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The Depths of Self Love, By Angela Thurston

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In a world where we are inundated with images of woman with seemingly perfect bodies, how do we make peace with ours? I have struggled with body image, bulimia and issues of self worth, and as much as I have tried supplements, diets; and even the perfect work out routine in addition to – these solutions have not offered me any long term results.

The power of positive thinking and the power of the mind are some key phrases that were offered up to me as means of support, guidance and comfort during those times of challenge. So with the strength of willpower, I muscled my way through bulimia, had a few relapses, and emerged on the other side. What I discovered on the other side was that I was still swimming in the waters of lack – lack of self love, self worth and self care. These areas of disconnect supported my emotional eating, affected my relationships and kept me circulating in the mire of my stories.

Even though the mind is a very powerful thing, it was not enough.

I began my immersion in the field of healing, I was comprehending the concepts, I was being the client, I was being the student, I was being the facilitator, and still I couldn’t wait to get out of class so I could stuff six chocolate bars, a dozen donuts and a pack of twizzlers down my throat. The energy, and body work was effective for what it offered, the modalities opened up my channels, balanced my energies and carried me to the land of bliss connecting me with spirit, still, it was not enough.

I was not getting it, I thought I had a solid understanding of the body/mind/spirit connection; I had faith in spirituality, I accepted that we are more than our physical bodies, I meditated, I affirmed, I believed.

What I now get, that I didn’t get then, is that I was continually seeking the answers from outside of myself, I was suppressing my emotions, disassociating from my body, I had little sense of interoception or proprioception, and embodied self-awareness was not even in my radar.

Alan Fogel, in his book, The Psychophysiology of Self-Awareness, offers the following descriptions:

Suppression: A lack of embodied self-awareness that occurs whenever there is a sense of threat that prevents us from finding resources, slowing down, and/or coregulating with an empathic other.

Pathological Disassociation: A disconnection between self and body having two basic forms: detachment and compartmentalization.

Interoception: The ability to feel one’s own internal body states such as heat/cold, pain, respiration and emotions.

Proprioception: The felt sense of the location and relative position of different parts of the body in relation to objects and to other individuals.

Embodied Self-Awareness: the ability to pay attention to ourselves, to feel our sensations, emotions, and movements on-line, in the present moment, without the mediating influence of judgmental thoughts.

When I began to trust, sense, and feel – when I brought body awareness into the equation of my inquiry – I could then move into the layers of myself that exist beyond the patterns of my own brain. I learnt how to drop below my defense strategies, inspiring new movements in my body, relationships and life. I continue to journey with this spiral of exploration, with my body being the guide. I welcome the self-referencing, the self-regulating, and the self-responsibility that increases my ability to embrace, love and honour myself.

Loving the way one looks is really an externalization of what one is experiencing inside – this is what our reflections are truly showing us. How we perceive ourselves is dependent upon what emotions are alive and thriving, what patterns of belief are being held, and what vulnerabilities have been inherited. It is our willingness to move into our bodies, feel our emotions, and transform our stories, that provide us with the divine waters in which we can dive into the depths of self love.

~Angela began her exploration of alternative healing practices in her twenties, leading her to become certified in Reflexology, Touch For Health and Reiki. Seeking a more body-centered practice and inspired by her love of dance and movement, she turned to the study and teachings of World Dance. It was her journey into the body that showed her how we hold our biographies in our tissues. Her curiosity for healing these stories led her to become an authorized teacher of Continuum Movement. She continues to study with Continuum founder, Emilie Conrad. Angela is weaving the tools of Vividly Woman’s Embodiment Coach Training to her present practice. She currently teaches in Victoria, the Gulf Islands and the Dominican Republic.

For more information visit www.Angelathurston.com

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I Really Am From Venus!

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Last year, I read Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. After reading the chapter about men and Mars, I thought, “Wow, that sounds very familiar”. Then I read the chapter about women and Venus, and I don’t think there was a single thing with which I could identify. I was working with a life coach at the time and lamented to him, “I think I’m from Mars!” It was really news to me that women feel better when they talk out problems and issues. I was used to the masculine tendency of holding it in and trying to figure it out myself.

Thanks to my work with Leela and Vividly Woman, I am happy to say I am now totally from Venus. After Dance your Power, my husband, who is well versed in body language, even noticed that I was using more feminine facial expressions.

This new relationship with my feminine side became even more apparent to me recently. One night, after watching a biography of a writer whose mother died, I couldn’t get the thought of death out of my head. Usually, that is the furthest thing from my mind, as I enjoy living very much. However, on this night, I started imagining how I would feel if different people died.  I would try out one person and then another and another. It was so morbid and I became very unsettled. I tried just thinking about something else, distracting myself by reading positive uplifting articles, thinking about yummy food, but death kept on coming back.

What really shook me up was thinking about how I would feel if my kids died. That brought up a dark shadow for me. This thought pops into my head periodically. I believe that I’m not afraid of dying myself, but the thought of the death in relation to my children is terrifying. I have always been able to replace that dark thought with a happier one, until this night when one of my deepest fears seemed to grow and grow. I tried really hard to get through it by myself, not wanting to upset my husband, and so eventually I fell asleep, alone with my fears.

Usually things look better in the morning, but not in this case. I kept being visited by the same thought processes. I decided I did need to share it with my husband, because the vice was growing in my mind. I didn’t even really know what to say, so I started with something a little more vague around the subject of death. Eventually, I just had to get it out and so I shared what I was scared to share.

I’m so glad I did. My husband held me as I cried and asked, “What can I do for you right now?” I whispered, “Just hug me.” It felt so good to have that release. He also asked me, “Is this intuition?” (pointing at his heart) “or monkey mind?” (pointing at his head).  This comment alone took so much of the anxiety out of the situation. As soon as I remembered to check in with my body, I realized it was all in my mind.

As I began to feel more settled, he asked me where I thought that fear had come from. I said that I didn’t know and then thought about it a bit. He asked how long I had been having that fear and I said a long time; ever since we have had kids and even longer. Then I remembered something really key (which I never would have remembered if I would have tried to process this fear on my own).

When I was in high school, grade 10, I went to a psychic. She said so many things that have come true. I remember at one point, she said I would have two kids and then a little later, she said, “Oh, maybe you only have one child.” I realized that in my wish to prove to myself that she had been a good psychic, I had turned that statement into the belief that I would lose a child.

I shared that experience with my husband and he pointed out, in such a level-headed way, that likely most of what she said hadn’t come true and that it was just one possibility. I know that my thoughts create my reality and I know I have so much power. I no longer need to revisit one psychic’s view of point from two decades ago. Being able to reflect on the source of that fear and go deeper into it than I ever have before was so healing.

I’m so glad that I trusted my intuition, which continues to grow stronger, and shared my experience with my husband. There was a time, not too long ago, where I would have kept my fear in and let it grow and fester and do lots of damage. I let my body guide me. It knew that these thoughts needed to move out into the open, where they could have some light shed upon them. I feel so feminine after having processed this experience. Feminine, in a powerful way, where there is emotion moving, there are hearts connecting, there is intuition being trusted. I am SO from Venus!

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