November Covid Lockdown Tips.

Covid Lockdown bounces into England once again November 5th for a minimum of a month – so what can be improved around our mental health, compared to the 4 month Lockdown from March, what daily actions can help us along?

Here are some actions I put into place last time that seemed to work to improve clarity and motivation. I feel a bit like Beverley in ‘Abigail’s Party’ giving lipstick advice to Ange but here goes . . . 

Always make your bed by 11am at the latest, limiting visual mess. Mess is the cocaine of lockdown. It breeds unbalanced chaotic thinking. Clean house even if no one is visiting. You deserve it.

Try to avoid wearing yesterdays clothes from the floor. It’s slovenly and the last thing Beverley would do. Standards kept, a daily shave ( legs or otherwise ) and a decent lipstick please. Gender neutral naturally.

Wearing yesterdays clothes can keep you in a lackadaisical mood. Challenging your emotional energy on a daily basis is paramount for mental well-being. Freshen up. Change clothes colours, we know black is functional but it’s not a good lockdown look every day. Enliven your wardrobe.

Avoid the dishwasher if you have one. Washing up by hand is therapeutic, meditative and offers time to think. Think potters wheel for concentration. Think it as achievement, avoiding procrastination. A good ‘job done’ energy can be carried to your next task.

Call someone every day. This is essential for emotional balance, connection and release. You can also have a laugh which as we know is best medicine. They may need YOUR call and thank you for it. Don’t lose purpose.

Connect with someone on your social media friends list you have never met. See how they are. Deepen your social media friendships. Or message them. Contact helps avoiding lockdown isolation. Don’t forget to check in with yourself. Don’t bottle stuff up. Call someone who understands your stuff. 

In 12 Step Recovery we use the mantra H.A.L.T ( Hungry. Angry. Lonely. Tired. ) These are danger points for anxiety, unbalance and acting out unhealthy emotional outbursts that can destroy the day.

Remember to check in with yourself that you have food in, have eaten and given yourself mediative moments like breathing 20 Connected Breaths when needed to rebalance if anxiety or future negative projection beckons.

If you have trouble remembering how to do the 20 Breaths exercise CALL ME.

 

 

Abstention. Just for today.

Abstention is the act or habit of deliberate self-denial. Twenty eight years ago this week I gave up Alcohol, nicotine, sugar in my tea and all recreational mood altering drugs. I had no choice really for they gave ME up, white flag . . end of.

I tried giving up 14 months before in 1981 when Professor Macintyre, leading world authority on Liver disease at the Royal Free Hospital Medical School London, said I had less than 4 months to live if I carried on drinking. It took 8 relapses over a 14 month period to see finally that I had a DRUG PROBLEM. Even in running away to Saudi Arabia a few months after the Royal Free warning did not deter me from smuggling half bottles of whiskey into Jeddah, alongside amyl nitrate crystals. No worries when it came to my 17 year habit of scoffing valium unprescribed, I just bought them over the counter in Saudi pharmacies like buying chocolate bars. The same happens in India now, with the over 50’s stocking up on Valium & Viagra at giveaway prices, some buy boxes and boxes to sell back home to fund their winter break.

Always nudge a pensioner in a supermarket for a drug drop.

Looking back it was dope, hash, cannabis, weed that did me in. I couldn’t smoke a joint without seeing a fresh rack in front of me. I wasn’t that keen on smoking dope either, convincing myself that smoking it caused time delays and feelings of being in blackout, so I learnt to grate it onto buttered Ritz Crackers, woofing it down in one. Awful things happened when I danced with dope, often waking to a sea of frantic faces ” do you know what you have done? “.

Eventually I surrendered the lot when I went to self help anonymous recovery meetings around addiction and I have been clean since that first meeting in October 1982.

Previously I thought giving up would make me a social pariah, that I didn’t like people telling me what to do, that I knew best. I also had to rid myself of the notion that something, some avenue of escape was being ” snatched ” from me. In the end as an act of surrender I quietly put my toys on the table and began the walk into adulthood, responsibility and eventual spiritual direction.

Yes we do recover, but it is not a given or a gift. The gift is to be aware that addiction lurks in the deepest pockets of the ego, the misplaced self that thinks it knows best. Could I safely use again? Some Breathworkers have suggested that if I find the right affirmation, or the wrong core of my being to be challenged then I would master it. The truth is I have mastered it, just for today and the 28 years before it, to be conscious at all times, fully alive and free from active addiction.

As for tomorrow, I work the same spiritual request as TAV SPARKS, Stanislav Grof Holotropic Breathwork Trainer, as suggested in his book THE WIDE OPEN DOOR : The Twelve Steps, Spiritual Tradition & the New Psychology.

It works – if you work it.

_________________

” The 12 Step Programmes are a brilliant and effective path to healing oneself. I feel they are a major spiritual path in the world today and will end up bringing more people to their own inner Spiritual connection than any other source ” – SHAKTI GAWAIN

– author of  Creative Visualisation, Return To the Garden, Living In the Light, and Path of Transformation: How Healing Ourselves Can Change the World.

 


Love & pain & the whole damn thing

” In the quest for wholeness, paradox is at every turn. It is true that we cannot realise our wholeness as long as we deny any fragment of ourselves. If we seek to avoid fear or pain or sadness, we will simultaneously block the love and joy and laughter from our awareness. That pain, fear or sadness contains great stores of energy, which can be released for potent creative and constructive use only after it is consciously felt and thus allowed to integrate. A truly healthy person, one who has power over themselves and their own life, is courageous enough to become willing to experience whatever life has in store. “

I read these words by Christina Thomas in 1989 when I was once again in liver failure, back in hospital and losing the plot. Christina is a Rebirther and student of A Course In Miracles ( ACIM ) and since Rebirthing Breathwork had halted progression of chronic active Hepatitis B for me, I was eager to enter the unknown to seek solution. I was in emotional turmoil, a close friend had been murdered the year before, the loss of people around me dying from Aids was approaching 50 people and there was no cure for my Hep B condition. I felt slain in more ways than one, yet I had stayed stopped from smoking, drinking and drugging for 7 years, so something was working. I had halted relationships as all I attracted was people who thought I was brave, and did nothing to meet my emotional needs or just smothered me with their own fear of me dying. The only relationship I was interested in was within my body and the spiritual strength to survive it.

Recognising my wholeness – warts n all – was my saviour. I may have felt damaged but knew that feelings weren’t facts – the body is only casement for the soul. It was at this point that I found, was given, or came across the affirmation ” God is my business Manager “.

Having had good instruction since 1982 in 12 Step Programme Recovery work I had blown away all the religious cobwebs associated with ” god stuff “. Thankfully I was not brought up a catholic or another dominating religion, so I could free spirit ” my god “. In the end I chose Babaji who entered my life in 1988, reading about Leonard Orr, Sondra Ray and Rebirthing Breathwork. That sat with me well and I have not altered this vision over 20 years later.

One of the lessons in ACIM is ” I will stand back and let him lead the way ” and when you are on deaths door that feels apt, in my experience. The big problem occurs when we have recovered, when the creative mind is once again alert to ego demands like making up for lost time. These days I am no longer dazed by circumstance but amazed by results. When I focus on MY part in the great jigsaw of life, all is well. In order to develop ongoing recovery one learns to face everything rather than sweep under the carpet of fear. This sense of wholeness is as refreshing as completing a whole bunch of paperwork for the accountant or finally clearing out that cupboard. It is a paradox that in order to accept my wholeness I need to accept my flaws – the loves, the pains and the whole damn thing. This is true spiritual embrace, a detox of the ego.

You may want to consider today how you ask for help and who you turn to and whether self punishment is still part of your inner curriculum. Self punishment is simply suicide compared to the pains that life throws at us. At least with life pains we can learn. Just think how fast the last two years have passed. Two years ago recession was feared, the worst since the depression. In retrospect we have all learnt something from this period of global cutback including the harsh reality that we have more than we need around us – should we seek it – that old habits can be changed and that confronting the worst, the death of something actually breeds life, energy and hope.

Happy Endings

Who knows what people will turn into once settled into marriage or civil union – will he wander, will she go off sex?

These fears are small beer indeed compared to the fear of finding another drunk, addict or gambler for someone who has the unhappy knack of fishing for fools. If Dad was a drunk, some women can have the inner magic of finding a drunk male substitute to love & marry. If Dad was a gambler it’s easy to find a man whose unpredictable behaviour feels ” just right “, after all it’s the excitement of not knowing what’s going to happen, that keeps your spirit alive.

If mum was depressive and snappy because her doctor stopped the prescription drugs it will be easy to find someone to spar with on the emotional front because it’s just what you are used to, and what you are used to becomes a blueprint for survival.

Take a look at any old school group photo of smiling kids. Can you guess who will turn out to have the longest marriage, the shortest life, the addictive personality? When a recovering person decides to check out their addictions, attachments and codependencies it’s easy to think that they are the ones having to work hard catching up with the rest of so-called respectable society. Many years ago I read a corporate report that stated “recovering alcoholics make better than average workers”. How can this be? A very small percentage of the population look at themselves, most spend time observing the habits of other people but drunks, drinking or in recovery, discovered that observing other people only made the situation worse. Resentments build and excuses flow to justify and enable a continuing addictive pattern, not exactly the route to personal responsibility, amends made and feelings checked, that is suggested for emotional balance. Learning to respond, rather than re-act to other peoples behaviour is vital for continued codependency recovery.

Recovering Alcoholics in a 12 Step Programme make better than average workers because they adhere to a new way of working after experiencing personal rock bottoms, act out gratitude on a daily basis, realise the need to demolish the ego and when they are wrong promptly admit it.

How many people in your life do that?

When the wedding pics are taken it’s hard to imagine the abuse that can follow or the fear of abuse returning. Robin Norwood’s book WOMEN WHO LOVE TOO MUCH way back in 1986 pioneered the realisation that good girls can choose bad guys, again & again. Recovering people also need to be aware of there own track record before they started observing themselves in detail. The reality is that no one knows whether you are going to get hitched to a drunk again, or find another person to rescue, someone who uses you as their own private bank but you can take steps to weed out the obvious candidates. In my experience it always pays to tell the truth FASTER. When selecting friends, lovers or future partners, always be clear about what you want ( by stating what you DON’T want sometimes ), and being upfront, rid yourself the desire to clam up about the past, buying into shame. Though focussing on the present moment can be taken too literally, if denial is companion. People who have grown up in a family where someone dominates the energy by anger, alcohol, depression, drug use, verbal, physical or sexual abuse need to be extra aware of relationship pitfalls. Being aware of a new friend or partners behaviour does not mean double checking everything they say and do, so lighten up, nor does it work to seek perfection. However as a recovering addict/alcoholic/codependent I would not want a relationship with anyone whose parents had similar backgrounds to my own addictive patterns. This is because I don’t want to be a teaching tool in a relationship, I would rather choose someone without an addictive background or be without a coupling. The whole point of fixing yourself is that eventually you find people who don’t need fixing.

I hear many people say ” we are working on our relationship ” as if the relationship is a therapy session. They say that love brings up everything unlike itself – I get this – but many relationships are simply a protection from the past, thus they remain in constant conflict in order to ” learn the lesson “. Maybe the lesson is GET OUT NOW. In most cases I would advise those people to fix themselves instead of the relationship, when this is done you put out a different vibration – one of interdependence – and start attracting totally different energies around people places and things. This is when REAL recovery begins and it starts with you saying NO more often, billing in time away from a partner and acting out frequent updates within the relationship.