But what about the darkness of “good vibes only”?

You see it everywhere these days… “Good Vibes Only”. It’s plastered on everything from restaurant walls, shirts and purses, but we have even gone so far as to start incorporating it into places of spirituality and worship. You hear people say it in yoga shalas and in various other spiritual practices… “Good Vibes Only”.

And as much as I love the idea behind it, I think it’s cute, I own things that say it… I still see how problematic this dogmatic idea of how we are expected to show up. Within spiritual communities it permeates the idea that everything is “love and light” always. It’s not! Telling people things like, “good vibes only” and “love and light” is perpetuating the idea that we aren’t allowed to experience negative emotions, vibes or energy, and if we are feeling that way we most certainly aren’t welcome in our darkness, only in our light.

I think there is power in thinking positively but sending the message of “good vibes only” isn’t honoring the fact that sometimes things just really suck. AND THAT’S OKAY. When negative emotions come up, quite often we don’t want to deal with them, so we push them down or we tell ourselves our feelings aren’t valid, but this is an incredibly dangerous slope- to truly “do the work” you have to acknowledge your darkness, sit with those feelings, and ask where they’re coming from- otherwise healing doesn’t begin and things don’t get worked through, they only get pushed down.

Life is duality. Light and dark, good and bad, happy and sad, everything is full circle and the beautiful part about humanity is that we’re all in it together- no one escapes. But choosing to shame people who acknowledge the dark parts of themselves and actually delve into their shadow work, is problematic and needs to be on the conscious of all healers and spiritualists. In order to know one, we must truly know the other- because pretending like there is only one side is sending the message that spirituality is only for “happy people”.

If we are to move forward and heal past traumas, doing the shadow work is necessary. We are discussing things like “shadow work” now which involves working with your darkness to understand patterns and traumas and “holding space” for others which means to listen and be present for a person in a nonjudgemental way. These things are starting to become more regular topics! I’m happy to see this momentum but want to shed some light on the ways in which this “love and light” and “good vibes only” can be detrimental to growth and evolution of the spirit. Yes, we are “beings of light” but we are also a beautiful embodiment of the whole which involves the darkness.

All great healers had to first do the work themselves to become what they are. If you are in a place of healing or spirituality that makes you feel bad for expressing negative emotions or thoughts, then you aren’t being led by someone who has done the work, and it would be best to find a space where your spirit feels accepted in all of it’s emotions. I think holding space for people has become a huge theme of the year for me because I was never taught to listen without judging, or creating my own opinion, or trying to solve the other person’s problem. I realized now that despite whether or not I agree with someone, if I love them, it is my duty to hold space when I can. I now expect the same in my relationships. I encourage you to do your own shadow work, so that you too can heal yourself firstly. I also encourage you to seek our spirituality that involves both light and dark, that values talking about negative emotions and is able to hold space for you whether you’re “good vibes only” or “bad vibes only”. Wherever you are, you deserve to be met there.

 

How Alcohol Gave Me Anxiety- From Breakdowns to Breakthroughs

I’ve never understood what anxiety was or the ways in which it could cripple your life. I’ve never been an anxious person, nor have I suffered from anxiety in the way some people do. Whenever people spoke to me about their anxiety I couldn’t really connect because I simply couldn’t relate. As a child I was always moving and talking but I don’t remember having social anxiety or feeling like anxiety was affecting my life in any way. After almost 3 months sober I am finally able to see the ways in which my anxiety was a direct cause of my drinking.

Anxiety came rushing into my life about 4 years ago for the first time. Being completely ill-equipped to deal with it, I didn’t even recognize it as anxiety at first! It would come in waves and started gripping me during social situations. Being a traveler you are constantly meeting new people and making first impressions, being asked to sum up your life in 10 seconds and explain who you are and what you represent to people you just met. I’d always identified myself as an extrovert so when I started getting to the point that social conversations with new people because stressful, I started drinking more. Drinking was a HUGELY socially acceptable part of not only every other facet of life but especially the diving community and was the number one way to network with other instructors or people involved in the industry. Booze fueled my travels and social interactions, it helped me make friends and even got me job offers in the middle of the evening, completely sauced. This all gave me the illusion that drinking was helping me make connections and get to where I want.

About a year ago I started feeling hyper sensitive to energy that was surrounding me and became extremely susceptible to picking up and carrying the negative energies of others. I wasn’t healthy spiritually, mentally or physically so I wasn’t able to protect myself from any of this, nor did I have the awareness to identify it was happening. I started having these completely random moments of panic where I felt like something terrible was about to happen, where it consumed me and I found myself in the midst of my first panic attack.

In March of last year I had my first emotional breakdown. You know those “mid life crisis” breakdowns everyone speaks about but mostly in a joking manner? Yea, well… at almost 30 years old I had a alcohol induced emotional breakdown that left me completely scared, lost and alone. This moment became my first tipping point. I recognized this encroaching anxiety as a cry for help from my body. I realized it was time to do something drastic but I wasn’t ready yet to pinpoint exactly what I needed.

I sought out sobriety first to get my life back under control, seeing the ways in which alcohol lowered my self esteem, caused a whirlwind of shame, kept my brain cloudy, and forced me to seek refuge again in the very thing that was causing me to feel this way in the first place. I did great for 6 weeks, really dived into my yoga practice and started actually exploring my own spirituality for the first time. Things started to fall into alignment and once my self esteem went back up and I felt in control, I went back to drinking again.

Guess what happened? Nothing changed! I slipped right back to where I started. I would balance my life for awhile until I would get a bee in my bonnet, go back on a bender, and then start my self depreciation and self loathing cycle all over again. This resulted in huge anxiety that I was unable to control. When I felt all these feelings my first instinct was to have a drink to get my anxiety under control. The thing is, I always knew in the back of my mind that all of this could be controlled and eliminated if I simply quit drinking, but that seemed way too dramatic. I couldn’t and wouldn’t admit that I’d failed! I had failed to control my drinking and substance abuse 10 years before and ended up in rehab, the ultimate mark of an addict! I didn’t want to admit my own failure again. I simply wasn’t ready and I was scared of not being able to do it.

I had to BREAKDOWN to BREAKTHROUGH! This was 2018 folks! Not only for me but the story I’ve heard from so many loved ones! Maybe you had a breakdown, or maybe you had a breakthrough or maybe both! Energetically this was an extremely difficult year. If you are relating to any of this, or if this resonates with you, I hope that you’ll seriously consider making some changes for 2019.

In a few days I will be 3 months sober. My anxiety is completely gone and although I have anxious moments about normal things that happen in life, I no longer suffer from panic attacks or emotional breakdowns. The thing is, introverts or people who suffer from anxiety typically tend to drink more- feeling the need to relax during social interactions they reach for a beer to calm the nerves and believe that this is actually helping them. The reality is that we’re all a little anxious, that sometimes human interaction is difficult and that’s okay. I’ve had to learn to be my bubbly self without alcohol, I’ve had to learn to dance and laugh and be silly without having any “liquid courage” to do it! Although introverts usually seek alcohol out to make them feel more extroverted, my extrovert personality paired perfectly with drinking and partying and in turn give me anxiety. A different route but the same result.

One of my biggest fears about quitting drinking was losing my “party girl” persona. I didn’t think I’d be as much fun and I was afraid people wouldn’t view me that way anymore! I know now that I’m just as much fun, that my interactions come from the heart, that when I connect with people it comes from a real place. I don’t fake small chat anymore and I don’t stay in situations or around people that give my intuition red flags- before I could ignore my own signals by consuming more booze, now I listen to what my body tells me and invest in the people and moments that bring me joy.

I still have INCREDIBLY awkward moments sometimes out at bars and in basic interactions. But I’ve learned to laugh it off because I know that I’m being authentic and we all are trying to connect in the same way. I see now that drinking added so much anxiety to my every day life. If I wasn’t anxious while I was drinking, I was anxious afterwards while I suffered from a hangover and a load of shame, when I felt bad for all the things I wasn’t accomplishing and the way in which I was wasting my time and wasting my life. Because of that anxiety I would just reach for the one thing that gave it to me in the first place and tried to fix A MILLION other things about my life first, instead of starting with the most important step.

You don’t need to be an alcoholic to stop drinking! I know, I know, crazy right!?! You don’t need to label yourself in any way! I for one, don’t like the term alcoholic. It makes it seem like I’m doomed to spend my life wanting something I can’t have. That doesn’t sound like freedom, and I no longer want something that caused me so much misery! I think most of us can agree that drinking affects us in negative ways, but we simply can’t imagine a life without it. If this is you, I hope you hear me- it is possible! And WAY easier than you think! I am happier than I’ve ever been. I’ve found purpose and true joy. I’ve learned that I can handle anything life throws at me sober and that I do not NEED to rely on any substance to live happily! I have never felt more free knowing that I no longer want to poison my body with a substance that has literally never given me anything in return, but remorse.

The cycle of alcohol and anxiety is huge! It affects so many people and we have all been fooled into thinking that alcohol gives us more courage, makes us more funny, lessens our anxiety, calms our nerves and does a MILLION other things!

STOP! Quit lying to yourself and quit letting the rest of the world lie to you too! There is no black and white! There are no “good drinkers” and “bad drinkers”! There are soooo many in-betweeners like me! The grey area drinkers that woke up and realized that alcohol was a waste of money, time, and energy. I’m happy to have myself back and I’m blessed to go into 2019 free from something that used to consume me. From breakdowns, to breakthroughs, I’m telling you, I’ve been there. Bring it, 2019!

What I wish I could’ve told my 15 year old self.

Approaching 30 brings with it a different set of challenges than my early 20’s and has me reflecting on the things that I’ve learned throughout the course of my short life. I find it extremely important to check in with myself and make sure that my values and plans are lining up with my goals and dreams for the future. This is a habit I’ve developed as I’ve gotten older and one that has become even more important and real in the last year. In an attempt to live an authentic life, I’ve now approached the age that I can look back on patterns and behaviors in my past and start to see how they’ve shaped who I am today.

Being a teenager is a very awkward time of identity crisis, where we get to make mistakes and establish our own sense of self. I remember the naive way I looked at the world and how I thought I already had it all figured out. So naturally, it seems like a good idea to start at the age of 15. Looking back, I wish there were a few things I could tell 15 year old Lauryn, or any 15 year old now.

Change is good. It’s really the only constant in life. You’re going to have to get used to it and learn to see it as an opportunity. I remember tying my identity up with my friends in high school, or my friends in college, or the people I associated with, and when those people disappeared from my life, I felt like I wasn’t sure who I was anymore. Your sense of self does not crumble when people choose to walk out of your life. Not everyone is meant to stay forever, and it can be hard to learn to say goodbye with grace. The quicker you learn, the stronger you’ll be.

Learn to stand up for yourself. This takes awhile to do because in order to stand up for ourselves we need to have a moderately secure sense of self to begin with. People are constantly going to try to take advantage of you. I know being naive is easy (trust me) but you need to realize that the world is big and there are lots of different kind of people in it. Unfortunately for you, not all of these people will have your best interests at heart. Learn the power of no and use it whenever you want. You do not owe anyone anything, don’t belittle yourself and allow people to take advantage of you. Learn to confront situations and people with honesty and to do that, you must first learn to be honest with yourself.

Your parents will eventually become your friends. At least I hope this will be true. I know it doesn’t seem like it now but they truly do have your best interests at heart, and they will shape your future. Respect them, learn from them, ask questions, and don’t hesitate. If you want your parents to respect you, you must first respect them.

Who you fall in love with for the first time will determine how you view love and relationships in the future. It can be a blessing or a curse depending on who you allow into your heart. Your body and heart do not deserve to be toyed with. When you first start dating, you will be dating a boy or girl who is more than likely unaware of his/her self and may not treat you the way you should be treated. Do not ever allow yourself to stay in a relationship that makes you feel unsafe, threatened, or that you owe them in any way. There is about a 95% chance this person will not make it into your future. Who you choose to fall in love with will determine your boundaries and how you feel about love and intimacy. Choose wisely.

Do things that you’re passionate about. Don’t worry about what other’s think about you or the hobby of your choice, do it anyways. Life is short and if you don’t explore life when you’re younger and learn to truly value what you do and how you spend your time, you’ll spend your whole life doing what other people think is best for you. Explore all possibilities unapologetically and don’t take yourself to seriously. You will fail, you will make mistakes, that’s not the important part… the important part is how you recover when you make a mistake. Let life and experience be your greatest teacher. And jump over and over again because trust me, some of the greatest lessons are learned when we fall.

Don’t plan your life too much! Half the fun is the journey, not the destination. If you plan everything meticulously you’ll only disappoint yourself when these things don’t happen. Take everything as an opportunity for growth and know that if something doesn’t work out, there’s another option that may be better suited to you. Stay open to all possibilities and listen with your heart. I always joke about being on a “no plan plan”. Don’t get me wrong, I have long and short term goals that I’m constantly working towards, but that doesn’t mean that if something doesn’t work out, I need to blame myself. Just enjoy the ride.

Trust your intuition. It’s been there since you were born and is the very reason you have a soul. It’s hard in today’s world to be in touch with our own needs and wants when the rest of the world is trying so hard to keep us distracted. Take time to slow down and build a practice of meditation. But truly, whatever you do, learn to listen to your own inner voice. If you stop listening to it, it’ll get quieter and quieter. Although it is always there to be tapped into, you just need to start doing the work. Intuition will be your greatest guide in life and will teach you that not all obstacles can be solved with the mind, some are simply not a good fit because we just know they aren’t. Trust yourself and trust that voice.

I didn’t think I’d be this girl

I didn’t always think I’d be this girl.

I had this idea of constant evolution

which we are, aren’t we?

Constantly evolving?

I thought I’d eventually evolve into

the person I was meant to be,

leaving behind all the pain.

Thinking the unfinished business

would turn itself into eventual awareness.

Not realizing that I had to do the work.

Not realizing that happiness has to be maintained.

It isn’t a state of arrival where

you coast once you’re there.

There is no finish line.

Continue reading

cave diving, sky diving, and diving in head first.

I haven’t written in a few months. I’ve had lots of moments I wanted to share with you and put to words for my own sanity, but I’ve been too busy stumbling around this town called Playa del Carmen, trying to find my feet again. I spent the first few months getting into the groove of things and partying way too much, as you do when you first move somewhere new and feel as though you’re still on holiday. I made some mistakes, made some good friends, and eventually made my own way.

Being reconnected with diving the last few months has absolutely swept me off my feet again and put me over the moon… or should I say “under the ocean”. After spending nearly 2 years recovering from 2 separate knee surgeries and almost losing my sense of self amongst my own anguish and inability to do the things I love, I stumbled lost into Playa (as the locals call it) and tripped and fell back into the Lauryn that I’d almost lost touch with completely. Last February’s silent meditation retreat put me back on track in a way I hadn’t felt in over a year, but the return back to Minnesota for another knee surgery and another summer without following my passion made me feel angry at the universe and my own bad luck.

I thought that I wasn’t, and it really took me until recently to realize how angry I had/have been and that I’m not entirely sure why I’m still carrying all of this negative energy around. But I am. Here I am. Exhale. So a week ago after another spell of bad luck I decided that there was something inside of me that was hurting. There is something that I haven’t resolved within myself, some anger, and my continuous distraction keeps being manifested in my own reality. I’m essentially putting this energy out into the universe and the universe is responding with the very frequency that I’m sending. Bad things happen, thus is life, but I am acting out in various ways because I’m not dealing with something.

I am getting closer to realizing the answer through lots of meditation, music, non-distraction, honest conversations with people that care about me, and self love. I don’t need to find out what it is right now, but I do need to listen to myself more. How did I not realize this? How have I not connected my behaviors from the last year to more than trivial mishaps? How have I not taken responsibility for my actions? I don’t know why it took me so long but I do know with intense clarity that lots of things are about to change for me, and in a BIG way. I don’t know if this change is spiritual or physical, my job, my location… but I do know that I am aware of this negative energy now because I am able to receive the information and the lesson.

Playa has definitely been a trip and I’m so glad that my journey led me here. I’m beginning to see what my reason for being here now is and with that I plan on taking the next step with just as much faith in the process. Lots of firsts, but definitely not lasts.

The last 4 months have been lots of silly stumbles, miscommunications and learning experiences. I started my cave course a month ago which has made me fall in love with diving all over again, and I will be finishing my full cave portion with IANTD (International Association of Nitrox and Technical Divers) at the end of the month when work slows down. These Cenotes and cave systems here in Mexico are unlike anything in the world. I am so blessed to be challenged in this type of environment; it’s breathtaking. I have also decided I’m going to bite the bullet and take advantage of the new sky diving school that opened here in Playa, called SkyDiveMex. I did my first tandem jump a few years ago in Hawaii and have never felt such a rush of adrenaline in my life! I literally landed and started crying because I was so happy. I knew then and there that I wanted to jump solo. I’ve always loved heights and the rush of skydiving felt like nothing before. I already know I’m a mermaid, but I may just be a bird as well! Here’s to new adventures. Life looks like it’ll find me sailing around the Caribbean this summer so keep your eyes peeled for more rambling mermaid escapades.