The Chain Bridge

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“Turn your wound into wisdom, then help people to find true freedom.” ~Debasish Mridha

To look within

Deep inside the pain

To face the fear

Holding your heart

Breathing 

Each step of the way.

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2016

“Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.” ~Sigmund Freud

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“Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety, or possessions – we cannot be free.” ~ Thich Nhat Hahn

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“He who has overcome his fears will truly be free.” ~Aristotle

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Silencing Your Inner Voice

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photo found on: http://www.jokeroo.com/pictures/animal/921933.html

I have silenced my inner voice once again….the situation is that a part of me is sooo ready to speak my heart and mind, and then there is something inside that holds me back?! It’s like a seesaw that goes up and down. Could it be that I am worried about what others might think or say; or is it that I’m worried about the responsibility that comes each time I take such a step in life? The next challenge is that I don’t know exactly what I want to say. 

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photo found on: http://blurbrain.com/the-farce-of-teacher-evaluations/

As a writer it might seem rather ironic that my inner voice gets silenced so often…but at least for me it has been more like a roller coaster ride through the entire process of expression. It’s like when I walk through the library of my mind there is a librarian that shooshes me into sullen whispers that I hardly dare to raise my voice at all! Other times there is an obnoxious little girl who simply wants to “scream and shout and let it all out”….Arrrgh!

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art by Dreja Novak, http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/dreja-novak.html?page=2

So often it gets confusing when the mind becomes cluttered. It gets confusing because there  can be inner voices that really do need silencing like the inner critic who just loves to bathe the soul in negativity causing disbelief and doubt in oneself. Then there is the inner voice who plays the role of the disapproving parent. It also isn’t the pouting inner child who wants constant attention. Nor is it the angry predator of the ego. There are so many sides to our personalities which voice is really our “inner voice”? 

meditation

photo found on: http://persephonesunset.tumblr.com/post/5919492265

Today I read an article that reminded me about the true inner voice. I then took a mindful breath and smiled. I smiled because I remembered that the inner voice doesn’t bellow or whimper. It speaks from that safe haven inside the silence of our essence. It is there to guide you along your life path. Of course! How could I forget?! I have to be still to hear my inner voice. It whispers softly and my intuition gently tugs. When my mind is full of this and that….it is cluttered. At times even in meditation, house cleaning can be difficult…perhaps in my case I need to do some heart cleaning. Then I might have a clearer picture of what I want to say. 

*for more on the benefits of listening to your inner voice visit:

http://prosperityplace.com/listening-to-your-inner-voice/

Being Human

standing peopleart by Tetsuo Aoki

“Most of us play many roles throughout our lifetimes. We have learned how to shift roles, but we don’t often know how to look behind them. The roles we assume—spouse, parent, boss, nice guy, rebel, etc.—are not necessarily bad and can provide useful models to follow in unfamiliar situations. Our task is to find those parts that work for us, and those that don’t. It is like peeling the layers of an onion, and just like peeling an onion, it’s a task that can bring on a few tears.

It may be painful, for example, to acknowledge the negative in ourselves and find ways to externalize it. We all have a negative side, or potential for negativity: denying it is the most dangerous thing we can do. It’s cause for concern when some people completely deny the potentially dark side of themselves, insisting that they are not capable of strongly negative thoughts or actions. To admit we have the capacity for negativity is essential. After admitting it, we can work on and release it. And as we learn our lessons, we often strip away layers of roles to find things we’re not happy about. It doesn’t mean that who we are, our essence, is bad. It means we had a facade we didn’t recognize. If you discover you’re not a super nice person, it’s time to shed that image and be who you are, because being an extraordinarily nice person every moment of your life is being a phony-baloney. Many times the pendulum has to swing all the way to the other side (you become a grump) before it can come back to the middle point where you discover who you really are—someone who is nice out of compassion rather than someone who is giving to get.

expressionism of roles http://www.inspirefirst.com/2012/07/26/expressionism-photography-collection/

Even more challenging is to let go of defense mechanisms that helped us survive in childhood, because once these tools are no longer needed they can turn against us. A woman learned when she was a child to isolate herself from her alcoholic father: she knew that it was the best to leave the situation and leave the room when it became overwhelming. This was the only tool a six-year-old girl could come up with when her father was drunk and yelling. It helped her survive a difficult childhood, but now that she herself is a mother, such withdrawal is harmful to her children. Tools that no longer work must be released. We must thank them and let them go. An sometimes people have to grieve for that part of them that will never be. This mother had to grieve for the normal childhood she was never granted.

Sometimes we get a lot out of these roles, but we often realize with maturity that they have a cost. At a certain point the cost becomes too much to bear. Many people are well into middle age before realizing that they have been the “forever caretaker and peacemaker” in their family. When they understand this, they’ll say that they certainly are nice, but it got pushed way out of proportion in their family. Without seeing what was happening, they took on the responsibility of making sure their parents and siblings were always happy, they solved all the fights, loaned everyone money, helped them get jobs. At some point, you may realize that the burdensome role is not you so you drop it. You’re still a nice person, but you no longer feel obligated to make sure everyone else is happy.

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The reality of the world is that some relationships don’t work out; there are supposed to be disagreements and disappointments. If you feel responsible for fixing every problem, you will pay a high price because that’s an impossible task.

How will you respond to the new you?

Most of us have not committed criminal acts, but we do have to work through the darker parts of our personalities. Black and white are apparent; it’s those gray parts that we often hide and deny: the “nice” guy, the isolator, the victim, and the martyr. These are the gray parts of our shadow self. We can’t work on the deep negativity if we can’t admit that we have negative sides. If we acknowledge all of our feelings, we can become our whole selves.

You might mourn for the loss of these roles, but you’ll know you’re better off because you’re more genuinely you. Who you are is eternal; it never has and never will change.

vidaphoto by Brian Brake

Who we are is much more than our circumstances, whether they be great or small, though we tend to define ourselves by our circumstances. If it is a great day—if the weather’s good, the stock market is up, the car is clean and shiny, the kids get good report cards, the dinner-and-show goes well—we feel as if we are great people. If not, we feel as if we’re worthless. We move with the tide of events, some controllable, others not. But who we are is much more unchanging than that. It is not defined by this world or our roles. These are all illusions, myths that do not serve us well. Underneath all our circumstances, all our situations, is a great person. We discover our true identities and greatness by letting go of all the illusions of identity to discover our true selves.

We often look to others to define us. If others are in a bad mood, we are brought down. If others see us as being wrong, we become defensive. But who we are is beyond attack and defense. We are whole, complete, and of worth just as we are, whether we are rich or poor, old or young, receiving an Olympic gold medal, or beginning or ending a relationship. Whether at the beginning or end of life, at the height of fame or in the depths of despair, we are always the people behind our circumstances. You are what you are, not your disease, not what you do. Life is about being, not doing.”

—Elisabeth Kübler-Ross—

 

 

True Love

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The 3rd of the Five Mindfulness Trainings

True Love

Aware of the suffering caused by sexual misconduct, I am committed to cultivating responsibility and learning ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families, and society. Knowing that sexual desire is not love, and that sexual activity motivated by craving always harms myself as well as others, I am determined not to engage in sexual relations without true love and a deep, long-term commitment made known to my family and friends. I will do everything in my power to protect children from sexual abuse and to prevent couples and families from being broken by sexual misconduct. Seeing that body and mind are one, I am committed to learning appropriate ways to take care of my sexual energy and cultivating loving kindness, compassion, joy and inclusiveness -which are the four basic elements of true love – for my greater happiness and the greater happiness of others. Practicing true love, we know that we will continue beautifully into the future.

*Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s translation of the 5 basic precepts as taught by the Buddha Shakyamuni

*Photo by Gianfranco Meloni