Pyro Pages: A Release Technique

In our neighborhood, garbage day is on Fridays. A scheduled day that the trash gets hauled away every week! Isn’t that great? And all I have to do is take the cans to the curb. What would happen without sanitation services? I don’t want to think about having to live with stinky trash as it piles up. Waste products are natural aspects of life, coming in cycles as frequent as every exhaled breath. So why do we so often neglect our *emotional* waste? Why do we allow negativity to remain camped in our minds and hearts? These burdens, at the very least, sap your energy, but can also cause pain, disease, and suffering.

Fortunately, there are ways to deal with this. Release techniques are vital because, as important as it is to bring positive thoughts and feelings into your mind and heart, you also need to remove negative thoughts and feelings if you are going to make progress. No matter how positive a person you may be, there is some negativity in everyone, because we’re all humans in a fallen world. It’s possible that you may be unaware of the negativity buried deep within you, which has the power to trap you, handicap you, stop you. Now, negative emotions do serve an important purpose, which you can read about in this post, but once that purpose is served, those things need to be moved through you and out. While there are many strategies for getting that yucky stuff out, I find a certain tool particularly effective, and also kind of fun. I call it “Pyro Pages.”

When you recognize a negative thought in your mind or feeling in your heart, get a loose sheet of paper and write: “I feel __________ because __________.” Aim to fill at least half the page. If possible, read aloud what you’ve written once finished. And then, the most important step: destroy the paper ASAP. If you keep it, that will tell your subconscious mind that what you wrote is true and something you want to hold on to. (Believe me on this one.) When you watch that paper being destroyed by your own hand, your brain gets the message that you are rejecting those ideas and that you want those feelings out of your life. It doesn’t matter how you destroy it, whether shredding it, ripping it up, or burning it, but be sure obliterate it more completely than merely crumpling it up. I like the visual impression of burning it: flames consuming the words on the paper, smoke drifting up and away, leaving only insubstantial ashes.

I wanted to share this with you because I did this a couple times this week, and it reminded me how powerful this tool can be. As I watched my pages consuming in the fire out on the backyard BBQ grill, I felt a huge weight lift right off me, leaving me light, buoyant and peaceful inside. This really works. I had allowed myself to feel all my hopelessness, frustration and loneliness while I wrote, then whispered what I wrote to myself right before I lit it up. As it burned I felt freed from those feelings, immediately. I asked my Higher Power to take the burden from me, and the visual of the smoke dissipating into the sky seemed like it literally carried my bad feelings away and up into the heavens.

Just as a side note: doing simply this will not magically “solve” all your problems. If you’re got issues in a relationship, you will probably still need to work it out with the other person. If there is some specific action you need to take in your life, this won’t take the place of that step. It’s just a way to let go of the negative *feelings* and bring you some relief and peace, whether permanently or temporarily. If these kinds of feelings keep you awake at night, do this right before bed and enjoy a better night’s sleep. But if the same feelings keep coming back, that’s a clue that there’s more you need to go and do to solve your problem.

Here’s what I would suggest to try. At first, write and burn every day for two weeks. Even if you don’t think you have anything negative in there, sit down to write anyway. Setting pen to paper shows your intention. Something will come to you. (Another note, it’s better to do this longhand rather than typing, because the act of writing it out connects better with your brain, but you can still type it, print it out and burn it if you want. Just make sure the file doesn’t get saved to your computer!)

The following prompts are difficult to write about, but will clean you out for sure. (Think juice cleanse.)
I feel worthless because __________.
I don’t feel valuable because ___________.
After the two weeks, you can continue to do it daily, or just use this technique as the need arises. When you’ve finished burning the paper, it helps to “backfill” with something positive:affirmations, prayer, writing down what you’re grateful for or what you love about yourself, etc.

If you are a parent, or not, this tool will make you more approachable to children. They are very sensitive, and they know when you’ve got negativity stuck inside, which sometimes they “take on” to try to help us adults (but it only ends up hurting them). If you are married, this tool will help you be more fun and lighthearted with your spouse, and who doesn’t want that? Generally, it opens you up to others and allows more people to come into your life. Because you can’t hide behind your emotions anymore, it gets you unstuck and lets more of your true self shine through.

Try it. What do you have to lose? You might even discover a little pyromaniac streak inside that you never knew you had!

Peace Which Passeth All Understanding

Just like a sunbeam can’t separate itself from the sun, and a wave can’t separate itself from the ocean, we can’t separate ourselves from one another. We are all part of a vast sea of love, one indivisible divine mind. ~Marianne Williamson

A couple days ago I had a profound experience I’d like to share. It was a simple moment, really, but the feeling I felt was profound. I sat out on my front porch early in the morning prepared to meditate and read, but it was so lovely out that I just wanted to take in all the beauty. The sky was awash in rich blue storm clouds, with several rays of morning sunlight filtering down through them and settling on the distant valley below. The hazy Wasatch mountain range to the east provided a majestic backdrop. The world was so quiet and still, except for the sounds of a few birds, and the air was cool with a gentle breeze, carrying the scent of coming rain.

A feeling of deep peace settled over me like a heavy blanket, squeezing warm tears from my eyes. It was that kind of profound peace that is always accompanied by joy and love. Peace, joy, and love, in their genuine, transcendental forms, are always experienced simultaneously. They are more than emotions because the awareness of them encompasses our whole being, not just our bodies. I knew that the peace, joy and love I experienced in that moment was the real thing because I could feel that my mind, body and spirit were absolutely aligned. I have no words to describe what that feels like. Words are a product of the mind, and what I felt with my spirit went beyond the mind and beyond words of any description. The phrase “peace which passeth all understanding” seems accurate. I was swallowed up in an immense oneness–that I was one with God, with all of nature, with all of humanity. My ego boundaries seemed to have collapsed, and all that remained was the glorious joy of being alive in that moment. Suddenly there were no problems on any level, and it even felt as if the dimension of time was completely irrelevant.

I knew I was having a significant experience, and wanted to treasure it up, knowing that it couldn’t last. Oh, how I wished it could have! I thought of my family asleep inside the quiet house, and how much I loved them. I wanted to carry that love back into the house and give it to them always. But I felt grief and loss as I realized that the present feeling would be only transitory. In fact, it was lost already, as soon as I began to contemplate the future. I knew that soon I’d be back in my ego-dominated mind-habits.

And yes, that’s what happened. Later in the day I became negative and argumentative with my husband, which was extremely frustrating, even though I became aware of it much more quickly than I normally would have. I thought, “What was my profound experience this morning for, if I can’t keep that peace and love with me throughout the day? Just one day?”

But my less-than-perfect behavior doesn’t negate the significance of my experience. The truth is, what I had felt changed me inside. Yes, bad habits are going to creep back in, because the existing neural pathways in our brains can be compellingly strong. Despite that, I can choose to do what is needed to get back to that peace and love that I know are always there, and hold onto it a little longer the next time. All it takes to get there is a quiet moment and a quiet mind. And all it takes to keep it is awareness: remaining in tune with spirit enough to recognize when the departure into the ego-dominated mind is beginning, and maintaining the desire to put the things of the ego and the mind aside to get back to awareness of spirit.

I know I won’t be able to always, or even often, have these profound experiences. I don’t want them often, lest they cease to be profound. But I wish to incorporate this kind of peace, joy, and love into my life so completely that it becomes who I am, rather than just a fleeting experience.

I have been fascinated by reading others’ experiences that seem to mirror my own. Near-death experiences often have similar characteristics of feeling complete awareness and oneness with God, nature, and humanity, with a complete absence of any judgment whatsoever. But this isn’t limited to people who have died and come back to life. Eckhart Tolle, in The Power of Now, describes his own amazing experience, the feeling of which remained with him for years. And the following TED talk by Jill Bolte Taylor, a brain scientist who had a stroke and lost the function of the left side of her brain, is extremely interesting. Take the mere 18 minutes to watch it and you won’t regret it:

What seems to be in common, in these and many other accounts, is the truth that peace, joy, and love are found in oneness. And in fact, we really *are* one with the universe; it’s just our mind that creates the illusion of separateness, which is necessary for the functioning of our mortal form. In the words of Yasutani Roshi, “The fundamental delusion of humanity is to suppose that I am here and you are there.” Whenever we separate ourselves from any one or any thing, we often get a divisive attitude of “Me versus them,” which leads to competition, isolation, stress, frustration, or emptiness. The good news is that we can get beyond these ego boundaries by setting them down from time to time and seeking the quiet expanse that lies beyond the constant chattering of the conscious mind. In future posts I plan to continue exploring this fascinating concept and help you make it a practical part of your life.

Within us is the soul of the whole, the wise silence, the universal beauty, the eternal One. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson