Hidden intentions of the heart

Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it. Mary Oliver

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will be familiar with my free-form, flowing, somewhat leapfrog style of following the synchronicities as they unfold in my life.

I’m not really prejudiced when it comes to guidance. Whether it comes from a teacher, a spirit guide, books, music and even billboards or snippets of conversations I overhear. Usually it’s a combination of sources – sacred and profane. It’s the repetition I notice, the patterns, reoccuring themes, colours, symbols or numbers that occur in my life. I acknowledge what captures my attention.

Ten times a day something happens to me like this – some strengthening throb of amazement – some good sweet empathic ping and swell. This is the first, the wildest and the wisest thing I know: that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness. Mary Oliver

This week as I arrived at an early yoga class, I noticed with bemusement that I had a pink yoga mat and pink leggings on. As someone who has never really been into the colour pink, I found this curious. At 6am I don’t put much thought into what I wear. I’m just grateful I remember to put pants on.

I call these yoga pants my flamingo pants. I bought them in Bali while I was studying shamanism there.  I came across them the day after my friend Niina had done a power animal retrieval journey for me. She found a flamingo – which at the time I thought was hilarious. So I bought the pants to visually connect me with my spirit flamingo. Pink legs will do that, don’t you know.

During yoga class the teacher instructed us into the flamingo pose. In five years of doing yoga with him I’d never done this pose before.

What are the odds on the day I wear my flamingo pants, he does the flamingo pose for the first time in that class?

My curiosity piqued, I googled ‘flamingo totem animal’ and one of the interpretations of its medicine is acknowledging the hidden intentions of the heart.

The idea is that we are sometimes manifesting life from unconscious or hidden intentions, that even so-called mistakes are not wrong moves as such, but instead a manifestation of a hidden intention that we have not yet made conscious.

Hmmm…

This seemed pertinent for me at a time when I am constantly second-guessing my own choices.

It also aligns with a sneaking suspicion that I tend to have conflicting conscious and subconscious intentions. So while I say I want something, sometimes, some deep part of me really doesn’t. And so the thing I think I want doesn’t work out.

There is also the possibility that the flamingo, with its fiery colours, may be the inspiration behind stories of the mythological Phoenix rising from the flames.

In this way flamingo represents a rising up after a fall from grace. And if that’s not the story of my life, I don’t know what is. Flamingoes also love group dancing, in fact it’s their main form of communication. 

Still, what I want in my life is to be willing to be dazzled – to cast aside the weight of facts and maybe even to float a little above this difficult world. Mary Oliver 

Now I am not saying I get divine messages from my flamingo pants and yoga teacher, that may be so, but I am not so convinced that’s how it works. Which is why I love Jung’s concept of synchronicity.

I accept these things as meaningful coincidences. I need not concern myself with whether there is a wizard behind the curtain, all I know is that my heart knows what is true when she feels it.

Well, I think I do, I guess that’s why I need to see it four or five times, just to be sure.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting – over and over announcing your place in the family of things. Mary Oliver

One of Carl Jung’s most famous examples of synchronicity in his therapeutic work was with a woman who was failing to make any breakthroughs in her therapy.

She was relaying her dream of the night before to Dr Jung, she had dreamt of a golden scarab. At that moment there was a noise at the window and Jung opened it to find a scarab beetle had landed on the window pane.

Just a coincidence? Perhaps, but a coincidence with enough significance to enable this woman to have a breakthrough in her therapeutic work, which up until this point had been going nowhere.

I see my ‘signs’ in the same way. I’m not suggesting some divine force is manipulating physical reality for my benefit. Although I am not opposed to that possibility, rather from what I have experienced of the divine it seems an overly simplistic explanation.

Instead that these are meaningful, acausal events which have a relationship with my own psyche, and as such allow me to have breakthroughs, but only if I pay attention and are willing to see them as meaningful. Because in the end, we all have to figure out our own way.

Nobody can build the bridge for you to walk across the river of life, no one but you yourself alone. There are, to be sure, countless paths and bridges and demi-gods which would carry you across this river; but only at the cost of yourself; you would pawn yourself and lose. There is in the world only one way, on which nobody can go, except you: where does it lead? Do not ask, go along with it. Friedrich Nietzsche

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For the last few months I have been planning a trip to India.

There are many reasons why this may not be such a wise idea, money is the main one, but there are others that wake me in panic at 3am.

It would take too long here to list the coincidences, synchronicities, freak occurrences and downright weirdness that constitutes the guidance that directed me to take this trip, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Now I don’t subscribe to everything I read about these significances. Of course not. I observe the world, and I read, and I sit, and I see what lands in my heart, what has significance for me.

The point is, if it’s a meaningful occurrence to me, and I notice it at a time when I’m needing reassurance that I’m not making some disastrous life choice, that’s what it gives me. Is that spirit? Is that my unconscious, my hidden intentions? Honestly it’s all much of a muchness to me.

And that is just the point… how the world, moist and beautiful, calls to each of us to make a new and serious response. That’s the big question, the one the world throws at you every morning. “Here you are, alive. Would you like to make a comment? Mary Oliver

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It’s funny because I started this post trying to write about the throat chakra, because that’s where I thought I should be up to. Nice and orderly like, one chakra per post – it’s the librarian in me.

But the words wouldn’t come and as I meditated on the synchronicities, including a Sanskrit word that so deeply resonated with me – more on that in a moment – I realised I am still very much in my heart chakra energy.

I don’t want to be. My heart hurts today. But it’s where I need to be. Because it’s where I am. If it were time to move on I would be noticing blue, and my attention would be drawn to associations of the throat chakra. Instead I’m seeing green and pink and lovey-dovey flamingos and reading Sanskrit words that makes me heart sigh…

Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift. Mary Oliver

On New Years’ Day this year, finding myself once again curled in foetal position crying my guts out, I made the decision to stop trying to have a relationship with anyone until I could have a loving relationship with myself.

Once again I had abandoned myself to try to bend myself into a pretzel for another person. “No more!” I wailed through snot and tears. Slowly an intention formed that I would do the things my heart desired, and I would not even try to fall in love again until my heart was full with the pure glory of being alive.

(Or at least until I felt that I understood who I was enough to not lose myself in a relationship again.)

In Hindu mythology, the relationships between the gods and goddesses are not romances. Rather they are allegorical tales about the balancing of male and female energies, the shiva and shakti. 

I wonder if my intimate relationships have been much the same, highlighting my deficits, the areas where I need to mature, to grow spiritually. 

How I would dearly love to find a less painful way to grow.

I stood willingly and gladly in the characters of everything – other people, trees, clouds. And this is what I learned, that the world’s otherness is antidote to confusion – that standing within this otherness – the beauty and the mystery of the world, out in the fields or deep inside books – can re-dignify the worst-stung heart. Mary Oliver

Despite this desire to move on from my heart centre, what really hit me hard and made me sink back into my heart was this line, in fact one particular word, from a book I am reading about India.

In Hindu scriptures, the places that spiritual pilgrims seek are called tirthas. Literally this means the “ford” or “crossing” of a river, coming from the verbal root meaning “to cross over.” Originally this literally meant a place to cross the river. In India these pilgrimages places are on the banks and confluences of the great rivers. But in her wonderful book, India: a Sacred Geography, Diane L. Eck explains that over time this word came to mean a crossing or passage into a world of transcendence.

The tirtha mahatmyas (early travel guides aimed at pilgrims) make it clear that going to a tirtha is not only a matter of the feet, but also a matter of the heart. The “tirthas of the heart (manasatirthas)” are as important as the geographical tirthas. Diane L. Eck

standing woman flamingoesManasatirtha, the crossing of the heart, the pilgrimage of the heart. Ah. Yes. That landed.

Traditionally the tirthas of the heart focused on specific principles that pilgrims were required to covet in order to be pure enough to make the physical pilgrimage.

It’s not enough to simply make ones way to a physical tirtha, the real pilgrimage is always within.

Tirtha are of three kinds,

Jangam Tirtha is to a place movable, of a sadhu, a rishi, a guru. Sthawar Tirtha is to a place immovable, like Benaras, Hardwar, Mount Kailash, holy rivers. Manas Tirtha is to a place of mind, of truth, charity, patience, compassion, soft speech, soul. Skanda Purana

Again in yoga class, the teacher, who is prone to go on rants – which he says are channelled from the spirit guides of his students – made the point that what we search for is within. He has a deep, booming voice like James Earl Jones…

“We don’t need to go anywhere to find it. It is right here.”

He said if you lose your house keys you don’t go to India to find them. I laughed. Is that what I’m doing?

I’m sure I give that impression at times. I’m sure at times I believe that too. My heart has led me here, and is leading me there, but not because there’s something in India that isn’t here.

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer. Rainer Maria Rilke

flamingo wingsNo. It’s something in the process. It’s what I have to let go of to get there. What India will demand of me to let go of once I’m there.

My comfort zone. My innate desire to hide from challenge or change.

This trip came from that tears and snot-fuelled New Years’ intention. I decided to replace love with travel for the year.

Now I know that’s not very spiritual. That called “doing the best I can with what I’ve got.” Replacing one obsession with another, slightly healthier one, until I find the guts to let go of it all.

You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Mary Oliver

What’s waiting for me in India is the same thing that was in Bali for me last year. My heart at its most fearless. That moment where its just me in the world taking a deep inhale and feeling 100% alive. Knowing the floods of fear and self-doubt I had to wade through just to stand there in all that glory and grace.

And then there will be all the other magical experiences that I can’t even imagine. Those precious memories that will fill my heart with that freedom and aliveness for years to come. The otherness of being in places where the gods and goddesses are part of life, and made constant offerings, where spirit and material connect in daily life.

And all the times when I have to pull myself up by the bootstraps because things get hard or scary, or I’m tired and want someone to take care of me or make a decision for me, and I realise there’s nothing and no one to fall back on but my own strength.

No matter how much I whinged, complained and threw tantrums it was possible… I realised I’d been spending the last few years holding myself back. Terrified of what lay ahead of me. But when you just trust your instincts and let go of the need to be in control anything is possible. THIS is why life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Because you NEVER know what you are capable of until you push yourself to find the answers. Lauren Heyes

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This month I had to run two classes dancing the Heart Chakradance – how serendipitous.

What emerged for me what a clear message to love the world with all your heart, starting with what’s in front of you. What does that mean? That love up close and personal is messy and out of my control. It forces me out of my safety zone. Love as a concept is easy, but in practice? Not so much.

It’s easy to sit with beautiful people in meditation halls and radiate love into the world. But what about the man that comes to work with the ugly growth on his face who just wants some eye contact or a smile? I am reminded of the story of St Francis encountering the leper on the road. Despite his revulsion, he gets down off his horse, gives the man a coin and kisses his hand.

What about my family? Who like me are imperfect and who push my buttons. What about getting up close and personal with that? Not withdrawing, not running away and hiding. 

This year I have shut down and avoided love. I thought it was just romantic love but I see now it was almost all love. Apart from my son I really haven’t opened my heart with anyone. I have operated on auto-pilot, physically present but emotionally detached. I wanted the past to go away. I wanted something new. And maybe it hasn’t just been this year, perhaps it’s just something I am becoming aware of. Perhaps I have always avoided true intimacy with people.

I wanted the past to go away, I wanted to leave it, like another country; I wanted my life to close, and open like a hinge, like a wing, like the part of the song where it falls down over the rocks: an explosion, a discovery; I wanted to hurry into the work of my life; I wanted to know, whoever I was, I was alive for a little while. Mary Oliver

After the Heart Chakradance the group shared our experiences. A common theme was the discomfort of facing painful memories and acknowledging where we may have closed down our hearts. 

Opening up a closed heart hurts at first.

Anodea Judith says that when we awaken these ‘frozen’ parts of ourselves, there is a thawing out stage. And like the recovery from frostbite, going from numb to thawing can feel excruciatingly painful. 

There is a reason we freeze out our emotions, they sometimes hurt. A lot.

Let it down, let your love flow and astound me. George Harrison

Alongside the thawing is a tingling, very much like that sensation of blood returning to a numbed limb. It brings sustenance and life. It reminds that there is always healing. The challenge is to let go of fighting this process. To resist thawing because it hurts blocks the life force that wants to move through me.

Like a numbed limb, the heart wants us to feel, at first the pain motivates us to do something, and as we tap in and allow it, the heart shows us the beauty of its opening.

Contemplation and action. Spirituality is like this cosmic letting go and at the same time, a microcosmic diving in. Letting go of the big picture and diving in to the here and now – in all its guts and glory. Hard for a big picture, idealistic, reality-squeamish girl like me.

Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Brene Brown

img_3890This is all I have.

This unquenchable desire to live from the heart.

This heart that I have ignored so many times, keeps calling me, challenging me to live, just live.

Grab life with both hands, arms, feet, whatever I have, and just live the hell out of it. Face the messiness, the revulsion, the discomfort of getting up close with life, with people.

In the Celtic tradition they talk of the turning of the heart. The image is of the cauldron being filled up with all the experiences of life. As it fills it turns upright and the magic of the potion of life’s many emotions begins. It is this process that distinguishes the sage, that produces deep wisdom and compassion.

Interestingly, this passage also makes the connection between the inner experiences and the pilgrimage to holy places.

How many divisions of sorrow that turn the cauldrons of sages? Not hard; four. Longing, grief, the sorrows of jealousy and the discipline of pilgrimage to holy places. It is internally that these are borne although the cause is from outside. Cauldron of Poesy

Reflecting on this passage and my own ongoing dance with loss, longing, and heartache, it seems to me this year is a time of turning. If I allow the heart to transverse that chasm between despair and joy, to encompass its entirety, the heart turns, and filled with its magic potion of grief, despair, joy, and ecstasy, begins to bubble and broil with life.

In losing what I thought I wanted, I have been propelled into this pilgrimage of the heart, both spiritual and physical.

I think as Mary Oliver says, it is all about attentiveness. Am I sleep-walking through life or am I paying attention, wide-wake and aware to what a dear friend used to call this “exquisite journey?” 

Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly. Franz Kafka

This is the beauty of travel, being uprooted from our safe and secure little rituals of daily life and transplanted into a strange new world. Where everything reflects our awareness. Are we in awe? Are we threatened? Are we numb? 

I think more than many places India is a land and culture that forces you to be awake, the visceral, seething of so many people, so much history and culture, not contained in museums and gallery like in the West but breathing, pulsing and spilling onto the streets. It’s like electric shock therapy for the spirit. Wake up! Wake up!

I’m not fearless by nature. But I am learning to do what I love in spite of fear. And that my friends, is courage in my book.

And once India is done and I’m home. Once this year of trudging though my tear and snot-fueled sadness and relishing in the rewards of being true to my heart has left me with an empty bank account and a full spirit, what then?

Then I continue the pilgrimage of the heart, the mansastirtha. The quest to find these sacred places wherever I am. To pay attention to the synchronicities. And to make peace with love and other people. And myself…

And I say to my heart: rave on. Mary Oliver

Bless!

Things that makes you go Om

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Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the men of old; seek what they sought. Basho

People often ask me, “what are the chakras?” And rightly so, I do teach Chakradance.

In truth, probably like all ancient systems, the chakras just ain’t what they used to be. And for good reason, the world ain’t what it used to be. Any system worth its salt must be adaptable to change. Nothing stays still for thousands of years, particularly not whirling vortices of energy.

The more I read and learn about ancient systems, be it the Hindu chakra system, druidry or shamanism, the more I begin to understand that there is no one ‘standard system.’ These systems were highly localised and steeped in the culture and traditions of the people who developed them.

So where does that leave a woman of Irish descent, living in Australia, with an innate fascination for Indian mysticism?

Good question. Can you let me know when you figure it out?

The ancients created a profound system. We can now marry this wisdom with modern information about the natural world, the body, and the psyche, to create an even more effective system. Anodea Judith

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Seriously though, it leaves me where most of us seekers are these days… Trying to find meaning in a world where culture has been stripped away, appropriated, and misrepresented. Most of us have not been raised in a lineage of a cultural spiritual tradition, some of our cultural traditions barely even exist anymore. Due to mass migration, many of us have been raised in lands far removed and alien to those of our ancestors.

Even though I have lived in this beautiful land all my life, I am not one of the First People and as such I am not privy to much of their sacred law. Nor should I be, I respect that. In addition to that, our education system has largely ignored indigenous history and wisdom, so what I could have been taught, I haven’t. I intend to remedy that now.

So, I find myself walking a fine line between research and direct experience. I keep an open mind, I read, I look out for interesting people with like-minds, I journey with spirit. And somehow, as I continue to follow the next obvious step on this path, I am guided to the things that illuminate my way.

Every breath is a sacrament, an affirmation of our connection with all other living things, a renewal of our link with our ancestors and a contribution to generations yet to come. Our breath is a part of life’s breath, the ocean of air that envelopes the earth. David Suzuki

It’s a patchwork journey. A zigzag path. A bit of this, a bit of that. Sometimes I get lost in all the competing avenues of interest. This week in particular I have had moments of indecision paralysis because I have “homework” from my druidry course, my nature magic course, and my shamanic journeying course. What do I do first?

Then I remind myself, they’re just different pathways, the destination is the same. And I try to find pathways that are meaningful to me, that make sense together, for me, as a Western woman.

I just keep connecting, and trust that spirit will guide me.

And I see connections everywhere. The similarities between the druidic path and the shamanic path, and many ancient belief systems continue to astound me. The representation of spirit as something that can be mapped and worked with, appears across belief systems.

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At the heart of most eastern philosophies lies an understanding of the mystical channels of energy that flow through our bodies. The word ‘chakra’ is an ancient Sanskrit word, which literally translated means ‘wheel’.

Just a quick note here on the use of the word ‘energy’. I refer to the subtle energy as described so well by physicist F David Peat:

Many of the biochemical processes within the body involve exchanges of physical energy, but these grosser forms of energy are not what I take the terms healing energy and subtle energy to mean. Rather, the latter are like the activity of a conductor of an orchestra or the choreographer of a ballet, that integrates and coordinates into one cohesive movement all the bio-chemical and energy processes of the body. F David Peat

The chakra system is a system of energy and information. The chakras are part of the subtle energy body, which means they can’t be seen with the naked eye. Some highly sensitive people can perceive the chakras, which is why the original information recorded by the earliest Indian mystics is still proving to be pretty accurate today. All people can learn to attune themselves to these subtle energy channels.

Here in this body are the sacred rivers, here are the sun and moon, as well as the pilgrimage places. I have not encountered another temple as blissful as the body. Saraha Doha

The chakras are part of the yoga tradition. Yoga meaning ‘yoke’ or union is the practice designed to yoke the mortal, physical self, to the divine nature of pure consciousness. Yoga and the early concepts of energy centres first appear in the Vedic texts of India from about 4,000 years ago. Following the Vedas were the texts of the Upanishads and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

The idea of the subtle vital force (prana) and the channels along which it flows (nadis) appear in the earliest Upanishads. The heart was said to be the centre of the 72,000 nadis or subtle channels.

Within these Hindu scriptures, the chakra concept became a part of a complex set of ideas related to esoteric anatomy, or as Caroline Myss refers to it, the ‘anatomy of the spirit.’ What we may be learning to manage here then, is our soul.

Subtle energy is like the underlying meaning and coherence which remains implicate in the phenomenal world. Jason Kirkey

These texts mention varying numbers of chakras. Over time, one system of six or seven chakras along the body’s axis became the dominant model, adopted by most schools of yoga. This particular system originated in about the tenth century, and rapidly became widely popular. It is in this model where Kundalini – divine feminine shakti energy – is said to “rise” upward, piercing the various centres until reaching the crown of the head, resulting in union with the Divine Shiva energy.

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It was the tantra tradition that moved from the dualistic worldview of the ancient Hindu texts, of matter and spirit as distinct things, that earthly desires should be renounced in the pursuit of enlightenment, to a non-dual idea of integration of body and spirit, to be in the world, not apart from it, a weaving together of the previous traditions, that included the chakras, and saw the body as a sacred temple for spirit.

The practice of tantra is about inner-transformation. The energy involved in the process of tantric transformation is the energy of our own bliss. Prana Gogia

In the tantric texts, the Sat-Cakra-Nirupana, and the Padaka-Pancaka, the chakras are described as emanations of consciousness from Brahman, a spiritual energy which flows through the crown and gradually becomes denser, creating these distinct levels of chakras, and eventually finds its rest in the Muladhara, or base, chakra. Another text, the Gorakshashatakam gives specific instructions for meditating on the chakras.

The word tantra, which has a dubious reputation in the West as predominantly sexual practices, actually means ‘loom’ and denotes this weaving together of the principles of yoga, the kundalini energy, and deity worship, including practices for mastering our spiritual energy.

The soul… is the primary organizing, sustaining, and guiding principle of a living being. Thomas Berry

The chakra system was popularised in the West by Sir John Woodroffe (writing as Arthur Avalon), in his book, The Serpent Power, which was an English translation of these tantric texts.

Theosphists Charles Leadbeater and Alice Bailey investigated the connections they saw between the chakras and the biology of the human body – associating each chakra with particular endocrine glands and nerve ganglions or plexii in the sympathetic nervous system. According to their clairvoyant perception, the chakras were seen as energy vortexes in the each of the subtle bodies – or layers of the aura. This is quite different to the Indian traditions, where the chakras are subtle centres of consciousness, but have no independent energy status.

Carl Jung and Rudolph Steiner further integrated Eastern spiritual concepts with the evolving theories of Western psychological development. They believed the chakras develop from conception as we age physically, emotionally, and spiritually, starting with the base chakra and moving up into our individual energy expressions and finally up to our connection with the source energy. Jung saw the chakras as an analogy for the progression towards individuation.

To gain that which is worth having, it may be necessary to lose everything else. Bernadette Devlin

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Many New Age writers, such as Anodea Judith in her book Wheels of Life, and Caroline Myss in her book, Energy Anatomy, have written about their experiences with the chakras in great detail, including the reasons for their functions and associations.

Anodea Judith points out that the associations of the spectrum colours to chakras is a Western addition, attributed to Christopher Hills who published a book entitled Nuclear Evolution in the early 1970’s. The addition of the rainbow colours has hugely influenced Western thinking about the chakras.

According to the Eastern texts, the chakras are formed at the junctions of three connected energy channels, or nadis, that ascend the spine, one on each side, and spiralling around, the central channel, the Shushumna. The two lesser channels of energy – the Pingala on the right and Ida on the left – run parallel to the spinal cord. Chakras both take up and collect prana (life force energy) and transform and pass on energy. This system can be seen as a road map for energy transmission and organisation throughout the subtle energy body.

Chakras are organizing centres within the body for the receiving, processing, and distributing of life energies. Anodea Judith

In the Western approach, which is less esoteric, and more holistic, than the traditional Hindu concept of the chakra system, each chakra is associated with a certain part of the body, and a certain organs and endocrine glands. The endocrine system is a collection of hormone-producing glands, which act as the body’s chemical messengers, and instruct the body in the bodily functions attributed to each chakra.

In the West the chakras are often seen as analogous to ‘computer software’ programmes which relate to our safety, sexuality, power, love, communication, intuition and self-realisation. They have the power to affect our health, emotions, thoughts and behaviours in a positive or negative way.

This is seen as the energy exchange of the mind-body-spirit interaction, and as every organ in the human body has its equivalent on the mental and spiritual level, so too every chakra corresponds to a specific aspect of human behaviour and development.

The lower chakras are associated with fundamental emotions and needs, for the energy here vibrates at a lower frequency and is therefore denser in nature. The finer energies of the upper chakras corresponds to our higher mental and spiritual aspirations and faculties.

Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself. Chief Seattle

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Chakradance incorporates the concepts of the chakras as interpreted by Western thinkers, particularly influenced by Carl Jung, Arthur Avalon, and Anodea Judith. These writers extensively studied the Hindu texts, and then incorporated them into a conceptual framework that was meaningful to the Western mind.

The chakras regulate a field of energy called the aura – a dynamic, energetic matrix, which includes the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of our being.

Whereas the original Indian texts associated sounds – mantras – and deities with each chakra, a practice followed by Anodea Judith and Chakradance, Jung presented the chakras as a system of psycho-spiritual awakening, and used developmental stages of the psyche and archetypes to convey this system. 

As long as we’re in a state of confusion, overwhelmed by the three conflicting emotions, trapped in cyclic existence, we’re not happy and we can’t benefit sentient beings. Even though we think we might be benefitting them, ultimately we’re not. Ngagpa Yeshe Dorje

The chakras are often described in the West as energetic ‘gateways’, which connect the various layers of the aura. They move like wheels and open like petals of a flower, allowing the subtle energies to flow freely. Each chakra was believed to vibrate to a certain sound frequency, as well as, in the modern Western concept, a certain colour frequency.

The founder of Chakradance, Natalie Southgate, came upon the practice intuitively when she was studying Jungian psychology and ancient and shamanic dance practice.

She describes her experience. As she allowed herself to dance freely in the dark of her living room, music filled the darkness and her intuitive movements started to guide her into the inner power ignited within her chakras. She began to notice certain music carried a unique resonance with different chakra centres. Free flowing movements born in spontaneity brought her home into her inner dance of her true self.

Chakradance awakens each chakra, starting with the base chakra and flowing effortlessly from one to the other, up to the crown chakra, with unique musical vibrations. The combination of music, movement, and guided imagery allows the dancer to journey through the chakras, focusing attention on a particular chakra, allowing the centre to open, and releasing any blockages.

Emotional, spiritual and physical energies are released. Natalie Southgate describes dancing the seven chakras as like dancing through seven different worlds, each with its own lessons, meaning, and stories.

Chakradance draws on many ancient systems from around the world to find the common elements of those culture’s dances with the chakra system or its equivalent. Dance has long been used in shamanic cultures to connect to our spiritual source, to commune with our gods, to find healing and answers about life.

Let’s just say I was testing the bounds of society. I was just curious. Jim Morrison

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In Hinduism, many of the great epics are taught through dance, whilst in Sufism, the whirling dervishes surrender their individuality and dance into spiritual “oneness”. One of the oldest recorded references made to religious dancing comes to us from the Old Testament -“Let them praise His name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre” (Psalms 149:3).

Chakradance combines the elements of this spiritual journeying process through dance and rhythm, with the rich exploration of the chakra system.

To Carl Jung the study of chakras was a study of symbols encountered as we develop our individuality and awareness of the unconscious. Jung likened this individuation process to a spiritual quest or journey, with the aim being to achieve ‘wholeness’.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. Edgar Allan Poe

Natalie Southgate describes the process of individuation as a series of phases and manifestations, which include: encountering the unconscious (inner unknown life), insight into our shadow (reclaiming parts of ourselves we reject), encountering anima and animus (inner feminine and masculine), experiences of the Self (glimpses of our total being). During this process, we begin to integrate the opposites within us (flesh and spirit, reason and emotion, extravert and introvert, saint and sinner). What is not integrated is projected out, so we perceive the unconscious parts of ourselves in others rather then recognising them in ourselves.

In addition to our immediate consciousness, which is of a thoroughly personal nature… there exists a second psychic system of a collective, universal, and impersonal nature which is identical in all individuals. This collective unconscious does not develop individually but is inherited. Carl Jung

From a Jungian perspective, when we enter the chakras through dance we enter not only our individual selves but also a collective experience passed through the ages, culture to culture.

Another Jungian technique used in Chakradance is what he called ‘active imagination’, which feels a bit like a waking dream. In active imagining, we use self-expression – be it drawing, writing, or dancing – with the aim of assimilating and integrating our unconscious.

In Chakradance, we use the chakras to journey into our different aspects of consciousness, using specific music and creative visualisations relevant to each of the chakras such as physical elements, colours, or archetypes. This triggers a chain of associated images, ideas, sensations, feelings, or insights to rise from deep within us to the surface of our consciousness. The process of ‘active imagination’ sets up a line of communication between consciousness and the unconscious.

Chakradance is a beautiful example of a sacred dance practice, which uses ancient and modern wisdom to connect our spirit with the divine, both within ourselves and with the universe. The intention of Chakradance is to bring all seven chakras into harmony and balance.

Each of us is born with a treasure, an essence, a seed of quiescent potential, secreted for safekeeping in the center of our being. This treasure, this personal quality, power, talent, or gift (or set of such qualities), is ours to develop, embody, and offer to our communities in acts of service—our contributions to a more diverse, vital, and evolved world. Our personal destiny is to become that treasure through our actions. Bill Plotkin

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This week I got to thinking about sacred knowledge and cultural appropriation.

I went to a rally to protest the closures of the aboriginal communtities in Western Australia. Thousands of people sat in the city centre, outside the main train station at Flinders St, in the middle of Friday night peak hour. There was a fire and the sacred leaves were burnt, creating a smoke that smudged the entire gathering. My friend and I, both pale redheads, are never going to pass as indigenous to this land, and yet we are passionate about standing beside our indigenous brothers and sisters as they fight to stay on their lands.

I didn’t bring a flag or even my click sticks, it just didn’t feel appropriate. I was standing in solidarity, not trying to be a token aboriginal. I haven’t had their experience, I don’t have their songlines and dreamings in my psyche and DNA, and it would be shallow of me to pretend I do.

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put foundations under them. Henry David Thoreau

What I do have is a deepening connection to this land, and a greater respect and understanding for the continuous cultural traditions that have been maintained here over the last 50,000 years.

As I do with shamanism and druidry and the Hindu chakra system. I respect this wisdom.

I didn’t have the privilege of growing up in a cultural tradition like that. As many people these days, even our indigenous peoples, do not. This is, in part, my passion for this protest. Believing as I do in the interconnectedness of land and people, I cannot abide the idea that in this day and age we would still force our First peoples from their land. Enough damage has been done, I cannot stand by and watch more.

I absolutely believe to the core of my being that these land-based traditions hold the key for our sustainability as a human race. Not that we need to revert to the past, but we do need to acknowledge wisdom that has stood the test of time, that works.

There is no reason why ancient tradition and science and technology cannot support each other, cannot be mutually enhanced by interacting with each other.

Jason Kirkey writes in his wonderful book on the ecology of Celtic spirituality, The Salmon in the Spring, of the need for integration. We know our technological life is inherently lacking in spirit, and yet who of us wants to live without electricity and running water – only a small few.

The goal then is to integrate our technological advances with a renewed spiritual connection with the wilderness. Intrinsic to our soul is a deep need for this connection and only by honouring this can we bring the vision of a truly modern world – one that respects science, technology, nature and spirit – into being. Kirkey argues that evolution is the key, we cannot go backwards to a more primitive life, nor should we.

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Our evolution and continued viability as a life-enhancing species on this planet requires our ecological integration into the cosmos. The human being is at its most creative wholeness when it freely and effortlessly mediates its own realized wildness into the world. Jason Kirkey

The mantle bestowed on humans in collective evolution is our ability for self-reflective awareness. This is not ‘our’ intelligence per se, but rather the evolutionary process has blessed us with this capacity to be a “particular expression of an intelligence and subjectivity” present in the cosmos from the beginning. In the scheme of things, of nature, humans got the job of self-reflection.

Our purpose now is to integrate this reflective consciousness into a mode of living that is in harmony with the evolutionary functions of all life – and not contrary to it.

So, I am wondering, I am thinking aloud. How do we honour and respect traditional cultures, allow them to operate according to the sacred traditions, accept that some knowledge will never be ours because of tribal law, and yet be thankful for the knowledge that can be shared to further our development? Can we defer to the experience and wisdom of our First peoples, without the typical modern Western arrogant demand for proof and evidence first? (As if 50,000 years of practical experience isn’t enough evidence.)

Sure, let’s invite science in to learn more about why these practices work, but let’s not wait for science, but rather accept that there is a demonstrated body of evidence already to the veracity and power of indigenous wisdom.

Western civilisation needs a complete overhaul or it will fall apart one day or another. It has realised the most complete perversion of any rational order of things. Reign of matter, of gold, of machine, of number, it no longer possesses breath, or liberty, or light… As long as we only talk about economic classes, profit, salaries, and production, and as long as we believe that real human progress is determined by a particular system of distribution of wealth and goods, then we are not even close to what is essential. Julius Evola

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And for those of us who long for a framework within which to practice, can we incorporate the core principles of ancient wisdom, the ones that is is appropriate to share outside of strict tribal restrictions,  into a synthesised practice, one that acknowledges both the traditions and the reality of the modern world?

I too must be an estuary of confluent tides—
this earth-body of antlered thoughts,
the decay of leaves: my branching mind.
Tumbling with stones and salmon toward the sea,
the rivers of the Earth move through me. Jason Kirkey

Yes. I think we can. It’s already happening. It’s time to change the channel. To recognise that the money economy is only one possible construct of a limitless number under which we could live. And if it doesn’t work, we get to choose another.

Affirmations for the chakras:

I am grounded and connected with Mother Earth

I am in the flow of sensory experiences

I am taking up my rightful space in the world

I am open to love

I am expressing myself authentically

I am clear sighted and intuitive

I am experiencing my divinity and the divinity of all life

 

Bless!

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Images by RebelBam on deviantart

Sources:

Wheels of Life by Anodea Judith

Chakradance.com

Arvan Harvat’s Introduction to the Chakras

Fire in the belly

triskelerotated

Mystical insight and enlightenment occur when the veil between the worlds is lifted, the worlds are bridged, the gap closes, and we cross over. Tom Cowan

In Celtic symbology, the cauldron features frequently. One of the major Celtic stories, that of Taliesin, begins with a magical brew of the goddess Cerridwen, to create ‘awen.’

Awen is broadly described as a flowing spirit, a kind of life essence, a source of spiritual strength, prophetic insight, and poetic inspiration. Similar to the hindu concept of shakti in the sense of being a living, feminine, flowing, creative force. 

The feminine noun, Awen, has been variously translated as ‘inspiration’, ‘muse’, ‘genius’, or even ‘poetic frenzy’. According to a 19th century Welsh dictionary, the word itself is formed by combining the two words, ‘aw’, meaning ‘a fluid, a flowing’, and ‘en’, meaning ‘a living principle, a being, a spirit, essential’. 

The story of Taliesin is filled with shamanic wisdom and clues to the practices of the ancient Celts. It includes shape-shifting, magic potions, goddesses, forbidden cities of druids, and supernatural babies being found in rivers. One of the many symbols found there, is that of the cauldron. Whilst the cauldron is used for seemingly ordinary purposes, to brew up a potion, the symbology is that the cauldron is the container for awen.

Teach to me the mystery,
Of the Cauldron’s Brew,
Let Utter Darkness give way to light,
And be reborn anew. Damh the Bard

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Erynn Rowan Laurie has written about the energetic system of the three cauldrons in her book Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom. In this system, the cauldrons are energy centres, much like the hindu chakras. There are three cauldrons, roughly relating to earth, sea, and sky – referring to the chthonic, oceanic, and celestial aspects, and the correlation with the three realms. The Irish loved things in threes!

Like much of reconstructed Celtic druidry, revived from stories and poems, the concept of the three cauldrons comes from a 7th century Irish poem, called the ‘Cauldron of Poesy.’

Sources of nourishment, objects of quest, and containers of transformation, cauldrons simmer at the heart of Celtic myth. They are sought after but out of reach, redemptive yet threatening, holding mysteries that few ever plumb. Mary Pat Lynch

The poem describes the body as containing ‘three cauldrons’. The three cauldrons are known as the Coire Goiriath (Cauldron of Warming or Incubation), the Coire Ernmae (Cauldron of Motion or Vocation), and the Coire Sois (Cauldron of Inspiration or Knowledge). The poem is attributed to Amergin, an ancient Irish poet. It is an ancient poem of the oral tradition, written down by an Irish monk in the 7th Century.

The relative positions of these cauldrons within each person was thought to determine the overall health of a person as well as the state of their mind and psyche.

The first cauldron Coire Goirath, is the Cauldron of Warming or Incubation. Located in the pelvis, it represents physical health, physical movement, and life force, and should be in the upright position. It provides the heat and energy for the body, like a furnace.

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The second cauldron, Coire Ernmae, is the cauldron of Vocation or motion, located at the centre of the chest, in the area of the heart. This cauldron is found on its side at birth and as a result of intense emotional life experiences, begins to turn and eventually become upright. It is turned through ‘joy and sorrow’, including  spiritual joy, sexual bliss, and grief and sadness. The cauldron is matured through this process of emotional growth experiences.

The third cauldron is Coire Sois, the cauldron of Wisdom or inspiration. This cauldron is upside down in most people and it is only through the intensive work on the emotions in the second cauldron and deep esoteric study or spiritual experiences, that this cauldron begins to turn. Poetry, wisdom, and prophecy are the rewards for it cultivation.

How many divisions of sorrow turn the cauldrons of sages? Not hard, four: longing and grief, the sorrows of jealousy, and the discipline of pilgrimages to holy places. These four are endured internally, turning the cauldrons, although the cause is from outside. Cauldron Of Poesy 

Right, well some holy pilgrimages and that’s me sorted!

Drawing parallels between the cauldrons and the chakra system is unavoidable for me. Energetic centres that correspond to external stimuli and that require spiritual and emotional growth, to open and produce energy, feeling, wisdom, inspiration, and prophecy.

However Laurie warns against trying to superimpose the two systems directly, she writes that “It should be understood that the cauldrons are not identical to chakras, and their functioning is different. Rather than “wheels” of energy, they are containers, holding or pouring out different substances. Within these cauldrons one may heat, boil, or brew one’s health, talents, emotions, and wisdom or poetry.”

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The three cauldrons are said to be located at the pelvic girdle, the heart, and the centre of the head. Many moons age I had a flash of inspiration during a chakra meditation, that suggested the cauldrons loosely aligned with the chakras as such, the base/sacral/solar plexus (the ‘physical’ chakras) corresponding to the cauldron of warming, the heart chakra (the ‘bridge’ between the physical and spiritual) corresponding to the cauldron of motion (e-motion), and the throat, third eye and crown (the spiritual/etheric chakras) corresponding to the cauldron of inspiration.

My friend who has done work on the Celtic stories, aligns the chakras a little differently, with the base/sacral corresponding to the cauldron of warming, the solar plexus and heart corresponding to the cauldron of motion, and the throat, third eye and crown corresponding to the cauldron of inspiration. Elen Sentier, who writes about the celtic chakras, also combines the solar plexus and heart chakras at the centre, aligning with the Cauldron of Motion, however she couples the chakras quite differently.

The Cauldron of Vocation
Fills and is filled,
Grants gifts and is enriched,
Nourishes and is enlivened,
Sings praises and is praised,
Chants invocations and is enchanted,
Creates harmonies and is harmoniously created,
Defends and is strongly defended,
Orients and is aligned,
Upholds and is upheld. Cauldron Of Poesy

The cauldrons can be described as filling, turning, brewing, and boiling, reflecting the level of awakening and development as well as the results of working energetically with the energy centres. It is necessary to turn them to activate ‘imbas,’ the Irish word for ‘awen.’

Each cauldron can be in one of three positions: upright, tilted, or inverted. This position indicates the ability of a cauldron to function. An upright cauldron can hold and ‘cook’ its ingredients; a tilted cauldron allows its contents to slip away; an inverted one loses everything.

3CauldronSealesODubhain

Last year, I was training as a Chakradance facilitator, part of which was intensively dancing each chakra and doing some Jungian style self-analysis on each centre and it’s associations. The solar plexus chakra was a particularly powerful one for me.

You can read about it in detail in my post here, but suffice to say, the imagery was of a golden cauldron, burning away all the detritus of my past. Around the same time I had a dream so violent that I woke bolt upright in bed, after a cauldron exploded, and blew its lid. It was these experiences that prompted me to learn more about the connection between the chakras and the cauldrons.

I researched this connection and found both the Irish Celtic and the Taoist’s energy systems use the concept of cauldrons or dantian. In the Taoist tradition, the first cauldron, Lower Tan Tien, is known as “the golden stove” representing the refining and vitality of the life force into the Ching energy, which is basically a highly refined, super potent form of chi, or life force energy. Ching is creation energy, associated with the creation of life through sexual union, it is a solar channel of yang energy in the energy body.

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It seems that these ancient systems acknowledged a similar kind of energy alchemy. The lower part of the body, the belly and below, was the manifestation of our physical energy, our bodies, our senses, our will to action.

Unfortunately the Irish literature gives little clue as to how the three cauldrons were used. The Irish were an oral culture, they transmitted wisdom through song and storytelling – the bardic arts – and by use of pneumonic devices like the ogham tree symbols.

What remains of Celtic cosmology is somewhat fragmented, mostly due to the colonisation of Europe by the Romans where Celtic culture was almost completely eliminated. What little was recorded was often done so by Christian monks.

So here I am left to look to other cultures and how they manage their energetic systems, and to tap into the collective unconscious to access ancestral knowledge of the Irish. Therefore my practice is part extrapolation, part intuition.

Fortunately there is much in common in many ancient shamanic practices, and much work that has gone on, and continues to go on, in reconstructing these wonderful practices. I just have to be very careful – in my blind enthusiasm – not to make assumptions about apparent similarities and appropriate other practices inappropriately!

Other writers of the Celtic Shamanic tradition have interpreted the system of the ‘celtic chakras’ differently. Elen Sentier, in her book Celtic Chakras, uses the Celtic symbol of the spiral – specifically the triskele – to find a celtic inspired pathway through the chakras. (The triskele is the triple spiral image you see in the first image of this post)

Her method is quite different to mine, but I intend to try her meditations as I love the idea of using the triskele as a basis for navigating the cauldrons. It removes the sense of hierarchy that most westerners approach the chakras with and unites the energies of the lower and upper chakras. Here is a diagram of her method, which I am sure I will be writing more about in the future.

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So back to what I do know, the chakras we understand them in Chakradance.

The solar plexus chakra relates to our metabolism, which is basically our inner furnace. Anodea Judith says “we can assess the health of this chakra by examining our body structure at this level: tight, hard stomachs, sunken diaphragms, or large potbellies are all indications of third chakra excess or deficiency.”

Known as Manipura in Sanskrit – which means lustrous gem – the third chakra revolves around themes of personal power, physical power, self-expression, and will. It its the fire that fuels our metabolism, and if it’s activated it increases our energy, drive, and sense of purpose.

To dance the solar plexus chakra is to call on the ancient warrior dances. In Chakradance, fast dynamic movements ignite the fire in our belly, fuelling our dance with energy and strength. Reining all this fiery energy in, movements then become strong, purposeful and clearly defined as our inner warrior emerges triumphant, brave and strong.

Joyful-fire-dance

The lower chakras work together, the solid ground of the base, the warming passion and pleasures of the sacral, all tend to the fire in the solar plexus. Without a solid foundation or the warming of sensual delights and creativity, there is no fuel for our fire.

When the third chakra is closed down, one may feel tired, afraid, shaky, quiet, or withdrawn. There is a fear of taking risks, confronting people or issues, taking charge, and with all this, a lack of energy. Anodea Judith

The archetype of the warrior – standing strong in their power – is the vision of the healthy solar plexus chakra. It is not aggressive, but it will not subvert itself either.

Many cultures associated this solar plexus area with our life force, the entry point of spiritual energy into the body. In traditional Japanese teachings and reiki healing, the hara system – located in the belly – is the main focus for building a person’s energy.

fire in the belly

Thus if our spiritual energy is low, it may manifest strongly here in our belly and solar plexus centre. Childhood traumas or abuse can lead to a depleted solar plexus chakra, and to a condition shamans know as ‘soul loss.’

Soul loss can be symptomatically identified by asking these questions:

In many shamanic societies, if you came to a medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions. When did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop being enchanted by stories? When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence? Angeles Arrien

In shamanism, soul equates to power. Each person should have guiding spirits and power animals to protect and maintain their spiritual power. During trauma, or sometimes as a result of ignorance to their existence, we can lose these helping spirits and our power with them. Shamanic healing involves reconnecting those lost parts of spirit and our spirit helpers.

It has always been the role of the shaman to go into an altered state of consciousness and track down where the soul fled to in the alternate realities and return it to the body of the client. Sandra Ingerman

It is said that power animals and spirit guides will only stay with a person if they are honoured and cared for, we must invite them to dance with us in our journeys, listen to their messages, and live our lives with the vitality they bring. Otherwise they will get bored and wander off.

I think the same can be said for ourselves. If we don’t tend to our spirit, to our life’s passion, if we don’t ignite and tend to our inner fire, part of ourselves gets bored and wanders off, abandoning ourselves, and the lustrous gem we hold within.

Affirmations for the Solar Plexus Chakra by Natalie Southgate:

“I am worthy of the best in life.”

“I am capable.”

“I am powerful.”

“I set and reach my goals.”

“I stand up for myself and for what I believe in.”

“I know who I am and where I am going.”

Centering practice with the three realms:

http://www.tendingthepath.com/meditation-practices.html

Bless!

Damh the Bard performing the tale of Cerridwen and Taliesin

Further reading:

A comprehensive breakdown of Celtic cosmology

What is awen?

The Three Cauldrons by Mary Pat Lynch

The Three Cauldrons and the Cauldron of Poesy explained by Erynn Rowan Laurie

The Celtic Chakras. Elen Sentier

The Solar Plexus Chakra by Natalie Southgate

Images:

Triskele by Dorothy Bunny Bowen

Ceridwen

Beltane by Dorothy Bunny Bowen

Three Cauldrons positions by Searles O’Dubhain

Celtic Chakras by Elen Sentier

Golden Cauldron

Fire Transformation

Fire in the Belly by Bone Goddess

Joyful Fire Dance

The spirit that lives in all things

copyright - Séverine PINEAUX

Close your eyes, let your hands and nerve-ends drop, stop breathing for 3 seconds, listen to the silence inside the illusion of the world, and you will remember the lesson you forgot, which was taught in immense milky way soft cloud innumerable worlds long ago and not even at all. It is all one vast awakened thing. I call it the golden eternity. It is perfect. We were never really born, we will never really die. It has nothing to do with the imaginary idea of a personal self, other selves, many selves everywhere: Self is only an idea, a mortal idea. That which passes into everything is one thing. It’s a dream already ended. There’s nothing to be afraid of and nothing to be glad about. I know this from staring at mountains months on end. They never show any expression, they are like empty space. Do you think the emptiness of space will ever crumble away? Mountains will crumble, but the emptiness of space, which is the one universal essence of mind, the vast awakenerhood, empty and awake, will never crumble away because it was never born. Jack Kerouac

Ah! I needed to read that. Thanks Jack.

Last post I put some serious intentions ‘out there’ for my year. And now I’m back in ‘reality’ – pfffft! Whatever that means. And I feel like I’m stuck between worlds. The world of jobs and bills and traffic and the world of nature and spirit. How on earth do I practice these intentions in a life chock-full of distractions?

Was I being a little rash? I mean those intentions popped into my head, literally seconds before I wrote them down and raced to the beach, between violent thunderstorms, to do a ritual – out with the old, in with the new. Whooosh.

It was all rather spontaneous and spur of the moment. It was my last night at the beach. A night of the full moon, all dark and stormy, and I just had this urge to harness all that wild, electric energy to make my new year’s resolutions.

Later, after re-reading my intentions I thought, hmmm… I’m not sure where all that came from. Obviously, I was on a bit of a nature love-buzz.

But you know what? I’m just going with it. Those intentions came to me for a reason and I am going to just let that unfold. Even if it turns out the reason is to teach me to put some forethought into my rituals…

To refresh your memory here are my intentions as they spilled out of my pen that fateful night… (Drum roll please)

S_verine_Pineaux_1960_French_Fantasy_painter_and_Illustrator_Tutt_Art_29_Love myself
Love the (super)natural world
Love animals
Love people
Love my work
Love my space
Love my spirit

So there’s nothing too outrageous. I didn’t commit to chasing down Johnny Depp or becoming a bestselling author or bringing about world peace or anything.

It occurred to me late last year that my intentions, and the whole theme of ‘putting it out there,’ was rather outcome focused. It was all about bringing stuff in, manifesting great things in my life. And yes, it worked, undoubtably. But it also tapped into a part of my personality that is a little, ahem, shall we say, insatiable.

As the buddhists tell us, the greatest source of pain in our lives is the state of dissatisfaction that comes from our attachment to desire.

So when I came to the end of last year, despite its many great blessings, in a state of grief and pain, I knew I had to go within and see its source.

Now I do believe that pain has its purpose. Grief breaks my heart open, promotes compassion for other’s pain, highlights thought patterns that no longer serve me, and is a release of held emotion from my body. I don’t think we can or should avoid grief. I think we can certainly learn from its expression though.

Sadness gives depth. Happiness gives height. Sadness gives roots. Happiness gives branches. Happiness is like a tree going into the sky, and sadness is like the roots going down into the womb of the earth. Both are needed, and the higher a tree goes, the deeper it goes, simultaneously. The bigger the tree, the bigger will be its roots. In fact, it is always in proportion. That’s its balance. Osho

On the night of my ritual to the ocean, I was driven by this pain to let go of my attachments, especially in relation to the ideals of romantic love and home. This was motivated by a nagging sense that somehow my intentions ‘hadn’t worked’ in these areas of my life just because I didn’t get the house or the man I wanted.

As soon as these ideas were articulated in my heart and mind, I realised the source of my pain. Being single and renting my gorgeous little place is not painful. It is the attachment to the idea that things should be different that creates pain. Of course, there was also some legitimate heart-ache and grief thrown in there too, but while those emotions will shift and move, attachments stay stuck and often become so embedded, like a veruca burrowing deep, down inside, causing more and more pain.

samhain copyright - Séverine PINEAUXSo I wrote out my list of letting go, my commitments to practice, and some new intentions.

Originally my intentions were going to be very specific. Like a shopping list of desires. “I want to go to Bali and study shamanism” “I want to go to Ireland and see the sacred sites” “I want to study celtic tradition and herb lore and sound therapy and tarot and …”

First it was becoming a long and exhausting (and rather whiney) list, second I could see I was setting myself up for disappointment again.

What if these things didn’t eventuate? Would that leave me with a sense of failure and disappointment? Would I become so fixated on these attachments that I would miss the appreciation of the gifts that did come my way? I suspected, yes.

As a student of druidry and shamanism, the consistent message that comes through these traditional practices is a reverence for the wisdom of the natural and spirit world, or what I have come to call the (super)natural world. Studying these traditions, we learn there is not a clear distinction between these worlds. Nature is inherently imbued with spirit and spirits. All things have the ‘spirit that lives in all things’ and nature is rife with the ‘hidden folk’ sprites, faeries, and other elemental spirits.

the lady copyright - Séverine PINEAUX

When I get attached to physical outcomes, I lose sight of this nuance and numinosity, that is such a gift in my life. Even in my grief and pain of the past few weeks, I was acutely aware of how the ocean held me, and the presence of spirit all around me in the rocks and sand and sea-plants and animals. As I hummed an Ani DeFranco song about heartbreak, suddenly the tune was alive with spirit and the words came – and I had my soul-song or power-song, a great gift in shamanic practice. This is a song I sing to connect with my power and spirit for the purpose of healing myself and all living things.

All this became a cacophony of voices reminding me of, possibly the key principle of all spiritual practice, “practice not outcomes.” The practice itself IS the point. The gifts are in the practice itself. Intentions are the focal points for my practice, not means of searching for goodies from the universe. Although great blessings do come from this practice, that should not be the incentive. I saw I had the cart before the horse.

So I am sticking with these intentions that came to me so intuitively. This time with the focus on the means, not the end. They are a commitment to practice. I want to reconnect with my study of the subtle energy bodies, the chakras, and the chakradance journey as a practice for integrating all that I am learning in my druid and shamanic studies.

This year I intend to take a slightly different process in exploring my intentions. Last year I aligned each intention with a chakra and examined them independently. This year I intend – who knows what will actually happen, or what wonderful tangents this will take me on – to look at my seven intentions through the perspective of a different chakra each week.

titaniacopyright - Séverine PINEAUX

I intend to look at each intention through lens of the seven chakras. As well as developing my sense – which I touched upon last year – of the correlation between the chakras other energy systems, in native Australian indigenous practice and the probable Celtic energy system of the ‘cauldrons’.

The cauldron is a great analogy for this blog, as this will be the melting and magic pot where all my practices come together.

These are my intentions, but spirit will guide me so it’s a fabulous journey of discovery, let’s see where it goes!

I am rediscovering the beauty of spontaneous ritual in working with nature instead of imposing our will and structure on nature. While there needs to be a basic structure to ensure practice and intentions, and a reasonably informed approach, there is always room for interaction and spontaneity. This is where the majority of my guidance comes from. A spark of inspiration in meditation and then I follow up with research.

I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes. e. e. Cummings

So, we find ourselves back at the Base or Root chakra – Muladhara. Intricately linked to our survival, our instincts and our primal, tribal nature. This chakra holds our ancestral memory bank. Our base chakra influences feelings of grounding and being supported. Most children, by the age of seven, have decided whether the world is a safe place, and this informs our vitality in the base chakra. However, we can strengthen our sense of security through energy work and affirming living practices.

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The base chakra energies are earthy, dense, physical. Feelings of being grounded and supported, like the roots of a tree… How does that manifest in my intentions? What can I do this week to bring the earthy, grounded energy of the root chakra into my intentions?

It feels to me as if there is a lot of shadow work to be done in this chakra. Inherited behaviours, thought patterns, beliefs, ancestral patterns encoded in our DNA that often lurk in the darkness of the soil beneath our roots. There is also the sense of a great unearthed ancestral wisdom of both our familial lines and the ancestry of the land itself.

I am a forest, and a night of dark trees: but he who is not afraid of my darkness, will find banks full of roses under my cypresses. Friedrich Nietzsche

In Chakradance we also draw inspiration from the natural movements found in the animal kingdom. Animal dances are deeply entrenched in shamanic ritual. Shamans believe that each animal can teach us the power of their instinctual energy through dance. Dancing the base chakra you may encourage a tiger, a snake, a dragon, or a bear, to join you.

As you intuitively choose an animal and begin to move along to the Chakradance tribal beats, an incredible spontaneity of movement is unleashed. As I danced the Base chakra journeying dance, a wolf came to me. I thought “how on earth do I dance like a wolf?” Through letting go of my judging, rational mind, I simply moved to the music as I imagined wolves in the wild.

Soon I found myself laughing and moving on all fours, then dancing with wild abandon. Wildness, that was the wolf’s message to me. To tap into that wildness that gets so repressed in our society of conformity and restriction of our instinctual natures.

Dancing into my roots, another part of the Base Chakradance practice, allows me to connect with the imagery and energy of the tree. Trees are a powerful symbol of the dimensions of life used in many cultures. In celtic druidry the ogham is a communication and divination system of tree symbols, based on the nature of specific trees. I intend to learn more about traditional druidic sacred plants and trees, but to also link in with local practitioners to learn and study our native Australian power plants.

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Dancing the base chakra brings a sense of wildness and strength, but also a sense of support and groundedness. I intend to bring a sense of groundedness into my work-life – I will be mindful, stable and practical at work. I will bring a plant to work to enhance the work environment.

I will create harmony in my space through decluttering and letting go of what I no longer need, handing them on for others to use. I will declutter the space through energy cleansing rituals.

Sandra Ingerman, a shamanic practitioner and teacher suggests that rather than viewing shamanism as a set of complicated practices to achieve personal spiritual advances, it is quite simply a practice based on an authentic desire and attempt to commune with nature and the non-physical world. The ultimate end in this, is that we can become of service to the planet and all the life interwoven with it.

And the beauty is, the practice is a simple as sitting under a tree, taking a deep breath of air, drinking fresh, clean water, enjoying an open camp-fire or candle flame, swimming in a river or ocean. Bringing our selves, as nature beings, to nature without any need to get or change anything. Just being. And then the change happens. We become a little more aligned with the heartbeat of the earth. We walk a little lighter on her belly, with our feet bare and our hearts full.

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Tree Meditation by Natalie Southgate:
Begin by standing with your feet in line with shoulders, close your eyes and gently straighten your spine. Take a few moments to focus on your breathing…

Imagine you are in a tropical jungle. You are standing under a canopy of lush foliage; you can smell the moist, rich earth. Sink your feet down into the wet earth. Imagine the bottoms of your feet are gently opening and beginning to grow roots like a tree. Push your feet into the ground and imagine the roots travelling down deeper and deeper, reaching for the red core of the earth. Breathe in through your body, and down through the layers of the earth. You feel secure; grounded to the earth.

After a few minutes of grounding through your roots, begin to draw the pulsing energy from the earth up through the layers of rock and soil, up through your feet and legs and into your base chakra. Fill your base chakra with the red vibrant energy from the earth. You feel secure, grounded and energised.

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Affirmations by Chakra Anatomy:

I feel deeply rooted.
I am connected to my body.
I feel safe and secure.
I am grounded, stable, and standing on my own two feet.
I nurture my body with healthy food, clean water, exercise, relaxation, and connection with nature.
I am open to possibilities.
I am grateful for all the challenges that helped me to grow and transform.
I trust myself.

Bless!

Images by Severine Pineaux

Let it be

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Life is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be experienced. Joseph Campbell

It’s always fascinating for me to sit and ponder the many – seemingly diverse – thoughts, insights, experiences and conversations I have had across the week, only to find a lovely synchronicity emerging when I sit down to write.

Last week I spoke of my realisation that I tend to be very grasping in my approach to spirituality – amongst other things, well, everything really.

This week I have seen an impatience, alongside this tenacity, I want it all and I want it now. Move over Veruca Salt…

To experience a synchronistic event is to necessarily be changed at our core. Paul Levy

My friend came over on Saturday night, we are both studying druidry and we had a lovely meditation ritual together. After a robust discussion of all aspects of life, the universe and everything, he said something that resonated with me.

Interestingly I know he has said this to me before, but I never really got it until he said it that night.

He talked about how easy it is to misconstrue spirituality and emotionality. Emotionality is all about feel-goods. Don’t feel good? White-light that sucker, affirm it away, have an exorcism…

I mean I’m being silly to demonstrate a point, but there is certainly an element of this thinking in many New Age practices. Only love and light are acceptable, all other experience must be ‘cleansed’ away.

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True spirituality, he argued, makes no value distinction between light/dark, good/bad feelings. All experience is honoured, all aspects of life are a reflection of the nature of existence and it is the value judgements on these aspects as good/bad, light/dark, and the ego-based reactions to these judgements that are the issue, not the experience itself.

I haven’t done justice to his words, but hopefully you get the gist.

Life is cyclical, death/rebirth, growth/decay, day/night, summer/winter – all cycle round in their perfect balance and order.

No tree, it is said, can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell. C. G. Jung

I was listening to a spiritual podcast last night, the host is lovely and very earnest and interviews some really interesting people. Last night it was Anita Moorjani who has an amazing story of spontaneous healing after a near-death experience.

The energy produced by the interview and the callers asking questions was palpable. Both the interviewer and interviewee were in tears by the end.

I felt very moved and then I thought “Aha! Emotion!”

Synchronicities by their very nature demand our active participation, as they are not something we can just passively watch and remain unaffected by. Paul Levy

So I think while an emotional reaction to hearing a story or watching a powerful ocean break waves on the shore, or standing in a sunny verdant glade at dawn, can be an ‘in’ to connecting with spirit, it can’t be the be all and end all.

After this initial ‘in’, to the heart, there must be some substance. And this substance for me, comes from a practice. In the same way a romantic relationship starts on emotion, but needs to develop into something more substantial than feelings for it to last.

And I am the first to admit I am a real sucker for the emotion-bursting experience. Yet I also see that if that is the sum total of my spiritual practice, well, it’s pretty meaningless.

Synchronicity’s inherent revelatory nature is ultimately offering us the realization that we are playing an active, participatory and hence, co-creative role in the unfoldment of the universe. Paul Levy

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As such I am in training to be a druid. I know, I know, it brings up old images of Doctor Who and hooded cults at Stonehenge, but when I read more about it, it is actually a beautiful nature-venerating practice, that honours all the things I believe in.

 It is also the practice of my ancestors the Celts, and it has strong shamanic influences. It venerates music and storytelling, and nature worship, as key spiritual practices. It’s so me, it’s not funny.

Actually it is kind of funny. It makes me laugh. I’ve been searching my whole life for something, and it’s been here for thousands of years.

Druidry honours music and creativity very highly, so it fits in beautifully with my Chakradance practice.

One of the many beautiful aspects of Chakradance, is the influence of Jung’s archetypes on the imagery for the chakras. As such there is a focus on both light and shadow, which has made the practice incredibly powerful for me.

Honestly, as someone who after experiencing life as my own private hell, swung the pendulum way too far the other way and tried oh so hard to be oh so good for way to long. All this achieves, as my friend so eloquently reminded me is a larger shadow to deal with when it inevitably pops up. Which it will. It’s like Neo trying to fight Mr Smith in the matrix.

So any spirituality worth it’s salt will acknowledge and honour the shadow. Yin and Yang, night and day, light and shadow – where would we be without both? It’s like trying to paint with only bright colours, or listen to a piece of music with only the white notes.

Whenever I dance the throat chakra, I see images in my mind’s eye of women wearing blue robes. Sometimes they seem ancient Grecian or Roman, sometimes they are timeless, this week I saw only one woman, intend of three and I intuitively felt that she was the Mother Mary.

Being unmediated manifestations of the dreamlike nature of reality, we can interpret synchronicities just like we would interpret a dream. Paul Levy

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Now for those of you who have not done much visualising it can be hard to describe what happens. Also it’s different for different people. Some people are all visual, others have other sensory input. I have some visuals, not very strong, almost like the reflection of light through a stained glass window, they are getting clearer with practice. My strongest sense is clair-sentience, it comes as an insight supported by a strong gut feeling.

So in this dance where I saw the Mother Mary, I visually saw the image and then I sensed that it was an image of the Mother Mary. So here’s where it can get tricky. This to me is an archetype, so what I’m experiencing is an image that the collective unconscious, as interpreted by my consciousness, associated with certain ideas.

Archetypes are the image-making factor in the psyche, informing and giving shape to the images in our mind and the dreams of our soul, and as such, they insist on being approached imaginatively. Paul Levy

Obviously Mother Mary is holy, revered, devoted, sacred, a loving mother and a universal image of compassion and truth. Also, in the last few weeks I find myself listening to the Beatles album Let it Be, and the title song with the soothing words of Mother Mary resonated deeply in me.

When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom ‘Let it Be’. The Beatles

Don’t force just let it be.

It is easy to think that synchronicity equates with simultaneously but it doesn’t always. Often what Jung talked about was that time spent considering a certain insight where suddenly it seemed that every conversation, every image, every occurrence has some relevance and meaning to this idea.

To quote Jung, “Synchronicity is no more baffling or mysterious than the discontinuities of physics.” It is the place where causality and non-causality overlap and become somewhat murky. It is only our ingrained beliefs in the nature of causality that creates ‘intellectual difficulties’ and makes it appear unthinkable that such events could exist and simultaneously be meaningful. “But if they do, then we must regard them as creative acts, as the continuous creation of a pattern that exists from all eternity, repeats itself sporadically, and is not derivable from any known antecedents.”

Continuous creation is to be thought of not only as a series of successive acts of creation, but also as the eternal presence of the one creative act. C G Jung

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This has been my experience in writing this blog. My focus on intention, my open and curious mindfulness to nature and the world around me, has created a perfect petri dish for synchronicity to flourish.

I will often have a few concepts floating around my mind and then these concepts will play out in the world, in my relationships, my interactions through art and reading, and of course, my Chakradance.

This week I had a conundrum. I am planning to run 9 week cycles of Chakradance next year. Saturdays really suit people but I work alternate Saturdays at my day job. At that rate the 9 week cycle was going to take about six months. It also clashed with me going to Bali in May for shamanic training.

I realised I couldn’t find a solution, so I waited for inspiration.

It came pretty quickly in the form of some discussion on the Chakradance facilitators forum on Facebook. A wonderful virtual community of teachers where people ask really helpful question and the group shares their experience. So one facilitator asks about the way people structure their courses and another responded that she run the cycle over 6 weeks, doing two chakras a week.

Now this is not earth shattering, I know. But it seems to be how things work, if I let them. I had an intention and it wasn’t working, I paused for reflection and guidance, and then the solution appeared.

Sometimes the wait is longer and these synchronous events occur slowly over time.

At the moment I am feeling a bit pressured, there’s lots happening in my life, and other areas of my life where I would like lots to be happening have slowed or stopped. The archetype of the blue ladies reminds me of peaceful silence, reverence, patience, temperance, compassion and trust.

And I see that sky blue of the throat chakra everywhere. It causes me to pause and reflect on these messages from my unconscious.

With a personality like mine, the complete opposite of the above, it’s no wonder they have to keep coming back, again and again!

Affirmations:

I acknowledge a world beyond my senses, a truth beyond my intellect, a wisdom beyond logic, a power beyond my limits, a serene design, despite any distressing display.

I open myself to every transformation that is ready to happen in and through me.

I understand that both negative and positive events can be synchronicity, and both are here to serve me.

I trust that the universe will allow what needs to come to me, when it needs to come to me

Even if I am changing and I cannot yet see the reality changing to match me, I know that everything is different, and will be, because I am different.

You can’t force synchronicity. It seems to only occur in the optimal conditions. It is only by allowing and trusting in the unfolding of life, the mindful attention to each moment and the open awareness and teachability to notice the symbols as they emerge, only then can it happen.

Bless!

Images by Stephen B Whatley 

Further reading:

Catching the Bug of Synchronicity by Paul levy

Sweet-talkin’ the universe

We are always daydreaming. It is time for us to focus our imaginations on what we do want to create versus the chaos we are using our imaginations to dream into existence. Sandra Ingerman

Ah! Take a deep breath and everybody say ‘Aaaah!’ with me.

Ah. The storm has passed.

If you read my last post – synopsis is lots of crying, wailing, gnashing of teeth, some of which took place in the romance section of a public library – you’ll remember I was in the midst of a watershed.

I’m pleased to report that the feedback I received from many of you, alongside further reading I did, confirmed that yes, releasing emotions is healthy and no, I was not losing my shizzle completely.

One of the many pieces I read was by Sandra Ingerman, a shamanic practitioner and psychotherapist, who talked about mastering the difference between ‘expressing’ emotion and ‘sending’ emotion.

As a shamanic practitioner she believes in the life or spirit in all things, and the interconnectivity between all of life, from us human folk to the animals, trees, waters and even rocks.

As such when we ‘send’ out emotions, particularly anger, we can be sending some pretty nasty stuff out into the web of life.

If you don’t buy this, just think of the last screaming match you had with someone. When they launched angry words at you with great emotional force, did you feel physically attacked? Like a kick in the guts, a stab in the heart? These are all sayings we use to describe the very real effect of emotional energy transference.

So how do you release emotion without ‘sending’ it to other people or the natural environment as toxic energy?

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The trick is transmutation.

Trans-what now, you say? Transmutation is basically changing one thing into another. Like the old alchemists turning lead into gold, we can transmute our heavy, dark leaden energies into energetic gold.

And it’s so easy, because all it takes is intention.

And it’s not so easy, because let’s face it, when you’re in the midst of a good angry rant, who wants to stop and transmute their anger into love?

When you do find yourself reacting to others and to life make sure you express your feelings while at the same time transmuting and transforming the energy behind your emotions to light and love. Express don’t send. In this way we continue to feed the energy of love versus hate, suffering, and separation. Sandra Ingerman

All I can say is, suck it up princess. If you want to heal the world one action at a time, this is one of the most powerful practices you can engage in. It takes practice, but like all spiritual discipline, the intention combined with the attempt to practice has an effect way before perfection is achieved. Which is lucky, because I for one, am not going to be perfect at practising this in my lifetime!

Another development that emerged from my existential crisis last week was equally powerful.

As you will know from reading this blog, I have been actively engaged in a journey of manifesting my intentions for the past 11 months or so.

Two of the key practices that have emerged for me are chakra energy work and shamanic journeying. I had a profound realisation this week as I was ‘working’ on healing a physical condition of mine.

I was in the bath – I often practice in the bath with sea salts and essential oils, it’s incredibly healing. An awakening had been slowly dawning on me that when I practice energy work I have the demeanour of a greedy child. It’s always ‘heal me, fix this, shine your light here’. It felt like I was accessing the divine and then asking it to do stuff for me. It felt selfish and grasping.

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As I read Sandra Ingerman and a truly wonderful book called The Celtic Way of Seeing by Frank MacEowen, I sensed the true depth of what a shaman told me months ago. She had said that when I was in that state of deep meditation and connection, my spirit would be naturally called in and healed.

This week I have begun to practise just being with the energies I work with. I haven’t asked for any particular healing or tried to ‘force’ the light to go anywhere in particular, I just let myself be in it. The change was palpable. I have felt as if I am literally pulsing with energy. I have also spontaneously wanted to share this energy outwards with others and nature.

The Taoist tradition, the second principle is called ‘wu wei,’ and in Chinese it means literally ‘not doing,’ but would be much better translated to give it the spirit of ‘not forcing’ or ‘not obstructing.’ This means that the activity of nature is not self-obstructive. it all works together as a unity and does not split apart from itself to do something to itself.

In energy and shamanic practice, we can access this state of unity and of unified energy, and I’m realising that just allowing myself to be in that field is all that is required. I don’t need to suck it all in and fill myself up with energy or direct the energy to parts of my body, or any of that stuff. I just need to be open to my connection with this field of energy, this web of life.

Throughout history there have been cases of spontaneous healing which are believed to be a result of harnessing this energy.

Whilst this may seem trivial to many of you, I have had a particularly painful veruca on my foot for many years. It gust keep growing deeper into the tissue and many attempts to cut it and burn it out were to no avail.

A few months ago I set an intention for it to heal. And then I forgot about it. It hadn’t been painful and in truth the only time I though about it recently was when I was seated in a meditation group and I briefly worried that the person next to me would see it – it was an ugly thing.

Anyway, in my bath on the weekend I was massaging my feet and I thought ‘hold the phone!’ I couldn’t find the veruca, I searched one foot, then the other. It was completely gone. I mean so completely gone that I can’t be sure which foot it was on.

And in that moment I had this feeling that anything is possible. And yet I can’t MAKE it happen. I just turn up in the energetic space of non-ordinary reality and just, well, to sound all bumper stickerish about it, let the magic happen.

That said, intention is vital in journeying practice. So I’m not talking about blindly stumbling around in non-ordinary reality. What I’m finding is that my ego-mind has no function in non-ordinary reality. So I set an intention, for me at the moment it’s all about exploration and being guided, and then I let go into the experience.

This awakening has manifested in a beautiful way in my Chakradance practice.

I have been teaching for about six weeks now. Words can’t describe how much I love it, how I feel that I am home, that I am living my destiny when I teach in my beautiful studio.

When I dance with a class I need to hold the space, so I don’t journey to non-ordinary reality as I would if I was dancing alone. That’s not to say I don’t tap into that energy.

I have incorporated the shamanic practice of honouring the four directions, father sky and mother earth, and all the spirit helpers, before I welcome my class.

As such when I am running the class I often feel the presence of ancestral guides, both of the land – I call upon the traditional custodians of the land as part of this blessing of the space. And my participants have connected with the energy of loved ones who have passed on during their dances.

The energy of love created in a group of Chakradancers is profound and powerful. Although it’s not an explicit aim of the class, the nature of a group of people dancing into their spirit-selves, inviting their ancestors and guides to be with them, well, it just creates a powerhouse of loving energy.

As such I have taken to emphasising the practice in the dance of using our arms and hands to send this energy out into the world.

In my mind’s eye I visualise my family, my neighbours, the surrounding suburbs, then the city and the world and entire universe receiving these ripples of loving light energy that we are generating in the dance.

It probably sounds impossibly hippy-dippy to those who haven’t experienced it, but I tell you, I have some very grounded and sensible people who come to my classes who will testify to this experience.

Sandra Ingerman says when you feel power in you, it is meant to be used. Chakradance creates a lot of power, incorporated into the dance is the idea of releasing this power, emanating it into the world. 

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In her book Medicine for the Earth, Sandra discusses how the transfiguration into light that occurs when we slip into states of non-ordinary consciousness heals both the participants and the environment. In her
water experiments, groups of people reduced the Ph level of water, but more significantly improved health conditions in participants so much so that the University of Michigan is now doing research on this phenomena.

The bottom line for me is that twelve months ago I couldn’t get out of bed. My body and spirit was so depleted that I just dragged myself through the days out of a sense of duty to my family.

Twelve months later I’m a dancing dervish, filled with vibrancy and passion for life, all life, not just mine, but everything that makes up this beautiful web of life we share.

There are some people who will tell you that Celtic shamanism is about power. I say it is an ancient way of falling in love with the world around you, and within you. Tom Cowan

In his book The Celtic Way of Seeing, Frank MacEowen talks about the healing power of ‘love-talking’ to nature. This is a practice that has come to me quite intuitively as I spend more and more time each day connecting with nature.

Ever since I read the evidence on the effect of grounding, walking barefoot on the ground, I have made a commitment to spend more time in communion with nature. Now it is a craving I feel, I can’t wait to get outside and get barefoot, I drive to waterways and forests just to feel that bliss of my body being restored to a natural state of rhythm and harmony.

The old Irish practice of geancannach – which roughly translates as ‘love-talk’ – it is both an ancient form of poetry called a ‘praise poem’ and a daily practice to express our love of life. Frank MacEowen writes that his mentor Tom Cowan suggests a practice of walking around in nature saying ‘Beautiful… and beautiful too…’

Beautiful is the sky at sunrise, beautiful too is the soft morning breeze. Beautiful the sound of swaying oak branches in the wind, beautiful too, is the sound of the chirping wren. Frank MacEowen

Again, this might sound vacuous to some of you. But I attended a library seminar this week where some very powerful evidence on the effect of words, particularly poetry on a variety of physical and mental illnesses was demonstrated.

Words have power. So why not try sweet talking the universe, for five minutes a day, and just see what happens?

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Affirmations on sweet talking the universe from The Celtic Way of Seeing:

I observe the beauty all around me

I mindfully spend the day in love consciousness

I take the time to notice the natural world around me, be it a tree, a feather, a plant to an insect

I give myself permission to connect with the flowing music of nature

I see myself accompanied by the lineage of enlightened warriors behind me, supporting me to manifest my most bold, creative, and enlightened self

I learn to manage the abundant energy of the universe so that I may embody the spirit of prosperity, taking care of myself and others

Bless!

Images by Phill Petrovic

Ocean sized

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Wish I was ocean size
They cannot move you
No one tries
No one pulls you
Out from your hole
Like a tooth aching in a jawbone… Jane’s Addiction

Last week I was a Chakradancing shaman-priestess of the Goddess. This week I am a librarian huddled in the Romance section of the library in the midst of a nervous breakdown. Why? Heartbreak, disappointment. You know, the usual suspects.

I thought, nay, I was dead-sure, that I was training in shamanic ways in Bali in February. It was all a happening thang until work said ‘no’ to me taking leave at that time. And then, I just lost the plot. I mean emotionally, I didn’t go postal and shoot up the library or anything. My rage is within.

As such, I really haven’t wanted to publish a post until I ‘felt better.’ I’ve been procrastinating, not wanting to write what I was feeling. I was in such a positive frame of mind last week. This week, not so much.

Feeling that I’d be contradicting my “I’m not broken” statement by, well, having a breakdown, I just wanted to hide away and not write anything.

But then the clouds cleared enough for me to realise that being unbroken is not the same as being unaffected by life. Of course disappointment and heartbreak will affect me deeply. Of course I feel devastated when things I have proclaimed to love and want don’t come to fruition for me.

That’s not broken, that’s the opposite of broken. That’s real.

It ain’t easy living…
I want to be
As deep
As the ocean
Mother ocean. Jane’s Addiction

So I realised this week that I have some odd ideas about how I ‘should’ be – and how I ‘should’ react to things. Just because a relationship isn’t working doesn’t mean I’m not devastated when it ends. People, many people, told me when my marriage ended that I was “better off without him.” And perhaps I was, didn’t mean it wasn’t the most painful experience of my life.

People also tend to say “it’s not meant to be” when we miss out on opportunities that we have set our hearts on. It may be true, but it doesn’t diminish the sharp stab of disappointment.

I was made with a heart of stone
To be broken
With one hard blow
I’ve seen the ocean
Break on the shore
Come together with no harm done… Jane’s Addiction

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And if, like most people, you’ve weathered your fair share of loss, grief, and disappointment in your life, that latest hurt is inevitably going to feel like one more cut, along with the other thousand you are in the process of healing from.

So after beating myself up for crying at work, crying in the shower, crying in the car, listening to Adele very loudly, and crying some more, I finally gave myself a break.

Don’t be ashamed to weep; ’tis right to grieve. Tears are only water, and flowers, trees, and fruit cannot grow without water. But there must be sunlight also. A wounded heart will heal in time, and when it does, the memory and love of our lost ones is sealed inside to comfort us. Brian Jacques

And I thought, so what if you’re overreacting? So what if it’s not meant to be? So what if it’s not the right time for you to study shamanism in Bali with a man you love dearly? So what if there’s plenty of fish in the sea?

It hurts. It really hurts. So pump up Adele and sing along as loud and with as much tears and snot as you need to get through this and honour your feelings.

And what I found when I surrendered to the feelings of loss, sadness, disappointment, rage and grief was that they were like waves. They’d come in and ‘whoah!’ Whoosh off I’d go. It would feel intense, overwhelming, literally like I was dying of pain. And then. It would subside.

It reminded me of my dear friend, G. I reached out to her in solidarity in the late stages of my pregnancy. I knew her, but not very well. But I had no friends who had had babies and I was scared. She had traversed that magical, mystical rite of passage into motherhood with such grace.

When I asked her what labour was like, I think I said. “Is it painful?” And she laughed. She said. “It helped me to see that it came in waves. So I’d ride the wave and it would get really intense and then it would break and the next wave would build.” That made the pain manageable.

I am the wind which breathes upon the sea, I am the wave of the ocean. Amergin

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I’ve used that analogy a lot since then. We also rang each other everyday during our divorces. On any given day, one of us would be an absolute cot-case and the other would be doing a bit better. That’s why friendship works, don’t you know, because we are not all crazy on the same day!

We were like wounded soldiers leaning against each other for support, staggering away from the battlefield. Sometimes we’d miss each other’s calls and just a simple text “the storm has passed” to let the other know we were okay.

I find it fascinating, these analogies of storms and waves. Jung believed water, particularly the I ocean was an archetype for the subconscious.

Nature is the only place I feel sane this week. I’m practicing being in nature with all my senses. Closing my eyes. Hearing the sounds. Feeling the breeze. Smelling the earth. Tasting the air.

I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.” Sylvia Plath

Sensing removes me from thinking and brings my focus into the present moment. It’s also incredibly lovely. We miss so much when we are stuck in our heads, thinking, ruminating.

Nature is ever expansive. When we observe the horizon and the vastness beyond, when we listen to the sounds the go on infinitely beyond the audible. When the smell of flowers and leaves and salt-sea air fills our noses and mouths with scent and tastes that stir the deepest most ancient recesses within us. Everything expands. Our vision, our senses and our spirit.

In nature, our spirit pulses and resonates to this throb and thrum of life. The mental chatter becomes just a small part of a greater cacophony. Thoughts drift away. Emotions are soothed. Our bodies calm down into the steady, strong heartbeat of the earth.

The hard thing, I think. Is trying to decide what to do when my head starts hurting, and my emotions rage out of control. Take this Bali trip, for example. I was so sure it was ‘meant to be’.

There are many tangled threads of want, need and desire. I want to do shamanic training, Bali is the closest place to do the training I want to do. I’ve been wanting to go to Bali for years. I haven’t been away without children for 15 years. My ex has been to Asia at least 10 times in the last 5 years. The most recent time was for his honeymoon a few weeks ago.

My ex getting married rocked me more than I had anticipated. It was not the usual kind of jealousy – I don’t want to be with him. It was just the reminder that in the five and a half years we have been separated he has travelled extensively, bought a house, and gotten married. And I, well I haven’t.

Should you shield the canyons from the windstorms you would never see the true beauty of their carvings. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

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My love was going to Bali with me. So it seemed like such a golden thing. Shamanism, love and Bali sunsets. So when work said no to leave, I was gutted. All these different disappointments came into play simultaneously.

I kind of lost the plot. I needed to cry and all I could do was crouch at the back of the library pretending to shelve the romance novels. And cry. Yep. Pretty pathetic.

I mean I thought, to myself, ‘you could quit your job.’ I really thought about it. I mean if this was my destiny, that would be the right thing to do. But I have a child. Taking those kind if risks seemed crazy. And what if it wasn’t my destiny? What if it was just my wilfulness?

There are no easy answers. My friend also says God’s will should be effortless. Meaning it should unfold without angst. Do I believe that? I used to. I’m not sure what I believe anymore.

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on. Mary Oliver

So I didn’t get what I wanted. Instead I’m trying to get to a different shamanism course. I applied for a great role at work, and went to an interview. Because life goes on. It just does, so I may as well too.

And I’m teaching Chakradance! It is the most wonderful, nurturing experience. I really feel like I am a shaman when I lead a class.

Last night in the third eye Chakradance, where we dance our dreams into reality, I saw myself in a – fabulous feather outfit, complete with head-piece – leading a huge group of people in a dance journey, standing on a lush green hill. And I just couldn’t stop smiling. It’s okay. It’s all okay. It’s going to be okay.

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Just now I received an email from the Shamanic teacher. He lives in Bali, he does courses there year-round.  ‘It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay.’ Whispers the universe.

So why do I create such big waves in my life? Why can’t I just be calm? Why can’t the ocean be calm all the time? Because things need to be churned up sometimes, a good shake up allows the detritus to rise to the surface and be dumped on the shore. It’s part of the cycle.

Divinity is in it’s omniscience and omnipotence like a wheel, a circle, a whole, that can neither be understood, nor divided, nor begun nor ended. Hildegard of Bingen

It reminds me of that scene in the movie Parenthood. Steve Martin’s character has just discovered – after losing his job – that his wife is pregnant with their fourth child. He’s sitting at his kid’s school concert, which goes haywire, and he begins to feel as if he’s on a roller coaster. At first he’s panicked, but then he remembers his grandma saying “Life is like a roller coaster, just hang on and enjoy the ride.”

Surfing the waves is like being on a roller coaster, it’s out of control and terrifying but simultaneously exhilarating. A calm ocean is peaceful, but there’s no movement.

In this way, experiencing emotional suffering can be a healing opportunity. Events can trigger an emotional response, say sadness, anger and grief, these emotions may be stored in our subtle body, our energy meridians and even our physical body, and as they are stirred up by this fresh experience we can release them.

So re-feeling of the old pain of our lives is a vital opportunity to address old patterns, thinking and emotions and to let them go.

To do this we must honour the feelings, we must let go of judgement and criticism. For me this means not berating myself for being over-emotional, over-sensitive, and over-reactive.

The reality is I grew up in a home where expressing emotions was discouraged, then I spent the next twenty years suppressing my emotions in various ways, of course I have a surplus of emotion ‘stored’ in my system. I’m I the process of a massive emotional detox. The truth is, in our culture, if you have embarked on a spiritual path, most of us are.

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Our culture doesn’t support emotional expression very well. We don’t have appropriate rituals and support for trauma. In traditional shamanic cultures, if someone suffered a loss or trauma, after three days the whole community would gather and the shaman would perform a healing and soul retrieval.

Can you imagine? Every car accident, assault, medical procedure, break-up, loss, grief, trauma you have suffered in your life, being acknowledged and healed at that time, so your body didn’t have to bear the accumulation of this pain.

But that’s okay. I don’t live in a shamanic culture, that doesn’t mean I can’t use their wisdom and practice to heal and release these emotional wounds.

As such I have been journeying this week, going into a state of non-ordinary reality to seek guidance on how best to work through the things that are coming up for me.

Gentle nurturing support is what I received. Guidance to take baths and ground myself in nature. The body and spirit will process this, given time and the space to do so. By honouring the work of my soul, by listening to what emerges for me in my life, I get to release off baggage and clear space for my true spirit to emerge.

This is what Frank MacEowen, in his book The Celtic Way of Seeing, calls “the conscious process of soul refinement.”

Affirmations about nature from bmindful.com and healingwithcrystals.net.au:

My spirit is nourished by spending time in nature
I am blessed to have the richness of nature around me.
When I commune with nature, my own blessed spirit is renewed.
Today I will spend time alone in nature.
I live naturally in all ways.
I live in harmony with all that is around me.
I am completely refreshed after communing with nature.
I accept, release, and allow space for the exchange of energy.
Natural diversity inspires wonder and awe in me.

Nature is always in flux. Waves crash on the shore. Leaves fall from trees. Nature always letting go and coming together anew. Let go. Rides the waves. It’s okay.

The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful. e.e. cummings

Bless!

 

Art by Robin Mead Designs

Making dreams come true

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Finally, I am coming to the conclusion that my highest ambition is to be what I already am. Thomas Merton

If you have been with me from the start of this blog, you may remember that in the new year, when it felt like the time was ripe to make resolutions, I decided to try really putting it all out there, not just one or two things, but everything. All my heart’s desires.

It was a resolution to take charge of my life, to be my own fairy godmother, to make all my wishes, all my dreams come true. Inspired by Noelle Oxenhandler’s book The Wishing Year, I decided to devote a year of my life to investigating every method of manifesting intentions I could find.

Nothing would be off the table, I would keep an open mind and look into all possibilities for creating the life I wished for. If a middle-aged woman channeling a guide called Abraham had some helpful advice, well, dammit, I’d even try that!

You were given life; it is your duty (and also your entitlement as a human being) to find something beautiful within life, no matter how slight. Elizabeth Gilbert

It’s not easy to settle on a finite number of your heart’s desires. I started with three; a home, a spiritual community, and love. I added writing; my true heart’s passion for a career and revenue earner. Health. More money would be nice, friends and family, travel… It was quickly getting out of control, I settled on the number seven.

But I didn’t want to be restrictive, so I made these intentions broad and roomy, you know, so the universe gets to play with my desires, so they can be bigger than my limited mind.

My intention was to blog my way through the experience of manifesting my seven intentions. So this post is dedicated to the inner treasure trove I have found – so far – and how the process of writing this blog, of focusing on my intentions, has revealed this treasure to me.

(So this is somewhat of a progress report for those of you who have been following, if you’re new to the blog – welcome! – and there’s links all the way through this post so you can catch up on all the fun you’ve missed.)

Now where was I? Ah yes. Treasure…

I think I deserve something beautiful. Elizabeth Gilbert

I was an ‘overly sensitive child’, a ‘hyperactive child’, a ‘gifted child’ – so many labels. In the modern Western society sensitivity is seen as a liability, and that’s absolutely how I regarded it. A guilty secret to be hidden away, locked in an inner closet and berated.

Here’s the secret prize. It turns out in the field of universal energy and manifesting intentions, sensitivity is a gift.

Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness. Allen Ginsberg

The truth is, whatever you are is a gift: sensitive, introspective, feisty, resilient, whatever your natural traits might be, they are YOUR traits, for you to discover the inner treasure of. I spent my whole life trying to be different to what I am, only to discover that what I am is exactly what I am meant to be.

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. Oscar Wilde

And so my seven intentions are beginning to manifest in most spectacular and surprising ways. Let’s review what they were:

7 Intentions: home, community, purpose, vibrant health, abundance, joy, love

I began by reading every book I could find on manifesting intentions – see my reading list here – and one of the first lessons I learned was to be grateful for what is, if like attracts like, gratitude attracts more of what we are grateful for.

Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude. A.A. Milne

I expressed gratitude for my home as perfect, I even have a garage I intend to clean out to use as a space for writing, meditating and teaching Chakradance. For now anyway, that doesn’t mean I have given up on my lovely dream house and garden by the water.

I discovered the importance of using feelings to connect with my intentions, I began to imagine what it would feel like to be surrounded by a community of people who supported and enhanced my intentions. I updated all my social media to reflect that I am a writer and wellbeing enthusiast, and this has attracted people to me in new ways.

Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet. Thích Nhất Hạnh

My community has also grown out of people reading my blog and my intention to teach Chakradance, but more on that in a minute. I also discovered many online communities including Healing with the Masters, The Intention Experiment and Intent.com, and The Global Love Project, but more on that in my next post.

My purpose of writing and helping people has resulted in three blogs – seven intentions, dad’s travel diaries and one hundred percent raw. Through this intention, I allowed my passion for writing to surface and be visible to others. It became apparent that writing came from my spirit and was inextricably connected to my spiritual practice, as I have discovered, is everything, the more I developed my chakra work and meditation, the more the writing flowed, and the people who could assist me came into my life. My blogs have had thousands of views from people in 23 countries, how cool is that?

Let yourself be drawn by the stronger pull of that which you truly love. Rumi

I created vision boards to assist me to visualise and stay focussed on what I intended to manifest into my life. Every morning I meditated and did chakra energy work to maintain a state of flow in my energy, which I read would maximise my manifesting abilities. Somewhere along the line I got so inspired by the seven chakras that I aligned them to my seven intentions and had a fabulous time experimenting and discovering those connections. The by-product was it felt amazing, and the more I encouraged my energy flow, the more health, vitality, and inspiration seemed to flow through me.

Find out who you are and do it on purpose. Dolly Parton

Chakradance is a wonderful way for me to get my energy flowing, and I kept having the impulse to train as a facilitator so I could run groups in my area. There seemed no way I could afford to do the course, but this idea kept niggling at my mind. Keeping an open mind, I remembered a few friends had done crowd sourcing to fund their projects and I thought why not? Check out my pozible ‘Chakradance this city’ project here.

My supporters had contributed 50% of the funds in 24 hours. How’s that for putting it out there?

Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit. E.E. Cummings

My vibrant health continues to improve as does my vitality, evidenced by the fact I can write three blogs, study Chakradance, work and raise my son, as well as having a rich life of family, friends, and interests. I learned the power of the heart chakra and of wishing from the heart.

Interestingly, when I had my health crash last year, one of the culprits was my adrenals glands. The adrenals produce adrenaline and tend to be the way many of us keep go, go, going in this fast-paced world. Read here how Christiane Northrup talks about low self-esteem affecting our adrenals. The lesson for me was to cease the incessant drive to be more, do more, have more.

Don’t power walk. Saunter slowly in the sun, eating chocolate, and carry a blanket so you can take a nap. S.A.R.K.

It was so liberating to allow myself to go to bed when I was tired, in the middle of the day. To not exercise if I didn’t have the energy. My self-will had driven me into the ground, and the only way to reset was to allow my body, not my mind, to run the show. I finally learned to live from my heart, and love myself no matter what. Only because I had no choice, my body had finally said ‘no!’ and I have not been able to have any energy since then unless I come from a place of calm, love and self-acceptance.

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

After tiring of spending money each week on getting my back treated, I just stated the intention of trying to heal it myself. Why not? These are the wacky things you try when you are testing the process of manifesting intentions. My back practitioners have been telling me to do this for a while – to heal myself – but I still had that dependence on them. Now structurally my back is pretty okay, my problems are exacerbated by stress, both emotional and physiological, due to lifestyle and diet.

Don’t compromise yourself. You’re all you’ve got. Janis Joplin

Rediscovering yoga, focusing on opening my heart and chest, and allowing more energy to flow has done wonders for my back and overall flexibility. (If you are interested try these yoga asanas. These twists are also good.) By eating well, yoga, meditation and energy work, well, I think I healed my back.

If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation. Jiddu Krishnamurti

The biggest shift in my yoga practice, and my life, is an absence of force. I used to force myself into yoga poses, often hurting myself in the process. Now I have learned to breathe into the pose and listen to my body’s wisdom. This allows me to work with my body and not against it. The change is spectacular! This manifests in my life as complete trust and surrender to whatever is occurring in my body. Pain, discomfort, uncomfortable feelings, and fatigue are merely messages, not ‘symptoms’ to be afraid of.

I now see how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do. Brene Brown

See above, and below: my life is positively bursting with abundance now!

My last post was on joy, and my discovery of the power of joy to create a shift of perception from despair into hope. It is my new way to tap into the creative energy of the universal consciousness. Joy is expansive in energy, it opens the heart, it attracts to it light and love, it radiates these qualities too, it seeks to transmit itself through connection with others and with all that is.

I will so trust that what is deep is holy, that I will do strongly before the sun and moon whatever only rejoices me, and the heart appoints. Ralph Waldo Emerson

It seems unbelievably self-indulgent, to me, to live out of  a state of joy, and yet, it appears that is the only state from which I can create and manifest intentions. And therefore the only state from which I can live my purpose and give my gifts to the world. This is something I keep coming back to. It is not my default setting, and yet, it may be my natural state, for when I meditate, when I quieten my ego mind, joy shines through.

And love. Well, there’s plenty more time to talk about that!

Look at me manifesting intentions all over the place. Although not in the way I’d imagined!

The real difficulty is to overcome how you think about yourself. If we don’t have that we never grow, we never learn, and sure as hell we should never teach. Maya Angelou

The truth is, when I dreamed of being a writer, it was bestselling literary novels I imagined writing. Award-winning novels. To be the next Margaret Atwood. Praise and accolades would flow. Actually I have had fantasies of being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. I used to be embarrassed by such daydreams, but now I just accept they are a part and parcel of having an over-active imagination. Besides, the beauty of the imagination is even if it never really happens, I will have enjoyed the experience nonetheless.

There’s no alternative to being yourself. Accept it, honour it, value it – and get on with it. Rasheed Ogunlaru

Now here I am writing three rather humble wellbeing and travel blogs and becoming a Chakradance instructor – I didn’t see that one coming. And mostly, I’m okay with that. Mostly.

You are Perfection and Imperfection’s Love Child. Sera Beak

When I caught up with a friend from my uni days this week, I noticed I played down my spirituality and it’s predominance in my writing, I didn’t encourage him to read my blogs. I saw a disconnect between who I used to think I wanted to be, and who I am.

Wanting to be someone else is a waste of who you are. Kurt Cobain

Maybe I will write novels one day, I continue to jot my story ideas down in a notebook. For now, I just keep taking the next intuitive step. Manifesting intentions seems to be less about forcing particular outcomes and more of a living dream: creating a vision, and a letting go of how it looks in reality.

The more I surrender to this process, the more I see the results manifest.

Today’s affirmations by Che Garman from affirmyourlife.blogspot.com

As I follow my heart, I discover my destiny.

As I grow more connected to my soul, my life’s purpose becomes clearer and clearer.

As I live my true purpose, joy and contentment fill my life.

Each day my life unfolds with absolute purpose.

Every action I take moves me towards my greater purpose.

Every day I find more ways to contribute to the greater good.

Every day I follow my bliss.

Having a clear purpose energizes my life.

I always follow my heart’s path.

I am deeply fulfilled by all that I do.

Bless!

 

Title image source: http://theresekerr.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/305669_502688633097226_1785424327_n.jpg

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

A house or a home?

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I’m glad no one is following me yet. It takes the pressure off. It’s been two weeks since my first post.

Part of this new resolution to intentionality is the idea that in the flow of life things happen effortlessly. I just haven’t been ready to write until now. Deadlines are a product of the ego-driven life, aptly named as we literally kill ourselves with stress trying to meet them. After experiencing hitting a complete physical and emotional brick wall last year as a result of “deadline living” I refuse to participate in that mindset anymore. Things will get done when they get done by me or someone else. Everything is unfolding as it should without the imposition of my self-will.

This is not my nature, to be a go with the flow kind of gal. But I ask myself, if I think I’m so powerful, how about I try making a fish from scratch. Where would I start? How would I manufacture scales that deflect water, enable streamline swimming ability, come in an array of bright colours, and reflect the light in rainbow luminescence. And that’s just the scales, never mind the rest of the fish! Nup, sorry, I’m just not that powerful. (That fish thing is not mine BTW, I wish it were! It’s from the George Burns movie “Oh God!”)

So I find myself after two weeks unsure of where to begin.

My first intention was a home.

I have a home, but it’s not mine. I rent. It’s lovely but very small. Can I say, I am truly grateful for having a home, this home is the perfect home for me right now. I have created a peaceful sanctuary in the inner city suburbs. Though my extensive collection of wind chimes may drive my neighbours bonkers when the wind picks up!

There are many theories of manifesting intentions and desires. Abraham Hicks says if you can hold the intention for 17 seconds without wavering – with doubt, negativity or distraction – you can manifest anything. Try it, it’s not as easy as it sounds. That darn shopping list interrupts me every time!

One strategy that I love is vision boards and mandalas. It appeals to the creative side of me. Above is a mandala I drew after a chakradance ritual. Chakradance is a meditative dance that, as the name suggests, works it’s way through the seven chakras culminating in a mandala drawing and meditative session (see chakradance.com for more info).

I do chakradance in the near-dark, so before you think I’m a crap drawer, just bear that in mind.

The point is my ideal house would be in natural surroundings, with water and trees around and set on high ground. Apparently it will also look like a Japanese temple – bonus!

I haven’t started my vision board yet, but the idea is to find images, and items such as fabric, leaves, flowers, whatever works for you and stick it to a board. Every day you set the intention that your vision IS reality. The idea is that the spiritual realm has no concept of time, whatever we put out there is instantly manifested. It is the eternal now. I guess it just takes a while for the material world to catch up.

Here lies an interesting distinction. A house may be a physical home, but what does a home really mean to me? What would my ideal physical space allow me to do? Be more creative? More calm? Have space to write, paint, dance, do yoga, run retreats? This quote from Marianne Williamson’s wonderful book Everyday Grace popped out at me yesterday and got me to thinking about this.

“To look for the experience of “home” in anything within the material world is to make the world a trap. For it is not our home. It’s a fantastic hotel at best. The realm of physical things – the body included – is a realm of separation, not of true joining.”

That said, I’d rather like a fantastic hotel to house my spiritual home within.

I’d like to finish up with an affirmation by Louise Hay that I have coloured with a starry sky and stuck up on my wall, it fills my heart with joy.

“Deep in a centre of me flows an infinite wellspring of love that fills my whole being and radiates out in all directions, returning to me multiplied. I give and receive more love every day. And the supply is endless.”

Bless!