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meditation

A Meditation for Information Gathering

In massage class last night, we were learning how to work more directly with the body’s network of fascia. If you’ve never heard of fascia before, it’s a connective tissue that some researchers have compared to a continuous sweater covering and interpenetrating everything in your body, including your muscles, bones, and organs.

Here’s an image I found online that shows some of the fascia between chicken skin and the underlying muscle–the fascia is the spiderwebby stuff.

Research is indicating that this network is also a means of communication, so in a sense, you could think of your fascia as your body’s own internet, sending messages all the way from your head to your toes.

Our instructor compared this to the concept of mycorrhizal associations, which are partnerships of vast networks of fungus in the soil and plant roots. This has been dubbed the “wood wide web” by some scientists, and according to the BBC, “by linking to the fungal network [plants] can help out their neighbours by sharing nutrients and information – or sabotage unwelcome plants by spreading toxic chemicals through the network.”  So, too, our fascia allows distant parts of our body to communicate–both messages of wellness and messages of dis-ease.

So, what does this have to do with meditation? Well, I drew my tarot card of the day this morning, and I got this lovely Wild Unknown rendition of the six of cups:

Check out those beautiful roots! I immediately had the urge to do a meditation on roots as information gatherers, and it was so useful that I’d like to share it with you here.

To begin, settle into a comfortable meditative position. Calm your body and your mind by focusing on your breath, gradually lengthening the inhales and exhales.

Focus on the base of your spine, and imagine roots extending from this base, deep into the earth. Allow the image to fill out as a single root branches into many. Appreciate the complexity of your roots, the vastness of the network tethering you to, and making you one with, the Earth.

Set the intention to receive via your roots the information that is correct and good for you at this time, then allow the experience to unfold.

Maintain gentle awareness of the root network, and allow any thoughts and sensations to arise. You might see images, hear words, have thoughts pop into your head, and so forth. Allow the information to flow into you.

When the experience feels complete, give thanks as feels appropriate to you, and return your awareness to the here and now.

When I did this meditation, ideas popped into my head, seemingly out of nowhere, and they were ideas that definitely tested the boundaries of my comfort zone. Here’s one example: I’m one month away from finishing massage therapy school, and the thought surfaced that I am being called to do primarily energy work with some massage incorporated into it. But, but…I’m a massage therapist! I’m supposed to be doing a ton of massage…right?

In spite of my ego’s clawing and scrambling, I had to admit a deeper feeling of release and softness.

I have no idea where this will lead, but I do know that I am now open to making energy work more of a focus in my practice, and even on a logical level, it makes sense. I’ve studied energy extensively, and I work with my own daily: You could say I’m a little obsessed. 😉 And yet somehow, I’d gotten a little out of touch with those roots.

What do your roots tell you?

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meditation mind and emotions

A Super Awesome Benefit of Meditation

I’ve written before about choosing conscious change over chronic pain, and this concept has been on my mind a lot lately. I spent some time with family over the holidays, and it was fascinating to see generational patterns and how they exhibited in someone who has been doing pattern x for ten years versus someone who has been doing it for 50.

Not surprisingly, the person with a longer history with pattern x is much more entrenched in that way of thinking and acting, but it was interesting to get a glimpse at the choices earlier in the process that eventually led to pattern x being established.

Essentially, I got to see a time lapse illustrating “If you keep making choice x, then this is likely to be the result.”

All right, enough abstract; let’s talk about actual examples and how this relates to the awesomeness of meditation. So, one thing I observed during my family time was people having trouble owning and expressing their needs. (This is another hot topic for me, which I’ve written about before.) One person was so accustomed to denying their physical needs, especially in the area of food, that their body literally had trouble keeping food down.

As someone who has struggled with orthorexia (noun, an obsession with eating foods that one considers healthy), this was a very potent reminder that, no matter what I’m eating, maintaining the intention of deeply nourishing my body and receiving this nourishment is very important. I do not want to create (or deepen) a subconscious pattern that involves rejecting nourishment. (Do you hear that, subconscious?)

In my conscious change post, I talked about minor, chronic pain that nibbles away at your energy, day in and day out, and yet we don’t do anything about it because, somehow, dealing with the constant nibbling feels easier than making the decision to change, and over time, we build up habits that are difficult to shed.

Meditation helps you see this nibbling for what it is, earlier in the process.

With meditation, you become accustomed to sitting with discomfort. Some days, sitting still for even five minutes can feel like torture: my mind races, I feel like there are a million other things I should be doing, anxiety wells up in my belly, you name it. Over time, though, I’ve learned to just sit with this mess of stuff until it passes. And it always does. 

Where this relates to conscious change is that I’m now finding it easier to discern if the discomfort I’m feeling is of the transitory, “just let it pass” variety, or if it’s indicative of one of those chronic energy drains that needs to be healed if I’m to reclaim my power.

To bring this back to family patterns, meditation is helping me see when I’m putting up with something, not from a zen, “just let it pass” place but from an “I don’t want to deal with this, and it’s not blowing up in my face yet so I won’t” place. It’s now easier to see those chronic energy drains for what they are, and confront them before pouring ten years of habitual energy into them.

It’s as if meditation is helping me refine my discomfort palate.

Rather than lumping everything into a “well, this sucks” bucket and either rejecting/avoiding the experience or tuning out and putting up with it for years, I am better able to taste the nuance and decide whether I need to sit with something until it passes or take action.

In short, meditation has given me more choices, which is a powerful thing, indeed.

 

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meditation mind and emotions tarot

The Number One Thing to Know When Making Any Decision

Life recently handed me a big growth opportunity (Latin name: Shit sandwich). I believe that in the process, I sadly may have lost a friend, but I do know that I’ve found a once-missing part of myself. This situation was a direct result of my recent work on strengthening my boundaries and releasing codependent patterns in my relationships, so if you struggle with people pleasing when you really wish you could speak your mind, this post is for you.

The context: I’d come to realize that I’d been suppressing anger and frustration in a friendship, and rather than being honest about those feelings, I had chosen to behave passive-aggressively. When I was able to see my behavior, I knew that something needed to change if I wanted to put an end to hurting my friend and myself, and that change required me to be honest about those bottled-up feelings, rather than relying on my go-to passive-aggressive tactics.

While things seemed to be heading in a positive direction after I came clean about my feelings (which involved being honest with my friend about the ways in which their choices had been affecting me) and I apologized for my half of the equation, this week, things took a sideways turn.

The process involved a lot of waiting with no response, and this gave me an opportunity to examine the feelings that came up. I discovered that I was equating a lack of response with low self-worth. As in, my friend choosing not to respond means I’m not worth responding to. Wow, no wonder I felt like crap! And it had nothing to do with the other person; this entire drama was unfolding in my head.

This, then, led to a huge lightbulb going off. As a child, I was surrounded by adults who:

  1. Were very uncomfortable around emotional expression.
  2. Were typically uncomfortable with open communication.

A passage I read recently by Danielle LaPorte speaks to this well: “We hold on to our bad habits of relating. I’ll be weak so you can feel strong. I’ll be strong so you won’t see me weak. I’ll do it so you don’t have to. I’ll confuse things because if clarity happens, things will have to change.” [Emphasis mine]

When I expressed my natural emotions as a child, and the adults around me were uncomfortable with that, they taught me that I was doing something shameful. They showed me that if I chose to experience my emotions and communicate what I was feeling in an honest, open manner, people would no longer love me, and my punishment for my “bad behavior” would be abandonment.

Throughout my life, I chose friends and partners who could help me affirm this truth by entering into an unconscious agreement that said we were not allowed to express what was really going on under the surface, and if I chose to speak up, they would leave me. I’ll admit that I’m disappointed in myself for having entered into that agreement again with my friend (really? I thought I was done with this!), but I also recognize that there is great strength in the fact that I didn’t force myself to maintain the status quo this time around.

Last night, I hit a rough patch, and I found myself doubting how I handled my end of things. I wondered whether I had been too open, too honest, too everything. And that old familiar shame around expressing myself and asserting my needs sat down on the couch next to me. But this time, I decided to call in some reinforcements. Rather than hanging out with Shame, I chose to meditate and ask my Guides.

This is what happened.

I pulled a tarot card to focus my meditation with the question: What lesson is being given to me in this situation with my friend?

The Guide who appeared was Selene. She was clearly in Get Shit Done mode, because she answered a number of questions all in one session.

First, she told me that I had permission to heal her. In the meditation, we were linked together with handcuffs, and she released us both.

Second, she spoke to my worries of “did I open up too much?” “should I have toned down my truth?” Her words wrapped me in a deep state of calm. She reminded me of the first part of her original lesson for me (again, you can read about it here), which was, in order to heal, I had to come into right relationship with myself.

She said, “This is not about perfection. This is about loving yourself as fully and as deeply as you can. Do not judge a situation by the outcome; evaluate it based on whether or not you loved yourself as fully as possible.”

She went on to show me that, instead of asking, “Should I not have sent that last email–was it too much?” to which I could not come up with a satisfactory answer because it was dependent on how the other person responded (which is out of my control), I needed to ask, “When I sent that email, was I loving myself?” Wow. I immediately knew the answer to that: “HELL YES.”

But then I had another question, because my friend’s response to that email was pretty abysmal. “Selene, what if loving myself isn’t good for the other person? Is it possible that self-love conflicts with loving others, and if it does, how do I choose?”

She replied, “When you are truly acting from a place of self-love, and you are making decisions based on loving yourself, it is impossible to act toward another in any way but love. By acting from love, you are serving the Highest Good of the situation, and your Highest Self and the other person’s Highest Self will recognize and honor that. Your lower egoic selves, on the other hand, might put up a great deal of resistance, and you may get feedback from the other person’s egoic self (or your own) that you’re being anything but loving. Let it go, and focus all of your attention on finding that place of self-love, and continue to make your decisions from this space.”

What a gift.

I came out of the meditation feeling clear and light, equipped with a powerful compass to help me navigate future decisions. As I opened my eyes, the first thing I saw was the tarot card in my lap, the Five of Coins from the Alice Tarot deck.

From the deck’s author, Karen Mahoney’s, description of the card: “The scene in which Alice walks with the Fawn through ‘the wood where things have no names’ is one of the oldest and most touching in the whole of Through the Looking-Glass. It’s also one of the most frightening, because Alice…actually loses her identity completely and can’t even remember her own name. It’s a rather chilling idea, though there is at least one good aspect to the wood–it makes the Fawn forget that he should be afraid of people and so he walks happily beside Alice.”

Selene’s voice sounded in my mind again, and she explained how, just like Alice and the Fawn, when we enter this place of self-love, we forget the illusion that says we are all separate and our personal needs and wants are mutually exclusive from another’s.

Instead, we enter our true state of being, which is to say, we forget all that “separates us” and we recall our Oneness. It is only when confronted with the world around us that we find it hard to remember this lesson. We often revert to me vs. them, and we feel like loving ourself is a selfish endeavor that must equate with hogging up love that could be spent on someone else, when this couldn’t be further from the truth.

I challenge you to join me in experimenting with this approach. The next time you’re faced with a decision, ask yourself, how can I best love myself right now? If I was choosing self-love, and I wasn’t worried about what other people might think or how they might respond, what would I do? And then…do it.

Categories
meditation mind and emotions witchcraft

Healing Energetic Boundaries and Uncovering False Beliefs

Last night, I did a beautiful full moon ritual written by Shea Morgan of The Spirit’s Edge Shamonial Temple. During the meditation portion, I decided to experiment with some new healing techniques I’ve been learning from Cyndi Dale’s book, Energetic Boundaries, and the experience was quite interesting.

In the book, Dale works with a system of twelve auric layers, which she groups into four types, each associated with a different color. Starting close to the body and moving outward, the groups are:

  • physical boundaries: red
  • emotional boundaries: orange
  • relational boundaries: green
  • spiritual boundaries: white

In the meditation, I set the intention to explore these different groups, starting with the physical auric layers, looking for any holes, tears, dense spots, or cords. What I experienced took me by surprise.

While envisioning my red physical boundary, I saw and felt a cord attached to my uterus, which is a hotspot for me right now, because I’m on a healing journey to release a uterine fibroid. As I grasped the cord and asked for insights, I knew that the other end was connected to my mom.

Using a technique from Energetic Boundaries, I asked that the Divine dissolve the cord, replacing it with a stream of grace. Once this process was complete, which happened much quicker than I thought it would, I felt a rush of liberation in my pelvic bowl.

As I moved to the orange layer, I saw two inky black pads, one on each of my feet. The pads were on the bottom, at the ball of my foot, and when I moved, they formed a trail of black marks behind me.

I asked for insight as to what these pads might be, and I received a stream of information. The pads create something akin to a trail of breadcrumbs, and as such, they provide me with a sense of safety, because I know that I can never lose my way as long as they’re functioning. The downside, however, is that the pads are connected to ways of dealing with emotional energy that I developed long ago, and these methods no longer serve me. So while I can always find my way back to the trail, the trail is a rut.

At the same time, this trail acts like an energetic beacon, allowing other people struggling with similar emotional dysfunctions to find me, which adds a new layer of understanding to my tendency to draw in the same type of person over and over.

When I came to a yellow layer, which felt connected to the solar plexus, something interesting happened. I noticed a density near my solar plexus, extending from just above my diaphragm to my belly button.

I physically moved my hands to that area, and through movement and “seeing” with my psychic sense, I touched the area with my fingers. It felt cottony and spongy. As I dug my fingers into the mass, I tried pulling it apart, and clumps of it came off, like sticky cotton candy.

I continued pulling it apart with both hands, tossing clumps of this mass onto the floor, but it kept going and going; there seemed to be no end to the stuff. At one point, I was ripping off handfuls and throwing them on the floor, almost in a frenzy, until I realized what I was doing and began to guide my awareness back to my breath, gradually slowing myself down as I continued to remove sticky clumps.

Eventually, I was able to stop tearing away at this mass, and I gently sunk my fingers into it and asked for insight. Images began streaming into my mind, the first a memory of a bowl of ice cream. As my focus zoomed out, I was in my grandparents’ kitchen, and I was perhaps four or five. I’d been crying and crying after my mom put me to bed, and my grandpa had taken me out of bed, brought me into the kitchen, and given me ice cream. My mom was furious, and the two of them were arguing behind me while I ate.

I felt my stomach fill with this overly sticky-sweet ice cream, lodging in my belly like a bowling ball, swirling with guilt and shame as I blamed myself for causing my mom and grandpa to argue.

The next image was of gummy bears swirled in oatmeal, which confused the hell out of me until I remembered eating that when I was about nine or ten. There was a fad of adding weird, sugary crap to oatmeal then, and in meditation I experienced the sensation of swirling these little bears into the hot oatmeal, watching them melt and turn into this gummy, sticky mess.

I then saw my mom, laughing and giggling in a strange way, and my dad hoisted her up like a child and carried her downstairs. It was the first (and perhaps the only) time I’d ever seen my mom drunk, and I remember being sent to stay with my grandparents for a few days.

I was never told what happened that night, but I recall it leaving a huge impression on me and feeling so confused and scared. Last night, as these images streamed into my head, I felt sadness and anger toward my mom, and the reason that flowed into my awareness is that I was angry at her for allowing her abusers to remain in her life.

I don’t want to go into any more detail about personal issues that don’t belong to me, but suffice it to say, this memory brought up a lot of my habitual childhood thoughts. I recall looking at my mom and sensing her vulnerability and victimhood, and I was so afraid for her that it would cause me to feel panicked. I never told her this as a child, and now as an adult, I can see how I expressed that fear as anger toward her, which was much less scary for me to deal with than believing that my mom could be hurt.

All of this came back to the sticky, cottony mass at my solar plexus. With my fingers still stuck into its dense web, I realized how my defense mechanism when I was abused was to giggle and act “girlish” and overly sweet, in the hopes that the abuser would like me and stop hurting me. This “sweetness” had created this cotton candy mass covering, and attempting to protect, my solar plexus.

I will likely write much more about this in the future, once I’ve had time to process the experience, but for now, I’ll go over the last energetic repair that occurred during this meditation.

When I reached the spiritual layer, I saw two oval-shaped holes in my boundary, running up and down either side of my abdomen. As I explored them gently with my fingers and asked for insight, I saw that they were connected to my false belief that I must suffer in order to “earn” Divine grace and love.

I recently read a book called The MindBody Code, and there’s a chapter about stigmata that discusses commonly held beliefs about suffering and worthiness. I’m very eager to work through the meditations after my experience last night to see what more I can uncover about my relationship to learned suffering.

Just to give you an idea, here are some of the meditations presented in the book: Unlearning Self-Imposed Suffering, Freedom From Your Atonement Archetype, and Unlearning Illness. Pretty juicy stuff.

Thanks to Shea for sharing such a wonderful ritual! I’m looking forward to gaining more understanding about energetic boundaries, how they work, ways in which they become damaged, and the effects of repairing them, and I’ll be sure to share my journey with you here.