Category Archives: emotions

Who We Are

Who we are, the energy we bring to any endeavor is vital to the outcome of that undertaking. I was once sitting on a log in a quiet, shaded area of a city park, just enjoying the day when I noticed that a not fully-grown squirrel was approaching me from the end of the log. I was delighted! But then I had the sudden fear based thought, “What if it has rabies?!” Immediately the squirrel turned and ran away. I hadn’t moved a muscle, made not one sound. The thought took a millisecond to pass but the energy of the thought was enough for the squirrel to pick up and understand.

When you are engaged in something, no matter what, your energy is affecting your entire body and everything around you. Animals are the barometer of the kind of energy you have – the proverbial canary in the coal mine at an energetic level. For the past two years, I have been working with chickens in different capacities. Recently, a small group of them has come entirely under my caretaking. Chickens are fascinating, curious and friendly creatures and I love taking care of them.

My favorite part of the day is in the morning when I open the coop and the birds enthusiastically rush out to greet the day. Although I don’t do anything overt — outside of standing there and watching — that tells them how much I enjoy them, they know. After a few months of this morning ritual, the kingpin rooster, Big Mike, now comes over to give me a personal greeting every morning – a peck on the hand – to let me know that they are glad to see me too. He even ran all the way down the hill the other day to greet me when he saw me coming. Animals are intimately aware of all of the energies around them.

This is true of anything. Your energy affects everything inside and outside of you although you may not be in the least bit conscious of that. Remember this if you are trying to make change in yourself and in the world. Are you approaching change with mindfulness, compassion and empathy for yourself and all concerned, or are you infusing negative energy into whatever endeavor you are undertaking?

Fear

Teddy Roosevelt once said, “The only thing to fear is fear itself.” But, in these times, it seems reasonable to be fearful doesn’t it? Everyday brings news of another mass killing; men of all ethnicities going out and randomly killing off everyone in their vicinity. And then there is climate change. The world has been assailed by increasingly frequent and violent storms that kill off masses of people in the blink of an eye. If it isn’t quick death, then from Love Canal to Flint, it is a slow, debilitating process of death that is caused by the invisible poisoning of our Earth — air, water, soil, food. If that’s not enough, then there is the looming threat of financial collapse causing misery or death by poverty. It seems like everywhere we turn, Death is looking us in the eye. It is frightening! It’s a wonder we don’t all wake up in the morning and just run out of our houses screaming in terror!

Why would Roosevelt, a reasonable and intelligent human, say that fear is the only thing to fear? I was once face to face with a Rottweiler that lunged, completely unexpectedly, from the corner of a porch toward me. Because I had been a regular Yoga/meditation practitioner, I had cultivated a state of internal calm and centeredness. When I saw the dog out of the corner of my eye coming for me, fear did not arise in me. Because the gaping abyss of fear was not there, the dog stopped, almost in mid air, turned and went back to its corner.

It has to do with being whole inside. Fear eats you up. The state of constant, subliminal fear breaks down your inner integrity. Fear can save your life in emergencies, but, with a persistent presence, it can also be like a leprotic disease, creating holes in the fabric of your being. In Nature, healthy plants aren’t attacked by disease, only plants that are already sick — same with animals. Predators have mechanisms that tell them when something is weak or sick and they go for it. It’s a green light for annihilation!

When calm is your abiding state, when you are able to stand back from the melee and get quiet inside, a whole new world comes into play. Peace is an unassailable ‘defense’ system. It doesn’t allow fear to exist.

The Heart Hears!

One night I was sitting quietly, fully engaged in the music that I was hearing — a playlist of some of my favorite pieces — classical, pop, inspirational, world music. I realized that it had been a long, long time since I had taken the time to actually, fully listen. My entire being was feeling sound, absorbing rhythm and essence into every cell of my body and Psyche. Not to be cliché, but because I was wholly present to the music, it struck a deep chord directly in the core of my heart, a place I hadn’t been able to reach for what seemed like eons. Something significant shifted and awakened in me as I listened. What followed was an altered state of consciousness and a night of profound dreams.

Some, maybe all, of the most powerful moments in life happen directly through the heart. We make connections with people, animals, art, nature, music — all aspects of life. Heart-to-heart connections are the very sustenance of life. The word heart itself contains intriguing relationships. The words ‘hear,’ ‘ear,’ and ‘art’ are contained in the word heart. It is not a far stretch to add an ‘h’ at the end of ‘heart’ to include the word ‘hearth,’ a home, a place that warms and nurtures the entire being, which is a primary purpose of the heart. The heart is the hearth of the body: the home of love and connection to life. The home is the heart of life.

Have you heard the phrase, ‘the ear of the heart? Genuine meaning often escapes the mazes of the linear mind, which hears only the superficial. The intelligence of the heart, the ‘ear’, can detect the spirit and essence of what is being communicated through any medium. Beyond actual physical hearing, we have intuitive senses. The deeper meaning of words comes directly through our heart-felt intuition. Jane Roberts, famous intuitive, comments, “…we will be intuitively aware of what the other person is saying to us: we will know what is beneath words. We will also use words better ourselves to communicate our inner feelings since we will know what those feelings are.”

We get it at a feeling/intuitive level because the essence of sound, the basis of words, is vibration. Vibration itself has primal meaning, which creates the essence of words. In some cultures, there are people who can understand many languages because they feel the substance of words, the meaning of the vibrations, through the ‘ear of the heart.’ Herbert Whone in, The Hidden Face of Music, comments that, “In a material existence…a man has to delve deep to get to the heart of the matter.” The heart hears!

Sound is, of course, the basis of music, which is a nonverbal expression of human communication. Music is a medium that affects the heart directly both psychologically and through physical vibrations. I’m sure that you find this obvious! In ancient Greece, music is one of the nine Muses – the Divine Muse. She is the one who presides over all the others. She is mighty and powerful. She can make your heart soar or send you into paroxysms of sadness. She penetrates the heart directly and intimately. Her power creates bridges from heart to heart.

Author Herbert Whone expands on these deeper influences. Man, he says, “…is capable of tuning in to, or more simply hearing, the song of any other being in the universe. It is for this reason that we find the word ‘hear’ embodied in the word ‘heart’. It is the universal heart, which is the source of true wisdom, and ‘to get to the heart of the matter’ is a saying that reveals the truth in this. Real hearing is a penetration from heart to heart.”

The kind of Music you listen to can totally change the disposition of your heart. Try an experiment. Sit or lie down comfortably. Select a few styles and rhythms of music to listen to. Pay close attention to your heart’s response. Get to the heart of what you feel. Your feelings are like shades of color in the background of a painting. Notice that your feelings change with the music; even the heartbeat changes. Observe how each piece affects you emotionally. Feel the spirit of the music move in you — that spirit can transform everything!

Mitchell L. Gaynor, M.D. in The Healing Power of Sound says, “In a series of studies that examined how music affects blood pressure, pulse rate, breathing, and other aspects of the autonomic nervous system, participants’ heart rates were found to respond both to the volume and the rhythm of the music. And in some cases, the heart rate or respiratory rhythm actually synchronized with the beat of the music.” Gaynor goes on to describe further studies where music reduces anxiety, heart and respiratory rates, and changes blood pressure.

Music is a soulful, moving pursuit and can connect you to the deepest source of yourself through ‘the ear of the heart’. When you speak from your heart, your source, you express the music of your soul. Music that brings inner harmony can heal. As a part of your health maintenance plan, try listening regularly to healing music. It is a lot cheaper than a trip to the hospital — and steady doses of healing music on a large scale might even lower insurance rates. Perhaps, if heartful music had a prime place in our homes and culture, the rate of shootings in this country might decrease, wholesome connections abound, and the measure of sanity increase.

Your heart is your inner hearth, your home – a place to return to for harmony and comfort. Your own words, used wisely and in harmony, are the music of your soul. These are crucial reasons to use speech and music to harmonize our hearts so we can become healthy humans. The potentials for utilizing Music to heal the heart of a culture and to increase our abilities to connect with one another are myriad and necessary. Increasing our ability to absorb the wonderment and sacredness of life through sound and music are worthy and compelling endeavors.

Ain’t Got No Body?!

“Most of us have undergone rigorous training in ignoring our bodies. Bodily awareness is not some peripheral function, but the foundation of our sense of ourselves and our ability to respond to the world.” Says Susan Aposhyan, expert, teacher and author in how the body and mind are integrally intertwined. How connected to your body are you? Do you believe that your head is your only necessity in life? Do you live only in your head? The body is an intelligent organism made of components that work cooperatively with all aspects of yourself to make you a holistically healthy, functional being. Everything that happens in life affects the body as well as the mind. The mind affects and shapes the body. The body is a reflection of your mind and it also shapes the mind. The information that comes from the bodily intelligence helps to organize the mind.

What you don’t know about your body can impede your effectiveness in the world. You can ignore it or make it a slave at your own expense. Every feeling and thought you have is correlated with physical sensations. Those sensations inform the mind about your experience in the world. When you are in a chronic, stressful situation that you cannot effectively escape from or impact in a successful way, for protection, you suppress unwanted sensations, feelings or thoughts.

Your body then creates physical defenses by habitually constricting the muscles, thus deadening the tissues of your body, a defense that is called ‘armoring’ in some psychological systems. Once you suppress or defend yourself against certain thoughts and/or feelings, you are no longer aware of them which means you have cut off communication to that aspect of your being and don’t have conscious access to those feelings and thoughts and what they need to tell you. Feelings and thoughts are correlated with sensations: armoring deadens sensation.

Physiologically, this coping strategy of defense is stored primarily in the muscles and fascia – a sort of plastic wrap that wraps around, communicates with and connects together everything in the body. Fascia allows and supports a river of energetic flow throughout your body/mind. Armoring cuts off the flow of blood, lymph and energy in your body so that you are no longer fully alive, you have numbed parts or large areas of yourself; you no longer have awareness of certain areas or access to all aspects of your intelligence.

Armoring or defense structures after a certain point no longer serve a beneficial purpose. Simply becoming aware of your defenses actually begins to change the armoring, to thaw the numbness which then allows the life flow to resume. This is a first step to opening to your greatest potentials and to a healthy, more vibrant, energetic body and exciting and satisfying life.

Multidimensional Perception

Reality has many levels. I once attended a Quaker meeting out of curiosity. In a Quaker meeting, participants are supposed to speak only when the Spirit (the still, small voice) moves them. That includes responding only when the Spirit moves one. After a long silence, one man spoke. What I heard aroused anger in me. But I sat with it and thought about it. A multitude of thoughts and possibilities came tumbling through my mind and I considered each. By the time twenty minutes had passed, I had come to an entirely different understanding about what he had said. I was no longer angry and my new understanding led me to a great appreciation of the guy who had spoken. There are many levels of reality.

In a book by Patrice Malidoma Some, “Of Water and Spirit”, which I read years ago, he describes his initiation into being a Shaman. He was buried up to his neck in soil in the forest. He was given the instructions to look at a certain tree until he could see its Spirit. For hours and hours and days on end, he looked at the tree and noticed details in great depth, saw it in many different ways, but the tree was still a tree. Finally, after several days of this, his mind tired. His ingrained belief systems released their iron grip and at long last he saw and understood the true nature of the tree. He saw the energy body or ‘Spirit’ of the tree. He had, because of prolonged attention, worked through many levels of his consciousness to see the Reality beyond superficial perception.

I quote another story from http://mail.aol.com/38702-111/aol-6/en-us/Suite.aspx, “The Power of Patience.”

“. . . it is rather radical that Harvard art history professor Jennifer Roberts asks her students to sit–not for half an hour, but for three hours with a work of art before writing anything about it. While some may think that this sounds excessive at first, the students realize that seeing is not the whole story of learning–it takes time to process what we see. When we give ourselves time, on any subject, not just art, a new world of detail and understanding opens up to our consciousness.”

What have you truly seen, heard and understood in your life? Do you actually spend time patiently considering, thinking about and processing what you see, hear and feel? Don’t settle for the superficial. Deeper understanding can help heal the world. Dig deep and your life will be profoundly enriched.

Animal Frolicking

As I continue to study and practice the wisdom of the Eastern healing arts, I am impressed at how they so ingeniously connect humans with Nature in multidimensional ways. This includes not only healing arts like Acupuncture but also movement disciplines from China like Qi Gong in the Five Animal Frolics, and from India, Yoga through nature-based and animal Asanas. Movement is expressive of qualities, characteristics and emotion. The treasure filled Nature symbology embedded in Eastern arts is rich with meaning based in a profound understanding of humans and Nature. By practicing and understanding any of these movement disciplines, you can connect to Mother Nature and your own essence at a deeper and more intricate level. Since I am a Yoga practitioner, I’ll talk about Yoga – but you don’t have to be a practitioner of anything to get this.

Let’s take ‘Hatha’ Yoga. The word ‘Hatha’ is about duality. Ha means Sun: Tha means moon. The practice of Hatha Yoga is about balance through uniting opposites as represented by the sun and moon. The friction of opposites is part of our everyday life: warm-cool, male-female, good-evil. Understanding the metaphors of Yoga asanas and practicing them can facilitate harmonizing your physical and psychological opposites and bring you into greater inner balance.

Yoga asanas (postures, movements) are named for animals, plants, birds and even geometrical and geological structures. Each Yoga posture is like a hieroglyph. It contains nuggets of meaning related to its named entity. As with any movement, it can express associated qualities, characteristics and emotions. When you embody a particular Asana, you open yourself to change and challenge in that constellation of your nature. You deepen your understanding of yourself and even change how you express your life and being. Choose a posture and notice how you feel in that position. What comes up for you as you hold and breathe?

Try the Asana called “Cobra.” (If you aren’t familiar with Cobra, see: http://www.cnyhealingarts.com/2010/12/24/the-health-benefits-of-bhujangasana-cobra-pose/). What do snakes represent? Snakes bring up and symbolize many issues, especially fear. The Cobra opens the chest, which can hold many feelings and emotions including love, grief and fear. As you slip into the posture and hold for some time, you might begin to experience physical and/or emotional discomfort. If so, you are beginning to catalyze change in your inner status quo.

Whatever comes up, allow yourself to be with it, especially your fears, without denial or aversion. Instead of being a slave to fears, accept them as allies or teachers. “To stay alert and act wisely in the face of fear is to force that fear into the service of wisdom and power (Penny Kelly).” The practice of holding with awareness will take you on the path of renewal and resurrection, which is symbolized by the snake shedding its skin. Snakes are the essence of transformation and fluidity.

Study the movements of Yoga or Qigong. Think about the qualities and characteristics that you would like to strengthen, expand or have take root in yourself. Choose an animal movement that represents them; or create and explore movements that would embody these characteristics and qualities. Notice how you are affected. Feel yourself beginning to embrace Mother Nature at fresh and uncharted levels or your being.