The Art of Non-Attachment – Learning to let go

heather edwards psychotherapy letting goI heard the crash of my beloved pottery as it shattered on the cement floor. It jolted me. It freed me.

17 years ago when I was starting out as a potter (one of my passions), I toiled endlessly to make each piece perfect. The walls needed to be straight. The mouth perfectly circular, and the form of the body exact – that’s the beauty and the art of it.

My instructor painfully witnessed my labor and determination for perfection everyday. I attended every open studio session and took multiple classes per week. I knew if I worked hard enough, I’d get it.

One night that instructor suggested non-attachment to the work. I had no idea of what he meant. He might as well have been speaking a foreign language that I couldn’t understand.

That platter was my baby. I devoted hours to making each curve exactly how I wanted it – the thickness, the angle, and the integrity of the lip. It all had to be a certain way.

heather edwards psychotherapy in new york

Despite my efforts, he saw a flaw. One that was unfixable. I pleaded with him to let me try to make it right. He insisted, “No, Heather. You have to let it go. Smash the platter with me.” I couldn’t believe my ears.

It took a moment, in front of a classroom of students but I decided to comply. He took a piece of his pottery and we agreed to smash them together in the air and allow them to shatter.

The moment that platter left my grip, there was no turning back. I gasped. I closed my eyes. I heard the breakage and the outburst of joy among my peers.

It liberated us all. It was freeing. It was a literal breakthrough. There would be no more toiling.

Now I had a clean slate and a fresh start. I could refocus and begin anew. Fresh possibilities emerged and my work improved.

Who knows how many more hours I would’ve spent on that unfixable platter? Almost two decades later, that invaluable lesson sticks with me.

What are you holding onto that no longer serves you? What is unfixable or  keeping you stuck that needs to be released?
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When you release what you cannot change, fix, or control – you are free. You become open to the real possibilities of the  moment and live wholeheartedly.

Ever since that day, I try to recognize the point where it’s time to let go. It serves me and everyone around me to be diligent in that effort.

I’ve lost contact with that teacher. I’d like to thank him for the lessons I learned. It’s shaped me in ways beyond my art.

My pottery continues to develop but, with much less angst and much more joy and fluidity. It’s become a model and metaphor for living authentically, without regrets and fully engaged in the now.

 

Is Shame Holding You Back? You are worthy.

heather edwards shameLet’s go alternate reality. Yes, AR. What’s your biggest wish for this year? Five years from now? Or for your lifetime? Tap into the full experience of that image. Be the hero in your own game. One where you make the rules. You tell the story. You determine the outcome.

What’s there? Who’s there? Smell the scents, see the colors, connect to the people, hear the sounds, engage with your surroundings. Notice the energy that fills you up. Close your eyes. Lock it in.

Wait. Did I hear the voice of self doubt? Disbelief? Uncertainty? It’s okay. It’s what we do. Notice it and dismiss it. Shift your focus to what you want. The nasty little self critic gremlin works hard at sabotaging your dreams. It’s his job. In some contexts it’s what keeps you alive. It notices danger and warns you. But sometimes it’s nothing more than insecurity and a sense of unworthiness holding you back in the form of shame.

When the gremlin rears his ugly little head, you stop. You get scared and small. You start replaying the mental tape of negative messages you’ve heard throughout your lifetime. After all, they prove the critic is right. Wrong!

Those sabotaging statements from your family, the mean boss, or the bully on the playground have no merit. They no longer call the shots. You do. The next time you feel stifled, small, or unworthy do this…heather edwards worthy

1. Practice an attitude of gratitude. Identify three things you are grateful for today. Meditate on each of them for 30 seconds. You’ll strengthen the neural pathways responsible for happiness and wellbeing. To boot, Brene Brown’s research has identified gratitude as the antidote to shame and unworthiness.

2. Stretch. Take up space. Literally reach for the sky. BKS Iyengar (the father of Iyengar Yoga) believed that raising your arms above your head stimulates the lymphatic system which builds immunity and can improve mood and coping. Other studies have shown that it increases testosterone production and reduces cortisol (a stress hormone), creating a calm confident feeling.

3. Give yourself a hug. When you place your hand on your heart, you signal the body to release calming hormones. It’s comforting and grounding. Like other pressure points on the body, it shifts your energy from being uncomfortable to being more relaxed and fluid. Pair it with a deep breath and mantra like, “It will be okay.” and you’ll feel like a million bucks again.

This is just the start of managing uncomfortable feelings. Get to the root of what’s keeping you stuck. The only way out of it is through it. When you turn toward them, acknowledge them, and replace them with healthy thoughts and behaviors you narrate the story. For a more in depth exploration, call a mental health professional. Be the hero in your reality.heather edwards counseling psychotherapy

What is Love?

Love. Heather Edwards

Love is... Heather EdwardsThis Valentine’s Day I’m challenged to answer the question, “What is love?”. Recent personal events have stretched and profoundly changed me in beautiful and unforeseen ways. Because of this, love has a broader, richer, more complex meaning than before.

So when I’m asked the question, “What is love?”. Its definition extends well beyond a Valentine’s Day celebration of attraction, sexuality, partnership, and mating. While I appreciate that, it goes much deeper.

It’s an expression of give-and-take, mutual support, sometimes giving more than you knew you could, truly being there for someone else in their darkest hour, accepting what may be difficult to see, and accepting love in its many forms when it comes back to you.

Where do you see love? In heart shapes in the clouds, a kiss between lovers, or a mother preparing dinner for her family?

How do you experience love? Do you notice butterflies in your stomach, a warmth in your heart, or a calm awareness of your safety and wellbeing when in the presence of someone special?

How do you express love? With your words, actions, or touch?

Love is... Heather EdwardsLove is… listening, sharing, supporting, trusting, relaxing, letting go, longing, aching, forgiving, caregiving, accepting, being yourself, graciousness, excitement, warmth, kindness, truth, vulnerability, openness, strength, courage, heart centric actions, positive energy, highest vibrations, healing, grounding, helping…

With so many ways to experience and express love, what will you do today to enlighten someone about their special place in your heart? Don’t assume they already know your love or that you have plenty of time to show them. The only moment that truly exists is this one. Make it matter.

L.O.V.E. Luminous. Open. Vulnerable. Expressive.

Here’s a Love Letter from Ludwig von Beethoven:

Love is... Heather EdwardsMy angel, my all, my very self

We shall surely see each other soon; moreover, today I cannot share with you the thoughts I have had during these last few days touching my own life –

If our hearts were always close together, I would have none of these.

My heart is full of so many things to say to you – ah – there are moments when I feel that speech amounts to nothing at all –Cheer up – remain my true, my only treasure, my all as I am yours.

Ah, wherever I am, there you are also –

Much as you love me – I love you more –

Oh God – so near! so far!

Is not our love truly a heavenly structure, and also as firm as the vault of heaven?

my thoughts go out to you, my Immortal Beloved, now and then joyfully, then sadly, waiting to learn whether or not fate will hear us –

I can live only wholly with you or not at all –

No one else can ever possess my heart – never – never –

Oh God, why must one be parted from one whom one so loves.

Be calm, only by a calm consideration of our existence can we achieve our purpose to live together –

Be calm – love me – today – yesterday – what tearful longings for you – you – you – my life – my all – farewell.

Oh continue to love me – never misjudge the most faithful heart of your beloved.

ever thine

ever mine

ever ours

Your faithful Ludwig

Share your heart. Share yourself. Share your love. Deepen your experience of each day.

Where is Your Relationship Headed? What’s your love ratio?

Heather Edwards Relationship Oasis

Let’s begin with a simple checklist for a healthy relationship. How many of these exist in your love life?

  • acceptance
  • empathy
  • respect
  • honesty
  • compassion
  • compatibility
  • trust
  • understanding
  • vulnerability
  • safety
  • consideration
  • compromise
  • communication
  • shared vision and values
  • passion
  • play

Yes, life gets in the way sometimes. Take time out to nurture your love. There are evidence based ways to build healthy, lasting relationships. Here are a few of them….

Dream together. Create personal rituals of connection. Honor each other. Speak AND listen. Ask open ended questions. Be curious. Remain calm during disagreement & conflict. Own your feelings.  Take responsibility when it’s yours. Take steps to deepen your friendship and intimacy. Validate each other.

Watch out for the pitfalls that ruin relationships. If any these sound familiar, it’s time to make adjustments.

  • blame
  • criticism
  • belittling
  • stonewalling
  • contempt
  • defensiveness
  • withholding
  • avoidance
  • violence

Don’t fret. It’s not too late. As long as both parties are committed to make changes that benefit themselves, each other, and the relationship, it can work out! When you share a dream of better days ahead together, you can strengthen, rebuild, and rediscover your love.

Don’t wait. Time is of the essence. If you’re curious about how sustainable your relationship is, here’s an easy tally of it’s health… According to John Gottman, healthy relationships have 5 positive interactions to every 1 negative one. He refers to it as the 5 to 1 Ratio. It’s scientifically predicted whether or not relationships last. What is your ratio?

If the scales are tipped on the negative side and you want to turn it around, practice positivity toward your partner. Refer to the first list in this blog and put those into action. If you need professional help, seek it out.

“Dumbledore watched her fly away, and as her silvery glow faded he turned back to Snape, and his eyes were full of tears. ‘After all this time?’. ‘Always,’ said Snape.” -J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

 

photo of couple courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net by Sarge Bertasius Photography