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Thursday, 10 May 2018

Breathe in beauty, breathe out gratitude.


Breathe in beauty, breathe out gratitude.




When a beautiful soul harmonizes with a beautiful form and the two are cast in one mould, that will be the fairest of sights to him who has the eye to contemplate the vision.
Plato

I feel as though I’ve got my life back.

I don’t know exactly where it went for the past 50 or so years. Somewhere along the way, a veil was cast over my perceptions which clouded my ability to hold and experience life in a direct and joyous way. As a holistic counsellor who uses therapeutic altered states such as holotrophic breath work, I have been developed ways to clear perception. I’ve peeled back the veil and at long last the term, I feel that I am awake.  This is one way to describe the sudden, after over 30 years of hard sloughing personal work; I’ve got my life back. The veil has fallen away and now I perceive the love, beauty and interconnectiveness of life, my life, the life of Others (mineral, plant and animal) in this magnificent creation of Gaia.

Here is what rent the veil for me.

I was walking along the river, one of my favorite walks on a fresh fragrant spring morning. This walk reminds me of my spiritual teachers, the River. They once told me that achieving happiness was hard work. At the time, I thought they meant that I had a lot of trauma and unintegrated personal insight work that I needed to do before I could win the right to be happy. But then I remembered that they also said that happiness is not given as a reward, at a future date, for tasks well done, a better pay cheque, more recognition, and more people liking me... and so on. The work was in actuality, realizing that I have happiness already within my body and mind as a foundational, natural state of being. The work was returning to the moment and holding this natural state of being.
On this one morning, I gazed up into the clear morning sky and wondered how to communicate in a more lasting and meaningful way with the greater soul of the environment. I was able to hold this inner joy for moments, especially when I meditate or walk thru nature alone. But I wanted to hold this inner peace for longer periods of time, to be connected to this space more often. Then these words came to me, from where I can’t exactly say.

Breathe in beauty,
Breathe out gratitude.
Connect inner meditation with breath and the outer environment.
Connect the holy trinity of mind, body and environment.

I tried it. First I gazed about for something that caught my attention as being beautiful. Something which stepped out from the environment and said “Look at me”. My attention was drawn to a willow tree by the path, dripping with long fuzzy pussy willows. I walked closer and for a moment just focused on these beautiful willow flowers. I was filled with a sense of the hopeful, idealistic and innocent anticipation of spring and plant joy at renewed life and rebirth after a long dark winter. I breathed in all of those sensations into my body; let those feelings of goodness and connectedness radiate into my entire body and being. 

Ahhh… Then I focused on the outbreath. I raised my eyes up to the clear blue sky and breathed out, gratitude for the environment which supports all life, all spring flowering, all rebirth and renewal. I felt my heart opening and calm entered my being.

I am so grateful for this practice which I’ve been using every day since it was given to me by Soul. I pause for a moment, and notice something beautiful, then expand the experience into my body by imagining that I am breathing the beauty of what I’m seeing into my body. I focus especially my heart. Then I breathe out into the environment my gratitude for that specific phenomena as well as all the supporting world that holds that event (seasons caused by the earth’s tilt, perfumed air of blooming plant world, forests, mountains).

This connects me to the world in a way that is deeply satisfying. This is the moment by moment connection with sacredness that I’ve been missing in my life. Until now. Even when I’m feeling a little off, sad or anxious I’m able to pause, find something beautiful in my environment and breathe it in with a moment of expand awareness.

As I practice this more, I notice that I can also breathe in things that are not beautiful and still integrate them with my out breath of gratitude.  Strange, in some ways the way that this practice of connecting to unpleasant or challenging things is more important than the original technique of starting with beautiful things.

I was waiting in line in a cafeteria yesterday and feeling that old sense of irritation that somehow life was fitting me quite right. Then I remembered my new practice, I paused and gazed out the window to some small islands that were glittering in the sun. I realized how beautiful the environment is where I live, how I can look out the window at almost any time and see beauty. So I breathed in the way the tiny islands were bathed in sunlight and on the outbreath I was surprised that I wanted to breathe out a sense of appreciation for all the people who were working in the cafeteria. So I did, and then I was filled with a sense of all-rightness. As I gazed around, I noticed that everyone was working towards some common goals, perhaps at some level, all of us were working towards spiritual goals which we were only tangentially aware of. I could see that even irritating moments like waiting in line for breakfast can be filled with a sense of sacredness.

I do this practice now many times a day, whoever I can, driving, talking with others, cooking, cleaning. I can do it on a walk, or when I’m with clients. I’m aiming for prolonging this practice so maybe I can stay with it for longer periods, hours perhaps or at least moments.
The in breath is precise, focused on one thing-flower, clouds, music, birds. The out breath is expansive and goes out with my gratitude into the greater soul of the environment. My appreciation stretches my being towards larger containers of personal joy and inner peace, for the life systems that hold for sky, water, air, earth. Deep in my pelvic chalice, I feel goodness like a seed of life. It is not simply of place of human fertility, the place of where my younger body stored human life eggs, but energetically now my second chakra holds the womb of the Mother, of mater, of Gaia, of life itself. I hold it, nourish it deeply and from here from my belly out to the horizon, it goes and blesses all that I see.

So the work is to retrieve and restore my natural state of human being which is calm abiding, sympathetic joy and compassion.


Try this!

In this moment look around for something beautiful.

I look around my office and see a potted lantana tree. I brought it in for the winter, now it is sending shoots out through the dead branches which died off during the long cold spells we had. I am amused and uplifted by how it is still alive and although I am trying to prune it into a tree, it wants to return to its wild shape as a bush. I breathe in its resiliency, strength and the way it let of many branches over the winter, but now it’s being re born in spring.

 Now on the outbreath, breathe out appreciate and gratitude for the greater container which holds all that you are looking at.

I breathe out an appreciation for the air which is everywhere and which fills my lungs and then goes out into the world. Even here, in my writing room, with the fire burning, which is also taking in oxygen to be, there is a great abundance of oxygen for me, gazing at this plant, and for the plant also. I breathe out gratitude for the entire plant world, who engage with us in this transference and inter dependence of life.

Now try this practice with something more difficult and challenging.

I see a dead bird. I don’t know if this is beautiful but it is where my focus landed on. The little female yellow finch is heart wrenchingly painful for me to gaze at. I love her and I want her to come back to life.

Now on the outbreath, breathe out appreciate and gratitude for the greater container which holds all that you are looking at.

I breathe out gratitude for life and death systems. And the appreciation of all who are alive in my life right now. I especially see an analogy of my son in this omen. He is struggling so hard and I’m afraid, like this little bird who mistakenly flew into the glass window, he won’t survive. This of course fills me with unbearable sorrow.

Although these thoughts take me to difficult places, such as the great song bird die off everywhere in the world, I wonder, how can I be grateful for that? Perhaps after this age of species die off, when humans return to a more balanced role as stewards of the world instead of destroyers of the world, we will appreciate that in death there is also re birth. I’m also wondering if a carrion bird will come and eat the finch’s body. In nature, in the greater soul, little is wasted.
image downloaded from http://www.brighterfuturestogether.co.uk/brighter-futures-together-toolkit/improve-local-rivers-and-streams/

Thursday, 12 April 2018

The cruel ideal-Six ways to develop self acceptance


The cruel ideal-Six ways to develop self-acceptance

What if, everything you’ve ever done and everything you will ever do is …OK?
Our culture has developed unrealistic high expectations to maintain high production standards. Our media if full of ways to improve, be better, more beautiful, more free, more everything! It’s ironic that most of these standards drive us to adopt cruel ideals that are unattainable and drive us further into misery. We have cruel ideals of what it is to be a good person, mother, father, wife, daughter, worker, student… the list is infinite and each person can tailor them for themselves. For some, they feel they are too fat, too skinny, too this or too that. The details are not important, what is important is that sense of not fitting into our lives. We believe that the shape of who we are does not fit comfortably into the places, times and demands of our lives.
This was the first lesson of the Buddha after he reached a state of great understanding which he called enlightenment. He said that life is essentially -dukkha. This is a Pali term which has commonly been translated as suffering. However, the original meaning came from a wheel which doesn’t fit into the axel. Dukkha will always stick, not move harmoniously, and make sounds that are unpleasant, put extra strain on the horse or ox who pulls the cart. In Buddha’s world of pre industrial transportation, the sticking wheel would have been a common problem which his listeners could relate to. Dukkha is a colourful analogy for the cruel ideal.
Some uncomfortableness is necessary for personal growth and evolution, when there is the right amount of challenge. Attainable challenges are beneficial and lead to greater well-being. But some challenges invoke pointless suffering. These kinds of suffering are associated with past events which leave a shadow of trauma, and understandings and beliefs which are no longer healthy. The child who blames herself for her parents separation and copes by imagining that is she were cleaner, more organized, thinner…then she could control her life better. That is the cruel ideal.
The cruel ideal is usually an attempt to get more control of future events, which may or may not transpire. Obsessing about these events create needless sufferings and will persist unless there is deep personal work. By releasing the cruel ideal, we can come to appreciate the richness and beauty of our lives- as we are. Not as we think we should be. The release of the cruel ideal will help us develop more purposeful action, combined with compassion for others within the context of soul.
Six practices for self-acceptance
1.       Look in the mirror every day and practice complete acceptance of what you see. Best to do this completely naked. Notice something beautiful about your body, and then breathe in that beauty. On the out breath, breathe out a sense of gratitude. Really feel both the in breath of beauty appreciation and the out breath of gratitude. Let that sense of deep self-acceptance sink into your whole being.
(In breath) I find the colour of my eyes to be beautiful. (Outbreath) I’m so grateful for my vision; it brings me so much joy and connection in my life.


2.       Notice when you connect into the harsh demands of the cruel ideal. Then immediately catch those thoughts and change them.

I’m getting old and losing my looks. Change that to-I like the way my face is becoming more mature, and I especially enjoy how age is giving me so many insights and compassion towards others.

3.       Look out into the world and notice beauty. This is the greatest antidote to the cruel ideal. Does the chickadee worry if it’s too small or its voice isn’t loud enough? No! Nature is our greater soul, when we look out into it, we can see wisdom and resolution if we can interpret its messages.

I see the spring pussy willows right now from my window. They remind me that plants go through many changes through their life cycles. Each cycle leads to another and contributes to the whole environment. The difficult changes in my life can also lead to contributions in ways that I can’t grasp right now.

4.       Differentiate between what is achievable and helpful to change, and what is a cruel ideal.

I will never be young again, but I can continue to go to yoga twice a week and keep up my flexibility so I can age well.

5.       Journal every day a small section about ways you can become more self-accepting. Notice where those cruel ideals came from originally. Most likely they did not start with you; they were probably passed onto you from others’ needs and demands.

 I am disappointed I didn’t become a university professor. Wait, where did that cruel ideal come from? Ah, yes. My mother always wanted me to be a university professor. But by avoiding the restrictions of academic life, I was free to develop my spirituality.

6.       Finally, look for the gift in the cruel ideal, once you have resolved it and accepted yourself and your unique soul path.

The gift in that cruel ideal was that I spent many years at university which has given me the gift of understanding of how to communicate with people who are trapped in the reductionist world view.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Our first attachment is consciouness to life

Our first attachment is consciousness to life:
Three questions that determine if you are securely attached



Attachment theory was first postulated by John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth in the early sixties. (Bowlby, 1969; Bowlby, 1988; Krumwiede, 2001).

Their model developed from observations of how the infants reacted when their primary care giver exited from the clinical room. The infants they defined as securely attached cried for a moment when their mothers left the room, but then quickly adjusted and often were able to be comforted by a stranger. The securely attached babes were able to trust that their mothers would soon return, and they were quickly comforted when the mother returned. The infants they defined as insecurely attached cried for longer periods, sometimes hysterically when their mothers left the room. They took a longer time to calm down after their mothers returned. Also most interesting, the insecurely attached babes would often punish the mother when she returned by crying, turning away and resisting the hugs that their mothers tried to give them. They appeared to be angry that their mothers had returned although moments before, they were deeply distressed when she was gone.

Attachment theory states that a strong emotional and physical attachment to at least one primary caregiver is critical to personal development. This theory postulates that our first attachment as new born babes is to our birth mothers, and later to our fathers or other primary care givers. This attachment is the most critical relationship of our lives, and underpins of all our future relationships (Tatin, 2011).  The nature of this first attachment influences such factors as our ability to trust, form healthy relationships to others, take the perspective of others, and forms the basis in our adult lives of morality, efficacy and forming healthy boundaries.

Much is laid at the feet of the birth mother, so much that many individuals in counselling or after reading one of a myriad of self-help books that ascribe to this model, develop contempt and anger for their mothers, and all care givers in their early years. They blame their suffering upon their mothers and other caring adults in their infanthood for their inability to care for them with faultless presence, affection and responsiveness. But in fact, no mother or care giver can be perfect; can always be attendant of their children with selfless devotion.

The proponents of attachment theory therefore put another crown of thorns on the heads of women and child caretakers, along with all the other beatings at the hands of Caesars who demand submission of care givers to uphold the capitalistic market system. The dominate culture proposes that if you are unhappy (depressed, anxious, unable to maintain long term relationships, joyless) it is because your mother (Primary care giver) wasn’t attentive enough. This lets the global human community off the hook for environmental and sociopolitical factors which are equally or more relevant.

There are many individuals who defy this model of development. For example, people who had almost nonexistence attachments to mother, or whose care givers were burdened with addictions, ancestral trauma and other mental health issues. But somehow these individuals mature into secure, compassionate people. Conversely, there are people who have had wonderfully secure attachments to care givers and who never the less develop severe mental health concerns, especially in recent times, who suffer from intense anxiety and depression.

Often in my private practice, clients return to memories of infanthood in states of regression. They will ask me to hold them like a baby or infant to help them to re attach more securely to their inner Mother. Once the biographical attachments are repaired, a deeper and more essential attachment yearning arises. Over time, I’ve noticed that this yearning is to re attach in deeper and more spiritual ways. This yearning is a transpersonal attachment to the meaning and significance of their own individual lives.

We yearn to re attach to the original soul purpose of why our consciousness attached into this life. We yearn to fulfill the purpose of why our consciousness attached into matter which we call ourselves and our bodies. Matter derives from the Latin for mother-mater. So when consciousness first enters the cells of the newly formed fetus or babe, this is the moment of first attachment. We yearn, not only for the comfort that a mother or primary care giver can give us, but more deeply and more significantly, we year to re attach to the original purpose of why our consciousness attached into this life in its first nexus.

If there is not a transpersonal container which can hold this sense of soul purpose, then the first most essential disruption develops. This disruption is not fetus or babe to mother, but consciousness to life, which is the entering of individual consciousness into the body, into human flesh and mater. Later, when the baby is born, with its attendant need for food, comfort and protection, inter personal attachments develop. But those needs are secondary to the first needs of consciousness into matter, the need for us to fully attach to our original soul purpose of this life.

The quality of this first attachment is also in a wider sense, attachment to Gaia, who is our fundamental mother, environment, and the living systems that Gaia provides for us-breath, body, bone, flesh, blood. It is also attachment to the wider spheres which we live in of human social environments-political, community and global safety, justice and well-being. If these environmental influences, including the more-than-human environments of air, water, earth, other life forms of the plant and animal worlds, are not secure, then we naturally develop an attachment disorder. The babe senses at a deep level that she is not securely living in a system that is safe and nurturing. . If this first attachment is secure, then, as we mature into adults with adult responsible, we can be a steward of the world, of Gaia and of others, including the more than human worlds.

This is why currently we are seeing so much anxiety and depression. Our first attachment to mater is disrupted. As a counsellor, I am meeting an increasing number of young people and children who are securely attached to their primary care givers, but still sense a deep unease about their lives. This is because; their attachment disorder is much deeper and nascent than the inter-personal attachment to mother, father and /or other care givers. It is an unease, dis-ease of sensing dis-attachment of consciousness to life. This is where we need to focus our attention when we are trying to heal ourselves, our clients and loved ones.

The goal of effective psychotherapy therefore, is fundamentally the healing of our first attachment of consciousness into life. Our path towards this first and embryonic attachment ought to be towards discovering and supporting a sense of soul purpose, rather than diverting our attention with whether our primary care givers were loving and preternaturally present for all our needs. Then we can form more fully secure, joyful attachments to the interconnectiveness of life.


Three questions to ask yourself to determine if you are securely attached
·         Can you take purposeful, meaningful action in your life?
·         Do you have compassion towards others, including the more than human world?
·         Can you live with a big picture, spiritual, or transpersonal perspective?


References:
Attachment Theory ( 2018) Downloaded from https://www.psychologistworld.com/developmental/attachment-theory#references
Bowlby, John. 1969. Attachment and Loss. Pimlico;London, UK.
Bowley, John (1988) A secure base: Clinical applications of attachment theory. Routledge, New York, NY.
Hazan, C. & Shaver, P. (1994) Attachment as an organizational framework for research on close relationship. Psychological Inquiry. 5 1-22.
Krumwiede, Andreas. (2001) Attachment Theory According to John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth. German National Library. 
Takin, Stan (2011) Wired for Love: How Understanding Your Partner's Brain and Attachment Style Can Help You Defuse Conflict and Build a secure relationship. New Harbinger Publisher; Oakland CA.

Monday, 13 November 2017

There is no 'letting go", there is just letting in

Our mysterious beings are held in our bodies by structures which capture
energy into life systems that are held in turn by structures of ancestral and personal experience, culture, societal beliefs, values and aspirations. Just as our physical bodies are held into this time and place by complex structures of DNA, and a multitude of other physical biochemical, physiological and cellular pathways, so too, first at an emotional and spiritual level, our beings are held in place by structures of ego, familial memory, pre conscious and supra conscious layers of being.

Integrative therapy has the purpose of clearing away all structures which no longer are useful. Presently, these structures can be called trauma, but I prefer the term, unintegrated experiences. In the same way that we go into the garden in fall and gather together all the deadwood and dying plants, so too, in therapy we have the opportunity to go into the garden of our souls and clean out all un wanted structures.

This process is not always one of simply ‘throwing away’ or ‘letting go’ of unwanted structures and understandings. Rather, these old structures are recycled or composted into new clearing, maturity and wisdom. These unintegrated experiences were often formed before we had words or discernment to understand them, so they get laid down in pre-cognitive areas of mind and brain. There they dictate the responses of the limbic systems and at higher levels; they also dictate thoughts, actions, identity and interpretations.

This means that distressing memories, although they are not happening now, are kept alive by the limbic system in corresponding parts of the body with messages of distress, hyper vigilance and discomfort. In cases of PTSD or complex PTSD (c-ptsd), these unintegrated experiences stimulate the limbic system to cause insomnia, physical symptoms of threat response and other signs of high stress and the fight, flight or cluster responses. These signals travel from the memory centre in the neo cortex to the rest of the body, telling us that the experience is not finished. So the brain interprets them as still proceeding in real time. But of course, they are not. The unintegrated experience can be from the previous moment or forty years ago. In the kind of timeless state of the interconnected mind body, the essence of the distressing memory remains alive as if it is still happening in the present time.

First, the old dysfunctional structures must be recognised and acknowledged. They existed because, much like the garden in fall, they bore fruit which at one time was useful. So often the first step is not to grab the weed and swear at it as we pull it out with vengeance. But with some careful consideration, first understand how the weed got there in the first place. And then with the same gentleness and sense of the wholeness of our life, to consider what its function was in the past. Otherwise without an understanding of the whole, we are simply pulling out one weed and making room for another to grow.

The resistance to recognize dysfunctional beliefs, thoughts and actions is one of our more egregious qualities. In our drive to ‘get rid’ of those aspects that are causing problems, we want to turn away, ignore, deny or attack these weeds. But the best way to proceed is to first recognize them with gentle compassion. They served a purpose in the past and that purpose often has deep soul connections which we must acknowledge before we can effectively grow beyond them.

To integrate these experiences we must first have the courage to face and recognize them directly, bring them out of the shadows into the cognitive mind. These troublesome aspects are experiences which were too powerful for us to understand at the time. The tragic loss of a loved one, sudden injury, emotional trauma, sexual trauma, ancestral memories of famines, wars and other violence-these are few examples of experiences that were overwhelming at the time they occurred. So we put these memories aside because we don’t have the means to cope with them. This doesn’t mean they ‘go away’. They just get filed for later consideration. They are filed, wisely, by our minds into places within our bodies where we can find them easily.

We know from epigenetics that experiences change not only the body but also change our DNA. Therefore the body can be understood as a kind of physical filing cabinet for all of our memories. Much like any competent secretary, the filing cabinet is well organized into logical sections for ease of access. Sexual trauma is filed in the pelvis; feminine trauma is filed in the breasts etc.
So, unintegrated experience can be found in corresponding physical places usually assigned up and down the spine. Each energy holding centre or chakra is organized according to general areas of human experience. Root chakra: survival and death; sexual charka: creativity and boundaries; solar plexus: will, grief and loss; Heart chakra: love, compassion and connection; Throat Charka: communication and discernment; Third eye or hypothalamus: connections into past and future and throughout the body: Crown chakra: connection to higher aspects of soul and openness to growth and evolution.

One very effective way to find where the trauma is filed is to notice where there is discomfort or dis-ease in the body. And then to relate the area to the closest chakra and then connect that to the experiences that placed it there.

We can layer all kinds of coping mechanisms on top of trauma and the on-going sense of unease. Denial, intense and persistent physical pain, diseases such as cancer; addictions, anger, numbing out or other means of turning away. If the memory is held with dis-ease, then the harm of the unintegrated experience can slip over into interpersonal relationships, violence, prejudice, transference, and armouring of the heart centre.  Over time, these denial mechanisms become so habituated that we no longer see why these mechanisms were created in the first place.
We learn to forget that we are forgetting.

If psychotropics are used by the client to dull the unease of the distressing experience, then denial becomes even more habituated and concretized. Locked into this unresolved state, the client can be held in a chemical straight jacket which prevents any real therapy from occurring because the mid brain does not have access to the memory centres and therefore cannot fully integrate messages of distress and unease.

Psychotropics are like a crutch used by a patient who has broken their leg, after a while, using the crutch seems natural and the thought of trying to put weight on the injured limb seems an indomitable task. And it may be, after years of relying on the chemical solution, the psychotropic has become a highly habituated within the mind body composition. However, these psychotropics tie up the neuropathways and stop any possibility of real change from occurring.
Here is where therapeutic altered states are so incredibly useful. From what we can see from brain scans and MRI’s recording brain activity, altered states first flood the brain with serotonin. This is the ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter that is released in situations when we feel connected with others and the environment, when we feel successful and satisfied. So immediately the threat response which may be habituated for decades is diminished. Then the mind can explore the scary parts of the unintegrated experiences which are troublesome without feeling the need to protect the person through evasive denials. The distressing event does not have to be re-lived fully. Only the way the event was embodied by the individual needs to be remembered, brought into consciousness, experienced and then integrated.

The important aspect of using therapeutic altered states is that the patient has the opportunity to fully experience the essence of the unintegrated experience and then to come to terms with it, during and after the session. Also, as the process of integration begins, the patient begins to enter into the most important phase of the therapy, which normally most therapies do not allow due to reductionist beliefs of a mechanical universe which hold that if there is a problem, like a mechanic, you can take out the offending part and throw it away. But in integrative therapy, after we have examined how the distressing event was laid down in the mind and body, then we can gently bring that memory to the surface and finally to allow that experience to inform us in good and practical ways. In integrative therapy, there is no ‘throwing away’. All experience can be integrated towards a more whole person who is compassionate, effective and works with a big picture or soul perspective. So the distressing event isn’t thrown away, its let in, so the individual can learn and grow from it.

There is no letting go in this universe. It is self-enclosed and self-resembling. There is no ‘out there’ to let go of distressing experiences into. There is no garbage dump where we can throw away parts of ourselves. We are intimately interconnected and inter dependent, all of us without in the world, and all of our experiences within also. The therapeutic way to proceed is to recognize, honour and integrate.


Then in a paradoxical way, with this total acceptance, the unintegrated experience or trauma disappears. This is the true ‘letting go’. 
Image downloaded from https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/204984220519779600/

Saturday, 2 July 2016

From here to the horizon

Yesterday I walked along one of my favorite hikes, beside a tributary of a
larger river. This river has been home to people for thousands of years. First Nations people lived at different parts of this river as it flowed from the mountains, down through vast silent forests and finally out to the bay. Those who lived along this river harvested reeds, trees, salmon, shellfish and a multitude of different kinds of berries for at least four thousand years. They also hunted animals who came to the river for fresh water: mink, otters, deer, wolves, and birds. Bears also lived in this area, but the people who lived here then, did not hunt them because they believed these creatures were too alike to humans to be killed and eaten.
                After first contact with Europeans, this river was dredged to make it easier for ships to come into the bay to take away logs from the surrounding forests. This disturbed the river bed and its flow. Many fish stocks were lost, animals and birds lost their food and water sources. The men who planned and executed this destruction had no idea of the long term effects of their actions, rather like many people today. Or perhaps even if they had known the far reaching consequences of their actions, they would not have changed them. They were possessed by hungry ghosts and addictions which blinded them to the world.
                As I walk along this river, I wonder how it manages to keep flowing, to keep alive and offering nourishment to creatures who still live along its banks. Most people here don’t remember, but this estuary and its flood plain was once filled with so many birds that they would darken the sky. Even I, in my life time, can remember this. Now, if I spot flocks of perhaps ten or twelve birds, I am thrilled.
                There was a time in my life when human destruction of the earth and her creatures dismayed me so much I sunk into a deep depression. I contemplated suicide. I couldn’t bear to watch the progression we have chosen towards world death. But my love for my son, my family and the commitment I felt towards my spiritual teachers and ancestors kept me alive. Still keeps me alive. I will see this learning through to the end. I will be witness and as much as possible, I will bless and direct the coming times towards the best possible outcomes.
                My new teacher has shown me that energy is indestructible and in exhaustible in nature. But from my small place of a woman living in a human body with loving commitments towards others, these turbulent times are difficult. I fight the temptation to sink into hopelessness. To re-bind myself to my commitment to be a spiritual teacher and counsellor, I remind myself every day of my soul’s purpose. I remind myself of why I choose to be born and live in these times, with all the beings and beauty of this wondrous world.
                One of my practices to keep my intentions alive and strong is to bless the world when I walk. As I walk, I bless everything I see, hear, small and touch , from me to the horizon. And beyond to clouds, stars, sun and moon. All of it. Just as I must accept the terror of the coming times, so too I accept and bless all that I see in the world, in the moment, from the tiny pebbles that my shoes walk on to the majestic clouds that hover along the horizon. I can’t fully understand all that goes on in my life, but I can hold the intention of witnessing, accepting and blessing the three worlds of our good mother: inanimate, plant and animal. This will not prevent me from acting with discernment once my walking mediation is over, it will not sugar coat the darkness in my life. On the contrary, blessing the world as I walk helps me come back to the battle renewed with vigor and most important, with compassion and a greater vision of the whole.
Try This!
1.       Take a walk through your world, out in nature is best but if you live in an urban area or even within your home, take a walk through that world. Clear your mind. Just notice with all of your senses.
2.       Now notice something close to you.  I notice my computer in my office.
3.       Bless that-whether it is inanimate, plant or animal, it still has sentience and is participating in your life in an active and conscious way.  Blessings to my computer.
4.       Now bring to mind, all those things, actions, people, meanings that are connected with what you noticed. Bless all that also.  Blessings to all those who made my computer and the technology that supports it. Blessings to all the animals and plants who feed the people who worked on the computer. Blessings to all the inanimate sentience of the materials that are in my computer, the oil, copper, the refineries where the materials were made…Keep going, there’s lots of interconnections you can bless.
5.       Now raise your eyes and see as far as you can, to the horizon. Imagine a line from where you are standing to the horizon. Try to notice as much as you can about what is happening between you and the horizon. Bless everything in that eye line. E.g. From where I stand in my office, I can see to the mountains across the bay. Between me and them, there are houses, people living their lives, animals in the forest below and on the other side of the bay, all the creatures who live in the sea, along the shore line, the plants in the sea and along the shore,  birds who fly through the air, a multitude of insects visible and within the soil. I bless all I can see from here to the horizon.

6.       This practice will aide in the development of understanding the interconnection of all being. This awareness alone and by itself would save humanity from the impending crises which are approaching.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Power Places

Hi Everyone!
I haven't posted for ages because I'm busy getting my next book ready. Its called "Soul Catching- find your deepest self-outside."
Here is one posting from my book for spring.

If you check out the ads for spiritual magazines and websites, they tell of wondrous places all over the world where power lives.

                Here is the spoiler. Power places live close to you! Right in your own neighbourhood. No need to travel far and wide looking for places where the earth’s energy is concentrated. We live in the midst of the Great Net, a matrix of being which holds everything. Why travel? This week, let this season of new adventures, new beginnings, take you out into your world to find those magical places where power lives.

                Certainly, for those who are sensitive to energies, there are places that have a concentration of earth wisdom and beauty. Even chimpanzees can find power places and perform rituals of awe and gratitude (Goodall, CBC podcast, 2015). What are the characteristics of these places? In ancient times people traveled every year to honour places of power-indigenous cultures all over the world still do. Mountain tops, waterfalls, shore lines with water spirals, vistas of great distances-any place with a configuration of natural elements that is unusual and you can feel a surge of power when you are there. When you are need of special guidance, these places are excellent guides. Visit them, honour the outside Soul with ritual, quietness, gifts and in silence, listen to the world.

                Typically all three elements are present in power places, although if two are present, then you can add the third to make the presence of all three complete. Earth will certainly be present, water also is most powerful, especially moving water , or if stagnant-calmness and beauty. And air is always present, at least where there is earthly life. This is its ubiquitous quality that makes it sacred.

                I have found several power places close to where I live, each place holds a different kind of presence and I pick the one that I need at the time. My favorite is to walk along a river estuary. Rivers were sacred places in many cultures, people have lived close to rivers since the beginning of the human journey. Another power place is along a mountain ridge that reminds me of a sleeping dragon. It was also  a sacred place for the First Nations people who lived in this area before European contact. Another power spot for me is to walk along a steep creek up a hillside. This walk has seven small bridges which I cross with reverence. Bridges are holy symbols of transformation, overcoming difficulties, crossing over to the other side. A deserted beach at the bottom of my hill- and finally another mountain with wide views over the valley where I live. At the turning points of the yearly wheel-solstices, and equinoxes-I go to one of these places and honour my first matrix or Mother-Gaia.

                Try This!
1.       This week go in search of a power spot close to where you live. This may take you on a hero(ine)’s journey to find those places in your immediate world where Gaia lives most vividly. You will know where these places are, because when you review the places you have visited in the past, you will remember that these places left you with an uplifting feeling of presence and peace.

2.       Now devise a simple ritual to honour your local power spot. Rituals are metaphoric activities which focus the supra-conscious mind towards your intentional higher soul path. Perhaps honour this season with a ritual of new beginnings. Bring some seeds to scatter, some water to nourish, some sacred words or meaningful movements. These are times for creating our own rituals of significance. It need only have a beginning, middle and end. The rest is up to you. Will you go alone or will you go with friends or pets? What will you leave? What will you take away?

3.       Start your ritual with some form of clockwise opening movement-this can be walking in a circle, waving incense or a candle clockwise, spinning clockwise. This is the movement of the earth, and opens new events. Middle, state your purpose , intentions, needs, gratitude’s. Then time for silence, stepping into the moment as it is. This is most profound part of any ritual. Listgen, integrate, notice. Ending-finish with some form of anti-clockwise movement which seals in the experience and protects you as you go forward.

4.       Conflicts, dis-ease,  desires-all human struggles can be brought to power places and ritual can focus the outer Soul towards resolution. You have only to turn up, set your intention and then listen. Notice what the world gives you in the moment.


Joy in the journey!

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Build  Temples of Love


                One of the things that I wonder about is just how much people really understand the extremity of our situation at this point of time. I see many (most) clients suffering from high levels of anxiety. children are anxious, can’t fall asleep… people attribute this anxiety and fear to a plethora of causes-media, liberal propaganda, right wing propaganda, their spouses, the economy… everything but the real  cause.
                We are anxious because we stand at the precipice of crisis. The harbingers of disasters have arrived-climate change, unseasonably high temperatures, species dying off, floods, storms, and accompanying social break downs of families, social supports,.
                At the same time, I am seeing a great increase in depression. Almost everyone who walks into my office claims to be suffering from depression. Why? Is it possible that when we get burned out from being anxious, we go to the next stage of coping-the freeze response, which over time becomes depression?

                We are becoming depressed because there is much to be sad about.
                In the words of Miss Marple, sometimes the most obvious suspect is the culprit. Surprize!
                
        I have the sometimes dubious gift of being highly intuitive and catching glimpses of possible futures. I say dubious because, as an oracle, I ‘see’ the future- if we don’t change. It is a dance of death. It is so horrific that I begged to be released from the vision. Eventually I was, but not until I reached out for help from a spiritual teacher. I ‘saw’ what the world will become if we don’t choose change.  It isn’t just what could happen, but also how we will feel- angry, vindictive, violent, cruel and aggressive. In the face of worldwide disasters, in an instant, we will become uncaring. Compassion and empathy will be seen as weak and dangerous and abandoned the way rats abandon a sinking ship. We will bow down to selfishness, entitlement and hatred of the Other. These qualities are already on the increase and I see them developing in the young like a virus which no one can name but which we are all, at some level, aware of.

                Matter is gifted with the unfailing directive of achieving greater and greater consciousness and evolution. This is the first law of matter-all matter. And this law, as binding and unforgiving as the laws of gravity-will prevail. It isn’t as if , when you drop a precious tea cup, suddenly gravity will relent and not draw it down. No, it will fall as easily as an old pen or clothing stripped off at the end of the day. No matter if a relatively new species called homo sapiens, decide they don’t want to get on board. We will simply be wiped out. It has happened before, it could happen again.
                That is the dark heart of these times. In this season of fall, when we consider the horrors and revelations of death, we must also consider its opposite-re-birth. As we dig up our gardens, throw unwanted material on the compost heap, we also plant the winter bulbs for spring-narcissi, garlic and the tough winter greens to bring us through the dark months.
                
                By this I mean that we spend some time in this season of opposites and paradoxes-in the contemplation and action of building up all those relationships which carry the seeds of the future. The future you want to see, experience, the future you want those who will follow us to have. Traditionally, people stood and faced the west at this time of year, and had conversations in ritual form with their ancestors. All those who have gone before, all that we have been before we arrived here in the present moment- our long climb up from inanimate form, to plants, to animals and finally into humans. Our pinnacle, from which we prepare either to evolve into the greatness of who we can be, or develop into the fear which captures us with anger, greed and sloth. Old fashioned terms, but still alive and well in our beings.

Try This!

1.       For the next week, look for ways to build temples of love. Let’s start with ourselves. How do we love ourselves more? Forgive, understand, become more intimate with? Go out a soul catch love. E.g. Just now, I heard the neighbour chopping wood. This reminds me that sometimes I have to make a great effort to keep the fires of love alive within myself. I have to work at my fitness, my mediation, writing, being creative, taking time for family and friends. Those activities all take effort, time and resources. I have to be willing to give those resources to my own self development.

2.       For the next week, look for ways to build temples of love with others. Do soul catching to help you. Not shopping at stores who make up what I call, the evil empire-the box stores who build temples of needless consumption, treat their employees oppressively and plunder the earth for materials to support their harmful systems. You know who I mean, now withdraw your support. E.g. Just now I heard my husband talking to a woman who is giving him supervision with a new counselling theory. As I was writing this-he said “How much do I owe you for the hour?” This reminds me that building temples of love with others, costs money. And I have to be willing to spend that money on others, rather than just on my own selfish comforts. Sometimes I have to spend money on research and development, gifts to family and friends, supporting those businesses who conduct production in an honourable way, even if it costs more.


3.       Build temples of love for the world –the earth, the global view. This can be a ritual of intent for Gaia,  taking time to join with people who have similar spiritual views, funding environmental projects, taking time to live within your own  life in an environmentally responsible way. Soul catching can help guide you along the way. E.G. Just now, I noticed how quiet my house is. I think one way that I can live, using material responsibility is not to consume so much, just simplify, notice the free gifts of the world-sunshine, walking through my neighbourhood, b being quietly friendly and helpful, spending time in my garden with awareness. Stepping back, saying, I don’t need this-I can make do with what I have. Appreciating the quiet abundance of my life.