Tag Archives: Sacred

Two Guest Posts & Some Big News…

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Believe or not, I am doing a lot of writing lately even though I haven’t been very present on The Heart Of Awakening Blog.  Just know, Spring is coming and I am birthing a lot of new posts for HOA! So stay tuned!

The Big News… is that I am working actively to create the first May Is For Metta book that will carry the program we do here each May on HOA off the web and onto the page!  This is a project I have been working on for sometime and 2015 is the year it is coming together.  So stay tuned!

Also, I have been doing quite a bit of guest blogging.  I have two posts from this week I’d like to share.

One is from the Gently Moving Forward created by Kathleen Nelson Troyer, an amazing coach and mentor; she is also a dear friend!  Kat invited a number of guests to come share this month on the topic of  “Be The Love”, so there are lots of great posts to explore.  My post is called, “What Better Time Than Now!” and is on guess what?  One of our most favored topics here on HOA – Loving Ourselves! Are you willing to embrace all of “you” with love and compassion? 

I was also asked to join a group of 17 shaman in answering the following question on Sarah Petruno’s Shamanism blog:

“What tip would you give for leading a more sacred, enlightened life?” 

Here’s my response and be sure to read the full post as there are lots of great tips to explore!

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This Spring look forward to some new posts on Transformation & Healing, Seasonal Well-being, Bach Flower Remedies, Meditation & Mindfulness, Shamanism and more!

Love & light,

Beth

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Day 24 ~ May Is For Metta 2014: Loving-kindness In Every Direction

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To the Great Spirit – 
First in all things, Creator of all Life, 
Who was, and is, and will always be; 
Who, within the immensity of all creation, 
Is uniquely present here and now, in this moment. 

To the East – 
The quiet coming of the new dawn, 
The joyous breaking forth of Spring, 
The place of birth and rebirth and the beginning of life;

To the South – 
The high heat of noonday, 
The flowering warmth of Summer 
The place of fertility and the fullness of life;

To the West – 
The quiet peace of evening, 
The changing colors of Fall, 
The place of harvest and the gathering of life;

To the North – 
The clear darkness of night, 
The deep cold of Winter, 
The place of death and purification 
and the transformation of life;

To the Mother Earth – 
The ever constant Giver of Life, 
From whom all things draw sustenance; 
Who, in the greatness of her family, 
Offers blessing and freedom to each of her children;

To the Six Directions – 
Together making the oneness of God and Creation, 
We offer praise and thanksgiving, 
We ask these things: 
A heart open and made strong with love, 
A mind clear and made wise with understanding, 
A life lived with courage and compassion 
in the fulfillment of Divine Purpose.  – Sioux Prayer

 

Metta practice allows us to do what we can to be loving and happy no matter what is happening in our lives and in the world.  In each moment, we have a choice.  By focusing our attention on the heart and on loving-kindness, we are choosing to be open to ourselves and all that is arising.  It is not about the outside.  It is about our own experiences and the attitude that we cultivate towards those experiences.  Each moment that we choose loving-kindness allows us to be more receptive and to create a place of peace where we might have felt discomfort.  When we do Metta, rather than contracting our energy, we are expanding it.  We are supporting our own journey of awakening to the truth of who we are.  We are moving from a place of separateness to an experience of Oneness.  And, we are bringing that awareness to others and the world.

Take some time today to truly honor yourself for the time and energy you have dedicated to becoming more conscious and awake.   You have offered yourself the blessing of loving-kindness and compassion and there is really no greater gift that you can give to yourself, others and the world.

Today, we will continue with the full practice, working with all of the categories.  I have also included a new way to practice for All Beings that I learned from one of my teachers.  This practice works with sending loving-kindness out to all directions and for me feels similar to the way I honor the directions as part of my shamanic work.  In many indigenous cultures, praying or calling in the directions is a way to begin the day or create sacred space.  The Sioux prayer above is one example of this as is previous post here, Prayer For A New Day.  Combining our Metta practice with the directions can be a wonderful way to expand the energy of loving-kindness and compassion that we have been cultivating  and supports feeling a greater sense of connection to all creation.

If for any reason doing the full practice feels too much or is an obstacle to your practice, then just choose a few categories to work with.  At this point, how you practice each day is your choice.  You may have awareness of a certain category you need to practice for or you may wish to do the full practice daily for a period of time.  Just explore and let your practice unfold.  Begin your practice by setting an intention in a way that feels right for you.  Recognize that you are practicing, not only for yourself but that this cultivation of loving-kindness is beneficial for all beings and for the world.

Daily Practice: 

Do your foundational practices.  Find a quiet place and a comfortable position.  Imagine yourself in a circle of loving beings or enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness, in a time when you felt held in that way.  As you do so, acknowledge that you are practicing, not only for yourself; the cultivation of loving-kindness is beneficial for all beings and for the world.  Begin your practice by offering the Metta phrases for yourself:

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

When you feel ready, move on to practicing for all of the categories or the ones you have chosen for today.  Use the phrases that feel best to you.

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

As 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 if you feel to move onto the next category.

There are a number of ways to radiate to all beings.  One of these is to work with the directions.  We radiate to all beings in 10 different directions, repeating the Metta phrases for each.  We can also adapt this to a specific category of all beings such as all creatures or all children.  Working with the directions is a way to connect spatially with all beings and the world.  It offers an opportunity to move beyond ourselves not just in thoughts but in space as well.  This aspect of practice can bring us into deeper connection with the world in which we live.  As you practice today, I encourage you to allow yourself to really feel the world which you are a part of as you explore incorporating the directions into your practice of All Beings.  You can use the phrases below or adapt them to the phrases you have chosen to work with; it’s up to you

1. May all beings in the eastern direction be happy, be peaceful, be free from suffering and have ease of well-being.

2. May all beings in the western direction be happy, be peaceful, be free from suffering and have ease of well-being.

3. May all beings in the northern direction be happy, be peaceful, be free from suffering and have ease of well-being.

4. May all beings in the southern direction be happy, be peaceful, be free from suffering and have ease of well-being.

5. May all beings in the northeastern direction be happy, be peaceful, be free from suffering and have ease of well-being.

6. May all beings in the southwestern direction be happy, be peaceful, be free from suffering and have ease of well-being.

7. May all beings in the northwestern direction be happy, be peaceful, be free from suffering and have ease of well-being.

8. May all beings in the southeastern direction be happy, be peaceful, be free from suffering and have ease of well-being.

9. May all beings below (in the downward direction) be happy, be peaceful, be free from suffering and have ease of well-being.

10. May all beings above (in the upward direction) be happy, be peaceful, be free from suffering and 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 that you have been cultivating.  Breathe in that feeling of connection; embrace your connection with all of the directions and all beings.  Allow that feeling of connection to sink in to you, let every atom and cell of your being be filled with a sense of connection infused with loving-kindness and compassion.  Take a few moments to dedicate the merit of your practice.

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 spent so much time focusing on loving-kindness and compassion?   How did it feel to work with the directions?  Did you notice anything about your connection to all beings? to the world?  How are you feeling about your practice overall?  Are you continuing to be gentle and loving with yourself?  If not, are you doing enough Metta for yourself?

I honor each of you for deepening into loving-kindness and compassion.

May you have a peaceful and happy day.

 

Discover The Healer Within – Connecting With Sacred Space

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                           “Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again.”                                                                                                                            – Joseph Campbell

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In many of the traditions I have studied, illness or disease have been defined as being out of balance or harmony; some say with our soul, some say with our different aspects of self, such as body, mind, emotion and spirit.  Historically, this has been a foundation for healing and yet, in our current medical model, we tend to be hyper-focused on specific conditions or symptoms without looking at the whole person.  This is hopefully beginning to change as we are seeing more focus on the whole person, but it is is slow process.  What I have learned in my own journey and in working with others for over 17 years in the field of holistic healing is that a key to transformation and healing is to take responsibility for one’s own healing process.

For this purpose, the definition of “responsibility” is the ability to respond.  This is a choice we can make for ourselves.   Often, I hear folks say “I know what I need to do, I just can’t seem to make those changes” or “I know I need to do something, but I just don’t know what”.   And, we often need to get support or guidance, particularly when we are working to change long-held patterns, conditions or beliefs.  Yet, ultimately, only we can truly know our own selves.  Getting to know ourselves and our inner guidance system is a major step toward healing and transformation.

It is also important to learn to experience that change is possible.  I find this is best done experientially through what I refer to as a “state change”.  As we begin to have the experiences of feeling differently, hopefully better, we begin to learn how to create our own shifts and then, the possibilities for change become wide open.  It is often in this space, which is usually one where we begin to create greater presence, clarity and awareness, that we can begin to know ourselves more deeply and learn to access the healer within.

There is no set formula and there is no magic formula that works for all people.  It is important to learn what works for us as individuals, to learn what doesn’t work and to learn how to be in tune with ourselves in an ongoing way.  Life is a journey and although we may heal from one condition or transform a pattern or belief, we are multidimensional beings.  As long as we are journeying in this life, there will be more work to do and another layer to explore.  So, learning to access the healer within and take responsibility for our own process is a vehicle that supports our evolution as human beings.

Learning to connect with Sacred Space is something that is a part of every culture and religion of the world.  It is something we can do in community and it is something we can cultivate on our own, both inwardly and outwardly.  When we enter into Sacred Space, we change energetically.  We step more fully into the present moment, our hearts open and we become more fully engaged in our experience.  Whatever our background or beliefs, finding ways to cultivate and connect with Sacred Space opens the doorway for knowing ourselves more deeply and accessing our inner wisdom.  This can be a powerful component in discovering the healer within.

At its most basic, Sacred Space is a place that invites the contemplation of divine mystery and encourages an attitude of spiritual openness.  We can consider this somewhere where we open our hearts and find support from spirit, in whatever way we define or believe that to be.  A Sacred Space may be a physical location where we go to search for meaning or truth such as a temple, church or even a place in nature.  It is not necessarily a place where answers are grasped or understood but more so it is where questions may be asked.  It can be a place or state where divine inspiration mixes with practices such as ritual, song, dance or prayer that help us to feel a sense of connection with our spirituality.

The origin of the word “Sacred” stems from Latin, sacer, which means “to make holy”.  In a sense, sacred refers to something that is set apart from the ordinary perhaps with intention, feeling or conviction.   Stepping out of the ordinary, out of the busyness or affairs of daily life is a foundational aspect of connecting with the healer within.  There are many ways to step out of the ordinary.  Many think of going to outer places such as temple, cathedral, space in nature, but we also have the ability to connect with and cultivate that sacred space within our own selves.

As we learn to connect with Sacred Space, both inwardly & outwardly, we begin to come into greater alignment with our own essence and the energies around us.  This helps to create a container for intention, connection and healing.  Although I refer to inner and outer ways of creating Sacred Space, this is really all the same.  “Our outer world is a reflection of our inner world.”  The outer is important as it reveals to us where our work lies by what is emerging in our lives.   When we become our own healer – we move inner to outer and outer to inner interchangeably knowing that energetically they are the same.

The following are some ways to explore connecting with Sacred Space:

Calling The Directions – In many cultures, including Native American, Buddhist, Asian, Celtic and other indigenous groups, there is a strong connection with the directions, which carry energy and meaning.  Calling in the directions can be done as a ritual to start the day or open Sacred Space; also, one can work with the energy or quality of a certain direction.  This can be a way to connect with specific energies as well as the greater whole.  This type of practice supports moving out of the limited construct of our individual self into the collective energy of creation.  Prayer For A New Day is an example of this practice.  Associations and meanings will vary based on culture or tradition; this is an example of how one might explore and find what meaning or method of practice is most resonant for them.

Shamanic Journey Work – From the shamanic viewpoint, everything is alive, has spirit, and all things/creation are interconnected through what we call the web of life.  There is an understanding that we need to respect and honor all things and all beings as we are a part of a greater whole.  In a shamanic journey process, there is an opportunity to connect with the Sacred Space within and explore one’s own inner guidance system.  Learn more about Shamanic Healing: A Journey Of Reconnection

Ceremony & Ritual – This is a wonderful way to access and create Sacred Space.  This is something one can do according to their own personal belief system or culture.  It can be as simple as stating an intention and lighting a candle or an as elaborate at a medicine wheel gathering or ceremony.  The important thing, once again, is to find what resonates with you and begin to bring more of this into your daily life.  Learn more about Finding Connection Through Ceremony & Ritual.

Meditation – Meditation practice, in and of itself, is a way to enter the sacredness within.  Also, moving into a place of stillness creates a gateway to our divinity.  The practice of meditation and creating a space to practice can be wonderful way to cultivate Sacred Space.  Having a clear space, coming to the cushion or seat in an intentional way, perhaps lighting a candle or incense, etc. is a way to shift our energy more fully into the present moment.  Each time we practice, we are fostering our experience and ability to access in any moment.  If you’d like to explore a 31 Day Guided Practice, try May Is For Metta.

Mind/Body Practices – Finding a practice that supports body, mind, emotion and spirit such as Yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong and coming to it in an intentional way offers an opportunity to consciously move into Sacred Space.  Working with this type of practice helps to develop awareness of one’s own energy system as well as our interrelationship to the greater whole.

Sound Healing – In many cultures and shamanic practice, sounds such as drumming or rattling are used to facilitate a natural altered state of consciousness.  For many people, simply listening to music is a way to shift their energy and awareness.  Using sound or music is a powerful way to create a state change and can be utilized to connect with Sacred Space.  Using a certain sound or piece of music can be part of a ritual practice or ceremony as well.

Spending Time In Nature – The natural world is the original sacred space.  When we enter into the natural world or consciously connect with nature, our energy automatically shifts.  This can be as simple as going for a walk in the woods, hugging a tree, or laying on the earth.  We may wish to bring natural elements into our home such as rocks, plants or a waterfall.  We can connect with nature physically but also can do so energetically through meditation, visualization or shamanic journey work.  Mother Nature is one of the most powerful gateways to cultivating Sacred Space.  Also, as we love, honor and respect nature, we begin to access more of our own sacredness as part of a greater whole.

Stepping into Sacred Space facilitates a shift in our energy and our consciousness.  This affects us on all levels – body, mind, emotion & spirit.  We may not see changes right away as it may take time to manifest but this is creating a foundation for change.  As we enter into the stillness and begin to shift our energy from the busyness and chaos of the world and of our own mind, we can begin to hear our inner wisdom more strongly.

Again, everyone is different.  There is not one blueprint for healing and transformation.  What works for me may not work for you.  But, there are many tools, resources and practices to explore and see what is resonant for you.  Ask yourself these questions:

“Where do I feel a shift?”

“Where do I feel a sense of connection?”

“Where do I feel more at ease?”

“What practice or experience helps me to access my deeper essence or my inner wisdom?”

Always be asking and observing as life is a great exploration.  This is why journaling can be a great practice to support the process of transformation and healing.  Even if you are not into writing, it can be a great way to track your experiences and begin to build a toolbox or resource list for your own personal journey of discovering the healer within.

I hope you’ll take some time to reflect and explore connecting with sacred space as a way to discover the healer within.  Just 10 minutes a day of entering sacred space can be a powerful practice.  You may wish to try different practices each day for a while or choose one to work with for 10 – 30 Days to explore what’s possible.

As always, I’d love to hear your experiences, thoughts and reflections…

Are you ready to go deeper in your process of transformational and healing?  I’d love to support you in your journey to discover the healer within.  Learn more at www.bethterrence.com/Individuals.

 

Harmonizing With The Season

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“O Wind, If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?” – Percy Bysshe Shelley

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As I was writing my e-newsletter today, I found myself sharing about the change of seasons and the importance of being in tune with the rhythms of nature.  I have found that this time of year can be particularly challenging energetically as we make the shift from late Winter to early Spring.  I thought I’d share that piece here and if you would like to explore my e-newsletter which usually includes an introductory post, a transformational or holistic health tip, and the latest news on upcoming events and special offers on individual sessions, you can take a peek by clicking here.  Also, I wanted to share one of my favorite books on seasonal health and wellness – Staying Healthy With The Season by Elson Haas.  Dr. Haas is a pioneer in the field of integrative medicine and his site offers wonderful resources on health and wellness.  I’d love to hear your thoughts about this time of year and staying in tune with the energy of nature and the seasons.
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One of the wonderful things about life is the beauty that unfolds with the change of seasons.  Everyone seems to have their favorite season or time of year.  As we watch the natural world, it is easy to see the changes that occur throughout the year.  As humans, we are affected by these changes, but often, we are less aware of the energetic shifts that occur in our own being.  

Learning to connect with seasonal shifts happening in nature is a part of traditional healing practices.  This can be seen in many indigenous cultures, Chinese medicine and Ayurveda.  Also, if we were to consider the origin of many of our holidays, most likely they would be linked to some seasonal celebration.   Living in a modern world with the ability to control our environment, our temperatures and limit our exposure to the elements can easily create a sense of disconnection from the seasonal flow of energy.

From this place of disconnection with nature and our own natural rhythms we may tend to experience discomfort and disease.  Learning to connect with and harmonize with the energy of the seasons can support us in feeling a greater sense of ease and well-being.  Making simple shifts in our seasonal routines through diet and self-care can make a big difference in our overall health.

I have found this time of year from late winter into early spring to be one that can be most challenging.  It is time of year when many people experience depression or a sense of lethargy.  Perhaps this is due to the darkness of winter but this is also a time of shifting energy.  We are moving from a more yin/inner energy to a more yang/outer energy and that shift is increasing at this time.  Although spring is not yet ready to show itself, there is a lot going on under the surface, both in nature and in our consciousness.

This can be a time people experience a sense of dis-ease which many manifest physically through sinus issues or colds or as a feeling of discontentment with life as it is.  Often, lots of emotions which may have been more dormant during the winter months as our body, mind and spirit was drawn inward are beginning to percolate under the surface.  It is not uncommon to feel a sense of unsettledness, edginess or impatience.

Just acknowledging that we are in a place of shifting energy is important as well as finding ways to create greater harmony for ourselves through this current transition.  Also, recognizing that there’s no hurry – Spring will come in its own time and we can choose a rhythm that supports us in finding greater balance and ease, too.

Here are some ways to align with the seasonal shift as we move through late Winter and into early Spring:

1. Be gentle with yourself as you make changes and explore aligning with the natural energy around you.  Be willing to go slow.  As Spring approaches, we start to feel ready to jump forward but right now, our energy is not ready to move too fast.  Be willing to honor what your body tells you in terms of rest and renewal.  There will be plenty of time to play in Spring & Summer.

2. Stimulate your energy by moving your body first thing in the morning.  Our bodies are still in a Winter mode and we want to wake up as Spring is almost here!  Start with a few minutes of stretching, tai chi or yoga – sun salutations are great.  Also, try a brisk walk or simply dance around you bedroom to get your energy moving.  This literally awakens the body’s energy channels.

3. Try getting to bed earlier so you can wake up refreshed and ready for your day.  Create an evening ritual to help you wind down such as a taking a hot bath, drinking a relaxing tea or doing an evening meditation to shift your energy toward sleep.  Remember that this is still late Winter and we do need more rest.

4. Start spending more time outdoors.  Even though the temperatures may still be cold, we are already experiencing noticeably longer days.  The sun is rising earlier and setting later.  The sun is also higher in the sky and beginning to warm up the atmosphere.  Take a moment to close your eyes and feel the sunshine on your face.  Take a midday walk directly in the sunshine between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.  Walk toward the south, directly into the sunshine for the greatest benefits.

5. Begin to add more greens to your diet.  This is important all year round, but especially as the seasons shift into early spring.  Nature provides us with spring shoots and leafy green vegetables.  The bitter taste of the greens is nature’s way of helping us to lighten up and cleanse our system after the cold winter and the denser foods we’ve been eating.  A great way to do this is to start your day with a green smoothie.  Use parsley, swiss chard, dandelion greens, spinach or kale, blended with some fruit and almond milk.  Add some soaked chia or flax seeds for healthy fat.  Enjoying a smoothie at room temperature is best as ice-cold temperatures can be depleting to your digestion.  As Spring sets in, it may be time to focus on a liver cleanse or detox, but for now just beginning to bring that green energy into your diet can give your energy a boost.

6. Take some time to journal.  Reflect on feelings that arising and how you experience shifts in energy.  Consider the coming of Spring and explore where you feel called to place your increased energy as the season arrives.  Spring is a time of growth and rebirth; it is a wonderful time to start new things.  Now is the perfect time to consider what new things you want to do come Spring.

I hope you’ll take some time this week to harmonize with nature’s energy and to explore creating greater balance and ease in your life.


 

Shamanic Healing: A Journey of Reconnection

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Souls wander the universe
Lost or stolen
Cut off from loved ones
Split off from love
Gently, carefully
We call them back to us
Searching for them in dark corners
Blowing them to life
With our breath
We welcome
them home
– Ellen Jaffe Bitz

Shamanism is an ancient method of spiritual practice, perhaps tens of thousands of years old.  It has been a foundation spiritual and physical healing as well as a tool for self-awareness and understanding in many tribal cultures around the world.  Today, it is experiencing an awakening in modern cultures as well.  It is understood that in the shaman’s world everything in existence has a spirit and is alive, and that all of life is interconnected through what is called the “web of life’.  It is through cultivating this deep connection with Nature and all things that we learn how to bring harmony and balance into our lives.

In traditional shamanic practice, one enters an altered state – often by using drums or rattles to create a sound field that changes consciousness. This altered state, called a shamanic journey, is used to access help and wisdom from within.  In the journey, the shaman or practitioner encounters helping spirits or guides.  By shifting into this altered state of consciousness, we are able to access guidance and insight that is beyond the physical or mental levels.  We can also reconnect with aspects of ourselves, which we may have been wounded or become lost through our life experiences.  Through this process of reconnection, we can begin to integrate all that we have experienced and open to a sense of wholeness we never thought possible.

By utilizing auditory stimulation such as drumming or rattling techniques, the shaman or practitioner is able to induce a natural altered state of consciousness.  Recent research studies indicate that shamanic journeying practices that include drumming and rattling can help to:

  • Reduce tension, anxiety and stress
  • Create a sense of connection with self and others
  • Release negative feelings, blockages and trauma
  • Produce deeper self-awareness
  • Help experience resonance with natural rhythms of life
  • Access the entire brain supporting retraining and integration
  • Help control chronic pain

Additionally, when we access the journey world, we are able to access deeper parts of ourselves and find our strengths.  Some of the overall benefits of Shamanic Journeying include:

  • Problem solving
  • Deepening of creativity and self-expression
  • Developing a regular spiritual practice
  • Healing of childhood wounds and trauma
  • Developing a sense of personal power, integrity and authenticity
  • Connecting to spiritual guidance and support
  • Developing a personal relationship with Nature and the environment we live in
  • Cultivating a sense of place and purpose in life

From a shamanic viewpoint, everyone dissociates some part of their vital essence or soul from their physical body in order to cope with major experiences of life.  These experiences can include surviving physical and emotional abuse as well as other traumas such as accidents, illness, surgical operations, and loss of loved ones and other important relationships.    This can also occur from less severe experiences that cause repression or avoidance.  Essentially, when a child has not received the support is needs or has suffered in some way, it can shut off that part of itself as it does not have the resources or support to resolve the emotional material.  In many cases a natural reintegration may occur over a period of time such as when someone goes through a grief process due to loss of some kind.  However, in other cases some intervention is necessary.  Often, shamanic healing is the most effective way to bring about reconnection as we invite our “missing” parts to come back home.

Signs of soul loss can include:

•            Physical or psychological trauma and/or PTSD like symptoms
•            Experiencing feelings of dissociation, particularly in otherwise functional people.
•            Feeling disconnected from life or feeling like you can’t connect to things or people
•            Feeling a sense of numbness or disconnection from your own body
•            Feeling a lack of wholeness or that some part of self is missing.
•            Feelings of depression and/or anxiety
•            A feeling of being incomplete or empty inside
•            An inability to move past an issue or certain feelings
•            Low Self-Esteem or feelings of insecurity
•            Feeling stuck or unable to create desired changes in your life
•            Having memories or experiences that have caused you to feel you lost a part of yourself or some part has died
•            Needing to return to a relationship or a situation that is unhealthy even when you know it is unhealthy for you
•            Lost or missing memories, like a part of your history is “missing”
•            Patterns of addiction and co-dependence
•            Having a sense that shamanic healing may be beneficial for you

One of the main practices to treat soul-loss is soul retrieval, during which time the shaman supports the client in reconnecting with their lost parts that are ready to return.   After a shamanic healing session, people typically report such things as, “I feel more alive”, “I feel more positive about life” or “I feel a sense of wholeness.”  Shamanic Journey work can provide a vehicle for continued self-healing and growth.  Working with an Inner Child Journey process allows for clients to become their own loving parents.  By learning to listen, care for and respond to one’s inner children, we create a foundation for a new way of being – one of wholeness.  This type of experience can be very beneficial and supports each person in becoming their own facilitator of healing and personal growth as they begin to find the “shaman” within.

Shamanic practice offers a powerful form of healing and transformation.  It is also a way of life.  Living in conscious awareness of the interconnectedness of all things supports the embodiment of wholeness and authenticity.  It offers a gateway to greater acceptance, respect and honor of the diversity of all life and fosters living in mutuality.  This supports individual well-being and collective well-being.  Shamanic healing supports the awakening of the healing presence which exists in every being.  As each one of us connects with our own inner ‘healer’, we begin to create a shift in ourselves, our relationships and our world.  In the words of the great medicine man, Albert Schweitzer:

“The shaman succeeds for the same reason all the rest of us (doctors) succeed.  Each patient carries his own doctor inside him.  They come to us not knowing this truth.  We are at our best when we give the doctor who resides within each patient a chance to go to work.”

Recommended Reading & Resources on Shamanic Healing

Healing The Shadow – Ross Bishop (www.rossbishop.com)
Soul Retrieval – Sandra Ingerman (www.sandraingerman.com)
Shamanic Journeying: A Beginner’s Guide – Sandra Ingerman
Conscious Dreaming – Robert Moss (www.mossdreams.com)
The Way of the Shaman – Michael Harner (www.shamanism.org)
Shamanism as a Spiritual Practice for Daily Life – Tom Cowan (wp.riverdrum.com)
Healing the Luminous Body: The Way of the Shaman DVD – Alberto Villoldo, Ph.D. (www.thefourwinds.com)
Shamanic Meditations CD/Audio – Sandra Ingerman
Shaman’s Portal Resources For All Things Shamanic – (www.shamanportal.org)

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Shamanic Healing includes a variety of tools and techniques. These are some of the techniques I utilize in my practice:

Soul Retrieval

​Inner Child Process Work

Guided Journey Work

Ceremony & Ritual 

Ancestral Healing

Energy Clearing & Extractions

Shadow Work

Crystal & Plant Spirit Medicine

Space & Land Clearing

Power Animal & Spirit Guide Retrieval

To learn more about my work with Shamanic Healing and other Transformational Resources, visit www.bethterrence.com.  Sessions are available in person, by phone or Skype.  Also, visit my Events page for information on Shamanic Healing, Meditation and Bach Flower workshops in Annapolis, MD  and the MD/DC/VA areas.  I am also available to travel to other areas if there is an interest in sponsoring a visit for workshops and/or individual sessions.

Lessons from Salmon: A New View On Struggle

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Some days
I flow with the river
Surging
Like a rainbow trout
Others days I thrash and flail
Like a salmon
Desperately trying to get back upstream
Not even knowing what I struggle for

I wrote this poem many years ago at a time when I had a very strong sense of struggle in my life.  The other night I had a dream that I was walking beside a large river.  As I looked into the river, I saw a salmon, then another and then suddenly the river was filled with salmon of all different sizes swimming upstream.  What I noticed was that the salmon were not struggling to get upstream, they were moving with ease, riding the currents below the surface.  It was beautiful to watch the way they were carried with grace and ease as they connected to the currents and just allowed themselves to be carried upstream.

When I awoke, I remembered my poem; it had been a bit of an anthem for me in my 20’s.  I often performed it when I did poetry readings; it seemed to represent the sense of struggle I felt about life.  Now, I notice that even then was able to acknowledge the times when I felt the flow of life although back then I was much more focused on struggle.  Over the years, my sense of flow has definitely increased and now I can see it relates as much to the salmon as to the rainbow trout.

I realize that I mistook the energy of the salmon as struggling when in reality the salmon only appears to be struggling as it moves upstream.  The salmon are not really fighting the currents but jumping to go deeper so that they can ride the reverse currents below the surface that carry them gracefully upstream.   What a beautiful metaphor for life.  At the surface, there is much that appears to be a struggle – there are a plethora of issues we deal with daily such as work, family, finances, health etc.  When we allow ourselves to delve deeper and to go below the surface, the energy and wisdom we need to flow through life is uncovered.  It was there all along but as we jump and dive deeper, we connect with those energies.

For some reason as I am writing this post the title of one of  Zen teacher Cheri Huber’s books comes to mind.  It’s called “When Your Are Taking a Fall – Dive”.   The salmon jumps upstream and is carried by the currents below the surface.  When we allow ourselves to go deeper,  to go within,  all of the support and energy that is an innate part of ourselves becomes accessible.  When we are willing to move with our resistance, there is spaciousness for great changes to occur.  We can learn from the Salmon who jumps out of water, it’s native element, essentially trusting that is will make the connection it needs to be carried upstream.  As we allow ourselves to move out of our comfort zones and be vulnerable, we are able to connect with those energies that can carry us and bring us into greater harmony with life.

I’d like to really honor the wisdom of the Salmon as a Power Animal or Totem.  It is often said that a Power Animal comes to you through a dream, journey or vision quest.  Power Animals can also be animals that we encounter in physical reality and have a strong connection with.   In a sense, they are  a reflection of our innermost essence; they represent our own talents and abilities and the qualities we need to thrive in the world.  When we connect with a Power Animal, we are gifted with a greater awareness as the Totem offers its power, medicine, protection and wisdom unique to its being; this can  help us to learn and grow. The term Totem is derived from the an Ojibwa word ototeman, meaning “one’s brother-sister kin.”  Through cultivating this sacred connection and spiritual support, we are able to become more in touch with our own self and the web of life.

There can be wisdom to learn from all animals whether or not they are our personal Power Animal.  In more traditional cultures, a relationship with animals is innate and reflects a sense of connection to the greater whole.  In many ways, we have lost this connection in modern societies.  Through exploring the energies and qualities of animals and the wisdom they bring, we are honoring our true nature and allowing more of our own essence to emerge.

The Salmon is a major totem for the Eskimo and other cultures along the North Pacific Rim.   For thousands of years, the rhythm of daily life has been ordered in accord with the Salmon population.  The Salmon are thought to inform the humans of their connection with the natural world and attune them to the natural rhythms of life.   Additionally, the Salmon is considered an animal totem in Celtic myth.  According to their mythology, there was a sacred well situated under the sea where the sacred Salmon acquired their wisdom and shared it with the Celtic people.

Some of the medicine or wisdom that Salmon brings includes the awareness that we have the strength within to:

  • Overcome obstacles that present themselves
  • Move steadily on our spiritual journey
  • Find meaning and purpose in our life
  • Swim upstream through emotional waters to gain insight
  • Roll with resistance and fear of change
  • Explore our bonds with the past and gain understanding from of our history
  • Connect with natural rhythms of life
  • Allow ourselves to be childlike, playful, spontaneous and inquisitive
  • Develop awareness of the currents and energies beneath the surface
  • Learn to go deeper to find those energies that support our movement
  • Persevere
  • Find fulfillment within ourselves and harmony with our world
  • Find satisfaction and self-expression through creativity
  • Connect with our source
  • Find strength from within
  • Know we are always home, wherever we may be

There are many books on Power Animals and resources online that can help to gain insight in animal totems.  One of my favorite books is Animal Speak by Ted Andrews.  It can also be beneficial to study, meditate or journey to a Power Animal or animals we feel drawn to and see what specific messages and wisdom they have to offer us.

I’d like to conclude with a new poem honoring Salmon and the deeper understanding I have of it today:

Jumping upstream
Diving deep
Finding currents
Being carried
We grow
We flow
We know
We are always home

Prayer For A New Day

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Grandfather Sun
We wake to see your shining face
Honoring the spirit of the new day

Spirit of the East
We welcome you
The path of the rising sun
The way of Eagle
Bringing new beginnings, soaring vision and hope

Spirit of the South
We welcome you
The path of the noonday sun
The way of Coyote
Illuminating our hearts, minds and spirits
With clarity and purpose

Spirit of the West
We welcome you
The path of the setting sun
The way of Bear
Bringing strength, courage and trust
Taking us deeper into spirit with each breath we take

Spirit of the North
We welcome you
The place of sacredness within
The way of Owl
Helping us to find the light within the dark
Uncovering those places in ourselves which need transformation

O Great Spirit.  Creator of All Things
We welcome you
Gifting us all of the support of spirit in each moment
The path of Angels, Archangels, Ancestors, Mentors, Guides and Spirits
Help us to walk in the way of spirit today
Remembering our connection to the energies of creation

Mother Earth. Sustainer, Nurturer and Provider
We welcome you
Honoring all of your children
The Two-Leggeds, Four-Leggeds, Winged Ones, Elementals
Plant Beings, Stone People, Insects and Spider Beings
Hungry Ghosts and all who walk in the earthly realm
Great Mother Earth carry us into the day
So we may walk together in harmony and peace

Sacred Center
Connecting earth and heaven, heaven and earth
The place where all directions merge and where all beings meet
The way of Oneness, Love and Light
Help us to walk together in Oneness, Love and Light on this day and always.

Day 19 of May is for Metta 2012: Expanding Our Loving-kindess Practice to All Beings

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Day 19

 “How and why we love changes the qualities of our love.  Love with loving-kindness transforms the love into a nectar of wisdom.  Love with attachment transforms love into poison, into a state of afflicting emotions.  Therefore, we must recognize the characteristics of the love that is loving-kindness and how to generate it in ourselves.  Gampopa, one of the greatest masters of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, wrote:

‘The object of the meditation on loving-kindness is all beings.  The way is wishing them to have happiness.  The formula is thinking about the kindness of beings, since generation of loving-kindness depends on the remembrance of the kindness of beings’.” – Tulku Thondup

Having worked with the various individual categories, we are ready to move on to the category of All Beings.  The overall intention here is to offer our practice for the benefit of all beings without exception.  This expansion allows us an opportunity to move beyond separateness and creates a place for us to connect with all that is.  It is here that we plant the seeds for the foundation of a deeper spiritual awakening.  As we acknowledge the interconnectedness of all things through our practice, we begin to embody this awareness in all of our experiences.

Initially, it can be difficult to work with the vastness of All Beings. This category can include All Beings but can also be for specific groups of beings, such as all animals, all children, all of our sangha (spiritual community), etc.  Today, we will explore expanding our practice out from a single being to groups of beings and then to All Beings.  One of the difficulties that can emerge, in working with All Beings, in addition to the challenge of holding the image of a vast group, is that we can have mixed feeling about all beings.  As Gampopa shared in the quote above, we do so by focusing on finding that kindness in all beings which is contained in the very essence of our being, our Buddha nature.  As in all the categories, this one takes us below the surface to the deeper essence of our existence.

Daily Practice:  As always, we begin by cultivating loving-kindness and compassion for ourselves.  Find a comfortable position.  Imagine yourself in the center of a circle of loving beings or enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness. Begin your practice by offering the Metta phrases for yourself:

  • May I be free from danger.
  • May I have mental happiness.
  • May I have physical happiness.
  • May I have ease of well-being.

When you feel ready, choose a small group at first, perhaps your family, a group of friends or a smaller community you are part of.  Envision holding this group of beings in loving-kindness and compassion.  You might like to imagine they are in a circle receiving loving-kindness.  Begin to offer phrases for your group.  You can choose whether you would like to include yourself in the group:

  • May we/they be free from danger.
  • May we/they have mental happiness.
  • May we/they have physical happiness.
  • May we/they have ease of well-being.

When you feel ready to move on to the next group, come back to your heart center for a few moments and repeat a round of phrases for yourself.  Next, begin to offer loving-kindness to our virtual sangha, the May is for Metta community.  Know there are around 200 people participating in various ways around the globe.  Just imagine that we are all sitting together in a circle or see us spread out around the world.  Begin to offer the phrases for our group:

  • May we be free from danger.
  • May we have mental happiness.
  • May we have physical happiness.
  • May we have ease of well-being.

As always, if your mind wanders, just notice and return to the phrases.  If you continue to struggle or difficult emotions arise, return your practice to your self until your feel more settled.  When you feel ready, once again offer the phrases for our group.  Remember to be gentle with yourself as we expand our practice out to larger groups of beings.  Sometimes it is more challenging to hold our focus and awareness on a larger group.  When you feel ready to move on, center yourself in your heart once again.  Connect with the loving-kindness within.  And begin to repeat the phrases for All Beings:

  • May all beings be free from danger.
  • May all beings have mental happiness.
  • May all beings have physical happiness.
  • May all beings have ease of well-being.

If at any point you need to, return the practice to yourself, or perhaps choose a smaller group, such as all animals or all children.  We will explore working with the category of All Beings in a variety of ways as we proceed with our practice, so be gentle as we begin.  When you feel complete with your practice, return yourself to your circle of loving beings or envision yourself enveloped in loving-kindness and compassion that you have been cultivating.  Allow that feeling to sink in to you, let every atom and cell of your being to absorb the energy of loving-kindness.

Take a few moments to dedicate the merit of your practice for all beings.  Consider all of the beings you have practiced for today and offer the merit of your practice for their benefit.  Know that as you offer up the merit of your practice, you are not giving it away or losing it but you are actually generating more merit through the act of giving.

Journal Notes:  What did you notice about expanding your Metta practice to multiple beings, groups and All Beings? Was it harder or easier than other categories?  Are you remembering to be gentle and loving with yourself?  Have you explored using Metta as difficult feeling arise as throughout your day?

May we have a day filled with peace, harmony and beauty.

May is for Metta 2012: 31 Days of Loving-kindness Practice

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“there is one essential ingredient in spiritual life without which all other forms of practice fall short.  That ingredient is the cultivation of our ability to love – not just to love God, or the Divine, or our True Nature but also our fellow human beings.  Cultivating that love is, in many ways, the most potent spiritual practice available to us.”- John Welshsons, excerpt from One Soul, One Love, One Heart

The essence of the Heart of Awakening is to support moving into a new paradigm which is based on:

Living from the Heart

Embodying Awareness, Authenticity and Purpose

Integrating a Holistic Approach to Being

Embracing the Interconnectedness of All Things

Honoring and Respecting the Sacredness of Life

In May of 2010, I led a Metta meditation practice group on Facebook which offered 31 Days of exploration and guided practice in cultivating Loving-kindness and Compassion.  It’s been two years since that first May is for Metta group;  at the current time, it feels even more important to deepen our foundation in loving-kindness and compassion.  For those who wish to participate, this May will offer a time to come together energetically, wherever in the world we may be, to begin to cultivate greater loving-kindness and compassion for others, the world and ourselves.

Metta, or Loving-kindness meditation, is a Buddhist practice that involves the repetition of phrases, similar to mantra, that help to generate the energy of loving-kindness and in a sense offer blessings to ourselves, to others and to the world.  Although we work with the phrases as the anchor of the practice, the essence of it is the generation of the energy of loving-kindness and compassion. There are variations on the phrases which focus on cultivating happiness, safety, and ease of well-being.  Here is one of the simplest versions:

May I be safe.  May I be happy.  May I be healthy.  May I live with ease.

Once you’ve offered the blessings to yourself, you offer them to others and finally to all beings, saying, “May you…” and “May all beings…” with each phrase.  As part of our practice, we will explore all of the categories of Metta meditation.

The Buddha offered 11 benefits of Metta meditation, which included peaceful sleep, a serene mind and protection from outside influences.  The greatest benefit of Metta meditation seems to be that it tends to increase our happiness.  Through the exploration of Metta meditation and other heart centered practices, we will plant seeds of loving-kindness as well take time to develop or deepen our daily meditation practices.

The first lesson in Loving-kindness is that we must cultivate this for ourselves to create a foundation, which can then be shared with others.  This can be an obstacle for many of us who were taught to love others first and ourselves last.  This is an opportunity to shift our paradigm.  I hope you will take this time to create your own foundation of Loving-kindness and Compassion so that you may become a conduit for the energy of Love to flow more deeply in our world.

Ways to participate:

1. Join in the daily reading and practice, which will post on here on the Heart of Awakening each morning from May 1st to May 31st.  I have created a page that has an overview of May is for Metta to learn more.

2. Join the Facebook event that will have updates on May is for Metta 2012 daily practices, explorations and events.  I will post a link from this blog post daily. https://www.facebook.com/events/220157348094892/

3. Explore Metta meditation and cultivating Loving-kindness and Compassion on your own, with your family, at work and in the world. Resources will be posted here and on Facebook to support your exploration.

4. Attend a May is for Metta event live in the MD/DC area or by teleconference. Details TBA.

5. Invite others to participate in May is for Metta 2012.

Whether you choose to join us here or not, I hope you will take some time to cultivate Loving-kindness and Compassion as your heart guides you to.

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

Love and light,
Beth

Honoring Mother Earth

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“Teach your children what we have taught our children – that the Earth is our Mother.  Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons and daughters of the Earth.  If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves.  This we know. The Earth does not belong to us, we belong to the Earth.  This we know.  All things are connected like the blood that unites one family.  All things are connected.  Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons and daughters of the Earth.  We did not weave the web of life;  We are merely a strand in it.  Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.”  – Chief Seattle

Earth Day is a time to remember that we are a part of Mother Earth and that all of life is interconnected.  Chief Seattle’s message speaks to that connection in the most beautiful and profound way.  There’s not much more to say, other than take some time today to honor the Earth, our mother and to consider the web of life that we are all a part of in a more conscious way.

Happy Earth Day!

The Power Of The Breath

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Breath is the essence of life.  We begin our journey in our bodies when we come out of our mother’s womb and take our first breath of air.  In this moment, we start a cycle, which defines and guides our existence until we take our last breath, until our death.  Throughout our time in our bodies, the breath is a consistent presence, anchoring us to the present moment.

Physiologically, the breath is an involuntary process; it brings needed oxygen and other nutrients to the physical body without needing to think about it or intend to breathe.  In eastern traditions and energy medicine, the breath is known to connect us with finer energies such prana or chi; this is our life force energy.  Whether we consider the breath from the physical or spiritual perspective, it is occurring continuously and breathing us through our lives.

In many yogic and meditative practices, the breath is seen as a gateway that helps to access our deepest essence.   Although the basic physical nature of breath is involuntary, by moving into awareness with the breath, it can become a powerful catalyst for transformation.  When we move from an unconscious to a conscious relationship with the breath, we are shifting our whole being from an unconscious state to a conscious one.  With just one breath, we have the ability to move from being unconscious to being fully conscious and awake.  And if we work with the breath regularly, the potential for change is infinite.

Many of us spend so much time moving through our lives and the world unconsciously.   We are disconnected from what is going on around us and what is going on deeply within ourselves.  The power of the breath gives us access to the subtler aspects of ourselves and our world.   It allows us to connect with our deeper emotions and to embody our authentic selves.  It helps us to connect with the unconscious aspects of life and become more fully present in each moment.  In each moment that we work with our breath in a conscious way, we are moving into a more conscious life.

There are many ways to work with the breath and it is important to find a practice that resonates with you.  But just one breath taken in a conscious way can be a meditation and a way to be more fully present.  Several of these a day or some type of daily practice creates a powerful catalyst for transformation.

Here is a basic breath awareness practice to explore:

Find a comfortable position sitting or lying down on your back.   If you are sitting on the floor have legs crossed or on a chair with feet flat on the floor.  It is good to have your spine straight but not tense, shoulders and stomach relaxed, hands on your knees or lap.  Without trying to change or alter your breath, just begin to notice it.  Notice the breath as it enters your body and as it leaves your body.  Feel the sensation of the breath at the tip of your nose, as it enters the nostrils and moves out through the nostrils.  Feel the breath as it moves through your sinus passages and down through your throat and then back out.  Feel the rise and fall of your chest with each breath.  Feel the breath as it moves into and fills the lungs and as it moves back out.  Feel the diaphragm moving up and down with each breath.  Remember, there is no need to change the breath, you just notice it.  If it changes on its own, just notice that, too. Notice how you feel, as you are present with your breath.  Does your energy shift as you become more present with the breath?  How does it feel to connect with your own breath in a conscious way?

We are born with our breath and we die with our breath.  Throughout our lifetimes, we are given the opportunity to learn and grow.  The power of the breath offers us a vehicle for becoming more conscious, awake and alive.  In the words of the great yogic master, Vivekananda:

“We are responsible for what we are, and whatever we wish ourselves to be, we have the power to make ourselves. If what we are now has been the result of our own past actions, it certainly follows that whatever we wish to be in the future can be produced by our present actions; so we have to know how to act.”

Take some time this week to explore the power of your breath and how you can work with it to become who you wish to be.

Finding Connection Through Ceremony and Ritual

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One of the greatest diseases of our times is the sense of disconnection that is felt with ourselves, others and the world.   By bringing ceremony and ritual into our daily lives, we can begin to reconnect to the sacredness and beauty of life.   It can be a way to rediscover ourselves, to align with our soul purpose and to deepen our sense of connection with all things.

Many of us have come from backgrounds where ceremony and ritual was some part of our religious upbringing.  For some, that is something that we continue in daily life.  For others, it is something we may have abandoned as we grew and changed our views. For others, it may not have been part of our experience at all.   The new paradigm is about bringing it all forward; so, whatever your path has been, now can be a time to explore and reexamine your practices to see if they are in alignment with who you are today and how you intend to be in the world.

Some of the ways that ceremony and ritual can help us include:

  • Paying tribute to important life events and honoring our transitions
  • Being in harmony with the seasons and rhythms of nature
  • Creating sacredness in our lives
  • Honoring our ancient traditions or creating new ones
  • Releasing attachments to energies, relationships and situations, which are no longer serve us
  • Calling in energies and intentions we wish to bring forward
  • Evoking an ecstatic state of being and connecting at a soul level
  • Helping to heal our fundamental spiritual wound – the illusion of separateness from creation
  • Supporting specific healing for ourselves, others and the world
  • Aligning our energy with the present moment
  • Helping us to be more fully conscious and awake
  • Gaining clarity and understanding our experiences
  • Accessing spiritual guidance and wisdom

Ceremony can be something we do individually, with others or in community.  However we choose to create it, ceremony is a way to step out of the busyness of our lives and the world of linear time into sacred space where deeper understanding, healing and wisdom resides.  Ceremony, in and of itself, is a paradigm shift.   It can help us to focus on our visions and intentions and begin to draw them into the world of matter, allowing them to become manifest.

Rituals are the specific rites or tools we use as part of ceremony.  They can be used to create sacredness in any moment.  Many shamans begin the day by honoring the directions and connecting with the elements of nature.  Many people begin their day with meditation or prayer of some kind.  Whatever it is, beginning the day with some type of ritual or spiritual practice is a powerful way to move consciously into your daily life.  Some ways to create ritual include:

  • Lighting a candle
  • Setting an intention
  • Burning sage or other healing herbs such as sweet grass, yerba santé or cedar
  • Setting up an altar and arranging spiritually meaningful articles or pictures on it
  • Drumming, rattling, chanting, singing or listening to music or sounds of nature
  • Reciting prayers silently or aloud or reading from a sacred text
  • Cultivating a meditation practice
  • Being in silence and honoring the sacredness that comes from that space

Whether you choose to practice ceremony and ritual with others or on your own, it is important to create practices that support you in the present moment.  Here are some questions to consider in creating a ceremony or ritual practice:

  • What is your intention?  What is the reason for the ceremony or ritual?
  • Will it be personal, with another person or group?
  • What elements or tools need to be gathered?  What preparation needs to happen?
  • What will the structure of the ceremony or ritual be? Who will perform it? Where will it be done?
  • Are there any prayers, readings, songs, poems, and dances, etc. that you wish to include?
  • How will you open and close the ceremony?

Ceremony and ritual can be a beneficial part of daily spiritual practice.  It can help to align our energies in the present moment and to bring increased harmony to our lives.  Take some time this week to consider what you would like to create in your life and how ceremony and ritual may support that process.  Whether it is creating a ceremony with a specific intention or incorporating a ritual into your daily life, notice how this invokes a deeper sense of connection with yourself, others and the world.  Let your heart be your guide as you create your own new paradigm.

Embracing Heart Wisdom as Our Guide

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 “Being vulnerable doesn’t have to be threatening.  Just have the courage to be sincere, open and honest.  This opens the door to deeper communication all around. It creates self-empowerment and the kind of connections with others we all want in life.  Speaking from the heart frees us from the secrets that burden us.  These secrets are what make us sick or fearful.  Speaking truth helps you get clarity on your real heart directives.” – Sara Paddison, The Hidden Power of the Heart

 

It took me until my early thirties to really accept that in order to live a life of authenticity and truth I needed to make a paradigm shift.  This shift was based on moving the guiding force in my life from the mind to the heart.   I’ve been blessed to have many teachers along the way who have shared their heart wisdom and who have helped me to find the courage and strength to access my own vulnerability.

I grew up in a world where “everything was okay”, all the time.  Even when things were really not okay, when they were chaotic and at times, insane, the messages I received were that we didn’t talk about that, we just said, “I’m fine, everything is okay.”  Needless to say, it was very confusing and it didn’t take long for me to have the awareness that what people share with the world and what is really going on in the their lives, let alone inside themselves, is vastly different.

The “I’m fine, everything is okay” was my paradigm for a long time.  Even as I began to do some deeper work, to explore my inner landscape, and to access my emotions, there was still a part of me who held onto to that pattern.  In fact, at times, it still emerges today.

I believe this pattern is inherent for many of us and is one of the great obstacles to shifting into the new paradigm.  I see this on both the personal and collective levels.  As individuals, when we say, “I am fine, everything is okay,” and it is not what we are feeling, we are denying a part of ourselves and we are denying our own truth.   We are also putting a wall around our heart that is then forced to hold in and suppress what our true experience is at that time.

On a larger scale, we all see and experience things in the world that are not okay.  And, we do focus on those things and address them in a variety of ways.  I wonder what things could look like if we all really spoke up about our true feelings about what goes on in our world.   Most often, it is anger that is the driving force to speak up and/or take action.  But if we were to go into the depths of our heart, what would we share about our world and what do we feel needs to be spoken?

One of the experiences that supports this opening is the process of Council, which is based on traditional talking circles used by many indigenous peoples.  When we come together in circle, our intention is to share our hearts and our truth, tuning into what is arising in the present moment.   A talking piece is used to indicate that whoever is holding the piece is the only speaker at that time and the others circle members are listening until it is their turn to have the piece.  The council process can support communication, self-awareness, collective wisdom, relationship, community building, and peacemaking.

Although Council is usually done in a group, the principles of Council are a powerful tool in creating a shift into the new paradigm and breaking the old pattern of  “I’m fine, everything is okay”.  The guidelines of Council, which help to create safety and allow truth to emerge, are:

1)   Listen from the heart.  Take a few moments to drop down from the head into the heart space.  Whether you are in circle listening to others, or tuning into your own heart wisdom, listen with openness, knowing there is no need to give advice or feedback.  We often feel that we must have answers for other people and really what we need is to be heard and to have our heart sharing witnessed.  So much healing comes from the place of listening and sharing.  As we listen from a heart-centered place, we are being more fully present and allowing our own vulnerability to emerge.  Also, where we really need to begin this shift is in listening to our own hearts and being willing to hear our own true feelings without trying to suppress, resolve or fix them.

2)   Speak from the heart.  Take a few moments to be still, to drop from your head into your heart and allow what is true for you in that moment to be arise.  This may be something you need to practice with yourself as well as others.  Before we are able to become vulnerable with others, it is necessary to be willing to be vulnerable and truly honest with ourselves.  Speaking does not have to mean words; it can include sound, song, and even silence.  In Council, the intention is to speak what will serve you, the circle and the highest good.  This is a great way to think about what we need to communicate.

3)   Be lean.  Focus on what is important and what is really at the heart of the matter.  We often have many thoughts circling round and round in our minds but when we drop into the heart space, it takes few words to express what we feel and what is important.

4)   Be spontaneous.  When you allow yourself to drop into the heart space, you may be surprised by what arises.  We often think we are going to talk about one thing and then when we allow ourselves to move below the surface, something very different emerges.  Allowing ourselves to be spontaneous and letting go of agenda allows for playfulness, real-ness and our true voice to emerge.

One thing I would add to this list is patience.  Shifting into a heart-centered way of being is a process.  The heart moves much slower than the mind.  As the energies of our world are moving faster and faster, the need to slow down and drop into this heart space is even greater.  I encourage you to take some time to explore your heart, to access your vulnerability and to allow your deeper truth to emerge.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, feelings and reflections.

Spring Into Emergence

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One of the ways to stay in touch with the big picture is to honor natures transitions as well as our own.  What better time to explore this than as we move through the transition from winter into spring. Known as nature’s birthing season, spring is considered a time of creation in our world.  Energies, which were drawn inward in winter for rest and renewal, are now ready to come forth and blossom.  The first day of spring, usually March 21st, was on March 20th this year due to the leap year.  On this day, the Vernal Equinox marks the time when day equals night.  It is the beginning of the period when daylight, the sun, and yang (outward) energy will be the dominant force in our lives.  At this time, I always become aware of the substantial difference in my energy as the days become longer; I begin to feel more drawn to the outer world, as I am sure many of you do.

Although for some of us, this winter was so mild that at times it actually felt like spring, honoring this shift can still be an essential way to deepen our sense of connection to our natural world and to ourselves.  This time of transition gives us an opportunity to take a look at our lives and to begin to consciously create a plan of emergence. Spring is all about emergence. According to the Oxford Dictionary, the definition of emergence is:

  1. the process of becoming visible after being concealed;
  2. the escape of an insect or other invertebrate from an egg, cocoon, or pupal case; and
  3. the process of coming into existence or prominence.

Although several origins are attributed, one of the oldest is from the Latin emergere, meaning, “bring to light”.  One of the first signs of this for me is when I see new shoots bursting through the earth.  The first I saw this year were the crocuses, which came early, but now new life is emerging in every direction.  Just as the new shoots burst forth through the earth, we, too, are emerging from our “shell” of winter.  This is a wonderful time to explore what we can leave behind that is no longer serving us and begin cultivate the energies and inspirations that can help us become more authentic and whole.

Spring is a time for planting; it is the greening season.  In addition to planting outside, it is a time to really consider what new growth is emerging in various aspects of our lives, our work and our relationships.  It is a time to let our dreams blossom.  Being in tune with the rhythms of nature and of the season, can support us in allowing our own newness to unfold.  Beginning to spend more time outdoors, in the natural world, feeling the earth’s energies is a way to align ourselves with the change that is occurring both inwardly and outwardly.

In Chinese Medicine, spring is associated with the Wood element, which governs the gallbladder and liver organs.  The energy of Wood carries a connection to structure and this can be a good time to create new structures for our transformation.  Mentally, Wood corresponds to ideas; it supports our mental clarity, focus and our ability to plan and make decisions. Wood is associated with the East and so rules the morning.  Having a balanced Wood element gives us a capacity to be energized as we begin each day.  Another association of spring is the Wind, which helps to clear the old and bring in the new.  Creating a blueprint for how we would like our life to be is a way to bring this new vision to life.  It is also a powerful time for beginning a morning practice of meditation or reflection.

The liver and gallbladder, the organs associated with Wood, carry out essential functions, particularly digestion and processing of the many substances we take into our bodies.  A healthy diet and exercise can support these organs and the proper functioning of our whole energy system.  Spring is wonderful time to review our eating habits, to take time to eat slowly and mindfully, allowing our food to digest and provide vital nutrients.  A good seasonal diet includes many greens, fruits and whole grains. It is also a very good time for detoxification with fasting or juicing as a helpful part of the cleansing process.  Just as with our mind or emotions, this is a way to leave the past behind, to cleanse the physical and to create new structures for our well-being with diet and exercise.

By following the laws of nature, we can learn to live in more balanced, healthy and conscious ways.  It is when we move outside the laws of nature or resist change that we meet with difficulties. By becoming in tune with the energies of spring, on all levels, we can begin to move into greater harmony within ourselves and the world.  This is a key component to holding the big picture in daily life.  Spring is a perfect time to connect with our own creative intelligence and to allow our true nature to guide us forward to rebirth.

I began this spring by going on a medicine walk.  I was planning to go on a medicine walk to honor a transition I am going through and it seemed like the beginning of spring was the perfect time.  A medicine walk is a practice used by indigenous peoples to connect with Spirit and to gather medicine that comes from the wisdom of the natural world.  How often in our modern world do we spend a whole day in nature, just wandering through the woods, sitting by the river, meditating with the trees and rocks, listening to the birds and seeking wisdom and guidance from nature?  I find this practice to be a powerful tool for marking transitions; for letting go of the old and inviting in the new.  And, what better practice for honoring the time of transition into spring.  Whether for a whole day, a few hours or even a short time, I encourage you to take some time to go out in nature, to tune into yourself and to consider what you are ready and willing to let go of and what energies and qualities you might like to cultivate in your life.  Allow the wisdom of the natural world to be your guide, harmonize with the energies of spring and emerge into your own new beginning.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, reflections and experiences as you transition into Spring.

Is Your BP (Big Picture) too high or too low?

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As I have been exploring and connecting with the big picture and how to live it more consciously in daily life, one thing I have become aware of in my own journey and in working with others is the need for balance.  This is a huge topic, which I feel to explore in many ways, but for now I am speaking about balance in relation to the big picture.

Obviously, the big picture is BIG!  It’s actually huge, vast, and in a sense beyond measurement.  I know that at times in my life when I have been really plugged into the big picture it can be difficult to deal with the details of daily life.  And at other times, I am so bogged down with the details that I can easily forget to hold the big picture.  I feel like this exploration is critical to holding and embodying the big picture and living and participating in the world on a day-to-day basis.  So this week’s koan or question is:

“Is your BP (Big Picture) too high or too low?  Are you able to find balance between embodying your big picture and handling the details of daily life?  How can you begin to create this balance in your own life and in the world?”

We know from a medical perspective that when our blood pressure is too high or too low something is out of balance.  It is a very clear and measurable indicator and there are many courses of action to stabilize it.  Stable seems like a good word to bring into this conversation.  When we are balanced we feel a sense of stability on an inner and outer level.  Everything around us may be in constant flux, even our own being and our own molecules are constantly moving, but when we find balance, we feel stable and grounded.  So in a sense, what we are talking about here is finding some type of homeostasis that allows us to develop balance between our inner and outer worlds, between our big picture and our daily life.

Balance is necessary on all levels  –  physical, mental, emotional and spiritual as well as overall if we are to feel stability, but it is a dance, an ever-changing process.  Balance creates a sense of stability.  Cultivating balance is not about finding a stationary place that is comfortable, it is about staying present with what is arising, being in touch with our immediate experience and how it relates to our big picture and finding tools that help to support coming to a place of alignment.

What I have experienced as someone who has often tended seek out the more spiritual side of life is that at times, there is a worry about being too much in the big picture and not being able to deal with the affairs of daily life.  I have had a desire to avoid the materialism of the world, especially with many of the extremes that exist in the world today.

On the other hand, I can also get lost in my to do list and being busy and feel like what I am doing is not connected to the big picture, to a greater purpose and that leaves me feeling disconnected and often, discontent.   I know that at the center of this is the importance of having a sense of meaning and purpose that carries through to all aspects of life.  Living consciously and purposefully in 2012 does not mean living in a cave in the Himalayas or in a monastery, it means bringing that deeper truth out into the world and into every day experience.

Both high and low BP’s have benefits and challenges and yet, when we can find balance, we receive all of the benefits.  The greatest benefit is that we gain the ability to actualize our vision and truly live the big picture in daily life.  Some of the benefits and challenges I see include:

High BP

Benefits: Sense of Vision and Purpose, Excitement, Passion, Feeling Connected, Trust

Challenges: Difficulty dealing with the material world, Overwhelmed by details, Unable to manifest vision or turn ideas into actions

Low BP

Benefits: Able to maneuver in material world, More easily handle the details, Stay focused on specifics and what needs to be done to manifest big picture, Perseverance

Challenges: Feeling disconnected, Lack of purpose,  Holding onto to too much, Grasping, Discontent, Feeling stuck, Unable to relax

When my BP is too high, one of the main ways I work with it is to get more grounded.  This can be done in a variety of ways and what I have learned as a facilitator over 16 years is that each person must find the tools or practices that work best for them.  Some methods include grounding meditation, energy practices, connecting with nature, using stones or crystals, using essential oils, and the list of possibilities is endless.  For me, I know spending time in nature is key to getting and staying grounded.  I, also, use a meditation/visualization which connects me to the earth that I can use in any situation or environment.   Some of my favorite grounding stones are ruby and hematite, which are often found in my pocket.  Finding a place of groundedness allows the big picture to come through, to filter into the physical world and to become embodied.  One of the things I work with with clients, both individuals and groups, is exploring grounding practices and tools that can be used in daily life.  I encourage everyone to create their own list of grounding practices and tools and will explore this topic more in future posts.

When my BP is too low, I tend to get too caught up in the details.  Another aspect of this is when I recognize I am feeling stuck or have a sense of efforting with “the list”; that it is a clear indicator that I need to take a break from what I am doing.  I know I need to step back.   Some of the ways I work with this is the pause, meditation, doing something creative, engaging with others, unplugging, etc.   “The pause” is what I call it when I step away from what I am working on and take some time to shift my energy from my point of focus.  This practice in and of itself helps me to reconnect with the big picture.   Clearly, this concept can go a bit against the grain of our push/push culture, especially in relation to work, but I feel it is key to staying connected to the big picture.

As I was finishing up this post, my partner, Mario, came home with a photo of a young red-tailed hawk sitting in a tree.  Suddenly, I thought of how the hawk is a great metaphor for this topic.  Hawks can sit for hours waiting and when they do move, they move consciously.  They also soar up high in the sky, seeing the big picture and yet, when it is time to move in, they are able to focus on the details, but with purpose and intention.

In Shamanic Healing, we often work with animal totems or spirits, as a way to receive guidance and wisdom.   Considered in this way, hawk can be seen as a visionary, able to soar up high and connect with the spiritual realm, the big picture.  Hawks also have keen eyesight and the ability to soar downward; they have the ability to be very precise and help to implement the big picture below.   Hawk medicine is said to unite heaven and earth, to connect with the universal energies and yet bring them down to earth in a practical way.  One of the messages of hawk energy is that we can carry the big picture into our daily lives and that if we do so, our life will be more fulfilling and purposeful.

How can we carry the message of hawk into our daily lives and find balance between heaven and earth, between the big picture and daily life?   How can our experiences and interactions in the world become more meaningful and purpose driven?  And what might happen in our world if we are able to move from this place of connection and balance?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and reflections on this post, on your own experiences of your BP being too high or too low, on finding balance or anything that arises from exploring this topic.

Living the Big Picture in Daily Life

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Being human in 2012 feels like the foundation has shifted in many ways, sometimes it feels like there is no foundation at all.  Some theories are the poles have shifted, the ley lines have changed, it’s the end of the Mayan calendar, old systems are falling, new ones are emerging and the list goes on.  Clearly, there are many things impacting life on earth at this time.   What I have experienced on a personal level is that things that felt in alignment and that I had been working towards for some time, suddenly feel out of alignment.  At other times, I know I would be more able to tune in and gain clarity, but given the current energetic intensities, I have found it more difficult than in the past.  I know I am not alone in this experience

Recently, I have been working with Life Coach Susan Bishop of the Unlocked Box, to reexamine my work and what direction I feel to move with it.   A major focus of our explorations is the big picture – finding the umbrella of vision that all I do will fall under.  For me, this is not so easy to do.  Even having been born an Aquarian, the details of life can easily overshadow the big picture for me.  This current exploration reminds me of how challenging it can be to live the big picture – to be a spiritual being having a human experience.  The day to day, the pull of the “real” world can be so strong and yet, what is so real about it?   Knowing there are deeper truths and believing this physical world is a mirror for something so much bigger, vaster and more powerful is still not always enough to hold that universal truth when faced with demands of daily life.  And yet, when I do, on those days when I can remember more fully the truth of who I am, life is so much lighter, so much happier and offers me a path to deeper awakening.

During the time I have been working on starting this blog, I picked up a book by Elizabeth Mattis-Namgyel, The Power of an Open Question.  In it she speaks of the Zen tradition of having a personal koan.  A koan is a paradoxical story, dialogue or question that is used as a starting point for meditative inquiry.  This got me thinking about writing a koan for this blog and for my exploration:

How do we hold the big picture in daily life?  How do we live as spiritual beings in a human body? How do we find our authenticity in the world and stay awake to the truth of who we are?  How do we live and breathe universal truth?   How do we embody the big picture in all of our experiences in the world?

In my own journey, some of the tools I use to help in staying in the big picture and holding universal truth in daily life include:

Meditation and Prayer

Spending time in Nature

Grounding and Energy Practices

Shamanic Journeywork

Connecting with Like-Minded Others

Creative Expression

Practicing the Pause

Starting my day with some type of meditation, prayer and intention has been a part of my life for a long time.  At this time, it feels even more vital to staying awake and conscious throughout each day.  And even then, as each challenge arises, I must remember.  That guy in his SUV cuts me off in DC beltway traffic or there’s a long line at the store when I am already late to a meeting; these are all times I can forget the truth of who I am and the big picture.  Carrying a meditative or spiritual practice with me throughout the day is one way to continue my sitting meditation in daily life.  I am also hoping this blog will be a part of carrying the big picture into daily life and I hope you will join me on this journey.  I’d love to hear your thoughts and ways that you practice living the big picture in daily life.