March 24, 2015

How Meditation Saved My Life When Nothing Else Could


This week, we wrap our series with the fabulous Zoë Wild, Spiritual Life & Business Coach, and spectacular woman. This week, she shares with us her own personal story.

And this also marks the 200th post for the Return to Your Genuine Self blog -- kinda exciting!!!

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Almost a decade ago, while living in LA and working in the film industry, I experienced a complete emotional and physical breakdown. I couldn’t stop crying, couldn’t get out of bed, couldn’t sleep for weeks on end, or talk without pain.  I couldn’t work, see my friends, or leave my tiny studio apartment. I was overwhelmed and exhausted from a lifetime of knowing there was more but not knowing what, seeking for true meaning in every corner of life, simultaneous high and low self worth, intermittent depression, anger and pain about the state of the world and the things I had witnessed and been through. I felt as if I had tried everything to quell the longing in my soul and overcome the trauma and nothing was working.

I gave myself a year to live.  Therapy, career changes, worldly success, relationships, sex, travel, self-help books, making myself beautiful-- all had done nothing to sustainably shift the deep ache I felt inside.

I told myself I would try everything that I had always wanted to and never had and if, at the end of that year, nothing had changed, I would end my life.

One of the things on that list was meditation.

Every day, I would crawl to the end of my bed to follow the instructions in a book a friend had given me.  I took to the practice like a fish to water.  The techniques for using my own direct experience to explore the true nature of being alive were the first thing that ever really made sense to me. Finally, someone was starting at the foundation– and asking me to look for myself rather than telling me what to see.

Very quickly, I realized that I was not my mind, emotions, or body.  What I am revealed itself to be something much more profound, and yet so ordinary, something that had always been there and yet I
had missed it in the hustle of daily life and lack of instruction. It was the source of the longing I had felt, calling me back from the insanity of the world, reminding me of what we are and how to live in harmony.  By returning to it, the door I had been looking for in healing and in my life was opened.

I made some inquiries, saved up some money, and moved to Burma-- a country I didn’t even know existed beforehand, to live in a monastery.

I can still see the bright sun on the stone walls, the tall tropical trees out of an exotic adventure novel, and feel the impact on my heart of the smiling faces and openness of the villagers, full of a simple joy I had never before experienced.

I went to that monastery not to become enlightened, discover God, or learn supernatural abilities.  I was there to find a reason to live.  I wanted to know if there was any rhyme or reason in this universe, lasting peace to be found in my heart, a way out of the overwhelm, pressure, intrusive thoughts, painful memories, self-criticism, bad habits, relationship patterns and hopelessness about the state of the world that were so pervasive in my experience.

What I got was so much more.  Within three months, everywhere I looked, I saw only the miracle that is life.  I had no desire to be anywhere other than this moment, open and curious about what was.  Through practice, the layers of limiting perspective I had accumulated over the years dissolved, allowing a fresh experience of even the most minute details of life to emerge.  Everything appeared the same on the outside, and yet I experienced it completely differently internally. The transformation from separation to unity was so complete that I didn’t even consciously notice it had happened for some time.

Through meditation I discovered the true nature of my being – beyond thoughts, emotions, physicality, and perceptions. The way the mind works, and how to use it as a magnificent tool, rather than have it run me. The nature of emotions – how to experience and allow that energy to transmute and express in helpful rather than destructive ways. A profound connection with all of creation.  Gifts and abilities I could share with the world.  A wealth of joy and creativity I had no idea lived within me.  An immovable place of peace in the center of my being.  The beauty of the world.  Freedom from my inner state being tied to outer circumstance or any idea of identity.  The true, alive meaning of Love.  I healed my relationships with my family. I became so kind to myself and others.  I was healed.

What do I mean by healed?

The experiences of the past don’t create my present.  They are not forgotten, but they are integrated and not a part of my daily repertoire.  I truly love and accept myself.  To me, this means I allow and experience all of my emotions and thoughts without making them mean something about me or my worth. I don’t feel controlled by my thoughts.  I have a wonderful relationship with my body, and the physical ailments I was suffering from at that time went away.  I feel in communication with my body, mind, heart and soul – and I am committed to following my inner guidance.  When I have conflict, I know how to deal with it and use it for my growth.  I am more often relaxed and peaceful than stressed or anxious.  I am free to define myself in each moment as it comes rather than based on the past. 

Meditation is a vehicle (sometimes an extreme sport!) for examining what it is to be alive that continues to take me on an incredible adventure and revelation of the secrets of what this life is.

Is my life perfect? My definition of perfection has changed.  Do I have hard days?  Of course!  I am human.  Life doesn’t stop having a huge range of experience, nor would I want it to – but the understanding of the whole picture, and the approach to the ups and downs is entirely different.

When I returned to the US, I saw so many people suffering simply from not having access to the simple yet profound teachings that I had been given.  I also saw that most people did not have the freedom in their lives to get up and go off for several years, as I had – even if they were in as much despair as I had been.

I was shocked to see how differently most meditation was taught here.  It had become attached to a specific lifestyle that led to ideas of superiority rather than humility and connection.  People were spending more time reading and writing books about it than actually practicing it.  Worse, people didn’t seem able to bring the peace they found on the cushion to their actual daily life.

I longed for other people to be able to experience the immense transformation and freedom from so much suffering that I had been blessed with.  That is why I created www.WildMeditation.com.

Wild Meditation is meditation anyone can do in any activity of life. It’s a group course because that is how it has been taught for thousands of years. It is so much easier to stay committed when you have companions on the journey. It is pay-what-you-can because I believe this tool is your human birthright.

Sharing these teachings is the way I can say thank you to the universe for all the benefits I have received.

Whether you learn meditation from me or someone else, I urge you to try it.  May it be the key for you that it was for me, and open up the door to the healing you are seeking…and so much more.

With Love,
Zoë


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Zoë Wild, CPCC wants to live in a world where every single person knows their essential, liberated nature – where the truth of each unique soul is fully and freely expressed, so we can play and explore life in radiant compassion and electric freedom, together.

As a Buddhist Nun, Interfaith Minister and Spiritual Life & Business Coach she has spent thousands of hours in personal retreat and worked with thousands of people on their own spiritual unfolding for life success. She is a beloved spiritual community leader known for her grounded, no BS approach and unshakeable love.

When she’s not bringing people to their knees in awe of themselves or exploring the deepest questions of life with her community -- you can find Zoë hiking the red rocks, riding horses, and learning to sing.

Her book The Little Book of Being is scheduled to be complete by summer 2015.

You are so much more than you know. Liberate yourself at www.zoewild.com

March 10, 2015

Reconnecting to Spirituality After Life Treats You Like Sh*t


This week, we continue our series with the fabulous Zoë Wild, Spiritual Life & Business Coach, and spectacular woman. This week, she shares with us some keys to creating a spiritual life even if we've been through hell.

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For people who have experienced trauma, the idea of connecting to any sort of “spirituality” can feel like a bunch of BS.

How and why should you trust in the basic goodness of the universe after what has happened?  Sure, it’s easy to believe everything happens for a reason and there is some sort of benevolent design to this mysterious unfolding of life when everything is coming up roses – NOT when you’ve been abused, traumatized, and experienced devastation, pain and injustice.  

Yet, it is when we are feeling at our most low, abandoned and meaningless - that spirituality can be the very thing that returns us to wholeness and belonging.

So, how can you build trust in life again, or for the first time?




1. Shift your understanding of what “spirituality” really is.
True spirituality is not a religion or a set of beliefs – spirituality is the practice of re-connecting to your own center or “spirit” – the unique and universal life within you that is unseen, the alive Consciousness that is experiencing and processing your life. Your Being.  Your Soul.  Whatever you want to call it, it is perhaps the only part of you that the trauma isn’t able to damage. Trauma can impact your connection to the transcendent, but it can’t actually harm it.   

When you see this as what spirituality really is – reconnecting to your essential self – you can see the importance of turning to it rather than abandoning it.  This is also the part of you that most clearly knows your personal path to healing and is waiting to guide you home. 


2. Allow yourself to try ancient shamanic methods of healing.
Western medicine has a lot of ideas about how to heal from trauma – but the truth is, these techniques are very new, even experimental, and often don’t reach the deepest injuries in our being.  Treatments like pharmaceuticals can often serve to simply numb symptoms.  Many people stay in therapy for years with limited results, and end up blaming themselves.

A shaman or medicine person in ancient cultures was someone who could transform stuck energy through their knowledge of the human spirit.  The techniques they used are based on heart wisdom rather than head wisdom.  These methods may seem far from practical or rational, but have a way of bypassing the mental traffic in order to reconnect you to your body and soul.  Veterans I work with go to ceremonies that release and integrate what all else could not.  When you allow the possibility for more than meets the eye, healing becomes possible.

"In many shamanic societies, if you came to a shaman or medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions. When did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop being enchanted by stories? When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence?...Dancing, singing, storytelling, and silence are the four universal healing salves." ~ Gabrielle Roth


3. Return to Nature. 
There is an ancient Sufi teaching that the only truly spiritual text is the Sacred Manuscript of Nature.  Humans are a part of nature, an equal part – no more, no less – in this great cosmic ecosystem.  Remembering this is key to re-discovering a sense of belonging and connection in the world again.  Belonging is a key to healing.

Walk in the woods, lie in the grass, watch the seasons turn, let the earth hold you.  Reconnect to the mystery of life, to wonder, to the beauty and vastness of the world.  A silent night spent out under the stars can do more to put things in perspective than reading 20 books about it.  Animals and plants know how to heal themselves instinctively, learn from their wisdom.  Everything you need to know about life can be revealed to you if you are willing to become an innocent in the natural world.


4. Learn to Meditate

Meditation is the art of learning to observe what is happening without identifying with it so that you can see ever deeper levels of reality.  When you have experienced trauma, it is common to re-traumatize yourself by playing it over and again in your mind.  Through meditation you can learn to observe it and let it play out in new ways so that you can finally release the need to keep re-experiencing it.  Meditation is also helpful because it creates a way for you to differentiate between the self-hating and limiting beliefs you have created, as a result of trauma, and what's really true.

Many people avoid meditation because they believe it is too difficult, or requires sitting silently for hours and eliminating all thoughts, which feels impossible.  There are many forms of meditation, and you can find the one that is right for you.  To learn more about meditation, you can watch this video. Or message me at wildlifecoaching@gmail.com about the next Learn to Meditate Online Class.
  

5. Find a spiritual coach or teacher who sees your deepest self. 
One of the greatest gifts of a sincere spiritual teacher is that they see the you underneath all the abuse that has happened to you. Before this happened, even if that was just when you were in the womb, you had a sense of self worth, a unique personality, likes and dislikes, and a purpose for this life.  That, and the even deeper universal self, is all they care about.  Simply by being around them, through their energy and vibration, it will awaken that memory in you.  Much like a musical instrument will harmonize with the vibration of others around it.  Additionally, they will have tools and wisdom to help you navigate your way back to forgiveness, meaning and self love.  This will allow you to live your life from a place of true freedom.  


6. Forgive Life. Forgive Yourself.
Life treated you horribly.  It feels unfair.  It feels unforgivable.  Yet, if you refuse to forgive you are only limiting your own life.  Forgiveness doesn’t mean saying that what happened was OK.  Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting.  Forgiveness is the courageous act of releasing the rage and resentment that you are holding in your system as a result of the trauma so that you can grow something else in that space of your heart.  Hanging onto these emotions is harming your body, mind, and spirit –holding you back from moving forward and making a meaningful life. Feel the feelings, allow them, they are your dear friends outraged on your behalf – let them speak their piece in healthy ways.  Then, let them go. When you forgive yourself and life, you can reconnect to your deepest spiritual knowing once again.  May it be so.


“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” ~ Elizabeth Kübler-Ross




Join us next week as we one more post from Zoë!

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Zoë Wild, CPCC wants to live in a world where every single person knows their essential, liberated nature – where the truth of each unique soul is fully and freely expressed, so we can play and explore life in radiant compassion and electric freedom, together.

As a Buddhist Nun, Interfaith Minister and Spiritual Life & Business Coach she has spent thousands of hours in personal retreat and worked with thousands of people on their own spiritual unfolding for life success. She is a beloved spiritual community leader known for her grounded, no BS approach and unshakeable love.

When she’s not bringing people to their knees in awe of themselves or exploring the deepest questions of life with her community -- you can find Zoë hiking the red rocks, riding horses, and learning to sing.

Her book The Little Book of Being is scheduled to be complete by summer 2015.

You are so much more than you know. Liberate yourself at www.zoewild.com

March 2, 2015

Don't Put Off Joy on Your Journey to Healing!

This week, I bring to you the fabulous Zoë Wild, Spiritual Life & Business Coach, and spectacular woman. We are in for a huge treat to have her sharing her spirit and teachings with us!

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Most people see the journey of healing from childhood trauma as a journey from A to B. 

Island A looks like this: you, broken, wounded and alone on a desert island.  You can’t find happiness; your past has a negative impact on every area of your life.  Your relationship to yourself and others is a constant struggle, an emotional roller-coaster.  You are miserable, unhealthy in body and mind, and you fear a happy life is simply not possible for you.  

Island B is a much sunnier place: full of kind faces and drinks with umbrellas.  You have fully healed and integrated your past.  You are in perfect health.  You are successful in your relationships, your work and you love your social life.  The best part is you love yourself and feel inner peace and joy almost all of the time – free to live the life you desire and deserve.  You can finally relax.

And to get from one to the other, you just need to follow the path of your “journey to healing” – therapy, coaching, spirituality, diet, exercise, forgiveness and whatever else, until you are there.  Right?  WRONG. 

The trip from A to B is not linear, nor is it overnight, and – once you arrive at island B – you discover a chain of islands that goes on into the horizon infinitely.  There is no such thing as “fully healed” because as a human being there is always room for more wholeness, peace, success, and contentment.  So, if you are waiting to arrive somewhere in order to relax and enjoy life, you will be waiting forever!

“That the abyss is bottomless is the bad news.  The good news is it must also be topless!” ~ David James Duncan

When you believe that joy is not possible until you are fully healed, you put it off forever and deprive yourself of the very practice that will facilitate the majority of your healing.

The journey of healing is about learning to enjoy life again.  Learning happens through practice – and that is something you can give yourself permission to start doing today, right now.  Here are a few tips on how to do that.

1.    Build your joy muscle by noticing and celebrating the little joys in your life each day; the big joys will come later. 

Each day there are things to be grateful for: even if it’s just waking up, eyesight, the ability to walk, a beautiful flower, call from a friend, relaxing bath, or a kind word from your boss or child.  Really notice and take in these moments of joy.  Breathe them into all the cells of your body.  Much trauma is stored in your body, not just your mind – so bring the new message of joy to your body as well.  Even if these moments only amount to 10% of your day – focus on that 10%.  What you turn your attention to begins to show up more in your life.  Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater by ignoring the joy available now.

2.    See Joy as an integral part of your recovery program, and commit to it. 

Practicing joy is as essential to your healing journey as seeing your therapist or attending meetings or changing your diet.  Does it matter how healthy you are if you don’t know how to enjoy it?  Also, joy has been proven to increase neurotransmitters in the brain that actually help you to create new neural pathways – ie. healing!  You can do this by the simple act of smiling.  Think of activities that bring you joy, and commit to a joy-date with yourself at least once per week, ideally once per day. You will be amazed at how much faster you heal.

3.     Surround yourself with people who make the journey worth it. 

This walk of life can be a doozy of ups and downs – good companions can make the whole thing worth it!  Choose your friends wisely.  Keep people around who bring you UP rather than bring you DOWN the majority of the time (everyone has bad days). You know the saying, misery loves company – well, so does joy!  If you surround yourself with people who make you laugh, feel loved, and experience happiness themselves, you will feel joyful.

4.    When you have a bad day – don’t compound it by beating yourself up – simply let it go.

It’s time to redefine lapses as just another step in the process rather than failure. When you have a bad day, yell at your kids, eat the whole pint of ice cream, take a drink – don’t make it worse by beating yourself up on top of that.  Be kind to yourself.  Forgive yourself.  Laugh if you can, and set the intention to do better next time.  Trust that you are headed in the right direction, and that this is not a block to your destination, but part of the path.

5.    Be present -- stop and smell the roses – take your eyes off the destination.

As someone who has recovered from complex trauma myself, I know that the healing process is a process that brings you alive.  You will explore your soul deeply, discover gifts of empathy and sensitivity that result from your experiences, a wealth of knowledge within, learn things, go places and meet people you never would have otherwise. So be here for your journey as if your soul chose this path intentionally for your own growth and in order to serve the world more deeply.  When you don’t feel like you “should” be at the destination, you are free to enjoy what’s actually happening now.


The truth is – the more you enjoy yourself along the journey of healing, the faster the ship starts to sail.  So, give yourself permission to feel joy NOW, in this moment, today.



Join us next week as we get even more awesomeness from Zoë!

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Zoë Wild, CPCC wants to live in a world where every single person knows their essential, liberated nature – where the truth of each unique soul is fully and freely expressed, so we can play and explore life in radiant compassion and electric freedom, together.

As a Buddhist Nun, Interfaith Minister and Spiritual Life & Business Coach she has spent thousands of hours in personal retreat and worked with thousands of people on their own spiritual unfolding for life success. She is a beloved spiritual community leader known for her grounded, no BS approach and unshakeable love.

When she’s not bringing people to their knees in awe of themselves or exploring the deepest questions of life with her community -- you can find Zoë hiking the red rocks, riding horses, and learning to sing.

Her book The Little Book of Being is scheduled to be complete by summer 2015.

You are so much more than you know. Liberate yourself at www.zoewild.com

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