I've had the great fortune lately, of getting a chance to look at my internal dialogue in a new way. I found that the story I told myself, that I always assumed to be true, was actually false. It may have applied at the time it was created... or maybe it was only created to justify something I felt I needed to do.
When the story got wrapped in shame and betrayal and isolation... it solidified itself... like some kind of rock. And then it was impenetrable. It just wasn't possible to notice it as a story anymore. It was too overwhelming to address all of the emotions at once. So it sat, emanating its lies... inflicting more damage... as I pretended it didn't exist.
But, these things have a way of continuing to insinuate themselves into our lives... they refuse to sit quietly in the corner... despite all hope that they will. We always cross our fingers and hope we can leave it behind us... don't we? I did.
And as I've been gloriously held in the unwrapping of this story... and the dismantling of the rock that seemed to hold it all as one story... I have found so many personal truths. And one of the truths... is that this story, at it's core, is false.
It means there's room inside of me to write a new story.
In holding myself to unearthing this rock... and in the being held as I saw and felt the things that went into its creation... I've been able to find within me a Fierce Mother. She is the one who cuts to the chase, speaks the truth, and she's always fought for the light... even when the light was the tiniest glimmer. She never gives up. She knows that life is complex and messy and that she can find love in it somewhere. And she is relentless in her pursuit.
She has the trust, the certainty, the clarity, that I felt I lacked. And I'm so grateful that somewhere inside of me the thing I needed but was sure I did not have was actually there.
So the new story begins... what do I want it to be? I know I want it to be more fun... I want it to contain connection and love and laughter and truth. I want it to contain healing tears and words. I want it to be about standing for humanity and desire and meeting needs.
I'm ready... to recommit to the Hero(ine)'s Journey! It's time!
Last night, playing a family game of Clue, my nine-year old ran right straight into her own story. She’s the youngest, and had a story in her mind that she wasn’t capable of winning this game up against two adults and her older sister.
But there was a moment where, by luck, she realized she had learned two of the three things she needed to know to win the game. In her surprise, she gave away part of what she had found out. Her world fell apart. She was so close. But with her slip, the possibility of winning had evaporated.
I know this place. The one in which the untrue story that I believe in comes into direct conflict with what is possible if I believed in something else. It’s a direct challenge to my world view… it’s painful… and confusing.
I’m actually deep in the throes of writing that story down. In fact, I’m going to be performing that story live in Santa Cruz at the YoniVerse Monologues in March. It’s the story of my conflicting experiences of myself as a mother.
And so, as I sat with my girl last night, and she felt all of her anger and frustration and sadness about the story that she wasn’t capable… she ripped paper into little pieces and told me about how much it hurt. My heart ached for her… and I sat with her as she tore the paper and felt the feelings.
And then we talked about the stories she believes about herself… and we talked about what was really true… and we talked about how which story we put our attention on matters… and I told her my story about motherhood. While I talked I tore some of those tattered pieces of paper into hearts. Pretty soon… she was helping me… and organizing them into a larger heart.
She understood my story, and I understood hers. It was so amazing.
Truth is that we’re both still sad about the truths that exist in our stories about how we’re not perfect (because we’re not perfect… we’re human). But, we both found a bigger landscape for truth and possibility. And best of all, we got to feel human together.
As we came to our sense of humanity she made a “snow angel” in the remaining scraps of paper… and we brought greater definition to the angel… and made her “real”.
And so when my daughter crawled into bed we marveled at how the anger and frustration and sadness had resulted in an angel and a heart on her floor.
I’m humbled by her wisdom and her ability to feel her feelings. I’m still worried about how easy it is for her to believe that she’s not good enough. And I’m heartened by our ability to be present with each other.
Ram Dass said “We are all just walking each other home”. The key implication is that we’re in this together. And I think the together part is the healing part.
One of the first things we often learn when we are beginning to become aware of our own own life force energy, is "grounding". This is about bringing our energy fully into our bodies so that we can think more clearly, respond appropriately to a stimulus, and to be able to be present with ourselves. In short, it helps us think, to know ourselves, and to simply be.
There are many ways of grounding... the most common seem to be along the lines of imagining dropping some kind of energetic line from your body into the earth. Sometimes the visualization is being like a tree, growing your energetic roots down into the earth. Either way... it's you... sending your energy downward.
This is fine, but it's only half the equation. And for people who have a lot of earth energy, it can evoke their shadow side of being overly anchored, finding it difficult to create the desired change in their lives, and to thinking ahead, or reflecting back on their lives.
There is a principle in physics that I think applies here: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. That is, sending your energy into earth is only one half of being grounded. Bringing earth energy up into your body is the other half.
Here's an exercise for you to play with:
Take a nice deep belly breath in... release slowly. Become aware of your body. Notice that your body has an experience of weight. This is about the principle of gravity. You are exerting pressure on the surface of the earth.
Physics says that since the ground isn't crumbling away beneath your feet with each step, earth is also exerting a force upward on you.
Let your attention sink toward your spine. Can you move slightly back and forth until you find where you feel that energetic balance between you pushing down on earth and earth sending lifting energy back up through you?
Earth is actually offering you energy to align with. It is lifting you up. Earth is supporting your presence. Simply because you are embodied. That is enough to make you worthy of a relationship with earth.
You can further engage this energy by considering the traditional grounding vision of growing your roots into earth. This is yang (masculine) Earth energy. Now tap into the yin (feminine) Earth energy... which is the energy rising. You can invite it through the soles of your feet... up your inner legs... to the base of your spine... and all the way to the crown.
Cultivating this balanced relationship with earth is important because it means that the stability and support is always available to you from a safe source. I've found that healing my sense of trust, and for clients who find it difficult to trust, having a relationship with the earth and with spirit (which I'll talk about another time) are invaluable resources.
We did this exercise, and many more, on our Body Wisdom Healing Circle call the first weekend in January. If you'd like to join us, there is still time, we are just beginning our Hero(ine)'s Journey for 2016. It's free. If you can't make the live call, there are recordings.
Do you try to follow seasonal patterns or a Medicine Wheel / Wheel of the Year concept and find it difficult to connect and feel in sync sometimes? I have to admit that I do. And, I've been wondering why. Here are a few things I've noticed about why I feel out-of-touch sometimes with my own walk around the Medicine Wheel (north/earth, east/air, south/fire, west/water - or a variation of that).
1. I guess I'll state the obvious first, which is that industrialization and technology can buffer us from the truth of our environment. We can keep the lights on long after the sun goes down, and we can be warm when it's cold outside. But for me, this doesn't explain my sense of disconnect completely. There's something else.
2. The environment might not be synchronistic with the ideal of the season. My local area often does not reflect the seasonal energy. This probably doesn't happen to too many people, but I live in coastal Central California, and so our weather patterns don't really reflect the systems of the four-element Medicine Wheel. In the summer it's a paradox of dry and foggy... in the winter our grass grows green and lush because it is our wet season. And... perhaps obviously... it doesn't snow here. So that cozy wintry thing is often interrupted by 65 degree days. Just so you don't feel like California gets all the good weather... warm summers are punctuated by days of drizzly 55 degree foggy days too. Funny place I live.
3. The people around you might not be in synchrony with the season either. The hustle and bustle of the winter holiday season is a current example... and my lazy summer days of not having to get up to get kids to school feels like another. This is decidedly not true for everyone, but since I'm self-employed I get to set my own schedule. I guess the thing here is that our schedules have become detached from the seasons per-se. We operate independent of seasonal work.
4. This relates to #3, but there's something funny about how busy we all are. My dad was raised on a farm, and I know they worked hard all year round, so I don't want to idealize rural living 60 years ago as somehow less demanding. It may just be what we put our attention on these days... rather than having a task that takes time for us to complete (say feeding livestock, repairing fences, or crop care) we spend little time on any given task and jump quickly from one to the next.
Is that why we're so tired? We're taxing our ability to keep up with ourselves?
I don't have answers to this... I'm seriously just musing on this "out loud". I've just been noticing... as I do every year... that I have a tendency to "run late" with the seasons. Autumn is always very busy, and I tend to like it, right up to the beginning of December when I finally want to slow down. But at that point the light is about to return and the grass is growing lush... and I feel like I've missed something. It makes me feel like I'm always trying to catch up with "where I'm supposed to be".
So, if you've been feeling a little "off" of the season... I'm wondering if anything I said above rings true? How do you feel you fit with your environment?
I'm thinking more about this as we are beginning the Hero(ine)'s Journey in the Body Wisdom Healing Circle this in January. Where is it that we "begin"? What do we need to have in place in order to embark on a journey back to ourselves? Where do we align ourselves for reference?
If you haven't signed up for the 2016 Healing Circle we are working through The Hero(ine)'s Journey. We set the space for our beginning in December... and in January we are heeding the Call To Adventure... locating our reference points in the body and mind as we embark on our healing path.
I'm working on a huge project that is only tangentially related to my healing practice (more on that later). It's taking a lot of my time and energy... and in my introspective moments I'm learning about my own process for vulnerability. And what it has brought into sharp focus for me is how healing is so very multi-faceted. How it is so much of addressing the physical and emotional realms... and how it is so much more.
I've known this for a long time... it's where I work... the intersection between the physical and the subtle bodies. But it's different to be in deep healing myself, and have the opportunity to observe myself moving through it.
What I want to share with you right now is that I see the importance of feeling supported in our healing journey. Usually that means that we have several avenues of support... friends, healing practitioners, partners, family, yoga practices, quiet time... whatever moves you to a place of feeling truly seen, heard, honored... whatever lets you fall deeper inside yourself.
When we identify our support avenues, we create our own safety that makes our journey possible. So, while we need others to walk with us, part of our healing is our own work, our own knowing about what it is that we require. When we offer ourselves the time and space for our own process, when we even know what that is, we are poised to take our next step in healing ourselves.
So, it turns out that we are our own healers... in part because we show up to our own lives, knowing what we need, willing to invest in the introspection required. Then, when you reach out to your healer-type (acupuncturist, therapist, body worker, energy healer) you have done your part of the work and their expertise can be even more beneficial to you.
If you're wanting to increase the support you receive around your self-healing, I lead a free monthly Body Wisdom Healing Circle call. In that call we have a group resonance experience with using our attention in great detail in the body to fuel healing shifts. You can sign up for the call-in number here.
I've been trying to figure out how to navigate social media, and honestly I've been wanting some deeper and more thorough conversations. I miss the blog days, but back then I had to manage my own connections to these bloggers. That just feels like too much work right now. I'm glad to have found Bloglovin! I can collect the feeds of all my favorite blogs now, and the conversations have once again become manageable! YAY!
I'm finally settling in to my methods of communication with the people that are interested in living more fully in our bodies, embracing what it means to be human, to be a woman, and who are committed to a path of growth and a practice of devotion. I invite you to leave blog comments when a post is interesting to you, and to follow me on Bloglovin if that's a method that you use to keep in touch.
So, I've been thinking a lot lately about bodies, illness, and healing. I've been thinking about western medicine, alternative healing, and energy work. Even though this is what I do, I still sometimes wonder when something happens to my body, which realm it falls in.
It's funny, that I've come full circle with my own healing this year. I began the year knowing that I had some emotional healing that was coming. I knew it was big... I knew it would be intense... and I was ready. What I didn't expect was the physical stuff that blew all that perceived control of the emotional wide open. I cried more this year than in a long time. I feared more this year than I have in a long time.
And I went to the doctor about the physical. I was finally referred to the fifth doctor... who I liked and trusted. But whatever is going on is mysterious. She told me Friday that if this next thing we're trying doesn't address my issues, then she doesn't know what will.
I came home and cried again. I really want it to be "fixed". But the ball is back in my court. Yes, I'm doing what she suggested. And I'll follow up with her in a month. But I already know. Nothing will change.
Unless. Unless I give my body the chance to tell the truth... to call a spade a spade. Unless I hear this body... let her say the things that no one wants to hear... that honestly, I'm not sure I want to hear. I don't want to revisit old crap... my life feels good right now... I just celebrated (truly) my fifteenth anniversary, my kids are healthy and wonderful, and things are just good.
But, my body says it's time to deal with the things that need stability and love and wellness so that they can even begin to express what they've been holding. I heard my body say that it's OK. That I'm OK.
I got clear that this physical stuff is only a mirror for me right now. And I have to address the core of what's being reflected. It will take time, and things will be fine.
And I want to be clear. I believe that illness (or discomfort or disease) sometimes originates in the body and needs to be addressed in the medical system. And sometimes it originates in the subtle realms of emotions, beliefs, and agreements. Sometimes those things are conscious, and sometimes not. For me, right now, this thing... it's about healing the shames, the darknesses, the shadows. It's about reclaiming something of me that is rightfully mine. And when I do, I believe my physical body will stop reacting. I've done it before. I see it with clients all the time.
I live in this intersection of physical and subtle bodies... I love this intersection of physical and subtle realms... I am at home here. It should come as no surprise that this is where my own healing is right now.
This is a powerful moment in time... this liminal space. In the Chinese 5 Element System this is the season of metal, whose primary emotion is grief. So, we have a melding of tradition that suggests a powerful moment to be in touch with our ancestors, as well as the seasonal emotion of grief, which brings them even closer.
I celebrate Dia de los Muertos with full reverence for my personal ancestry, as well as that of my community. Everything we have now was built on the legacy that was left us.
This leaves us in a particularly potent healing moment. Sometimes this legacy has been left to us in our beliefs, perspectives, family stories... and sometimes it has literally been given to us in our DNA*. Our ability to heal, especially those weird symptoms we have that are persistent, recurrent, and have no discernible cause to doctors... those are often ancestral in origin.
We do have the power to release these ancestral traumas, dis-eases, and tensions. The key, I think, is externalizing the ancestral patterns, and then choosing how to engage with them. That is, it is important to move the patterns from inside our bodies (physical + subtle) into the external environment. These are not your personal patterns. They do not necessarily belong to you. And yet, it may be extremely important to interact with these patterns... as they are part of the familial legacy.
I encourage people to externalize and interact with these patterns in several ways. One way to externalize the pattern is to build some kind of altar or shrine to their ancestors. This is a central part of Dia de los Muertos, that I love so much. Not only is it honoring of the ancestors to give them their own space, but it honors us too.
It means that ancestral patterns are a context for our lives, but do not necessarily need to be repeated within our lives.
Second, is relating directly to the wholeness of who your ancestors are... that is, consider not just the one story you have about how your great-grandmother was admitted to a mental institution... but to consider (imagine, receive) what ELSE might have been true about her that you might want to interact with. Thus, we relate to our ancestors as whole beings. Not simply a single story, event, or trait.
This is the single biggest healing perspective shift that exists. Wholeness.
If you want to play with this more... I have attached my Legacy Homework that I sometimes give to clients.
Blessings as you pursue this deep journey of healing. There is no end to the possibility that exists when you are willing to heal not only yourself but those who came before you. You are brave, you are strong, you are a healer.
Click on the image above to access the 7-page pdf file.
You will find that this work clears so much that you weren't even aware was connected to your ancestry. It is powerful and worthy work. May you also enjoy this work, as it connects you in positive ways with the legacy that was left to you.
*There are several articles about how memory can be handed down in your DNA. If you're interested, you can read:
Parental olfactory experience influences behavior and neural structure in subsequent generations.”
December 1, 2013, Nature Neuroscience:
Also, see Grandma's Experiences Leave A Mark On Your Genes
May 2013 Discover Magazine:
... Or "How The Heart Is The Center of Healing
I wrote last time about the Heart and the Heart Protector (Pericardium), and how I see them function in healing. The Heart provides access to our center, to our essence, and the Pericardium protects us. It is a sweet union, but one that is profoundly affected by pain... specifically the pain of feeling heart-broken.
Even though the Heart collects some pretty intense pain, it also holds the path to healing. The electro-magnetic fields of the Heart are a great beacon, a shining light, for a return to happiness and vitality. I'm not saying it's an easy road, that it's all skipping and giggles, but I am saying that it's where I often begin... with myself and with clients. Because it's powerful.
The electromagnetic field of the heart is created by the flow of the electrical signals from the top to the bottom of the heart. This flow of electrical potential creates a donut shaped electromagnetic field around the heart organ. The "donut shape" is known as a torus. This is measurable and well known. I didn't make this up.
But see... the beauty lies in the fact that the heart is not alone! The heart has an electromagnetic field... but so does the whole body (I'd argue details with the image below that I got from the HeartMath website... but the gist of it is true). Thus, the heart field is nested within the Whole Body Field... and ultimately, the earth has this same magnetic field, so we are each nested within it.
The point is that when we connect with the Heart Field, we can notice how the Heart Field is nested within the Whole Body Field, which is, in turn, nested within the Earth Field. We can then invite into this dynamic, other fields in our bodies.
For instance, red blood cells have this same toroidal shape... and when we invite them into resonance with the Heart Field (and the others) the blood cells shift into a supported and robust form, and carry more oxygen (this is where Western Medicine does not follow me... but I still know it to be true).
In fact, each chakra, each organ, each cell... when invited into resonance with the Heart Field, are able to step a little more into their essence and their full expression of well-being and vitality.
Don't believe me. Try it. Sit quietly. Take a few deep, cleansing breaths. Bring your attention softly to your body. Gather yourself and your energy to you. Relax your shoulders, your neck, your back. Release the tension in your fingers. Notice that you are in relationship with earth... simply because you press down on her surface. Notice that she sends energy back up through you. Breathe into alignment with that energy source. Notice that you are also in relation with spirit... as inspiration and life force bathe you. These energies mingle inside of you, at your heart. It is your sense of center, of essence, of Who You Are, and a sense that your essence is supported, safe, nourished.
The Heart beats softly. Allow the sensation of the energy field of the heart to come into your awareness. It is flowing, regular, steady. This sensation sends the message to the body that all is well. There are measurable physical benefits to this sensation... we can get into that some other time. For now, just know this place.
For practice, you can invite your mind to awareness of your red blood cells, circulating through the body... through the heart. As they flow through the heart send the intention to bring them into alignment with the energy field of the Heart. Feel the desire for deep belly breaths. Give in.
This alignment between Heart Field and Red Blood Cell Fields brings up oxygen in the body. You might experience it as a light tingling... or you may not have a physical sensation of it. Inviting it to your brain will increase clarity, certainty, and alertness. Inviting blood flow to a tense place can begin to unravel the anaerobic conditions created by chronic tightness. It probably won't relieve it completely, as there's a pattern holding tension there... but it can make it bearable for a time.
Play with this... where else could you invite oxygen? What other fields could you invite to resonate with the heart? What is possible when we get to know ourselves so intimately?
The heart is sometimes considered the center of our being. I can see how that’s true, although I’m not sure it’s always true. The essence feels clearest in the heart, as if there’s less translation between Who You Are and the expression of the heart.
Heart energy gets to the core of things (“the heart of the matter”). Because the heart appears to be a relatively clear channel for the expression of one’s essence, it is also a generally reliable reference for one’s truth. I don’t mean universal (or shared) truth, but what we know to be true for us that may or may not be true for others.
The heart is also a secret keeper. It holds tensions and pains deeply, and is generally committed to the pain once the heart agrees to the story that we are broken, unlovable, or lack value. The agreements with these stories are where we have the power to repair our own broken-heartedness. It is not by denying that our past is what it is, but by rewriting the story.
I rarely work directly with the heart, but when I sense tension here we begin to work on the tension itself, beginning somewhere else in the body or in the subtle realms. When I do invoke the heart it is through its ability to serve as a compelling energy center, and so I am always calling on what the heart does well as a place to begin.
The heart is protected by the pericardium, a tissue that surrounds the heart. It protects the heart muscle from infection, physical trauma, prevents friction as the heart beats, and it keeps the moving heart in place. Between the two layers of pericardial tissue is pericardial fluid, which acts as a further buffer against external insult.
In the work that I do, the pericardium has two main functions. First, as above, it is protective. Second, I perceive that the whole body can be mapped onto the pericardium in much the same way that reflexology maps the body onto the feet or hands, and acupuncture maps the body to the ears.
In practice I find that the pericardium can hold a pattern in place that has otherwise been released from the body… or that a pattern will refuse to leave until the map onto the pericardium is addressed. Generally, that means that the pattern has some kind of protective power for the client and that either needs to be released or redirected to a more appropriate place in order to release the pattern.
The prescription of the pericardium is connection. There is a deep longing that can get held within the pericardium for deep and meaningful relationships with others. Being on the outside of important relationship can be held in the pericardium as tension which in turn can affect the heart muscle itself.
Our social atmosphere is far more important than we give it credit for. A nourishing social environment can map itself onto the pericardium as well as a traumatic one. In my opinion, our most radical form of self-care is choosing carefully who we spend our time with... and what we do in that time.
What could the world be like if we considered all of our interactions with others to be a form of self-care?
I'm an explorer of inner realms, a pattern observer, and an invitation maker. I believe that healing the world starts within.
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