Chocolate is Not the Enemy

January 6, 2010

[Excerpt from Jan Henrikson’s article from Chicken Soup for the Dieter’s Soul about her experience with Dr Rebecca Ocean]

It wasn’t yet 7:00 in the morning and already I was chain-eating lime chili tortilla chips.  I stood at the kitchen counter, emotionally hung-over from yet another fight with my boyfriend. I was crunching the anger, salting the wounds. Crunching and salting with bites of chocolate for good measure. I couldn’t stop. Even the tortilla chip bag had a wickedly furious crinkle.  I couldn’t eat fast enough to block the tension of not wanting to abandon my relationship, not knowing how to go on. I was broken, a whir of helplessness, powerlessness.  This echoed my drinking days.  Twelve years I’d been sober. How did I get this way with food?  This had to stop. Had to stop! What had been an occasional binge followed by days of deprivation had become a near-daily nightmare.

A prayer flashed through my mind, one that my friend Marti Matthews shares in her book, Pain: The Challenge and the Gift. It goes like this: “Help! Help! Help! Help! Help!”  Which, she suggests, can be repeated with hands thrown in the air.

I repeated it silently all the way to a breakfast with one of my best friends, a bearer of wonders and wise words.  While I collected myself, she whipped out a flyer from her bag and slapped it on my empty plate.  “Taking Your Own Shape: Explore Your Relationship with Food and Body,” it said.

What?  Oh my God.  The most important part of praying for help is recognizing it when it arrives.  Darn, I’d have to go.

The class was intimate and scary.  Six women sitting on couches. That first night, I felt like someone who’d arrived from another planet with a “Waiting for Instructions” note pinned to my soul. Please tell me what to do and when to do it. Give me the whole calories in/calories out regime with a few collages thrown in to express my creativity and no one will get hurt.  Now!

Instead, we talked. And we listened. We talked about our bodies – what it felt like to live in them. We shared our love and lack of love for others and ourselves. We set no weight-loss goals.  We suffered no weekly weigh-ins or calculations of the foods we ate, and in what proportions. Got no stickers for eating right. Or scowls for eating wrong.

In fact, Dr. Becky Ocean, our teacher, said there was no right or wrong, only alive and less alive. She needn’t have told us. She radiated acceptance. She embodied an invitation to a whole new level of living that was spacious and expressive.  She’d weighed 300 pounds, not once, but twice. Eight years ago, she lost 170 pounds and has never found them again.

How strange. My body was a Frankenstein to me, out of control, hunted and feared by the villagers. Becky practiced compassionate experimentation. Explore your weight. Don’t condemn it. Perhaps hunger was a message from your deep, wise self.  What if your body generously expressed what you were afraid to? Well, if my body was speaking, it was mumbling, that’s for sure. Maybe because its mouth was full.

One evening we introduced our “Favorite Food Friends” to each other. A vegetarian brought a huge plate of steak and french fries. I showed my old faithful Ben and Jerry’s Chubby Hubby ice cream. Chocolate-covered peanut butter–filled pretzels tucked into vanilla ice cream. I’d met Chubby Hubby years ago when my then live-in boyfriend moved away.  It was everything: salty, crunchy, soft, sweet. Thanks to Ben and Jerry’s planet-friendly ethics, I could save myself and the world at the same time.

“You say you crave variety,” said Becky. “Interesting variety in that carton.” She invited us to experiment with our food friends.  Did we reach for them in anger? Sorrow? What would happen if we held the tension that triggered the craving just for a moment?

The next time Chubby Hubby called, I paused with spoon in hand. I let my body experience the ache for peace with my lover. Then I ate the ice cream.

Instead of slapping my thighs and cursing my willpower, I became curious. So there really were emotions trying to emerge between bites. My body relished the pauses from chips and chocolate. Attention at last! I began to enjoy feeling fluid and elegant instead of leaden. Twenty pounds fell away. Discovering that my cravings, my clenched heart, my anxious belly had answers for me was like being lost and panicky in the woods and discovering the trees could speak. Now when trees speak, I listen.

Reprinted by permission of Jan Henrikson (c) 2007 from Chicken Soup for the Dieter’s Soul by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Theresa Peluso.  In order to protect the rights of the copyright holder, no portion of this publication may be reproduced without prior written consent.  All rights reserved.


Stop Treating Yourself the Way Your Parents Treated You (or the opposite) and Start Living Your Authentic Life

September 3, 2009

You (and probably everyone you know) are suffering because you don’t know the following secret to living your authentic life. The source of the frustrating variance between the life you’re currently living and the one that would be most fulfilling to you is invisible. It’s not your spouse or lack of spouse. It’s not your boss or bank account or body that’s the problem. A better car, house, phone, meal, or vacation won’t do the trick either, although advertising executives would like you to think their product is exactly what you need, so they can keep you chasing your tail.

The secret of why you are feeling like something is missing or that if you just had x, y, or z, you would be happy is that something IS missing. But it’s not outside, it’s inside. What’s missing is the true you.

Simply due to the normal way the human psyche develops from childhood into adulthood, we have no choice but to internalize a perception of ourselves that is based on our childhood reality. It is not an option. As a child you had no choice but to grow up to see and treat yourself the same way you were treated in your earliest environments. It’s a mechanism of development and happens automatically. Even if you rebelled against such treatment as a teenager. Even if you stood up for others against such treatment. Even if you promised you would never treat anyone the way your parent’s treated you. And even if you feel you had a pretty idyllic childhood and wonderful parents. The part of you governing your self-perception always has both feet in the past.

Human infant consciousness is completely impressionable. The invisible stuff of our awareness is molded by our earliest environments. Therefore, how your parents saw you and attended to the needs of your body and heart shaped how you now see yourself and attend to the needs of your body and heart as an adult.

You were also impacted by the greater environment surrounding your family including what was happening in your extended family, neighborhood, community, country, and world. Everything in the environment that held you impacted the invisible core of your perception and resulted in how you currently see yourself, your gifts, your potential, and everything in your life. It also dictates the choices you make every moment of every day – choices that you believe will make you happy.

We rarely acknowledge how little of our day-to-day functioning is truly chosen from our deepest nature. Most, if not all of those things that we spend so much time thinking about, are responded to by habit – by programming that happened before we were three years old.

Especially if we’ve been in psychotherapy we tend to think we have dealt with the past, but it takes a different kind of experiential exploration to really understand the depth of our molding. It can be genuinely shocking and painful when we finally realize how much of our adult lives are on autopilot, sourced by attempting to conform to or rebel against our internalized childhood reality. However, it not our outer parents’ influence that runs our show now, it’s the false shape of our molded consciousness that impacts everything we experience.

While the source of our current awareness and actions is invisible, our longing to experience our authentic selves is not. We can feel it whenever we choose to listen. And until we embody our true shape – take our own shape – we will have a niggling sense that something very important is missing from our lives.

The advertisers will be only too happy to tell you that their product is what’s missing and you will feel happy, fulfilled, at peace, beautiful, esteemed, and powerful once you buy it. However, you probably are becoming more and more aware that no matter how much stuff or how many people you fill your life with, the happiness is only temporary, and the search to find what’s missing is really an endless loop.

The only thing that truly satisfies is knowing and living from who you truly are. That’s why growth – as difficult, painful, and frustrating as it can be at times – feels good.

Embodying your authentic self is challenging for many reasons. You won’t find much support for it in the culture at large. You won’t hear reports about it on the news. Most of people don’t know the need even exists so are not pursuing it. You will not get any support for it at work, nor will you be rewarded for it monetarily (initially). Your network of friends was designed to support your habitual self and may not be able to support your authentic self or the daunting, counter-culture process of embodying it. However the greatest deterrent is that you have known yourself as this habitual self your whole life and it will be hardest for you to see and experience yourself differently because the false is familiar and has been home to you for so long.

Despite the hardships, we undertake this journey because, like any hero/heroine’s journey, we are called to serve our greatest purpose and to know the greatest love. Having been on this journey for over 20 years myself, I know firsthand that taking my own shape is more than worth the effort expended. The fruits are more abundant, awesome, and fulfilling than anything I could have imagined when I began. And that is why I do what I do – help others find what’s truly missing so they can stop chasing their tails and discover their true, beautiful, powerful, and most loving self.

Everything I teach has the power to help you discover and embody your authentic nature. So if you’ve read past articles or worked through Inner Secrets to Outer Success you likely have several skills already supporting your unfolding. In this article I want to share one of the most unrecognized yet useful tools in accurately seeing the barriers to your true self, the Enneagram.

The Enneagram is the oldest, spiritually based personality assessment in existence. It has the power to show you how your personality (ego) is structured in a clear, useful, and objective way.

Until we have done quite a bit of work with ourselves, our personality tends to be transparent to us – particularly the early wounds that keep it in place. Because it is the filter through which we experience everything, we are like fish unable to perceive the water we are in when it comes to seeing our personality. It is what we know as home, it is a given, it seems like the fact of who we are. It’s so intrinsic to our sense of self that initially all our attempts at self-development are to create a better version of ourselves (our personality) rather than to see through it to the truth of who we are.

However, when you’re ready and when you’ve accurately typed yourself, the Enneagram is the most powerful tool I know to give you “truth vision.” Unfortunately typing oneself is not as easy as taking an online test, although that can help point you in the right direction. An interview including results from more than one assessment is the best way to land on your core personality type. Listening to panels of people of each of the nine types is also an extremely valuable way to discern which type most feels like you at the core.

Once you have discovered your type, it is important to utilize the Enneagram without input from your superego or inner critic. Remember the superego/inner critic is the internalized voice of your parents. Its job is to keep your personality/ego in place and to make sure you stay exactly the same. This is the opposite of what you need. The purpose of exploring your type is to be able to see objectively the beliefs you developed that keep you treating yourself exactly as you were treated and are at the source of self-defeating habits. By compassionately utilizing the Enneagram, the truth is revealed by understanding how the false came to be.

I employ the Enneagram with all my students and I’m always impressed with how quickly it supports them in getting to the core of what holds them back. If you haven’t yet explored it for yourself, here are a few of resources to get you started:
The Essential Enneagram by David Daniels
Facets of Unity by A H Almaas

If you’re brand new to the Enneagram and would benefit from my help in discerning your type and utilizing this powerful tool to Take Your Own Shape, I hope you will take advantage of my private session special below before September 10th.

Wherever you are on your journey, the Enneagram will deepen your understanding of what is false and habitual in you while it opens you more and more to what is true, powerful, beautiful, and most loving in you and life. Explore it today and see how amazing you truly are. Let us know what you discover.

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A Splash of Love

February 14, 2009

It’s Valentine’s season again. What happens in you when you see all the red and pink displays in the stores?For some, Valentine’s is a superficial, saccharin or made up holiday they’d prefer to ignore. For others, it’s a painful reminder of the longing they have for True Love. Even for those with a lover, very often disappointments abound on Valentine’s Day. Men aren’t sure how to get it right and women rarely know what will give them a truly fulfilling experience of deep love.

What a mess Valentine’s can be.

However, the deeper invitation for each of us this time of year is to explore the condition of our own hearts. Where is my heart open and free? Where it is closed and resentful? What hurts are still stored there? What is it that my heart truly longs for during this season of love?

It’s easy to forget that fulfilling experiences of love may or may not involve another person. We can feel deeply satisfying experiences of love in nearly any giving and/or receiving exchange. However, most of us have many hurts and misunderstandings about love that block our ability to feel this yummy, expansive feeling in any moment.

If you’re a woman whose heart says its time to wake up, heal, and lead your life from your true power – love – I hope you will join us for our Women’s Love Retreat this month. You will be immersed in an environment that will awaken your heart, strengthen your purpose, and open you to your optimal love life – whether its in your work, family, or self-care arenas. You can listen to an audio of Dani and I talking about the Women’s Love Retreat to see if your heart resonates with this powerful program of transforming your heart and mind so you may know and embody True Love.

We have another Valentine’s surprise we’ll be sharing with you soon, so keep an eye out for that.

Know that you are in our hearts this season of Love and our deepest intention is that you feel in ways large and small the power, beauty, and love that makes you the amazing, radiant being that you are.

Dr. Rebecca

Change is in the Air!

January 20, 2009


Can you feel it? The hope and mobilization for change in the air this week?

Regardless of which side of the fence you are on politically, it would be difficult to ignore the powerful focus of our national and world consciousness on change for good.

Our new President is publicly and powerfully modeling the kind of leadership that supports change. He is inclusive with a compassionate understanding of the different expressions but underlying humanity of all people. He is realistic and practical in knowing the amount of work involved in creating the kind of change that will support a struggling nation.

The very same principles he is employing on behalf of our national transformation – compassion and objectivity – we each must embody ourselves so we can be trustworthy leaders of change in our own lives.  The more that we create the changes we want, the more of an impact we have as a whole.

Too often we think we or others will do better if we are hard on ourselves or them. Or if we just get rid of our difficulties or difficult people, then everything will be better. This is simply not true.

Lasting change occurs when your heart truly understands the deepest nature of your difficulties or the difficulties of others. If we simply aim to get rid of our challenges, our heart will never understand what’s really happening and we’ll never be truly free.  And we will continually attract the circumstances that we are trying to avoid.

In other words, we must be open to all parts of our experience and the experiences of others – especially those we don’t understand.

When President Obama says we have a lot of hard work ahead to create the change we need in our country, we all seem to know its true. But what does he mean? What is hard about it?

Change, even positive change, is hard because we are very attached to what we know. It makes us feel secure. Our fixed ideas about what’s right and wrong and how to do things make us feel like we have solid ground to stand on even when things aren’t going the way we want. Our ideas keep us clear about who we are, what makes us valuable, and how to relate with others. This attachment to what we know and how we think things should be is exactly why change is hard.

Being open to change makes us feel shaky and vulnerable because it challenges the security we get from our fixed ideas. At such times, more than ever, we need to feel that strong, fair, and trustworthy leadership is present. Strong, compassionate leadership gives us the courage to open to the unknown, to the new, to rebirth.

At this time when so many are struggling with basic security, we need individual, familial, and community leadership like we’ve never needed it before. I created O C E A N to provide the kind of strong, compassionate leadership that would give struggling people the courage to open to life-affirming change. Our mission is to help people dissolve the barriers to their greatest potential – to their true leadership on scales both small and large. We’ve never felt more empowered to fulfill our mission and have two new programs starting soon to support those of you who are ready to change with our country.

The first is our new Women’s Love Mini-Retreat and 10-week Class designed to give women their most powerfully loving Valentine’s month they’ve ever had. Women taking these programs will experience new levels of love and passion by spring.

Our other new offering is the newly expanded Inner Wealth program which combines individual sessions with weekend intensives to help both men and women dissolve obstacles to prosperity and make their dreams come true.

If the timing is right for you, we’d love to have you join us, you can learn more below.

The research on prayer and meditation unequivocally shows how the consciousness of small groups can impact many. Today I feel open and curious to see what impact the consciousness of the two million or so people at the inauguration today, who shared a consciousness of hope and change, will have on our country and our world. Not to mention the millions of others in the US and around the world who are united in the consciousness of inclusive, compassionate, powerful change for good.

When you are feeling challenged, in doubt, or shaky in your process of realizing your full potential, I encourage you to tap into this compassionate consciousness of change. Imagine how this country’s leader might approach your difficulty. Be open and inclusive to all parts of your experience and stay committed to the good, aliveness, and truth in you.   When you need support on your journey, we’re here to help.

With love and hope,

Dr. Rebecca

Year-End Reflections and a Yummy

January 7, 2009

I took this photo on one of my daily sunrise walks at the beach near our office. The power and beauty of it reminded my of the shining opportunity of new beginnings.

This is that numinous time when our shared consciousness is acutely aware of transitions – endings and new beginnings. These cycles happen all the time – every moment with our breath, every day with our light, and every year at this time with our Gregorian calendar.

As you’ll read next week in my newsletter article on New Year’s Resolutions, there is a wonderful invitation for change this time of year but it may be less about action and planning and more about inquiry for many. I encourage you to follow the winter movement of slowing down, turning inward, and listening to your heart. What did you love about 2008? What were you grateful for? What did you really want for yourself in 2008 that didn’t happen? What’s most important to your heart for this coming year? You’ll prosper most if you allow a little time to reflect on and write about what matters most to you at this time. We look forward to helping you realize in 2009 what you discover in your inquiry.

For fun, I want to offer a most yummy, fast, and healthy recipe for your New Year’s party or weekly treat. The women at my Truth about Food & Weight Loss Workshop loved it as did the party-goers at the event I brought it to last weekend. I hope you enjoy it too.

We are so grateful to have made contact with you this year and deepened our relationships with our treasured O C E A N friends. May 2009 bring us all closer to each other and closer to the truth of who we really are including our power to bring more love, peace, humor, and joy to our individual and collective worlds.

With love,

Dr. Rebecca

A Radiant Recipe For You

Yummy Spinach Basil Dip
By Dr. Rebecca Coleman

[adapted from Gabriel Cousins, Rainbow Green Live Food Cuisine]

4 c  (to whole Trader Joe’s bag) baby spinach chopped
1/2 c fresh basil leaves cut with kitchen scissors or chopped
2/3 c macademia nuts
1/2 c pine nuts (can be soaked for 1 hr for more moisture)
3-4 T garlic olive oil (or organic first cold pressed olive oil)
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 t celtic or himalayan salt

Mix spinach and basil in a large bowl, set aside.

Add all remaining ingredients to a food processor (with S-blade) or Vitamix. Blend until thick and creamy. Pour over greens and mix well. Let sit in refrigerator for at least 2 hours, remove and mix again then serve with baby carrots, celery, snap peas, mushrooms, sliced red pepper, cauliflower, and/or raw seed or multigrain crackers. Enjoy!

Beck’s Notes:
I prefer this dip with a high greens to cream ratio so often add more spinach as indicated above. Also, all items (except fancy salt) can be purchased at Trader Joe’s for easy, economical shopping.

Ultimate Hot Cocoa Recipe: Healthy, Rich, and Creamy Warm Chocolate Delight

December 24, 2008

By Dr. Rebecca Coleman

Take a moment for you in this busy season.  Treat yourself to our magic delight.  It is perfect to warm you up from the winter cold. Plus, the secret ingredient is boosts your metabolism. No one has to know its healthy. The kids will love it too – enjoy this radiant recipe!

Makes 2 servings

2 cups Soy and/or Almond Milk. (I use Unsweetened Vanilla Blue Diamond Almond Milk, Unsweetened Vanilla WestSoy Milk, or a combination of half of each)
1 tsp Organic Vanilla Extract
3 tbsp Organic Cocoa (Nature’s First Law Organic Raw Powdered Cocoa)
1-2 tsp Organic Coconut Oil (Jungle Organic Coconut Oil, Extra Virgin Cold Pressed)

Stevia powder or Agave Nectar – sweeten to taste

Mocha Option
Add ¼ cup Coffee (Fresh Brewed or Espresso)
2 tsp Powdered Instant Espresso (Medaglia D’Oro Instant Powdered Espresso)
2 tsp Mount Hagen Organic Cafe (decaf or reg)

Combine all ingredients in a 2 quart saucepan.  Heat over medium heat until the coconut oil melts.  Blend with a wand style hand mixer (if available for more frothy results) or with a wire whisk. Pour into mugs.  Enjoy!

Adjust ingredients to taste.

Prep Time: 5-10 minutes (depending on how handy your supplies are)

The Winter Solstice – Return of Light Marks the Beginning of the Winter Season

December 20, 2008

It’s hard not to get pulled along by the riptide of holiday business this time of year. Shopping, partying, wrapping, and gifting keep your attention focused outside on external obligations. The whole season can easily pass with barely a thought to the impact of the season on your inner nature.

However, this is a very potent time to nourish your aliveness, to deepen your human experience, and to truly know your value in the world. Here’s a reminder of the depth of inner transformation available to you at this time of year to add to your outer holiday cheer.

All of the holiday traditions invite us to reflect on the symbols of darkness and light and their impact on being human. As human consciousness evolves over time, our understanding and interpretation of these symbols deepens.

Like maturing children, each year more of us have the capacity for understanding the holidays in ways that grow beyond self-centered fantasy and superstition to how we can bring greater joy and aliveness into the world we share with all other beings.

Rather than the simple joy we can deliver by giving a festively wrapped gift, the greatest bliss we can add to the world requires more from us than a trip to the store, shiny paper, scissors, and tape.

Our greatest gift to the world comes from our experiential understanding of the darkness and light of our own consciousness. The best of who we are comes to the world by the challenging process of facing our own darkness, what we don’t know, what we assume to be true. By facing what is dark and unknown to us, we increase our own light.

We trust that the darkness of winter is a necessary part of nature’s cycle of life. Like fruit seeds need the darkness of soil to take root in the world, so too the new in us takes root in the darkness of winter.

As the days get darker and darker, centuries of proof that the season will change, the sun will return, and the days will become longer allow us to have faith that this year will be no different. We can relax and embrace the darkness, even to celebrate it with lights made more beautiful by the blackness. It doesn’t even feel like faith, we know we can trust the return of the light, the return of the sun.

But not so with our inner darkness. It is hard to have faith that something good will come from allowing ourselves to be in that place of not knowing. Most of us don’t have faith, let alone trust that allows us to embrace the dark’s transformative potential.

Nonetheless, this time of year holds the promise and opportunity to learn that the same energy that returns the sun to us, will also bring light to our darkest, innermost places. If we allow ourselves to embrace our not knowing and remain open to the same Source that returns the sun to us each year and each morning, we too will birth something new.

Whatever is difficult, unknown, hellish, or undone for you this season, know that it is not that way to punish you, to prove your badness, or to defeat you. What is dark for you holds the seed of new birth, new light – your expanded consciousness.

It is the tending of this tender seed – acknowledging, nourishing, and allowing it to grow in the light of your compassionate awareness – that will bring you fruit in time. That fruit, that shiny new thing is what we really want under all the pretty wrapping this year.

To give yourself the greatest gift of the season, take time to explore your challenges, frustrations, and dreams. In journaling or sacred conversation, make space to listen to your heart’s deepest desire and your soul’s greatest longing. Honor your depth with words and images. Create a simple collage that speaks to the seeds in you this season. Water them with daily attention while intending for the most optimal, abundant, and loving outcome for you and all those touched by your light. This season, may your loving presence to your own challenges blossom into blessings for the world.

By Dr Rebecca Coleman