The Ever-Present Guide that is You

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

There was one workshop at the fair  I attended last weekend that I found to be truly genuine. The speaker wasn’t trying to sell us anything other than the belief in ourselves. He was an unassuming man. A geriatric physician dressed in understated clothes. He had no props, not even a poster. It was just a man beyond middle-age, standing before us talking about death. And life. Mostly life. Life that goes on despite death. That inner Life that is ever-present but not often heeded amid the cacophony of every day “life.”

He had pretty much seen it all. As a caregiver of the elderly, this sixty-five-or-so-year-old physician had born witness to many a death, but also the transition stages before the body dies, and to people who had “died” and come back to life. Despite his work experiences, the doctor was not there to convince us about any specific type of afterlife, instead he was there to demonstrate that we all have an essence within that is never lost.

An essence that comes from the place of a wisdom and greater knowing that many of us choose to forget to access. As a proponent of meditation, the physician did nothing more than demonstrate the inner wealth that can flow from a mind stilled into the place of greater knowing. There is no cost, but much to gain.

It was a breath of fresh air.

Thousands of individuals had flocked to that fair over the course of its two days, and my guess is that most were seeking some sort of outer validation, a special elixir to fix what ails them, or a message from outside of them that they could, if they chose to, find the answer from within.

The night before the fair, I had a dream. I was in a room with a healer who told me three things. First she told me that my body needed more calcium and magnesium, and then she demonstrated how I could energetically heal my thyroid. When I told my husband the next morning that I needed more of these two minerals in my diet and why, he laughed. “At least you’re listening to someone.” You see he knows how stubborn I can be, and he also knows how wise the body is. The wisdom we seek is always within, we just need to learn how to listen to it.

The answers I seek or need often come to me in my dreams. My higher self, or inner wisdom, which took the form of the “healer” in my dream, knows how to reach me. Yours does too, or at lest it’s trying its best to. As the physician at the workshop demonstrated to us, that wisdom is always there, but the mind needs to tune into it. It needs to quiet the outer chatter and find the frequency of the truth that is you. Amazing things can happen when you listen to it. Miracles unfold. Life becomes not only meaningful, but magical. It all just starts to make sense.

I’ll confess, I don’t always tune in. Every day. Mediation is not a habit for me. I have dreamtime, but in the waking hours I’ve learned to listen to. When I go for walks, nature speaks to me with birds and animals. Even plants carry messages. So do our computers, TVs, phones, and radios, which can be tuned into the frequency of our inner wisdom. Have you ever turned on one of them and found the answer you were seeking in a song or image? Or maybe it was a word spoken just at the right time.

Although there are oh so many benefits to engaging in a daily meditation practice, where the body and mind are sitting in silence, open to receive, life itself can be a mediation. Each breath, when breathed with awareness becomes open to receive. Each moment, a lesson to learn and engage in the classroom that is life. Your life. Not your neighbor’s, yours. That inner voice is speaking to you, always, trying to get you to tune into it and listen. It is beautiful and wondrous because it is always in the frequency of truth.

I dream again of flying, this time to free joy #Dreams

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

On the night of Halloween, I went to sleep, once again, to fly. The dream began in a fairytale landscape inside a forest of haunting beauty. Light glowed golden upon trees dancing with vines as my footsteps led me further into the heart of the wood. There was no fear, only wonder inside of me until I reached my destination. An old victorian house turned into an inn stood in the middle of the fairy woods. I went inside and felt the golden light of the forest disappear with the closing of the door.

“Come with me,” the inner keeper urged, “I will show you to your room.” I followed with reluctance. Each room, when I peered inside, looked old and drab. The bedroom I was offered was not only filled with old things, but it was in need of a good washing. I turned down the bedclothes to show the inn keeper how dirty they were. “I cannot stay here,” I said.

So we moved on. Each room we entered was little better than the one before. “Could you stay here?” he asked of a room that was neat and tidy, but still filled with old things. “I suppose it would do,” I offered in concession.

When he left, the room still felt occupied. I noticed a man and a woman in the corner. Ghosts of the past? I could not say for sure. Except I knew they had to go. And the room, well, I was not going to allow it to contain me. Left alone, I began to fly, clearing the darkness into light with great gulps of air expelled from my lungs and out of my mouth.

And as I flew and expelled the darkness, the house began to expand and grow into an endless maze of rooms. Skipping the lower levels, I zipped up the stairway until I reached the top floor. Here I found a scene of exquisite beauty painted in a mural upon a ceiling the color of a cloudless sky. I flew with joy, following the arch of the sky-like ceiling through an ever-expanding house.

On and on I flew, until I realized they were coming for me. Fear began to creep its darkness over joy. I could hear them approaching. Their angry words filtered up the stairway ever closer in their need to capture the woman who flew when she should be walking. I had no choice but to go down. And so down I went, floor by floor.  But as I flew each level through endless rooms, I exorcised the darkness with my breath.

As my feet touched the ground floor, I realized gravity once again. Although I had evaded capture, surrounding me were the familiar markings of the mundane. All was brown and drab. Ordinary and old. My eyes searched until they found my feet upon the floor and I smiled. “Ha,” I laughed in realization. “Even here I can fly.” And so I lifted my feet and flew, once again, into joy.

Hour later, I walked into my friend Deb’s house and sat at her kitchen island with our friends, Sophia, Adrianne, and Jane. Dressed as a dragon in a purple and green onesie borrowed from my daughter, with silver fairies dangling from my ears, I was filled with a childlike giddiness. “What’s going on, Alethea?” Deb kept turning to look at me with a smile. “Why are you so happy?”

“I don’t know,” I returned her smile. “Maybe it has to do with my dream last night.”

Sometimes we heal in the day time, sometimes we heal at night. Thousands of years ago, we built temples for dreaming and inside we slept to heal our bodies, give clarity to our minds, and find a deeper understanding of the truths of our beings.

For as long as time has been recorded, poets, sages, and inventors have dreamt masterpieces while their bodies slumbered. I wonder how many people really believe that dreams are simply random, nonsensical ramblings of a mind left to wander with abandon?

Even as a young child I was fascinated with dreams. For awhile, I kept a dream journal. Sometimes I would dream an event before it would happen, and wonder how that could possibly be. There is so much more going on while we sleep than many of us realize. Although I cannot say with certainty what every dream means, nor can I recall them all in vivid detail. But, I am certain we dream with purpose. In the landscape of night we live out our fears and our joys, and sometimes we transform through them.

A month ago I felt as though I might be consumed by a fear I could not wholly define. It felt old and deeply rooted, its origins extending beyond this lifetime. The dreams of this past week have felt healing and transformative. There now exists inside of me a core of strength in the place that held that irrational fear. A sense that despite the demons that might howl around me, I will be okay.

 

 

Simple Mindfulness Techniques for Kids in the Classroom or at Home: Part 1: The Bubble of Joy #mindfulness

This post will be part 1 in a series designed to help cultivate mindfulness practices in the classroom and at home. It’s based on techniques I use in my mindfulness workshops and yoga classes for kids. We’ll begin with the “Bubble of Joy.”

The Bubble of Joy

Ideally mindfulness is a way life, and cultivating it as a daily practice becomes easier to do if you start and end your day with a mindful activity with your child or children. I begin almost all of my yoga classes for kids with an exercise that I call the “Bubble of Joy.” The Bubble of Joy uses the technique of pranayama (breathing), combined with visualization to generate a sense of calm and strength. It is also a form of empathic shielding, which is especially important for children who tend to unconsciously exchange and absorb energy from their surroundings. It is beneficial to children and adults alike, and is a great way to share a mindful exercise to begin your days together. If you are in a classroom setting, you can either have your children sit in a chair or on the floor in a circle.

Steps to Creating a Bubble of Joy

  • Sit in a comfortable seated position. For children, I ask them to do “criss-cross applesauce” legs.
  • Close your eyes and rest your hands on your lap, one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart, or use Namaste hands in prayer position at your heart center.
  • Visualize in front of you a beautiful rainbow. Spend some time seeing in your mind’s eye all of its beautiful colors.
  • Keeping your eyes closed, take a deep inhale from your belly all the way up to your heart and breath in all the colors of the rainbow.
  • Imagine those colors filling your heart and your whole body with joy.
  • Exhale as you bring your arms up and around you and imagine the rainbow now wrapping you in a Rainbow Bubble of Joy.
  • Repeat two more times. Inhale the hands down to the heart, bringing inside the colors of the rainbow. Exhale arms up and around to wrap the rainbow bubble of joy around you.
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Simple Steps for Creating a Rainbow Bubble of Joy

Through this simple exercise, you and your child have created a beautiful shielding energy inside and around you that will help ward off negative feelings and instill a sense of joy and wellbeing. It can be repeated throughout the day, and is also a good practice to use before falling to sleep. The arm movements can be omitted, especially for a bedtime practice.

 

 

Finding Home in the Body #Yoga #PastLives #Healing

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I am finding my way home through the body. Again, perhaps, but the path always changes as we circle into untouched avenues of the labyrinth of self. There has been the lingering question of home as a physical landscape calling me back. I have labeled it Albion, or what once was Albion, but I have been lying to myself. It is not a mere physical place that draws the deep longing out of me, it is the pure, boundless joy of being.

It is true I find home in the stones that hold the memories of long ago. They speak to me of a time when the stars touched Earth without dimension. I have called it magic, because that is what it feels like inside of cells that have learned to forget. Yet, it is simply the true state of the boundless self that knows that the one self is home only when there is no self defined by matter, space, or time.

We can live attached to concepts of structure as we walk a linear path to a false destination that can never be reached, and I have found this path to be lonely. I have struggled to free the desire to gather the lives around me into my arms and dance us all awake before Earth destroys us in her need to heal the wounds we have inflicted upon her.

The ancient stones remember what we have forgotten and that is why they draw me home to where the hearth fire inside is kindled in a landscape that does not judge or reject. There is only the embrace, welcoming the return.

It is not enough to return, temporarily, to sites that hold the memories of truth. These places are not outside my physical doorstep where I find myself tethered to a life that feels artificial in more ways than I can count. There are thousands of footsteps between me and the stones that call me home. I go to them to return, then turn back again to this physical place I must call home as I search to define it in a language long lost to our tongues. Too often I feel the structure of  nailed together wood painted on the outside to keep the self contained behind walls as though the boundless needs protection.

At night I find the freedom I seek in the daylight, flying through the glass that looks inward and outward. I soar easily to the ceiling and will myself back to the knowing that this too is false until the molecules of division give way and rejoin in the opening. Why, I ask, am I allowed to fly boundless only in the dimension of dreams? Why do a live in a time that has chosen to forget?

Days stretch false minutes and I find myself speaking the rote words of the mundane least others think me insane. Sometimes, I ask out loud, “When will this nightmare end?” Because, I must admit, there are days that feel like nightmares. The computer screen pulls me into the vacuum of humanity’s created chaos and I become entrenched in the darkness until I pull myself back to present surrounding me. The living, breathing pulse of the now where chaos becomes a complicated dance of cause and effect; of shadow and light; of the endless cycle of life. Each moment passing into the next, asking only to be let go.

Yet, sometimes we must circle backwards to go forwards. I have found myself once again traveling through lives passed to feel the chain around the black man’s neck before it can release the body’s constricted voice. My womb aches with the rape of the priestess, and so many more that I am surprised that it bore life. I breathe in love to release constriction as I look at the fence of bodies stretching back further than the eyes can see. How long will it take, I wonder, to free them all? Until I remember this pain that becomes a memory for cells constantly renewing themselves need not find a home in my body that wants to remember only joy.

Outside the structured walls of my physical home, I am drawn each day to the weeds beneath the blooms. Digging these hands of mine into the body of Earth to release the tangles of life that suffocate growth. I am not immune to the knowing that life must be taken to feed new life. It is equally cruel and beautiful. This surrender of death to birth.

I find a harmony in the cycle I help to create. Sometimes active participation is required to free the ties that bind, and so I move this body I also call home. I listen to its urgings, feel the lick of its flames as they rise through the belly. Summer allows the shedding of shoes, and I walk barefoot on the body of Earth to feel her heartbeat and the knowing that I am her child too. My cells are made from her elements. Pieces broken to be reformed. I cannot neglect this vital part of me.

Chaos lures the mind to disorder and the body to dance free. Yoga has become a necessity for balance. If a day passes without the body stretching the mind free as it heeds the call of release, I feel the fires inside smolder for lack of air. It is not easy for light to creep through dense layers. Cracks must open. Air must be let in. Prana follows the breath into the labyrinth as the body becomes the dragon raising its wings.  And that is when the soul soars home to itself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gifts of the Stones #Wayland’sSmithy

It was yet another place I didn’t want to leave. Whereas I had felt the exhilaration of life at Castle Hill, the more I immersed myself into the energy of Wayland’s Smithy, the more I felt at peace. As the sun wove its golden light through the guardian trees, I walked over the long barrow and around it. Time slipped away and the veil thinned. The air was gently electrified, and I could feel the elemental kingdom and all the guardians of this sacred site watching, but also welcoming us. Below my feet, amid the last year’s fallen leaves, white feathers appeared on the path.

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More white feathers. Gifts of spirit. If you look closely you may see faces in the leaves.

I was, without a doubt, walking holy ground in a landscape of the dead that was very much alive, revered and protected by forces more felt than seen.

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The flowers beneath the guardian trees

“Look at the trees,” Larissa remarked. “Each one has a patch of white flowers.” Not planted, but growing as though in nature’s reverence. It felt like magic, in the purest sense. Each piece a deliberate part of the whole. And, as I walked, I could hear the whisper of the ancient stones.

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Each stone has a personality filled with the history of its purpose. Even the smaller stones show the faces of the past.

Pairs appeared in stasis, like long married couples set in their ways, yet determined to protect the love they hold.

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This pair of guardian stones look as though they are reaching for a kiss as Sue peers from the beyond.

It’s quite something to think of the work and care that went into the construction of this long barrow. A tomb to house the dead whose bodies were prepared with care that rivals that bestowed upon the pharaohs of Egypt. A tomb supported with carefully selected and placed stones. Huge sarsens, like that of Long Meg, mark the entrance to the inner chamber of the long barrow. All this work, including the massive stones, once covered entirely in earth. A house built for the dead, 196 feet in length and 50 feet at its widest point.

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Standing at the end of the long barrow, you get a sense of the immensity of its size and the undertaking it took to build it.

“You need to leave a piece of silver for Wayland,” Sue revealed as we gathered before the entrance. “To shod your horse.” I didn’t question her words. I had silver in my pocket and I crawled inside the chamber to find a place for it.

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Ani stands guard over the entrance to the chamber

“Can you find Wayland, the spirit stone, the totem stone?” Sue continued as we peered at the massive rocks before us. The faces on their surfaces morphing and changing with each angle. All for the dead…

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Ani runs before the sarsens

Then Sue began to tell us the story of a visitor before us who had asked a question of one of the sarsens. Within moments his answer had appeared in physical form and still holds true to this day. While she spoke, I watched a bee circle around me. A February bee, but I had already seen two butterflies during my visit to England, so perhaps it was not too unusual…It made me think of the buzzing I had heard, low, but constant, as we were walking the path from the car to Wayland’s.

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My chosen stone, guarded by a great bear

I chose my stone, as the bee continued to circle my neck, and pressed my forehead upon its surface. I didn’t have a question. Instead, I wanted only to receive whatever might be revealed to me.

The mound appeared before me in the full splendor of summer. Upon its green back, a white horse emerged, strong and sure. It stopped in wait as a figure cloaked in white descended and began to walk toward me. The landscape opened to beyond the barrow, to where people long passed gathered inside a great womb. I saw the path weaving in union between the land of land of the living and the land of the death. It became a processional of people coming towards the barrow. In the middle of the trail I saw a small circle of stones.

The visitors gathered around the mound of Earth, upon which the white horse stood with the figure cloaked in white. I could not see her face, but I knew her energy to be both feminine and strong.

The vision turned inward, and I felt as though I had entered an inner chamber. A shadowed form of a great bear appeared beside me, then morphed into a great serpent whose head rose behind mine. In front of me, a hawk of the sun passed before my vision, circling until all disappeared and I felt my body again. Each cell buzzing with renewed life, as though in those few moments of connection I had been washed with light.

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The capstone of the chamber resembles a serpent.

It was soon time to leave, but before we left we placed more offerings for the spirits of the stones. It has been a true gift of a day. Full and complete in and of itself, even though it was just an hour passed noon.

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It’s hard to deny the magic of Wayland’s Smithy

As we collected ourselves back into the car, even Ani appeared withdrawn into her own thoughts, refusing the small bits of sandwich we offered her. Each one of us quietly processing our return in our own way as we paused before our descent back into town.

To read the rest of the posts in this series, please click the links below:

Part 1: The Blindfolded Girl in the Hallway

Part 2: Keats and the First White Feather

Part 3: The Eye Opens: Long Meg

Part 4: I Journey from Long Meg to Little Meg

Part 5: Castlerigg at High Noon

Part 6: A Walk in the Woods with Tess

Part 7: A White Horse Appears (well actually two) and I Make a Stone Sing

Part 8: The Castle on the Back of a Dragon

Part 9: The Other Eye Opens: I Meet the White Horse of Uffington

Part 10: Wayland’s Smithy: A Temple of Trees and Stones Worthy of Reverence

A Marriage of Eastern & Western Medicine & my thoughts on the documentary “Heal”

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If you haven’t seen the film “Heal” yet, the trailer can be viewed here. My husband, a family care physician trained in western medicine, and I, a practitioner of energy medicine (to borrow Donna Eden’s term which I prefer over healer), watched the documentary last night. A few days ago my mother-in-law had inquired as to whether I had watched it, so my interest was piqued.

We have been asked the question several times, in several different ways over the years, what it is like to be married to someone who practices “Eastern” v. “Western” medicine. As though they exist on the extreme ends of the a spectrum with no overlap. It is a question that involves polarity, which is always fraught with at least a small dose of misconception and judgment. We live in a world of polarities that can easily overtake our better sense of truth, serving to divine instead of unite.

Our marriage of seeming polarities works. for us. It is not always easy, we have our differences, but we balance each other out. My husband is one of the smartest and caring people I know, and I am not saying this because I am married to him. I have known him since  we were both 17. He is a genuine healer who came to medicine, not for the prestige or the money (hence why he chose family practice), but because he has a genuine interest in helping people.

In his office at work there is a salt lamp and a diffuser to balance the energies and help purify the air around him. If you searched his pockets, you would most likely find the polished gray of hematite and a blue andara crystal. He goes to acupuncture on a semi regular basis, and has had energy healing/medicine.

He has also referred patients to me, and to other “healers.” When we share our stories, we don’t doubt each other’s truths.

Many years ago, we studied science together. I graduated Bowdoin College with degrees in English and biology, thinking I would one day be a geneticist (and a writer on the side), while graduated at the same school to pursue his dream of going to medical school. From Bowdoin, I went to Brown University to continue by study of the biology and chemistry, but after one year there I realized I was not on the path of my heart. I still loved and valued science, but I knew there were other places for me to explore.

I am not finished exploring them, and I would venture to say neither is my husband. Many years ago, when I started venturing into the realm of energy medicine, my mentor at the time told me that my marriage would never work if we were both going in different directions. And, I believed her. I took her words as truth. She was my mentor, and I had falsely placed her upon a pedestal. Something we can all do, but should not. Our best teacher is always ourselves, and we should always check another’s wisdom with our own truth.

I have had to learn, through many difficulties, that a marriage is not about always walking the same path, but about allowing each other to walk their own path, while othering a hand in love to help each other along when it is needed.

We are each here, I believe, to see past false perceptions and to find that unifying force that unities all of us. That thing we call love. Limiting beliefs lead to polarity and false judgements arise from the fear of our own sense of inadequacy.

And now to speak directly about the film we watched together last night. “Heal.”  I am not writing this post to analyze the film, but to spark a different way of viewing medicine. There were aspects of the film that I felt were on-point, so to speak, and places where I wanted more, or different. No doubt my own beliefs and ego-centered judgements factored into my thinking, but one area I was hoping the film might venture into more is how “Western” medicine and “Eastern” medicine need not always be seen as polarities. You know, that “us” v. “them” concept so pervasive in our world right now, at least on the surface.

The downfalls of the practice if medicine driven by money and greed are not to be over-looked, as the film noted, but the focus was on the side of western medicine.  There is also, ego-driven greed in the practice of “eastern” medicine. It’s a fallacy to believe the ego plays a part in one and not the other.  Not always of course, but it is false to imply that this does not occur. There are also limitations to each system when the belief exists that “I know what is right for you.”

I had hoped that the film would attempt to bridge the divide, and to remind us that each extreme did not evolve separately, but that we have, in many ways, chosen to take the paths of division. The healing properties of nature are used in some of our pharmaceuticals (albeit not always ethically), a practice that arose from our earliest history. Hands are used as vehicles to heal in both, whether they are threading a stitch to seal a wound, or directing energy to release a pocket of density.

We have much to learn from each other to keep bridging the divide. The enemy does not exist on the other side, but in the false system of belief of the “other.” I see great promise in where we are heading, despite what we might see or perceive as the truth. I have encountered extreme beliefs based on ego on both sides, and have fallen prey to them myself. We must always check in with fear and weigh it in the heart of truth. But, science and ancient wisdom, or so called “new age” healing need not be viewed as separate and unequal. There’s a common thread that unites us all, and I believe we can weave it together.

Finding Home Inside a Ring of Stones #thestruggleisreal

 

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A land holding magic. Photo credit: Sue Vincent

I’m sitting here imagining myself sitting on a plane in the dead of winter. I’ve imagined it often over the last 48 hrs. It’s not the difficult to do. Me, flying to a land frozen in time for 5,000 years, shivering under layers. Just me, and a circle of stones. The thought alone pulls me deep within to an untouched place. One thought stirs the internal waters until they flood my eyes.

Crazy.

Or is it?

I thought I had moved into the land of acceptance, until my husband forwarded me the airfare deal. In case you still need/want to go…

Can I differentiate need from want when the thought pulls me to the unknown that seeks to be known?

The wisdom of the ancients tell us that home is not a physical place, but a state of being. Yet I sit inside a house that feels false in many ways. It feels dusty with  pretenses.

It took only a photograph years ago to pull the cells out of hibernation. Hills made white with winter surrounding a ring of stones. It’s not just Castlerigg, though. Arbor Low evoked a similar response in me. I had to go there to discover why.

I waited at the threshold after the slow climb, pausing to receive permission before the womb opened to receive. One step and I was home. Flooded with bliss. Untempered magic. And I was home in the soft sweep of the moors where I found peace. The settled sleep of death undisturbed. Balance. And, I was home at the nest of the raven clan, high upon the hill, where I felt the shred of sorrow ripping me raw. A rape of the womb that was everyone’s. Earth holding the pain. Yet, I was home. I could have stayed there forever.

I reside in a land that has become numb. The artificial has forced life to retread. My body feels the weight of the false, and the struggle for a return that is slow and uneasy. It longs for the place where it doesn’t have to hide. Where the energy courses with life. Real Life.

And I know, someday I need to go to a place called Castlerigg. In the physical body. To remember. To retrieve. What? I do not yet know. The dreams and vision pull me only as far as the hills. The stones wait in stasis. Trapped in the movement of slow time. Yet, the life stirs within them with a force that has the power to pull me to them.  Three thousand miles apart.  An ocean of expanse. And I sit in wonder, thinking. Is the time now? Or can I wait?