I first read Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss several months ago with my 3 year old daughter. I remember reading it and being struck by how grumpy the character is who won’t eat the green eggs and ham, and how cheerful Sam I Am is, the one who keeps saying, “would you like them here or there, or with a goat? on a boat?”
I think this book is brilliant. It is exactly representative of how we don’t have to let our mood and well-being depend on others. Here is this cute little character who is cheerful throughout the entire book, despite the resistance and almost rudeness of the other taller, fluffy character.
It really hit me one day that this book is so useful for parenting. I was in the kitchen, preparing some food for my daughter which is always tricky. I asked her if she would like some food x, and she said no, so I asked her if she would like food y, and she said no. I felt myself slouch forward and I said, “oh,” and that was the end of it. I kind of deflated. Then I said to myself, “hey that little Sam I Am never lets it bother him that the grumpy guy won’t eat, so maybe I can be creative like him.” So I tried offering her the food in a more wild and fun way, and it made me feel great! I wasn’t giving up my power or my well-being to her food choices! I could still get her some food that she would probably eat and I could enjoy myself at the same time! It became fun and silly to offer her all kinds of wacky combinations of foods in wacky locations. How about that. Thank you sincerely Dr. Seuss. You helped me to see I had a choice!
I remember my parents telling me to focus when I was younger and I remember knowing they were trying to help me, but they didn’t really help me because I didn’t know how to focus!!
Now I’m learning that bringing your attention to what you are doing is mindful, it is focused, it is being grounded, with your feet on the ground, all those expressions! It is being engaged in your life, in the present moment, it is caring about yourself enough to notice what is going on, even if that means that you notice you are 20 minutes ahead of where you are in your day! Mindfulness is noticing where your attention is or isn’t, it’s noticing that you are thinking about ice cream instead of having your attention on your two year old who is climbing up on the stool to reach the ice creams cones that you hid on the top shelf.
I first read about mindfulness in a beautiful parenting book that literally turned my parenting style around with great benefits called, “Everyday Blessings: The inner work of mindful parenting.” I’ve come across mindfulness more and more as I continue to grow and heal and look inside to find out what is preventing me from living my true life. There are many brilliant ways to learn about mindfulness and to live mindfully. This post won’t be about all those brilliant ways, but rather about what I recently brought my attention to while shopping.
We tend to buy organic food when it is available and affordable. For the most part, we don’t eat as many packaged foods with the exception of crackers and chips and pastas! We all still love those! I’ve brought my attention to food labels whenever we buy something that is in a package and it’s a way of being aware of what I’m choosing to put into my body and to feed to my family. We know our bodies can digest and process anything (please see the My Healings section of this blog and My Food Healing for more information!), but we’re choosing to eat healthy foods so our bodies don’t have to work as hard. I have realized as I’ve shopped over this past year, that just because something is gluten free, or organic or sold as a natural product in a health food store, that it doesn’t mean that it is nutritious or wholesome. I’ve been surprised that some of the supposedly healthy foods sold in packages are sometimes just as “junky” as their name brand counterparts. I have found it both rewarding and refreshing to pick up those products, read the ingredients and then put them back. It makes me feel like my awareness and the attention I put into food is worthwhile. So here is the exception!
I was going to a local store here in Ottawa because they sell organic ice cream. The store, Rainbow Foods, is the only one I’ve found that sells it. So when I saw that it was on sale, I said to my daughter, “oh they have strawberry, do you want to try that too?” She agreed, so I grabbed it without even looking. I saw a picture of a strawberry on the packaging, it’s from a company that I buy from regularly and that I’ve always been impressed with, so I bought it! We brought it home and we opened it up right away to try. For some reason, at that point, I read the ingredients and it said, “natural flavor” and there were no actual strawberries in it. I felt so misled and disappointed. How could that be? How could there be no actual berries in it? I felt like I was in a science fiction book where you get to choose from wafer 1-15, each with a different flavor because fruits and vegetables and “real food” couldn’t be grown any more because people had taken up all the space. It was a real moment of “wow” for me, like, wow, how could they do that? How could there be the word “strawberry” on the outside of the package, without the front of the container having to say, “strawberry flavoured ice cream”. I used to work at Health Canada before my daughter was born and there are so many food regulations, and I was really surprised that there wasn’t a regulation that stipulated that if there is no actual ingredient, then the packaging must obviously state, “flavoured”.
It really reminded me to continue to bring my attention to the foods I purchase with our money and that we eat to nourish our bodies. I am planning on writing to the company to express my disappointment and I may even look into if there are any regulatory requirements for that as it is very misleading otherwise. I found a container of organic strawberry yogurt today that didn’t have any strawberries, only flavour and red cabbage to make the color. Wow again. Strawberry yogurt with cabbage in it instead of strawberries.
All that to say, it is important to be mindful while shopping, especially as we buy food to nourish our bodies. I’m not mindful of clothing and other goods yet and knowing which companies best support their workers or which countries have regulations to protect their workers from poor working conditions and low wages, but one step at a time! Please share any examples that you have come across as you have explored living more mindfully and what has really caught your attention as you open up your heart and your eyes to your life and what is really going on as you live it!!
I was reflecting on my journey a few days ago… By December 2010 I was devastated. I was a mother and wife trying to do the best I could, but all the sadness that was inside me was holding me back, was screaming at me, and was making me physically really sick. It was such a powerful force, but I had to finally face it and be free. I read a quote today, that pretty much summed it up for me:
“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” Carl Jung
That quote is what happened to me. I was doing the best I could in my life, but it was from a place of unconsciousness, and the darkness and the lack of consciousness was running the show, and I had no idea. I was trying to be me, loving and caring, and be all that I felt like I never had while growing up, but it was all reactive. It was all from a place of “I need to do things differently so Zara doesn’t feel the same pain I have felt while growing up.” That’s a dangerous place to live from, trying to pretend like the darkness isn’t real, like I can just avoid it, keep it down. A reactive way of living kept me safe on the surface, so I was hiding from what truly happened in my past so that it didn’t happen again, instead of acknowledging it, releasing it and moving on to live from a balanced place.
I had to get physically ill. I had to watch my daughter (who was only 1 and a half when the sickness started) come along with me, dragged under by the power of the darkness that I had suppressed, but that was coming up to be acknowledged and released, so that:
I could re-awaken,
I could live consciously, within my own power and light,
our family could be free,
each one of us could be emotionally free from each other and we as a family could “walk” side by side, instead of being all tangled up and dragging each other behind.
The biggest step for me was going to see a naturopath (www.dragonflynaturopathy.com) when I was at my worst physically (and our daughter too) and she said, “I’ll help you get physically healthy, but you need to get emotionally healthy, because it is the root of all of this.” Wow, I was astounded. I had told her about some of my life experiences and she helped me to see that any time I had a traumatic experience my body reacted with a disease or illness shortly afterward. For example, I had known deep down that I didn’t get my period for a whole year because I was playing competitive basketball in college when I really didn’t want to. Or when I was 15, I became lactose intolerant a few months after breaking my tail bone; I was in a lot of pain, I didn’t feel like my parents acknowledged the terrible pain I was in but instead sent me to a physiotherapist who massaged my tail bone from the inside, I was feeling horrible and molested, and for some reason, I never told my parents how horrible it was for me to go there or what they were doing to me.
With the amazing guidance of our naturopath, I realized what must be inside of me and how it needed to get out so I could be free. She encouraged me to read the book The Journey by Brandon Bays (http://www.thejourney.com/) and it changed my life. I read it and I learned about how you can heal your body by getting to the emotional core of what is in the body, that is causing the illness/disease/symptom and then release it by allowing yourself to feel the emotions that were suppressed way back then. It was fascinating and my heart sang. Every cell in my body knew it was truth. I found a Journey practitioner here in Ottawa (Jean Brazeau) and now I am different, now I am me, I am finally Bradlee, and I feel so much lighter, so much more capable and free. Wow. If you’ve read this blog at all, you’ve likely started to get a sense of the wonder I feel, realizing that all that sh*t was never me. This is me! And I really like me! I didn’t like living in the sadness, but I do like this and I welcome the next emotion and memory that wants to come up now because I’m like, “yes, let’s get it out so there is more room for me in here!!”
Back to the subject of this blog post though, how my heart won over my mind… I vividly remember my food healing with Jean Brazeau (please see My Healings, My food healing), where she helped me get to the core of the darkness that had me and my family in its grip. This post is not about how that healing allowed me to reclaim my body and my power over food, but that there was much more to the work to follow than I ever could have anticipated, to get to the freedom that truly each one of us is capable of, the freedom that exists as we connect to our hearts and calm our mind to be our friend instead of our controller.
After that session, I remember crying deeply at home while our daughter was napping, as a release, as a letting go of how responsible and guilty I felt that Zara had to be dragged along with me through the despair of all the food sensitivities, of my weight loss, of the helplessness, of the lack of sleep, of the pain of trying to be me, but being strangled from the inside. I let it all out and it felt so much better. Then I was left knowing that I could for the first time in my life, eat whatever I wanted. That I could eat dairy again, that it would be okay. It was a new concept to me, and I embraced it. I knew it in my bones, that I was healed, that Zara was healed, that we had lived through a miracle. So I set out with Zara to eat healthily but to enjoy food! What I didn’t expect was the sabotage from my mind, from the ego, that wasn’t going to let go without a huge fight. I had learned about the ego in psychology class in university, but I was to actually experience it and to move beyond it in real life, instead of from a text book! It was my real education and thank goodness there were resources and references!!
Since Zara could crawl, she would take A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle off the book shelf and give it to me. I had bought it a few years ago, but I hadn’t been ready to read it. A few days after my food healing in June 2011, she walked over, picked it up and gave it to me. She was not quite 2 and a half. I finally said, “oh, she’s been wanting me to read it all along,” so I started my real education about the ego.
I just want to add an aside before I continue. I’m learning that our daughter is very gifted and that there are many children like her. I have met many crystal children now like Zara and they constantly astound and amaze me. These children were born to change the world, to show us the truth, to shine, to highlight the way of love and to not be controlled (unlike so many of us, including me, I was so controlled by everything). Zara is a crystal child and she has always had a strong knowledge and sense of energy; she always chooses the deepest, most profound books from our book shelf; she has told me before, “Mommy, you are stuck in your head, you need to be right here (and she’s pointed to my chest),” and she has, on many occasions, read my mind and read the energy that is in my body that is coming up to be released. I can give you tons of examples, but it will be up to you whether you choose to believe it or not. Maybe you’ll just need to meet a child like this to fully understand…and there are more of Zara’s examples in the rest of this post too:)
Back to A New Earth. I started to read it and it opened up my eyes to how powerful the ego is. How it does not like change, how it can create illnesses to give itself a new identity, and how it is so used to having full power over us. The ego is the source of all unconsciousness and it will not give up easily as we open to conscious living. For example, I knew I could eat whatever I wanted after that food healing, but 4 days afterwards, Zara looked at me and she said, “Mommy, the food is bouncing around in your belly, you need to let it pass through.” I remember being in shock, first of all, how did she know that and second of all, why was it stuck, I thought I was letting it pass through, that I had healed myself. So I asked her why it was bouncing and what I could do about it (Jean has coached us to ask Zara questions, despite her young age, because she is quite wise, like all kids, and she will often be able to guide us). Zara recommended that I take deep breaths and bend over each time and touch my toes. So I tried it, and I did it a few times and she said, “okay Mommy, it’s fine now.” It was a very confusing time for me. I was letting go of so much, and was learning how to be a “normal” person and to eat whatever I wanted, while throughout my whole life I had had this litany of voices in my head (my parents, society, my own, etc) saying, “you’re fat, don’t eat that, don’t eat carbs, you’ll get fat, don’t eat that, you need to exercise, you can’t be hungry, drink water instead, if you eat that, you’ll get bloated, oh, you can’t possibly eat those two foods together,” and on and on. I didn’t realize what a huge battle I was undergoing with the ego at the time!! I had to overcome all the programming and beliefs about food as well, not just the memories and emotions that had caused all the food sensitivities that I had released with Jean at my healing session.
So over the next few days, Zara kept coaching me about the food bouncing and then I got super insecure, wondering if it was a sham, and if I couldn’t do it. I was just plain stuck and worried. I had already planned to visit my parents, so I went. When I got there, we made some cookies, so I ate them and I got bloated and really emotional and I was a mess. I was there for 2 days and all of a sudden I was crying, I couldn’t eat anything and I was so upset. I felt lost and confused. My mom was telling me that because I’m blood type O, I have to avoid all these certain foods and that just because all the food issues had been “in my head”, it didn’t mean I could eat whatever I wanted, that my body had limitations. I remember thinking that she was trying to reassure me, but I was so angry because I knew that I should be able to eat whatever I wanted after that food healing, that my body could take in what it needed and let the rest pass through. We left after a few days and I was miserable. We were driving back to Ottawa, which is a 2 hour drive, and then half way home, the haze and the misery lifted. It was gone and I was me again. I started screaming with joy! I realized that I had gone back into the unconsciousness that had created most of the food issues in the first place. My body had felt it and responded to it accordingly (and was shutting down and not digesting the food) but that once I was far enough away from my parents, my body remembered the truth and I felt lighter. It was super powerful for me, super profound. While I was there, I gave up my power to my parents, to the beliefs and fears they still had about food (that they likely absorbed during their own childhoods and throughout their lives), even though I knew I was in neutral ground again within my heart. It was almost like it needed to happen, to show me how powerful beliefs, fears and energies are and just how vulnerable I was to them.
But I still had to overcome more about the ego too. At the time, I didn’t realize that the battle was continuing….that I had only accomplished step one in the battle between my heart and my mind.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always needed to eat often and quickly, or else I would get grumpy or physically weak. That continued even after my food healing. I was somewhat aware of it, but I just thought it was the way I was. I could see that it was very limiting for me and for our family. Then I started to see it as another form of control or stemming from a lack of control that I always felt in my life. I had been wanting to go to Toronto with my husband on his business trip, but I remember thinking, how can I possibly travel while on this crazy restrictive diet, it would be impossible, so I decided not to go. A few days later, I had my food healing, so I was feeling brave, and I went for it.
As we were planning for the trip, I was starting to see how much control food had in my life, how I used it to make me feel better, how my body and mind were always sending me signals that it was time for me to eat again, etc…. Zara and I were going to take the train and meet up with Robbin in Toronto the next day, so it was super exciting for both of us. I packed lots of healthy food in our backpack for the train ride. We got on the train and I was immediately hungry, despite having just eaten breakfast. So I ate some more food, and then I started to feel sick, my throat was sore, I felt weak and I was feeling very tired. I ordered some tea and tried to rest, all while having fun with Zara on her first train ride. I ate some more and then some more, all in an attempt to make me feel better. I started feeling more tired but I was saying to myself, “I won’t get sick, I won’t get sick,” but I remember not really believing it. We arrived in Toronto and had a marvellous afternoon with our friends and then I was trying to get Zara ready for sleep in the evening. I was so tired myself and she looked at me and said, “Mommy, the bacteria are bouncing all around your body.” I knew she was right, I felt like I was fighting something, so I cried and cried. I was so scared of being sick, so I cried out all the fear. The last time I had been really sick was the last time we had gone on a family trip when Zara was 6 months old and I had gotten strep throat, and an ear and eye infection, so I was terrified of that happening again. So I cried and I felt better. She went to sleep and I helped clean up and I went to bed early, around 8:30pm. I woke up at 2am and I remember having this huge realization, “OH! I am giving up my power to the fear of getting sick and to these bacteria that are just waiting to create an illness.” So I screamed out in my head, “bacteria you are not welcome here, you will not cause an illness, I have the power and you can’t make me sick.” I felt silly but really great, and then I fell right back asleep and I woke up refreshed and rested, with no signs of any illness. It was my second step in reclaiming my body as my own, instead of being controlled by fears and my mind.
We were on our trip for 5 days and I could still feel the panic rising occasionally (the ego trying to hold on) and I could still see the control my mind had over me with regards to food. I would wake up in the middle of the night, freaking out about the whole food thing, so I would do some deep breathing and some yoga poses my cousin Patrycja has on her blog (http://www.inspiredmomentsblog.blogspot.ca/) and that really helped me come back to a place of love, instead of one of fear and lack of control. But the ego was still winning, I was hungry all the time, and I had to pack lots of food with me whenever we left the hotel to feel safe and I always had to have a plan for when we would eat next. I was always like that, but unconscious about it. However, I was now aware of this tendency, but I wasn’t sure of what to do about it. We arrived home from our trip and it was very successful but I knew I had more to work on with this ego battle.
In the month of July, I was still overcoming so much, although I was truly unaware of the magnitude of it at the time. For a few weeks, Zara would say to me, “Mommy, don’t eat all the food,” or “Mommy, don’t eat all my food.” I was so confused and so upset by her comments. I didn’t understand where they were coming from or why she was saying them. I never ate food from her plate without asking her and those statements made me feel powerless, confused and upset (I’m learning now how not to give up my power to what other people say, but rather to listen and not blame them for the feelings that I’m experiencing as a result of what they said). I was feeling a little desperate and I had just learned about the Ho’oponopono prayer so I looked it up and decided to try it with Zara, just in case it would help (http://www.thereisaway.org/Ho’oponopono_cleaning_meditation.htm). It’s a prayer where you say to the person you want to direct the prayer to: Dear Zara, I love you, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, and you repeat it over and over again. I read about it and it felt right. I just wanted the food stuff to be over!! I was holding her one morning when she had just woken up and was breastfeeding and she was falling back asleep so I decided to try it. I was saying it over and over again in my heart and I started crying and she was nodding and nodding, even though her eyes were closed. She could hear me and feel my apology for whatever was going on within me that was making her feel like I was going to eat all the food in the house. It was only after talking with Jean a few days later that I understood what was fully going on: my mind was always telling me to eat, ALWAYS. I remember walking down the street with Zara and she told me not to eat all the food (she was not even 2 and a half at the time) and it was her way of saying, “Mommy, your mind is always thinking about food, stop it.” After that chat with Jean and hearing Zara say that so many times, it brought that inner dialogue about food into my awareness, which was huge. Check mate for me, take that ego. Now I just needed to learn some tools to overcome it further.
I read more of A New Earth, and I learned that the ego can cause changes in the body, to soothe itself, to feed itself and to create more needs to be fulfilled. I remember waking up and being seized with a desperate desire to eat. I learned (thanks to the book, my awareness and my husband) to recognize the difference between being physically hungry and being controlled by the ego. I would have to sit through the desperate hunger, acknowledge it and let it pass. It was ridiculously challenging, but it got easier each time. It was probably like quitting smoking or something. I just knew that I wasn’t going to feed it any more, I was going to reclaim my life and take back my power from the ego. There were times when I ate in the desperation and I laughed at it, and tried again.
There was one day, when I practically ate the contents of the kitchen. I was just eating and eating, feeling this huge need inside me to eat. Then, when I brought some awareness to the intensity of the desire, I realized it was impossible that the hunger could be real, that intense. It had to be the ego. I remembered how there were parts in The Power of Now, also by Eckhart Tolle, that were quite helpful for me too. I stopped what I was doing, I took out the book, I sat on the kitchen floor and I read. I chose that day to read the part about women and the collective consciousness we all have and how it can take over during menstruation and manifest in different ways for all women (for me it was usually withdrawing and eating). The collective female consciousness is very acute during menstruation and it brings up all the pain and torture we have undergone as a sex,but Tolle coaches that we can see it for what it is, acknowledge it and not let it take over any more and as such, menstruation could be transformed into a period of grace and communion with the body. I will always remember the day I read that and how I knew it was the truth I needed to overcome the huge pull of the ego/mind once and for all. I remember sitting on the kitchen floor and being filled with this awareness, this power, that I could do it, that I could live from my heart and not be tricked by the mind any longer (or at least not to the same extent!!). It was a beautiful moment. I was reading it out loud to Zara and I was screaming with happiness!!!
Since that time, I don’t fight with my body as much. I can wait two hours to eat breakfast. I am not desperate to eat. I don’t worry about when our next meal time will be. I still leave the house with snacks, but only if we’re going to be gone for more than an hour. I am so pleased, I am so proud of myself, I again have the power in my life, my heart won over my mind and it is bliss in comparison to how I used to live. It has nearly been a year since my food healing and I can still eat whatever I want and so can Zara. I have now learned that when I am feeling bloated or like I have indigestion, that it has nothing to do with what I ate, but rather the situation I am in and the energy that I have taken in or the thoughts that have taken over. With practice, I have learned to tune into my belly, release the density within there (since it’s a vulnerable place for me) and come back to my heart, to a balanced place. I don’t get it every time, but it has gotten remarkably better for me!
So I leave you with some thoughts…Be aware of what gets you. Be aware of what gets you down, what makes you feel controlled, what makes you feel helpless. See it. Feel it. Know it isn’t you. It can be conquered. It takes awareness and a willingness. There are resources, like books (Eckhart Tolle, Bruce Lipton, Geneen Roth,Richard Carlson, James Redfield, Don Miguel Ruiz, Paulo Coehlo, William Linville and so many more I don’t know!), healers, blogs, yoga, whatever you choose, you can overcome and pull out of the ego/mind game and live from your heart! Your heart can win over your mind, love can conquer all and conscious living is truly a blessing and a gift. Namaste.
I sit back and reflect on my 31st year and what a crazy journey it has been!
We moved into a very peaceful home.
We found food freedom (please see My Healings: My Food Healing).
I started healing and discovering my true self.
I have learned that it is okay to do things for me.
I have learned that the sun is always there, behind the clouds.
I have learned to celebrate life, breathe and be grateful, truly grateful, for my life and all the circumstances that brought me here, closer to my true self than ever.
I have learned that I can sing loudly, dance boldly and in a big way, that I can tickle my daughter and be spontaneously fun, that I can cook pretty well, that my body can take in what it needs and let the rest pass through, that I can let life come to me instead of forcing my way through it, and most importantly, I have gotten in touch with the love that I truly am, and I can now see it in all people, instead of walking around with judgement, with wanting to be different and to hide, now I see the love, and I feel the love. What a blessing.
So tonight, I celebrate the freedom I have found on this healing journey. I celebrate that I can eat Doritos and read Harry Potter while my husband is out of town and our beauty daughter sleeps. I celebrate that I can sit here in my underwear typing this and that’s cool (instead of having to hide my body). I can celebrate that my life no longer has an undercurrent of sadness and negativity, that I am growing, and shining and finding my bright light, and living my true life.