Journey Group

Creating a Container for Transformation

Posted on Updated on

change and transformation_1
Artwork by Kristin Hansen kristinhansen1@verizon.net

When someone says that they’re “holding space” for a person, I have to ask myself, “What does that mean?”  In this article, we will explore the heart as an energy center as well as a container for transformative processing.

This is my perspective on energy work, and is neither an absolute nor “the truth.”  This is also my personal cosmology, so I can share my understandings and present them to the outside world.  Measure the information found here against your own truth chord to find out if this resonates with you.  May you find something useful in this article and go forth in a positive way to spread the productive medicine that has helped create a deeper understanding within you.

Let’s start off with the first concept to grasp before we fully dive into this subject.  As a lot of people are awakening to energy work, some may be overwhelmed by the complexity and logistics of intricate energy systems like the chakra system. (Not to say that they don’t work, but just to approach them as another way of looking at things).  For simplicity’s sake, I consider there to be three main energy structures within the body:

  • Head – Mental understanding; the root of the mental wisdom body
  • Heart – The meeting ground between; the root of the emotional wisdom body
  • Belly – Gut feeling/intuition; the root of the physical wisdom body

In a lot of cosmologies, the heart is the connecting piece between all of the energetic bodies.  If we simplify our understanding to three energy centers, the heart would be the meeting place where the passions of the belly, as well as the clarity from the mind, commingle.

This commingling is the perfect atmosphere to have a Transformational Process: the process to permanently change a pattern or belief you have.  A transformative process is a specific event where something happens, you are impacted by this event, something changes within you and you can’t change back.  The first mistake that I see people making is not grasping the fundamental difference between change and transformation.  With change, you can always change back.  With transformation, on the other hand, you create something entirely different, and you cannot fathom being what you once were.  For a more in-depth explanation of this element, visit my article on Change and Transformation I posted a few months back.

As we break things up into segments, there are three categories that we will break transformation down into.  Most of the time, it is a mixture of one or two of the categories, but this identification will come with time.  These three types of transformation are:

  • Personal Transformation (relationship with self)
  • Interpersonal Transformation (one on one, relationship based)
  • Group or Community Transformation

Some obvious physical examples of this include becoming a parent or getting a high school diploma or college degree. On a personal level, that experience transforms you because you can’t think of yourself differently after that. You have something (or someone) as a product of that transformation. The community at large looks at you differently, because in some jobs you can’t excel until you meet certain credentials and achieve certain marks of transformation. With group or community transformations, we hold ceremonies like graduations or coming-of-age parties like bar mitzvahs/bat mitzvahs or Quinceañeras.

All of those are examples of the outward marks of transformation – a memorable point in time marking things we’ve accomplished in the physical world.  Half of the people in our culture don’t value these experiences for what they really are.  Most kids graduating high school don’t really realize what it means before they enter the “real world.”  Celebrations of transitions and transformations have been devalued because we don’t mark transformational processes for what they are worth.  These are transformations that are larger in scope, but let’s refine this topic now to the smaller-scope transformations that can occur in our energetic body.

The thing is, emotional, mental, and spiritual transformation is unexpected, and we have to set up the right container for them to take place.  It can often feel like a major shift or an “AH-HA” moment. There are a lot of times when a transformational process begins to happen, and we begin to change; however it’s not recognized as a process. Because we don’t allow the space for that transformation to take place, we resort back to the way we used to be. This is very similar to trying to get to the core of the problem, but then bailing on the full process and merely peeling off another layer off the onion instead of diving deeper.  Transformation is an art, and an art that has been diluted and is easily confused with “changing.”

The real act of transformation is a MESSY process.  It’s very similar to the caterpillar trying to transform into the butterfly.  The caterpillar builds a chrysalis for itself, and its body literally breaks down within the confines of its structure, liquefying into a primordial ooze and swirling around inside of itself.  If we happen to metaphorically be the chrysalis and we falter in being that structure/container, that ooze will melt through to the outside and the transformational process will feel incomplete, often leaving ourselves feeling incomplete.  Transformation can often feel painful, like we are “dying” in the process.

There are varying sizes of containers that we can create for ourselves and others.  Sometimes we need a personal-sized container for little changes/transformations, and sometimes we need a much larger one for a hard-core belief pattern that needs some altering.

  • Personal transformation – being there for ourselves and not harming our own process
  • One-on-one transformation – confiding in another person, personal relationships
  • Community transformation – finding a group of people who set up and create a space to change and transform together

Transformation should always start at the individual level.  We should be caring about our personal development and how we show up for ourselves.  If we do, this leads to healthier relationships without the need for control or co-dependence.  When we begin to focus on ourselves as a container for these processes, that’s when we begin showing up for other people in the same way.

Sometimes, however, there is something a little bigger that needs to change, and we need a little help from another person or group of people while going through this process.  It can be hard to both be the liquid of the process and hold the container for that liquid.  If what we are trying to change is overwhelming and we get lost within our own shadows and wounds, we might need a community or a group of people that will help set the container so that we have the ability to transform and break down together.  We are all human, and many of us have similar problems. It can help our own processing if we realize we are not alone.

Some of you may have only a vague sense of what this post is about, while others will be reading this and having goosebumps. Let’s bring in some real-world examples to help solidify this concept so it’s not so “woo woo.”  A common example of a personal transformation is someone trying to quit smoking or drinking.  It’s very difficult because it’s a habit or pattern we are trying to break. There are some who have the discipline to successfully quit cold turkey, but many others will only “change” until they are able to transform their mind frame of how they approach it. Sometimes consistency is what is needed to build a container, and it’s small repeated actions daily that will over time have that “Wow, I’ve done this for this long” moments that can lead to us no longer identifying as that label (such as smoker).

A healthy interpersonal transformation depends on whether the other person can act like a good therapist.  It takes strength to ask the right questions to the person that is breaking down without adding your own emotions to the mix.  This is especially evident after break-ups, when we go to our friends to hold us while we feel vulnerable.  Sometimes even the most well-meaning “advice” isn’t helpful, because part of us identified with being in that relationship and we become defensive of who we used to be.  We are “transforming” from being out of that relationship and identifying ourselves without a partner.

For community transformation, let’s consider the example of ceremonies.  There’s usually some motivational speech given before a ceremony that connects people together, like a valedictorian’s speech at a graduation or a eulogy at a vigil for the victims of a disaster.  Sometimes when people pass away, it’s hard to mentally transform our own image of them into someone who is gone until we have some sort of ceremony to honor their passing.  These ceremonies are just as much for honoring the people that have passed on as they are for providing closure for the people still here.

Before we go into what makes up a container, let’s talk about some of the things that can derail a transformative process:

  • Mental judgements – ultimately succeed in impeding the transformation
  • Emotional extremes – pollute the transformation and add extra distraction

There are so many times when we inadvertently get in our own way.  How many times have you talked yourself out of going to the gym or eating healthfully?  How many times have we tried to talk about our feelings with someone that we cared about, but then in our moment of vulnerability they say something that hits us in that wrong way and completely derails where you were trying to go?

Mental judgements throw us off track because we are trying to “control” the process before it even begins happening.  When we begin directing it down a path that we think is right, we are not trusting it to flow and allowing the process to take its course.  There are way too many people out there that believe they “know the right thing to do” and always believe they’re right.  These are signs of egotism, and are something to watch out for.  The greatest practitioners are those who don’t know what they’re doing because they are in the moment and supporting what needs to happen in the moment.  They carry a sense of presence, instead of worrying about the future or the past.  When we look to the future, we worry about what the product will turn into.  When we look to the past, we think of all of the creations we have made in the past and how we want it to turn out the same or not anything like that.  This is the art of projecting, and the mind is extremely good at it.  It’s hard to let go of expectations and to let things happen. However, projecting  is the exact thing that will make the chrysalis begin to break down and allow the ooze to slide out before we even realize that there was a transformational process that tried to take place.

Emotional extremes are an overindulgence in our own feelings, and this distracts us from what’s really going on during the process.  When we are going through a true process, we are trying to decipher all the different things happening to us, but old feelings rise up and we don’t know why.  We need to analyze what is happening, what we are feeling right now in the moment and what the emotions are that are coming up from the past.  For example, if someone had a loved one pass away and they have unresolved emotions (resentment, guilt, shame, anger), these emotions will surface and they will relive those within moments of remembering that person.  It becomes what they are feeling in the moment because they haven’t processed through how they really felt at the time it happened. When people “offer advice” when we are this vulnerable and trying to transform, they certainly mean well, because they see us in pain and they want to help, but this is contrary to the path of transformation. They know that transformation hurts and they want to make us feel better.  However, expressing our feelings while someone else is trying to transform can “pollute” the process.  Sometimes, someone just needs to be heard, and not told someone else’s opinion.  If we are being this container and we allow our emotions to affect the transformation, a defensiveness can rise up in response to the “pollutant.”

Our job at that point is to create a container that allows for these transformational processes to happen.  Everyone has this container within their own heart, and evaluating whether or not we utilize it appropriately is a wonderful form of self-reflection.  The goal is to have the container be made out of non-reactive material.  Remember in chemistry class when they had either a glass, metal, or porcelain container to hold reactions in?  That’s the goal we need to keep in mind when we try to look at our own container and how it appears in our mind’s eye.

If you journey, this is a perfect opportunity to go within and ask yourself what state your container is in.  Your container is a reflection of what you also offer to other people, not just yourself.  Is your container porous?  Does it react when certain chemical reactions take place within it?  Does it have holes, or is it cracked or broken?

If your container is broken, cracked, or has holes in it, this is generally evidence of our mind getting in the way, resulting in self-sabotage.  We ruin the process before it even begins to  take place.  If your container is porous, or is made out of a material that is extremely hard to clean, then that represents the fact that you allow emotions to pollute your transformations and you can’t really see the transformation for what it really is because you base so much of it on your past.  If we have a container in our heart that is made up of a reactive material, when things heat up, do we throw off inappropriate comments?  Our task is to create a container within ourselves that is healthy, expressing ourselves in the appropriate way.

The right transformations take the right crucible formation.  If we look to our own heart, do we jump to emotional extremes and throw in mental judgements, ultimately derailing our own transformational processes?  If we can’t show up for ourselves, how can we expect to show up for other people?

Our job as a good human (in my opinion) is to hold transformations in the heart.  Create a heart that is not going to react emotionally to every transformation that’s trying to happen.  Sometimes, we don’t need to be healed; sometimes we just need to be reminded of our strength.  It takes a lot of strength to be a sacred witness and to just be there for someone going through a process.  In order to break down and transform, we need to be vulnerable and feel safe enough with other people.  We need to ask ourselves if we feel safe enough with ourselves, or do we judge ourselves for the actions that led us to this point?

The catalyst for this post is from my teacher Christina Pratt, with whom I will be studying beginning in 2017.  If you’re an auditory person, you may wish to listen to her podcast specifically tailored to this post here.  For the rest of you, I hope to see you at the Fairfax Journey Group so we can learn together.

LBC – Journey of Love

Posted on Updated on

Little Bear Chronicles – Journey of Love

21666093584_09e8fc119e_o

I know I haven’t written about Little Bear in a while, but that’s mostly because of the business and the way that life becomes so distracting at times. This past Monday night was a very unexpected night for me, and I wish to share what unfolded because sometimes Little Bears wisdom surpasses my own.

There was a period of a few months where there was some turmoil, and Little Bear had actually distanced himself from the shamanic world. He went away for a week with family, and after he came back I had to work long shifts, so it was almost like I didn’t see him for a while. When we finally started spending time together, he didn’t want to journey, he thought it was pointless, and he got disappointed because other people/kids weren’t talking to their “helping spirits”. The way that I explained it to him, is that there is always someone with us all the time, watching over us. “Helping spirits” are like guardian angels to some people, and we just happen to see them as animals. He was sucked into the wetiko and lost his way a little bit. I held space for him and never really forced him to be spiritual. I just merely continued being who I am, and kept exposing him to it. Gradually over a month or two, he came back to accepting again. Over time, he realized there was a difference between when he did talk to his helping spirits and when he didn’t.

When kids journey, it’s really quick. For adults, the average journey tends to last about 7-10 minutes. For kids, they’re so innately connected that their journeys tend to last 3-5 minutes. I can’t say that’s the same for all children, but for the children I have worked with (including my own), that tends to be the average in the DC metro area. I admit that I’ve never forced him to journey along with the adults at the Fairfax Journey group. If he wants to participate he can, but for the past few months he colors or plays with toys, and everything works out. He’s quiet, respectful, and tries not to make too much noise when people journey.

He’s been back on track the last 2-3 weeks, and tells me wild stories of what lessons his helping spirits taught him that day. However, this past Monday was a different story. He actually wanted to journey today. Well, admittedly I was late in posting about the journey group on the internet and didn’t create the events until earlier that day (hooray procrastination) so no one showed up. That gave me the beautiful opportunity to spend one on one time with my son.

We started talking about power songs, and then he said that he loves listening to the recordings from the sound circle (the past two months he hasn’t been able to go because he’s been visiting with family). He wanted to record a power song too, because he told me that “I want to be as powerful as you when I sing”. I asked him what his power song was, and he replies the compassionate heart song. I explained that I have a different song for different helping spirits of mine: bear, eagle, spider, and otter, etc.

He replies, “I know. But all of them say that the heart song is my power song. It’s because my helping spirits live in my heart.”

My smile gets so big and I say yes to the recording (it’s down at the bottom of this post). After we sing it, he tells me about how good he feels and how much love he feels. My heart melts.

And then he states, “Mommy, I’m going to journey about love and what lesson love can teach me right now.”

I think my heart exploded with cute, as well as awe for this beautiful child. I wish sometimes I could craft questions like that when going to my helping spirits. The way he said it with such confidence, and how he wasn’t ashamed of being different any more… that really hit a sweet spot down in the recesses of my soul. It hurt a little bit, but a good type of hurt that lets you know your heart is expanding.

We did the drumming and he did the little bells. When we came out of it, we told each other our journeys. His eyes were bright and he was excited about sharing his adventures with his helping spirit. Finally I asked him, “So what was your main lesson that you learned about love.”

Without hesitation, he looks up at me with the biggest smile, “To love everyone.”

But then I threw a monkey wrench in his state. “But what happens if someone is mean to you. Do you still love them then?”

He paused and looked down at the bells. Obviously thinking and checking in with his helping spirit because he didn’t consider that. “Mommy… my bear told me yes, but that seems like it’s really hard.” His big eyes turned up. “What if someone makes you so upset you cry?”

With big bear arms I took my Little Bear into my lap. “Baby… there are going to be people out there that will make you cry. But one thing to remember is that the people that hurt you are hurt themselves. Half the time they don’t even realize they’re hurt. It takes a lot of courage to love the people that hurt you. Sometimes they mean it, but most of the time they don’t. Have compassion for them. You can still be sitting next to someone and be far apart from them emotionally in order to protect yourself.”

He is still looking down, obviously thinking. “How can you be far from someone emotionally? That doesn’t make sense.”

“Well, do you tell the nearest stranger everything about your life?”

“…. No, I don’t.”

“That’s right. Sometimes you need to not open up to someone when they hurt you and to put up protection so their hurt feelings don’t hurt you. It’s like when someone falls and they hurt their body. Sometimes people fall emotionally and their feelings get hurt. And sometimes people give voice to their ouchies, not realizing that it’s not their true self speaking. Throughout life you’ll be close to people that hurt you a lot, and you do need to learn to protect yourself. You’re a beautiful kid, with so much to give. You can choose to get hurt, or you can choose to protect yourself. Realizing when someones ouchie is speaking helps me get out of my own ouchies when I talk to someone that hurts me. Because when we fall and hurt ourselves, we can sometimes stay in that ouchy place and hurt others. It’s sometimes hard to love everyone, including yourself.”

By golly, this kid just soaks this in and I feel his little brain turning. It’s almost as if I can feel the last puzzle piece click into place when he grins this big grin. He hugs me with the biggest hug and tells me he loves me. I of course, love him back.

This kid… sometimes I don’t have words. And I’m surprised at the depth of which he gets what I’m saying sometimes. I can tell whenever he gets something that I’ve explained, because he gets quiet and his actions reflect his pondering demeanor.

Anyway, here’s the video I was talking about. He has given his permission and was admittedly a little nervous when recording this video. But he wanted to share his power song with the world (is what he told me). I have to give thanks for my Alchemical fire family, for I picked up this chant at one of the all night drumming ceremonies. Little Bear always loved it when I sang to him, and this was one of the first songs he learned by himself.

Lyrics:

Could this be the healing
That we share this feeling
And find a compassionate love
Flowing from my heart to yours
Flowing from my heart to yours

August 2016 outline

Posted on Updated on

After a nice long mini vacation, I’m ready to dive back down into the work. This blog post is going to be the brief outline for August, and a breakdown of the overall topic of what we will be exploring this month at each Fairfax Shamanic journey group. Click here if you’re unfamiliar with Shamanic journeying.

So what are we exploring this month? Last month we explored the energetic bucket. I have plans to record more guided meditations and post them in accompaniment with the energetic bucket. That was the month where we explored what our energy body is, and how we take care of it.

This month we will cover transformations and transformational processes. A lot of people are not differentiating between change and transformation, and in doing so they are not acknowledging the steps of a process. With change you can always change back. With transformation, you cannot even fathom going back – something has happened to you and you are a different person because of it. As we grow, and as we transform into different people throughout our lifetime, we are being given the opportunity to create our own containers for transformation. We sometimes spend years working on transformations, and then there is this big event where we break down, transform, and step out of the other side as another person.

These are some examples of transformation. When a woman becomes pregnant and gives birth to a child, she is no longer considered the woman who she used to be. From that point on, she is considered a Mother and has undergone a transformation. It took 9 long months to get to that point, to set up the container. Perhaps even longer than that if she’s been trying to have a baby for a long time. Another example is if we get our high school diploma or college degree. We are recognized by the community and a ceremony is held for our “graduation”. After we walk that stage, there is no taking away our diploma. That is something that is earned and no one can take that away from us because it’s ours.

These are physical examples of a transformational process, however what we will be talking about this month are emotional ones (more to expand in the upcoming blog post, will update this when it is done). There are some times in life when we are exposed to something that changes the way we learn, the way we behave, or how we think. Sometimes these processes still take years to “build the container” so that we can turn into a different person.

Again, the fundamental difference is the difference between change and transformation. How many times have you heard someone say “I’ve changed”, but hanging out with them after, you notice they have superficially changed and not really changed as a person deep down inside. Those are markers of “change” and not “transformation”.

The question we face this month, is are we allowing these transformations to take place? If we set up these containers within ourselves and having others hold space for us – is it healthy? What is a healthy transformation? A majority of us know that transformation on an emotional level is a messy process, and it can hurt. Let’s explore that this month.

August 1st – No journey group (Momma needed a vacay)

August 8th – What is the difference between change and transformation? What is a transformational process? How do we set up a healthy container and what are some things that could pollute a process trying to happen? Change comes about because we realize deep down that something is not working. We can sometimes set up the container for us to transform, but we sometimes wreck our own process and instead of a transformation we emotionally settle for a change.

August 15th – Personal transformation – is our container for our own transformation healthy? What makes a good and healthy transformation? Are we polluting our own process and sometimes derailing a process that is trying to happen? If our emotions or mental processing gets in the way, we resort to a short term change instead of a long term transformation. How much are we willing to hold onto these old patterns? How do we recognize them?

August 22nd – Interpersonal transformation – sometimes it feels like we are going through something that’s so big that we need at least one other person to lean on. Humans by nature are social creatures, and even if someone is an introvert – finding a friend to talk with and help them through something helps transform them. Sometimes we don’t need someone to heal us, we just need to be reminded of our strength. How do we find that strength and how can we be there for someone else in a healthy way?

August 29th – Community transformation – after we go through a process, how does the community see us after? After getting to know and connecting with a certain group of friends, they notice that you might have changed in some way. In what way can we do a “rites of passage” ceremony for another person? If someone went through a really tough time, can’t we do a “you survived and you’re a badass!” type of victory party? We will also cover processes that are sometimes too large to be held by one singular person, and sometimes for big shifts, we need the backing of a community in order to safely transform – where many people see our process and hold us in this safe space while we transform.

Heavy stuff this month! But I guess that’s why you guys keep showing up for journey group, eh? Journeying is a wonderful technique where we can go to ask our helping spirits/inner guidance/spirit guides/power animals for help. Haven’t journeyed before and don’t know what spiritual guidance is? No worries. Message me before you come (not required, but helpful if you do). Even if you can’t journey or are unsure if you can, feel free to attend and see what happens.

Shake a rattle this month, guys!

IMG_9013

Journey Outline for Month of July

Posted on Updated on

The crest of another month is upon us! So many wonderful events coming up, so be on the lookout for a newsletter in your inbox soon. Here we are at the beginning of a Sun-filled and hot month (at least here in Virginia). If you’re new to Shamanic Journeying, and you’re curious about joining us, feel free to find out about the Structure of the Fairfax Journey Group as well as the “What is Shamanic Journeying” page. If you haven’t already connected in to the community, there is a Facebook group as well as a Meetup for support.

Experience is helpful, but not necessary. This outline provided is always a suggested journey topic. Journeying is question driven, and the little forum at the beginning of every journey group is to meant to spark that questioning within us. Distance journeying is available, but please message ahead of time for a spot. The method we use is either Skype or Google Hangouts.

BucketThe main theme this month is going to be taking care of our energetic bucket. All too often we do things, even when we don’t have the energy to. What type of repercussions does that have on our subtle body? This is what we will be exploring this month.

Schedule will be as follows:

Monday July 4th

No journey group! Spend time with your family and enjoy Independence day.

Monday July 11th

We will be delving into the “Energetic bucket” and finding out exactly what state our bucket is in. We will be sharing self care techniques as well as any helpful advice for finding out when to recognize when our energy is running low. One of the other topics that will be introduced is the concept of Energy Hygiene. We clean our physical bodies, but how about our other 3 wisdom bodies (mental, emotional, and spiritual)?

Monday July 18th

Further working with the metaphor of our energy bucket, we will be exploring boundaries and what healthy boundaries look like. There are many times when we subconsciously place our bucket on the ground right where someone is about to kick, how much of that is our own control? Yes things happen in life, but when do we start recognizing that we might potentially be caught in the Victim mentality or the Martyr mentality? It happens to the best of us. Learn from others who join in our circle as we discuss boundaries and what they mean to us.

Tuesday July 19th

Year of Ceremony satellite option. For a more extended version of this digital broadcast, visit the meetup for more information. Connection with ancestral spirits is an essential part of shamanic traditions worldwide. Like us, our ancestors experienced suffering and healing and —from the shamanic perspective—they remain connected with us through the life energy they share with us. While this dynamic association can provide us with wisdom and support from our forebearers, we may also inherit their unresolved sorrows and pain. When our body’s defenses are down, when we are under stress or ill, it is easier for an ancestor’s energy to affect us adversely.

Monday July 25th

There are some times when our intentions mean well, but we don’t realize that our actions are being guided by something else. Here we introduce the concept of “whose driving the bus” and who is really in control? Are you letting your emotions drive when you just want to key someones car out of anger? Are you letting your ego drive the bus when you’re too proud to turn down an offer that you know you probably shouldn’t accept but feel you have to anyway because of social status? What happens when our unresolved wounds come to the surface and react before we have a chance too? Join us as we share our coping techniques or our self awareness techniques, and then ask our helping spirits about it and what works best for us individually.

 

We hope to see you out at one of these! If not, then maybe either digitally or in spirit 😉 Happy July, everyone!

 

Month of Water

Posted on Updated on

For the month of June, it is a hot month here in Virginia. It’s a month when I absolutely love dancing in the rain and celebrating the pleasures of Summer. For those just tuning in, this post is directly in regards to the Fairfax Journey Group that’s based out of the Cardinal Center. There are thoughts of continuing it at the Cardinal Center, but it might be moving to Herndon after this month. We shall see where the wind blows us.

Artwork by Kristin Hansen
Artwork by Kristin Hansen

The past four months we have been doing the four elements, and how they interrelate with each other. Through the elements, we connect to the four wisdom bodies – the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual bodies. Last month we connected with the Spiritual Body in the form of Fire. This month we connect with the Emotional body in the form of Water. Whenever we begin to journey for ourselves or others, learning how to speak in metaphor is one of the ways we communicate with our subconscious.

When we are connecting with the emotional body, some of the questions we ask ourselves is “What is our relationship with our emotions?”. If we were to imagine that aspect of ourselves, what quality of water would our emotional body be in? Are we not able to express our emotions in a healthy way, leading to stagnant water? Are we constantly spouting our emotions in a constant flow/stream thats constantly changing course? These are some of the questions we will be exploring as we ask our helping spirits to guide us in the right direction for our own personal development.

Here are some of the suggested journey topics/dates for the month of June:

Monday June 6th – What is water in relation to all of the other elements? How do we make sure our emotional body flows and is not stagnant, which at the same time is in balance with the other three elements. If there is too much water, then our fire cannot burn as bright and we become overwhelmed with emotion and feel stuck where we are. If there’s too little, then our fire can burn out of control because we don’t have enough moisture to keep the fire in check. This leads to an overwhelming sense that we can take care of it all, burning our fire all at once, expending all of our energy, and then feel depleted and overwhelmed after. What is balance to you? What is your relationship with water?

Monday June 13th – One of the greatest wisdoms of water is the ability to take the shape of whatever container that is set before it. Water is fluid, moves with grace, and follows the path of least resistance. How then, can we echo this? Do our emotions flow with ease, or do they explode without knowing where the source of them is coming from? Emotions are meant to be flags, they aren’t meant to rule us. Do we ride the wave, or do we allow the wave to ride us? These are all wonderful questions for our helping spirits to provide a more clear and direct answer of who we are as a person so we can uncover the depths of how we work.

Monday June 20th – No journey group, I will be helping out with the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax for their Litha ceremony.

Monday June 27th – Shadow aspect of water: There’s always going to be a shadow aspect of every archetype that is out there. Wherever there is light, there is always a complimenting dark. Just because something is “dark” doesn’t mean we should fear it. The shadow aspect of water is the the tidal wave. Sometimes we have to ask ourselves if our emotional life is being lived in the shallow end of the pool, where if we fall down we are safe because there’s not much emotion there to begin with. When we are able to swim out and expose our true/deep emotions – yes, there’s possibility of getting hurt, but when you feel more deeply, you’re able to get more joy out of life because you’re able to feel it for what it truly is. The tidal wave signifies that we haven’t been feeling to our deepest capacity and comes to help free up the stagnation that has settled in the cesspools of our emotional body.

As always, any questions or concerns are always welcome. Feel free to email eagletherapies@gmail.com or to call/text 571.306.3197

Month of Fire

Posted on Updated on

It’s been a while, everybody 🙂  I’ve taken a step back with a lot of things in my life because life has just been hectic, and unfortunately Eagle Therapies was one of them. However, I write this outline while at an event because I’m choosing to move forward with what has heart and meaning to me. The journey group and the sound circles are some of them. First, a short message of gratitude for those that have supported me to make it to this place in my life. For those relationships that have broken apart and degraded, I thank you for the lessons – for you have helped me grow into the person who I am. Yeah I’ve made mistakes, but who doesn’t? We’re all human, and we are all learning and growing together.

Onward to what is here and now, as well as toward the brighter future! During the less advertised months of March and April, we began a new series of journey topics or themes to explore. Here is a link to the previous blog post explaining the interconnectedness and balance in association with working in an elemental system. No, I haven’t bothered writing blog posts in association with the elements. I will eventually, but for now they will be covered as we go through each journey group together. I like what people bring to the table and the different perspectives they add to these things. Remember that distance option is always an option, but please message ahead of time to get the link and also to let me know and reserve a spot. If all of this is new and you have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s an intro to shamanic journeying and also the basics for the Weekly Shamanic Journey Group.

Here is the outline and description for the Month of May:

May 2nd – We will be exploring fires purpose in the elemental system, and how it works in balance with the other elements. As we explore the elements, we learn that they are the doorway to the four wisdom bodies (mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual). How do we make sure all of them are in balance? How do we uncover if one is overactive/underactive and if another element has stepped up in order to compensate for the deficiency/excess? Fire in excess is arrogance, aggression, and overly ambitious. Fire in depletion is an overwhelming sense of depletion, feeling drained, or not having any motivation.

May 9th – NO JOURNEY GROUP SCHEDULED

May 16th – What do we go to the fire for? What has it been used for by indigenous cultures as well as how do we harness it for ourselves? We go to the fire for transformation as well as to dispose of the things that no longer serve us. We can’t accept more or take on more things in our lives if we keep holding onto old patterns, old behaviors, and old relationships with people/things that are actually holding us back. We are meant to grow and evolve, and fire is a wonderful way to transform ourselves.

May 23rd – Balance – what is too much and what is too little? There is always a shadow aspect which represents the crazy logic. When the fire element is in shadow, it can turn into an out of control raging forest fire. The energy is fierce, abundant, destructive, and eating everything in it’s path. Sometimes it is needed, and examples of this can be found in nature. The Conifer cannot procreate without its seed being engulfed by flames. Death frees us to feel the flame of our true passion. When there are times in our lives where the path of destruction sets everything in our life on fire, when the flames die down, it clears the way. Its a possibility for us to start over again.

May 30th (Memorial Day) – Completion for Fire. What is our relationship with our spiritual body and the connection to our own fire that burns within us? Fire symbolizes the passion that we have for life, how deeply we love ourselves and others. We will be sharing tips and techniques in the group of how we rekindle our own flame and recognize when we need to step back to preserve our own fire. When is an appropriate time to stoke the fire and keep adding fuel? When is there too much fuel and we burn ourselves out?

Thanks you guys! Hope you guys have a wonderful month 🙂 Hope to see you at one of the journey groups or sound circles!

FullSizeRender

 

Purity and The Elements

Posted on Updated on

Winter is typically a time to go within and to rest, reflecting the Earth and how it gets covered by a blanket of snow. As we enter into the spring in the Northern Hemisphere, there is a tendency to emphasize a theme that leans toward planting seeds and beginning to emerge from the slumber that is winter. As we unfold and begin to awaken, the Journey group shall reflect upon basic foundational understandings and go back to the simplicity that is the elements. What are the elements? How do we relate to them? Can we harness the wisdom inherent in them to find deeper meaning within ourselves and others?

There are many cosmologies out there that deal with the foundations of the elemental systems. They span anywhere from a three element system, to a seven element system (sometimes even more). They are akin to an operating system on a computer, and each works better for different individuals and for different purposes. There’s nothing wrong with preferring a Mac over a PC, or vice versa. The problem that we encounter most is that a lot of people are running on autopilot, not aware of how they operate on a foundational level. All of these systems are right in their own way, and the purpose of these journey groups is to find out what your personal foundation is, and to create/maintain an operating system that is right for you.

MedicineWheelI will be introducing these concepts from a four element perspective because that is what I am most comfortable with. I do not want the individuals attending to limit themselves to condensing to my viewpoint of how I see things. If you follow one of the other numbered element systems, feel free to read through these blog posts and take what you need. Come to the groups and share your knowledge. Find the hidden gems to deepen your own practice. All paths are welcome, and I encourage others with different viewpoints to come. It brings diversity and a clarity of shared vision to the whole.

If we go back to the elements, we go back to the simple nature of the way things used to be before humans even got here. Human beings have this tendency to add layers of complexity. I have seen many of people anthropomorphize the elements in a negative connotation, because interacting with another human is what makes them feel more comfortable. This creates a complexity that sometimes muddies the clarity we receive from the oldest of ancestors. By not opening up to allowing the river to interact with us as just a river, we can sometimes project human qualities onto natural forces. What that does is add the “baggage” in association with being a human. Human beings are beautiful, creative messes. But humans are fallible. Not all anthropomorphizing is bad, because there are underlying archetypes that relate to our psyche on a subconscious level (Mother, Father, brother, sister, etc.)

The reason why I work with the elements? Because they’re pure and simple. They just are. They do what they do and there’s no motivation to be anything different than what they are because they have been that way since the beginning of time. There is a story that I will tell, that one of my Shamanic Teachers first taught me when I was learning from her. This is a shared story by a lot of shamanic cultures, and these are the roots to a lot of “creation” stories.

Back in the beginning, there was nothing. There was a void. For us as humans, it’s hard for us to understand the vast nothingness because we are something.

But for some reason, this nothingness dreamt. And out of this dream was birthed a spark of fire, and crystal of ice. As the first two manifestations of these dreams emerged from the great nothingness, they began to dance.

The spark of fire grew bigger, and it began to melt the ice crystal. The ice began to melt, and the water began to flow. As the water flowed, it began to put out the fire. When the fire was almost out, it grew cold and the water began to crystallize. When the water crystallized, the fire began to grow stronger again.

This was the first dance of our oldest of ancestors. Grandfather Fire, and Grandmother Ice. And because they were born of the great dream – they too had the ability to dream. Because all dreamers that come from the big dream have the same ability to create and have dreams of their own.

When the water and fire grew, they needed land to support them. That is when Mother Earth was dreamed of, and then birthed. When the rivers had a place to run, the fire found that he needed more fuel to grow. Father Sky was dreamed into being and we get the introduction of air. From the dreams of the earth, air, fire, and water, the first ancestors began to dream of the things to be grown in the ground. They dreamt of plants, of trees, of mountains and landscapes. The dreams of these natural landscapes gave birth to creatures that walked the land, swam in the water, and flew in the sky. Eventually humans were dreamed into creation. And because we come from that dream, we have the ability to dream ourselves. We can create things that still carry that spark of dreaming that comes from the great dreamer that gave birth to us all. This dream weaves us all together, as we are all a part of this Big Dream. Nightmares happen when we feel we are apart from this dream, and there is this lie of separation where we feel disconnected or isolated. The simplest way to connect the closest to these dreams and to have our dreams synchronize with the big dream – is going back to the first ancestors. The elements.

The reason why I shared the story of shared story/concept of creation is because we are all born out of the big dream, and we have the ability to return back to the big dream if we align our thoughts, actions, and behaviors with simplicity. In this creation story, we are introduced to the concept of complementary dualism. In a lot of Eastern Traditions, it’s best explained as yin and yang. Most westerners get confused between the concept of dualism because there is a difference between antagonistic dualism and complementary dualism. Most are accustomed to an antagonistic dualistic perspective, so it’s hard to sometimes see the flip side of the coin without bias. Antagonistic dualism is believing that there is a concept such as good and evil, and that they constantly battle each other. Antagonistic dualism feeds the “lie of separation” because the sides tend to be clearly distinguished between good and evil, and there becomes this “other” that people view themselves as separate from. For a lot of westerners, it’s hard to wrap their minds around the concept of complementary dualism when their major core beliefs and values uphold the lie of separation. They may grasp these concepts in smaller doses and say that the concept of duality can be applied in certain aspects of life, but it is a process of opening up to this system of philosophy that encourages a state of “one-ness”. In a lot of shamanic cultures, there is a core belief that we are all a part of this bigger unity, and everything is connected to each other in ways that are interconnected and interrelated.

When one begins to drop the “lie of separation” and see everything from a more “holistic” sense (and being a part of that whole), then they understand that everything in life is a balance. Yin is a word used to describe the inner aspect, while yang represents the outer. Everything has a yin and yang aspect. When there is too much yin energy present, that leads to a stagnation. If there is too much yang energy, that leads to a depletion. When looking at the elements in this four element system we will be exploring, the elements that represent more of a yin quality are water and earth. These are the elements that are restorative, that which we lean into when we feel tired or exhausted. They are replenishing. The yang elements are represented by the fire and air. We typically go to these elements to carry out certain actions, or to be viewed by other people in a larger setting. They are how we interact with each other (one of the main archetypes that air typically brings is communication). Fire is interesting because it’s an element that requires the other elements to even be initiated. The environment has to be right, and the right potential for combustion needs to be present. Fire needs to constantly be fed, and all of the other elements need to be in balance for a fire to be more properly utilized – otherwise it burns out of control and causes chaos.

There is a simplicity to the elements, but there is also an implied complexity that is intuitive. The four element system correlates to the four wisdom bodies of the human consciousness. Earth is directly correlated with the physical body. Water corresponds with the emotional body. Air corresponds with the mental body. And finally Fire corresponds with the spiritual body. When we apply the four elements to these four wisdom bodies, we can harness our own elemental alchemy for personal transformation. When we bring these questions of self discovery to uncover our own “operating system” to spirit – we get personalized answer back from our helping spirits through journeying.

Journey track as follows:

Month of March: Earth/Wisdom of the physical body
Month of April: Air/Wisdom of the mental body
Month of May: Water/Wisdom of the emotional body
Month of June: Fire/Wisdom of the spiritual body

Remember that even if you are in a distant location and cannot make it in person, there is the option of joining us through Google Hangouts 🙂 Hope to see you there!

Sense of Purpose and the Open Heart Path

Posted on Updated on

Eagle Therapies is about empowerment versus enabling – and the point of Eagle Therapies is to point people to the tools and resources that most resonate with them. There is a core group of teachings that are based off of my experiences and what has been taught to me – but I am still a student myself and do not claim to be an expert on anything. My teachings and events are fueled by my motivation to get people exposed to more holistic ways of living, as well as finding ways to connect more profoundly with themselves on a deeper level.

One of the consistent things that Eagle Therapies offers is a weekly journey group.(If you are unfamiliar with journeying please click here) The groups themselves only meet for about an hour once weekly on Mondays to make it easier to fit into one’s schedule. They can be a-la-carte and people can drop in whenever their schedules allow, without fear of missing a “curriculum”. I offer “suggested journey topics” that are broken down into 15 minute learning tidbits, followed by a discussion between fellow journeyers before we actually journey. These journey topics rotate based off of the themes that I see present in society, or just good introspective tools that might be useful.

IMG_7617
Drawing: “Walk With God” by Stephanie Seger

As Eagle Therapies is still new to the scene of offering a safe and sacred place for people to explore their individuality, there is questioning from participants as Eagle Therapies comes to discover itself. This questioning is valuable because it helps the small community forming around the Eagle Therapies events to define itself, while Eagle Therapies shapes itself to fit the needs of the community. This article is meant to provide a brief summary of the Open Heart Path and why it’s a good tool for cultivating personal development.

There is a lot of movement in the growing spiritual community in terms of getting people to “awaken” somehow. A lot of these ideals and concepts are too large and grandiose to condense into a short blog post meant to provide highlights and a general summary for the Open Heart Path. I mean no disrespect to some of these movements, and I encourage you to research them if they intrigue you. However, they are pretty much the same thing but called by different names. You may have heard of the New Earth movement, the Great Awakening or the Great Turning. There are many other names that it goes by, but it is all a matter of how you resonate with either the message or the speakers that have stepped up as leaders in this movement. This movement encourages disengaging from the mass unconscious and becoming more aware of our actions, empowering our sovereignty/how much control we have over our choices (like choosing to be happy despite horrible circumstances). It can be as small as realizing your impact by supporting local farmers, or aligning your purchases to buy from companies that have values that support fair trade. We are realizing as a society that when we feed the illness, we are starving the cure. Slowly we walk more in our authenticity and become an advocate or steward for the Earth by caring about the environment and turning around the pollution that humans have inflicted upon Mother Nature. Every great movement starts with the individual, and these are what the movements focus on.

Sandra Ingerman is a wonderful example of a leader that is an advocate for this movement. She is an author, teacher, and Shaman that encourages focusing on ourselves, advocating for personal development and living in a way that is in good relationship with nature and all that is around us. If interested, there are many good books that she has written on the topic. Walking in Light is a wonderful introduction and provides direction to the path.

There are many wonderful teachers that are out there participating in this movement, and each has their gift that they bring to the greater community. The path that resonates the most with me is Christina Pratt’s version of the movement called the Courageous Heart. Christina is the founder of the Last Mask Center for Shamanic Studies and she has a podcast called “Why Shamanism Now”. Her teachings have come from her lessons that she has received from her Guides and Teachers. Medicine of the Courageous Heart is based off of Angeles Arrien and her work called the Four Fold Way. These teachings have evolved in a way that is great for standard application with contemporary people. It’s not too “far out there” in terms of hard to grasp or understand.

I strongly believe that the medicine of this time is the medicine of the courageous heart, or the Open Heart Path. So many people have grown weak hearted in their actions, and their integrity does not match what is within their hearts. Our consciousness as a culture is in our head, and we need to be able to bring that consciousness down into our hearts. The heart has four chambers that work in tandem with each other, and all four of these chambers should be functioning properly in order to have a strong heart that is not easily seduced by things that distract us or draw us away from our paths. In order to work with these four chambers in a tangible way, there are four main archetypes that represent these chambers.

If you’re interested in the source of these teachings, please click on the links above or below to lead you to Christina’s Podcasts, or to Dr. Angeles Arrien and her book the Four Fold Way.

Courageous Heart Part 1: The Healer – 45 minutes

Courageous Heart Part 2: The Warrior – 45 minutes

Courageous Heart Part 3: The Teacher – 45 minutes

Courageous Heart Part 4: The Visionary – 45 minutes

 

This consciousness that is beginning to form is based off of a collapse of vision. Most Americans live in a very mentally stimulating society. We have cell phones and are constantly plugged into social networking, emails, and constant flows of information. We are encouraged to multi-task and skim the surface of many different topics at once so we can move at a faster pace. The last chamber of the heart is the Visionary, and the archetype of the Visionary has grown weary of untruths. The relationships that we have established with money, housing, and politics have grown too complicated with too many clauses in the contract. The contracts are falling apart, which (in my opinion) is the source of more people stepping into an awareness of their own actions and the actions of their communities. People are waking up because they were caught up in this superficial “big vision” that society has helped weave together. A lot of people are realizing that there is no depth to it, and instead are reaching inside to deepen themselves. The way I have deepened myself is with an open and courageous heart.

When we move through our lives with an open heart, we are able to communicate our boundaries effectively, interacting with others in an open and aware manner. Life happens to us, and I’m one of those people that believes that life is a mixture of things that happen for a reason, and sometimes things just happen. That’s the beauty and process of life! Things happen! Our job as we navigate through this life is to be able to be in control of our actions and reactions as these life processes happen. We are human, and being able to have an open heart while moving through these life processes enables us to get more out of the experiences that life provides. When we are living with an open heart, our passion and our unique genius is able to flow through us. We are able to live our lives in a way that is good for all living things, and to communicate effectively with others because we are aware of our actions and the impact it has on others.

The problem comes in when we come across a life process, and our heart shuts down due to fear. When fear gets in the way, then we tend to have our life force energy moving through what is called our “Shadow”. The Shadow is an archetype that was introduced to Western Contemporary culture by Carl Jung. When our life force energy moves through our closed heart or shadow, our good intentions don’t matter and we instead do things for the right motivation, but our actions speak to something else or just “come out wrong”. It can sometimes be a compulsion or an easy fall back pattern to become the victim in a situation – to see how everything is working against us. We can fall into the martyr where we feel we have to sacrifice in order to get what we want in life. Sometimes when we see a leader or someone in power, we subconsciously project our power onto them, making them “even bigger” in our minds in terms of us never really reaching to that level of awe. When we pedestalize, we give away our power because we subconsciously are down on ourselves since we cannot reach that “level” the person in power has. These are all examples of meaning well, but our intentions being shifted by our shadow.

The medicine or the remedy to this is by realizing when our heart shuts down, and doing the work to open our heart back up. We do this by stepping into our sovereignty and realizing these patterns that we move into subconsciously. The archetype of the healer helps us realize these patterns so we can do something about them and work on them. The archetype of the warrior helps us to be in the moment, and fully present with our experiences in hand. The teacher helps us draw the wisdom out of those experiences that we move through. The visionary helps us see the bigger picture and how we fit into it. All of these chambers work in tandem, building on the other for strength. If one chamber is weak, then we will encounter these “Shadow” aspects of ourselves, and our actions that mean well are instead misinterpreted by either society or those we care about.

As we become more present and learn to live with an open heart, we begin to uncover the wisdom of the heart – which is our own unique genius. Everyone has a different medicine we bring to the table that no one else can bring. We have been incarnated into this life for a reason – and that reason is to express our own unique genius, or to express our lifes purpose. To wield the power of the medicine we possess, we need to step fully into the path of the open heart. We are not here to meet the needs of other people. But as we learn to step into our own sovereignty, we realize that our gifts meet the needs of others. This is the core belief of the Great Awakening. To know that everyone has a purpose and that their own unique genius is what is needed in order to fit into the greater community.

This is why I work hard as a networker, to provide sources for people to uncover themselves on a deeper and more profound level that works for them. My journey groups may not resonate with some people – and that’s okay. However the reason why I host these weekly journey groups is to have space for people that wish to explore this framework of personal development. To ask themselves these fundamental questions as we explore the archetypes in a way that is personalized by them, with their own sets of teachers. When we ask these bigger questions of ourselves, we are able to receive insight that is more impactful. This is the path of direct revelation. And I stand firm in offering the space once weekly at the Cardinal Center for people that wish to delve deeper into their own work.

You are more than welcome to journey at home, and are even encouraged! But for those beginning, it can be easier to do it in community and not feel as “alone”. All of these are “suggested” topics, and you are always free to bring your own questions to the journey group. These journey groups are run off donations to cover the cost of renting the space. A distance option is also available through google hangouts. Visit the Eagle Therapies Facebook page for more information or visit the calendar section on the website.

Combined January and February Journey Group Outline

Posted on Updated on

What a wonderful and fast paced month January has been! So much so, that there was significant delay in me creating the Journey Group outline for January and February 🙂 For those that are not familiar Journeying – follow this link. February is the last month that we will be exploring the Open Heart Path.

The topic for the four months we are currently exploring are inspired by the lovelyAngeles Arrien. She wrote a book called “The Four Fold Way” and if these teachings resonate with you, please read the book. I am only supplying the suggested journey topics based from her book as well as my experiences. If something strikes you, then I highly encourage you to go to the source of these teachings.

We began this venture of exploring the four chambered heart a few months ago. The heart we are dissecting is the open heart. In order for us to be people who live in this world in a good way, we need to cultivate an open and courageous heart. There are many reasons why our heart can shut down due to fear, and different weeks will highlight different possibilities. The four chambers are represented by four major archetypes. These archetypes are roles that we naturally fall into, and life calls on us to express ourselves in these four major archetypes. The four archetypes are the Healer, Warrior, Teacher, and Visionary.

In November we talked about the love of the healer and how we figure out what is in our path to discovering our own self healing – eliminating what stands in our way of being who we truly are. In December, it was about the warrior and about how we stand up for who we are, what we believe in, and take our experiences to turn them into wisdom. January was about the Teacher, and how to be more aware and in the moment. Some of the deepest lessons in life come from being able to be present and in our bodies. Mainstream contemporary western culture actually encourages multi-tasking and constantly being stimulated. Because we are so overstimulated, it can be hard for us to slow down and be in the moment. We talked about and explored addictions to perfection, and to be open rather then attached to outcome. For the month of February we will be exploring the Visionary and what it means to speak the truth without blame or judgement. Blog post is pending for the Visionary, and I will update this post as soon as I post it.

These are the suggested journey topics to break down these large ideas into pieces we can digest. If you would like to bring your own journey topic, then you are free to participate in discussion and bring your own journey question.

January 25th – Last week of exploring the Teacher and what that means to us. How do we begin acting more like the teacher and bringing this archetype into our lives in a good way?

February 1st – The Visionary. What is this archetype and why should we pay attention to it?

February 8th – Finding a vehicle to express your souls purpose – how the Visionary plays into it.

February 15th – Misuses of the Visionary and how it appears in mainstream contemporary culture.

February 22nd – Visionary heart gone into fear – The doubting heart.

February 29th – How do all of these chambers fit together? How can we best live all of these archetypes in a way that doesn’t allow our hearts to slip into fear?

 

Please arrive or login on time for the pieces you wish to be present for. You are free to come in or leave at any point, but please arrive no later then 5:30 PM. I have had people that just want to come for the journey and leave before sharing. It’s completely up to you, this is just a safe space where people can learn how to explore their personal development skills with like minded people. We do have opportunity for people to write down their journey, so bring your pen/journal. Sharing is optional, and you can choose not to.

 

These times are fluid, but the time frames that we generally work with are as follows:

Journey group begins at 5:00 PM

Group discussion begins at 5:15 PM

Heart Centered Sound Circle begins at 5:30 PM

Journey begins at 5:45 PM

Journaling and discussion begins at 5:55 PM

For more information on the journey group, please visit this link. We are working in partnership with the Cardinal Center in Fairfax.

This group is run by donations. There is a basket out for donations on the community/ancestral altar. If you are not a person that brings cash, then you can click on the link below to generously contribute to keeping the journey group alive, or you can paypal eagletherapies@gmail.com

btn_donateCC_LG

As always, if there are any questions or concerns, please feel free to call/text 571.306.3197 or email eagletherapies@gmail.com

Fly high! See you this month either virtually or in person!

Chronicles of Little Bear: Dropping the Hot Chocolate

Posted on Updated on

It’s interesting the path that I find myself on when teaching my Little Bear. I keep trying to teach him what is important and how much he means to me. However, there are a lot of deep lessons that I am learning from him. I know he’s only 7 and can’t fully grasp the lessons I’m trying to teach him, but his profound wisdom in response to my teachings leaves me dumbfounded at times. I know eventually the full depth of the lessons will sink in, and I hope he doesn’t forget what I’ve taught him.

This month I’ve had some realizations and he’s growing quicker then I thought. He’s entering into the age where society is having more of an impact on how he grows up. It’s hard to be healthy in a profoundly sick society. And I can’t protect him from everything, which is why I’m instead choosing to empower him to live his life the way he chooses and learning to live with the choices he makes. I’m learning to let go of my “failure as a parent” when he chooses to make decisions that support unhealthy habits. It’s a learning process for both.

When he was little I had control over so much. I had control over his environment, control over who he spent time with, and control over what he ate. He would make a decision and I could enforce it either as a “good one” or a “bad one”. That evolved as he got older and I taught him at an early stage that there are parameters for blurring the lines between what’s good and bad. Instead I’ve emphasized respect. Respect for yourself and respect to those around you. What is good for one person can be bad for another. And it’s about choosing what’s “good” for you and what you want to draw into your life.spilled_coffee_hell

More and more he’s growing farther away from me and developing his own sense of self. This is the journey of all parents and all children, it’s natural. The pivot in life has come, where he’s not just learning from me – but those who he chooses to spend time with. This is why I chose to try to teach him about what’s important to me and be a good example, because if you want the world to change, you have to be the change you want to see in the world. In order to change the world, you just need to change the dream of just one generation. And my Little Bear is in that category. He’s apart of this young generation who will grow into inheriting this world we are creating for them. Which is why it’s a passion of mine to throw all that I can into raising him.

This blog post was birthed because I was profoundly in awe at his journey questions on what interests him and what he wants to learn more about. A few Mondays ago, he wanted to learn about gratitude and what that means to him. His lesson stuck and changed me as much as it did him. The weekend after that Monday, we went on one of our many “adventures” together. I know he’s exposed to parents who are able to throw down money on their kids and get them food and drinks or material things – without it being much of a struggle. I am not hiding him from the fact that we can’t afford much, but instead of directly saying “we can’t afford it”, what I’m choosing to do is emphasizing the fact that we are not that type of family.

That Saturday morning was different, I wanted to share a drink with him. A special treat. He recognized it for what it was, because there have been so many times when he asks for something and I tell him “no” because it’s not within the budget (I don’t explain it to him that way though). He was very excited about the drink and was eager to hear the lesson that I was going to give him when we stepped outside together.

It wasn’t my intention that he dropped his full cup of hot chocolate – ironically it happened when I was about to explain to him the concept of  “holding onto” things and being in the moment. Because once that moment is over, we can’t get it back.

Crying Little bearIt wasn’t my intention that Little Bear “cried over spilled milk”. Yeah, I could have gone inside and bought him another hot chocolate, but I’m that ass hole parent that drives home a point and finds the lessons in whatever happens. Of course I comforted him when he cried, but he definitely was present when I showed him why I pulled him aside at a rest area in New Jersey. He was devastated because he knew I don’t get him things that often, and he was hard on himself because he forgot to be grateful.

Biggest lesson: we all make mistakes. When we realize we made a mistake, we own up to it and apologize to the person, place, or thing we didn’t fully respect. But sometimes it’s too late when we realize we made a mistake and we drop the hot chocolate. Our lesson today was about awareness, and being fully present. It’s about being grateful for what we have and letting others know how much we appreciate them in the moment.

Being a good parent is about being a good archer, and about being the bow itself. The child is the arrow. We do everything within our power to make sure to give them the right direction to go in. We love them. We support them. But ultimately, in order to let them fly – we have to let them go. Let them make their own decisions. When they hit their mark, we celebrate with them. When our children trust us, they will keep coming back to us to be restrung when they fall or miss their mark.

Be the bow.

There are stages that children move through, and it’s the parents job to recognize where they are at in their mental maturity when explaining lessons to them. When they’re young and little – you are EVERYTHING to them. Because you are their world, and you are all they know. Don’t underestimate the power parenthood has on their life. Be aware before you drop the hot chocolate. This week was my realization that I am not the center of my sons world anymore. I am a big influence, but it’s definitely my time to be the bow and preparing him for his journey in life. Right now, he keeps constantly coming up to me to be restrung and set him right on the path. I’m glad that trust is there. I know the time will come where he will come to me less and less. And even though the distance might cause some parents grief, it will give me a sense of satisfaction because I know that he can soar on his own for longer and longer strides. Until that time, I’m proud to be his parent and I’m grateful that he’s graciously taken the lessons I’ve taught him so far.

Fly high, my friends.