Mustard and Gentian are Bach Flower Remedies which can be helpful in healing from depression.
New video on my sister-site, The Light Sanctuary:
I’ve been doing way too much thinking recently- probably worrying more like! It strikes me how small my world is- I’ve let it shrink because I’ve been afraid. There are things I’ve legitimately let go of because they just didn’t work in my life, but there are also things I’ve given up on because they were scary and uncomfortable, even though I could see my world becoming more colourful and, well….bigger!
Spiritual Development Group: A Legitimate Letting Go?
For example, at the beginning of the year I began a Spiritual Development Group in my home. In total I had 3 people join. This was as I was expecting as there is not much call for these kind of groups- they’re pretty specialist. During the group sessions, I taught a bit about chakras and some of the meditation techniques, then we’d do a relaxation and practice the meditation techniques. After that we might do oracle readings for each other, or I’d teach more about Bach Flower Remedies or Crystals.
I really did enjoy the teaching part.
What I didn’t enjoy was the organisation and anxiety. I never knew who and how many people were coming, and for someone who is a little bit of a control freak, this was a little bit scary. I worried that one person might turn up and I’d have to do a one on one session for the small group price (one on one can be intense), or that they’d be two, and that wouldn’t really be enough. I’d only really be happy if there were 3-5 members there. I didn’t like people missing any teaching as I’d have to go over it next time. That was annoying. Then I worried that I wasn’t good enough, that I was a fraud. I worried that someone would attribute any poor health that came their way to my sessions, and then sue me. I worried that other people thought I was weird and that they were laughing at me behind my back.
I one of the group members challenging- her energy was very strong and I felt uncomfortable around her,
I basically worried and worried. Then that worrying blocked my connection with Spirit- I wasn’t trusting Spirit, or hearing what I needed to know for the classes. Then I worried about this! It would have gone on forever.
I cancelled the group. I was spending so much time worrying that I lost faith in myself and also questioned my enjoyment and whether or not it was the right thing for me to be doing at this time.
Did I legitimately cancel the group? I think so. It really wasn’t working for me and it didn’t feel quite right. Maybe it just wasn’t the right time. I didn’t feel a love for it.
At around the same time, I also stepped out of my comfort zone to teach flute. A teacher who was moving away had recommended me as a suitable replacement for her to a few of her pupils.
Of course I worried about this too! I questioned my skills as a flautist, and whether I’d get on with the pupil. I’d never taught flute before! I felt more confident about my teaching skills as I think I’ve been building these up over the years. I really do enjoy teaching.
Anyway- I loved it! My pupil was wonderful too and we’ve had a successful 9 months together so far.
But I still get a bit scared! Every time we have a lesson I’ll be a bit nervous beforehand. It’s still a bit scary. But I love it, so I push through! I think the fear is of the unknown, and how the lesson will progress, or fear that I’ll somehow mess up. The unknown isn’t controllable or certain. It’s about trusting the process, trusting my skills, trusting my pupil, and trusting Spirit.
It was Steven Spielberg who got me thinking about this today, or rather an interview with him on the documentary ‘Spielberg’.
He was talking about how he still felt anxious before he went to shoot a scene with a room full of actors and crew. He didn’t know how the shoot would go, or what problems he’d encounter and how he’d solve them.
I couldn’t believe this!! Hollywood mega-giant Steven Spielberg felt frightened initially when going on set to shoot a new scene! He’s a directing genius, a directing god!! How on earth could he possibly be frightened!! Wow!!
He went on to say that he liked this fear- it was a good fear. He said if he felt comfortable and confident about what he was shooting then he didn’t strive to go that extra distance, or put in that extra bit of energy. He tried harder. He said he produced his best work when he felt this fear, even panic! It was like he had made friends with it. He loved what he was doing so much that he pushed through. He trusted Spirit/the Universe. He trusted himself and his crew. He trusted that his fear was going to help him as, of course, it did and still does.
A Bigger World!
Steven Spielberg’s world gets bigger every time he trusts and creates. My world has gotten pretty small and I want to expand it! I want to trust and to believe and to be brave. I want to create a more magical world for myself- one where I create everyday, and bring out the world that is inside me- bring out the heaven in my mind and give it life on earth.
I am learning to trust, and I am learning to be brave.
It’s been interesting to read it back to myself. I realise I’ve changed my views slightly since then- mainly that I no longer see bipolar disorder as an illness:
“From here onwards in my blog I am going to use the term “Bipolar Disorder” only to describe behaviours that have been grouped accordingly by psychiatrists. So the term will henceforth appear in italics. I no longer believe I have Bipolar Disorder, but am a completely whole individual, 100% healthy, but who just requires a different lifestyle to maintain balance.”
From my blog post Abraham Hicks Part 1: Bipolar Disorder
I believe I was diagnosed as bipolar due to the fact that I am extremely sensitive and it is this which has caused major life challenges for me, coupled with reaction to chronic trauma throughout my infancy through to adulthood.
I definitely relate to Elaine Aron’s perception of the Highly Sensitive Person: somebody who is more sensitive to stimulation from environmental cues, as well as more easily overwhelmed. For more in depth discussion on this, please see my article Bipolar Disorder and High Sensitivity.
But I’ve also never felt that this fully describes the deeper extreme sensitivity that I feel. The only term I’ve ever found to explain this is Empath.
Empaths: Energy Sensitivity.
My understanding of the term Empath is a person who is extremely sensitive to the emotions and energy of other people and the environment.
Being a Highly Sensitive Person or HSP, has never explained how I can become overwhelmed by somebody else’s sadness or joy. I don’t just imagine it, I feel it. It’s as if I can merge myself with them and actually feel the emotion they are going through.
Without an awareness of this, therefore no skills or training in managing this energy sensitivity, it is no wonder that I got diagnosed as having bipolar disorder as my emotions were all over the place!! I could take on suicidal depressions, raging anger, irritability- any emotion and it probably didn’t originate from me!
It is not just being around an angry person that may cause me to feel their anger- which I often experience as a very fearful defence. Anger or any emotions can hang around in the environment. For example- if work colleagues in a meeting have just had a heated discussion about an issue that has generated frustration and anger- the anger and intense emotions can hang about as a cloud of energy in the room. So when I enter the room I immediately feel the intensity and chaos of emotion- it’s like the molecules in the air change. That’s how it feels to me.
Learning to defend myself against these energies and protect myself is a massive ongoing project. A big part of this is clearing my energy so that I release any energy that does not belong to me. It’s kind of like an energetic shower! Since working on these skills, I have noticed a definite improvement in my mood changes and ability to remain balanced and peaceful.
In my opinion there are many people out there who experience energies in this way who have no idea that they are being affected massively by other people’s emotions. They turn up in doctor’s offices with depression and anxiety that could be cleared and managed on an energetic level. It is empowering to realise you can take back control of your emotional experiences, rather than experiencing your emotions as out of control and running away with you.
Empathy as a Gift
Once on the road to managing and balancing energetic sensitivity, it is possible to use this skill in a way that helps other people. Being able to feel how somebody else is feeling, but also being able to clear it away when necessary, can help you relate to somebody else’s experience and help you develop as an effective counsellor.
But it can be taken further to a psychic level.
As well as experiencing the energy of other people, you may be able to read their aura. It is possible to get a sense of what they like, what is going on in their life, what they spend their time thinking about etc. You may receive visual images or words in your mind, or feel a sense of what they are like as a person.
This is not only possible with living people, but we also pick up on energy of beings in spirit. We may receive images/thoughts/feelings from spirits who may be trying to communicate with us, or again, they may leave an environment in a cloud of feeling, like anger or fear. Think of visiting an old haunted house- any feelings of the place being creepy and unnerving are completely valid, as the spirit is likely to be fearful or angry.
As well as more negative energies, we can also communicate with higher energies- those in spirit who are peaceful and loving, as well as guides, and angel energies. This is such a beautiful experience and so worth developing and spending time on. I’ll definitely write more this in future as it is an important part of my life now. There are many benefits to connecting with loved ones in spirit, as well as guides- you receive so much love and support, as well as guidance and wisdom. To know we are not alone and are always supported and championed is so comforting and uplifting!
We learn to control who we interact with through intention. I always have the intention to work with the higher energies only. This can lead us to become really great healers.
But again, if you have been picking up on the energies of spirits as well as the living- no wonder your emotions are rocked around tumultuously!
Is an Empath born or made?
I don’t know for sure!
My understanding is that we can be born highly sensitive. Due to that sensitivity we may be more likely to experience events and daily living (that other people cope with easily) as traumatic, or experience extreme trauma. Trauma would then increase our sensitivity as we are always ‘switched on’, scanning the environment for potential trouble so that we are able to control what we can in order to avoid any threat- for example, conflict. This is called hypervigilance. We are so tuned in to other people’s wellbeing, emotions, and our environment that we are basically practicing being even more sensitive without realising. We become so good at it that we enter the realms of being an empath.
So basically I think that Highly Sensitive People are born, and that trauma can create an empath from a Highly Sensitive Person.
This is just a theory that feels right to me.
To me it explains why I have found it so difficult to function in the world. Everybody else seems to get along with life so easily, whilst I have felt tossed about by every little thing in the environment. But knowing that I can have mastery over this energy sensitivity is so empowering. I can take back control and learn to use this as something positive in my life.
Being labelled as bipolar is so disempowering, that suddenly realising that actually you are experiencing energies as an empath can feel very exciting! Due to our sensitivity it could trigger a burst of positive high vibration energy, which is important to manage through your awareness of it, by staying grounded, and working on staying peaceful and centred. More on this in a future post!
It is easy to see being an empath as something quite special, which it is, but it does not mean we are in any way better than anybody else. Some people are good at carpentry, some at sport, we’re good at being empaths!
There is so much more to this topic which I’d like to explore in future!
Absorbing Others’ Energy – a fascinating and very useful video by Ralph Smart.
Grounding for Emotional Wellbeing – a video featuring a meditation exercise to help you to ground yourself.
I recently watched an episode of the Channel 5 (UK) programme In Therapy. Each episode of the programme follows a different celebrity through counselling sessions, in the hopes of resolving certain issues.
I was particularly interested to see this recent episode as it featured Nikki Grahame of Big Brother fame, who developed anorexia at a very young age and spent most of her young years in treatment centres. Nikki endured herself to many, myself included, with her witty personality and intelligence, but sadly also her temper tantrums which displayed genuine distress.
I think the documentary can be accessed by UK viewers via Channel 5’s catch-up service below (sorry everyone else!):
The Therapy Sessions.
The counselling sessions with therapist Mandy Saligari began with Nikki having a meltdown (panic attack?) about having to open up about the past.
It was sad to see this, and part of me wonders whether the media are exploiting her in the name of entertainment. But that’s another issue in itself.
For the most part I feel her open-ness about her condition is beneficial in helping people to understand their own issues and to reframe themselves and their identity in a positive light.
A Distorted Perception
It was clear during the therapy sessions that Nikki is very hard on herself, even to the point of hating herself in some moments: as suggested by the disgust she has felt looking at her body in the mirror- which she now avoids.
I think many of us who have an extreme sensitivity and have been through childhood experiences that invalidate our sense of self-worth, may have felt similarly that they do not like themselves, perhaps to the point of hatred. I know I have and it is painful to remember those dark times.
It is also clear we are looking at an intelligent, witty young lady, who also has insight into her condition and its effects on others. It is so easy to see the good in her. Her past anorexia has distorted her view of herself physically too- self disgust, yet she presents as anything but disgusting!
So, if I am feeling bad about myself, I can be assured that my opinion is probably completely distorted towards the negative, and perhaps other people see something good and worthy in me. I start then to think of good qualities they may see and then the good thoughts multiply and add to a growing positive relationship with myself.
Recovery from many mental health conditions seems to be about making friends with yourself, loving and taking care of yourself. This is what we haven’t developed throughout childhood- we’ve had mirrored back to us only the negative (the majority of the time anyway) which has coloured our perception of ourselves as “bad” and “shameful”.
Consciously Denying Feelings
One particularly disturbing moment of the shows Nikki respond to perceived criticism by Mandy, by making the decision to not talk. She stares at the ceiling and seems to numb herself to any feeling she might have about this. It’s as if she decides that she doesn’t want to deal with this situation or person anymore, like she can’t cope with it, and the only way she feels she can deal with it is by numbing herself of all feeling and denying it.
This was very familiar to me. I developed a similar pattern of behaviour (though less overt) when I felt I couldn’t cope with certain situations throughout childhood. It is a very childlike way of coping. But we have been taught no other way of dealing with our own distress, so have developed our own coping mechanism at 3,5,9,10,11 years old, whenever, and that part of us is stuck there with this behaviour. We have learnt no other way of dealing with overwhelming emotions.
At one point, Mandy makes the point that Nikki’s emotions are no stronger than anybody else’s, she just hasn’t learnt to manage them. I actually disagree with this. I think some of us do feel emotions much more strongly than others- our sensitivity makes it so. To imply we all feel the same intensity of emotion is quite simplistic I think, and invalidates Nikki’s experiences of her own feelings.
Thankfully Nikki begins talking to Mandy again and they work through what happened in a healthy way. She could have remained in the cocoon she created for herself and refused to finish the counselling. This is a majorly positive step, anybody who achieves a breakthrough like this in counselling or life in general is moving forward positively, to greater maturity. Congratulate yourself! Achievements in life don’t have to be about academic or vocational gain. We must learn to see all the positive steps we take in life, in order for us to see who we truly are- wonderful beings!
A Positive Future
Nikki has moved on from feeling so controlled by anorexia, though she still admits to obsessive cleaning. But it is evident she has more self acceptance than she had in the past and is developing a more positive relationship with herself. This is such a hopeful thing to see- we are all capable of growth and developing self-love. We will move towards the positive and recovery, if that is what we want.
Following on from my last post Abraham Hicks Part 2: The Emotional Guidance System, I’ve been trying to practice thoughts that raise my vibration up the Emotional Guidance Scale.
This morning was a good opportunity to do that as I woke up, weighed myself and discovered I’d put on a few pounds. My immediate reaction was panic, which I think is probably as low as 22 on the scale (fear).
“How did this happen?!!”
“I didn’t really eat that much over the last week did I?!”
“Are the scales wrong?”
“I feel so out of control!!”
Abraham Hicks describes these thoughts as “feeling thoughts”: thoughts that create a feeling or emotion. These thoughts immediately made me feel panicky and fearful of being out of control.
So, I thought about what I wrote in my last post- moving up the Emotional Guidance Scale. What thought feels better than this? I consciously spoke to myself as if I were a friend and tried to be supportive of myself:
“It’s ok, I know how to lose the weight, I’ve done it before and it’s actually quite easy once I get into the flow of it.”
“It’s easy to get back in control.”
“I’m still lighter than I was this time last year.”
“It’s been ultra hot the last few days and I’ve been drinking loads. I might have retained water which has increased my weight.”
“Weight is just a number. I am so much more than this.”
“I’ve got something exciting arriving in the post today.”
“I’m looking forward to practicing the flute again. I’m doing really well with it.”
“Teaching my pupil on Monday was brilliant- she’d practiced so hard and I was really proud of her.”
See how my thoughts naturally progressed from being about my weight to being about the things that really matter to me or things that make me feel good? This was totally a natural progression, so much so that I hardly noticed the shift. And yes, I did feel better with these thoughts. It felt easy at first to slip back into the panicky ones, but after a few hours of dog-walking, chores, and TV watching, I am now feeling more secure in these better feeling thoughts.
Awareness & Mindfulness
Awareness of your thoughts is key to noticing what’s going on in your mind.
Awareness comes with mindfulness which really isn’t this big subject that requires you to read books or take courses, like we are perhaps led to believe. Yes, it can help very much, but basically it requires your attention to be focused on the here and now.
Your awareness is on how your body feels, your breathing, the thoughts going through your mind, the room you’re sitting in.
It can be so easy for our minds to wander off into the future: planning, worrying, etc. This is all completely natural, and mindfulness is also about being completely non-judgemental of your thoughts and feelings- just accepting them as they are.
Without this mindful condition, it is difficult to have an awareness of what is going through your mind in the present. Your mental energy is focused in the future- with plans or worries or even excitement and anticipation. Or it may be in the past- remembering something that made you feel bad, or good.
Mental energy may also be focused on distractions which also take us away from the here and now: TV, the internet, work- we are giving our mental focus away to these experiences.
From these energetic positions, we are unaware of our current emotional state, and from that perspective, have no power to change it by creating new good feeling thoughts.
Directing Mental Energy
Mindfulness is about directing this mental energy, that we have projected into the past or future, back to ourselves in the here and now. It is in the here and now that we have the power to change our feeling thoughts and develop a healthy, nurturing relationship with ourselves.
To me this is all a completely new concept, as I’ve grown up with the programme installed in my mind that I’m never good enough, and critical thoughts automatically seem to appear from out of nowhere and often trigger shameful feelings.
To notice these bad feeling thoughts is the first step. It requires focus, intention and effort, but it is not difficult.
Once you are noticing and have the awareness of the thoughts flowing through your mind, you are then in the driving seat, in a position of power, where you can re-programme your mind by creating good feeling thoughts.
If I hadn’t have tried to change my mind programming today, I may still be stuck at 22. But now I feel at a 4- with positive expectation and belief! That’s quite a big jump!!
I think it’s probably a good idea to record these results that I’m generating, to keep an eye on how successful the whole technique is.
I am fortunate in that I am not going to a busy job, in a noisy environment, and that I have the time and quiet to be aware and be mindful. I don’t always do it, but I’m working on it, and today has been successful so far!