I know it might sound ridiculous and you’re afraid people might laugh at you or judge you if they catch you doing it. However, being kind to your food actually helps you in the long run.
Sensitive people can tell the difference when someone makes them food, and they really put their love and care into that food. When we get food prepared for us (especially from a fast food restaurant), it’s disconnecting in a way. Sure, it might taste good, but somehow it doesn’t fill us up like Grandmas Apple Pie did.
We can be magical just like our Grandparents and make amazing food with depth and meaning if we just focus our attention on our food in a conscious way. Most people live to eat. We should be making the switch to eat to live. If we slowly stop overconsuming food because the food that we cook or eat has our intention cooked into it, we can become “full” even easier. Thus learning to stop overeating can become easier.
Many people that are Reiki practitioners bless their food with Reiki. Hey, if that floats your boat then cool! I actually pray by singing. I connect my intention with my voice and singing always puts me in a good mood. I intentionally connect with the food that I’m about to cook and will often sing to it. What does that mean energetically? I am blessing my own food and eating my prayers. I’m not as disconnected from my food and I feel a sense of connection to something bigger out there in the big web of life.
Even if you’re a horrible cook and can’t cook for yourself, try just humming something to your microwave dish. Make the intention to connect to your food and give gratitude for the many hands it took to get it to your table. If you’re also looking to deepen your Shamanic Practice, set a little food aside for the land spirits and ancestors in gratitude for the food that is about to nourish your body.
When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
Hey guys! I sure have been busy this past month, with my recovering from deaths doorstep and heading out to Standing Rock and all. I somehow managed to write up a Journey Track outline for beginner journeyers because my inbox was becoming full with people who had questions about doing it by themselves at home. With all of that being said and done, the next few months are probably going to blow by fast for me. I’ve taken up training with an indigenous teacher, as well as going out on my first retreat with Christina Pratt in June (I’m in her four year training program and starting year 1 this year). So that means that we are going to move a little bit quicker in the journey group.
The last two months we have been working on the topic of earth as an element, and exploring that relationship as a metaphor of our physical body. The rest will be as follows on this big medicine wheel we will be taking a dive into 😉
Main Post: Purity and the Elements – Exploring the four element system, what it means, and the inter-connectedness/inter-related aspects of it all
April: Element of Air – Exploring the mental wisdom body and how to bring about the clarity of the mind
May: Element of Fire (post coming soon) – Exploring the spiritual wisdom body and how we can use passion to fuel our drive in the world
June: Element of Water (post coming soon) – Exploring the emotional wisdom body and how we can use our emotions as a useful processing tool instead of drowning or being numbed by them.
Along with the basic journey group meetups, there is also a Shamanic Journeying Basics class on April 8th, as well as the Open Heart Path class on April 18th. Hooray for fun events this month!
Event listings for Eagle Therapies:
April 2nd – Heart Centered Sound Circle
This is the extended version of the 5-10 minutes of singing/chanting we do before we journey. It’s a ceremony that lasts for an hour. Begins at 1pm.
April 6th – Element of Air: Shamanic Journey Group
Today we will find the inter-connectedness and inter-relatedness of the element of air, and see how it fits in with the element of earth. Earth helps us cultivate a sense of wellbeing, as well as a sense of place, presence, and grounding. Earth helps us ask the question, “What do I stand for, and why do I stand for it?”. As earth helped pave the ground work, now we can step into the realm of air and be able to take on responsibility and power. The element of air helps us connect to vision as well as clarity, clear sight, and truth.
April 7th – First Friday in Fairfax – Drum Circle!
This is just a fun get together with drums, rattles, and shaky things 🙂 Come join in community!
April 8th – Shamanic Journeying Basics – The Bare Bones
This is meant for everyone from beginners who know nothing about journeying, all the way to experienced journeyers who want a refresher. This will also include a journey group right after, as well as a question and answer.
Cost: $15 – Please bring cash or paypal ahead of time
April 18th – The Open Heart Path workshop
This is one of my favorite workshops to teach, because the Open Heart Path is very near and dear to my heart (pun intended). Come find out what it means to live in todays world full of courage, and to bring your medicine to the table.
Cost: $15 – Please bring cash or paypal ahead of time
April 20th – Element of Air: Shamanic Journey Group
Whenever there is a light, if the light falls on an object of attention, it casts a shadow. The shadow aspect of the element of air is the tornado. Sometimes in life, we reach a point of hopelessness that it feels like an aspect of ourselves is suffocating. We feel stuck and can sometimes feel like we cannot move forward without being restricted in some ways. The tornado can help breathe a breath of life back into the stagnation that was there.
This post is an at home journeying guide, which will either guide you into your own journeying practice, or deepen the practice you currently have. If you are interested in joining the Shamanic Journey Group at a distance, click here. If you stumbled upon this page because you would like a little extra help framing your journey practice, then feel free to peruse at your own pace. This is a helpful guide that pieces all of the journey topics from the past two years, and compiles them from basics to more advanced.
If you are still relatively new to Shamanic Journeying, then I would highly suggest that the first journey that you take is either one that establishes a place of power where you always start off, or to meet a Spirit Guide/Helping Spirit. Whenever learning a new skill (such as journeying), it’s very much like working out a muscle to make it stronger. Some people are innately going to have no problem lifting heavy weights, while some might have to work at it a couple of times in order to produce some results. Remember to not judge the experience of others, and remember that we all have different strengths when it comes to interpreting messages from the other side. Some might be able to hear things better, others might be able to see things, while yet some others tend to just “feel” or “know” that they’re going down through a tree or sitting next to a river. The point about journeying is to be as into the experience as possible. See if you can get as much detail as you can. If you see a waterfall, what does it sound like? What does it taste like? Where are your feet? What type of ground are you stepping on? Do you hear any other things in your environment?
It is helpful to turn off all electronic devices and either let other people know that you’re doing it so they don’t disturb you, or choose a time when no one else will be home
Call up protection, or set the intention for safety. There are many people who put up sacred space or set up crystal grids so then that way their bodies are protected.
This is a small advisement that some people still don’t know what it’s like to be “fully embodied” and tend not to be fully present. Traditionally in an indigenous culture, they would take their body with them when they journeyed (trance dance states, singing, chanting, etc.), but many individuals in this society have to peel off so many layers just to have an authentic spiritual experience that experimenting in different techniques (such as laying down, sitting, rattling, etc.) would be good to find out what works best for you. This is an experience based skill that is based off of what is best for you. What works for some people might not work for others. The main thing, is to try and stay fully embodied while you travel to the realm of spirit, otherwise if you leave open a space – then that could leave room for another entity to come in. Light some incense, dim the lights, and shake a rattle 🙂
Try to sing, dance, or do something that will get you into the right brain state. The left brain state is about words, communication, and invoking. Leave space for repetition, and conscious trancing. All of these things (especially singing, chanting, and dancing) will help get you into an altered state of consciousness, which typically will mean a deeper journey.
There are some people who lay down when journeying, but I don’t typically recommend this when first starting out. This reminds us of sleeping, and even though there is a such thing as lucid dreaming – that is a different avenue and is very different then shamanic journeying. Get a comfortable chair or if you want to try dancing your journey, put on an eye curtain (piece of fabric that goes on over the eyes so you can’t see ahead, but only where your feet are), and put a hula hoop on the ground so you stay in the confines of the hoop (this is a purely practical thing, so you don’t bump your shins into the coffee table – nothing takes you out of a journey faster then pain).
Don’t forget to grab a journal! It’s always good to have scraps of paper lying around if you don’t have a journal. It’s always fun and interesting to read them later after you have digested the message a little bit. Remember that when coming back from the journey state, short phrases or simple words that will bullet point your journey are best. If you write in full sentences, it put you into the left brain state, and that will take you away from being in the right brain state (which makes journeys harder to remember).
Journeying is a question driven activity. If you do not have a focused intention while going into the realm of spirit, most often our guides will just take us on a wild imaginative ride that might not make sense. Remember to have an intention and to really feel what your question is – other wise your answer will be as non-productive as your question was. It helps to not ask a yes or no answer, because it will not be as open ended and you could potentially trick yourself into hearing something you want to hear.
Great beginning journeying questions:
I would like to meet my entrance to the spiritual world, as well as find my place of power
It always helps to have the same visualization that will bring you over to the realm of Spirit. It will help even more if this starting point is a real place in nature that brings you comfort. Start by finding a small hole or opening, and then imagine yourself going through. You should feel a going up or down sensation, and then you will be transported to your place of power. Explore your place of power, and be as into it as possible. This is where we will be doing a lot of work (if you will be following some of the journey tracks listed below). It tends to be a place we’ve either visited before, or a place that we’ve always dreamed of being (like a beach, lake house, mountain cottage, etc.)
I would like to meet my non-egoic connection to spirit at this time
There are many different types of spirits that we can encounter in the journeying state. It is my belief that we are all born into this world with at least 1 to 2 non-egoic helping spirits. These are the helping spirits that we do not need to feed, we don’t have to hide their identity, and they often change form as we learn and grow as individuals. Non-egoic helping spirits are directly connected to Source/Universe/All that is and only care about our own personal development and teach us to be better humans. I have run across many different individuals that practice different forms of Shamanism, and some might call this aspect a “higher self” version of a spirit guide. But this is a very big difference then working with an egoic spirit. A spirit that has an ego is very much like us humans here on the physical reality. They have their own personalities, their own likes/dislikes, and they definitely have their own opinions. These helping spirits tend to be specialists, and can offer very unique advice that non-egoics sometimes cannot give a clear opinion on (because they only care about character development and see everything as a lesson). There is a benefit to working with both of these types of generic spirits (for example, I primarily work with about 80% egoic spirits, but have 2 constant non-egoic helping spirits that I use to vet everybody else), but the benefit of working with a non-egoic helping spirit is that they cannot be fooled because they are directly connected to source. An egoic spirit can be tricked or lied to, possibly bribed to work against you (hence why some traditional cultures do not share their helping spirits identities). The trick is, that working with non-egoics is more about asking the right questions because they are not as opinionated as an egoic helping spirit. Which is why I have the journey tracks listed below, so that it can be easier to ask non-egoics some of these questions. The reason why “at this time” is added on at the end, because we want to be present about what will be beneficial to us right now. I have had a person get a past guide or a future guide that they are not meant to work with, or have had past debts with, so it made journeying challenging for that particular person. These are just suggestions I offer.
After repeating those journey questions to yourself at least three times, I would then listen to a good drumming track with anywhere between 180-220 beats per minute. Here are some good ones that are out there right now:
Of course there’s shameless self promotion for the journey track that I created. It’s on the sound cloud. But in case you can’t access that or have trouble downloading it:
12 minute track – Has whistling in the beginning to call in protection and the ancestors by Sandra Ingerman
30 minute track – Beautiful Taiko drumming with Nagado drums, Odaiko, and rattles by Sandra Ingerman featuring Taiko Sol
If you would like more information, follow Sandra Ingerman for up to date Shamanic Journeying Basics courses. She is the person who I learned from, and her online training’s work quite well! Sounds True also has a lovely website dedicated to all things Shamanic Journeying. I will also hold a once monthly Shamanic Journeying Basics class with a journey session afterwards so you can try out what you just learned. Sign up for the Newsletter for up to date events.
Alright, so you’ve got the basics down. You have a place of power and you have a guide that’s willing to work with you. What’s next?
The first step is learning about energetic hygiene. What is energetic health? This is where I introduce the concept of the “energy bucket”, and I refer to this quite often. This is meant to be a daily practice, as well as something that is to be maintained whenever life starts to go awry. It can change from moment to moment based off of what is happening to you in the moment. When we get exposed to different triggers, and enter into a reactive state – our bucket can sometimes become a little unstable. There are many things which can change, but remembering to take care of yourself as well as your energy level is crucial/critical to having a good foundation for shamanic journeying. When we have these introspection’s about ourselves, then we can be of better use for those that we help/serve/love.
The energy bucket meditations are guided visualizations that can help, and I also have a link to a journey track that you can listen to at home as well.
These are optional, but are good starters to anyone that is beginning to step onto a more shamanic path. I also digress slightly when I say this – but the purpose of me putting all of this information into one space is not to promote more shamans out there. Shamanic Journeying is a helpful tool that is very valuable. It can be added to any practice, and is not a religion. It’s a way of looking at life, and it is completely okay to have one helping spirit that constantly helps us rather then more “facebook friends” that we don’t really know that well. On that note…
Some good journey questions that come out of this article are:
What does my personal/inter-personal container for transformation look like now?
What does my personal/inter-personal container look like for __(name a particular event you are having difficulty with)____?
What is this particular container supposed to look like?
What is missing from this container so that this transformation can be a powerful one?
Show me the steps to take so that my container for transformation aligns with my path and is healthier for me
Show me an example of a transformation that tried to take place but it backfired instead
Courses to Take and Expand Upon
The most basic one that is helpful for anyone wanting to deepen and enrich their inner world/landscape is exploring the elemental system. Each page has it’s own suggested journeying questions and follow through.
Purity and the Elements – A beginning introduction to the Four Element System, how they are inter-related and inter-dependent, and a wonderful tool of introspection which can provide clarity to any spiritual practice.
Earth – Metaphor for our relationship to our Physical Wisdom Body. Our physical body contains the innate wisdom of how to heal, and how we can live well in this world.
Air – Metaphor for our relationship to our Mental Wisdom Body. A lot of people in our society are prone to an excess of this element, and can become subject to headaches, migraines, and anxiety. This is how we begin turning an unhealthy relationship into one of balance.
Fire (coming soon) – Metaphor for our relationship to our Spiritual Wisdom Body. Fire is one of those elements that really depends on the other elements to thrive. If its too damp, a fire can’t burn. If it’s too dry, a fire will burn out of control.
Water (coming soon) – Metaphor for our Emotional Wisdom Body. Many people in this society tend to have a very unhealthy relationship with our emotions. There is either a tendency to excess and drama – or the complete opposite which is not having emotions at all.
This is a lot of information, and hopefully this all helps and fits together! If you have any questions, concerns, or are just lost – please feel free to text/call 571.306.3197 (just leave a message, please) or email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have found this page, there is no coincidence that you are on a path of self discovery. Even if that wasn’t your intention, you somehow still wound up finding this page. This post directly deals with the Air as an element, and how we can journey to find out the depth of our relationship with this element. It can be a direct reflection upon us and how we function in this world. We will be going through these journeying topics at the Shamanic Journey Group of Fairfax, however this can also be a “follow along at home” directional for those that wish to take this slowly and in a step-by-step process.
I shall update the table of contents as the blog posts get written.
As we have found out through previous posts, all of the elements are inter-related and interconnected. Through earth, we have cultivated a sense of who we are, why we are here, what we stand for, and why we stand for it. If we don’t cultivate these things first, then we can get very overwhelmed in the element of air. Many people in this society have an excess of the air element. Because the air element represents our mental wisdom body, that means that we can have an abundance of ideas, but lack of follow through. Have you ever heard of the phrase “air head” or thought of the meaning “building castles in the sky”? That is because without the earth quality in balance, we can become very “ungrounded” and can begin to think with fantasy thinking, allowing our brains to run away with us. Air in excess can be manifested physically as anxiety, migraines, and headaches because we are up in our heads all the time. Air in and of itself physically is made up of smaller, less dense molecules then that of earth. The molecules tend to bounce around a lot faster, and sometimes when they are “heated up”, they move at lightning fast speed, bumping into each other and causing all sorts of chaos. Have you ever noticed that when someone gets excited over new ideas they trip over themselves trying to write them all down, but then they burn out before they begin to enact any of the steps? Excited air energy is great and wonderful, but being grounded and methodical is how we begin to plant these seeds that we get from the air. Right relationship with earth helps remind us to take a step back and breathe.
When working with the element of air, it is a direct engagement of Spirit. If we think about it, the first element that we are introduced to as we are born into this world is the element of air. A baby is not marked as fully alive until they “take their first breath”. Air is the element most taken for granted. The same air that we breathe now is the same air that was once breathed by our deceased relatives, animals, as well as ancient beings – including dinosaurs! When we breathe the breath of our ancestors, we can restore ourselves back to the original dream. We commonly engage in ceremony with words and speaking. Air is the energetic driver for taking a particular vow (which most people don’t take seriously anymore because vows are often broken in this society).
The spoken word does have a lot of power, because many words together begin to tell a story. We often tell ourselves stories about ourselves and can portray others and ourselves in a certain light. This is human nature and happens unconsciously. An example of a “story” that we tell ourselves is the story of being “a good husband/wife”, or “being a good daughter/son”. We often get a perception of what is good/bad from the people and community that raise us, so if we grew up in a very dogmatic household – it can be very difficult to unlearn certain behaviors, and we can have trigger reactions when a story that we are telling ourselves is being challenged. For example, if we keep telling ourselves the story of judging our own self worth, it could restrict our decisions. Because we could have a low opinion of ourselves and we see a dream job, we could potentially restrict ourselves from applying to that open job position. The “story” we tell ourselves often comes as a soft whisper that speaks to us like, “Nah, I’m not going to apply for that job. I don’t have the credentials yet”, or “Well, if I apply for the job, I won’t get it anyway”. In the end, that story boils down to our worthiness. Maybe in the past we were told that we couldn’t amount to anything, and over time if things like that keep being told to us – we believe it. When we begin cultivating a healthy relationship with element of air, we begin to challenge these stories and ask if they are grounded in reality, or based in fantasy thinking.
There is a difference between doubt and critical thinking. Doubt is paralyzing, we lose our sense of connection and we only focus on what is wrong. With critical thinking, we are finding what is valuable in the situation and come at the situation from an open place of curiosity and discovery. When you follow the lead of critical thinking versus doubt, you can begin to discern the difference between delusion and imagination, and then begin to make progress forward on how you can move forward with the resources available to you now and in this moment. With a healthy relationship with air, we can begin to cultivate the qualities of truth telling. How often do we lie to ourselves when we think we can accomplish some grandiose task but don’t realize how much energy we really have in the moment? How often do we overstretch ourselves because of the dreams of others and their projection of how we fit into the picture? How often do we lose our sense of boundaries because we really just want the approval of others and try to make ourselves fit into their dream instead of dreaming our own dream? This is where we begin cultivating a proper relationship with air – by asking ourselves these questions. Many times when a person first journeys to find out their relationship with air, they will either find out that they can’t breathe, or that the air is filled with a thick smog. A healthy relationship with air is one that is crystal clear – like unpolluted mountain air.
Within this same vein, there is a difference between stagnation and suffocation. With earth, things feel very heavy – almost as if you can’t move. This is stagnation, when things are unmoving or you are too unwilling to let go of your own beliefs. With suffocation, you are living in something that is dead. Have your dreams died? Have you lost sense of what your dreams once were? When you feel suffocation, it is because we lose our sense of hope, or we drift away from the things that are aligned with our true path. This often leads to fast paced moving thoughts because we keep “spinning our wheels”. When we connect back to our dreams and our passions, that is how we can “breathe life” into a particular situation – by bringing in new ideas from our mental wisdom body and being able to discern which ideas will really be able to take off with the resources we have available (earth based realization). By flowing into this relationship between air and earth, we must realize the choices that we are making. Every time we say yes to something, we are also saying no to at least 10 other things. Earth can help us realize what is important to us, and how to prioritize, while air can help inspire us to take care of the situations we already have growing. We can ask vital questions such as:
By doing this particular action, what am I feeding?
What possible actions can I take in this situation that help feed what drives me?
How is this aligned with my path and does this stray from who I am?
Show me with clarity the choices I have available to me that I can reasonably accomplish
The element of air is very strongly connected to the element of truth telling. Truth can be a double edged sword in the fact that is can cut both ways. The hurt comes in the fact that it cuts, and the wound can hurt very deeply when we find out a truth. However, the blessing is that it’s a clean cut and it heals faster. How many times have we been fed lies, and the lies feed a blister or an abscess that just keeps growing. Many times people try to ignore the sore spot, lying to themselves that this abscess is not really forming underneath the surface. Doesn’t a clean poke hurt in the beginning but drain the abscess, leading to wellness? How many times have we allowed the abscess to pop because we didn’t realize/ignored that it was there. After it bursts on it’s own, note the length of time it takes to heal as opposed to when it was cleanly cut. This is a metaphor of a healthy relationship with air, and being able to have the wisdom of asking what the “spiritual antibiotics” are so that we continue to not get sick from our choices. When we cut with the sword of truth, it can help breathe life into things that were once dead. It can hurt at first, but it helps with the awareness and healing of it in the long run.
To help cultivate a strong relationship with air, we need to focus on truth telling and find out where we are lying to ourselves. Once we have this sense of awareness about the reality of a situation and begin to move from fantasy thinking (imagining that we are some place instead of actually realizing the state we are in) into a grounded sense of who we are, what we are, and the resources we have available – we become so much more productive in this world. This in turn helps us become more grounded and more efficient in fulfilling our lifes purpose. When our mind and heart move through with intention, we can begin to discern where it is we are really going. By cultivating a place to stand with earth, we can step up and grab some of these ideas from the mental wisdom body. It has no power unless we ground it in physical reality.
As with any archetype, the shadow of air is the tornado (if you are confused at what the shadow is and what it represents, scroll down to the bottom of the earth post). The job of the tornado is to dismantle. Perhaps a new perspective is needed because it’s being encumbered by your limitations, expectations, and views. Because of some of the stories we tell ourselves, we can lead ourselves into set patterns of thinking, and sometimes these thoughts swirl in our head so fast that we can challenge ourselves to question our ability to think. When we have such a strong degree of suffocation where we feel like we have no hope in a given situation, we might need a tornado to come in to “wake us up”. What are you feeding? What are you giving life too? How can we be thankful when a new perspective brings to light a huge story that we tell ourselves in regards to how connected we feel to other people, as well as how worthy we are to receive something. Remember that a shadow is neither good nor bad. It is a natural disaster that can have the positive aspects of wisdom once we clear out the debris/rubble.
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.
Suds and bubbles fill my hands as I reach for another dish to scrub clean. Particles of food drift in the sink, bringing different aromas to my nose. I am aware of the tension between my shoulder blades as I moved my hands from the soap, to the water, to the dishes. As soon as I am aware of that tension, I smile, and I am thankful for this opportunity to wash things away.
When I wash dishes, I don’t just physically clean the dishes. I use the suds and bubbles as a metaphor for cleaning the mental and emotional wisdom bodies. I do a lot of talks about the four main wisdom bodies, but it’s really a principle that a lot of people tend to grasp with ease. When I scrub a dish clean, I set the intention that I’m doing the same thing to my energetic body. As I clean, I’m also sifting through my thoughts and emotions with awareness.
As a contemporary person, I come up against a lot of judgments and critiques. It’s a drawback of being human, and, like you, I’m subject to them. However, this is the reason why I like the suds. They don’t judge; they don’t critique. I’ve noticed that when I start to talk about energy work to a new person, they do one of three things:
Their eyes light up because they know what I’m talking about, and are eager to discuss it with a like-minded person.
They’re unsure of what I’m talking about, but what I said really piqued their interest so they keeping an open mind.
Or, their heart shuts down due to fear and they are triggered by what I say. They immediately jump to preconceived notions of the Salem Witch Trials and assume that what I do is hocus pocus, and all other arguments thereafter are considered irrelevant.
These three categories are the majority of what I face, and most of the time it’s a mixture of them. I always make sure to feel out which category people are in before I divulge more and begin talking freely.
This evening when washing the dishes while Little Bear was in bed, it struck me that the ones in category 3 just have no exposure to the simple joys of energy work. There are too many people out there making things way more complex than they need to be. Even though the majority of people who come to me as clients just want to be better humans, sometimes we forget how to be human and forget to fall back to the basics. It’s human nature to add layers of complexity to things, especially given the fact that, as contemporary Western people, we are a mentally overstimulated society.
But nothing is as simple and pleasurable to me as washing dishes. In this simple act, I don’t have any music playing, don’t have any TV on – it’s just me and the dishes. This allows me to sit with my thoughts and to be able to think about what I’d been doing this past day, or this past week. It’s a chance for me to be good company with myself, and to accept the choices that I’ve made. In this very act of accepting, I am able to let go of what I “should have” done, what I “didn’t get to do,” or the things I “did wrong.”
I feel the tension between my shoulders begin to slip away.
This is where I begin complimenting myself on the things that I did right, and acknowledge where I can make some improvements in life. In this simple act of awareness and gratitude, I shift from my “little thinking” to thinking about the bigger picture and everything as a balanced whole. Too often we get fixated on what’s not working, and in doing so, it sucks us into a negative thought form pattern, where we can run into thought form possession. By shifting our awareness to a gratitude mentality, we can “zoom out” with grace and ease, and quietly sit with our thoughts in a reflective way.
Thoughts are stored in the mental body, and repressed feelings are stored in the emotional body. When we don’t properly express or acknowledge them, they spill over into the physical body. Thoughts/feelings carry energetic weight, and with simple cleansing and restoring techniques anyone can get that “weight off of their shoulders”.
The dishes are finished, and with that last clink of the plate on the counter, I stretch and feel the lightness in my chest. The tension in my shoulder is less. This simple act of doing something without distraction from myself helps me cope and just be at peace with myself. This is the core of my energy work, and how I maintain a healthy energetic body.
What do you do for yours? Interested in starting your own practice? Find out about the energetic bucket and how to begin working simply with a metaphor as a reflection of your own inner workings.