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Healing Takes Many Forms

I had the opportunity to write an article for Kajama, an online magazine. The article is on healing. To view the full story follow this link: kajama.com/… Featured Article September 30th. Blessings!

Mid-Winter Celebrations

Today is a day celebrated in many cultures as the mid point between winter and spring. There are a variety of rituals and celebrations that are held both in the spirit of hope and in an invocation of welcome.

Today is significant because it is at this point that the ancestors took time to both acknowledge their journey and fortitude in surviving the long winter and to look toward the coming spring. This pause gave the people time to show their faith that they would see the spring arrive once again. Spring meant that the earth would wake up and the land and her creatures would grow and produce which equated to life for the people.

The ritual ceremonies allowed the people to participate in honoring the cycles of life. I imagine they felt that this celebration was vital in bringing forth the spring and renewal of life. They saw themselves as a part of the whole of nature not separate from it. On a practical note, the preparation, ritual and celebration gave people a tangible relief from the harshness of winter while still being enmeshed in its reality.

I find this sense of optimism and faith expands hope within me today. It is a conscious reminder that yes, the light does return, yes, there will be new growth and new life. Yes, things can begin anew even amidst the dark and cold. Let us celebrate that knowledge!

Whether or not you practice modern rituals marking this day, consider lighting a candle in honor of the light returning. Place the match to the wick in reverence of all renewal of life. Think of the hope it may ignite to see something new and vital grow within you. Remember that even in times of darkness you can offer your knowledge that the light always returns.

Clearing the Air and Energy

Have you ever found yourself feeling overcome with emotion? Maybe you have walked into a room that feels like the air itself is pressing down on you? These can be indications of a room or space that needs a good clearing out.

Sometimes it is not enough to scrub the place clean. Many times the energies, spirits and/or emotions linger long after cleaning products’ applications have faded. This is when clearing the energy can help.

There are many ways to remove unwanted energy or energy that is stagnant or oppressive. One of my favorite and most effective ways to do this was taught to me by my Native American Elders. It involves the use of sacred plants and prayers or intentions. Often referred to as smudging; it purifies the space.

Let me share with you the art of smudging as it was taught to me. Gather your tools first. Collect together; white sage or ceremonial sage, matches, a shell or small fire-proof container and a feather or small feather fan. Put a few leaves of the dried sage into the shell or other container. Locate the direction of the East. You will begin your cleansing of the space and energy in the East.

Take your shell with the sage leaves, your matches and feather or fan to the area of the East in the space you are smudging. Light the sage pieces with your match. Let them catch fire a little then blow out the flames. I put the used match in the shell next to the sage leaves. Take your feather or fan and gently move the smoke up and down the walls of the space while praying or keeping an intention. This can as simple as saying or thinking, “Bless and cleanse this home.” You can substitute the name of the space you are in if it is not a home, such as an office, or you can simply say, “this space” instead.

Move in a clockwise direction as you move the smoke and repeat your prayer or intention. Complete a full circle. When you return to the East and where you started say, “Thank you.”

Extinguish any smoking leaves. I place the shell on my stove or other nonburnable surface until it cools. The shell can sometimes become hot on the bottom depending on the area I am smudging and how much sage I have used. Return you other tools to their storage area. Once the shell is completely cooled, I usually leave it at least an hour for safety, I put it away.

You can sprinkle the cooled ashes on the Earth or place them in a potted plant. Just make sure they are totally cooled by touching them with you fingers. Living in an arid and dry climate makes me especially cautious when handling fire and embers.

Now you are done smudging. I notice an immediate difference in the environment once I have completed this cleansing ceremony. Things feel lighter and more in harmony. You may experience a shift in the area right away or you might notice that you are less stressed, have more patience or it may dawn on you after a while that everything flows better.

If you are interested in using smudging as a tool begin with sage as noted above unless an Elder specifically tells you otherwise. Sage can accomplish cleaning the energy, lightening up the space and restoring harmony.

Sage sticks are also available. If you use a full stick I suggest carrying a shell under it as embers can fall while smudging. Doing so will help to keep this a safe process. Also when you extinguish a sage or smudge stick really grind it down into the shell to tamp out any smouldering embers.

It is important to be responsible and careful when using these tools and teachings.

Recently I’ve read some articles that indicate that smudging can remove germs from the air. These ancient practices hold more meaning and practical applications than generally understood. Be respectful in using this ritual.

Thank you to the Elders who have shared their teachings and ceremonies with me. Aho.

Digital Detox Discoveries

A few weeks back I made some unexpected discoveries courtesy of a concussion. Now that I’m feeling much better it seemed timely to share what I learned. While I am not recommending having a concussion to anyone, I am suggesting that the insights gained could be applied to enrich our lives.

Our brain is the control center for everything in our bodies. It commands our response and reaction to the world around us. While these may seem to be obvious statements, they in no way convey just how much our whole existence depends upon a healthy working brain. Having a concussion gave me a more comprehensive understanding of this reality.

When you have a concussion the doctor instructs you to rest. This translates to: no driving, no reading, no television, no computer, no texting, no use of the internet. In short it means no technology what so ever!

My eldest daughter, Sara, termed my convalescence as a “digital detox.” Thank you Sara for the term that led to today’s post.

You may wonder exactly what is it that you do all day when you are required to detox from digital technology. It may sound easy, yet you quickly learn that even regular daily tasks are initially too much for the brain. The doctor told me, “You will know when you’ve done too much because all of your symptoms will return.” For me that was true. It took me a few days to accept that I really did have a concussion and was truly going to have to rest, follow the directions given by the doctor and let the healing process unfold.

What you do is simply rest. I spent many hours lying down or sitting in my chair watching nature. This was fine with the brain. None of my symptoms amplified or returned if I was engaged with nature. I actually believe that watching the birds, animals, clouds, trees, sunshine and rain benefited the brain. It seemed from my perspective that the brain liked this activity .

However, there were others that the brain did not like. One day, a couple of weeks into recovery, I became really frustrated to the point of being angry. That emotion rose up in my body like a flame. The brain’s response was to have an immediate headache and dizziness ensued. It was crystal clear to me that the brain does not like anger and frustration.

Any activity requiring intense concentration or focus such as any use of technology, including my cell phone, tired the brain out. After very brief uses of technology I would begin to develop headaches or “wonky” brain as I called it then. I would have to lie down and close my eyes until my brain was steady again. Reading from paper magazines or books did this too, although I was able to undertake this activity for a longer period of time before my brain demanded a rest.

As time progressed I was able to paint or engage in creative activities without problems. I had a smaller window of time than normal before I became weary but the brain seemed to enjoy the process.

I find these discoveries fascinating! If I pay attention my brain appears to be telling me that being in or observing nature is a positive experience for the brain and my whole self. Creative expression is also a renewing experience. Conversely, too much technology is taxing to the brain and therefore to my body. Anger, frustration or other emotions like them seem to cause distress to the brain which translates to my entire being.

One other thing that happened has me still pondering the effects. When I struck my head, yes, it did result in a concussion, but my heart chakra got blown wide open. The walls of protection many of us put around our heart were disintegrated when I obtained this concussion. My brain shut down or stepped aside and my heart space opened up fully. An interesting phenomenon don’t you think?

Perhaps the most vital discovery is this: allow the heart to be the control center from this point forward.

I wonder….how might life be from this context?

 

 

No Permission Needed

Have you ever had a dream, desire or yearning that emanates from deep within you? Do you recognize that it is your heart, your soul calling to you? If so, are you living those wishes out in your life?

I sure hope that you are doing just as you dreamed! But if you are not don’t tune out! You are exactly who I want to talk with today!

Many of us have experienced the longing that I described and we are not living those hopes out in our lives. Why do you suppose that might be true? Fear could play a factor however I believe that some of us are waiting for permission. We worry about what our mate, our children, our family, our friends, even people we have yet to meet will think if we step out of the lines that have been drawn for us. We want love and acceptance and so we wait.

Here’s the thing; waiting for others to grant permission on your dreams, desires and yearning is like asking them to breathe for you. There is just no way possible that they can make that happen! Only you and the Divine have a true understanding of what your heart and soul are calling you to undertake. If you are an adult there is no need to have someone else grant you permission to follow your dreams. As long as what you want to do doesn’t cause abuse to you or another, you are free to pursue what calls to you.

Think of it this way; the stallion in the open pasture never asks, “Is it okay if I run and leap right now?” No way! That would be silly. It feels a delight inside and expresses this in leaping and running. It does it for the simply joy of being.

There is no permission needed other than our own to discover the beauty and happiness in living our dreams.

Meditation Revelation

During a recent meditation I learned that I was defining myself based upon things other people told me about myself. Even as I write that sentence I giggle about its absurdity. How can any other person know more truth about me than I know myself? Ludicrous!!!

And yet for so long I’ve held many of their concepts about me as correct. It doesn’t necessarily mean that everything a person tells you about yourself is limiting or derogatory. Only you can decide if what was told to you is true.

That brings me to the point of this post. It is helpful to your growth and mine to take a moment to examine the beliefs you hold about yourself. Are they the truth of who you really are at your core?

In this meditation it came to me that I believed the definitions others ascribed to me. Many of those descriptions from these people were much smaller than the actual reality of me. Immediately after this was revealed in meditation I began to compose my own definition of myself. Through tears of freedom I wrote down the following:

I am radiant. I am beautiful, kind, free. The truth is that I am a light and truth filled gift to the world. I bring the remembrance of beauty of Grace, of love. I carry the knowledge of loving and honoring the self. I am ancient and grand beyond measure. I honor all that I am. I see the truth of me. I know what is true of who I am. I stand fully in my inner true essence. I live my life from this sacred place. I embrace me.

Then I offered gratitude for this insight and revelation of truth.

You may notice, as I did after reading it, how many times truth or true is used in my own definition of me. I think that is important! Each of us is the sole one to determine our definition of self. In doing so we reclaim the truth of our being. The we begin we walk forward in a new way that is filled with openness and we take our next step based in authenticity.

Coyote the Wisdom Teacher

Coyote is spoken of as the trickster in Native American teachings. I’ve heard the elders tell many tales of his cunning and foolish antics. They also hold coyote in great respect because he is a teacher. As one of the totems of the South, the summertime, coyote is hard at work in his role right now.

If coyote comes into your life it is usually to spin you around and cause havoc. You either end up with steam coming out of your ears or rolling on the ground laughing. Laughter is coyote’s intended result. That’s because when we become too serious or weighed down by life’s challenges we grow rigid. Laughter breaks that up and allows the light to permeate once more. It restores us to balance.

I’ve been working with coyote and the lessons that he brings for some time. I’ve realized that coyote is actually a Wisdom Teacher. Let me explain. It takes great perception, skill and awareness to understand exactly what each person needs to bring them to laughter.

That means coyote studies you. In fact, he is probably studying you right now. I can see him with his head resting lightly on his outstretched paws taking in each minute detail. He sees your struggle, your fear, all of your worries, he sees your doubt, your seriousness, coyote sees it all. Then he takes all that he sees and lays his plans.

If you find yourself spinning around, getting hopelessly lost while driving, or any other thing that throws you off kilter remember that coyote stalks you. He will not rest until deep belly laughter finds you. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear you report that you laughed so hard you cried. Only a master like coyote can bring you this gift because he is a true Wisdom Teacher. I, for one, am extremely grateful that it is so. Coyote, I bow to you.

Unraveling Illusion

When you look at the picture accompanying today’s post it appears as if the image is moving. Interestingly there is no actual motion within the picture. You may be aware that you are viewing an illusion. What is causing you to believe that you see movement is the way that your mind interprets the data it receives. In this case, your eyes send the image to your mind. It then tells you that there is motion where there is none.

I am not going to delve into the scientific understandings of the mind in relation to illusion. Instead let’s explore the idea that there are times that the mind (yours & mine) has it wrong.

If you never question what the mind determines then you have a system of belief that has errors. Things that you believe could simply be illusions that were misinterpreted by the mind. Some theories go so far as to say that you whole life is an illusion! I think that is up to you to determine. I will say that it is possible to move beyond the mind to see clearly.

There are tools to help unravel the illusions. First one must still the mind. This can be done with meditation, yoga, prayer, the possibilities to accomplish this are numerous. Once the mind is quiet, you begin to notice the body. Sensations, tension and the like arise. Acknowledge them but let that flow away. Go deeper in the stillness. Let the heart speak.

I was taught that the heart is the true seat of Wisdom. I’ve also been told that it is within the heart that the soul resides. Thinking of it this way, when your heart is speaking it is your soul talking.

Aren’t you curious to hear what your soul has to say? I am! Imagine the beliefs that would arise from your soul!!!  Join me in unraveling the illusions so that life can be enriched with the whisperings of our souls. Let your heart lead you.

Moving Forward

All of my life or for a big part of it anyway, I’ve heard about life’s ebb and flow. Folks have spoken and written about phases of life in an attempt to make sense of what has happened. They use their understanding as a way to move forward from experiences. I’m certain you too have encountered many explanations and encouragements in getting unstuck.

For a long time I subscribed to this view. Now I question the validity of these explanations. I do this because of my observations and experience with life.

I think that life is constantly moving forward as are each of us. I know this concept is in direct opposition to what we’ve been taught so let me explain. When we have an experience in life that is difficult such as a relationship breakup that we don’t want, we struggle against it. We may go through many emotions, have resistance or try to hold on to what was. We do this also when we grieve.

Our perception or the opinions of others may tell us to get over it or move on. We could easily believe that we can’t ever do that. But we already are doing just that by having the reactions that we do to the situation. Even shutting down our emotions is still moving forward.

How can this be? What is actually happening is that the feelings continue to escalate within you until they are expressed in some form. Just like any circumstance that you are in that is difficult. Avoiding doing anything about it or not making a decision is an illusion because the intensity of the experience increases until there is change. This is forward momentum at work.

How then are we able to better deal with the continual movement forward? I believe it starts with an understanding that life is constantly moving us forward so that we stretch and grow as people. If we can operate from this awareness we know that the challenges life presents to us are designed to bring us closer to wholeness within ourselves. When we achieve that realization we find longer moments of peace, beauty and happiness.

We are all moving forward. You alone decide how to respond in your own movement forward. Today I move forward with ease, Grace and consciousness. You?

Little Teachers on Being Present

I’m learning to be fully present. It has happened quite by accident! Oh sure, I’ve had an idea of living in this way. I actually return to the notion over and over because my mind has run away from the present moment once again.

The reasons I check out from being fully in the moment vary. I might be replaying something from the past through my brain or I could be projecting the future. I may be in fear or hopeful. The possibilities my mind conjures are nearly infinite and to a degree moot. What is relevant is they are successfully employed in removing me from the present.

How then am I learning to be fully present, you may ask. It’s simple. My grandsons are teaching me.

They are ten months old and four months old. For them everything is about the present moment. There is no worry over past or future events. They set no goals to strive toward. While some people may conclude this is because they are focused on having their immediate needs for survival met; I suggest that it goes beyond these necessary and simplistic instincts. They both occupy each moment with the fullness of their being.

When I hold them, feed them and care for them, they gaze deeply and directly into my eyes. It’s as if they are engaged in knowing me to my very core and by doing so they are helping me to better know myself.

Nothing that they do is ever in half measures. Their smiles, laughter and tears are expressed with their whole being as is appropriate for what they are experiencing right that instant. The result is that their personalities are big. I think this is because they show up with their whole self and by doing so they are fully living the moment in a way that most adults have forgotten.

If you too are wanting to be fully present look to the babies and small children. They are wonderful mentors! As the biblical saying goes, “and a child shall lead them.” They are certainly guiding me in a beautiful way. To them and their teachings I offer my deepest gratitude! Aho.