Back To School ~ Bach Flower Remedies For Kids

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back-to-schoolBack To School is a transitional time that can be stressful for kids and parents.  Changes can include new situations, such a new school, teacher or class as well as a significant change in routine from summer.  Finding natural support to ease the stress that can be caused by transition can help to make school a more positive experience.   I am excited to share with you some ways that the Bach Flower Remedies can be a resources for kids during Back To School time and beyond.  The remedies can actually offer a wonderful support for the ups and downs of childhood and adolescence.

The Bach Flower Repertoire is composed of 38 different flower essences, which offer a holistic resource that can help to strengthen our ability move more easily in the world, to have healthier relationships, and to experience greater joy and ease of well-being.  They are a gentle, safe and natural method of healing.  The remedies work to restore balance between mind and body by transmitting negative emotions, such as fear, sadness and overwhelm into positive ones, such as calm, joy and ease.  These negative emotions can interfere with our sense of balance, health and overall ease of well-being.  The remedies can also assist in resolving trauma and stress from life experiences as well as aiding us as we move through change and transitions.

Childhood is a time of continual growth and development.  Along with the joy that childhood can bring, it can also be a time of awkwardness, discomfort and insecurity.  The Bach Flower Remedies can help children to feel more balanced emotionally and can assist in relieving some of the growing pains of childhood.  They offer a completely natural way to create greater ease during this transitional time in life.  And, Back To School is a time of year that transitions are heightened.  There is a busyness that occurs for kids and parents, too!

Bach Flowers have been used to assist with childhood issues such as fear, nightmares, shyness, neediness, temper tantrums, growing pains and situational changes.   They can also help with issues such as ADD or ADHD, anxiety, over sensitivity and relieving traumatic experiences.  Often, issues and conditions that develop in childhood progress if left unresolved.  By addressing the needs of a child early on, the Bach Flower Remedies can help to support a happier, more balanced childhood as well as foster lifelong health and well-being.

By studying vibrational medicine and native British flowers, Dr. Edward Bach, creator of the remedies, discovered that certain plant essences have a profound healing effect on the mind.  He observed that the remedies affected a deep personal transformation in his patients’ character and behavior patterns, which not only prevented disease but also left the patient happier and more integrated.  According to Dr. Bach, certain flowers are of a higher order.  He believed that these healing plants addressed disharmony within the mental and spiritual aspects of our being by flooding our energy field with higher frequencies and thereby aligning our whole being.  They actually transmute negative energies into positive ones.  They do not mask the effects of the emotions, but provide a catalyst for change to occur from within.

Below I share some remedies that can be particularly helpful for children, but it is good to remember that each child is different.   Some of the remedies really help to ease change and transition, which is at the heart of Back To School time.  The remedies are natural and safe for all ages, even babies, so if transitional stress seems like a factor for your child or for you, I encourage you to give the remedies a try.

Here are some specific remedies that can be particularly helpful for children:

Rescue Remedy™ is the most well-known Bach Flower Remedy and is a great tool to have on hand for children. It is a combination of five remedies that can be used for stressful situations such as acute stress, hearing bad news, having an accident, test anxiety, or nightmares.  It is designed for any emergency situation or acute stress.  It can help sooth a child who is crying, afraid or unable to calm down.  It is great after a sudden shock or a fall.  Just put 4 drops of Rescue in a cup of water and let your child sip on it.  Rescue Remedy is also available as a spray, pastilles or gum including an alcohol free child formula, which has a glycerin base.  This is a must have remedy for holistic medicine cabinets and a great tool for children.  Many mothers keep this remedy on hand in their purse in case of emergency.  Rescue Remedy can be a first course of action for Back To School transition stress.

Walnut is a remedy that supports change and transition in many ways.  This may help when a child goes to school for the first time or goes to a new school or program.  It can also help in adjusting to any changes in the home or family.  It is beneficial for teething, the arrival of a new sibling, puberty, or any situation when a child is being affected by or reacting to change.  Walnut helps to move through transitions more smoothly.  It is also helpful for children who are very sensitive emotionally or energetically.  Read more about Walnut…

Mimulus can help children who are fearful and shy.  It can help those who may be afraid to sleep in the dark or alone.  It helps with fear of outside things such as dogs, spiders or going to the doctor.  It can also be helpful for separation anxiety.  A good indicator is when a child is shy, quiet or timid as well as dealing with fear about specific things as mentioned above.  Mimulus can help a child to have more confidence and courage.

Aspen can help children with nightmares or who are anxious without knowing why.  They are afraid but for no known reason.  This relates more to an uncertain fear or a sense of apprehension whereas Mimulus relates to more specific or identifiable fears.  Sometimes a child has a general sense of apprehension or a “spooky” kind of fear.  It can be particularly helpful after waking from a bad dream.  Aspen can help to ease this sense of uncertainty bringing a sense of inner peace and calm.

Impatiens can help children who get easily frustrated with themselves or others.  This can come from things not moving fast enough or things not happening as fast as they would like them to.  For children or babies who are restless, irritable and may toss and turn at night, Impatiens can help to bring calm and relaxation.

Vervain can help with tension, eagerness and over-excitement.  It can help hyperactive children to be calmer.  For an overly enthusiastic child, it can help bring balance.  It is considered a drive remedy.  It is good to be driven but sometimes we can tend to be over-driven or overly energetic.  For children, who have this excessive energy or excitement, Vervain can help to bring calm and balance.

Larch is a remedy that promotes self-confidence.  This remedy helps your child when feeling a lack of self-confidence or self-esteem.  If a child seems to doubt their abilities and feel not good enough to succeed or maybe doesn’t even try because they expect failure, Larch can help.  It soothes any doubt your child many have and helps develop a strong sense of self-esteem and  confidence.  This can be an ongoing pattern to address or helpful at a time when a child is facing a specific challenge such as a test or tournament.

Crab Apple is considered the “cleansing” remedy.  This refers to mind and body.  Crab apple can be helpful for children and particularly adolescents with body issues; they may have a poor self-image, a sense of discomfort or feeling that something is wrong with them physically.  Although we don’t specifically treat for physical conditions with the Bach Flowers, Crab Apple can also be helpful when a child is having skin related issues such as eczema, psoriasis or other skin irritations.  Crab apple can help to ease the sense of body discomfort that accompanies these issues. It can also be helpful for children who tend to be obsessive about cleanliness or neatness.

And, there are over 30 other remedies that might be indicated for an individual based on what they are feeling and experiencing at any point in a time.  Working with a practitioner can offer support in choosing beneficial remedies and learning how to work with them for your self or your family.  Dr. Bach believed that the remedies are meant as a self-healing tool and so are simple to use.  The Bach Flower Remedies are all natural; they can do no harm.  If the wrong remedy is chosen, it has no ill effect.

The remedies are administered orally.  Two drops of each essence can be put in a 1 oz. dropper bottle with spring water for ongoing treatment, taken directly or put in a cup of water and sipped.  For Rescue Remedy, 4 drops are used.  For children, a short course of treatment, even a single dose can be beneficial.  It is often beneficial for other members of the family to be treated as in many cases the child is reflecting or reacting to family challenges or dynamics.

Dr. Bach designed the Bach Flower Remedies to be accessible to everyone.  One of his core concepts was “Heal Thyself”, as he believed that we all have the ability to heal ourselves.  The remedies are intended to be a natural support to our own innate healing process.  Children can truly benefit from this wonderful system of healing as they are able to respond quickly to the effects of the remedies.  They are then able to experience greater happiness and overall ease of well-being as they move through the ups and downs of childhood that occur at Back To School time and beyond!

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I have been a Bach Flower Practitioner for over 15 years and am a Bach Flower Registered Practitioner with The Bach Centre in the UK.  To learn more about my work with the Bach Flower Remedies, visit www.bethterrence.com

I offer Bach Flower Consultations in person in the MD/DC area or by Phone/Skype.  Bach consultations are available as an individual modality or as part of an Integrative Transformational Healing Session, which is a customized session designed to support  individual intention for change, combining transformational resources such as Shamanic Healing, Bach Flower Remedies, Body/Energy Healing, Meditation and Holistic Self-Care.

New Offering ~ 30 Minute Bach Flower Q&A Session $50 or try a
6o Minute Bach Flower Consultation Including A Custom Blended Remedy ~ $100
Learn more…

 

 

My Fibromyalgia Recovery Story: An Inteview On CFS Unravelled

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I am excited to share with you my recent interview with Dan Neuffer of CFS Unravelled.  Dan is committed to sharing resources and stories to inspire hope and support for recovery from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome & Fibromyalgia.
 
I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia at age 20 and spent most of a decade searching for healing and recovery.  It was this exploration and discovering that recovery was possible through an alternative and holistic approach that ultimately led me to the path as a holistic practitioner. facilitator and educator.
 
By age 28, I had shifted from dropping out of college, living in extreme physical pain and barely being able to get out of bed on many days, to becoming a full-time licensed massage therapist.  My healing continued for a few more years as I came to see the need to focus on emotional healing in an energetic way.   I discovered the Bach Flower Remedies and worked with them for over  a year – this is when I became symptom free of Fibromyalgia.
Although my personal focus was on healing through Fibroymyalgia, my journey revealed to me the importance of taking a holistic approach – one that addresses body , mind, emotion and spirit for healing and for well-being.  I learned firsthand the importance of Dr. Bach’s words:

“Treat the whole person, not the disease.”

I also came to understand that what works for one person, may not work for another.  During and after my recovery, I studied a number of the modalities that supported me as well as other holistic tools.  Some of these include Reiki, Massage & Bodywork, Nutrition, Bach Flower Remedies, Zero Balancing,  PEER Emotional Release Work,  and Holistic Self-Care.  Eventually, Shamanic Healing became the heart of my work as I found it creates a powerful foundation for returning us to our natural state of wholeness.  In my work with clients, I offer an integrative approach to meet each person where they are and to support a shift into greater balance,  joy and ease of well-being. 
 
In my interview with Dan, I share in detail about my journey through Fibromyalgia as well as what I have learned about healing overall serving as a wellness practitioner for over 18 years.
I hope you’ll take a listen and be sure to share it with anyone you know who is struggling with Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or other chronic illness so they can know that RECOVERY IS POSSIBLE!

Read CFS Post & Listen To Interview

If you would like more information on resources and programs for Fibromyalgia & CFS support as well as overall health and well-being, please feel free to visit my website learn more or to set up a complimentary 20 minute consultation – www.bethterrence.com.

 

Journaling, Journaling, Journaling…

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I’ve been busy writing in my journal (pictured above) this summer and not so much here on The Heart Of Awakening.  It was healing to take some time to be unplugged.   I am sorry for the gap, but I am excited to be back.  I have a number of posts in the works ~ so stay tuned!

I did a series of guest posts this summer on the Heal My Voice Blog on writing and journaling.  One of them was on “Journaling For Health & Well-being” and was picked up by Dawn Herring, the host of #JournalChat.  She shared the post and invited me to be a guest panelist on a Live JournalChat Event happening this week on Facebook.  I’d like to invite you to explore the JournalChat Facebook Group and this live event which is happening from 9/2 – 9/4.   Learn more…

Also, here are some of the posts I shared on writing and journaling for you to explore:

Journaling For Health & Well-Being

Journaling For Reconnection ~ JournalTalk Podcast

30 Quotes To Inspire & Ignite Your Writing

7 Ways To Jumpstart Your Writing This Summer

Empowering Women In Addiction Recovery Through Writing & Creativity

As always, feel free to share your thoughts, reflections or favorite suggestions for writing or journaling in the comments below.

Love & light,

Beth

 

Love Yourself, Live Your Life Summer Breakthrough Program

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“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” ~ Lucille Ball

Labyrinth

One of my favorite sayings is “we teach what we need to learn”.  If you haven’t figured it out by now, this is where many of my posts and offerings stem from.  As someone who has been on a spiritual path for quite sometime, I have found there are certain essentials that we work on throughout our lifetime ~ this is part of the being a spiritual being having a human experience. 

Whenever we are creating change or working on healing, we hope that we will get this part and move onto the next piece.  On some level this happens, but more often than not, we find that we cycle back to old patterns, feelings or beliefs and need to work through them in a deeper way.  This doesn’t mean we have failed – actually we are progressing on what we might call the “spiral of healing”.  Cycling back is part of the path to our evolution.

Life is about transformation, growth, self-discovery and finding new possibilities.  The journey of life is a sacred path and it is natural to seek teachers and teachings to help us find our way.  But, as Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj shares so beautifully, “The only true guru (teacher) is the path itself.”  And, this journey is a continuous one.  We might consider it like the labyrinth.  We enter in not knowing the path to center but we find the opening, follow along and eventually we end up in center.  We pause, reflect, set some intention and then begin to move out into the world once again – simply following the open path.

In a sense there is a bit of a puzzle to solve, but rather than just look at the labyrinth and try to sort it out mentally, we take one step and then we take one more.  We surrender to the path that is before us and in trusting each step is where it needs to be that we discover the divine presence is guiding us in each moment.  In life, when we feel we have a setback or have “spiralled down” rather than up, we tend to see this as a failure or as a wrong step.  The truth is the path is full of ups and downs on the spiral life; we are in a constant state of expansion and contraction.

Sometimes we may feel we have lost our path or have gone astray, but even when this is what we are feeling, we are where we need to be.  There is beauty and wisdom to be found in every experience.  And, as the shamanic path teaches so beautifully – it is the darkness and the shadows that we find the light within ourselves.  Still, we can find ourselves in  times of doubt or confusion that leave us feeling stuck or out of alignment with our deeper purpose in life.  What is it that can bring us back, not to a different place, but to willingness, acceptance and understanding? 

I have found the answer to be one of the essential teachings that I devote myself to both personally and professionally ~ the journey of the heart and the cultivation of greater love and compassion for self.  As we explored during May Is For Metta, loving ourselves is seen in the Buddhist tradition and others as the foundation we need to foster love and compassion in our lives, relationships and the world.  I also see it as one of the most potent keys to change and healing.

I have been devoting a lot of my time this summer to writing the final chapters for the May Is For Metta book.  Immersing myself in the energy of loving-kindness and compassion has opened the door for a new program I have been developing to emerge sooner than planned.     I am excited to share information with you on the Love Yourself, Live Your Life Summer Breakthrough Program. This is an introductory series that will be offered through 5 weekly tele-classes, a Facebook group, guided practices and optional individual sessions.

I am happy to share a Free Gift with you; it will give you a glimpse into what the Love Yourself, Live Your Life Program will be like.  This previous teleclass on “Loving Ourselves: A Key To Change & Healing” is a great way to explore loving yourself on a deeper level.

I hope you’ll take some time to explore and join me for this new program designed to support you in embracing and loving all of who you are so that you can live the life of your dreams!

Here are the details of the program for you to explore:

Love Yourself, Live Your Life
Summer Breakthrough Program With Beth Terrence
5 Session Teleclass Series
Discover The Healer Within
 
Do you want to live more from the heart? 
 
Is it a struggle to be gentle and loving with yourself?
 
Are you ready to step into your soul purpose from a space of the heart?
 
Does your inner critic keep you stuck? 
 
Do you want to have a deeper sense of connection with yourself, others and the world? 

 

In this 5 Session Teleclass, you will: 
 
  • Learn to connect with your heart on a deeper level and live more from the heart space.   
  • Cultivate love and compassion for yourself using a variety of transformational tools including meditation, shamanic journey work, affirmations, self-reflection and creative exercises.  
  • Uncover limiting beliefs and obstacles that prevent you from embodying greater love and compassion for your self and others and also, keep you from moving forward in your life.  
  • Learn to access your essential self and embody your soul purpose from the space of the heart
  • Begin to facilitate your own process of transformation and healing and create a foundation to continue that process in your life.
 Dates: Tuesday, July 22nd – August 19th  
 Time: 7:00 – 8:00 EST 
 Where: Wherever You Are – Call in by phone or listen online
 Audio replays will be available after the weekly call

 

 Basic Package $97, includes  
 – 5 weekly teleclass sessions 
 – an mp3 audio of calls 
 – weekly transformational resource handouts
 – private Facebook discussion group, plus 
 – 2 special audio bonuses 
 
 Register by July 14th for Special Pricing on Basic Package ~ $77
 
 Premium Package $247, includes
 –  Basic Package plus  
 –  One 1 1/2 hour Individual Session with Beth Terrence  
 in person in Annapolis, MD or By PHONE/SKYPE (Reg. $150)
 
Register by July 14th for Special Pricing On Premium Package ~ $227
   
Are you ready to embrace the truth of who you are –  
a being full of loving-kindness and compassion?

How much longer do you want to continue struggling?

Do you want the heart to be a guiding force in your life? 
 
The journey begins with you!
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Bach Flower Of The Month: Sweet Chestnut ~ Easing Anguish & Sorrow

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Sweet Chestnut

The Bach Flower Remedy System Of Healing is composed of 38 different flower essences developed by the visionary Dr. Edward Bach.  The system is based on Dr. Bach’s philosophy developed from learning that came through a long career in medical research, working as a physician and from spiritual studies.   This simple, yet powerful approach is based on the idea that humans are all innately perfect and at the core are spiritual beings.

Dr. Bach saw disease as the result of a conflict between our spiritual and mortal selves.  He held that in order to achieve health, happiness and ease of well-being, we must be in harmony with our own essential nature and follow the path that we feel most called to in our lives and our work.   According to Dr. Bach, 

“Disease is the reaction to interferences.  This is temporary failure and unhappiness and this occurs when we allow others to interfere with our purpose in life and implant in our minds doubt, or fear, or indifference.” 

After many years of treating patients, Dr. Bach abandoned all conventional medical treatments instead choosing to use nature’s “medicine”.  He felt that the healing benefits of flowers and plants were a divine gift and that no special knowledge or medical training was needed to find relief from suffering.  He believed it was necessary to treat the whole person not the disease and he defined seven main categories of imbalances which include:

  • Fear 
  • Uncertainty
  • Insufficient Interest In Present Circumstances
  • Loneliness
  • Oversensitivity To Influences & Ideas
  • Despondency Or Despair
  • Over-Care For The Welfare Of Others

He also identified seven stages in healing disease:

  • Peace
  • Hope
  • Joy
  • Faith
  • Love
  • Certainty
  • Wisdom
  • Love

The Bach Flower Remedies bring these positive qualities vibrationally into our energy field and help to transmute interferences and limiting patterns, feelings and beliefs so that we may connect with our true essence of perfection.

In my work as a Bach Flower Remedy practitioner over the last 15 years, I have come to see 5 specific remedies as being beneficial for what we might term “depressive” feelings.  I’d like to stress that in the Bach System and other holistic modalities, we look at indicating factors but are not treating based on a diagnosis whether for a physical or mental health related condition.  Rather, we are addressing the whole person and looking for areas of interference or imbalance to support a return to wholeness. 

The remedies which I consider when someone reports experiencing feelings of depression are:

You can learn a bit more about each of these remedies in “How To Beat The Seasonal Blues With The Bach Flower Remedies“.

In a consultation, all aspects of a person are considered.  Often even though the motivator for seeking support may be “depressive” feelings or another specific emotional state, it is essential to consider other emotions or personality traits to ultimately uncover the root cause an individual’s suffering or discomfort. 

With 38 different remedies, there are actually over a million possible combinations and it can be beneficial to seek the support of a practitioner or take a course to initially to learn how the remedies work and how to treat with them.

It’s been a few months since I have included a Bach Flower Of The Month post.  The intention of these posts is to offer a way to learn about the remedies and explore working with them.  If you feel you need additional support, I am available for consultations by Phone/Skype or In Person in Annapolis, MD.

Today, I would like to highlight Sweet Chestnut.  This remedy is in the category of Despondency Or Despair; I would add that it is one of the stronger remedies in that category.  It’s indication according to Dr. Bach is as follows:

“For those moments which happen to some people when the anguish is so great as to seem unbearable.  When mind or body feels as if it has borne to the uttermost limit of its endurance, and that now it must give way.  When it seems there is nothing but destruction and annihilation left to face.”

This came up for me this month when I learned of the sudden passing of a dear friend.  Like many of us, I have gone through some periods when losses were compounded.  Since then, I have found that a new loss can easily stir those feelings and at times put me into a state where I feel I have endured all I can.  Often, this state is more acute and doesn’t last too long, especially when supported with Sweet Chestnut remedy, but when we are in it – it is overwhelming.  Any state such as this may dissipate on it’s own but the remedy can help to ease through the extreme anguish that can arise.  At some point, a shift happens into a lesser state of emotion but still the feelings of loss and grief are at the surface.  This is what I experienced this month and found that by taking Sweet Chestnut I was able to move through my emotional experience more easily.  I then continued with Star of Bethlehem for loss and grief.

Here are some of the indicating factors of Sweet Chestnut:

  • Extreme mental and/or emotional anguish
  • Intense sorrow
  • Feeling you have endured all you can bear
  • Uncontrollable crying or tears
  • Feeling forsaken by God/Creator
  • On the verge of a nervous breakdown
  • Overwhelming feelings after a huge loss or life challenge
  • Fear of being abandoned
  • A sense of emptiness due to bereavement
  • Utter dejection
  • Feeling depleted of energy due to emotional overwhelm
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Overwhelming loneliness

Some of the benefits that come from working with Sweet Chestnut include:

  • Freedom from despondency and despair
  • Optimism
  • Peace of mind
  • Recovery of faith
  • Access to inner strength
  • Feeling heard and supported by God/Source
  • Ability to face external struggles with positivity

To learn more about my work with the Bach Flower Remedies, visit www.bethterrence.com.  Bach Flower Consultations are offered in person in the MD/DC area or by Phone/Skype.  Bach Flower Consultations are available as an individual modality or as part of an Integrative Transformational Healing Session, which is a customized session based on individual intentions, combining transformational resources such as Shamanic Healing, Bach Flower Remedies, Body/Energy Healing, and Meditation.

New Offering ~ 30 Minute Bach Flower Q&A Session $50 or try a

6o Minute Bach Flower Consultation Including A Custom Blended Remedy ~ $100

Learn more…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Release ~ Harmonic Voices: True Stories Of Women On The Path To Peace

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It’s been such a full week with the completion of May Is For Metta 2014 and some other events I was facilitating that I did not have a chance to announce the release of the latest Heal My Voice collaborative book, Harmonic Voices: True Stories Of Women On The Path To Peace.  Most of you who have been following the blog for a bit probably have heard me talk about Heal My Voice and some of my posts this past year have been connect to this project, known as Voices Of Peace.  I had the privilege and honor to co-facilitate this year-long writing project as well as write a story and the afterword for the book.  This is the second project I have participated in; the first was Inspired Voices: True Stories Of Visionary Women.  As you can see from the titles, each book project has a theme.  The project consists of a group of 18 – 25 women coming together for 9 months – 1 year to explore the theme in their writing and their lives.

The mission of Heal My Voice is to “empower and support women and girls globally to heal, reclaim their voice and step into greater leadership in their lives and in the world.”.   For the past two years, this project has been at the heart of my journey of transformation and healing.  Through writing, finding my voice and stepping forward in leadership, I have had so many incredible opportunities and experiences.  My first published story, “Lost & Found: The Birth Of A Shaman” was released in 2013.  Also, over the last year, I have had the opportunity to bring the Heal My Voice model to Chrysalis House, a residential addictions treatment program for women and their children in Crownsville, MD.  This grass-roots pilot project has been a joy to be a part of and has once again brought me full circle back to bringing holistic tools and resources to the addiction and mental health recovery community.  

When I began my first HMV project, I had stepped away from that path, feeling uncertain of how to bring my gifts to addictions and recovery programs.  I had no idea where I would end up when I began, but writing my two Heal My Voice stories has helped me to make peace with my life experiences, to learn and grow as a facilitator and to reconnect with my passion to serve those who are struggling with addictions and mental health challenges.  Over the last year, I had the opportunity to become certified as a Recovery Coach through CCAR (Connecticut Community For Addiction Recovery) and to complete my application to become a Certified PEER Recovery Specialist in Maryland.  The timing of all this was just amazing – I  completed my application on May 29th and Harmonic Voices was released on May 30th.  

I also found myself immersed in this work that I have been feeling called to do all this week.  On Tuesday, I lead the Heal My Voice writing circle at Chrysalis House.  On Thursday, I had the opportunity to give a presentation to the Maryland Association of Chemical Dependency Nurses at Johns Hopkins.  Our topic was “Holistic Resources For Addiction Treatment & Recovery”.  Then, on the weekend, I returned to the Unity Women’s Recovery Retreat where I have had the honor to speak and do holistic healing sessions for the last 5 years.  On Saturday, I spoke on “Accessing Your Essential Self”, a topic that emerged through my writing and explorations over this past year.  I feel like things are coming full circle and I am excited to see what emerges next.

Harmonic Voices: True Stories Of Women On The Path To Peace was a challenging project to bring to completion.  I share a bit about this in the afterword from the book.  Here is an excerpt that speaks to the nature of the project and our experiences:

Participating in a Heal My Voice project is a 9-month process, which is akin to birthing a child. We invite our stories to come into being by listening and receiving ideas. Then, we carry them inside of us and work with all that is arising through our group sharing and explorations in writing. Finally, our story is born – it is written and published. It is then that we begin to move out and share our voices with the world.

Each project is different, having a specific theme or focus and in who shows up to participate in the circle. It took some time for Voices Of Peace to get going, longer than we imaged when the project began. Who wouldn’t want to focus on peace? Well, although it sounds like a simple thing, we noticed it was slow going in actually having people sign up for this project, more so than other Heal My Voice projects. It required a strong commitment of the facilitators to hold the space for “Peace” to emerge. We kept the gateway of the circle open longer than usual and slowly but surely more women joined the project.

One of the things we noticed early on in our group sharing was that most of us were not experiencing a whole lot of peace. In fact, there was a lot of chaos going on in many of the women’s lives. I witnessed something that I so often come across in my own journey and in my work with others. When we invite in a positive energy or vibration such as peace or love, we begin to stir up everything inside of us that is not that energy or vibration. This is something that happens a lot when we are working with intention or affirmations. We are essentially creating an alchemical container for transformation to occur and this is really what a Heal My Voice circle is – an alchemical container for transformation and healing.”

So for those of us who were brave enough to enter the Voices Of Peace project, we were faced with coming into conscious awareness of all that we were holding inside of ourselves that was an obstacle to peace. Much of this stemmed from our personal experiences, both current and past, as well as unresolved feelings and beliefs we took on about life and the world itself. I am not sure if we were aware of how much was coming up right away but over time our discomfort was evident.(Click Here to read the full afterword or buy the Harmonic Voices book on Amazon.)

For me, entering into this container for the second time, opened the doorway to pain and trauma I had been carrying for far too long.  Even with all of my personal work and my work as a holistic health practitioner, shaman and guide for others, I had not been willing to accept the depths of my pain.  I thought I had, but it was in journeying into my deepest wounds that I found those parts of myself that were still feeling isolated, abandoned and unworthy.  They needed not only for me to accept the depths of their pain, but to embrace them and bring them out into the light – to stop hiding in shame.  Participating in this Heal My Voice circle, offered me a space to share my heart and soul, and to bring all of me into the light.  The journey will always continue but I am so happy to share my story, I’m Okay, Really! and the words of all of the 18 amazing women featured in Harmonic Voices: True Stories Of Women On The Path To Peace

In my story, I shared a quote from Healing The Shadow, a book written by my teacher and mentor, Shaman Ross Bishop. I’ll leave you with those words:

“Healing means making yourself vulnerable by exposing the core of your being and admitting how you really feel about yourself. The decision to heal requires the willingness to accept that you may be as flawed as you fear (we never are). It also requires an almost ruthless commitment to find and live in the truth, irrespective of the cost.”Ross Bishop, Healing The Shadow

If you’d like to order the book, paperback copies are now available on Amazon.com and Kindle edition will be available next week.  All proceeds go to support Heal My Voice projects including the Chrysalis House Pilot Projet for women in addiction recovery.  

Order Now!

 

Day 31 ~ May Is For Metta 2014: Celebrating Our Journey Of Loving-kindness And Compassion

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“Reaching a state of compassion is the ultimate gift we give ourselves as human beings.  It is knowing and feeling that all power is within us and that none is vested outside of us – neither in material things nor in the circumstance of our lives.  Compassion comes from loving ourselves so completely that we see and feel others only through that love.  In a state of compassion, Oneness is our reality.” ~ Arnold Patent

May Is For Metta 2014

Wow!  We did it.  How does it feel to have devoted 31 Days of your life to cultivating loving-kindness and compassion for ourselves, others and the world? And, even if you didn’t participate every day, know that each moment you practiced has been a heart-opening experience.  Devotion to our practice has allowed us to expand in many ways.  What does this mean?  According to the Oxford Dictionary, the word “Devotee” connotes:

  • a person who is very interested in and enthusiastic about someone or something: a devotee of Lewis Carroll
  • a strong believer in a particular religion or god: devotees of Krishna

We sometimes hear the term used when someone follows a particular guru, teacher or religion, but what if we choose to follow loving-kindness and compassion as our guide?  I have often heard the Dalai Lama quoted as saying, “My religion is very simple.  My religion is kindness.”   This is not to say that we cannot have our structured religions or beliefs, but the heart of our human experience is about the essence of who we are and not the structure.  As Arnold Patent touches on above, it’s not about the material, the circumstances or even the way we live our lives, it’s about knowing and feeling what lies within and connecting with the Oneness that is our true nature.  And, it is by practicing that we can develop the “muscles” to experience Oneness.

I was excited to come across an article during our practice time which shares about research at the University Of Wisconsin on loving-kindness practice and how it transforms us.  This research has been going on for some time and what has been found is that as we practice loving-kindness, we are actually retraining our brain.  I love it when science comes on board and show us what spirituality has known for so long.  More recent research has focused on assessing loving-kindness practice by evaluating a shift to more altruistic tendencies as an indicator.  Researcher Helen Weng says this,

“Our fundamental question was, ‘Can compassion be trained and learned in adults?  Can we become more caring if we practice that mindset?  Our evidence points to yes… It’s kind of like weight training.  Using this systematic approach, we found that people can actually build up their compassion ‘muscle’ and respond to others’ suffering with care and a desire to help.”

One of the aspects that was noted was that loving-kindness practice actually helps people to regulate their emotions in a new way.  In the research, this was reflected by certain changes in the brain and in the ability to respond in a more compassionate way.  Part of this has to do with what we have learned from our practice alone, that as we deepen in our ability to experience loving-kindness and compassion, we become more able to hold the space for other’s suffering as well as for the uncomfortable feelings that arise within ourselves.  This is often where might have had the tendency to turn away or close our hearts.  Thanks to Metta, we have the ability to open and to transform in each moment.  How beautiful!

If you’d like to learn more about research loving-kindness and other explorations in meditation, visit UW’s Center For Investigating Healthy Minds.

Daily Practice: 

Do your foundational practices.  As you begin your practice today, take a few moments to reflect on any changes you may have experienced since you began May is for Metta.  How has your ability to connect with and generate the qualities of loving-kindness and compassion evolved?  Spend some time in your circle of loving beings or imagining a time you were held in unconditional love.  Really allow yourself to feel those energies enveloping you.  When you feel ready, repeat the phrases for yourself:

  • May I be happy.
  • May I be peaceful.
  • May I be free of suffering.
  • May I have ease of well-being.

As we conclude our practice, choose someone from each of the individual categories whom you have already practiced for during May is for Metta and offer Metta again for this being:  Benefactor, Beloved, Neutral Being, and Difficult Person.  Acknowledge that in practicing for this being, you have benefitted by becoming more open-hearted and loving.  As you begin each category, say, “Just as I wish to be peaceful and happy, so does this being wish to have inner peace and joy.”   Repeat the phrases for each category you are working with remembering to come back to your own heart center for a few moments between each category:

  • May you be happy.
  • May you be peaceful.
  • May you be free from suffering.
  • May you have ease of well-being.

If you become distracted or difficult feelings arise, use the Switchback, returning the practice to yourself until a sense of calm returns.  When you feel ready, return the practice to where you left off or move on to the next category.   When you are ready move on to the category of All Beings. To conclude our practice, let’s take a few moments to practice for our virtual sangha; our community of May is for Metta practitioners is spread out all over the world.  For the last 31 days, we have been coming together with our hearts and the intention of creating more loving-kindness and compassion in ourselves, others and the world.  Offer the phrases for our community, including yourself:

  • May we be happy.
  • May we be peaceful.
  • May we be free of suffering.
  • May we have ease of well-being.

When you feel complete, move on to the broader category of All Beings.  As we extend out our practice today, let us remember that it is this state of compassion that opens us to the experience of Oneness.  Let us dedicate our practice for the benefit of all beings without exception:

  • May All Beings be happy.
  • May All Beings be peaceful.
  • May All Beings be free of suffering.
  • May All Beings have ease of well-being.

To complete your practice, return yourself to your circle of loving beings or envision yourself enveloped in the energy of loving-kindness and compassion.  Let every atom and cell of your being be filled with the energy of loving-kindness and compassion.  Feel these qualities filling you and surrounding you.  Know that you have created a strong foundation of loving-kindness and compassion within yourself and you can now carry that wherever you go.  You are a beacon of loving-kindness and compassion.  

Today is a day to celebrate your journey with May Is For Metta.  Take some time to reflect on your practice and to explore how you would like to continue.  Find something fun or joyful to celebrate you!

Daily Journal Reflection:

Take some time to reflect and journal about any experiences, feelings or awareness that arose during your practice or throughout the day today.  How does it feel to have made it through 31 Days Of Loving-kindness Exploration?  What have you noticed about yourself and your practice since you began?  How will you work with Metta going forward?   What other practices would you like to explore?   Have you taken time to honor yourself for your efforts?

Some Suggestions For Continued Practice:

  • Repeat the practice or select specific posts to work with.  Remember your practice is your own, so find a way that works for you.  I will be indexing the all of the daily practice posts on the May is for Metta page so they will be easily accessible by day and topic; this will be available early next week.  Also, feel free to continue to share your experiences as you continue.
  • Find a meditation group in your area or start your own Metta meditation practice group.
  • Sign Up For The  May is for Metta Audio Series to accompany your practice. 
  • There are some great books on Metta Meditation and Loving-kindness Practice to help you continue your exploration.  Here are a few suggestions:
  1. Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness by Sharon Salzberg. Shambhala Publications, 2002.
  2. The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions by Christopher K. Germer, PhD. Guildord Press, 2009.
  3. Awakening Loving-kindness by Pema Chodron.  Shambhala Publications, 2009.
  4. Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat Zinn. Hyperion Press, 1994.
  5. The Force of Kindness: Change Your Life with Love and Compassion by Sharon Salzberg. Sounds True, 2010.
  6. The Healing Power of Loving-kindness by Tulku Thondup. Shambhala, 2009.
  7. One Soul, One Love, One Heart: The Sacred Path to Healing All Relationships by John E. Welshons. New World Library, 2009.

Wishing you many blessings for the coming year.  As always, feel free to stop by to share your experiences and reflections.

May you be happy. May you be peaceful. May you be free from suffering. May you have ease of well-being. 

Love & Light,

Beth