Archive | Transformation RSS for this section

I Am Not Important

The More

I was born in 1965 in a small town in southeastern North Dakota.  My family and I lived on a small farm where my father was the second generation farmer on the land my grandfather had homesteaded in the early 1900’s.  My father had taken over the family farm about the time I was born.  He diversified his efforts at making a living by milking cows, raising beef cattle, pigs and chickens.  We also farmed several sections of land where we raised a variety of grain crops.  For me, my childhood experiences were by many standards, unremarkable.  I am the youngest of 5 children. I can never remember feeling like we were poor or rich.  I always felt safe, cared for, and really can’t think of a time that I needed anything.  I will admit that being the youngest child, with my next oldest sibling being about 5 years older than me, I did tend to get more things from my parents than my siblings.  I don’t really know if it was because my parents had more disposable income as I grew up or if they somehow felt differently about buying things at that time.  I don’t remember being a needy or a complaining child in any way either.  Life just seemed to go on and on and I was mainly an observer of it.  I can’t really recall interacting with my siblings or my parents in any great depth, other than working on the farm or at the evening meals.  With the age difference from my four siblings (each of them being about a year apart in age), I tended to spend most of my time alone from what I remember.  Wrapped up in listening to music, reading the encyclopedia, or later on, playing with any sort of electronics I could get my hands on.  Other than the occasional teasing from my one brother, I didn’t experience any real trauma as a child.  Or at least that’s what I thought anyway.

 

In one way or another, I believe that we all are searching for some sort of peace for our lives.  From my observations, some of us have similar struggles, but at times, very different perspectives on our struggles or even how to resolve them.  When I think about the various ways people experience trauma, it really has a broad spectrum.  Depending on how you look at life or your belief systems, trauma can even begin pre-conception.  Most certainly it can be agreed that trauma can begin in the womb with exposure to various drugs, physical abuse of the mom, or even environmental factors. I believe that even the feelings and emotions of the mom and dad toward being pregnant can cause trauma to the child before they are born.  Then moving forward, you have the actual birth itself being the first standard trauma that everyone has (no matter how well the pregnancy and birth went).  If you can imagine spending 9 months being completely carefree and supported in every way, then suddenly forced into the world to deal with gravity, breathing, hunger, bowl movements, you name it.  Heck, that’s pretty traumatic right?

 

No matter what your traumatic experiences have been, they play a part if how your life is shaped, the person you become, and how you view the world.  Some of us have very good support systems and/or families that are highly aware and conscious of their bodies and emotions.  This can help you to grow up more balanced and you naturally have various ways to release the tensions of trauma through physical activity, deep conversations, and overall support from those you love.  This however is not so common from observations of my little corner of the world. So what do the rest of us need to do when we experience trauma?  Well, some will stuff the feelings, some will act out in various ways including anger, depression, anxiety, self mutilation, danger seeking, drugs, over-working and various other destructive methods.  Then there are others who have tried more “positive” avenues like therapy, psychics, energy healing, meditation, religion, athletics, etc.  It seems to me that most, but not all, methods tend to start with the mind when trying to find peace.  The mind is indeed an important place to focus the healing practice, but only when you approach that healing from a positive perspective, that is focused on releasing tension in both the mind and body.

 

It’s very interesting to think about all of the classes I’ve taken and methods of “connection” or rituals I was shown.  While many of them are important and relevant, I could never really understand why they had to be so complicated (e.g. having to speak a mantra in a particular way, moving your body in a particular manner, vocalizing in a particular tone, etc).  I believe that there is purpose to these methods and they can even be valid depending on where you are at in your journey.  I kept going back to my childhood, sitting in church and thinking, why does this all have to seem so complicated and wrought with possible ways to fail?  I just could not believe that an “all-knowing” being that created us from dust, would even have a need for us to do anything complicated let alone be worshipped.

 

Like many, I’ve done a lot of the above negative and positive methods for finding peace for my mind.  As I look back at many of these methods, the focus seemed to be outside of my body and mind, as if the solution was “out there” somewhere.  I can remember going to several psychics searching for one of them that could just reach inside my mind and flip the proverbial switch to allow peace in and the rest to go.  I even got to the point where I saw so many different psychics, I would consider myself a junkie.  As I spent a lot of time and money, I realized I was getting more and more angry that “they” weren’t fixing me. I realized that I was looking for the solution outside of myself.  After about 10 years of trying many avenues, I finally began to see that the solutions have always been inside of me.  I know this is not news really, as I’ve heard that kind of thing for years, but I never really believed it.  This was until I was introduced to a method of healing that is based on a very basic human function, breathing.

 

When I was introduced to Rebirthing Breathwork, I initially thought it was just another fad that sounded interesting.  However, on the very first session, I experienced an unexpected shift and release out of a seeming nowhere. At this point I knew I was hooked and I needed to know more, so I signed up for a year long training course to become a certified breathwork practitioner.  It’s been about three years since first learning the technique and I’ve been through many sessions myself and I’ve coach many people in their own sessions.  As time went on and life happened, I got distracted and stopped for several months from doing any sort of healing practices on myself and others.  Then I got an invitation from my teacher to attend a workshop called “Loving Relationships” with Sondra and Markus Ray.   This workshop was focused on improving all of your relationships, but more specifically your intimate personal ones.

 

One of the first exercises we went through at the workshop was to do sentence completion related to the negative thoughts that run through my mind.  The idea was to determine our personal primary negative belief that we have underlying our thoughts.  I started out with, “I’m not enough”, then, “I overthink and worry”, then, “I am a fake”, then, “I’m not important to anyone”, then, “I’m not important enough to be loved.”.  Then, as I looked at what I had written it struck me that my primary negative belief is, “I am not important”.  This really resonated with me as I could see it was at the very heart of many symptoms I’ve experienced over the years.

 

When I was very young, probably under the age of 20, I don’t know if I ever thought much about feeling important to anyone or not.  When I look back and try to remember how things were during that time, I recall being connected to a very small group of friends more so than being connected to my family.  My friends seemed to fulfill that part of my life that wanted to be acknowledged and valued.  They would seek me out to do things.  They went out of their way to listen to me, try to understand and to relate to me their own stories.  It wasn’t until I went to college and afterwards when got my first career job that I started to notice how very disconnected I felt from my family.  When they would ask me how my life was going, I would tell them about my job or what I’m learning and I felt that they would just stop listening.  Sometimes they would just say something like, “I just don’t understand [insert whatever topic I was presenting].”  I found that the harder I tried to explain my life, my career, my spiritual growth, or my thoughts, they would become more and more disconnected.  Finally it got to the point that I just stopped trying.  I just gave them what they wanted to hear, which usually meant saying something like, “Oh yes, I’m very busy at my job.  Lot’s of projects to work on.”, and that was it.  This was very common in all my interactions.  I became very skilled at giving a short answer and then turning the conversation around to focus on them.

 

Things seemed to progress over the years where I would start to attribute people not acknowledging me in one way or another, as me not being important.  This belief infiltrated my relationships with my wife and kids, my employer, my social friends, you name it.  I got to the point that I felt numb to even wanting to feel connected to anyone, or to allow love to be given or received.  It was easier and safer to keep to myself than to be hurt by allowing someone into my heart again.  So it went on like this for over 30+ years.  I was living my life, but in a very closed way.  I was quick to have anger, which I directed it inward.  I had a cycles of good days followed by many fraught with anxiety and depression.  I worked hard at keeping all of this bottled up inside me.  I tried desperately to “protect” my wife and kids from all of this, but they suffered from the side effects despite my best intentions.

 

All of my thoughts around not being acknowledged, respected, smart, good enough, you name it; all came down to feeling or thinking that I am not important; not to life, family, friends, employers, or neighbors. If I were to cease to exist in this very moment, the overall rhythm of life would only experience a very small, mostly unnoticeable bump in the road.  This feeling was pervasive in my life making me feel very lonely, depressed and angry.  After the weekend workshop I made a promise to myself that I would start again with my own healing practices and I made an appointment with my coach the following week for a breathwork session.

 

When I went into my Breathwork session with Deanna (my coach), I really didn’t know what I was going to focus on.  We started out by talking for at least an hour about what I was dealing with lately, I talked about my desire to be heard by others, feelings of being disrespected, and having no path for the future.  Since I didn’t feel at the time that I had anything specific to breathe on, I decided to choose my primary negative belief (or primary personal lie), as this seemed like as good as anything else.

 

The breathing was done the same way we had at the retreat we attended.  My mouth was more open, and with a relaxed jaw and with a fuller breath.  I began to breath in the specific cyclical pattern for Rebirthing Breathwork, having no pause at the bottom or top of the breath.  This makes your breathing a bit faster than normal.  My breathing seemed unremarkable as my mind flitted from one topic to another.  As I saw each thought come up in my mind, I would just release it using the rhythm of the breath.  This process went on for some time until I could feel “the flip” happen.  The “flip” is that moment where you move from consciously breathing to a more automatic rhythm and your body takes over breathing.  My breathing became faster yet and my body started to cramp a bit, and my jaw and hands got stiff, which is normal in this process.  Deanna was there to keep me on track, telling me to relax my jaw and open my mouth more, and to breathe through that cramping.  I’ve definitely been in worse shape for cramping when I first did this technique, but I’ve since learned to recognize and release that tension.

 

At some point I relaxed more and I could feel my whole body, or what felt like an energetic representation of my body, began to rise up off/out from my physical body.  Somehow I knew I needed to release this “representation” of myself, so I really amped up my breathing even more.

 

At times I became distracted by visions or dreams and my breath would slow down.  When this happened the energetic “self” started to descend back into me.  Deanna would coach me to focus and get on track again which would push the energy further and further out.  Finally I felt that the release was far enough away that it could no longer come back unless I willed it to.  In those final moments my breath pushed it far away and I could feel it disconnect and vanish!

 

As I came out of a sort of trance I was in, we began to talk about the experience I had where I described each detail as I’ve written here.  Deanna shared with me how she also could sense the release I was describing.  Now that I’m writing this and processing more, I now know that the release was a sort of shield or armor.  I had no idea what it was at the time, I just knew it needed to go.

 

At this point I felt like I was done and the session felt complete as I was relaxing on the table.  Deanna was telling me how I had done well.  Then, what felt like words from another source, Deanna said, “You are so important Dwight.”  At this moment time stopped, and I could feel this transfer or a gift of love energy enter into my body and spirit.  I felt shocked and very surprised by the feeling.  It was like something I’d never felt or experienced before.  I can only describe it to be similar to being very thirsty and you take that first mouthful of cool water and you feel it wash over your throat, chest and finally your whole body.  In that moment, my breath caught in my throat and I felt a sense of laughter or joy that came out of me.  It was just a moment, because directly afterward came a huge cascading feeling of a perfect mix of pure joy and sorrow flooding my whole body.  In those few moments, I felt like for the first time I had allowed myself to feel love, to feel my amazing importance, and it was so powerful I didn’t know what to do with it.  I was sad that I’ve been without this miracle in my life.  I could feel the pain releasing and joy receiving.  The sorrow was from a feeling of being starved of knowing or feeling love.  My body and spirit were, what I can only describe as, being released from a concentration camp, a starved, emaciated skeleton of a person walking out of the wire gates of Auschwitz in Germany.  This flood of emotions manifested in my body by letting loose with sobbing, short breaths and a sense of fear of the letting go.  My voice came with the sobs in short bursts as I fought the release, but Deanna coached me to let go and breathe! The breathing allowed me to let go of the last blocks, and to even sob harder than I can ever remember before in my life.  I had no idea that all of this was inside of me, trapped.

 

As the exchange of released emotion and the taking in of love happened, I simply surrendered to it all.  Deanna coached me along and I remember having my left hand over my eyes and forehead.  I could feel the tears and sweat all over my face.  My right hand was on my heart and I could feel Deanna’s hands on me.  I reached for her hand and held on, feeling the connection to Earth and to humanity.  I could hear her repeating the phrase, “You are so important Dwight.”, over and over in low soft tones.  I remember my breath flowing and all of the tightness in my chest releasing more and more. I began to calm and felt the wave ending.  I relaxed and wiped my face and blew my nose.  As I laid there, I felt an amazing peace in and around me.  We talked a bit and about the experience and I tried to express what I felt, but mostly I was quiet.  Then Deanna started to say the mantra again and again, “You are so important Dwight.”, in continued low and soft tones.  Thinking that I was done with the session was silly because the whole thing just cut loose again!  I could feel that there was more there that needed to be released.  This cycle was shorter but even more intense than before.  For the first time in my life, I can actually say that I not only sobbed, but I wailed with sorrow and joy.  I used my voice to transmute that feeling and energy. This final wave subsided after a time and I was finally done.  I lay there completely spent.

 

It’s very hard to describe my session in words. The big releases that I had were nothing like I’ve ever experienced before. I know that I’ve never in my life allowed myself to be so raw, to be so vulnerable to the feelings I was having in those moments.  I only know that this was a life changing moment for me.  I had made a big step toward my own personal freedom.  I’d allowed myself to feel love and know that I needed and wanted this to be more prevalent in my life.  This is a huge thing for me because I’ve found the concept of love to be somewhat of a mystery.  It’s not a that I didn’t understand it at all, I just never really “felt” love to any huge degree from what I remember.  I knew enough of love, to realize that I was missing something.

 

In the moments and minutes that followed, I did some more processing with Deanna, drank water and talked.  I found it difficult to move my body.  I felt like I was trying to force my very essence back into my physical body.  It was hard to coordinate my muscles to even move me out of the room and the building out to my car.  Since I’d had some experience with doing this in the past, I knew I needed to be extra careful as I drove home. Breathwork like other types of healing practices can cause you to be in an altered state and even feel as though you are “out of body” at times.  It’s important to spend time re-integrating, and a good way to do this is by drinking water and eating a small amount of food.  Dark chocolate is one of the recommended foods to eat, but anything that is organic and unprocessed.

 

I know this is not the end.  I know there is more, but for now I’m in a really good place.  I feel blessed and loved.  I’m ready now to move forward into the days to come full of love!

 

– Dwight Jon Raatz, 10/11/2017

A Change of Perspective: Your Assignment

The More

Take a break from what you think is your reality.

 

Just for a few minutes I want you to come along with me on a journey of release and imagination.  To do this, I need you to go outside somewhere and find a comfortable place to sit or stand.  It’s best if you are in Nature somewhere, but this is not a requirement.  Please take your time to find a place where you will not be interrupted but you can most certainly be with others around you.

 

Now, for this to work I need you to suspend some of your knowledge of the world around you.  I need you to forget that wind exists.  Yes, that’s right.  Just for a bit, pretend that you don’t know what wind is or what effect it can have on things around you.  Got it?

 

Next I want you to start looking at things around you.  Look at the trees.  Look at the leaves on the ground. Look at the flags on the poles.  Look at the clouds in the sky.  Do you see that they are moving?  Now, I want you to shift your perspective a bit and forget that wind is moving them, and that they are moving themselves.  What if the trees are moving on their own, stretching, waving, alive!  What if the clouds are on an adventure moving across the sky and taking in the scenes of the Earth below them?  What if the flag is waving because it’s excited to represent the hope and dreams of a country?  What if the leaves are racing around, playing, finding mischief in getting stuck to your window, in your hair or car grill?  Notice how the world is alive around you and notice how you have been oblivious to these wonders.

 

Indeed, we all spend way too much time in our heads or stuck to a portable screen to notice the life around us.  Take a break now and then to notice how much life is all around you.  Notice that by doing this, you become more connected to life, you appreciate life more and feel joy in being part of it.

 

Let me know how you did with your assignment.  What did you experience?  How did you see life around you differently?  What can you add to this assignment that might help others?

 

American Beauty – Plastic Bag Scene

 

Peace,

 

Dwight Raatz

What I’ve Learned So Far

The More

A dear friend asked me some time ago what I think I’ve learned in my life. This seemed to be an ominous task to recount all of it until I realized that learning can boil down to some over-arching concepts. Yes of course I’ve learned to speak, write, walk, etc and I won’t go into these more mundane aspects of my training. The purpose of this writing is to share the deeper concepts of my own learning and to hopefully spur some of your own thoughts around what you have learned in your life.

What have I learned so far? – (in no particular order)

I learned…

  • . . . how much others allowed me to behave as I chose (the good, the bad and the ugly).
  • . . . how badly I behaved at times without regard to other’s feelings or needs.
  • . . . how much those close to me, love me and want me to be happy.
  • . . . that allowing me to behave badly does not serve you or me. I now realize that calling others on their behavior can be a very loving thing to do.
  • . . . how much I considered myself a victim of my environment (parents, society, etc)
  • . . . that I have a lot more anger in me than I previously thought… about many things…
  • . . . that awareness of perspective (mine and others) is critical to enlightenment
  • . . . that truth is the conjoined twin of perspective
  • . . . that my own need for control is at the deepest part of my fear (as so succinctly and directly shown to me by Mother Ayahuasca)
  • . . . that no matter how much I want someone to see my perspective (my truth), that they may not have a way to understand it and that I cannot take it personally if they don’t understand it.
  • . . . that no matter how much I try to show someone how their behavior and method of communication is poisonous (in my perspective), if they believe they are doing the right thing, I will likely never convince them otherwise.
  • . . . that my perspective of someone else’s behavior can be flawed and full of righteous judgment
  • . . . that no matter how I was treated as a child, my parents, siblings, friends and neighbors were all doing the best they could.
  • . . . that a person’s best changes and that I have no way of knowing what they’ve been through in their life that causes their best to be what it is.
  • . . . that sometimes a person’s best is horrid and unspeakable and likely a result of them trying to survive their own demons.
  • . . . that fully giving myself to someone can be the most terrifying and beautiful experience I’ve ever known
  • . . . that I never fully gave myself to anyone, because I don’t know how.
  • . . . that being angry is not a bad thing but is simply is an indicator of a needed change.
  • . . . that my anger can be used as fuel to propel me forward into the unknown territory of change.
  • . . . that sharing my perspective is best when another asks for it.
  • . . . that my obsession with sex, women, the female form, is all normal and I no longer need to feel bad about it
  • . . . that I am in love with my body and the more I honor it, the more it loves me back.
  • . . . that I don’t need to figure it all out, and that I need to trust more.
  • . . . that another person’s emotions are not my responsibility.
  • . . . how wide spread shame is used as a method of control, and this makes me very sad.
  • . . . that growing up on a farm was an amazing way of learning about life and death, building a solid work ethic, developing my intuition, connecting with nature and respecting it, knowing how to work with others, developing problem solving skills and creativity, enjoying solitude, and many other things that I’m appreciating more the older I get.
  • . . . that the only true and powerful way for me to vote for change is where I choose to spend my money.
  • . . . that the only way for me to truly be free is to take responsibility for how I respond to life.
  • . . . that through awareness and diligence, I can train my mind to do my bidding instead of the other way around.
  • . . . that peace comes from having an open mind and taking the time to truly understand someone else.
  • . . . that traveling (near or far) is a great way to know your planet, to build empathy for others, and for others to better know you.
  • . . . that I will continue to learn and experience every day of my life and that is really the whole point.

Gratitude,

Dwight Raatz

Pointless Protection

The More

We each have our struggles in life.  Many of these struggles are emotional pains that we have experienced at some point and we continue to carry with us each day.  These experiences at times have been things that have been done to use from others and some are things that we have done and we feel shame from them.  As we live our lives with these pains they not only have a direct effect on how we enjoy and perceive ourselves, but they also have a profound effect on those that love us.  Many times we think that the best thing for us to do is keep this pain away from others, that somehow by carrying it all on our own we will protect those around us.  The truth is that those who love us, who want to be close, see and feel the pain anyway.

The worst part for them is not that they are affected by it or that they are witnessing the pain even though you may deny it is there; the worst part is that you are denying them the connection with you that they so desperately want.  Even if you are going through the shit, it is better that you share your doubts and fears with your loved ones, allow them to comfort you and allow your vulnerability to show them what’s going on.  This will help them to at least partially understand and maybe enable them to help.  It’s in the sharing, that connects and binds you together.  If you continue to shut them out, their own pain will grow unanswered and their desire to be with you lost to time.

The key to relationships has been touted as communication.  I’d suggest that it is this, but much more.  I believe the key is being completely vulnerable to another and through this vulnerability an open place of communication can form which will create a space for you and others to grow and Know Thyself more fully.

Dwight Raatz

The Goddess Shook

The More

It is time for change and the layers built years upon years ache to be set free.

She takes stock and prepares, there are signs and she heeds them.

She spends time to reflect on the years, the good times and the dark. This brings wisdom and the urge grows stronger.

She Shook

She gathers her resources and plans the new course to be manifest.  This is the new her, the one of her choice and making.

The elements are prepared and nothing will stand in her way as there can be no other way.

The time has come and all is ready. Now, this Goddess, this Mother, this Divine Being will erupt and bring forth new life. Her new life.

She Shook.

 

Dwight Raatz

Love is in the Relationship Dance

The More

I recently read the book, “The Shack” by William P. Young a couple of the concepts presented in this book were Relationships and Expectancy.  The first talks about how God is a verb that she is constantly showing love through action and in the service of others through relationships.  The later is about how expectancy is dynamic and undefined as opposed to expectation which is a fixed “law” or absolute.  Both of these concepts have a theme around movement and not static rules.  It is in this concept of movement that I am currently pondering.

I’ve thought a lot about my relationship with God over the years and in the beginning (mine not hers), I was just trying to understand what the Church was trying to teach me about what my relationship with God was supposed to be like.  While I thought I understood that love was supposed to be unconditional and forgiving, I was confused as to why God wouldn’t accept me if I messed up.  The idea that a set of rules He gave us were absolute and unforgivable didn’t coincide with what my belief of what love was.  Even if you added in that Jesus basically dismissed having to follow these rules, you still needed to accept Jesus as your “lord and savior” to be saved and allowed to spend eternity with God.  This is still an absolute non-dynamic rule and not much of a true loving relationship.

I was always afraid of screwing up and making God mad.  Now as I’m older and nearly 40 years later, I understand my confusion as a child was completely misleading.  I now know that I am acceptable to God or The Universe no matter what.  As a matter of my belief, I don’t even believe that The Universe needs to accept me at all or even needs this as a requirement.  I don’t believe there are any requirements.  I am part of It and It is part of me. The Universe, as I see it, is completely neutral toward me because it equally an fully Loves ALL parts of itself completely and fully.  If I were to apply the “rules” of the bible toward my belief then that would mean that The Universe would have to find some part of its own self unacceptable, which is just not possible.

What I see now as I expand forth into my days, is that my true impact and legacy will be in the relationships that I form with any and all people in my life.  It’s not about worship or supplication to a god, but rather in how I treat my neighbors, my friends, family and equally as important – in how I treat strangers.  It’s the time I take to slow down and be present with them that will ultimately change the world around me.  I know now that it matters not if I claim any flavor of religion or spirituality .  It is in the relationships I build and care for that I truly show my immense capacity for love.

This Great Flow of Life in all its infinite variations continues to persist with the ultimate goal and outcomes of growth and experience.  Tragedy happens and sometimes it’s all so unbearable, but the trend and effect always moves toward learning growth.  As I look back at my life and events up to now, I see the difficult times and the joy together and not as opposites.  I see the Great Dance of my life as it manifests toward grace and love.  I cannot deny this no matter what happens.

I was watching the beginning of the Presidential Inauguration today and was listening to the invocation and the above concepts again came to mind.  The speaker was recounting some of the struggles and trials we’ve been through as a nation and world.  This reminded me of the persistence of life even though in the moment things can seem so dire and out of control.  If you know anything about history, each period has been full of these same sorts of feelings and events from the beginning.  Death, destruction, war, poverty, inequality, natural disasters, world calamities, etc.  These things feel this way right here and now, but the real truth is that even though they are present, they are really a small part of all of the massive amount of good that is happening in the world.  Really, if you think about it for a moment, there are approximately 7 billion people on the planet and how many of those people are really fighting in actual combat or killing one another in cities and towns around the world?  The number is but a tiny fraction of the total yet we perceive that at any moment we will all die or be affected by a great global or local calamity.  The perception is what controls us and is totally false.  This perception is what “those in power” want us to believe such that a form a control can be established.  The spread of fear is by far the most effective means to control a massive amount of people with very little effort.

I’m reminded of a story I read about how they train elephants and control them.  They start out by chaining their leg with a manacle and have it staked to the ground so they can’t escape.  Slowly over time the size of the chain and manacle is reduced until finally the elephant has only a simple flimsy rope tied to its leg.  Even though the elephant could easily break the rope and walk away, they don’t because the perceive they are still chained by the same force as it was before.  This same kind of concept is being done to us each and every day through how things are reported to us by the mass media.  Any event that happens in the world whether it be a bombing in a far away country or a shooting at an elementary school, it brought directly to us live and constantly for hours.  The individual tragedy is the manacle and chain and the constant repeating of the event is the small rope that binds us with fear to live life.

We are so constantly afraid of what might happen or who will be offended that we stop living a joyful life.  We are “trained” by advertising, reality shows and the news to be afraid of other countries, our neighbors and most of all ourselves.  We are trained to rely on others for approval and to be told what is acceptable.  We judge ourselves and others against this false ideal that can be broken and walked away from at any time.

What I challenge yourself to do is to see the truth of life around you.  See how much of life really flows and creates with little or no effort by you.  Look around and see how people in your community and in the places you travel treat each other.  I think if you started keeping score of all the “good” things you see and the creation that happens, you will find that a vast majority of life is positive and full of grace.  You will see that with tragedy comes understanding, outreach, cooperation, growth and rebuilding.  Sometimes the time between these things is very long, but ultimately they end with us growing as human beings, even if the growth is perceptibly small at times.

I believe that this ebb and flow of life is a grand dance in an ever changing relationship of people and the planet. I believe that the persistence and inclination of life is Love itself and this relationship is the Grand Design of The Universe that requires nothing from us.

– Dwight Raatz

I Gave at the Office

The More

Recently a I read and article that attempted to answer the following question, “What are some of the things in this world you have a hard time accepting?”.  The author went on to talk about vast difference of wealth in the world, how we as Americans spend more on our daily coffee than others make in a whole day and how we have become apathetic to the violence happening locally and in the world around us.  Below is some thoughts on these topics.

My thoughts on the “inequalities of the world” may not be so acceptable to some.  Mainly, I think it’s been this way forever and it is the nature of being human.  The issue here isn’t inequalities, it’s in how we treat each other and our “opinions” of how others should live that are different than “us”.  I look back at the times where I’ve had judgement of others who were different than me, and there are two events that stand out with regard to someone I felt was “needing more” or had less than I and I considered them “wanting”.  The first I remember, is a story about a lady who came to me for Reconnective Healing session, she was on my table and stank of urine and alcohol and was by all appearances a “crazy cat lady” with an alcohol problem.  I felt sorry for her as she looked like a tortured soul laying there.  Then I witnessed her soul rise up from her body and greet me with love and happiness.  This was a happy soul with a chosen life and did not need pity or for someone to feel sorry for her.  The other experience is when I went to Peru and spent 8 days with a family in the Amazon Rainforest.  These people had “nothing” by our standards, but they were the happiest people I’ve ever met. These were humbling experiences and made a profound affect on my perspective of others, and how I was being judgmental.

I think the real issue is when people want to “help” but the cost for the help is telling these people how they should live and what to believe.  These people have chosen to be on this planet and they have chosen to procreate.  Sometimes they want us to feel sorry for them, yet they don’t take responsibility to stop their own population growth.  This isn’t a judgment on morals or religion, but rather economics and what makes sense from the standpoint of food, shelter, clothing and the supply of them all.  It’s fine to help, but it’s not okay to place expectations on how others will receive that help or what they will do with the resources they receive.  I also understand that some people of the world have oppressive governments, who try to live within their means and work hard.  For these people, I think the world owes them some kind of respite or chance for growth and freedom.

I have no issues wanting to help others, but I do have a strong suspicion of “organizations” out there asking for money to help the poor.  First, I really don’t know who to trust and who really has the moral fortitude to be an organization I want to stand behind.  What is the money really going to provide?  What kind of overhead do they have?  Who’s salary will I be paying when I send my check in?  I’ve heard so many stories about organizations like the Salvation Army who have been around for decades that really don’t reflect my own personal beliefs on relationships, religion and helping ALL people regardless of their sexual orientation, religion, creed, etc.  Yet they stand at the entrances of local shops and groceries ringing their bells and asking to support these viewpoints while not really spelling out their own prejudices.  I prefer to associate with organizations like Feed My Starving Children who have low overhead and I can put time into helping their cause.  The other preference I have is to help people locally.  I’ve never understood why we send money elsewhere when we have homeless, freezing people right here in our own neighborhoods.  I think helping those abroad is important for sure, but let’s not forget our own.  This is really the future in sustainable populations – each area supporting its own first, then the extra can go to other areas who may be struggling because of natural or otherwise disasters.  It is up to each person and each society to be responsible for its own actions first and to figure out how to adjust to make themselves thrive.

As for the topic of apathy and violence, this is something I was just talking with my son about this past holiday.  Everything we are inundated with in the media and to an extent society, numbs us to think what we are seeing is acceptable.  We as “the people” tend to be outraged for a few minutes and then find something shiny off in the distance and promptly forget the tragedies of only moments before.  I believe this sort of “memory loss” is directly related to what we see happening on TV and the movies.  We really don’t worry about how it ends because doesn’t everything end up nice and neat within the 60 or 120 minute time allotment? No one seems to really feel the effects of tragedy unless it happens to them directly.  I even see things that happen within a family be forgotten within a short amount of time and people go right on living life.  They see the same injustices happening right out their own front door without raising much of any kind of emotion in them.  The only way we are going to change apathy is to teach our children by examples of loving each other.  The children will see how we accept things and what we don’t.  We need to show them how connecting to that person at the bus stop or the lone child at the play ground or the elderly man who is shuffling down the sidewalk is an important action to take.  We need to show them how to stop, listen with intent, rapture and respect.  Show them how to slow down and take the time that each of us deserve to be recognized and respected.  These acts will then spread and grow with the generation and eventually take over the “culture” of the world.

I just posted something to the effect that the news media doesn’t want you to know that there is much more good in the world than bad.  That the isolated “events” of tragedy should be dealt with for what they are, but the response to these events should be from a place of active love and responsibility and not reactive fear.  Each event of violence, natural disasters, etc are horrible, but we lose connection with them because we don’t allow them to affect us directly in any way.  This is what the media, video games, movies have taught us, that we see what’s happening around us as it’s in a virtual world and isn’t real.  So when we see it on the news or in newspapers, it isn’t real there either.

 

Dwight Raatz

The Sorcerer – art by Michel Pleau

The More
The Sorcerer

art by Michel Pleau

The story about this art piece titled, “The Sorcerer” by Michel Pleau is very interesting.  Michel was approached by Nancy who commissioned the piece in honor of  her father who used to tell Nancy stories as a child.  She tells the story of how since she can remember, her dad would tell her stories at bedtime.  These stories weren’t from a book or bought from a store, but rather he told her an ongoing story of a young girl named Mathilda and the harsh but magical lands in which she lived.  The stories chronicled the adventures of Mathilda as she grew and navigated this realm.  It was a time were everything about life seemed to be in an unstable and in transitional upheaval.  Even the earth itself was undecided about its destiny and it was a time were all beings were in this state of flux and there was a great need for direction and leadership.  Nancy tells how her father would describe how Mathilda would connect with nature as a way to become grounded and to see the clear truth of the world and herself.  Mathilda would then show others this truth and provide leadership by example for others.  Nancy spoke at length about how these stories made such an amazing impact on her life as she grew up.  They helped Nancy see how she could make a positive impact on the world around her and how to have many deep and fulfilling relationships.  Nancy tells of how Mathilda didn’t see herself as anyone special, but rather as an ambassador of life’s truth.  This truth she saw as her greatest power and this power eventually enabled her to become a very wise and gracious sorcerer.  As Nancy spoke about her father’s stories I could sense the deep impact they had on her.  She commissioned this piece in honor of her father, but it was being given to her own daughter as a gift.  You see, Nancy continues her dad’s stories with her own daughter and these stories really are a guide of the truth and self empowerment for her as well.  I have been so very blessed to have a second edition of this piece of art and I will always think of Mathilda, “The Sorcerer of Truth”.

Dwight Raatz

To receive an email notice on future posts, click here to subscribe.

Active Contentment

The More

What does it mean to be contented?  Merriam-Webster defines it as:
: the quality or state of being contented
: feeling or showing satisfaction with one’s possessions, status, or situation

Sometimes I think that being content is like giving up.  For example, if you have a relationship that isn’t fulfilling, but you’ve decided that it’s good enough.  Or, perhaps you’re being told that you should “count your blessings” and be content with what you have.  I really think this is bullshit and that a person thinking these things has given up a part of themselves.  Especially when it comes to relationships, I think we’ve all been programmed to think that once we’ve indicated that we are connected to another person in an intimate way, we need to find all our fulfillment in them.  The reality of this is that no one can be everything to another person.  We each have our own interests and passions that can certainly overlap with another’s, but why give up on the rest?  What happens when you meet that other person who is a perfect fit for some or all of the rest of what you are passionate about?  Why does anyone need to give up “the rest” out of some ideal that it would be wrong or immoral to connect with another person who can fulfill that for us?

It’s important to indicate that just because you are not finding complete fulfillment in another, doesn’t mean that there is anything “wrong” with that person or that they are “bad” in some way.  I’ve personally been married for almost 25 years to someone I consider to be my best friend in this lifetime.  However, for many years I have had a driving force telling me that I needed to expand on my experiences with relationships with others.  This doesn’t mean that my wife is “not enough” or that there is something wrong with her in any way.  I just simply means that I want to experience more things with other people.  You might be thinking that this is just a “mid-life crisis”, but it isn’t because I’ve always known this about myself, I was just not brave enough to express it until this past year.  Once you are married you are fit into a specific role that has specific expectations by society.  I thought there was something wrong with me and that I was somehow faulty or not good enough.  It has been through my process of increasing my awareness that I’ve discovered that I don’t have to be stuck in a role that I had nothing to do with creating.  I also discovered that by communicating my desires and intent to her, that we can and are, creating a new way of being together.  This is not just being content, but what I call “Active Contentment”.  Active Contentment requires a person to take responsibility for all aspects of their life and to Actively work on being Content!  This is a process of evaluating my life repeatedly in who I am and what I desire to experience, then make a decision and a plan of Action that will adjust things so it moves me toward that goal.  This process is ongoing and has no end.  After all, it’s actually pretty awesome to take control of my life in an active and pro-active way!  The other benefit of what we are doing with our relationship, is that we are both growing more independent, grounded in who we are, and focused on what really matters in our relationship.  This concept has been very confusing for some that have been witnessing our changes, and I think the most confusing part for them is that we aren’t acting in the way they would “expect” two married people who no longer live together should act.  Society most definitely wants to neatly categorize our actions and to set expectations on the outcomes, but at every turn we are causing the expectations to collapse and forcing people to re-evaluate their perception of how a relationship can be.

Another area to consider is what you do for work, whether it is a job or maybe a business you are running.  You’ve made a contract or arrangement with the employer or your employees to the work or service you provide, but if you aren’t happy with what you are doing, why not change?  I can certainly understand this from both perspectives as I’ve been an employer and an employee.  I have experienced stepping into an agreement that I will do something and then perhaps after a time I’ve find that it just isn’t working.  Then what I’ve done in the past is to start to feel guilty about changing, that I will somehow be letting “them” down if I leave my job or have to close the business.  In my last business I wasn’t getting enough cash flow to support the overhead expenses of rent and payroll so instead of shutting it down at that point, I cashed out one of my retirement accounts (at a penalty of course plus taxes) in order to fund the business and pay my employees.  The only thing this did was postpone the inevitable and drain me of a savings I’d been building up for over 20 years.  Out of a perceived “responsibility” to others, I’m the one who ultimately suffered.  I suffered the guilt, the anxiety and the loss of money for nothing.  I also see this all the time with people who have jobs that they really don’t like at all.  Rather than doing something about it, they stay, feel miserable and sometimes complain to everyone who will listen about the job and the employer.  In the end, nothing usually gets solved from the situation, the person is unfulfilled and everyone around them is robbed of having a positive relationship with that person.

For me, I’ve been doing the same kind of work for over 20 years, but never fulfilled with what I’m doing.  This has caused me to move around in my jobs hoping the next place will be the one to fulfill that need and during this time I would “suffer” this discontentment by having anxieties and depression about feeling lost in my life and career.  I would always have a reason to seek the greener grass to motivate me to find a new job or start a business.  I never spent the time to really understand what was at the core of my discontent and therefore kept re-creating the same situation over and over hoping for a different result (therefore insanity was a reality for me).  Through Active Contentment I was able to discover that the root of my issues around my jobs was in my own lack of self esteem and self love.  I never felt that I ever measured up to my expectations nor the perceived expectations of others.  My “assumptions” said that others found me lacking and that I wasn’t really capable of performing at the level which is really needed for this position or as this kind of employer.   However, the overwhelming responses I’ve always received from reviews and customers, was that I am an exceptional person.

I had a recent experience where I was talking with a former customer of mine about the business I had closed.  I was indicating to them that I had found someone locally to take on my customer’s needs and that they were very competent and capable of handling the same services I had provided.  The customer looked at me and said that I didn’t get it; that it was Me that people wanted to have as a service provider, not just someone that would provide them with a “service”.  I was stunned by this as I had never considered what I was doing or who I was as exceptional or irreplaceable.  This gave me a whole new perspective on myself that was at the beginnings of my discovery of a positive self worth.

Active Contentment means that you have responsibility, but it also means that you have the freedom to choose how you are going to feel content.  For me in my job, I’ve shifted into an active contentment about what I do.  This doesn’t mean that I’ve given up on changing what I do for a living at some point, but it does mean that I’m a lot happier in the meantime.  I am choosing to love myself, to see the great things that I do and am able to do, to admit freely of things I don’t understand and to seek help without embarrassment or self deprecation.  I am choosing to leverage my employment to prepare my life in a way that will enable to me step away from what I’m doing now, to a new career or business.  I am choosing to be excited and methodical without being unrealistic.  I am choosing to discover what it is about another person that intrigues me or attracts me to them without feeling like I’m betraying someone else or myself.  I am choosing to be content but not to give up or settle.

What can you do in your life to be content without giving up or settling?

 

Dwight Raatz

Submit

The More

Have you ever committed to something and the moment you do, things begin to change?  For me, I can reason and think about actions I might want to take, but nothing much changes until I submit and commit.  By submit, I mean that you take an action or step that commits you toward the goal or destination you have decided to attain.  This action is something that you can’t easily change your mind after submitting.  In my case, I recently went on a trip that involved quite a few things outside of my comfort zone because it was out of the United States and involved traveling to a retreat in the middle of the Amazon jungle with no connection to the outside world.

As I was on the retreat center’s web site and I filled out the payment forms, the moment I clicked the submit button to send my payment, I could feel things change and shift.  This was even compounded more when I booked the hotels and flights.  There was no changing my mind, no going back.  I committed to the journey and the Universe started to manifest my wishes.  I felt different immediately, lighter, more free, nervous, excited, focused.  Debate or worry about going on the trip ceased and a new perspective started.  I only had to decide what I wanted and it began to form immediately.  This has me wondering about all of the other things in my life that I’ve “thought” about, worried about, not decided.  I think about all the time and energy that I wasted in the space of indecision and worry that came to nothing in the end.  I can see how it’s better to make a dozen different decisions than to worry and think about one decision that takes forever to decide (if at all).  Deciding is an action that sets in motion a whole myriad of other actions and releases a flood of energy that is fully dedicated to making what you decided come to life.  If after making the decision you see that it isn’t working, then you decide something different and again set in motion more actions and energy.  The first decision loses it power and dissipates into the void (or some might say that the first decision continues on to create an alternate reality) and the new decision begins to take form.  It’s the indecision that blocks energy which can cause anxiety, high blood pressure, constipation, and other forms of dis-ease.

Submit to me also means to release.  Once you have “filled out the forms and clicked submit”, you have decided to do something and then released that decision out to the Universe to become manifest.  In my act of submitting to the retreat journey, I sent out to several organizations my intent to act and it was up to them to fulfill my intent.  At that point all I needed to do was show up!  Yes, that’s right; you can do the act of deciding and acting on that decision, but it really takes many subsequent actions to fulfill the intent for my part of the agreement.  Each subsequent decision and act continues to build a momentum of energy that culminates once you’ve reached your goal or destination.  Then the energy can resolve and complete to satisfaction, self-assurance, joy and even love.

If you’re feeling the anxiety and pressures of life holding you in place, the best thing to do is start making decisions and lots of them!

Dwight Raatz