My office is located at 711 Oregon St. Oshkosh, WI inside Essentials for Wellness and in the same building as Inner Sun Yoga Studio.
***During the Covid-19 event, I will provide you with the option of mask or no mask. I am happy to wear a mask if you like. I will leave this to your own discretion and discernment. Hand sanitizer will also be made available.
NOTE: Phone, Skype and ZOOM sessions are also available. Please email for availability.
Lauri Ann Lumby, OM, OPM, MATS has her master’s degree in Transpersonal Psychology, is a trained Spiritual Director, Reiki Master, and ordained interfaith minister. She has been providing both Spiritual Counseling and Reiki since 2001 and has supported hundreds of women and men in their journey to wholeness. Lauri is also a highly regarded educator and published author. She developed her own protocol, Authentic Freedom™ to support people in identifying and healing the fears that prevent them from experiencing peace and fulfillment in their lives. She incorporates this protocol in everything that she does.
As an introvert, social distancing is one of my superpowers. I have honed and perfected this craft, while moving through all the challenges of being apart. In this article I share what I have learned about the loneliness, grief and anxiety that come with being apart.
I have often felt that loneliness might be the core wound of the human experience. Rooted in that first moment of separation from the cozy and safe room in our mother’s womb, we are forever yearning for our return. We long to feel connected with another and to feel safe within that connection. As most have come to discover, however, even our human connections do not fulfill the depth of longing we feel to be reunited with that which cannot be named. We are forever seeking the satisfaction to that longing. Existential loneliness is the angst we feel in the depth of that longing. Loneliness is the universal human emptiness that is only further compounded during times of social distancing when we don’t even have our superficial relationships to distract us. The key to dealing with loneliness is to face it. As I learned during a 30 day loneliness practice, our loneliness has much to teach us about ourselves. Here is the practice I employed to arrive at a place of being comfortable in being alone without feeling lonely:
Loneliness Practice: For this practice you will need a notebook or journal to record all that your loneliness wants you to know about yourself. Set aside 10-20 minutes each day to simply SIT with your loneliness. While sitting, close your eyes and bring your awareness into your body. Move your awareness until you find your loneliness. Focus your attention on your loneliness and FEEL it. REALLY feel it. Dive deep into the pit of loneliness and then give it a face. Envision your loneliness in a form (mine takes the shape of the Little Match Girl from Hans Christian Anderson’s tale). Once your loneliness takes a form, let it speak to you. What does your loneliness want to tell you about yourself? Most likely, it will show you past pains and hurts that are asking to be healed and released. It may also show you your fears. As these pains, hurts, fears, etc. come forward, acknowledge them. See them. Hold them in love. Then let the pass. Once they have passed, they have been released from your being and you are healed. Continue with this process until it feels complete. Then record your experience in your journal, along with any thoughts or reflections that might surface in your writing. Note that your loneliness may also show you hopes and dreams that you have not yet fulfilled, or parts of yourself you have rejected or not allowed to come into being. As these come forth, they are showing you the things you are now invited to explore or begin to make a part of your life. DO IT.
As we are collectively experiencing social distancing, our routines are changing. The things we used to do every day are no longer available (yoga class, the YMCA for workouts, the library, etc.). Maybe our work situation has also changed (I know mine has). With this change in routine, it is natural to experience grief. Sadly, our culture does not give enough credit to grief – period – let alone the grief we experience in the simple face of change. Change = Grief. When grieving we will experience every face of grief: Shock. Denial. Bargaining. Depression. Anger. Sorrow. Acceptance. Angst and restlessness will also be faces of this grief in the face of a change in routine. Similar to loneliness, the best thing we can do with our grief is to BE WITH IT. Identify which stage of grief you are experiencing and FEEL IT deeply. Allow yourself to be in denial – to pretend this will all soon go away. Indulge in your bargaining (which might look like restlessness). Pace the floor. Wring your hands. When feel depressed, wallow in it. Take a nap. Allow paralysis to take you. When rage hits you, let it out – in a safe way! Dance it out. Go for a run. Grab a swimming noodle and whack the shit out of the basement or tile floor. When you are sad, weep. And if you find yourself stuck in depression, find a way to get angry (I listen to heavy metal music – my favorite being the group Disturbed). Anger pushes through the depression and allows us to get at the true issue which is our sorrow over the loss of routine.
For more on dealing with grief, please click here.
Fear is a big one! There is so much anxiety around the Covid-19 virus itself, not to mention the anxiety that surfaces in the face of social distancing. I will try to limit the anxiety discussion here to that experienced in the face of social distancing.
The key to anxiety is to first uncover its cause. What is triggering our anxiety?
Is it loneliness (which we addressed above)?
Is our anxiety related to grief?
We may experience anxiety related to our finances or our everyday concerns: How will we pay our bills if our work hours are reduced? Who will care for my child when childcare centers have closed and I still have to work? Where will I get toilet paper? What if I run out of food? What if I get sick? Who will care for me?
We might also experience anxiety as it relates to boundaries. If we are cooped up in our homes with our partners and children or roommates, we are bound to get on each other’s nerves.
Our anxiety may surface due to the news or social media. There is a lot of fear out there and much of is unfounded.
We may also find that the anxiety being stirred in the face of current events is triggering old anxieties and unhealed wounds.
Talk about a can of worms.
The first step in managing anxiety is to understand that it is normal and biological. This means that anxiety is not our fault. It is simply a biological response to something triggering our fear. Sometimes the fear is justified (being chased by zombies). Sometimes it is a mis-fire. (when we look more closely and discover what we thought was a snake is only a stick). Excitement can also look like anxiety for those who are struggling with anxiety or panic disorders.
If you are being treated for anxiety or panic disorders, continue with your treatment plan, while employing some of the techniques I will share with you here.
Meditation and Mindfulness Practices have time and time again proven to be effective in rewiring the part of the brain that governs anxiety and panic. Through regular and diligent practice, the anxiety center of the brain (the amygdala) learns a new response to triggers, allowing the mind to act out of reason instead of panic in the face of non-life threatening fears. Diligent and regular practice also builds a sturdy foundation of inner calm which reduces the incidence of being triggered by fear. To learn more about the many ways that you can practice mindfulness, take my online course Starting a Spiritual Practice which is available for FREE through the month of March. Click on the image below to register and receive the free pricing.
If you are interested in the science behind Mindfulness and Meditation – email me your contact information with “Meditation Paper” as the subject, and I will send you a FREE copy of an academic paper I wrote on the topic which includes a list of verifiable resources. My email is email@example.com.
Other practices that support us in managing our anxiety: yoga or any meditative movement practice, dance, exercise, eating well, creative projects, gardening, being outside, going for a walk and talking with our friends. Since we may not have an opportunity to gather face-to-face, do the old fashioned thing of picking up the phone and giving your friend a call. I just reached out to two of my friends for support as together we face what we do not yet know or understand.
As I am here for my friends, I am also here for you. Watch this site for ongoing support as we move through the Covid-19 event, and please reach out for additional support if you need it. One-on-one support. Online classes. Our online community. Books and more.
Holding you all in big love as we support each other through this life-changing event!
Staying sane in an insane world is about tools, practice and support. Below are my thoughts on staying sane along with resources and support for doing so:
It’s getting pretty crazy out there! Just yesterday I posted two comments on Facebook, one about not knowing what to believe, or if there is anything to believe in the media and an outright call to the universe: “Mothership take me away!” No matter where you lie within the spectrum of the perceived separation dividing our nation and the world, you must be feeling it. Anxiety. Fear. Depression. Despair. Frustration. Impatience. Anger. Powerlessness. Perhaps even a sense of hatred. It seems that no matter where we turn, there is another news article, news show, advertisement, etc. that is attempting to trigger our fears, anxieties, insecurities, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. interfering with our desire for staying sane.
The good news is that while we might feel pretty powerless in a world that seems to be imploding upon itself, we are not! We have the resources within us for staying sane in an otherwise insane world – we just need someone to help us discover, cultivate and then activate these resources. THIS is what I have spent the past 25 years mastering and what I would like to share with you now:
REMEMBER your original nature is contentment and peace. If you don’t know or remember this:
Develop or deepen a daily spiritual/meditation/contemplative/prayer practice. If you don’t currently have a practice or need getting started, take my FREE online course Starting a Spiritual Practice. Learn more and register HERE.
The Greatest Obstacle to remaining in a state of peace is our unhealed wounds and unacknowledged anxiety and fears. To learn how to identify and then heal and transform these wounds and fears:
REMEMBER you are not alone. There are people out there who have learned how to stay sane in an otherwise insane world. Reach out to them for guidance and support:
As a trained Spiritual Director, I have spent the past 20 years supporting people in finding their way through the tangled web of life….supporting them in identifying and healing unhealed wounds and unacknowledged fears and freeing them from the inner obstacles to enjoying a peaceful and fulfilling life. Learn more about my Spiritual Direction/Counseling services HERE.
Take Action! If there is something you don’t like about our world, DO something about it. If you want more peace, then work for peace. If you see injustices being done, speak or act out against these injustices.
Join the LOVE WARRIOR movement. Become an agent of non-violent social change in a community of people trying to do the same. Learn more and join HERE.
This morning, I was so honored to be contacted by Kayla Burger, a lifestyles Video blogger. Yesterday she posted a video blog on the topic of Anxiety, Depression and Panic Attacks and referenced some of my writing. I found her work to be inspired, articulate, authentic and empowering. Check out Kayla’s Vlog here and learn more about her work below:
This video is really important to me and even though I may get a lot of hate for it, I feel like it’s something we need to talk about and open our minds to. Thank you for being here and thank you for being you, I hope you find the courage to love yourself enough to start the journey of discovering and listening to the voice within.
“May you listen to the voice within even when you are tired. When you feel yourself breaking down, may you break open instead. May every experience in life be a door that opens your heart, expands your understanding and lead you to freedom.” Elizabeth Lesser
My name is Kayla. I am a writer, video creator and a holistic beauty and life coach. My purpose is to share information and inspiration about loving yourself, body mind and soul.
DESIGNLIFE is about living your life by design and not default. It’s about living a life of inspiration, rather than desperation.
Follow the journey and join in on the discussions, each happy and open-minded person makes the world a better and more loving place. We are a community of people who are willing to learn and share and help.
December 26, 2016, and we are at a powerful place of transition as a culture, as a species, as a world. 2016 is drawing to a close (THANK GOD!), and a new year, a new age, a new world is dawning.
We just don’t yet know what that new world will look like. We can hazard a few guesses – there will be a multitude of changes and many will choose fear in the face of these changes, especially those changes that bring endings and even death. But in the midst of what some might call “fearful,” there also exists the promise of magnificent and magical things trying to be born into our world.
As change is our greatest fear as human beings (we fear it even more than death), this is a tenuous time, especially as we grasp after the illusion of surety in the face of cataclysmic change. We want to control the journey. We want to know what is happening, where we are going and our role in all of this. We want to know how these changes will affect us. And we want to know all of it NOW! We are not a patient species.
The thing is, we don’t get to know! We will only know it as it shows up, and even then, we might only get a glimpse. We will grasp after labels and the illusion of a final decision, only to have it ripped from our clutches. So, what are we to do in a time of such enormous change?
Yep, you heard it right. To quote a Course in Miracles, “We need do nothing.” There is literally nothing we can, should or ought to be doing EXCEPT resting in the unknown as the old life comes to an end and the seeds of new life begin to find their roots. Our job is to rest. To wait. To simply be. Allowing the old to pass from our sight and the new to step forth into its place. Here, we are resting in the unknown.
And BOY will we be UNCOMFORTABLE! We have been conditioned to be afraid when we are not in control. We grow restless, impatient, anxious, worried. When these emotions arise, it is even more critical that we DO NOTHING. Acting out of fear only brings more fear, so don’t! Sit with the discomfort. Be with your restlessness, boredom, anxiousness, worry and fear. Discipline yourself to BE not Do and as you are busy doing nothing, that which is coming into being will have the room, the space, the freedom (from your controlling hands) and the safety to come into the world on its own. Much in the same way that a baby comes into the world on its own (when a birth is difficult, it is not the baby that is the problem), so too will the new life that is coming into the world through us.
Rest in the unknown and you will be thrilled at what comes forth – all on its own!
Surviving Midlife – guidance and support for women through the sometimes treacherous journey from childbirth to birthing themselves.
12 self-paced online lessons with instructor guidance and support.
Somewhere between the ages of 35 and 45, (and which continues until our death) women begin the process of the midlife journey – a process through which they move beyond childbearing to birthing themselves. For many, the advent of this transition comes in the form of a rude awakening, personal crisis or tragedy and continues through volatile physical and emotional changes which seem at once to be disconcerting and confusing. The purpose of the midlife journey is to knock women out of the comfort of status quo and into the passion, meaning and purpose that will define their lives beyond motherhood. Like childbirth, the midlife journey can be dangerous and fraught with pain, but like the birth of a child, can produce a gift beyond measure and miraculous to behold.
Common signs that you might be in the midst of the midlife transition:
Impatience, anger, rage
Physical and emotional changes
The purpose and goal of the midlife transition is to clear out all the inner and outer obstacles and make way for the birth of our Soul – the uniquely creative way in which we have been gifted to find meaning and purpose in our life and to contribute to the betterment of the world, then it is time to put on our big girl and big boy panties! Only the truly brave and courageous will succeed in their goal. The rest, will be doomed to a life of quiet desperation, – just sayin! (not that there is anything wrong with making that choice).
The purpose of this course is to support you in your midlife journey. This course supports you through the midlife awakening and on the labyrinthine journey through the twists and turns of unraveling from the past toward returning to and reclaiming your Soul. Here you will discover you Soul’s purpose for the second half of life, a purpose that is meaningful, fulfilling, joyful and content.
There is nothing more healing than the startling realization that a deeply imbedded emotional wound has always and forever been based in a lie. Here the wound was the fear that I am not/was not loved. The realization is that in every situation where I was treated in less than loving ways, where I felt rejected or unloved, it was not because I am not loved…..it is because those who were doing the “rejecting,” don’t love themselves. Here’s how it happened:
For the past several months, I’ve been working with a trauma specialist, hoping to alleviate the symptoms of depression, anxiety and panic attack, due, in part, to past traumas. The specific treatment protocol we have been using is Brainspotting. (Please check out the Brainspotting website to learn more. If you are in the Oshkosh area and are interested in exploring treatment for healing trauma, I have been working with Kristin Gage, and I recommend her highly!).
In this week’s Brainspotting session, what surfaced was a life-review of sorts. In this life review, I was shown every single situation in my life where I felt rejected, criticized, condemned, or falsely accused. The life-review began with Mrs. Plager, my kindergarten teacher taping my mouth shut and locking me in the closet for the simple reason that I was a happy, gregarious, creative, 5 year old. I was punished simply for being me. The life review then continued through every conflictual relationship – my third grade music teacher who pounded my head against my desk for humming the wrong notes, the “mean girls” of middle school and high school, every boy who wouldn’t love me, teachers who hated me, Fr. Doyle who gave me a “C” in high school religion class for challenging his contention that he got to go to heaven first simply by nature of his ordination, my college nemesis, the self-appointed inquisition, the priest who became the final straw and our local bishop. I saw every situation in my life where I felt rejected and unloved …. Quite frankly, for simply being me.
After the life-review, I was then shown a different viewpoint. I saw every single one of these “rejections” not from my own vantage point, but from the inner experience of those who were doing the “rejecting.” What I saw BLEW ME AWAY.
It was not that they didn’t love me. It was that they didn’t love themselves.
Here is how it worked. Unless pushed to act otherwise, I have never, in my whole entire life, wanted to be anything but loving toward another. Yes, I have reacted in anger to feeling hurt or rejected. Yes, I did the normal sibling things of fighting, arguing, bickering, etc. Yes, I have been human and liked some people more than others. And there have been some people I have stayed away from because, quite frankly, they scare me. But in all of this….I still want to treat everyone with love.
What I have learned is that not everyone wants to be loved. Not everyone can stand in the light of love. When love comes toward them, it triggers their own unhealed wounds around love, specifically all the ways in which they do not feel loved within themselves. Once this wound is triggered, (and believe me, my own woundedness around love is triggered from time to time), we do one of two things:
We recognize that our wound has been triggered and we do some self-care to help support the healing of that wound.
We project that wound back onto the person who triggered it, making them the enemy.
The latter is what happened in each and every one of those cases where I felt unloved by a teacher, “friend,” stranger, etc. It is not that they did not love me, it was that my presence somehow triggered their own unhealed wounds around love and they either did not have the awareness, the courage or the tools to do something about it. So instead of treating their own wound, they turned it back on me, making me the enemy.
So again, it was never that they did not love me, it was that they did not love themselves. How freeing and empowering is that?
About a month ago, I received news that is a COMPLETE game changer. This news changes everything AND puts everything into question. This news impacts literally EVERY aspect of my life and to say it has caused a mild state of shock would be an understatement. It is during times like these that Authentic Freedom– the process I created which supports human transformation – comes most in handy and proves its effectiveness.
Each and every one of us has had these kinds of experiences – when the rug is pulled out from beneath us, when the ceiling caves in and when the universe, in one fell swoop, tosses us out of the nest of what we have known into what we cannot yet imagine.
The greatest temptation during these times of freefall is to make plans. Our mind, in search of something to hang on to, out of fear of the unknown, tries to make plans, or tries to become attached to potential and possible outcomes. As many have learned, when we make plans (or try to make plans), God laughs. I have witnessed the truth of this many times over in the past month as I have tried to plan my way out of and through this change. A possibility shows up, a potential, a promise, and I get excited about it, imagining all the possible ways in which this will support myself and my family and then POW, the Universe throws a wrench in the deal and the whole things falls apart. This is EXACTLY what happened this past Wednesday. Two universes collided and everything that I had planned and waged my future on completely collapsed.
Understanding the importance of grieving our losses, I have allowed myself time to grieve – to cry the ugliest cry, to tantrum, to rant and rave and wail. I reached out to my most trusted advisors for support and perspective and allowed myself to move through and to feel deep support. In this, I found my way through the debris to the place where I can be open to what truly needs to manifest, knowing that in every death is the promise of new life. I just don’t yet know what that new life might be.
I then created time and space away from all that might distract me from what I truly need to be doing at this time: SURRENDER. And in this surrendering, turning to what I know will guide me and support me in ALLOWING what it is that the Universe has in store for me – not a plan of my making, but one that comes directly from God and which is sure to be in my highest good, using my gifts in a way that is both fulfilling for me and in service to the betterment of the world. And what I know will guide and support me is the very process that I created for others, Authentic Freedom.
In this process, I maintain diligent attention to my spiritual practice and apply the principles of Authentic Freedom for identifying and moving through the fears that might otherwise prevent me from seeing and knowing God’s plan when it shows up. I will then use the process of Authentic Freedom to move me through any fears or inner resistance to God’s plan so that I can step into the freedom that God has in store for me (and for all of us when we are paying attention).
The irony is not lost on me that all of this has occurred in proximity to the Fourth of July – the time we commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the journey that secured our liberty. As we celebrate the Fourth of July, let us be grateful for this external freedom while taking steps to secure the only freedom we will ever truly need – freedom from the inner fears, resistance and unhealed wounds that might otherwise stand in the way of a life of contentment and joy.
Authentic Freedom – Claiming a Life of Contentment and Joy available now on Amazon. Buy it HERE.
A creeping sensation crawling up the length of my spine,
Arriving at the base of my skull,
Gripping my head like a vice,
Wrapping its tentacles around my ears and jaw,
Pain creeping over the top of my head.
following the anxious thoughts in my mind
My consciousness on hyper-alert
Did I remember to breathe?
A flood of chemicals pouring through my entire being
Paralyzing my mind.
Gripping my sight
Fretfully seeking out the next possible threat.
Anxiety and panic attacks accompanied by migraine headaches and depression. It hasn’t always been like this, but for the past 12 years, since I had my first (known) panic attack in 2004, this has been the preoccupation of my waking (and sleeping) mind and the lived experience of anxiety as it floods my body. And when anxiety isn’t flooding my body, all my energy has been directed toward trying to prevent its onslaught.
It didn’t used to be this way. In fact, I remember a time when I simply enjoyed life. Yes, I put a lot of pressure on myself to achieve and succeed, but I used to remember how to have fun…and how to play. And driving used to be one of my most enjoyable tasks, relaxing even. But when panic attacks happen while driving, driving becomes something you dread, equating driving with death, because when you are having a panic attack, it feels like you just might die. And when you are driving a vehicle at 70mph as your vision is closing in and your heart is pounding, it just doesn’t feel very safe.
It didn’t used to be this way. But, couple the genetic predisposition to the Irish curse (depression and anxiety) with 25 years of on-going and relentless trauma, and panic is bound to happen….and anxiety….and migraine headaches…and depression.
At first I was in denial. “Oh, it’s just low blood sugar, an endocrine imbalance, the wine I had last night, the lack of sleep, blah blah blah.
Then I bargained. Yoga helps. Meditation helps. If I eat the right foods, get the right amount of sleep, learn to be present with my emotions, let my Soul’s purpose come forward, allow 30+ years of suppressed emotions to find their expression, engage my creativity, dance, move, run, drum, scream, chant, etc. etc. etc.
While all of this has helped, and given me relief from time to time, mostly I have spent the past 12 years trying not to have anxiety or a panic attack – scrutinizing every thought, feeling emotion, social situation as potential triggers, forcing myself to BE MY TRUE SELF….watching all the while as my world gets smaller and smaller and smaller. Avoiding social situations because I might feel anxious. Choosing not to drive….or making excuses, so I won’t have a panic attack. Then feeling guilty as hell for depriving myself and my children of a life that should be about enjoyment….not imprisonment.
It isn’t even the panic attacks that are the problem – because in truth, I’ve only had a few. It is the on-going fear and protective measures taken in the hopes of preventing a panic attack, measures which ironically are most likely an enormous part of the problem.
So what does one do? A few years back when panic attacks were waking me out of a dead sleep, I tried Lexapro. Yes, it silenced the other voice in my head, the panic attacks stopped and I even began to feel some measure of joy. But the entire time I was on it, I felt like shit. I felt hung over and nauseous every day. I was tired and I gained weight. This was not how I wanted to live my life. Then the Lexapro stopped working and I forgot to take it. For a time I managed on my own, but was I really? I’m no longer sure.
Because now I see it plainly. This past weekend I took my son to the mall, which required driving on the highway I’m most afraid to travel. I employed every tactic I could to “make” myself able to do it. I breathed. I drummed. I took a flower essence. I listened to a comedy CD to distract my anxious thoughts. I did it. But instead of feeling victorious, I felt like hell. I felt sick, I felt exhausted, I felt worn out. Then I examined what I had been feeling in preparation for the drive and how my body truly responded….and then wrote the poem above.
This is not a life. Making myself do things I am currently unable to do…and making myself sick in order to do them.
This is not a life. Using all my energy to “manage” symptoms I ultimately have no control over. Anxiety. Depression. Migraines. Panic Attacks…..all the after-effects of trauma. You could almost say I earned these symptoms.
This is not a life. When all my energy is directed toward managing these symptoms, I have nothing left to give to the things I want to enjoy in my life – creating, nurturing, nourishing, enjoying, playing. When every ounce of psychic energy is directed toward treating anxiety, depression, migraines and panic attacks, I have nothing left to give to anything else, and this is not how I want to spend my energy – especially when Western medicine has tools to help ease, and maybe even heal the trauma that caused these symptoms in the first place. Because again, when all my energy is directed toward managing these symptoms, my body is not able to heal – and I want to heal because I am more than the trauma that I have experienced and more than the anxiety that has since defined my life.
This is why I am choosing Prozac (or whatever else my doctor might recommend in helping to treat the after, and ongoing effects of trauma).