I Am Not Important

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 a 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 I 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.  I was often 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, 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 in 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 abovenegative andpositive 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 our relationships, but more specifically our 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.”.  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 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 protect myself than to be hurt by allowing someone into my heart.  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 inward.  I had cycles of good days followed by many fraught with anxiety and depression.  I worked hard at keeping all of this bottled up inside of 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 I 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 the 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.  The sensation was similar to a heavy vibration that encompassed my whole body.  As the vibration lifted, I could feel my physical body become more still and relaxed.  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 breathing 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 or separation 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 enough 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 or dimension , 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 as 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 and sorrow releasing and joy receiving. The sorrow was from knowing that I’d starved myself from 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 the prison. 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!  At that moment I had to decide.  Was I going to trust that I was safe by letting go?  Was Deanna safe to do this with?  What would happen to me if I let go? Would I be able to come back or would I be lost in the emotion of this?  In that split second of thought, I decided it no longer served me to keep holding on.  I needed desperately to grow and to release the pain, and this was the moment.  I trusted Deanna and I trusted this process.  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 wastrapped inside of me.

 

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 through her. 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. It’s so very hard to explain in words the release of the pain and emotions.  It’s hard to describe the thirst I felt for allowing myself to feel love.  It’s hard allow myself to feel this vulnerable with anyone.  What would they think of me now after seeing me completely lose it?  Would I appear to be weak, not a man, not more in control of my life?  I believe many of us feel this way when faced with letting go of emotions and the possibility of being embarrassed or even ridiculed for doing just that.

 

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 that needed to be released and my body knew it, and apparently so did Deanna. 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 andI 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

 

(Edited 11/21/2017)

Who Are You Really?

Throughout my spiritual journey as a seeker of truth and enlightenment, I have often been told that I am not showing my true self to the world. I’ve been told that I am hiding “Who I Really Am” because of my fears of letting out this truth. While I do not argue with this assessment, my challenge and struggle has been to know who I really am so I can let “him” out. I understand that I have many fears in life, but what am I afraid of letting out? It seems to me that the first step in solving any problem is to understand the problem to its fullest extent. I need to know who I am before I can understand my fears of “letting him out”. Then I will have something to hold onto, a direction to go in, a goal to achieve.

As I consider this challenge of discovery I have come across a few tidbits of truth and consistencies. I have found that the answers to my questions have revealed themselves in the quiet moments in life. The quiet moments are those moments when time seems to stand still for you. You “accidentally” intersect with the exact combination of events that lead you to a moment of perfection. You know what I’m talking about. You might think that its never happened, but I know it has for you too. For example: you are busy walking from your car to a client meeting and it just so happens that it’s a beautiful warm and calm summer day. As you are walking you just happen to hear a bird singing joyfully on a tree branch hear by. You stop for a moment and look up at the bird, you feel peaceful, you feel the warm sun on your face, the thoughts of your meeting are on pause for a moment, you feel connected to yourself and the earth around you. In that moment of perfection you are just “being”, even if it was for only a few seconds. It’s important that after those moments of perfection, you store that feeling of peace inside your heart. It’s like recharging your battery.

As I consider these moments of perfection I have had throughout my life, I know that these have been the sneak previews of who I really am. The times when thoughts and story just seem to run out of my fingers through the pen onto paper or keyboard and screen. The times when I am speaking to a friend about life and from out of nowhere these words come to mind that are just perfect for them at that moment. Or, even the times when I hold my grandson in my arms and know the unconditional love I have for him and he has for me. These moments of perfection show me the peace that is possible in my life.

As I wrote in my previous posting (Noticing), I am becoming more aware of the “bold print” of my life. I am noticing more and more moments of perfection and learning who I really am. I am Compassion – I am a Divine Messenger – I am a Teacher – I am a Healer – I am Love. I look at these aspects of myself and wonder how I can Be this at all times. How can I share this Being with the world and have it understand me? How can I Be these things and still function “normally” in today’s world? This is my next hurdle.

So, Who Are You… Really?

Dwight Raatz

Noticing

You’ve probably experienced the phenomenon of buying a car or some other expensive gadget and then you start to notice that you see that same product everywhere. I had this recently when I purchased a used car that I’ve never really seen around before. Now I see them everywhere! This phenomenon is related to the part of your brain called the “Reticular Activator”. This is that part of the brain that starts firing up and making you notice things that you may have otherwise disregarded in the past. The interesting thing about all of this is that these items didn’t just appear, they were there all the time, we just didn’t notice.

As I evolve and grow in my spiritual awakening I am starting to “notice” things more often. I am noticing synchronicities and patterns that are happening in my life like word phrases, identical advice being given by unrelated people without even asking them or even physical things that make themselves known by falling over or bumping into me. In the past, I wouldn’t have even given things like this a second thought and if I had, I would have just discounted them as coincidence. Now, I have found myself to be slowing down a lot and taking the time to consider each thing that happens to and around me. I am completely convinced that each action, each person and situation I experience is for a reason. I know that it is up to me to interpret these experiences and to decide how to respond. It is in the response that defines who and what I am as a person.

There was a time not too long ago that I felt very isolated from everything and everyone. While I had a general feeling of spirituality and believing there was a Higher Source in the Universe, I still didn’t consider myself part of it – I was disconnected (or at least I thought I was). Now after being connected to so many wonderful people who are dedicated to their own spiritual awakening and experiencing various rituals, classes, meditations and readings; I have started to notice the “bold print” of life. I’m noticing things that stand out for no apparent reason other than they do. And after I notice them I file that information away waiting for it to connect to the next thing or to something that has already happened. What I am finding are these intricate and detailed patterns guiding me along the way and answering questions that I have asked. Are these messages new just because I have done all this “spiritual work”? I don’t think so. I think they have always been there, but now my Reticular Activator is on and picking up on them.

So what does this all mean? It means that my sense of isolation and being disconnected was just an illusion. It was an illusion brought on by true ignorance of Spirit resulting from the dogma of my childhood religion, from the veiled and unconscious methodical way of life and from the hopelessness being fed to us by each other and the media.

The moral of this story is to tell you to wake up… WAKE UP and notice how Spirit communicates to you. Notice the signs being presented and connect the dots. Notice the bigger picture around the events happening to you and around the World. What do you think these patterns are telling you? How will you respond to them? What positive things can you see happening as a result of even the most dreadful events? Can you sense the grand guidance scheme happening all around? You will and must respond but don’t just react; respond after contemplation and after considering alternative solutions. How can you make it better for you and the world?

Dwight Raatz

A Slow Moving Storm – Part I

A Slow Moving Storm of Change Looms on My Life’s Horizon ~ Dwight Raatz

The following text was written on February 2nd, 2008.  While my ideas and beliefs have evolved in the past two years, this will give you a glimpse of my thought process at the time around life, religion and how those things affected me on an emotional level. I have come to understand that the “awareness” that I write about is my intuitive nature, my sense of “knowing” without having to experience with my normal senses.

The title of this piece is really about the feeling of foreboding or anxiety about the possible outcomes and fear that was out there, barely visible, but looming and in a way I knew somehow to be inevitable.

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It might seem obvious to some what thoughts and concerns most men have of life.  I don’t feel that mine are earth shaking and I don’t feel that they are unique or revolutionary.  I do feel however that I seem to be aware of more than what is set in front of me.  I feel that my awareness has not only been my guide in life, it has also been my curse.  Seeing and feeling things that I don’t understand and have no point of reference has made my life’s journey painful, confusing, and depressing.  With the exception of this last year, I have felt very little joy or happiness.  Much of this distress has been due to the internal torment of my mind and the feeling of loneliness and of being lost.

While I have always had a connection with God in my life, I feel that as I get older, my understanding of God becomes clearer.  What I struggle with is reconciling my internal innate understanding of God with what has been taught to me my whole life.  There are parts of my teachings that have fallen in line with what I know to be true, but these parts are few and far between.  I think my first inclination that I was a part of a larger spiritual picture is when I was about 9 years old.  I remember laying out on the front step of my parent’s farm house looking up at the sunny sky that had a few high clouds.  I wasn’t thinking of anything in particular, just being in the moment, feeling the heat of the sun and the warm air around me and feeling a general sort of peacefulness.  I remember looking at a cloud, and then suddenly a face appeared there.  It wasn’t a cloud that looked like a face; it was a man’s face.  I saw it as clearly as if I was looking at a picture in my hand.  The face was smiling and looking at me directly.  As you can imagine I was startled and blinked my eyes.  As fast as it appeared there, it was gone.  It’s as if once my mind was “engaged” in reality, I lost my right to see this face or know it more.  Somehow I knew that this was God or Jesus or some angle peaking at me, giving me a glimpse.  I really don’t know what to make of it exactly, but it has always stayed with me.

I have many thoughts, questions, and feelings about religion in general and its relative nature to God and my faith in him.  This has left me wanting.  I want to find one or more people to talk to about these feelings.  I want someone to be strong enough in their own beliefs, but willing to have an open mind to discuss these things with me without trying to discount what I am saying, dismiss the topic, or preach to me what the bible states as if that is the black and white decision maker.  I would prefer to have someone that has a good solid knowledge of bible’s contents, but it isn’t an absolute necessity.  Having someone with this knowledge would at least be able to give me a perspective of the teachings as they relate to my questions.

If you feel that you willing to embark on a journey of discovery and consideration of alternate truths, then continue reading.  I don’t want to be “saved” by someone.  I want to have an ongoing open truthful relationship with a willing soul to not only be a guide, but to also be willing to be guided.

<continued in Part II>
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Just so you know, I did try engaging with this type of conversation with some people I considered to be highly faithful and educated in their Christian religion, but ultimately it became obvious that the topic was just too uncomfortable for them to give me good constructive feedback or perspectives.

Part II sets out some definitions, questions and opinions related to the above.  These will be things you can ponder and possibly respond to and give your own perspective.

Dwight Raatz