How Effective are Vibration Massage Chairs in Providing Pain Relief

A day at the spa can invigorate your mind and body from all the physical and mental stresses that life throws your way. Massage...

How to Start a Relationship: Things You Need to Know

If you have watched every rom-com movie, how to start a relationship is all the same. Two people meet, there is love at first...

Meditation Prep

A Heart-Opening Yoga Sequence with Elena Brower

ace, where you receive and give love. ELENA BROWER UPDATED: MAY 16, 2017 ORIGINAL: SEP 8, 2016 Today, we’ll practice moving your...

Elena Brower’s Sequence to Strengthen Core Connection

Today, we’ll work on strengthening your core with a few standing postures, which will help you feel the relationship between your core and steadiness—
both physically...

Everything You Need to Know About Meditation Posture

  Do you sit down for meditation and wonder if you're doing it right? Learn all about the universal meditation posture here. There are a million forms of meditation in...

What Are Mala Beads? And How Do I Use Them?

We love to wear our yoga, from tees to tattoos to jewelry that expresses our devotion to the practice. Malas, strands of 108 beads plus a...

Move Into Meditation with Shiva Rea’s Prana Flow Pranams

Tadasana with Anahatasana and Jaya Mudra Mountain Pose with heart opener and victory mudra Rise to standing, with your hands at the base of your spine...

A Sequence to Beat Restlessness + Prep for Meditation

Did your self-reflection reveal a rapid breathing pattern? Was your jaw clenched? Were you feeling anxious or irritable? Many of us are regularly in...

Can You Buy Your Way to Enlightenment?

  From virtual reality to the Somadome, Yoga Journal investigates five meditation aids to find out if they actually work. Courtesy of Somadome I don’t want to...

How a 31-Day Loving-Kindness Meditation Challenge Transformed My Relationships and Reduced My Anxiety

  A 31-day loving-kindness meditation challenge was not going to be easy for a Yoga Journal Editor. But she was excited to see where the...

Try This Heart-Centering Meditation Before You Take a Forest Bath

  A forest bath is an inner journey to reacquaint us with our own wildness as much as it is an outer journey into the...

Benefits of Meditation

4 Mindfulness Tips To Reclaim Your Center & Ground Your Being

“Your own mind is a sacred enclosure into which nothing harmful can enter except by your permission.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson Do you have days when...

How Stable Is Your Confidence? Exploring Running, Money, and Stillness

I’ve been meditating daily for about 18 years. I’ve been selling professionally for almost 16 years (I was previously a social worker). I’ve been running as a spiritual...

Be Open to Something New

When we’re young, everything is new. Everything is exciting. What joy a toddler has learning about gravity, experiencing the sheer amazement of mailboxes, or to...

This Is How Becoming A Father Transformed Me

I’m 41 years old and have a 2-year-old son. Relatively speaking, I’m a little late to the parenting game. Until a few years ago,...

Accessing Unlimited Possibility

Possibility is a powerful word. Whenever we say something is possible it means it can happen. It is real. Reality is defined by what is possible...

Maybe I Don’t Need to Make a Big Change in the World

DisclaimerThis site is not intended to provide and does not constitute medical, legal, or other...

Healing from the Trauma of Narcissistic Abuse

“Don’t blame a clown for acting like a clown. Ask yourself why you keep going to the circus.” ~Unknown When I first experienced narcissistic abuse as an adult, it was a at a time when the term “narcissistic abuse” was not so heard of or understood. I had met a handsome, intelligent, charismatic, and charming man, and as is typical in abusive relationships, had been completely overwhelmed by the intensity and ‘love’-overload of the early stages. Before I could catch my breath, though, the nitpicking started, and so did the heated arguments, the jealousy, the cutting contact, and disappearing for days on end—shortly followed by dramatic make-ups, apologies, gifts, and promises. And so had begun the emotional roller coaster ride that is dating a narcissist. Many months later, I found myself becoming a different person. I was stressed, anxious, paranoid, increasingly isolated, and cranky. I was totally lost and felt like nobody understood. Friends couldn’t understand why we couldn’t just end things. We were hooked in a destructive bond. At the worst points being caught in a toxic relationship feels utterly maddening. After months of relationship highs and lows, of it being on and off, the gaslighting, accusations, and coercive control, I honestly began to believe I was losing my mind. I was stuck trying to make sense of my experience, and the logical part of my mind was desperately searching for answers to so many questions: Why did he cheat?What was so wrong with me?Why did he lie?What were lies and what was the truth?Was any of it real?Did he ever really say the things he said?Was he even capable of love?How could things have been different?What else could or should I have done? These are some of the same questions I hear my clients ask now when they come to me for support in healing from narcissistic abuse. The Journey of Healing My own recovery started one particularly frantic night. I was incredibly upset and desperate to make sense of what was going on. Searching online, I happened to come across information about sociopaths and narcissists and this particular kind of psychological abuse. This was a pivotal moment. I had never heard anybody use the term “narcissistic abuse,” and at that time (this was many years ago), there was hardly any information around about it. But I knew, the moment I read this, that this was it. It shifted my whole perspective. It was shocking, confusing, although overall, an unbelievable relief. I realized this was a ‘thing’ and that for the first time, other people understood. More importantly, there was a way out. Reading more about psychological abuse, I arrived at my first key point in healing: I Realized It’s Not Me—I’m Not Crazy! Toxic relationships will leave you feeling like you are mad. Often abusive partners will reinforce this by never taking responsibility and constantly telling you in various ways that it is your fault or your issues. My narcissistic partner would criticize and undermine me in all sorts of strange and subtle ways, including judgments or ‘suggestions.’ He would often communicate in ways that would leave me doubting or questioning myself. As is the power of being with a narcissist, at the time, I was eager to please and impress. If I ever pulled him up on any of the criticisms, he accused me of being negative, told me he was trying to support my personal growth, that I was being sensitive, paranoid, that I was over-reacting, or that I had issues. This kind of abuse in itself is maddening. I realized that all of what I had been feeling was in itself the symptoms of being in an emotionally abusive relationship. I was not and am not mad, but I was in a mad relationship. I found as I cut contact and removed myself from the toxic dynamic that my sense of sanity swiftly returned. This is something that many sufferers I work with now also experience. You are not crazy, but if you are in an abusive relationship, you are in a relationship dynamic that will leave you feeling like you are. Letting Go of the Need to Understand and Know It’s our mind’s natural tendency to want to make sense of our experience; however, with narcissism and narcissistic behavior, there is no sense. You can’t apply logic to illogical actions. I created a lot of distress for myself in the early part of my recovery by desperately clinging onto the fantasy that I somehow could understand all the what’s and whys. Being able to let go of this need to know is a big step in recovery. This was not easy at the time, but I managed this by practicing mindfulness and learning to recognize when my thoughts or attention would drift to the narcissist or on trying to work out the answers or understand the non-existent logic. As I became aware of my thoughts drifting to such a futile task, I would then try and tune into my feelings in that moment and ask myself “How am I feeling right now?” I’d mentally label the emotion and any physical sensations that went along with it. Then, knowing more clearly how I was feeling (sad, angry, etc.) I would ask myself “What do I need? What can I do for myself right now that is a loving and supportive thing to do?” Sometimes this would be to allow myself to cry, punch a pillow, reach out to a friend, or go and treat myself to something nice—to practice self-care. It was a step-by-step process to find ways in which I could gently feel my feelings and attend to my own needs. This also included the feelings I had about not having answers and accepting that maybe I never will. You can gently let go with this refocus and self-care. Make a choice about what may be harmful of helpful to your healing and recovery. Considering My Own Narcissism I laugh now that my break-up lasted longer than the actual relationship did! The toxic dynamic was addictive and really hard to let go of from both sides. An empath will care, forgive, understand, and put a narcissist’s needs before their own. A narcissist will crave the attention, contact, and power. It becomes a dance. Narcissists tend to have a disorganized attachment style. Relationships will be push and pull, on and off, up and down. Being in a relationship with a narcissist is a lot like being on an emotional roller coaster ride. It’s exhilarating and draining, but if you stay on, going round and round for long enough you will get sick! Because of the attachment style, the moment a narcissist senses you are pulling away, they will instinctively aim to pull you back in again, throwing all sorts of bait in order to hook you back. I was hooked back again and again by broken promises and wanting to believe the fantasy of how things could be. I was also hooked by believing that somehow, I could be the one to change him, to make him see, to help him love and feel loved, to make things different, to help him be the person I hoped and believed he could be. Truth be told, I wanted to be the one to capture and hold his attention and interest. However, such is the demands of narcissistic supply that it’s impossible that can ever be one person forever. Quite frankly, I had to recognize the narcissism in this. To see the narcissistic fantasy in my idea about somehow possessing some magical powers to help him heal and change. I can’t. In fact, nobody can. A narcissist’s healing and actions are their responsibility only—nobody else’s. Believing on some level you can be the ‘the one’ to change a narcissist is narcissistic to some extent in itself. This doesn’t mean somebody who has this hope has narcissistic personality disorder! It’s just helpful to recognize the ill-placed hope and fantasy. Narcissism is one of the most difficult clinical presentations for highly experienced specialists to treat. You do not have the ability or power to change or help an abuser. More to the point, why would you want to? Let Go of Fantasy Thinking and Ground Yourself in Reality Many people who’ve experienced narcissistic abuse become trapped in elusive fantasy. Fantasy thinking is clinging onto the hope of how you believe things could be, not how they actually are. One of the most confusing things I experienced when in a relationship with a narcissist was distinguishing the difference between fantasy and reality. With this there can be a discrepancy between body and mind. For example, my ex constantly told me that he was being supportive. However, I didn’t feel supported. Like in many abusive relationships, the words and the actions do not match. Nobody can really mean the words “I love you” and be violent, critical, or abusive at the same time. In recovery, it is vital to distinguish between the hope and fantasy of how things could be and the reality of how things actually are. I often hear people describe the longing for things to be like they were “in the beginning.” The start of an abusive relationship can be incredibly intense and powerful. This is the time the manipulator will ‘love-bomb’ and it can feel exhilarating, romantic, powerful, and highly addictive. Intensity is not the same as intimacy though. Real intimacy takes time and is balanced. Intensity can give you a high that you continue to crave. If you suspect you are in an unhealthy relationship, it’s important to take an honest and objective inventory of the current reality, not your ideal of how things were or could be. Right now, how safe and secure do you feel? Currently, what are the actions of your partner or ex? It can be helpful to take pen to paper and list the current behaviors or circumstances to help regain some more realistic perspective. Perhaps asking friends or family their view too. Take responsibility One of the things I feel most grateful from my experience of narcissistic abuse is that I really had to learn to take complete responsibility for myself. I had to become fully responsible for myself and my actions; my recovery, my efforts, my self-care, my finances, my health, my well-being, my life… everything. Something I see many people do while in a toxic relationship, and even following the end of one, is to become stuck with focusing their efforts and attentions on the narcissist. Over-concerning themselves with what they are now doing, or not doing, or still trying to get them to see things another way, or holding out for an apology from them, or hoping they will change or fulfil all their promises and so on. A particular hook I often hear about in my work now is the abusive partner dangling a ‘carrot on a stick’ when their partner attempts to end the relationship. This can be highly abusive as they step up the promises of providing you with whatever it is they know you wish for; be it proper commitment, a family, a secure home situation, financial purchases, or more. I have honestly yet to hear an account of when any of these promises have been honored. Instead, partners are left wasting months and years, even decades, holding on the fantasy and hope that a partner will provide them with what they need. I think it’s important to recognize the bigger perspective. If there are things you want in life, then you take complete responsibility for making them happen. Remember, too much focus on the narcissist is a big part of the problem in the first place! Healing comes with returning your focus to yourself, acknowledging your own feelings and emotional experience, recognizing your own wants and needs, and gently attending to those yourself. I truly believe that healthy relationships begin with the one we have with ourselves. That includes taking full responsibility for all aspects of ourselves and our lives. Gratitude When I was in the midst of the insanity of narcissistic abuse, I felt like I was in a living hell! At the time, I absolutely would never have entertained the concept of applying gratitude to the experience! Now, though, many years later, I can truly say I am deeply grateful for the experience. When I became aware of this particular kind of psychological and emotional abuse, the sheer depths of the pain I was experiencing propelled me to embark on a deep journey of exploration, healing, and recovery and vast personal growth, which I am now eternally grateful for. I actively practiced writing about what I could be grateful for in each part of the experience and—as difficult as that was at the time—it helped to assist my healing. I learned about narcissistic abuse, I learned how to spot the signs of both overt and covert narcissism so now I can spot this a mile off. With awareness, I have a choice. I had to take a good look at my part in the dynamic, my issues of codependency. I learned boundaries. I’ve learned healthy communication. I worked with a therapist and support group to feel and heal the family origins of some issues that related to why we attract or repeat unhealthy relationship patterns in the first place. I learned how to tune into and trust myself and my gut instinct; I always stay close to that now. I learned a huge amount about myself. I know what healthy relationships are and enjoy many of them in my life now. I’m a better, wiser, and more grateful person for going through it all. Don’t get me wrong, I would never want to experience it ever again! But I rest confident now that, because of a full recovery, I absolutely will never need to. I do not attract that kind of person anymore. In fact, I can be quite the narcissist-repellant because I recognize the warning signs. As well as spotting the signs on the outside and recognizing the abusive actions of others, I now have clear boundaries and the self-esteem to communicate them. I have also worked on what needed to be healed inside of me, and for that I am grateful. See a typo, an inaccuracy, or something offensive? Please contact us so we can fix it!

Collective Trauma Online Summit—A Transformative Free Event

DisclaimerThis site is not intended to provide and does not constitute medical, legal, or other...

Embodied Trauma Conference: a Free Online Event, Feb 3-8

Would you say you’ve experienced trauma in your lifetime? Perhaps it’s an obvious yes—if you’ve fought in a war, you’ve been abused, or you’ve survived a tragic accident or natural disaster. But odds are, even if you haven’t experienced these things, you’ve lived through something traumatic—the death of a loved one, a serious illness, or even a divorce. We all go through harrowing events that challenge and change us. If we don’t face the pain head on, our unhealed traumas can leave us stressed, depressed, or unable to cope with daily life. They can affect our mood, sleep, and appetite, not to mention our relationships. If you’re struggling in the aftermath of a traumatic event, or if you think you might be living the effects of trauma from years back, I highly recommend that you check out the upcoming Embodied Trauma Conference—a FREE only event running from February 3rd-8th. Hosted by Tiny Buddha contributor Karine Bell, the Embodied Trauma Conference will focus on how our “trauma imprints” shape our bodies, lives, and experiences, and how we can heal. When you register, you’ll receive two trauma reports as free gifts: Understanding Trauma in Our Children and Why You Can’t Think Your Way out of Trauma. During this six-day online event, you’ll learn from and interact with twenty-two well-respected thought leaders including: Dr. Peter Levine (How Trauma Becomes Lodged in the Body and How We Can Heal) Irene Lyon (Trauma, Chronic Health Conditions, and Healing) Laurence Heller (Working with Shame and Developmental Trauma) Kimberly Ann Johnson (Sexuality, Sexual Power, and Healing Sexual Trauma) Resmaa Menakem (Racialized Trauma and How We All Heal) Nir Esterman (Intergenerational Trauma and Healing) Ale Duarte (Trauma Work with Children and Working with Trauma After Natural Disasters) You can register for the free Embodied Trauma Conference here. Or, if you won’t be available to catch the live interviews, which will each be available for twenty-four hours, you can purchase the complete bundle (and by doing so support charitable organizations working to make trauma education and healing accessible to everyone). I hope the conference helps you heal and better connect with yourself and the world around you! See a typo or inaccuracy? Please contact us so we can fix it!

My Pain Was a Gift and a Catalyst for Growth

“Sometimes pain is the teacher we require, a hidden gift of healing and hope.” ~Janet Jackson I was becoming more and more confused as to what my feelings were toward my husband. Longing for that personal adult male connection, I started to feel trapped in my marriage. However, I still had a very strong sense of our family unit and my commitment to it. I wasn’t going to do anything to jeopardize the family, even if it meant sacrificing my personal happiness. I made a conscious decision that my life was enough. It wasn’t perfect, but it was enough. However, within a few months, I knew in my heart that my husband and I were further apart emotionally than even I could accept or ignore any longer. I had to address it, but I had to do it carefully. I wanted to make sure my husband understood that I still loved him; we just needed to work on some things. I believed it would make both of us happier. I found time one night after dinner. We had just finished cleaning up the kitchen and were standing by the counter. The mood was relaxed and we had some privacy; the girls were busy working on their homework upstairs. It seemed as good a time as any. I took a deep breath and blurted out, “I think we are not as close as married people should be.” My husband looked at me funny, first a little quizzically as if he didn’t understand what he had just heard. Then his face relaxed and a look of release washed over it. His response shocked me to my core. “I agree,” he said with relief. “I haven’t loved you for a long time. I was just pretending.” “What? What did you just say?!?” I stammered, feeling as if I couldn’t catch my breath. His words were suffocating. I stood there, motionless, as a torrent of emotions raged inside of me. I looked into the eyes of the person I thought I knew completely, that I had trusted without question. A cold, damp feeling of dread came over me. He was the person I thought loved me unconditionally, the one that I had built my life with. What did he just say? Now, I wasn’t expecting flowers and chocolates. But I wasn’t expecting that. I was expecting his response to be more along the lines of “I agree. I feel it too. What can we do about it?” I was astonished. I was numb. I cried. I pleaded for some explanation. He had none. He said he would have gone on pretending forever, but since I dared to bring it up, he was able to finally be honest. We briefly tried marriage counseling, but his mind was made up. He didn’t love me. He was sorry. He felt guilty for the pain he was causing the girls and me, but he didn’t love me. We were divorced within the year. Everyone marveled at how civil we were. How well I was handling everything. I went into survival mode during the divorce proceedings. I had to protect my children emotionally. All of my strength went into doing that. I had to stay calm. I knew they were watching me. I tried not to argue. I tried to act normally. Really, I tried. I also had to financially protect myself and my children. There were so many things to think about. How could I stay in the house with the kids? They were in high school by then and I didn’t want to uproot them. How could I pay for college? We were just getting by with two salaries and one house. How could I make this work? We eventually figured the financial part out. In comparison, that turned out to be the easy part. He moved out, we got divorced, and then I fell apart. This experience exposed some very deep wounds within me. Wounds I had that for many years had been scabbed over. Deep, thick scabs that protected me and allowed me to pretend they weren’t there. Now, without warning, they had been ripped wide open. Wounds are funny things. We all have them. We respond from them, sometimes consciously, but many times not. They affect our thoughts and behaviors even when we’re not aware of it. If we look close enough we can even see others’ wounds in their actions. Some wounds can lie dormant for many years and only return to taunt us when we are faced with the very thing that wounded us. And the funniest thing of all is that wounds don’t heal on their own, regardless of how much we pretend they are not there. We have to heal them ourselves. My personal wounds had to do with self-love and my relationships with others. And they were deep, deeper than I had ever realized. When they resurfaced, I was surprised not only by their presence but by their intensity. There had been signs through the years, but they were easy enough to ignore. My wounds might surprise you. I believe most people consider me to be a smart, attractive, capable woman with many accomplishments in my life. “Capable” as a nice way to say assertive or a take-charge kind of woman. But there is also another side to me, a side that has deep-rooted feelings of not being “good enough” or not being “worth the effort”. My thoughts would go something like “I’m pretty, just not pretty enough. I’m thin, just not thin enough.” I’m smart, but intelligence wasn’t something celebrated in a girl growing up during the sixties and seventies. We were told to make sure we weren’t smarter than our future husbands, because men didn’t find smart women attractive, and God forbid of all things, don’t be capable. But the traits not celebrated were the ones I clung to. I believed they were all I had to offer. I was the smart and capable one. My intellect and the sheer force of my will allowed me to succeed in most endeavors. I became goal-oriented and proved my worth by accomplishing my goals. I never allowed myself to fail, because success was expected, it was the only thing that I believed validated me. That, however, didn’t translate into healthy personal relationships. I didn’t find value in myself as a whole person, so in turn, I never believed that the whole of me could be embraced, cherished, and loved. I was the only the “smart” and “capable” one. Why couldn’t I love myself? Why didn’t I feel I was worth the effort? Why didn’t I see the whole person and celebrate my strengths, laugh at my weaknesses, and cherish the little girl in me that was just doing the best she could? Eight years ago, I didn’t know. Today, after having lived through deep pain and more personal self-reflection and inner work than I care to admit, I believe I have some understanding of the larger journey. Pain was my catalyst. Deep, aching pain that stopped me in my tracks and made me choose between exiting this lifetime (yes, I considered it) and seeking deeper answers to heal the ball of hurt I had become. I chose to seek deeper answers and that was the beginning of my spiritual journey. Over the years I have learned to open my heart to myself and look at my experiences with a wider lens. I see my divorce and subsequent pain and depression as a gift that transformed my life and me along with it. I’ve traveled back into my childhood and identified the core trauma that I experienced that shaped the personality (the smart, capable, one) and the embedded belief (I had to succeed to have value) from the essence of who I am. That took a lot of work because the personality traits and beliefs we create are so intertwined into who we think we are that it is difficult to separate them, as they have been ‘us’ for our whole lives. In our defense, much of the ‘less than’ beliefs we hold are a result of the negative, punitive language that is deeply embedded in our religious and spiritual constructs. Many of us have come from a traditional religious belief system of ‘original sin and karma that we need forgiveness for’ and move to a spiritual belief system of ‘we need to learn our lessons and repeating our lessons until we finally get them.’ What if there is nothing to learn and no penance to do? What if everything in life is an experience for us to feel emotion and live from that deep space? That every emotion is an opportunity for us to expand our awareness and embrace the magnificence of who we are. Deep emotions shake us out of our complacent lives and spur us into action. In the experience is the emotion and in the emotion is the gift. Keep digging because the real you is in there. See a typo, an inaccuracy, or something offensive? Please contact us so we can fix it!

Guided Meditation

Cultivate a Metta Mind: Lovingkindness Meditation

  Lovingkindness meditation (metta) challenges us to send love and compassion to the difficult people in our lives, —including ourselves. Lovingkindness, listed ninth in the traditional...

Healthy Habbits

The Number on the Scale Does Not Dictate Your Value

DisclaimerThis site is not intended to provide and does not constitute medical, legal, or other professional advice. The content on Tiny Buddha is designed...

How (And Why) To Say Yes To Negative Emotions

We say “no” all the time. Sometimes we do so subtly, as a way to deny an emotion, swallow our words, or feel the disgust...

Mindfulness… Then What?

A client of mine, who is a doctor, recounted a story where a patient of his came back to his hospital weeks after he...

How to Prepare for Meditation: 9 Ways to Ground Yourself

Do you know how to prepare for meditation? We’ve all been told to ground ourselves, but have you ever thought about what that actually...

How to Reap the Benefits of Meditation Without Meditating

“Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless and add what is specifically your own.” ~Bruce Lee The benefits of meditation are far reaching and...

My Life Will Be My Message

DisclaimerThis site is not intended to provide and does not constitute medical, legal, or other professional advice. The content on Tiny Buddha is designed...

A Guide to Peace for Anyone with a Crazy, Messed Up...

DisclaimerThis site is not intended to provide and does not constitute medical, legal, or other professional advice. The content on Tiny Buddha is designed...