Tapping (and no, not the dance)

Let’s talk about tapping.

No, I’m not talking about the dance (though if anyone has any class recommendations, hit me up!). I’m talking about Emotional Freedom Technique, or EFT for short.

I’m no stranger to therapy, and to be honest, I thought I had seen it all when it came to self-help. After all, I’ve seen a talk therapist for over a decade now to deal with OCD, anxiety, and an eating disorder, and I’ve tried art therapy, meditation, and yoga (meditation and yoga are the ones that stuck!). But when my therapist mentioned Tapping to me about a year ago, I sort of brushed it off. I thought that where I was then was the best it would ever get, so I didn’t really buy into it. We briefly talked about it and then went back to our normal sessions.

Fast forward to this past spring, I was introduced to Daniel Sonntag at a meditation event. We spent the entire day learning about how meditation works and techniques to help you connect to the Universe. Daniel taught a section of the workshop on how to use EFT, or Tapping, to heal both physical and emotional wounds. I thought it was really cool, but the day after the workshop, it had once again slipped my mind.

Going into summer, Jared and I signed up for a meditation class that dove deeper into each of the key points we touched upon during the one-day event. One of the bonuses of signing up? Daniel taught a group session of Tapping! Leading up to the day, I was really excited; I wanted to learn more about EFT and see if it really could be beneficial.

Then we get an email from our meditation teacher, Sage. She wanted to know if anyone would volunteer to be the person that Daniel would lead through the Tapping. What possessed me to email Sage back that I would volunteer is beyond me. I felt like it was a Hunger Games moment (cue the I volunteer as tribute! memes of Jennifer Lawrence looking particularly haggard…no offense, J.Law). One second, I’m reading Sage’s email and then the next, I was pressing send, which moments later cued the anxiety.

I don’t like being the center of attention. In fact, I hate it. But for some reason, my subconscious decided this was what I needed. I needed to experience Tapping first hand to see if this was for real.

Well, let me tell you, it is. Leading up to the session, I was racked with anxiety. I kept going back and forth in my head, debating about whether I should just text Sage and say I was sick (or, you know, actually be honest and say that I no longer wanted to do it). But I held to my commitment.

After starting the group Skype session (Daniel does the Tapping sessions on Skype if you’re not located in Massachusetts!), Daniel asked if there was anything in particular I wanted to work on and how I was feeling. I immediately said I had no idea what to work on, and right now I’m just a ball of anxiety and hate having everyone listen to me.

And so we began by tapping away the anxiety. Gentle taps with the pads of my right fingertips against the side of my left palm. I feel anxious. I hate being center stage. But right here and right now, I’m okay. We moved to tapping on my cheekbones, my forehead, my chin, underneath my arms, and at the top of my head, inhaling deeply, and then exhaling it all out.

Cycles of this movement were repeated, each time diving deeper into what was behind the anxiety. With each new round, I felt looser and more at ease, comfortable and open. This was repeated for an hour or so, but I could have gone on longer. Answers to why I despised having attention on me started to surface, and the anxiety actually being in the spotlight started to dissipate. I had to go further.

A month after first working with Daniel in that group session, I reached out to him to do a private. Jared had already started working with him, and to say that I saw changes in Jared from just one session would be an understatement. I won’t go into what Jared’s session uncovered for him, but it was incredible to see the changes from an outsider’s perspective. There was a new light to him, and a new sense of compassion. Jared has always been extraordinarily compassionate and kindhearted, but now he has a love without fear. This extends to his family, his friends, acquaintances, strangers, me, and most importantly, Jared.

However, seeing these changes in Jared made me feel pressure to have the same level of experience. Which made me even more hesitant to sign up. I’m not going to be as successful at Tapping, so why even try? I kept putting it off, letting it slip my mind again, until one day (thankfully), Jared said just email Daniel and set up a time (one of the benefits of us living together is that he doesn’t let me get away with anything! Accountability is a blessing, my friends!).

Well, when I commit to something, I commit to it. I go full force in and don’t come up for air. So I scheduled my first session with Daniel, and as the anxiety built up again, I resisted pulling back.

After a brief 30-minute call before the actual session so that he could get to know me better and what I wanted to work on, we began. Even though I feel this anxiety, I deeply and completely accept myself. Even though I have all of this guilt and I feel it in my chest, right here and right now, in this loving space, I am okay. We repeated mantras with every cycle of tapping, unlocked new emotions that were hidden beneath the conscious mind, and started to slowly excavate the old feelings that were holding me back.

How I see Tapping is much like Linkin Park’s song, “Bleed it out.” I bleed it out. We let go of the emotions we feel on the surface. I dig it deeper. Once we are free from those emotions, we can uncover what evoked them in the first place. Then I throw it away. We can rewire our brains to let go of these negative beliefs, emotions, and feelings and repave a more positive, lighter, and more loving way.

I left my first session feeling alive. Like I just broke out of jail and was finally free, or at least running towards the light. Tapping allowed me to hang my conscious mind’s coat on the hanger and sit with myself beneath the surface. You’d be surprised what you’ll dig up when you’re down there too. Any pain you’re holding on to, physical or emotional, any anger, fear, anxiety, we all know it and we could all stand to let a bit of it go.

Obviously not everything is solved in the first and only session. There’s a lot more work to do, but I feel like I got a pretty good start on my first round. I’m excited to see where it goes!

If you’d like to learn more about Tapping, I’d suggest starting here.

If you’re ready to start working, I can’t recommend Daniel enough. This was in no way a sponsored post, I genuinely just think that the work he is doing needs to be spread and accessible to everyone. I want to help spread the word. Daniel is incredibly sweet, brilliant, and one of the most knowledgeable people I’ve had the pleasure of working with. He is also very intuitive and empathetic. I don’t trust people easily, but he was different.

Feel free to reach out to him through his website or directly through email: danielwsonntag@gmail.com. Daniel does both Skype and in-person sessions (I can attest to the Skype sessions, they are powerful!). Please also feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions about my experience or if you would like an introduction!

With love always,

Britt

June In Review

Oh, hey, kids! It’s Friday!

Anddddd the last day of June for 2017. How did this month go by so fast? I normally don’t do this, but for some reason, when I woke up last Sunday, I quickly realized it was the last week of the month and was reminded of the intentions I had set on June 1st.

To say this month has been one of extreme growth is an understatement. I have never felt more myself and am beyond grateful to have come this far. I started off the month with a small set of goals and intentions for how I wanted to live in this moment of time.

Be present and enjoy the ones you’re with.

Paint like crazy.

Write just as much.

Spend time with friends.

Meditate daily.

Live in gratitude for where you are right now in your life.

Okay, so these seem a little bit bigger than “small” intentions, but I was surprised that not only did I keep to these goals, but I also challenged myself to go beyond them. Some of them I did not reach just yet, and that’s okay. I have made great strides towards those goals, and I’m more than okay. In fact, the fear that used to dominate my thoughts is now just a pesky voice that pops up to say hello now and then.

This past month, I realized that as good as it is to set goals, you have to work with the Universe, not against it. You can plan all you want, but if it’s not through love, you’re resisting the Universe. You have to live in love and gratitude, rather than fear and anxiety. Yes, I did things that brought out some very uncomfortable things from my past and pushed me beyond my safe place. But in doing so, I was able to grow into the Britt I was meant to be rather than one who lives within the bounds of my past and society’s expectations. Keep in mind, I’m still growing. But I’m liking who I’m growing to be a lot more than I did six months ago.

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This past month, not only did I get to spend time with people whose friendships mean the world to me (looking at you, Emilie, Sarah, and Sky), but I also made amazing new friends (oh hey, Sarah, Mich, and Shara)- something I had forgotten how to do since my freshman year of college. I attended events in which I had to walk up to people and say, “Hey, I’m Britt, what’s your name?” gearing up for the awkward handshake and small talk. The old voice in my head would come up whispering, Ugh, you’re so weird, Brittany, why did you say that? They probably think you’re a freak, why do you even do this stuff?

But somewhere deep down, I found the strength to push that voice aside and embrace the moment fully. I am here, I am proud of who I am, and I love myself. Coming from someone who has spent the last 22 years of her life telling herself how unworthy she is, annoying, a burden, etc., this was pretty monumental. I haven’t felt comfortable making new friends in years, and now I find myself so excited to meet people from this wonderful community and beyond, as well as nurture the friendships I’ve made from years prior. I finally feel that I’m a good person and I deserve to have friends that mirror those same values.

It took a while to get there. Meditation has played a big role in that, though. I started my meditation practice officially in April, but since the beginning of this month, it really has shifted to be a daily practice. Now, I need my time sitting in the field just as much as I need to pound the pavement on a run. Both are therapeutic, but in different respects. Both are forms of self-love, but present themselves in unique ways.

This month, I’ve really connected with the Universe. I’ve shifted how I view my reality from fear and self-doubt and judgment to excitement and love and joy. Not only is it much easier and feels so much better to live from this state, but it also helps to actually manifest what you want in your life. When you send out vibrations of happiness, gratitude, and love, you open yourself up to receive those same vibrations. But to do so, I had to let go of the stories I used to tell myself. I had to own up to the negativity that I was still holding onto and honor that this was a process.

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That was most notable in the art that I created this month. For years, I had a specific idea of who I was as an artist. I was precise, diligent, and could render a scene immaculately on paper or canvas. Over these past few months, I’ve been working with my teacher to break those conceptions and to own my voice as a painter. My teacher once told me that in her opinion (and I agree with this), God already made the world we live in perfect. Why try to recreate that? So I started to paint with emotion. While I’m still sticking with landscapes and figures, I’m working more from memory and how I feel when I’m there.

I’d be lying if I said this was easy. Letting go of a story you’ve told yourself since birth is pretty damn hard. It must be precise. No, it doesn’t look like that. You’re so not talented, why do you even try? Where are you going with this? But in painting through the difficult moments, the moments of uncertainty, unfamiliarity, and unease, I trusted the Universe and myself that I would find my way on the canvas, and I did. It’s just like when I go for a run. There are miles that just feel like hell and then all of the sudden- poof– I hit that runner’s high and I’m golden. Okay, now I’m making it sound easy, but once you get the hang of it, I really do think it is!

And so, with all of these changes, both external and internal, I need to honor what I’ve done and sit in gratitude for where I am. I’ve let go of friendships that were no longer serving me and opened myself up to the ones I want to nurture and the new ones to come. I don’t sit in the negative anymore, but rather shift my mindset to what feels good. I now feel confident in myself as a person when I’m doing what I love. And I’m not ashamed of who I am anymore.

So I welcome July with gratitude and excitement as to what’s to come. I want to solidify all that I’ve worked to change this past month and enjoy where I am.

Let’s make July another good one. Summer, I’m ready for ya.

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From the HeART

The past few weeks have been go-go-go, but I’m not hating it! I spent the last two weeks of May travelling with the family, visiting home in Connecticut, making a road trip to D.C. with my boyfriend, and working with my painting mentor in the studio…now, I’m jetting off to Seattle to visit college and study abroad friends (Firenze forever!). All amazing things, and I’m so grateful for each and every one.

Even though I literally live an hour away from where I grew up (Brooklyn may seem like an alternate universe at times, but I promise you, it is still in New York), going back always brings out the nostalgic side of me.

Hey, remember that time M+D left us with the babysitter and we had a macaroni and cheese food fight?

Oh look! That’s where we used to take Boo and Moose to the dog park!

And there’s David’s Tea, where I had my first job!

But for some reason, I was feeling extra sentimental the other day (I seriously never get like this, ask Jared), so I decided to go snooping in the basement storage for my old artwork from high school.

And boom! It was like I was back in Ms. Eskell’s Drawing I class (oh, the days of high school). When you see my current style, you’d probably be surprised by where I came from: rigid, precise, cautious, and diligent. In fact, most of the work I found was created when I was in the pits of anorexia. But looking back, I didn’t feel triggered or sad. I actually felt joy because when I make art, I always feel whole, even through a period of struggle.

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Though I still like to air more on the side of representational art rather than abstract, I used to thrive with classical art instruction. I absolutely loved color theory, as it shattered my perception of how I previously saw the world. An apple was not red, but maybe a mixture of oranges, purples, and even blues, if the light reflected it.

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When I was taught human anatomy in my first figure drawing was when things really shifted for me. I was starting to find my voice as an artist and as a person. When you’re in the throws of an eating disorder, one of the only voices you hear in your head is the comparison one; it judges your body, her body, his body, and everyone’s body. But when I started to draw the figure, my perception changed yet again.

Someone was brave enough to stand up in front of a crowd of strangers, buck-naked. No loincloth, no bra, all skin. And they did that because they knew that the human body is beautiful, incredible, and perfect in all forms. Those dimples on your butt highlight beautiful shadows. The droop of a breast accented a delicate curve. Suddenly, I realized just how amazing the human body was, and all judgment and comparison of my body to theirs dissipated and has yet to resurface.

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Finding my old work was a gentle reminder as to why I even create art. I spent a good few hours just studying my old strokes and bringing myself back to those moments when everything just clicked. I think it was Picasso who said that you could start out with a room full of people- your family, your friends, your significant other, the dog, etc. – but as he painted, each and every being disappeared until it was just his canvas, his subject, and himself. That’s when art is created, and that’s the moment I always aim to find time and again when I pick up my brush.

I guess it really is a form of meditation after all. And here I spent years thinking I couldn’t meditate! I think that state is also why I’m so obsessed with running. You just hit a point during your run when everything feels light and obsolete and like you could just keep running. Art, meditating, yoga, running, whatever it is that lights your soul on fire, it’s all a means to transcend the physical state of being. But then again, what do I know? I’m just some chick with a serious addiction to sweet potato waffles and coconut butter 😉

I wasn’t sure what to call this post at first, but I think this pretty much sums to up. A few thoughts straight from the heart. Enjoy your Friday and happy weekend!

*If you would like to inquire more about my work and any available pieces, please feel free to contact me directly by email: thebananadiaries5 (at) gmail (dot) com. Thank you!

Meditation Mondays

So truth be told, I’m actually pretty new to meditation. In fact, I’ve only been “sitting in the field” (yes, ze quantum field) for about two months. That being said, I can tell you that the person I was two months ago is an entirely different gal than the one writing this post right now.

Two months ago, I was on the ground crying, paint splattered around me, and a worried Jared by my side trying to calm me down. It had been a hot minute (RE: half a year) since I painted, and I felt completely and utterly empty. Art was something that encompassed every fiber of my being, and yet here I was neglecting it. I felt lost, confused, frustrated, and without a purpose. But that was when the magic happened.

What in the moment felt like a serendipitous rediscovery of meditation and mindfulness was in actuality the Universe and God stepping in and saying, “Yo, Britt, we gotta get you on a course redirection, my friend. You’ve done your way longggg enough. Time to reroute!” Long story short, I soon found myself listening with Jared to the recordings of Dr. Joe Dispenza as he discussed all things meditation, manifestation, mindfulness, and woo-wooness translated into science, all while we cooked dinner each night.

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Jared dove right in, but I must admit, I was still a little hesitant. After all, I had spent an entire (short) lifetime telling myself over and over that I would never be able to sit still, that meditation just wasn’t for me (this is still partly true…it’s a work in progress). As someone who faces OCD thoughts, I strongly believed that the only way to silence my mind was by running. I would try meditation every now and again, but would leave in frustration after just listening to racing thoughts for five minutes.

When I was in a 200-hour yoga teacher training a few years ago (I had to stop in the middle of the training…but that’s another story!), I remember our instructor, Gina, telling us about her meditation retreat in India. The first day of the retreat, they had told everyone to go off into the forest and sit there for six hours. SIX. HOURS. I remember thinking how in the hell does anyone sit alone with their thoughts for a quarter of a day? I could barely stand being in my own head for five minutes!

But that’s when I realized, and both Dr. Joe and Jen Sincero (exquisite author and life-changer) state, that meditation is an expression of self-love.

Ohhhhhhhhh.

Turns out, I didn’t really love myself until recently. Or at least, now I’m working towards self-love. The fact that I can’t stand to be alone with my thoughts while sitting still says it all (which is weird because I’m the world’s biggest introvert). I had to be moving because that was a distraction. When I’m alone, I’m never just alone with myself. I’m reading a book, I’m cooking, I’m doing some pointless activity that fully consumes my attention so that I don’t have to focus on what’s actually happening.

But after listening to Dr. Joe, reading Jen’s incredible book, You Are A Badass, and seeing where my life was heading (a.k.a. sad desk job that I hated), I decided I didn’t have anything to lose.

So I started small. Five minutes at a time. I just focused on breath. That’s it. Just breathing for five minutes. My lovely friend, Sage (you’ll probably hear about her a lot on this blog), gave me a few crystals to get me started too, the most important one at the time being the Rose Quartz (a.k.a. the love rock). I sat down every morning with that giant rock pressed to my heart chakra and just breathed.

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But soon, I found the five minutes were flying by, and when the sound bowl would go off, I didn’t want to leave. So I increased my meditation to 10 minutes. Then 15. Then 20. As I increased my time meditating, I realized I could actually set an intention during this time. I started to really focus on love, for myself, for Jared, for my family, for everyone. Then gratefulness. How amazing it is that we each have these beautiful lives to do whatever it is that we want with them, no matter how they started. Then I started focusing on gratefulness for what hasn’t even happened yet, but that I know will come my way. But as active as this meditation seems, I feel completely still. I just am.

I know, right?! Me. Britt. The girl who used to be called “jimmy legs” because I couldn’t stop moving. Sitting still. Being in the moment. Feeling the moment. LOVING myself. God, I love myself. And not in a narcissistic way! No, just the opposite. I love myself enough to take care of my body, do things that awaken my soul, be with people who make me feel alive. That allows me to be my best self so that I can be the best Britt for others.

Meditation has allowed me to be a better Britt. It has allowed me to love myself and realize I am worthy of doing something I love and living the life that I dream about.

So to everyone who made it through this lengthy post: thank you from the bottom of my heart. You guys are the real rockstars. I want to know though: what has meditation given you? How has it changed your life?

Happy Monday, friends 🙂