What Freedom

Living in Process has given me a new way to be in the world. It’s given me a life with more honesty and integrity, a desire to seek a stronger relationship with my Creator and a willingness to continue to seek the truth about the pieces in my life that aren’t working….

melanieLiving in Process has given me a new way to be in the world. It’s given me a life with more honesty and integrity, a desire to seek a stronger relationship with my Creator and a willingness to continue to seek the truth about the pieces in my life that aren’t working. I’ve gained a greater appreciation for this planet we all share and a better understanding of what it means to show up and be part of a community. I’m less concerned about looking good and as a direct result I’m better able to be open and honest and to share myself with others…to the best of my ability. What Freedom!

—-Melanie, USA

Paradigm shift

When I came to my first Intensive, my spirit was broken. I knew something was wrong with me but did not know what. I was angry, tired, always afraid and depressed…

When I came to my first Intensive, my spirit was broken. I knew something was wrong with me but did not know what. I was angry, tired, always afraid and depressed. I had everything I thought I wanted in the physical realm. Physically nothing was wrong and I was in a lot of unexplainable pain all over in my body.

A good friend suggested a Living in Process Intensive in my area. I went because everything else I had tried, psychiatrist and psychologist, had failed to fix me. I contemplated suicide.

In the intensives I learned to look at the world in a completely different way, that I was actually responsible for my own happiness or misery. I could choose which. It required a paradigm shift. This took hard and honest work on myself, with the help of people who had done this themselves.

—–Burgi, USA

Coming Home

I so look forward to these intensives and the opportunity to learn to live more fully and to share, simply by the way I live my life, that there is another way, a better way…

ShaunaI so look forward to these intensives and the opportunity to learn to live more fully and to share, simply by the way I live my life, that there is another way, a better way. I continue to be blessed and changed.My experience at the intensives is like a “coming home.” I feel myself relax and the walls come down like never before. This has been and continues to be, my biggest struggle in sobriety, taking down the walls. I have never trusted so immediately and fully as I do at the intensives. I’m getting to know the me I’ve never known, the me I’ve been terrified to know. The level of trust is just amazing. I am willing to open myself to others and self and begin healing. I am so encouraged and grateful for this work and look forward to more intensives, perhaps even in other cities!!! My fears have held me captive so long. I feel myself healing and am so very thankful.

—-Shauna, USA

The gift of knowing myself better

I have been in recovery for chemical dependency for 16 years. In 1993, I discovered that I could not manage the complexity of my emotions and I was introduced to Anne Wilson Schaef’s work in a group setting…

I have been in recovery for chemical dependency for 16 years. In 1993, I discovered that I could not manage the complexity of my emotions and I was introduced to Anne Wilson Schaef’s work in a group setting. In 1996 I attended my first Living in Process Intensive which is a 4-7 day retreat where we talk about our lives and have the opportunity to stay with our feelings and rest. In my first intensive I had the space and support to start to heal from the traumas in my life (most of which I learned I had created!) I began to develop the skills to feel my feelings without judgment or trying to control them. What a gift!

I joined the Living in Process Community in 1997 and again in 2000. Being in the community has again allowed me to experience a depth of myself I have never known. We are all on our own spiritual path and I find great friendship and kinship with my fellow travelers.

When I met Anne Wilson Shaef for the first time, I felt like she knew who I was and I felt an amazing amount of love and acceptance. The more time I have spent with her, the more I have received the gift of knowing myself better.

—Chris, Canada

Becoming more mindful

I am grateful to have the opportunity to participate in the world-wide Living In Process network…

I am grateful to have the opportunity to participate in the world-wide Living In Process network. Since my initial exposure to this network in 1993 I have learned so much and have experienced such deep transformation regarding how I see myself and society. By participating in this network I have found the support I need to discover who I really am moment to moment. I have been challenged to become more mindful and responsible for how I show up in life.

—Elise, USA

The beginning of a healing process

My experience of Anne Wilson Schaef is of a woman with an immense ability to love and with great wisdom…

My experience of Anne Wilson Schaef is of a woman with an immense ability to love and with great wisdom. Having read lots of self help books I was really struck by Anne Wilson-Schaef’s Living In Process book because it was not promising a quick fix or a heady hype, the words struck a chord within me and I felt their truth. After finishing reading the book, I really wanted to know more, to experience this process work myself. So I arrived at the next weekend “intensive” with a mixture of excitement and fear. With me was my 5 year old daughter.

We were both welcomed warmly and the weekend was the beginning of a healing process I am grateful to still be participating in.

Anne Wilson-Schaef by bringing her process work to the world, has given me an opportunity to connect with the creator of all, the knowledge that I am more than what happened to me as a child or than my current neuroses or addictions. And most hopeful of all is that I can heal from within myself with support from a loving community without someone telling me what is “wrong” with me and how I can fix it, or learn to adapt to living with the pain.

My outer life has changed and most of all my inner life has changed since my participation in the Living in Process Community. I live a rich and full life and am open to new challenges and feel grateful (most of the time). I am not cured of all my troubles and that worries me less and less, I contribute to my community in meaningful ways and am glad to be growing and living.

Anne herself is an inspiration, she is a real person living a real life in a different way to anyone I have experienced. She is loving enough to give feedback that can be hard to hear and she gives boundlessly to the Living In Process Community and to many other communities such as Native American Tribes. She is happy to share her wisdom as a Native Elder, her truth and process as a teacher and her love and humor as a woman.

—-Mandy, Australia

A Mother’s Journey

I feel as though I’m living in a different world since I started Living in Process®work and 12-Step recovery, and I am very grateful…

BobbiI feel as though I’m living in a different world since I started Living in Process®work and 12-Step recovery, and I am very grateful.

My bottom was in 1992-93, when my former husband was in the process of deciding to divorce me and then going through with the divorce. The winter of 1992 was the depth of my bottom. I was depressed, isolating, and obsessively fantasizing about murdering my husband, the woman he’s now married to and, because I couldn’t imagine how I could live with myself afterwards, myself. I tried to pray and couldn’t. I couldn’t tear myself away from my obsessions to feel present with God. I was in a miserable place.

In March 1992, I suddenly came out of isolation when I burst into tears at my stockbroker’s office. She’s an old friend, who in two-and-a-half hours (in the midst of tax season) started me looking at myself and what I could do about my misery. Later that same year, I was taken by the title of Anne Wilson Schaef’s book,Escape from Intimacy. As I read the book, I identified as an addict for the first time, a relationship addict. In January 1993, as my divorce became final, I read her newly published book,Beyond Therapy, Beyond Science, and I decided to write for more information to the address printed at the back of the book.

In July 1993, I went to Montana for my first Living in Process® workshop and knew I needed and wanted “more.” I still remember how completely different I felt at that first Intensive from the way I’d felt in my marriage. My marriage had looked pretty good on the outside and I’d felt miserable, helpless and hopeless inside and I didn’t know what to do about it. The Intensive looked and sounded pretty awful on the outside, with people crying and writhing and pounding on mats, and I was amazed at how wonderful I felt inside. I was drawn to people’s openness, honesty and clarity – which I experienced to an extent I never had before. I basked in the atmosphere of acceptance and freedom from judgementalism. I started Living in Process®Training in August 1993.

I’d like to share an experience I had several years ago in which I acted in a very different way than I would have before I started recovery and Living in Process®work. (Before I begin, I want to be very clear that I share this experience with the complete permission and blessing of my daughter.)

One Friday morning I received an e-mail message from my daughter requesting no contact with me. If she had asked for no contact ten years before, I would have felt shocked, embarrassed and ashamed and I would have stuffed my uncomfortable feelings. I wouldn’t have known what else to do. I would have focused on her, obsessed about her, wanted to change her. I would have isolated and not talked about the situation and my feelings about it with anyone other than perhaps my husband. I would have felt painfully alone. I would have lied and pretended that nothing was “wrong” and that I was “OK”. I feel pain even now as I write these words.

That Friday morning I did feel shocked and embarrassed and a lot of self-pity and pain – and I didn’t stuff my feelings. I went to a safe place, a mat, which we have where I live, and cried and cried and cried. No one tried to stop me from crying. No one tried to stop my process by touching me, talking to me, or suggesting I take medication. I felt so grateful that everyone respected me and supported me doing my emotional work. I cried a good bit of that day, staying with my painful feelings, and I felt relief just staying with my pain. I had wanted to go on a trip with a friend and her brother that weekend, and I knew when she came to me late in the afternoon that I couldn’t go with them. I would need to stay near the mat and stay with my feelings over the weekend. I checked in with her and told her what was going on with me. She didn’t judge me or give me advice, and she gave me her love and support.

Saturday I went back to the mat and cried some more and checked in with several other friends. Sunday I had several telephone check-ins and described to those people what was going in with me. I was not isolating, as I would have before. I was reaching out for help. Some people I checked in with told me that they had asked for no contact from their parents and others told me that their children had asked for no contact with them. I felt so much relief when I found out I wasn’t alone. The following Thursday was my daughter’s birthday – I considered sending her a birthday card and checked this out with people, too. I wanted to respect her request and I wanted her to know I love her. Monday morning I mailed off a card to her whose message was simply, “I brake for birthdays” and in which I wrote, “I hear you. I love you. I’ll wait for you to contact me.” By Monday afternoon, I felt calm and accepting of my daughter’s request and accepting of my feelings and actions. I was in a very different emotional space than I would have been had I stuffed my feelings and isolated.

And, that wasn’t all. I’ve come to understand through my recovery and through Living in Process®work that I need to “look at my part”, at what I have done and what I can learn and what I can, with God’s help, change in myself. On the mats in the midst of staying with my feelings and again in checking in with people, I began to look at my part. I prayed – “God, be with me. God, show me. God, help me learn what I need to learn.”

The trigger for my daughter’s request for no contact had been an e-mail message I’d sent her about my eating habits and losing weight and finding my cholesterol ratio had dropped into a normal range. I began to remember that she had asked that I not talk to her about food or weight or emotional issues around food. (She herself had been wrestling for some time with issues around her own eating patterns and weight.) My rationalization for sending her the message – my lie to myself – had been that my message was about me and not about her and it was OK for me to talk about me. And, it wasn’t OK with her. Another person I talked to was my son. He told me that when he had received my e-mail message – I’d sent it to several family members and friends – he had immediately thought, “This is for my sister”.

So, I looked at my motives and my energy in sending out the message. I checked in with myself – had I intended to “sell” the way I was eating to my daughter? I had not paid attention to my intent in sending the email to her. I had just sent it without thinking. I learned that I needed to be aware of my motives and my energy, and not lie to myself about them. To see my part in this experience with my daughter has been a sobering lesson for me, a step of spiritual progress in my recovery.

Eight months after she’d requested no contact with me, my daughter e-mailed me that she was ready to resume contact by e-mail and snail mail, though not yet by phone. Then, just before the next Christmas she e-mailed that she was open to a phone conversation on Christmas day. We talked for a couple of hours that day, and it was the best Christmas present I had. She tells me she’s grateful for my respecting her desire for no contact during those eight months. Today I delight in our relationship of mutual respect.

This is just one experience of many from which I have learned and grown since 1993. I’m so glad and grateful that God, whom I call the Creator, saw to it that I got into Living in Process®and into recovery back then. I don’t know that I’d be here, alive and loving life, had I not come to this work. I surely never want to go back to the self-pity, misery and depression I experienced so often before.

I deeply value and appreciate that Anne Wilson Schaef has been doing her own work over many, many years. I am grateful that she shares with those of us who participate in Living in Process®work, and with the readers of her books, her experience, her strength, her clear vision. I especially trust that Anne does not promote herself as any kind of ultimate authority, or proclaim herself a guru. She simply is what she is and shares where she is. She walks her talk, and for me that’s enough.

As I said above, I feel as though I’m living in a different world than I was in 1993. I love where I have come to, and I want to continue to live in process, to learn and to grow spiritually.

—Bobbi, USA

Melting the ice block

What I used to be like…

I was like a block of ice before I met Anne Wilson Schaef and the work she brought into the world called Living in Process.The scope of what I felt, did, knew and was aware of was so narrow, I was practically frozen in time…

What I used to be like…

peteI was like a block of ice before I met Anne Wilson Schaef and the work she brought into the world called Living in Process.The scope of what I felt, did, knew and was aware of was so narrow, I was practically frozen in time.When someone in the LIP network first asked me how I felt, I took a moment, searched the skinny area of awareness I had of myself and said, “My toes are cold. ”That’s all of what I could feel when I got to LIP – that is, apart from utterly miserable and cut off from the rest of the world. I was aware of feeling that.

I had no awareness of spirituality when I arrived, no awareness of self and no awareness of being dishonest and living through a mask. If you liked it, I liked it. If you wanted to do something, I wanted to do something. I did not know there was any other way, did not know what I really felt, what was really important to me, and no way was I aware that there was anybody else in the world. I thought it was all about me.

Shortly after coming into the Living in Process network I realized I was an addict. This was not a hard realization for me as I knew very well that I was totally obsessed with eating. I figured I was probably alcoholic, too, but my food compulsion was such that there was nothing else I wanted to do on a daily basis but eat!

In the model that Anne Wilson Schaef had been developing, recovery from addictions was paramount. Addictions keep us from feeling what we feel and knowing what we know. That was clear to me. I was completely out of it – couldn’t feel the mountains of Boulder, Colorado that were just a few feet away from my house! Anne recommended the 12-step programs as the best way she knew of to recover from addictions and so I started in Overeaters Anonymous. That was life-changing and eventually I uncovered a raft of other addictions including alcoholism, which turned out to be the one which I needed to address the most. Recovering from alcoholism is/was probably the biggest challenge on a daily basis for me and thanks to AA and Living in Process, I now knew what was wrong with me and could focus on a solution.

Another important discovery I made 20 years ago when I came to Anne and the LIP work was what she had named the Deep Process Work. This was/is not a technique. It was the natural unwinding of my deep feelings/process in the way these deep processes wanted and needed to unwind. I didn’t realize how much childhood grief I had. I never would have “thought” this through. Instead, I stretched out on a mat and stayed with my crying as it flowed through me and healed some of the grief I had been carrying for years. I didn’t know I had so much bundled and bungled up inside of me, these deep processes that have healed me and continue to do so. God only knows what needs to be healed, old childhood trauma, processes from last week, tangles and problems of my ancestors, all have been healed by surrendering to the deep process work. This was so peace-giving and serenity-filled for me. I loved the deep process work. It was what I had been looking for without even knowing I was looking.

When I arrived at my first intensive (workshop) with Anne Wilson Schaef, I had a spiritual experience. I had never been in a place that felt so much like home to me. Home, on a deep, deep level. The honesty was fantastic. The openness was touching and I felt a connection! I felt a deep connection to Anne and the other people there and had one of the most wonderful times of my whole life. The ice block was beginning to melt and after a very short time of participation in the Living in Process network and the 12-step network I had become a part of a large community. This was a community of real people, these were not drinking buddies, they were people who talked about real things, real feelings, and we were supportive of one another like I had never experienced. These were the happiest years of my adult life up to that point.

About Anne Wilson Schaef
Anne Wilson Schaef has a vision that sees far beyond that of most people, like the eagle that flies higher than all other birds. I remember how she saw things in people at the first intensive I went to. She was able to see into their lovely souls, past the pain, the garbage and the pollution which many people wear on their personalities. Anne could see who we were down deep and what we could become. She supported me to be me! As trite as that may seem, I hated myself! I was the last person I wanted to become. She told me I was at my best when I was me. She had so much faith in the greatness of humankind. Anne once told me that she believed we could do anything – accomplish anything. I had never known anybody that actually knew me that believed that I could do anything. I was used to believing that I was never good enough. And, she was not just giving a pep talk, she believed it about me and she believed it about almost everybody else she knew! She had the eagle-eye vision of what people could become if they got out of their own way and healed.

Later, I saw how she had the eagle eye view of situations, systems, communities, and the planet. So many knotted situations was she able to un-tie with her little finger. So many people came to the intensives all muddled up and hurting and she was able to give them a perspective of their lives which they never saw. Everybody had to do their own work and deal with their own lives and Anne was able to give them some positive perspective. I love being with her and hearing what she sees in others.

She has led the Living in Process community down a path that is bigger and better than any of us could have imagined. We are participating in something that is much greater than we ever would have thought. As a community we have taken care of the 110-year old Boulder Hot Springs in Montana and the land around it. Anne said, “We cannot heal the people unless we heal the land and we cannot heal the land unless we heal the people.” We have been working on a plan to restore the wetlands there, and have learned to treat the animals, the land, the bugs, and all of nature as respectfully as we treat ourselves. We are participating in a healing that is much greater than just our own personal healing thanks to Anne Wilson Schaef.

Anne grew up in an atmosphere where her elders were constantly teaching her. Every day she was taught in the Native American way. She has accepted this role of teacher and elder and is continuously teaching those around her in the LIP community and beyond who are eager to learn a different paradigm of living – one that is based on respect, love, healing and spirituality. Personally, I have dearly loved learning about the plethora of options that I have all the time. Anne has said, “Options are wealth,” and I have found this to be true. Today I have a much greater variety of friends than I ever had before I came into LIP. I don’t put shackles on myself like “I can’t have friends that are over 60,”or “I can’t have friends who are gay,” or “I can’t have friends that don’t live in America,” like I used to, Anne has taught me about expanding rather than contracting. She’s always teaching me more and more about more and more. I have learned that I have the capacity to know my way around many countries and not just my little neighborhood. Anne has taught me that there are many ways to do anything. I am a writer now, I spend time with children, speak a little German, play the guitar, respect my parents, travel the world, all these possibilities have been available to me because Anne has taught me about expansion and supported me as I’ve done it.

Anne Wilson Schaef follows a creed of “Do no harm,” and is always teaching about respecting and taking care of our elders. Our elders knew someone who knew someone who knew someone when the world was very different. They are our treasures. Anne has taught us how to treat elders and to notice how disrespected elders are in Western Culture. I am amazed how many people walk by an old person who has dropped her cane and how many people don’t give up their seat on a bus to an elder. I had never learned anything about valuing my elders. Anne Wilson Schaef has taught me to have the utmost respect for them, and I do. She is always teaching us to have the utmost respect for everybody, and to love.

I have come to believe that love is one of the most difficult things for people in Western Culture to deal with. There are so many rules and regulations in people’s heads about who they can love, how they can love, when they can love, what it means to love and be loved, that a lot of loving just gets completely blocked. Anne Wilson Schaef is fabulous at loving. She emulates love for all creatures and humans and she is sometimes crucified for it. She was once confronted at a public event by a journalist who noticed all the loving. The journalist said to Anne that she noticed that the people who had come to the event to support Anne seemed to love her. The writer also noticed that Anne loved the people that came to support her. Anne pointed out that the people who had come to support her also loved each other. The journalist then retorted, “Don’t you think there is something wrong with all that?”

Small minds can’t stand Anne Wilson Schaef. I have discovered that Western Culture people are encouraged to live like zombies – not dead and not alive – and zombies can’t tolerate people that are fully alive like Anne Wilson Schaef. People have trouble when somebody stands up for truth in the middle of a conference laden down with ego and illusions. People have trouble when someone is crying during a movie and they’re not (people have troubles with feelings in general). There are so few people who are fully alive these days, and so many people who mercilessly attack those who are. Our culture can’t stand aliveness and can’t stand community or cooperation. We were told when dealing with some legal issues with Boulder Hot Springs that the laws mitigate against community and cooperation. Amazing. In spite of all the flack and the strong opposition to being human, Anne Wilson Schaef still continues to love and loves very well.

About Living in Process
The International Living in Process Community – the community that Anne Wilson Schaef participates in and offers leadership and guidance to – is a spiritual community where we focus a lot on honesty, respect, and caring for the earth and all creation. We have a true caring for each other and those around us, in LIP. I have never known such support and loving. Perhaps the best example I can give is our fundraising auctions we have at our meetings. We call them non-competitive auctions because people do not bid against each other. If somebody wants an item, they announce their bid and then others raise bids for the original bidder. To me it is symbolic of the way we support each other. We always say that if we put the community needs first, then the individual needs will be taken care of. We have real community here. We work together on projects like Boulder Hot Springs. We take care of the land and the animals wherever we go and we bring good energy to the world.

One of the by-products of the deep process work is peace. When people are dealing with their old issues and staying on their own side of the street and taking responsibility for their lives, peace naturally occurs. The Living in Process community is peace. If nations dealt with their own issues, stayed on their own side of the street and took responsibility for themselves, we would have no wars. We in the LIP Network work out our issues on individual and community levels, and peace prevails.

In the LIP Community we honor our differences. Every three years we have an International Gathering where hundreds of people from all over the world and many cultures gather together and spend time with elders. We celebrate the differences and support everybody and every culture. We do not believe in making the rest of the world like us, we believe in honoring God’s creation as God created it.

What I am Like Now
I am no longer frozen in an ice block. My life is much broader, what I feel, what I think, what I do, than before I met Anne Wilson Schaef and participated in the Living in Process work. I have learned about who I am. I have learned that nobody knows me or knows more about me than I do. Nobody can fix me and I do not need to go through anybody to live spiritually. I believe that somewhere deep down we all know that we have the answers to what we need inside of ourselves. I am so grateful to Anne and this work that I have come to re-connect with the Creator, the All That Is. I am grateful to have learned about so many different spiritualities and ways to be:the Native American ways that I have learned, the Australian Aboriginal ways that I have learned, the Maori ways, the Hawaiian ways, and even the Christian ways I have learned (I am Jewish and knew almost nothing about Christianity).I am grateful for what I have learned about nature and that I have an awareness that I am nature. I feel a part of the oneness of everything and I am no longer out for myself alone. Today I am part of a bigger whole and my life means something. I have deep gratitude for and appreciation for the Living in Process Network and especially Anne Wilson Schaef.

Pete, USA

My Greatest Dream

My greatest dream is the earliest dream I can remember having-a dream for peace and love in the world.  I believed  the world in it’s natural state was full of peace and love, and had  been contaminated by a  badness that did not belong. I was equally troubled by injustices I learned of on the other side of the world as those I witnessed in my neighborhood…

My greatest dream is the earliest dream I can remember having-a dream for peace and love in the world.  I believed  the world in it’s natural state was full of peace and love, and had  been contaminated by a  badness that did not belong. I was equally troubled by injustices I learned of on the other side of the world as those I witnessed in my neighborhood. I read a book on the black migrant workers in South Africa, the deplorable working conditions, disease, meager pay and long periods of time away from their families. I stared at their photos and cried. On Remembrance day,  I  wished and prayed that we humans have really learned our lesson, that we would never have another war, that no human would ever kill another again.  I was not aware that we had never really stopped.

I was  born into a perfectly, imperfect family and was dealing day to day with the dramas and lessons of growing up.  At night I seemed to let the cares of the day go and would often drift off to sleep, aware of a simple joy and delight in my heart. I felt secure and connected with a force of goodness.  I had a faith that gave me hope and made sense of living.

I made some early choices to follow my dream of peace and love in the world, and found strength to do so from my inner knowing of a great loving power. I went to the United Church and joined choir and youth groups. I learned that there were others with similar beliefs, and I learned about Jesus, whose teachings rang true.

Being in nature was another place I was on the path of my dream . I had a reverence and respect for all animals, birds, fish, reptiles, insects, rocks, trees, and plant life. I marveled at everything in the universe and was in awe of God’s world. I remember playing around the trees, in the tall grass, swimming in the lake or sitting on my favorite rock. I was lifted from my concerns and dilemmas and I felt strong and grounded.

Gradually, I lost faith in my greatest dream by adopting several negative ideas of the world and myself.
1. I believed God wasn’t a part of the modern world,
2. I believed that there was no hope for change, the world problems were too immense,
3. I believed that alcohol, sugar highs, praise from other people and material things were
most  important and could make me happy.

After years of living out of these lies I landed in a pretty lonely, scary place. I was spiritually impoverished. I was using Tarot cards to predict my life, and for comfort in a desperate attempt to understand and explain my problems. I still had a belief that there was good in every person, but as for a faith in a loving universal power that was a part of my life, I had none.

I was numb to my emotions and walked around with a smile pasted on my face. I masked my depression with busyness, work and by trying to be liked by everyone. I was married, had a home, a fabulous career in the Arts and yet I was incredibly lonely. I wondered how I was going to live the rest of my life. I felt empty inside and living didn’t seem worth the trouble. I was ashamed and terrified of my rage, and tried to ignore it and hoped everyone else would too.

I worked my brain overtime figuring in advance right from wrong, what would happen next, or who to trust. I lived in my head. I would not trust my emotions as I judged they were mostly unpredictable and shameful. So my brain took charge. I was devoted to the God of argument – attacking,  justifying  and defending everything.

I continually sabotaged my relationships. I meddled. I fought with my siblings. I thought I could control the way other people saw me. I tried to please my mother, embellishing stories and concealing my faults in  attempts to control her love for me. I lived in fear that people would see I had any faults.

I made a commitment to change myself after becoming involved in a Women’s choir. I heard the saying, ‘change begins with me’ and realized that I was unable to change other people or the madness of the world, but working on myself was within reach. I then began compulsively buying self improvement books, taking numerous vitamins to alleviate  fear, studying and practicing techniques for listening and sharing, and therapy. I stopped drinking alcohol.  I joined a 12 step group for food addicts.

The surrender, spirituality and belonging I experienced in the rooms of Overeaters Anonymous, was a wonderful coming home to me.  Here I found a spiritual solution to my living problems, I felt hope again, and I reconnected with my earliest dream. I was amazed how my addictions to food and (as I learned later) alcohol had such far reaching effects on all areas of my life.

I read ‘Beyond Therapy, Beyond Science’ by Anne Wilson Schaef in the early 90’s  along with many self help books. Her book was different. Her writing,  so honest it shook me. My copy of ‘Meditations for Women who do too Much’ by Schaef, was quickly dog eared and well traveled. I knew this was something I wanted, but  I thought I could ‘achieve it’ studying the books and through sheer will. I  judged that the Living in Process Community, begun by Schaef,  was too far away and too expensive for me to join. One tiny voice in me said, ‘patience,  this will come to you, I know this is possible for you.’ I attended several four day Introductory Living in Process Intensives over the span of about 4 or so years.

In 1998, I realized I needed this work. Confused and afraid I joined the LIP community taking another step forward on the path of my greatest dream. In my LIP work I confront my addictions, by working the 12 steps and processing my feelings on mattresses, or ‘on the mats’. In doing my ‘mat work’ I experience feeling as healing, and a return to a connection with the Great Spirit. My emotions, which I have so often feared and blocked are now my friend and my responsibility is to trust them and  stay with them, praying  to know only what I need to know.

Then as my system clears of most of the effects of the consumption of mood altering sweets and caffeine, and living life in self created crisis and fear, I find I can explore on a deeper level. I practice trusting myself, my journey and God. I continue in a process of discovering and rediscovering who I am. As I am lovingly guided in untangling my web of lies and false expectations, I experience relief from overreacting to every thing in life. I have moments of freedom from my selfishness,  self centeredness and some experience of living in faith.

My life is much larger. Being in recovery with people who love and  know me, and whom I love and know on such an intimate level is loads of fun. I have many more moments of  connection to all living things, like I did when I was so very young. I love being in nature, and traveling to the Boulder Hot Springs in Montana to soak in the healing waters. I have been learning about preparing and eating food with respect and honor.

—Heather, Canada