The Connected Breath

From her book SECRETS – Christina Thomas describes THE CONNECTED BREATH

“Now I will describe the actual rebirthing or connected breath. Let us use mouth breathing as an example. Open the mouth rather wide and draw in with intention and willpower on the inhalation : then immediately EXHALE, just allowing the breath to fall away. You will not “follow the breath out” or blow out or control the exhalation or try to make it the same duration as the inhalation. Just let go and allow it to fall away as if you were dropping a ball off a cliff. This is a vital point. Many people will attempt to control the outbreath in some way, as they probably attempt to control your own lives. If the exhale is controlled IN ANY WAY, it is not a rebirthing breath.

Next point : No pauses before or after you inhale or exhale. This is another way some people unconsciously attempt to control the process. Initially, you may have many random thoughts and all are OK. You may feel that you are taking too much time, that you don’t how to do it right, that this isn’t going to work, that you are hungry, thirsty, wish this was over, feel really weird, wonder if you’ve gone crazy, feel like your throat is too dry etc. And none of those thoughts matter at all because this process happens outside of the mind. Sometimes the mind is involved, but it is not required to cooperate in the rebirthing process, which is why the breath is more powerful”.

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Re-reading this from way back when I read it first in 1989, highlights what happens to us when we stop and feel. Codependents are DOING people not BEING people. This is why the affirmation ” I do enough, I am enough, my presence is enough ” saved my arse more than once. In order to recover from any addictive compulsive behaviour like chronic helping, one needs to stand back with the Highway code. STOP, look, LISTEN and Speed-bump your life. Think it, but don’t act it out.

So it’s little wonder that once left to ourselves and the breath we try to fill that ” God slot gap ” with hunger pains, negativity and restlessness. If only we could give that level of care and attention we give to others, to ourselves freely, the divine gap of the breath will EXPAND into peace, bliss and eternal safety. You can with Breathwork Coaching- it’s simply spiritual hoovering of body and soul.

The Family Way

Codependency can be about not knowing where you end – and others begin – physically, emotionally, intellectually or spiritually within the family. There are no healthy boundaries.

Maybe you don’t know what you really stand for except your job.  Go to a party or social gathering and people will ask you who you are, what do you say? Are you someones partner, a middle-class professional career, a fraud, a celebrity, a nobody, a carer, a rescuer, a FAKE?

When does your work identity end and the real you emerge?

John Bradshaw writes extensively about Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families and is the name to look for on Amazon. Here is a list of dysfunctional traits that stand to be corrected.

Then you will see why people in therapy say it’s the best investment they have made and why people brought up in a home of emotional supression, family secrets, rows and confrontation refuse to blow the lid off. But then if you don’t, something else will in later life, the memory will return to double you up in pain to stumble.

Abandonment issues * Delusion and Denial * Family Secrets * Isolation even in a crowd * Constant Worry * Control Freakery * 24 hour Guard Duty / Hypervigilant * Internalized Shame * Lack of Boundaries * Grandiose behaviour * Reactive & Reenacting * Numbed Out * Fixated Personality * Out of Touch with body & feelings * Faulty Communication * Withdrawn and under involved * Never Satisfied * Compulsive Addictive * Intimacy Problems * Over involved fixer * Abuse Victim * Lack of coping skills * Confused Identity * Depression avoider via Activity * Judgemental Perfectionism * No trust * Loss of your own Reality * Inveterate Dreamer * Spiritual Bankruptcy – lacking non-religious faith of any kind * Equifinality

EQUIFINALITY ?  – No matter where you begin, you end up in the same place.

Functional they may be but mobile phones are the current tool to practice lack of boundaries. In a dysfunctional family respect is vague, faded and obscured. In a train carriage or a restaurant table boundaries are broken left right and centre, becoming a curse of modern life that we bare because we think we can’t live without them. We put up with it in much the same way we put up with family dysfunction. We become exhausted with asking, people not listening, not respecting etc that we numb out ( see list above ). When a child is abused in the home the body remembers.

Every time you feel shock, you hold your breath. Next time you have sex check whether your breath is held. Every family memory you carry into adulthood including verbal abuse, put downs . . reside within, gasping for air.

These are just a few examples of lack of boundaries. Today’s task is to consider your own.

To help you do this flick through these links until you find something that resonates.
Then use it as a starting board to write down where dysfunctional boundaries have occurred in your life, they may be your own, your co-workers friends or family. Once you realize where a boundary has been crossed, take steps to correct this. Therapy is an advantage in learning to do this but often a simple explanation to someone, eyeball to eyeball, with a balanced tone to the voice can correct an action seldom to repeat.

Please Release Me

One of my pre-teenage memories of shame involved a launderette. I must have been 12 or so and Mums copper ( an archaic washing machine ) at home broke down so we trooped off to the local machine wash. My first embarasment involved both of us not knowing how to operate the machine – convinced that the whole launderette was watching us fumble. The shame of it all. The pain of public failure. Then THE most shaming thing happened. My mum opened the machine front loader and we both STARED at a very clean and hot used condom sitting all on it’s own in the metal drum. Silence kills. Do we remove it? or move to another machine having put the money in?

We called the service lady and shame clouded over in a flash as she fished it out with rubber gloves for all to see. Heads ducked down, papers read, windows were scoured and lips pursed. On another occasion when I was 16 we had moved to a new house and friends of my parents stayed for the weekend so mum & dad gave them their bedroom and so they slept on the PUT-U-UP in the lounge. In the morning I helped them fold the bed up and we STARED again at a torn Durex wrapper on the carpet. Can you imagine? They were still ” doing it “. The shame of it all.

In their book : Letting Go of Shame/Understanding How Shame Affects Your life – Ronald & Patricia Potter-Efron explain about shame being a universal emotion. ” Shame temporarily disconnects people from each other. For example, women in America and many other societies will often modestly look away when they notice someone showing sexual interest in them, even if they are interested in the other person. The message they may be giving ( only under certain circumstances, of course ) is that their sexuality is too powerful to openly express in public. Similarly, people will ordinarily avoid eye contact when a situation threatens to become too potent ”

This made me think how we interchange with each other on the London underground trains, the place where no-one speaks except crack heads, beggars or anyone from Spain.The British culture prefers to ” look away ” to avoid upset, confrontation or shame. Now good old British shame is no different from American shame or Swedish shame ( however – the Italians ARE shameless – look at the revolving governments ) and if fear is universal then shame follows close behind.

John Bradshaw talks about the core of codependency being ” toxic shame ” developed and nurtured from family of origin. Until we release our innermost shames we can never be free. We create our own prison cell. Anyone in 12 Step Recovery will understand 4th Step value or simply the release of sharing. This is all therapy is – letting go with love. It is also about booting out judgement and guilt – the mafia of the mind.

Next time you get on the Underground ( tube train ) use it as a meditation space. Watch and see who avoids your eye contact, be observant and recognise that you are part of these peoples lives, you hold a place, there is no separation of humanity. By observing others you observe yourself and by practicing the art of full eye contact when listening or speaking, you find more clarity within yourself. This is the antidote to shame. And next time you like someone who stares back at you in a sexy way – for christ sake SMILE not hide away. It costs nothing.

I am not suggesting you travel the tube or walk the streets with the smile of someone with the look of community care or just found Jesus but I am suggesting that you focus on each opportunity to drop shame and fear. Shame takes a long time to dissolve so erase the hasty cure with small bites, note each day where and when shame arises and use that powerful mantra FEEL IT, CLAIM IT, DUMP IT. Recovery is not about how much shame you have but how long you hold on to it once noted, so find a spiritual launderette to wash, spin & open up your heart to light.

Time Waster

You may find you spend hours each day, or lie awake at night, worrying about your situation. You may torture yourself worrying where a certain person is and with whom.

You may go over and over the past, reminding yourself of the pain, or recounting every detail in an episode or project you have on-going, projecting a problem before it appears. Living this way is addictive for many – it’s called OBSESSION. There are all kinds of obsessive fixations, using WORK as the only way to feel good about oneself is one example, needing peoples approval is another or continuously thinking you are right is not an obvious fixation, but we all know someone who refuses to be wrong. In fact they are obsessively RIGHT.

An athlete can be obsessed about winning but this may not be an unhealthy fixation because the obsession holds a positive destination. Worrying about a friends health holds no purpose at all except to show them that you care at the cost of losing your own marbles. ” I was worried sick “, what’s the point of that? A total time waster. Showing you care holds many a stance, and can often be a subconscious game of manipulation and control. Caring for a sick friend healthily can mean just being available, or telling it like it is, tough love if required. I was told in my early days of recovery by a woman who genuinely cared for me, enough to say ” stop whining looking for sympathy “. It wont work. If that’s what you want look in the dictionary between shit and syphilis, that’s where you will find sympathy, and she was not wrong.

But Obsession does serve a purpose, even if it gives an illusion of power and control over life. Some people even see worry as an essential task and a visible sign of consideration. Scheming revenge, planning punishment and holding onto pain and resentment is a full time career for some people we know. The purpose of obsession is to be worn out by it, in final surrender of this futile practice. Letting go is not natural to the serial wounded. Fear of loss of control and the rise of omnipotence delivers compulsive behaviour, because the ego insists you ” do something ” rather than feel helpless, yet helplessness is the path to forgiveness and peace. Victimhood of the past or present moment stops you from solving the past or present moment simply because we have been trained to fight and struggle. Even the first sentence of Scott Peck’s THE ROAD LESS TRAVELLED says ” Life is difficult”. It goes on to further : This is the great truth, one of the greatest truths ( The first of the “Four Noble Truths” which Buddha taught was ” Life is suffering “. ) Peck goes on to say : It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult – then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact of life is difficult no longer matters. And worrying about it – even less.

So the purpose of obsession is to transcend it.

Rehab will tell you that you can’t get well until you realise how sick you are. To paraphrase Peck : Once you let go of the problem, you find solution, which is why we need to let go of obsessional time-wasting demands that serve no purpose at all – like worry. Pecks conclusion to life as a series of problems is DISCIPLINE. Not the cold shower treatment or a scarcity diet but simply the simple adage that ” discipline is the basic set of tools we require to solve life’s problems. Without discipline we can solve nothing. With only some discipline we can solve only some problems. With total discipline we can solve all problems “. Discipline simply means “to focus”.

In order to run the race of our life many think we need to be tarnished with an obsession, the obsession to get in the driving seat to tackle the Life Road head on, driving like a lunatic until we crash. It may be a minor scrape or a complete turnaround of the vehicle, no matter, the fact is that you have survived the journey to eventually become a back seat driver. Never to get in the front seat again.This is the magnificent obsession, the one to hold and cherish as a spiritual athlete, no longer needing to be in charge of the steering wheel. Yes we need to do footwork, which includes trust, but the destination is irrelevant.

Marianne Williamson wrote in her book A RETURN TO LOVE : ” Gods plan works, yours doesn’t “. This is why it’s wise to focus on the moment and not a goal in 5 years time.  It doesn’t stop me creating goals, it’s good to focus on a project, but it does stop me worrying about the destination. When I look back over the mind blowing moments of my life they were never of MY creation – a phone call, a social connection, an opportunity all ” came my way ” while I was doing something else. On one level I created it, but only because I was willing to receive without demand.

My favourite lesson in A Course In Miracles is “I will stand back and let Him lead the way”.

Him” can be any spiritual energy you choose, I choose Haidakhan Babaji as my Master influence, my business manager, my mentor. He drives, I sit and witness the journey free of worry, free of timespan and free of anxiety. But it does require discipline to banish the ego and its mischief to avoid spiritual demand. This is the real work.


Take all of me . . .

People seem to have got it into their heads that it’s a divine right to find a soulmate or lifetime partner, often feeling cheated by the world if they don’t turn up. Not so many decades ago a woman ” left on the shelf ” was a visible sin. A man who hadn’t married was deemed sad, gay or both. A son or daughter who stayed home looking after a parent was seen giving up the chance for love – for duty, and thus praised.

This romantic vision of being snatched by love, held tightly hostage is fueled by books, movies and musical lyrics. This illusion of wholeness is as rancid as old butter. Anne Wilson Schaef, the most progressive exponent of relationship recovery in the ’80s & ’90s said ” The realization of the extent of our relationship addictions, both individually and as a society, is shocking. However, there is no need to get depressed, because we can do something about it.” This following quote from her book When Society Becomes an Addict : Understanding The Social System, Reclaiming Our Personal Power – is food for recovering serial relationship addicts. You know who they are.

”    Dependent relationships are the norm within the addictive system of society. Addicts of any kind are invariably dependent or counter-dependent. Counter-dependency has been described in psychological circles as a reaction against extreme dependency. Counter-dependent people feel so dependent on others that they must convince them ( and the self ) that they do not need anyone at all and, hence, act so as to say : I don’t need anybody “. An addict , to recover, must recognize the need to rely on oneself and take care of oneself. Recovery is the realization that one has the ability to do this AND the ability to stay close to others without being dependent.This realization contradicts everything we are taught. From an early age we are told that dependency is the road to intimacy, and that two people cannot get close to each other unless they become mutually dependent. Two people are deemed intimate when they have reached the stage at which neither can function without each other. We call this the perfect union, the perfect marriage.

What I have observed, however, is that dependency DESTROYS intimacy.

The person being depended upon feels sucked dry, and the person doing the depending comes to resent the other. The relationship that once made both of them feel important and needed and secure eventually leaves them drained and exhausted. Over time they may even come to hate each other. In other words, the mechanism does not work the way we are taught it will work. “

What struck me re-reading these words from my bookshelf is that we have only just recognised that our banking and financial system no longer works. We have allowed our lives to be run by addicts in suits and we are paying the price. How long will it take for society to realise that old relationship demands no longer work either. Do you wish for a dream of lifetime hostage or prefer to be set free to explore interdependent relationships where two people exchange intimacies while setting each other free,to experience wholeness and authenticity not entrapment and dependency?

Whole interdependent relationships are possible but you need to address the issues that hold you back from receiving TRUE LOVE, the love for self and another human being without conditions – including staying. Unconditional love means nothing less.

Discuss at leisure.


Open Your Eyes To Happiness

Like poverty happiness is relative, so create your own scale. I used to think that ” loving too much ” was intimacy & true happiness until I found drugs further up the ladder. Now drug free for a few decades and then some, HAPPINESS is whatever I choose it to be, like the freedom to make mistakes without beating myself up afterwards, freedom to make clearer choices and waking up on clean sheets without a hangover or comedown makes me very happy, I can tell you. Small things count.

They say that RESENTMENT kills the container it’s kept in, and my fuselage was well corroded when I was in a coma of drug use all those years ago – counting up all the things I did for people and the people that gave nothing back.

Maybe you think this :  I will be happy WHEN I get a new job, flatmate, partner and lose weight.

A Course In Miracles states that ” everything is temporary “, and once you get that notion and accept that happiness can’t be captured, freedom arrives quickly, as freedom is intrinsically linked to happiness. Freedom to be who you are, to be authentic without editing, to be open about lifestyle and character defects.

Losing past and present resentments is a key to Happiness. What works to anyone’s advantage is to write down 5 resentments about past or present, and be prepared to drop the hurts that burn inside. The Great Escape of drink and drugs are great tools to employ relaxation, release and realizations, long may that continue, but not so hot when the returning resentments capture your happiness and take you back to prison camp. I heard someone say that they drank to drown their sorrows then their sorrows learn’t to swim. Well, it was true for me.

Ironically, one of the happiest periods for me was 1994-96 just before the arrival of combination therapy for those HIV Positive. I worked soley with people living and dying from AIDS, as it was then, all with CD4 counts below 10. A healthy person has over a thousand. I took one guy to Turkey with a CD4 of 2, he was determined to have a holiday before he died. He was so happy to have made it ( and he lasted another 3 years with combination therapy ). Another wanted to be wheeled in a wheelchair to see David Hockney’s Mr & Mrs Ossie Clark & Percy at the Tate Gallery for the last time, while another decided to die on crisp white French linen so off we went to Peter Jones with cash in hand. Humour in times of darkness is an essential breeder of joy. With these guys I assisted them to complete their life, releasing resentments before they passed into light but anyone can lift the luggage they hold without the threat of death, though I do accept that fear is a great motivator. Try being motivated by joy instead.

For me happiness is a pile of freshly ironed and folded shirts. I get great satisfaction from that. Babaji said Karma Yoga (work) breeds happiness. Happiness is knowing that you have cleared the wreckage of the past. Happiness is turning the phone off. Happiness is being silent in a persons arms. Write your own list each day as an antidote to losing the plot and start running your life with a new set of rules to fuel happy thinking. You can get this through therapy, coaching or flicking through inspirational or self -help books. But deciding not to bother with the exercises mentioned is likely to end in a half-measured result.

In Rehabs like the Priory for a 6 week stay, people often do 16 hours a day of individual writing, group sessions, individual counseling and emotional management including the suggestion to LET GO OF CONTROL. Just think about how your sense of happiness is determined by the behavior of other people. Learning to detach from fixing others, pleasing others and then fixing and pleasing yourself is perhaps the ultimate shift in contentment and codependency recovery.

David Weeks scientific study, the first on the subject of Eccentrics, found them to be the happiest people and they live longer purely because they gave up taking notice of what people thought of them. Happy people are happy from within – not unhappy to be without the latest label. So remember that you don’t have to have a fit body to workout from the INSIDE, and once you start to focus on solutions you will realize that a perfect waist is not the key to a perfect life. Happiness is there for the taking if you open your eyes to seek it.

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.