Posts Tagged With: Re-Membering Process

Music Review: A Deeper Surrender – Kirtana

A Deeper Surrender

Eleven years ago I received this CD as a gift, and it never gets old. I was embarking on a solo camping trip up to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. The friend who gave it to me hoped it would help hold the intent of the trip—and indeed it did!

 The sweetness of Kirtana’s voice is enough in itself, and the love songs she sings automatically touch something inside. When I realized that she was disclosing the nature of her relationship with the Divine Beloved, it deepened the effect even more. Throughout my journey north and then home, this sacred music compelled me to witness evidence all around me and within me of That which permeates everything.

Available on Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby.

Categories: Gratitude, Music Review, Spiritual Evolution | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Learnings from Hopi: What Is Your Blue Star?

Since 2007 Kenosis Spirit Keepers has been sponsoring Hopi Wisdom Keepers on my spiritual travel programs to reconnect with relations along their migration path from South America.* As much as it’s been spiritually meaningful to them, it’s been an extraordinary privilege for the rest of us on those travels to witness how they find proof in the common symbols, creation stories and even Indigenous language in Peru, Mexico and Guatemala, letting them know—indeed—those were their origins.

One of my favorite memories from Peru is when Harold Joseph met Don Miguelito, an Elder who only spoke Quechua. Yet Harold understood him. Another is when the reed serpent-shaped boats on Lake Titicaca excited Harold. He brought a replica home and showed it to his late father-in-law, the last Hopi oral historian of his clan. Char Joseph told me of her father’s response, “It made him so happy! It proved to him that our stories are real!” All Hopis who have come on the Maya journeys as well have made the connection between the Jaguar Twins in Maya traditional stories and their own, along with many other commonalities.

When such things happen it supports spiritual grounding. Something intangible finds its inherent slot. It’s part of identity and who we are in the world. For so many of us today, ancestry is unclear… lost to time or hidden.

I can easily link my own migrations through this lifetime that have brought me to where I am today. But what about lineage? Mine is a mixed bag. Some can be traced back to the late 1700s through records that tell of my Irish and English ancestors’ wanderings from place to place. However, there’s a good chunk of my heritage only known through veiled family stories or random comments … untraceable. During the first half of the last century, my people were taught to be ashamed of their Native origins and perhaps attempted to pass for something they weren’t. And in earlier years, they were just trying to keep their lives.

What we know of our roots and what we don’t commingles and informs the stories we choose to create through the making of our own lives. And we can pay attention to what runs in our blood that needs no proof.

Pam Hale Trachta, a spiritual mentor and author of Flying Lessons, participated in my Spiritual Travel to Hopi program in March. She’s written a beautifully informative article that encompasses what I’m writing about here: Hopi migrations and our own guiding light.

What Is Your Blue Star?

Blue Star

Blue star petroglyph. Photo: Pam Hale Trachta.

The Hopi people we met in Arizona on a spiritual tour with Carla Woody allowed us to see and photograph a petroglyphic symbol of a blue star that appeared long ago, to signal their way home. The story they told us was that when they emerged through a sipapu or opening in the earth in northern Arizona, they met Masau, the guardian of the earth, who told them they could inhabit this world if they would abide by his instructions…He told them to make migrations into the four directions, and after spreading far and wide he told them they would be signaled back to the place of their emergence… Read more.

Pam also wrote about precious time we spent in the Harold and Char’s home. I wanted to include this, too, as added reading to convey how special it is to be invited.

Hopi Feast

Post-ceremony breakfast feast. Photo: Pam Hale Trachta.

A Hopi Feast

On a literal level, this feast was prepared for us by Charlene Joseph, a Hopi woman from the village of Moenkopi. We were welcomed into her home to learn about the Hopi way of life, which is all about Spirit. Perhaps you can’t see Spirit in the photograph, but it is the major ingredient–the primary flavor in every event, every “dish” that is part of her family’s life…This feast is a tradition the morning after the night Kachina dances, which we were privileged to attendRead more.

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*I founded Kenosis Spirit Keepers, the nonprofit extension of Kenosis, in 2007 to help preserve Indigenous wisdom ways.

Categories: cultural interests, Hopi, Indigenous Wisdom | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Release

Stopped short. Pain out of nowhere…and it recurred over and over with increasing frequency and intensity. It was a mystery. I hadn’t hurt myself in any way that would warrant it. I couldn’t even track what movement caused it. But the laser-like sensations zeroed in on my trunk, and the points shifted inexplicably, as if it wanted to remain elusive. It literally brought me up sharp, halting motion.

I began to have real concern, particularly on how such transient pain, consistent only in its constant appearance, would affect my ability to be fully present. An important journey was coming up—my Heart of the Andes program in late October. Those 2014 travels involved riding a horse and hiking at elevations up to 16,000 feet on our way to the Q’ero village of Ccochamocco.

Arrival in Ccochamocco

Arrival in Ccochamocco in late October 2014.
Photo credit: Sage Garrett.

By that time, I had already attempted to address the issues in ways I thought would work to loosen things up: Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, network chiropractic, regular chiropractic, energy work. All gave temporary relief but not what was needed.

I’ve been a spiritual mentor and practitioner of holistic health for over 20 years. I knew that, more than likely, this physical challenge I was dealing with had a strong, integral mind-body-spirit component.

I remembered back to the mid-90s when a man came to me with severe pain originating in his neck and radiating down one arm. He told me it was so severe he’d gladly cut his arm off to get rid of it. That’s pretty severe. He’d been medically diagnosed with osteoarthritis. The doc told him there was nothing he could do about it.

But I was listening to his language as he spoke about the progression of the pain and asked him: What was going on in your life when you first noticed discomfort? He’d identified a time nine months prior. He thought about it and said with surprise: It was the break-up of my relationship, and I had no control over it! I then guided him through processes to resolve any lingering grief, and then forgiveness. His pain disappeared entirely. It happened in one session.*

During the processes we used, he also realized he’d been conflicted about issues within the old relationship that resolved during our work. I followed him for about a year after that. The only time he’d had any slight recurrence of pain was when he wasn’t being true to himself, which he adjusted. The body has a wonderful way of giving us signals to those things we attempt to push aside or are unaware of in the first place. Hence, we’re supported in our spiritual development this way if we pay attention.

I knew to ask myself these questions and did so. Indeed, I identified an exact point a number of months prior when—out of nowhere—something occurred that went against my values and caused a foundational break for me. Isn’t it interesting how the body can mirror…and what better place to reflect such a thing than the first chakra region, that of foundation?

The truth is: This was an area of my life I’d been uncomfortable with for quite a while. I just didn’t want to look at it. I was forced into it through the circumstances. It had to do with loyalties and impeccability. Qualities I hold highly. But I finally had to answer a question a few folks had directed to me in the last years: Why do you maintain such loyalties when it’s really not beneficial?

I began to do the self-work I knew needed to be done, and over the next couple of months lost the emotional charge to the event that instigated this deep work. In fact, I became grateful for the incident. I experienced relief and so much more alignment. I felt some slight physical discomfort during my Peru program that dissipated entirely over the course of the journey.

But then I returned home.

I address re-entry with the folks on my spiritual travel programs, counseling them how we’ve been in a beautiful, expansive cocoon, an altered state really. It’s necessary to create such a space so that such deep learnings can enter and gain a heart-hold. When we return home though, things at home haven’t changed even though we have. It’s a time of integration and realigning those things hanging out there not fully addressed.

There was that pain again right on cue.

I finally asked my massage therapist, Rhonda Hamilton, if she had any ideas. She’s well plugged into the alternative healing community in our area. She recommended I make an appointment with Ruth Backway, a physical therapist in town who has an excellent reputation. I called for an appointment and was told by the receptionist that she had a long waiting list. But through some miracle, Ruth called me back and got me in within a few days.

I was not in good shape when I showed up at the end of her workday. This woman knows what she’s doing. And my body responded readily as though it had been poised for release. When I left session that day I’d say I was about 80% better. Over the next few weeks I saw her, I vastly improved to the point of complete release.

Release is the operative word and state here. Unbeknownst to me, my entire trunk was twisted to the left. Bizarre. How do such things happen when nothing to cause it occurred? She directed her work on the fascia in that area of my body, the slippery membrane that holds organs and muscles in place. Her approach was painless, a gentle holding until the fascia let go….as though all it wanted was acknowledgement. Isn’t that what we all want?

Ruth had questioned me closely on any accidents I may have had over the years. The only one of any significance I could remember was relatively minor when I was 18. But it was the one I mentioned. In my own practice I always pay attention to what is mentioned, even if it’s not the most obvious. We carry our own wisdom.

Ruth had me recall exactly what happened… and I remembered even the angle of impact…which it turns out was mirrored in my body in the present issue. The question she in turn asked me to consider: Why is this coming up all these years later? We’re talking 40+ years after the fact, especially with such force, when there was no visible injury or emotional trauma at the time. An old pattern stepping forward perhaps?

Why am I telling you all this? Sometimes things hold on…or may have gone underground but affect us in ways we don’t discern…for years. Sometimes there’s a conflict, generating an attempt to go two ways at once. It stops us in our tracks. Sometimes these aspects look for an avenue of recognition, maybe through related issues or correct timing. They become exacerbated.

Any mind-body-spirit residue must be fully identified and released in order to move through the next threshold. When it’s something deep, we can’t address it fully ourselves—even if we have all the tools—and it takes guidance outside ourselves, someone who knows what they’re doing and can see the forest for the trees…and the way out.

With Maya spiritual leaders Don Xun Calixto (l) and Apab'yan Tew (r) in January 2015.

With Maya spiritual leaders Don Xun Calixto (l) and Apab’yan Tew (r) in January 2015.

I am so glad I did. The momentum through the threshold is palpable.

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*To read an article originally published in Anchor Point Journal on The Effect of NLP on Physical Pain and Trauma relating the case history in this post, go here.

Categories: Gratitude, Healing, Healthy Living, Spiritual Evolution | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review – To the Field of Stars by Kevin A. Codd

To the Field of Stars

In his introduction the author begins with: It may well come to pass at a certain point in the course of a life that a person hears of stars dancing in a field at night…I am about to share here a story about stars at dance…

And he immediately had me hooked because I’ve learned over a lifetime to answer a call, never regretting it. I’ve seen stars shining from a high altitude lagoon at the base of Apu Ausangate, a sacred mountain in the Cusco Region of Peru, when none were overhead. I’ve felt waters enter me as I made an offering at one of St. Brigid’s Holy Wells in Ireland. I’ve experienced a transmission through the gaze of Santa Marta after the religious festival of San Sebastián in the highland Maya village of San Juan Chamula. So I believe in such things.

Kevin Codd is a priest. Don’t let that deter you if you’re not Catholic. I’m not. Or let the trappings surrounding the Camino de Santiago stop you, whether it’s a passing interest or a real pull to go. As Codd describes in this book, the 500-mile pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela is so much more than its religious history. It’s where you discover yourself and what else you’re connected to and how. With centuries of tradition, so many feet covering the same path, the Way to a place, which translates to mean field of stars, is an undertaking to do so.

Codd tells us why through his own experience at age fifty on his first Camino. He is quite generous in his descriptions. As much as I read the book as a spiritual guide, it also serves as a practical one. He walked the Camino Francés.* I’m walking the Camino Francés in May. I appreciate his descriptions of the villages, refugios and more hidden places to visit I might otherwise miss.** He warns about being competitive and the blisters it can get you. But he also tells you how to take care of the blisters and how to prepare in ways he didn’t. Codd openly wrote about his own emotional and mental struggles in the course of the journey. His honesty was compelling because I know I’ll have my own.

I’ve read or perused other books on the Camino as I prepare for my own journey. This one remains my favorite. Available on Amazon and elsewhere in print or e-book.

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*There are many Camino routes that take you to Santiago de Compostela. The Camino Francés begins in the French village of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in the Pyrenees and crosses into northern Spain.

**Refugios are specially run dorms for pilgrims walking the Camino.

Categories: Book Review, Spiritual Evolution, Spiritual Travel | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Pilgrimage

Pilgrimage infers travel, a journey undertaken with intent—not as a lark, although fun can be a part of it. Sometimes the mission is known ahead. Or it’s discovered along the way. Just as true, it may only be in hindsight, a lengthy time passed from the conclusion, that all comes into focus. Ah, there’s the reason I went…

One thing is certain. It’s a passage made with holy purpose, and you must leave the homeland in order for the pilgrimage to occur. I’m using the word ‘holy’ for a reason. It’s a term people usually back away from because of its connotations, often for the same reasons ‘pilgrimage’ is given wide berth. Here I’m using both for common purpose, giving them due because they take us to a place we normally don’t dwell.

To undertake a pilgrimage, your soul must come through, reaching out from that core level. It’s a call to engage, go deeper. It’s a yearning to venture into the unknown. Some conclusion is sought. It’s time to step beyond a threshold, out of the status quo.

Your soul is offering the invitation. But it’s your everyday self that has to accept it at some level because…

 You’re offering yourself up to a foreign land…

Little is likely to be what you’re used to…

There’s certain to be physical, emotional or mental discomfort—maybe all three!

And it’s through such radical departure that you discover what you’re made of—sometimes quite the surprise. As a result, you’re enlivened. Your constructs are stretched. You’re taken beyond your limits. Your new world emerges.

Sometimes folks attempt to fool themselves into it by saying such things as:

 I’m expected to do it.

I’m here to support my spouse…friend…(fill in the blank).

That’s a place I always wanted to visit.

 Whatever it takes to get you there is fine. In the end, there will be certain recognition for most:

 This is spiritual travel. And it’s pure medicine.

In early November I returned from The Heart of the Andes during which we made a pilgrimage to the Q’ero village of Ccochamocco, perched at 14,300 feet.* Harold Joseph, a Hopi Wisdom Keeper from the village of Shungopavi, Second Mesa, Arizona, was sponsored by Kenosis Spirit Keepers as an emissary for his religious leader Lee Wayne Lomayestewa with a mission to request prayers from the Q’ero community for continuity of threatened Hopi traditions. Harold said, “The Q’ero spiritual leaders make strong prayers!”

There is no road up to the village. In order to get there we sometimes rode on horseback, much of it walking through some of the most beautiful and steep landscape I’ve experienced. Harold stopped a number of places on our journey to give his own prayers and leaving offerings, as well as during despacho ceremony during our time in the village.* We were truly privileged to be part of all of it.

Hopi Harold Joseph (rt) during despacho ceremony with Q'ero spiritual leaders. Photo credit: Sage Garrett.

Hopi Harold Joseph (rt) during despacho ceremony with Q’ero spiritual leaders. Photo credit: Sage Garrett.

The highest point to and from the village is 16,000 feet before descending. On our return, as some of us were already ascending, I began to hear a voice echoing from the valley below, calling forcefully every few minutes. I couldn’t understand the words or see who it was. Later I learned it was Harold giving us all a message that Hopi Spirit Keepers used with each other during times of challenge in the kiva, after many long hours of prayer or enduring inclement weather during ceremonial dances.

Be strong!

Pilgrimage to Ccochamocco

The highest point at 16,000 ft on the pilgrimage to Ccochamocco. Photo credit: Carla Woody.

Return from Q'eros.

Returning from Q’eros. Photo credit: Carla Woody

He said it’s meant to strengthen spiritual warriors, to remind them they’re doing what they’re doing for more than just themselves. They’re doing it for their community and more…for all humanity. I will never forget Harold’s message bouncing from mountain to mountain.

After we were home for a few weeks, Harold sent me a note about our spiritual travel journey: “The effect on my life has been enormous in terms of the spiritual connections that was made in behalf of the Kikmongi.*** The awareness that we are spiritually connected to creators and keepers of life: Katsi. No changes in my life but emphasis on the importance of carrying on my responsibility as a Hopi and its ceremonial practices that rejuvenates life here on Mother Earth and the Universe for future generations.”

Harold Joseph. Photo credit: Sage Garrett

Harold Joseph. Photo credit: Sage Garrett

In early May I will begin walking the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile pilgrimage in northern Spain. My old friend Oscar Panizo is going with me. People ask me why I’m doing such a thing. I can’t honestly give a concrete reason. I just know I’m called to undertake it. The whisper had been hovering in the background for a while, and now is the time.

I also know without a doubt: I will repeatedly hear echoes through time—Harold’s voice encouraging me.

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*The next Heart of the Andes will be October 23-November 5, 2015 and include Bolivia and Peru as a special initiation journey mirroring the path designated by Viracocha, the Incan Creator God. Six Q’ero Spirit Keepers have been invited to accompany us in a pilgrimage that will take them back to their origins. A portion of tuition is tax-deductible to support their sponsorship.

**A despacho is a prayer or blessing bundle made in ceremony by Quechua and Q’ero peoples of the Andes.

*** Kikmongi is Hopi for religious leader.

 

 

Categories: Hopi, Q'ero, Spiritual Evolution, Spiritual Travel, Travel Experiences | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

Series Review: Sacred Journeys with Bruce Feiler

In December, PBS aired a series called Sacred Journeys with Bruce Feiler. Given that I offer spiritual journeys myself, it caught my attention. Bruce Feiler is the bestselling author of several books on religion and contemporary lifestyle, as well as New York Times columnist for This Life in the Sunday newspaper. In the program, he goes along with US travelers to six separate sites around the globe as they participate in sacred gatherings and pilgrimages. As viewers we get hour-long glimpses of:

  • Lourdes, France where the young peasant girl, Bernadette Soubirous, claimed the Virgin Mary appeared to her over a period of time in 1858;
  • A 750-mile pilgrimage route on the Japanese island of Shikoku to 88 temples and shrines honoring the esteemed Buddhist monk Kobo-Daishi, responsible for bringing Buddhism from China in the 9th century;
  • The holy sites in Jerusalem encompassing Judaism, Christianity and Islam;
  • The annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, which mirrors Muhammad’s return to his home as leader of the new Islamic religion;
  • The Kumbh Mela, the largest religious gathering in the world, occurring every 12 years at the intersection of the Ganges and Yamuna Rivers in Allahabad, India;
  • The annual festival of Osun-Osgobo in Osogbo, Nigeria, honoring the goddess of fertility, Osun, of the Yoruba religion.

All features in this series are worth the watch. They’re inspiring and caused me to look at my own reasons for pilgrimages I’ve taken…and the one I’m preparing to take.

The Lourdes segment focused on the annual International Military Pilgrimage that has been ongoing since WWII. This filming showed US veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, carrying visible and invisible wounds, and was especially poignant.

The Yoruba feature was particularly interesting to me, showing elements of initiation rituals. An explanation offered why there were influences from other religions incorporated into Yoruba: As with many sacred traditions, those who are indigenous to the land incorporate the conqueror’s religion in order to stay alive. They become so intertwined in order that the original form may survive, even if hidden. The statement validated what I’ve seen in some Native traditions I’ve known, and sought to explain myself.

Inasmuch as this series is a visual feast for variety of cultures and spiritual rituals, there’s a thread that remains constant: the sense of seeking and renewal. The pilgrims “move between the questions in their lives” and “step outside themselves to reach for higher meaning.”

I found the pilgrims’ expressions and intent in these segments to be no different than those of the travelers on the spiritual travel journeys I sponsor.

Streaming free at PBS online for a limited time. Also available via DVD or to download.

 

 

 

Categories: cultural interests, Film Review, Healing, Spiritual Evolution, Spiritual Travel | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review – Deep Cinema: Film as Shamanic Initiation

Deep Cinema

Mary Trainor-Brigham’s Deep Cinema deserves your time and attention. I found myself re-reading pages and then sitting, to give the words an opportunity to enter my interior space. Immediately evident, this is a book written to connect with your Indigenous Soul, as the author calls it, the one many of us ignore in this Middle World. She guides us to delve into movies and stories so that they play back to us our own humanity, initiatory passages and further potential.

I’ve studied Joseph Campbell’s work in-depth: his instruction on myth, the Hero’s Journey and places we can readily see examples in film and storytelling. Deep Cinema adds to that work in a way that makes it unique by overlaying shamanic templates from Indigenous cultures. We’re then offered the Soul Compass, a model …designed to transform life from a series of dogmatic dictates or chaotic occurrences…into a rich, sacred Self-defining sojourn which we gladly undertake…the key here is that life becomes meaningful…  The path from Child as Nest Dweller to Elder as Diamond Cutter and Pearl Spinner shows the gateways—mundane to spiritual, balance of Female as Womb Weaver to Male as Navigator—that we all must pass through in order to morph into the next level of growth.

The author brings her background as art therapist, film critic, actor and scriptwriter naturally into play, pointing out the metaphors in a multitude of films, older to more current, that relate to the archetypal templates she offers. With lyrical language, she draws the reader in. On the Voudon shamanic tradition: …According to the Haitians, a person’s small self is like a fish that gets hooked in the heart and reeled in throughout life by the love of and for their Great Self, sitting on a throne beneath the Sea in Lower World…

I was glad to see The Serpent and the Rainbow movie included as a failure at translating anthropologist Wade Davis’ book by the same name. Instead of portraying the rich layers of the Voudon traditions Davis experienced, Hollywood chose to further the cartoon-like, fear-based image of practitioners. Mary recommends Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti as a true portrayal.

Once Were Warriors indicates the power of film on a population. In the successful translation of Alan Duff’s novel, Maori director Lee Tamahori graphically depicted real-life struggles with alcoholism and domestic violence the Maori people suffered, bringing it back to loss of spiritual traditions and the turning point of re-engagement. It’s noted that one in every three New Zealanders has seen this film. Most importantly: …after the film hit the theaters, there was an upsurge in the number of men seeking help with domestic violence issues, citing ‘Warrior Troubles’…

I had already viewed a number of the movies covered in the book: Whale Rider, Mindwalk, Capote and others. But I’m going to go back and see some again with new eyes and Deep Cinema beside me. As I was reading, I thought to myself it would be really nice to have an index of all the films and where they’re discussed in the book. I was pleased to find just that at the end. Bottom line: Deep Cinema is not just a reference but also an ally for the spiritual journey.

Available through Amazon.

 

 

Categories: Book Review, cultural interests, Film, Indigenous Wisdom, Personal Growth, Spiritual Evolution | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shadow Dancing

Invitation to Shadowlands

Invitation to Shadowlands
©2005 Carla Woody

Shadows are a slippery aspect of human make-up. At times, we hear their whisper from the background. Other times, they bellow in the foreground. When the shadow side gets triggered we’ll know it through heavy emotions, bodily felt sensations and self-talk we experience. The trick is to recognize what’s occurring and the source. When we attribute the cause to another person and respond in a negative way, be assured: The cause resides within us, not them. Understand this isn’t about condoning true detrimental behavior on the part of someone else. It’s about separating out what’s ours and what’s theirs in order to heal.

Shadows are the parts of us that we’ve disowned and repressed because we don’t like to experience them and what they bring up. Some examples would be: a part that has the need to control, or is critical, or feels like a victim. The source has to do with unconscious limiting beliefs, most often developed early in life. It’s possible to turn these around.

There are also shadow parts that may be underdeveloped in other ways. For instance, there may be a part that aspires to something like creative expression or leaving the “day job” to move into “lifework that matters.” But to date, the aspiration remains fallow, and we focus instead on all manner of rationale not to take even the first step.

Shadow sides usually manifest through relationships, whether with an individual or group. There is a mutual attraction that fulfills a need somehow. Like attracts like in an often, strange convoluted reciprocity. Here’s what I tell folks I work with…

If there’s no investment, there’s no effect.

 This is what I mean by that statement: If we’ve transformed those parts of us that need healing, then someone else’s behavior is no longer a negative mirror. We don’t project onto them what we need to attend within ourselves. We know we’ve moved on when we can be in their presence without responding as we previously did. We notice the behavior, but it has no effect on us, other than awareness. We can go on about our business without getting triggered and responding in the old way.

In healthy relationships, people support each other in positive ways. Support does not mean taking over a role for the other one. It means encouraging and teaching each other through role modeling or, if asked, directly rather than just assuming control when there are no agreements. It means allowing each other to stumble, to see the positive intention behind the behavior, and have empathy. It means being unconditional with each other, even when it’s difficult and where to go from there is yet unknown. If we hold a space toward opening, all benefit.

We’re all in this together. The outcome begins with each one of us. Look at your own life. Explore the dynamics of your relationships. If your shadow side gets triggered in some way then ask these questions of yourself.

  • What do I want from that other person that I need to develop in myself?
  • What do I dislike in the other person that I’ve disowned in myself?
  • What messages from that other person trigger a negative response within me?

Truthful answers to these questions are markers of progress on your own spiritual development, fodder for the deeper journey and healthy relationships that come as a result.

***

If you’d like information on Navigating Your Lifepath with self-guided or private mentoring options, go here.

Categories: Compassionate Communication, Healing, Healthy Living, Personal Growth, Spiritual Evolution | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Book Review: Quiet – The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

200px-QuietBookCoverPeople are often surprised when I say that I’m an introvert. They’re fooled by the fact that I’m articulate, do public speaking, work with groups and engage socially. They assume that I’m an extrovert. I can do the things I do because I’ve arranged my lifestyle to support my biological make-up and preferences. I love to engage when they’re things I care about deeply—BUT I retreat to regenerate myself. Whether you lean toward introversion or extroversion primarily has to do with how you expend your energy and the way you renew it.

However, our culture values extroversion. There must be something wrong if you’re not talking: You’re secretive, have nothing of value to contribute and probably not so bright.

As a child there were countless times when I heard I was “too quiet.” Not by my parents, who are also introverts, but mostly by teachers, causing me to retreat even further into my inner world. As a teenager, it was even more hurtful, especially when it came from friends. All that input translates to: You’re not good enough. It haunted me for a long time.

 Indeed, your biggest challenge may be to fully harness your strengths. You may be so busy trying to appear like a zestful, reward-sensitive extrovert that you undervalue your own talents, or feel underestimated by those around you. But when you’re focused on a project that you care about, you probably find that your energy is boundless. – From Quiet.

Later in life I have often been called “intense” as though something is wrong with that as well. But by the time I heard it the first time I’d begun to value my own sensibilities and could translate the meaning to “passion.” And the years I worked in a corporate environment…meetings were my most dreaded activity. Those who were most vocal blathered on saying nothing. It was an effort for me to keep in my seat. I wanted to jump out of my skin and flee.

Author Susan Cain has gotten a lot of play in the media since Quiet was published in 2012. It’s been on the bestseller list for many weeks running. Nevertheless, I didn’t know about it until I was perusing my local library for CD books to accompany me on a recent road trip to Utah.

I’m writing this review for those who missed this important book like I did. Whether you’re more introverted or extroverted, Quiet contains highly useful information for valuing both preferences. It also contains data on biological differences and distinctions of introversion. If you’re an introvert, it cites numerous studies and other pointers that will validate your value. If you’re an extrovert, it will help you understand the many introverts around you. I was horrified at one story about two extroverted parents who sought psychiatric intervention and medication for their introverted child. When one psychiatrist found the child to be normal the parents moved on for the next opinion.

My most transformative experiences have never happened in groups. That said, there is extraordinary energy that builds when groups entrain to strong spiritual intent, kickstarting a process of opening. Then integration comes through balancing the internal and external. That is the premise underlying any retreats and spiritual travel programs I sponsor.

The highly sensitive [introverted] tend to be philosophical or spiritual in their orientation, rather than materialistic or hedonistic. They dislike small talk. They often describe themselves as creative or intuitive. They dream vividly, and can often recall their dreams the next day. They love music, nature, art, physical beauty. They feel exceptionally strong emotions–sometimes acute bouts of joy, but also sorrow, melancholy, and fear. Highly sensitive people also process information about their environments–both physical and emotional–unusually deeply. They tend to notice subtleties that others miss–another person’s shift in mood, say, or a light bulb burning a touch too brightly. – From Quiet.

The quote below was quite interesting to me. Such practices don’t just occur in Evangelicalism. I’ve personally had experience of being expected to utter prayers and entreaties out loud while in sweat lodge and other ceremonies, although not as common. I remember the first time it happened I was shocked at the intrusion on my privacy in a spiritual setting. To me, such things are so sacred they’re not pronounced aloud. Of course, the leaders didn’t see it as an affront. Now, if such a thing occurs, I pass to those who want to speak these things out loud and remain comfortable with my own way.

Evangelicalism has taken the Extrovert Ideal to its logical extreme…If you don’t love Jesus out loud, then it must not be real love. It’s not enough to forge your own spiritual connection to the divine; it must be displayed publicly.

 There is a compilation of quotes for the book on Goodreads. Ultimately, this is the teaching of the book.

We know from myths and fairy tales that there are many different kinds of powers in this world. One child is given a light saber, another a wizard’s education. The trick is not to amass all the different kinds of power, but to use well the kind you’ve been granted.

There’s also an excellent TED talk by Susan Cain giving an overview. Quiet is available on Amazon and elsewhere in print, ebook and audiobook.

Categories: Book Review, Compassionate Communication, Creativity Strategies, Healthy Living, Personal Growth, Sacred Reciprocity, Solitude, Spiritual Evolution | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Your Identity in Metaphor

The instructor introduced an icebreaker. State your bio in six words. She asked for volunteers. Mine popped out.

Intrepid traveler living in two worlds.

Her eyes widened. Not the kind of thing you’d typically hear in a county courthouse jury room during child welfare training. But my fellow mediators didn’t miss a beat. They know me—at least to an extent.*

Metaphor seeks lodging in our interior differently than cursory words. Language when used at that level connects with the unconscious mind in such a way that it can inform wider awareness, indeed even act as a guide and attract the experiences that fulfill its significance. It is especially meaningful when it emerges through your own process rather than given to you. It’s an invitation I offer to folks I’m mentoring and who participate in spiritual travel programs: Note what metaphor takes up residence.

Apparitions

Apparitions
Mixed media on panel
©2014 Carla Woody

The afternoon icebreaker generated quite a degree of self-reflection that night. We weren’t asked to use metaphor but my mind naturally gravitated toward what it’s used to these days. I thought back to a time when I was asked to use metaphor, to reach inside and discover what emerged relative to spiritual path. We had already been in retreat several days, experiencing teachings and ceremonies. So I was not in the everyday world. I went off to be alone and sit with the tasking. I’m sure I wrote it down in a journal that has since been lost to time. But I’ve never forgotten what came.

 I am the crane whose wisdom runs swiftly under water…and rises with the waning of the silver moon.

It’s been close to 20 years since I attended Nine Gates Mystery School. It was a powerful experience during a time when I was radically re-aligning a life out of alignment with my deeper values. My core wisdom, that which we all have, did not show itself much back then. It lived in that watery place but did compel me to engage in opportunities that would bring me clarity, even if it seemed off base at the time. It’s a refinement process that wouldn’t have taken nearly that long had I my own spiritual mentor. In those days such a thing wasn’t prevalent.

I can’t tell you exactly when the revolutionary path—the chaotic one—smoothed out to the evolutionary one and found order of a sort. But I look up all these years later astounded to find myself an elder grounded in a life that conveys my values. For this I have gratitude.

That night of reflection I realized just how fully the metaphor from Nine Gates predicted an unfolding. I’ve felt something else hovering on the horizon for some time. It appears that an updated metaphor popped out at the slightest invitation, in an unlikely environment, emphasizing one meaning of “two worlds.” I can only wonder what else is in store—seen and unseen—and welcome it.

*****

An invitation to you:

Sit inside your deeper identity. Listen. Allow a metaphor to emerge.

 *****

*I’ve been doing conflict mediation as a sideline for close to 30 years, the last 16 of them in that courthouse with a few cases a month, when I’m in town, to keep me on my toes.

Categories: Creativity Strategies, Gratitude, Meditation, Sacred Reciprocity, Spiritual Evolution | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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