My Dearest Companion Grief

I would have to say grief and joy have been some of my loyalist companions throughout life. They are always right by my side. What I find most interesting is that everything stems from the same source yet it seems that some things are easier to accept and express. Grief can sometimes just be downright ineffable and not so much fun unfortunately. But grief can be absolutely beautiful and poetic (and undefinable), it reminds me of the ocean as it brings you to the depths of your own humanity.

“Grief is like the wind. When it’s blowing hard, you adjust your sails and run before it. If it blows too hard, you stay in the harbor, close the hatches and don’t take calls. When it’s gentle, you go sailing, have a picnic, take a swim." -Barbara Lazear Lascher

Last week I had a profound healing session while receiving acupuncture. My lungs and spleen qi are pretty low due to much grief and a damp damp climate. The spleen likes a dry climate (like Arizona) and I was living in Seattle (which is a very damp/moist climate). Needless to say I am very grateful to be back, but I am doing my best to get the spleen into healthy shape. My doctor started pressing on my chest and asking what emotions I had been feeling lately, and I shouted out “JOY” emphatically. And then she began touching a very tender area and asked, what else? Stuck the needle in and I started whaling for a solid 5 minutes, which has never happened during an acupuncture session before. If felt like my insides were literally on fire, as a burning sensation started to permeate my chest. I guess I had been holding onto some grief for quite a while.

“Breathing in, I’m aware of the painful feeling in me. Breathing out, I’m aware of the painful feeling in me.” This is an art. We have to learn it, because most of us don’t like to be with our pain. We’re afraid of being overwhelmed by pain, so we always seek to run away from it. There’s loneliness, fear, anger, and despair in us. Mostly we try to cover it up by consuming. There are those of us who go and look for something to eat. Others turn on the television. In fact, many people do both at the same time. And even if the TV program isn’t interesting at all, we don’t have the courage to turn it off, because if we turn it off, we have to go back to ourselves and encounter the pain inside. The marketplace provides us with many items to help us in our effort to avoid the suffering inside.” - Thich Nhat Hanh

The session allowed me to deepen compassion for myself and for grief. What have I been running from? What hurts so deeply that I’d rather distract myself with sweets and more food that would give me the instant gratification and relief that I need. But I spoke and listened to grief just as I would with a friend. And grief told me:

No one wants to even look at me. I am shoved to the depths where no one can see. I cannot breathe, but I watch everyone else breathe. And I feel so empty and hollow. So much love for everything but I cannot breathe, and no one sees me. Please help, I wish to be seen. I wish to breathe. I wish to share all this love breathing inside of me. I love I love I love everything. -Grief

I was profoundly moved by what grief had shared with me. Grief is love., pure love. And all this love gathered up inside of my chest with no outlet to breathe. And I didn’t want to see.

“Grief is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.” - Jamie Anderson

I am so grateful for the healing session, as it helped me understand that to truly love is to be intimate with whatever arises within the present moment whether it be anger, compassion, grief, joy, gratitude or bliss. To not shy away from the mirror, but to embrace it in its totality. To say:

“I see you. I see you.”

With love and gratitude,

Caitlin Leigh

Gifts of the Universe

I remember the first time I stepped on the scale, it tasted like candy and I loved the high. I remember checking my weight 20 times a day, before and after every sip of water or meal. Knowing the number, I could rest my head at night and create a new number, a new goal to aspire to. And then I would hit the cycle again, weighing myself 20 times a day. Before a 4 hour tennis practice. After a 4 hour tennis practice. Wondering how much weight I’d lose during the tennis practice. Travel across the country with a scale. Hide it from my coach and teammates. Travel across the globe with a scale, along with a bag full of shame. 14 years of a constant candy high. Except there was no candy, and after a while the high dissolved and I became numb.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I recently traveled to Costa Rica for the first time! 4 years into recovery, I traveled solo to a foreign country WITHOUT a scale and the extra luggage of a repressed eating disorder. Sure there was some healing still to do, but the healing was in a different context. I am so grateful and so proud, and I did not know this day would come where I would be free to be exactly as I am without a number defining me. That I would be free to make connections without being concerned about image or weight.

Sometimes progress is not always tangible. Sometimes you are never rewarded for it. Sometimes you are still not where you want to be. But, progress is progress, for it is the details that matter most. I have been chipping away at the wall around my heart for the past 4 years, and slowly I have become more open. Slowly I have become more kind. Slowly I have become more gentle. And as the wall continues to dissolve, I am filled with this beautiful expansive emptiness. I may not have the career, house, or expanded family I dreamt of when I was little kid, but I have grown so deeply within and fostered the roots of my very own divine garden. And that garden is in bloom, and that garden is divine.

I often journal about what it is that my heart truly wants, and each time it always comes back to intimacy and connection. Intimacy in a sense of mergence with totality, and connection as in surrendering to the divine. It is “home” that I hear whispered in the depths of silence. The Eating Disorder may have been an enemy at one point in my eyes, but it has given my spirit the gift that I asked for all along: intimacy and connection. Sometimes the things we ask for don’t come in pretty delicate packages. And in my case and many others on this planet, they come in the form of an obsessive, destructive, painful package that’s wrapped in sugar, and we wonder why it doesn’t remain sweet. The sweetness comes with the courage to unravel, just as the caterpillar emerges from its messy cocoon and becomes a beautiful butterfly. It takes courage, and with courage comes everything else.

It is important for me to write this blog, as sometimes I feel like we look at where we wish to be in our lives instead of immersing ourselves in the gifts of now. I am becoming and unbecoming, and I cherish the gift the universe has given to my spirit so that I may share it with others. Because if you really look into everything, all is a gift- everything is simply packaged differently.

I have spent half of my life running away from myself, and I will spend the rest of my life walking towards myself. -Caitlin Leigh

Self-Care All Day

This blog post is obviously dedicated to that amazing routine we call self-care! I realized how important self-care is for my everyday well being and I thought it would tie right into the mental health blog. Self care equals mental health care in my eyes! When we take care of ourselves and nurture within we can do so for everything that extends outside of ourselves.

Self-care is a rainbow, and by rainbow I mean it is everything! Self-care looks different for every person, hence the self. My self-care routine has expanded over the past few years and I have since seen much improvement in my overall health and well being (granted I have not so shabby days too and have experienced health concerns). Or at the least, I have become more aware and mindful!

An empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly. -Unknown

That is right, in order to shine we must fill ourselves! I am going to share some self-care tips and ideas that I use or that I have found to be beneficial in adding to an everyday routine. Self-care is an extremely creative and fun process, so let your creative juices flow and allow yourself to receive the abundance of the universe. Below are some ways in which you can take time out of the day and make yourself a priority- because you are so worthy.

Self Care Tips

Body: Enjoy using all of your five senses with these tips; essential oils, epsom salt baths dry brushing, jade rolling, yoga, spending time in nature, tantric masturbation, movement, fasting, juicing, exercise, eating the rainbow, earthing, grounding, cooking. Get creative!

Mind: Enjoy relaxing your mind and connecting to your heart with these ideas; acupuncture, energy healing, crystal healing, meditating, listening to music, reading, daily affirmations, gratitude list, spending time with friends and family, volunteering, therapy, life coaching, playing a game, astrology, numerology, photography.

Spirit: Enjoy connecting with spirit through these ideas: meditating, chanting, praying, speaking to higher self, tarot cards, sitting in silence, dancing, painting, writing/journaling, sound baths/healing, qi gong, vision quest, solitude, sun gazing, (lucid) dreaming, dreamwork, travel.

These are all ideas that you can incorporate into your everyday self-care routine, but our universe is infinite so go ahead and get creative. We are human and we are bound to transform, so it is likely that our self-care needs will develop new patterns overtime and that is wonderful! Just go with the flow, but always fill yourself up as you are SO WORTHY.

Thanks for checking out my simple little blog post on self-care tips, I hope you continue to discover your deepest needs and nurture them with unconditional love.

With love and gratitude,

Caitlin Leigh

Being a Volunteer

What do you think of when you hear the word volunteering? Altruism, selfless, service, community, and reciprocity are all words that come to my mind. Today’s blog post is about volunteering, but not in the sense of service, and more so in the sense of saying YES to life. What do I mean by volunteering to say yes to life?

I recently watched a video on Sadhguru and he eloquently expresses that “Willing means 100% yes to life. If you are 100% yes to life you are volunteer. You have become so willing that you have no will of your own.” In other words you are a volunteer of life, and no one can take that away from you. When we become unwilling, or when we react with hostility to life and those around us we are saying no. You see, life does not give us the ideal world, life gives us experience and we decide how to respond.

We have all had experiences that perhaps were not healing or rewarding and caused much harm, but we have all had experiences that may have been so profoundly inspiring that we were empowered because of it. To be a volunteer is to have an open door policy. It is releasing the idea that there is “good” and “bad,” and accepting what is. And when we accept what is, there is a sense of freedom within the willingness. This is the cessation of suffering, to be a volunteer.

“Acceptance means, for now, this is what this situation, this moment, requires me to do, and so I do it willingly.” -Eckhart Tolle

This topic is especially relevant to my life right now as I have become more aware of the rigidity within my thought processes, and the lingering fear within that prevents me from yelping out an emphatic YES to life! I have lived with this great resistance for a very long time, but it is no longer serving the evolution of my path. Saying yes is empowering and connecting. And by saying yes, I am releasing the idea that life or people need to be a certain way.

Next time you are upset or feeling resistance, think about volunteering and saying yes to life. Watch your life as you begin to engage in all of your experiences with acceptance and a genuine willingness. Fear dissolves, and freedom expands. May you continue to be a volunteer of life. And always, YES, YES, YES!

With love and gratitude,

Caitlin Leigh

References

Sadhguru (2018). How to never get angry or bothered by people. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxoQdEhHaT8

The Power of Silence

That’s right, have you ever felt and experienced the transformative power of silence? Silence is the wisdom beneath noise. The spaciousness within. Silence is the infinite. I recently read the book Listening Below the Noise by the wonderful Anne D. LeClaire and felt an immediate shift taking place within. She encapsulates the beauty in silence and how truly peaceful and healing it can be.

“Silence is a great source of strength.” -Lao Tzu

I have always enjoyed solitude, and most of the times my version of silence. I can be quite the talker, but I do love the feeling of emptinessness. After reading her book I was inspired to create days of silence for myself with the intention of self-care. Sometimes it feels as though I am wrapped up in a world of thoughts (not just mine) and feelings, and I just need a laxative for my brain to release it all ha, literally! Silence is the medicine I have been looking for. I have been in Costa Rica for over a month and have experienced two days of silence. No words, no communication. Simply sitting with myself and embracing the spaciousness within.

A LOT OF STUFF came up. But then it would pass, for everything is fleeting. And then I was intrigued and aware of the smallest details. So much joy came from the littlest things that perhaps I would miss when I was talking or engaging with the world. Some like the the glass half full, some half empty, I say pour it all out! It felt cleansing, healing, and connecting.

“Don’t surrender your loneliness so quickly. Let it cut more deep.”- Hafiz

I also realized how powerful words and communication are. Just as silence has healing effects, the way in which we speak to others and ourselves can significantly impact our wellbeing and the world we live in and create. I have used words as a knife many of times in my life, and I was filled with regret and guilt afterwards. Speaking with intention is a wonderful gift, but we must get in touch with the mindful and compassionate self. These days I have been getting more in touch with that part of me and the mindful self tells me to listen. Listen and you will hear. I have so much chatter in my head that I want to let it out, to speak, and I want others to listen to me. Yet in silence, I was encouraged to listen- a skill that I am still developing.

"The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention….A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well intentioned words.” -Naomi Remen

Anne De. LeClaire states in her book that there are four highways into the heart: Silence, Love, Grief, and Gratitude. On my personal journey of healing I have navigated all of these highways very lightly. I put one foot in, but keep another foot out just in case. Just in case of what? Fear. I planted the seed of surrender, now I am slowly watching myself bloom in the silence, grief, gratitude, and love. Finding my way back to living with heart and being.

I wrote this blog not only to share my experience with silence, but to also encourage others who are inspired to do so as well. Many people attend Vipassana retreats to experience the transformative healing powers of silence, while others can simply incorporate it into their everyday routine. I will definitely be integrating more silence into my regular routine, as it has helped me become more intentional and centered. I hope you reap the wonderful benefits that silence has to offer.

May you be well. May you be free. May you be loved. May you experience your being in all its glory.

With love and gratitude,

Caitlin Leigh

References

LeClaire, Anne D. (2009). Listening below the noise: The transformative power of silence. New York, NY: Harper Perennial.

Freedom Seeker

Hey everybody, I am back again! I have been in Costa Rica for a little bit over a week getting settled into the pura vida way of life. It has been absolutely wonderful thus far, words cannot do it justice.

Today I wanted to share a bit about freedom. Ahhhh FREEDOM, YES! What is freedom? Webster’s (2018) states that freedom is the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action. I believe freedom is fluid, spontaneous, and present minded. If we pull from the past, we are living from the past. This is not freedom. If we are living in the future, desiring for an illusionary tomorrow we are not free. That is an idea of freedom, but not freedom itself.

I have been a freedom seeker since I was a little child, do not FENCE me in or I will rebel! This is understanding that I believed I wasn’t free to begin with. There are many types of freedom out there, but as Osho eloquently states there is a significant difference in freedom from and freedom for. Freedom from society, politics, religion is binding. If you are free, literally free, then from would need not exist. Freedom for is the essence of freedom. Freedom for creating. Freedom to be exactly as you are.

There also comes responsibility with freedom. I believed for a very long time that freedom was associated with no responsibility. But in fact, when you are free you take complete ownership in all that you do, think, believe, create. And I have known many people who are afraid of this type of freedom. It is sometimes easier to blame it on the societal conditions, the system, the family, religion, etc. This is giving away power; freedom. God is not responsible. Religion is not responsible. Your partner is not responsible. Money is not responsible. Society is not responsible. You are are completely responsible.

To be totally free one must be totally aware, because our bondage is rooted in our unconsciousness; it does not come from the outside. Nobody can make you unfree. You can be destroyed by your freedom, but your freedom cannot be taken away unless you give it away. In the ultimate analysis, it is always your desire to be unfree that makes you unfree. It is your desire to be dependent, you desire to drop responsibility of being yourself, that makes you unfree. (Osho, 2004, p. 1)

We are born as empty, free, spacious, innocent souls. And then we become what we have been conditioned to be. We were nothing before we were born and most likely very blissful and content (one would imagine!). And then as we grow older, we continue to add layers to the cake. Soon enough we have created this identity or sense of self that has adapted to society. But this is not freedom. To be nothing? That is terrifying, I have always dreamt to be something whether it is a vet, artist, musician or writer. Strip the cake, one layer at a time. We are nothing. And in this nothingness there is a sense of expansion. Freedom. Innocence. Out of that nothingness arises creativity, spontaneity, bliss, childlike innocence. Drop everything, embrace the nothingness. This is freedom. This is your soul. You are free to create. You are free to be exactly as you are, not what you have “learned” or have been “taught” to be.

I will no longer seek freedom, for that is not the point. I will continue unraveling layer by layer until I am naked and dressed in nothingness. It takes courage to be yourself, to allow yourself to be an expression of the divine. It takes much courage. And I only wish for you to be exactly as you are. To create. Be free. So go on now, my dear one.

With love and gratitude,

Caitlin Leigh

References

“freedom.” Merriam-Webster's Electronic Dictionary. 2018. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/acceptance

Osho, (2004). Freedom: The courage to be yourself. New York, N.Y. Osho International Foundation.

Vulnerability

I am switching up this blog post a bit by sharing a poem that I wrote while camping this past weekend. Vulnerability is a beautifully intricate art. And it asks you to be brave. Here I share a bit about how vulnerability resonates with my heart, and hoping that I can continue to dare greatly by being more and more vulnerable each day.

Vulnerability is saying yes, when everyone and everything  

Else tells you no.

Vulnerability is watering the garden every

Single day, not knowing if it will grow.

Vulnerability is accepting yourself head to toe. 

Vulnerability is holding your hand when your heart feels low.

Vulnerability is forgiving yourself gently.

Vulnerability is speaking to your soul lovingly.

Vulnerability is letting your heart speak.

Vulnerability is loving yourself regardless of what

You have said, thought, done, or become.

Vulnerability is showing up for yourself

When all you want to do is hide and run.

Vulnerability is sharing "your" truth.

Vulnerability is in letting loose. 

Vulnerability is in daring to explore the new.

Vulnerability is in being kind.

Vulnerability is being ok with whatever you find. 

Vulnerability is not leaving any part of self behind.

Vulnerability is in recognizing and nurturing the hurt.

Vulnerability is in being aware of your words.

Vulnerability is love disguised as the breaking of the heart.

Vulnerability is to keep going when you feel like giving up.

Vulnerability is embracing alone.

Vulnerability is listening, simply listening and allowing

Your heart to head home.

Vulnerability is believing.

Vulnerability is getting naked with all watching.

Vulnerability is not being afraid to see.

Vulnerability is in the cracks

And spaces, and all that is in between.

Vulnerability is in everything.

Vulnerability is in being. 

Just breathe.

What does vulnerability mean to you? 

With love and gratitude,

Caitlin Leigh 

Identity(less)

I had the wonderful privilege of introducing Kara Richardson Whitley, a motivational speaker and author at a Mental Health event pertaining to eating disorders in Seattle last week. I am currently reading her book Gorge, and I would highly recommend it! I was also very fortunate to share some of my poetry and answer questions with her! This blogpost is specific to one of the questions asked that really had me questioning recovery and the healing process. What happens to your identity with(out) an eating disorder?

Well let us first begin with, what is an identity? According to Webster's (2017) online dictionary, identity is defined as the condition of being oneself or itself, and not another. I view an identity like a canvas because an identity can be created and added to at anytime. What do you identify with or feel so strongly about that makes it feel as if it were you?

I spent 14 years (half of my life) nurturing and creating an eating disorder to provide certain needs for me, to protect me from the outside world, and to maintain an idea I had created about myself. I was someone before the eating disorder, but the eating disorder became "my" identity the more strongly I utilized it and attached to it. It became who I thought I was, someone with a ferocious angry eating disorder. You see, sometimes the things we hold onto or identify with can really hurt us without knowing. And they can take up a lot of precious space. ED took up so much space that it was all I lived and breathed for. 

I recently read Brene Brown's book on Daring Greatly and it speaks about the power of being vulnerable. She expressed how vulnerability is brave and how it essentially has the power to heal and connect. Recognizing that you identify with an eating disorder (or anything that is hurtful to your wellbeing) and choosing recovery or asking for help is absolutely brave. The recovery process is not always that simple, and can be a continuous process of shedding many layers and identities an false notions that you have held onto. But there can always be the fear of who am I without ED? What is my identity?

The less you identify with the more spacious you become, and the more you can be filled with things you love. I really get the whole Buddhist practice on non attachment now! Over the past few years in my recovery I have continuously shed many layers, and in the process I have discovered many passions like writing, painting, dancing, and singing (who knows what else is to come)! These are all things I never had time or energy for when I strongly identified with an eating disorder. Sometimes it is not about giving things up, but loosening our grip (attachment) to them, and letting life be as it is. It was absolutely terrifying when I decided to enter treatment and live a life without ED. What would my life be like without ED? What is going to happen now? Who am I without ED?

The real question is, who do I want to be or wish to become?

And this is the question I would ask anyone going through change, transition, or an identity criss. We live in a boundless universe, and we all have the ability to continuously create. Just because we have lost one part of ourselves (an identity) does not mean we cannot recreate a new way of being, or perhaps find the lost parts of ourselves that are waiting to shine. Clean out your closet, buy some new clothes and shoes and get super creative. Or go check out your closet and see what you have been missing and bring it out! Humans are multi-faceted- don't limit yourself to one thing or in this case, identity. You are more than a label or identity. You are whatever you wish to create and become, and a masterpiece at that. 

Practical and transpersonal tips: 

  • Connect with your inner child. Talk to your inner child. What brought you joy as a kid? Do you do any of those things now?
  • Self help books! Brene Brown, Eckhart Tolle, Jen Sincero, and Elizabeth Gilbert are some authors I highly recommend. 
  • Meditation.  If you have 5 minutes of free time, find a quiet spot and dive into the spaciousness. If you can't sit still (like me) go ahead and lay down, or do a walking meditation. For different types of meditations, check out this link!
  • Journal. Write down your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, etc. Write it down! 
  • Be gentle with yourself. Practice loving kindness and compassion towards yourself- you are so worthy. 
  • Ask for help, always.

References

“identity.” Merriam-Webster's Electronic Dictionary. 2017. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/acceptance

With love and gratitude,

Caitlin Leigh

 

 

 

Holistic Healing Modalities

Hi everyone, and welcome back to my mental health blog! It's been a while since my last post so I thought I would share some discoveries I have made during this amazing and epic 2018 (only 4 months left, wowza). My healing and recovery journey from addiction, self-harm, an eating disorder and codependency began in 2015. I felt very fortunate to start diving into different support options for my mental health. Today I would love to share with you the many healing modalities I have used and discovered over the past 14 years (some as recent as this year too). All of these have helped my heart and spirit on this earth journey and I felt compelled to share as it could benefit someone else in their journey, recovery, healing, or life in general. Thanks for checking it out and ENJOY!

  • Therapy: therapy seems like a no brainer for many, but there are people out there who may not even know what it is or who may not have experienced it! There are many forms of therapy, but it is generally between a client (someone seeking support or help perhaps on a specific issue in their life or trauma) and a therapist (someone who guides and supports the client). Generally this is done through talking, but a therapist can have other creative means (there are many types of therapy!) of supporting the client in their journey. I highly recommend this in combination with Energy Healing or Life Coaching which I will explain below. 
  • Energy healing: we are all energy, really! If you don't want to talk about something to someone, yet you are seeking relaxation and stress relief, or you feel like there is a block within that you are unable to dig into, energy healing may be a wonderful option. The energy healer (trained in energy healing), will guide the client (someone seeking energy healing) through a hands off (hands on if permitted) energy healing session. You may find that things you have buried deeply below will surface as stagnant energy needs to move and be released. The energy healer opens up energy channels within the body, clearing the pathways so the client is able to heal and be in their own energy. For more information on energy healing, click here! 
  • Hypnosis: yep, this one can be as intimidating as it seems (or at least it was to me). My hypnosis therapist encapsulated hypnosis very simply, "it helps you get to the root of an issue." It sure does! We can talk in circles about our problems, but hypnosis has a magical way of honing into the root of an issue and it does it so gently. If you have some bad habits you want to kick, or you always feel like something is a bit off, maybe you have a health issue that the doctors can't quite figure out, or perhaps you are intrigued by the idea of hypnosis, I would highly recommend trying it.  To learn more about hypnosis, click here!
  • Acupuncture: I have never been a fan of needles even though I have had many piercings, so acupuncture was a weeee bit out of my comfort zone. This practice is done by a licensed acupuncturist who uses teeny tiny needles and sticks them into certain meridian points on your body to assist with healing (and the healing can be done on a mental, emotional, physical, spiritual level). You can't feel a darn thing (well a tiny bit), and it can be a very relaxing experience if you are open to it. There are several benefits of acupuncture which I have shared in the link, but I would always consult your doctor if you are unsure about it! If you want to learn more about the benefits of acupuncture, check this link out! 
  • Life Coaching: as a certified Life Coach, I can't wait to brag about the awesomeness of life coaching. This is similar to therapy in which talking is used to work through a current issue or problem but where therapy is more focused on healing of the present moment and past, life coaching focuses on using the present to create the reality you dream of and holding you accountable in the process. It is an inquisitive, insightful, goal oriented, and positive practice that will make you stretch more than you ever thought you could stretch- and that is why it works. I would recommend using it in combination with therapy or any other healing modalities. To learn more about the benefits of life coaching, check this link out! 
  • EFT tapping: this is a self-help practice you can do solo or with a licensed therapist (recommended). It is a mind-body technique that involves tapping on certain points of the body (linked to the meridians). Trying to rewire you thought processes, wish to feel more at peace, or ready to release stress? EFT might be a simple and practical tool that you can do from anywhere anytime. Here are some lovely benefits of EFT!  
  • Meditation: you only need 5 minutes out of your day for this. Take some time to sip on the silence and relax into being. Plus, meditation doesn't necessarily have to be sitting in silence, it could be mindfully washing the dishes or listening to relaxing music. You create your meditation! Need I say more?
  • Nature therapy: spending time in nature is essential to every person's health. It only takes a little bit of time outside in nature each day to receive the many benefits of nature therapy. One can heal on a mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical level. Plus you feel more connected and creative! Check out earth-connect for more ways to be involved with nature! 
  • Art/music therapy: Put on your dancing pants, or painting pants, and get into the creative groove. Art/music therapy can be an amazing emotional outlet, allowing one to release pent up emotions or ideas in a creative and cathartic manner. I have been painting for over a year and each time I am painting, I feel at one with the universe and so peaceful. This is one of the cheaper methods of healing as it can be done from anywhere, anytime, any age, alone or guided.  Check out some of the amazing benefits here! 
  • Crystal healing: well, crystals rock! There are many crystals all around the world that are readily available. Every crystal is unique in that it has its own healing and metaphysical benefits. Depending on where you are at in your journey, you may resonate with certain crystal types. If you are new to crystals I always recommend clear quartz, citrine, amethyst, jade, and rose quartz to begin with- but there are plentiful options out there. Here is a wonderful website that you can find more information about different types of crystals!
  • Sound healing: now this is something! This is literally like being bathed in vibrations of love that soothe the soul. Generally there is a sound healer (someone who is certified in sound healing) and they will use Tibetan Bowls to create vibrations that assist one with relaxation and stress. It can also sometimes alter one's state of consciousness. And guess what?! All you have to do is lay there and enjoy the music. For more information check this out! 
  • Chanting: this is practical and easy on the wallet as you can chant from anywhere anytime. There are many mantras out there that help one feel more connected, empowered, and relaxed. One mantra that I sometimes like to use is:

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna

Krishna Krishna Hare Hare

Hare Rama Hare Rama

Rama Rama Hare Hare

  • Water float: this one I have yet to try, but I have heard great things about it! I mean who doesn't want to sit in a bed of water and float all day?! It has been said to help with relaxation and stress, and some say it can even assist with anxiety. Check out this link to see further details! 
  • Acupressure: this is another affordable and easy way to access healing. If you are under stress and need some relaxation, there are certain pressure points that are located throughout your body that you can press on to help alleviate nerve tension and much more. I have attached a link of this wonderful blog that gives photos of the location of each pressure point and what each can do for you. Check this blog account here for more information! 

Alrighty folks, thanks for stopping by to check out my post on holistic healing modalities. I felt inspired to share this post as I feel that there are many healing modalities out there at our disposal. I have also been deeply impacted on a mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual level by each one of these healing modalities (except water float- yet-) and I am extremely grateful. Thank you so much for your time, and I hope that you may entertain the idea of one of these some day on your journey. 

With love and gratitude,

Caitlin Leigh 

 

Recovery Letter to Nature

Dear Nature, the Nurturer-

I am so grateful to be writing this letter to you, nature! It is because of you that I am alive, and recovering.

You have always been there. And I am in awe of your profound ability to hold space and listen. To be so present, so gentle, so nurturing, and so loving.

You have reminded me of the very thing I had once forgotten; love. And I once dreamt of the day I would “find” the love of my life. But it is you who reminded me that I am in fact the love of my life. I am the love I was once yearning for. And that love is the very essence of our being.

Thank you nature for your unconditional love, support and stability throughout my recovery. Thank you for loving me when I didn’t know how to. With you, all the numbers become an illusion and seem to disappear. All that matters is love. You have guided me, inspired me, held space for me to heal and transform, loved me, and reflected back all the beauty that is inherent within and without. You have reminded me of this one beautiful precious life we have to live and how life is one magical gift. You have held me in my darkest moments when my heart was filled with hate and resentment, and allowed me to shine as bright as the stars.

I have come completely undone in your presence and felt the divine radiating through me. Each day I feel more and more connected to my body and life because of you. It is a process, but the more time I spend with you, the more I become aware of the interconnectedness of all things. I once felt utterly hopeless and disconnected, while feeling that there was not future for me. I didn’t want to have this human experience, or be in this body I wanted to crawl out of each moment. But it is because of you I am here now learning how to love myself and this beautiful and amazing body day by day, moment by moment. Because of you, I believe in a beautiful, abundant, and loving future, for myself and all- but for right now I am grateful to be in this present moment.

Perhaps there is more I wish to say, but all that I wish to say to you goes beyond “words.” I extend my love and gratitude to you for being, and your selfless devotion to continue nurturing all without asking anything in return. Recovery has not been easy, but with you I have always felt loved, heard, nurtured, and supported. And each day love gets louder and the ED voice dissipates. Thank you for always being there, and helping me believe that love is inherent in all of us, and that connection and recovery are possible.

I am now at a point in my recovery where I am engaging in activities that help me sink into my body, allowing me to feel more connected. The process has been beautifully slow, but I am grateful for where I am at now. Thank you for this beautiful gift you have gifted me, I love you infinitely.

With love and gratitude,

Caitlin Leigh

How Are Your Suicidal Thoughts?

It has been quite some time since I last posted on my blog- so here I am now with an intriguing topic that I was asked about after giving a speech on my recovery! I have been very fortunate to speak at the eating disorder facility I once attended several years ago to discuss my healing journey. During these visits I am able to share my story as well as recovery tips with those who are currently in the midst of treatment (you are so brave for going to treatment!). After I spoke, I was asked a question I am rarely, if ever, asked and it was quite profound and also relieving. The girl respectfully asked "how are you suicidal thoughts?" And I thought, holy crap, that's a good question. This question allowed me to sink into honesty and transparency. There's no turning back on this one! 

Well, I am utterly human. And my recovery has been up and down, but I am still alive and extremely grateful. I have not engaged in self-harm in years, but do I still have suicidal thoughts? Yes, every once in a while. Imagine drinking several diet cokes every single day for half of your life- it becomes your vice, your go to, and it always hits the sweet spot. You don't go from having several diet cokes a day to having none (well if you do then wow!). Suicidal thoughts have always been a huge vice for me. When I have felt pain, lost, sad, lonely, angry, bitter, uncomfortable, and rejected- suicidal thoughts have always been there to comfort me. And most people would say that suicidal thoughts are not comforting in the first place- but they became comforting over time, as does any vice. 

So yes, I do have suicidal thoughts but they have become extremely mild and less frequent- and I am so grateful for this! And what have I done to remedy this? Self-care, compassion, acceptance, and love- all things which I am still learning to give to myself. It is a daily practice and I still have my struggles, but I have so many internal and external resources that I can tap into at any time- and this is beyond comforting. I am also learning to trust myself, my intuition because there is no such thing as a wrong choice. Everything aligns exactly how it is meant to align- the universe is quite magical! 

I have learned that healing is like a roller coaster- mysterious, vulnerable, exciting and terrifying- and far from linear (which can be frustrating when you are extremely goal driven!). Forgiveness is key- and it is so so brave- I am still trying to find this key. For now, I am grateful for being on the path of self-love and compassion, for each day I become softer and more loving towards myself and others. I know that one day, perhaps, these suicidal thoughts will not exist- and that will be my day and I hope so for every other who has experienced such. But for now, I am becoming more like water. Love, gratitude, and bliss to all. 

Water is the softest thing yet it can penetrate mountains and earth. This shows clearly the principle of softness overcoming hardness. -Lao Tzu

Journey With Gratitude- It Will Transform Your Life

I have been seeing a lot of posts pertaining to gratitude lately, and so I wanted to ramble a bit about this transformative topic myself. My journey with gratitude didn't start until almost three years ago when I entered treatment for a really angry (rightfully so) and neglected eating disorder. We had to fill out these daily sheets about our overall day, and this would include three things we were grateful for. Only three! This was my favorite part of the day, because I was able to find something new to be grateful for that I once probably didn't think about or took for granted. The gratitude list went on and on and on. 

One day I went and looked up the benefits of writing a daily gratitude list. You would be surprised about what I found, or least I was! Morin (2014) found 7 scientifically proven benefits of gratitude; gratitude opens the door to more relationships, gratitude improves physical health, gratitude improves psychological health, gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression, grateful people sleep better, gratitude improves self-esteem, gratitude increases mental strength. The list can go on folks! Personally, I have noticed a huge improvement in my psychological health while journeying with gratitude. When I find myself complaining and non accepting of what is, I can rarely appreciate life as it is. Gratitude allows me to accept what is, and appreciate everything in between. The little stuff counts you know!

Dr. Hibbert (2012) also stated that gratitude increases your spiritual connection, parenting skills, life's meaning, and self-worth just to name a few. If you go search the benefits of gratitude online, you will find one too many articles on the beauty of this subject. Gratitude is life changing and transformative. I must admit, that some moments and days I completely forget to journey with gratitude- and that is ok. But the days that I do find myself extending gratitude, I feel connected and an overall sense of inner peace (which isn't always there). I have found that my overall sense of inner peace becomes more present with the presence of gratitude. When gratitude is not present, fear sifts through every part of my being that it can. Because fear keeps us "safe" and gratitude opens you to all that is. 

To me, gratitude means I love you just as you are. When you thank the world, your body, your family, the animals, or nature- you are telling them that you love them- just as they are. And this is love beyond the earthly planes. This is spiritual love, universal love, or what some would say Godly love. It is unconditional love for all that is. So if you have been journeying with gratitude for a while, yay- that is amazing! If you are new to journeying with gratitude, yay- that is amazing! And if you are unfamiliar with gratitude, there is no better time to start than now. Gratitude will change your life in the most beautiful and profound ways. It's the little details that count, and gratitude is one of them. I highly recommend getting a journal and writing about what you are thankful for- or thinking of all the things you are grateful for when you first wake up. It sets the vibration for the day! If you have any ideas, please feel free to share with me! I would love to hear about them.

Thank you readers, thank you humanity, thank you world, thank you nature, thank you animals, thank you life- I am grateful to be alive. You are so beautiful. Enjoy your journey with gratitude! 

References

Hibbert, C. (2012). 10 benefits of practicing gratitude. Dr. Christina Hibbert. Retrieved from: http://www.drchristinahibbert.com/10-benefits-of-practicing-gratitude/

Morin, A. (2014). 7 scientifically proven benefits of gratitude that will motivate you to give thanks year-round. Forbes. Retrieved from: 7 Scientifically Proven Benefits Of Gratitude That Will Motivate You To Give Thanks Year-Round

 

Sobriety

I didn't know January 31, 2015 would be the last day I took a sip of that sweet electrifying sugar that numbed every painful emotion I wished to discard. But I did know this was the beginning of a journey inwards towards the self. For most of my life I have journeyed outside of myself, dabbling in all the "pleasures" of life; food, alcohol, drugs, and sex. I have come to realize that these "pleasures" are temporary and destructive without moderation. Perhaps that was my biggest goal- I wanted to destroy myself. Maybe I wouldn't have to wake up the next day if I had too much of this, or maybe if I ate too much of this I would no longer feel a damn thing. 

It has been over 2 years now that I have not had a sip of alcohol or taken copious amounts of prescription drugs to sedate the powerful and hateful emotions I once harbored inside. Has life become easier? No, but life has become a bit clearer, healthier, and a bit more inspiring. When I was engaged with addictions, my life was dictated by the toxins I put in "my" body. I am still learning each day to treat myself gently, kindly, and compassionately (something I have not quite mastered yet). I do not have any expectations at this point, as I am grateful and surprised I am still alive. Addictions are deadly guys, they are no joke! And that is why sobriety is such a beautiful and brave path.

Whether you chose sobriety or you were forced to go down this path, you are extremely brave. Sobriety is like recovery. It is an act of self-love, and you choose it every single day. A relapse with any addiction is like a death sentence. The monster becomes bigger and bigger, and when it is finally fed it will take over your life. This is why sobriety is so beautiful and brave. Because any individual who chooses sobriety is taking a step towards themselves, instead of away from themselves. 

Sobriety is also one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself. According to Benson (2017) some of the benefits of sobriety are consuming less toxins, mental clarity, better sleep, more energy, better skin, better eating habits, and being happier. Your body returns to its normal state of being when not overloaded with such toxins. The less we fill our bodies with toxins and chemicals that are not supposed to be there, especially in excess, the first thing we notice is much more mental clarity (Benson, 2017). Not to mention, you just feel so much better! Your First Step (2013) also states that vitamin deficiencies, throat and liver damage, loss of muscle tone and many other health problems are eliminated with sobriety. The benefits list can go on infinitely with sobriety. Ask any recovered addict how sobriety has changed their life, and they will be able to list several benefits from it.

The only thing I miss about not being sober is perhaps the feeling of belonging. When I go out I am the weird sober one, who perhaps looks pretentious because I dismiss every drink. But this isn't the case, I feel comfortable and content and grateful. Life hasn't become more boring or dull either. In fact, I have never felt so alive and full of energy! Sobriety has changed my life in many ways- for one it has led me down a path of connection, self-discovery, and compassion. I am becoming softer, kinder, and more loving to myself and others by choosing sobriety. 

I was once my greatest obstacle. I once wanted to destroy myself.  I once knew all the ways of which I could destroy myself. And now I choose love. I choose recovery. I choose sobriety. I choose self-discovery. I choose connection. I choose bravery. Because I am worth it, you are worth it, and humanity is worth it. Choose YOU! 

References

Benefits of Sobriety. (2013). Your First Step. Retrieved from: https://yourfirststep.org/benefits-of sobriety/

Benson, C. (2017). 7 benefits of sobriety. Orlando Recovery Center. Retrieved from: https://www.orlandorecovery.com/blog/7-health-benefits-sobriety/

 

So You Just Don't Know, Huh?

I recently graduated from Sofia University with a Master's degree in Transpersonal Psychology, Life Coaching, and Ecopsychology. And now that I am done, I have absolutely NO IDEA what I am doing. You would think I would with a major so specific and student loans up to my nose! It is absolutely terrifying and liberating simultaneously. How? Because I used to be that person who lined things up and had a general idea or plan before jumping. And here I am painting, writing, and playing in the water on a daily basis. I am not letting life happen to me, I am simply enjoying the chaos and confusion of it all- I call them the in between moments. 

I finally realized that I do not have to have my life "all together" or "figured out." I do not have to have a specific job, career, or title. I can enjoy life, and its uncertainties too. I recently had a meltdown about how I have no idea what I am doing with my life. Ever since I graduated, I have felt a hole within that I wish to fill with something, ANYTHING- just to feel like a contributing member of society. But, I already am simply by being.

I write this because I do not feel alone. Have you ever felt lost? Terrified? Excited? And all at the same time? There are so many opportunities out there and I am overwhelmed from wishing to tackle all of them simultaneously. Perhaps, it is ok to take a break. Perhaps, it is ok to be interested in many things. Perhaps, it is ok to not know. Perhaps, it is ok to slow down and smell all the sunflowers and play with the hummingbirds. Perhaps, it is time to soak in the wisdom and let it marinate before I decide to completely jump. Perhaps, it is time for solitude and self-love. And perhaps, this unknowingness is a signal towards a new beginning. 

Amen to new beginnings and not knowing! If takes a lot of courage to not only admit that you have no idea, but also accepting that you have no idea. I give kuddos to all of you who are out there embracing the chaos and dancing with uncertainty. It is there that you will find yourself. It is there that you will create anew. It is there, that life really begins. This is just a loving reminder that it is ok to not know. A reminder that is ok to feel uncertain and confused. A reminder to embrace every moment as it is, and enjoy the sweetness of life! You are not alone, we are all in this together. We can do this! 

With love and light,

Caitlin Leigh

Choosing Recovery is Self- Love, Thank You Peace Corps

Around three years ago marks the anniversary of when I joined the Peace Corps in Macedonia. Around three years ago marks the anniversary of when I missed my best friend marrying the love of her life. Around three years ago also marks the anniversary of when I hit my worst relapse with bulimia and binge eating disorder and addiction. I knew there was a bigger issue than I could swallow when I was weighing myself and counting calories in a third world country. Not to mention that I was discretely vomiting my hosts amazing home made food after most dinners, in a third world country. Can you imagine going to serve in a third world country where you are given hosts who make home made food for you, and all you are worried about is vomiting up the next delicious meal?

Selfishly alone is probably the best way I could describe how I felt when I relapsed. When I realized I was alone in a third world country with an eating disorder that I had not faced, healed, or tried to understand, I was in for a big awakening. What was once serving others in a third world country turned into me recognizing the self loathing and rage seething beneath my skin that existed for more than a decade.

I am writing about this anniversary not to speak about ED (eating disorder), but to highlight the significance of choosing recovery. I relate choosing recovery to loving the self; self-love. It took me over 14 years to finally seek the treatment I needed, only after I was forced to go back home and receive this care. It was the bravest, most selfish, most loving decision I ever chose. Recovery is not for sissies- recovery is for the brave, the vulnerable, and the courageous.

Many people may have an idea of what “recovery” is like, but to fully understand it one must walk their own dark night of the soul journey. One must choose recovery for themselves, as every recovery is unique to an individual’s journey. When I speak of recovery, I am speaking of a lifelong commitment to loving myself. I may have entered recovery two and half years ago, but I will always remain a perpetual student in recovery. I will always be learning, loving, and healing.   

I am still alive. I am alive. If I did not choose recovery, I am not sure if I would be here writing this today. I hope my mom doesn’t worry about getting that terrible “phone call.”  I hope my dad doesn’t worry about paying the next big hospital visit. I hope my sister doesn’t worry about what I have done or what has happened to me. I hope that my entire family can live freely and openly knowing that I have chosen recovery, and that I have have vowed to learn to love myself for the rest of my life.  

Missing my sister’s wedding was probably the worst thing I could have ever done as a sister. But living with an eating disorder and addictions that affect everyone around me I could not possibly bare to live with for the rest of my life. I could not do that to my family, partner, friends, to humanity. So I choose to be brave by choosing to love myself and walk through recovery each day. I choose to be brave and learn to love someone who I have spent years hating; myself. I choose to be brave because I am worth it, you are worth, humanity is worth. I choose to be brave because I love humanity too much.

Thank you Dr. Mimi for changing my life.

Mental Health and the Workforce

So let’s talk about mental health in the workforce and taking care of ourselves, after all this is a mental health blog. I have come across some recent concerns lately pertaining to working while also facing mental health issues. As I mentioned before in another blog post, today, some 450 million people suffer from a mental or behavioural disorder, yet only a small minority of them receive even the most basic treatment” (World Health Organization, 2001, p. 3). That’s a significant amount of people who are facing mental illness, and many if not most are also attending work (begrudgingly?). As someone who has faced addiction and mental illness for 14 years of my life, I understand how paralyzing it can be to go to work while facing a mental health illness concern, let alone any health concern. But many of us push ourselves through the drudgery, we hush the feelings that tell us to take a break, we say suck it up and be happy- or that’s what others may tell us. And then we go to work, and we become more numb to ourselves and society, exacerbating the already existing mental health or health concern.  

Mental Health America (2017) stated that less than one-third of Americans are happy with their work. Half of the workforce is “checked-out.” Eighteen percent are unhappy with their current position with some even sabotaging the success of their workplace. And I truly wonder why only one third of the population is content or happy with their current job. Is it worth our health, our mental health to stay in a position that perhaps is slowly killing us? Is it worth pushing through the drudgery when we can be easily replaced by another person? Tell me, is any job worth your health?

What your job needs, is most likely not what you need. What your job asks of you is no more important than your physical and mental health. You are more than a job. You are more than the work you do. You are more important than the money that you think you need. Your needs come before any work and job. Your needs come before money. We must value ourselves enough to set a boundary between working and taking care of ourselves. When we take care of ourselves and our needs are met, we are less likely to burn out or have a break down. In a society plagued by the idea that we need more money than we actually have our health is being sacrificed.

With the increase in mental health and health concerns in America, maybe it is time we starting looking at ourselves and work differently. We are not work machines- we are all here with a divine purpose to serve humanity. This may be a bit different for every person, but in order to fulfill our purpose, we must take care of ourselves. Our health and mental health come first. We are sentient beings and our needs are valid. Every single one of them. Maybe it is time to reverse the tables by taking care of our needs first, and then having the clarity to find a position that doesn’t feel like a job. What do you think? Personally, I don’t ever want to go to work again- it’s not worth my health or money. I can serve humanity by creating or doing something that I absolutely love- but my health will always come first. 

If you could create your own job, what would it be?

What would help you feel more content at your current position?

             Do you feel like it would be helpful to have Mental Health days at work?

Do you feel like it would be helpful to be able to talk about Mental Health at work?

Do you feel supported at work?

Do you feel supported by yourself?

Do you feel supported by those close to you?

What do you need most in your life in this current moment?

Do more of what you love. Create more of what you love. Humanity needs your gifts. 

References

Workplace Wellness. (2017). Mental Health America. Retrieved from: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/workplace-wellness

World Health organization. (2001). The world health report 2001: Mental health: New

Transforming Hate (Pain) into Love

In light of all the events occurring globally, I felt called to write about a topic that has played a significant role in my life; hate. As you may have noticed, I wrote pain in parenthesis in the headline. From my personal experience with healing and transforming, I have realized that the two coincide, or go hand in hand. One cannot exist without the other. I have also come to understand that one must be deeply hurting in order to hate something, and to hate something one must be deeply hurting. Another thing that comes to mind is that no one likes hate. Hate is like the big bully in class that chooses a different kid each day to pick on. That bully is seriously and deeply hurting. 

The medicine

Is within the hate-

Buried deeply

Within that hate

Is an unattended

Pain. 

-Caitlin Leigh

Everyone loves love. I love love, and I am still learning how to love others in a way that is beyond the layer of our skin, and beyond what I can get. The other day I felt so much hate towards myself, I wanted to crawl out of my skin. But was it hate, or was it something else? Perhaps, it was pain. The pain was so unbearable I wanted to run away from myself. Foster (2017), author of The Way of Rest stated that sometimes when you are trying to heal your pain, or forgive it, or release it, or even “accept” it, what you are secretly trying to do is get rid of it. So there was me, and then there was the hate (pain) that I wanted to remove, the pain I saw as separate. Foster (2017) continues to say that you see the pain as a block to peace and wholeness, or as some kind of cosmic mistake. But it's not! The pain is there for a reason. That pain needs love. Love, love, love. 

Love heals hate

Love give hate (pain)

A home

To heal and feel safe

To transform

And unite

With love. 

Pain demands truth, a living truth, the truth of today. So today, we bow before our pain, as long as it is here. We see it as a guest, not a threat (Foster, 2017). Understanding that hate stems from an unattended pain, let's take a closer look at how it is similar to that of love. Harmon (2009) a writer for the Scientific American stated that brain scans reveal how hate begins to emerge--and it's not too far from love. If the two are so similar, why does one cause such adverse reactions and perhaps violent internal monologue? Harmon (2009) continues to say that the areas of the putamen and insula that are activated by individual hate are the same as those for romantic love. Two "extreme" polarities actually have a commonality, or perhaps they are not so different. But yet, we treat them differently.

When I began writing this article, I was not sure where it would lead. I am here now, and after reading various articles, and facing "hate (pain)" myself, I realized hate isn't something to be removed, or to discard. It is something to be loved, and to be healed. It looks and feels like a ferocious vindictive monster, yet underneath it is a soft ball of pain aching for unconditional love. The events that take place in our external world are merely a reflection of what is inside of humanity. We talk about hate (pain) and how divisive it is, but how we tend to that hate and pain is most significant. When we tend to that pain, we will find the gifts that have been buried from the depths of our soul for far too long. And when we accept that pain, we can share it with the world and rejoice in our interconnectedness. We can rejoice in loving all facets of ourselves and humanity. So instead of trying to rid the world of hate (pain), how can we nurture this pain? And how can we bring more love into this beautiful world?

Here are some of the questions I would ask in a life coaching session regarding feelings of hate (pain): 

What pain are you holding on to?

What does that pain wish to say?

What do you wish to say to that pain?

How could you give yourself more love?

What is one thing you can do for yourself that is loving?

What could you do for another that is loving? 

Hold yourself in this space. Let the pain speak. Let love move through you. Breathe in love, exhale everything else. 

Books Recommended: 

The Gift of Pain by Paul Brand and Philip Yancey

The Way of Rest: Finding the Courage to Hold Everything in Love by Jeff Foster

 

References

Foster, J (2017). The unexpected gifts of pain. Spirituality and Health. Retrieved from: https://spiritualityhealth.com/articles/2017/02/28/unexpected-gifts-pain

Harmon, K. (2009). The origin of hatred. Scientific American. Retrieved from: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-origin-of-hatred/

 

 

 

 

A Path of Recovery

Recently, I graduated from Sofia University with a Master's in Transpersonal Psychology and my focus was in Life Coaching and Ecopsychology. After these two years of recovery and attending graduate school, I have realized how important CHOICE is. We make choices every single day, whether we are aware of it or not. Having a choice is a beautiful gift that is bestowed upon every being on this planet. Sometimes the most painful choice is also the most life changing choice.

Recovery was the hardest, most painful, yet rewarding choice I have ever made in my entire life. Because of this choice, I have been learning to love, to feel, to accept, to heal, to live, to connect, to be vulnerable. I write to each and every person who considers recovery, self-love, healing, and transformation that this journey is worth it. You are worth it. Humanity is worth it. I share my video to be a reminder of love, compassion, and acceptance. We have the choice to love ourselves, to love others, to love humanity. Choose love! 

I am honored to walk on this journey with you. I am grateful to be alive. I connected, and I love you. Take a short peak inside of my journey here! 

With love and light,

Caitlin Leigh 

Psychosynthesis and Disidentification

One of the core concepts of Psychosynthesis is Disidentification. In Buddhism, non-attachment is a practice that is often used on the path of enlightenment. As Morrell (2007) explains that non-attachment gives us the much-needed space to contemplate what we want and what we hate so as to more fully reflect upon whether these things we love or loathe will truly bring us pain or pleasure we believe they contain. Disidentification is similar to that of non-attachment in that there is a sense of spaciousness for a natural unfoldment to take place. “Disidentification creates a neutral distance in us from whatever we identify with” (Sorenson, 2016, p. 57). In essence, one is able to take a step back from whatever is arising. Sorenson (2016) follows by saying that the observer is not the observed, so whenever we disidentify from false self-images it helps us to discover our real self- the observer” (p. 57). To disidenitfy is to be non-attached or non consumed or swayed by the currents of reality. The process is quite remarkable. One must first acknowledge and accept one’s identifications. What one is unable to accept or acknowledge within themselves is generally an indicator of what they are identified with or attached to. 

For example, during the course of psychosynthesis I came to an awareness of how critical I am, an aspect of myself that I did not love or want to accept. I considered this aspect the critic subpersonality, a personality that formed in earlier years for self preservation. I had every intention of fixing and removing this aspect of myself so I could then feel like a whole and loving person. By trying to remove this aspect of myself, I immediately become identified with it. The critic became an identity that I was closely connected to.

By engaging with this highly critical part of myself, or this subpersonality, in a gentle way, I strengthen my relationship with self and become more whole in the process. By accepting this aspect of myself I can then move forward with this energy in a way that is healthy and positive; this is disidentification in the simplest form. The process of disidentification can be seen as a way of liberation, freedom. Most importantly, the disidentification process is revealed through the profound nature of “I” (Firman & Gila, p. 34). I will now share an exercise, that is up to your discretion to engage in.

**Find yourself a comfortable position, and relax into you body. Now imagine yourself on the beach on beautiful bright sunny day. The ocean is soft, and a deep cosmic blue. Overlooking the ocean there is a hill covered in luscious greens. Invite an aspect of yourself that you closely identify with. For example, maybe the nurturer, the martyr, the savior, or the critic. Invite one aspect and greet them kindly. Now walk with this identity/aspect up the luscious green hill, taking breaks when it feels necessary. How does this climb feel? What are you experiencing so far? Keep going, you are almost to the top of the hill where you can look over the loving waters. Once you have reached the top, catch your breath and find a comfortable location. Now that you are both settled in, feel the energy between you and this identity. What do you see or feel? Now ask this identity who it is and what it came to do? Listen and embrace. What has this identity told you? What does this identity need from you? Keep listening. Is there anything else that you would like to ask this aspect of yourself? Now imagine there is a bright white light in the distance that is moving towards both of you. Now this bright white light is moving through both of you, subtle and nurturing. Now thank this aspect of yourself for everything that it has done for you. After this exchange, you both make your way down the luscious green hill towards the waters. You have arrived at the waters, how do you feel? What have you learned? Give yourself a loving affirmation for embracing such a journey, and take this time now to write down anything that seems relevant to you.**

This exercise is an example of the disidentification process. In order to disidentify from an aspect of ourselves, we must first acknowledge and come to understand its presence. And we must also honor this aspect of ourselves, although this may take time, patience, and practice.

What are some personalities or aspects that you identify with?

How do you feel about them?

What do you think you know about them?

What do these aspects of yourself need to feel supported?

What do you need from them?

How would you like your relationship to be with each of these aspects?

What is the next step you can take towards cultivating a healthy relationship with each aspect of yourself that you identify with? 

"To love someone means to see them as God intended them." -Fyodor Dostoyevsky

References

Firman, J., & Gila, A. (2002). Psychosynthesis: A psychology of the spirit. Albany NY: SUNY

Morrell, P. (2000). The path of non-attachment. Homeopathe International. Retrieved from:http://www.homeoint.org/morrell/buddhism/nonatt.htm

Sorensen, L. (2016). The soul of psychosynthesis: The seven core components. USA. Kentaur.

 

The Door to Love: Psychosynthesis

Imagine floating in the midst of all the stars and the many planets and galaxies. It is as if you are floating in infinity and the body, mind, and spirit are blended into this infiniteness. You recognize your oneness within everything. Now, imagine that there is a bridge. This bridge is unwavering yet ethereal connecting you to all that is you. Welcome to the bridge of psychosynthesis. A bridge that is a guide towards home, whatever or wherever that may be. Sorensen (2016) eloquently expresses that psychosynthesis does not aim nor attempt to give a metaphysical or theological explanation of the great Mystery- it leads to the door, but stops here” (p. 9). In essence, pyschosynthesis is not the answer but the key towards recognizing one’s wholeness. The path towards wholeness can be intricately erratic, but with the assistance of psychosynthesis and its techniques one may find a reservoir of love, strength, and creativity within.

Half of my life I spent all my energy on hate. Hate and rejection of the self. I may as well have given up, and I tried that too but I am still fortunate to be here, writing about how psychosynthesis has profoundly impacted my life. Psychosynthesis has led me to the door of love and light, the door I have been searching for all of my life. The central themes of psychosynthesis Robert Assagiolio identified are disidentification, the personal self, the will, the ideal model, synthesis, the Superconcious, and the transpersonal Self.

I am eager to introduce psychosynthesis for those who would like to take self-help a step further! EXPANSION, INTEGRATION, WHOLENESS! Not only is psychosynthesis the door to love, it is the door to depth, understanding and acceptance of the complexities in our existence. It integrates the concrete with the mysteries of life. There are many practical tools within psychosynthesis that support the healing process and the journey within. In my following blog posts, I will be individually sharing the central themes of psychosynthesis and exercises that you can utilize on your own in support of a personal practice or for self healing. I highly encourage everyone to take a look into the world of psychosynthesis, as here you will find what you have always been looking for. Are you ready to walk through the door of love? 

 References 

Sorensen, L. (2016). The soul of psychosynthesis: The seven core components. USA. Kentaur.

Book Recommendations: 

Brown, M. Y. (2004). Unfolding self: The practice of Psychosynthesis. New York: Helios Press.

Ferrucci, p. (2004). What we may be: Techniques for psychological and spiritual growth through psychosynthesis. New York: New York, Penguin Group.

Firman, J., & Gila, A. (2002). Psychosynthesis: A psychology of the spirit. Albany NY: SUNY

Morrell, P. (2000). The path of non-attachment. Homeopathe International. Retrieved from: http://www.homeoint.org/morrell/buddhism/nonatt.htm

Sorensen, L. (2016). The soul of psychosynthesis: The seven core components. USA. Kentaur.