Circle of Healing

A circle is a symbol of wholeness. It doesn’t really have a beginning or an end, but is an entity unto itself. I believe that this is one of the primary reasons that groups who come together for healing of any type (physical, emotional, spiritual) are often called “healing circles.” 

Many years ago, I was aching for something but I didn’t know what. I got a nudge to search the phrase, “healing circle.” I had never heard of this before, but that kind of nudge thing often happens to me, and I try to listen when it does. So, I pulled up my Internet search friend, Google, and that was how I got started on the road to learn drumming and shamanic practice.

What is a healing circle?

A healing circle is a group of people who come together regularly for the express intent of healing. It might be to help each other heal, or it might be to send healing thoughts, prayers, or energy to select recipients. It operates off the concept that when we gather together for a single intent, the effect is amplified more than it would be if the same people did the same thing on their own. The intention of linking together causes the multiplier effect.

This is not a religious thing, but many faiths include the concept. The Bible may have a direction of “Where two or more are gathered in My name [….]” (Matthew 18:20), but Native American peoples have gathered for millenia in circles of healing. The concept is not unknown in Muslim and Hindi faiths as well. The circle as healer is one of the archetypes found in Jungian psychology (see his work on Mandelas). 

Is there a circle near me?

Circles of varying types are everywhere. Places of worship often organize prayer circles. If you have many energy workers in your area, you will likely be able to find Reiki circle meetups. Shamanic practitioners often have drum circles. Whatever your modality, the opportunities are probably there, sitting just out of sight. I suggest you do a search on the name of the place you live and the phrase, “healing circle.” You may be surprised by what you see!

If you don’t have anything nearby, or you are not open to physical meetups, don’t forget to check the virtual realm. At the very least, there is the World Peace Meditation series organized by Reiki.org. You don’t even have to tell them you plan on joining in. Just do it!

The circles where I have participated are a little more structured. There is a commitment to attend and participate. This is because we lean on each other, share with each other, hold space for each other. Over time, we become our own tribe family. I love that.

If this interests you, find or make a circle in your area. Let the healing begin!

Namaste!

My Braided Life

Triquetra

In this past year, I have been graced with a lot of insight into how my life works and how I can live a happier existence with a feeling of wholeness and joy surrounding my days. I have been so introverted during this process that I lost all desire to write anywhere but my journal and on a project I felt called to explore. A friend gently suggested that I put out here some of the insights I have gained … that they might be of interest to someone else and that she, for one, would like to read them.

So, here is my first exploration in this direction:

Rituals are like a checklist, ensuring all of me is being nourished.

I wake up in the morning at about 5 AM. I roll out of bed and find my way to my meditation space. 25 minutes later, I feel more awake, centered, and ready to journal for a quick 5 – 10 minutes. The dog and I then scoot out the door for a walk around the block where I make a point of connecting to my favorite trees in the neighborhood, often with me placing my hands on their bark and listening. As we make our rounds, I practice being aware of the energy grounding me to the earth and remaining mindful of each step as I walk it. I try to pay attention to where my awareness resides in my body, and I make sure to spend some time with my awareness settled in my nurturing 2d chakra space.

These morning rituals embody my perception of the three major strands within the braid of my life. In every life, the braid is present. One strand is the physical me, another is the mental me, and a third the spiritual me. One of the things I have learned over the course of this past year is that it is vitally important to “feed” each strand of the braid so that none is starved or engorged. If we want the braid of our life to be healthy, each strand has to receive our attention on a regular basis.

For myself, I appreciate the physical strand by getting outside and walking each day. I try to eat healthy foods and to be mindful as I eat. My spiritual strand is fed by my meditation practice and by my mindfulness exercises, as well as my tree connections. My mental self benefits from the journaling, the discipline that I impose on myself, and the work I do each day. Note that in each case, there are things I take in (such as food) and things I give or expend (such as exercise). I have come to understand that this give and take is very important. It is like breathing in and out, giving and taking, each with its own cycle. If you take in, you must find a way to release. Balance requires it.

There is more, of course. I try to include creative activities. I try to read each day, even if it is just for a few minutes. I am using an app on my phone to teach myself German. Everything we do embodies at least one strand of this braid. The key is to be aware of which pieces of ourselves we are exercising when we participate in a given activity. If we only do the intellectual, we are  feeding it to the detriment of our physical and spiritual selves, and we will eventually pay a price for that neglect. The same holds true if we feed the spiritual, but do not exercise or eat well … or if we take care of our bodies, but never exercise our minds or make time to listen for the voice of the Divine.

Sometimes, I envision more strands. Most of the time, it is just the three. It is the Celtic triquetra – the three-sided knot – that symbolizes so many trinities in our lives. I use it to remind me of the balance of mind-body-spirit.

Change your thoughts, change the world

Somehow, whether it be by genetics, environment, or a combination of the two, we all developed this idea that there is not enough to go around. If I want to make sure that I will have enough for next week or next year, I have to hoard everything I can get my hands on to ensure my survival. This is considered poverty or paucity thinking. We think and react as though we are on the very brink of destitution. Our very lives depend on our ability to hoard and protect the hoard we have collected.

The irony, of course, is that the more people hoard, the more it appears true that there is not enough. We can see that there is not enough. There are people starving (while food is rotting in refrigerators and warehouses around the world). There are people with no homes (while the foreclosed homes outnumber the homeless in the USA). There are people who have no money to even buy a bagel or cup of coffee (while billions of dollars, euros, rubles and pounds sit in banks doing nothing but collecting interest).

How we got to this point is a good question, but I think it would easily lead to recriminations and would trigger the self-defense mechanisms we have all honed to a fine skill. The potentially world-changing question is what shall we do, now that we are here? We have the technology, the intelligence and the networking ability to correct almost every basic problem (food, clothing, shelter) on the planet. What we lack is the will to do what needs doing to correct the imbalance.

Perhaps the most challenging of all is to deal with the fact that those who have more than they need must share with those who have nothing. That goes against the survival instincts of the “lizard brain” we each possess. Just the thought of giving away these keys to survival causes the grip to tighten. As long as we truly believe this is a dog-eat-dog world, our belief will influence how we react to the needs of others, and therefore we make it true.

It doesn’t have to be that way, of course. Have you ever participated in, or even just seen, a trust exercise called “lap sitting?” I have seen it at acting classes and at leadership seminars, and I have been fortunate enough to participate in it more than once.. It is the most amazing thing. Everyone stands a foot or so apart  in a circle, facing in the same direction. On cue, everyone carefully sits down. With no chair in sight, we are all able to comfortably sit on the knees of the person behind us. All it would take would be for one person to distrust the process and everyone would fall. Yet, it works.

Clarkson University students attempt to set a lap sitting record. Image from the Watertown Daily Times, Feb 5, 2010.

Take this mentality and imagine applying it to almost anything. If we would each be willing to be the lap for the person in front of us, we could all sit comfortably. It is more than just possible. We could all eat. We could all have clothing and shelter. Survival doesn’t have to be optional.

We would have to change how we think about ownership and community and social responsibility. Each one of us would have to be willing to integrate this change into our lives. This would reverberate through our culture and alter our economic paradigm, and change how we handle various situations. I honestly believe it would allow people to begin to heal the trust issues we all have with each other. We would learn to be there for each other. “Ubuntu: I am because we are.” This healing would ripple across the world. I am not suggesting this would create an utopia, as we humans would certainly find the next thing that needs our attention. We always do – it is part of our effort to strive to thrive. Even so, this would be a building block for a different world. You see, I believe that we are creating tomorrow with every action, thought and conviction we allow into our lives today. I also believe in the quote by Lao Tzu, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” If we don’t take that step, the journey has yet to begin.

Think on it … and let me know what your thoughts are. Can you imagine what we can do now to help make this happen? Or do you think I am crazy and this isn’t the way to go? If so, why? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

The Power of We

I think a solid argument could be made that 2012 is the year of the ‘Power of We.’ All around the world, we have seen average citizens banding together to effect change. We see it all around us: politically, economically, environmentally, and more! We keep seeing anomalous stories of dogs adopting pigs, elephants befriending dogs, and many more. Something seems to be happening, and we are both spectator and participant.

As a shamanic practitioner, I have been privileged to witness the inter-connectedness of life on many levels. As someone who walks the dreamwinds, I know in the core of my soul that there are layers of reality beyond what our three dimensional selves can see and recognize. Is this the Unity Consciousness we hear so much about? I think it is one of the first steps.

I believe that the Power of We culminates in Unity Consciousness. This connectedness that we are finally recognizing as an amazingly powerful dynamic is only the start of the process. We are just waking up and like an individual that needs their morning ritual to be fully awake, we have to go through the stages of the process to get our Unity eyes fully opened.

What will the stages be? That is something I don’t pretend to know. I do believe that individuals have been awakening for years. They have been trying to help us, but there are none so blind as those who will not see. We each have to come to it in our own time and in our own way, otherwise our minds shy away from it and refuse to recognize it for what it is. As more and more people awaken, groups of people begin to recognize the threads that connect them are strong enough to change the world.

At some point, we started to ask ourselves what we wanted this world to be? We stopped accepting that the status quo has to stay because it has always been. We begin to recognize that light is both particle and wave, depending on our intent. Accepting that as true, then we hypothesize that can control the outcome by controlling our intention. I think this is where things are at now. We see that we have power, and that we can remake the world in the form of our dreams … only we have to decide what we really want, as a group.

I am not sure what the next step will be, but I do believe there will be a next step. The people attempting to define the dream are out there and working hard. That Facebook page I set up, STEP, is a collection point for stories about the dreamers impacting economic change. I had a friend email me recently with a very detailed explanation of how he thinks the business corporate environment might be recreated to empower the individual and get rid of all or most of the hierarchical mess people currently have to navigate. He is one of the waymakers.

The world is changing and the “power of we” is the springboard that will catapult us to a new earth. I am so excited to be alive now and witness to this amazing worldwide event. I am glad to be part of the “we” that is bringing about change, and to have come to know and work with so many more!

Spirit O2

When you fly in a plane, they always give the pre-flight spiel … you know the one: how to buckle your seat belt, a request to please turn off and stow away electronic devices and the all-important explanation of how to proceed should the pressure drop in the cabin and the oxygen masks descend. They always remind you to take care of your own oxygen mask first, before helping anyone else. I was thinking this morning about how that is good advice in so many other areas of life as well!

Specifically, as we each work at our own enlightenment / ascension process, we learn things that give such an “aha!” moment, we want to shout it from the rooftops. We want to share it with all those we love, and maybe even some of the people that annoy us. Either way, we really want to blast this aha moment out to the world. In short, we want to change the world by putting their oxygen mask on. This is a wonderful feeling, and isn’t that a wonderful life’s purpose? To help raise the vibration of everyone on the planet?

If we haven’t taken the time to absorb and integrate the insight into the way we live our lives, we are living out the metaphor of the person trying to give oxygen before we get our own in place. How do you know if you have put on your metaphorical oxygen mask? It is pretty simple, really. Ask yourself if you are living out what you have learned? Have you put in enough time and space to know that this isn’t a flash-in-the-pan, that you don’t have to dig for a deeper truth?

If you can’t answer affirmatively to those kinds of questions, give it some time and allow the insight to change how you see and act in the world. Once you have integrated the insight, you will likely still feel drawn to share what you have learned, and you should! As a community, we learn from each other and we need your light, so don’t forget to share and shine.

Ch-ch-changes!

 

My daughter meditating at Dun Aengus, Ireland

This past week has seen the beginning – and end – of so many things in my life. I stopped being employed by someone else the Friday before last. I will miss working with the people that have become my friends over the past 3 1/2 years. However, because we have become friends, I have every confidence that the large majority of us will manage to stay in touch thanks to email, social media and (hopefully!) regular get-togethers!

It was an interesting ending filled to the brim with both a great deal of affection and a peacefulness of spirit. I am hopeful that, by letting this go, I am making room for lots of new and wonderful adventures I hope to find coming my way. What kinds of things might those be, you may ask?

I have had a dream for a while of bringing my gifts to the world in the form of my own business. My whole life, I have thought of myself as a teacher, a poet, and a writer. In the last few years, I have gained so much insight into being a more integrated, whole person, and I am convinced that my ability to “walk in two worlds” in just about every aspect of my life is something I can use to advantage. I have decided to bring together the world of meditation and mindfulness and the world of business, to see what happens. I am excited to know that I am far from alone in this dream!

Google actually has mindfulness training for its staff, believe it or not! They see the return on investment for incorporating this into their business practices. Meditation in all its forms is escaping the world of spirit and finding a place in the workaday world. The benefits are huge and not just for CEO’s and upper management. Stress is repeatedly touted as one of the primary reasons people get sick and miss work, and some studies suggest that 75 – 90% of all doctor’s visits are directly linked to complaints and conditions related to stress. Meditation and mindfulness practices include tons of simple techniques anyone can learn to be able to handle stress better. The dynamic is really clear, too: Less stress = Better health. The best part is that you can reap the benefits no matter your faith, no matter your personal belief system and even regardless of whether you believe it will do anything for you or not!

This is so exciting! I am taking my years of experience training people on everything from software usage to shamanic practice and combining it with my business skills in a way that will benefit all of us. Imagine a job where teams meditate together to solve problems, or where mindfulness practice increases both productivity and job satisfaction. I see it coming to be … I really do.

So, I am very excited to be putting together a series of classes designed to bring meditation and mindfulness training into the work world. I believe this can be life changing for people and a profitable strategy for businesses. The icing on the cake is that this gives me an opportunity to change the world, one breath at a time! 🙂

More details coming soon … including how you might be able to win a free class for you and up to 10 of your coworkers! Don’t worry, though. This blog is not going to become focused on my new business (I am putting together a website and a facebook page for that!). Although I am sure meditation topics will come up now and again, the purpose of this page has always been to celebrate spirit through a connection to rocks and trees, along with other facets of nature. I was just so excited about this new adventure that I simply had to post about it here!

I will let you all know when the new site is up and running and I do hope that many of you will join me there as well. In the meantime, I am curious if any of you work for places that already offer this kind of training? If so, what do you see as the best benefits it has brought you?

Integration

Originally written as a handout for a course in shamanism:

As each of us learns and grows along the shamanic path, we come to have a perspective on the significance of the different components of the path, based upon the experiences we have had. When I contemplate the topic of integration, I realize immediately that it is a deeply personal process.  As I think about what it has come to mean to me, one word comes immediately to mind: Change.

Change is the one constant in life. Every time something changes, whether it is a birth or a death, a new job or winning the lottery, a professional healing session or a personal journey, you have to determine how best to incorporate the changes as you move forward.  In effect, you must integrate the new life events into how you live and process information.  Integration, by definition, is a process for change.  If you think you are integrating an experience, but nothing in your thought processes or your life has changed, then I would challenge you to rethink how well you are integrating what you have learned.  I strongly believe that it is impossible to integrate anything successfully, and have everything in your life stay the same.

As I thought about what I wanted to share with you about integration, the challenge became immediately apparent: Every person and every journey is unique. There are no hard and fast rules of how to integrate what we bring back from our journeys. So, what I have decided to do is to share my perspective on integration. I hope that there are seeds within these words that you can use to find ways to approach your own integration work.

When I journey and bring back soul pieces or information, integration is a way for me to honor both the connection to spirit and the knowledge that has been brought back. I am able to think and live from a new place, when I add the knowledge gained into my life. Like peering through a window that was dirty but has been cleaned, the world looks different when I allow integration to change my point of view. This new perspective may well heal me, or give added insight to events in my life, but it is also a bonding between me and the spirits.

Sometimes the changes in my world are small and cumulative, while other times they can be truly and dramatically life changing. No matter the scope, I use the following general techniques to help with the integration process:

  • I document what I have been given and where it leads
    •  Whether it is at the time of the journey or as soon as I can afterward, I write out my journey, or my impressions of what I have been told when someone journeyed for me. I may put down some first impressions about the implications of what I have been given. If this was in a circle, I may also include what insights others may have shared. As I move forward with integrating the change in my life, I also journal the process.  

 

  • I try to remain open to nudges from spirit
    • Whether it is my daily meditation practice or a habit I am trying to develop of listening within, I try to remain aware of synchronicities, or their opposites – a desire to do something outside my normal routine. I am not a very habit-based person, so this means trying to remain very aware of my own motivations. If I am thinking about a recent journey when my rune bag catches my eye, it may well be time to sit down and cast the stones to deepen my understanding of the journey.

 

  • Integration means change
    • Thinking about the journey information and drawing a mindmap, journaling, tarot or runes are all well and good, but they are simply the prep-work for incorporating some type of change into my life. An insight may change how I process information. I may get a suggestion to change a habit I have had for years. I may be healed of a past trauma, changing how I see the world. No matter the details, integrating the information isn’t complete until I start living it out.

I would also mention that I have found it is an easy trap to continually go to the same comfortable techniques when working on integration. Although there is nothing wrong with frequently turning to the tarot, for example, I have found that it is often when stepping outside my comfort zone that I get the most powerful insights. Since I journal the whole process, it is possible for me to look back and note patterns that can make me question if I am creating a habit rather than listening to the nudges within.

Integration work is some of the most important soul-work we can do, so find the ways that work for you and make them a part of your spiritual practice. Your life will change. Your spiritual connections will strengthen, and you will grow as a person.