(You must have been) kissing a fool

You’ll never find peace of mind til you listen to your heart. George Michael 

Happy New Year.

For most of us it is a happy time. Or at least a time of hope for happier times. Yesterday the dog – in her crazed food dance ritual – knocked a candle off my balcony. It was hope. I mean it was a candle with the word ‘hope’ printed on it. It smashed. ‘Hmmmm.’ I wondered. What is the significance of that?

Someone I once knew told me that hope was not the great sentiment so many of us think it is. Hope really is saying that our happiness is in the future, that the now is lacking in some way.

I see his point and I think there is danger is always being in hope, always waiting for the magical future in lieu of the not-so-satisfactory present. Yet when a dark night of the soul hits us, hope is the light that prevents us from giving up entirely.

Of all the liars in the world, sometimes the worst are our own fears. Rudyard Kipling

And so I ponder that this time last year I was devastated. I spent New Years Day weeping, bawling, blubbering, wailing… And many more variations on that theme. Honestly I don’t know I could have cried so hard for so long, without my eyeballs popping out. I lay on the grass by my neighbours’ pool (it’s okay, they were away at the time) and just let these waves of grief, sadness, disappointment, rage and heartbreak roll through me.

Even in the depths of my despair there was hope, and a resolution to not repeat the experiment that always led me to this sad and broken place. Heartache and loss are great teachers, but at some point you have to learn the lesson and move the fuck on.

I really don’t want to keep harping on about that moment, but it was rather pivotal for me. After years, a lifetime really, of co-dependent behaviour and love addiction, something snapped in me. And yes, perhaps I swung a little too far the other way in 2016, when my favourite word was ‘no.’ I really pulled away from people, I rarely socialised outside of work and facilitating my classes, and hanging with my son. 

Reality denied comes back to haunt. Philip K. Dick

Not a particularly materially successful or happy year, with the notable exception of my trip to India which just made me want to explode several times daily with the sheer pleasure of being a living, sensory being. It was a year of letting go.

It was mine though. I didn’t squander my time or energy for anyone else, and that was new. I was steadfast.

2016 felt like a hard slog, like I was shedding skin to make way for something new. I’m so glad this new year and its new energies are here.

This blog started as a New Year thing. Three years ago. Wow. Time just rolls on by, doesn’t it?

I had just reread Noelle Oxenhandler’s book The Wishing Year and I was ready to try to approach my life as something I had at least a little say in. 

I liked the idea of setting intentions. I mean they are just ideals to aim towards, not demands or expectations, but it was better than wallowing in depression and disappointment over the past and letting that energy dictate my future.

My seven intentions were deliciously vague, because I think I knew if I got really specific I would kind of miss the beauty of the whole project. Which in retrospect was to enter into a kind of divine partnership. I stated my aims, and let myself be guided as to if, how, what and when they manifested.

I know if I had been specific I would have asked for a man, a house and a spiritual identity (be that a religion, a guru or a sangha). 

Then I may have thought I had failed, because I’m still single, I don’t have my own home, and I’m still searching for my spiritual identity… But I couldn’t say the project has been a bust. 

For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring. Carl Sagan

Firstly it is a beautiful record of my consistent ability to move though fear, pain and disappointment, to follow my crazy passions, to attempt to live fully, to be vulnerable and powerful all at the same time.

I mean, I can admit it, sometimes I read my old posts and I feel inspired by myself. ‘Who is this brave, honest and slightly kooky woman?’ I think. Only to realise she is me. 

Reading back, I remember how scared I was starting my own business, recovering from depression, traveling alone, studying shamanism, letting myself fall in love again. I know how those things turned out, but I didn’t when I wrote about it. I didn’t know when I wrote about my fears of traveling to India alone just how monumentally empowering and love-filled that experience would be. I had an inkling though, an inkling gained through years of setting intentions, listing my copious fears and then just going for it anyway.

I lie to myself all the time. But I never believe me. S.E. Hinton

Just before Christmas my friend gifted me a Business Soul Coaching session. I had reconnected with her when I was in Bali and she had obviously been brought back into my life at a time when I sorely needed some direction.

After coming down from my India high, I realised that my current lifestyle was not sustainable. Fear of financial insecurity was exacerbated by receiving payment due statements for my son’s school fees and books. Followed by me going into shock after seeing my pre-Christmas payslip which was significantly lower than usual because I missed my Saturday shift to facilitate Chakradance at a Reiki weekend retreat. I did what any grown woman in my position would do, I cried. 

In that moment I had a thought that I have had periodically since starting down this path of living by my intentions, “I am being irresponsible, I need to close down Raw Mojo, give up on all this spiritual stuff, and go full time at work.”

That thought made me feel really sad and unsupported. There was a lot of crying to spirit “I thought this is what you wanted me to do?” 

And for a few weeks I suffered depression, anxiety and self-doubt. Then I made the appointment with Monique, because I knew there must be a better way through this.

This descent into self-doubt was probably a well needed slap in the face. I needed to get real. As the word my friend Monique channelled during the Soul Coaching session suggested, I was “deluded.” 

“What?”

“Deluded,” 

“That’s the word I’m receiving. Does that mean anything to you?” Yeah. Not anything good though.

I was thinking she would channel beams of universal love and support. But instead there seemed to be a whole lot of divine head-scratching. “They seem confused about what Raw Mojo means and what it offers.”

Ouch.

It was a lot to take in. Not surprisingly the lack of definition around my “brand” – the fact I still need to put that in air quotes says a lot – and my lack of clarity around what the hell I do and why I do it was restricting the potential of my business.

The human brain is a complex organ with the wonderful power of enabling man to find reasons for continuing to believe whatever it is that he wants to believe. Voltaire

I needed clarity, focus and to clearly define what my intentions were. No more delightfully vague vision statements…

Raw Mojo was confused and suffering an identity crisis. Like its founder, it seems. I’m no psychic but even I get that for vital life force energy to flow there must be two things, a clear channel and clear intentions.

Monique tested the various offerings of Raw Mojo to see if they were an energetic match. Chakradance – yes (phew!) Shamanism – no! (still digesting that one) Reiki – no (hmmm…) Spontaneous Transformation Technique – yes, and druidry – yes (again, phew!)

After I recovered from the shock and promised to follow up with some writing – and serious soul searching – around my business and what I offer, we ended the call.

Following a pretty serious sulking session, I asked myself ‘why did I call my business Raw Mojo?’ Well for a start, the domain name for my first choice, Mojo Rising was already taken…

It all started with my attachment to the word Mojo, courtesy of Jim Morrison. You know, Mr Mojo Risin’ 

Mojo to me always represented the vital life force, before I even knew what that was. The Doors took the teenage me on deep musical journeys through sound, dance, visions and words. Their music got my spirit moving and made me feel so fully alive. 

After 40, I totally lost my mojo – my vitality and lust for life – and discovering Chakradance helped me get my groove, my mojo back. I have increasingly felt that this is my soul purpose, to guide others to rediscover their lost vitality and passion for life, to reconnect with their divine direction and essential energy. 

A long, long time ago, I can still remember how that music used to make me smile. And I knew if I had my chance, that I could make those people dance and maybe they’d be happy for a while. Don McLean

I know there is an energetic shift that happens for women around 40 and beyond. There’s a need for a new sense of self, as they are entering the Empress energy – that’s a tarot image which represents the archteypal empowered feminine. But how do we manage this transition? There are no rituals for these rites of passage in our culture. Except for binge drinking and online dating, neither of which are particularly helpful.

I believe when we suppress this shift – from caregivers and lovers into fully empowered selves – we get sick. The shift from caregivers into abundant beings in our own right is a challenging but essential rite of passage. The world needs its wise, strong women. And wise, strong men, but for some reason it’s women who are drawn to me.

So that’s the mojo part…

And the Raw part was that sense of natural, unprocessed mojo, like the real essence of my vital power. Sounds good yeah? Raw Mojo. Except no one really gets it and it sounds like an energy drink…

But this word “deluded” has really rocked me. It kind of hurts, I mean really spirit? Really? I try to listen to your guidance, I know I’m not super-psychic, but I try to follow the signs as I see them. Yes, I have had the sneaking suspicion that for a while now I wasn’t really getting a clear connection. Well, in fairness I wasn’t disciplined in my practice so I wasn’t really connecting at all. But telling me through a third party that “I’m deluded?” Wow. That’s cold man.

So I did what any librarian would do. I Googled the dictionary definition of ‘deluded.’

Nothing is so difficult as not deceiving oneself. Ludwig Wittgenstein 

Delude as a verb comes from late Middle English via Latin where it literally means ‘to play false.’ Other definitions include: to mislead the mind or deceive. To mock or frustrate the hopes or aims of. To elude; to evade.

Oh.

Then I saw. It was that moment where a word can cut through all the bullshit and just leave you bare, nerve-ending raw.

You see, I need to come down off my spiritual high horse and admit a few things. I’m in financial trouble. I mean I can get myself out of it, if I am disciplined and smart, but the last few years I have invested a lot into my business and my esoteric studies and travels and quite frankly not seen a huge return. I get very little help from my kid’s dad so I have mounting bills for his schooling and I need to save for his school trip to the US next year.

I may have a little credit card debt, okay a lot. And my business is floundering. So yeah, deluded. I am probably that. 

A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep. Saul Bellow

Not because there’s anything wrong with what I offer, but in the wishy-washy way I have been offering it. Like a kid in a candy store, I kept studying different esoteric teachings and trying to be something I’m not. I keep taking courses and travelling when I can’t actually afford it.

Instead of focused intent and mastery over my practice, I have been spreading my energies too thin. Jack of all trades is a master of none.

When I think back it was after my shamanic training in Bali that my energy became diffuse, from being channelled in too many directions, without real clarity or focus.

My Chakradance classes went from being consistently filled to being cancelled as I shifted my attention to running a shamanic circle.

Now there is nothing wrong with shamanism or reiki, or any other practice I have studied. Nothing is wasted. Shamanism and reiki have only enhanced my other practices.

This is about not spreading myself too thin. Picking those modalities which work well for me, which I love, and which together are an energetic match for me.

It’s always been about what works with my energy signature, that’s what I am meant to channel and deliver here.

The visionary lies to himself, the liar only to others. Friedrich Nietszche 

I went to a guided shamanic sound journey on New Years Eve with Tim Zyphin. It was interesting in many ways but mostly it just confirmed this message that I am not a shaman. 

That’s just not how spirit works through me. And that’s okay. Truth be told I never really wanted to be one. I love journeying, especially the shamanic dance journeys but I can do that in Chakradance. 

In truth I realise my guides have been standing back on the whole shamanic thing. They never really say no to me, I mean I guess from their perspective it’s all wisdom and experience, and like reiki it has fine-tuned my ability to manage and use my subtle energy force, but anyone can do that, that does not a shaman make.

Reflecting back I see the difference between what I am meant to be doing and what I’m not. Either the vital life force is there in what I do, or it isn’t. The results speak for themselves.

We fool ourselves so much we could do it for a living. Stephen King 

With Chakradance I did the training and immediately started facilitating. Yes, I was scared. Yes, I had doubts, but the passion was there. The shamamic techniques I found really beneficial to evolve my Chakradance and journeying practices, but aside from running the journeying circle, there was no passion to practise it.

I have been searching for a spiritual identity, for my own little niche. I love hinduism, the deities and the stories, the mysticism and the faith, but in India I realised as much as I love it (and Ganesha seems to love me) it’s not my religion. I don’t think any religion is.

At the Summer Solstice ceremony of my druid grove I set intentions for the year. And what came through really strongly was that this was it. I have my spiritual community, I have a practice that is nature-based and gives me the freedom to worship whatever I want. It is a perfect ethical and spiritual match for me. It gives me freedom and autonomy along with community, ritual and practice. So I committed to it. In sacred space I commited to serve the grove and resume my druidic studies.

And today on New Years Day I began my druid studies again and redid my initiation.

So my intentions are the same, but as time goes on I see how what I want more than anything is to be real and authentic. I don’t want to play mind games. I don’t want to delude myself or others. I don’t need to impress anyone with my powers. I just do what I love because that’s how I know I’m on the right track.

That’s what came through in the shamanic journey. Loud and clear.

My shamanic spirit guide came in as soon as the shaman invited in our shamanic brothers and sisters. As if he was just waiting for the invitation. I started to cry “I thought I’d failed you.” But he never asked me to be a shaman. He asked me to demonstrate the power of our vital energy force. To carry his wisdom into the world so it wouldn’t be lost. Again he placed quartz crystals on my navel, heart and third eye. As he did the first time we met.

The message from spirit was so clear and in truth, is getting a little repetitive. I think the whole ‘deluded’ thing has made them think I’m a little dense so they have been repeating themselves everywhere I look for the last few days.

Do what you love.
Be what you love.
Be who you love.
Surround yourself with people, places, things that you love and who love you and everything you do.
If there’s no love in something, there’s no vital life force. If you don’t love it, change it. If you can’t change it, let it go, it’s not for you.

Love is the real power. It’s the energy that cherishes. The more you work with that energy, the more you will see how people respond naturally to it, and the more you will want to use it. It brings out your creativity, and helps everyone around you flower. Your children, the people you work with–everyone blooms. Marion Woodman

Love is power. Love is how the power of the universe communicates to us and through us. Love is how we open up our hearts, releasing fear and creating space for this power to flow through.

It’s not meant to be hard. We are not meant to struggle. I do and I will as long as I am incarnate. It is the nature of this density, the density of this human container we are in.

This is the divine partnership, this is divine choice. The only two vibrations are love and fear. The divine communicates to you through love.

Find your truth through love, do what brings you joy, vitality, love, happiness. That’s where the power comes in.

From an oracle reading came this:

Take risks like you’ve never been hurt. Believe wholeheartedly in something. Your divine vibrancy will bring your vision to life. Your courage and passion will see it to fruition.

And just like that. I got clear and the enquiries for Raw Mojo started to come in. The channel cleared and I felt my guides so strongly. The guidance was clear and as specific as “pay for Zak’s books and the Chakradance retreat and the phone bill first, then do Alana Fairchild’s Coaching and pay the deposit for the NASA trip.” Well. Okay then.

All the lights turned green on my way to work. I let a car merge in front of me and the plates were 777 – that’s my numerological equivalent of two thumbs up from spirit.

I know it won’t always be this clear. But thank you spirit. Thank you for making it so obvious. I needed to feel clear and not deluded. Even just for a moment.

Hari Om Tat Sat

Blessings

If you’re interested in Soul Coaching with Monique from Intuitive Freedom click here. It will really rock your world – in a good way.

Art by Kareva Margarita

The places that scare you

When we protect ourselves so we won’t feel pain, that protection becomes like armour, like armour that imprisons the softness of the heart. Pema Chodron

I wake early and sit on the verandah of my little Balinese bungalow. The ocean roars below. Dawn is breaking. A pair of small bats flap around and through the rafters of the row of huts. They pelt past me, ducking and weaving through wooden pillars and trees. I watch in awe.

Blind as a bat, that’s how the saying goes and yet they navigate with apparent ease. I’m pulled between feelings of admiration and a mild fear that one will come crashing into my head.

This torque between awe and fear captures my experience in Bali. Quite possibly it epitomises my reaction to life in general.

There is a contradiction in wanting to be perfectly secure in a universe whose very nature is momentariness and fluidity. Alan Watts

This place is beautiful but a little unsafe. No, not really unsafe. Unfamiliar. There are imagined disasters at every turn. Can I leave my son in the bungalow for an hour to go to yoga? What if something happens to him? What if I get hit by a scooter? What if we get sick? What if I lose all our money? What if there’s a tsunami? A volcanic ash cloud? What if we get stuck here and I run out of money? What if I chose the wrong place to stay? What if we are too isolated here? What if…?

These thoughts have plagued the early hours of the morning. Waking me from a blissful tropical sleep into heart-pounding anxiety. It is said that the body doesn’t differentiate between a real or an imagined experience. And here I lie in paradise traumatising myself with imagined disaster scenarios.

The human ego prefers anything, just about anything, to falling, or changing, or dying. The ego is that part of you that loves the status quo – even when it’s not working. It attaches to past and present and fears the future. Richard Rohr

This same torque exists within me, a strong need for security coupled with an adventurous and inquisitive spirit. There is absolutely no way to quell these needs simultaneously, there are always choices that serve one but not the other. And I feel ever pulled in different directions. 

Anxiety is a strange beast. It’s been with me forever and yet I am only just starting to see its pervasiveness. I think in the past I had a host of coping mechanisms – not good ones it has to be said, but temporarily effective. 

These strategies seemed to mask and divert my anxiety into manageable, material things. I felt anxious but I had a solution, I just needed a drink, a drug, a man, a family sized tub of Haagen Dazs…

The desire for security and the feeling of insecurity are the same thing. To hold your breath is to lose your breath. A society based on the quest for security is nothing but a breath-retention contest in which everyone is as taut as a drum and as purple as a beet. Alan Watts

Then there is the strategy of control and micromanaging. It goes like this, if I keep my life small, contained and manageable, if I stick to the list of things I can’t do because they scare me, then I keep anxiety at bay. Well, that’s the theory.

Except I discovered none of these things actually works in the long term. Like a hyper-resistant virus, anxiety soon finds a way through all my defences. “Ha ha it says. You can’t beat me!” It’s like the ever confident poker player always willing to raise me one more until I fold.

So what to do then?

Nothing goes away until it teaches you what you need to know. Pema Chodron

So what does my anxiety have to teach me? Paradoxically I think it teaches me to be brave. I know that sounds crazy but bear with me here.

When every day, all day, every little decision, every action scares you, it means you are constantly overcoming fear. Unlike someone who lives in the illusion of security, an anxious person is only too aware of the unstable nature of life, inherent is suffering, misfortune and ultimately death. 

The trick is to be at peace with this awareness. It is how we react to the anxiety that makes the difference, not trying to get rid of the anxiety itself.

What lies beneath this anxiety about seemingly trivial things is the fear of no control, and ultimately the fear of suffering and death. Anxiety is borne of a lie that if things were a certain way, then I’d be okay. But in reality things are in constant flux and mostly out of my control.

The places that really scare us are within and not outside of ourselves. That’s the ruse. Anxiety makes us feel that the threat is out there, that there is safety and security to be found if only we manage well. 

Coming to Bali, leaving my son to go to yoga, all involves acting in face of these fears. The fear turns out to be an illusion. This acting in spite of my fear strengthens me for the next bout of fear. It teaches me to be present in the fear and act with integrity and courage anyway. It teaches me that although I have no control, I do have choice. 

The more we witness our emotional reactions and understand how they work, the easier it is to refrain. Pema Chodron 

Here I have none of my defences. I wear little clothes, no make-up. I have no job, no profession, no role. There is no schedule, no timelines. I am without my armoury. Without my anchors of familiarity and routine. In this free flowing unfolding of life my anxiety runs around like a headless chicken. “What if… What if… What if…”

After centering myself, reminding myself gently that I came to Bali to revisit my spirit of adventure, I say “Wouldn’t it be lovely to walk to yoga in my favourite studio in the whole world, knowing my son is completely safe and so am I.”

And that’s exactly how it goes.

Now I’m not saying bad things don’t happen. That’s not the point. The point is worrying and anxiety are not going to stop bad things from happening. And mostly those things are the ones we never see coming anyway. Like the coconut that fell from a tree missing my head by inches as my son and I walked to the pool. Didn’t see that coming! I didn’t wake at 5am worrying about having my skull caved in by a falling coconut…

The point is not to let fear poison and dominate my life’s experiences and choices. To as Pema Chodron says go to the places that scare you. Be present there, and live heart-fully in spite of fear. To accept my vulnerability in a world where quite possibly anything could happen. To be invigorated rather than petrified by this.

When we resist change, it’s called suffering. But when we can completely let go and not struggle against it, when we can embrace the groundlessness of our situation, and relax into its dynamic quality, that’s called enlightenment. Pema Chodron 

All this has emerged as I feel the shift into my heart chakra. This year I have been allowing myself to flow through my chakras very slowly and intuitively. Last month I was enjoying the fiery energy of Manipura. And even as I finished writing my last post I could feel the shift into the heart centre.

The alchemy of surrender is a term used by astrologer Sarah Varcas. She uses it to describe the power that comes from embracing the state of unknowing. She talks about the shift that happens when we stop trying to think our way through uncertainty and begin to feel into it.

Over the past ten days I have remained present through my varying states from mild panic to complete calm and peace. Having just been attuned to reiki, I practiced this on myself and tuned into where the nervous energy was stuck in my body.

Anxiety is awareness without presence, just as fear is excitement without breathing. Russ Hudson

Anxiety is just energy. When you think about it, there’s very little difference between anxiety and excitement except the story the mind tells itself.

In yoga class, the teacher led us through pranayama breathing exercises. He reminded us that without proper breathing the energy cannot flow. Yoga asanas, or any energy raising practice for that matter, without breathing will raise energy but not move it, creating blocks and imbalances.

Anxiety is an energetic charge created by our mental perception. Breathing into the anxiety. Focusing on where it is being trapped in the body – both subtle and physical – allowing a compassionate observation of our thoughts and sensations, creating space for them, is a powerful way to transform anxiety into a mindfulness practice.

This is not something we do once or twice. Interrupting our destructive habits and awakening the heart is the work of a lifetime. Pema Chodron

Anxiety and fear is a call to arms. Without it would I have pursued a spiritual solution? I doubt it. If not driven by my discomfort, what motivation would there have been for me to investigate meditation, yoga, Chakradance? That’s not to say that anxiety is all that motivates me, I have a connection to the spirit world that is precious and wonderful to me, but it was desperation that got me started.

For those of you who haven’t experienced anxiety it begins with a feeling of something running on a mouse-wheel in your chest. There’s a feeling of panic even if there’s no real sense of what the panic is about. It’s like feeling scared. 

People – the ones who don’t experience anxiety – will say it’s all in your head. Yes. Like real fear. That’s in your head too. And your body doesn’t distinguish between the two. For someone in the midst of an anxiety attack, they may as well be tied to the train tracks with the 4:32 fast approaching.

Anxiety certainly gets your attention. It’s hard to ignore that freight train rocking through your chest, the dry mouth, the pounding head, the urge to run. Maybe that’s the point. Anxiety wants me to pay attention. Like a parent who has asked politely twenty times for their child to come to dinner, anxiety ramps it up a notch just to get their attention.

We’re all very familiar with the experience of fear escalating, or the experience of running away from fear. But have we even taken the time to truly touch our fear, to be present with it and experience it fully? Do we know what it might mean to smile at fear? Pema Chodron

Meditation helps. It helps because it is a practice which disciplines us to let thoughts go, to not attach or overly identify with them. It helps because it brings awareness on to the breath, and breathing can become shallow when anxious, and breath moves energy through our subtle body. 

And it helps because it teaches us to just observe whatever state we may be in with loving compassion and a little detachment. In meditation I am present, aware, but not a slave to my thinking.

Someone once told me that the problem it not how we feel, it’s how we feel about how we feel. So when I’m anxious I have the choice to feel anxious about my anxiety – can you see the snowball effect of that line of thinking? 

Or I can choose to accept that I’m anxious, without reacting to it. This was a strategy I first encountered in Russ Harris’ book The Happiness Trap, but essentially it is the basis of many religious and contemplative practices. Begin in the now, with what is, accept it, breathe, refrain from judgement or reaction. Be an impassive observer of your own inner workings. Create a space between the feeling and the observing of the feeling.

Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy. Pema Chodron

I know it sounds so simple, but it’s also really hard to unlearn years of habitual thinking. So I have found I need to be very gentle and compassionate with myself. Sometimes I react to my anxiety, that snowball starts rolling and I’m out of control.  And that’s okay. It always comes to a head and then I regroup. I meditate, I dance, I run, I do yoga. I sit on a stationary bike and pedal until all the nervous energy has burned out of me. I begin again.

I am sure much of my anxiety comes from a defensive self-protection. I want to be open to life, to explore, to love, to experience. 

Yet part of me feels that in the past when I have opened to life, to love, it has been a Trojan horse, which seemed at first, like a wondrous gift, but once within my walls, once it had me vulnerable, it attacked. After charming itself into my world it let me down in the most spectacular way. My heart hurts from this disappointment and betrayal. 

As much as I wish to be rendered new, these scars linger. But what if that’s the point? What could be more brave than keeping my heart open knowing that pain is inevitable?

A dark night of the soul is some of the most transformative times that we go through in our lives. They are sacred initiations. Marianne Williamson

Marianne Williamson talks of the modern tendency of pathologising of normal human suffering. Pain and suffering are part of life, we are built for it. As well as a physical immune system we have a psychic immune system. After a physical injury or illness we allow time for the bruises and scars to heal. The same goes for our psychic scars, after loss or sadness or disappointment there is a time when we feel bruised, and are healing. Time and self-compassion and acceptance is the way through this process. 

The thymus gland relates to the immune system in the body and is the gland that is located in the area of the heart chakra. Is it possible that this psychic immune system is also located in the heart centre? 

Just as our physical immunity strengthens from exposure to allergens and bacteria, perhaps our psychical immune system strengthens through these times of fear, pain and grief that so test our hearts.

Marianne Williamson maintains that much of what is diagnosed and medicated as anxiety and depressive disorders is actually the very sane reactions we have to the world we live in. Bombarded daily with images of violence, poverty, disease, only the hardest of hearts could not feel pain. 

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched, they must be felt with the heart. Helen Keller

Spiritual malady is often called the ‘dark night of the soul.’ As Buddha and Christ demonstrated suffering is at the core of the spiritual experience. Indeed the need to be happy – that we are so bombarded with – is a set-up for disappointment and despair.

When what we really need is to develop acceptance and resilience to pain, compassion for ourself and others, by understanding and accepting its intrinsic role in our human experience.

The energy of the heart is simple. It is love. It wants to love. To radiate its light. To bring warmth and healing to others. To open to the radiance of life. 

In Sanskrit, Anahata means unhurt or unstruck. 

The heart is always unhurt and unstruck. That sacred centre cannot be scarred. The scars are energetic memories of past suffering. They are not bad, just products of the mistaken belief that closing, hiding and shielding the heart will prevent pain when of course the opposite is true.

Jung described the heart chakra as the beginning of individuation. The place where we begin to experience something beyond our ego-self, something we might call spirit.

When we begin to heal the heart chakra, we create a softening of the heart. This softening stirs the energy of love and compassion and through awareness we can begin to dissolve the hurt we so often bury in our hearts. As our heart awakens to its own loving potential we begin to experience genuine connection with others, and our relationships grow healthy and radiate love. Natalie Southgate 

The heart Chakradance is a dance of integration, of uniting the masculine and feminine energies, the energies of the more dense chakras below, with the more etheric above. As we dance we honour Father Sky and Mother Earth, day and night, light and dark, yang and yin. We experience that beautiful space where all is united and integrated, where all apparent opposites move together in harmonious dance of love.

I remember the last time I led the Heart Chakradance, it was close in time to an experience that had hurt my heart. I was more than a little afraid to be going there, especially leading a class. ‘What if I break down?’ I worried, knowing the pain was just beneath the surface.

Yet in the dance I didn’t experience my pain, I held the space for the dancers, and what I found was the essence of the heart energy, endless, unfathomable, bottomless waves of love and compassion. The room was bathed in emerald green light, as I shifted the energies that people released, yes, there was sadness and grief and disappointment, but it paled in the face of this infinite supply of love. 

When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it’s bottomless, that it doesn’t have any resolution, that this heart is huge, vast and limitless. You begin to discover how much warmth and gentleness is there, as well as how much space. Pema Chodron 

The recent years have marked a shift for me into setting my sights high and acting with self-belief. And while the fear and anxiety are often there, they no longer dictate my actions. Often I see anxiety as an indicator that have stepped outside of my comfort zone, into new territory and I remind myself this is a good thing.

After returning from Bali I met with the leader of my Druid grove and she guided my through walking the wheel. The Druid wheel is both a calendar for the eight seasonal ceremonies of the year and like the Native American medicine wheel, a sacred symbolic and archetypal map for the stages of development and the energies we are working through at a given time in our life. 

As part of a grove or Druid community, it also suggests the ceremonial role that we should hold for that year. While we work through the energies of an aspect of the wheel, we can also hold and represent those energies for the group during ceremony. For me the wheel guided me to stop just North of West, at the position of the knight. 

Don’t move the way fear makes you move. Move the way love makes you move. Move the way joy makes you move. Osho

It a curious position, archetypally the Knight is a young male, still adolescent, who embarks on a spiritual quest, the search for the Holy Grail, if you will. He represents the spiritual warrior. While it seemed strange for a woman at my stage of life, somewhere in the mother/queen realm to be guided to this energy, it also makes perfect sense.

This year I have been guided to make my spiritual journey a physical one, with my pilgrimages to Bali and India, and next year to Ireland. I have very much been called to get on my horse and physically seek. I have also been guided to do so alone. For the first time in my life I am not looking for a partner, if anything I feel I have no space for one right now. I’m the knight on his holy mission and it’s a path I must travel alone.

And how interesting that at a time when anxiety over my life choices has reared up, this warrior energy has emerged for me. It feels like a beautiful integration of the solar plexus warrior energy into the heart. Where my will and passion is channeled through my heart centre. 

It’s exciting for me to see spirit guide me in this way, it’s validating. As I march into the unknown, I have unseen guides alongside me. 

And like the turning of the wheel, my time as the knight won’t be forever, only until I have worked with these energies, gained their wisdom and I am ready to integrate this and move on.

The most courageous thing we will ever do is bear humbly the mystery of our own reality. Richard Rohr


Bless!

Holy crap! This stuff actually works

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Entirely by accident, I conducted a little experiment on myself in the last month or so.

In the lead up to Christmas, I finished up teaching Chakradance and holding shamanic circles for the year. Things were super busy at work and at home, and my yoga and meditation practice waned.

Then we went on a family holiday, which was more family than holiday, it has to be said. And suddenly I found myself in perhaps the worst head space I have been in the longest time.

I was irritable, anxious, unsettled and restless. I didn’t know what I wanted to do or where I wanted to be, but it definitely wasn’t where I was and what I was doing.

I knew I should be meditating and exercising and doing yoga, but I just didn’t feel like it. I didn’t feel like doing anything.

Knowing I was a stone’s throw away from a serious depressive episode, I knew I needed to do something about this funk I was in.

When I got back home, I wrote myself a plan for the remaining days of my holidays. I wanted to paint my studio, and prepare for the classes I would be running in the new year. I wanted to complete the online chakra course I was undertaking, that I hadn’t been able to devote enough time to. I also had enrolled in a meditation course on the centering prayer practice. And the garden looked like a jungle so I had to whip that into shape before I had my students come over.

I wanted to write too…

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So I planned out my days, beginning with yoga and meditation, alternating with periods of physical labour, exercise, chores, study and writing. Of course leaving time for my reward activities reading, having a cuppa, catching up with friends and watching the entire seven series of The Gilmore Girls on DVD.

As a result I have been doing several sessions of meditation, yoga, and chakra exercises a day. I have been in the garden, in the sun, reading and writing prolifically. 

It took about four to five days for me to realise I felt calm, I could sit still without my mind racing, I didn’t constantly feel like I should be somewhere else doing something else. I felt present, grounded, content.

More than just an internal shift, I was aware the this presence positively impacted my connection with others, where I had felt irritated with my son, and fallen into near constant nagging, I now found myself able to sit and talk with him – and more importantly, listen – about his latest computer game obsession.

‘Holy crap!’ I thought to myself ‘This stuff actually works.’

Which may seem like a duh! moment to many of you. I mean this is what I practice, what I write about. I suppose I just hadn’t had a chance to compare myself with and without these practices for a while. It really took me by surprise for a number of reasons.

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First, I think it was a great reminder why these techniques are called practices or disciplines, that’s because you have to actually do them, consistently, regularly, with discipline, to get the results.

Second, I have a short memory. And I don’t think I’m alone here. How many of you have either been sick or injured and thought ‘I will never take my health for granted again!’ That may last for weeks or months, depending on how sick or injured you were, but pretty soon the mind is back to complaining about the traffic and being on hold, and why is my coffee not hot enough?

Being in a state of grace is a little like that. When I’m practising my disciplines, I still feel life with all its slings and arrows, I still get heartbroken and yelled at, and upset. The difference is that I get to empty out regularly. So that stuff doesn’t accumulate. What happened to me in the last month is that all the little shitty bits of life had their way with me, and I hung on to the residue, I wasn’t emptying out my bucket. And pretty soon I was overwhelmed and drowning in my bucket of crappola.

Three, having experienced a more balanced and calm state of mind, pretty consistently for a few years now, I find I now have way less tolerance for being out of sorts.

Now, I’d like to say that I am never going to get slack again, but we all know that’s not true. It’s just a really great opportunity for me to take stock and observe the tangible effects of what I do on my state of mind, body and spirit.

I said it before, I’ll say it again, holy crap, this stuff actually works!

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It’s interesting to unpack the components of the daily ‘to do’ list, because I think I intuitively stumbled onto something quite insightful. Without intentionally doing so, I realised my list incorporated aspects of clearing myself physically and mentally – of stresses, concerns, and tension – allowing me to empty out and surrender more fully as I sat in meditation. As I wrote in my last post, it is helpful to smooth and soothe the body and nervous system before we can ‘just be’ in spirit.

From experience I know a day’s plan must balance activities I NEED to do with activities I LOVE to do. My personality disposition lends itself to a ‘work then reward’ system. So I tend to start with something like going to the gym (work) with a period of reading in the sun (reward). 

Interestingly I discovered some of the ‘work’ aspects actually made me feel fantastic. After the gym, I had a endorphin high, after half an hour of weeding I felt the soothing effects of having my hands in the soil (more on that in a minute), the invigorating effects of sunshine as well as the sense of satisfaction at seeing the very apparent results of my labours. 

Seeing the positive results of these aspects of my day certainly made it more appealing to do the work. I think too, I was reminded that procrastinating over uninspiring or difficult tasks is really draining and even depressing. It feels like the elephant in the room, that thing I’m avoiding, a large inert mass sucking up all my mental and physical energy.

When I talked with a friend recently about my procrastination she told me of a system that worked for her. Basically you set a timer for 25 minutes and you do the activity with the agreement that at the end of that time you can switch to something else.

Faced with a week of time off and a massive to do list, I decided to test this practice out, with great results.

Starting a task when you have only a small allotted time is psychologically motivating. I found I didn’t procrastinate because I had a sense that I didn’t have ‘enough time’ to complete the task. Strangely I found quite a few tasks were more than adequately achieved in that time. Even larger tasks were obviously impacted upon in the time. It seems that by launching into action, and seeing results, the effect was very motivating.

After a few days, as my mood improved, my list was getting smaller and my sense of achievement grew, I found myself looking forward to the very tasks I had been putting off.

One of these tasks was the garden. I have a large garden at the back of my place, which surrounds the studio where I teach Chakradance. As last year intensified, I really let go of maintaining the garden. As such it is now overrun with weeds.

Every time I saw the state of it, I felt a range of negative emotions, shame, dread, self-disgust. It was as if the garden was an outward sign of my inner deterioration.

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To be honest, 25 minutes a day seemed like a drop in the ocean of my weedy wilderness, but I knew I had to do something. Once I got past the mental barrier of the overwhelming scale of the task, I really enjoyed the activity. I sat on the earth, I stuck my hands in the soil, the sun was shining, I played music and sang. 

During this time I was writing my last post on the base chakra, and I realised this sitting on the earth, alongside my energetic chakra practices was really grounding me.

As I listened to Anodea Judith talk about the earth, she said that one handful of soil contains more diverse microbes than there are people on the planet. Even though we can’t see it, the earth is teeming with life.

Gardening makes me happy, I thought. And then I stumbled upon this article which put some science into my experience. Antidepressant Microbes in Soil: How dirt makes you happy. Apparently the microbes in soil actually contribute to serotonin levels in the brain, and thus may have similar function to antidepressant medication. Not to mention the uplifting effect of sunshine and fresh air – it’s win, win, win! So get your gloves off, and dig those hands in the dirt.

From feeling completely paralysed with a sense of indecision and loss of faith, I have found myself reconnecting with the simple wisdom of daily disciplines. I picked up the book that inspired this blog, The Wishing Year, by Noelle Oxenhandler, and reread it.

What I always loved about this book was the author’s deep scepticism about much New Age thinking – or its lack of critical thinking. And yet, she practises wishing, setting intentions and following them up with the practical hard work it takes to allow them to happen. Noelle writes that magic starts where the practical leaves off – providing the conditions, the synchronicities that allow our practical actions to take root and flourish.

There’s no point wishing for my garden to be weeded, but somehow by creating a beautiful space for my classes, by gardening and painting the studio, it seems to create a shift in my attitude and an energy around my creative space, and suddenly I was receiving calls and bookings for my classes.

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Noelle had three wishes – a house, a man and her soul. Whenever I read her intentions they strike a chord so deep inside me. Yes! That’s what I want too!

So…

Inspired and spurred into action, I set my seven intentions for 2016. They may look familiar to some of you…

1. A home

2. Community

3. Purpose

4. Vibrant health

5. Abundance

6. Joy

7. Love

Ah, see they are lovely intentions? Aren’t they? These are the original seven intentions for this blog. And as I write them out and reflect on where I was when I wrote them and what’s happened since, well, I feel a bit teary. Because there’s been massive growth in all those areas.

Last year I got so excited by going to Bali and studying shamanism. It was such a pivotal experience, it showed me I really could do just about anything if I set my mind to it. It seemed so unlikely as a single, working mum that I could disappear off to Bali for three weeks to study shamanism. Bali, the land of the gods, that mysterious paradise that always seemed open to others but not to me.

Intoxicated from my foray into this cocktail of travel and esoteric study, I thirsted for more. I got myself really confused, there were so many appealing possibilities. Should I study shamanism or druidry, should I do this course, or that workshop? Should I travel back to Bali, to Ireland, to India, to Uluru? Should I quit my day job and put all my energy into Chakradance? Should I quit Chakaradance and take a big promotion at a work?

This kind of thinking becomes so all-or-nothing, black-and-white, and yet life takes place in the spaces in between the extremes.

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In the end I wound myself up into a tight little ball. A couple of people who know what they’re talking about suggested that if I was serious about commiting to a spiritual path, it didn’t really matter which one I chose, the important thing was discipline and practice. In particular a daily meditation practice. I desperately needed emptying out from this mental maelstrom. 

Getting so wound up in future plans that you can’t be in the present moment is the great trap of the modern lifestyle. Life begins in the now, in this present moment, every moment, surrender to this moment and you find your flow. Otherwise you have abandoned your body in the now, whilst your spirit is tripping off into the future, and there’s no wholeness in that.

I’m not saying don’t make plans, but a plan is just a rudder to plot your direction, then you live the journey out in the succession of now moments.

Hence the daily to do list. Bring it back, keep it simple, do what’s in front of you. The basic Spiritual 101 I learned in my early days of 12 step programs. 

Since then, the storm has passed, some degree of sanity and clarity has descended. I decide to finish what I have started, namely my Druidic studies and my studies and practice of the chakra system, and shamanic dance. I have settled on a meditation practice, with regular times to engage in shamanic dance and journeying. I’m doing regular exercise. I’m making time to socialise and have some fun.

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Oh I know this all sounds paradoxical, making plans and writing lists, setting timers and intentions, yet being in the now and in the flow. And there’s no exact science to it. Some days I’m anxious and out-of-sorts trying to do my list and meditate with a million thoughts raging – a million opportunities to return to God as Cynthia Bourgeault would say. Yet I have found it’s just not possible for my monkey mind to ‘just be’ outside of a certain degree of disciplined practice. ‘Just being’ ends up just lounging around procrastinating and feeling bad about myself for doing so. Or the paralysis of indecision, where to start?

So it is a paradox, but I have also found that sweet spot where it all just works. I’m in my day, I’m following a plan and yet somehow I’m in the flow, things become effortless and enjoyable, my mind becomes quiet. When unexpected things crop up, I allow them space in my day. 

Honestly though, I just don’t believe spiritual practice is meant to feel good all the time, I don’t think that’s the end in itself. Feeling calm may be a pleasant by-product at times, but the end itself is that constant intention to return to God, or source, or whatever you call that deep presence, the rest is icing on the cake.

I am rather fond of the icing though…

I have set the intention to go to India at the end of the year, it seems financially prohibitive, but if the last two years have taught me anything, it is that when I set a clear intention, act is if that’s what’s happening, and work towards that reality, it usually happens. 

Well, I’ve put it in writing now, so let’s just wait and see…

Blessings!

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Third eye blind

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Reality leaves a lot to the imagination. John Lennon

I’m conducting a little experiment. It’s 6:30pm. I’m in bed with the laptop – “writing” – and I don’t want to go anywhere. I especially don’t feel like driving across town to sit in a group of people, and meditate on my third eye chakra.

I feel grumpy and hormonal. Anti-social even.

I don’t like the world today. It’s full of petty bureaucrats and mean tram drivers and freak accidents happening to lovely people. (And that’s just my life, I know there’s a whole world of problems out there. Do not go there.)

I just don’t wanna play.

And I’m just coming down from the heady emotional highs of the week. You see, I fell deeply in love, with my newborn niece. Alba.

She’s exquisitely beautiful, and triggered an outpouring of love quite uncharacteristic of my family. And well I rode that love tsunami for most of the week.

Somehow, amongst such joy,  my monkey mind started on the whole idea of me and babies. I mean I thought I was done, done, DONE with that. But holding that precious new life, well, it got me thinking.

I’m nearly 42. I’m still fertile, I think. But not for much longer. Soon I won’t have the choice. And that made me feel sad. Like life and all it’s opportunities were just racing past too fast to make the most of them.

While I believe pretty much anything is possible, not EVERYTHING is possible. Maybe I could have another baby, but probably not in addition to doing all the other great stuff I have in mind. I have to make a choice. A decision. I don’t like decisions, I always feel I’m missing out on something.

Anyway, I digress, ah yes, the experiment…

Usually when I write this blog, I do so after meditating – when my chakras are open and I’m beaming frigging rainbows out of my orifices. I like to be inspired when I write.

But that’s not life is it? Life doesn’t happen on a meditation cushion or a yoga mat. It happens in traffic, and chaos, and at the mercy of petty bureaucrats and grumpy tram drivers (I should really let that stuff go, right?)

So I decided, being in a right old grouch, that I would start writing now, and finish writing after my meditation group. A little comparison, if you will.

Why? (I know what you’re thinking. Why can’t I just go to meditation already and save you from reading about my grouchy mood and petty grievances?)

Because I know I’ll be transformed, I always am. Meditation transforms me, of course. But this particular group of women is so awesome. There’s no bullshit, we just sit – and often fidget – and meditate. And sometimes we cry and have a rough time of it, but it’s so real and so worthwhile, and I always go home transformed.

And really that’s what this whole blog is about, transformation.

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The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision. Helen Keller

I didn’t start writing this blog because I had delusions of being some kind of enlightened being. I wrote because even though I was really struggling in my life, I believed that I could transform that struggle into something meaningful and beautiful. Because that’s what I do.

Suffering from eating disorders and depression and addictions propelled me towards seeking something else, something to fill that void in me that is always famished – starving and screaming for filling. The void I tried to fill with food and chemicals and love.

So tonight I feel fractious and disheartened. If you ask me what my vision is for my life, I’d probably say ‘nothing.’ I just want to stuff my face with junk food and watch crap TV. I don’t even want to think about my business, or the work to be done on my studio, or my website or anything like that.

This is why I need a discipline and a practice. Because left alone in my head for too long, this is as good as it gets.

Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world. Oscar Wilde

Life can be hard, even when it’s not that hard. I know there’s many, many, many people who’d love my life and my ‘problems.’ But I really struggle, I always have. I make ‘heavy-going’ of life. I’m too sensitive. I suffer more than is required. I get tired and disillusioned. My energy flags and I want to hide away.

In some ways this blog was a shout-out to the universe. If you want me here, show me. Show me how to live better. Be better. Do better.

The universe didn’t talk back in so many words – probably a good thing! But the message I do get is that what the world needs is, not more enlightened people, but more real people talking about their difficulties, their struggles. Their attempts to improve their character even when it feels like life is just chipping away at their veneer and baring their raw skin to the elements.

I don’t think chakra meditation practice is about become a ‘more special’ human being. I think it’s more like playing with the gifts we all already have. It’s actually very ordinary. Beautiful, powerful, but ordinary.

Caroline Myss says the modern discussion of intuition as a ‘special gift’ is a furphy. We are all highly intuitive. It’s just we often don’t want to hear what our intuition has to say. We want our intuition to say “you’re doing great, you are special, you need never do anything you don’t want to, or feel any pain, and everything will be fine.”

When really it’s saying. “Leave this situation. It’s sucking your will to live.”  “Yes this will be a hard choice, and it will hurt, a lot, but it’s necessary to your spiritual evolution.” Or “No. You won’t get accolades or awards or recognition, just do it because it’s the right thing to do.”

Nup. No one wants to hear that.

Where there is no vision, the people perish. Proverbs 29:18

Intuition is our sixth sense. It is that sense of knowing without knowing how you know. It can mean everyone around you disagrees with your choice, it may even seem crazy, but it feels right.

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So I’m back from meditation group.

Tonight we focused on the third eye chakra, which is handy seeing as that’s the chakra I am writing about this week.

My visualisation was strong, as I suppose I should have expected from this chakra. The images I experienced were rather archetypal, and may mean something or nothing, a bit like a dream. It was a guided meditation so some of the vision was prompted, but the details were entirely my own.

In the beginning of the meditation, I was taken to a forest were I encountered a squirrel by a gnarly, black-trunked, giant oak tree.

As I knelt before the tree, a hard exoskeletal shell – like a crab shell – was removed from my back. My hair came off with it and I was temporarily like one of those aliens from Cocoon, consisting entirely of light, until my features and hair ‘regenerated’.

I know, weird right? I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried!

The squirrel led me through the forest to a table in a clearing, where a group of people were feasting. My lover was there and greeted me warmly. We sat and shared food and a honey drink. One of the women then gave me a gift – a crystal crown.

When it was time to go, the squirrel led my back to the tree where an old man in a hooded cloak with a staff – the image from the Led Zeppelin IV poster I had on my wall as a teenager – stood.

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Apparently this image is taken from the Rider-Waite tarot and is the Hermit, whose lantern represents the third eye. Which would mean nothing, except for the fact that I didn’t know this. I don’t own that tarot deck, nor am I especially familiar with it.

Somehow my mind used an image I was familiar with to convey this archetypal image to me. For what purpose? I’m not sure yet.

Our imagination flies – we are its shadow on the earth. Vladimir Nabokov

According to Lisa Fredeborg from Tarotize, The Hermit card corresponds to the Third Eye. The Hermit archetype calls us to connect with our inner wisdom and to shine our light within.

Afterwards I had a strong localised headache, which is common when this chakra is shifting.

Your head is humming and it won’t go, in case you don’t know,

The piper’s calling you to join him,

Dear lady, can you hear the wind blow, and did you know

Your stairway lies on the whispering wind? Led Zeppelin

Perception, insight, wisdom, psychic energy, visualisation, dreams, sleep, moods, imagination, concentration, and self-realisation. These are the elements governed by the third eye chakra, or Ajna – “command centre” – as it is called in Sanskrit.

I felt tremendously invigorated after the meditation. I think primarily because such experiences remind me that there is the world of the seen, and the world of the unseen.

Which basically translates for me into a sense that just because I can’t see a lot of hope right now, doesn’t mean it’s not there. It’s just not yet unveiled.

If your attention is in the third eye, just imagination is enough to create any phenomena. Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

I feel re-engaged with life and with a desire to explore the chakras again. I mean really, how could I not after such a vision, who wouldn’t want to delve further into THAT world.

The Third Eye chakra is linked to both the pineal gland – which I wrote about in my last blog post – and the pituitary gland.

The pituitary is a pea-sized gland – situated between the eyes – that is co-located and works closely with the hypothalamus. Known as ‘the master gland’ its basic function is to tell the other glands what to do and when – namely the thyroid gland, adrenal glands, ovaries, and testes.

The pituitary’s main function is to regulate body chemistry, regulate emotion and intellect, and work in partnership with the pineal gland, and the hypothalamus, to achieve overall hormonal balance.

Given the importance of the pineal and pituitary gland, and their co-location with the sixth and seventh chakras, the importance of balancing these chakras for whole of mind, body, and spiritual harmony is vital.

Seeing as the pituitary controls hormone output from the other endocrine glands, including the ovaries, it was probably a very good time for me to balance this chakra.

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The third eye chakra is a subtle energy and is very sensitive to stimulants, like coffee, chocolate, alcohol, drugs, and even spices. Low dose stimulants can awaken the third eye chakra, but this energy centre is adversely affected by addiction to mood-altering chemicals. So too much, too often, can end up inhibiting the natural balance of this centre.

And any woman can tell you how connected hormones and chocolate are. Never mind coffee. I don’t need to see scientific studies on that one.

Pictures in your mind’s eye lure you toward your destination. Are those pictures real? Imagined? Purposeful? Intuitive? Are they illusory magnets – power, fame, fortune, or glory – that attract the ego? Or are they the whisperings of your soul, speaking of your life purpose fulfilled? Anodea Judith

In her book on manifesting – Creating on Purpose – Anodea Judith calls the action of this chakra Vision Vitalizes. She writes that the steps for vitalising your vision in the sixth chakra are:

  •  Imagining possibilities
  •  Discovering your life purpose
  •  Dreaming big for your life
  •  Designing your vision vehicle
  •  Visualizing your path to fulfillment

The sixth chakra aligns with my sixth intention, joy. And in my chakra business plan, the Third eye chakra focuses on vision, insight, imagination, intuition, and  the big picture. I asked myself, what vision, insight or intuition do I bring to this endeavour? For me, it is my life experiences, my journey into Chakradance, self-exploration, and healing.

Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning. Gloria Steinem

As I have said before, and will continue to say, I make no claims to being a spiritual giant. I am a very flawed human trying her best to navigate her way through this crazy world, and hopefully give a helping hand to other people along the way, should they want it.

Chakradance has been an extension of my meditation and energy work into a whole new realm of joy and self-expression through dance, sound and movement. As I have written ad nauseum in this blog, I have had profound awakenings as a result of practising chakradance and meditation and I just want to offer that to others, share it with others.

My imagination is fired when I visualise rooms of people dancing, experiencing the unbridled joy of arriving into their being without judgement or fear.

You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus. Mark Twain

I am reminded of the beauty of the third eye chakradance, a dance of ecstatic and altered states of consciousness through trance-dance. The dance of the third eye is the dance of the intuitive mind. In this dance we let go of the physical world and take the journey into the psychic world of our imagination.

We journey in order to see, to understand, or to touch our intuition at its essence. And we can bring that clear sight back into reality with us.

In our visions, and our dreams, in the archetypal images that resonate with us, our unconscious speaks to us of a deeper truth than our physical senses perceive.

The nature of the third eye chakra is spacious and vast. It feels like anything is possible, the energy is so light and free-flowing.

The challenge is always in transferring the insights of this chakra into form in physical reality – whose nature is so dense and compact.

Sometimes the contrast between these meditative states and the ‘real world’ can be harsh. For me, a little reminder that such transcendence is possible goes a long way in my day.

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I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know if I should have a baby or wrap up my uterus for good. I don’t know how my lover and I are going to live together, when our children are settled at schools at opposite ends of town. I don’t know what’s going to unfold with my chakradance business. Part of me would like a guaranteed outcome before I make these choices, so I can make a proper comparison.

But then that would be a bit boring, wouldn’t it, if we always knew what was coming?

I just have to hold these visions in my mind’s eye, and set the intention for what I do want. And trust. When the time is right, and it’s the right thing, amazing – nay, miraculous – shifts can happen.

It’s easy to go through life third-eye blind, with our focus entirely on the physical nature of reality. But, to me, that’s a little like being colour-blind and thinking you comprehend the beauty of a rainbow. Sure it’s something, but there’s so much more to see.

And yet, I can’t live there exclusively, in an imaginary world. So I need to bring my imagination into my physical world, rather than trying to follow the squirrel further into the forest.

I can bring some of that ‘imagical’ third-eye sight back into the world with me. Yep, I just made that word up. From my imagination into form, just like that.

Affirmations from bmindful.com:

Colourful imagination makes my world more interesting.

My blessed imagination is fertile ground for blessed, life-ward creativity.

I have a beautifully intricate and wondrous imagination.

I use positive mental images to create the positive changes I wish in my life.

The stronger the imagination the less imaginary the results.

Imagine the future and make it so.

Bless!

 

Title image:

ufunk.net

Third Eye by Baby Doll

Third eye chakra

Led Zepplin IV Poster

Imagination Tree 

Sources:

Chakra Foods for Optimum Health: A Guide to the Foods That Can Improve Your Energy, Inspire Creative Changes, Opne Your Heart and Heal your Mind, Body and Spirit By Deanna M. Minich

Hormones Demystified, by Amanda McQuade Crawford, Yoga Journal May-Jun 1997

The Third Eye Chakra – the Key to your Intuition by Natalie Southgate

Slow down, live better

motoi-yamamoto

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. Ferris Bueller

Slow food, slow business, slow cities, slow travel, and slow sex, it seems like everyone is trying to go slow. ‘Go slow to go fast’ is the new mantra – whatever that actually means. (Don’t think about it too much, it will make your head hurt, like a buddhist koan.)

My boyfriend thinks the slow movement is hilarious. He thinks the proponents of ‘slow’ all sound like we are lauding our mental deficits as something to aspire to.

All jokes aside, the slow movement does sound somewhat of an anathema to the usual ideal of striving harder, faster, better. But I don’t think it has to be.

There is more to life than increasing its speed. Mohandas K. Gandhi

According to Wikipedia, The Slow Movement advocates ways to slow down the pace of life. It all started with the Slow Food movement, initiated by Carlo Petrini’s protest against the opening of a McDonald’s in Rome’s Piazza di Spagna, in 1986, and has spread to concepts as broad as medicine, schooling, science, and travel.

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In 1999, The World Institute of Slowness – created by Geir Berthelsen – presented a vision for an entire ‘Slow Planet’. Carl Honoré’s book, In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed, coined the phrase ‘Slow Movement’ and investigated how the Slow philosophy might be applied in all fields of human endeavour.

It is a cultural revolution against the notion that faster is always better. The Slow philosophy is not about doing everything at a snail’s pace. It’s about seeking to do everything at the right speed. Savoring the hours and minutes rather than just counting them. Doing everything as well as possible, instead of as fast as possible. It’s about quality over quantity in everything from work to food to parenting. Carl Honore

Carl Honore cites the trends towards speed meditation, speed yoga, speed dating, and speed sex, as examples of things that there are good reason for taking time over. If you can’t spare time for relaxation, relationships, and enjoyment, maybe the problem is not that it takes too long, but that your work-life balance is out of whack.

But it’s also about taking ourselves less seriously, The International Institute of Not Doing Much (IINDM) is a humorous approach to the slow themes of addressing the modern ills of time poverty, incivility, compassion fatigue, and workaholism.

Carl Honore sums ‘slow’ up beautifully in his TED talk:

 

The best things in life aren’t things. Art Buchwald 

The Slow Movement is similar to the concept of voluntary simplicity. The idea that by scaling back our pursuit of material goals, particularly rampant consumerism, we can achieve self-fulfilment.

These are not just lofty goals, Abraham Maslow believed that once we have fulfilled our physical needs, we begin to evolve towards self-realisation and true fulfilment as human beings. But how can we evolve beyond the material if we always think we need to chase more stuff?

If we can accept a simpler lifestyle, we can begin to focus our attention and energy on developing our selves, our gifts and skills to contribute to the world.

We can become cultures of people living to our fullest potential and not draining our life force away chasing the ever-elusive dollar, without real meaning or purpose in our lives.

Not to mention, protecting our natural environment through responsible use of resources. Slow living is sustainable living.

I have been thinking a lot about slowness in the last few weeks, ever since I went to the launch of the Slow School of Business.

The Slow School of Business (Slow School) is inspired by the Slow Food movement. Founder Carolyn Tate believes business can be done better using the slow model, driven by purpose and collaboration, not profit.

Workshops and dinners at the school focus more on emotional, spiritual and physical wellbeing, creating an environment of deep connections and collaboration, where like-minded professionals are encouraged to share problems and solutions.

These are the soft skills vital for the hard task of building a sustainable business with purpose and vision. Carolyn Tate

So what is the meaning of slow?

Slow: unhurried, leisurely, measured, moderate, deliberate, steady, sedate, slow-moving, slow-going, easy, relaxed, unrushed, gentle, undemanding, comfortable. Merriam Webster Dictionary

Slowness, but not stopped-ness. Moving with purpose, at times stopping, at times moving faster, if called for, but not racing through just to get to the other side. Like the proverbial chicken crossing the road.

Recently, I feel that I’m being forced to slow down. All aspects of my life – business, work, family, love – seem to be encountering obstacles that are a counter-force to my usual bull-at-a-gate approach to life.

And why would we want to slow down?

Slow is about doing the things we do for the sake of savouring the experience, not just as a expedient means to an end. It’s easy to get so super-efficient that we forget we are supposed to be living life, not doing it.

There’s more to experience than ticking the boxes on our to-do list every day. Behaving with passion, purpose, and presence, is both invigorating to us, and to the activities and relationships we engage in.

When you feel tired all the time and like you’re just going through the motions, getting through the many things on your To-Do list but not engaging with them deeply or enjoying them very much. You don’t remember things as vividly when you rush through them. You feel like you’re racing through your life instead of actually living it. Carl Honore

Salt-Art-by-Motoi-Yamamoto-12

In this month’s Slow Magazine, alongside my friend, Carolyn Tate’s fabulous interview about the Slow school of business, I discovered this amazing Japanese artist, Motoi Yamamoto, whose work features throughout this blog post.

Motoi Yamamoto has used salt as his primary medium since the death of his sister to brain cancer 12 years ago. Salt is traditionally used in Japanese culture, specifically the Shinto religion, to purify. In Shinto, piles of salt outside houses are traditionally used to placate and clear away spirits, and protect the house from the energy associated with death and grieving. Yamamoto further believes that ‘salt has a force to heal grief.’

Sometimes I think there are only two instructions we need to follow to develop and deepen our spiritual life: slow down and let go. Oriah Mountain Dreamer

His work is reminiscent of the sand mandalas of the Tibetan monks, after spending hundreds of hours creating his pieces, they become interactive, with the public walking, touching, and playing with them. As such they are a symbol of impermanence.

 

Death has a way of reminding us of the finite nature of life. I realise I tend to hold life at arm’s length, waiting for the time I am ready to let it in. When I’m fitter, slimmer, more together, when my house is tidier, when I’ve done my tax, and finished my Chakradance space.

When I have life sorted and all my ducks in row – then I can slow down and enjoy the moment. But that time never comes.

Slow to me, also means letting life be messy and imperfect, and yet savouring it just as it is.

I have noticed in myself, a dogged attachment to my never-ending to-do list, ‘I just must get this and that done.’ And not really paying attention to present moment, to what’s really important.

When I fully enter time’s swift current, enter into the current moment with the weight of all my attention, I slow the torrent with the weight of me all here. Ann Voskamp

Yesterday, I shelved my to-do list and had an impromptu day with a couple of lovely girlfriends. These times enrich my soul. Deep conversations about friendships, relationships, business, death, and ageing. Exploring the concept of becoming crones or wise elder women.

It was the perfect example of what happens when I slow down.

Nothing in life is as important as you think it is, while you are thinking about it. Daniel Kahneman

It’s easy to avoid the stickiness of life when you skate over the surface. Slowness involves the intention to be fully present at each moment with attentiveness to our inner world and our intimate connection with others. Deep conversations can be uncomfortable, difficult, challenging. This is not small talk and automatic responses. We are not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

A helpful analogy for this could be water skiing versus scuba-diving as a way to experience water. Water skiing is a super-fun and fast way to glide over water, yet by scuba diving we experience all that is beautiful beneath the surface.

It’s not that fast and exciting is wrong, it’s just it shouldn’t encompass our whole lives. We should be able to choose the fast and fun activities and the slow and meaningful ones.

Our minds and bodies need down-time to recuperate, to be creative, to heal themselves. Our lives should have a varied pace. The natural ebb and flow. Connectness and conscious decision-making should be valued above expediency.

People who are cognitively busy are also more likely to make selfish choices, use sexist language, and make superficial judgments in social situations. Daniel Kahneman

salt art impermemance

Based on all this contemplation of the slow, and after some inspiring conversations at the Slow School Of Business, I decided to rejig my business plan, based on the seven chakras.

The chakras have proven to be a reliable system for me, addressing all aspects of living from a physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual perspective.

I have already written about the fabulous book, Creating on Purpose: The Spiritual Technology of Manifesting Through the Chakras by Anodea Judith and Lion Goodman, which uses the chakras as a system for manifesting. It’s a great method of using the chakras as a framework, both energetically and practically, for creating things.

In this framework you work from the top chakra down, starting with the creative spark and finishing with the substantial results at the base chakra. It goes something like this. (And it’s a work in progress, I might add, this is just the beginning. But y’know, I’m taking it slow.)

Crown chakra- Inspiration – Divine vision – Creative spark

Why do I feel inspired to teach Chakradance?

The inspiration for teaching Chakradance comes from my broader sense of the meaning of life. To know ourselves, to know our gifts, and share gifts and ourselves for benefit of humanity – whether that is family friends, community, or the broader world.

Chakradance has allowed me to explore this inner journey and I want to teach others this technique of journeying within.

Third eye chakra– Vision – Insight – Imagination – Intuition – Focus on the big picture

What vision, insight or intuition do I bring to this endeavour?

My life experiences, my journey into Chakradance, self-exploration, and healing.

Throat chakra– Communication – Creativity – Expression

How can I authentically express my vision?

Writing, talking, collaborating with others gives opportunities to share my vision.

Heart chakra– Connection with others – Service to others – Courage – Co-creation

How can I co-create this vision with others?

Share my vision wholeheartedly with people I meet. Ask potential customers what they need, what are they searching for in their lives. Look to collaborate with other service providers to create easy, one-stop shops for customers.

Solar plexus chakra– Purpose – Life force – Confidence

How can I be confident in planning this vision?

Know my stuff, research other like-minded businesses, planning and preparation, prepare space. Slow down, allow things to unfold without excess force or impatience.

Sacral chakra – Pleasure – Community – Flow

How can I make this an enjoyable experience for others?

Venue, ambience, good sound system, great space, welcoming, sense of community and connection with others. Fun!

Base chakra – Structure – Foundations – Stability – Money and financial security

Good systems, website, booking system, class timetable, structured pricing, clear expectations of the class, and deliver what I promise, when I promise.

Focusing on the chakras, bringing my focus inward, allows me to honour all aspects of my being in my business vision. I begin with the intention of honouring my gifts, experience and authenticity, away from concepts of competition and generic marketing models.

I think there is a good chance if I create something I love, others will love it to. It’s a holistic vision for business as an extension of me and my life.

Slow living is all about balance, remembering that there are times for expedience and times for reflection, appreciation, and connection with the moment.

Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why. Eddie Cantor

hakone

Affirmations for slowing down (adapted from personaldevelopmentwisdom.com):

I slow down and I practice being patient.

I trust life. I slow down. I relax. I let go.

I live life at a comfortable pace.

I schedule time to rest, reflect, and recover from the events of the day.

I live my life in a stride that supports me – both mentally and physically.

I am worth the effort it takes to establish and maintain a comfortable pace to my life.

Bless!

 

And a spot of Beck, just because it’s the best slow music ever.

 

Images:

Motoi Yamamoto

 

Further reading:

The Slow School of Business (classes now open for bookings)

Slow magazine

The World Institute of Slowness

International Institute of Not Doing Much

The Slow Movement

In Praise of Slowness

Chakradance

Finding love in the right places

integrtion

If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud. Émile Zola

On reflection, what I write about is love.

This may be blatantly obvious to you, dear reader, but to me, as the writer, not so much. Even the posts with ‘love’ in the title, well, I thought I was writing about a different idea of love, inviting one aspect in, whilst putting my hand up firmly against the other kind.

And yet, there it is, bold as day. Threaded like gold through all my intentions, all my chakras, all my posts, glimmering at me.

It makes me smile, and think of Jungian shadows at work. The part of my psyche that is hidden, unconscious, and yet ever present. The poor, hapless, conscious mind often has no idea what is driving it, like a marionette, the unconscious pulls the strings, and makes us dance to its beat.

Love. The one intention I had the most reservations about, the one I purposely put last on my list of seven intentions, so I could ‘deal with it later’, is the very one I keep coming back to.

Love crops up, in every chakra, in every intention. I keep turning it over, looking at it from a different angle. Holding it this way and that. First at arm’s length to get a good, safe look at it, only then drawing it closer to my heart and soul.

In the end, these things matter most; How well did you love? How fully did you live? How deeply did you let go? Buddha

Dancing through the chakras from the base up to the crown, love continues to emerge as an underlying theme in my body’s energetic system.

At the base chakra, I understood the importance of loving awareness of the body as a way to ground ourselves in the world. In the sacral chakra, love extends to others in the form of our interactions and emotions.

In the solar plexus chakra, love tempers our power to be a light for ourselves and others. In the heart chakra, love is generated, and flows freely, when the heart is open and released from the hurts of the past.

Eastern spiritual tradition identifies each of the seven chakras with specific challenges that arise during the quest for spiritual consciousness. Jule Klotter

In the throat chakra, our expression is pure and true, and right-speech flows, when it comes from love. The third eye chakra is the cognisance of the love that is our divine knowing, our all-seeing inner wisdom. And finally, the crown chakra, is our connection with all that is, the love of the divine.

Unintentionally then, I have faced my fears about love, one chakra at a time. And well, something rather lovely has happened.

Romance is, in its divine essence, a temple space… A sacred opportunity for souls to jump past the confines of the narrow self, to take quantum leaps forward into new and uncharted emotional possibilities. Marianne Williamson

A few posts ago, I wrote about the Mr Darcy/Elizabeth Bennett-style love connection. For those of you who don’t know what that is – geez, read Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, already! – or for now, just think Bridget Jones.

Mr Darcy’s is the love of a man who appears proud and serious, but beneath that seemingly impenetrable exterior, dwells a massive heart, full to the brim with love, just waiting for the woman with whom he can have the true mind-body-soul connection, that he so desires. Elizabeth Bennett is that woman.

The world does not turn without moments of grace. Who cares how small. Colum McCann

When I wrote that, I had a man in mind – the man whom I have loved quietly for the longest time. Last week, this man found my blog, read it, and felt compelled to contact me. It seems he has quietly felt the same way. There were reasons why we couldn’t be together before, but not now.

The unfolding of this connection is incredibly romantic, and a powerful testament to the spirit of this blog. Despite wishing to avoid the whole love thing, to hide my sense of having missed out with the romantic love stuff, I didn’t shy away. I faced it head on, wrote about my doubts and fears, and set the intention to have what my heart desires, and looky-here, it found me. He found me.

It seems apt at this point to do a bit of reflection on where this blog has taken me over the last six months. Have my intentions actually manifested into anything more tangible in other areas of my life?

Doubt everything. Find your own light. Buddha

jacaranda

Aside from this beautiful budding romance, what has this blog and these intentions brought forth?

My sense of community has expanded, this blog has allowed me to indulge in my passion for writing and connection with other people, and my health has improved as a result on this intense focus on creating a fulfilling and abundant life.

Writing this blog has enabled me to continuously ‘put myself out there’, but what does that actually mean?

It means, to illustrate one example, that when I decided I wanted to teach Chakradance, instead of listening to my doubts, I simply put my intentions out to crowd-source the money for the course, and the support came flooding in.

You know you have found your calling, when you would rather do it and fail, than not do it. Alexander Kjerulf

So, six months into this little experiment of mine, to whole-heartedly pursue all my heart’s desires, I find myself bursting with abundance in my life. Love, passion, purpose, joy, community, and health. Sometimes all this abundant love almost feels overwhelming, and that’s where the process of integration is vital.

Chakradance has been invaluable to me in this way. It’s all very well to ask the universe to unleash its abundance, but it has to be able to flow through me or I may explode with the intensity!

As I have completed the seven chakras in Chakradance, this week’s dance was a dance of integration, before I move into the business side of the course.

The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, nor to worry about the future, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly. Buddha

Chakradance is a dance for the soul. It reconnects us back to our true essence by connecting us with the soul’s wisdom.

In traditional shamanic cultures, it is believed that disorders such as depression, anxiety, and addictions, arise from loss of connection to the soul. Where there is conflict between our inner and outer lives, our conscious and unconscious selves.

The common ingredient in every single dysfunction is an issue of power. Our physical body is a construction of spiritual power and that we are, each of us, scheduled to evolve through levels, stages of empowerment and our body is a complete reflect of exactly what lessons we learn and when. Caroline Myss

The soul is constantly communicating with us and telling us what it needs to be healed and whole, through our bodies, our feelings, our relationships, our dreams, our creativity.

In the dance, and dance is a wonderful analogy for our whole lives, we become inwardly focused and allow our body and mind to communicate with us, through sensation, emotion, and vision. In this way Chakradance can be like a waking dream, where the unconscious is invited to communicate directly with the conscious self.

As I wrote in my last few posts, archetypes are images, with which the unconscious communicates to the conscious mind. The visions and images that come through during the Chakradance are not illusions, but messages that contain powerful healing information for us, if we attune to them.

Obviously Chakradance is not the only place this happens, it happens in meditation, creative expression, dreams, in daydreams, in music and art that transports us, and in images that reoccur in our daily lives. However in Chakradance we practice awareness and attunement to these messages, and actively encourage them though the moving meditation of the dance.

The journey becomes part of the sacred quest, in which we find our true core. Archetypes can be seen as spiritual symbols, and the magic and power they hold is only as great as the significance we attach to it. Source Unknown

In preparation for the integration dance, I went back over the mandalas I had drawn for each chakra. In the sketchbook was the mandalas from the last year of me dancing Chakradance, since I first bought the DVD. As I flicked through these drawings, full of light and joy, or stained with pain and struggle, I felt teary at this beautiful expression of the journey I have been on, and the accumulated wisdom that is growing in me.

It was a different experience to reading a journal, theses drawings capture an essence of being, a snapshot of an inner moment in our unconscious mind. And as such, are ripe with wisdom as yet unknown to us.

That’s life. It hurts, it’s dirty, and it feels very, very good. Orson Scott Card

white tiger

There comes a time when you must harvest the fruit of your life. Otherwise you will rot on the vine. David Whyte

You see, when I first bought the Chakradance DVD to practice, I was in the midst of my (extreme) raw food challenge – see my blog  one hundred percent raw. Afterwards I had a massive crash, which ironically propelled me into this journey with my intentions.

This blog began from hitting rock bottom – physically, emotionally, mentally – and believing that was as good a place as any to set a path for the journey back up and out into the world.

Don’t you ever get the feeling that all your life is going by and you’re not taking advantage of it? Do you realize you’ve lived nearly half the time you have to live already? Ernest Hemingway

The seven intentions I set then morphed nicely into the seven chakras and they proved to be a wonderful energetic blueprint by which to work through this rebuilding and reconceptualising process.

As I flicked through the images, I remembered being in those different emotional, mental, physical spaces. And I could honestly say that I could never have imagined studying to be a Chakradance teacher.

This dance of integration, which Jung would called individuation, the process of integrating all aspects of self. Each energy centre represents an area of human life. To live a holistically healthy and balanced life, we need to understand the area of life that each chakra represents. We need to explore each chakra and allow the energy to balance and flow, and then allow the flow between the chakras.

The lower chakras represent our physical, material reality, the higher chakras (from the heart up) represent our higher transcendental nature. Obviously these need to balance or we are too materially focused, on people and stuff, and neglect our inner being, or we are too spiritually focused, neglecting the reality of our humanness and need for connection with others.

I want to feel all there is to feel… I mustn’t forget, I’m alive, I know I’m alive, I mustn’t forget it tonight or tomorrow or the day after that. Ray Bradbury

My back was really sore as I started to dance, so I intuitively did a shamanic ritual on myself. As with many of my powerful experiences during Chakradance, this would have looked very strange indeed to an onlooker, but felt incredibly right to me.

It began with the smudging of dried leaves, and blowing the smoke over and around my body, and then ‘whacking’ myself (gently) with a branch of eucalypt leaves.

This intuitive healing was very focused on my base chakra and sacral chakra. It felt both intuitively guided and primal. I got up and danced, shaking my whole body vigorously and then started screaming, it was to a man who assaulted me when I was little, “get out of me, get out, get out, get out, get out of my energy field!” It was really loud and powerful. I’m surprised the neighbours didn’t come banging on my door.

Once free of this energy, I danced around – feeling really cleansed and light. There was a big shift around my energy, especially the sacral chakra. Then I had a really clear vision of me as a Chakradance teacher and Shamanka. It was a vision of power, of the power we can access when we do what we love for the service of mankind.

Do anything, but let it produce joy. Walt Whitman

Ever since I saw the shaman a few weeks ago, I have been shifting energy from my sacral and base chakras. As I read and contemplate the shamanic idea of soul-retrieval, it seems to me that it is less about getting “fixed” or “rid” of anything and more about integrating everything.Untitled 2

We each inherit many, many ills we did not create. The path to personal power requires that we know what we are called to heal and what we are not called to fix. Starhawk

The shaman told me that a part of me died that day when I was little, and my lover tells me that when my soul is retrieved the ‘who I am today’ will have to die. This ability to remain open to integration of all aspects of self, of spirit, is no lightweight hippy concept. This is serious stuff. It’s not easy to let go of who we think we are, to die to self, especially in order to re-integrate with parts of the soul that were frightened away.

One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. The latter procedure, however, is disagreeable, and therefore not very popular. C G Jung

It is necessary though, unless I want to live a fragmented life, and I don’t, I can’t. This Chakradance journey has illuminated to me the beauty of the integrated spirit, and the wisdom that my chakras have to show me, the wisdom that comes from all aspects of my experience, including what I term traumatic.

It is important to understand that soul loss is a good thing that happens to us. It is how we survive pain. If I was going to be in a head on car collision the last place that I would want to be at the point of impact is in my body. My psyche could not endure that kind of pain. So our psyches have this brilliant self protect mechanism where a part of our essence or soul leaves the body so that we do not feel the full impact of the pain. Sandra Ingerman

Caroline Myss writes that the shamanic journey is a death of self. It is a death of the lower chakras, and allegiance to the world of human law, and a birth into the higher chakras and allegiance to the world of spiritual law.

She believes that most of our energetic loss happens through the lower three chakras, especially the second chakra which is connected to our relationships to anything outside of ourselves: people, money, and stuff.

To ‘die’ in this area of our energetic body means to release these energy dynamics, to stop needing the allegiance of the tribe (base chakra), other people – friends, family, colleagues, money, and sexual (sacral chakra), the power that comes from ego-play (solar plexus chakra), and to move into a relationship of power that is individual and heart-centred, expressed cleanly (throat chakra) and channels the divine: through the third-eye and crown chakras.

As always, when I write about deeply personal, heartfelt things on this blog I feel afraid, exposed. What if it doesn’t work, what if I look like fool? And that’s a possibility, but I see that love, in all its forms, is a risk. A beautiful, terrifying, but essential risk. To live otherwise is like trying to go fishing without getting your line wet.

Live like a hero. That’s what the classics teach us. Be a main character. Otherwise what is life for? J.M. Coetzee

cat and crow

What you do with your life is less important than how you live it: encased in shells of fear or wide open, actively receiving God’s immense weight of love, ravished to your heart’s core by deeply feeling every moment’s divine intensity and presence, offering your love to enlighten the hearts of all those all those around you. David Deida

Yes, the risks may be great, we may not be loved in return, we may not find a way to negotiate the ups and downs of life, people change, and people die.

That’s no reason to not try. Loving is a leap of faith, and as the Zen proverb goes, ‘leap and the net will appear.’

This last year I have watched my Dad go into a home and lost a dear friend to despair. I have experienced a complete breakdown of mind, body, spirit, from trying to live life from a state of will not a state of love.

Love is here and now in its myriad, blessed forms and I choose to embrace it.

Life is short and precious, and all too quickly I will find myself in the wintertime of my life, and my hope, my intention, is that my only thoughts are, in the words of the iconic Hunter S. Thompson:

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” Hunter S. Thompson

Affirmations for integration and oneness based on the Oneness affirmations by Louise Hay:

I am connected to all of life.

I open my heart to all of the beings on the planet.

I open my heart to all aspects of my self.

I seek awareness of the parts of my self that are lost or hidden and I set the intention to integrate all aspects of my soul.

I am healthy, whole, and complete. 

Bless!

 

Sources:

Nourishing the Energy Body by Jule Klotter

Chakra Integration

Chakradance

 

Images:

Chakra Meditation In The Redwoods by Laura Iverson

Jacaranda Sunset Meditation by Laura Iverson

White Tiger Meditation by Laura Iverson

Om Tree Of Life Meditation by Laura Iverson

Halloween Sunset by Laura Iverson

http://fineartamerica.com/art/all/laura+iverson/all?sort=recentlyadded

 

Sharing your gifts with the world

wishing fairy star crystals

Do what you love. Share your gifts with the world. This is your purpose.

Although I believe it really is that simple, what does that actually mean? How DO you live like that?

I have often felt that I needed an owner’s manual for living life. I mean what am I REALLY doing here? It always seemed that there should be more to life than birth, death, and some filler in between. It felt like there should be some purpose to it. Why else would you study philosophy? Or literature? Or history? Or theology? If there was no big purpose behind it all, the humanities department wouldn’t exist, right?

Other people seem to have some internal navigation system they follow that leads them to their purpose, their dreams. But not me. I hid in books and music for the first 16 years of my life. I was a closet writer and artist – I mean literally, I sat in my closet and wrote. Then at 17, I followed a cute guy to the pub and stayed there for 10 years. Sometime later, after I was done with partying, I followed another cute guy to his house and kids and stayed there for another 10 years. There was no lack of chutzpah in me when it came to risk-taking behaviour with men and ‘partying’, but when it came to following MY dreams. The risk of really putting myself out there in the world. My chutzpah evaporates. Gone. Vamoose.

The problem is doubt. You can set yourself a purpose, but what happens when doubt comes in? For me it’s like a black hole that sucks up all my energy, passion, and resolve. It leaves me feeling deflated and lethargic, and thinking “who am I to be a force in this world?”

Part of the reason I wrote this blog – a big part – is to commit to examining my purpose, my dreams, my passions, to create thoughtful and authentic intentions. Alone I could lose faith in myself, in this process. With you reading, I may still lose faith but I am compelled to carry on regardless. You, kind reader, are my dutch courage. Because you are reading, and I want to continue writing, I keep going back to my intentions, like a dog with a bone.

“Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still.” Henry David Thoreau

This is my third intention: purpose.

The word purpose has its etymological roots in the Old French and Latin words meaning to plan and propose. Modern usage of the word seems to have propelled it from a proposition or plan, to a feeling of resolve or determination, and the idea that there is significant meaning or reason behind the something that is being planned or done, a sense of intelligent, thoughtful design. It’s a lofty word, for me anyway, that evokes a requirement for ethical thought, as if the things we do must have a benevolent and beneficial purpose.

“Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it.” Buddha

Purpose, to me, asks the question, what I am here for? What do I bring to the world as the result of my existence? What is the vision of the world I give my whole heart to? It makes sense to me to start with what I love and what I am good at – these must be my gifts, surely.

The inner critic in me will say “Does this actually matter, or should you just be content that you have a job and a roof over your head?” Certainly material needs are important. I’m not about to do a buddha and renounce all worldly goods to pursue my dharma. Possibly because I’m not even sure what that is yet.

I know this probably sounds unbelievably self-indulgent, like I’m on a journey of self-discovery and it’s all about me, me, me. Its easy to be judgemental of this stuff. You may say, “oh you meditate for an hour a day, how lucky you are to have the time.” The truth is, I make the time, I make it a priority, and I don’t spend that time in the morning at the gym, as I used to. Don’t get me wrong, I exercise, but that fervent quest for the perfect body has been replaced with a desire to start living from within. I may be a bit rounder than I was, but I’m more peaceful. Maybe a little like the buddha after all…

I digress. The point is I do believe it’s worth asking ourselves what matters to us, and where can we make a meaningful contribution to the world. I’m sure that if more people did a bit of self-enquiry the world would be in a much more harmonious state. We wouldn’t all be running around trying to get our needs met by money, cars, jobs, perfect bodies, parties, and love affairs. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that stuff, it’s just a bit meaningless if all you have is external to your being). And seeing as I’m on this journey of intentionality, I figure I may as well really investigate this stuff once and for all.

So I started by making a little list…

I love… people, writing, travel, wellbeing, reading, learning, creative expression, sharing ideas, retreats, nature, yoga.

I am good at… research, compassion, helping people, communication.

That is all good stuff. So what’s stopping me from going out there and doing it? Good question.

Every morning I meditate on letting go of old ideas and releasing what is blocking me from living my highest good and deepest truth. During these meditations I have discovered many old patterns of fear associated with my concepts of work and purpose. These old thinking patterns are punitive, never-ending, and usually boil down to a few ideas. I’m not good enough. Life is not meant to be easy. Who am I to enjoy these things, this life? That’s for special people. Life is a slog, hard work. And so on…

I cringe when these thoughts come up because they are NOT what I truly believe. Well, obviously somewhere along the line I have believed in them, but now I see how limiting and destructive they are. I often use this device to challenge my thinking:

“Would I speak to a loved one this way?”

If the answer is no, I quickly realise I shouldn’t be speaking to myself that way either.

An equally valid, and far more useful line of questioning is: Who am I not to be love? Who am I not to share my gifts with the world?

Meditating on the concept of purpose, I get a lot of feedback, and I’m not always sure what are my head thoughts and what are my heart thoughts. That is, what are the old mental programs and what is my truth. I also get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of things I want to do to make a difference in the world. I realise this self-reflection is not something you can do only once and get definitive answers. Over time, however, there are some simple recurring messages: nourish and honour your body, generosity, kindness, service to others in need, help where you can, and do not cause harm.

“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” Henry David Thoreau

I quote Thoreau a lot, I know. But dang, he’s good! He’s basically talking about creating new neural pathways – in the 1850’s!

When I find myself overwhelmed in the day with so much to pray for – bush fires, wars, Tony Abbott – I set a ground rule of three things. Each day I can choose three things to pray for but if something or someone else touches my heart as it crosses my path in that day, I pray in that moment. Prayer of this kind can be as simple as visualising that person or situation and sending them love. Or using the Ho’oponopono practice of saying: “I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.”

Today what touches my heart is the death of Luke Batty. I am sending out a massive prayer blast for Rosie Batty and all those impacted by domestic violence. Thank you for these words from Marianne Williamson.

Let’s all stop for a moment, close our eyes, and send love and peace to Rosie Batty and her son Luke and to all those affected in any way by his death. Tune in and send love from your heart to them. We send as well our peace and healing to Luke’s father who perpetrated this crime, and who has since passed away. May all people suffering from untreated mental illness and in deep emotional pain and at risk of harming themselves or another be brought to a place of peace, healing, and love.

Does praying like this make the world a better place? I think so. What’s the alternative? Feeding the fearful, negative thoughts that these events create? Hurt people hurt people, if we can bring more love into the world, isn’t it possible we can bring about healing and reduce violence and suffering in all forms? I think so.

Living your purpose or living with purpose? It’s a subtle distinction, isn’t it? For me, at this moment, it seems less about discovering my grand purpose and design, and more about living with purpose, that is, in a purposeful, mindful way – being present to what is within me and around me in every moment. It’s all too easy to get hell-bent on some wacky scheme for living my dream life and miss the signposts right in front of me. Instead I focus on being in a place of allowing and trust, of receptivity. This way I get to live well and let life unfold for me.

So it seems that this lofty idea of purpose can be simple in its essence after all. Love who you are. Be with those you love. (And like the old song says, “If you can’t be with the ones you love, love the ones you’re with.”) Feel love in what you do. Feel thankfulness.

Let’s see if I can turn that into today’s affirmation: 

I do what I love and I love what I do. I love and accept myself and others. I am in a place of allowing and trust, of receptivity. I am living well and letting life unfold for me. I am thankful and loving for my life now and to come.

That’s a whole lotta love! Bless.

Change with imagination

feet effects

When I studied philosophy at university, one of the first thought experiments we examined was the “brain in a jar” argument. It goes something like this.

What if all you really are is a brain kept in a jar by a mad scientist? Connected to a computer by a series of wires which fire electrical impulses to create the illusion of the world around you, of other people, of your own body, your senses, your emotions, and thoughts. Basically it’s like the premise of The Matrix movies. Reality is an illusion manipulated by someone else.

The scary part is, there’s no real way to disprove this theory because all of what we perceive as reality, IS perceived as electrical impulses via our brain.

Let’s just assume for now we are not brains in jars, but ask ourselves, how do we know what we think is “reality” is real? And what is “real” anyway? How come when we dream we can manifest all sorts of realities without needing any physicality to do so? Yet when awake we are bound to our ideas about the material laws – which are constantly changing anyway.

Humans once believed the Earth was flat, at the centre of the universe, that thunder was the Gods getting angry. Modern physics has showed us that we are not solid matter, but electrons whirling in space. And just look at the idea of brain plasticity, which was not scientifically accepted until relatively recently. So many limiting ideas that we once believed as true. How many of our current ideas that limit our thinking will be scientifically disproved in the future?

Our minds are attached to an idea of sameness, of a consistent, limited, physical reality, but really we are always changing. Every breath in and out changes our body chemistry, we are not in the same bodies we were in 5, 10, 15 years ago. Change is the only constant in the physical world.

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” Heraclitus

Emotions come and go like the weather. The joke in Melbourne is if you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes, it will change. Are not our emotions the same?

So what is this ultimate reality we cling to? Why do we so readily dismiss the idea of creating “reality” out of thoughts and intentions as fanciful? If you take away the perception of the solidness of matter, if we are just energy floating in space, then any sense of sameness and stability is an illusion. These are all just concepts in our mind.

See how quickly your reality changes when you cease to imagine yourself as a solid being on solid ground, and imagine yourself as a cluster of energy suspended in space?

As William Blake famously said all things were once only imagined, a chair, a wheel, an aeroplane, a computer.

I may not have manifested a chair, a computer, or even a new place to live, but I have noticed the frequency of serendipity and little clusters of “coincidence” have increased since I began this blog. Things like specific authors or books will be mentioned by several people within a day, even though I’d never heard them mentioned before. I think of something and it crosses my path within a day or so, without me actively seeking it out. I’ll ask a question in my morning meditation and it will be answered by a person, book, or something I read or see or hear later that day.

I have to admit these – albeit small – demonstrations of my power to manifest intentions in this way actually freaks me out and my reaction is to recoil from this gift. In the past I have ceased meditation or ritual practice when I have seen the inklings of tangible results. I worry about what I might invoke with this burgeoning sense of power. As Marianne Williamson said, in her beautiful book, A Return to Love:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

If we are always changing anyway, why not change with imagination? Why not use our imagination to direct change to where we would have it be? Why not own as much of our power as we can?

“Your imagination is your preview of life’s coming attractions.”
 ~ Albert Einstein 

A recent study from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden showed that our imagination can affect how our senses experience the world.

“This is the first set of experiments to definitively establish that the sensory signals generated by one’s imagination are strong enough to change one’s real-world perception” Professor Henrik Ehrsson, principle investigator.

If imagination and sensory stimulation can alter how we perceive the world around us, it means your mind can create reality at the brain neuronal level. This has profound repercussions for the potential of using the imagination, through visualization and affirmations, to change our perception of reality.

So just ask yourself, what would my imagined world be like?

I am living in a healthy, sustainable world, full of abundance, love, peace, and care for everyone. This world has plentiful clean air, fresh water, and organic food. It is full of bountiful nature, trees, water, plants, animals and sky. There is plenty for everyone – we respect, are thankful for, and share all the bounty the earth has to offer. This world is in perfect harmony.

Let’s finish with this affirmation:

In my imagination, I am creating the world I wish to live in. As I imagine this harmonious world, I change myself and change the world, as we are truly one.

Bless!

The Imagination study:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130627125156.htm

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201306/imagination-can-change-perceptions-reality

Imagine a love-driven world

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On the drive to work this morning my mind started firing questions at me: why is manifesting and intentionality important? Is there more to it than just creating the perfect partner, house and career? Is there a higher purpose?

I believe there is. I’m heading out on a tangent here, but stay with me.

I don’t know about you, but certain stories in the media haunt me, they sit at the edge of my mind and niggle like a quiet but persistent knocking.

Many years ago a teenage boy was abducted and killed while waiting for a bus to go to the local shopping centre to buy Christmas presents. The bus he was supposed to catch had broken down a few kilometres before his stop, and was behind schedule. When a replacement bus eventually arrived, the boy hailed the bus, but it carried on without stopping, due to its delay and the fact that his stop was only an unofficial request stop. The driver of the bus radioed the depot for another bus to go and pick up the waiting boy. When the second bus came a couple of minutes later, the boy was gone.

I am cautious writing about this. It’s just that this story has haunted me for years. It’s like a puzzle I’ve been wanting to solve. Cruelty and harm just doesn’t fit with my ideals for humanity. The man who took the boy was evil, I don’t understand that kind of evil, I don’t have it in me. I think most people can imagine committing violence in extreme circumstances like self-defence, or defence of another, or in the heat of anger, but even then would never actually harm another person intentionally.

The bus driver, however, was operating within the domain of sane human choice and decision making that I can identify with. He made the decision probably based on all kind of rationale due to the bus running behind schedule and the fact that this stop was only an unofficial request stop. There’s probably a bus driving procedure that told him to do exactly what he did. How many decisions do we all make based on fear of being late, of not following rules and procedures, of living out of fear and not love-based decisions?

That’s why it haunts me. Not only as a mother who can’t imagine the pain of this horrible and random act towards a beloved child. But as a human being who makes choices based on fear, and not love, all the time. I imagine how awful it would be for one of those choices to have such terrible consequences.

Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not blaming, I’m just pondering the factors that often dominate our choices in the world. As a person who when running late, will just tip the needle on the speedometer a little over, will run the amber light, will overtake a slow vehicle, will toot and yell at erratic drivers.

How do I know that the stream of red lights aren’t preventing me from being in the wrong place at the wrong time – just like the people who were late for work at the twin towers on September 11, 2001, those mornings filled with unexpected delays can be a godsend.

How do I know the erratic driver in front of me hasn’t just received a call from a hospital emergency room? Or from a child they thought was getting a lift home with someone else but who’s standing alone and vulnerable at a sports oval in the near dark?

Have you ever seen someone and wondered if they need help but have been embarrassed to ask, or too busy to stop?

That’s what makes life so tricky, we don’t know so much.

So what’s my point? I guess the curiosity of what would happen if the majority of people, the majority of time, could make decisions out of love, to slow down, to stop and maybe ask that person who doesn’t look okay if they need help, to say blow the timetable, the procedures, this decision feels wrong and ask ourselves what would love do right now?

I know it’s a tall order. I don’t think I could do it all the time, but what if I could do it more than I do now? What if the 7.046 billion people on this planet did this even once a day, or once a week, imagine those 7 billion extra acts of loving kindness and what they could do?

No, living in the flow of love is not about manifesting the Ferrari, the penthouse and the perfect man, it’s about being able to make love-driven choices.

Imagine a love-driven world. Just stop for a moment and visualise that that would look like.

The Dalai Lama famously said “If every 8 year old in the world is taught to meditate on compassion for one hour a day, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.” Why? Because meditation makes us mindful, aware, conscious, and as a result, compassionate. Anecdotal evidence shows crime statistics are lowered in communities where significant numbers of people meditate.

Simon Baron-Cohen describes evil as a deficiency of empathy. Considering an estimated 96% of human beings have functional empathy, evil makes up such a small percentage of our world, but does such great damage. Why? Because the other 96% of us often aren’t using our empathy, our compassion, our love, to make choices.

And choices have real effects in world.

Intention is not magical thinking. It is thoughtful, mindful clarity of action. It effects change in our lives, the world we live in, and the consciousness of humanity.

Let’s finish with an affirmation I love by Louise Hay which to me sums up the power of love to erase all fear, violence, and negativity.

“Love relaxes and releases all unlike itself.”

Bless.

Title image:

http://dreamdharma.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/hands-love-peace-peace-and-love-sweden.jpg