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Karmic Clearing, Kundalini, and Grace

November 21, 2019

Be sure to check out Lisa’s new book and corresponding web seminar, both of which include tools relevant to this article.

Karmic clearing is one of the topics I am asked about the most often, and with us emerging from Mercury retrograde and Scorpio Sun over the next few day (both energies conducive to karmas arising in order to be cleared) I thought it was a good time to write about it. I mostly stay away from the word ‘karma’ in my teachings and writings because it has become so widely used with many different interpretations. It is a complicated subject, with volumes of intricate teachings within Eastern wisdom traditions covering the types and intensities of karmas based on whether they are generated by action, thought or word, and based on our level of regret or attachment.

I find that within the framework of the energy body, when most people use the word ‘karma’ what they are really referring to is closer to the Eastern idea of ‘samskaras’ – longstanding reactive patterns embedded deep in the psyche that feel like they play out over and over. They may play out externally, for example as a pattern of choosing the same kind of romantic partner or work situation, with the same kinds of issues arising repeatedly, even though initially each partner or job seems completely different. Or they may play out more internally, as a particular anxiety or weight of unworthiness that feels like it is always there, even when we had thought we had overcome it, but then come to realize it is still driving us.

If we are involved in any kind of personal growth, healing, or spiritual path we are likely working to change these patterns moment by moment through developing our awareness of them. These patterns define our ‘default’ when responding and reacting to the world. Through self-awareness and mindfulness we enable ourselves to override these defaults, to see them as we are triggered, and choose a different response. But that’s not easy. We often feel we are taking one step backwards to move two forward (if we’re lucky!) We have to be very vigilant to create the ‘space’ between our default reaction and our normal response, so we have time to choose something different. That space is a reflection of Source (by whatever name you choose to use for this) – it is the space in which we are free, not defined by our past conditioning, able to choose.

Working at the level of our energy body has a lot to offer because we can speed this process by loosening or even liberating patterns where they are stored as root structures in our karmic body. Although there are many different mappings of the levels of our energy bodies, using the simple three level one I laid out in my Chakra Levels posts, these kinds of patterns are stored deep down in the second level. We can deconstruct these patterns through various kinds of energy work and modalities, replacing them with new healthier patterns (an upgrade!), or in some cases just deconstructing them with no need to replace them, as they are just blocking the light. When this happens the natural light at the center of each chakra, at the heart of our entire being, shines through unobstructed. This kind of deconstruction is usually what is referred to as karmic clearing in energy work – deconstructing and/or replacing deep-seated negative thought or emotional patterns at the energy body level.

But we can also go about changing these patterns another way – by bringing light straight through from the innermost level of the chakras. This kind of light, the kundalini, liberates us. It is like a light bath, clearing obstructions as it flows through. Meditations and practices designed to activate the flow of kundalini function in this way, and while it is usually talked about in terms of rising from the root up, in fact kundalini can flow through from the innermost level of any chakra. Sometimes the effects are jarring in the short term, as issues may rise to the surface for us to deal with on some other level first – mind or body, internal or external – before we can truly let go of the deeper issue. These physical or psychological ‘symptoms’ are like messages encouraging us to pay attention, and clear on a more profound level.

There’s a third way these patterns can be rewritten or released, and this is through grace. Grace can really be seen as a spontaneous kundalini experience, and depending on your spiritual beliefs you may view grace as a gift from the divine, a deity, or a teacher. In any case the experience of grace is as a gift – a gift of light dissolving and embracing you, taking what is unneeded or causing you pain, and showing you the true light of your own being in the process.

Whether spontaneous grace or sought through practice, when the light moves through us it can bring about remarkable change very quickly. Near death experiences or spiritual epiphanies from which someone emerges forever changed are examples of the light literally remaking someone from within. Old negative patterns can disappear overnight. Most of the time though, change happens more gradually even when the kundalini is involved. We heal and awaken over time, becoming more and more immersed in the light, with the experience of many stops and starts.

Whether from karmic clearing, kundalini rising, or grace, when karmic patterns are loosened or released at a deep level of our energetic structure, we have a profound opportunity to transform – and we often have trouble taking advantage of this. It’s not uncommon to feel like we have made a profound shift, or experienced a deep realization, for several days (or even weeks or months) only to later revert back, lapsing into our old patterns. What pulls us back? What keeps us from letting go of the past?

The reasons are often individual, but here’s a few of the most common beliefs or issues that can cause us to reverse a shift:

  • Viewing karma as punitive. Our entire culture is based on reward and punishment, starting from when we are young children seeking our parents’ approval and continuing through into most school and work environments. In addition, most religions have some version of divine ‘reward’ and ‘punishment’ written into their theology (at least at the exoteric level.) Until we have truly let go of this, we are likely to have difficulty accepting and allowing light to remake us because we believe we must pay for our mistakes, and this never feels ‘done.’ Feelings of unworthiness are often a reflection of this belief, rooted in the sense we ‘deserve’ to feel bad or even that we are intrinsically bad. Releasing this whole structure, the entire idea of a universal reward and punishment system, is key to allowing the light to remake you. You deserve not by virtue of what you have or have not done, but simply because you are. You are light.


  • Denying the body and pysche. So often spirituality and spiritual healing are presented as a transcendence of the body and ego. The whole idea of ‘self-improvement’ is founded upon the belief there is something ‘wrong’ we need to fix. Most people feel there is something wrong with their body or ego. If you’ve experienced trauma, especially physically-based trauma such as physical abuse or sexual abuse, patterns of disassociating from the body may come into play as well, and can play out on very subtle levels. Embracing the body and psyche as that which awakens and heals – rather than as that which must be overcome to do so – is key. Then the shifts can filter all the way through from the innermost core of our being, the most subtle level of light, into the densest level – our body. This is NOT to say however that disease or illness is a sign we are blocking the light – that is a terrible form of victim-blaming. Physical issues are much too complex to reduce to this. But embracing our body in whatever its state recognizes that the light comes through no matter what, it is not dependent upon our health (though often our health will be positively impacted.)


  • We don’t practice what we’ve realized. When we have a spiritual realization or dissolution into light, we have to continue to reinforce it. If it has released a deep-seated pattern or belief, we have to be very vigilant and let any residual thoughts or emotions reminiscent of it go, and repeat this consciously for awhile before the pattern entirely dies. And we have to practice bringing the light back through us too! Even in cases of grace, it’s important to engage in something that will help you maintain that connection and grace stream, and allow it to continue to work its magic on you.


  • We’re afraid. We often cling to our old habits even when they are hurting us because they are familiar, and we fear the unknown more than anything. This is when reminding yourself of what you are gaining, rather than what you are losing, is so important. More freedom, ease, joy, love, calm, wisdom – these are what arise when the light comes through us, and when an obstruction to it is cleared. Cultivate and rest in these. Allow them to complete the work for you.

Wishing you much success in completing whatever shifts have arisen for you so far this season. May they complete as we reach the Solstice and year end, and may you know yourselves as light always.

Chakra Levels – Part 1 of a Series

October 31, 2019

Both All Hallow’s Eve and Mercury retrograde (also starting today) are about the unseen. While Mercury retrograde is often viewed as a nuisance time when logistical and technological complications arise, on an energy level it can add a boost to karmic clearing – it has the energy of ‘circling back to move forward.’ In that spirit I had started a post on karmic clearing through energy work. However, I realized that to set it up I was repeating a lot of what I’ve already written in my Chakra Levels series. So I’m reposting the initial post in that series first, and will post the karmic clearing post next week to build upon what is already written in these 4 posts. Enjoy, and please check out the sidebar for links to my new website for my Chakra Empowerment for Women book and webinar, as well as the new Facebook and Instagram pages. Like/follow them to receive updates, events, and deals related to the book as we get closer to the Dec. 8th publication date. Thank you!! Yours in Light, Lisa

Mommy Mystic

chakrahandsEverything you see has its roots in the unseen world. Its form may change yet the essence remains the same. ~ Rumi

Note: This is the first post in a series, for links to the rest of the series, please see the bottom of this one.

Many modern chakra teachings focus on methods for ‘opening’ or ‘clearing’ the chakras, and while this can be very useful, it really provides just a glimpse of the many ways we might work with our subtle body. Chakra systems map the intersection between body, mind, and spirit – they allow us to navigate the flow of energies between these levels of our being. These mappings provide guideposts for our subtle sense – the aspect of our intuitive mind we use to work with our chakras.

Although there are different models for the levels of the chakras, the basic model that I find very helpful…

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Kundalini – The Energy of Change (5 Things You Should Know)

October 18, 2019

Note: I have been getting a lot of questions on kundalini lately so I decided to repost this article, originally written for the now defunct, and currently residing on my client website This article was the first in a 3 part series, and if you’re interested in the other two articles you will find links to them on my client site at the bottom. Please feel free to post your questions in the comments here, as others may benefit – I have worked with many clients over the years on these issues, in addition to engaging in chakra and kundalini meditation for over 30 years myself. Blessings – Lisa

Whether you are trying to achieve a big goal in your life, develop a new habit, or let go of a harmful old one, any true change is grounded in a shift in awareness. We can will our way through for a while, but change only sticks long term when we are able to click into a new mode of perceiving and thinking. Modern neuroscience backs this up, with an increased understanding of what it takes to overwrite old neuro-patterns with new, healthier ones.

From a spiritual perspective, kundalini is the energy of change. A lot of mystique and jargon surrounds the traditional teachings on kundalini. But it is a natural energy that moves through us in varying degrees all of the time. We can all learn to feel this beautiful power within us, and to work with it as the organic, transformative energy that it is.

A common image used to explain kundalini is that of a snake coiled latent at the base of our spine. Through spiritual practices – traditionally yoga, meditation, and pranayama (breathing practices) – we ‘awaken’ the snake, and the kundalini makes its way up through our chakra system. As it does so, it clears blocks – the energetic component of our emotional wounds, mental conditioning, psychological blocks, and limiting perceptions. As each of these are nudged to the surface of our subtle body, the opportunity to grow beyond them arises. As the kundalini moves all the way through our subtle body into our crown, we experience a new sense of union with the divine.

There are volumes written on kundalini – on how to prepare for it, how to activate it, how to manage it, and what to expect. For most of us though, I think there are 5 basic points that are the most important to understand about kundalini:

  • Kundalini movement is normal and natural, and happens to most of us at some point. Kundalini is the energy of spiritual consciousness, and of awakened mind. Whenever an event occurs in our life that triggers deep shifts in our understanding, our kundalini has been awakened to some extent, and movement has occurred. While there are many kundalini preparation and triggering practices, awakenings aren’t limited to those who utilize them, or to traditions that do. Mystics throughout the ages from virtually every spiritual tradition have described very similar experiences, all of which can be seen as kundalini awakenings. To study kundalini is to study the technical underpinnings of awakening – the ‘how’. This isn’t necessary or even of interest to everyone, but it can be helpful.
  • Kundalini doesn’t just rise once – and it doesn’t just rise! We often hear about the ‘kundalini rising’, and in a general sense, the movement of the kundalini from our root to our crown chakra is the trajectory of spiritual growth. But the kundalini doesn’t simply rise once through our system and catapult us into enlightenment. It moves through in stages, each time clearing on a deeper level, and each time shifting us into a more expansive understanding of ourselves and the universe. (I cover the experiences and life lessons associated with shifts at each chakric level in the next article.)

Kundalini also doesn’t only rise – it moves downward too! Teachings on kundalini vary, and some traditions distinguish between different kinds of kundalini, some that flow from root to crown and others from crown to root. Upward-flowing kundalini is linked to spiritual seeking – our journey from knowing ourselves as finite, material beings to knowing ourselves as part of the infinite, cosmic flow. Downward kundalini is linked to manifesting spiritual understanding and goals on the physical plane. Both may clear blocks, and both are equally important to our spiritual – and human – journey.

Formal kundalini meditation practices are traditionally focused on the upward path, but for many people the greatest lessons come when we attempt to manifest in our lives from spiritual insight. Doing this is like trying to plant a kundalini tree in the earth – we are literally attempting to bring the kundalini through us from spirit to matter. So while the upward path is usually meditation and contemplation-based, the downward path is action and manifestation-based. Many of us like a mixture of both!

  • Kundalini movement is beautiful and pleasant, most of the time. Stories of kundalini ‘emergencies’ have left many people fearful of kundalini, and it’s true that overdoing practices specifically designed to bring it up quickly without proper supervision is never a good idea. But most kundalini shifts are either so subtle that we don’t register them, or are beautiful and blissful. We may feel waves of light or tingles moving through our body, upswellings of love or joy, bursts of creative ideas, expansive spiritual epiphanies, or sudden insights. What’s not to like?

Warnings about kundalini are based in the fact that if we pull too much through too fast, it can feel as if we’ve short-circuited our system. Just like electrical circuits, we each begin life able to handle a certain amp level. If too much kundalini shoots through before we are ready, we may experience bodily or psychological symptoms that are uncomfortable and distracting. But in most cases, we will naturally adapt to the change with time and self-care, and it’s nothing to worry about. Of course anyone who experiences health or mental instabilities that may be kundalini-based should work with a professional healer, energy worker or therapist skilled in such issues. Pushing through is never the answer. In fact stopping any explicit kundalini practices for a time, focusing on grounding and centering in the heart, exercise and good nutrition, are the first steps.

  • A grounded body and mind are the best preparation for kundalini shifts. Just like electrical sockets have to be grounded to safely conduct electrical currents, so our body and mind need to be grounded to conduct kundalini. From a physical perspective, grounded means living a healthy lifestyle, being comfortable and strong in our body, and connecting regularly to nature in a real and fulfilling way. From a mental and psychological perspective, grounded means we have a keen, focused mind and are centered in a healthy sense of self and reality. We may still have issues to work through, but we have a foundation of self-esteem and mental stability.

Most of the formal spiritual practices meant to prepare someone for kundalini work revolve around strengthening mind and body. Physical yoga in fact partly developed as a method for doing both. Inquiry practice, mindfulness, and concentration meditation are all also means of strengthening both our mind and self-awareness. While doing these in a formal way is usually only necessary for someone engaged in explicit kundalini awakening work, they are all good practices for managing spontaneous kundalini movements when they occur (and of course they all have other benefits too!)

  • Seeking in the form that truly inspires you is the best way to awaken your kundalini. You don’t have to fit yourself into a certain mold to get your kundalini moving. Any sincere form of spiritual seeking – one inspired by true questioning and desire – will pull this beautiful power through you to some degree. Situations or practices that open your heart and encourage self-honesty, or that are based in true inquiry, will trigger shifts. The only thing that shuts down our kundalini is stagnation – a rigid mind or frozen heart. True spiritual seeking is itself fueled by the Source or spirit already awake within us, and the kundalini moves when we open even more to this urge.

Of course, you may want to work more consciously with your kundalini, and to tune-in to its subtle shifts in your energy body. The guided meditations included in this 3-part series are designed to help you do exactly this. They are not kundalini transmissions, but instead guided techniques that you can use to gently increase your own connection to your kundalini, and to support its movement within you. 

In this first meditation, I will guide you through developing a strong foundation for kundalini work, and then use visualizations to help you urge both an upward and downward flow. Then we will focus on your root, heart, and third eye chakras, as these are each unique gateways in the kundalini rising process. This is a meditation you can do once, or over and over – it is gentle enough to repeat at will, although of course don’t if it makes you uncomfortable in any way:

Gentle Kundalini Movement Guided (mp3)

Here are the other two posts in this series (these will take you to my client site):

Stages of Kundalini Rising- Growing into the New You

Kundalini Rising in Women


Free Equinox Guided Meditation – Turning Point (mp3)

September 14, 2019

Equinox is a balance point – between day and night, sun and moon, past and future.

I haven’t posted an energy work meditation in awhile, and I have a favorite sequence for equinox that I’d like to share. This work helps you make the transition from past patterns and goals to new ones, on an energetic level.

If you roll a ball uphill, it will slow and then pause for a second before rolling back down. This pause is the perfect metaphor for the energy of the equinoxes – they are pauses at the balance point between light and dark, day and night, sun and moon, before a change in direction occurs. As such equinoxes are the perfect time to mark a transition in your life in a conscious way. You can use this balance point energy to affirm a turning of the page, a shift in emphasis, a new set of goals, and the release of old patterns.

The following guided meditation is designed to guide you through this process on an energetic level. You will need to do some preparation to engage with it, and then you could do it just once on the equinox itself (perhaps combining it with other rituals you like to mark the occasion with) or everyday for a few days before and a few days after to affirm the shift you are bringing into being.

The meditation has two parts, each consisting of three sub-parts. The first part is focused on looking back with gratitude at where you’ve been, and pulling forward lessons and wisdom you can use in the future. The second part is focused on turning forward, establishing your highest energetic vibration/foundation, affirming the direction you want to go, and what energies you would like more of in your life.

Here is an overview of the meditation, and what you will need to prepare (I suggest writing these down on a prep sheet beforehand):

Backwards/Past Section:

  • Express gratitude for three things representative of the phase of your life you are shifting from. These might be events, people, gifts, or lessons (although you will focus on lessons explicitly in the step after next.) Although you could choose more or less than three, three is a good number for these kinds of exercises, so I have used it throughout. Write down your three items on your prep sheet.
  • Affirm the release and/or say good bye to three items from this phase of your life that you do not want to be a part of the next phase. These might be relationships, an old job or home, or limiting emotional or conditioned patterns. Again, more than three is fine, but it’s hard to affirm a shift in a clear way if too many aspects are involved, so three is generally a good number. Write these on your prep sheet.
  • Acknowledge and ‘own’ three lessons, or three types of insight or wisdom gained, in the period you are moving on from. Write these down on your prep sheet. Within the meditation, you will not only verbalize but feel these as energies integrating into your body. In fact feeling each step in your body is what distinguishes this meditation and makes it energy work. So as much as possible, feel the energies of what you are visualizing or contemplating.

At this point we’ll pause for an affirmation that represents the turning point you are consciously marking.

Forwards/Future Section:

  • Chakra empowerment and affirmations. No prep necessary for this section, I will guide you through focusing on each chakra with a visual and affirmation, in order to fully clear and activate your energy body.
  • Name and cultivate the feeling of three qualities you want your future to be filled with. These might be emotions like joy, contentment, or calm, or it might be more situational states such as successful, confident or financially secure. Either way, imagine what each of these is like as an energy, in particular what color of energy you would represent each as. You will use these to bring a felt sense of each state into your mind and body.
  • Identify three goals you have for yourself in the next phase of your life. Then identify a visual you can use that represents you already having achieved each goal. You will utilize these within the final part of the meditation, in which you will first establish energy lines between your third eye, heart and navel chakra to each goal, and then integrate your goals, and the feeling they have already occurred, into your body.

Close out and complete the transition.

I’ve put this together as an audio for you, although you could certainly do this sequence on your own without an audio. Keep in mind this is a home-made audio, so there is some minor ambient static and background noice – in general, playing it on lower volume will help screen that out. I hope you enjoy it and I wish you all a joyful, abundant and transformative equinox!

Equinox Turning Point Meditation (21 minutes):

Books to Close out Your Summer

August 30, 2019

Summer is winding down, and we are heading into the shedding, introspective, and germinating energy of Fall and Winter. I haven’t done a book post in awhile, and have read many interesting books this summer. Here’s a few you may be interested in reading as part of this transition – including my own, which you can now pre-order, finally due out in December!! As always, I have included a mixture of self-published and wider release books.


Chakra Empowerment for Women: Self-Guided Techniques for Healing Trauma, Owning Your Power & Finding Overall Wellness, by Lisa Erickson (me!) (this link is to Amazon, you can also pre-order at Barnes and Noble and Llewellyn.) I’m very excited for this book to come out December 8th. It presents 12 chakra empowerments to help you activate particular energies within a specific moment in your day, or for use as part of a longer term personal transformation effort. The activation process for each includes visualization, affirmation, memory, and energetic transmission, and the book includes color inserts to help you with the visuals (I’m grateful to my publisher Llewellyn for agreeing to these inserts, as they are rare these days.) It is of course focused on women’s energy anatomy and specific issues women often face to owning their power. I have included sections in each chapter on how these chakra empowerments can be utilized as part of a sexual trauma healing process. This book is inspired by and adapted from the work I have done with many of you in private sessions and workshops, and I’m very grateful for your sharings with me. However, this is the first time I have presented these empowerments in this sequential, structured way that you can reference at any time. A book website including a chakra diagnostic quiz will be available later this Fall, and I will be doing a 12 week video seminar tied to the book starting in January – more info forthcoming on that too. And if you’re a podcaster or blogger looking for interviewees, please reach out, I’d love to discuss the book with you as part of my online book tour.



Wild Mercy: Living the Fierce and Tender Wisdom of the Women Mystics, by Mirabai Starr. I have been a fan of Mirabai Starr’s writing on Saint Teresa of Avila and Saint John of the Cross, but had never read her more personal work. This is part memoir and part spiritual call to action, for women in particular. She shares her challenges and heartbreak (including the tragic death of her daughter at 14), as well as the stories of many women mystics and how they have inspired her. Fierce and tender women’s wisdom for sure.


SHOUT, by Laurie Halse Anderson. Laurie Halsie Anderson is the author of Speak, a moving first person novel of a high school girl’s sexual trauma and healing process. It became a bestseller as well as a finalist for the National Book Award and Ms. Anderson has visited high schools around the country speaking to students about sexual assault, consent, and related issues. Shout is her own story, and really an account of how Speak came to be. Equally moving and wise, it grapples with many issues related to sexual abuse, assault, and healing. Sexual trauma survivors should proceed with caution as she does describe her assault.


Politics of Love: A Handbook of a New American Revolution, by Marianne Williamson. Ms. Willimason is of course running for President and has several politically minded books out, in addition to her bestselling spiritual books. Whether you agree with her policy proposals or not, this book is worth a read as it highlights how our political discourse has changed over the years, how this rhetoric reflects our spiritual state of being, and lays out a vision for how democracy could reflect the foundational spiritual value of love. It just might redefine some things for you.


Five Wisdom Energies: A Buddhist Way of Understanding Personalities, Emotions and Relationships, by Irini Rockwell. This is another presentation of the 5 ‘Buddha families’ or ‘dakini families’ from Tibetan Buddhism, and how this model can be utilized to work with ourselves for personal and spiritual transformation. While I still prefer Lama Tsultrim’s Wisdom Rising: Journey into the Empowered Feminine, this book offers a more psychological and sociological perspective that may be a good follow-up read for you if you liked Lama Tsultrim’s book and/or have been working with the dakini energies.


Yoga Wisdom: Warrior Tales Inspiring You On and Off Your Mat
, Stephanie Spence. This is part memoir and part mini-interviews with dozens of yoga teachers from many different traditions. Ms. Spence shares her story of finding herself through yoga after a difficult divorce, and embarks upon a yoga road trip as part of her healing journey (also the foundation for her popular blog). Each teacher shares tidbits of how they relate to their practice and how it is the foundation for their own life. Some are more physically based, and some are more emotional/psychological. This is a dip-in-and-out book, and if you’re a yoga practitioner, it may offer your some new insights.


Radiantly Free: Recreating Life and Health from the Radiance of You, Rev Dr. Rachel Wetzteon. I was recently interviewed by Rachel, and so enjoyed our conversation (you’ll find that interview on her podcast page here.) Her background in personal training and a doctorate in physiology give her a unique perspective on spirituality and the importance of the mind-body link. She has combined this with energy healing training and offers her own personal take in this little gem.


Warrior Won, by Meryl Davids Landau. This is spiritual ‘chick lit’ – I mentioned Ms. Landau’s prior book Downward Dog, Upward Fog in a prior post. As you can probably tell from these titles, the protagonist of both books, Lorna, is a dedicated yoga practitioner. She is also representative of many ‘spiritual but not religious’ individuals today, who build their spiritual path from many different sources, including law of attraction teachings, Buddhist teachings, energy healing traditions and more. in this latest novel, Lorna faces a major life challenge, entering her into a ‘dark night’ of sorts, and has to draw upon her various sources for new strength and inspiration.


The Gifted School, by Bruce Holsinger. Not a spiritual or energy healing book! But a novel that’s really about modern parenting (at least American parenting), the pressure to have ‘exceptional’ kids, and the lengths we will go to to make that happen – whether in sports, academics, music, or anything else (I’ve even seen this drive in spiritual parents, who are certain their child is a reincarnation of some great teacher or other.) It’s part biological and part psychological. So if you are just looking for a good read with a few parenting moments in which you may recognize yourself (or others you know), this might be a good fit for you.


Wishing you a wonderful transition from summer to fall (or the opposite if you’re down under!) and will return soon with more energy resources. Much light to you-

10 Tips for Surviving (and Thriving) As An Empath

July 31, 2019

Felt like a good time to reblog this post! I also recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by Rev Dr Rachel Wetztseon, check out the sidebar to link through to that podcast…and while you are there be sure to check out her book Radiantly Free.

Mommy Mystic

ProtectedEmpath ‘Protected Empath’ by Elena Ray,

We are living through a very intense time right now, and in the coming months I’ll be focusing here on the energies of this particular phase of history, and how we all can deal with them. Today I want to start with the basics of caring for yourself as an empath. We are all empathic, because to be human means to be connected energetically to everything around you, whether you are aware of this or not. Just as our physical senses are constantly picking up sounds, sights, tastes, smells, and sensations, so our subtle body senses are constantly experiencing the energies present in our environment, emanating from the world mood at large, and from the people around us.

However, there is a spectrum of empathic sensitivity, and if you are reading this blog, which is almost entirely about energy, then you are probably…

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Breaking through the Gatekeepers

July 20, 2019

This post might also be titled ‘Take Pride In Being New Age’, as it was prompted by a LA Times article that I found not a little patronizing (How Millenials Replaced Religion with Astrology and Crystals) as well as the dismissive coverage of Marianne Williamson’s performance in the first presidential debate. This time in history is so much about breaking down barriers and getting rid of the gatekeepers who have guarded the gates to power. This is true on a lot of fronts, but the ones most relevant to this blog are of course spirituality and healing. As the number of people who define themselves as ‘spiritual but not religious’ climbs, more attention is being paid to how these individuals are piecing together their own spiritual paths drawing from multiple sources. But the media coverage of this – even within the ‘progressive’ media – is often derisive, eschewing such individuals as flaky, superficial, ‘woo woo’ or all of the above in the catchall term ‘New Age’. 

As my own work is usually itself put in this category, I can’t help but ask how New Age got such as a bad rap. Even healing practitioners and spiritual teachers whose work falls in this category are often reluctant to label themselves as such. It’s really worth asking why, because who, really, ISN’T hoping for the dawn of a New Age at this point?!? Many of us share a sense that we are in environmental, social, and spiritual crises, and a turning point must occur for the earth to even be viable for future generations. If that’s not the definition of needing a New Age, then what is? Often criticism of New Age modalities – which depending on who you ask includes everything from yoga, meditation, and acupuncture to crystals, reiki, and astrology – is just another form of gatekeeping.

The thing about gatekeeping is that it doesn’t just function externally, it creates internal barriers that you can’t easily see. When it comes to spirituality and healing these barriers prevent you from connecting directly to the full spiritual and healing power within yourself. You internalize the idea that spirit must be mediated through a socially-sanctioned institution or individual; that you do not know enough to connect directly with spirit or healing energies; that an authority figure is needed to discern anything related to your spiritual path or health needs; that your gender, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation disqualifies you; that your own insight or intuition on these matters is irrelevant.

Most of us do need spiritual, personal growth, and healing guidance, help, and support at least sometimes, as well as practices and tools. But spiritual teachers, guides, mentors, healers, intuitives and energy workers should function more as midwives than gatekeepers. For that matter so should religious organizations and lineages – their purpose is to help us birth ourselves into our own direct spiritual connection. They should provide the energy, structure, container and guidance that empowers us to awaken and aid our own healing. And many of them do function this way. But all too often (as we’ve seen in headline after headline), these institutions and/or individuals within them have instead become the exact opposite – power structures that disempower through fear and manipulation, creating internal barriers for individuals that are very hard to release.

The original New Age movement began partly in response to, and as a rebellion against, this kind of disempowerment, and that’s why I think it is in fact growing stronger these days, especially amongst millennials. Nevertheless there are some valid criticisms of the current New Age environment, and I think it’s worth looking at them to sort through which are ‘gatekeeping’ misrepresentations and which are helpful. Here’s the most common criticisms I often see of New Age practices and individuals. They are characterized as:

  • Flaky and Ungrounded – this is based on a stereotype of spaced out individuals who can’t function in their daily lives. As a business owner, author, and mother of three busy teens I really take offense at this one – people who know me personally may call me many things, but not this, and the same is true for all the healers, spiritual guides and intuitives I personally know or choose to work with. Of course disassociation can be a real issue in spiritual circles, and as someone who works with many sexual trauma survivors I certainly see that spirituality and energy healing in particularly can become a part of this problem. But this can happen with any kind of spiritual affiliation – any path or modality can be used as a way of disconnecting from reality and dysfunctional emotional patterns OR can be used to work through these obstructive patterns and connect more deeply to presence in the world.
  • Disputed by Science – this criticism is especially leveled at energy or intuitive based modalities, but there is a big difference between something being disproven by mainstream science, and it being unprovable or as of yet unmeasurable. Much of what is currently accepted science would have been considered outrageous 200 years ago. Many studies related to neuroplasticity are showing the powerful connection between mind and body. Studies on meditation and mindfulness have repeatedly shown their benefits (most of these practices are not necessarily classified as New Age, depending on who you talk to, but some are – and the results of these studies simply show how much we are still learning about the brain and consciousness.)

I think what is valid criticism on this front is that some teachers or healers make grandiose claims that deter individuals from seeking more conventional medical or mental health help. Most people will benefit from utilizing spiritual, energetic and alternative modalities in combination with more mainstream methods. The challenge then is finding a therapist or doctor who is open to the combination, and will not be dismissive. 

  • Commercialization/Scams – there are certainly individuals in the new age space manipulating others through hope and fear to make themselves money – just as there are in mainstream medicine and organized religions. But I haven’t see any proof that this is happening any more in this space than others. Just as in business, government – or for that matter any organization at any level – there will always be individuals functioning from a place of integrity and concern for the common good, and those functioning solely from self-interest and greed. In other words, this is not a New Age – or even new – problem.
  • Superficial – the complaint here is that New Ageism leads to a ‘sampler plate’ style of spirituality, personal growth, or healing, with individuals jumping around from practice to practice or tool to tool, and never going deep enough to truly grow or awaken. This is a valid issue – but it’s also a personal choice. It is usually true that to go deep one will need to find a path, and a valid teacher or guide, and stick with it through challenges and resistance. But that’s not what everyone wants or needs. And to insist it is, and that this must be within an established or conventional tradition, is often just a form of dysfunctional gatekeeping – invalidating personal choice, insight and intuition when it comes to an individual’s life’s path.

Part of the ‘superficial’ labelling too is the complaint that teachers and healers are adapting traditional practices too much for modern practitioners, and that this is diluting their true purpose and strength. This may certainly be happening, but I’m not sure it’s as big of a problem as some would claim. Teachings have always adapted as they move from culture to culture, and whole new lineages and traditions have evolved from such melding. Why should it be any different now? A more valid question for me is what works? What brings people more insight, peace, health, and happiness? I think the marketplace tends to sort this out on its own – if a teaching/teacher, healing modality/healer doesn’t benefit or resonate, it tends to be a flash in the pan. Are there posers out there? Sure, but I think it’s the exception, not the rule.

And so we come to the bigger question – who gets to judge what has value? And that really is where we get to what the New Age is really supposed to stand for:

  • The dismantling of religious and spiritual gatekeeping – and the related false beliefs about who can, or cannot, connect with spirit or healing energies.
  • A validation of personal experience – your intuition, your spiritual experience, your insight has value and comes from a spiritual source within yourself that is powerful and true.
  • An openmindedness about what is and isn’t possible and about what we do and do not know, along with a recognition that as valuable as science is, it is itself evolving.
  • A belief in the power of mind to co-create, and the heart to connect and guide. Closely related to this is…
  • Hope for the future – this is almost out of style, but something we are desperately in need of. 

So whatever you are working with in your life right now, contemplate the gatekeepers – external and internal – that might be holding you back. What judgements have you internalized? How are these limiting your own inward connection to natural wisdom and intuition? Your capacity to access healing energies? Your sense of what is possible? Are you caught in a trap of thinking the next workshop, the next teacher, the next practice or healing session will be the one that finally frees you – caught in a cycle of continuously seeking spiritual authority outside yourself? There are a lot of different ways gatekeeping can manifest.

For women, breaking through these barriers is particularly important, as disconnecting us from our own inner insight has been one of the functions of patriarchy. The conditioning and social structures that have enforced this create actual energetic blocks in our subtle body. As you work to release this conditioning, these blocks will begin to dissipate, and release more energy into your subtle body. Then you can truly grow into the wise woman you are. 

Feel free to share your own stories of breaking through gatekeepers. Wishing you much freedom, wisdom, and power.

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