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Healing the Masculine – As a Woman

July 10, 2017

This blog is dedicated to healing and empowering the feminine, as is my private session work, but of course feminine energy and power does not exist in isolation. The feminine and masculine are codependent, defining each other. Whether we are talking about our physical bodies, our subtle bodies, psychological traits, abstract energies apart from gender, or any of the other many things we label ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’, we cannot ever really work with just one and not the other. Historically the feminine and masculine have been wounded and dysfunctional together, and they now must heal and come forth into the light together.

For some, talking in terms of the feminine and masculine in any context seems antiquated. Certainly within the context of transgender rights, these categorizations seem rigid and harmful. It’s clear that on the level of the human body and gender identification – and I would argue on the level of the subtle body too – masculine/feminine is a spectrum, not a duality. I look forward to the day when it no longer makes sense to talk about ’empowering the feminine’ or ‘healing the masculine.’ When there is a fluidity and wholeness in all of us that allows us to express ourselves in all manners however we see fit.

But that day is not now, and it’s important to talk about it. This has been brought home to me in a very real way recently as I watch my two younger children, girl-boy twins, enter ‘tweenhood’ and middle school. The differences in their gender-based conditioning, and the social expectations they each face, has never been more clear. In some ways, in a community like mine, there has been more change for girls than boys – girls in team sports is a given, and the girls are encouraged to play hard and tough on the field. A boy in ballet however, is still the exception.  And off the sports field, I find the emotional conditioning has not changed much – ‘be nice and get along’ for girls  vs. ‘be tough and be the best’ for boys might be the best way of summing it up.

I’ve written before about how the pressure to ‘be nice’ impacts women and their ability to own their power, so I won’t belabor that again in this post. But what is the impact of the male conditioning to ‘be tough’? Emotional repression, and self-worth based on dominance and achievement, are still bred into our boys. As they move through their adolescence towards adulthood, true expression of their emotions – especially any seen as ‘weak’ – is less and less acceptable. Meanwhile, accolades for accomplishment – whether in sports, academics, or any other realm – is rewarded. Boys receive a very clear message about where their worth lies, and emotional awareness and expression is still low in value.

But the human psyche is sensitive, whether housed in a female or male body. So where does any hurt go if it’s not acknowledged and expressed? A lot of dysfunctional places. Men are twice as likely as women to become alcoholic. Twice as likely to die of an opioid addiction. Between 3 and 4 times more likely to commit suicide. 10 times as likely to be incarcerated. 80% of violent crimes are committed by men. 82% of all childhood sexual assault and 90% of all adult sexual assault is perpetrated by men.

This is what we are facing when we talk about healing the masculine.

Of course the reality behind all of these statistics is much more complex than little boys being told to toughen up. There are biological, economic, social, religious, racial, and cultural factors contributing, and change needs to take place within every realm – just as it does for the empowerment of the feminine. And the sense of male entitlement instilled as part of our still predominantly patriarchal culture is as much a problem as internalized pain (although I would argue they are two sides of the same coin.)

But all change begins within ourselves, so as women, how do we start with ourselves on this? How do we begin to recognize our own part in perpetuating the conditioning at work? How do we surface and shift the dysfunctional masculine-feminine dichotomy as it is reflected in our own psyches and subtle bodies?

Personal Inquiry

It’s not an easy question, but as always, a good place to start is personal inquiry. Often just asking a question brings about a shift. So here’s some questions to  begin asking yourself:

  • Do you on some level label the men in your life ‘weak’ and ‘strong’? If so, what criteria is this based on? Do you label certain men as passive or effeminate, and if so, what criteria does it reflect? Do you find emotional expression in a man, including crying, a turn off? What’s your reaction when learning a man is in a formerly traditional ‘feminine’ role, such as a stay-at-home dad, a nurse, or teacher? In a partner, do you value emotional stoicism or expression? Are you seeking a protector or savior and looking to find that in male family members, friends or partners?
  • What beliefs have you internalized about how you can and cannot express yourself? How you can and cannot dress? What you can and cannot do? Did these differ for male siblings or family members? If you are a parent or work with children, which of these are you passing on? What expectations do you have for girls vs. boys? What messages do you send to each?
  • Within your own personal history, what has been your relationship to and treatment by the men in your lives – father, stepfather, grandfather, brothers, uncles, male teachers, male coaches, etc? How have they made you feel about yourself? Do you harbor shame or anger in relation to any of them, and have you dealt with it? (Of course if you have been the victim of domestic abuse, sexual abuse, or assault, this is an especially big healing process.) How has this impacted your own relationships with men in your life now?
  • Moving inward, do an assessment between yin and yang, feminine and masculine, as expressed within your own personality and psyche. What traits do you consider to be feminine and which masculine? Within each category, which do you consider healthy and which dysfunctional expressions? Looking at it from this perspective, do you see any patterns of looking to the men in your life to fill emotional gaps rather than bringing those forth yourself (this is often related to looking to men as protectors, stabilizers, and saviors?)

Chakra Work

On the subtle body level, every chakra and energy channel mapping system defines certain centers and pathways as yin or feminine, and others as yang or masculine. Working with these energies and seeking to unite and integrate them provides another powerful way of working to heal the masculine. Within the context of the chakra work I share on this blog, the most straightforward mapping is to work with the following:

  • The first/root, third/navel, fifth/throat, and seventh/crown chakras are masculine in their default expression
  • The second/sacral, fourth/heart, and sixth/third-eye are feminine in their default expression

All of the chakras have both emanating/masculine and receptive/feminine aspects, so when we talk about them as masculine and feminine we are talking about a default expression. There are many gradations within this in terms of gender and individual subtle bodies, but I still find it a helpful model for working with in most people. Here are some of the ways you can begin to work with the chakras in this way:

  • Review the energies and psychological functions associated with each chakra (you can use the various charts and mappings included in my Chakra Levels series, or many other posts on the Chakras page, as a reference.) When viewed from this perspective, do you see any patterns related to masculine and feminine chakras? Do you have more blocks in one grouping vs. the other? Or a hyper-reliance on the aspects of one or the other? If so, work with the exercises and the other methods outlined in the Chakra Levels series to address this imbalance.
  • Specifically in relation to your masculine chakras, what blocks do you perceive? Do you have trouble owning the open, powerful expressions of these chakras? If so, determine some ways to work with opening these pathways within yourself.
  • Practice visually integrating the masculine and feminine chakra energies. This in and of itself can be a very powerful tool. Here is one simple exercise for doing so:
    • Hold a fist at your tailbone – focal point for your root chakra. This fist does not represent aggression, but instead a centered, consolidated energy. Imagine this centered, consolidated energy is mirrored within your root chakra beneath your fist as a ball of light (you can use traditional chakra colors for this, or just use white.)
    • Repeat this at your other masculine chakras – your navel, throat, and crown.
    • Sit for a moment visualizing these 4 centered, consolidated balls of light within your subtle body.
    • Now let go of this and using the index finger of one hand draw a figure 8 or infinity symbol an inch or so in front of your pelvis – focus point for your sacral chakra. Imagine this swirling, moving energy is mirrored within your pelvic bowl. Allow your body to sway and move if you like.
    • Repeat this at your other feminine chakras – your heart and third eye.
    • Sit for a moment visualizing these 3 spiraling, flowing nexuses of energy within your subtle body.
    • Now from the bottom up, move through each chakra and connect the centered, consolidated balls with the spiraling, flowing energy. Begin with your root and move up through your sacral, navel, heart, throat, third eye, and crown. See one energy as seamlessly flowing into the next in a pattern. Try to feel this within your body, in addition to visualizing it. Allow some variability in how this appears to you – allow some room for spontaneity.
    • Cycle through more than once if you like. Once you feel as if there is some sense of completion, dissolve the visuals and rest in a sense of wholeness and integration.

Those of you who have completed my DailyOm course or Sexual Trauma healing teleseminar will recognize this as a simpler version of an exercise I do in those courses. Although simpler, it is no less powerful when fully felt, and is easily done on your own if you are familiar with the chakras.

The shifts going on in our world right now are nothing short of monumental, and so many of them can be viewed as part of the rebalancing between the masculine and feminine – a dismantling of patriarchy, healing of the masculine and empowerment of the feminine – within individuals, societies, and the energy matrix that composes our world. In many ways right now we are seeing a backlash against these shifts in our political landscape and commentary. It is very difficult not to meet these forces with oppositional anger, and of course this anger is more than justified. But to respond only in this way virtually guarantees the continuation of these age old ways of being. The question we are all facing now is how to engage differently? It isn’t easy for an individual or society to truly change its entire frame of reference. It is deep work, and something we all need to engage in. And working within the context of the masculine and feminine is an essential part of this work.


Two recommendations worth mentioning within this context:

  • The book South of Forgiveness: A True Story of Rape and Responsibility, by Elva Thordis and Tom Stranger, in which a rape survivor and her rapist struggle to come to terms with each other and the crime committed, looking at rape culture, patriarchy, and gender conditioning along the way. Although I have mixed feelings about this book, it raises questions in a way few other books have done, and for that reason, is worth reading for those interested and who feel able to handle the difficult emotional material and depiction of rape.
  • The online course Transcending Sexual Trauma Through Yoga Online Training, by Zabie Yamasaki. I have been a part of Zabie’s weekend in-person trauma sensitivity training for yoga instructors for several years, contributing a workshop on trauma sensitive meditation and chakra work. Zabie has now made this course available as an online offering, and included a self-healing module sexual trauma survivors may work through on their own.

May both the feminine and masculine within you be healed, empowered, and integrated

May this radiate out into the world, becoming part of the shifts occurring there

May we all know ourselves as whole, happy, and healthy

Why NOT to Believe in Soulmates…

May 4, 2017

I hear a lot about soulmates in my line of work, as in, ‘when will my soulmate show up?’ Or ‘She must not be my soulmate because….’ Or ‘But he’s my soulmate so….’

Over the years I have actually come to see the entire idea of soulmates as very problematic, especially for women, so at one point I did a lot of research on how this idea originated. I turned to classic teachings on karma and relationships from all the world’s major spiritual traditions, and could not find a lot of support for the idea. Ancient Greek philosopher Plato seems to have been the first to use the term, but that was in the context of an allegory that could be considered a creation story; it was not a teaching on karma or relationship. Really the idea of soulmates is a modern idea – a Western one that has combined Eastern-based teachings on karma with Western Romanticism and New Ageism.

Of course just because it’s a modern idea doesn’t make it wrong. But a standard I like to use for evaluating ideas we cannot prove or disprove is ‘does it help people?’ And really in this case, the full question might be ‘does a belief in soulmates help people to manifest more love in their lives?’

From what I have observed and experienced personally, often it does not, especially for women. The soulmate idea is heavily marketed to women in current relationship and spiritual literature, and is basically an adult version of the Prince Charming or Knight in Shining Armor myths fed to us in princess stories as young girls. Both those childhood tales and modern soulmate ideas perpetuate the belief that we are not complete until we have found our mate, and that once we do everything will be great – our inner pain will disappear, we will feel complete and loved, and our relationships will always be easy.

Often these beliefs are held on an emotional level, even if on an intellectual one we reject anything so simplistic. The emotional imprint drives our lives, unconsciously forming the foundation for our goals and decisions. The irony is that letting go of these beliefs is often the key to attracting and opening to true love.

Here are the myths that I feel many of us internalize as part of a belief in soulmates, and why these can be problematic:

Myth #1: Everyone should mate for life, and life is incomplete without a mate. Of course we all want companionship and love, this is a natural and beautiful part of being human. But women often devote the majority of their personal power and attention to finding a romantic partner. A lot has been written about this, and of course a belief in soulmates is not the only factor driving this – there is a whole host of cultural conditioning and biological forces at play. But a woman’s entire happiness all too often rests on the state of her romantic life, in a way that I rarely see play out for men. Singlehood is viewed as a problem that needs to be solved, and the drive to do so overshadows other life accomplishments and experiences. I have worked with so many women who are unhappy whenever they are not in a relationship, and are thus not able to recognize the gifts currently in their lives, including love in forms other than romantic – friends, family, etc.

The irony of this is that in order to open to love, we need to feel it. The best way to attract more love into your life is to open to and appreciate the love you already have. Then your attraction field is not emanating lack and frustration, but expansion and fulfillment.

Myth #2: A true love connection is instantaneous and unmistakable. Movies are filled with ‘meet cute’ moments, and we all want to experience those. Some people do lock eyes across a room and ‘know’ this is someone they want to be with. But research on relationships has repeatedly shown that the happiest couplings are very often those that started as friendships and grew gradually into something more. The expectation that instant attraction or inner fireworks will accompany the arrival of a potential partner may cause you to overlook someone who you could truly grow and flourish with over time.

Myth #3: A relationship should never feel like work. Relationships are where most of us deal with our most complex self. Everything comes to the table when we are in relationship. This is true for all kinds of relationships, but especially romantic. It is inevitable then, that you will come up against parts of yourself, and your partner, that are hard to face. Deciding when a relationship is worth working to save and when it’s time to give up is always very difficult, and there aren’t any generalized rules for it. But every relationship will feel like work at some point. Often when we go through these ‘work’ phases, the relationship is deepened, as are we. Of course, this doesn’t mean sticking it out in relationships that are abusive or chronically dysfunctional, which brings me to the next harmful belief…

Myth #4: Soulmates should stick it out no matter what. My heart just drops every time I hear a woman say ‘but we have a soul contract’ to justify putting up with multiple betrayals or abuse. Often this is coupled with the belief that she is supposed to help heal and save her partner. Relationships are work, but both people have to be willing to work, and you can’t do someone else’s work for them. In addition, some wounds just can’t be healed in relationship – love alone (especially tortured love) is not enough.

Myth #5: My partner completes me. It’s a lovely, romantic moment in the movie Jerry Maguire when Jerry tells Dorothy ‘you complete me’. What a wonderful thing to feel. As a description of an emotion, love as completion works. But on a bigger level, it’s a real disservice to yourself to mistake this emotion for ultimate truth. None of us need anyone to complete us, because we are each complete within ourselves. Discovering this is the essence of the spiritual journey. The greatest love stories are between two individuals who each know this deeply, and can therefore love each other spaciously and unconditionally, without needing the other to fill any holes they feel in themselves.

All too often, we are looking to our romantic partner to make us feel whole. We look to them to make us feel worthy, strong, and seen. But the truth is no one else can heal the wounds within that make us feel incomplete, unworthy, weak, or unseen. A relationship may mask our pain or sense of lack for awhile, but if we don’t deal with the root emotional patterns ourselves, they will eventually rise up to destroy the relationship (or are partner’s will, if they also have not dealt with their own wounds.)

This doesn’t mean that we can’t be in a relationship until we have dealt with all our shit. Two people in a loving, supportive relationship can provide the foundation for each to work deeply on themselves. In order for this to happen though, both partners need to let go of the expectations they have formed that the other person will heal and fulfill them. That is too much pressure for any one person to bear.

Your fastest path to feeling complete is to recognize yourself as whole apart from your relationship. How to recognize this is different for everyone – it is the healing and awakening process, however that may manifest for you. When you recognize your own wholeness, you can love more freely and generously, and attract people to you who can love you this way too. Staying true to that is sometimes a daily struggle, and being in relationship is often our path to bringing it forth. However, not being in a relationship may be the path to that too. Either way, our happiness and fulfillment is not based on finding just one person out there in the vast expanse of the world.

May you find love within yourself

May you know yourself as love

May you bring this love to every relationship you have

Energy Work for Sexual Trauma Healing for Women Teleseminar

March 15, 2017

Although I am on a blogging sabbatical (I expect to return with a new series next month) I wanted to announce that there is still space available in the next round of my Energy Work for Sexual Trauma for Women teleseminar, beginning next Thursday evening March 23rd. You may do the sessions by phone live, or by recording on your own time. The course includes a private forum in which I am available daily for questions and participants may interact with each other (anonymously if you choose.) This is the 15th time I am offering this course, and every time it is slightly different, shaped by the participants and their needs. Every time it is also a course that I treasure, as I am always inspired by the wisdom and healing that participants share with each other, and by what I in turn learn from them. If you or anyone you know may be interested, please see the details on registration here and share:

Energy Work for Sexual Trauma for Women Teleseminar

Thank you for your support.  And happy Women’s History Month, and International Women’s Day (last week.) If you are looking for historical spiritual inspiration, check out my Historical Women’s Mystics series.

The Year of the Rooster – Wake Up!

January 23, 2017

roosternewyear

A rooster crows only when it sees the light. Put him in the dark and he’ll never crow. I have seen the light and I’m crowing. – Muhammad Ali

The Year of the Rooster is almost upon us, or the Fire Bird in the Tibetan tradition. Within Chinese astrology, the Year of the Rooster begins January 28th, while this year the Tibetan New Year (Losar) begins February 27th. Not all astrologers in either tradition use the Rooster as this year’s symbolic animal – several look to other birds, including mythical ones such as the Chinese Feng Huang, the Tibetan and Indian Garuda, or the western Phoenix. I’ve drawn upon all of these symbols within my annual intuitive riff on this year’s energies. I hope you find it enjoyable and helpful.

roosteratdawn

Right now, somewhere on earth a rooster is crowing, announcing first light. Chickens are found on every continent but Antarctica, and all over the world roosters are best known as heralds of the dawn. Through that they have come to symbolize the new day, transition, announcements, and messages. It’s not hard to see this energy at work as I post this two days after the U.S. inauguration, one day after massive Women’s marches around the world, and as Brexit and other major world shifts hang pending in the background. We are in a time of great change, and long established structures are crumbling. For many of us this feels scary and dark. For some it feels hopeful and triumphant.

Whether you are feeling fear, anger, or hope, one thing is pretty certain – you are paying attention. Paying attention and very likely voicing your opinion. Rooster energy is wake-up energy; wake-up-and-crow energy. Have you tapped into this yet? Are you clear on what you stand for, what you value, and what you will do to support those values? Whether you do this in response to social movements, within your own personal life, or on the inner planes of energy and spirit, clarity and expressions of strength are what is supported in the Year of the Rooster.

Of course as we have seen all too clearly in the past year, in so many different ways, shows of strength can easily bring out the dark side of Rooster energy…

cock_fight

Roosters in a cockfight for position in the flock are vicious and unyielding.

A lot of this year (and much of the internet) has felt like a cockfight. The phrase ‘pecking order’ comes from observing chicken flock social structures – there is strict hierarchy, and chickens (both male and female) will peck any member who oversteps their position. Chickens will gang up on a new rooster to show him his place, and a higher place in the flock is only won through fighting, bringing another chicken down a notch. The top spot goes to the dominant rooster – frequently the most vicious. However, the dominant rooster is also highly valuable to a flock, as he is vigilant on their behalf, warning of any pending danger, and going to any lengths to protect them.

We see all of these traits reflected in the traditional Chinese astrological readings of Rooster individuals. An individual born in the year of the Rooster is said to have the capacity for great courage, confidence, resourcefulness, and discipline. On the other hand, potential weaknesses are vanity, greed, selfishness, and negativity. Whether you were born in the Year of the Rooster or not, these are energies at play this year.

What will this year bring out in you? It’s a choice, and not always an obvious one.

chickenlittle

Chicken Little is a cautionary tale of the power of fear when we don’t think for ourselves.

What I mean by that is that in this age of instant news – or fake news – and constant influx of information through our various devices and social media sites, it’s not always so easy to think for ourselves and know what we believe. We can easily be caught up in momentum, or emotional triggers, or a desire to be part of a certain ‘tribe’. Social research shows that more and more we are segregated according to the media we consume, with most of us turning only to sources that reinforce views we already hold. We don’t willingly seek out viewpoints that challenge our own, or approach information with a sense of openness and discovery. Our desire to find our tribe, and feel right and affirmed by it, keeps us hankering for the satisfaction of confirmation.

It brings to mind the classic tale of Chicken Little, who mistakes an acorn falling on his head for the sky falling. As he runs about warning others, animal after animal believes his cry, never bothering to look up at the sky for themselves. Soon everyone is in a panic. We all need to heed the lessons of Chicken Little in the Year of Rooster. Do you think for yourself? Can you challenge yourself to seek viewpoints different from your own, and really communicate with people who hold those views? What is at stake is the concept of truth itself.

amaterasu

This print by Utagawa Toyokuni III shows the sun goddess Amaterasu, bringing light back into the world as she emerges from her cave. A rooster in the lower right quadrant helped entice her return.

The Rooster is linked very strongly to the triumph of light over darkness, truth over falsehood, and good over evil in the Japanese folklore of the Shinto sun goddess Amaterasu. She retreats to a cave and refuses to emerge after a battle with her brother-god results in the death of her friend. During her long self-exile, the world outside her cave flounders in darkness, while inside she contemplates her own role in events. Other gods and goddesses come together to plot how to draw Amaterasu out of her cave, including bringing a white rooster to crow at the entrance. The commotion eventually draws Amaterasu back out, returning her light to the world. She vows to conduct herself differently, and reaches out to make peace to her brother-god.

Amaterasu’s story is one of many feminine ‘descent’ stories found in various cultures, in which the heroine retreats from the world (sometimes by choice and sometimes not) and enters into deep contemplation, emerging back into the light after she has found herself, and her truth, on a deeper level. Is this what you need right now? Do you need some time to retreat and go deeper into yourself, apart from the clamor of your life? There are many forms of descent/retreat, from taking time each day to meditate to formal spiritual retreat. Descent is not only about gaining clarity, but about refueling, accumulating the personal power necessary to act effectively when the time is right.  Although it’s a year for change and action, choose your moment wisely, and take the time you need beforehand to prepare.

comet

According to one Native American story, comets are a rooster racing through the sky in an attempt to put the fire in his tail feathers out.

I did find one story in which the rooster is linked to the night rather than the break of day. In this Native American tale, a self-important rooster is so greedy for attention that he prances around a fire at a gathering trying to impress the other attendees, eventually getting too close and catching his tail feathers on fire. He flies up into the sky attempting to put them out, and eventually flies so high he ends up in space. Comets shooting across the night sky are our glimpses of this rooster trying in vain to put this fire out.

In this story we see some of the dark side of rooster energy – self-importance, arrogance, and a need for attention. It’s sometimes difficult to see when this is functioning within ourselves. Humans are social creatures, and we naturally seek out others’ attention and approval. There is nothing wrong with this if we are solid in ourselves, but when we lose touch with our inner compass, it can really lead us astray. Self-knowledge and self-honesty are essential to bringing out the higher qualities of rooster year energy. Be on the lookout for when your decisions or actions are based solely on seeking approval from others, rather than on what you need or want yourself.

tarotmercurywithrooster

This image of Mercury and his rooster are from a Renaissance Tarot deck featured at Raven’s Tarot Site (click the picture for more.)

In Roman mythology the rooster is linked to Mercury, god of commerce, communication, speech and messages of all types, including messages from the Underworld. This link may go as far back as the Babylonions, who saw a rooster in the constellation for Orion, messenger to the gods. I sense this link to messages is very important this year. In the outer world, certainly, it’s a year for sending strong messages about what you believe, and we’ve already seen that in action. But it’s also a year for seeking messages from the spiritual and inner planes. I’ve already mentioned descent and retreat, and certainly inner messages can come to us through that, but they can also come anytime, in the middle of our busy lives, if our connection to spirit is strong. Turning inward continually to strengthen this connection is vital amidst the noise of rooster energies. Listen for the ‘still small voice’ within.

klimtchickensongardenpath

Images of Gustav Klimt’s lost painting ‘Garden Path with Chickens’ were recovered through old photographs as part of The Clark Museum’s Lost Art Project (clickthrough for the Clark museum site.)

In my search for chicken and rooster stories and images, I came across this lovely Klimt painting, Garden Path with Chickens. Both the painting and the story of it captured my attention and felt very apropos for this year. The painting was moved to Austria for safekeeping during WWII, only to be lost in a fire set by retreating SS troops at the end of the war. Images were recovered through the Lost Art program of the Clark Museum. Lost Art brings to mind for me Lost Wisdom and Lost Knowledge. What can we learn from looking to the past?

In our future-minded, technology-focused culture, looking back is often not valued. Yes we have retro fashion trends, and sometimes a rosy nostalgia for past phases of history that ignores the shadow side of those times, but I’m not talking about that. I mean real connection with wisdom traditions, with lineages in which this wisdom is passed down from generation to generation. Wisdom forces within these are trying to speak to us right now about the future of humanity and our planet. There is a lot at stake, we can sense that, but we aren’t the first. In the inward-facing part of your journey this year, seek out lost wisdom from the past. You may find resources and knowledge that surprise you.

05_Firebird RATMANSKY

American Ballet Theater Principal Ballerina Misty Copeland as The Firebird in the classic ballet of the same name.

As I mentioned, in the Tibetan and some other astrological traditions, the symbol of this year is not necessarily the rooster but simply the Fire Bird. As a ballet fan, I could not help but think of the ballet of the same name, and the Slavic myth that inspired it. A Fire Bird in Slavic folklore is a magical, luminous, elusive bird, and a sighting or found feather from her often inspires an epic quest in search of her. If she is captured she sometimes brings doom and sometimes magic into the life of her captor, but whichever it is, it is always life-transforming. In this tale we see the traditional, male hero-quester archetype, a contrast to the feminine descent myth. The hero must go out into the world to find his fate, enduring many hardships and trials.

As contrasting representations for the spiritual journey, the yin/feminine descent and yang/masculine questing archetypes are not about gender (although they do say something about how men and women tend to seek.) We all go through both phases at various times in our lives. Specific to the Fire Bird myth, one lesson shines clearly through – attempts to control the Fire Bird always lead to trouble. Her magic will not function properly when forced, and the results of it are often dire. The Fire Bird must be treated with respect and allowed her freedom. Beyond the obvious socio-political interpretation of this message, I think it has meaning on the personal plane too. You can’t force personal or life transformation simply through sheer will or control. Attempts to do so often lead to results you didn’t foresee and don’t want.  You need to sense flow, let go, and open your mind and heart to possibilities you hadn’t previously considered. In relaxing, inner magic is often found, and it is more powerful than force.

tibetantangka

A bird represents desire in the center of the Tibetan Wheel of Life, one of the three poisons leading to non virtuous actions, along with ignorance (pig) and anger (snake.)

In Tibetan symbology birds make an appearance in several different forms. One is in the center of the Wheel of Life, where a bird (sometimes depicted as a rooster, but usually not) represents one of the three poisons – desire. It’s not desire itself that is a problem, it’s our fixation on the idea that getting what we desire is the only path to happiness. When trapped by this fixation we are stuck in a cycle we can never escape. Either we get what we desire and experience temporary happiness before we set our sights on fulfilling our next desire, or we don’t get what we want and are unhappy.

How to break this cycle? We don’t necessarily have to deny ourselves the pleasures of life, but may need to change our relationship to them, admitting our fixations and taking steps to loosen the hold they have over us. In its more dangerous form these fixations can become true addictions, but often they take a subtler hold on us, though no less limiting. Do you have a fixation in your life that you know is not good for you? Can you see through it this year and take steps to loosen or break its’ hold on you? This is a year where the strong yang energy present, combined with the counter yin contemplation energy, can both be drawn upon to help you change your relationship to the desires you know are not serving you.

tibetangaruda

Garudas are powerful symbols in both Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism.

A mythical bird called a Garuda is sometimes also linked to Fire Bird years. A Garuda is a large humanoid bird found in both Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism. In Hindu mythology, the Garuda is a divine being, and frequently Lord Vishnu rides him in his travels. In Hindu stories the Garuda is a mighty warrior, and in his traits we see parallels to both the strengths and weaknesses traditionally associated with the astrological Rooster – the Garuda can be either incredibly courageous and noble in his protection of what is right, or brash and violent when he acts impulsively.

Within Tibetan Buddhism, the Garuda has several different meanings. As in Hinduism, it is often a symbol of protection, but on a more abstract level it represents freedom from hopes and fears. Because the Garuda is said to be born fully grown, it also represents our primordial nature, the true essence of enlightenment present within us at all times, whether we live in awareness of it or not. Awakening to this primordial nature is in fact our path beyond hopes and fears, desires and aversions. Do you believe in your inherent wisdom, the awake mind and heart within yourself? Are you connecting with it and cultivating it? Again, in this interpretation of the Garuda, we find this message of moving inward – which seems to counter the traditional outward, crowing Rooster energy.

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The Chinese Feng Huang is a symbol of high virtue and grace.

In the Chinese Feng Huang we find another mythical bird often called to mind in Rooster years – in fact it is sometimes referred to as the August Rooster in China, or as the Chinese Phoenix.  The Feng Huang’s body is a composite of many birds, and each part symbolizes an aspect of the celestial world. The Feng Huang is a symbol of virtue and grace, and the five colors of its tail feathers represent Confucious’ five virtues of benevolence, honesty, knowledge, integrity, and propriety.

The Feng Huang was often used by Chinese emperors to represent the start of a new era. But it has also often been used to represent the union of yin and yang, and the balance of both strong outward, and reflective inward, movement. Within Confucious’ teachings this balance is taught to be the essence of ethical behavior. Self-cultivation of the five virtues, rather than simply adherence to rules, is emphasized as the foundation for action. What virtues do you value and are they the compass for your decisions and actions in the world? Do you work to align your thoughts, words, and deeds with your values? Personal responsibility is extremely important when working with strong Rooster energies.

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Fawkes the Phoenix on the cover of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Finally we come to my favorite mythical bird – the Phoenix. Through its continual cycle of burning and rebirthing from its own ashes it is perhaps the penultimate Fire Bird. A version of the Phoenix existed in Ancient Egypt in the form of Bennu, but we primarily associate it with Greek mythology. The theme of the Phoenix in all its iterations is cyclic rejuvenation, just like the rise and fall of the sun each day.

My favorite Phoenix comes from a more contemporary mythic tale – Harry Potter. Fawkes the Phoenix is Dumbledore’s companion and protector, and in many ways he lies at the center of the story, as twin feathers from his tail form the core of the wands of both the hero and villain – Harry and Voldemort. Within the Potter series, the song of a Phoenix is said to strike fear into the hearts of anyone whose intentions are evil, and provide courage to those whose intentions are good. The tears of a Phoenix can heal poisoning, as well as other illnesses and injuries inflicted by the darkest beings. The Order of the Phoenix is dedicated to defeating Voldemort.

But Dumblodore is always very clear about what must fuel the defeat of darkness in the world, the only magic strong enough to do so, and the main thing Harry and his friends have going for them – love. The Phoenix represents the continuity and power of love, kept alive despite adversity, awakening again and again within humanity. This brings us to the most essential questions in any year whatever the year’s astrology or energies – are you connected to love? Are you fueled by love? Are you aligned with love? When things seem dark or complicated, these simple questions can often cut through to help you light your way.


So there you have it – at best Rooster/Fire Bird energies are strong, courageous, ethical, and fueled by light and love. At worst they are arrogant, self-righteous, hypocritical, greedy and selfish. The journey to manifesting the former and not the latter in your own life rests on a balance between the yin descent path of contemplation and openness to inner messages, and the yang questing path of bold seeking and acting in the world. It’s a razor’s edge year, walking the fine line between the two paths, and the two expressions. Many blessings to you on your own walk.

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Although the rooster heralds the dawn, he does not control the day. Come out of your shell and crow what you want your life, and the world, to be about.

May 2017 bring you much wisdom, love, clarity, and power.

Hello from 2017 – Books, Posts, and Themes

January 7, 2017

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Spiritual opening is not a withdrawal to some imagined realm or safe cave. It is not a pulling away, but a touching of all the experience of life with wisdom and with a heart of kindness, without any separation. – Jack Kornfield

Ready or not 2017 is here! Although of course energetically for many around the world, the New Year doesn’t really begin until the Year of the Fire Rooster (or Bird) kicks off on January 28th (in the Chinese calendar) or a month later (in the Tibetan.) I will post my usual symbolic meanderings about this soon (the Year of the Monkey sure kept us on our toes, no?) Then I will be taking a blogging sabbatical for awhile – as you can see, I wasn’t able to blog much in the second half of 2016, and have decided I should just take an official break and finish out some projects. Since I didn’t offer my usual December energy work teleseminar or book giveaway for Winter Solstice, I hope to return and do both just in time for Summer Solstice in June.

In lieu of both now however, I thought I would kick off the year by listing some of the 2016 books that I liked and that you may find helpful, and offer some suggestions for what to focus on as this year shifts into gear. First, some of my favorite books – or at least my favorites that are related to the themes of this blog:

Milk and Honey, Rupi Kaur – raw and inventive poetry on themes of abuse, love, heartbreak and empowerment, grouped into 4 sections ‘the hurting’, ‘the loving’, the breaking’, ‘the healing.’

Love Warrior, Glennon Doyle Melton – written by the creator of the popular blog Momastery, this is her memoir of self-discovery as her marriage implodes, which also flashes back to earlier days of past addiction and pain. As she works through both she dives deep into what love really requires.

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times, Pema Chodron – not a new book, but the 20th anniversary reprint edition; a classic that anyone will benefit from reading once – or more.

Enlightened Parenting: A Mom Reflects on Living Spiritually With Kids, Meryl Davids Landau – warm and insightful essays on how to embrace parenting as your spiritual path, and on integrating spirituality into family life.

The Awakening Body: Somatic Meditation for Discovering our Deepest Life, Reginald Ray – six accessible but powerful body-based meditations adapted from the somatic and energetic practices of Vajrayana/Tantric Buddhism, Taoism, and other spiritual traditions. Although the author talks mostly in terms of the physical body, from my perspective these are really about the physical/subtle body interface, and they are a great spiritual counterpart to the trauma-healing somatic work of Peter Levine and others, which I have written about before here.

Excavating Pema Ozer by Yudron Wangmo – an interesting novel about a teenage girl discovering Tibetan Buddhism when sent to live with her grandmother. An accessible and entertaining introduction to Buddhist teachings.

Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living, by Krista Tippett – the author is the host of NPR’s On Being, and in this book she draws on the many interviews she has done with great spiritual, scientific, academic, and social leaders to probe the major challenges and themes of our time.

I also recommend a followup book to one I recommended last year – Walking the Advanced Path: Revelations and Reminders on the Direct Path of Awakening. And Cyndi Dale has written an outstanding and comprehensive new encyclopedia of the chakras, Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Chakras (which I am proud to be mentioned in within a couple sections.)

Outside of spiritual teachings, I really enjoyed memoirs by two interesting and empowering women this year – comedian Amy Schumer’s The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo and writer Jennifer  Weiner’s Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love and Writing. Both are sharp and funny but not superficial, as both women share painful childhood memories, and are honest and insightful about the conditioning women receive about our bodies, sexuality, and power.

Closer to home on the writings front, I thought I’d share what the top posts at Mommy Mystic were in 2016 (drawn from all posts, not just those published in 2016). Perhaps you missed one of these or would like to revisit:

21 Ways to  Care for Your Sacral Chakra

Are You A Mystic? 10 Signs You Are

The Chakras and Sexual Trauma

The Mother-Child Energy Connection

Working with Your Sexual Energy

The top posts published in 2016 were:

Mischief and Wisdom: Finding Your  Way in the Year of the Monkey

Chakra Affirmations for Transforming Anxiety

10 Tips for Surviving and Thriving as an Empath

I also was interviewed last Fall by Caroline McGraw at The Clearing, a residential facility incorporating spiritual psychology for the treatment of addiction, abuse, and related emotional issues, and some of you may find this interview or other resources at The Clearing blog helpful:

Interview at The Clearing

As for energetic advice going into 2017, I think more will surface as I prepare my lunar New Year post, but for now I will say openness. Openness is my word for 2017, and opening. So consider what it means to open – open to seeing situations or people in a different way, open to new experiences and goals, open to unconditional love, compassion, power. To truly open means letting go of limitations, fears, expectations, anger, and even hopes at times. Energetically and emotionally it means finding your internal knots, and gently allowing them to untie and release. I sense this focus on opening may be most relevant right now, within the energetic transit we are currently experiencing, and that a more focused approach will be needed in a month or so. But for now open. 

Wishing you opening in heart, mind, and body as we enter 2017.

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In a Dark Time – Working with Anger and Fear

November 13, 2016

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“In a dark time, the eye begins to see…”

– first line of Theodore Roethke’s ‘In a Dark Time’, you can read the entire poem here

Where does your eye go when looking at the photo to the left? To the flame of course – the source of light, despite the fact that the darkness takes up much more space. This, to me, beautifully illustrates the meaning of Roethke’s famous line – in the dark our vision is simplified and clarified, stripped down to the bare essentials, and we are able to truly see.

Whether you are in a personally dark time, think our nation or the world is in a dark time, or all of the above, consider the ways that your vision has been clarified. Within yourself, what fears, biases, or personal shadows have risen to the surface of your consciousness? Within society, what forces have come out of the shadows? In a dark time all is laid bare, and that is uncomfortable and scary, but it also creates the opportunity for liberating or healing these forces, because they are ‘up’. They are not hiding in the crevices of your consciousness, or the corners of our society.

I have started many blog posts the last couple of months, all struggling to identify and offer advice on working with the energetic forces at work in the U.S. election. As you can see from my long silence, none of them quite came together. I realize now I never could quite see clearly enough what was going on, or what could be helpful. This is not a political blog, and won’t start to be one now, but in many of my client sessions, and in my own personal work on myself, it has been clear the growing divisiveness and vitriol of this election took a toll. Many of the sexual assault and abuse survivors I work with felt retraumatized by news events, doubly so this week with the outcome. It is hurtful to them that so much could be overlooked by so many voters. Of course many other individuals and communities around the country are feeling the same way about the racist, xenophobic, and anti-gay rhetoric. Reports of hate crimes in the aftermath of the election have fueled the sense that the darkest energies of our country have been unleashed, and feel empowered.

How do we work personally with all of this? Much has been written about anger in this election – the anger of voters on both sides, how it fueled the result, and how it is fueling the response. But I think the more relevant emotion right now is fear. Anger is so often a response to real fear – it is the emotional equivalent of the ‘fight’ response in ‘fight, flight, or freeze’. (Escapism is flight, denial is freeze.) Anger feels less vulnerable, more active. So we slide quickly from fear to anger, sometimes so fast we can’t even feel the fear. And once anger is unleashed it has a tsunami-like momentum. It grows larger and larger so quickly we can’t predict exactly where it will hit or how far it will reach. Fear becomes anger becomes hatred in no time. History has shown us this over and over.

I’ve written about the idea of the ‘kali yuga’ before – this phase of human history that according to many Indian and Tibetan traditions we are now in. The kali yuga is a time of growing darkness, and one of the ways this unfolds is through a greater solidification, or hardening, of physical and emotional forces within human awareness. Our bodies and the emotions we feel within them literally feel denser, and we have a harder time accessing the lighter end of the human awareness spectrum. Anger is a heavy emotion, and while it has its place, and its clarifying value, when so much of the human population is weighed down by it at once, it creates a darkness very difficult to see through. Anger is also the ultimate ‘otherizing’ emotion – when we are in the grip of anger, it is always ‘us’ and ‘them’.

The course then is to find the root of the anger, the initial triggering fear, and work with it directly. Taking the time right now to really identify for yourself the fears that have been triggered, and where you feel them in your body and subtle body, creates the opportunity for you to liberate them. Some of the triggered fears may be connected to emotional wounds or patterns you have carried for a long time. If you can liberate the root fears within yourself, or at least loosen them, you can work clearly, without the dark cloud of anger, to surface and liberate them in the outside world. This is truly what it means to be a part of the change you want to see in the world.

So this really, is what I feel is the foundation for working personally on yourself at this time:

  • Recognize that darkness is clarifying, and look honestly at what it has surfaced, both within yourself and in the world.
  • Explore the fine line between fear and anger within yourself. Work with the fear directly.

As for how to work with fear, there are many modalities, and you can use what works for you. I’ve listed some books at the end of this post that you can consider, depending on what you are working with. But to the extent that this blog focuses on chakra and energetics work, I wanted to provide a straightforward way of doing so. The following may be done as a visual meditation sequence:

  • Who or what are you most angry with? This is an inquiry process that you may do alone, through conversation with another, journaling or whatever works for you.
  • What fear is fueling that anger? This is an inquiry process best done alone. Identify what it is you are afraid will happen, or what fears the object of your anger (whether a person or situation) triggers.
  • When you contemplate this fear directly, where do you feel it in your body/subtle body? Close your eyes, and bring to mind the fear you have just identified for yourself. Imagine what you fear occurring, or as present before you. Where do you feel this in your body/subtle body? (If this fear is related to a trauma, or the fear is overwhelming, skip this step and work with the fear as in your belly.) It’s important to let go of the story of the fear or anger – how justified it is, or how ‘right’ you are. Just let yourself find the energy in your body/subtle body. Feel into the energy of the emotion as you feel it, as opposed to staying in your mind and thinking about it.
  • Now visualize a white light in your heart. This white light is wise, clear, compassionate, and bright. Take some time cultivating this. Imagine a ray of this light is emanating towards wherever you feel this fear is in your body/subtle body. The ray of white light brings soothing and balance. After a time, imagine the white light dissolving the fear energy entirely.
  • Move the the ray of light to the chakra nearest to where you have been working. For example, if you feel the fear most acutely in your belly, direct the ray of light to your navel chakra. If you feel it in your head, shift the ray to your third eye. Imagine this chakra lit up with this white light as well. You now have two spheres of white light, one in your heart and one at the chakra nearest to where you most felt the fear. Sit with this visual for a bit.
  • Now imagine you are sending white light from your heart and this chakra to the ‘object’ of your original anger – the person or a visual representing that which you were angry at. This white light is bringing wisdom and healing to this person or force (it is not empowering that person or force.)
  • Dissolve the visual, and let yourself rest with the white light in your heart chakra. Let go into a feeling of peace and calm.

I want to be clear – there is nothing ‘wrong’ with anger. Anger is a very important emotion, as is fear. Women especially often need to first own their anger in order to own their power. But we can only wield anger productively as a force for change in our own lives or the world when it is not solely a vengeful or self-protective force. Doing this requires honestly looking at our motivations, and at our underlying insecurities and fears. Then we do not need to hunker down behind our anger, and can instead meet the challenges of the world bravely and clearly. It is the difference between yelling at someone with the intention to hurt them because they have hurt you, and yelling at a child when they are about to touch a hot stove or run into the street. In both cases you are loud and you are sharp, but with the child there is no intention to harm.

Obviously this is a big topic, in fact I would say it’s the core of the spiritual path. And as we navigate this phase in history, working with the energies of anger and fear will become even more important. Here are some books on other favorites approaches of mine that relate to this theme that you can consider, most of which I have mentioned here before:

Lama Tsultrim Allione’s Feeding Your Demons: Ancient Wisdom for Resolving Inner Conflict

Pema Chodron’s The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times

Peter Levine’s In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness

Mona Lisa Schulz’s Heal Your Mind: Your Prescription for Wholeness Through Medicine, Affirmations, and Intuition

May you find this helpful, and may all beings discover their inner wisdom and compassion at this time.

 

 

 

 

 

10 Tips for Surviving (and Thriving) As An Empath

August 6, 2016
ProtectedEmpath

‘Protected Empath’ by Elena Ray, http://elenaray.com

Note: This month I am participating in the Super Natural Healing Summit. Register and you will receive interviews and free gifts from many different healing practitioners once the summit begins on August 15th. This is an excellent FREE way to learn more about healing modalities of all types! My own interview will be featured on August 19th. Register here, and spread the news.

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 higher than average on the empathic scale. Recently in my private session work, I have been working with many people, women in particular, who are struggling and have not realized just how much they are being weighed down by the energies of the world and people around them. These energies magnify whatever struggle we are personally experiencing. If we take on the dark energy of certain forces in the world, or from the struggles of those around us, it can add to whatever challenges we are facing to such an extent that we feel overwhelmed. While our tendency is to keep focusing on our individual problem or struggle, often just a little empathic self-care can help us just enough for us to break through the fog, and gain the clarity and personal power we need to see things in a new light.

So I encourage you to make these tips a priority for 2-3 weeks and see how you feel. Particularly if you are struggling with a personal issue, give the self-analysis and overthinking a rest for a bit, and just take care of yourself. Most likely you will begin to see the issue you have been struggling with in a new way within a week to 10 days.

One important note on this though – please don’t let this list add to any sense of self-judgment or unworthiness. I actually rarely feature lists like this here because they can so easily become a list of ‘shoulds’, creating a projection of what we ‘should’ do and who we ‘should’ be – a projection against which we always fall short, feeling inadequate. Let your self-care instead be a form of self-love and self-appreciation, of relishing yourself in the form of your body and subtle body.

10 Tips for Surviving and Thriving as an Empath

  1. Exercise. Yes, exercise! Move your body! Just as stress chemicals in our physical body can result in muscle tension, so energies that we take into our subtle body can become locked there. Exercise helps release and cleanse on both levels. Aerobic exercise is generally best for this, but mind-body modalities like yoga and tai chi, which are based on opening energy lines and centers through physical movement, are even better. Exercise is also helpful in grounding and connecting with your root chakra, which in turn is essential to being able to enforce energetic boundaries. A great way to make the most of this list (and your time) is to combine exercise with some of the other suggestions on this list – hike in nature (#2), swim (#3), or take a combo yoga/meditation (#8) class.
  1. Spend Time in Nature. Nature emanates its own vibration wholly apart from the human vibration that we are inundated with. Connecting with nature – or even better immersing yourself in it for periods of time – will cleanse human vibration from your system. In addition, the lower four chakras are each linked to specific elements – root/earth, sacral/water, navel/fire, heart/air – and so connecting to these vibrations within nature will particularly cleanse and empower the corresponding chakras. However, it’s important to be discerning – heavily populated parks may carry more human than natural vibration. On the other hand, safety needs to be a priority – don’t trek out on your own as far from all other humanity as you can, placing yourself at risk. In addition, some powerful natural spots are not suitable for spending a lot of time. That’s another whole topic unto itself, but in short, if you ever start feeling spacey or irritable in a location, leave. Pay attention to how a place makes you feel.
  1. Embrace Water. All the elements have powerful cleansing and healing potential, but water is particularly good for empaths. Water is the element of the second/sacral chakra, which is also linked to our emotional body, so water has a special ability to help cleanse emotions picked up from others from our subtle body. Drink water, sit by water, bathe in water, swim in water – embrace water!
  1. Limit Screen Time. Both the content and vibration of what we take in from television, the internet, and even books can greatly influence our awareness and lodge in our subtle body. Pay attention to how something makes you feel, and disengage if it’s not good. Yes, there is a place for discomfort in media, even for violence if it is portraying some truth for a greater purpose, but you need to make conscious choices about when, where, and how much to connect. As an empath, more than anything you need to prioritize the integrity of your own energy body, and give yourself enough time media-free to feel what that is like.
  1. Nest. Make your home a sanctuary, a true nest or womb-like space that creates a sense of nurturing, safety, and cleansing. Consciously select the décor, based on the colors and items that create this sense for you. Make sure there is one place in your home – a meditation corner for example – which is wholly yours, filled with only your energy. This spot can become your touchstone, and once you have spent enough time in it, every time you sit in it you will begin to shed any foreign energy lodged in your subtle body.
  1. Make Your Sleep Sacred. Sleep is our time to naturally cleanse and replenish, including on our subtle body level. Set yourself up for a good night’s sleep by paying special attention to what you watch or read before bed. Make your bed and bedroom a sanctuary, creating the best possible environment for a good night’s sleep. Bathe or shower before bed if you have had a particularly demanding day energetically. And visualize a radiant light as you fall asleep – intend to connect with deep, cleansing light. Each time you wake up in the night, reinforce this. There is a time and place for dreams, and certainly dreams can be a powerful intuitive force, but the most meaningful dreams will emerge from light. If we do not connect with this light early in the night, we will likely spend the entire night playing out the energies we have picked up during our day instead. Some psychological processing is needed, but cleansing and true rest are needed even more.
  1. Get Enough Protein. Our root and navel chakras are most directly involved in our creation of energetic boundaries and filters, and protein can really help to fuel our root chakra. Protein is grounding and provides a density to our energy field that we can use. You can read more about this in a prior post of mine, Eating for Your Subtle Body.
  1. Meditate. Any form of meditation will help you to discover the integrity of your own energy field, because you are returning your mind over and over to your own being, from wherever it has wandered. Chakra meditation or pranayama work (breathe based yogic work) has the additional benefit of activating the cleansing energies lodged deep in our subtle body. A chakra meditation with affirmations such as this one can serve this purpose. Of course if you have a more developed meditation practice of any style, build it into your routine.
  1. Affirm Boundaries. I have purposely waited to discuss boundaries until #9, because it is difficult to really establish and hold firm boundaries if you are not engaging in self-care along the lines of numbers 1-8. It’s also easy to get obsessed with boundaries and avoiding negative energy, focusing on isolating yourself, rather than on the self-care necessary to enable you to interact fully with the world and maintain the integrity of your energy body. Nevertheless, establishing a sense of energetic boundary can be very useful for an empath, especially if you have internal conditioning that you don’t deserve or can’t enforce bounaries (as is common for anyone who experienced abuse of any type as a child.) I have written about how to establish basic boundaries in other places though, so I won’t go into it here. Try this post, or my DailyOm course, which includes a class on boundaries.
  1. Be Like the Sky. The sky is often used as a reference point for meditation, or as a metaphor for our primordial awareness or essential spirit, because the sky is vast and open, and everything occurs within it. You can expend a lot of energy on boundaries, building a defense around your energy body, or you can expend a lot of energy on self-care and cleansing your energy body. But if you are connected to the open, vast spirit at the heart of your being, and if you are identifying with that rather than with your psychological triggers, much less foreign energy will ‘stick’ with or to you. It is our reactivity, our reaction to all that occurs around us, that pushes our internal buttons, causes us to latch on to it, and pulls energy into our being. The spiritual process is one of re-identifying ourselves with our skylike nature, rather than with our conditioned emotional patterns. It’s a lifelong endeavor (or multi-life!) But as you travel along it, as you become more spacious, the need for a certain kind of boundary and self-protection falls away. You still need to care for your body and subtle body, but being an empath becomes something else entirely. So be like the sky!

If you would really like to explore empathy from an energetic perspective on a deeper level, and how to own the related intuitive gifts, Cyndi Dale’s book on the subject is the best around:

SpiritualPowerOfEmpathy

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