Teaching Yoga

Another yoga teacher training weekend has passed. They fly by. There are only 3 weekends (7 days) left, and we are teaching to the public for each of those days. It seems unbelievable that we've come so far in what seems like such a short amount of time. We've met for 5 weekends (11 days) since September, and it's amazing to see the progress each and every one of us has been making since the beginning.

I love the way this teacher training is set up. We began by teaching to (and learning from) 3 of the other students in the class, for 2 sets of 10 minutes at a time. It was a rocky start for all of us—we listened to Jacqui's (the YTT teacher) advice, read our manuals about the transitions in and out of each pose, and jumped into teaching. I know I'm not the only one who felt like I had no idea what I was doing.

Then we switched to another set of 3 students, and each time we taught and got more advice from Jacqui, we grew a little more and felt a little more confident. For the last 2 weekends we've been also teaching for five minutes at a time to half the class, which is about 16 students, while the other half of the class works on assisting the students who are following the vocal instruction.

Five minutes may not seem like a whole lot of time, but it's incredibly informative what can be learned during those 5 minutes. It's an amazing experience to vocally guide 16 people through physical movements—to see how each one of them moves differently. What's really amazing is that THEY GUIDE ME too. As I look around the room I see their feet, and their shoulders, and their hips. Because I can see where they are, the words are beginning to come naturally to encourage them toward better alignment. If someone's shoulders are all scrunched up by their ears, I'm reminded to guide everyone toward relaxing their shoulders. So, each student is there to help guide the other students as well… I love that.

Not only does my voice guide their body, but it can guide their mind as well. There are unseen cues that can be given to guide them within; to feel their breath; to focus their attention on the space on their forehead between their eyes; to think of someone they love and send the positive effects of their practice to that person… the cues are endless.

I'm slowly learning that there's a part deep inside of me that really knows the poses. I've done them (the ones I teach, anyway) and felt them all in my own body, so I have the body memory of what they feel like, and how a tiny adjustment can really feel amazing.

I'm also really starting to feel comfortable being myself around the group. It can sometimes take me a long time to really open up and show my heart and soul to a group of people. This Saturday was the first time I walked into the training weekend feeling open and receptive. Each of the weekends before I felt anxiety and self conscious. Perhaps this has to do with feeling more confident about the teaching of the poses. That meek feeling of "I don't know what I'm doing" is passing, and it seems as though the part of me that knows what to do is able to shine more.

The experience of yoga-teacher-training has been, and I'm sure will continue to be a transformative experience. Each of us has shared a moment in our lives when we have been touched by grace. This weekend was my turn to share, and like many others in the class I ended up in an emotional blubbering mess while trying to talk about it. It's incredibly humbling to be so vulnerable in front of 35 people, who just a few months ago had no idea who you were. I have so much respect for the lives and processes that each and every one of the other yogis in the training. They have all gone through so much, and overcome so many obstacles. It really is teaching me that we can't judge any other person. Everyone has a story that we don't know, and they're all beautiful—as hard as they are, we're making it through, and THAT is what's beautiful.

So, I invite you to join me and all these beautiful people in one (or more) of the community classes that we're offering over the next 3 weekends that we meet.

January 18, 19 and 20
February 1 and 2
March 8 and 9

Reflections in others - the shadow self

It's been coming to my attention much more often lately, that everything I experience is a reflection of my own inner life. Each time I run into a person who seems to ruffle my feathers, a little flag goes up for me. I ask myself what it is about that person that seems to irk me? I don't stay with this thought long, it's usually just the question… and it remains unanswered.

Instead of diving into seeking what I don't like about the person, I'll choose to shift my focus away from them and into myself. Each individual person has a bigger picture—something that I cannot see—and for me to judge them for being too needy, or overprotective, or egotistical really has nothing to do with them and their life.

How ever I am perceiving anything outside of myself is a reflection of how I'm feeling inside of myself. So rather than judging or blaming anything outside of myself as the reason for my discomfort, it's a much more healing exercise to recognize myself in what it is that I'm witnessing and investigate internally what beliefs I'm holding onto that cause me to see it in the way I'm seeing it. It brings my power back to me—changes my mentality from the role of victim to creator.

The people closest to us reflect to us our deepest hidden truths. They know us best, and in a way, we are attracted to them because they have something to show us that when we see it in ourselves it will allow us to heal on the deepest level. The things about everyone in our lives that bother us are there to teach us about ourselves. Of course, it's always a choice to look at it this way or not to. It's entirely possible to be so upset by them that you need to entirely walk away. But know that whatever is there for you to heal will continue to present itself until you see it with open eyes and are willing to heal through it. Walking away is a temporary band-aid. When we need to see something, the universe will continue to present us with a mirror to encourage the opening of our eyes. If we walk away from one mirror, another will appear.

We live in a vibrational reality—a world where energy creates everything, and vibrates along a range of frequencies. Whatever frequency we are vibrating at—because of our thoughts and feelings—is what we are capable of seeing in the world in that moment. Therefore, whenever we are feeling light and bubbly, the world shows us how light and bubbly it can be. Likewise, when we are feeling depressed or angry, the world seems to be a very depressing and angering place.

Whenever we are presented with something in our lives that makes us uncomfortable, it's an opportunity for us to witness a little bit of our unconscious programming, and bring it into consciousness. We can see what type of world we are manifesting for ourselves. Just the fact that that situation has been brought into our awareness is a sign that there's something there for us to look at inside. It's not outside, it's always inside. Whatever appears on the outside is all a reflection of what is inside. That's how this world works.

This is often referred to as the shadow self. The shadow can be shown to us through other people—they act in ways that we don't like or disapprove of, or don't want to see or be around. These things that they show us—just by being who they are—are the things that we are in denial of about ourselves, but are attracting to ourselves because it's a part of who we are, and we are unconsciously projecting this energy out into the universe asking for it to manifest.

What is there to do about it?
When we can acknowledge and take responsibility that everything we experience is brought into our lives because we asked for it, we begin to look at the world a little differently. We now see each interaction with another person as a gift—as a way of seeing something we might not have been able to see before. We can witness the interaction from an un-attached point of view and watch as our bodies retract and expand, and take note of the things in the interaction that caused the shift. When we can see what causes our bodies to retract and expand, it's possible to investigate into our beliefs about what triggered the shift.

For example, when someone walks by swiftly and starts banging things around in a nearby room I notice my body retract, and pull away from that person. Upon sitting with the feeling and investigating into the reasons why I pulled away I might learn that I believe the person to be angry, then taken it personally thinking they were angry at me for something I did or didn't do. Then… not knowing what it was that I did to cause this anger I might think that they had expectations of me that I did not live up to, causing them to become angry. I pull away from them and wish they would let go of their anger.

All that is a story I've made up. It's not real. When I can take a step back and investigate the feelings I have within myself I may recognize that my resistance to their noisy actions may be because I have seeds of anger within myself that I'm in denial of, and don't like to look at. The person being noisy in the other room is simply a mirror for me to reflect on the angry seeds within myself, and I'm resistant of it because it's not something I want to acknowledge. That resistance so often—when kept unconscious—can lead to us wanting the other person to change, and be different from how they are so that we don't have to look into the mirror anymore. If they change, and become not angry, then the mirror goes away and I'm comfortable again…

But we don't have control over that. The actions of another person are beyond our control. The only thing we can control is how we respond to each moment. When we can respond with mindfulness, and bring consciousness to the resistance we feel within, we can face the mirror and choose to summon bravery to look at what we don't want to see. Each and every instance of resistance can be an opportunity to learn something about ourselves. Some of these things are not easy, but all of them are worth learning, and becoming conscious of. Bringing awareness to things we were once unconscious of is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves, our family, friends, community and the world. It removes the unconscious programming that we've absorbed our entire lives, and helps us to wake up to what's real.

"Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it."‬ ~ Rumi

So, when the resistance arrives, before reacting (if possible), or as soon as you become aware, close your eyes and take a deep breath. Know that the actions of the other are a gift for you. You may not see what it is right away. Simply keep breathing, and try to accept the other person as they are without persuading them to change. Keep breathing. If you need to, walk away, but know that your walking away is only temporary relief in order for you to re-center. Keep your focus on your breath, and let your thoughts float past. They will likely be noisy and try to tell you all sorts of reasons for why the other is wrong and why your resistance is justified… simply breathe. Breathe really loud if you need to, letting your breath be louder than your thoughts.

Moving into and beyond discomfort.

I've written about acceptance many times on this blog. It's something I'm constantly ebbing and flowing in and out of. It seems appropriate to want to write about it whenever I notice that eb and flow.

As I witness myself experiencing my life I notice a lot of resistance lately. Whenever I'm resisting, I'm not allowing what IS to exist. Instead I wish for it to be different than it is, and I feel out of control. This out-of-control feeling sends me spiraling into my mind, where I try to figure out how to find something to grasp onto which might help me feel in control again. This leads me to destructive addictions and habits, such as arguing about stupid things just so I can feel right about something, or over eating foods that I know don't love me back because there's a hole in my belly that yearns to be filled.

The belly, or third chakra, is where our power lives—our will. When we're feeling out of control, it's because something is out of balance in our third chakra—our belly. We feel butterflies, or nauseous or like there's a never ending hole that needs someTHING to fill it. If we remain unaware of these feelings, and continue to feed them or deny them the attention they crave, then the cycle of ungrounded lack of control will remain cycling throughout our lives.

A chakra is a non-physical wheel of energy that directs energy into, out of and throughout the body. There are 7 major chakras. The third chakra is located in the belly—there are 2 below it (the root and the sacral) and 4 above it (the heart, throat, third eye and crown). Commonly, if we are noticing chronic reoccurring discomfort in any of these areas, when we readjust the energetic flow more toward balance in that area, then the discomfort will ease.

When we're aware that these uncomfortable feelings are a result of an unbalanced energy center, we can focus our attention there—shine some light where there was once darkness, unconsciousness—and begin to turn the ship around—begin to bring some balance into our lives that helps manifest… in the case of the third chakra: confidence.

One really simple way I go about doing this is by simply placing my hands on my body—as if to tell my body: "It's okay. I recognize that you're suffering. I'm here for you."

Our bodies are like small children. In our minds, we may feel all grown up and adult, but as we've grown our bodies have taken all the things that our minds can't handle at the time and hidden them away to resurface at a later time when our minds are more capable of handling them. The body is wise—it knows when the mind has the capability of being able to handle the feelings and make sense of them from a new, more adult, perspective than it possibly could have when we originally experienced the feeling.

For example—any abuse that a child endures. Each time a child is exposed to a certain type of abuse that child's body learns ways of hiding away the feelings of the abuse so the child can tolerate the moments while being abused. These hiding places keep the feelings hidden until the body can be reassured that it's safe now. It's okay to come out from the hiding place and be acknowledged.

I'm reminded of a beautiful story that I heard from Tara Brach, during one of her podcasts.
A number of years ago I was working with a client, who also had some exposure to meditation, and she shared a story that for her expressed her own experience.  I want to tell you the story:  It starts when she’s 7-years-old hiding in a closet, terrified after another unexpected attack from her drunken, enraged father.  The little girl is praying saying, “Help, I can’t take it anymore.”  And she opens her eyes to see a fairy in a haze of blue with a glittering wand.  She lets the fairy know how her father has been beating her and that her mother doesn’t help, and how she believes they both really wish she was dead.
The fairy listens with tears in her eyes.  She tells the little girl that while she can’t make all this pain disappear, she can help her get through this time.  She can help her forget, then help her remember later when she’s able to handle it.  With a wave of the wand, the good fairy says, “I’m going to send things into different parts of your body and they are going to hold them for you until you feel strong enough to let them move freely again.”  And she explained she would dull her pelvis and her belly to block the sexual energy from moving, and she would constrict her heart and her throat so she wouldn’t feel the raw intensity of her fear and the need to cry out.  The little girl wouldn’t have to feel the broken-heartedness.
“You’ll have trouble feeling and being close to people, but it will be your way of surviving.  At those times that the pain erupts, you will find your own ways to control it.  Ways that may not look good to the world, but will be of temporary comfort.  And you, my darling, will be fairly functional.  You will be a functional human being in spite of all this because you have a strong mind and you can hold all this in.  And I will be helping you.”
The child looked directly into the fairy’s eyes and asked, “How will you help?  Will you come back to see me?” 
The fairy replied, “You will not forget everything.  I will leave a voice inside that will urge you to reconnect with your whole self.  It may be a very long process, but in time, you will feel an urgent calling to step out of imprisoning beliefs, to unwind your body and release what is has been holding all these years.  You will learn the art of sacred presence.  There will be physical and emotional pain as you open, but you will have what you need:  the compassion and wisdom, the support of loving others to be a whole person, spiritually awake, but still the same.  It’s because your soul has always been there, just hidden by scars of this lifetime.”
The story ends as the fairy gently puts her arms around the little girl’s shoulders and leads her to bed.  As the little girl finally relaxed into deep sleep, the fairy gazed tenderly at the small, innocent face and then whispered her goodbye.
“When you wake up, you will forget I was here.  You will forget you asked for help.  You will forget the sharpness of your daily pain.  This is the only way I know to get you through this.  You are a beautiful child, and I love you.  In fact, your parents love you, although they are incapable of showing it to you.  You will have to love yourself enough to heal so that when you are older, your life will be powerful, full, and free.  One day you will know who you really are.  You will trust your goodness and know your belonging.  Until then, and for always, I love you.”

Placing our hand over the part of our body that is feeling uncomfortable is a way of saying to the body that it's safe now. You're present with the feeling, and it's okay for that feeling to be felt now, as there is nothing here that is directly harmful—nothing but a memory. Then, for as long as possible close your eyes and focus on your breath. With each inhale feel how your body expands beneath your hands allowing a little more space for the feeling to grow into.  With each exhale, feel a little more ease as some of the discomfort leaves your body. It's okay now.

The next step - Yoga Teacher Training

The first weekend of yoga teacher training has come and gone. Going into it, I felt nervous, and insecure—afraid that I wasn't where I thought I "should" be; concerned that everyone else there would be so further along in their practice than me, and that I would hold people back.

We began by rolling out our mats and practicing a flow to the sound of Jacqui's voice. Afterward I felt the room had calmed, and felt more unified than before. We were beginning to become more comfortable with being around each other. As Jacqui began, she quelled our fears and insecurities. I'm sure I wasn't the only one feeling the way I did. What she said spoke directly to my fears, and it really eased me to hear her address them. I'm not the only one. We're all in this together. I began to feel closer to each of the other people in the room. I had compassion for myself and for each of them, realizing that we're all possibly feeling the same sorts of insecurities about ourselves, and our practice.

We gathered in a circle and each of us spoke about where we're from and what brought us to Jacqui's yoga teacher training. It took us a couple hours to go all the way around the circle, holding space for each person as we opened up and shared a little bit about ourselves. Each one of us has a history—a story—that brings us to where we are now, and each one of these stories is beautiful. I shared the story of how I was introduced to Jacqui, at one of her Chakra Cleanse workshops, and how my life got flipped upside down afterwards; my journey with Reiki, and that in March I finally worked through a big emotional blockage that has allowed me to finally commit to the yoga teacher training that I've been wanting to do for years.

Jacqui spoke about yoga, and how she dissects the flow into 8 "threads" as she calls them. Each thread is worked for an equal amount of time throughout the whole practice, and each focuses on a different aspect of the physical/energetic body. Seeing that there is a really logical and structured way to design a vinyasa flow was comforting to me, and because they are worked in small segments, for about 10 minutes each helped me to feel more confident that it will be possible for me to learn it. I'm all about baby steps—learning things in little batches, before assembling the whole—and that seems to be what we'll be doing throughout this training.

We learned how important proper alignment is in Mountain Pose, and that it carries into so many (all?) of the other postures that we do. She helped re-train how we do chaturanga (high to low push-up), while maintaining the alignment of Mountain.

Sunday we began with another flow, but this time, as we completed each "thread" we would pause for a question and answer period. Jacqui would address questions about the specific poses that are worked in that thread, and help us to understand more about the alignment of each of the poses.

I did a lot of yoga this weekend, and my body handled it much better than I was anticipating. I feared that I would not be able to keep up, but Jacqui's flows always seem to allow enough time to breathe, and move, that even when my muscles feel like they're going to drop me at any time, I can still breathe and maintain the strength I need. My shoulders are more sore than I ever remember them being in the past—and that's awesome. I'm excited to feel more in shape and stronger than ever before, and I know that this training is going to help me get there—stronger physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I'm confident that this is going to be one of the most therapeutic things I've ever done.

My homework for the next month is to read Yogabody by Judith Hanson Lasater, read through the anatomy section of the workbook, read the intro to, and flip through The Trail Guide to the Body, practice every day (yoga, meditation, journaling, in some-way being with myself), and prepare to teach threads 2, 3, 5 and 6. The next time we meet there will be some intense anatomy lessons with David Vendetti and I'll be teaching those 4 threads to three of my fellow yogi classmates.

Non-existance or Unification?

In this third dimensional reality, there are generally two ways of looking at things—one is fearful, the other is accepting, with open arms.

For this subject, one fears non-existance while the other feels liberated by unification. Essentially, they are the same thing. The fearful or liberated feeling comes entirely from how we look at it, and on what aspect we focus.

Non-existance focuses on the lack of physical being-ness—the lack of a body, the lack of a personality, and the lack of the senses and the pleasures they seek. That is a scary concept. Throughout our entire incarnation in this body, these are the things we have known. To be without them is frightening if we don't trust, or know that there is something beyond them.

When we have the perspective of unification, then the focus is on the feeling of one-ness with everything, complete expansiveness and never-ending love. This is something beyond comprehension to one limited to the sense-pleasures of the physical body.

How do we get to the perspective of unification if we can't see beyond their fears into what lays beyond them? Firstly, we need to want it—really, REALLY want it.

It may come from being so frustrated and angry with the limitations of the physical world that we give up our grasp on it… let it go… realize it doesn't work and drop it. Identifying with the physical—with the body, with the personality, with our jobs or social position, with the sensual pleasures that come and go—provides only fleeting satisfaction with life. When we identify with these things, and they go away, or do not respond to us in the way we want them to, we become frustrated, sad, angry or depressed. It's human to respond in these ways. We have all done it. When these feelings get so intense, and so overwhelming, what's left except letting them go?

It seems ironic that this "dark night of the soul" can be a catalyst into the expansive nature of unification. But, that's how I got there. During one winter, thousands of miles away from my family, while my mom battled cancer, I fought against what I thought life should be, and what I was being handed in each moment. I resisted and hated it. I wanted nothing else but for it to go away, and be over-with. There were nights I could do nothing but argue, and scream and cry.

Then one night, I was so insane with rage and depression—so much resistance—so insane I lost who I was and I cracked. Like an egg. A blindingly bright light shone through, and then there was nothing.

That night was just the beginning, but it's such a clear memory for me as the cracking point. It was the night that who I thought I was shattered for the first time, and I was introduced to who I am beyond the illusion of body, personality and my senses. I AM.

It's beyond description. If it's not something you've experienced for your self, it's not something that can be understood through the mind's interpretation of words. As an attempt to explain: this light—this nothingness—felt blissful, pure, totally expanded, unified with everything, eternal, timeless, loving, kind, allowing, and accepting of everything, without boundaries, completely still—all at once.

From that point on, with the help of some close friends and teachers, my life has been dedicated to removing the layers remaining of the outer shell, and allowing the light to shine, uninhibited.

I'm still on that path, and it will continue be a life-long journey. My awareness of the light within ebbs and flows—like all things in life—but allowing it to shine is my highest purpose in life. That light must shine, and whatever is in it's way needs to be looked at and dissolved. At this moment in my life, nothing is more important to me than that. 

This was the experience that allowed me to begin trusting that there is something beyond my body, personality and the sense pleasures. There may be other ways of touching that light for the first time, but this was my way. I've heard that near-death experiences can do this same sort of thing, or extended periods of fasting and/or meditation.

Wanting something doesn't always mean that that thing will come easy. I had to go through the suffering, pain and anguish to get to the other side… the INside. I wanted it. I have always wanted it—sometimes without knowing exactly what "it" was—IT is the connection to the divine that is innate within each one of us. When we want something strongly enough, the universe conspires to align the circumstances of it's happening. It's our job to walk that path, and be open to receiving it.

Above I've shared the first time I experienced the cracking egg, but it hasn't been the only time. There are times when the layers of the shell build up and I disconnect from feeling that light to the extent that I go through this process all over again. Each time I have a little bit of a better knowing of what I'm going through, so it's easier to allow the process to unfold naturally. It's not an easy thing to do—to let go and allow who you've known yourself to be to disappear. However, each time the faith is stronger that what is beyond is so much more beautiful and powerful than anything my mind could ever imagine.

The Whatever Prayer:
Whatever I have to see,
Whatever I have to feel,
Whatever I have to remember,
Whatever I have to go through,
If it is for my healing,
And in the highest good of all Beings, 
I agree to it.

I want peace.

I've been asking the universe for peace lately.

Be careful what you ask for…

Peace isn't something that is all-of-a-sudden gifted to us. No. We have to work for it! It's something we need to cultivate within ourselves. So, how better to cultivate peace, than by experiencing chaos? Yes, apparently that is the way it works—at least for me.

The universe has been responding to my request for peace by presenting chaotic experiences that help cultivate peace within myself.

That can be really discouraging… I ask for peace, and what I get is more chaos, because when I can sit peacefully through the chaos I will have learned how to experience a peaceful life. Chaos helps me cultivate peace. Ugh…

For a while I didn't realize this, and was pulling my hair out wondering what I was asking for that kept resulting in chaos. I didn't feel like I was asking for chaos—but in this way, I was.

This dawned on me over the weekend. I attended a Reiki III Advanced Practitioner class, and during the attunement there was SO MUCH noise! Car alarms (many of them), chainsaws, barking dogs, people screaming, idling engines… you name it—all within a 10–15 minute span of time.

All this noise was not here prior to sitting down for the attunement, nor after it. During, I noticed my resistance to it, and then all at once realized it was insane, and let go of the resistance and just laughed about it. I realized that the amount of chaos that was happening all around me was there in order for me to cultivate peace during the attunement. It was such an extreme situation where a crazy amount of chaos was presented all around me—chaos that I wouldn't take personal—in order to help me realize what exactly was going on. The universe/my guides/Spirit/God… whatever you want to call it, made it SO obvious that I couldn't miss it. I'm grateful.

Now that I can see that the chaos has a purpose, and is necessary for me to reach my goal of having peace, I can hopefully have less resistance to it. The key is to not take the chaos personally, and allow the insanity of it all to simply roll by without getting stuck to it.

Today was another test of that. Today I learned what happens when I take the chaos personally. It's not as funny. Another lesson learned. I'm grateful for this one too.

Next time will be better. 

What's my biggest fear? An insight into how I inquire within.

I recently attended an Intro to Shamanism workshop, and as I arrived was handed a paper to fill out. At first it had some pretty routine questions, but about half-way down the page I was stopped, and initially taken a-back by one of the questions. Now, given the nature of the workshop, it's not entirely surprising that this question was included. It's understandable that the instructor would want to ask it—not necessarily because she wanted to know the answer, but because I should know the answer. What was the question you wonder?

What is my biggest fear? 

Before I answered the question I looked inside myself and somewhat quickly went through a couple of ideas… really tried to tap into what I'm afraid of, rather than giving a generic, superficial answer.

I ended up writing something along the lines of letting go of things I'm attached to, and moving on.

It's been a few weeks since the workshop, and this question still lingers in the back of my mind. I don't think I answered it entirely accurately. It is hard for me to let go of things and move on, yes… but I don't think that's my BIGGEST fear. I know there's something deeper

I'd like to investigate into it by writing about it here.

Another idea that came to me when I was wondering what to write on the paper, was the fear of death. I initially skipped past it because it seems cliché to me, and somewhat of a surface fear that could use further investigation to fully understand it. 

A friend of mine brings up the "fear of death" pretty often, and I've begun to ask myself what that means to me exactly. I've done a lot of studying on death and the process of dying; where we go when we die; who we really are; what we experience between lives, etc…  and I've experienced personal ego-death from the use of psychedelics, and more recently through the combination of yoga/reiki/meditation. I feel I have a pretty comfortable relationship with the concept of death because of all these things, and I like to think I'd be okay with my own death, when the time comes.

Still, when it comes to the idea of others dying, I resist it. Perhaps this is related to the answer I wrote on that paper—I'm afraid of letting go of Earthly things that I'm attached to.

So, I wonder…
- Why is that so?
- Why am I afraid of letting go of things?
- What am I believing and holding onto that is causing me to fear the loss.

:: I begin to get an emotional feeling in my chest—tightness—resistance::
- What is that?
My body is remembering what it feels like to lose something.

The feeling of grief is hard. I don't like feeling that way.

- Perhaps the fear is really toward the feeling of grief rather than of the loss of the thing or person?


My body talks to me in interesting ways when I do this sort of investigating… I ask questions out into the universe… to whomever or whatever is listening. I'll often get responses from physical sensations in my body—from someplace deep within. I feel a physical release when I touch onto something that rings true. The tightness I've been feeling around my heart has been loosened up, and my eyes have swelled up with tears. That usually means I've hit the nail on the head, and am looking in the right direction.

As I've learned so many times before, the things I'm afraid of are feelings
Today I've learned that I'm afraid of the feeling of loss.

Now… I wonder…
- Why do I have this fear?
- What is it about the feeling of loss that is frightening?

I close my eyes and put my left hand over my heart and breathe…
I feel into my body… I imagine roots growing down into the core of the earth to center myself. I release attachments to egoic thoughts, and listen to the universe… listen to my body for any shifts, or thoughts that seem to come from somewhere beyond (they sound and feel different from egoic thoughts… more subtle).

I hear my body respond with the word "identified".
I understand it to mean that I've identified with the thing that is going away, and I feel like a part of me is leaving with it. So, when that thing or person leaves, I lose part of myself.

- But is that belief really true?
No. Who I am is not really what I'm thinking I am when I believe that thought.
Who I am is an infinite being, connected throughout all time and space with each and every thing that is manifest and un-manifest in this universe. I cannot lose any part of myself when anything goes away.

::That's comforting to remember::

What is your biggest fear?

More love, for all of us.

No matter how much you care for someone, and wish to see them well, it's not something you can do for them. We can't step into another person's shoes, and change their lives for them. Each of us needs to walk our own path, and each path is individually unique.

When someone we care for is hurting, and upset about the state of their world, what can we do? It may be clear to us what they can do to help turn their lives around, but we can't make them do those things, and if we offer these solutions as suggestions, we run the risk of trying to fix them, and end up pushing them deeper down into their hole, because now they're being judged as broken, too.

Some people end up running in circles, doing the same things, believing their same beliefs, and expecting different results each time, only to be let down even more, again and again when things stay the same.
These people are not broken. They don't need to be fixed. They don't need solutions that we think would make their life all pretty.

They need to be loved for who they are. We all do. Just as we are, with no changes necessary.

It's only by focusing on what we want in this world that it will manifest. By seeing a person as broken and in need of solutions that will fix their lives, we only keep them stuck there. More of the same, because that is what we are focused on. It's a dualistic point of view, and keeps us in a "them and us" mentality. It keeps the other separate—on the other side of a wall.

This is so easy to do, and we are all prone to it unconsciously now and then—we box someone up into a category of being different from us in some way. This is where internal walls come from—the walls that keep us separated and divided; the walls that divide the acceptable things from the unacceptable things.

When we can accept a person, or society, or the world—as it is, and love it anyway… to really BE in-love with it… we are unified, and it's only then can things really begin to change.

That begs the question… What is love?

Love is a word that our society has thrown around, with so many different meanings to each of us. The way I define love here is as a state of being.

Love is a place—a feeling—we can get to within ourselves. When we are there, everything seems right in the world. If we close our eyes and focus our attention on our breathing and are able to quiet our minds enough to simply BE… that is love. It's the state of being where thoughts do not interrupt the peaceful state of BEing. There is no longer a "them" nor an "us". It all simply IS.

When we can release the grip our thoughts can sometimes have over our mind, and instead allow the thoughts to float through without getting stuck, then we are not trying to fix anyone… Instead, in that state of being, where we are not identified with our thoughts, we are not identified with either aspect of the "them" or the "us" and therefore, they are both perfect just as they are. No fixing is necessary. No judging is present.

To be in this state of being (in love), and imagine a person, or society, or the world in there with us, is called "holding space" for them. Our intent, through our imagination, holds a space in love for this person to enter, if they choose to. But, whether they do or not is completely independent of the one holding the space. Whether they do or don't, either way it's perfect, because to the one holding the space, the person is there, in love, with them.

Does this help the other person? 
This is a common desire—to help the other person. While it seems all well and good to bring ourselves into a state of love, it may seem selfish to do so when someone we care for is in pain, and hurting. Our thoughts may tell us that it's not right for us to feel good when they are suffering.

Think of it this way: If we come across someone inside a deep hole, who is unable to climb out on their own, is it beneficial for us to jump into their hole, or to dig another hole beside them in order to help them out? No. It's not. It makes things more complicated, and now two people are stuck instead of one. It's better for both, if we lower a rope, or a tree branch rather than climbing down into a hole. 
When there is a wall that divides us, it hurts the people on both sides of the wall. Both sides feel separated and hurt—unable to mentally understand something about the other side, and stuck in a right and wrong sort of mentality. To compare it to the previous metaphor—they are both in a hole. When either side can transcend the wall (be in love), and see both sides of the wall equally, then they won't identify with one side or the other. That person can then see the place where another person is existing with complete acceptance and love.

Holding space for someone who we previously perceived as hurting simply provides an opportunity for them to climb out of their hole if they choose—it's like lowering a rope. And, as long as we continue to hold that space, and not become attached to whether they climb out or not, then our wall stays down and the ball is in their court to choose love. Choosing love is always a choice.

Helping a Sheep with Reiki

I had a really amazing experience today that involves Reiki. I’m being guided to share it with you guys. The synchronicity in life just keep coming up for me, and this one felt truly magical.
It began with a chaotic morning…

The sheep farm where I attend a knitting group had their “Shearing Day” today. On my way there, to help myself chill out and relax about the morning, I guided myself, out-loud, through a grounding meditation, where each of my chakras was balanced and aligned with its higher purpose… I called upon my guides, Reiki guides, angels, etc and asked them to work with me and through me today to maintain the balanced chakras, and whatever else would be in my highest good… I’m quickly learning that whenever they are involved with my life it’s truly amazing what happens. I’ve been more and more likely to remember to talk to them and invite them to work with and through me on a daily basis lately.

So, I felt pretty good by the time I got to the farm—not perfect, but better. There was a table inside with a sheep’s fleece spread out all over it, and there were a few women picking out hay, etc. I wasn’t sure where help was needed, or where I should be.

Someone mentioned that a lamb was born that morning, and I should go meet the lamb, and see what the sheering process was like… so I went out to the barn. At the barn, a sheep was just being finished getting her hair cut, and the fleece needed to be brought indoors… So, I brought it inside.
Once back inside, someone urged me back out to the barn… suggesting I watch the whole process from A–Z for one sheep. Back out to the barn I went… At this point, I felt pretty useless, and really didn’t know why I was there. They seemed to have everything under control, and everyone had a purpose already. I sort of felt in the way.

Itty Bitty
Back in the barn I’m introduced to Itty Bitty—a beautiful multi-colored Finnish sheep with dark brown and black fleece around her neck, and on her head, and a lighter brown fleece on her rear. She’s beautiful, and pregnant—about to lamb any time. I helped pick hay out of her fleece as she waited in line to be shorn, and I felt my Reiki turn on to assist in calming her. She nuzzled up her face to my cheek—it was the sweetest thing.
Picking hay out of Itty Bitty's fleece while
she waits in line for shearing.
(Disclaimer: this gets graphic… )
As she was being shorn, we saw a protrusion poking out of her vagina. To me it looked like the size of a lambs head… so I asked. It wasn’t the lamb. I guess it was part of the uterus. They said this happens sometimes before birth, when the body is stressed. I don’t really know the details… It didn’t mean the lamb was coming. But, it was big, and so, so red. It concerned me, but it didn’t seem to concern the others, who were more experienced at this, so I didn’t worry.
Then… as the sheerer is just about finished, the tip of the buzzers punctured this protrusion, and blood starts pulsating out of the wound. Everyone was really centered and patient with the process that unfolded thereafter. There was a former nurse among us who suggested we put snow onto it to help slow the bleeding, someone was there to apply pressure onto a towel over the wound, and a few of us held her down so she didn’t hurt herself. There was a LOT of blood. I was really surprised how well I handled seeing that. I’d never seen so much blood. It didn’t look like the blood you see in movies—it looked more watered down… it didn’t look real. I guess the sight of blood doesn't phase me.

The vet was called and had a half-hour drive before she would arrive. So, three of us sat with Itty Bitty—holding her wound, holding her down, and my Reiki was flowing… Immediately, I knew why I had arrived at the farm that day, and at that particular time—I was there to help Itty Bitty with Reiki.

At some point, one of the farmers asked if I was giving her Reiki. When I acknowledged, the energy around everyone in the room brightened up. There were lots of smiles, and it felt like Itty Bitty relaxed into it more too. It was like the acknowledgement from the farmer helped Itty Bitty feel more comfortable and allowing of the Reiki.

While laying beside her on the floor of the barn, with my hands on her belly, my heart burst open and the moment felt so perfect.

By the time the vet arrived the protrusion had returned back into her body, so she couldn’t access the wound, but it was still bleeding. Someone suggested a tampon-like solution… by this time, the adrenalin that initially rushed through me had faded and I was shivering from the cold. I had to go inside to warm up. The vet and a few others patched her up, and by the time I left the farm, hours later, Itty Bitty was standing and eating.

Inside, we began sorting through her fleece—it had to be washed right away to remove the blood from the parts that had been stained. It was a really intense experience to sift through her fleece, pulling out hay and finding bloody areas to rinse clean… I asked what they were going to do with her fleece, and expressed an interest in it. They asked if I’d like to purchase the fleece, and my heart lept.

The other farmer said she would finish washing it and have it dried so I can bring it home with me on Tuesday (knitting group day). From then, I can hand-spin it into yarn, and there is likely enough fiber for a full sweater.

This really will be an A-Z sort of experience… I saw this sheep shorn, had a magical healing experience with this particular sheep, and will forever have a piece of that to remember it by. I still feel the Reiki flowing through me into that sheep… the bond is amazing.

Overcoming emotional hurdles, and moving on

I was just talking with some friends on in the Reiki group on Ravlery about some of the emotional blockages that I have been overcoming lately, and it’s fascinated me just how many there were, and how they all seem to be in succession—boom, boom, boom… one right after the other. The universe is like, okay, that one’s checked off the list, here’s another… over and over and over. I don't think this process is over, by any means, but I can finally see it for what it is, and appreciate it as a process—at least, I can from where I'm at in this moment.

So many emotions from my past that were buried in my subconscious have been resurfacing for me to deal with. This intense emotional healing seems to have all started with my first Level 2 Reiki attunement (in 2009), and happened subconsciously without my conscious intent to unearth them… Because, well, they’ve been buried and I didn’t consciously know about them until something brought them up.

Here's an excerpt from my Reiki Cleansing post, speaking about the first batch of emotional healing from my first Level II attunement:
However, even though I didn't feel it, Reiki was hard at work healing my emotional and mental body. Throughout the winter I experienced some deep emotional cleansing. There were a lot of things about my psyche that were exposed to me—things I was in denial about and resisted seeing as truth. I saw things I couldn't believe, but knew to be true—though I resisted them. I spiraled into the worst self-loathing depression I had ever been in, totally unable to accept these aspects about myself. I was mentally and physically destructive to myself and my friends. I was isolated from my family and basically felt all alone to deal with what I was experiencing. I often tried to use Reiki to help me, but I didn't understand what was happening. I didn't want to understand nor want the help. I just wanted everything to go away. But the only way out is through. One night, as I basked in the intense emotional uncertainty, my ego shattered itself with judgement and delusion… Then, with help through unconditional love, understanding, and logic-based thinking of my boyfriend I was able to see things more clearly and not take things so personally. Self acceptance has been a continuing effort since then…
Some of it was easier to deal with than others… and I think I stepped into Level III of Reiki before fully dealing with all of it. (Do we ever really deal with all of it though?) Perhaps it was a little before I was really consciously ready to handle it. Once I increased the energy flow with Level III, the healing got pretty intense (again), and so did my resistance to it—which slowed the healing, and increased the suffering.

Only, the things I was being shown after the Level III attunement were different from what I dealt with after my Level II attunement. With Level II, I learned a lot about my self, and could see things about my own personality and actions that I had been in denial about. I could watch with a discerning vision, how I treated others, and myself, and could then make a choice to maintain those actions or change them. The first step was accepting them, and that was really hard with some of it. 

With Level III, the things I've been shown have been about my relationships with other people—the things I've experienced that include the actions of other people and how I've been treated. The process has been the same: I've been unaware or in denial of these things, and I'm now able to see them with new eyes—able to discern them for being what they really are, and then make a choice: do I want to continue being treated this way, or do I want to choose to be treated differently?

For me, this seems like the natural next step. Like, once I've learned that I can influence my own actions through the intentions I set, it's natural for the next step to be learning that I can influence the way others treat me through the intentions that I set. And, the first step in being able to change my intentions is to see what it is I'm creating in the first place, and there was a lot of resistance to accepting what I saw, and taking responsibility for it. (see Vibrational Reality and Law of Attraction posts)

Until I was able to let go of the resistance, I lived in that limbo phase where I resisted facing that which would allow me to heal, and suffered in a sort of dis-harmonic state where nothing seemed to be quite right. As a result of that disharmony, I treated my body poorly—I was lethargic, and ate foods that don't love me back. I was eating to emotionally numb myself so I didn't have to look at the things that were trying to work their way through me to be healed.

I know Reiki only gives us what we can handle, and what we ask for, so I know and understand that this difficult healing process was the path I chose for myself and what I needed to experience in order to get where I am today. A friend recently shared with me the "Whatever prayer"
Whatever I have to see,
Whatever I have to feel,
Whatever I have to remember,
Whatever I have to go through,
If it is for my healing,
And in the highest good of all Beings, I agree to it.
What really fascinates me is that it happened—is happening! It happened because I intended it to happen (with thoughts similar to that prayer). I wouldn't say it happens this way for everyone who is attuned to Level II. It's all about the intent. I intend healing, and it happens.

When our hearts are set on powerful healing, there is nothing in the universe that can stop that healing process from happening—even our selves. We've given permission to the universe to allow it to happen. We may slow the process down and suffer through the resistance, but the desire to be healed is still within us, and that is so much stronger that it perseveres through the resistance over to the other side.

As for the relationship between these healing processes and Reiki—I can’t say for sure if one caused the other or vica versa… but they are correlated in my life. So I can’t help but say that it was Reiki that inspired the healing in me, even if the Reiki attunements were just a catalyst for me to intend on deeper healing…

As a result of the intense healing processes I've been going through, and a HUGE hurdle I overcame just last week, I'm feeling alive again. I feel like I've been asleep for the past 3 years and ignoring my life. A lot has happened, and been presented to me to process emotionally, and it's been a big struggle up until now. I can handle it now.

Something happened in my youth that resulted in a LOT of suppressed emotions. Those suppressed emotions helped subconsciously form certain beliefs and habits which have sculpted my reality over the years since it happened. It's sculpted my relationships with myself and others, as well as how I view society and family. Upon seeing the whole situation from the bigger picture, I can have compassion toward all who were involved, and I understand that it was an experience that I needed to go through to get to where I am today.

With that huge emotional hurdle out of the way, finally, I'm aware of my physical body again. There isn't a need to indulge with emotionally numbing foods to help me hide from scary hurdles any longer. So, I'm ready to treat my body as the divine vessel that it is.

Many of you didn't know me or follow this blog 3+ years ago, but I was highly focused on what I was eating, and strove to eat a high-raw, low-fat vegan diet. (see A Raw Journey post) While I ate that way, I felt the best I'd ever felt in my adult body. I had a TON of energy and looked and FELT great. I had the energy to do things that just thinking of makes me out of breath now.

I KNOW what it feels like to have that amount of life flowing through me, and I know it's possible to feel that way again. I've passed all the emotional hurdles that have been blocking my way for the last 3 years, and I'm ready to LIVE again—to FEEL alive.

Traumatizing Dreams / A Past Life?

Last night I had a bunch of traumatizing dreams. I can't ever remember feeling so emotionally attached to what I was experiencing in dreams… like, I could physically feel the emotions so strongly in my physical body, and they've all lingered with me throughout the day today.

The dream I remember the most vividly was the one as I was waking… the last one.

I was a mother with a 2 to 3 year old girl. We were Latino, and lived as part of a large family on the ocean, on a tall cliff.

Many of the family members were people who are part of my real-life extended family. My real-life cousin was my in-dream husband, and he was hindering my escape with our daughter. I have no idea why I wanted to kidnap her or where we would go…

Other real-life cousins were all there helping my husband hinder the escape.

Eventually I got the crazy idea of jumping off the cliff, with my daughter, into the ocean. My husband jumped in after us. I feel like my daughter wanted to go with me, she clung to me and was afraid of her father.

I have no idea why I did this, but I kept making it appear to my husband as though I was drowning the girl… but she was playing along. I'd let her up for air, then pretend to drown her again. I have no idea what the logic was there…

There are details missing… probably because of how traumatic what happened next felt… I'm not sure how I got there, but I was hanging onto a ledge, maybe the edge of a small cave, on the edge of the cliff. The girl was gone—I don't know where. And as I clung on, one of my cousins shooting at me with a shot gun. I'm not sure if any of the bullets ever hit me… I didn't feel them if they did. I don't think they did.

I clung onto the cliff because I had no idea what else to do. The girl was gone. I imagine he shot her. I believe her to be dead.

I was in a sort of shock—in the dream and in reality. My daughter had been killed and I couldn't let myself ever go back into that house… but there was no where else for me to go. All I had was that cliff ledge, so there I hung. Paralyzed.

I remember my real-life sister… possibly also my sister in the dream—she somehow came to me on the ledge/cave edge… perhaps there was a walkway there from the house? I don't know… she tried to assist me back into the house, but I pushed her away. I didn't want to move… moving made me feel my body, and there was so much pain and hurt—emotionally—whenever I moved my body. I think I stayed there for days. Completely paralyzed.

Now that I write this, I believe my husband & cousins wanted my daughter dead for some reason and I was running away with her to save her life. I even pretended to kill her in the water so they would think she was dead, and then not kill her… Apparently that didn't work.

Even as I write this, my heart chakra feels so clenched, and I'm sobbing… I've never felt so much emotion from anything I've dreamed.

The only thing I can relate this to is how I felt during my past life regression. I feel like this must be a glimpse into a past life, but I have no idea why this is being shown to me now, or what I'm supposed to understand from it… There's so much emotion, and I have so many "why" questions—like, why did they want her dead?

Oh… There's another dream segment that happened after this one that I'm just now remembering… My mom (she's in spirit now) called and was chatting with me about what had happened. My real mom talking to the real me, in dream-land. She was worried about me, and concerned about what had just happened—referring to the scene with me and the girl at the cliff. But, I couldn't talk to her about it. I could never talk to my mom about the serious stuff, or express any sort of emotion in front of her. She worried so much. I couldn't ever have her worrying about me. She would stress herself out over the smallest of things… so I never told her anything that I felt would stress her out. She never knew a lot about my life because of that.

That made me upset again… I could feel it in my heart… that I couldn't talk to my mom…

I woke still feeling as traumatized as I was when hanging on the cliff… and as if I had just had the conversation with my mom about it… like it all had really all just happened to me. I was numb and could barely function enough to get myself out of bed. I just sat there, stunned. I've been able to suppress the emotion all day, enough to get through the day, but now it's just so strong… I can't ignore it anymore.

Yesterday I attended a yoga class and set the intention, asking my guides and the angels to help clear any blockages. And here we are. I'm sure that's what this is all about.

It came on a little intense, and I'm a bit stumped about what to make of it all. I'm guessing that I can talk to my mom now that she's in spirit, and I don't need to worry about her worrying too much about me anymore…

Anyway, thanks for reading all the way through that. It was therapeutic to write it all out… and if any of you have suggestions or insights, or any intuitive ideas to share, please feel free. I welcome them.
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