self reflection

What Defines You?

My journey from defining myself as a sad person to a creative and natural-born leader has been an amazing adventure.

The experience hasn't been easy and it hasn't been fast. Thankfully so, because I would have missed so much if it had been a condensed, abbreviated version of finding the real ME within, and then taking her out to play in the world! The longer, slower, more conscientious journey has offered miraculous gifts. I treasure these gifts daily.

Perhaps this is why I love my work so much. I love being a witness and a guide as others willingly sit with their difficult emotional states, their confusion and any resistance. I love holding sacred space between us, where it is safe to explore the sometimes painful truths of life. I love to be the strong, consistent voice of love, echoing again and again, it's okay, it's all okay. You are so much more than this confusion, this pain or this struggle. Believe me, I know. I know because I discovered that I am so much more than the sadness that defined me. Stay with me. You will discover more too.

The gifts I treasure today, bestowed from within, as I journeyed deeply into my inner world and found more than sadness include:

* A sadness that dissolved into compassionate understanding of the pain of humanity

* An inner strength that was carved from the emotional fortitude of bearing a profound sadness about life

* An infinite hopefulness in the face of any discouragement as I learned to commit to Self

Exquisite relationships that resonate the truth of mutual interest and respect

* Meaningful work that calls on me to serve in ways that cause me to feel profoundly fulfilled

* An inner peace that I connect with regularly, reminding me that I am infinitely more than any passing challenge

* Creative energy that continues to surge in new and exciting ways as I act on my inner guidance.

What is defining me these days is compassionate understanding, emotional fortitude, infinite hopefulness, Exquisite relationships, Meaningful work, inner peace, and Creative energy.

That's quite a shift after 30 something years of letting myself be defined by my sadness. Join me. Discover your self-definition that brings joy to your life every day. Don't wait another moment.

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.

Laurel's Monday Message 2-13-12

Today's Monday message is about love! Click here and consider self-love.

Emotions 101

How about a quick lesson in emotion "management"? Think of emotion as vital energy that fuels your life. When you are experiencing smooth flowing emotion, your life is running superbly. When the emotion is flowing fully, you are empowered with great force. When you are cultivating positive and healthy emotion, you feel empowered to direct your life well.

Some Details.

When we resist emotions (commonly anger and sadness), we set up blocks within us as a way to manage the emotion that remains within, rather than the emotion flowing out of us. We unconsciously use energy to keep the emotion contained, or to keep it compartmentalized, or to not fully feel the feelings that accompany the emotion. This is tiring, exhausting when this is habitual. Those inner walls that contain the emotion within us, keep us blocked from other aspects of life, simply as a byproduct of "I can't go there". "There" is more that you realize.

When we experience emotion fully, in a healthy way, we feel the feelings fully, we physically respond by raging when angry, crying when sad, trembling when fearful. We do not hurt others when we are expressing this emotion, instead we learn to let it flow and find appropriate ways to discharge the energy. This can range from taking a jog, to hitting a punching bag to journaling or even dancing (the urge to dance around when we are happy!). The idea though is to move the energy.

As the emotional energy moves and we can think clearly again (clear thought is impossible with inner intense emotion), we re-consider the event that caused the emotion and how we responded to it. How A (the event) brought about B (the emotion). Now is the time to understand yourself more. What caused the anger and what do you need to change? What caused the sadness and what does this teach you about yourself? What brought up the fear and what does this inform you about how you feel insecure? What brought on the guilt and what could this mean about your behavior, your history or your inner life?

When you can honestly answer these kinds of questions in response to the emotional experience, you can put your emotion to good use by using it as fuel to organize your life in a way that reflects who you are and what you value. For instance, if your friend brought up enormous anger in you when she ditched you for a date - yet again, it's time to reconsider the friendship and the place it has in your life. Once that "friend" is in or out of your life in the proper place (this is up to you to take care of) then you will not be stuck in the anger. You can forgive and move on.

This theory is simple and it works. Sometimes it's the putting it into practice that does not always feel easy. But that's what we are here for - to develop our skills as humans, to navigate the waters of emotion and to learn to sail the seas!

I would love to hear follow-up questions from anyone struggling with learning to use their emotions efficiently. Let me know what else I might be able to share that could help :)

Laurel's Monday Message 1-30-12

Are you feeling like the powerful creator of your life? Do you feel satisfied with life as you look about you? Are you feeling motivated to make changes? What keeps you from making changes that you deeply desire? Maybe you're feeling ready for a next step after last week's message. Last week's message was to remind yourself that you can begin to recreate your life by saying inside, "I am the powerful creator of my life". It may feel like it's time, as you look at your life, to begin taking inventory. What's working - what's not? The most important attitude you can cultivate with this step is a kind and gentle attitude. Taking our time to consciously craft our lives is like an art project. Allowing the process to develop one stage at time, growing it from a creative place that takes each modification into account, proceeding slowly is prudent. This is not a race, it's important crafting that is worth all the attention and love that you can give it. Click here for today's Monday Message.

How Can I Help You?

Hello Blog Reader-Follower, Today as I muse about my future endeavors and what I plan to create in the world, I am inspired to ask you –

• What will help you? • What are you doing that you need support in? • How can I be of service in my sharing, both writing and "videoing"? • How is your life challenging you? • What are you finding difficult to deal with? • What kind of life skills are you working to develop? • What life skills do believe you lack, but want?

In case you didn’t know this about me, I want to help ☺ I hope to support you in creating a life that you wake up to each day and say – Yes! Through creating a life I love and enjoy daily, my deep desire has become to share the skills of how to make this happen with anyone who wants them. So, how may I help?

Please take a moment, take a breath, and post a comment here at the blog or email me at laurelhollandh@gmail.com, and let me know – How can I help you? I so want to know.

Relationship Growth and 2012

Here we are in a new era of relationship awareness and growth. Spending time talking with clients about what they want in relationships, what feels uncomfortable and individual patterns that they want to change are topics of importance to everyone I encounter. The quality of our lives is deeply impacted by the condition of our primary relationships, so it seems natural that giving good attention and finding understanding about how we are living in our relationships is key to life satisfaction and fulfillment. In fact the more we evolve and learn about our humanity, we are discovering that relationships are at the heart of our personal fulfillment. Unfortunately, we often feel frustrated and blocked in our relationships and the patterns of interacting and communicating currently established. To push for change may mean that we risk ending important relationships. We avoid change when we fear others will not do the work of self-reflection and acceptance that is required as we sort through the history of our patterns and behaviors, working to develop more effective and supportive ways of approaching our intimate interactions. Indeed it can be a risky proposition to confront unhealthy patterns that we no longer wish to live within but are perpetuated by our inability or unwillingness to address them. In order to find true inner peace, eventually we need to get to the business of addressing and confronting the difficult.

The good news is that with new skills, addressing difficult and sometimes threatening-feeling topics can be – not so bad. We often make drama and extreme scenarios the reality in our minds because of our fear and because of our inability with how to proceed. The new era I refer to is the era of learning the skill of navigating relationships well. Risking the relationship for new beginnings, for more happiness and fulfillment, for inner integrity and honesty by speaking up and learning how to work through whatever issues keep you feeling dissatisfied with your current life circumstances when it comes to relationships - these are skills that I love to share. Finding new life in relationships means confronting what limits us from within, looking at how we might be keeping ourselves, and essentially others, stuck in places we do not want to be.

What limits us from within are the beliefs and patterns we hold onto. We hold onto unhealthy patterns for many reasons, some of which include - because we don’t know what else to do - or because we fear loss or being alone - or we because we avoid confrontation and rejection - or because we are immobilized by others patterns that overpower or minimize what is important to us. We can turn all these patterns around, we can learn new skills, trusting that our inner world wants our attention and communicates to us through any inner distress. The beginning of change and growth is our willingness to risk taking the first step. Often this means we identify and state what we really want, wanting something healthier than the safety of what we already know.

I invite you to listen to a four-part interview that I recorded with Kinlen Wheeler, co-founder of Sacred Pathways. Kinlen shares how she navigates change in her relationship and risks the known for a deeper and more authentic expression of herself in her primary relationship. She shares the tension of taking responsibility of fulfilling inner needs, breaking down old patterns to establish a sense of new life and authenticity in relationship, and turning inward to become clear about personal fears and needs. It is a provocative and compelling sharing that I hope will inspire others to risk looking inward at the truth of what we co-create in our relationships. Click here to access Part I. You will find all four parts of the interview on my YouTube Channel.

Watching these short videos is a great way to start 2012, focusing on the possibility of what life might look like as we awaken to the power of our individual consciousness. Be a part of creating the new world that is arising in 2012 by taking a risk, challenging the status quo. We are the new Earth when we think and behave with true integrity.

My First Monday Video Message

One of my goals is to inspire and motivate you, and those with whom you connect, to take a risk and look within, especially at whatever is troubling you. Through giving yourself the time, attention and love it takes to heal any inner troubles, your self-investment reaps huge dividends. The dividends come in the form of feelings - no longer feeling troubled, but rather feeling proud about the choices you make, feeling empowered by your inner authentic strength, and feeling excited to create from your heart. When you feel this way you become a part of creating a world in which each of us lives our highest good. Each Monday I will be posting a short video on YouTube to keep your motivation in motion for continuing on your healing path. Click here to go to today's message. And please, pass the link on to anyone you know who might benefit from my message!

Learn How To Use Your Built-In Navigation System. It's 2012 - it's time!

This is my theme for 2012. After twenty-five years of in-depth self-reflection and healing, what I feel confident to say is that your inner world can guide you into a state of peace and joy. The mystery becomes how to move beyond any inner "mess" to discover that inner place of beauty. Finding this inner stillness means a new life - one that you dream about and wish for, but perhaps do not know how to cultivate. Here are my suggestions for heading toward the "good" life:

* Make space in your days to address whatever is troubling you in your life. As long as you accept the status quo, that's what you will continue to create. The moment you make a decision to feel better, the universe will begin to organize on your behalf. * Be willing to slog through some difficult times in order to move the mess out of the way. Until you really move the mess out, you'll just keep putting it in different places for it to pop up and undo what you are trying to achieve. * Get help! Join forces with others who want a truly content life. Find like-minded people who will encourage, support and challenge you to become who you feel you are deep inside. Let old friendships fade away if they are causing negativity and stress in your life - no one benefits from these kind of connections. * Expect to remain human, with all the ups and downs and truths about what it means to be an embodied soul.(Really - some of us think it's just going to become all sugar and spice) Being in human form means we will have human struggles and pains of growing into fullness. But we don't need to suffer to do this. That's the difference. * Stop watching so much television or any other screen activity that causes you to go numb to your consciousness. Stop watching things and listening to things that cause fear thinking. Stop focusing on fearful thoughts and ideas. What you give your attention to grows. Guard your mind with all your heart. Only you can make this change - and believe me - it is a powerful one!

When you read my postings this year, I want to inspire you to use your built-in navigation system efficiently and effectively. The messages that you are receiving moment-to-moment from your physical body, from your emotional state, from your mental process and from the intuitive/heartfelt space within (yes, the spiritual) are the energies that are critical to understand and then learn how to respond to. Any distress you experience is your inner being attempting to get your attention and listen to your inner wisdom - and then change your behavior in some vitally important way. I hope this is the year you listen and respond. The world is ready to support all that you desire when you lead with your inner center of stillness.