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Jane Alexander

Finding Inner Peace 
by Jane Alexander


These are turbulent times and unsettling for us all. Our world seems a more dangerous place than it did before and itís not remotely surprising that many of us are feeling increased anxiety and stress. There is little we can do individually about war and terrorism Ė and that in its own way makes us feel impotent and vulnerable. However the one thing we CAN affect is our own attitude: we can all work on establishing a level of inner peace. I think itís important work, vital work. If we are calm we, in turn, spread a feeling of calm around us. Children, in particular, benefit hugely. Iím concerned that so many children are becoming profoundly anxious about war and terrorism. Inevitably they pick up on our moods Ė children are small psychic sponges! So, letís look at how we can cultivate our own sense of inner peace. If youíre familiar with my work, youíll probably know before we start that it wonít necessarily be an easy process. I donít think that itís possible to achieve lasting inner peace with the psychic equivalent of a sticking plaster. You need to sift back and heal yourself on a deep inner level. Is it worth it? Definitely. Is it all hard toil and misery? Not at all. Many of the exercises are great fun.

The Energy Secret by Jane Alexander

SHIFTING EMOTIONAL ENERGY

Itís easy to feel we arenít in control of our feelings, our lives. Itís far easier to blame other people, events, world situations than look within for answers. Yet truly we hold the key to how we react to the world Ė we can react with panic or calm, inner conflict or inner peace. Think about it. You wake up and itís Monday morning, you have a meeting you are dreading with a person you hate. So how do you feel? Now imagine you wake up and itís Saturday morning: ahead of you lies a day at the beach with your family or a group of great friends. Does that feel different? You bet it does! Learning how to shift your emotional energy can be a huge boon in modern life. It wonít take the traumas and unpleasantness out of everyday life but it will enable you to deal with it in the best possible way.

Emotional energy manifests itself in our moods, our feelings and attitudes. If you have vital energy freely moving through you, you will tend to have a sunny disposition, an optimistic outlook, a frank, open and honest approach to the world Ė you will radiate inner peace. If your energy is blocked you will probably show some of the classic symptoms which we tend to think of as vices or psychological problems: for example anger, fear, jealousy, resentment, shame.

But what causes this blockage in the first place? Many therapists now think that our emotional energy can become blocked, warped or repressed at a very early age. Some go as far as suggesting that even our time in the womb can be formative.

Take a few moments to consider the following questions. You may like to sit down quietly when you know you wonít be disturbed. Perhaps light a candle to focus your mind.

  • If your parents are alive, ask them about your earliest beginnings. Were you planned or a "surprise"? How were you conceived? What emotions surrounded the news of your existence? If your parents are no longer alive, is there anyone else you can ask? Siblings, aunts, uncles, your parentsí friends?
  • How was your motherís pregnancy? Did she have any physical problems? How were her emotions? Was there any stress? Any financial worries?
  • What kind of birth did you have? Were you early, on time or late? Did your mother have to have any drugs, any surgical intervention? Was she frightened? Was the birth easy or difficult, short or very long?
  • How was your babyhood and early childhood? What is your earliest memory?
  • What do you remember most about your childhood? What emotions did you express most freely? Which emotions were you not allowed, or not encouraged to express? For eg, were you told off for being too loud or too boisterous?
  • Did you suffer any traumas as a child? Did you lose a parent or watch your parents divorce? Was there illness in the family, or poverty, or severe stress?

Itís worth making the effort to dig out this information. You might find out some surprising facts. As babies and children we are incredibly open to suggestion - we are like little psychic sponges. The actions, words and emotions of the people who surround us will literally make up how we experience the world. And how we experience the world, our world view, will affect our own sense of inner peace. If we were over-protected as children, not allowed to run free, the world can appear a dangerous place - our own emotional energy shrinks back in fear. If we were not given enough warmth and cuddling, the world can appear cold and unwelcoming - our energy surrounds us in a cocoon to keep us warm (but which keeps out other people). If we were hurt, ignored, pushed aside, our energy will try to protect us by building a wall around our feelings - which, of course, keeps out the good as well as the bad.

Parents have the trickiest of jobs - itís a perilously difficult dance to give a child the emotional grounding he or she needs: sensing that there are times to be warm and enclosing, protective in your love and at other times allowing the child the freedom and space to go out and explore, to push back the frontiers. Of course you wonít get it right all the time - and of course our own parents didnít. Itís important to say that this exercise of looking back should never become a source of recrimination. Whatís done is done and cannot be changed - except by taking charge of your own Self here and now, in the present. Itís useful to know the earliest roots of your emotional blockages but itís fruitless to waste time in blame.

The Five Minute Healer by Jane Alexander

TRACKING UNWANTED EMOTIONAL ENERGY

Another way of uncovering the underlying negative emotions that stand in the way of inner peace is to work with your body. Choose a time when you wonít be disturbed, ideally somewhere where you can make a noise if you want. You might choose to have some cushions or pillows around you. Note: if you feel overly anxious about doing this exercise, you might want to have someone you totally trust with you. If it feels very scary, maybe you need to explore this area with some professional help.

  • Lie down on the floor, on a comfortable mat or rug.
  • Spend some time centering yourself, breathing slowly and deeply.
  • Become aware of your body. Where are you holding tension? Where do you feel discomfort? Pinpoint the place and the feeling.
  • Now exaggerate the feeling. So, if you are clenching your jaw, clench it harder. And harder.
  • What does your body want to do or say? Donít think, just let your body follow its need. You might find yourself spitting out words or phrases; you might curl up in a ball; you might lash out at a cushionÖyou might do nothing.
  • Give your body permission to do whatever it needs to express its repressed emotional energy - within safe limits.
  • When you feel your body has had enough for this session, lie quietly once more and return to your breathing.
  • Stand up and stamp your feet to return to normal awareness. You may wish to write down what happened.

The issues may not be clear the first time you try this. But persevere. You may be interested to know that where we hold tension is often directly related to our emotional blockages. As a brief guideline:

  • the eye area tends to be about what we are allowed to see.
  • the mouth/jaw/throat area tends to be about communication, about being heard, about nourishment
  • the chest and heart area tends to be about anger, sadness, rejection, longing
  • the abdominal area tends to be about fear and digestion (what we take in)
  • the pelvic/sacral area tends to be about sexuality, survival, support, vitality

Our bodies really do know the answers. Bodyworkers have found that repressed thoughts, feelings, old hurts and memories are all stored in the body. If you feel you have a lot of old psychological "baggage" but are nervous of trying psychotherapy, I would heartily recommend you go to a good bodyworker. Many people find that, under the skilled hands of a therapist, they can release old patterns, allowing their emotional energy to run free once more. Sometimes you recall the old hurts - sometimes you donít have to relive the experience, just let it go.

Live Well: the Ayurvedic Way to Health and Inner Bliss by Jane Alexander

KEEP A JOURNAL - RECORD YOUR DREAMS

While you are doing this work it really is worthwhile keeping a log of your experiences and feelings. Use it for writing down what you discover during these exercises, and others that you do. Use it to record your dreams, stray thoughts, meditations and visualizations.

I would also heartily recommend you start recording your dreams. Dreams offer incredible pointers to our psyches. But it can take some time to figure out their language. Dreams speak in riddles, in symbols and images rather than straightforward messages. So write down your dream and then spend some time thinking about it, however silly it might appear.

  • If some particular object or animal appears in your dream think about what it means to you. What significance does that thing have for you? What does it remind you of? Allow your mind to work laterally.
  • Other people who appear in dreams are often aspects of ourselves - perhaps those which are repressed or not allowed to express themselves freely. Animals can represent our "animal" side too. A great technique for understanding this form of energy is to hold a "conversation" with a character or animal in a dream. Imagine it is sitting opposite you (behind a solid glass wall, if itís scary) - ask it what it wants, what it needs. You might just be surprised.
  • Another technique for working with dreams is to "dream the dream on". Lie or sit down and breathe deeply so you become calm and centered. Imagine yourself back in your dream. Run through the dream as you remember it but, instead of it ending, allow it to continue. Imagine what would happen next. You can also choose this way of conversing with figures and animals.
  • Painting is a wonderful way of moving dream work too. You donít need to be an artist - far from it. Simply put out a large piece of paper and use whatever materials you desire. You can either draw your dream figuratively or just let the paint express how you felt in the dream. Whichever, donít censor yourself - just let the paint talk. After you have finished, sit back and look. What can you see? Does anything become clearer? Did any emotions come up as you were painting? Maybe write to your painting - or dance the feelings it brings up in you.

These are all very powerful techniques and weíre rushing through them at a rate of knots! So please donít feel you have to do everything at once. Take it slowly, in your own time and at your own pace. Many of us spent our childhoods being told to either "hurry up" or "slow down" - time is one of the dimensions into which our energy was molded from a very tender age. So give yourself the time you need. Do remember also that these are the kind of techniques which are often used in a therapeutic setting - with trained therapists on hand. I tend to follow the great spiritual workshop leader Denise Linnís belief that we will go no further than we are ready to - that our psyches have a way of protecting us from going too far, too quickly. So, if you feel happy about these exercises, then you should be perfectly OK to do them. If you feel the slightest doubt, proceed with caution or not at all.

Mind Body Spirit by Jane Alexander

PAST LIFE ENERGY

Some people, after doing all this, still canít find any vestige of inner peace. So thereís a theory that our energy blocks go back even further than conception. Rebirthers (who use a form of breathwork to take people back to their birth and even to the moment of their conception) found that some people went back further still - to past lives. Some even go as far as saying that our emotional hang-ups and our physical ailments can be blamed on unresolved past lives. Does it really work? Iím keeping an open mind. I have tried past life therapy and come up with some interesting "past lives" but then Iím very suggestible and suffer from an over-active imagination. I have to say that discovering and resolving my past as an impoverished peasant didnít make me win the lottery and lose the pounds! However, itís an interesting thought and, whether we actually go back to the past or itís our subconscious finding a way of speaking to us, it does often seem to have intriguing (and often quite therapeutic) results. If you couldnít find anything in your early life that could cause your stuck energy, then it may be worth trying this.

You will need someone to help you - reading out the instructions slowly and clearly. Make sure you will not be disturbed.

  1. Lie down somewhere comfortable and warm.
  2. Start by tensing your toes, your ankles, calves, knees. Pull in your thigh muscles and tense your buttocks. Draw in your stomach, pull in your abdomen. Make a fist, tense your arms, shrug your shoulders. Screw up your face. Take a deep breathe. And relax.
  3. Repeat step 2.
  4. Now relax. Let your feet fall apart, let your hands uncurl. Relax your shoulders. Turn your head to the right, to the left. Push your head back into the floor to release the neck muscles.
  5. Start to pay attention to your breath. Breathe slowly, quietly and deeply.
  6. Now imagine you are in a beautiful place. Itís somewhere in which you feel totally safe, totally secure. It might be outside or inside, an actual place or somewhere in your mind. Know that you are totally safe here and can return here at any time.
  7. Somewhere in this place you notice a door. You stand before it, noticing the colour of the door, the material from which itís made, its size, shape and texture. This door leads to the past.
  8. When you are ready, open the door. In front of you is a staircase, lightly swathed in mist. There are ten steps and with each step down you will be doing deeper and deeper, down into the past.
  9. Ten, going down. Down into the past. Nine, going deeper, deeper down into the past. Eight. Seven, deeper still. Six, slowly and surely, down and down. Five, deeper. Four, down one step further. Three, almost there. The mist is deeper now, you canít quite see the bottom. Two, down further still. And one, youíre there.
  10. Stand for a moment as the mist gently swirls around you. Now look down at your feet which you can barely see through the mist.
  11. The mist is clearing and you can see your feet. What are they like? Are they a manís or womanís feet? An adult or child? What color? Are they bare or shod?
  12. This should give you a good clue to your whereabouts and time. Now look at the rest of yourself. Look around you - where are you standing.
  13. If you like, you can explore your environment, describing what you see. Ask the "past-lifer" about their life: where do they live; are they married; whatís their job; are they happy; what life events have affected them?
  14. If you are still happy and relaxed you can take the person to their death. They donít need to experience it - itís quite OK to float outside and watch! Ask them what they feel and what they learned from this life. Are there any unresolved emotions? How do they feel they can best deal with these in this life? Often surprising answers will emerge.
  15. Now itís time to return. Once again you see the mist and in front of you is the staircase. Youíre going up, ten, nine, eight, coming up, back to waking reality. Seven, coming up. Six, five, four, becoming aware of your body, aware of the room around you, back to normal time. Three, almost up now. When you open your eyes you will be feeling refreshed and relaxed. Two, hearing the sounds around you, feeling your body on the floor. One, totally awake, totally aware.
  16. Open your eyes. Lie still for a while. Then get slowly up, stamp your feet. You may want a cup of tea and a biscuit.
  17. Talk over your experiences with your helper. Remember to write everything down in your journal.

The Weekend Healer by Jane Alexander

LIBERATING EMOTIONAL ENERGY

The first step to achieving inner peace is to know where your blockages are and how they got there. Then you have to shift them. First and foremost, remember that these blocks are there for good reason. Your psyche hasnít done this for no reason - it is trying to protect you. So, before all else, thank your body and psyche for being so protective and clever in thinking up ways of holding back painful memories and old hurts. Then ask it if it is willing to leave. Tell it that you are ready to move on, to become more open, more vulnerable, yes - more unprotected. You may find you feel a sense of something lifting, shifting, moving away from you. Bless it and imagine it dispersed in a flash of pure white shimmering light, transmuted into something pure, able to return to the source.

Of course, negative energy which has been lodged often for years, may not be so easy to shift. Like a stubborn stain, it might take weeks, months, even years to resolve. Donít be in a hurry over this. Let it evolve naturally. If you have read any of my books, you will be familiar with the techniques I use for liberating stagnating energy and working towards peace. To recap, try these:

  • Breathe. Try practicing breathing exercises on a regular basis. If you have an area which feels stuck, try breathing into it, visualizing healing energy clearing away the blocks.
  • Dance. Allowing your body to move as it wants can be hugely effective. Look at forms of dance therapy such as biodanza, Gabrielle Rothís Five Rhythms, Eurythmy or just freeform movement.
  • Paint. Continue painting in a completely free fashion. If you find this hard, you could try painting with your non-dominant hand (ie if youíre left-handed, paint with your right, and vice versa). Or paint with your eyes shut. Or paint to music. Or use clay.
  • Dream. Continue with a dream diary and work with the images and symbols you discover.
  • Find a good bodyworker or psychotherapist. My ideal is someone trained in both therapeutic talking and touching - biodynamic therapy, SHEN and Kairos merge this well and many bodyworkers are now training in counseling too.
  • Affirm. Choose an affirmation that digs to the heart of your block. I.e. "I am totally loveable." "Itís safe to express my feelings." "I can be as loud as I like." Write it twenty times, adding responses. Do this every day for twenty-eight days and you may well find a lot of stuck energy emerging. Some responses may be a word; some might consist of pages of thoughts or memories. To reinforce the message, try saying your affirmation to yourself in a mirror. Note: the best affirmations are the ones which initially make your skin crawl!

Sacred Rituals at Home

DEALING WITH OTHER PEOPLEíS NEGATIVITY

Once we have an understanding of our own nature, we are immediately in a much stronger position. When we are functioning from our true nature, rather from behind the walls, screens and other defenses of repressed energy, we gain a wonderful sense of peace and clarity. Often we automatically find that our relationships - with friends, family, workmates, complete strangers - are much clearer, more honest, more straightforward. When we no longer have to keep up the effort of pretending to be someone we are not, we can use all our energy to enjoy being ourselves!

However, just because we have sorted out ourselves does not mean that everyone else will have sorted out their own stuck energy. So, until the world becomes full of enlightened energyworkers, we have to learn how to deal with other peopleís stuck stuff.

It can be very unpleasant. You know the kind of people Iím talking about. You feel your spirits dip when they walk up to you. You find youíre exhausted after just a few moments talking to them. They seem like psychic vampires, sucking out all your energy, all your vitality. Or they are just sheer unpleasant - nasty bullies, emotional blackmailers, manipulative, sly and downright horrible.

Before you do anything else, you should feel pity for them. You know just how unpleasant it feels to walk around loaded down with heavy stuck energy. So how do you think they feel? In fact one of the strongest techniques you can use is also the most simple. It simply entails sending pure loving energy to the person causing you grief. Hereís how:

  • Center yourself and focus on your breathing. Note: you can do this anywhere without the person even knowing.
  • Now direct your awareness to your heart chakra - feel the chakra spinning steadily.
  • Imagine a pure golden-white stream of divine universal energy come shooting through your crown chakra and down into your heart. The whole chakra becomes full to bursting with this wonderful, loving, pure energy.
  • Send it out to the difficult person. Imagine it hitting them in the heart chakra and infusing their body with love and light. Be careful not to play games with this. Just send the loving energy - donít try to be clever and send wishes (i.e. Let them be nice or anything like that!).

Thatís it. I used to use this on a very difficult boss I once had. She would come in like an avenging fury and the whole office would beg me to do something about her. I used to quietly sit and direct this energy at her, repeating, "I love you. I love you. I love you." Which was very hard work! But it did work. She could tell something was happening as well because she would look suspicious and say "What are you doing to me?" But thatís the great thing about energywork - you leave no clues!

The Detox Plan for Mind, Body and Spirit by Jane Alexander

SHIELDING TECHNIQUES

Whilst the technique above is very useful for people you know and have to deal with on a day to day basis (because, eventually, it just might nudge them into a new way of being), there are other methods which are more effective for dealing with strangers, enabling you to keep your inner peace intact.

The classic protection technique is the energy bubble. Iíve come across this - or forms of it - in virtually every tradition under the sun. Itís very simple, very effective and can be used anywhere. This is my versionÖ.

  • Breathe into your solar plexus and feel that chakra strong and responsive, centering you. Breathe into your root chakra and feel that chakra powerful, rooting you to the earth. Breathe into your third eye chakra, feeling that chakra respond with clear vision and foresight. The chakras link up so it feels as though a rod of pure light is holding up your backbone.
  • Now pull in pure energy from the universe through the crown chakra. Bring it down to the solar plexus and, from there, let it burst out around you into a bubble of pure brilliant light which totally surrounds your body like a balloon.
  • Know that no negative energy can come in through this powerful protective bubble - you are completely safe.

There are variations on this. I find the bubble the most effective for generally nerve-wracking situations or with people I find uncomfortable. If, however, you feel someone is deliberately targeting you with negative energy you might like to go one step further. Follow the first steps of the bubble technique - linking in with the chakras and pulling down the energy. But this time send it out into the shape of a large box - whose outward-facing sides are mirrors. This way, the negative energy which is thrown at you will bounce straight back to the person who sent it which can be a very uncomfortable experience for them. Once you have "disarmed" them this way, it could be the time to send that loving energy (if you are feeling particularly philanthropic).

Smudging and Blessings Book by Jane Alexander

GUARDIANS AND ALLIES

Despite the huge cynicism, agnosticism and atheism of this confused time, many people do have a strong sense of faith - if not for a particular religion, then for a deep-rooted spirituality. Many of you may feel you have a particular guardian or guardians - angels, gods, goddesses, spirits, ancestors, animal allies. If so, by all means call on them for help in your energy-shielding exercises. You could have the four archangels guarding your bubble - or infuse the bubble with the symbol for Ohm or an image of the Buddha. Or reverberate a holy name through the bubble.

I work a lot with the Native American power animals - simply because they resonate for me and seem to help me a lot. You could try this simple visualization to call on their energy. I use this whenever I need an energetic boost - when I have to go on a long journey, when I have to give a presentation or have an important meeting. Itís very comforting and surprisingly energizing.

  • Stand upright and breathe into your solar plexus.
  • Feel your feet firmly on the ground, connecting with Mother Earth. Remember your roots, keep steady and true. You are a child of the Earth.
  • Feel your head reaching up, connecting with Father Sky. Your feet may be rooted to the Earth but your aspirations reach to the sky, to the universe beyond. You are also a child of the Heavens.
  • Now before you rises up the great animal spirit of Eagle. A huge powerful eagle turns and looks at you with his glimmering, all-seeing eye. You nod your head in acknowledgment and thanks. Eagle turns and spreads his wings. Now you will see through Eagleís eyes, enjoying his sharp far-sighted vision.
  • Behind you rears up another huge figure - this time a great grizzly bear. You turn and look up into her sharp eyes, noticing her huge claws and her vast weight and strength. She is fiercely protective - who better to guard your back? Thank Bear and turn back, secure with her powerful presence behind you.
  • You hear a sniff to your right, as if someone is trying to attract your attention. Itís Coyote, his bright eyes dancing, his tongue lolling out as if he were laughing. Coyote is quick-talking, smart and a born negotiator. He can help you in any tricky situation. Be wary though - heís also a trickster. Donít let yourself become too clever for your own good or Coyoteís strength becomes a weakness.
  • Finally you feel a warm, sweet breath on your left arm. Turn and look into the dark melting eyes of Buffalo. She stands four-square, solid and dependable. Buffalo will help off-set tricky Coyote, keeping you grounded and stable.
  • Spend a moment feeling these great guardians all around you. Now you can walk into any situation feeling protected and powerful. (Remember at the end of the meeting or day to thank your guardians - itís traditional to offer a prayer and a pinch of tobacco or cornmeal.)

This is a revised extract from my book, The Energy Secret.

Other books to read for help with inner peace include The Five Minute Healer, The Smudging and Blessings Book, Live Well, Sacred Rituals at Home and Mind, Body, Spirit (which is now out in paperback in the US).

I have two new books Ė Therapies for a Healthy Body, and Therapies for Emotional Wellbeing (but they are only on special order in the US from Amazon, I note Ė so maybe not so helpful!).

Read more of Jane Alexanderís work on her website: www.janealexander.org

Copyright © 2003 Jane Alexander. All Rights Reserved.

 

Spirit of the Bedroom by Jane Alexander Spirit of the Home by Jane Alexander Spirit of the Nursery by Jane Alexander


Jane Alexander
Jane Alexander is a UK-based writer on natural health, holistic living and contemporary spirituality. She has written sixteen books on holistic (and soulful) living, including the bestselling Spirit of the Home (Thorsons), The Energy Secret (Element) and The Five Minute Healer (Simon & Schuster). Her website, www.janealexander.org is full of tips for living soulfully.

 

Visit:
www.JaneAlexander.org

 

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