Posted in addictions, Authentic Freedom, shame, Spiritual Practices, Superheroes, world changes

Superheroes and our Relationship with Mood-Altering Substances

Superhero Report – July 28, 2014

Our Relationship with Mood-Altering Substances

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It is not something we like to admit, but the New Superheroes have often had trouble with mood-altering substances.  Whether it is caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, marijuana, a whole host of illegal substances or ones that have been prescribed by our doctors for ADD, anxiety, stress, depression, or panic attack, certain ascetic meditation practices, television, video games, the internet – the New Superheroes are likely to have (or had) some sort of habitual relationship with one or several of the above.  There is a sound explanation for the attractiveness of these substances and to the way in which we are almost irresistibly drawn toward them and why they can so easily become addictive.  There are also some simple practices we can engage in which can render these substances unnecessary.  (Note: if you have an addiction, please seek out the support of your local 12-Step recovery program.)

 

The question of why we are drawn to mood-altering substances has a many-layered response:

 

1) We remember our true nature and our original home and we want to go home!

On an unconscious and often conscious level, Superheroes remember what “heaven” feels like. We also know our “true self” is not of this earth, but that we are pure, spiritual beings. Mood-altering substances stimulate the brow and crown chakras and give us an experience of being “home.”

2) We were given a vision of what the earth is supposed to be like, and this is not it.

Until we know how, we often resist this human form and are looking for ways to ESCAPE. The earth we are currently residing in is the not the vision of earth that was planted into our hearts and that we are here to make real. Again, mood-altering substances give us an experience similar to being home, thereby allowing us, at least temporarily, to escape the painful human condition.

3) The false belief that spiritual is better than human.

This is a biggie – especially among certain members of the New Age, Ascension, and Lightworker communities. We are NOT here to be spiritual, we are not here to ascend the limitations of our humanness, we are not here to sprinkle fairies and stardust upon the world singing songs of light and love and perfection, believing that if we think good thoughts all will be well and we will have everything we want. No, we are not here to do these things – not at the expense of being HUMAN anyway. WE ARE HERE TO BE HUMAN. PERIOD. We are ALREADY fully Divine. We came here to experience being human AND to bring our already perfect Divine nature fully into this experience. Rather than Ascension, the journey of the New Superhero (and the rest of the world with us), is actually INCARNATION – transcending the illusions of duality and becoming BOTH fully Divine AND fully Human. We already know the Divine part….let’s figure out how to be human! (ahem….I know a pretty cool dude who lived about 2000 years ago in and around Palestine/Israel who came here to do the same.)

4) Shame

As strangers in a strange land, we often have the experience of not fitting in, of being judged for being weird or strange. People don’t understand us, or the vision we carry in our hearts and the drive to make it real. When we feel rejected by those around us, and sometimes even by those we love, we take it personally. This rejection becomes internalized as shame. Mood-altering substances are a great way to numb the pain of this shame.

5) Loneliness

Just ask Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman, being a Superhero is lonely business. Until they discovered each other and formed the Justice League, these Superheroes were out there on their own trying to make the world a better place and feeling very alone. The same is true of us. We often feel alone in the world with few who understand our unique temperaments, gifts and call. Mood altering substances help us to numb the pain of feeling alone and misunderstood.

Again, if our relationship with mood-altering substances has reached the level of addiction, then it is time to seek help.  12-Step recovery programs are a great way to get support in stopping the use of the substance and Authentic Freedom helps to identify and heal the inner fears/wounds which led us to the compulsive behavior in the first place.  If our relationship to mood-altering substances is less problematic but we still find ourselves drawn to them, the following practices may prove helpful.

 

1)Tonglen 

Tonglen is a Tibetan Buddhist meditation practice which incorporates visualization and breathwork for the intention of transforming painful emotions. For the Superheroes, applying Tonglen to feelings of loneliness and shame can prove effective. Here is the practice in short:

  • Identify the feeling you want to work with (shame, loneliness)
  • Call that feeling up in your body.
  • Identify where in your body you feel it.
  • Breathe INTO that place in your body, while feeling the emotion (shame, loneliness).
  • While breathing into that place, follow your breath with your mind.
  • Now breathe out love, following the love with your breath as you imagine it flowing out of you from the place of the painful emotion.
  • Continue with this practice until you feel something change – perhaps the emotion shifts to something else, maybe you begin to weep.

2) Embodiment

Embodiment is a practice that I discovered while struggling with an overactive and fretful mind.  The intention of this practice is to REMEMBER that we are here to have a HUMAN experience – no matter what we remember about our “heaven home” or our true nature as spiritual beings.  Embodiment allows us to set aside the false belief that spiritual is better than human and gives us the tools for bringing our, already perfect, Divine selves FULLY into the human experience.  When our spirit is fully incarnate in our bodies, we feel safe and secure and are less likely to be tempted to FLEE.  It is not, however, until we INCARNATE that we feel safe in our human selves, so let’s get to incarnating, shall we???

 

  • Close your eyes and draw your awareness deep into your body.
  • See if you can identify the distinction between your spiritual and human self. (Note, the spiritual self, until we are incarnate, tends to hang out in the upper chakras, especially our head, or even somewhere outside and above us.)
  • Conscious of the distinction between your spiritual and human self, bring your consciousness deep into your body.
  • Imagine the Earth beneath you as hands reaching up to hold, support, protect, and nourish you.
  • Feel the sense of safety in resting in this supportive space.
  • Imagine your HUMAN self as supported by the Earth and receiving its nourishment from the Earth.
  • As you begin to feel the safety of humanness, imagine that your human self is like a chalice – an empty vessel waiting for your Spirit to be poured into it.
  • From this place of security, observe as your Spirit willingly pours itself into the safe home of your human chalice. You are not pushing, forcing or pulling it in, it willingly enters in the knowledge that the Human form is safe.
  • Returning to the awareness of your human form, FEEL the sensation of being fully human and safe in this experience, while completely filled by your Divine Spiritual nature. Feel the wholeness and completeness of this experience. As you sit in this feeling of safety, you become aware of all illusions of separation melting away. Your Spirit and your Human natures are now one – no longer separate or distinct from each other, but ONE.

 

Embodiment eliminates the temptation to FLEE because when we INCARNATE, we find that WE ARE HOME and that there is a home for us in the human condition and that with our embodiment, it looks a whole lot like the heaven we remember and the heaven we were sent to make real upon this earth. 🙂  In this experience, we know that HEAVEN IS REAL and it is right here, within and among us.

 

Asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come,

Jesus said in reply, “The coming of the kingdom of God cannot be observed,

And no one will announce, ‘Look, here it is,’ or ‘ look, there it is.’

For behold, the kingdom of God is within (and among) you.”

 

Luke 17: 20-21

 

Posted in New Kids

The Kids Are Alright! Honoring the New Kids (Grown Ups)

Switching gears all together – though interestingly, the discussion about Emergent Church falls short unless we are talking about the subject of today’s blog – the New Grownups.  The purpose of today’s blog is to learn who the New Growups are and how we can best support them in meeting their need to find meaning, purpose and connection in a world where they often feel out of place and unwelcome. 

 

The Kids are Alright!

 

The New Grown Ups are our future.  They are here to heal and change the world!

 

The New Kids (Grown Ups) are some of my most favorite peeps!  As one of them, I understand their nature, their drive, their passion and most importantly, their struggles.  Some have turned to labeling these amazing new humans respectively: Indigo Children, Crystal, Rainbow and any other variety of colorful names.   I was at first tempted to call them “the New Kids,” but after consulting several professionals on the topic, we agreed that these folks are anything but kids – in fact, they were born grownups, knowing what the world is supposed to be like and how to act in that world.  It is for this reason, that I am choose to call them the “New Grownups,” and I want everyone to understand that these grown ups are alright!

Below I will identify the New Grown Ups through some common characteristics, though perhaps the easiest way to communicate this is through a song that I believe might just be their anthem:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0gtzHJphVg

Who Are the New Grown Ups?

While there is no exhaustive list of characteristics which describe the New Grown Ups, and these characteristics may vary among them, there are some general trends worth noting.  In general, the New Grown Ups are:

  • Born with a deep sense that they are here for a reason, that there is something they are here to do.
  • Born with a profound inner knowing of what the world is supposed to be like and dramatically and negatively affected when they witness or experience a world other than what they know is supposed to be.
  • Dumbfounded that others don’t understand and expect the world to be as they know it should be and that no one seems to be doing anything about it.
  • Questioning themselves because of the contrast between what they know and what others seem to know and believe.  This questioning creates in them a great deal of anxiety, stress and they often lose sleep over this.
  • Experiencing a great amount of angst—over the state of the world, the environment, politics, and all of the above mentioned, and often feel helpless (even hopeless) about it.
  • Restlessly discontent over all of the above – a discontent that is not satisfied until they are working toward the creation of the world they know in their hearts, their minds and their beings.
  • Growing cynical over all of the above while maintaining their own idealism.
  • Extremely sensitive to their environment, picking up the feelings and emotions of others, feeling like it is their job to fix things.  Also sensitive to world events – weather, natural disasters, human disasters, war, etc.
  • Struggling with anxiety, depression, panic attack, sleeplessness, insomnia.
  • Creatively driven with an active mind.
  • Frequently labeled as ADD or ADHD, EBD, ODD, etc.
  • Struggling with authority—feeling it has to be earned, not assumed.
  • Fiercely independent, don’t fit in with old systems of education, government, religion, etc., knowing a better way to do these things.
  • Often drawn to nature. Feel more grounded and whole after spending time in nature.
  • Not interested in the current Western paradigm of materialism and consumerism.
  • Struggling or did struggle in school. May have had trouble getting and holding a job.
  • Drawn to recreational drugs, may have struggled with addictions.

And finally, the New Grown ups are PISSED OFF!  You would be too if you were born into a world that, for the most part, does not understand you and which certainly does not appreciate your gifts.  In the driving, striving, achieving, accumulating, destructive, wasteful Western world, the New Grown Ups look like apathetic slackers.  But, I can tell you that there is no one on the planet who has worked harder to survive than the New Grown Ups.  Simply staying alive in a world that is trying to destroy them has been their lifelong mission – and sadly, for many, they died trying.

Wake Up New Grown Ups, We Need You!

The time for dying, however, has come to an end.  The world is finally ready for their gifts, (albeit kicking and screaming). The New Grow Ups are waking up,  and I, for one, am ecstatic!  Thank you New Grown Ups for being born in this place and in this time. We desperately need you, your gifts, and the vision of a new world that you were sent to create.

Starting Monday, July 7, 2014, I will be offering a support group for New Grown Ups as they are waking up and discerning their mission. 

Kidsarealrightflier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in mental illness

ADD and Mental Illness

Today’s blog explores the topic of ADD and some non-professional, personal thoughts on this “condition” and tools that I have found to be supportive in relieving adults of some of the symptoms associated with ADD. 

A Collective Growl

On May 13th, when I posted the blog, Mental Health Week – Let’s Get Started I’m pretty sure I heard a collective growl of frustration and disgust when ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) was included on the list of diagnosable mental illnesses.  When we keep in mind  NAMI‘s  broad definition of mental illness: a medical condition that disrupt a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning, we can better understand how ADD is included on the list of mental illness diagnoses.

Addressing ADD

Because I heard the collective groan over ADD being included in the list of mental illnesses, I felt the topic of ADD as it relates to mental illness might deserve some special treatment.  In offering special treatment regarding the topic of ADD, I will be treading very lightly because I am NOT a medical doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker or counselor.  That being said, I have worked with many adults who present symptoms consistent with ADD and I have observed some similarities in their temperments and backgrounds that may prove to be useful in developing an integrated approach to treatment.  (Please note that this discussion is ONLY regarding adults who are presenting symptoms consistent with ADD and are only my observations.  I do not typically work with children so I cannot speak with any level of experience in this area.)

Symptoms of ADD

According to NAMI, there are actually thought to be three different types of ADHD, each with different symptoms: predominantly inattentive, predominantly hyperactive/impulsive and combined.

Those living with the predominantly inattentive type often:

  • fail to pay close attention to details or make careless mistakes in schoolwork, work or other activities;
  • have difficulty sustaining attention to tasks or leisure activities;
  • do not seem to listen when spoken to directly;
  • do not follow through on instructions and fail to finish schoolwork, chores or duties in the workplace;
  • have difficulty organizing tasks and activities;
  • avoid, dislike or are reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort;
  • lose things necessary for tasks or activities;
  • are easily distracted by extraneous stimuli; and are forgetful in daily activities.

Those living with the predominantly hyperactive/impulsive type often:

  • fidget with their hands or feet or squirm in their seat;
  • leave their seat in situations in which remaining seated is expected;
  • move excessively or feel restless during situations in which such behavior is inappropriate;
  • have difficulty engaging in leisure activities quietly;
  • are “on the go” or act as if “driven by a motor;”
  • talk excessively;
  • blurt out answers before questions have been completed;
  • have difficulty awaiting their turn; and
  • interrupt or intrude on others.

I have worked with adults who have presented many of these symptoms and  every one of them has shared with me one common experience.

Trauma

Every single adult that I have worked with who presents symptoms of ADD experienced their childhood as traumatic in some way.  (Before going into further discussion on this, it is important to note that what is perceived as traumatic for one person might not be traumatic to another.  We each perceive our human experiences through a unique lens based on our temperments, upbringing and coping skills.)  These traumatic experiences may have come in the form of physical, mental, emotional, sexual or spiritual abuse.  Others may have experienced their parents’ divorce, a job change or an illness as traumatic.  Some grew up in home environments that to them felt unsafe, unpredictable or simply inconsistent with the needs of their unique temperment.  To those born as a highly sensitive person, sometimes life itself can be perceived as traumatic.  Whatever the experience or event, it was perceived in their body as traumatic.  As a result of the perceived trauma, they developed certain coping mechanisms that allowed them to survive an environment that on some level did not feel safe.

Defense Mechanisms and Adaptive Strategies

In adults that I have worked with who struggle with symptoms consistent with ADD, I have observed certain behaviors that I have come to call adaptive strategies or coping mechanisms.  It was through the application of these strategies that these individuals attempted to create a sense of safety in an otherwise “unsafe” environment.  While these behaviors may have given them a temporary sense of safety and a temporary sense of having control over their environment, all they really did was create more anxiety within them.  The behaviors I have seen look something like this:

  • Compulsive planning or (what I call) anticipatory thinking.  Through this strategy, the brain is occupied with the constant anticipating of “what comes next” or “what might happen” or “the list of all the things I have to accomplish today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year.”  It is the mind’s way of trying to gain control by planning and predicting all the possible events of our lives.  It is also the brain’s way of staying in high-alert, on-guard for the next possible trauma or unsafe event. While planning and to-do lists are not bad on their own, when indulged to this extent, they become an obstacle rather than a help on our path.  This kind of thinking puts the body always on alert by stirring up the adrenaline we will need to fight or flee the next perceived trauma.  The irony is that instead of calming us and helping us to feel safe, this stirring up of adrenaline puts the body and the mind under additional stress and when stressed enough either the body, the mind or both will shut down.  This manifests as depression, emotional and mental paralysis, the inability to concentrate on or complete tasks.
  • High Sensitivity.  High Sensitivity might be a case of what came first, high sensitivity or ADD?  The specific experience of high sensitivity I am referring to here is, the ability to “read a room” or “being able to read people.”  Through this strategy, we can walk into a room and FEEL if it is safe or meet a person and determine if they FEEL safe.  This high sensitivity may be an inborn trait which pre-disposes us to experience our environments as traumatic, it might also be an adaptive strategy we developed to create an illusion of safety in an otherwise “unsafe” environment.  If we can determine ahead of time that someone or someplace is not safe, then we can protect ourselves or leave.
  • Self-Stimulating behaviors.  These “adaptive strategies” work in a similar way to the “anticipatory thinking” above. Those that feel unsafe in their environment have to create a system that will help to create the illusion of safety.  Self-stimulating behaviors stir up the adrenaline we need to maintain a posture of “high-alert.”  Some of these self-stimulating behaviors include:  self-destructive behaviors, creating chaos or conflict, stirring up problems where problems don’t exist, use and sometimes abuse of stimulating substances: energy drinks, caffeine, amphetamines, etc.

What happens in the brain and integrative treatment

When we grew up in environments that we perceived as unsafe and when we developed adaptive strategies to create the temporary illusion of safety, we created new thought and behavior patterns in our brain.  One of the traditional methods of treatment for adults diagnosed with ADD is medications to either stimulate those states of high-alert or to re-wire those deeply imbedded neuro-pathways.  As NAMI points out, an integrated approach to the treatment of mental illnesses has proven to be the most successful and this is equally true in the treatment of symptoms of ADD.  The goal with those experiencing symptoms of ADD is to help them to feel safe in their environment without having to use adaptive strategies that in the end prove to be counterproductive.   There are two tools in particular that I have found to be helpful in supporting the reduction of stress and increasing a sense of safety in those suffering with ADD.

Trauma Release and Meditation

For those suffering with symptoms of ADD who perceived their environment as traumatic or unsafe, the first goal would be to eliminate the trauma that is trapped in the body.  (Two fabulous books on trauma release:  Waking the Tiger by Peter A. Levine and The Instinct to Heal by David Servan-Schreiber)  There are countless protocols that assist us in the release of trauma:  EMDR, Quantum Bio-Feedback, Reiki, Meditation, Creative Visualization, Guided Meditation, Physical movement, etc.  Once the trauma has been released (which may prove to be an on-going process), the next step is to create a foundation of safety.  Traditional talk-therapy and behavior modification therapy can assist with this process.  In addition to this, the tool I have found to be most helpful to creating the sense of safety that effectively lowers our anxiety and stress while giving us the clear thinking channels we need to create new patterns of behavior is good old fashioned meditation.  Disciplined attention to a daily spiritual practice  – specifically, ones that engage the creative centers of the brain (ie:  Lectio-Divina, Imagination-Contemplation, mantra, chant, creative projects, etc.)  goes a long way in creating the foundation of inner peace and safety that we need to avoid the stress-inducing adaptive behaviors and create new patterns of behavior rooted in clear thinking and focused attention that will prove to be productive in way that is free from stress.  NOTE:  to those with ADD, trying to step immediately into silent meditation, centering prayer or zen practice might cause nothing but frustration.  Choose a practice that engages the mind and helps it naturally move to a quieter place.  🙂

Summary

In closing, ADD is a complex condition the causes of which are not completely known and neither is the sure path to effective treatment.  I am simply sharing with you a few things I have observed along with tools that some have found to be helpful in their journey of healing.  As is the case in the treatment of all mental illnesses, an integrative approach is helpful.  Consult your doctor, your therapist, local support groups and explore stress-relieving practices that may assist you in creating a better quality of life.

Posted in mental illness

Mental Health Week(s)…..Let’s Get Started!

Welcome to Mental Health Week(s) at Authentic Freedom Ministries and Your Spiritual Truth.  During the coming days, we will have an opportunity to read contributions by those who have suffered with mental illness, those who have survived and from practitioners who help to provide support for those experiencing mental illness.   The goal of these coming days is first and foremost to support and secondly, to educate and inform.  A BIG thank you for those who have been willing to come forward with their own stories and for those in the helping fields who have provided information and support.  Let’s get started, shall we?

What is Mental Illness?

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI); mental illness is:   a medical condition that disrupt a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Mental Illness covers a broad spectrum of diagnoses including:

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) states that 25 percent of adults and 20% of children and adolescents are experiencing mental illness of some kind.  Mental illnesses are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing. What is important to know is that mental illnesses are treatable and that most people diagnosed with a serious mental illness can experience relief from their symptoms by actively participating in an individual treatment plan.  According to NAMI, an effective treatment plan can include:  medication, psychosocial treatment such as cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, peer support groups and the use of other community services.  Diet, exercise, adequate sleep, intimate friendships and meaningful paid or volunteer activities can also contribute to the overall success of any recovery plan.

Obstacles to Diagnosis and Recovery

Perhaps the greatest obstacle to effective diagnosis and treatement is the negative stigma associated with mental illness.  It is important for us to know and to share with others that mental illnesses are serious medical conditions. Contrary to some schools of thought, mental illness cannot be overcome through “will power” and is not related to a person’s “character” or intelligence.  Mental illnesses can affect persons of any age, gender, race, religion, income level or  intelligence.  Stigma erodes our ability to recognize that mental disorders are real, treatable health conditions and often halts our search for diagnosis and treatment.  This is a tragedy because the best treatments for serious mental illnesses today are highly effective.  NAMI estimates that between 70 and 90 percent of individuals have a significant reduction of symptoms and an improved quality of life with a combination of prescription medications and psychosocial treatments and a variety of other supports.

Symptoms of Possible Mental Illness

The symptoms of possible mental illness vary on the type and severity of the condition.  WebMD cites the following as general symptoms that may suggest a mental illness is present:

In adults

  • Confused thinking
  • Long-lasting sadness or irritability
  • Extremely high and low moods
  • Excessive fear, worry, or anxiety
  • Social withdrawal
  • Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Strong feelings of anger
  • Delusions or hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not really there)
  • Increasing inability to cope with daily problems and activities
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Denial of obvious problems
  • Many unexplained physical problems
  • Abuse of drugs and/or alcohol

In older children and pre-teens

  • Abuse of drugs and/or alcohol
  • Changes in school performance, falling grades
  • Inability to cope with daily problems and activities
  • Changes in sleeping and/or eating habits
  • Excessive complaints of physical problems
  • Defying authority, skipping school, stealing, or damaging property
  • Intense fear of gaining weight
  • Long-lasting negative mood, often along with poor appetite and thoughts of death
  • Frequent outbursts of anger

In younger children

  • Changes in school performance
  • Poor grades despite strong efforts
  • Excessive worry or anxiety
  • Hyperactivity
  • Persistent nightmares
  • Persistent disobedience and/or aggressive behavior
  • Frequent temper tantrums

Where to Go for Support

If you believe that you or someone you care about may be experiencing symptoms of a possible mental illness, early identification and treatment is of vital importance.  Early access to the treatment and recovery supports that are proven effective can accelerate recovery and reduce the potential of further harm related to the course of untreated illness.  For treatment and support, the NAMI website is a great place to start.  Or, talk to your doctor, ask for a referral from friends or relatives (chances are, they are either suffering themselves or know someone who is), talk to your Pastor, seek the help of a professional Counselor.  Whatever you do, get help and seek out support. Current treatments are effective, recovery is possible (especially in cases where the symptoms are largely situational) and you deserve to experience your best life possible.

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com