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Memorial Day 2016

On this day when many have given their actual lives to fulfill their karmic destinies [read about Arjuna’s dharma as a warrior in the Bhagavad Gita], I decided I should start blogging about the things that have helped me overcome (or at least manage) some of the cards I’ve been dealt in this lifetime — as part of my service to humanity. Perhaps this small step will push me into writing that book so many astrologers and psychics have told me I’m destined to write! Lol

I will outline the ways that have helped me here and go into each of them in more detail in the following weeks. I will list them in the order in which they appeared in my life:

  1. A Burning Desire to Know the Truth of Reality
  2. The 12 Steps (or as Swami Sita calls it, “Street Vedanta”)
  3. Service to Others
  4. Diet
  5. Yoga
  6. Meditation
  7. Pranayama / Breathwork
  8. Self Love
  9. Energy Healing
  10. Astrology
  11. Surrender
  12. Human Design

STAY TUNED! This could be good… ;-P

To Be a Particle of God

We are all sent here to EXPERIENCE, to make the Divine Consciousness more whole and complete. We can help to answer the questions: What does it mean to be human? What are these emotions? What does this version of consciousness feel like? What is Love and can it really conquer all?

As humans, we forget The Experience, the Divine Play. We get wrapped up in it. We identify with our role and forget that we are all merely actors, cells in the right hand of God.

How do we get back to our Essence?

Forget attachment to the results of ANYTHING. Let go of the EGO. Simply play your part as one piece of the greater whole. Experience and savor every moment, every emotion, every thought, every THING — “good” or “bad”. Want money? OK. Go for it, but don’t make it your sole purpose. Want a family? Experience the joy of that sacred community but don’t let it own you. In all things material, work for the greater good and keep in mind that moderation is the key. And if the mind experiences suffering, then attachment and ego are involved. So check yo’self before you wreck yo’self.

We are the wave and the ocean. Remember.

Reflections on My Year in (relative) Solitude

In December 2014, I made my way across the country to start a new life ‘somewhere’ in New Mexico. All I knew was that I needed a place to heal, to rest, and rejuvenate. I had basically burned myself out giving too much: to my relationship, to my family, and to the yoga studio I was running from home. I was disillusioned by the yoga “scene”, by my yoga lineage, and I didn’t even want to think about teaching or doing any kind of healing work again any time soon. So when I found a place out in the middle of nowhere with a meditation cave on the property, I knew I was home. Nature always gave me comfort as far back as I could remember, so I knew being surrounded by Her would play a key part in this healing process. And I would have the time and space for my meditation practice, and to reflect, journal, and make art again.

“The grief you cry out from draws you toward union. Your pure sadness that wants help is the secret cup. Listen to the moan of a dog for its master. That whining is the connection. There are love-dogs no one knows the names of. Give your life to be one of them.” — Rumi

With very few exceptions, I chose not to make friends or be very social during this last year. I truly desired to live like a modern-day hermit. I explored the area on my own, went out when I needed things (or when I was struggling with extreme loneliness, which was rare) and I was kind to whomever stopped by to see how I was doing, but for the most part I was alone. The people that I did meet this last year ‘by chance’ were like distant memories of people I knew lifetimes ago. Some of them have already come and gone, each of us completing what we needed to learn from the other in this lifetime. Others may stick around for awhile. Only time will tell.

“Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”

Now as I prepare to integrate myself back into society by moving closer to Santa Fe, I am taking time to reflect on what I’ve learned this past year.

  • I think it’s easy to lock yourself away from society, almost selfish in a way. (In my own defense, maybe I needed to be selfish for a while.) The true test lies in remaining spiritual while living within the fabric of life.
  • I have found a new kind of independence and strength within myself, one that’s still unfolding and I’ve yet to fully understand.
  • Essentially, I am a social creature and I enjoy helping others. But it’s ok to say no. Better to take care of me and be present, than to do things I don’t have the energy or desire to do and end up burned out and resentful.
  • I still have ‘stuff’. I may always have ‘stuff’. And it’s ok. I can soften around those tender spots, and recognize that those seeds of hurt might still be inside of me, but I don’t have to let them take root and rule my life and behaviors. I can also choose not to associate with people who don’t know how to be kind to me or honor those tender spots.
  • As I learn to shine the light into my own shadows, they become less dark. As I learn to accept and care for ALL parts of myself, I can more fully accept others and be more compassionate to them.
  • Studying astrology helps me see the bigger picture and gives me perspective about ‘what’s really going on’. Everything is Maya, a play of the gods and the Universe. As real and crazy as it may all seem at times, it’s really not. It’s a predetermined script and I’m just acting it out, day by day.
  • I am thankful for the sanctuary of peace that my meditation practice gives me. I know I am never alone and there is always some One for me to rely on, even though I may forget this at times.
  • This journey inwards is never-ending. There is always more to be revealed, unraveled, and understood.

I look forward to another new start on this journey called “LIFE” — always an adventure!

The Heart – Mind Connection

As a Reiki practitioner, I’ve often felt the connection between the heart chakra and the 2nd chakra, located near the sex organs. If anything, it made my “work” easier: most people I came across had unresolved issues stuck in their emotional centers at the heart and in the pelvis, so all I had to do was focus on treating these areas and that helped release a lot of “stuff” for my clients. It made sense to me. Relationships are difficult and many things go unprocessed and that energy gets stuffed into these emotional centers.

Today, however, I was presented with a heart – mind connection. Trying to live life through the logic of the mind (as a psychologist) led to very real difficulties with the heart, so much so that reparative heart surgery was required for this person.

From EveryDayHealth.com: “The health of your heart is linked to the health of your mind. Experts point out that this connection goes in both directions. People who are depressed are two to three times more likely to develop heart disease. Meanwhile, roughly half of all people with heart disease battle depression. ‘People know that their livelihood and life is in danger, and that becomes a major stress factor in the life of that individual, so we start going around and around in circles,’ explained Angelos Halaris, MD, PhD, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences and assistant dean for translational research at Loyola University’s Stritch School of Medicine in Chicago. To show just how far-reaching the connection is, the risk factors that can lead to heart disease could play a role in memory loss and dementia. The good news is that taking steps to prevent heart disease and reduce stress can also help protect your mind.”

This person is currently experiencing a lot of memory loss and seems to be concerned about possible dementia.

The heart chakra relates to the element of air, so in order to heal it, we can work with the breath. This is an exercise designed to expand the heart in all directions. Sitting in a comfortable meditation posture with spine erect, close your eyes and tune into your heart. If you can, feel your heartbeat. First begin gently breathing in and out getting a slow steady rhythm. Then imagine that you are inhaling in the left side (receptive) and expanding your heart out to the left. Take a few breaths here, then imagine expanding your heart to the right side (expressive) and feel your heart space widening. Then breathe into the bottom of your heart, deepening your compassion, for self and others. After a few breaths here, imagine you are breathing into the top of your heart, lifting the heart to blossom into the shoulders. Finally inhale, pushing your heart energy forward, out in the world. (Special thanks to the book Energize Your Heart, by Puran and Susanna Bair, for this exercise.)

Changes

It seems that life is changing so quickly these days. From the predicted amount of snow to the actual amount that falls to the ground, it’s hard to know which way is up some days. They say this is the way it will be in these times and only those that can stand on their heads will be able to see which way is up. The Gita says that life is like a public inn, people come and people go and there is no need for attachment. And I agree. But these little gems of wisdom can be difficult to accept at times, for sure.

“One does not become enlightened by imagining beings of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” — Carl Jung

I have to say that most days I feel very lucky for all of the adversities I’ve had to face in this life. From childhood trauma, to addiction, to relationship issues — all of these things have pushed me along my path and made me become a better, stronger person. I was also blessed with direct experiences of something greater than myself, visions if you will. These changed my life forever and have always made me feel secure even in the most difficult times.

prayerI wish I could give this security and certainty to everyone. Imagine: a life where everyone feels complete within themselves, no more looking outside for acceptance, approval, or love. A planet where everyone has enough and believes everyday that life will provide. You will be cared for and loved beyond measure if you allow it to be so. A certainty that everything and everyone is ok just as it is and as they are, from minute to minute, day to day, and year to year. (This planet supports life in all its many forms after all, this is a universal truth, so while it may feel like the opposite some days, why would LIFE try to kill YOU?)

No more self-doubt, no more greed, no more lack, no more hatred. These are the things I wish I could give to everyone.

Once the soul awakens

Once the soul awakens, the search begins and you can never go back. From then on, you are inflamed with a special longing that will never again let you linger in the lowlands of complacency and partial fulfillment. The eternal makes you urgent. You are loath to let compromise or the threat of danger hold you back from striving toward the summit of fulfillment. –John O’Donohue, Anam Cara

So why are you here?

“You know, like, what are you looking for?” That’s what the old guy said to me yesterday. I didn’t want to tell him that I came here looking for a place to belong, a place to call home.

I thought when my partner and I got together, that despite all the odds, I finally found a great guy, that we would share a life together, and that I finally had a place where I would be loved and cherished no matter what, a place that I could call home. This is not how it’s turning out, that’s for sure.

So I am here in the middle of Mexico, in San Miguel de Allende, waiting for the final verdict: will we stay together or not? It seems like there’s no way we can; but even with all the damage done and the cards stacked against us, I still feel like there’s a chance it might work out. Crazy. I know.

While I was in the Bahamas, I learned a lot. The swamis gave talks on anger and love — on the ever-changing nature of Maya and how our attachments lead to frustrated desires which leads to anger, especially in relationship to another. The other person always changes, and so will I. And even though we can work and work on ‘issues’, sometimes some of the root will remain; so just know that it’s there, but don’t focus on it.

I read books by Yogi Bhajan and another one someone gave me by Don Miguel Ruiz. And they all told me things I may not have wanted to hear, but that I needed to hear, things that kind of make sense of this strange situation I find myself in at the moment.

From Yogi Bhajan:

Have you seen people who just go flip-flop out of the blue? These are the people in their childhood who didn’t find out who they are. They couldn’t find their identity. Have you seen people that just lay trauma on you? These are the children who didn’t find in their heart the love of their father. Have you seen people who pretend to be very good? But when you rely on their goodness, they just pull the rug out from under your feet. These are all children who didn’t find the love of their mother.

Seemed to say a lot about my own life and also the people I find myself in relationship with again and again. And so what is the answer? Practice, I guess. Practicing faith, love and forgiveness, releasing expectations, and knowing that we’re all in this together.

Lines from the Air

Clouds like a laughing Pan,
Lying back with pipes in hand.

Smiling sharks. Selfies of orangutans.

Berry fizz
Orange swamis

Days filled with blue skies, ocean waves, drifting.

What is Real?
Where do I begin and where does it all end?

Maya
Brahman in a million parts

Shattered stars
Broken dreams
Love gone wrong

Traveling across the desert sands, a million years, a million miles gone by…

Ancient Cures for the Modern Life

Cell phones, internet, television, iPods, video games, commuting back and forth, working long hours and eating irregularly — all of these little things add up over time and can leave you feeling depleted, scattered, spacey and ‘tired but wired’. These everyday stressors can lead to what is known in Ayurveda as ‘vata derangement’ — simply put, an excess of nervous energy. And an excess of vata, if left unchecked, can eventually lead to dis-ease in both the body and the mind. Vata diseases include such things as poor digestion (gas & bloating), arthritis, anxiety, muscle stiffness, insomnia and more. Nearly 60% of all disease is attributed to a derangement of the vata dosha!

Understanding and implementing Ayurvedic therapies can help reduce vata derangement and bring you back into balance. By analyzing your basic doshic type (vata, pitta, kapha or any combination of the three), we can learn how to correct imbalances through diet, exercise and daily routines. Utilizing the simple principles of Ayurveda (like increases like and opposites reduce) helps us gain control of our health and well-being.

“Know thyself and be free.”

Yoga works in a similar manner. Posing the body in certain ways (asanas) as you work through a yoga sequence can reduce agitation in the nervous system, stimulate the lymph and acupressure points and help energy flow more freely, alleviating muscle stiffness and tension and promoting an overall sense of ease. Working with the breath (pranayama), helps rejuvenate the body and the mind as the breath is the bridge between both. Yogic breathing also helps us to work with prana or life force directly, enabling us to take in and conserve energy as needed. Final relaxation at the end of a yoga sequence helps integrate the practice at a deep cellular level and gives us a much needed ‘time out’ from the busy modern lifestyle.

Once all of the agitation has been removed from the body and the mind through proper diet, proper exercise, proper breathing and proper relaxation, we are encouraged to move on to the next stage that will help us lead a fulfilling life: the practice of positive thinking and meditation. By continually keeping the mind focused on the positive, we can actually attract more positivity to us. The practice of pratipaksha bhavanam is a method that helps us catch these destructive and distracting thoughts, and redirects our minds back toward the yogic path. The method is very simple: whenever a negative thought arises in the mind, counter it with an equal opposite positive thought. In this way, we train the mind and can start to alleviate worry, grief, sadness, etc. Sound too easy? Maybe too hard? Try it! You’ll soon see what a difference this practice can make in your life. As the mind becomes more positive, the body becomes lighter as negativity is released and less energy is consumed by the endless negative loop of the mind.

We can bring the practice of positive thinking into our meditations. Whether you focus on the breath, a mantra or whatever technique you use, inevitably the mind will wander. And often times it goes into those ‘dark places’ as we ‘should’ all over ourselves for this thing, that thing or the other. The practice of pratipaksha bhavanam can save us (from ourselves) in these moments and give us the space to guide ourselves back to the object of concentration.

As we continue with all of these practices, eventually the mind will become more transparent and we are more able to take on the Witness role as we meditate — watching the mind and silently chuckling with compassion at its never-ending chatter and jumping about. Once we learn to work through our own ‘limitations’ and the ‘shadowy parts’ of ourselves in the seat of meditation, we begin to become more able to take this compassionate Witnessing mind out into our daily lives, recognizing that each person struggles with the same problems and dilemmas as we do. And then change truly occurs. Friends and family begin to notice how different you are. Work becomes easier. More energy becomes available and finally — life feels a little bit easier and maybe even more fulfilling.

And this, in brief, is the way that these ancient practices can help change your life — step by step and day by day.

What is Shakti?

Shakti personifies the divine feminine creative power and is the highest creative and healing force in the universe. Shakti is the essence of health, happiness and a meaningful life. Shakti is primordial cosmic energy that moves through the entire universe, dependent on no one but interdependent with all things.

Each time Shakti takes on a new form, we give her a new name. Yoga philosophy describes three main forms of Shakti as related to the body, mind and spirit:

  • Prana Shakti which governs all physical actions, organs and functions. Asanas (yoga postures) and Pranayama (yogic breathing techniques) help develop prana shakti.
  • Chitta shakti which rules all mental functions, including intelligence, thinking, emotions, memory, desires, etc. Self inquiry and meditation techniques help develop chitta shakti.
  • Atma shakti is spiritual energy that pushes us on in pursuit of higher consciousness and spiritual realization.

Shakti Healing Therapies is dedicated to providing you with the tools to create more Shakti in every aspect of your life — from your personal health to uncovering your life purpose to reaching your highest spiritual aspirations.