Self-Love: The Intrinsic Value Of Us

It’s interesting to note how we tend to value human life intrinsically when it is brand new – babies being born into this world – or when it is almost over – people on their death beds. In these two instances, as babies and on the brink of death, we are the closest to an existence beyond this one. From all accounts of those who have had near death experiences, who have visited the existence beyond the one we know so well, it is understood that all of us have great value. It is experienced in the form of a love so profound and permeating that no one wants to return. So how do we as human beings, lose our sense of self-value and love? It happens in so many ways on an individual and societal level, and I think it starts when we place value on what a person does or doesn’t do above who they are. As children, the focus on our accomplishments is rather high beginning with when we begin to talk and walk and then school, lessons and measurements of all sorts and it’s possible to lose our sense of self-value in focusing so much on what we’re ‘good at’ or ‘not good at’ and how we measure up to others – the comparisons can be disturbing and relentless. There is also what we do for others – how we benefit others as a measurement of self-worth as though our only value is in what we offer to others apart from the simple, intrinsic value of who we are. Children pick up on all of these signals related to value, which is very much focused on appearance, abilities and certain kinds of accomplishments. It’s how things have been for so many years, generation after generation. Perhaps we can change that now.

I have been focusing inward a great deal over the past 5 years after my initial foray into shamanic healing and I have learned that self-love is a fundamental aspect of well-being. More and more people are becoming aware of this profound truth, which is a sign of positive change and hopefully it signals a generational shift that bodes well for the future of humanity. There is a refreshing wave of interest in self-love and yet, many still struggle with this concept because of the influence of the past and the continuing and residual attitudes that permeate our society. I think that for many of us, self-love is a concept that takes some effort and consideration to embrace let alone to embody. After all, many of us have come from backgrounds filled with praise for being ‘selfless’. It was quite a revelation to me to begin to operate from a position of ‘self-service’, which has been an essential theme throughout my shamanic healing journey.  I found it surprising and ultimately liberating to embrace ‘what serves me’ realizing that some things that I had considered to be self-serving in the past, were not truly serving me at all. However, at the heart of this, if I am to truly master it, is self-love, which requires an appreciation for our intrinsic value – my intrinsic value. I’ve sat with it and considered it and just allowed the lessons to come realizing that like many of the shifts I’ve experienced on this journey, it takes time to make the big changes in perspective – to own them, apply them and embody them.

I think the greatest opportunity for me to truly come to terms with the idea of our intrinsic value came when my dad was at the end of his life. He had been in long term care for years before the end came and when it did, I had a deeply moving dream about a month beforehand. My dreams have become important healing and teaching tools since my earliest involvement in shamanism and some stand out more than others. This dream woke me up in the middle of the night and inspired me to record the message that came with it because it was so important. In fact, it was my father’s eulogy and I was giving it in my dream with the guidance of this wise voice that I have been hearing ever since my first journey with Ayahuasca in Peru. During this eulogy, there were accounts of some of my dad’s finer attributes but it became clear that these descriptions: kind, handsome, funny & gentle could be attributed to many other people. So what was it about my dad that made him so valuable and lovable? It was quite simply who he was. That unmistakable and unique essence of the man we knew and loved so well. It was his intrinsic value. We knew this without question as we grieved and thought about his life and the time we shared with him. Could we know this without question about ourselves too? This ultimate truth about all of us that others will experience when we pass? Through this dream and the eulogy that I actually gave at his funeral, my father offered me a most valuable lesson that I’m passing onto you.

This is a powerful lesson and recognizing the power of it and the simple truth of it is important. One of the deepest truths that I have learned through this ever-present guiding voice and through many shamanic ceremonies and experiences is that who we are and how we regard ourselves is felt by others without us even saying a word. It’s felt and it’s a signal that we send out into the world that is being responded to all the time. So, if we regard ourselves with love, we are creating the best possible experience for ourselves in this life. Once we become accustomed to experiencing self-love and valuing ourselves in this way, we can cultivate a society that recognizes the intrinsic value of humanity which will be reflected in all kinds of positive ways that will begin to change how we exist – how we educate children for example which can change everything. After all, if we place such value and importance on ourselves then we will place importance on learning about ourselves in the earliest stages of our lives – something that has been a giant gap in our education so far. I think we have a lot of work to do to bring this great shift about but I do believe it’s underway and it is a sort of progressive, intentional evolution – one that must begin on an individual level. It all begins with self-love. Who knew that this could be such a learning curve? But it is and once we face this and intentionally take it on, we can begin to learn and embrace what it means to recognize our own intrinsic value, knowing the profound impact it can have on our own lives, on the next generation and on our world. Just think of how many aspects of our society would change if self-love was a core value that had to be considered and adhered to – before making any policy or product or program. Make no mistake, loving yourself and recognizing your intrinsic value is important work. I hope you begin this work today and open up to all of the wondrous possibilities that come with it.

Ayahuasca Helped Me Explore My Thoughts Then Said: “Tell Them”

During my daily dialogue with Aya there have been many lessons around my thought patterns and some of the best lessons came when I was actually in ceremony (after ingesting Aya).. or so I thought. The reason I thought this was because during ceremony, I didn’t have my usual defense mechanisms at play – I was a captive audience. However, during one particularly memorable ceremony, Aya deliberately allowed my thoughts to occur as they normally would and used this opportunity to show me how I allowed my thoughts to get in the way of doing the things I wanted to do in my life. She literally showed me these thoughts as they occurred right after she had encouraged me to consider doing something wonderful. My conception of this wonderful endeavour was inevitably followed by thoughts that began to belittle this idea and make it seem not realistic or unlikely to succeed. Ayahuasca then pointed out how these thoughts themselves were the barriers I faced – not the subject or content of the thoughts, just the actual thoughts themselves. Then Ayahuasca said “Tell Them!” in an emphatic way.

This is not the first time that Ayahuasca has asked me to pass on messages, teachings and urged me to talk about the things I’ve experienced and learned. During a ceremony previous to the one described above, the usually abundant dialogue with Aya was very sparse and after a short lesson about how I create my own barriers (one of her favourite subjects) I heard “We will speak through you” and then I purged in a way that I won’t soon forget (and unfortunately, nether will the others in the clean up crew). Other than the obvious discomfort of the purge and the rigors of the medicine itself, it sounds like an easy thing to do to share these teachings but it wasn’t for me. I felt that I had to sufficiently address these issues myself before I could pass along these messages and teach what I was learning. But what did I consider to be sufficient? It was a yardstick that just kept growing and I could never measure up.

I had always been rather critical of spiritual teachers – probably because somewhere inside of me, I knew that I was one myself. My expectations of them were extremely high and this is one of the many lessons in the form of cosmic jokes that I’ve encountered on this integrative journey with Ayahuasca. It’s a good thing that I have a sense of humour – it comes in handy. Every time I’ve judged people in my life it has come back to haunt me and I’ve been humbled on many fronts. This particular judgement was the most difficult because it became a barrier to my own calling. How could I teach if I was so self-critical, that I could never live up to my own standards? It was more than a barrier – it was a trap. I managed to make it seem so righteous. Ayahuasca was not impressed.

Well, I’m over it. One thing I always admired in teachers was their willingness to continue to learn and this is something I can honestly say that I’m constantly doing. Ayahuasca is my constant teacher and one of the best lessons yet was one she offered to help me to address my misgivings about moving forward with teaching. She let me know that due to this constant guidance, my awareness of my thoughts – including the ones that are harmful – is heightened. As I continue to move beyond my comfort zones, it inevitably involves contending with the thoughts that protest this move. She kindly pointed out to me that this is a sign of growth and progress in my life. If I wasn’t constantly moving beyond my comfort zones, I would not have to face and address or traverse these protesting thoughts that intervene. The point is to not let them take over and dominate my decisions or feelings about what I’m doing.

Ultimately, I hope to rest between major shifts outside of my comfort zones. In the meantime, I have decided to regard these periods of discomfort as badges of honour and to move forward with teaching, knowing that we’re all learning together. All I can do as a teacher is to pass on what I learn. This is all any teacher can do and it’s not only teachers that do this. I learn from everyone and what I hope to inspire people to do is to discover the ultimate teacher – the teacher within.

Moving from Punishment to Compassion

Throughout my long journey of healing from depression, I have been learning about the things I need to change within myself. It’s been a challenging, immeasurably rewarding and highly educational experience. It has been a process that has taught me more about myself and about humanity than I could have learned in any other way. I have always been drawn to and moved by Philosophy (the love of wisdom) so this process is feeding a very deep need in me and I’m always wanting to learn more. I know without a doubt that this is where I was meant to be, on this path of learning, and it took depression to ultimately lead me here.

One of the reasons why it’s so challenging to learn about the things that I need to change is that I, like many others, have to contend with an inner (and sometimes outer) kneejerk defensive reaction that wants to protect myself from any kind of accusation of wrong doing. If something needs to change, there needs to be an understanding of what that is and why it needs to change. This is often where the defense mechanism kicks in and this defensive reaction has everything to do with having been immersed in a punishment oriented world for so long – one that breeds this defensiveness in so many of us. The defense is a means of avoiding punishment (a sort of survival instinct). Whether it’s physical, disciplinary punishment (my parents were big softies when it came to this actually) or more of a constant series of responses that indicate how underserving a person is who has ‘done wrong’, it’s a pattern underlying typical social behaviour in our world beginning from early childhood. It is both formal in some instances (reprimands/discipline of children or legal action/jail for adults) and informal in others (social shaming, exclusion and an endless nuanced form of passive aggression). It’s a pervasive pattern that becomes internalized. The continued internal self-punishment and admonishment supports the ongoing external version – that which we apply to others – often in the form of judgement.

On a personal level, when you disparage someone else in your own mind for doing something that is considered to be wrong, you are reinforcing that tendency to punish. This strengthens the punishment reaction so that it becomes alive and well in the mind. Unfortunately, this inner tendency towards punishment is most often directed at yourself because you are the person you live with 24hrs a day. This is really what’s behind the old standing piece of wisdom: ‘When you hurt others, you’re only hurting yourself’. As it turns out, this has merit.

Punishment is a deterrent to personal growth and most importantly to unconditional self-love, which is an imperative for well-being. Because of the anticipation of punishment, defensiveness is justified as ‘self-protection’. This act of self-protection can be mistaken for an act of self-love. It is not. The defense itself is actually based on a false assumption that we can only be loved or be worthy of love if/when we don’t ‘do wrong’ or that if we ‘do wrong things’, we’re not entitled to or deserving of love – even if temporarily. It’s such an old, familiar and damaging paradigm and tearing this down can be extremely liberating. It can be both a beginning and an end: the beginning of compassion and an end to suffering.

It has been a mandatory part of my healing and growth to exercise compassion with myself and with others. Compassion is something that I have learned to nurture within. At times it’s utterly inspired and I am at peace. At others, it takes a supreme effort and I have to remind myself of the wisdom of this approach and of its constant rewards. The rewards of compassion are very clear. If I create an atmosphere in my mind of compassion, I give myself more opportunities to grow and change for the better. In an atmosphere of compassion, I have every incentive to do this because I’m no longer wasting energy defending myself and living in fear of punishment. If I’m treating myself and others with compassion and benefiting from it, I am cultivating an atmosphere of compassion all around me. This is the real revolution. Moving away from punishment and towards compassion is a revolutionary act. In fact, it might be more appropriate to term it an evolutionary act. I believe that we are growing out of this punishment phase of humanity.

Despite popular belief, punishment doesn’t work – not even formally. There have been numerous studies to support this fact and overwhelming evidence. Incarceration and corporal punishment have not reduced crime. In fact crime has only increased steadily and incarceration facilities are growing. Punishment is not effective in bringing about positive change because it only motivates people to avoid punishment rather than to consider for themselves why deep personal change might be necessary and how it might benefit them.

My path of intentional, personal growth began with Shamanism, an ancient practice of healing which for me has involved using many tools & medicines including Ayahuasca and always guided by a higher form of consciousness. There are many ways to access a higher form of consciousness. Some do this through meditation. For me, Shamanism has involved a form of meditation that we call journeying. Whatever name we put on it, this experience can be very liberating. I needed to be liberated from my way of thinking and this liberation has been an instrumental part of my healing. One of the main concepts introduced early in my Shamanic practice was the idea of ‘self service’. If I was to heal and grow, I needed to make changes. This meant dropping behaviour that ‘no longer served me’. In this phrase you may detect a distinct lack of judgement. There’s not the heaviness of ‘wrong doing’ associated with behaviour. It’s quite simply not in my best interest to do these things and therefore it makes sense that I stop doing them. Our judgemental attachment to so-called ‘wrong doing’ is what leads to so much more ‘wrong doing’, which is really just illness – hence the constant reference in Shamanism to ‘healing’ and ‘medicine’.

My experience of healing has helped me to see myself and to approach my life and the world in different ways. I continue to learn about what it means to be ill by learning and experiencing what it means to be well. When I have had difficulties of my own or with others, it helps to see that these difficulties are part of an illness that can be treated rather than an evil or bad behaviour. Once there is judgement, a heaviness is attached, and it becomes much more difficult for me to extricate myself from it. If I’m able to see it as illness, compassion is my response rather than judgement and this changes everything. Would we punish someone for being ill? Even formally, we have laws to protect the mentally ill from punishment. However, I think it’s time that we change the way that we define and perceive mental illness. A favourite quote comes to mind:

“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society”

Jiddu Krishnamurti

The wellness and mindfulness movement is an indicator of this need for change and our desire to move forward in a different way. Those of us who have been forced to focus on wellness have discovered that this is not a quick fix. True wellness requires big changes in the ways that we think about and act towards ourselves and towards others. It requires effort and it requires compassion.

Once you begin to see the results of compassion, a form of love, you marvel at the power of it and how freeing it is. Mostly, you marvel at how good it feels and then you understand that there is an alternative to suffering. We have a choice in this and moving from punishment to compassion is a choice and a powerful step towards ending suffering.

The Story of Our Keys: Ayahuasca Wisdom on Personal Power

During my ceremonies with Ayahuasca, like so many others, I had a dialogue with a higher form of consciousness that we call Ayahuasca. When I returned from the jungle, the dialogue continued. During one ceremony, Ayahuasca asked me to put pencil to paper and when I did, the following metaphorical story emerged about the nature of our personal power and how we may use it either to build barriers or to create ‘new worlds’. In essence, it’s about how we create our own reality:

Your Keys

You carry a key inside of you, and that key opens the doors of the world that you create. You are creating new worlds all the time and using your key to enter those worlds. The key must remain with you so that you may have access to these new worlds. If you give that key away you lose access.

Giving Your Key Away

Given the importance of this key, it must remain within you. If you give away your key, you give away access to those new worlds–new possibilities. Once the key leaves you, the ability to enter those new worlds resides outside of you. If you put that key into someone else’s hands you have given that person your own access to these new worlds and possibilities. Once this happens your dependency on that person begins. This dependency often breeds resentment. This resentment is the foundation of structures called barriers. We build these structures that encompass our fears of using our own keys. Our focus shifts from these new possibilities to the keeper of the keys.

The Keeper of the Keys

This keeper is now in possession of the key to these new possibilities. This possession is never permanent. It is an illusion supported by the owners of the keys. This illusion becomes more powerful as the focus on the keeper grows. The keepers of the keys are now reviled by the owners because the keepers are restricting access or building worlds that the owners don’t like. This creates conflict.

The Key Owner’s Dilemma

Being convinced that the keepers now own the keys, the owners feel powerless. Every time the owner begins to build a new world this same owner destroys it in the name of the keeper always placing the responsibility for this destruction solely on the shoulders of the keeper. The owner’s frustration builds. How can the owner be expected to create a new world when the keeper stands in the way?

The New Owner’s Thoughts

Now that the keys have no real home having been discarded by the owners and never truly residing with the keeper, the keys constitute an immense unused power. This power is needed and desired by every owner and yet remains unused. The keys are illuminated every time someone breaks out this trap. Those who break free not only see the keys at everyone’s disposal, they also see the multitude of keys to the endless new worlds that they may build.

These are not only the new owners but the true owners as they acknowledge where the true power lies. The new owners see not only the possibilities but the endless struggle of those who deny ownership of their keys. This is a dilemma indeed. How can they help the other owners and keepers to see the reality of the natural and true state of the keys? They must show this by using their own keys to build new worlds in hopes that others will be inspired to claim ownership of their own keys. This is the path to freedom.

This is only an excerpt of ‘The Story of Our Keys’ that continues to unfold. I wrote this story but Ayahuasca is the author. I learned a great deal from writing this story and continue to learn more each time I write and each time I read it. It is becoming a book. This is quite an undertaking that Ayahuasca has tasked me with (while continuing all of my other work) and I’m reaching out to find partners/supporters/fellow co-creators in this undertaking. I am looking for a very special editor to advise me on certain aspects of this project. I will self-publish if necessary, but I would like to find a publisher who is inspired to take this on. Through this work, I have begun to see that our world is filled with unusual and inspiring things if we’re willing to see them and most importantly, to create them.

A Lesson From My Father

My life has changed so much since I’ve become involved in shamanism. One of the most important aspects of shamanism is what we can learn from it. I’m guided through most aspects of my life now and my dreams have become vehicles for messages and lessons. This is a lesson I received in a dream in the form of a eulogy a few months before my father died. It was telling me that my father’s time on this earth was ending. My dad passed on April 27th, 2018 and I gave this dream inspired eulogy (everything after the first paragraph) at his funeral. The lesson included in my father’s eulogy is an important and universal one.

My dad helped his kids move. All 5 of us and we moved a lot. I remember him suggesting that we consider buying inflatable furniture. My dad had a good sense of humour. He gave his time and energy to people in need. He volunteered at the Out of the Cold program at St. Mike’s hospital in downtown Toronto. They took in homeless people overnight during the winter. My mom told me recently that one day, during this time, he mentioned that he had to bring one of the men in the program to the emergency room because his foot was really bad. My mom asked how he discovered this and he told her that he was doing this man’s toe nails.

He did perform selfless acts but that was not what made my dad special. He was special because of who he was. Those of us who knew him, have a sense of that unique quality that was Joe Hayden. We can use descriptive words like kind, gentle, funny and all of these words are true. But there are other kind, gentle, funny people who are not my dad. He was one of a kind. A unique being that we had the honour to know. We know this now, without any doubt, this essence that was my dad that made him so valuable. Unfortunately, he didn’t know this.

My father experienced an inner battle, one that caused him to feel what people describe as depression. At times, this made it an exquisite effort to do things that others might do effortlessly. We all have an inner life that others may not be aware of. I have experienced this inner battle and it was at it’s worst after my son was born. I know that sometimes, just dropping your child off to their lessons can be a courageous act when the battle is raging.

My dad, this unique and truly lovable person we all knew him to be, didn’t realize that just being who he was, was enough. I think if he did, the battle would have been won long ago. Many of us have trouble with this and I wonder if as a tribute to my dad, we may all start to realize the truth of it. Something we know without a doubt about my father is also true about each and every one of us. The greatest gift my dad gave us was the gift of himself. His unique, irreplaceable, lovely self. We all give that gift every day. Knowing this can make a huge difference in our lives and in the world. This is the final lesson my dad taught me, his final gift that I’m passing onto you.

 

Life After Ayahuasca.. An Integration Workshop on November 25th

After the phenomenal experience that is Ayahuasca, many of us are left wondering how to carry this experience into our everyday lives. Many of us pursued the medicine to improve our lives and our relationships. In this workshop, we will focus on the most important relationship you have in this life: your relationship with yourself. You’ll discover the ways in which you may improve this relationship by exploring the decisions you make in your life and the considerations surrounding these decisions. You’ll discover the agreements that are in place in your life and the beliefs that support them. Most importantly, you’ll recognize the immense opportunities for change that exist in these discoveries.

The entire presentation has been inspired by the guided and integrative experiences I’ve had with Ayahuasca. In ceremony, Ayahuasca asked me to ‘put pencil to paper’ and this is the result: http://offthedeepend.ca/blog/category/ayahuascawisdom/ The workshop was created in this way and will be devoted to applied Ayahuasca wisdom with the central focus being self-love. Ayahuasca continually reinforces the idea that we create our own reality. If we create from a position of love, our lives will be a healthy reflection of this love. Ayahuasca is often an introduction to ‘the work’ and how we apply what we learn is the work-in-progress that is our daily lives. For me, it’s a labour of love and I look forward to sharing it with you.

 

Please email rebecca.hayden@gmail.com to register!

Hypnotic Ayahuasca

Is it possible to experience Ayahuasca with hypnosis?

Yes.

Rebecca Hayden (Ayahuasca Talks Radio Show) and Albert Nerenberg (Hypnotist from TEDX, IdeaCity, The Hypnotic Bar) will present an experience of Hypnotic Ayahuasca in Toronto on the evening of July 8th. A limited number of places are available.

There are no actual substances involved and all states are achieved naturally through trance, shared ritual and deep relaxation. In deep trance, people are able to have Ayahuasca experiences that may help them with integration. Recommended for those who have already experienced Ayahuasca.

Hypnotic Ayahuasca is an opportunity to work with the medicine in a unique way. With the help of hypnotic techniques we can re-enter the Ayahuasca state. This can be an extraordinary integrative tool. Having re-established this connection to Ayahuasca through hypnosis, we can use intentions and hypnotic suggestion to integrate the experience into our daily lives.

Testimonials:

“I was able to journey back to my time in ceremony in Peru, and I even had a new heart opening while I was there”  “I’m pleased it helped play a role in my integration work.”

“Through Hypnotic Aya, we have the opportunity to delve into a deeper level of consciousness where we can ask the questions and allow the answers to come. Your gentle and compassionate presence made it safe for me to trust, not only in the process but in myself and my natural ability to access that state of Aya that is in all of us.”

“I immediately connected to Mother Aya, and had remembered my lessons learned in Peru before. I had a lot of grief and upon reconnecting I found forgiveness and unconditional love. I highly recommend this session for everyone, it gently reminded me of how I have to keep honoring this sacred plant’s teachings and that she will always be with me on my journey in life.”

“Going into the Hypnosis Ayahuasca evening was exciting and a little nerve-wracking for me. That’s how I knew it was definitely the right decision! A group of us with varied stages in personal growth and life experience got together and were led through a series of hypnosis- based ‘journeys’ that allowed us to explore and enjoy working with our unconscious minds. We came out of the whole experience feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and for me specifically – I definitely feel more aligned with my inner Love Warrior! If you’re thinking about joining the group – or participating in a session, I say – do it! There is no one that will be able to tell you exactly the experience you will have, and if you keep yourself open to self-love, and acceptance and just allow yourself to be taken on the journey, your unconscious mind will uncover exactly what you need it to.”

“Although there were candles and trance music, this was not a hippie-style hangout. Facilitators Albert Nerenberg and Rebecca Hayden are both professional and warm. And they are genuinely knowledgeable about the subjects of Ayahuasca and hypnotism. Ceremony and ritual are integral to the Ayahuasca experience. These are things people need. Native people know it but the rest of us have largely forgotten. Unfortunately, a lot of people caught up in the micro aggressions of modern life will dismiss this kind of experience as so much superstition and self-indulgent time wasting. I’ve been there. In fact, I’m still afraid of trusting people, of letting go and looking foolish. But this was a sublime opportunity for experiential learning and I found it very valuable. It’s the kind of learning that is largely unconscious. It’s hard to rationalize listening to trance music in the dark; sharing stories of our mental experiences with people who care; letting go of self-control even though it is a source of stress and depression. It’s hard to verbalize but I can feel the learning and the benefits of this experience in my bones.”

 

Please contact me via email to register: rebecca.hayden@gmail.com

Workshops Coming Soon!

Plant medicine experiences are often deeply profound experiences that inspire us to examine our lives and to live in a healthier way. This opportunity for change is a gift but it can be challenging to continue to make the kinds of changes in our lives that honour these experiences once we get back to our daily lives.

My own Ayahuasca experiences involved a dialogue that continued long after ceremony and continues to this day. I have been experiencing a guided form of integration for years now and have begun to produce written work that is entirely inspired by this continuing dialogue. http://offthedeepend.ca/blog/category/ayahuascawisdom/

I’m now in the process of creating workshops under this same guidance that will be designed to help people to pursue their own path of personal development in keeping with the wisdom of plant medicines.

Please email rebecca.hayden@gmail.com to get onto the contact list so that you will be informed of the dates and times of upcoming workshops!

Ayahuasca Talks!

This is a talk I gave at the Centre for Social Innovation in Toronto on November 30th, 2016. This is the back up video and lighting challenges made it necessary to film in a close up fashion but hopefully, the message will outweigh the video quality. 😉

A huge thanks to Yvonne Erlichman for filming this talk and my unending thanks to the Temple of the Way of Light for not only providing some of the photos for this talk (of the vine itself and of the Shipibo Maestra/Shaman) but for the extraordinary time I spent there in the jungle where I first discovered Ayahuasca.

How do you expend your mental energy?

One of the lessons I’ve received and continue to receive when needed is about how I expend my mental energy. When I find myself carried away with thoughts about a frustrating experience I had, I am reminded that it’s over and it’s time to be present. Even when I am present and dealing with say a customer service dilemma, this is an opportunity to learn. There seem to be plenty of these opportunities in today’s climate and on one such occasion, while I felt my frustration begin to build, I was taken through various outcomes in my mind and realized that under no circumstances would getting angry serve me or help to improve the situation. It didn’t mean that I wasn’t encouraged to be persistent when it was appropriate, I just didn’t expend the kind of intense energy on the matter that I might have previously and in the end, things always worked out better for me. The outcome was always measured by how I felt, not what transpired. However, soon I began to notice that I not only felt better but the overall outcomes improved considerably. I made better choices because I was in a better frame of mind to do so.

The energy of the mind is something that is worth our attention. It is an environment that needs to be taken care of just as our physical environment needs tending. The thoughts we entertain send signals to our body and out into the world around us. Both our bodies and the world responds. When I invest in fear, worry and doubt, I end up feeling tired and experience a loss of energy. This state is reflected outward to others around me and they respond accordingly. There may be superficial activities and responses that seem to ignore this inner state but on a deeper level, this is what we’re all responding to all of the time and this is the level at which real change is possible.

We are sending out signals all the time with our energy and when we choose to engage in those highly charged negative emotional exchanges, we’re sending out the kind of signals that invite that same negative charge in whatever form it may take. Understanding this helped me to begin to take an active role in what I allowed to fill my mind because it was my engagement with certain kinds of thoughts that ultimately sparked this negative energy. We all have a choice in this. Our thoughts are not who we are but they affect how we feel and behave and that affects everything else. I began to actively refuse to entertain thoughts that I realized were continually intruding and causing harm. I used visualization techniques that seemed strange to me at the time but I soon realized that the method isn’t what matters, it’s the results that matter and the results were and still are consistently good. I began to treat negative thoughts as though they were people intruding in a harmful way and I would no longer engage with them.

This is a powerful exercise. It taught me that by using my will to cast out these intrusive and negative thoughts, I was beginning to take control of my life. I soon began to do this gently but firmly with some people in my life too. It became a ripple effect showing me clearly how my state of mind reflected outwards. By clearing out negative space inside of me and around me, I began to invite the more positive experiences and the kind of community that I had been craving. It has been the most liberating experience of my life and it all happened because I began to pay attention to what was going on in my mind and to actively participate in changing it in a positive way. We all have the power to do this and if we are willing, it can change everything.