Self Identity and Suffering

The Sorcerer

I believe that starting from the time you are in the womb, until a few days or weeks after birth, a child has very little concept of feeling separate from anything around them.  They have an innate identity which comes from a place of primal emotions as well as whatever necessary knowledge or wisdom they retained from prior life-times.  This is the baseline from which we all start our lives, the rest is learned from the experiences we have moving forward.

How one identifies themselves is a collective mashup of beliefs a person acquires starting at a very young age and continually evolving throughout their lives.  Initially these beliefs are put upon them by parents or whomever is around them from birth to the age of reason (The age at which a child is held capable of discerning right from wrong).  One of the basic precepts of life on Earth is that there must be a sense of separation in order to truly experience what it is to be human.  Creating a self identity is important in order to create a separation between the self and everything else.  This, in-turn, helps you become an individual with your own life, goals and purpose. These attributes help you navigate relationships, become part of a community and feel like there is a sense of belonging somewhere in the world.  

In Sean Webb’s book “Mind Hacking Happiness Vol 1”, he talks about the concept of a “Self Map” that we all have.  This Self Map is constructed throughout your lifetime from both positive and negative experiences.  If you can imagine a target or an image of concentric rings and at the center of this target is what you would consider your “Self”, or who you are as a person and what are the most important things you need to survive.  This would include the basics like food, water, shelter, clothing.  If any of these things become threatened, you would likely do whatever you could to protect those things in order to survive.  As you move out from that center point, each ring signifies beliefs you have that have different levels of importance to you.  The closer the ring is to the center the more important the belief is to you.  So for example, the next ring closest to the center could be beliefs such as, “I am a good person”, “I am open minded”, “I love my family”, and so on.  A ring mid-way out on the target might be something like, “I am a good softball coach” or “I am a good driver”.  And on the other rings you might believe, “I like pepperoni pizza”.

As you live your life and you have interactions with others (whom have their own self maps), they will undoubtedly express their thoughts and opinions about the world directly from the framework of their Self Map.  When you experience the beliefs of others, the mind will take that information, compare it to your self map, and then create the necessary emotional response to it.  This process is automatic and comes from the part of your brain (the Limbic system) that has the responsibility to keep you alive.  In the initial course of human brain development, the Limbic system was on line and necessary to keep you safe from threats of the environment (like lions, tigers and bears – oh my!).  As time moved on and humans evolved, the threat levels from the environment changed and become less due to how we evolved intellectually.  However, the Limbic system stayed in tact and it still doing its job to protect us.

Each time an experience you have is matched up with an “item or entry” on your self map, the mind will decide the level of threat that experience has to your survival.  The emotional response to those threats, generally speaking, has a direct affect on your level of happiness and contentment.  The more “items” on your self map, the more likely you are not going to be content in who you really are.  For example, if you are a die hard Minnesota Vikings fan and you happen to be at a bar watching a football game against the Green Bay Packers, you might hear someone talking down about the Vikings. As you listen to the person, the mind matches that with your “identity” as a person who is a Vikings fan. If your belief as a fan is closer to the center of your self map, the higher your emotional response will be to the “threat”. In effect, the degradation of the Vikings is also a degradation of who you believe yourself to be.

When you consider the concept of self identity, and you compare it to the suffering of the world, I would contend that much of the distress is caused by feeling that our identities are being threatened. The up-side to this issue is that we can change our minds and choose a different response to what we experience. Choosing a different response is the path to mind mastery. Mind mastery is a path to contentment and happiness.

Mind mastery, as described in Sean Webb’s book, is growing awareness through the practices of mindfulness. As you experience various emotional “events” (like a demeaning comment about the Vikings), you can consider why you are feeling the way you do about that comment. Are you mad, are you uncomfortable, are you irritated? Then you can consider, what belief you have on your self map that may feel threatened by this comment. Once you’ve identified that (I am a diehard Viking fan because my dad was and my grandfather before that, so I am too), then you get to decide how important that belief really is to you. Once you have decided this, you can choose how you want to respond. You can also choose if you want to move that belief of being a Vikings fan out further on your self map or even off the map completely. The further out or off the map, the less emotional effect any comment related to the Vikings will have on you. This is mind mastery.

I have discovered through my healing practices that I have a primary negative core belief. This belief was created over years of various experiences. I had very little guidance trying to figure out how to navigate my life and feeling like the choices I’ve made, the ideas I have, or the way that I think meant nothing to or disappointed someone else. Having this belief sitting at the core of my own mind became a primary point on my own self map. This core belief is what fuels the protection of my Limbic system. Each experience I have is matched up to verifying whether that experience validates or invalidates my negative core belief. When it does validate it, the emotional state I fall into is depression. Likewise, if someone has an expectation of me to meet some sort of goal or know a bit of information, or to be able to process a large amount of new information, this also validates my core belief because I don’t believe in myself or what I’m capable of. This then causes me a huge amount of anxiety.

Much of the suffering I’ve had in my life through anxiety and depression can be traced directly back to how I see myself as a person and the value I place on myself. For many years now, the Universe has been showing me that I needed to look into mind mastery as a way to improve my life, but I discounted this. I didn’t believe that mind mastery would have any affect on my quality of life. I didn’t believe that there was anything that could truly change what I perceived as the “truth” of my own worth as a human being. I now know that in the past I wasn’t ready to make the choices I needed to, in order to make the necessary changes. I had to have more emotional and physical proof that I had to experience even more pain and suffering to really push me over the edge.

The proof that finally convinced me was when my sensitivities to the world became more acute and clear as I became older. Even though I’ve known that I am a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) for a few years, I never really considered how sensitive I really am to the world around me. Once I realized that some of the emotions I was feeling were not my own, I begun to understand that it was possible to know if what I was feeling was mine or not. Knowing I could determine this, I realized finally that I could choose how I wanted to feel about anything. About this time, the Universe was showing me videos with Sean Webb who was talking about mind hacking and I knew this was just another reminder that I needed to really dig into this.

As I got deeper into understanding that many of the emotions I felt were really a symptom or effect of some other external stimulus. I started to notice that I can be emotionally effected by the words people speak, the food I eat, the person I’m with (in person or even remote), or the building I’m in among countless other external factors. I realized if these external factors could effect my emotions, I could take my power back and choose how I wanted to respond to those factors. The responsibility was my own to make these changes and that has made all the difference to my overall emotional state.

I have found that implementing some simple mindfulness practices in my life is crucial to mind mastery. Practices such as mediation, auto-writing or journaling, nature walks, breathwork, etc are all good practices that can be implemented easily into your life. Mastery of any kind is not realized from a one-and-done sort of methodology. It’s an ongoing practice that can take years to perfect. This may sound daunting, but from my experience in using these practices for a few short months, it has already paid off with big benefits.

If you are struggling with emotional upheaval, you may want to consider how your mind really works, and if you are sensitive, some of what you are feeling may be from an external source. Being content in your life is a birthright. It is worth the process of discovery to uncover the true source(s) of your emotional challenges. Don’t give up. You are so amazing and the world needs you to shine your true self in order for it to be complete.

Dwight Raatz – 06/26/2021

Force of Habit

The More

The other day Melissa and I came home after a day out shopping and doing errands.  After parking the car we started gathering our things and Melissa went into the house carrying the first load.  It took some time for me to arrange what I needed to haul in but then I headed for the house as well.  Upon getting to our door, I turned the knob and found that the door was locked!  Realizing that I did not have my keys, I managed to use my elbow to push the doorbell to our apartment.  In a couple minutes, Melissa pulled open the door apologizing and said, “Oh sorry!  Force of habit!”.  

The “force of habit” got me thinking.  How many of us do things habitually every day without even thinking about them?  I’d guess that there is a high percentage of things we do that are mostly “muscle memory” or habitual actions.  Habits aren’t necessarily bad or abnormal, and I say that they are good things if the habits are healthy. Habits enable us to function very effectively in many situations all while allowing our minds to contemplate and resolve other more pressing issues.  I believe that these cognitive abilities are part of why we has humans have been so adaptive in surviving on this planet.

In thinking deeper about the “force of habit”, I started to consider some of my own emotional habits.  I thought about how many times I’ve slipped into anxiety about a situation and I have really no idea why I ended up there.  Or when I find myself in a sort of dissociative state where I’m replaying something that happened until I’m in a full blown state of depression.  These things seem to happen to me even without much intent or proper cause.  What if these two states of emotion are more about being a habit and less about being mentally or physically ill?  

As I’ve been growing in my awarenesses around my depression and anxiety, I’ve been noticing that their cause isn’t just from once single source.  I’m finding evidence that mine has been related to physical stresses, emotional trauma, energetic sensitivity and even past life events that have carried forward.  I’m realizing that working through the issues of these emotions is not necessarily solved by doing one thing.  I believe we all need to be open to all possibilities that may be a source of whatever we are struggling with in our lives.

In doing a very quick and informal Google search on creating habits, it says that it can take about 2 months to create a habit.  While this might be true for some things, I believe that a habit can start as soon as you decide it should exist.  Granted it might be a bit bumpy at first, but I think it can be done rather quickly if sufficient intent is placed on the habit.  I think the human mind is so powerful that once we decide something and fully commit with a clear vision, we will implement this change almost immediately in our lives.

Recently I committed to myself that I wanted to evolve my habit of anxiety into a healthy state by the time I turn 54 years old (coming in May 2019).  What I found is that this simple act of seeing the Vision or end point, Deciding, and then Committing (VDC) to it, everything starts to shift into accomplishing that goal.  I’ve found that articles I read, people who talked with me, and communications I receive, all started to move me in that direction.  The other part of the VDC is connecting it to honoring yourself.  If you honor yourself through committing to the goal, then your chances of reaching it multiply rapidly in your favor.

The “habit force” is just another tool in your arsenal that you can now use and leverage to fulfill whatever dream or goal you have.  Consider it’s power and how it can help you, but remember what Stan Lee said, “With great power, comes great responsibility.”  Use it wisely my friends.

Dwight J. Raatz
February 26, 2019

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 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)

The Darkness

I’ve been to that place of darkness. I’ve been lost there many times and felt the despair and utter feeling of hopelessness. I wandered the darkness with nothing to hold on to. No sense of direction or purpose. The only thing that kept me moving was not wanting to add more to the pain by hurting you.

The only thing that saved me from being lost to this life forever was the love beacon that stood by me and followed me everywhere. Why did it care so much, why couldn’t it just leave me alone to disappear. I am tired of fighting, weary of the struggle to breath and listening to my heart laboring. I wanted the pain to stop. I know that it’s selfish, but it is about the survival of my soul from hell.

This physical body of mine, this imbalance in my mind causing the living hell I was in. It was about survival and freedom from the torture. My soul yearned for the light. The darkness of my mind was the shackles of hell that bound me, torturing my soul. The only freedom seemed to be death of this physical form.

It’s not about you. There is nothing you’ve done and there is nothing you can do but wait and be patient. Send love to me, send energy, send me a detour route showing me away to the light without leaving you. If I find a way out and death is the answer, it’s not about you. It’s not about your failure or what you should have seen or done. I only wish I could have spared you the pain of my actions. But I know you are stronger than I. I know you will go on and live even in sorrow. I know you will find love and support to move on with your life. If I find a way out, it’s to be free of the hell of my mind. It’s to give life back to my soul. It is who I truly belong to and we will be together again.

I’ve been to that place of darkness, but I have found a way out in this lifetime, for now. I know I need to share my journey, but I dare not peer back into that place too long. I fear it will swallow me back up and I will be lost again. I dare not, even though I must. I must for you. You are why I’m still here.

Dwight Raatz

Ironing the Dish Towels

A friend of my suggested that I write more about my own experiences with depression and anxiety in my life and how I’ve dealt with it.I’ve hesitated for quite some time to look back at this state of being mostly because, well, writing about depression can be… depressing.But I’ve decided that perhaps some of what I can share might help someone else step out of that space and move onto actually feeling in control.So, with that here it goes…

As I’ve said before, I am not a doctor of any kind and have no formal education around psychology or psychiatry.I am however, an expert witness of anxiety and depression from my own personal struggles and triumphs.I’m not going to be so bold as to tell you that what I’ve done will work for you.But what I do know is the fact that you are reading this and if you have struggles with anxiety and/or depression, you have come a long way to making a permanent change in your life for the better.If you know of someone who struggles from these issues, I hope that this can give you some ideas on what you can do to help them.Just remember – you do have the strength to last another day.

I’ve written at length before in my blog post “Understanding my Depression” about how anxiety and depression started in my life, so I’m not going to cover that here.What I’d like to talk about now is some revelations on not only how I combat it, but how I see other people deal with it (even if they don’t realize that’s what they are doing).

I see anxiety and depression (AD) now as being very similar to constipation.AD is a blockage in my system that creates a downward spiraling, self fulfilling outcome of more AD.Just as your bowels can be constipated in the lower/large intestine and can cause a backup in the rest of your system so it is with AD.The very first and most basic step in combating AD is to create movement in your life.Movement can include a variety of things like physical, environmental, sensory, etc.You need to take one step, then another and another.If you feel so overwhelmed with your circumstances and have a storm of immobilizingthoughts causing you to freeze, say to yourself, “Excuse me – I’m going to interrupt you right here.” and then take a walk.Change your environment in some way.Walk around your room to start with and be sure to look at every part of your room.Look at everything and think about each thing you see, identify it, remember where it came from and think about what you can do with it, then move onto the next item and the next.

The next most important thing to remember is to breath!This seems simple right?Well most people do not breath properly.You need to take deep cleansing breaths.Breath in through your nose way down into your belly.Breath until you can’t suck in another morsel of air and then hold it for a few seconds, then let the air out slowly through your mouth.Once all the air is out, hold that position for a few seconds before taking the next breath.Do this process at least three times slowly and you will feel a burst of energy and be very much more connected to your body.

Anxiety and depression (AD) is constipated energy in our body and we can remove this blockage by breathing and movement.I also consider these actions to be a distraction from what we are lamenting over at any given AD moment.It is this art of distraction that will set you on a path of moving out of the AD state.It has also been proven that by getting more exercise, we increase a naturally occurring chemical in our system called serotonin.Serotonin has been linked to helping many people with AD moods.

I’ve often wondered what people did in the “old days” before medication or even knowing what AD was in order to deal with these feelings.In watching people and some of the older generations, they seemed to deal with hard times by keeping themselves busy.This “busy action” is the distraction that would pass the time and also make them feel good about accomplishing something worthwhile.I would often shake my head as I watched my mom ironing the dish towels, underwear and bed sheets wondering why did she do this?I know that culturally this was sometimes an expectation of the dutiful wife, but I also think it became a sort of mundane task therapy.It was a way to have time to herself and to be distracted from some of the stresses of life.

The real lesson here is give the mind something different to focus on rather than whatever issue caused you to slip into that state of anxious uncontrollability.This movement is a rhythm that brings you into a state of harmonics with the universe around you.This brings peace and creates a space for you to untangle webs that clog your mind.

Dwight Raatz

The Illusion and the Puppet Master

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about people’s perceptions of each other and basically any communication they receive in any form. This goes along with what I wrote in my last blog post, “Intentions, Perceptions & Truth” and it is so fascinating. It’s part of why I haven’t written in a long time. I’ve been spending a lot of time not only observing how other people communicate and their perceptions, but I have also been seeing how I perceive and react to communications as well. I believe this whole perception thing is the primary domain of our ego mind twisting and turning information as it comes in. The ego is comparing the info to its known database of experiences and then making sure that the whatever recommended action it gives is in line with a fear based response steeped in self preservation. I believe my perception of reality (via my ego mind) has taken the primary role in my life of anxiety and depression.

Some of you might be familiar with what I call the “monkey mind effect” where the mind chatter you hear can be overwhelming. My monkey mind (I call mine Virgil) had free reign for most of my life. Virgil would see a situation that has happened or might potentially happen to me and then start in with a multitude of possible outcomes (none of which are good). These generated outcomes would then cause me to have one or more reactions like: being emotionally paralyzed, self beratement, reclusion, anger, weight gain, constipation, body aches, or any number of things that are not supportive in me in any way. This perception that Virgil had was taken as the complete truth in every way and at the time, my created reality supported this. My life literally became the outcomes created by my ego mind, which became the “truth feedback loop” proving that my ego was right. My fear based reality would then become a self fulfilling prophecy and continue to perpetuate itself. In my studies, I now realize how incredibly powerful I am as a being and that I’ve been giving Virgil (my ego) the lion’s share of this power.

I was watching a movie last night called “The Nines” where there are three stories being told utilizing the same characters but slightly different story lines. The most interesting part of the story is the ending (nope not going to spoil it), but the second most interesting thing was how the main character was reacting to the people and situations around him. How he felt in control at times but more and more he had the sense of being out of control and confused because of that. What was once a very easy existence was becoming increasingly difficult and he didn’t know why. The answer all along was that he was “asleep” in this false reality that he created and he didn’t even realize that he was the one who created it in the first place but he was trying to awaken from it. While I understand that I have control over my life and even get the concepts of manifestation through thoughts, watching this movie somehow made something click inside me to really know that I do have more control than I give myself credit. This gave me a new perspective and changed my paradigm of life forever. It also gave me an overwhelming sense of peace and self control I haven’t known for a long time.

I think it’s so interesting that I can know something logically for a long time, but I don’t “get it” energetically or truly know it until the time is right for me to know. Many concepts over time have come to me that are not new, but it still surprises me how much sense they make once that time of knowing is upon me. This “time of knowing” is really a state of awareness that we achieve at various stages of our lives. Sometimes the awareness comes easily without much effort and other times it arrives after we have experienced a particular situation. One way of looking at this is highlighted in a TED talk “Different Ways of Knowing” by Daniel Tammet. Daniel Tammet has linguistic, numerical and visual synesthesia — meaning that his perception of words, numbers and colors are woven together into a new way of perceiving and understanding the world.

As I look at how I perceive life through my personal filter(s) I see the illusion of my own reality. I see how I carefully create the construct of my life in every moment based on my experiences. I then run those experiences through my reality building engine guided and directed by my ego or what I would call the “Puppet Master”. My observer self (not the ego) has seen the puppet master or “man behind the curtain” as having no real power at all and is slowly taking more control of the outcomes of my life. This awareness is a form of enlightenment that allows me to see the illusion for what it really is and that it truly has no control over me.

Dwight Raatz

Denial and Manifesting Your Future

For myself (and for some clients I’ve worked with), I have oftentimes busied myself with my life as a way of pushing away depression and anxiety issues that have come up. Issues could involve broken relationships with friends, family, lovers; traumatic life experiences, etc. For awhile this kind of methodology works and has even been recommended by my parents, mentors and teachers. While they don’t specifically say that you can deal with the issue by pushing it away and bury it in a busy schedule, ultimately that is what is being done.

If you deny that something specific has happened in your life, like an emotional trauma, and you think that by denying it, it will not be real and go away – you will fail. It will always come back to you and demand resolution. This “demand for resolution” could come about by anxiety, depression, sickness or disease, and any number of things. Just like when the body is registering pain when you burn or cut your skin as way of telling you to pay attention – there is something wrong here; depression and anxiety are ways of telling you that there is unresolved “pain” here. The problem, of course, is being able to recognize this for yourself.

As I’ve written in earlier entries, awareness of your anxiety and depression is the first step. Being able to feel the onset of these things is a critical part of healing them. Once you have done this, you are on the road to mastering this part of you. Yes, this “condition” is a part of you and the sooner you accept this, the faster you will be able to give it the proper attention needed. Oftentimes I think people see anxiety as a leech attach to their body, a separate invader of sorts that needs to be cut away and destroyed. What it really is, is your mind and body telling you that there is something wrong that needs to be healed.

Think of your anxiety as a very young child afraid of the dark. This young child may have read a scary book, watched a scary movie or been told a story by their older sibling of the “boogie man” living in their closet or under their bed. This child only has the perspective that these things are real and out there to “get them”. The child is looking for someone to assure them that they are safe, loved and to expose the stories for what they really are, an illusion. You need to be that person who loves your young child and teaches it the truth known from your life experiences.

As part of my search to resolve my anxiety I have tried many things. I’ve had tremendous success with NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) in sessions with practitioners trained to use this. From what I’ve experienced, I am asked to identify myself at the age when the “issue” happened and then using visualization, I actually verbally counsel …my own self (like a mentor mentee) as the “adult” that is wiser about my life. Knowing more about the truth of what happened with understanding, forgiveness and love. NLP has made a huge change in my anxiety to the point where it barely surfaces anymore, and when it does it is manageable and easily resolved. I also do a lot of energy work now with clients and this has also provided a huge shift in my awareness and love for myself.

If you are focusing on manifesting your future to have less or no anxiety or depression, you can only do this by continuing to search for the resolution. It cannot be achieved by denying that it exists.

Dwight Raatz

The Greener Grass

Part of my struggles with anxiety and depression stems from the feeling that I’m a victim of my environment or “someone else”.  I often think during one of my “thought battles” that I wouldn’t be this way if only “someone” would truly understand what’s happening and could give me the magic antidote to make it all go away.  If only I had a better paying job, if only I could get my business off the ground, if only clients would see the value of my services and flock to my door, if only “that person” would have told me the whole truth, I wouldn’t be in this situation, if only… if only I could get to the greener grass.  Being the victim is certainly a safe place to be.  This absolves me of all responsibility to own how I am reacting to the challenges before me.  It’s not my fault for feeling this way… or is it?

I find myself challenged with a situation or possibly something someone has said to me in an off-hand comment, and that’s all my ego needs to dig in and drag me into the personal hell that is custom built for me.  Mind you, I don’t go down kicking and screaming.  Nope, I go quite willingly and along the way I’m doing whatever I can to please my ego, to make sure it finds favor in me.  After all, my ego is my best friend right?  It knows all the horrible things that people have done to me over the years.  It knows exactly how to console me and give me all the empathy I want.  Ego understands how to support me and give me a safe place to curl up and be protected from all the evil in the outside world.  Why would I ever want to leave this place?  Well there is something missing here, but I’m not sure what it is yet.  I am tired of feeling the way I am and ego has told me that if I just sink lower into my hell, I won’t FEEL anything anymore.  Isn’t that what you really want?  You want it to all be over – to end.  But yet… what is it that I feel is missing… what?

What I didn’t see on the way to my hell is a small Light that has tagged along with me.  This Light has very deftly dodged detection of ego.  It was just on the other side of me always hovering next to me, but just out of sight.  Each time ego would look away or get distracted thinking about how powerful it feels, the Light would sneak up to my ear and whisper, “you are perfect”, “you are loved”, “so many people you don’t even know love you”, “you are inspiring to many”, “you make a difference each day”, “the world is a better place with you here”, “your family depends on you”, “give it another shot my friend”, “you have power to change the world”… On and on this Light would zoom up and whisper to me, then dart away just in time not to be detected.

On the way down to my hell, the darkness would surround my eyesight only giving me a very small bit of tunnel vision to see.  The darkness blocks out all my hope and only allows me to focus on my fear all the while making me think I was safe in my despair.  But each time the Light would whisper I would see a brief flash, a glimpse of a wider, clearer vision with an undeniable truth behind what it was telling me.  Each time I would be reminded of how much I am loved by my family, by my friends.  With each flash I would raise my head up and look for the next one.  Slowly I feel something stirring inside my chest, it’s warm and open like the blue sky on a hot summer day.  Is this hope I am feeling?

Then ego starts to get suspicious.  It wonders why I’m being so active, why am I looking around, why am I seeing things it can’t see.  It goes into action quickly, reminding me again and again why I am there, after all it’s done for me to keep me safe and away from the pain of the world.  But it’s too late at that point.  The Light has now taken hold of my attention now and I find myself breathing deep.  I find myself feeling the Love that was always there.  I FEEL!

Now the Light doesn’t have to be so crafty.  The Light has now grown in size and brightness.  It is showing me the way out of hell and giving me all the strength I need to lift myself up, to smile and laugh and know that I have won another battle and I have come out even stronger than before.  I have even picked up some more gifts along my journey in the form of wisdom.  I am even better prepared for the next time ego finds a foothold in my thoughts and wants to be “friends” with me.  My vision to see the deception of ego is stronger than ever.

So what’s the point?  Ego and fear will always be there in the darkness looking for a way to grab hold of any weakness it sees.  The ego is the great illusionist, the pimp feeding my addiction to fear.  Fear is the evil we all experience in our own personal hell, but the reality of it all is that it really has no power over the Light.  It will lie and tell you it has power, and you might even believe it for awhile, but ultimately it can not sustain the illusion.  The Light is powerful, it will never leave us no matter what.  The darkness will leave you in an instant if you only tell it to in the name of the Light.

When you find yourself walking back down the path to your hell, always remember that the Light is still there with you.  The Light will always bring you home – there is no other possibility.  Be on the lookout for the flashing reminders and take heed that the Light is there for you.  You only need to notice.

Dwight Raatz

A Great Storm is Brewing on the Edges of My Mind

Can you hear it?
The low rumble of distant thunder, so faint it could be missed
The air around you changes somehow, there is a quiet muffling of the world

I get anxious as I feel the rising pressure of the thoughts that bind me, I am alone.
Can’t move, can’t breath – why am I so stupid, the first wind gust rushes by – It’s on…

The darkness is now all around as the clouds grow, their marbled dark blues and gray
Churning… rolling in – hopelessly out of control – why am I even here?
The temperature drops, another huge gust and then I see the trees dancing, encircling me

What are they doing, as I see their arms outstretched?
They move, they hiss at the wind.

It is a powerful rhythm – breaking through the chaos of the storm, what is its meaning?
They dance…

I wrap my arms around me, I cower feeling afraid, pointless, tired of fighting the storm, wanting it to end…

I hear the trees again, hissing, cracking their whips at the beast, dancing to a beat from deep below

Then I see it, out of the corner of my eye, a light – was I seeing things?
It was probably nothing…

The storm seems different, the rhythm is giving order to the movement, the dancing slows

There it is again, a shaft of light – a thought occurs out of the murky darkness saying…
“I Am…”

The tears of rain and release land on my face. Can you smell it?
Hope had drifted in filling the air

The clouds part a bit more, the trees slowly undulate as the clouds flow with purpose

“I Am … ” comes again…

“I Am unique”,
“I Am meant to be”,
“I Am perfection …”
– Doubt wanes, but holds on just in case

It’s warmer, I stand taller feeling the rain washing the chaos of thoughts down to the earth.
Purifying me

“I Am!” –
Yes, I am!

I breath deep the calming order that comes from all around

The trees are different now, they look familiar –
More than just wood and limbs and leaves –


I know them, they are family, they are tribe –
I wasn’t alone…?

I Am whole,
I Am loved,
I Am worthy,
I Am free…

I Am

~ Dwight Raatz

The Control of my Ego

It never ceases to amaze me how much control my ego has over me.  I’ve spent the majority of my life not even knowing what an ego was and now I find it amazing how it finds so many ways to plant doubt and fear in virtually everything I do.  What’s up with that?  I don’t remember my parents or family instructing me on how to grow and nurture my ego.  I don’t remember anyone saying, “Okay now Dwight- to grow up big and strong and have a life controlling ego, you need to doubt each and every decision you make and allow it to guide you along a path of struggle and suffering.”  Jeezz…

So now I am “aware” of my ego and how it has been the great conductor of many struggles of my life.  Struggles ranging from unworthiness to depression to feeling completely out of control in all aspects of my life.  I am aware of the ego and yet this knowing hasn’t given me complete control … at least not yet.  I think the knowing of how ego can squirrel its way into my thoughts has enabled me to stop and think about why I feel the way I do at certain times.  If I run across a decision or situation where I start to think about all the reasons it won’t work or why I shouldn’t try, I ask myself, “Okay is this my ego talking, or is this really something genuine that I should reconsider.”  I’d like to say that I am able to do this all the time, but honestly ego finds ways to side step the knowing and go straight to doubt and depression.  Blast it anyway!!!

Now you might think that ego is only bad, but really there are two sides to ego.  The “good” ego gets no press at all – so it’s not something most people would even consider.  Good ego is the part of you that challenges and encourages you to excel, that part that tells you “nice work – you rock!”.  This is not the “nose stuck in the air” kind of ego, this is you feeling worthy, feeling like what you’ve accomplished is fulfilling and satisfying.  The good ego is what is worth developing and sharing with others.

The truth here is that “bad ego” is a master illusionist – but that’s it.  It’s only an illusion to think that you are anything less than perfection.  The perfect you exists now and is there for everyone to love and share.  The only thing stopping the great unveiling is your ego.  It is the proverbial, “man behind the curtain” (I loved Oz), the great illusion set in place to try and prevent you from knowing who you truly are and that is a Being of Light having a human experience.

Dwight Raatz