paying attention to your life

Journeying through Anxiety as a Healing Tool by Dawn Jepson

Publicly sharing my life in regard to anxiety is proving to be an interesting experience. Letting others read about aspects of my life, discussing some of the more personal questing I have done, is meant to offer somewhat of an understanding of not only my journey, but also to encourage others to be brave in more closely investigating anxiety as they are experiencing it. As a professional who helps others in dealing with anxious feelings (among other things), I am also a woman who copes with anxiety. The desire to disclose this truth of my life, along with parts of my life experiences that relate to feelings of anxiety, comes from a call to help others. Bluntly stated, anxiety has wreaked havoc with the quality of my life at times. I want a full and happy life and assume that there are others who also want that quality of life. As I look around me I see that we appear to be in a period of “anxiety explosion.“

There are many people frequently talking about their feelings of anxiousness. This, along with my own discomfort, has led me down the path of discovering the cause(s) of anxiety. In my exploration, I hope to learn what can be done about it and how I can become a source of relieving anxiety rather than being stuck in it. By sharing my personal experiences and thoughts surrounding anxiety I hope to be opening a door of exploration for others.

In my field of work I have always believed in walking my talk. If I recommend self-hypnosis for change, I use self-hypnosis for change. If I suggest eating healthfully and being active, I make sure that I too am following those practices. As the years have passed and my feelings of anxiety have blossomed, and as I have worked with others complaining of anxious feelings, it has led me to clearly realize that I needed to address my own anxiety coping practices, becoming more vigilant about helping myself to heal in regard to this issue. With this shared writing I hope that I can not only be more committed to my own practices of resolving my anxiety experience, but that I can also help others develop their own path of healing.

Oh the longing for sweet relief from the anxiety each early morning. Anxiety has appeared like clockwork to greet me every day for so long now. But before I can hope for relief, I seek an understanding of what is happening to me and what it means. Anxiety has become a fuel to encourage me to look at my life from different angles. What am I looking for as I examine and self-reflect? Change! First, I must make a couple of “trips“ … a visit or two to the past that requires a little honest digging, as well as a truthful viewing of the present.

Do I/Did I need to make amends for past behaviors? Perhaps.

Do I/Did I need to learn to say “yes” when I mean “yes” and “no” when I mean “no“ and not the other way around? For example; Stop saying, “Yes, I’ll do that”, when in my heart I don’t really want to, or “No I can’t go with you this weekend”, when every fiber of my being is begging me to take that step and GO!!! Perhaps this change would be wise.

Ignore what ails me and the anxiety grows and expands to such a loud shouting that I finally have to listen.

Fulfilling the expectations of others to the exclusion of my own personal desires leaves me feeling trapped and anxious. Certainly in life, along the way, we make some sacrifices, we give in, and we do what others enjoy and let go of what we are in the mood to do. But when these become patterns that are repeated chronically, it can become an self-defeating, ingrained habit. The result often becomes the growing, blossoming flower of anxiety.

That is why I mentioned change toward the beginning of this writing. Anxiety can offer us the knowledge, that wonderful wake up call - it is time for change! And then the exciting, and at times scary, exploration begins.

Often I have told clients that the difference between anxiety and excitement is a smile. I believe this to be true in many ways. This is one of the ways: as we discover the cause of our own anxious feelings, making the changes our inner life is craving, we are then able to smile with excitement - excitement at the chance of living life free and filled with all the joy that we do deserve.

To begin this powerful shift, I have had to acknowledge that the anxiety is there, asking for my attention. Then I have had to learn to sit with it. Sometimes this has required help. It has often meant sharing how I feel with trusted others who are willing to listen and tell me; “It’s ok, you can make it to the other side.” They may also offer wise counsel. There have been periods of time when the emotion of anxiety has become so powerful I have consulted with my carefully chosen medical doctor, asking for her ideas about how to cope or lessen the intensity of the anxious emotion. Sitting with strong emotions takes a brave person. Moving clearly and competently through each day with the monkey of anxiety on one’s back can be exhausting. Asking for help holds no shame.

As I move forward each day I am coming to know myself more and more. I am finding that through this journey with anxiety, through the exploration of my past and present, I am designing a life that I love, one that is built on a strong foundation of truth and integrity. I may not be all the way there yet and that’s okay - those are the experiences and stories still to come.

Connecting Emotional and Physical Energy - Laurel's Monday Message 8-13-12

This week's message focuses on connecting your awareness of your emotional energy and your physical energy. During the month of August I will be focusing inwardly on how to make good use of the physical energy in your life - and not in the usual ways! Join me this month connecting the dots between your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energies! Empower yourself with your own inner wisdom.

The Language of the Soul

Perhaps my perspective is a bit skewed, but it seems to me that we, as a culture, are mostly comfortable talking about spiritual consciousness. Even those that are uncomfortable, and uninterested, know that the conversation has merit. They may not choose to get involved, talking the talk - yet. I chose to get involved nearly 20 years ago. A health problem led me into the world of Chinese Medicine, and then on to psychotherapy and I never looked back. Finally there were answers to the imbalance that existed in my life. There were words to put my problems into a context, words like holistic and energy. From the beginning, I accepted and acted on the truth that we are holistic beings whose bodies, emotions, minds and spirits are complex equations with each facet affecting the others. When my difficult to resolve health problem was viewed in this light, my quest to understand myself and humanity began. It has been an incredibly enlivening and enlightening path.

Today I am celebrating that the more I cautiously and carefully speak openly about what I do, working as a holistic Life Coach, people want to know more. As I share that I help people learn to find their way into the happiness that awaits them within, most people become more interested. And I talk about how people come to me frustrated or depressed about the quality of their lives, and I join them on a journey inward. We encounter what seem like big problems along the way, and we take those big problems and turn them into learning lessons about life. Slowly (or occasionally quickly) the clients I work with reconnect to the deeper power that resides within, and they feel ready to make some choices from a place of sensing a new strength, despite the recognition of their vulnerability as well.

My blog this year has been about inviting readers and viewers to connect inwardly. I have been asking you to become more vulnerable to yourself first, by learning to sit still with yourself. My focus has been on informing you that you are the powerful creator of your life. Learning and acting on the truth that I am the powerful creator of my life, continues daily for me. This is not a quick fix prospect. We are not here for a quick fix. We are here to evolve our experience of humanity to a greater knowledge and awareness of ourselves, and what it means to be spirit/soul in human form. And in order to do this well, we need to learn how to operate the machinery well - you know the body, heart and soul within which "you" reside.

Learning to operate the machinery well (I use this term a bit metaphorically), means you need to know where the controls are. They are within. We are mostly conditioned to view life and the way we influence it, by connecting to what is available outside us. You know, get the right job, find the right partner, raise a family, acquire a home (and all those trinkets). When we come up unhappy in any of this, we start changing all this "stuff" and we may or may not, eventually, find some happiness along the way. And, all the time, there is a naturally occurring happiness well that waits within us to be discovered. Often we stay outwardly focused until something about our well-being causes a problem that can't be solved from the outside. That's when the doors to holistic thinking and the language of the soul become interesting.

As a culture, we are sensing that the problems we encounter now are not being resolved by the usual means. I like to think that these self-created problems are leading us further along in our development as a species, to recognize the spirit/soul aspect of ourselves and then to act on this truth. People are becoming more interested in the language of the soul, and holistic thought. Not from a religious perspective, but from a personal perspective. A perspective that says, I am powerful within, and when I act well and kindly on this knowledge, the world becomes a more habitable place. That means solving problems without violence, thinking sustainably since our natural resources are limited, and implementing technology wisely by no longer threatening the natural environment and ignoring the ways we pollute our home, this planet.

Today, may I suggest, that you consider this by starting at home, with and in your individual being. Today, solve each of your individual inner conflicts without violence to yourself or those within whom you are in relationship. Think of your being as a limited resource and do not overextend or misuse any of your resources such as time, health and attention. And consider how you might be polluting your being in thought, word and deed. These are powerful and longer term actions that involve looking inwardly. All effort in the direction of living and choosing more consciously will not be wasted. We are the powerful creators of this world.

Anxiety - A Sample of Using Emotional Energy as a Guide and Teacher

Proudly, I welcome my sister, Dawn Jepson, as a guest writer for Focusing Inward. I believe, with certainty, that you will find her writing powerful and brave. Dawn's bio displays at the end of her article. She will be sharing her experience monthly, taking us with her to discover the depths of how anxiety can help us heal in deep ways. Dawn works as a Consulting Hypnotist and has been practicing the art of sitting still with herself for more than 20 years.Thank you Dawn for your willingness to share the depths of your inner world as a way to serve and support others on their inward journey.

In this article you will find demonstrations of important practices that I refer to often in my writing. They are:

* Consciously choosing to tune into your emotional content, staying still long enough to see what your inner world reveals. * Consciously reviewing past choices, allowing feelings to arise. * Consciously reviewing past choices, allowing thoughts to arise, withholding judgment. Just watching. * Asking questions from a detached perspective, like what might have been happening that I made those choices back then? * Experiencing the enlightening moment when suddenly you see a deep truth about being human. A truth that illuminates your world in new ways.

What most powerfully moves me with this piece from Dawn is, perhaps it is wise to sit with your anxiety, invite it to reveal something beyond the anxious feeling, something that may guide you to understand yourself better and have the opportunity to cultivate a lasting inner peace through acknowledging your true complexity of feelings.

Facing the Depths of Anxiety - A Moment of Enlightenment by Dawn Jepson, Consulting Hypnotist

Very early Sunday morning I was paying attention to the typical anxious feeling I have been getting daily for years. While slight anxiety has been a part of my life for as early as I can remember, it was never truly bothersome until peri-menopause. In the last year (and I am well into menopause now) it has become so disturbing I have let my doctor help me by prescribing medication I can take if the anxiety gets too disruptive.

This Sunday I decided to skip the medication and just lie quietly with the feeling of anxiety and see what happened. This isn’t the first time I have tried this … usually it leads to random disjointed thinking. Rarely is it pleasant or helpful (that I can tell).

As I decided to let go, this Sunday morning, and ride with the anxiety feeling, I noticed it was somewhat different … it was more open and expansive. Without any effort on my part, the anxious feeling gently guided me back to the first time I ever drank alcohol. As I went with my feelings and memories the anxiety temporarily subsided. Surprisingly, I was able to relax into the remembering. I floated backward and forward from the specific memory of being 13 or 14 years old, taking my first drink, to a general time period 20 years ago (at 38 years old), when I made a significantly life changing choice. As I calmly lay there, I found myself briefly reviewing my experiences of alcohol involving sex, especially casual sexual encounters, during that 20-year period. Anytime there were ones missed, I automatically was “brought” back to each one of them. They all seemed to - have to be noted - given my attention. Each experience was lightly, briefly observed/remembered.

Once I had fully completed the experience of remembering, I felt a huge sense of remorse and regret fill me. Like never before in my life … along with some lighter guilt and shame.

At that point it seemed natural that I “should” apologize to all those people who were directly and indirectly involved in those experiences, ask for their forgiveness. I was assuming I had hurt them all greatly. But I realized I have done this “asking others for forgiveness” many, many times. I have made my amends, so to speak.

Instead it felt more appropriate to go back to simply staying with the feelings of regret and remorse. To keep reviewing the casualness I acted with towards others feelings and emotions. Throughout all of this I kept receiving extraordinary waves of disbelief - shock that I could have done what I did; the alcohol and casual sex, carelessly dealing with others feelings and wants with no thought to how they might feel about my actions and behavior. And … the disrespect that I showed myself by making these behavior choices.

As I gradually began to come more and more alert to the moment, I tried to psychologically process why I behaved the way I did all those years ago - for over a 20-year time period!!! But then found myself quickly discarding my psychoanalysis, since I seemed to deeply know that it was more of a soul cause that triggered my behavior. I left alone the need to know “why.”

Still I was left with a feeling of being literally stunned in regard to the complete thoughtlessness, the casualness with which I made the decision to have sex and drink so carelessly. And not only that, but how uncaring I was with others feelings. This, above all else, from my experience, dominated.

The power of conscious choice became so clear to me in that span of time.

But now I am left with the wondering; “what do I do with all those memories and feelings of my past decisions and choices, where I hurt others, where I hurt myself?” How do I move on, forgive myself and truly, let go? The sadness I feel is so deep. Is it fueling, or helping to fuel, the anxiety that I live with and struggle with each and every day?

Again and again I think about all those years when I felt so free to take those actions and engage in those behaviors without regard for the future and how it would affect me, and others, one day.

And now I am left asking myself - how do I come to feel cleansed and move forward in my life with inner peace?  

Dawn Jepson - Bio As a Consulting Hypnotist since 1997, Dawn Jepson holds an alternative doctoral degree in Clinical Hypnotherapy and is registered with the National Guild of Hypnotists. She earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Human Services and an Associate Degree in Mental Health.

Dawn works with individuals and groups. During private sessions, speaking engagements, and workshops she assists people in realizing their ability to reach their full potential through self-hypnosis, deep relaxation and suggestion. The primary intention of her work is to encourage each person to move closer in affirming their personal goals, thus enhancing their life.

Committing to Action for Your Growth - Laurel's Monday Message 7-23-12

How ready are you to commit to yourself? Many people want life to improve, change or be filled with dreams coming true. When it comes time to actually create that quality of life, we often get stuck in taking the actions that lead to that reality, blocking our ability to manifest. Today's message shares a simple but powerful tool that can support you in understanding how you are using your mental energy. In this understanding, you become more proficient in focusing and directing this vital energy in life-enhancing ways.

Ask and You Shall Receive

We hear this phrase often, or at least I have in my lifetime. I always associate it with a spiritual truth. It has been my experience that it is a law of the universe. I will make a few observations about this. Ask and you shall receive.

Notice there is no timing on this. We cannot predict when the request will be fulfilled. One of the things we can do to receive more readily is remove obstacles from receiving what we say we desire.

Example: I want a loving relationship. Obstacle: I live with a guarded heart.

The desired wish does not always arrive in the package we requested or imagined. Sometimes I think we want things to happen without our investment of time and attention for its proper development. Or we put conditions on the desire and then expect a certain presentation.

Example: I want peace in my life. Presentation: When I end the chaotic relationships in my life and experience peace, I get pulled back into them leaving me in a roller-coaster that offers no lasting peace.

We hold opposing wishes. With this condition we remove our wish-fulfillment potential as soon as the desire is formed.

Example: I want honest relationships. Opposing wish: I want to feel safe and stable so I continue the relationships I have even when something in me feels there is dishonesty.

We don't notice when the wish is granted. We are so busy with the next thing we want, we do not live peacefully and in gratitude of what we have. We often already have much of what we want, we are not in touch with it or giving it our attention.

Example: I will be happy when I buy a new car. Reality: I am not happy for long and so I wish for the next thing I think will make me happy.

This week I am focusing on writing a business plan for the year(s) ahead. With this big project, I need clarity of purpose and a deep honesty about my commitment to what I am doing, meaning I need to know how I will put my actions behind my intentions and words. As I have been thinking and writing, my email inbox has been delivering me messages of support and guidance, helping me with my process. I could have discarded some of them as "extra" emails that I don't have time for. Wouldn't that have been unfortunate?

Ask and you shall receive.