What Does It Take To Make A Relationship Work: Couples Secrets

Every relationship goes through different stages. When you are in the honeymoon phase, you feel perfect. Then come the ups and downs, the struggle...

What Makes a Strong Family: The Factors Involved

When we are asked about our opinions about the word family, a whole lot of us would first consider our parents, followed by our...

Meditation Prep

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...

“I Tried 40 Days of Yoga, Meditating, and Chanting at 4 a.m. Every Morning”

  Sadhana involves two and a half hours of yoga, meditation, and chanting starting 3 a.m. for 40 days. One early morning last November, my doorman, Jose, who usually...

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...

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...

Get Your Sit Together: 7 Best Meditation Cushions to Support Your Practice

  Meditation cushions can make all the difference when it comes to a successful, comfortable meditation practice—for beginners and experts alike. Here are the best...

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...

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...

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...

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...

Benefits of Meditation

Meditation is an Embrace of the Way Things are

The profound opportunity that meditation gives you is the chance to completely free you from any adherence you have to your current interpretive framework. That means...

Helping Heal The World

I’ve had many clients come in my office and in speak on how the current political and social climate is affecting them either directly...

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...

Does Meditation Still Matter?

A few years ago, I adopted a small library of spiritual books from a friend of mine. When I asked him why he was...

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...

How Changing My Words Changed My Life for the Better

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

How I Found Hope and Inspiration After Years of Quiet Desperation

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How to Love an Addict (Who Doesn’t Love Themselves)

I grew up in a family of high-functioning addicts. We looked like the perfect family, but as we all know, looks can be deceiving. No one was addicted to drugs, so that obviously meant that we had no problems. Cigarettes, alcohol, food, and work don’t count, right? I have come to realize that what we are addicted to is nowhere near as important as the admission that we’re addicted to something. When we try to make ourselves feel better by telling ourselves that gambling or porn or beer is nowhere near as bad as crack or heroin, we are merely lying to ourselves. In the recovery movement, we call this denial. Denial was the foundation my life was built on. We did not speak of my grandfather’s abusive behavior and alcoholism. We did not question my grandmother’s chain-smoking habit. We did not mention my other grandfather’s drunken falls and injuries. We never tried to help my aunt who was eating anything she could get her hands on. No one questioned the countless hours my father spent working. There were so many things we just never talked about. There were so many things that were secrets. Things I had to hide. The unspoken family rule. I loved my family members. I still do. They were good people. They tried really hard. They just didn’t know how to look after themselves, to value themselves, to love themselves. They did the best they could under the circumstances and with the lack of awareness, information, and support at the time, and I don’t think it’s ever fair to judge that from the outside. I have gone through my stages of anger, judgment, and resentment and come out the other side. All that is left is sadness and love. I loved my family members. I loved them so much and all I ever wanted, even as a little girl, was for them to be happy. I wanted my granddad to not drink come 4pm so he would stay the lovely man that he was. I didn’t want to see him shout and cry and fall over. I didn’t want to be scared like that and watch my grandmother cry while helping him up and cleaning away the blood. He was a good man, but he had seen the worst of World War II and I don’t think he ever recovered from that. Maybe he would have been an alcoholic without those experiences; I will never know, and it really doesn’t matter because he was not just that. He was kind and generous. He played with me and made me laugh. He cuddled me in bed and told me story after story. We had so much fun together. Remembering those happy times will warm my heart for the rest of my life. I will be forever grateful for those happy memories and the time I had with him. I guess that he is the first addict I ever loved. My grandmother was the kindest person I have ever met. In my eyes, she couldn’t have been any more perfect. I wish that she had lived longer so that I could have had the opportunity to get to know her as an adult. What would I have seen? Would I have seen a woman who didn’t set any boundaries? Would I have seen someone who gave and gave without ever really getting anything back? I don’t know. I cannot say. But she was definitely the love of my life. And maybe that’s because she might have been codependent and treated me like a little princess, or maybe it is that she was just one of the kindest people the world has ever seen. It might even be both. It doesn’t matter who it was and what they were addicted to, I loved them. I truly loved them. I loved them then and I love them now even though they are no longer alive and haven’t been for decades. Addiction may change how they behaved at times, but it didn’t change the essence of them. And that’s what I have always loved. It doesn’t mean that I was blind to everything that was wrong. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t sense that something was terribly wrong. Today, I love the addicts in my life from a greater distance. The pain of loving someone who doesn’t love themselves is too much to bear. We speak and we care, but there is an emotional depth we can never reach. A depth I craved then and I depth I will crave if I let myself forget who I am loving. Because that’s what I found to be my solution for maintaining relationships with people I love but who struggle to love themselves: I can love them, but I can only do so by accepting that there is an emotional distance I will never be able to bridge. I have to accept that the closeness I seek, I can never get. I may get a hint of it every now and then, but I can no longer allow myself to be lured into wishing and hoping that things will change how I want them to change. I can love them and I can hold space for them, but I cannot change them. What I can do is remove my expectations and hopes and dreams for them and their relationship with me by accepting the reality of our situation. This gives me freedom. It gives me freedom to love them while being true to myself and honest about my feelings. It allows me to enjoy the contact and connection that exists while having healthy boundaries in place that protect me from sacrificing my own well-being and peace of mind in a misguided attempt to save them from themselves. It is that separation that finally allows us to connect. It gives us space to respect our struggles and each other as individuals. As long as I failed to see that, I tried to change them, and that’s what stopped us from connecting. And so. learning that I cannot change another person and that only they have the power to do so, opened me up to actually being able to love them. I also learned that I cannot love another person into loving themselves. I used to believe that meant that my love wasn’t good enough—that I wasn’t enough—but I now know that the love they needed and the love they sought was the one that only comes from within. Because if my love could have saved them, it would have. I loved them that much. But love that comes from the outside needs to be able to connect with the love that’s on the inside, and that love, they just hadn’t connected with. That love they never found during their lifetime. And so, they couldn’t teach it to anyone else either. No one knew about it, and everyone just coped with their pain in the only way they knew how to. I wanted them to look after themselves and be happy so very much. I wanted them to be healthy for me. I wanted them to stay alive for me. I didn’t understand that I couldn’t save them. I didn’t really comprehend that part for most of my life, which paradoxically has cost me a lot of my life. I know the yearning and the craving. The wishful thinking. The rollercoaster of hope and crestfallen disappointment. The believing in them and cheering them on only to watch them fall again. But I was always on the outside. It was never in my control. It never really had anything to do with me or meant anything about me. I just happened to be born into my family and love them. For most of my life I wondered if I did really love them or if I just loved what they did for me, but I can now say with absolute certainty that I loved them. The things I loved doing with them, I haven’t done in decades and yet the love is still as strong as ever. As is the gratitude. I am grateful for the kindness they’ve shown me and the lessons they’ve taught me. I am grateful for their perseverance and their endurance. I am grateful for the thousand things they were, because they were more than addicts. They had dreams and aspirations when youth was on their side. They had things they liked and favorite clothes they wore. They had friends and social lives. They danced and they had fun. They kissed and made up. They tried really hard to be the best people they could be, and how could anyone ever say that that wasn’t good enough? They never did anything to intentionally purposefully hurt or harm anyone because they were good people. Good people who never hurt or harmed anyone but themselves. And witnessing that was painful. Knowing that that is what happened and continues to happen is still painful. It is a reality I wish wasn’t true. If there was something I could do to change that, I would. But I know I can’t. And that is the reason why I can love the addicts in my life. When I thought that I could change them or save them, I couldn’t love them. Love accepts people as they are. It does not seek to change someone so they fit in with your idea of them. Love is inherently respectful. Trying to change someone isn’t. I could never really control them or their substances, and I have lived with the panic of not being able to. But I have made friends with it. I now know how to soothe myself and in that way, I take care of myself. I have achieved what they never could. I cannot control what my addicts do to themselves. I cannot control the choices they make. But I can control my choices. And I choose health, growth, and love. I will not continue the family heirloom of addiction and self-abandonment. Instead, I have learned to love in healthy ways. And that includes me. I have learned to take care of myself and dare I say it, like myself. But I couldn’t have done it if it wasn’t for my family. While they provided me with my challenges and relational struggles, they also provided me with kindness, love, and strength. For some reason, they managed to love me enough to let know that there is another way of  being because that is what has kept me going. I always knew there was something wrong. I just didn’t know what it was. And I also always knew that there was a better life out there, and I was right. I just wish that my addicts could have also had that experience. I wish we could have had it together, and I don’t think that I will ever stop wishing that. But I accept the reality that is and I will continue to do for myself what they could not do for themselves so my children will not share the struggles of the past. I focus on what I can control, and I take full responsibility for my own life. I look after myself how I wish they had looked after themselves. I do it for me. I do it for my children. And I do it to honor them. Because I know that they would want for me what I wanted for them. The difference is that I am able to give it to them. And I do so with all my love. About Marlena Tillhon-Haslam Marlena loves people and life and is passionate about finding ways to make our human experience as fulfilling as possible. She works as a psychotherapist, relationship coach, and Clinical Director. She loves to connect on Instagram or via her Love with Clarity and Codependency Today Facebook groups and pages. She is an expert in human relationships and sees them as the lifeblood of a meaningful existence. See a typo, an inaccuracy, or something offensive? Please contact us so we can fix it!

20 Life-Changing Tools, 95% Off—One Week, Starting Today

First things first, happy 2020! It’s a new year, filled with promise and possibility. If last year was tough for you, it’s now in the rearview mirror. If it was full of blessings and opportunities, you’re likely excited to see what the new year might bring. And regardless of how 2019 panned out for you, odds are you have a goal or two (or more!) you’re hoping to achieve this year. Whatever you’re looking to accomplish, Tiny Buddha’s Best You, Best Life Bundle can help, and I’m excited to share that it’s now available for purchase! For one week only, you can get 20 life-changing eCourses and online tools—including my course, Recreate Your Life Story—for 95% off. The bundle’s offerings (valued at close to $1,900) cover a wide range of topics, including how to: Let go of the past and change the trajectory of your life Create purpose and passion Let go of unhealthy habits that are holding you back and create healthier ones Set better boundaries and find time to self-care Cope with stressful situations with more grace and ease Stop obsessing over problems Heal from grief after loss Find the love you want Broaden your social circle And it’s all bundled together in one powerful package, priced at $97 (which is the usual cost of my course, Recreate Your Life Story, on its own—which means for one week only, you can get 20 tools for the price one). Whatever your goals for 2020, you’re sure to find something that will help in Tiny Buddha’s Best You, Best Life Bundle. And once you claim your package, you’ll have a wide assortment of life-changing tools to access over the coming years, as you face new challenges and set new goals. Get 95% off all 20 life-changing tools here: Tiny Buddha’s Best You, Best Life Bundle Since this package includes eCourses and online offerings for 20 different teachers—many of them top site contributors—at such a massively discounted rate, I’m only able to offer it from now till January 9th. But once you claim your bundle, you’ll have lifetime access to all 20 tools. I hope these powerful resources help you make 2020 your best year yet! See a typo or inaccuracy? Please contact us so we can fix it!

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!

Guided Meditation

A Meditation Journey with Bridget Woods Kramer

https://youtu.be/Tu-qZugHXfc A Meditation Journey with Bridget Woods Kramer Learn from An Expert: Bridget Woods Kramer    This beautiful guided meditation by Bridget Woods Kramer was filmed on the cliff tops...

Healthy Habbits

How to Listen to Your Body and Give It What It...

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How To Achieve Mindful Living? Just Mind The Gap!

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7 Ways Mindfulness Improves Your Performance At Work

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A Beginner’s Guide to Relaxation And Stress

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My Life Will Be My Message

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

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Being Busy Made Me Feel Important, But Now I Feel at...

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