Thursday, January 13, 2011

Abraham-My Own Personal Snow Day

Both photos from an exhibit at the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid. I thought I would remember the very interesting artist's name. I've researched and can't even track it down.

I must congratulate myself for something I find myself doing more often these days. Lemons to lemonade. Or maybe it's thinking about lemonade when I could be thinking lemons.* Or maybe it's just softening my vision a little when I view something "real" and let in the knowing that there may be more to the situation than meets the eye. I know Abraham often speaks of focusing or sharpening focus, but with "reality", I think it may be good to blur things a little or step back enough so the focus isn't so sharp.

I worked on Monday. Mostly my day was blissful and I had one contrasty class with a heavy dose of bliss as seasoning. I knew about this job ahead of time and I don't think the sub robot even called me. So I did think it was odd when the robot called on Friday requesting me for the same teacher the following Wednesday, which was yesterday. It turned out to be a mistake. I had turned down two full-day jobs on Wednesday. Yes, I got paid for a half-day because of the mistake (I actually stayed and worked since I was already up and dressed and eager to see kids), but I noticed throughout the morning that I had begun to think about those two jobs like they were a better option. I could see where that line of thinking would take me and, wouldn't you know it, Abraham had just asked the question, "Would you rather be right or would you rather feel good?" on the CD I'd been listening to in the car on the way to school.

Many in my situation would feel wronged and most would agree it was justified. I could have chosen to go there and I could have called it another Step One clarifying moment. Instead, when I heard those thoughts knocking at the back door, I  said, just loudly enough to drown them out, "I don't have to think about that right now," and went on with what I was doing. 

Besides, teachers are a lot like students. When we're let out of school unexpectedly, we don't mind. In fact there were a lot of disappointed teachers because there had been so much talk of a snow day that never materialized for them and here I was getting half a snow day in a way. 

I decided to make a bold move. I pointed my car South and called a friend who works downtown. She wasn't available, but was happy I'd called. I called another friend who works across town with her family and she said to come on over. I was envisioning a cup of tea and a look at our schedules to make future plans. It was 11am and I had a 3:30 appointment and pleasantly vague plan to pick up some organic veggies in her neighborhood. This would be fun. When I arrived at this very beautiful home, I was surprised to see that her mom, who is usually hard at work during the day, was at home with a cold. My friend and I coffee-klatched in the kitchen for a while and I was going to make myself scarce right after my cuppa so that they could get on with their day. I am so lucky to have this friend. She is fairly new to Abraham, but she is just a phenomenal woman and is seemingly absorbing the knowledge through her pores. So it's fun to have someone with whom to be completely open on the subject. She also played me some beautiful music she had recorded for me and we danced just a little which, of course, releases resistance and raises the vibration. What I love about this particular friend is her ability to have fun. She loves to laugh and we did plenty of that. Since both she and her mom were there, the work that they do was halved and there was space for conversation. Her mom joined us and the conversation just soared. We laughed and listened to each other's stories, though I'm sure I told the bulk of them. We just enjoyed each other's company. It was moving and uplifting and FUN! I would say that we all got into the Vortex at the same time and when I left there I was just buzzing with good energy.

I made it to my appointment with little time to spare. I did some pre-paving on the way, because this was my second appointment with an occupational therapist to work on creating ease and flow in my right wrist. I also realized that the "stim" they do on my wrist takes 15 minutes and so do the Abraham meditations, which I have put on my Blackberry, so I had brought along my earphones in preparation. I do the stim before I work with the OT, so I was in a good space when she brought her lovely self into the room. The wonderful thing about these treatments is that I get to meet very interesting people and to chat with them, and I really liked this woman's vibe. It had occurred to me that I might want to change the steps of the typical patient-practitioner dance. I sensed she was someone I could ask to envision me as well and to see my tendon as lithe and freely-moving in its sheath. I gave her the invitation and she accepted it. We had a lovely conversation and spoke of many things: of shoes--and ships--and sealing wax....she even told me about this:

which tells you that she and I are on the same page. 

I listened to the new CD on my way to and from the appointment and, as often happens, found a song I became obsessed with. I deny any firsthand knowledge of headbanging, but I am most appreciative of certain shredding metal solos--they just do something to me. After some research, I found that this guitar god was none other than Kirk Hammett of Metallica. He's featured on this cut "If Rap Gets Jealous" by the wonderful Somalian poet and hip-hop artist, K'Naan. The hot solo comes at the end of the song and if you're going for the full experience TURN IT UP AND DANCE: 

And here is a mellower K'Naan with Tracy Chapman:

A fully fun day that led into a nice sleeping experience. No surprise that I awakened with lots of new ideas. Here's one:

I'm going to be aware of my thoughts during routines that often are rife with Step One moments. Routines like dressing, grooming, looking in mirrors. I'm sometimes hurrying through these activities and I know the negative thinking is there, because some of the negative emotion and the sensations of activation are there, though it's can be very subtle. Perhaps, I thought, I could turn these times into opportunities for deliberate creation. I could choose what to think about and see where those thoughts lead me. Choose the subject, don't let the subject choose me, I thought. 

I decided then, to think on purpose this morning as I was showering and applying toner and moisturizer and readying my skin for cosmetics and applying them and drying my hair, etc. I chose to think about reading "Animal Farm" to the young man earlier this week. I basked in those thoughts long enough so that other thoughts like them began rushing in, only these were new thoughts. Ideas about how to introduce students to their autonomic nervous systems and their triune brains with games and activities. So many ideas that I had to switch to a larger notebook to contain them at one point. And it was fun to think about and they were stimulating and creative ideas. 

And as I was writing this, I got a call from a delightful woman I met a while back who has a great interest in Peter Levine and Somatic Experiencing, and we're making plans. So there you have it. Getting into the Vortex creates all kinds of unexpected and wonderful things to materialize in your life.

The Vortex Diary started as an experiment in documenting just what happens when I deliberately get into the Vortex on a regular basis. Here's what is true for me:

I get in more often.
I stay longer.
When I'm out, it's easier to get back in.
Because now if I'm not in, I'm at least in the neighborhood.

*I actually like the taste of lemons and often don't find them that sour. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Abraham-11111 & Getting Into the Vortex Meditation CD

Giant sculptural twig ball in ultra-modern
concrete planter outside a Madrid hotel.

I love the alignment I'm feeling these days and I love numbers lining up as well. So today's date just sends me. I wasn't sure I'd be working today. I'm already doing a MWF thing in one school, so I slept in a little and made preparations so that I could get out the door on time in case the little substitute robot called. So kind of late, I was called to a school way across town to work in an EGC (Emotional Growth Center), where kids who have behavioral or social adjustment issues spend parts of their day. I got there a few minutes late, couldn't find the room right away, so got there just as the bell rang. But the cool thing about special programs is that the support staff really knows the ropes and generally runs the show and the teacher of record is sometimes there just as window dressing. The main gal is someone I'd worked with in the past and I knew she was good with kids so I was pretty happy. 

It turned out better than I'd expected; this was a day filled with gifts initially disguised as scowling teenagers. I got to work one-on-one with several young people, one of whom had intense activation patterns that look like severe obstinance, excuse-making, loudness and rude behavior. (I'm using the non-Abraham vocab that you might see or hear about such a child.) Because of my two passions, Abraham and Somatic Experiencing, I tend to see kids very differently than many educators and even quite differently than I saw them in the past. PTSD causes people to feel overwhelmed, angry, hopeless and frustrated. They also become controlling and overly sensitive and able to find the negative in any situation. Put all that into a teenage body, add hormones and then try to get them to do work that overwhelms, angers and frustrates them, which then makes them feel hopeless and you've got quite a day ahead of you. I could see that this place had their own way of dealing with these issues and I could sense that maybe things had gotten a little stale. I decided to observe and step in where I could. I won't go into too many particulars, but I got into the Vortex while reading "Animal Farm" to a generally pessimistic young person who had an avowed aversion to reading or being read to. This student subsequently wrote a short, clear synopsis of the first chapter and read the second chapter in English class. I hear this is unusual. I used my connection to Source and my functional autonomic nervous system to "hold" a space for these kids to be who they really are. I didn't react to cussing, rolling eyes or various other behaviors that many people can't stand, because I know how utterly wonderful these kids are and how much contrast they've already experienced. And perhaps the coolest thing I know is this: THESE KIDS ARE DOING JUST FINE. They all have their own Vortexes (Vortices, I suppose). Just ask them about their:
-favorite sports

You will see lit-up faces and smiles coming from within as they talk about what they love. Oh, they are precious.

At the end of the day, the woman who runs the place said, "We didn't have to send one kid out into the hall today for poor behavior. Everyone was really on-task."

One beaming heart coupled with one stable nervous system is just so powerful. And I find it energizing. And fun. And satisfying. Hooray.

It was snowing at the end of the school day, so I canceled an appointment that would have left me on possibly slushy roads in rush hour. I had that "snow day" freedom feeling and stopped for a cup of tea and a snack. The place I visited is known for its wholesome young staff and when I walked in the cashier was protesting as her cute guy co-worker was loudly and repeatedly referring to her as "from the Bay Area". 

"Where are you from?" I asked, and she answered that she was from Northern California. 

I told her I'd lived in Redding and her eyes widened. She hails from Ono, a small town near there, and I was living, breathing corroboration of her NorCal identity. 

He (cute co-worker) wasn't giving up so easily. He yelled Bay Area at her a few more times. She and I used facts about mileage and distance to combat him. I got my tea and sat down near some of the cashier's college classmates deeply embroiled in a wedding discussion. While she did sidework in our area, the cashier began describing the hunter green frock she was due to sport at an upcoming wedding. Yeesh, hunter green, I thought. And the cut of the dress sounded awful, too. I sympathized with her and got involved in the conversation. Yes, it really did sound like a bad dress and when you added the poufy lace  at the bottom you had to wonder what the bride was thinking. Hunter green, I asked. Really?(Turns out the family is very outdoorsy.) At least it's not camouflage, I offered. We hooted and hollered over even more bizarre possibilities that made a satin hunter green lacy A-line with a horizontal detail across the widest part of the hip a preferable alternative.

Then cute co-worker told a story of messing with the heads of some middle-schoolers who had come rushing in earlier shouting, "SNOW! SNOW!"

"What snow?" he asked them.

"Can't you see it? It's snowing! Just look out the window!"

"I don't know what you guys are talking about," he dead-panned.

And so on. For quite some time. To the point that one girl went outside to collect snow on her clothing (it was Oregon-style, non-sticking snow so she couldn't actually pick it up).

Then after they'd gone through middle-schoolish caniptions to prove the snow and were on their way out the door, cute co-worker yelled, "HEY, YOU GUYS, IT'S SNOWING!" 

I realized I'd been swept into the Vortex and thanked all those wonderful young people for the fun.

I hadn't had time to meditate before work and I found myself eager to get to Day 3 of the "Getting Into the Vortex" routine that Abraham recommends. I fed the cat and hurried to the living room to plug headphones into my Blackberry and listen. There are four 15-minute meditations: General Well-Being, Financial Well-Being, Physical Well-Being and Relationships. Abraham asks that you read the section in the book on General Well-Being before you begin to use the CD. And that the first week you should listen to the four meditations in order, one per day. To be honest, on the previous two days, I had felt that my breathing was a little forced. I read that the breathing was very important and that it was carefully timed with the music to be a shorter inhale followed by a very long exhale. Abraham says "Breathe in. Breathe out," throughout the CD. I wasn't sure I liked it at first, but today I got the rhythm and began enjoying that aspect. They say that it's not necessary or even desirable to concentrate on the words. It's about allowing and letting go of resistance. I do recall Abraham saying that evidence of alignment and lowering resistance would begin to show up immediately. Scowling teens, bad bridesmaid dresses and messing with middle-school heads sandwiched between layers of laughter and positive regard are perfect signs of my own personal alignment. Cuz that's just how I roll, people.