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When the bedrock is dismantled, the foundation we have built our life on crumbles. On our journey to the enlightenment of truth the crumbling is necessary. It is necessary to have these breakdowns of our belief systems, the fixed and rigid states of mind that we operate from.

It is only then that we can create the possibility for what is actually true and authentic for us rather than building our life on false precepts that have been imposed on us.

It is terrifying to feel our life fall apart. Everything we have ever been led to believe becomes a lie. And the biggest lie is the painful betrayal against our own soul, the belief that we are separate from the source of love that we are.

The deepest pain is the illusion of separation. The deepest pain is also where recovery lies for it is the recovery of our truth that makes us whole. What makes us whole makes us holy. The recovery is the path to our divinity.

Our spiritual practices provide the ground when our life falls apart. The time that we spend on a mat, the time that we spend on a cushion, the time that we spend in prayer is what holds and sustains us through these times of falling apart and coming together, breaking down and rising up.

excerpt from the forthcoming “The Feminine Path to Enlightenment”

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Plaza Blance, Abiquiu where the Dark Mountains meet the White and Water flows from Source In A Womb of Creation

Your spiritual Nature is the highest dimension of who you are. Once you devote time to the tending of your soul you begin to align with your divinity. This impacts all aspects of who you are, including your body. Diet and lifestyle choices begin to reflect an elevated awareness of who you are.

When a shaman looks to effect change they work at the source of where creation begins. Imagine a river flowing down a mountain. If one is looking to change the course of that river one does not start where the river ends. Imagine the labor needed to dig trenches, build dams and work your way upstream to alter the river’s flow.

The shaman starts at the source. The slightest change at the source of the river, ever so slight from where it starts completely changes the entire course of that river as it flows down the mountain. Very little effort is needed at all.

Your spiritual practice is the tending to that source; the source of your own river, the source of your own soul, the highest source of your divine potential to alter the course of where your river of life flows.

excerpt from the forthcoming The Feminine Path to Enlightenment

 

 

 

 

 

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Everything exists in relationship. In Nature there is no hierarchy to relationship. One does not dominate another and when one element is dominant it is to come into balance. Nature is always looking to be in balance and restore equilibrium. Evolution is always in a state of change so Nature is always recalibrating to find balance. As our population changes, Nature is adapting. As our climate changes, Nature is adapting. We look at these adaptations in Nature and say it is a disaster.

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Do not worry so much about Nature for Nature has the power to right itself. It is we, as humans, where we need to put our attention. It is our state of imbalance that creates an undue stress on Nature and therefore requires her to be in an excessive state of recalibration. We can assist Nature in doing her job by reducing the stressload we place on her.

It is like this too with our bodies. Our bodies have an innate wisdom, a divine intelligence that knows how to heal. Despite poor diet and self-care, people recover from trauma, surgery, illness and disease due to the miracle of our body. Yet we can assist our body and support its heath by eating right, exercising and reducing the stressload we place on our bodies to allow our bodies to do their job with less effort, less strain.

It is the same with Nature and the body of Earth.

We are the biggest stressload on Nature. All that we waste, all that we consume creates tremendous stress on our planet. Simplify. Live simply. If each of us were to do this we would reduce the stress significantly.

So do not worry about Nature for she is doing her job. Worry about you. What stress are you creating? What if we thought about everything that we dispose of? Where does it go? What does Nature do with it? How does my waste effect the elements? Where am I not in balance with my own body? When I am creating pollution, garbage and toxicity within me I am creating that in the world around me. This is serious to look at. Cleaning up the planet begins with cleaning up ourselves.

Look at the elements within you for you are made up of all the elements of Nature.

You are of this Earth and to her you will return. How are you tending to the element of Earth? How are you taking care of your body?

a small excerpt from the forthcoming book written last weekend, title yet unknown, raw and unedited

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You can learn a lot from someone who is dying. When death is no longer an intellectual musing but has become an ill fated lover we are stripped naked in the face of our own mortality. Truth distills to simplicity.

Photo by Don Myer

A woman I work with is on hospice, bedridden for the past year. Our work is to get her on her feet so she can stay in her home to die, a requirement since she lives alone. Liability issues often take precedence. (That my friends is another blog!)

From a few shaky steps at the start, she is doing remarkably well now, pushing her walker for short distances in her home.

This work takes all of our focus. To start, she is much larger than me. Her legs are not always under her control. One missed step and she would be down with no way of getting her back up. I follow intently, holding her with one hand as the other pulls her wheelchair right behind her.

We venture one day to the back of the house, a space she has not been in for nearly a year. She sits back in the wheelchair after walking ten feet as magical timbres fill the air. Where were these beautiful sounds coming from?

Three Koshi chimes swing gently in the archway. My head inadvertently hit them as we passed under.

I was first bathed in their transcendent tones at a ceremony in Santa Fe. Tito La Rosa, Andean musician and sound healer from Peru was at YogaSource. Immediately captivated by their quiet wonder I ordered them when I returned home.

Hearing them filled me with the delight of a child.  “I love Koshi chimes,” I told her.

“You can have them”,  she said.

My initial impulse to her gift was, “Oh no, I couldn’t”, succumbing to the voice saying you can’t possibly have what you really want along with some tortured versions of better to give than receive.

My delight immediately shut down.

“The last thing I want is a yard sale when I’m gone.”

What really matters becomes crystal clear when everything that matters is slipping away.

“I see how your eyes light up when you look at them. I want you to have them now rather than wait to leave them for you in some will. It’s much more fun that way.”

Not only had my own delight shut down with my refusal but I was denying her the pleasure in giving them to me. We both lose.

As I opened the well of receptivity in my own heart I tasted a deep truth in giving and receiving.

A gift that is given and received freely, in its purest sense, is simply joy. A joy for the one who gives and a joy for the one who receives.

There is no agenda. No conditions. No strings attached to the gift. This dying woman offering chimes with unadulterated attachment was one of the purest gifts I have ever received.

Often a gift comes with conditions, hidden or blatant. If you are good, if you are worthy, if you love me, then, and only then is the gift yours. The price tag is often way too high. The giving comes as a way to keep someone bound. To keep someone needing us. It is the twisted power play of co-dependent relationships. The natural flow of energy between two hearts becomes so laden with conditions, expectations and demands. The gift becomes a burden to bear.

When we strip it clean and polish it to purity, this exchange of giving and receiving is an immaculate transmission of our sacred heart. Whatever the exchange, be it time, money, love or a bow tied box, the true gift is the lightness of joy.

I left her home like a child on Christmas morning, rich in a bounty of gifts.

There is a lot to learn from someone who is dying.

Head to the Peaceful Puddle for more on Koshi Chimes.

Listen to Koshi Chimes here.

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“Trauma leaves an almost indelible signature that a healer can perceive in the luminous field. Healers believe that this marks a person’s experience of health or disease for their entire life, like a cross that each of us has to shoulder. A shaman can help people to lighten their load, perhaps even help them understand the lessons they needed to learn from the original trauma they experienced, but it is up to each person to choose whether they carry their cross lightly, discard it altogether, or become burdened and overwhelmed beneath the weight.” 
Alberto Villoldo

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Artist George Grie

I have worked with an aging population most of my life and one thing is certain. There are no definitive rules on aging. Time will certainly take its toll on the body but we accelerate this process by bearing the weight of our wounds with every step we take.

How can the burden of trauma affect the way we age?

Dementia, the general term for a decline in mental function, is believed to come with aging. Could dementia be a breakdown of mind that comes from a cross too heavy to bear?

I wonder as I walk into a full-blown episode of a mind lost to reality.

A 76 year-old woman I see for general deconditioning and mild balance problems also has a diagnosis of dementia. I have never noticed evidence of this on our visits other than some innocent lapses in memory. As is often the case, people with dementia can present a strong front of having it all together.

On this particular day her husband answers the door as I arrive. “She had a rough night”, he tells me. I find her groggy in bed somewhere between sleep and waking.

Once oriented to my presence she lets me know this is not her home, a place she has lived in for the past twenty years. “Nothing here is mine”, she says claiming her husband has sold their house against her wishes and all of her things are gone. Were this to be true, imagine the fright.

Not only is she not in her home but she is certain her husband is ready to leave her. With my full attention, she finally feels she has someone who will listen. She wants me to know her husband cannot be trusted. “He acts very nice so no one knows that he lies all the time.”  Her husband, helpless and exhausted, seems as lost as she is.

She tells me her heart is broken. Her husband is with another woman. She has given everything to her marriage and now that she no longer has her looks he wants to leave. “I know I’m not a Barbie doll anymore“, she tells me, “but I don’t deserve to be treated like this.”

Although none of what she is saying is related to her present situation this betrayal existed in a former marriage. Her belief that it is happening now means she is feeling everything just as if it were true. “Everything I am telling you is real”, she said. I know it is. I feel it. Although her mind may be deluding her at the moment the wound of her broken heart is clear.

In a more frightening situation a few miles away, a woman I see has recently had back surgery. Her husband, suffering with dementia and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), had tried to kill her. In the final episode before entering the VA, he smothered her with a pillow as WWII raged on in his psyche. Believing he was at war, his wife was the enemy. She fought for her life and ruptured her disc.

What they have in common are the haunting wounds of their past. A cross that crippled the mind under its weight.

We are all wounded. We have all suffered trauma. And these wounds are clouding our perception of reality all the time. The only difference between those with dementia and those of us fortunate to have our mental health, is we have not lost the thread to reality just yet.

Imagine if your trauma weighed fifty pounds. What if you could strap that on your back and carry it around all day? You would feel its effect. This is where the accelerated breakdown comes in.

What might happen if we lighten our load? What if we drop the weight all together? How might we age then?

I cannot help but wonder what might have happened had my clients been able to find help to lighten their cross along the way. The burdens they carried for far too long were too much for their souls to bear. The mind broke beneath the weight.

I do not know how to restore the mind once its fragile thread to reality has been lost. Meditation can slow the progression but I offer this not as a remedy for dementia but rather as a call for us to take responsibility for our healing. Not simply for ourselves but for our loved ones and the collective humanity we share. Prevention may be our best medicine.

We cannot see what lies ahead as we grow older each day but we can learn to leave behind what no longer serves us. May each step we take bring greater ease to body, mind and soul. May grace be our guide home.

This article first appeared on MindBodyGreen as Why Getting Older Doesn’t Have to Be Painful.

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“You are the sky.
Everything else –
it’s just the weather.”
Pema Chodron

 

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coverFor those who follow this blog, or my page on Facebook, you may or may not know A Structure for Spirit is the name of my book. It was written as a guidebook to create a daily spiritual practice. Its first incarnation was as A Success Journal: Daily Practices to Manifest Your Intentions. It was self-published in 2005 along with an audio of guided meditations.

To create a book out of thin air, with nothing more than the ideas in your head, takes quite a bit of fire. And that fire kept me going for a good year after it was written, promoting it through family (oh what I have put them through in my life!), friends and clients. I ran out of steam as the energy invested seemed to show less and less payoff. I abandoned the book to a closet shelf where it began collecting dust for a number of years.

In 2010 I was working with a mentor who asked me, “How do you intend to bring your wisdom to the world?” Well I never gave it much thought until then but my book in the closet came to mind. After a series of synchronistic events it seemed time to pull the book down from the shelf.

I have had a daily practice for a very long time so what need did I have for a book to help create a daily practice? In the words of my mentor, “You’re blowing past your own medicine.”

I finally became a student of my own book. My father had recently died. My beloved had left me leaving my heart shattered to pieces. A period of isolating loneliness engulfed me.

The book landed in perfect and divine timing. It transformed and so did I. Everything changed, including the name. (Well my name stayed the same.)

Balboa Press became the new self publishing agaency. By this time Facebook was invented. I started a page. Nearly 9000 likes. The fire returned.

Keeping up with writing blogs and posting on Facebook is a full-time job, especially since I have never considered myself to be a writer. My entire life has been in healthcare and healing. My full-time job demands much of my time so for the second time I felt myself abandon the book as the dividends diminished.

THE COCA LEAF READING

On May 10th I arrived in Peru for the fourth time. I had a coca leaf reading my first day there. Shamans use coca leaves for divination the way one might use tarot cards or tea leaves. The coca leaves are prayed into and then thrown onto a sacred cloth.

“Did you write a book?” asked Don Andreas. I should not have been shocked but with wide-eyed awe I said, “Yes” while thinking “Oh no, here we go again with the book.”

“Well you have to make it bigger. You have to include more of what you have learned on your journeys here in Peru. You are like a farmer planting seeds that others in the future may harvest. This wisdom is not your own. It must be shared.”

This message seemed to reverberate louder than ever during our last journey to Peru. Share. Teach. Remove all doubt. Go forth with confidence.

I do not know how and I do not know when but the leaves have been thrown and it is time to grow bigger. I have been assured that the Apus will help me. With this entry I make myself accountable. A request to Spirit for guidance. To remember it is not about “me”. There is nothing that is “mine”. This remembering helps me to get out of my own way. Remove the self-inflicted obstacles created by doubt as another sacred birth is about to begin.

The Sacred Womb at Moray

The Sacred Womb at Moray, Peru

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