Archive for July, 2014

One of the things we explored at Omega’s holistic divorce workshop was the impact of our emotional intensity on decision-making.

It’s interesting, right?  The stereotype of a woman possessed by her emotions is that she’s hysterical, overcome by her feelings to the extent that all she can do is cry and scream and make waves.  What we practiced this weekend is maintaining touch with those feelings, AND being calm and serene so that we can begin to ride those emotions — surf those waves — rather than create more and more of them without any prospect of also feeling in control.

What does it mean to be in control?  That’s a lot of what this weekend was about figuring out.  Does it mean I have control over my partner?  Over our joint finances?  Over what the future holds for my children?  I’m not sure, but it seems like the answer is yes as well as no.  And here’s why —

IMG_0083We have control over our feelings in the moment, or we have the capacity to feel in control over our feelings in the moment.  Sorry if this sounds like a tautology, but in essence it is!  Our feelings start with generating a feeling of not being hurt, and then we can address the ways that others’ behavior may be impacting us.  For example, thanks to the participants in this workshop, we can imagine what it would feel like to be a woman who’s built her own business, or directly supported the efforts of her partner for decades, and then in one fell swoop, approach a precipice where, through legal channels, half or even more may now be washed away.  Suddenly what we’ve worked so hard for, or thought we were working hard for, is about to be lost.  Suddenly, the security we thought we were leaving for our children is in jeopardy.  And suddenly, the emotional safety we thought we had with another person has turned to dust.  So two questions: where and how does money fit into this (i.e. the sense of financial ‘security’), and how do our emotions play into the belief that what we are experiencing is limited to a condition of loss? In other words, what in this situation are we really losing?  Is it money?  Or is it a sense of power?  Moreover, at this point, isn’t leveraging our emotional intensity in a way that promotes an internal sense of security all the more important at this juncture of our lives?

Our lead facilitator, J. Kim Wright (http://jkimwright.com), offered a very simple graph for us to use as a guide and reminder of this.  In essence, our emotional intelligence is what enables us to know when we are feeling mistreated.  It is an essential aspect of our perceptive faculties and is an inherently powerful tool for understanding our needs.  But when the radar goes off and tells us something is wrong, we benefit from stopping to listen to that voice rather than go off the deep end by reacting outwardly to whatever appears in our agitated state to be responsible for our distress.  When we are at our highest intensity of feeling, it may have come from an accurate perception of trouble or injustice, but especially as women, we often allow ourselves to fly off the handle and respond from that place instead of using the information we were given in a moment of emotional intensity to gather our wits, step back, and respond strategically.

In general, the importance of using our emotional intelligence to bolster our capacity for power can’t be overstated.  And in the context of divorce, it’s crucial.  The exciting thing about this workshop is that it was a lawyer guiding participants through this idea.  And outside the confines of this workshop, this approach to considering and practicing law would have a lawyer facilitating conversations about this with her client.  That means a legal consultation would revolve around helping clients to be grounded, essentially, in their spiritual power before they labor to produce outcomes on paper.  It’s about taking responsibility for our feelings so that we can exercise control in a way that is balanced, and in line with the realities that others perceive in addition to the fear and pain we so easily attach to when the threat of loss feels like it’s about to overtake us.  It’s about thinking holistically.

Well, something it seemed might never happen is happening — I am embracing goddess worship as part of my practice.  No, not part of my legal practice (as I haven’t one yet), but part of my personal practice that allows me to feel as strong and capable AND beautiful and shiny as I have the potential to be.

One sidebar before we go on: in light of the recent Game of Thrones epidemic, I imagine this post is pretty relatable to a lot of people, namely women. Heroines such as Daenerys and Sansa Stark are prime examples. Mine right now is Durga. She came to me through a recently published book by renowned meditation teacher and feminist scholar on yoga, Sally Kempton. She reveals Durga as a warrior for justice…

goddess_durga_slaying_demons_hc59It’s been a long time in coming I suppose.  For years my yoga practice would invoke occasional images of gods or goddesses from the Hindu pantheon.  And I’ve been able to stare at the ground or a wallpaper pattern or the sky, simultaneously feeling and seeing their aspects move and even appear to breath.  At first that ability scared me, but after enough tripping on mushrooms and spending hours on end in meditation it stopped bothering me.  It actually started to provide a sense of reassurance.  Like, okay cool, THAT is really how shit is working – my dumb-ass ego trip about being broke and having no direction in life is false.  Sweet…

Now I’m to the point where I can hold both aspects of truth in my consciousness — that is, the utter transmutability of our world and that finite limitations do arise or stay fixed when we allow our minds to limit what we desire.  I think goddess worship in particular has been intimidating to me because, besides the ego-trip of not wanting to be “that chick” it opens up possibilities for personal transformation that I was in a sense off the hook for before.  This is because visualizing the essential qualities of timeless human archetypes that have sustained cultures for millennia is a powerful, powerful tool.  Without tapping into this reservoir of knowledge (knowledge in a very felt sense) there is less for reason for me to be surprised by the limitations I set for myself.  By embracing this aspect of practice though, I allow myself no more excuses for actualizing the spiritual warrior I know myself, in a very fundamental way, to be.

 I spent this past weekend at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY.  Omega is an holistic retreat center that offers workshops for folks who want to address tangible, “real world” problems in their lives by exploring their consciousness in a contemplative, healing way.  Funny enough, this weekend was the 4th of July, a holiday we celebrate in honor of independence.  And, the workshop was about facilitating divorce for women in a holistic, even spiritual way.  My role was to assist the workshop’s facilitators, by supporting their efforts and helping to hold space for our participants.

IMG_0102Being a part of this event was special to me for a couple of reasons.  One is, I’ve spent time living and working at Omega two other times in my life, both of which impacted my development as a person and as an holistic thinker greatly.  My goal since the age of 18, when I took a year off before college and spent time there, has been to return someday as faculty (clearly I am beginning to close in on this goal).  The other is, holding a workshop that discusses law is new for Omega.  It’s new in the holistic scene altogether, actually.  And to be a part of this emergence is something I take great personal pride in, as well as something I find hopeful in terms of where holistic thought and the field of law itself are headed.

I’ll end here for now, but if you’re interested, take a look at the more detailed posts I’ve written about the experience.  You can also leave a comment asking specific questions that I’d be happy to take a stab at answering…