Being Expressive, Being Creative – Vishuddhi Chakra

‘Can we speak in flowers? It will be easier for me to understand.’ – so says the poet and reclusive writer Nayyirah Waheed who describes herself as the ‘quiet poet.’

The Vishuddhi Chakra is located in the spine at the base of the neck. Known as the throat chakra it is associated with change and purification and establishing your voice.

Interestingly, I have noticed in myself over the last ten years or so (since my mother died and since I immersed myself in my yoga practice), a growing disinterest is some of the normal aspects of life; for example I no longer watch or listen to the news, I have no interest in going shopping, I have withdrawn from incessantly scrolling social media and pull away from political discussions or negativity and grumbling in general. If I ever did enjoy celebrity news or gossiping, I certainly don’t partake in it now, or at least I try not to by keeping vigilant and stopping myself if I do!

In studying the Vishuddhi Chakra, I realise this slow but steady shift is an unwitting, positive and inspired change in me, an indication I am refining the texture and calibre of my mind. As Deepak Chopra often talks about, I am expanding my awareness.

With the Vishuddhi chakra awakened and functioning properly, any experience, thought, emotion, or word, can be transformed into nectar for my own personal awakening and enlightenment. All I need is awareness and directed intention. This is why I focus my time and energy in pursuits that bring me great joy: writing, painting, walking in nature, reading, cycling, yoga and meditation.

I’ve written previously about the Swadhistnan Chakra, the energy centre of emotions and creativity: https://lihazleton.com/2020/11/05/being-creative-being-in-tune-with-emotions-swadhistana-chakra/

When Swadhistana is awakened, Vishuddhi is spontaneously energised and helps transform emotions and creativity so you can express yourself in many different ways.

I have noticed this happening to me. Here are a few examples:

  • I find it easier to show love – for myself and others
  • I can confess mistakes I have made with ease and say I’m sorry
  • I find it easier to let go of past hurts and forgive
  • I speak out and I am no longer afraid to say what’s in my heart and what is true for me

The Vishuddhi Chakra is our voice and is where we affirm life in the way we speak and express ourselves and through the way we are and what we do. I am aware that to communicate love and vocalise an appreciation for global matters beyond the fixation of ‘normal stuff’ that has little importance to me, is where I want to focus my energies. Why immerse myself in negatively and grumble when the very fact we are here and have breath is a miracle?

But none of this is easy or possible if we are not aware. We all have mental and emotional struggles – this is human life but we do have choice and we do have willpower and the tapas to exert that willpower for greater good. It’s just a matter of opening up to possibilities and listening to what’s inside. This is where meditation can help.

I have grown my meditation practice over the last year and it helps me connect to my true authentic self. Deep listening enables me to formulate who I am, what I want, how I can serve and what I am grateful for. I can then take this out into the wider world, drop the conformity of social conditioning, be who I want to be and speak out for what I truly believe.

LIHazleton.
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Being Creative, Being in Tune with Emotions – Swadhistana Chakra

Swadhistana Chakra – LIHazleton – Oil Pastels on Paper

Creativity is inherent in us all whether we realise it or not. For most people, our creativity as babies and children falls by the wayside when we learn to be in the world as responsible young adults. We have to pass exams, find careers, build sustainable lives and conform to social norms. This is what happened to me.

This year I have spent much of my time in creative pursuits and being aware of my emotions and dealing with them as appropriately as I can in the moment as they arise.

In 2008 when my role in the corporate workplace was made redundant, I allowed my creativity to surface again after many years of absence and have been drawing, painting and writing ever since. I also re-trained as a psychotherapist and took up yoga. Both of these enabled me to explore my inner world and understand how to balance and work with my emotions.

The Swadhistana chakra is known as the chakra of creativity and emotions. When in balance it leads to feelings of wellness, abundance, pleasure, and joy. When out of balance, a person may feel emotionally unstable and be susceptible to depression, addictions or anxiety.

In my yoga practice I have been working with this chakra in combination with consistently painting and writing. I have been utilising online courses to keep learning new techniques in landscape and portrait painting. Likewise, in creative writing I have been workshopping with others in tutor-led writing groups and doing a memoir course run by the National Centre for Writing https://nationalcentreforwriting.org.uk and tutored by the novelist Monique Roffey.

There are yoga poses designed to stimulate the Swadhistana chakra to help keep emotions and creativity in balance. I am an emotional person – vulnerable and emotionally charged at times and often easily reduced to tears. By continually being aware of and gaining a greater understanding of my emotions, I am discovering I can cultivate balance in my emotional body and perceive better and higher ways of living and expressing myself.

In my writing life, my goal is to write freely, in a way where I can fully express emotions and expand my awareness. In fiction, I endeavour to do this by writing stories with interesting characters who are emotionally challenged so I can explore their inner world as the plot/story develops in the characters outer world. In my non-fiction, I am writing memoir, exploring ‘the self’, writing in the first person and putting ‘me’ centre stage. To do this in an engaging way, I have to fully express myself and bare my soul, not necessarily on the page, but certainly to myself, keeping nothing hidden. I use yoga to help here in a specific way, on the mat in asanas but also whist in meditation.

Writing doesn’t come easy to me. It’s a constant challenge, but my yoga practice and studying the chakra’s help. Creativity and self expression is entangled and connected. Exploring it, examining what it means for me, brings unbounded joy.

LIHazleton.
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How to Be

I am enough.

You are enough.

We are all enough.

So many people are caught up in doing rather than being. They keep themselves busy achieving and fulfilling the roles they assign themselves and end up creating stress and anxiety in their lives. They feel as though unless they perform, achieve or fulfil a role, they are unworthy.

But this is not so.

We are enough and can reside in just being and have everything we need within ourselves to feel good without striving to meet self-imposed goals and deadlines.

But, for many people, this isn’t known. Without being aware of what they are doing, people are constantly massaging their egos in order to feel good about themselves.

The ego is our self image, our social mask, the role we are playing. Many people are unaware of the vice-like grip the ego can have and can fall victim to it. Unfortunately, this is the accepted norm i.e. the belief that our identities are wrapped up in who we are and what we do. We use labels to describe ourselves; we are mothers, fathers, doctors, bus drivers, tennis players … in addition, we employ self talk which can either inflate or deflate our ego; I am kind, I am generous, I am lazy, I am selfish …

But the ego is not who we really are.

I have been pondering this for many months and wondering how I can massage my ego less and be in the world as I truly am, as the real me, rather than put on a mask and rely on my ego when in social situations and when I am out and about generally.

After many months of socially isolating, I am slowing emerging back into the world, meeting friends, enjoying day trips away from home, coffee and meals out. Holidays in the UK are planned and travel further afield is being discussed.

In my previous blog post https://lihazleton.com/2020/06/28/emerging/ I wrote about emerging being a process and how I would like to resist falling back into old habits and ways of being. I have been pondering how I can achieve this and how to make effective and long-lasting changes.

For a long time, I have been using daily meditation and yoga practices to connect to the ‘real me’ — the part of me that is unchanging, the essence of my spirit, the pure consciousness that abides within. It is my hope that by continuing with these practices, where I can connect with the ‘real me’, I will be able to find that feeling when I am with others, when I am out and about in the wider world and away from the calm and peaceful surroundings of my home.

In the past, I have used my strong ego-self to thrive. I have survived an emotionally abusive upbringing, unloving and difficult relationships with men, a highly demanding and stressful corporate career and many challenging personal situations. These are all advantages of having a strong self image driven by a strong ego. I have thrived by employing and relying on my ego, rather than being transparent and showing my true nature. This has worked, but only so far. My relationships, my wellbeing, my sense of self, my contentment, what makes me feel happy and fulfilled have all suffered because of my ego. I lost myself along the way and suffered from worry, stress and anxiety.

A strong ego has many pitfalls and disadvantages. The negative side of the ego manifests as arrogance, pride, vanity, judgements, and prejudices. In the more extreme cases, it emerges as the need to control, the lust for power, fanaticism, or an obsession with materialism. I regret to say, in the past, I have often fallen foul of these unloving qualities and still do, if I am not careful.

So, I have been spending time in awareness of my ego and watching it like a hawk. If I catch it taking over, displaying those parts of me that are not the ‘real me’, I take action and come back to my heart, the centre of who I really am.

The more I meditate, the more I use my breath to connect to my centre during my physical yoga practices, the more I can let go of my ego and just be, knowing I am enough.

With time, with sustained practice, I hope this will become easier and I can take the feeling of being the ‘real me’ with me wherever I go.

I have discovered I can let go of my ego self, knowing that high self esteem doesn’t come from a massaged ego, but comes from cultivating spiritual values of truth, beauty, love, compassion, creativity, inner peace and bliss.

Being myself, being yourself is the ultimate form of self worth.

I am enough.

You are enough.

We are all enough.

How then is this linked to my writing?

Writing is a creative art, a form of self expression. I write because it helps me discover, what I think, what I feel, what I am grateful for, what I want to be in this world and how I can best serve. It is helping me discover my purpose and the true nature of who I AM.

LIHazleton.
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Rhythms of Bliss

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In recent weeks whilst in the midst of the shut down for Coronavirus, I have been spending my time absorbed in daily rhythms of bliss – practicing mediation and yoga, reading, writing, painting, communing with nature and communing with my inner self. It has been a time for reflection and an opportunity for growth and for making positive changes for how I live my life.

A wind of anxiety, a hurricane of panic is threatening to envelop the UK and the world. Now, more than ever it is important to be still, to be calm and to find inner peace. We are being encouraged to exercise daily to keep ourselves healthy in order to support our NHS. Exercise is fundamental to good health, but there is more we can do. To help ensure the immune system of our body is working as it needs to in order to keep us free of infection, we can build into our daily lives practices that still our minds and boost our immune system. Practicing yoga and mediation with integrated breathing practices strengthens the respiratory system making it more efficient and the whole approach helps to keep us calm, centered and stress free.

My hope and my wish is that everyone considers their own daily rhythms of bliss and keeps safe. Namaste.

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During these weeks, I have also been observing my patterns of behaviour and watching myself closely for any slippage … any backward step into the fear and anxiety I had been suffering since when the result of a routine scan in October last year threatened to turn my life upside down.

In the personal challenge I faced, I wrote about how I used my daily yoga practice to centre myself and transition to a state of mind where I could begin to manage the debilitating emotion of fear. I slowly realised that fear is an absence of love and with this realisation, I focussed on moving mediations to instil a practice of deep listening where I could connect with my inner self, the real me, the ‘I am’. As I looked at my greatest fears and lived through the worry, anxiety and trauma of what I was facing, I discovered unbounded blessings, compassion and gratitude for my experiences. I encountered loss and profound change, but by embracing the ensuing grief, I discovered a new way of being.

Emerging from this hugely testing period in my life, I realised it presented the opportunity for a new beginning and a new way of being in the world. I no longer needed to live with fear. As I began to focus my attention on healing, both physically and emotionally, I discovered I no longer felt any need to control my circumstances, I could let things be and trust the journey.

I have unearthed truths about myself, about my boundaries, my foibles, my behaviours, and my relationships. I have learnt valuable lessons and I am committed to ensuring I honour where I am, live in the present moment and keep focussed on what really matters, by practising self love, compassion and being open to all experience.

I live in hope. I live in trust. I live in love. I live in bliss.

 

“Bliss is not a feeling but a state of being. In the state of bliss, everything is loved. Nothing is more important than reconnecting with your bliss. Nothing is as rich. Nothing is more real”

Deepak Chopra

 

In my writing life I am taking this opportunity of being in lockdown to write flash fiction and short stories and to enter them into competitions. I am doing this with two friends from my writing group. We choose a competition we all want to enter, write our stories and peer review our work. We enter our pieces and then we keep our fingers crossed! Writing is fun, writing in stimulating and thought provoking. Most importantly, writing keeps me connected.

 

LIHazleton.
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Happy Birthday

It’s my birthday today. In recent years on my birthday, rather than celebrate, I choose to reflect and give thanks. I give thanks to the two people who gave me life and my Higher Self who has always been there.

On my birthday I think about my Mother who was alone and my Father who, for whatever reason was absent and remained absent in my life until my Mother died. On my birthday, I think about why it is I would rather push away my presents and cards and messages of love and just be with my husband who is my soul-partner.

Please do not stop reading.

This is not a misery blog post or a sympathy/attention-seeking piece of writing. Rather I am choosing to explore my emotions on a day when many people generally want to do something to mark the day by celebrating. Being more self aware is the key cornerstone to emotional intelligence and is helping me to act consciously rather than react passively and to be in good psychological health, have greater depth of life experience and be more compassionate to myself and others. It is how I want to live my life.

But there’s more and it’s to do with my writing.

I want to consider how I can bring out the essence of who I am into the character (Lisa) who is representing me in the book I am writing.

Show without telling is a beginner writer’s mantra.

In this scenario, this would be straightforward to describe in my book. It’s Lisa’s birthday; she doesn’t open her cards or presents, she doesn’t arrange to go out with anyone, she hides herself away, she doesn’t answer the phone. Easy. But how to bring out in the writing what Lisa is feeling inside, in her internal world is not easy.

One way is to employ backstory.

Backstory is a tricky element of fiction. Often introducing backstory can slow the story down. But backstory is often crucial to revealing a character’s inner wranglings.

Lisa is impacted by the events of her past and my intention is to write backstory that enthrals the reader so that they need and yearn to know what happened to her.

This is my task.

Today is my birthday. I have been at home with my husband. I have been alone with my own internal wranglings and have enjoyed my day.

Happy Birthday LyndyH.

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LIHazleton.
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A step towards acceptance is a step closer to peace.

I am writing towards peace. To find peace, I need to invite acceptance into my life, wrestle with it, debate with it and honour it. For unless I do, peace will elude me.

As a writer, facing the thing that scares us most, frees us.  If we tackle the challenging topic, we can tackle anything.

For me, in my writing, I know I need to tackle how I feel about a person who I feel ruined my childhood and with whom I fought against for my mother’s love. I lost that battle but I know if I persist with my writing, if I complete my manuscript and find a publisher for my book, if I can reach just one reader and touch their heart, then I can find peace.

If I can accept this person for who who they are, if I can reach out with love and accept they are as weak and as vulnerable as I am, as any human being is, then I can be free and through freedom I can find peace.

In my book, I have based one of my characters (my antagonist) on this person, my mother’s friend. The other day when I found myself immersed in a chapter, writing in her POV, I was surprised to discover I was feeling empathy for my antagonist. When I reflected upon these feelings, it was astonishing to acknowledge I was really feeling empathy for my mother’s friend. This was a breakthrough moment. A step towards acceptance.

Through writing comes healing. Through writing with emotional depth, when the past demands to be acknowledged, when I examine my childhood through my adult lens, when I create fiction based on fact, I can move beyond acceptance to peace and isn’t it peace that the world and every human being yearns for?

This week I am walking in the Lake District, pondering peace and acceptance. This environment and landscape inspires me to persist with my writing, even when I struggle to get the words to flow. Being here, immersing myself in nature and finding stillness helps. Walking with nature motivates me to carry on writing even when it becomes a battle. I believe challenge brings out the best in all of us and facing our fears frees us.

I want to be free. I want to find peace.

What will you face as a writer, so you can be free?

 

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LIHazleton.
Follow me on Twitter where I connect with other writers and all things writing. Follow me on Instagram if you love animals.

 

Do you know where you’re going to …

Do you know where you’re going to?

Do you like the things that life is showing you?

Where are you going to?

Do you know?

 

Meaningful lyrics from the song by Diana Ross and the theme song to the 1975 movie Mahogany. 

I have never seen the film (or at least I don’t remember seeing the film!), but I know the song very well. The words are evocative, bringing strong memories to mind and powerful feelings.

Listening to this song, thinking of my younger self and who I am today, I could choose to be troubled by the sentiments in the lyrics, allowing myself to be seduced by melancholy and nostalgia or I could choose to let the lyrics to wash over me and move on to the next song.

But I choose instead to be inspired by the lyrics, to explore my feelings, to dive into the deep waters of my past, my present and what my future may hold.

Life is short and we only have one.

A cliché but a universal truth.

So think about it. Do you know where you’re going to? Do you like the things that life is showing you? Where are you going to? Do you know? Do you get what you’re hoping for?
When you look behind you there’s no open door. What are you hoping for, do you know?

This song poses questions of humanity which we all ask ourselves. But in essence it’s a song about regret.

Regret. A big theme.

Artists, writers, music makers, all creatives who are brave enough to explore big themes grow in their work.

As a writer, I draw inspiration for my writing in many different ways. Music has the ability to move us, stimulating our memories and our imaginations. When I listen to a song, when the mood is right, when I am open and reflective, I can tap into and channel my emotions and the energy is stirred into inspiration for my writing.

How?

By considering the mood that the song sets and by focussing on that feeling – joy, sadness, triumph, love, regret, whatever it is and by writing from emotional depth, from wherever it is the song has taken me.

Sometimes the lyrics will tell a story, or perhaps the song shines a light on a portrait of a character, or the lyrics may take me back to a time in my past. I can then mine that memory for inspiration for a scene, I can explore the portrait of the character and flesh them out, I can ponder the story in the lyric and try and expand upon it.

I can even use the story in the lyric as a springboard for a longer piece, a different piece  or a chapter in my current book.

What type of music inspires you? Is there a song that really moves you?

 

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LIHazleton.
Follow me on Twitter where I connect with other writers and all things writing. Follow me on Instagram if you love animals.

Dare to be … me

I am me in the here and now.

I am my past from which I can never escape, nor do I want to.

I am my future in which I want to grow to be best me I can be. I recognise this is a well worn phrase, a cliche, but it’s true. I do want to be the best I can be. For me this means striving for continued personal development. Among other things, this means I want to develop my talents and potential, learn about myself, enhance the quality of my life, realise dreams and aspirations, help others and contribute to the universe.

Committing to personal development means I am willing to change. It means never giving up, putting myself in uncomfortable situations, experiencing challenge and taking risks. It also means looking after myself and meeting my needs. It means putting me first. This is not being selfish. It is being self aware. It is being where I want to be, doing what I want to do and being with who I want to be with. It is knowing wherever I am, whatever I am doing it is the right thing for me because it is only when I care for myself, can I care for others.

Attending to my personal development has led me to becoming a writer.

I dare to be a writer.

I dare to be me. 

 

Day 8 – Kinlochleven to Fort William – 15 miles

The last day of my West Highland Way walk and the last (for now) of my ‘Dare to be’ reflections.

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LIHazleton.
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Truth No. 15 – I am Vulnerable

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I was vulnerable as a child (we all are), I remained vulnerable through adolescence and into adulthood and I am still vulnerable. I am proud to be be vulnerable. Being vulnerable is being open to truth, not only my truth but a universal truth.

The universal truth is we are all vulnerable. Listen to Brene Brown speak on TED about vulnerability and you will see why.

Because we are mortal beings, vulnerability is a universal feature of our human condition. Our suffering, injury, illness, death, heartbreak and loss are experiences that define our existence and loom as constant threats. To be human is to be excruciatingly vulnerable. Using the adverb excruciatingly is a conscious choice. Fellow writers will know we learn to avoid using adverbs in our writing, but I choose to use excruciatingly to emphasise how painful and distressing feeling vulnerable can be.

It is natural for humans to avoid suffering and so we deny our vulnerability. “We’re fine,” we say when our truth points to the opposite. No, we are not fine, we are vulnerable. Of course, to have a temporary sense of power over all events and circumstances, is one of the privileges of being human and especially of being youthfully human. As we mature and grow older, we understand this privilege must be surrendered as we must surrender youth and as we succumb to ill health, accidents and experience the loss of loved ones. After all, ultimately we have no choice over these things.

So, why not reveal your vulnerability now? Try it and you will be rewarded with richer, more fulfilling relationships.

What happens when we risk showing another person our vulnerability? We become real and being real is wholly healthy. Why? Because we can be ourselves and being ourselves is a lot easier and less stressful than keeping up a pretence and wearing a mask. Hiding and pretending can be emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually exhausting (I know!) and the more you allow your essence to mature and acknowledge your vulnerability, the more you will attract authentic people into your life and create a network of supportive, real friends.

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Now, what lessons are there here that can be applied to our writing?

If you search the how-to-write section of any bookstore, you might conclude good stories are all about craft, plot, character, suspense, dialogue, etc. Of course these things matter but what I believe matters more is an author’s ability to be vulnerable on the page; to be open, daring, unabashed and unashamed; to be fearless and willing to blow away any taboo and to resist heeding any notions of embarrassment.

As Brene Brown says in her TED talk, to be vulnerable is not a weakness, rather, it’s “our most accurate measure of courage.”

My urge to be a writer is a measure of my courage, but more it is a generous act at its core. I want to share my story to give a reader an insight into a world they haven’t experienced. This is my gift, the gift of vulnerability, of being human.

 

LIHazleton.

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Truth No. 12 – Alone and Lonely

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Most adults have pondered the difference of being alone and being lonely. Simply put being alone is a state of being; loneliness is a state of mind.  But what about children, small children, children under ten? Can they articulate their feelings and are they adept at recognising when they are lonely and if so, are they able to do something about it? A fortunate child will have parents and care givers who will be monitoring for loneliness and will act if they detect their child is lonely.

When I was growing up, I spent a lot of time on my own. I suffered emotional neglect as well as being left alone at home, so it was a common place occurrence for me to be alone physically and alone psychologically. I was aware I was on my own a great deal of the time and I was aware it was unusual. With no siblings, a latch-key kid, a mother who was there only for the necessities and an absent father, it was my norm. But what I wasn’t fully aware of, was that I was lonely.  I just felt miserable all the time.

Loneliness impacts children in different ways. For me:

  • I developed a low self-esteem
  • I didn’t take risks. Trying new things and calling attention to myself left me feeling vulnerable and risking rejection
  • I felt disgruntled, disconnected and worried, pulling away from others and feeling more isolated as a result
  • Attempts to get close to my mother as a child and failing plus having no male role model caused me to feel hopeless about developing close relationships later in life

 

What about now?

Fortunately, I understand the psychological impacts loneliness has had on me during my childhood and later in adult life. Most importantly, I understand the danger of clinging to the feeling of loneliness because that’s what connects me most closely to my mother and because loneliness feels like a private space which is familia and which is shared with my distant and rejecting mother.

I understand the risk that I may cling to social isolation because isolation is what most closely reflects my emotional experience as a child.

With this self awareness I can act in ways that matter to me to avoid the state of loneliness.

I take care of myself.

 

Now to the writing.

If you have a character who is experiencing loneliness, how can you portray this in your writing? Consider:

  • Physical signs of loneliness most likely to be observed by an outside observer and not the lonely character. For example: slumped shoulders, gazing into space, tears, sadness, a monotone voice, looking down or away …
  • Internal responses to loneliness. For example swelling in throat with the onset of tears, insomnia, fatigue, unrest …
  • Mental responses to loneliness. Your character avoids social interactions, is consumed by anger or sadness, daydreams about connections with people …
  • Cues of long term loneliness. Addictions, unreasonable / unacceptable behaviour, withdrawal from society, suicidal tendencies … there are many more.
  • Suppressed loneliness. Being too friendly, being taken advantage of, committing too quickly in relationships
  • Loneliness is not introversion. Remember not to develop your character in this way.   An introvert is a character who seeks, thrives in, and enjoys their solitude. A lonely character is one who lives in self- or socially-inflicted solitude—who feels that they are not accepted on some level and who desperately wants to escape their isolation by forming strong relationships with others.

 

LIHazleton.

Follow me on Twitter where I connect with other writers and all things writing. Follow me on Instagram if you love animals.