Author Archive for Helena Montelius

The Alchemy of Turning Unmet Needs into Bliss

The Alchemy of Turning Unmet Needs into Bliss

by Helena Montelius

Have you ever felt needy in a relationship? Or needy because you are single? Needy for more attention, more touch, more sex, more quality time, more help with the housework, more space, more communication, more appreciation, more…Most of us have felt that need/longing for more arise in our romantic relationships and in other relationships as well. And most of us have had the experience of sitting down to talk to our partner; explaining what we need and feeling even more need arise; the need to be heard, understood and seen in our neeeeeeds. And then feeling rejected, unloved, unappreciated, unseen, unmet or disappointed when our partner cannot fulfill our needs for some reason.

If my partner won’t give me more touch, I’ll feel unsatisfied forever, says ego.

If my partner won’t give me more time, I’ll feel lonely forever, says ego.

If my partner doesn’t help out more in the household, I’ll feel exhausted forever, says ego.

Here is a practice to break this cycle of co-dependency:

  • Write down a list of what you feel you need from your partner (or, if you are single, write what you need from your future partner that you are hoping to meet), be very specific. For example:

I need more touch. When, where and how do you need more touch? I need my partner to stroke me softly and slowly. I need my partner to hug me when he comes home. I need my partner to reach out to touch me spontaneously and not just before sex. Etc…

I need my partner to see me. What would it look like if your partner truly saw you? He/she would give me a lot of space to share about my feelings. He/she would look into my eyes and speak of something he appreciates about me. He/she would acknowledge my talents and strengths. Etc…

I need my partner to give me more space. What would that look like? He/she would not walk into the office every five minutes to talk about something when I am working. Be OK with me sleeping in my own bed some nights. Let me be emotional and upset when I am. Etc…

The more specific you are; the greater your freedom will be at the end of this practice. Ego doesn’t like specifics; as long as I keep it vague and general (I need more touch is vague) and avoid the how, when and where ego can stay identified as a victim. As the one who is not getting their needs fulfilled.

  • Now take your list of specifics and turn it all around to yourself. Write down all those specific things but replace your partner with yourself. For example:

I need me to stroke me softly and slowly. Begin practicing this when you long for touch.

I need me to hug myself when I come home. Sit down and give yourself a welcome home-hug.

I need me to give me a lot of space to share about my feelings. (Sit down with yourself and write down everything you are feeling, or record it on your phone and then really sit and listen to yourself.)

I need me to not walk into the office every 5 minutes while I am working. By allowing you to walk in every 5 min. I am the one walking into the office every 5 min. (Lock the office door or put up a sign “In Session” or “I am working, please don’t disturb” or go to a coffee shop to work or…find solutions to give yourself what you need.

  • Now you are busy end engaged in giving yourself everything you need. It’s fun, it’s freeing, it lets your partner off the hook and makes it so much easier for him/her to be around you without this cloud of needy expectations hanging in the air. Let this be your spiritual practice of love for yourself, for God/Goddess. If you are single it will engage you in a deeper relationship with yourself; fulfilling yourself so that when and if you go on a date you show up as this fulfilled person glowing with love instead of a needy, anxious person; and what is going to be more attractive? Isn’t it fine to love at such a level and know you’re not ever going to be disappointed in it? ~Byron Katie
  • After some time of the turnaround to the Self, when you feel so overflowing with love and bliss that you just want to share it; find ways to give what you need to your partner, or family members, or friends or even to strangers in the store. This is the turnaround to the other:

I need to touch my partner/others more.

I need to see my partner/others.

I need to give my partner/others more space.

Find specific, practical ways to give to your partner, to others, what you are longing for. There is no need to tell your partner that this is your spiritual practice, just do it. And this is the magic of the turnarounds; while you are engaged in giving your partner more love you get to be in the space and flow of love. You are receiving your deepest longing through sharing it with your partner/others. The receiving is in the giving. It is a gift you give to yourself.

If you want to, you can check in with your partner and ask in what specific ways he/she would like to receive what you are longing to give.

If you find yourself, as I did, in a relationship where the other often is not willing to receive anything from you; pass it on to someone else. When my ex didn’t want any touch or love from me, I would go sit with my dogs and stroke them and just be in a love bath with them. Or go to my daughter’s kindergarten for a few hours and help out and play with the kids and just revel in the love I was sharing with them.

During the times I was really hurting from not receiving what I longed for and not being able to give it to the person I wanted it from the most; finding a dog, a tree, a garden, a friend, a child to give to was hard at first. I felt stuck in my pain, but as I slowly, reluctantly, started giving to another being I came into the flow of love and became fulfilled. That opened me up to living in the flow of love and the boundaries of me and the other dissolved. It’s not like this person owns a certain amount of love that I need to get from him/her, or that I own a certain amount of love that I can dispense or not to another; that is an illusion. While I was busy looking for love I missed the love that is always here. I found that every thought about my needs was a story about the future; in the present moment there is never anything missing.

Seeking love is how you lose the awareness of love. But you can only lose the awareness of it, not the state. That is not an option, because love is what we all are. That’s immovable. When you investigate your stressful thinking and your mind becomes clear, love pours into your life, and there is nothing you can do about it.                           ~Byron Katie

 

 

Treat Your Body as a Temple

When you believe your thoughts, you rape your body by saying it should be healthier, it should be taller, shorter, fatter, thinner, younger, stronger. You take a perfect body and trash it.      ~Byron Katie

The My Body My Temple class was born out of my Dissolving Self-criticism class because so many women’s self-critical thoughts revolves around their body and their looks. I met women who had been single for decades because they refused to date. They were convinced they were “too unattractive” to get naked and sexual with a man, and that no man would ever want them.  I met women who had not gotten the medical attention they needed because they did not want to undress in front of a doctor. I met women who rarely and reluctantly made love with their husbands because they were too uncomfortable in their own skin. I met women who never gave themselves the pleasure of going to the beach or hot springs for the same reasons. I met women who didn’t apply for jobs they were qualified for because they believed they were “too fat.” I met women who put up with physical abuse because the were convinced they deserved it because they were “ugly.”

Even if it’s not that severe, most women experience a constant inner war, an ongoing daily tension, an ever-present low-grade comfortableness around their bodies. Every time they look in a mirror, get dressed or go to yoga they judge, compare and criticize themselves. They are so used to it that they think it’s normal to live that way.

I was saddened to discover so much pain in my fellow sisters and absolutely stunned at the fact that IT DIDN’T MATTER AT ALL WHAT ANY OF THESE WOMEN LOOKED LIKE! I have had models, ex-models, skinny picture-perfect yoga teachers, beautiful young women take the class alongside older, rounder women and we all carry the same judgments. Another insight that blew my mind; women discovered that they often compared their current body with images of their younger body and they realized that THEY JUDGED THEIR BODIES JUST AS MUCH WHEN THEY WERE YOUNGER! So clearly the problem is not with our bodies but with our judgmental mindset and the Western cultural beliefs around feminine beauty that we have internalized as our own.

When you identify and write down, question and see through, and explore who you could be without these body-critical thoughts a new way of looking is born. You begin to take off your critical glasses and see from a new place within. Looking from a place of inner beauty you see only outer beauty. We project our inner state of mind onto our body and the world. It is possible to see a whole new body emerging without changing it all. No weight loss or cosmetic surgery needed!

For example: My belly is too flabby. Is that true? Most of the time a strong YES! comes up, because there it is, the flabby belly, you just have to look down to see the proof.

Can you absolutely know that your belly is too flabby? Can you absolutely know that this thought is true? At the start of the class most women are still convinced and say YES! to this question. The thought is still held in place by a network of underlying thoughts around feminine beauty so it’s hard to distinguish that it is in fact just a thought and not actual reality. Towards the end of the class women begin to have a lot more spaciousness around these thoughts and come to see that NO is the only possible answer.

How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? I dislike my belly. I keep pulling it in. I don’t enjoy eating because I am constantly thinking about calories and how my belly will get even flabbier. I try to cover my belly when I go out dancing. I don’t feel truly happy in my own skin because there is that belly that needs to shrink.

Who would you be without the thought that my belly is too flabby? Looking down at my belly without this thought it’s just a sweet, round belly that has carried two children. It is what it is. Without comparison and without future/past images I love it. I love touching it, it feels so soft. Without the thought I am in the present moment just enjoying my belly and all of my body.

Turn the thought around: My belly is not too flabby. It is not too flabby for me to enjoy yoga, dancing or anything in my life. It is not too flabby for my sweetie to love me. It is not too flabby because only when I compare it to something else, an image in my mind, can it be too flabby or too tight.

My belly is fine as it is. Relaxing into that turnaround is such a relief. Coming into love and sweetness with my belly. And, of course, it’s fine as it is, nothing else is possible.

Many women believe that the body-critical thoughts cause them to exercise more, to eat better, to constantly be on a mission to lose weight and tighten their muscles. They believe that if they stop criticizing their bodies they will just get out of control; eat like pigs, stop exercising and get super fat. What we have found through inquiry in my classes is the exact opposite. When I live in peace and love with my body, I feel a deep inner satisfaction and my cravings for sweets and unhealthy stuff are greatly diminished. Without pushing myself to exercise out of self-judgments movement of the body becomes so much more fun and I end up doing a lot more of it. I dance more wildly, I go to yoga more often, I am in touch with what my body truly needs so it finds its perfect balance effortlessly.

If you would like to join women from around the world to shake off these painful beliefs and fall in love with your body temple check out my website. The next round of the online class starts May 13th, 2020.

My Body My Temple ~ Releasing Body Judgments with The Work of Byron Katie 4-week online class for women May 13-June 3, 2020

The 4 questions in my blog are from The Work of Byron Katie, you can learn more about it at: www.thework.com

 

 

My Disgusting Surrender

It’s 3.14 a.m. I am sitting in bed crying, rocking back and forth, holding myself while I am praying, begging and pleading into the dark night: please help me, please end this agony, please make this go away…

For the past year a strange skin condition has been torturing me. Red blotches of some kind of rash has appeared in different places all over my body, but worst on my feet. It itches 24/7 and oozes. My right foot is so swollen I can’t fit a sock or shoe on it so I limp around the house in my sweetie’s size 12 slippers. I can’t stop itching even though the itching makes it worse; my skin falls off in chunks exposing my raw, stinky flesh. Sometimes when I drag myself up in the morning a trail of blood from my right foot marks my floor. Big tender lumps are in my armpits, my belly, my neck, my legs and I squeeze greenish puss out of them.

No doctor or dermatology specialist has been able to figure out what is going on with me. All tests come back negative or inconclusive. They give me antibiotics and steroids. The steroids suppress everything and I feel a lot better but as soon as I come off them it all comes back with a vengeance. The natural practitioners that I see have a lot of suggestions and ideas, none of which has given any results so far.

I can’t sleep because I am so uncomfortable; the itching is intense, I can’t find a comfortable position because of my tender boils and anything that touches my skin feels harsh and hurts, even my flannel sheets. So, I am huddling in a soft cashmere blanket, rocking and crying.

During the day I get by on coffee, pain killers and antihistamines. I guide my online clients and classes through inquiry with my right foot in an ice bucket. I manage to focus on my clients and my daughter’s needs during the day but at night I kind of break down. My mind is obsessed with finding out what this condition is and how to cure it; how make it GO AWAY!

One of those awful, restless nights I hear a clear voice from within: “You wanted to learn surrender? This is it.” Everything shifts; I stop fighting and resisting. I become one with the itching and the pain, the sensations become an exhilarating ride. My heart opens towards the disgustingness of the oozing and the boils; they are innocent. My mind opens enough to question the painful, itching stories that have been running in circles in my head.

“I can’t take this anymore.” Not true! I am right here, taking it, in this very moment. And the present moment is all I ever have to deal with.

“I need the itching to go away!” Is that true? (Question 1 in The Work.) I let the questions sink like little pebbles in a pond and wait for the heart to answer. No! In this moment, now, I am fine with these tingling, interesting sensations in my body. And in the next moment and the next… My mind opens to the possibility that it may never go away and that many people, including many of my clients, live with chronic conditions that are much worse. Maybe this will be mine. Life is still pretty great, even with this weird thing going on in my body.

“I need to know what this is, then I will be able to fix it and make it GO AWAY!” Can I absolutely know that’s true? (Question 2 in The Work.) No. Even if I do figure out the cause I can’t know for sure that I can make it go away. There are many skin conditions that are chronic, uncurable, and you just have to learn how to manage them. And I can’t absolutely know that my body won’t come back to balance without me ever knowing what the cause is.

“It’s going to get worse!” Awful, disgusting, scary, painful images from all my Google searches fill my mind and I see my body completely covered in this rash thing. Can I absolutely know that it’s going to get worse? No, I can’t know anything about the future.

“I should have healed this by now!” Now I am laughing. As one of my Making Peace with Disease Class participants said: “Well, if I had the power to get rid of my cancer, I would have flipping done that!”

Last story: “I need someone to help me.” How do you react when you believe that thought? (Question 3 in The Work.) I am out of my own business, desperately seeking for someone out there to fix me. I am not able to listen my intuition, not able to help myself. Who would I be without that thought? (Question 4 in The Work.) I am back home in myself.

This is it, Helena! This is surrender. Relaxation fills me, I am pulled deep within, when I am not resisting the itching it lessens considerably, now I am resting in that which is witnessing the itching sensations. A tender love is emanating from the tender boils. The breath deepens and I am filled with gratitude and love for my beautiful life.

I am willing to continue having this condition. I look forward to continue having this condition. (The turn-around of number 6 on The Work worksheet.) It has brought a lot of beauty and vulnerability to my life. I have had to ask for help and learn how to receive support. I have shared some vulnerable things that I needed to say for a long time to some family members and friends. I have learned to be tender with myself and accept my limitations. I have expanded my capacity to stay in the present moment and to enjoy every little thing to the fullest. A cup of tea is just orgasmic! The beauty of the constant itching sensation is a constant reminder to meditate, every moment has become an invitation to take some deep breaths and look within.

But I also found a deeper reservoir of strength and determination within. Some nights I just said: Fuck it! I refuse to let myself be controlled by this condition! I am going dancing with my sweetie tonight! I would squeeze my swollen, oozing feet into my high heel red boots, take a double dose of painkillers, drink an energy drink, smoke a joint and for two glorious hours dance the night away with my sweetie at the Crazy Horse Salon in my rocking home town Nevada City! I gave it my all until I couldn’t anymore and then Hubert would drive me home fast to put my feet in an ice bucket and take more pain killers! The next day my feet would be worse-but it was worth it!

After my “disgusting surrender” I was truly at peace with my condition, it could stay or go; either was welcome. (I call it disgusting surrender cause the whole rash/boil thing was so unattractive, ugly, stinky and gross.) As life would have it; once I was fine with it, I did find an Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist that actually cured me. My wonderful witch gave me really weird herbs and dried little snakes (!) to make tea out of and that, together with a super cleansing diet and acupuncture slowly, slowly helped my body to come into balance. We think my body may have been cleaning out a build-up of my HIV meds. I don’t know if that’s true, seems like it could be.

What I do know to be true is that this condition came in as a deepening spiritual teaching in my life. I learned so much and it gave me an opportunity to literally put my feet up and forced me to meditate a LOT as it was the only way to not go completely crazy. It opened me to even deeper levels of compassion and understanding for my all my clients with chronic and painful conditions. I thought this condition was wearing me out and came to realize that the only thing that gets worn down when you are sick is ego. Your identity of who you believe you are gets worn down, so a new fresh you can sprout!

I learned that surrender is easy when you sit at the feet of some spiritual guru in some beautiful ashram, in the arms of the love of your life or during a Yoga class when you are completely healthy. Real surrender happens when you soften up, open your heart and mind, to that which you believe you really don’t want. And as you open to it, who knows what shifts and blessings might occur.

 

To learn more about my classes around disease: www.lookwithininstitute.com

To learn more about The Work of Byron Katie: www.thework.com