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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, http://elenaray.com

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.

Astral Accessing vs. Meditation (or how to stay present in your body!)

May 22, 2019

It’s not too late to sign up for the next round of my Energy Work for Sexual Trauma 4-week teleseminar. It begins tomorrow (Wednesday), and you can listen live to the sessions or by recording after the fact. Here are the details (and please don’t hesitate to send me any questions.)

I’ve been wanting to write about astral accessing vs. meditation, as I feel from my own client work that there is an increase in the number of people who are tending to ‘go astral’ in their meditations, rather than staying grounded and present in their minds and bodies. I use the phrase ‘go astral’ rather than ‘astral travel’ because I specifically mean a partial leaving of the body energetically through connecting to another plane. This experience doesn’t feel as if you have actually travelled to another place or plane of reality.

This kind of astral accessing may feel simply like floating or going away, and you may not even be aware you have done it until you ‘come back.’ It’s not usually accompanied by any vision or real sense of where you’ve been. It often feels good, relaxing, at the very least offering a temporary relief from stress and anxiety, and so it would seem to not be harmful. And it’s not harmful really, depending on the energies you access, but what it does mean is that you are not accessing the greater benefits of truly meditating, including energetic benefits. So I think it’s particularly helpful to draw a distinction between astral accessing and meditation, because so many people are turning to meditation for anxiety management.

While it’s possible that my view that the tendency to astral access is increasing is skewed by the population I work with, my intuitive sense is that it’s wider spread, and a product of the growing feeling of crises that hangs over many of us, whether that sense of crises is environmental, political, cultural, personal or all of the above. Many studies have shown an increase in anxiety levels world-wide, but most particularly in the U.S. and West, with lots of opinions on why this is so, and blame falling on everything from the news, social media, to environmental toxins (this article unpacks a lot of the theories.) Increasingly we turn to meditation for relief – we are told it is the ultimate in stress management. Unfortunately, if we simply use it as a means of escape, it may actually undermine our ability to manage our stress.

The primary benefit of meditation in terms of stress management comes from the practice of pulling our mind back from distracting thoughts and emotions over and over – this is like exercise increasing our self-awareness. Whether we engage in ‘object-based’ meditation, where we anchor our meditation through focus on an internal or external object – our breath, a chakra, a mantra, a visualization – or ‘objectless’ meditation, where we seek to rest in our awareness without a focal point, within the experience of meditating, this act of pulling our mind back is common to all forms. And from a neuroscientific perspective, it is the most transforming – it strengthens the observing part of our mind, and weakens the hold of the reactive part of our brain. Over time our physical brain is transformed.

What this means is that in a stressful moment when we are triggered and begin to react, there is a better chance that the observing part of our brain will step in and say ‘wait, I don’t have to react this way, I can take a breath and look at this situation differently, I can calm myself down.’ This moment of catching ourselves as an emotional pattern triggered by anxiety or stress is about to kick in is the most important – a choice point. And we increase our ability to do this through regular meditation – every time we pull our mind back from thinking about what we are going to have for breakfast, or what that annoying person said to us yesterday, we are strengthening our brain’s ability to pull itself back by default when we are not in meditation. Meditation – of virtually any type – is truly practice for life.

However, if instead of pulling our mind back we retreat inwardly to a place we like to go – maybe one we found as a child to help us through hard times, maybe a place we discover through meditation – and simply stay there, we don’t necessarily develop this aspect of our brain. It’s very possible that our meditation itself may feel restful while we are in it – maybe even more restful to us than pulling our mind back over and over to a focal object or our own awareness – but it is not helping us when we are not in meditation. The restfulness may not translate into a greater resilience, self-awareness, and non-reactivity in daily life. In fact it may even make us more sensitive to the challenges of daily life, because some part of us just wants to get back to our ‘safe’ place.

In some ways this kind of pattern is a form of disassociation, although in most cases it doesn’t rise to the level of formal disassociation as it is defined in modern psychology. But the tendency is the same – we develop the ability to go to a safe place inside ourselves, or in another plane of energy, to escape the stresses and pressure and sense of crises or lack of safety we are constantly feeling in our lives. And it feels good! It is good in that it helps us survive something that feels difficult. If it’s a pattern we developed in childhood it may have even been crucial to getting us through a difficult home life or childhood.

But in a larger sense as an adult it no longer serves us, because the more we practice it, the more disengaged we become from our current mind and body. We lose out on the opportunity to rewire our brain, and speaking from an energy body perspective, we also potentially lose out on opening and awakening our chakra energies in a way that can empower and self-heal us. Whether you explicitly focus on your chakras in meditation or not, the kundalini energy awakens through any form of meditation and will move its way through your chakras. If you do chakra and/or kundalini-based meditation, this is of course the explicit goal, and your object of focus.

Either way, the deepest levels of chakra opening, in which the inner layers of energy and awareness associated with each unfold, requires full embodiment. The energy floods your body – this is why waves of bliss are often associated with these openings. And ‘samadhi’ occurs when this opening and movement has built to a certain level (as well as your ability to focus, and your mind and body’s ability to let go and stabilize in lighter planes of awareness.) This can be confusing to people because when we read about samadhi it may sound like ‘going away’, but it is really a very different occurrence – and can’t be sought, it will happen naturally when the conditions are present.

While bliss can itself become a kind of trap if we become attached to it, it is a positive byproduct of embodied meditation. As our energy body awakens in this way, it allows us to access new levels of self-healing and clearing. With time this makes us more resilient in the face of difficult energies or situations  in our world, not less. We become more resilient because rather than absorbing the energies from outside ourselves, or reacting to them, we instead draw upon our inner energy as our source-point. Our  state of awareness, our mood, our physical body, our vibration, all become sourced from within, rather than dependent upon our external circumstances.

I think this is a very important point to understand, because especially in energy-based meditation forms, there can be a tendency to think that sitting in a private astral space that feels energetically good is what meditation is. And sometimes this could be very helpful and useful – sometimes when we need to heal or process something, this might be the perfect thing for us. The same is true for astral travel and visioning – many traditions formally teach this as a form of seeing and great insight and spiritual power can be derived from this kind of astral travel. It is just that if we think of only this as what mediation is that we are missing out on some of the deeper benefits of embodied meditation.

Then too, I don’t mean to sound like meditation should be a daily slog, a ‘work’ session of just pulling our mind back to some object of focus over and over. Often it may be that. But as we settle into deeper moments of focus, other kinds of experiences may spontaneously arise, and these may be very valuable to us. We don’t need to shut them all down. It is only if they have become habitual that perhaps it is worth asking if a limiting meditation pattern has developed.

Some questions to ask yourself are: Do I relate to my meditation as a form of escape? Do I seek a certain feeling or ‘place’ over and over? Do I feel connected to my body, and do I feel as if the energy and awareness I experience is reflected in my body? Do I feel a sense of clarity and sharpness? Am I experiencing a greater sense of self-awareness and resilience in my daily life? (And corresponding to this, compassion and presence?)

If you feel you may have developed patterns around astral accessing, then there a few things you can try:

  • Try keeping your eyes just slightly open as you meditate with your gaze cast downwards, not focused on anything in particular, but visually present and aware. Many traditions teach this kind of open-eyed meditation.
  • Check in with your body periodically throughout your meditation – do you feel connected to it? If not, spend some time focusing on the sensations of the different parts of your body halfway through your meditation. If you do chakra meditation, focus on the kinesthetic/felt sense of the chakras rather than a visual.
  • Experiment with a different object of focus – sometimes changing things up for a period of time will help you to break old patterns and stay grounded in your body.
  • Cultivate a clarity and sharpness to your awareness, as opposed to relating to meditation as a ‘floaty’ experience. Relaxation and clarity are not opposites, they are complements.
  • Notice your reactions as you experiment with these changes – is a part of you annoyed or irritated you can’t go to your favorite place? Work gently with yourself around this attachment.

May you experience presence, joy, energy and union as you navigate your way through your meditation journey.

Making Time for Retreat

April 10, 2019

Felt pulled to repost this post on retreat. You can retreat for half a day, a weekend, a week or more. Taking this kind of break can be such a great gift to give yourself. Wishing you this time and space to unfold.

Mommy Mystic

Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.   – Herman Hesse

Painting by Francis Wenceslas Holler of St. Francis of Assisi in his cave retreat. Painting by Francis Wenceslas Holler of St. Francis of Assisi in his cave retreat.

Solstice is coming up, a time of spiritual retreat across many traditions. As I head out on my own retreat, I thought it was a great time to share some thoughts on how to prepare and engage in a spiritual retreat of your own. A retreat can be anywhere from a day to months in length (in some traditions years), and can be done in your own home or away. Of course there are organized spiritual retreats at centers around the world, or you can combine retreat with pilgrimage, drawing upon the energies of a natural or religious destination as part of your journey.

Even if you stay home, a retreat is…

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Working with Color and the Chakras

March 19, 2019

abstract rainbow colorful pattern background

Mere color can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways. – Oscar Wilde

I wanted to post something fun and light-filled this month (it’s important not to become so weighed down by the pain of the world that this becomes impossible), and so decided to focus on colors – literally light in all its radiant glory. Colors are a big part of working with the chakras in both energy healing and spiritual traditions, and they are a modality anyone can embrace.

If you google colors and the chakras you will of course get the rainbow spectrum mapping that has become pretty much synonymous with the chakras in the West:

Root/1stchakra – red

Sacral/2ndchakra – orange

Navel/Solar Plexus/3rdchakra – yellow

Heart/4thchakra -green

Throat/5thchakra – blue

Third Eye/6thchakra – indigo (or sometimes purple)

Crown/7thchakra – violet (or sometimes white)

This sequence is called ROYGBIV- the actual spectrum of light as it appears progressively in a rainbow. As common as this color/chakra mapping currently is, it is not based on traditional chakra teachings. It evolved in the West in the last century, as Eastern chakra teachings migrated here and mixed with first Theosophy and then both the Human Potential and New Age movements. You will not find this chakra/color mapping in any classic Hindu or Buddhist text. Instead, within them you often find that different colors are visualized in the same chakra depending on the purpose of an exercise or meditation, rather than one chakra being associated with only one color (there are also variations in the number of chakras in each mapping, although all the in-body chakra mappings are a subset of this one.)

Rainbow chakra mapping

The fact that this rainbow mapping isn’t thousands of years old does not invalidate it however, and as I mentioned in my Chakra Levels posts I find this model very helpful when working with the chakras progressively and for empowering certain kinds of physical healing. The progressive nature of this mapping captures the shift in density and frequency that the chakras represent – the root chakra being the slowest vibrating and ‘densest’, therefore connected to our physical body and material world, while the crown is the fastest vibrating and lightest, tied to spirit. Working with these color gradations is often initially helpful for sensing the chakras physically, and is also great when working with the upward and downward pathways – upward for spiritual flow and downward for manifesting flow.

However, the more traditional way of working, in which different colors are visualized or received into a chakra depending on the deity or mandala one is working with, is also very powerful. In these cases, if you’re focused on a white light deity for example, you might be visualizing white light coming into your heart chakra, or if you are focused on an orange yantra, you might visualize orange light coming into your navel. Blue, white, and red feature prominently in a lot of Tibetan Buddhist chakra meditations, not always in the same locations, and gold and white are used a lot in Hindu deity meditations, in almost any chakra, but particularly the third eye and crown. There are truly infinite combinations.

Colors function on multiple levels – on one hand, they are vibrational, and do seem to have similar vibrational effects on pretty much everyone, regardless of age or culture (for example colors in the blue family are universally the most soothing.) But colors also have a cultural component – red tests quite differently depending on someone’s culture, as it is associated with good fortune and brides in the East, but in the West is considered a more martial and aggressive color. White is associated with weddings here, while in China it’s linked to funerals. These kinds of associations impact how we react to these colors.

What this means is that you should experiment. If you’re familiar with the chakra ROYGBIV mapping you can use the color of one chakra within another chakra to ‘infuse’ the energies of the first chakra into the second – for example, you could visualize red in the 3rd chakra to ground your will power, or green in the throat to bring heart to your communications. You can play with receiving a color into your entire body, not just one chakra, when you really need that energy to be dominant – yellow into your whole body before a sporting competition for example. You can also experiment with flow, and other colors that don’t appear in this mapping. Colors are the play of light, and by experimenting with them you empower your own fluidity in the dimensions of light that make up our world and beings.

Here are some of my favorite ways to use color and the chakras:

  • Visualize a dot of white light in each chakra that gradually grows larger – one at a time or simultaneously. This is for purifying, clearing, and empowering connection to Source/enlightenment (a way of connecting with the innermost layer of the chakras in the 3 level mapping I like to use.)
  • Draw red light up from earth into your root chakra, and then from there up through each chakra and through your crown up into the sky. This is a way of bringing the root energy through your entire system for energizing and clearing blocks to personal growth.
  • Bring gold light down from the sky into your crown, and then down through all of your chakras and into the earth. This brings awakening and clarifying energy all the way down into your body.
  • Visualize the rainbow spectrum (ROYGBIV) of light from root to crown one chakra at a time to reconnect to spiritual joy and expression.
  • Visualize the rainbow spectrum of light from crown to root one chakra at a time then working on manifesting a goal – moving from spirit/idea to matter.
  • Imagine your entire body receiving one color of light – literally from every direction into every cell. Practicing receiving in this way is soooo important – I find that women in particular have a difficult time just visualizing themselves receiving energy and light unconditionally in this way. See light flooding in from above, below, and all around you into your very cells. Decide the color of light according to what you most need. If you’re familiar with the common contemporary chakra associations you could pick one of those colors:

Red (root) – grounding, stability, support

Orange (sacral) – passion, creativity, sensuality, fluidity

Yellow (navel) – determination, organization, will

Green (heart) – love, compassion, connection

Blue (throat) – clarity, self-expression, honesty

Indigo (third eye) – insight, stillness, boundarylessness

Purple (crown) –  purpose, faith, spiritual connection

Others I like, based on other traditions:

Lavender – soothing, like a balm

Light green – gentle healing

Pink – nurturing, loving

Gold – enlightening

Play! bring colored light into your very cells and see how you respond. And see if you can really feel into the depths of these colors – we are so used to screens nowadays, and the limited perception of color they provide. There are an infinite number of colors – some colors humans cannot normally perceive, but it seems some animals can. See if you can stretch your perception to receive them.

Wishing you much color and joy in your life as Spring blooms.

 

 

 

Year of the Earth Pig 2019 – Completing a Cycle

February 4, 2019

Feb 5 2019 through through Jan 24 2020 is the year of the earth pig

Welcome to the year of the Earth Pig! Conventional interpretations of pig years within Eastern astrological systems are mostly very positive – pig years are considered to be times of abundance and good fortune (which we could all use.) Individuals born in the year of the pig are generally considered responsible, fortunate, and friendly. Of course, there are subtler messages to be gleaned within this general reading, so here is my annual intuitive exploration, using the pig as it is represented across many different cultures as a guide. Enjoy!

Tibetan astrology cycle – although the animal symbols are not all the same as the Chinese system, the pig/boar is the last of the 12 year cycle in both

The pig is the last of the 12 signs in the Eastern astrological systems that adhere to a lunar new year calendar. As such pig years represent the completion of a 12 year cycle, as well as a time to plant seeds for the next cycle. This is a good time to look back at what was going on 12 years ago, the end of the last cycle, as well as 11 years ago, the first year in this current new cycle. If we do this in U.S. politics for example, we see that in this exact week in the last year of the pig (February 10th, 2007), Barack Obama announced his candidacy for the presidency. He was considered a long shot at the time, but one year later, also during this week (the first in the 12-year cycle ending now) he gave front runner Hillary Clinton a run for her money in the Super Tuesday primaries, assuring a long and hard-fought primary battle. It’s not hard to see the karmic momentums generated during that time, and how they have driven political events directly and indirectly over the last 12 years.

So look back to February 2007 and 2008 for yourself. What seeds were you planting in 2007 that have continued to play out for you since that time? (I started writing!) What did you initiate in 2008 along those lines (I started this blog!), and what themes in your life have dominated since then in this 12 year cycle? Is there anything coming to completion for you now, or that has completed recently? What do you want to initiate this year/cycle?

Child’s drawing of the Three Little Pigs from the World Stories project.

While in Western culture pigs are often depicted as stubborn, lazy or unclean, there are a few pig stories that more closely align with the Eastern take. One is the classic fairy tale the Three Little Pigs, in which two pigs are eaten by the big, bad wolf when they unwisely make their homes out of straw and wood, despite warnings. The third pig takes the extra time to make his house out of bricks, and survives. The moral that hard work pays off, and that shortcuts don’t, is very apropos for pig years. Good fortune will be realized by those who plan and spend responsibly, and pay attention to detail. Hard work, rather than risk or impulse, are rewarded in pig years. So think carefully about your goals, consider what could go wrong, plan diligently, and proceed responsibly.

Charlotte’s Web- from the classic book cover

Another positive, and delightful, Western depiction of pigs is found in the story of Charlotte’s Web. The pig Wilbur within this tale of loyalty and friendship more closely aligns with the view of pigs in Eastern interpretations – those born in pig years are considered social and loyal, and these qualities are said to be rewarded during pig years. Collaborating with others will bear fruit, and generosity to others – financially or in terms of praise and time – will generate positive momentums. Consider who in your life you might partner with, or how you might strengthen current partnerships. Consider what organizations you wish to donate your time or money too, and what causes. Acting with good intentions is particularly empowered right now, so think about what you value and how you can contribute to people and organizations that reflect those values.

Sow and piglets in English countryside

Although in Western culture pigs have sometimes been denigrated, they have often also been associated with fertility and abundance, just as in Eastern culture. Their rotundity and ability to bear many piglets was viewed in both Celtic and Nordic culture as symbolic of nature’s bounty. Pigs were often sacrificed to the gods as part of ritual feasts, especially those in which blessings for good harvests were sought. This connection to bounty is another theme to draw upon this year – what do you consider abundance to be in your life? On both the material and immaterial levels, what are you grateful for and what would you like to multiply? Think in terms of what you already have that you would like to increase, as opposed to focusing on lack.

Egytian goddess Nut is shown with stars on her body arched over the world, representing her as mother of all

The sow was sacred to Nut and in some areas she was depicted as a sow with piglets – in the same protective position

Pigs were associated with both Isis and Nut in ancient Egypt – both feminine archetypes, and this pig year is considered a feminine/yin one. Nut was sometimes depicted as a sow with piglets, echoing arched depictions of her encircling earthly existence as the night sky. Although we often think of Isis as the Egyptian archetype of the great feminine, in fact Nut was her mother, and represents certain feminine themes even more than Isis. As goddess of the sky, Nut ruled the cycles of day and night and all the planetary movements that define earthly existence. Fertility is linked to these cycles in Egyptian lore – as it is linked to both seasonal and feminine bodily cycles here on earth. While you are contemplating your life from the standpoint of the 12-year Eastern astrological calendar, also consider your more personal cycles of growth, particularly in terms of what you have created or are seeking to create. Perhaps you have multiple cycles in process – some in the idea stage, others in stages of execution, and still others nearing completion. Consider each consciously, and evaluate if each process is in alignment with spirit, your deepest self, and what you hope to achieve in the world. Contemplate the meaning of the feminine in your life, and what yin energies you can draw upon in your creative and manifesting efforts.

In the Buddhist depiction of the three poisons, the pig represents desire

Now we come to some of the obstacles that can derail us in pig years. Pigs represent one of the three ‘poisons’, or internal forces that can keep us bound, in Buddhism – desire. Really desire in and of itself is not a problem, it is our relationship to desire that can get us into trouble. If our desires overtake us, morphing into greed that thwarts our integrity or into addictions that consume us, we can no longer manifest from a place of spiritual alignment. Holding our desires lightly, as sources of joy when they are satiated but not as blind drives that must be fulfilled, is the key – easier said than done, of course! What are your deepest desires?  Do you desire admiration, fame, respect, wealth, power? Do any of those threaten to overwhelm your judgement or ability to stay grounded? In pig years grounded, well-intentioned actions are rewarded, so it’s worth spending time to understand what forces in yourself might rise up and sully yours.

Vajravarahi is a wrathful form of Vajrayogini, often shown with a sow’s head coming out of the right side of her own

Within Tibetan Buddhism we find another, very different, depiction of the pig, connected to Vajravahari, the wrathful form of Vajrayogini, often shown with a sow’s head coming out of her own. In this form Vajravahari represents the cutting through of ignorance with insight, and as part of the Padma Buddha family, the transformation of craving and desire into the enlightened wisdom of discernment. This kind of discernment enables us to see when we are trapped by an internal force such as desire, and how to manifest it instead as a reflection of beauty and joy. Consider how you might transform your deepest desires into action that reflects these higher principles, rather than solely for your own gratification. Rather than sinking into self-gratification, or its opposites, self-denial and self-judgement, seek to change your relationship with your desires and consider how they might be put to use for the greater good. Do you seek fame or power? How can you use that in  a beneficial way? Do you seek pleasure? How can you manifest that as a reflection of light? This is a difficult path to walk, fraught with the potential for self-delusion, but it is one of the most powerful, and in alignment with the pig year energies.

Varaha, third avatar of Hindu god Vishnu, shown here slaying a demon and lifting the earth from the dark waters

The third avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu, Varaha, is depicted as a pig/boar, and exemplifies the uplifting of consciousness required for us to work with our own desires in this way. In the tale of Varaha, a demon torments the earth and all beings on it, eventually forcing earth down into a primordial sea. Vishnu takes the form of the pig/boar Varaha, plunges into the dark waters, slews the demon, and lifts earth back into her rightful place with his tusks. The water is seen to represent the darkest, often unacknowledged, parts of the human psyche, and Vishnu in this form represents the forces that raise our consciousness and help us act from our higher natures. So consider: what uplifts you? Bring more of this into your life. Consider also: how can you uplight others? And do more of that too this pig year.

Pigs are smart! Here’s one shown doing a puzzle. Google ‘smart pigs’ and you can find them doing some amazing things:-)

Coming back from mythic to real-world pigs, I find it fascinating that in recent decades pigs have been shown to share an immense amount of DNA with humans, so much so that they are one of the leading contenders for human organ donation. Pigs also consistently rank in the top 5 in terms of intelligence amongst animals – one recent study placed them second after only chimpanzees, ahead of dolphins, elephants, and dogs. Pigs are sensitive, smart, and social creatures, and these are the traits we can all seek to bring out in ourselves this year.

Drawing of Wilbur in an exuberant back somersault for the original 1952 version of Charlotte’s Web, by artist Garth Williams

I’ll end by returning to my favorite pig Wilbur, shown here in his leap for joy in the original Charlotte’s Web. Enjoyment is another traditional pig quality, found when we embrace what is in a grounded, present, and grateful way, without tipping into excess or greed. May you exemplify the best of pigs this year, and leap with your own joy. Please feel free to share your own predictions or advice for this pig year in the comments-

 

Mother-Child Energy Lines, Part II

January 22, 2019

For my first post of 2019, I am adding on to the post that was viewed the most in 2018 – The Mother-Child Energy Connection. Though an older post, it has built up an audience over time – perhaps not surprising as the mother-child connection is one of the most powerful of our lives (for better or worse), and one that is relevant to all of us: Whether or not you have children, you do have, or have had, a mother.

In fact, dependence upon a mother is one of the defining characteristics of human life. While gestation is common to most mammals, the level of helplessness with which humans are born, coupled with the length of time it takes us to reach maturity, is unique. Dependence upon others is built into our experience, integral to what it means to be human. And while many may provide us care, because we gestate within a birth mother, this energy line is unique.

Before I add on to what I’ve already written about this topic, I’d like to clarify what I mean by ‘energy line’. I view all of the various structures we work with in energy work – chakras, meridians, energy lines, cords, etc. – as components on various energy maps. These maps provide our conceptual and intuitive mind with hooks it can utilize to connect with our subtle body. There are many different energy maps, and just like with maps in the physical world, which one is best for you to use depends on what you are trying to accomplish.

Working with maps focused on energy lines is most useful when dealing with relationships. We all exchange energy with other people when we interact with them, and within these exchanges thinking in terms of ‘energy lines’ is most useful in terms of our ongoing relationships, and/or particularly intense ones. In most cases, lines form as a relationship develops over time, and the connection points in our own subtle body will reflect the dynamics we have with the other person – is it based in emotion, power dynamics, intellectual compatibility, common purpose, etc. (of course many of our relationships are a combination of several dynamics.) Within energy lines, two types are unique, because they develop based on physicality, as opposed to interactions over time (although those interactions may impact the line): Sexual lines, formed during sex, and mother-child energy lines, formed in gestation and mirroring the umbilical cord. Both these kinds of lines feel very different from other lines when you connect with and work with them, and the energies and emotions that flow along these lines can be particularly intense (which should come as no surprise to anyone.)

I don’t want to repeat everything I have already written about the mother-child line in the original post, so if you haven’t read that, please do. But here are answers to the most common questions I have been asked about this line over the years since that was first posted:

What about adoptive parents, fathers, and other caretakers – is the energy line they form with a child less valuable?

No! on the contrary – there is nothing provided by the mother-child energy line of value that cannot be provided by others. Many people are not raised by their birth mother, and a lot of individuals may participate in a child’s care – fathers, partners, stepparents, extended relatives, siblings, and other caretakers. All of these individuals will develop lines with a child – hopefully based in love (the more the better of these.) Because of the second chakra’s role in nurturing energies, on the caretaker side these lines will often involve the second chakra, especially if formed with a baby or young child that still requires intensive physical care. In general, these are of a different type than the mother-child line formed through gestation, although I have seen lines between adoptive mothers and children that have formed over time and that are almost identical.

However, just because the mother-child energy line is unique doesn’t mean a child is missing out if they don’t have a relationship with their birth mother. There is nothing provided through this line that can’t be provided through other energy lines by other caretakers. It is not a necessary line, and no one is missing something essential if they don’t have a relationship with their birth mother – what is necessary for any child, any being, is to have a network of caring individuals in their life. For adoptees that have no contact with their birth mother, the birth mother-child line simply closes on its own over time. It may be reactivated if someone chooses to meet their birth mother later, or it may not.

So why bring this line up at all then? Why is it useful to know about? The value of understanding this energy line, and the value of working with it through energy work or healing, is usually in cases of dysfunction. Learning to close this line is particularly important if your own mother was abusive or suffered from addiction or mental health issues, or experienced trauma which you may have taken on through this line unknowingly. Another possible dysfunction is if your mother did not allow this line to shift and deactivate as you became an adult, and attempts to control you through it. Or conversely, as a mother, you may want to consciously work with this line if you feel overwhelmed by parenthood, constantly anxious about your children, or know that you are inhibiting their independence more than you should. In all these cases, whether as a parent or child, working to consciously close or relax this line will help you to regain your energetic autonomy and balance.

Is this energy line linked to epigenetics?

This line is not the main foundation for energetic inheritance, and therefore not the most useful for doing energy work to help ‘toggle’ genetic proclivities on or off (see this article for more info on epigenetics and energy work.) This line is more connected to psychological imprinting, and so as mentioned above is often most useful to work with in cases where someone has taken on trauma or dysfunction from their mother that is not their own.

Does this line continue after death?

No. This particular energy line is very rooted in the physical body, and ends when either individual leaves the physical. Adjusting to the loss of this line can be very difficult, in addition to the grief experienced. This is especially the case if a child loses a mother before they’ve reached energetic independence, or a mother loses a child before the child is grown – in both cases the remaining individual’s subtle body has to go through a major adjustment process, similar to an amputee adjusting to the loss of a limb. It takes time and compassion.

However, just because this particular line ends with death does not mean there are no other types of connections that remain. These are psycho-spiritual in nature though, usually rooted in the heart or third eye chakras, rather than the navel or sacral. Certainly there may be value in working with a spirit medium or healer to reach closure in these cases, but this is not done through working with the mother-child sacral-navel energy line.

How do these lines impact energy workers, energy healers, or spiritual practitioners who work on energetic levels and need a great deal of energetic integrity and strength in order to do what they do?

The short answer is – a lot! If you engage in any kind of energy healing work, or energy based spiritual practice, then working to clear and balance your own energy lines of all types is critical to both your effectiveness and your self-care. If you are a mother, learning to balance your children’s energy needs along with your own is essential. These needs change over time, as I outlined in the original article, and so you may find you need to pace yourself accordingly along with your children’s developmental stages (which correspond to their energetic independence.) The amount of support you receive from your partner and other caregivers will influence this as well. More than anything, learning to close these lines when it is appropriate, so that you may replenish your own energy and do your work, is key.

However, having children, and the impact of these energy lines, may also shift your intuitive abilities, and mode of working energetically, in a way that is beneficial to yourself and clients (if you do client work.) I experienced this myself after the birth of my first daughter. Although initially I was dismayed at how my energy seemed grounded in my lower body in a way that prevented the kundalini from rising in meditation in the way it had previously, over time I realized that I was developing new kinesthetic (body-based) intuitive abilities that eventually led to the work I am doing now (for more on different types of intuition I recommend Cyndi Dale’s The Intuition Guidebook.) With the birth of twins just 19 months later, I definitely experienced ‘need overload’ and had problems balancing my energy, but with time, and as my children grew, I learned to do so. Now the upward kundalini flow is restored, and I am much better at managing my ‘mandala’ of energy lines. Pacing has been key.

What’s a basic tool for working with this line?

The simplest most effective tool that is applicable to a wide variety of situations is visualizing a door on this line that you can open and close as needed. If you are doing this with the line to your own mother visualize a line from your navel to your mother’s sacral chakra area. If you are doing it with your own children, visualize lines from your sacral area to their navels (with multiple children it really is like a mandala, with you in the center.) Imagine there is a door on this line close to your own body. Visualize closing this door, and a settling of energy when you do so – a quieting, like when you close the door to a room and can no longer hear noise made in another room of your home. Imagine you can then open the line as you wish.

As with all visual energy work, this visualization works on two levels. Psychologically it functions as an affirmation of ‘I have the right and ability to maintain my own energetic integrity.’ It also triggers a shift on your energy body level, which over time you will be able to feel, and enable you to gain control over this line. Closing this line is never meant to be punitive or done out of anger or spite. The value of this tool is for energy balance and self-care- when you need to rejuvenate, reboot, or retreat. Energy lines may also be cut or cleared, or worked with in other ways, but in the case of this particular line, working with toggling it open and closed is often the most relevant and helpful. Other variations and types of work with this line are really specific to an individual’s needs and situation.

The mother-child energy line is one of the most powerful and central in our lives, and understanding it is important for anyone interested in working with the subtle body. Learning to work with this line can greatly aid our ability to engage with our own mother, and children, with love and compassion. I hope you found this helpful and look forward to any insights you have of your own.

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