Tag Archives: Wholeness

Day 24 ~ May Is For Metta 2015: 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 on HOA, 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.

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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.

 

Free Teleseminar ~ “A Holistic Approach To Life & Self-Care”

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Discover The Healer Within

I’d like to invite you to join me for my upcoming Free Teleseminar this Thursday, January 30th at 12 PM ET.  This month’s topic is “A Holistic Approach To Life & Self-Care“.

Adopting a holistic approach to life and self-care offers a framework for optimal health, wellness, and personal growth.  Join us as we explore what a holistic approach to life and self-care is; and how you can begin to incorporate this approach into your experience of daily life.  This is an opportunity to start fresh with a personal plan for wellness and self-care.

In the exploration, you will learn:

* What a holistic approach means
* The benefits of adopting a holistic approach to life and self-care
* Ways to support the four basic levels – body, mind, emotion & spirit
* A simple self-care plan to incorporate into your daily life
* How to develop a holistic resource toolbox to support your well-being

I will also share about my journey in healing through Fibromyalgia and how adopting a holistic approach to life and self-care was the key to my recovery and achieving optimal well-being.

Location: Where Ever You Are! Listen By Phone or Online

Cost: Free. Registration will offer access to the live event and audio replay.

Register Now!

A Note From Facilitator, Beth Terrence:

I have been working in the field of Holistic Health & Wellness for over 17 years.  I came to this field from my own journey of healing through Fibromyalgia and Trauma.  It is my passion to help others to heal and support them in living a heart-centered, balanced and joyful life through discovering the healer within.

I started meditating and practicing yoga when I was 14 years old and this has been a foundation of my life ever since.  I believe that we all need tools to support our well-being – body, mind, emotion and spirit.  It is my hope that through sharing my own journey as well as my understanding, developed through both education and experience, that I can assist others in finding the holistic tools and resources that can support them in achieving wholeness and optimal living.

I hope you’ll join me to explore “A Holistic Approach To Life & Self-Care” this Thursday, January 30th at 12 PM ET or via the audio replay.

Register Now!

If you’d like additional information on Individual Sessions in person in Annapolis, MD or by Phone/Skype, Classes/Workshops, Teleseminars, Speaking & or to schedule a complimentary consultation, visit www.bethterrence.com.

30 Gratitude Quotes To Inspire You!

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Attitude Of Gratitude

Thanksgiving may be over but cultivating an attitude of gratitude is something we can do everyday.  I have decided to invite Gratitude in as a theme on The Heart Of Awakening for the month of December.  One of the things I have learned recently in my explorations on the Path of Peace is that in order to truly achieve peace, we need to bring it beyond the feeling or mental state into an action state.  I feel the same way about Gratitude and will be sharing various explorations to support developing an active practice of gratitude.

Sometimes this simply begins with being inspired by others words and ideas, so here are 30 Gratitude Quotes for you to explore.  Also, please feel free to share your favorite Gratitude quotes in the comments below.

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” – Marcel Proust

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” – Thornton Wilder

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” – Albert Schweitzer

“The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.”
 – William James

He is a wise an who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” – Epictetus

“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

               “True forgiveness is when you can say, “Thank you for that experience.”  – Oprah Winfrey

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” – Eckhart Tolle

“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.” – Meister Eckhart  

“Forget yesterday – it has already forgotten you. Don’t sweat tomorrow – you haven’t even met. Instead, open your eyes and your heart to a truly precious gift – today.”   -Steve Maraboli  

“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.” – Maya Angelou

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” – Cicero  

“God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say thank you.”
– William Arthur Ward

“Be happy with who you are and what you do, and you can do anything you want.”
– Steve Maraboli

“When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears.”
– Anthony Robbins

“The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.” – Henry Ward Beecher

“In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“An attitude of gratitude brings great things.” – Yogi Bhajan

“Love of God is pure when joy and suffering inspire an equal degree of gratitude.” – Simone Weil

If we want to keep the blessings of life coming to us, we must learn to be grateful for whatever is given.”
– Harold Klemp

“Gratitude and love are always multiplied when you give freely. It is an infinite source of contentment and prosperous energy.” – Jim Fargiano

Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.” – Henri Frederic Amiel

“The more grateful we are, the more we practice this in our everyday lives, the more connected we become to the universe around us.” – Stephen Richards

“Be grateful for whatever it is that opens you up.” – Allan G. Hunter

“It doesn’t matter if the glass is half empty or half full. Be thankful that you have a glass and grateful that there’s something in it.” – Unknown

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”
 – Oprah Winfrey

“To express gratitude is to put into words a beautiful sense of wholeness. Recognizing the people, the experiences, and the extraordinary gifts of life which feed our souls.” – Anna

“Wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving.”
– Kahlil Gibran

“Gratitude is a form of worship in its own right, as it implies the acceptance of a power greater than yourself.” – Stephen Richards

Autumn Tips For Happy And Healthy Living

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Happy Autumn

“There is a harmony in autumn, and a luster in its sky,
which through the summer is not heard or seen,
as if it could not be, as if it had not been! ”
~ Percy Bysshe Shelley

Each season moves us through a period of transformation.  Autumn and spring tend to be the times of more intense change and it is a powerful time to harmonize with the energy of the season for happy living and healthy well-being. Traditionally, autumn is the harvest season.  It is the time for our bodies to harvest and gather energy for the colder months ahead. The yang/outer energy of summer gives into the growing yin/inner energy of the approaching winter.

The days are getting shorter and cooler and as we are transitioning we may find that we are more tired, emotions are surfacing such as loss and grief and we may even feel a sense of overwhelm.  Although it may not seem so on the surface, there is an intense shift happening as we are clearing the excess heat from summer and then, we quickly need to begin warming the body the against extremes we will experience in Winter.  The strong, drying winds of autumn and the falling temperatures help the leaves to fall to earth and also, begin to push our own energies in and down as well.

In Chinese Medicine, the organs most active in this season are those of the Metal element – Lung and Large Intestine, both of which have strong functions of absorption and elimination.  With the Lungs this has to do with respiration and with the Large Intestine, it has to do with digestion.  The emotions associated with this season are grief and loss and it is not uncommon to experience a lot of sadness bubbling up this time of year.  By moving into harmony with what is natural arising in our being and nurturing these parts of ourselves, we can support ourselves in creating greater joy and ease of well-being now and as we move into the stillness of Winter.

Here are some tips to help you harmonize with the season:

  1. Rest & Renewal – It is natural to feel a sense of tiredness or fatigue as the seasons are changing.  This shift affects us in many ways and living in a modern world with electricity and technology can make it easy to override our natural rhythms.  The feelings of the yin energy coming in can be a heavy feeling, like we are being pulled down and it can be one we want to resist in order to get things done.  Be sure to listen to your body, mind, emotion and spirit and follow the messages you receive in terms of getting adequate rest.  You may be feeling to go to bed earlier or sleep in later in the mornings.  You may feel like taking nap in the middle of the day.  Your body is telling you what it needs; all you need to do is listen.  Getting adequate rest now is a precursor to having strong immune function during coming the winter months.
  2. Letting Go Of Clutter: In & Out – Autumn is the season of letting go and releasing.  We see this in nature as the leaves turn and begin to fall back to earth.  We see this with the Lung & Large Intestines as well.  We can use the energy of the season to support us in letting go of things that are no longer serving us.  This may be the clutter in our office or home and it may be beliefs we are holding that no longer serve us.  You may find that things you’ve wanted to clear or de-clutter and felt stuck on move more easily as you attend to them this time of year.  Taking time to create clearer space, both inner and outer, supports you in preparing for the stillness of winter.  Think about what you are ready to let go of.  Where can you focus your energies to create more space in your life?  What are you ready to let go of today?
  3. Connecting With Nature – Whether we are conscious of it or not, we are a part of nature.  Taking time to be present and connect with the natural world can help us to connect more deeply with our own essence.  Spend some time in nature just being.  Perhaps a walk in the woods or even just around your neighborhood.  Take some time to notice the changes that are abounding this time of year – the leaves turning color and falling, the squirrels busily preparing for winter, and the roots vegetables peaking that can support us through Winter.
  4. Warming Your Body & Soul – As the weather begins to cool and the air becomes drier, we need to find ways to warm and soothe our body and our soul.  In Chinese Medicine, Autumn is a powerful time to strengthen our Lung & Large Intestine function.  Drinking hot beverages can help to keep your body hydrated and warm.  Teas such as Rooibos, Green Tea, Fenugreek, Chamomile and Licorice can be beneficial.  Also, warming herbs such as Ginger, Cinnamon, Cloves or Cardamom can help warm our whole system.  Honey can be helpful as it supports yin function making it the perfect sweetener for this time of year; it can be used in tea or just in warm water to soothe a sore throat.  Try this simple ginger tea is incredibly warming and supports digestion as well:  Wash ginger root. Slice thumb sized pieces of ginger and place in 2 cups of water. Cover and simmer for 10-20 minutes and drink while warm.  Add honey if you need a sweetener.  Also, taking hots baths can help to keep the body warm and release toxins that are ready to be let go.  Try infusing your bath with some herbs such as lavender, chamomile, calendula, comfrey, clary sage or create your own blend.  Make a hot water infusion with 10 ounces of dried herbs in cups of water, steep for 15 – 20 minutes, strain and add to your bath; or you may wish to put the herbs directly into in a cheesecloth bundle.
  5. Honoring Our Ancestors –  In many cultures around the world, Autumn is seen as a time when we turn our thoughts turn to those who have left us; we think about their legacy and what they have left behind.  Often this “remembrance” arises naturally as feelings of sadness, loss and grief come to the surface.  It said that the “veils” are thinner this time of year and that our ancestors often come home to visit their loved ones.  This is a powerful time to honor our ancestors through ceremony & ritual.  It can also be a good time to allow ourselves to release feelings of loss and grief that we have been carrying that is ready to be released.  Sometimes we need to come to greater completion with our ancestors or loved ones.  Take some time to think of your ancestors.  Is there someone who has passed that you need to work with to move to a place of greater peace in your life?  Perhaps there are feelings you need to share or work through that are unresolved.  Now it the perfect time to do this type of soul work.  Is there is a pattern or belief you have become aware of in your ancestral lineage?  What can you do to begin to transform that pattern?  Perhaps simply asking your ancestors for help is the place to begin!

I hope you will take some time in the coming weeks to harmonize with the energy of the season.  As always, feel free to stop by to share your experiences and reflections.

Happy Autumn!

Peace ~ A Body, Mind, Emotion & Spirit Approach

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“If we’re frantic, life will be frantic… And so our goal in any situation becomes inner peace.”

~  Marianne Williamson

I have been working on a story for an upcoming Heal My Voice Collaborative Book project.   This will be my second time participating in a Heal My Voice Writing Circle and the focus is on Peace.  It’s been a couple of months that I have been gathering ideas and exploring what story might want to emerge for the book.  And, I have been diving into what peace means to me, how I experience it and where in my life I am not experiencing peace.

Awhile back, I came upon a course listing from a fellow Zero Balancer. Zero Balancing® is a type of body/energy work that I utilize in my holistic practice.  And, interestingly, it was one of the best modalities I have experienced that facilitates and supports a deep sense of inner peace.  The title of the course was “The Peaceful Body.   Just hearing this term stirred something in me.  I realized that so often we tend to think of peace in terms of a peaceful mind or peaceful spirit.  Suddenly, I felt strongly that in order to truly experience peace and embody it in the world, it really seems beneficial to consider it on all levels.

In my life and my work, I have tended to take a holistic approach – one that addresses body, mind, emotion and spirit and the integration of all of those parts into a balanced whole.  This feels like an important paradigm to bring to the cultivation of peace.  Gandhi’s famous words,”We must be the change we wish to see in the world” comes to mind here.  We often hear that we cannot bring peace to our world if we are unable to cultivate peace within our own selves.  But what does that mean?

It’s easy to say we need to cultivate peace in our lives but learning how to actualize that awareness and how to live and embody peace is another story.  My sense is that by taking a holistic approach to peace, we can create a framework for developing and deepening our ability to be Peace Beings, on all levels – body, mind, emotion and spirit.

A peaceful body

A peaceful mind

A peaceful emotional state                         =  A PEACEFUL BEING

A peaceful spirit

Many Peaceful Beings  = A Peaceful Planet

I have been told often that I have a very peaceful presence.  I find this interesting as I have tended to experience stress and anxiety and continue to work through old traumas.  Even when I might not feel calm, I seem to project that energy outward.  My sense is this comes from 30 plus years of meditation and cultivating stillness within.  Even when I may not feel peaceful inside, others tend to feel peaceful around me.  This may also have to do with the fact that having come through traumatic experiences, I know how to be calm in the face of crisis and chaos.

I share this because, for many years, I saw this as a strength and I have to admit that it still does come in handy, especially when facing a crisis or dealing with a chaotic situation.  However, what I have learned in my years as a body/energy worker, healer and most of all a being in search of peace is that there is a price to pay when we hold the façade of peace and yet, our center continues to hold turmoil and chaos.

It is often this gap that creates the greatest disharmony in our individual selves and in our world.  If we consider this from purely an energetic perspective, most of us have a sense of when we feel chaotic, unbalanced and disconnected and we probably, also have a sense of when we feel peaceful, balanced and connected.  I use the following sketches to illustrate this:

Image #1 depicts an energy body that is chaotic, unbalanced and disconnected.

Image #1 depicts an energy body that is chaotic, unbalanced and disconnected.

Image #2 depicts our energy body when we are peaceful, balanced and connected.

Image #2 depicts our energy body when we are peaceful, balanced and connected.

There are many ways to shift our energy from a chaotic state to a balance and peaceful state.  Also, just having the awareness of these variations and recognizing how we tend to move between the two states can be the beginning of a practice to become a more Peaceful Being.

Exploration: A Holistic Approach To Peace

Taking a holistic approach to Peace offers a framework for actively working to cultivate deeper peace in our lives and in our world.  In order to feel peaceful, balanced and connected, we need to attend to the our whole self- body, mind, emotion and spirit.  And, we need to also find ways to integrate all of these aspects of self.  Take some time to explore each level and how you might work to create greater peace and balance in your life.

Body – Do you feel healthy?  Are you following a diet that supports well-being?  Are there foods or chemicals you are taking in that may cause you to feel out of balance or be harmful to your body?  Do you get enough rest and relaxation?  Are you experiencing tension or discomfort in your physical body that needs your attention? Take some time this week to do a holistic self-care review and consider what changes may support your body in being more in a state of peacefulness and balance.

Mind – Do you experience a calm mind?  Are you able to create space for stillness?  Does mental chatter or busyness keep you from feeling peaceful and balanced?  Are you holding beliefs that are in opposition to being at peace, e.g. the world is unsafe, I am undeserving of peace or happiness, there is only one way to peace, etc.  Take some time this week to explore a practice that helps to quiet your mind, such as meditation, yoga, or even a walk in nature.  Also, do some journaling to explore beliefs you may be carrying that are keeping you from a deeper experience of peace.

Emotion ~ Are you holding in feelings that need to be expressed or released?  Are you in denial about feelings you are experiencing?  Are you unable to connect with what you are actually feeling?  Are you picking up on the emotions of others due to a depleted or chaotic energy field?  Take some time this week to explore what you are feeling.  Are there unresolved feelings you need to work to let go of?  Be open to really listening to your heart and what it needs in order to move into a place of peace.

Spirit – Do you feel a sense of connection to your self? to others? to the world? to Source?  Experiencing a sense of connection is one of the foundations for Peace.  When we are disconnected, we lack a sense of support and stability which is inherent in the energetic quality of peace.  Take some time this week to explore your sense of connection.  Do you need to do some inner work to connect with your own self?  Do you need to connect with community?  Do you have a spiritual practice which supports connection and fosters peace in your life?

In addition to considering each level on it’s own, it is also important to consider the interrelationship of various aspects of self as well as overall integration.  For instance, sometimes we are holding emotions in the physical body that need to be released or discharged.  Sometimes body/energy work can support this; sometimes emotional release work or even some type of physical exercise is needed.  Be open to exploring what practices and tools support you in achieving a sense of wholeness and well-being.  This is another foundation for becoming a Peaceful Being.

A simple practice for cultivating peace ~  When you have a moment where you recognize you are feeling chaotic, stressed, unbalanced, etc.  Take a few deep breaths.  Breathing in for a count of five and out of a count of five.  Then, let your breath move to it’s own natural rhythm.  Continuing to follow the breath with your intention and awareness – on the in breath invite in the energy of peacefulness and calm in to your body, mind, emotion and spirit.  As you breath out, let go of any tensions, worries, stresses, or obstacles to peace that you may be carrying in body, mind, emotion and spirit.  You may wish to do all the levels at once or work with one at at time.  (Note: This practice can also be used to explore what you are feeling or experiencing on each level)

I hope you have a beautiful week.  May it be filled with peacefulness, balance and connection.

As always, feel free to stop by to share your thoughts, feelings or reflections on Peace.

Seeking the Shaman Within: An Interview with Beth Terrence

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I wanted to share an interview done by my good friend and colleague Herbalist/Health Educator Leigh Glenn about my path as a shaman and healer. Leigh and I live local to each other in the Annapolis, MD area and had a mutual friend suggest that we meet, but it was actually through our blogs that we connected in the Spring of 2012. I just love that! Since then we have explored together in many ways.

Leigh and I will be offering a workshop on Saturday, July 27th in Annapolis on Living From The Heart From Cholesterol To Consciousness. This workshop focuses on the heart as guide. Through education and experiential practices, we will explore living a deeply heart-centered life through accessing the heart holistically – on the level of body, mind, emotion and spirit. To Register or learn more, visit http://livingfromtheheartworkshop.eventbrite.com.  I hope you enjoy Leigh’s post and be sure to explore her site, Art of Earth, which offers lots of great information and insights on herbs, health & wellness, plant spirit medicine, sustainable living and more.

Art of Earth

My first personal encounter with shamanic practices came in 2007, in an appropriate-to-our-times trio of CDs recorded by therapist and shamanic practitioner Sandra Ingerman. It was entitled, The Soul Retrieval Journey: Seeing in the Dark.IngermanSoulRetrieval

As Ingerman defined it, “Shamanism is the first spiritual practice of human kind,” dating back at least 30,000 years. Shamanic practices are cross-cultural, with variants used in Siberia, Australia, Africa, North and South America, and parts of Europe and Asia.

The word “shaman” comes from Tungus, a Siberian tribe (today called the Evenki), and it translate as “one who sees in the dark.” That phrase resonates as shamanic work often involves going into the depths of what we don’t see in our everyday, conscious lives and bringing ideas, revelations, and more nuanced views of old experiences into our consciousness so that we can grow our awareness of ourselves.

Fast-forward to 2011. I’d heard about…

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7 Ways to Cultivate Love and Compassion for Yourself

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Learn to trust your
Feelings and, most of all,
allow yourself to
grow;

Perpetual expansion
is the way of the
Heart and the Soul
.

– Maria Lucia

One of the earliest posts on The Heart Of Awakening was “7 Ways To Cultivate Love And Compassion For Yourself”; this continues to be one of the most popular and what I feel is one of the most important posts found here. In my personal journey of healing and transformation, learning to love myself was the key that opened the door for new possibilities to emerge.  Although I had tried to work on this on my own in various ways, I had not had tremendous success as the patterning and critical voices I carried overpowered any voices of self-love I might have tried to develop.  Even having focused for years on the heart as a focal point of my spiritual practice, I still felt like I wasn’t worthy enough of my own love and compassion.

In 2003, I had the blessing to connect with a teacher of the heart, Maria Lucia Picaza and spent a year devoting myself to the heart as guide through her program, School Of Spiritual Heart Studies, aka “Heart School”.  This year was a turning point in my life. Interestingly, I was in the beginning of a period of tremendous change – relocation, the loss of my mother, separation, financial stress and a lot more was to come over the next few years.  I call this a blessing because had I not begun to devote myself to the heart and to loving myself at that time I don’t really know how I would have made it through that difficult time.  I continued to have intense major losses for a period of about 3 years and much of that stirred up old traumas and patterns I had not resolved.

Being gifted with the tools that Maria Lucia shared in addition to my spiritual practices and a number of other heart-centered guides in my life, I was able to consciously work to let go of old patterns, feelings and beliefs that were no longer serving me and to move into a new way of being – one of love, compassion and acceptance of myself and others.  If you explore, you may be able to find a copy of Maria Lucia’s book, The Heart’s Unraveling: The Birth of a New Evolutionary Directive, which offers a foundation in shifting our consciousness from a mind based directive to a heart based path.

The post “7 Ways To Cultivate Love And Compassion For Yourself” developed out of an essay I wrote that summed up what I learned about the heart during that year of devotion to the heart.  As I mentioned, even though I attended to this in various ways, previously, this was the first year I totally devoted myself to the heart and it has become my path ever since.  These steps have become a foundation in my personal life, in the work I offer to others individually and in workshops, and in my writings.

I hope you enjoy the post and as always, feel free to share your thoughts, feelings and reflections.

The Heart of Awakening

Perhaps one of the hardest and most healing things we can do for both for ourselves and for the world is to cultivate love and compassion for ourselves.  In the Buddhist practice of Metta, or loving-kindness meditation, it is taught that in order to have love and compassion for others and the world, we must begin with offering those energies to ourselves. In the practice, we begin by generating the feelings and qualities of love and compassion and then repeating phrases like these: 

May I be happy. May I be peaceful. May I be free of suffering. May I have ease of well-being.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It is understood that without a strong foundation of compassion for ourselves, we will not have the ability to truly embody those qualities in the world and extend them to other beings.  For many of us, who have grown up in western culture, it goes against…

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Meditation ~ A Universal Tool For Well-Being

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Quanyin

“Watchfulness is the path of immortality:
Unwatchfulness is the path of death.
Those who are watchful never die:
Those who do not watch are already as dead.Those who with a clear mind have seen this truth,
Those who are wise and ever watchful,
They feel the joy of watchfulness,
The joy of the path of the great.And those who in high thought and in deep contemplation
With ever living power advance on the path,
They in the end reach NIRVANA,
The peace supreme and infinite joy.~ Buddha, The Dhammapada

One of the main practices that we explore on The Heart Of Awakening Blog is meditation.  I have found this to be one of the most essential practices for living as a human being.  I began my personal exploration with meditation when I was 14 years old and have been a practitioner and spiritual seeker ever since.  I have explored meditative and contemplative practices from a variety of spiritual traditions and cultures.  I have certain foundational practices that I continue to work with and I am always open to exploring new ones.  What I have found in my own journey and in working with others is that it is important to find a practice that supports where you are and where you would like to be and that is resonant with who you are today.

Overall, meditation is a process of focusing, calming and observing the movement of the mind.  It is an important tool to achieve mental clarity, well-being and spiritual awareness.   Almost all spiritual traditions have some form of meditation or contemplation as a way to practice and deepen our sense of connection with self, others, the world and spirit.  Metta meditation is a Buddhist practice that cultivates loving-kindness and compassion.  It begins with self, as creating a foundation of compassion for self is seen as necessary to be able to offer this energy to others.  I find this practice to be highly beneficial for both beginning and experienced meditators; that is why I offer the annual May Is For Metta: 31 Days Of Loving-kidness practice during the month of May each year. (Note: The practice is available to start anytime)

Regardless of what type of meditation practice you are working with, it is fascinating to consider how science is really beginning to identify many of the benefits of meditation, which spiritual practitioners have known for so long.   Many institutions including Harvard Medical School and NIH have now shown that meditation can have positive effects on an individual’s health and overall well-being.  Research shows that this is accomplished as meditation brings the brainwave patterns into an alpha state, which is a level of consciousness that promotes a healing state.  There is even scientific evidence that meditation can reduce blood pressure and relieve pain and stress.

As I was writing the post, I came across an article by David DeSteno on the Daily Good, entitled, “The Morality Of Meditation”.  DeSteno heads up the Social Emotions Group at Northeastern University; as stated on their website, the group’s goal is “to illuminate the complex and reciprocal relations binding emotion and social behavior. In short, we’re most interested in how emotions shape decisions and actions underlying many of the most important facets of social living.”  Aware of many of the positive benefits of meditation, the group wanted to actually explore Buddha’s original teaching that meditation is the path to ending suffering.

What they found was it took only a short period of time for people who just began meditating to become more compassionate than a control group.  There has been other research on the aspect of the development of compassion through meditation, whether we are using a compassion practice, such as Metta, or another type of practice.  Meditation makes us more compassionate – as we become more connected to ourselves, others and the world, that is a natural response. There are many benefits that have come to light through recent research and that support what meditation practitioners have long known, so at this point, there is really no reason not to meditate and every reason to practice.  Meditation practice makes us healthier, more balanced and more loving and compassionate.

Here is a list of some of the ways that meditation can benefit us on the level of body, mind, emotion and spirit:

Physical:

  • Decreased high blood pressure.
  • Lowered cholesterol levels.
  • Deep rest measured by decreased metabolic rate and lower heart rate.
  • Lowered levels of cortisol and lactate, two chemicals associated with stress.
  • Reduction of free radicals – unstable oxygen molecules that can cause tissue damage.
  • Improved flow of air to the lungs resulting in easier breathing.
  • Decreases the aging process.

Mental/Emotional:

  • Greater creativity.
  • Decreased anxiety.
  • Decreased depression
  • Decreased irritability and moodiness
  • Improved learning ability and memory.
  • Increased self-actualization.
  • Increased feelings of vitality and rejuvenation.
  • Increased happiness.
  • Increased emotional stability.
  • Increased brain wave coherence

Spiritual:

  • Experiencing a sense of oneness and connection
  • Deeper understanding and fulfillment of purpose
  • A sense of completion
  • Strengthening intuition and insight
  • Deepening our sense of empathy and compassion for ourselves, others & the world.
  • An overall experience of well-being

Here are a few other posts on HOA related to meditation that you might like to explore:

SoHam Mantra Meditation: Breathing, Connecting, Being

The Power Of The Breath

Exploring Metta Meditation

May Is For Metta

Meditation On Actualizing Intention

Exploring A Holistic Approach To Living & Well-Being

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Chakras

“To be great, be whole;
Exclude nothing, exaggerate nothing that is not you.
Be whole in everything. Put all you are
Into the smallest thing you do.
So, in each lake, the moon shines with splendor
Because it blooms up above.”
~ Fernando Pessoa

As human beings, our life consists of four basic levels: spiritual, mental, emotional and physical.  In order to create a healthy, balanced way of living, we need to give attention to each of these aspects of ourselves.  As we do so, we become able to heal the specific parts of ourselves that are in need in any given moment and we begin to create a greater sense of wholeness by attending to all aspects of ourselves.  Life is always changing and so are we, but as we deepen in our experience of ourselves, all aspects of ourselves, we begin to create a foundation for living a more joyful and balanced life.

When go through life transitions, we tend to lose the structure of caring for ourselves or we may have never even had one.  Also, when we are desiring to create a certain change in our lives,  a new structure is needed and in the transition, we are lacking a foundation to support that change.   This is a natural part of the change process.   Although there may be discomfort with the  uncertainty and instability that accompanies  change, there is an opening for a new way of being to emerge.  By being willing to look at where we are, what we have experienced and what changes we wish to bring forth in our lives, we have a great opportunity to delve deeper into ourselves and to create a new structure for living life in a more loving and conscious way.

In my personal healing journey and in my work with others, I have found that taking an integrative holistic approach to life and well-being supports a return to balance.  This model also offers a structure for self-reflection and action during the change process.  It can also be used in an ongoing way as part of a holistic self-care plan.

Defining The Four Levels

Spiritual:   This is our soul or our inner essence that connects us to universal source and the oneness of life.  By developing this part of ourselves, we can begin to experience a sense of belonging to a greater whole, to having deeper purpose and meaning in our lives, and to feeling we are more that just an individual.  This level creates a foundation for all the other levels of our being.

Mental:  This is our intellect, our ability to think and reason things out.  It includes our thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and values.  Developing this level supports us in our abilities to think clearly, to be open-minded and to be discerning.  Through our minds, we are able to gather information and knowledge from our life experiences and from the world we live in.

Emotional:  This is our ability to relate to others, to ourselves and to the world on a feeling level.  It allows us to experience life deeply and to have meaningful connections with others.  Developing this level supports us in having a full range of experiences and to bringing fulfillment to our relationships with others and ourselves.

Physical:  This is our physical body.  It includes our ability to survive and thrive on the material plane.  We develop this level through caring for our bodies and learning to be connected to our physical being.  It also includes the development of skills to live and manage life in the material world.

Caring for the Four Levels

Caring for all of the levels is equally important.  To live a balanced and healthy life, we need to focus time and attention on each level.  Most of us develop certain parts more than others depending on our life experiences.   We may have been supported or discouraged from developing certain parts.  At certain times in our lives, we may need to focus attention on a specific area to assist us in where we are and what we are experiencing or in healing traumas and wounds from the past that may exist on any level.  There is no right way to heal or change.  We can proceed by developing one area or working on all at once.  Allowing our lives to guide us by being present with where we are and accepting who we are is a major part of the process.  We cannot change where we have been, but by being gentle, loving and present with ourselves in the now, we can create positive changes in our lives.  And it is this moment, which creates the next.

Here are some ways to explore caring for each of the levels.

Spiritual:   Develop or explore a spiritual practice, such as meditation, yoga, tai chi or studying a spiritual teaching.   Spend a few moments in prayer each day.   Create a gratitude journal and write in it.   Spend time in nature, gardening or hiking.  Practice mindfulness in your daily activities.  Spend some time each day checking in with yourself and asking for inner guidance.  Take time to be alone and quiet, just “being” with yourself.  Explore creative activities such as painting, dancing, singing.  You know it’s a spiritual practice when you feel it feeding your soul.

Mental:   Pay attention to your thoughts.  Write down some of your repetitive thoughts and beliefs.  Make a list of core beliefs and examine where they came from.  Explore which beliefs support you and which limit you.  Be open to exploring new ideas and letting go of old ones.  Explore things you do well and like to do, as this is part of your native intelligence.

Emotional:  Honor all of your feelings.  Ask what they are about; allow the feelings to guide you to what you need.  Learn to appreciate your different moods and emotions.  Journal about what you are feeling.  Get help or support on emotional healing from friends, family, a therapist, a healer or a support group.   Have healthy boundaries.  Give yourself time and space to process your feelings.  Be open to receiving love and support.

Physical:  Tune in, feel and listen to your physical body.  Consume plenty of water.  Eat a diet that is appropriate for you.  Eat regularly.  Get plenty of rest.  Get fresh air each day.  Get regular exercise and daily physical movement.  Heal you addictions.  Experience physical touch, affection and closeness.  Cultivate your ability to practically manage aspects of living in the material world.  Get some bodywork or massage.  Listen to your body’s innate wisdom and follow it.

A Holistic Self-Care Exploration

Take a few moments to answer these questions.  The intention of looking at each of the four levels of existence is to see how you are experiencing these aspects in your life at this time.  Notice any areas that may need attention and notice those areas that feel developed and balanced.  Also, be open to noticing and exploring any resistance that may come up about any of the levels.  Write down any ideas you have about how you can create more balance in any specific area or overall.  Also, write down anything you have done in the past, particularly before recent transitions, which may have supported you in any of these areas.

Spiritual:    Do you feel a sense of connection to your spiritual source?  Do you have a relationship with your own inner wisdom or intuitive guidance?  Do you feel you are a part of a greater whole?  Do you spend time alone just “being”? Do you have a spiritual practice, which supports you being?

Mental:  Are you satisfied with your intellect?  Can you think and express yourself clearly?   Do you have a belief system that supports you and works for you?  Are you open to new ideas without being overly impressionable?  Do you have clarity?  Are you able to stay focused?

Emotional:  Are you in touch with your feelings and able to express them appropriately?  Do you allow yourself to experience a full range of emotions or do you find you shut down certain emotions if they arise? (E.g. fear, sadness, anger, joy, love)  Are you able to set appropriate boundaries with others?   Are you able to be open and honest with others and your self about your feelings?  Can you relate to others in a close, intimate way?

Physical:  Are you physically healthy and active?  Do you feel comfortable in your body?  Do you like your body?   Do you eat a healthy, balanced diet?  Are you comfortable in the material world?  Are you practical and down to earth?  Are you financially stable?  Do you enjoy your sexuality?

This review can be useful in the process of creating changes in your life.  It can also be used regularly as part of a holistic self-care plan.  It is a great way to do a check-in or review of where you are in the change process.  I tend to use it monthly just to touch base with the various aspects of myself and to see where I may have moved out of balance or need to give more attention based on what is arising in my life.  It is also great to see the progress and how I have grown in certain areas as well.

As always, please feel free to share you thoughts, feelings and reflections.

Know Yourself: The Foundation For Change

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You cannot transcend what you do not know.  To go beyond yourself, you must know yourself.

~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

I am excited to be starting a new 31 Day Blog Challenge.  Every year when I do May Is For Metta, I feel like this is an opening to write more and daily.  Then, June comes and find I just don’t make it back to the page as much as I intend to.  Having a motivator, a challenge or a deadline that is accountable to others is something I find I need.  I am not sure why this is the case. I’d love to just say I am going to write everyday and do it, just because I want to.  It’s curious and something I am exploring in myself.

So, here I am in July, feeling the call to join a 31 Day Blog Challenge.  I guess another aspect of this is that writing or the process of writing itself tends to be a very solitary process.  So joining in a collective group of writers and bloggers who are journeying together during this time really helps to create a container for that energy and offers a drive to be more proactive.  I am looking forward to exploring the variety of bloggers and blogs that have signed on for Lesa Townsend’s 31 Day Blog Challenge.  I hope you’ll join me in this exploration here on The Heart Of Awakening Blog and check out some of the other blogs as well.

One of the things I have been working on this year is creating a program that is at this point called, 30 Days To Change.  This program has stemmed from some of the workshops, articles and individual sessions I have done over recent years.  What I have found is that 30 or 31 Days is a great container to initiate a foundation for change.  I have seen research on varying amounts of time but this is a framework that I have found works well with the processes I have developed around holistic self-care, mastering anxiety, transforming your inner critic, and discovering the healer within.

It just occurred to me recently that this process can be applied to any area of focus or type of change –  30 Days is a good way to begin to cultivate healing and transformation in a powerful way and can offer a foundation for how to work in an ongoing way.  I like that this time frame can involve both a daily process and also be segmented into 4 weekly segments.  I plan to spend some time over the summer developing this as its own model for change to be applied to whatever area one might like to focus on.   So, stay tuned for more of that exploration to emerging here.

For today, I’d like to share a step that I find is a key component in creating any type of change:

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Know Yourself.  We live in such a busy and chaotic world.  Our lives are full of distractions and disruptions both inwardly and outwardly.  How can we create change in our lives if we don’t know who we are and we aren’t truly conscious of what we are experiencing.  How can we know what changes would best support us or how we want to be in the world without that self-knowing?

There are many ways to get to know oneself on a deeper level.  Developing a contemplative practice such as meditation, yoga, tai chi, or prayer can be a good starting point.   Just spending some time in stillness, whether indoors or out in nature, just being and listening  and allowing our inner voice to be heard is a great step, too.  Writing or journaling can be a powerful way to deepen in self-reflection and self-awareness.

Take the time and space to explore some tools and practices that can support you in getting to know yourself more fully and deeply; this is probably the greatest thing you can do for yourself.  Take some time to consider areas of your life where you feel out of balance.  Are there certain changes you are feeling to make?  Is there something that is going on in your life that is causing you considerable distress?  Are you willing to take some time to just be with that and explore what might be beneficial for you in terms of change?

So, whether you have a specific change in mind or just feel to explore a bit, I hope you will join me this month in my exploration.  It won’t be totally linear, but I will be sharing bits and pieces of my developing program.  Is there a practice or tool you feel to bring in that can support you in getting to know yourself?  Or, perhaps you feel to explore some new practices to see how they might support you.

As always,  I would love to hear how others have worked with creating change, particularly if there is a certain time frame you have found beneficial or certain practices that support getting to know yourself.

Happy Earth Day 2013!

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I so fondly remember attending my first Earth Day Celebration in 1978.  I was 12 and my middle school went to an Earth Day Celebration at a local community college.  It was the first time I felt an awareness of the environment and our impact on it.  It is amazing to see how much has changed and how much hasn’t changed since that time in terms of our relationship with Mother Earth.  One of the things that has helped me most is my foundation in shamanism, which really supports the interconnectedness of all beings through the web of life.  I believe this foundation and awareness is a necessary piece to transformation on a global level and it takes each person making this change for a broader transformation to occur.  We need to work on this both inwardly and outwardly, so I have included two sharings in the post.  One is a guided meditation I offered at a visit today on Positive About Change Blog Talk Radio and the other is a list of 10 Ways To Celebrate Earth Day.  Remember not just to celebrate today, but hopefully, everyday in some way!  Happy Earth Day!

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Click Here To Listen To Earth Day Meditation

10 Ways To Celebrate Earth Day

1) Join A Nature Conservancy’s Picnic For Earth or plan your own. The food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe…it all comes from nature. I just learned about this project and love the idea.  Join people around the world in a global picnic to celebrate our planet and the bounty it provides.  With population and food demand on the rise, The Nature Conservancy is working with others to find smarter and more efficient ways to use our lands and waters. Learn more at http://earthday.nature.org/.

2) Donate or Volunteer for an environmental organization that resonates with you.  There are so many organizations and issues related to the environment and supporting Mother Earth.  Find one that really speaks to you and support it through monetary or in-kind donations or by volunteering your time and energy.  Also, just sharing and raising awareness about an organization can be a great way to support it.

3)  Commit to making some type of change in your life and home that will support the environment and Mother Earth.  Consider things like using less water, reducing electrical usage, recycling more, composting, etc.  Even a few small changes can make a difference and by being more conscious we are creating change on many levels.

4) Plant trees, flowers or vegetables that are appropriate for your area.  Planting is a wonderful way to connect with and support Mother Earth.  It is key to plant species are indigenous to your area. You may like to join with a local tree-planting group or just do so with your family or friends.

5) Participate in or organize a household hazardous waste collection in your community.  Collect paint, used auto products like motor oil and batteries, solvents, etc. This will require city or county coordination and participation; they may have certain dates scheduled but you can help to organize or gather items that may be overlooked or improperly discarded.  Get in touch with your local government to see what you can do.

6) Spend time in nature on your own or with friends and family. Spending time in nature and just being with Mother Earth and all of her children – the trees, rocks, animals, etc. is a wonderful way to celebrate Earth Day.  You may like to go on your own or organize a hike with friends or family.

7) Hold an Earth Day Council Of All Beings.  By now you know I love the practice of council as a tool for transformation and celebration.  Coming together in council is a wonderful way to speak from our hearts and honor Mother Earth.  In a Council Of All Beings, participants choose something in nature that speaks to them and they make a mask to represent their creature, tree, rock, or other “being.”  Sharing is then done with everyone wearing their masks and representing their chosen “being.”   Sharing includescontributions your chosen being makes to life on Earth, and how it makes you feel for people to respond to you the way they do.  This is a wonderful way to give voice to all of Mother Earth’s children and to honor the web of life.

8) Attend an Earth Day Event or Festival.  There are many Earth Day events and festivals happening all during the month of April.  Attending is a great way to support local organizations, community and learn more about resources to support and connect with Mother Earth.

9) Help clean up and restore your environment and communities.  There is so much pollution and trash littering our communities and our world.  There are also many projects to help clean up “our mess”.  Find a project near where you live that works to clean up rivers, lakes, streams, beaches, trails, communities, and graffiti.  Also, there are many projects that help to restore our environment, such as reforesting.  Joining in this way is a great way to help renew and replenish Mother Earth.

10) Be creative.  Explore nature crafts at school or home. Get together with your family and friends and explore creating which is something Mother Earth does everyday.  Build a bird house or feeder to encourage local bird population, which plays an important role in our ecosystem. Or, just make some creative works of art from found objects that might get thrown away otherwise.

Please feel free to share your ideas and reflections.  Happy Earth Day Everyone!

P.S. Stay tuned for details for May Is For Metta 2013 coming later this week.

Bach Flower Remedy Of The Month ~ Agrimony

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“Healing must come from within by acknowledging and correcting our faults and by harmonizing our being with the divine plan.”  – Dr. Edward Bach, Creator Of The Bach Flower Remedies

There are 38 different types of flower essences in the Bach Flower Repertoire; all were created by the visionary Dr. Edward Bach, who believed that disease in itself is beneficient and arises to show us where there is disharmony or discord in our being.  The remedies work through a process of flooding our energy fields with a positive virtue, which can help to transmute our pain, suffering and imbalances.  Participating actively and consciously in a process of transformation is at the heart of awakening to our journeys as human beings.  Working with the Bach Flower Remedies can support our awakening both through helping to raise our conscious awareness of our individual patterns as well as providing a tool, which can support bringing our whole being – body, mind, emotion and spirit – into greater alignment with our Divine essence.

Agrimony (Agrimonia Epupatoria) supports the process of being open with one’s feelings, standing fully in one’s truth in the world and developing true inner peace and calmness.   It is indicated for those who feel a need to conceal their true feelings, to appear together and always look good.   It is indicated for those who struggle with anxiety and are tormented by hidden worries.  Agrimony types are known to keep everything inside, to do anything to avoid arguments or strife and to make light of their own difficulties.   There is a tendency to be restless and overly sensitive.  Also, Agrimony types often suffer from parasitic infestation, drawing others who sap their energy and vitality.  They may use alcohol, drugs, emotional eating or other addictions to deal with their feelings and to help them appear more cheerful and carefree.

Here are some questions that may help indicate if Agrimony is beneficial for you:

  • If you come in are you’re not feeling good, do you just put on a happy face and nobody really knows what you’re feeling?
  • Do you suffer from anxiety?
  • Do you struggle with addictions or use substances (drugs, alcohol, food, etc.) to cope with your feelings?
  • Do you have a tendency to feel restless?
  • Do you tend to hide your worries or feelings?
  • Do you put on the “I’m Okay” facade even when you are feeling troubled inside?
  • Do you make light of your difficulties or act cheerful to hide your feelings of turmoil?
  • Are you overly sensitive in general or in response to conflict or strife?

The Agrimony remedy brings in a quality of authenticity and helps to get in touch with one’s true feelings with openness and acceptance.  It supports an individual in becoming aware of and processing anxiety and painful feelings rather than stuffing them or holding them inside.  It can be beneficial in transforming addictive patterns and fostering a deep sense of inner peace and calm.

Agrimony also has a very strong shielding quality.  This helps to protect from negative, violating and parasitic energies and people.  This is one of the major benefits of this remedy and of the Bach Flowers Remedies overall.  In order to feel one’s feelings fully and stand in one’s truth, it is necessary have a clear and strong energy field, which is one of the great benefits of the remedies.  Agrimony assists in bringing a state of genuine inner joyfulness, trusting optimism and the ability to see problems in the right light and perspective.

Affirming, “I am finding peace within myself” is the essence of Agrimony.

For additional information on the Bach Flower Remedies and Dr. Edward Bach, visit www.bachcentre.com.

If you are interested in a Bach Flower Remedy Consultation & Treatment, I offers these sessions in Annapolis, MD, by phone or by Skype.  I have found the Bach Flower Remedies to be one of the most beneficial transformational and healing tools that I utilize both personally and in my holistic healing practice.   I have worked with the Bach Flowers for over 15 years and I am a Bach Flower Registered Practitioner through the Bach Centre in the UK, home of Dr. Edward Bach.  Please feel free to visit my website or contact me if you would like to explore how the Bach Flower Remedies may benefit your own process of transformation and healing.

Also, you might like to explore the following posts on the Bach Flower Remedies:

The Bach Flower Remedies: A Tool For Transformation

Visionary Voices: Dr. Edward Bach

Bach Flower Remedies For 2012 Transitions: Walnut

Transforming Your Inner Critic Into Your Inner Cheerleader

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We are all familiar with voice of our inner critic – the one who puts us down, is not happy with anything we do and stops us from living the life we want to lead.  What if we could transform that voice into our greatest fan?  Often, our inner critic carries energetic imprints from our childhood experiences; basically, our critic is trying to live out our past in the present moment.  As we learn to work with our critical voices and bring ourselves more fully into the present, we open the doorway for a new voice to emerge – our inner cheerleader.  Here are 5 Steps to help transform you inner critic into your inner cheerleader:

  1. Learn to be present in the moment.  Your critic is a voice that comes from the past or is projecting onto the future.  When you are able to be fully present in the moment, your inner critic is powerless.   As you experience more of the present moment, you learn how to recognize when you inner critic is engaging and you learn how to create shifts in energy and awareness that diffuse your inner critic.  Develop a contemplative practice that supports being more fully present in the moment such as meditation, prayer, yoga,  tai chi/qi gong, spending time in nature or ceremony & ritual.  Ongoing practice can help us on many levels,  assisting in developing our ability to drop into the present moment in any situation or place, even when our critical voices are arising.
  1. Begin to consciously recognize critical voices and patterns.  There are many ways the inner critic can be expressed.  Most of us have a few strong voices and patterns (E.g. perfectionist, taskmaster or guilt tripper) but there may be a social club of inner critics that can show up.  Getting to know your personal inner critical messages supports moving into greater conscious awareness with these habitual patterns.  As you become more conscious of the inner critic, you can begin to identify what is a trigger for your critical voices to become active (E.g. work, relationships, finances, etc.) and you can begin to respond proactively.  This step is really about discovery – we are learning to access what is in our unconscious and we are bringing it into the light where it can be transformed.  Practices such as journaling or writing can really help to access our inner voices and begin to transform them.  You many notice things that come up during contemplative practices or in a daily life; keeping a journal or log of these messages can show you where your inner work lies.
  1. Explore tools for transformation.  Everyone is different and there are many practices and tools that support transformation and healing.  Exploring different practices helps you to get to know yourself better and to find tools, which support you in the changes you wish to make.  As you explore, you can begin to build a transformational toolbox to remind you of all the resources available to you and how you can utilize them as the foundation for a new way of being.  It is important to find tools that are resonant for you and support you where you are at the present time and can lead you to where you want to go.  Consider a variety of resources that can support healing body, mind, emotion and spirit.  Some practices I have found to be very beneficial in working with the inner critic both personally and with clients include Affirmations, Mirror Work, Metta/Loving-kindness Meditation, Yoga, Shamanic Healing, Self-Reflection and Bach Flower Remedies.
  1. Accept responsibility for your own transformational process and commit to creating change in your life.  No one can change you but you!  Taking responsibility for one’s own healing process creates a powerful foundation for transformation.  This is a commitment you make to yourself.  Sometimes it is helpful to do so with a ceremony or ritual, by writing a statement of commitment or by setting your intention to do so on a daily basis as you are working to create change.   You can decide what your process will be but showing up is a way to show the inner critic that you believe in yourself, love yourself and are ready to change.  Write a statement or declaration of your commitment to change.  Use post-its to write affirmations to remind you of your commitment.  This may be a lifelong process but choose a period of time to work on transforming your inner critic into your inner cheerleader.  30 Days is a great way to explore creating any type of change.  Then, you can re-evaluate and consider if the tools you are exploring are working or you need to explore more.
  1. Invite your inner cheerleader to emerge by loving yourself!  Loving yourself is the key to healing and transformation on many levels.  Most of us have been taught that loving ourselves is selfish, or we must love others first.  Consciously choosing to love ourselves can really go against our grain, but it is a way to begin to accept and embrace all of who we are.  Our inner critic is a part of us and if we love that part, we can begin to transform it to.  Loving all parts of ourselves allows our inner cheerleader to begin to emerge.  There are many practices, which can support loving ourselves more fully.  Be willing to explore; there may be a lot of resistance that emerges.  Often, we are more easily able to love and be a “cheerleader” for others than for ourselves.  Being aware of this can be a great way to begin to change our inner voices.  Consider a good friend, family member or mentor.  How would you support them if they were feeling unworthy, not good enough, etc.?  What would you say to them to be supportive?  Begin to create this positive support for yourself; imagine what others who love you would say to you.   Begin to look at your accomplishments and make a list of your positive qualities and successes in your journal.  Notice what arises as you do.  This can be a great way to uncover our resistance or critical voices.  Again, if you shared this with a good friend, how would they respond?  Mostly, likely, they wouldn’t put you down, but would celebrate you.  If not, it might be time to reconsider the friendship!  Most people would not keep a friend in their lives who is so negative, harsh and critical; yet this if often how you treat your own self.  Consider being a good friend to yourself, one who is positive, caring and supportive; this can be a big step towards loving yourself.  There are many ways to activate your inner cheerleader but cultivating love and compassion for yourself is a key component in this transformation.

I hope you will take some time this week to explore transforming your inner critic into your inner cheerleader.  You may like to visit my post on 7 Ways To Cultivate Love & Compassion For Your Self or use the 31 Day Guided May Is For Metta Practice as a foundation for your exploration.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts, reflections and insights.

I hope you enjoyed my post on Transforming Your Inner Critic Into Your Inner Cheerleader. If you would like to explore how Integrative Transformational Healing Programs can support you in achieving greater balance, joy and ease of well-being, visit www.bethterrence.com/contact to schedule a complimentary 20-minute consultation.

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.


 

Animal Totems & Archetypes, Part II

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“A human being is part of the whole, called by us “Universe,” a part limited in time and space.  He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.  This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.  Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole [of] nature in its beauty.” – Albert Einstein

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You may have noticed by now two themes that come up on The Heart of Awakening Blog are Animal Totems and Archetypes.  Until recently, I have not done too much exploration in the similarities and relationships of the two.  In January, I met Janet Roper of Talk2TheAnimals, an animal communicator, advocate and host of Talk2TheAnimals Radio.  Through our conversation, the idea to explore this topic arose.  I wrote my first guest blog post for Talk2TheAnimals last week and will be joining her tonight at 8 PM EST on Blog Talk Radio.  The topic was Animal Totems & Archetypes: A Shaman’s World.  You might like to drop by and read that post, as this one continues from that exploration.

Lascaux+Cave In many cultures around the world, Animal Totems or Power Animals are a way to connect with the  wisdom of animals and the natural world.  This can be seen in artwork such as cave paintings, jewelry, and statues as well as many legends and stories.  Animal wisdom helps us connect to our innate being and to access our inner wisdom and strength.  In earlier times, there was no sense of separation between human and animal and it was understood that we were connected to animals and to all of creation through the web of life.

Shamanic traditions carry this awareness forward and offer a way to bridge the separation we have created through our modern world.  If we just look at the treatment of animals in our world today, it is evident that we are most often moving from a place of disconnection.  Working with Animal Totems offers an opportunity to reconnect with our place in the natural world and to access a spiritual connection that can help to guide us into a more balanced way of being.  At this time in our evolution, this is something that is much-needed as evidenced by the chaos, turmoil and toxicity of our world.

There are a number of ways to connect with an Animal Totem.  Sometimes a shaman will do an animal totem retrieval for a person or an animal will come as part of a soul retrieval process.  Also, one might be guided in a shamanic journey or facilitate their own journey in which they connect with a power animal.  Traditionally, animal totems come when one takes a vision quest, a ceremony to find spiritual guidance and deep understanding of one’s life purpose.  Also, power animals may likely be ones that repetitively appear in our lives and that we feel a strong sense of connection to.

There is so much to be learned if we are observant and aware of the natural world around us.  Animals can speak to us in so many ways.  Often by observing their behavior or actions, we can receive guidance.  Connecting with an animal totem helps us to connect with nature and to access aspects of ourselves, which may be lacking or hidden.  They can help us to find our strengths and qualities that can bring us into a place of wholeness and greater peace.

For a few years, I had the privilege of serving as shaman and holistic practitioner at a residential holistic addictions treatment program.  One of the main tools I used in our shamanic healing group was a power animal journey.  It was always amazing to see what animals came and how easily clients were able to reconnect with lost aspects of themselves, finding new strength by connecting with their totem animals.  The sense of protection and support that came from this connection was so beneficial for clients, especially in early recovery when their sense of self and the possibility of change was quite limited.

One client found himself encountering an alligator, which was actually an experience he had when he was a teenager.  He was amazed that this animal came to him in the journey and he was able to reclaim a part of himself that he felt was long-lost.  This is a great example of how an animal that is present in our lives may be a totem animal and yet, the beauty of the journey is that we never really know who will show up.  This is where the magic lies!

Archetype&TotemPsychologist Carl Jung defined an archetype as “a universal and recurring image, pattern, or motif representing a typical human experience.”  In a sense, archetypes are an encoded energetic structure that lies within our unconscious but may be accessed as a tool for transformation and healing.  It is relatively modern phenomenon that archetypes have been labeled or identified and yet, just as with animal totems, they have been present in many cultures through artwork, stories and mythology since recorded history began.  Another way they have shown up is in the Major Arcana of the Tarot deck, which can be a great way to explore these patterns.  Archetypes tend to have a human or sometimes divine form.

Based on our personal life experiences and even, our astrological charts, we may hold the pattern of certain archetypes more strongly than others.  We may also have work to do with a certain archetypal pattern during our current lifetime.  Examples of this include the Victim, Hero, Divine Child, Visionary, etc.  Also, archetypes are collective and may be held in common by a social group or culture.  As we consciously work with archetypes, they have a vitalizing power and help us to access more of our potential, supporting our soul purpose and empowering our universal experience.

As we consider power animals in relation to archetypes, we can see that both serve similarly in helping us to access deeper aspects of ourselves and provide symbols to guide us.  They may connect to us personally or culturally as in a tribe that has a certain animal as its totem or a certain mythology that is present.  As we connect with our animal totems, they reflect to us own innate qualities and help us to better understand our connection to the web of life and the natural world.  Perhaps this differs from archetypes, which seem to have more to do with our human or spiritual connections rather than the natural world.  Clearly, both animal totems and archetypes can serve as spiritual and energetic symbols that convey wisdom, understanding and a treasure map for life on earth.

All of this is just the beginning of an exploration on the subject of Animal Totems and Archetypes.  I see many similarities and some differences to consider.  I look forward to exploring this more in coming posts and dialogues.  From my shamanic perspective both serve as spiritual resources for awakening consciousness through accessing energies and qualities that are inherent in our nature and yet, often remain dormant until a conscious connection emerges.  When accessed, these gifts of spirit can provide a path to greater personal awareness and understanding as well as a gateway into our collective consciousness.

A major intention on The Heart Of Awakening Blog is to help to uncover our authenticity and truth as we explore embodying the big picture in daily life.  I view this as a key to creating change in our own selves and in the world.  By coming from a place of connection and wholeness, anything is possible.  I find actively working with animal totems and archetypes to be a powerful part of creating wholeness and living the big picture in daily life.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, insights and reflections on this subject.

Listen to my conversation with Janet Roper, host of Talk2TheAnimals Radi on Animal Totems & Archetypes.  Here is a link to the replay:

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Are you looking for a speaker, radio show guest, or someone to write a guest post on your blog?  I’d love to explore with you!  Feel free to contact me through my website, www.bethterrence.com.

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Discover The Healer Within Teleseminar Series Starts of Monday, February 18th

Join us for an exploration in discovering the healer within.  Everyone has the potential within them to become their own agent of change.  This 4 part series will focus on experiential tools and techniques that support cultivating the healer within and stepping forward in one’s own process of transformation.  Some of the tools that will be explored include shamanic healing, meditation, energy awareness practices, self-reflection, journaling and connecting with the heart as a gateway for healing.  See below for specific dates and topics:

Part I: Connecting With Our Sacred Space – Monday, February 18th at 12 PM EST

Part II: Energy Awareness Tools & Techniques – Thursday, February 21st at 7:30 PM EST

Part III: Transforming Limiting Patterns & Beliefs – Monday, February 25th at 12 PM EST

Part IV: Reclaiming Our Essence – Thursday, February 28th at 7:30 PM EST

Preparation: Participants will want to be in a comfortable and quiet place as we explore together, somewhere that you can be sitting and/or lying down.  You may wish to have a journal on hand as there will be some writing exercises and time for reflection.

This is a free event.  Registrants will have access to all parts of this series and links to replays.  Call in phone number and instructions will be sent prior to the event.

For additional information, visit www.bethterrence.com.