Monday, November 21, 2011

Love is a wrecking ball?

"Love is the wrecking ball that is pulverizing every relationship of record that isn't wide enough or brave enough to let real love in." -Daphne Rose Kingma

so...I put this quote on my facebook page (if you'd like to see the page search "Jenny Morrow, Marriage & Family Therapist" on the facebook site and you should be able to access it). Luckily I had an honest friend, thanks Richard, express confusion. It reminded me that this is in fact, quite confusing, especially to the mind. I felt a little like jello in my body as I thought about attempting to explain what I think it could mean. Jello, I think, because there was a sense of substance in my experiencing this quote, but a weakness and lack of structure as to how I make sense of this quote in my mind.

When I first read this quote it was a perfect heart/brain connection a knowing, or a remembering. I sat and read it three times, feeling it resonate inside, at which point it had naturally imprinted itself in my memory (not my strength to memorize anything) because it seemed to make perfect sense in my being. Now, attempting to explain it conceptually/cognitively for a mind translation seems like quite a task. However, I decided it'll be a good challenge for myself, and possibly meaningful for someone else, so here are some thoughts on what this quote means for me.

Here are the symptomatic things I see "destroying" relationships in my work:

- communication problems (inability to express feelings assertively...vulnerably from the heart, and set boundaries).
- "selfishness" (inability to understand a partner's emotional/physical needs, and/or inability to feel a desire to meet those needs and longings)
- addictions
- co-dependecy (expecting someone else to provide our sense of happiness, or us to provide theirs)
- turning to other people or things for a sense of "aliveness," or a filling of the void (affairs would be one example, but really it could be dependency on anything that creates imbalance to our essence...anger, depression, over or under anything...eating, sleeping, movie watching, etc)

The question then becomes: What do these things have to do with love? and how is love the wrecking ball? This is where it gets a little tricky for me to understand...and explain, but hang in here. Brent Baum, a trauma therapist who has worked with over 12,000 trauma survivors, says in his book, "Living as Light," this about healing our traumas...)

ps. here's my definition of trauma, esp. for those who believe they haven't experienced trauma: "ANYTHING we feel, think, believe, or do to ourselves or another that is not in line with our deepest essence...pure love and light. Trauma may also be triggered in us by something someone else feels, think, believes, or does to us not in connection with their deepest essence of pure love & light.

Okay, so here's Brent Baum:
"As we shine outward into the universe, we summon to ourselves others of like kind. If we carry the imprint of a traumatic event or indiviudual within our field UNRESOLVED, we radiate outward white light everywhere except in our field where we continue to hold the darkly-framed image of the specific abuse or deprivation. Outward into the universe we shine except where WE ARE USING OUR CREATIVE POWER to contain the pain and darkness of our trauma (Jenny's thought: we use our creative power to hold onto this shadow stuff because it becomes an ingredient from which we can create a grander representation of ourself, as we understand it and are able to heal, than we could have without it). This precise trauma profile, though subconsciously and automatically encoded, creates a 'dark spot' imprinted over our light core. As a result, a specific void, or vacuum, is created by this absence of light, sommoning every individual or event that fits this dark hold or profile in our field of consciousness.

This is the physics of consciousness. We SUMMON those very beings whose imprints we hold. if I carry unreolved abuse from an alcoholic or emotionally unavailable father, for instance, I will rapidly summon other individuals or systems that fit this profile on a subconscious level. the inherent magnetism created by this void feels perilously close ot the intense draw of love. Quite frequently, we cannot tell the difference. When our ninety-three percent subconscious mind holds traumatic imprints, we can CREATE an intense vacuum that will seek to fill itself. In creating from the void, we usually retraumatize ourselves. Until we correct or complete our subconsciously imprinted, trauma-based definitions of love, we will continue to manifest from the void. Such relationships will offer an OPPORTUNITY to mirror our unfinished 'business,' affording an OPPORTUNITY for personal and, perhaps, mutual healing, otherwise resulting in divergent paths when one individual heals the void when the other does not."

a few pages later...he explains,

As we begin to heal our traumas, "We begin to 'see' each other for who we really are without the baggage of the encoded trances" (he's talking about our traumas here). "Without these distortions, we are free to attract persons of like frequency who may be our real soul mates, versus the 'unconscious marriage' created by the dark polarities of our unfinished trauma scenes. The aggressive magnetism created by the latter is often mistaken for love, given the intensity of its pull. Our spirits may use such attractions to begin a healing process, but the marriage may turn out to be more about healing the past than authentic communication with each other in the present."

So...lets do the tying together. I believe love manifests in many ways. One way is through its (love's) encouraging of our own soul to evolve. If we are experiencing(whether in a family, friend, or romantic relationship) the magnetic pull of another's void (if we are feeling the pull of another's void, WE'VE also got a void where there's a trauma to resolve), love (our own soul's longing to experience & evolve) is what allows us to follow the magnetic pull into a relationship (however "unhealthy"). Love (again, our own soul's longing to experience & evolve) also becomes the wrecking ball that pulverizes the relationship (with any of the "symptoms" listed earlier), when the learning, healing, growth and evolution now requires the ending or shifting of the relationship, from which we can gain insight, understanding, and experience that helps us to better understand ourself and what blocks us from further evolution, or what blocks us from being able to love in a more real, authentic way...rather than simply "loving" (in a limited way) from our "natural man" space. Now, if both people in the relationship are able to become mindful and aware of their voids, what created the magnet, work through things, etc., than we are able to open up our ability to love & connect authentically, thereby not needing love to pulverize the relationship, because it's becoming big enough and wide enough to let real love in (the relationship cont. to be the the place of most growth and evolution in our opportunity to learn about and express 'real' love).

Wow, so I don't know if this is helpful or creates more confusion. I realize the paragraph above contains more than one run-on sentence, and I now feel more confused than ever :) Yet, somewhere inside it still seems to make sense. I watched "The River Why" a couple weeks ago and in this fly-fishing/philosophical film, the main character ends by saying...paraphrased...'we can't write about love. It doesn't mean we shouldn't stop trying, but love is like a river. Damn it and it becomes a lake, put it in a bucket and it's no longer a river. Just as a river can't be captured, neither can love, when we try it's no longer love. Love is like a river, ever flowing between two banks shifting and changing as it goes.'

And so, live, love, fear. We don't even need to analyze whether our experiences are coming from authentic, true, love or our trauma voids...that will become evident as we move along, and when it does we can use whatever evidences it to us (even if it's a pulverized relationship) to learn and grow and come back to our original self, pure love & light.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Power of the Brain

The brain is estimated to have approximately 100 billion neurons. These neurons form a neuronet (kind of like a web), where neurons are interconnected and attach to one another. The basic idea is that neurons that fire together, wire together.

According to neuropsychologist, Dr. Rick Hansen, "The number of possible combinations of 100 billion neurons firing or not is approximately 10 to the millioneth power, or 1 followed by a million zeros, in principle; this is the number of possible states of your brain. To put this quantity in perspective, the number of atoms in the universe is estimated to be "only" about 10 to the eightieth power." Ok, so I don't know if this strikes you, if not re-read, if still not then re-read it after you've read the rest of this post, if still not then come back one day and read again and see if connects more for you. Understanding of this seems to come in layers as we practice increasing our awareness of the experiencing of new brain states, including learning new ideas, thinking new thoughts, visualizing new images, and feeling new emotions. The possibilities and potential for what we can experience is mind boggling, in fact, the possibilities are more numerous than are the atoms in the universe!!

I spoke to some junior high students yesterday about the brain and change. It got me thinking about the power of the brain, and the possibility of change. One of the students asked, "Someone once told me that we use only 10% of our brain, is that true?" I have no idea what percentage of our brain we "use," but one thing that brain science tells us (as can be seen in the quote above) is that we have only tapped into a very small percentage of our brain's power.

So, what does this mean for change? The brain is considered "neuroplastic" which means it can change. Neurons that no longer fire together, no longer wire together. They break their long term relationship. While changing a brain that has become "hard wired" may mean a fair amount of effort, it can be done. We can break old connections and access new brain states, allowing us to then create new neuro pathways. If you imagine standing at the top of a hill and day after day, week after week pouring buckets of water down the hill in the same spot it would begin to form a rut in the ground. This is similar to how it works in the brain for most of us. We follow the same neuro pathways day after day, in fact, they become so ingrained we often believe they are our identity. The connection of the pathway gets stronger and stronger (or in the water metaphor the rut gets deeper and deeper).

While these connections become strong, they can still be broken and new pathways formed. Everytime we interrupt the "old" thought, emotional, or behavioral pattern we begin to break old connections. There are a variety of things that can help us to do this, and in the beginning it can be quite tricky as we may not even be aware that what we've always assumed to be, may not actually be so. When this happens we don't even know that there's a neural pathway to be interrupted, what we do know is we feel stuck. For this reason it is invaluable to reach out to the resources that can help us. For me and my clients the resources have included:
- readings
- therapy/healing work
- meditation
- prayer
- connection with certain things such as nature, art, dance, music, etc.
- trusted friends, family, mentors, religious leaders & teachers (they need to be emotionally safe connections, though the unsafe ones can still be helpful in our learning)
- and so on...the list is not inclusive but includes some of the most common resources.

May you continue to access new experiences, greater freedom, and less stuckness in your quest to maximize your brain potential!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Betrayal of the Authentic Self

"The need to be normal is the predominant anxiety disorder in modern life." -Thomas Moore

I had a client today who expressed his experience in our last therapy session. He explained that he had been describing something to me that he very much wanted me to understand. He had felt that I wasn't understanding and so he began to get frustrated, panick, and raise his voice. He explained, (paraphrased) "when I realized I was reacting this way, I thought that this is how I usually respond when I feel misunderstood. At this point I began to feel badly about myself, and I felt shame and embarassment the rest of the session."

As we explored the patterns and the process of this experience, he talked about what it was like for him to feel misunderstood. He illustrated with a visual: "When I feel misunderstood it is as if there is a mass of people coming towards me. As they get to where I am I begin to try to keep up with them, to keep their pace. I fear that if I don't, they will run me over." "So the fear is death, or at least getting a good squash?" I questioned. "I guess so," he replied, "and then I feel that my true self is back where it originally stood, now an empty shell and there's nothing within it to hold it together."

Feeling misunderstood is not what creates the great distress. Abandoning our truth, our authentic self (or at least doubting our truth or our ability to know our truth) is the great betrayal, and when it happens we are left with the feeling of an empty shell, in which pain we often experience doubts and blame which are frequently turned inward (this is where we begin to experience the shame).

Being true to ourself when we feel misunderstood is difficult in a world that so rarely is emotionally safe. If we do express that we feel misunderstood, we are often met with defensiveness, annoyance, frustration, etc. of another. This is hugely frightening and invalidating, and is one of the reasons I so appreciated my client's visual (the fear of getting RUN OVER by the mass). we continue to practice being true to our intuition, our gut, the spirit, our higher power, may we first accept the reasons we often abandon our truth. In doing this, we can offer ourselves understanding: "no wonder I sometimes abandon my truth...there is a fear of emotional death or at least being emotionally injured."

I studied business, marketing for my first college degree. When I finished school I began working. I ended up having seven jobs my first year out of college. I'd get a job...feel disconnected from my work and quit, then get another. People in my life began to worry about me, I began to worry about me. The messages I received (from others and my own mind) were things like:
-"you know, work's just work. You can't expect it to be perfect."
-"you've got the personality for this, if you quit you're not going to find something you like more."
-"maybe the problem is that you like to play too much."

...and so on. I felt the strong sense to continue searching for my line of work was misunderstood (even by my own self). Most of the messages reflected the idea that something was "wrong" with me, that feeling disconnected from my work, and the push to continue searching had to do with some problem, or defect, I had. and, for a good year I bought into these messages to a large degree. Often feeling self-doubt, and wondering what was wrong with me.

Discerning between our personal truths and mission, and our "mortal" desires- including the desire to be understood and normal (or abnormal...same plane, different angle), which are manifested in unbridled emotions and behaviors that don't connect us with our higher self, is a lifelong practice for most of us. As we practice attunement with our physical & emotional bodies we can better read the messages coming from our authentic self, allowing us greater courage to give up the need to be normal (to whatever we are accultured to), and instead rest within greater connectedness to our original self.

Best wishes to us all in our practicing!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Who We Are.

According to Buddhist psychology, pain is inevitable. While inhabiting a human body we will experience a continuous ebb & flow of pleasure & pain, gain & loss. It is a part of our world experience. Suffering on the other hand is different from pain (suffering is our reaction to the inevitable pain). The thought continues that the cause of suffering is grasping (more on this one day). Grasping gives birth to aversion and delusion, and from these arise all the other unhealthy states such as jealousy, anxiety, hatred, addiction, depression, shamelessness, etc. So (I'm trying to connect this, but hope it's not getting too on...).

There are a variety of delusions we get stuck in, but the deepest delusion of all is forgetting who we ARE (not who we want to be or where we want to go, but who we ALREADY ARE).

Parley P. Pratt said, "[Man] sees in part, and he knows in part; but never while tabernacled in mortal flesh will he fully awaken to the intelligence of his former estate. It surpasses his comprehension, is unspeakable and even unlawful to be uttered."

As we awaken (slowly and in layers) to our true identity we find it to be familiar. When we touch & accept the truths of who we are we feel the body vibrate in connection with it. Here are some of the descriptions my clients (my fellow travelers) use when they have a moment of awakening to their truth (the core of their reality, under the chaos, pain, pride...etc)

-an opening in my chest
-like someone just turned the light on in my mind
-warmth moving up and down the body
-I feel like crying
-tension just left my body

How does your body respond when you have a moment of remembering. Remembering your goodness, your compassionate dreams & desires, your love of self or others?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Difference Between Shame & Guilt

In our society we tend to use these words interchangeably, and perhaps it doesn't matter the words we decide to use. But, it is hugely important to understand the difference between the two types of experiences we may feel after committing an offense (hurting ourself or another/others). Here are the definitions of shame and guilt from the


1. the fact or state of having committed an offense, crime, violation, or wrong, esp. against moral or penal law; culpability: He admitted his guilt.
2. a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined.
3. conduct involving the commission of such crimes, wrongs, etc


1. the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another: She was overcome with shame.
2. disgrace; ignominy:
3. a fact or circumstance bringing disgrace or regret: –verb (used with object)
4. to cause to feel shame; make ashamed: His cowardice shamed him.
5. to drive, force, etc., through shame: He shamed her into going.
6. to cover with ignominy or reproach; disgrace.
7. for shame! you should feel ashamed!: What a thing to say to your mother! For shame!

My interpretation & summary of these two words:
Guilt is the recognition of harm our destructive actions, thoughts, etc. created. It is taking responsibility for which part is ours (this alone can take some work to figure out). Guilt can motivate us to make recompense for our wrongs (to whatever level is possible). Shame on the other hand is tying our identity into those actions as though we are our actions or behaviors.

Shame is a natural, normal, mortal response when we recognize or choose to do something that is harmful or destructive. However, carrying shame (rather than awareness of it, checking it, and releasing it) is the great fuel that feeds our addictions and coping mechanisms. It is the great fuel to stuckness. It literally drives any addiction (and my belief is that at some point in our lives we all deal with addictions-something we habitually go to in order to cope, our addictions may include reactions & secondary emotions (depression, anger, etc.). Shame comes from a place of untruth, and when we carry it we are carrying something untrue about ourselves or another, because the truth is...we are not our behaviors (watch for an upcoming post on identity).

I was out hiking with a friend last week and we were discussing something that was distressful for her. Through exploration and processing, we got down to the deeper levels and found where the shame was being held. At the end of the conversation she said, "wow, that's a tough idea to get your head around. I feel like it could take some work and time to really understand that." and she was so right! We carry shame in ways we don't even realize. It has often become part of our constructs and the way we see ourselves and the world around us. I've realized in my own journey that shame is stripped off in layers. It takes time, work, awareness, and usually the help of someone else (at least it has in my life). I have people in my life that I can call when I become aware of a piece of shame that I don't know what to do with. I may cognitively know that shame comes from an untrue place, but often I don't know how to "feel" differently about it.

People are often carry shame with the thought that it will help motivate them, but this also is an untruth. Shame is NEVER motivating, it is paralyzing!! Healthy, true guilt and taking responsibility can be helpful, but the shame part, no, never helpful! This part of our mortal journey (finding and stripping away shame, while holding more truth about our identity) is one of the most difficult, as well as one of the most rewarding. Everytime we find and are able to release some degree of shame we are filled with greater truth and greater light.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Addiction to unpleasant emotional states?

We have learned more about the brain in the last 15-20 years than in all previous years combined! Technology now allows us to scan and study the brain in a way most of us never imagined (luckily a few people imagined it, and then made it possible...thanks!), and this "new" brain research has opened up the realm of understanding around addiction. What's interesting is that very similar things are going on in the brain of someone who has panic attacks, OCD, addiction to drugs, pornography, etc. Now, this isn't to say that each drug is alike. For example, there are different consequences (physical, social, etc.) of addiction to anxiety vs. addiction to alcohol. Nevertheless, in addiction the brain is using each drug for a similar purpose. Our coping mechanisms (including addictions) are strategies used to deal with suffering, discomfort, fear, abandonment and pain.

Much of what happens when the cravings for our drug, or for our coping mechanisms, pop up is subconscious and pre-conscious. Clients will sometimes come in and say something like, "I had a lapse this last week," or "I experienced some days of depression." They may then describe their confusion..."I don't know what happened. It was a good day and then suddenly"....whatever they struggle with hit them. Clients begin to experience greater healing as they increase their awareness of what's going on underneath the cravings, triggers, and emotional overwhelm (these things don't come from nowhere).

While our addictions, including our addictions to emotions, change our brain and create "sickness" (meaning our physcial brain can't function the same way it would if it were healthy) there is hope for change and healing and joy. The brain is considered neuroplastic which means it can change. And it does. I have people say to me things like, "you work with addictions? That must be hard, I hear there's not much change in that line of work." Wrong! I see change in my office everyday. Healing the brain is not a fast fix experience, but it is one of the most rewarding, joyful, sacred experiences we each can go through in our life.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


"You, the richest person in the world, have been laboring and struggling endlessly, not understnading that you already possess all that you seek." _The Lotus Sutra

So, if this is true, which I believe it is. Why do we sometimes feel so stuck, so at a loss for how to get out of the anger, the depression, the unhealthy relationship, the anxiety...etc. While I believe we all have our answers within us, I also believe that those answers get covered up by pain, self-criticism, distractions, unawareness, and simple unknowing.

One of the things that can help us to find answers is our body. Friedrich Nietzsche said, "There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophies."

The practice: Begin noticing your gut, quite literally...begin noticing your stomach area. Start by taking 1 min. each day this week to simply breath, close your eyes, let go of thoughts, and just notice the stomach. As you breath, notice its movement. Notice any tightness or looseness, notice any parts of the stomach that feel heavy or light. If there is any tightness, any spots of heaviness, if it feels blah or grayish (and you don't have the flu) ask yourself, "what am I believing or thinking about myself in this moment." What I have found is that the gut always communicates to us when we're believing something untrue about ourself. For example, I forget to call a friend back, I remember the next week and think, "Ah, I'm a bad friend." This is an untrue belief because even though I didn't remember to call my friend, and even though I may have hurt her feelings, I'm not a bad friend. My gut would tighten up if I were carrying this belief or thought. As you take time to practice moments of concentrated effort in this you may begin to notice your stomach speaking more often, not because it wasn't speaking before, but because you were unaware. I will talk more about body work in future posts, as the body is one of the best ways to better understand ourself.