October 17, 2017

From Incest to Joy - Part 3

This week, we continue our series with the Donna Jenson, who explores the healing power of breath.

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Sometimes there’s a beckoning voice inside that can pull my mind away from worry, croon my fear out of its cage, or coax my ego off her pedestal and, instead, get me to pay attention to my breathing. Oh if I could only hear that calming hum every day, 24/7, asleep or awake. God, could I even stand it, that much peace? The breath can be like a well-varnished cherry wood canoe carrying me back to my very own best self. All it takes is attention – some days that’s the same as saying all it takes is a million dollars.

It seems to me my breathing was shallow in childhood. I don’t remember thinking about breathing back then. I did think about running away or at least hiding. I didn’t learn to breathe for health and well being until I was in my fifties. Breathing used to be the last thing on my mind, which is, come to think of it, lucky for me since my breathing didn’t need me to keep going.

It seems to me, back then, I held my breath more than let it out; each breath never went deeper than the top of my lungs before it turned around and left.


What changed my breathing? Dad dying, for starters. And writing. When I write about my childhood – the trauma years, the traumatic era, the fear infested decades – the deeper my breath travels into me. Writing has a pulse and it seems to me my lungs get exercised by the push and pull of the pen. Is that why I seem to write more about feelings when I write longhand? Tap, tap, tapping on a keyboard does nothing for my lungs.

It seems to me my fear of breathing is connected to all the times I had pleurisy – from age 10 to 17. I never had pleurisy after I left home.

Yoga changed my breathing. Every teacher has been hell bent on the breath. Last week Lisa told the class, “Send the breath to a tight place in your body.” I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing that 60 years ago. Thinking my breath was a thing to be directed somewhere. Lisa acts like the breath is some kind of miracle medicine. Maybe I do too, now.

I just stopped writing, closed my eyes and let my mind ride down with my breath, curving up my nostrils, twisting down the back of my skull, down the back of my neck, take a left turn at the top of the spine over to that sore muscle under my left shoulder blade. And the breath circles round and round the muscle like a stream of water shooting out of a faucet turned on full, I hold it there a little while then have the breath trace its tracks back out again.

It seems to me it would have been a comfort, maybe even a healing, if I had known how to do that when I was eight years old and nine and ten and, and, and...

I didn’t know then but I know now. Lucky me.

Thanks for reading,
Donna






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In 2009 Donna founded Time To Tell with a mission to spark stories from lives affected by incest and sexual abuse to be told and heard. She wrote and performs her one-woman play, What She Knows: One Woman’s Way Through Incest to Joy, which is based on her own experience of surviving incest and what she did to make her life worth living. 

Her book, Healing My Life from Incest to Joy, a narrative of the choices she made and experiences she had that helped her heal from her childhood trauma, will be released by Levellers Press in Fall of 2017. For more information go to www.timetotell.org




Get your copy of Healing My Life: From Incest to Joy today!



October 11, 2017

From Incest to Joy - Part 2

This week, we continue our series with the amazing Donna Jenson, who delves into the very real experiences of isolation and feeling like we just do belong and offers some ideas on how to reconnecting with our "belonging" in this world.

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Here’s a subject to tiptoe into: Being isolated. Feeling isolated. Isolation is a mighty big topic for this survivor. When I was a child, he needed to isolate me to have his way with me. What an old expression, having his way with me, so genteel yet plenty descriptive.

What do I mean by isolation? For the incest to happen there needed to be no one else in the room. Not Grandma Mable or cousin Jan. Each of them slept over every once in a while and always stayed in my room, on my single bed with me curled up in a nest of blankets on the floor next to them. Those were my most favorite nights in the apartment.

By isolation, I mean he made sure I would never let anyone else know it was happening by saying, “You tell anyone and I’ll kill you.”

It was like what the cheetah does to the youngest member of the heard – that wobbly legged antelope. Pick her out, scare all the other antelopes away and go
in for the kill. Now imagine this isolating goes on for five years, longer than it takes to earn a Master's degree in Social Work. Over and over you get isolated while the worst thing ever in your life is happening to you. What I carried with me into my teen years, my twenties – all the way to forty – was a deeply ingrained belief that when bad things happen I am alone, on my own.

God I want to go grab a big old handkerchief and have me a spell of tears just remembering that aloneness. 

What do I mean by aloneness? The absolute certainty that there was no one who could help me, no one who could be there for me, next to me. And I’m talking about all the years – not just in childhood but a lot of grownup years, too.

I knew I was healing when I could actually sense this retreat into isolating myself. I named it “going down the rabbit hole” – like Alice in Wonderland.

I had to just stop and take a breath. Maybe after I’m done writing this out and read it back to myself I’ll understand why a stream of tears is racing around my collarbone and shoulder blades as I write. Talking about isolation makes me remember and feel it. What I want to get to, the point I’m reaching to grab hold of is the enormous importance of gaining a sense of belonging, to feel I belong. Belong to a community, belong to a family of choice, belong in this world. It’s the absolute opposite of isolation.

The more I believe I belong here, that I belong to ME, to the world, that I’m a part of the world, the less I go down the rabbit hole. Or, if I do slip, then the less time I spend down there in that cold dark tunnel of despair once I remember I belong.

Why am I writing about this – this isolation vs. belonging? First, to get a better handle on it myself; a grip, a hold, a concrete understanding of what it is for me because I’m on a quest to keep my ass out of that rabbit hole more and more and more. I so want to be wide-eyed and open-hearted as many minutes of every day as possible. 

I’m trying to think of what helps me feel like I belong. The first thing that comes to mind is when I’m putting all my attention – eyes, ears, heart and mind – on someone or something I like or love, for instance, my grandson or the moon or Pachelbel Canon. Turn it upside down – when my attention is pulled to something or someone I fear – oops, gotta head for the rabbit hole, it’s the best place to ruminate on a teeth-grinding subject.

Hey sister and brother survivors – anybody out there ever feel isolated, like you don’t belong? Well, you do. 

You belong to this great sizzling world of ours – no matter how long they worked at making you believe you only belonged to them, to do whatever they wanted to do to you. They were wrong as 2+3=17. So I have a question: What would happen if you always, every minute of every day, believed you belonged in the world?

Thanks for reading,
Donna


Read Part 3!

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In 2009 Donna founded Time To Tell with a mission to spark stories from lives affected by incest and sexual abuse to be told and heard. She wrote and performs her one-woman play, What She Knows: One Woman’s Way Through Incest to Joy, which is based on her own experience of surviving incest and what she did to make her life worth living. 

Her book, Healing My Life from Incest to Joy, a narrative of the choices she made and experiences she had that helped her heal from her childhood trauma, will be released by Levellers Press in Fall of 2017. For more information go to www.timetotell.org




Get your copy of Healing My Life: From Incest to Joy today!


October 3, 2017

From Incest to Joy - Part 1

This week, we begin our series with the amazing Donna Jenson, who is a powerhouse of a woman, activist, and beyond survivor. I can't wait for you all to soak in all of the wisdom she has to offer!

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THREE WOMEN RISING on their journey to end childhood sexual abuse – that’s what you’ll see in this video https://youtu.be/b2BUCIAt5DI

Rythea Lee, Producer/Director/Writer, brought me and Filmmaker/Writer/Activist Aishah Shahidah Simmons into THREE WOMEN RISING, her 19th Episode of Advice from a Loving Bitch. What a privilege and delight to be included in Rythea’s groundbreaking work. We all survived childhood sexual abuse and we all spoke to the same questions about healing and activism.

Here are the questions we spoke to:
  • What is a glimpse into your story that you feel is worth sharing? 
  • What is your activism around the subject? 
  • What can you say about joy? 
  • Please talk about why engaging in a conscious healing process is worth it.
  • What do you think about self-love and healing from sexual abuse?


I encourage all the survivors reading this posting to ask your own self these questions, maybe not all of them, maybe only one or two – the ones that jump off the page to you. 

Go one step further – write out the answers and then read them back to yourself out loud. Hearing our own voices saying what is true for us is incredibly empowering.


I am deeply grateful to be connected to these two women. What a jungle of feelings I’ve macheted through to get to this clearing – this place of feeling my wholeness, my not-so-aloneness in a circle of survivor sisters. Hearing each other’s experience helps shed the shame. Witnessing each other breaking the silence adds up to a collective shattering.

The experience of making Episode #19 was a great one for me – to join with two sister survivors in breaking the silence. The months long process of making the video was a lesson in collaborative power – each one supporting and getting supported, all three becoming a chorus for justice. I hope you are as touched by viewing it as I was in the making of it.

Thank you for reading and watching,
Donna Jenson






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In 2009 Donna founded Time To Tell with a mission to spark stories from lives affected by incest and sexual abuse to be told and heard. She wrote and performs her one-woman play, What She Knows: One Woman’s Way Through Incest to Joy, which is based on her own experience of surviving incest and what she did to make her life worth living. 

Her book, Healing My Life from Incest to Joy, a narrative of the choices she made and experiences she had that helped her heal from her childhood trauma, will be released by Levellers Press in Fall of 2017. For more information go to www.timetotell.org




Get your copy of Healing My Life: From Incest to Joy today!




September 26, 2017

How I Overcame Abuse: Life Purpose

This week, we conclude our series with Greg Reese, who shares how healing from traumatic child abuse can be a universal method for a human being to discover their unique purpose in life.


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We human beings have the free will to choose our own path. And while some may have it harder than others, the fate of the individual is up to the individual alone. It is ultimately up to us whether we thrive, survive, or stagnate.

It is our choice to accept or ignore this unique personal responsibility. And while these modern times of convenience make it easy to shrug off the crucial task, our happiness may very well depend on us answering the call.

The organism that we are living within, known as a human being, is very complex. We have a physical body to maintain, emotional attachments and aversions to manage, and an unending stream of thought to oversee. As stewards, we are faced with a great deal of work. If we ignore this work then we decline into ruin, and if we rise up to the task then we can control our own fate.

"The word spirituality has acquired a certain loftiness to it. It conjures up images of the esoteric and the mystical when in fact it denotes something really quite simple. Spirituality is really nothing more than the art of self-management.

On the Spiritual path there are hundreds of traditions and thousands of practices we can study, but really, it's just one practice. The practice of controlling our own mind. If we don't control it, then it controls us. Or worse, someone else controls it for us.

This seems to be a part of the whole human experience. We are born, we are broken, and we fix ourselves. Or, we don’t. But if we do, then we become more human than we were at the start. We become fortified with self-knowledge."


~ Sex Drugs and Om: An Autobiography of an American Yogi

For those of us paying attention, we are constantly receiving valuable information about our state of mind.

As above, so below.

What we see in the world around us is a reflection of what exists within us. And so rather than wasting our efforts on futile attempts at changing the reflection, we must go within and change the source.

The changes we make within our self are then projected upon the world around us. And when we make peace within our self, then it reflects outwardly into every experience.

Just like everything else in our world, each one of us is made up of the same positive and negative charge. If we are feeling the desire for more balance in our life, then we must go within and take responsibility for the organism.

We can change the external world to a small degree, such as creating laws for people to conform to. But the level of power that we have to affect change over our self is beyond comparison. We can even change our own beliefs, which changes the way we see the world.

Adapting ourselves to the world around us is naturally humbling, and humility is a powerful key towards success.

Everything has its polar opposite. And so when we convince our self that "I am a good person", then we create a belief that the "bad people" live outside of us. 

This gives the ego all the fuel it needs to rise up and seize the fallacious moral high-ground, robbing us of our humility. The more we focus on problems out there in the world, the less we attend to our own flaws.

The spurious moral high-ground is yet another distraction the ego sells us to maintain its reigning power. There is no such thing.

Our responsibility is to take care of our own personal organisms, and we have the choice to beat our own paths or follow somebody else's. Managing the fate of the world is not our business, but if it is our purpose, then the most effective way to succeed would be to first become that change. 

By doing this we can effectively make our personal organism happier, thereby inspiring others to follow their own heart and do the same.

What we are talking about here is known in the spiritual tradition of Hermeticism as the Great Work.

"The Great Work is, before all things, the creation of man by himself, that is to say, the full and entire conquest of his faculties and his future; it is especially the perfect emancipation of his will."

~ Eliphas Levi

When we fail to follow our heart then the ego takes over, and usually drags us along the hard way. But when we find the courage to follow, then the path is laid out before us and we begin to resonate with life harmoniously. This great work leads us to knowing true and sustainable bliss.

We will start to notice which things make us suffer, and let them go. And we will begin to see what makes us happy, and start working towards cultivating more of it in our lives. We have an extraordinary opportunity in today’s world to pursue our happiness, follow our bliss, and manifest our own reality.

Another powerful key to success is Gratitude. Expressing gratitude somehow results in seeing more agreeable things in our life. And when we look hard enough, we find that everything warrants gratitude. Even our suffering brings great opportunity. Whenever the unexpected shows up in our life and derails us, we can stand up and face it and receive its golden knowledge. And when we express gratitude for this, we turn it into a blessing that brings forth abundance and good fortune. 

This Great Work provides a lifetime of meaningful purpose. It leads us to live our best lives, and grants us the liberation to find our own fate.






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Greg Reese was born in Vallejo, California, raised in Cleveland, Ohio and now lives in a yoga ashram in Virginia. Since leaving High School, Greg has been a carpenter, musician, filmmaker and writer, as well as a saw-gunner in the US Marines. At the present time, he works in the audio-video department of the yoga ashram.

Having been a writer of poems and essays all his life, and having had such a uniquely unusual life so far, Greg decided to write a book about his experiences. Sex Drugs and OM: An Autobiography of an American Yogi, is an enlightening, entertaining account of how he elevated himself beyond suffering with yoga and meditation, and found sustainable happiness.

Greg is busy writing his first novel, plans on moving to Hawaii, and writing several more to come.

His favorite quote comes from Robert Anton Wilson, and sums up his feeling about belief - “Only the madman is absolutely sure.”


September 19, 2017

How I Overcame Abuse: Self-Acceptance

This week, we continue our series with Greg Reese, who delves into what is means to accept ourselves and what we gain access to by doing so.



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In part 1, Dispelling the Victim, we looked at the trappings of ego identity, and at the vital importance of releasing blame so that we can become proactive in our own personal growth.

In part 2, Being the Witness, we learned an ancient art of self-observance. An art that we can practice in any and every moment to gain valuable self-knowledge. Once we begin seeing through the mind’s fanciful projections, we will start to see ourselves as we truly are. And when we do, we won’t like everything that we see. We will want to change our self, which is a healthy desire, but change takes time. This sort of work likely takes a lifetime. This is where we find the need for self-acceptance.

Here in part 3, we will look at the value of cultivating a strong practice of self-acceptance.

As we become more practiced in the art of being the witness, then we will better understand the workings of our own mind. After observing its different aspects, we may pronounce the ego to be the trouble maker, and come to see it as some sort of illness. Some even exclaim: “death to the ego”. This, however, is a common ruse perpetrated by the ego itself in an attempt to evade capture. It will be quite happy having us chase our own shadow, so long as we don’t quiet the mind and accept responsibility for our actions.

The ego is not the trouble maker. It is not bad, nor is it our enemy. It is a personal faculty of the self that we must operate lest we fall to its chaos.

"The ego is a lot like a dog. When you get a new puppy and take it home, it's all over the place. And if you neglect to train the puppy, it will piss and shit all over the floors of your home, and tear apart everything within its reach. By never establishing yourself as the boss, it will become the boss. And since a dog is not equipped to rule a human home, it will grow into a neurotic animal.

The dog is not bad, and it could be your new best friend. It just needs to be trained.

I needed to keep my ego on a tight leash, but I also needed to occasionally allow its indulgences. To completely refuse it would be extreme, and I needed to love and accept my entire self unconditionally."


~ Sex Drugs and Om: An Autobiography of an American Yogi

We often make the mistake of seeing the things that hurt us as being negative, and this type of thinking is short-sighted and divisive. If we come too close to fire, it will burn us. This does not mean that fire is a negative force, but rather, it is a force that we must respect.

The ego is also a force that we must respect. It is always calling us to formulate strong opinions of what is good and what is bad, and we can easily allow it to knock us into unhealthy extremes. It is all subjective, and finding a balance becomes paramount to having any control over our life.

Everything is made up of the same polarized stuff. Within each of us exists both the positive and the negative charge. This is called yin and yang iChinese philosophy. Two opposing forces that are inherently interdependent. One giving rise to the other which then gives rise back again in an endless symbiosis. It is perhaps the very motor which produces the spark of life.

As the Witness, we detach from taking things personally so that we can see our self as we truly are. This is precisely the same state of consciousness we want to ply in order to garner self-acceptance. Un-attached as the Witness, we can see past our expectations of how we think we should be, and accept ourselves as we truly are.

"The goal of Un-attachment is taught in most Eastern religions, and I began to better understand it when I replaced the word attachment, with the word expectation.

It wasn’t pursuing my desires that caused unhappiness, it was having an expectation of their outcome. Things would always turn out to be different than the way I expected, and this would invariably cause disappointment and a feeling of failure. Learning how to always keep an open mind, and expecting nothing, was vital to understanding sustained happiness.

There is another popular teaching in Eastern religions; Renunciation. I never liked the word because I used to think it was about ignoring our desires and saying no to all worldly things, which made no sense to me. But I learned that this understanding was incorrect.

Renunciation was not about turning away from worldly desires. It was about realizing that you don't own anything. Nothing is yours and nothing lasts. Renunciation was about not clinging to things. It was about learning to appreciate whatever comes your way, pain or pleasure. It was about taking things as they come, letting them go as they pass, and always being present.
I was ready to trust my higher-self, and that's what renunciation and giving up expectations was all about. The ego chases after things, clings to them, and expects a certain outcome. Whereas, the higher-self has them delivered by the divine, enjoys what is given, and releases what is taken."


~ Sex Drugs and Om: An Autobiography of an American Yogi


Self-acceptance is very much like forgiveness and surrender. It is letting go of our own resistance.


When we truly choose to accept something, then we experience the state of mind known as surrender. I have manifested strange magic with this. Aspects of my life that tormented me for years became immaterial when I let go, surrendered, and accepted them. It is a great power to wield.

This entire process could be described as love. To love something is to see the good in it, and thereby come to appreciate its form. This is what we want to do with everything we find within our self. We want to see the good in every part. 

This requires us to come to an understanding.

For example:

While being the witness, we may observe that we treat certain people unfairly. And we may begin to feel contempt for our self. But upon further self-analysis, we realize that we treat them unfairly because they remind us of someone who hurt us years ago. The behavior was initially created to protect our self from injury, but it has also become an unconscious prejudice. We don’t want to act unfairly, but we can now appreciate its causality.

Ignoring our flaws will make feral burdens of them, weighing us down like sickness. But with acceptance; we can calmly acknowledge them and bring them into accord with our conscious desires. Over time, we can begin to enjoy a rich life of purpose.

When I first began being the witness and seeing myself as I truly am, I felt as if I had wasted years of my life allowing my ego to drag me through unneeded suffering and sorrow. But upon further introspection, I could see its great purpose. The ego was teaching me as it led me along its dark tumultuous paths. It was not all for naught.

When I failed to choose the clear cut path, my ego would drag me through brambles and thorns. And through the bloody pricks and misery, I always came out the other side with more knowledge. I do believe that they are working together, both ego and higher-self taking me to the same place. One goes the easy way and the other goes the hard.

There is a voice within us that is quietly guiding us along our path. If we follow this path, we realize our true purpose and come to find contentment and joy. But a legion of temptation and distraction haunts our mind and longs to lead us astray. This is the game; to tame the wild ego and fearlessly follow the quiet voice within.





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Greg Reese was born in Vallejo, California, raised in Cleveland, Ohio and now lives in a yoga ashram in Virginia. Since leaving High School, Greg has been a carpenter, musician, filmmaker and writer, as well as a saw-gunner in the US Marines. At the present time, he works in the audio-video department of the yoga ashram.

Having been a writer of poems and essays all his life, and having had such a uniquely unusual life so far, Greg decided to write a book about his experiences. Sex Drugs and OM: An Autobiography of an American Yogi, is an enlightening, entertaining account of how he elevated himself beyond suffering with yoga and meditation, and found sustainable happiness.

Greg is busy writing his first novel, plans on moving to Hawaii, and writing several more to come.

His favorite quote comes from Robert Anton Wilson, and sums up his feeling about belief - “Only the madman is absolutely sure.”


September 13, 2017

How I Overcame Abuse: Being the Witness

This week, we continue our series with Greg Reese, who shares a strategy for detaching from ego so that we can witness our reactions and behaviors, gain insight, and access change.



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In part 1, Dispelling the Victim, we looked at the trappings of ego identity, and at the vital importance of releasing blame so that we can become proactive in our own personal growth.


By concentrating on our breath, we began to quiet our thoughts. Fighting a thought only entangles us with it even more. So we surrender, allow the ego it’s thought, and avoid engaging with it as we observe it pass by and fade away.

As our practice improves, we learn how to manage the mind, and it begins to surrender to our will. We begin to experience the blissful peace of a quiet mind.

This is where we want to take notice of something extraordinary. Here in part 2, I will attempt to illustrate the practice of Being the Witness. This is the ancient method I used to overcome the destructive patterns which wreaked havoc in my life for years.


“If you observe your mind carefully, you may notice that there seems to be an aspect of your consciousness that quietly observes everything. It seems to exist in the background, and unlike the ego mind, it never judges or criticizes anything. It simply remains the silent witness. This aspect of our consciousness is known in some traditions as The Witness.

When we see things from the perspective of the ego mind, then we get caught up in all the drama. We get lost in the story because the ego is part of the story, it takes everything personally. But when we shift our perspective to that of the Witness, and observe ourselves from this seemingly outside point of view, then we can observe exactly how we are behaving.

It seems that many of us have come to identify ourselves as being our ego. And this is exactly what the ego wants. It wants to be in charge. It tricks us into thinking we are the name, the body, and the personality. But the teachings of all religions, and all spiritual and occult traditions say something different. They all teach that we are not the body, and that we are not the mind. They claim that we are a spirit which is incarnating a human body, and operating the ego mind.

We could look at it like a board game. For instance, in a board game, we need a game-token in order to play. Without it, we cannot interface with the board. So in this game that we call life, Earth is the game board, and our body/ego is the game-token.

The benefit of being the Witness, is that we gain knowledge about ourselves. It's like you’re an anthropologist, studying your own personal human game-token. And the more I came to understand mine, the more control I had over it, and the better I could play the game.”

~Sex Drugs and Om: An Autobiography of an American Yogi


The process of shifting our identity to the Witness takes practice. It requires a good habit of quieting the mind and self-observance so that we can become aware of the different aspects at play within our own mind. 

In my own experience, upon deep introspection I became aware of a physical-mind, an emotional-mind, a higher-mind, and a witnessing-mind. The witnessing-mind is what we are after. It is the part of us that is always silent and observing. By quieting our thoughts, we can tune in and focus our awareness upon this witnessing-mind. And the more we become aware of it, the more we become the Witness. 


To keep things simple, we can categorize the other aspects of the mind as the ego. And the unrestrained ego wants all the attention. It will try dressing itself up as the witnessing-mind to steal our focus, but will eventually give itself away by breaking the silence. The Witness is always quiet, and so calming the mind is crucial to becoming aware of its presence.

The more we become aware of the witnessing-mind, the more easily we shift our perspective there, and become the Witness. And when we cement this into our practice, we no longer think of things as happening to me, for we have separated ourselves to a certain degree. We gain the advantage of seeing ourselves objectively. No longer blinded by the emotions that come with ego identity, we begin to see ourselves as we truly are.

There is a trendy new phrase coming about as of late: trigger warning. The word trigger is referring to the experience we have when we uncontrollably react to something and get emotional. Being triggered, is when we unconsciously react to certain words or stimuli.

For example:

Imagine a woman who was broken-hearted when her last lover had an affair with a ballet dancer. A year later, a different man that she is dating invites her to the ballet. As the word ballet passes through her mind, her emotions are triggered, chemicals are dispensed in the brain, and she gets angry. So angry that she starts a fight with her new lover. What could have been a happy moment with a loved one has now turned hostile and ugly.

A word triggers a painful memory, which triggers an emotional response, and we react. This is not good. We want to be in control of ourselves, and if we are uncontrollably triggered by words, then we have no self-control.

Being triggered is not an enjoyable experience. It leaves us feeling powerless and weak. But when we are triggered while observing our self as the Witness, then we can clearly observe the experience, come to understand it, and gain the wherewithal to change.

Being triggered while observing myself as the Witness is what changed everything for me. The growth was so rapid that I started looking forward to getting triggered, so that I could dispel more of the clutter, and continue to improve my life. If the goal is to live our life without ever getting triggered, then getting triggered is perhaps the only path to get there.

It would seem that this is what the mythos of slaying the dragon and taking its gold is all about. When we face our inner fears, then we reap the golden treasure of liberation.

“But far too often secrecy prevails, and the story of the traumatic event surfaces not as a verbal narrative but as a symptom.”

What we have ended up with are symptoms, and with an objective state of mind, we can study these symptoms and gain self-knowledge. Which is exactly what we need to strip away all the clutter that keeps us from experiencing our true nature.

“I have noticed how proficient we all are at observing and criticizing others, which isn't much of a useful skill. But if we turn this focus inwards towards our self, then it becomes extremely useful. To do this effectively, we need to learn how to be the Witness.

If we think we are the game-token, then it’s too painful for us to find flaws. Because we take it personally, and our feelings get hurt.


I couldn't see the hard lessons that were being shown to me with Crystal, because I thought that I was the game-token. I identified with it so much, that it hurt me to see its imperfections.

But all of that changed when I stopped seeing myself as the person, or as the ego, or the body. When I shifted my perspective to that of the Witness, then I began to see things objectively.

What I saw was a wounded and malformed person. Malformed like a crystal that didn't grow in perfect conditions. Conditions were not perfect, the world is chaos, and so it adapted as best it could.

By studying these malformations, I was able to learn how to better love myself, how to better manage myself, and how to better keep my life in balance.
And the best part of this whole process, is that once I began to see things objectively, the negative programs of the mind began to break down and dissolve.

All I had to do was become present, shift my awareness to the Witness, and observe the self. Knowledge and understanding then came naturally. The game-token adapted, and began to heal its own wounds."


~Sex Drugs and Om: An Autobiography of an American Yogi


When we aren’t disorientated by the emotional reactions of getting triggered, then we are able to see things more clearly and learn a great deal about ourselves.

I used to repeatedly end up in relationships with angry and abusive women. When I was identified as the ego, then emotions muddied my thoughts and these negative patterns ran their destructive course unnoticed. I remained ignorant to my own behavior. A victim. And change was not an option. But after observing myself as the Witness, I was able to recognize the negative patterns, and clearly understand them.

Perhaps the most beautiful thing about this process, is that the growth happens on its own. All we have to do is identify the disorder, and surrender. When we do this, then something inside of us makes adjustments on its own, and growth happens.

We will be looking more at surrender in part 3, Self-Acceptance, but for now, we can always practice bringing our awareness to the present moment, quieting our thoughts, and being the Witness. It may take years to achieve this, but the end result is freedom from our past and the ability to be fully present.




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Greg Reese was born in Vallejo, California, raised in Cleveland, Ohio and now lives in a yoga ashram in Virginia. Since leaving High School, Greg has been a carpenter, musician, filmmaker and writer, as well as a saw-gunner in the US Marines. At the present time, he works in the audio-video department of the yoga ashram.

Having been a writer of poems and essays all his life, and having had such a uniquely unusual life so far, Greg decided to write a book about his experiences. Sex Drugs and OM: An Autobiography of an American Yogi, is an enlightening, entertaining account of how he elevated himself beyond suffering with yoga and meditation, and found sustainable happiness.

Greg is busy writing his first novel, plans on moving to Hawaii, and writing several more to come.

His favorite quote comes from Robert Anton Wilson, and sums up his feeling about belief - “Only the madman is absolutely sure.”


September 3, 2017

How I Overcame Abuse: Dispelling the Victim

This week, I'm so pleased to introduce you to Greg Reese, survivor, overcomer, and so much more. In part one of his series this month, he explores the impact that denial and secrecy have on the healing process. He also shares some tips on how to quiet the mind so we can release the victim mentality.



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I went through most of my life unaware of the abuse I suffered as a child. Having no idea why I was so disturbed and angry at the world, I resigned myself to thinking that I was crazy, which slowly sank my heart into years of cyclic depression and angst. At the age of thirty-three, I began practicing meditation. 
And five years later, I remembered what happened to me when I was a child.

The experience of recovering those memories felt strange and exotic. As if I had always remembered, but subconsciously chose a deep state of denial. For the following eight years I worked towards finding peace and absolving myself of the past, and I can say most gratefully that I succeeded.

After writing about all of this in the book, Sex Drugs and Om, I realized that what caused the most damage to my being was the denial. Far more destructive than the initial abuse, the years of denial manifested a deeply seated self-loathing that lured me into abusive relationships and destructive dramas. So miserable was it, that when I finally remembered the cruel event, all other emotions came far second to the exuberant joy of knowing that I was not crazy.

A wound must be addressed for it to heal, and we cannot tend to what we are in denial of. There are taboos in our society. Unspeakable crimes that we collectively agree to keep hidden away where they are doomed to fester and spoil the spirit from within.

In the book, Trauma and Recovery, by Judith Lewis Herman, the author writes that:

“The ordinary response to atrocities is to banish them from consciousness. Certain violations of the social compact are too terrible to utter aloud: this is the meaning of the word unspeakable.”

The author claims that:

“The conflict between the will to deny horrible events and the will to proclaim them aloud is the central dialectic of psychological trauma. When the truth is finally recognized, survivors can begin their recovery. But far too often secrecy prevails, and the story of the traumatic event surfaces not as a verbal narrative but as a symptom.

If we break a bone or get sick, then society shows compassion and wishes us well. Recovery can be strong and swift. But if we are raped or molested, then society will not hear of it. It’s unspeakable, and society has no patience for such things. We are left to suffer alone and ashamed with our unspeakable ills.

When society renders our injury unspeakable, our role as victim is evermore naturalized. First victimized by the initial perpetrator, and then repeatedly victimized by our own family and community as they silence us from uttering the unspeakable crimes committed against us.

I have always had a habit of speaking very openly about my personal life, and I have shared in many personal conversations that I was abused as a child. More than half the people I share this with tell me that they were also abused as children. More than half.

It seems to be a highly relatable experience, and yet, it is rarely ever talked about. This is what allows the cycle of abuse to thrive. If we could shed light upon it and dispel it from the darkness, then things might look quite differently. But wishing that things were different will not bring results. Wishing that the external world will change is the futile fantasy that keeps us firmly planted in the victim state of mind.

As Above, So Below. Perhaps the most informative four words ever written. 

Everything is made of the same polarized stuff. Equal parts light and dark. Good and evil swirling together in their infinite dance of life. We all have the capacity to be the victim, or the villain. It is in all of us.

For millennia, we have all collectively created the rules of our society. And upon close examination we come to realize that the concepts of right and wrong, for the most part, are not universal. The community sets the ethical standards based on the collective aversions and desires of the people. Different cultures have different ethics.

Everyone has an opinion, and these opinions have nothing to do with being right, or being wrong. They are simply opinions. It would be foolish to think that our opinions are right when practically everyone else’s are uniquely different.


We live in such a convenient and comfortable society that we can easily forget the fact that we are part of the animal kingdom. The world is a jungle, and the impressive amount of order that we have instilled upon it is impermanent and precarious. The victim cries out for justice, but there is no external justice other than that which the majority decides.

I have come to believe that identifying as a victim is a trap. When we identify as a victim, then we renounce all power to recover. The victim is helpless.

As a victim, we expect the world to adapt itself to our suffering. And this is an impossible dream. We become so consumed with anger, self-righteousness, and self-pity that we lose sight of the courage and humility needed to look within our own hearts and learn from our own plight. We are all given obstacles to ignore or overcome. If we ignore them, we fail to evolve. And if we go within, we can overcome them and find true justice.

So how do we go within?

Seeing our self as the victim is a symptom of ego identity. The great Yoga master, Sri Swami Sivananda, taught:

“I’m not the body, I’m not the mind. Immortal self am I.”

This is the root of our liberation. When we identify our self as the spirit which animates the body and mind, then we stop taking things so personally and begin looking after our self as we would a loved one. When we identify ourselves as something higher, then we realize the responsibility we have to our physical, mental, and emotional selves.

This is a personal journey, one that we must take alone. We naturally find friends with similar paths, but never with quite the same as our own. We must cultivate the ability to follow the guidance from our own heart.

In my own experience, it was meditation that allowed me to see things differently:

I was becoming aware of a connection that I had within me, a line of communication between myself, and something greater. You could call it intuition, a soul, or a spirit. But I will call it my; Higher-self.

I used to think that I was my mind, but this was changing. I was now beginning to think that my mind was merely a component of my true self, just as my body is. I’m not exactly sure what this mental component is, but I will call it my Ego. I no longer knew who or what I was, but I knew that I wanted to follow the guidance of my higher-self.

The higher-self was quiet, and the ego was loud, so the trick was learning how to hear the higher-self through all the mental noise of the ego. And this required quieting the mind.

I knew in my heart that my own personal journey as an aspirant was ultimately about learning how to do this. And I knew that the reason for this was because my higher-self had a plan for me. It had truth. But in order for me to see that truth, I would need to silence my ego. My ego had been in control for most of my life, and it wasn’t letting go without a fight.”  

This is where the journey begins, learning to quiet the mind’s noise so that we can go within. Perhaps the easiest way to begin, is by concentrating on our breath.

Sitting comfortably, we can focus our full attention on our breath. This is not easy, and we soon realize the great challenge before us as our mind desperately attempts to distract us. It whispers to us, screams at us, and adapts to our every defense. Fighting it only makes it stronger. Our best strategy is surrender. When we realize that the mind has quietly dragged us away with a thought, we can gently smile, let go of the thought, and bring our awareness back to the breath. There is no reason to get frustrated. Each time we catch ourselves drifting away, we have yet again awoken ourselves from the sleepy spells of the mind. And the more we practice, the easier it gets to stay present and awake.

The more we sit and focus on our breath, the more skilled we become at quieting our thoughts. And as we quiet our thoughts, we begin to find our path.

If you desire peace and health, then please try this practice over the next few days. 

Next week we will delve into the mental aspect known to many as The Witness.



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Greg Reese was born in Vallejo, California, raised in Cleveland, Ohio and now lives in a yoga ashram in Virginia. Since leaving High School, Greg has been a carpenter, musician, filmmaker and writer, as well as a saw-gunner in the US Marines. At the present time, he works in the audio-video department of the yoga ashram.

Having been a writer of poems and essays all his life, and having had such a uniquely unusual life so far, Greg decided to write a book about his experiences. Sex Drugs and OM: An Autobiography of an American Yogi, is an enlightening, entertaining account of how he elevated himself beyond suffering with yoga and meditation, and found sustainable happiness.

Greg is busy writing his first novel, plans on moving to Hawaii, and writing several more to come.

His favorite quote comes from Robert Anton Wilson, and sums up his feeling about belief - “Only the madman is absolutely sure.”


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