The Cook Awakening

Sovereignty

June 9, 2019
Posted in: Events, Integrating Lifestyle Changes, Life on Life's Terms, Living with Health Challenges, Meditation, Spiritual Practice

Sovereign, adj
1. possessing supreme or ultimate power
2. enjoying autonomy

As women, in general, we are taught from an early age to be more aware of other people’s feelings than our own. It’s how we learned to stay safe, to navigate sometimes very dangerous waters.

As a result, we often aren’t fully aware of how we feel in any given moment. Our antennae are always up, sensing the environment. Even when it’s relatively safe, the habit is so ingrained, we’re still scanning our surroundings for possible hazards in other’s behavior. We often defer to our partners’, employers’, friends’, or children’s needs without even thinking about it.

This long standing habit of hyper arousal and leaving ourselves out of the equations of our lives has a myriad of outcomes — chronic illness, loss of income, depression and anxiety, and lack of meaningful connection with other human beings, to name a few.

We are embedded in the structure of society. We live in a template of hierarchies, implicit and explicit, that can keep us from the connection we all need on a cellular level.

Can you feel yourself as distinct from the background of your life?


I have found that it’s not enough to understand this mentally, to have the mechanics of “The Patriarchy” or “White Supremacy” mapped out on the cognitive level, although that’s incredibly important. We do need to have our rational minds engaged to help us feel safe to do deeper work.

If we stop there, though, we often get stuck in anger. Anger is important, it helps us get unstuck. It helps us define what’s not working. It’s an important step in discernment. But, if we never move through anger, there’s growth we might not experience.
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The Complex of Mother’s Day

May 12, 2019
Posted in: Grief, Life on Life's Terms, Living Into Death, Spiritual Practice

It’s Mother’s Day. Happy Mother’s Day to all of you who celebrate! I hope you are surrounded by love and appreciation for all you have done as a mother, and/or are celebrating all your mother has done for you.

And, I want to acknowledge that Mother’s Day is not happy for everyone. Your mother may no longer be alive. You may not have a good relationship with your mother. She may even have been overtly abusive. You may be a mother, but you’re estranged from your kid(s). You may be a mother, and your child died. You may be a mother with living and loving kids, but you had one child die, perhaps as a baby, perhaps as a miscarriage or still birth, and you still grieve that loss. You may have always wanted to be a mother, and for some reason are not. You may be a mother, and for your own very good reasons, really never wanted to be. There are so many permutations of why this day might be hard. Relationships with family can be fraught.

Cherry blossoms in the full moon’s light


Any of these situations can leave us with less than joyful feelings when one of these Hallmark holidays comes around. We have these tricky minds that compare our lives to other folks lives. If you’re on social media it can be compounded, there are so many heartfelt wishes and photos of happy connected families. All the shoulds come crashing in, “I should be loved differently” or “I should feel differently” or “my mom should still be alive”, — basically, my life should be different than it is, because other people’s lives look different. At least from the outside.

The hardest part of this, really, is that the comparison actually prevents us from simply feeling what’s true. What’s true gets twisted into an even bigger, more painful story than it already is.
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Relax

April 9, 2019
Posted in: Life on Life's Terms, Meditation, Spiritual Practice

There’s a common misperception about spirituality that I’d like to address. That’s the idea that we have to “get rid of the ego” to awaken.

Remember the quote from Carl Jung in my last article? “What you resist not only persists, but will grow in size”.

We can’t get rid of the ego. By ego, I’m not referring to the psychological definition, rather the term used in spiritual circles, that can also be called the small self, or the belief that we are separate from one another and all of creation.

Gautama Buddha


I’ve heard the difference between the ego and Soul (or Self, or Spirit), described this way — the ego is NO!, and the Soul is YES! I experience the energy of ego as a clenched fist, holding onto… ideas, self concepts, being right, being wrong, being sick, being well, etc.

Really, I experience the more surface aspects of the ego as a little child, sometimes weeping inconsolably, sometimes throwing a tantrum.

If the ego is NO, the Soul’s YES is a tender embrace. The Soul embraces the ego. There are times that embrace can feel very painful, because there’s truth in it that may not agree with some of our ideas, but that doesn’t mean the embrace is violent or rejecting. It’s just… real.
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The Blessing of Impermanence

March 25, 2019
Posted in: Life on Life's Terms, Living with Health Challenges, Seasonal Change, Spiritual Practice

“I’m afraid if I really allow myself to feel what’s going on with me, the feelings will never stop. I’ll be lost, forever weeping or shaking, and I’ll never feel good again.”

I think we all experience some version of this. I know my clients do. I do! Even though the path through this “resistance to what is” is very familiar to me, I still have to navigate some version of “I don’t want to feel this!” when unpleasant emotions arise.

It’s natural. It’s human. So, before I proceed any further, please know that. There’s no criticism needed in this scenario. My goal is to tenderly support you in being utterly human, in all it’s aspects. It’s what your soul took birth to be.

However, the resistance to feeling can lead us into greater suffering than is actually necessary.

My dad played American football in high school. I remember him telling us the story about the time he broke his arm, and didn’t know it for two weeks. He continued to play during that time.

He broke his arm and didn’t know it for two weeks. Now, that’s resisting pain!

Once they figured out that something was wrong, he had ground the bone around the fracture to little bits. He wore a cast for over a year in order to heal. (He continued to play football the entire time, and broke the cast a number of times. His doctors would replace it, and he’d keep playing.)

He grew up in an environment where it was clear — you do not feel your pain. I won’t go deeper into that, there’s ancestral patterns I’ve been working with for years that led to his high tolerance for discomfort. My point in using this example is simple.

If he’d been able to experience his pain when he first felt it he’d have known something was wrong, and he’d only have had to wear a cast for 6 — 8 weeks. Compared to over a year. My suspicion is that if he’d taken a break from playing football, he would have healed faster, too.

This is a pretty concrete example that carries over into the realm of other kinds of human feelings. How it works in the case of emotions is a bit different, though.

The geese are easy with the day’s end


There’s a core truth taught in many spiritual paths. It’s often experienced as a truth that people don’t like, but it has a vast benefit as well.
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Comparison

March 3, 2019
Posted in: Grief, Life on Life's Terms, Living with Health Challenges, Spiritual Practice

I hear some version of this statement a lot from clients. “Life feels hard, but so many people have it worse than me. I should be able to manage my life better. It’s my fault that I’m suffering, I should just be able to get over it.”

Last year I had the good fortune to be able to sit with and participate in a discussion with Lama Rod Owens, co-author of Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation. An excellent book, highly recommended. Lama Rod is a self described Black, queer male. He is recognized as a teacher in the Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism after receiving his teaching authorization from his root teacher the Venerable Lama Norlha Rinpoche.

Emerging Buddha


A question was asked by a white participant about how to deal with the guilt of realizing how much Black folks had suffered at the hands of white people.

Lama Rod was very clear. “You can’t talk to me about my lineage and suffering until you really know your own lineage and the suffering there.”
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Stillness

February 7, 2019
Posted in: Grief, Integrating Lifestyle Changes, Life on Life's Terms, Living with Health Challenges, Spiritual Practice

I hear it often. “I want to do more in my life. I want to go deeper. But, when I try, I end up feeling overwhelmed and I can’t do anything!”

Whether you have a diagnosis or not, often our expectations and desires are more than our bodies can live up to. You’ve probably heard the saying, “Your ego is writing checks your body can’t cash!” (Originally from the film Top Gun.)

When you live with a health challenge, or are grieving a loss, things are different than for most of the people you know who have busy lives and seem to keep up just fine. Yes, acceptance of that fact is a good thing to aspire to. But, “acceptance” often ends up looking like a kind of dreary resignation when it’s on the ground running. Where’s the joy in that?

Nuitie Sweetie a few minutes after death


Our beloved Nuit, a 15 year old kitty, died a couple of weeks ago. She was not a flashy, smart, energetic cat. She was sweet, compliant, sometimes grumpy, and full of purrs when she was snuggled. And, she had a few chronic health conditions. Her thyroid was over active, she had arthritis in her shoulders, she had high blood pressure (probably related to her thyroid condition). And, more recently, something was putting pressure on her lungs, probably either a mass or fluid build up around her heart. In the end, her breathing pattern was more like panting than anything.
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