil You need a food processor to make this recipe. 
  • In a food processor, pulse together almond flour, sea salt and baking soda. 
  • Pulse in squares of dark chocolate until texture is like coarse sand. 
  • Pulse in dates until the texture of coarse sand. 
  • Beats eggs slightly in a bowl first then pulse in. 
  • You can melt the coconut oil directly in the jar in the microwave, melting enough until you can pour ½ cup into the measuring cup—then pulse that in until the mixture is smooth. 
  • Pulse in vanilla and maple syrup. 
  • Transfer mixture to pan. 
  • Mixture will be thick, so spread with a spatula or tip pan so mixture goes into corners. 
  • Regarding walnuts—be careful in the food processor. You only want to mix them in the batter and be careful not to make them small but keep them large. If you buy whole walnuts, do 3-6 one-second pulses to cut them up a bit. If you buy already small pieces, just pulse for 1-3 seconds to mix them in the batter. 
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean andthe brownies shrink a bit from the sides of the pan andthey smell “done.” Your oven may be different than mine. 
  • Cool for a bit, if you have fortitude. When cool enough, turn out of the pan, cut into squares, put them in a container, and refrigerate. If you refrigerate them in the pan they won’t turn out of the pan. I think they taste best chilled. 
  • Yummmmmmmm!

Stop and Smell the Roses


When you literally stop and smell the roses, your heart lifts, and your brain and body give you feel-good signals that help shift the rest of your day. Where are the roses for you? Here’s a photo of my neighbors’ roses taken last spring! Right now as we are inside our homes, it’s so important to take time to stop and hear a bird singing outside, to smell a favorite meal cooking, to savor the first mouthful, to hold a loved one’s hand and look in their eyes, to feel moved by listening to a favorite song. Using the senses of the body–touch, taste, vision, scent, sound–help us ground in the moment. Better yet–go a step further and “take the elevator down” into your chest because when you stay for a moment or two with the appreciation of what you are sensing, your system swaps out stress hormones for feel-good hormones, your nervous system calms, and you ground.

Big Thanks to the Dinee People!—A Visualization to Blow Your Mind!

A-Pollen Poem 10-01-13

Here’s a peek into my “Day Job” (which I love!) as an experiential psychotherapist! 

I came upon this extraordinary piece of “medicine” in Joseph Campbell’s Hero With A Thousand Faces. This “poem” is an utter gem from a longer healing work and very sacred story of the Dinee (Navajo) People. I began to use it as part of my spiritual practice. I’d do my usual going inside into a meditative state while listening to music (I am, after all, a musician, and music is a main vehicle for me to meditate). And then I’d ever-so-slowly inwardly repeat the medicine poem. From the first time I’ve done this, I’ve always had extraordinary experiences—profound expansion, groundedness, peace, awe at life, delight, love. My body released its aches as I felt nourished by a deep sense of aliveness flowing through me.

I began applying my experience as an offering for the clients in my psychotherapy practice. When a client expresses a longing for a greater experience of Self, a transpersonal thirst, an awakening of personal and universal truth, I suggest an exploration: “I have an idea! How about a visualization! It’s based on a poem from the Dinee people. First I’ll introduce you to one of the words they use, so you can bring your own experience to it. Then I’ll recite the poem several times and you can see where it takes you!”

With the client’s agreement, I ask them to close their eyes and send them inside to their best poem-listening-to place. First I invoke their response to the word “pollen” as the Dinee use it:

I begin, “In this poem the Dinee use the word ‘pollen.’ For them, pollen isn’t the make-you-sneeze stuff. For them, pollen is the life source, and the pollen path is the path to the center. Pollen for them is corn pollen, and it has a very sacred story. . .

“. . . Let yourself imagine a field of corn, tended by the people of the village. When the people see the corn, they see an amazing story, for corn is one plant that needs human hands to help it grow. In fact, corn will die without humans to help it. If a corn cob falls into a field the kernels cannot make it through the tough husk to resprout—they need to be taken by human hands and planted. Long ago corn did not have the shape it does today, it was small and wild, and in order to feed the people, they learned how to bring the corn to the form we know now. The Dinee people see the growing of corn as a pact between the human and the divine. The source of life shows up in the corn, but it must be tended to by human hands in order to be used . . .

“. . . So the people of the village are alive with this amazing gift. In the corn they find the magical bridge between oneness and diversity, between the sublime extraordinary and the magnificent ordinary. It’s the story of the connection of infinite and finite. It’s the sacred dance of oneness and duality. For the Dinee, the life source gives the people the food to feed them, and the people receive it and use their hands and wisdom to plant and harvest. But it’s much more than that—it’s the story of the creation and life, and a way of right relationship with all things. It’s a lived acknowledgement of the kind of partnership that makes a deeply lived life possible. The symbol of this partnership is the pollen of the corn, where it all happens. The Dinee always save the corn pollen and use it in ceremony . . .

“. . . Let yourself see the people of the village gathering the corn pollen, and how in their hands they gather the meeting of the divine and the human. They celebrate a sacred event where life force manifests its connection with the earthly. The divine and the human come together, not only to feed the people of the village, but to nourish their spirits with the great sacred story of life. . .

“. . . So that is a little of what the word pollen signifies in this medicine poem. And now let yourself feel into that word pollen, and feel into the experiences from your own life that resonate—how you are longing for that sacred dance, or the times in your life that you have experienced the meeting of the two, and the sacred story. And like all good stories, let it be beyond your mind to understand, let the understanding come from your heart.”

Then I invite the client to take a few deep breaths, settle into their chair, and give me a nod when they are ready. I then, really slowly, recite the poem several times . . . and wait.

Put your feet down with pollen.
Put your hands down with pollen.
Put your head down with pollen.
Then your feet are pollen;
your hands are pollen;
your body is pollen;
your mind is pollen;
your voice is pollen.
The trail is beautiful.
Be still.

I am always astonished at the response this poem evokes! Clients experience a profound, grounding, uplifting, expanding access to the Self connected to the Web of Life. It is always extraordinary and lasting—something we often refer to in future sessions. For one client it was a deep turning point in the therapy.

As a variation, after I speak about the pollen, I put on some trippy music, let the client listen for a while, and begin to repeat the poem several times while the music is playing, letting the effects of the poem and the music take the listener on a journey.

Of course I am giving only a very abbreviated version of what pollen holds for the Dinee, a little sketch of a great spiritual treasury. I honor their wonderful ways. I thank the Dinee and their medicine people for their wisdom and generosity in gifting us with these sacred words. Here is a good resource to learn more about The Pollen Path: Source of the Sacred: Navajo Corn Pollen

For some trippy music to journey by, please listen to my just released Blue Lilah trance-journey-new age CD Medicine Songs. I’m happy to share my music. Find it at bluelilah.com

Photos by Kathleen Dunbar, Mono Lake Area

A-Pollen Poem 10-01-13A-Pollen Poem 10-01-13