Posts Tagged With: Spiritual Evolution

Encore – Following Energy: The Key to Your Navigational System

Rio Paucartambo

Rio Paucartambo Cusco Region, Peru ©1996 Carla Woody

Having heard that so many of us had a challenging 2016…in any number of ways…and since we’re at the start of 2017, I wanted to offer you a rerun of this article I wrote a few years ago.  It speaks of following energy, perhaps in a way you haven’t considered. And shares with you an annual tradition of mine⏤featured at the bottom⏤I’ve kept since I discovered it about five years ago. I find meaning and inspiration for the coming year in this way.

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Several years ago, my friend Hilary Bee, a professional intuitive and spiritual teacher in the UK, told me that I have a strong inner navigational system guiding me. Over time, I’ve learned to trust it implicitly—even when the next step is obscured from my vision.

I call this navigational system intent, and it produces a high frequency of energy. I recognize completely when it’s communicating a path I am to take, choices to make. I’ve learned to recognize the energetic language. Equally, I’ve come to know over time when I’m straying from the path, or it’s time for an evolutionary change. A totally different level of energy accompanies that alert—and a nagging feeling something isn’t right. Of course, taking that fork in the road may initially produce chaos until order—and realignment—produces a deeper order.

I offer you this poem by C. P. Cavafy and then a caveat.

Ordinary people know what’s happening now,

the gods know future things

because they alone are totally enlightened.

Of what’s to come the wise perceive

things about to happen.

Sometimes during moments of intense study

their hearing’s troubled: the hidden sound

of things approaching reaches them,

and they listen reverently, while in the street outside

the people hear nothing whatsoever.*

 While I agree with Cavafy in that the majority of people may be completely unaware, or at least ignore signals, you have an opportunity always to live according to the wisdom of the gods. It’s a fine-tuning process but completely available to you. It requires that you pay attention and then the courage to deviate from any beaten path, sometimes to follow what you can’t readily see.

Here’s a rather dramatic example from my own life. Several years ago, I sponsored two back-to-back programs in Peru. During just one spiritual travel journey the energy is always strong from ceremonies, resident energy in sacred sites and more. With an additional one under my belt and little break between, the veil between the worlds had grown quite thin for me.

After the last group left for home, I was sitting in an Internet café in Cusco. It was the time of Inti Raymi, the festival of the sun, which transforms this usually placid former Incan Empire capital into masses of revelers, huge numbers coming from other locations. I knew that many pickpockets came from Lima to take advantage of the tourists during this time. Consequently, I took precautions. I carefully sat on my coat with my passport and money secured in an inside zipped pocket while I focused on email neglected for several days.

I had been at it for some time with people at computers on either side of me coming and going without any real attention on my part. But then I sensed something, noticing only the color green in my peripheral vision, and went back to my emails. Then again, slight movement out of the corner of my eye. A loud internal voice—not mine—said, Look down! I followed suit. My coat was hanging open, the inner pocket unzipped with passport and money gone!

Literally with no thought in my mind and seeing nothing to go after, I was out of my seat in a split second and onto the street thronged with thousands. Instead of raising a cry with no information to relay, something caused me to turn immediately into the small travel agency next to the Internet café. My hands had a life of their own, clamping onto the arms of two men standing just inside the agency, waiting in line. In a loud authoritative voice I stated, “My money and my passport! My money and my passport!”

They faced me then with shock on their faces as I continued to make the same demand. Both struggled in my grasp; my hands had become pincers of steel. Travel agents and other customers began to turn and get up from seats. The two men managed to turn me toward the entrance in their efforts to be free. One finally managed to duck out the door saying something to the other one, who slipped out of his jacket, leaving it in my hands.

Dropping it, I started to go after the pair but heard a woman’s voice saying, “Are these yours?” She held my passport, money pouch and the green jacket. I thanked her, as well as the others who had risen to aid me. Then I returned calmly to the café and resumed my correspondence.

That night I had a dream: Someone gifted me with a puma.**

As we entrain with a higher vibrational frequency, light energy doesn’t allow us to doubt or contract in fear. It is supreme and grounded. It has peripheral vision. Salk’a—as they call undomesticated energy in the Andes—induces clarity without thought, compassionate detachment and the warrior’s action. This is a state of being we can maintain.

I have a personal tradition. Either during winter or in the first days of spring I seek to remind myself of this Salk’a journey and store further inspiration for the long haul. I want to offer my tradition to you: Watch another of Cavafy’s poems, Ithaca, beautifully set to the music of Vangelis and the resonance of Sean Connery’s voice. This one I fully ascribe to.

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“Poem by C.P. Cavafy, Collected Poems. Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Edited by George Savidis. Revised Edition. Princeton University Press, 1992.

**Known as puma in Peru, we also know this sleek animal as jaguar, cougar or mountain lion. In the Indigenous Andes, it represents how to effectively navigate the Kaypacha, or Middle World, the one we walk in our everyday life.

Categories: Energy Healing, Healthy Living, Indigenous Wisdom, Spiritual Evolution, Spiritual Travel | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Our Visible Wings

I came across the inspirational short Invisible Wings when it was first featured on Karma Tube in 2015 and have watched it several times since. It touches a soft spot in me. It opens my heart, and I feel the flow of my own life moving through me. It generates reflection and gratitude…all channeled through the words of a 65-year-old tea seller named Vijayan against visually beautiful backdrops.

His use of the metaphor ‘journey’ in the film is important as well as the way he validates it. A bona fide journey isn’t over smooth ground but fraught with challenges along the way. If we meet those obstacles eye-to-eye, it encourages our growth, nurtures the spirit and frees our dreams…to manifest. If we don’t, it harnesses the soul.

All this from a man many may overlook: the owner of a small stall in India where he pours tea, his wife Mohana working beside him. They appear to have little in the way most would see them. But Vijayan carries a dream— to travel the world, to open his heart and mind to other lands and ways of living—and his wife shares that dream. They have traveled the globe. Even though, at the start of their marriage, she’d never been out of her own hometown.

It takes courage to face the Unknown, to step out of your comfort zone. But the comfort zone so quickly widens when you do…no matter that others think you’re crazy or try to hold you back. There is so much beauty to be experienced when you ignore those who remain in the corral.

Whether you take the initiative to make life happen or sit back and let life happen to you, it’s a choice—even if you don’t think the latter is. And while the title of this tribute to Vijayan and Mohana is called Invisible Wings, the wings any of us wear are visible and how we wear them: fully extended, clutched to the side, or somewhere in-between. Others easily see them if they pay attention. And we ourselves can feel them.

Nothing is more valuable than the felt presence of your own unleashed spirit, intimacy with family and friends…and a life fully lived…however you travel. I’m sharing this little film here—short in time but saying so much—with intent that it brings to you the sweetness and consideration it has for me.

Categories: Film, Gratitude, Spiritual Travel, Travel Experiences, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Film Review: From the Heart of the World and Aluna

The Kogi of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta on the coast of Colombia were not as well known 20-plus years ago as they are now. The documentary From the Heart of the World had received critical acclaim and enjoyed extensive showings in the 1990s.  By the time I wrote a review in 2008 the film had become difficult to find. The DVD was gifted to me from one of my readers. I’m sharing this review again for those who are not familiar with the Kogi or weren’t able to see the film before. I recently discovered that it’s now freely available on You Tube. Its sequel Aluna is available on Netflix.

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From the Heart of the World

From the Heart of the World: The Elder Brother’s Warning
Documentary Film by Alan Ereira
Produced by the BBC

This compelling documentary filmed in 1990 is about the Kogi of Northern Colombia who call themselves Elder Brother, descendants from the pre-Columbian Tairona. It contains a clear message to Younger Brother ⎯ westerners ⎯ about the havoc we’re collectively creating and how we need to take care of the world. The Kogi live high in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, a microcosm of the world containing a range of climates from glaciers to jungle — and it’s dying.

Elder Brother warns that the underlying network keeping the Earth in place is being torn apart and they want the whole world to listen.

The Great Mother is the mind inside nature… [With your mining] You are taking the Mother’s heart… She is being stripped to pieces… You’re bringing the world to an end. This looting will destroy it… We are not mad at Younger Brother… but you must learn.

The Kogi believe their role to be caretakers of the world.

If we Mamas didn’t do our work, the rain wouldn’t fall from the sky. The crops wouldn’t grow.

They spend much of their time in ritual and prayer. They live sequestered, virtually unreachable, yet knowledge of the state of the world comes to them. How can we not hear their message?

There’s also an amazing similarity to me between the Kogi of Colombia, the Q’ero of Peru and the Lacandón Maya of the Chiapas rainforest of Mexico that echo similar sacred beliefs, teachings of respect and some common experience. All three left their original homes and isolated themselves about four hundred years ago with the coming of the conquistadors. To me, there’s an uncanny resemblance between the traditional clothing and even some facial characteristics of the Lacandones and the Kogi.

In alignment with one version of the Condor and Eagle prophecy, the Kogi speak about Younger Brother being given knowledge of the machine and sent away across the sea from the Heart of the World (where Elder Brother lives). Of course, Younger Brother later returned and infiltrated the Americas. The jungle at the base of the Sierra Nevadas has been destroyed much as the Lacandón rainforest has been decimated.

Elder Brother is separated by altitude as are the Q’ero who have managed to keep their traditions largely intact. However, the Lacandón jungle didn’t prove dense enough to keep others at bay. Hence, their traditions are suffering near extinction.

I want to direct you to the Tairona Heritage Trust which contains history on the Tairona and Kogi. For folks who have worked with the Q’ero, you’ll be interested in the article on the use of coca in South America, also used by the Kogi in ceremonial function and otherwise.

View From the Heart of the World streaming on You Tube.

 

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Aluna 

Aluna: Produced and directed by Alan Ereira

 

Some 20 years after The Heart of the World was released Kogi Mamas initiated contact with their friend Alan Ereira living in the UK. They were worried. Younger Brother hadn’t heeded their warning. The state of the Earth was in ever-increasing danger. They asked their friend to help them put together a film. Speaking about Younger Brother

 

We are incapable of being changed by being spoken to. They now understand that we learn through our eyes, not our ears.

 

 

The film traces the Kogis’ journey to lay 250 miles of golden thread from the mountains to the coast, showing the interconnection of the natural world to the devastating environmental impacts at the hands of Younger Brother. Indeed, in this film they are showing—not telling us. All but a small percentage of the dialogue is in Kogi. There are no subtitles. None is needed for us to understand the clear message.

If you would like more, Alan Ereira generously shares his intimate diary here.

Aluna is available streaming on Netflix.

 

 

Categories: Film Review, Global Consciousness, Indigenous Wisdom | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: Into the Magic Shop

IntoTheMagicShop

My attraction to read Into the Magic Shop was generated through Krista Tippett’s On Being interview called The Magic Shop of the Brain with neurosurgeon and author James Doty, MD. I had no idea who he was. But sincerity flooded his voice as he spoke about the need and effects of compassion. To have a medical doctor speak in this way is so unusual⏤given the hurried, sterile treatment patients in this country normally receive. When Krista asked him to speak of the ritual he underwent prior to neurosurgery, he had me. Rather than having a nurse prep the patient in the operating room he does so himself. After the patient is anesthetized, he shaves the surgery site himself, saying it connects him to the patient as a human being and grounds him in the procedure he is about to take.

From the book:

It is a ritual I do. And as I slowly shave the head, I think of this precious little boy and go over every detail of the surgery in my mind. I cut off the first bit of hair and hand it to the circulator to put in a small bag for the boy’s mother. This is his first haircut, and while it’s the last thing on his mom’s mind now, I know it will matter to her later. It’s a milestone you want to remember. First haircut. First tooth lost. First day of school. First time riding a bike. First brain surgery is never on this list.

What were the influences that made James Doty who he is today with an outlook and behaviors so unusual in his field? He was born into a troubled family where he received no support. He felt alone. He had low self-esteem. But one day he wandered into a magic shop and found his saving grace in an elder named Ruth who was visiting her son, the owner of the store. She saw something in this boy and invited him to return the next day and every day for the next six weeks. She promised to teach him.

…I know how to turn a flicker into a flame. Someone taught me and now I think it’s time that I teach you…It’s going to take a lot of work and you’re going to have to practice the tricks I teach you even more than you did your thumb trick. But I promise you, what I’m going to teach you will change your life…

This is James Doty’s memoir and includes a long learning curve as many spiritual journeys do…because he neglected to include one of the most important teachings Ruth gave him. Ultimately he remembers but not without many trials. And when all her teachings finally took hold, the most powerful magic happened.

Today Dr. Doty is the Founder-Director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education⏤of which the Dalai Lama was an original funder⏤and clinical professor at Stanford University School of Medicine.

In many ways Into the Magic Shop reminded me of an all-time favorite book: Illusions by Richard Bach. I always held that the story must be true; Donald Shimoda must have been a real person. I longed for it to be so. But Into the Magic Shop is…without a doubt.

I highly recommend this book. Available on Amazon and elsewhere in print and e-book.

 

Categories: Book Review, Compassionate Communication, Global Consciousness, Healing | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Café Amazonia

In any journey there are times that stand out. Those moments are such that we hold them close, call them up periodically…to experience them all over again. They’re precious. Usually it has to do with points that exhilarate or stir in some way. But sometimes it’s at completion when pausing…to take stock and appreciate.

Janet Harvey has participated in my spiritual travel programs three times and alludes to more. We’ve now been back from the recent initiation journey coming on three months. It began in Bolivia and moved deep into Peru, all the way down to the jungle, before ending in Cusco. Yesterday Janet sent me a poem she wrote. As I read it, I was immediately back in Manu at Pantiacolla Lodge sitting on the cabaña porch listening to the night sounds. With Janet’s permission I share her poem and hold you catch even a bit of that balmy night and a taste of the rainforest.

Cloud forest

Into the cloud forest of Manu.

 

For You
 
Two chairs and a wooden box
A candle and a bottle of wine
Porch cafe for two in the Amazon
We converse to the hum 
of the generator,
tell stories,
as a third pulls up a chair,
watch the kitchen staff 
walk to and fro on the raised walkway
from kitchen to lodge and back
Voices and laughter cross between
A few lamps glow in a vast darkness
The generator hums.

cabaña café

Private cabaña café

Borrowed glasses raised
to a journey well done
We toast the day 
and the night
and all that was and is and will be
as the lamps blink off;
the hum is gone. 
Now the time of  
the velvet Silence 
before the jungle awakes
and we depart
for shadowed sleep.

 

Jungle compound

Jungle compound.

©2016 Janet Harvey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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Janet Harvey is a family mediator and chaplain who nurtures her curiosity and wellbeing by immersing herself in daily adventures and periodic spiritual journeys. She explores the dimensions of experience through photography, drawing and writing.

Categories: Gratitude, Sacred Reciprocity, Spiritual Travel | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Review – Sleep Paralysis: A Guide to Hypnagogic Visions & Visitors in the Night

Sleep Paralysis by Ryan Hurd

Imagine this … You wake up in the dead of night. You had settled yourself onto a rough pallet in this rustic adobe room some hours before and drifted off to sleep, feeling the sharp contrast between the cold on your face and the warmth of your body in your sleeping bag.

You’re alone.

But suddenly you’re not alone. A few feet away, the door to the outside flies open and a Quechua man strides in. He crosses in front of your bed, glancing over at you and peeks into the rudimentary bathroom just beyond. Then he turns around and strides out.

About that time, you glance across at the window and see several Quechua faces staring in at you. Strangely, you can see their features clearly in the glow of a light—even though they should have been backlit by the full moon.

That’s when you realize you’re levitating slightly…and can’t move. Your body is paralyzed, hanging in space. You’re terrified. You attempt to scream and nothing emerges. But you can feel the sound building in your throat trying to burst out.

Your eyes dart frantically around the room. There’s a diaphanous figure over in the corner that begins to float toward you. Your heart pounds as you struggle inside your paralysis.

Then the figure sits beside you. You feel a loving energy projected toward you. All your fear disappears.

You awake the next morning refreshed…with every detail of the last night’s occurrence emblazoned in your mind.

This is not a story I invented. It happened to me in a remote site in the Andes—another strange event along a string of others that were similar in the mechanics. When they occurred, there were always other-dimensional aspects for which I had no explanation.

The only thing I could isolate that was different from other experiences I’ve had was the paralytic nature, and this particular type had only thus far happened when I’d been away from home, usually during time set aside for a spiritual activity.

I devoted part of my book Standing Stark to paranormal activity in my own spiritual evolution, not to titillate but to offer readers knowledge toward what may occur during the process in the way of energy, visions, physical sensations and more. Some deeply meaningful, others not so much. There’s little in spiritual literature that addresses these things.

Somewhere along the line, I heard the term sleep paralysis and began to wonder if there was an explanation for my experiences. So when Ryan Hurd’s book came to my attention I had to read it.

Early into his book, there’s a chapter on personality characteristics of life-long sufferers. Some of those he lists pertain to me. Others don’t at all. He goes into various components of the SP (sleep paralysis) experience. Again, there are some common aspects to mine.

He links SP to lucid dreaming, hypnagogic visions and core beliefs. It also may be one symptom of spiritual emergency, a condition validated in the DSM IV, the diagnostic manual for the American Psychiatric Association, that may occur when people are undergoing deep spiritual questioning or other significant life transitions that create chaos. Stan Grof and the late Christina Grof, known for their work in holotropic breathwork, spearheaded research in this area in the 1980s and were central in providing a spiritual emergency network for those who needed support during such a crisis.

There’s a chapter on what Hurd calls The Stranger, meaning the spirit-type figure that appears in “about 14-18% of isolated SP cases” with details on types of experiences. I’ve experienced most of them, some without the SP component in a fully awake state in broad daylight. Much of the information is addressed in relation to what answers scientific and psychological studies can give for something that occurs across cultures and stretches way back in history. It’s particularly prevalent in Indigenous cultures that value dreaming, parallel worlds and the life instruction that can come as a result, as well as those who inhabit places that have strong geomagnetic characteristics.

Hurd offers practical ways to deal with SP and apparitions—and gain self-mastery in the process. These include: grounding yourself, diet, lucid dreaming and out-of-body practices, even ways to trigger SP if you’re so inclined.

This book doesn’t answer everything having to do with the events in my own life, but it’s certainly a good start, guidance always being welcome. I recommend this book certainly if you’re undergoing anything described in this review, or for anyone who is curious.

Available in print or e-book on Amazon.

Categories: Book Review, Personal Growth, Spiritual Evolution | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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

The Prayer Journeys of a Singing Bowl

Ton Akkermans has had a life-long interest in blacksmithing and lives in the Netherlands. Decades ago he had a memory of ancient Tibet where he made gongs and singing bowls. With this remembrance came the understanding of exactly how they were made in that long ago time and their use. The process was a prayerful one of deep intent—not casually hammered out—for the task he’d been given was a sacred one. Monks carried them as part of their spiritual journey, an ally for meditation, a way to release prayers through vibration when sounded. Sometimes they carried the same one all their years. It held the memory of their spiritual evolution.

Present-day Ton makes the bowls and gongs in the old way and, along with wife Carolina, teaches others. The bowls are imprinted with particular frequencies needed now, a vision toward global healing.

But I knew none of this until my dear friend Hilary Bee, a spiritual teacher in the UK, sent me a note this past July. She reminded me of the beautiful bowl she’d shown me in February when she’d been in the US for a visit. She mentioned Ton’s work, that he’d empowered his students Gabriella Kapfer, Heather Smith Cowen and Quentin Cowen to help further his vision. Thus the Peace Bowl Project of Resounding Earth was founded with a mission, as Hilary told me: “…to make bowls as an offering to the Earth herself, to assist with ushering in a new era of peace and harmony, similar in concept to the Japanese Peace Pole project; and have these entrusted to bowl keepers in different parts of the world…” She said she’d been invited to go to Scotland in September as one of the seven who would make the first of the bowls. The European Sanctuary of the World Peace Prayer Society  supported with the offering of their site.

Then Hilary asked me to be a bowl carrier.

She’d like to make the bowl for me, that my way of talking about the work I do—as a sacred container—was a clear sign to her. I realized in that moment what an honor she’d offered. But, truly, only later did I know to the extent. Of course, I agreed.

She’d asked me to send something for her to tune into as she was making the bowl. After sitting with the request for a while, I put together a package with items representing the Indigenous peoples I’ve worked with most: a Hopi prayer feather I’d been given to carry, an image of Lake Najá with young Lacandón Maya men in their traditional dugout canoe, and huayruro seeds from Peru. I intended to bring the singing bowl to Peru to be part of ceremonies there during our October-November journey in Cusco and Q’ero, and on to Bolivia where I was going afterwards.

Singing bowlWhen I opened the package I’d received in the mail, the energy that issued from it literally took my breath. The bowl and its covering fairly shimmered in their beauty. Through a Skype conversation with Hilary, I learned how deep her own process was. Every indentation in its make-up was an inlaid prayer. There was a network of meditators holding with the intent of the bowls’ forming during that time. Several in Hilary’s teaching circle sent their own bowls along in support. And a young woman named Manuela hand-felted the carrier bag. Her daughter Mayaan made the trim while partner Mark carved the wooden button to close it. Folks across countries gave support. It was then I really began to understand the nature of bowl carrying and just how much had gone into the making. Our conversation was emotional.

I knew that the bowl is not mine. It belongs to everyone.

I sent out an invitation for people to send their prayers. They would be carried in the bowl and resonance released at each ceremony. A number of people responded. Upon my return I wrote to Hilary.

The bowl was present at all ceremonies and circles, sounded separately by everyone, including each paq’o.* After the formal group closed I went on to the Islands of the Sun and Moon with a few folks and a Quechua-Aymara paq’o [Hermógenes] …where at the Temple of the Virgins on the Island of the Moon…after an offering and sounding…I felt the Pachamama breathe beneath my feet. I’m quite sure it was in response.

Despacho in Cusco for a safe journey up to Q'ero.

Despacho in Cusco for a safe journey up to Q’ero.

The energy of this journey was extraordinary for many reasons, a big one certainly due to the singing bowl … and all the prayers spoken and released along the way.**

During despacho ceremony in the home of my Q'ero friend Modesto in the village of Ccochamocco.

During despacho ceremony in the home of my Q’ero friend Modesto in the village of Ccochamocco.

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Gi Thomas passes the singing bowl to Doña Carmina.

I have never carried a mesa in the traditions of the Andes, even though I’ve been part of the teachings for twenty years.*** I don’t sing Native American songs or hold Maya fire ceremonies. I hold great reverence for Indigenous ways, but I’m sensitive to co-opting traditions that weren’t given to me, or that I have no concrete proof I was born or adopted into. My own lineage was hidden and lost to time.

Perubowl-4

Altar offering at Puma Rock on the Island of the Sun with Hermógenes Romero Sanchez.

But in Bolivia Hermógenes began referring to the bundle I carried to each sacred site and placed on his mesa during offerings …as my mesa. And I realized that I do have a mesa. It was given to me, coming up through time, crossing cultures. And it carries a voluntary responsibility, perhaps one now made visible that I’ve felt for a very long time. This is my grounding.

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Offering at the Temple of the Virgins on the Island of the Moon.

No words suffice for my gratitude toward Hilary for her generosity, spirit and friendship, and all the people who hold the vision of worldwide filaments of peace and healing circling the planet … resonating …

***

 Anyone is invited to send prayers at any time. Just send them to me in a private email. The next journeys this singing bowl will make are to Mayalands in January and Hopilands in March, finishing the year with a return to Bolivia and Peru. But it’s always available and sounded during my own morning meditations.

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*Loosely translated, paq’o means shaman in Quechua.

**Hopi Wisdom Keeper Harold Joseph was sponsored on this journey, an emissary of his religious leader on Shungopavi, to seek prayers from Q’ero spiritual leaders for the continuity of Hopi traditions. Harold stopped  a number of areas along our journey, marking the path and laying prayers.

***A mesa is the medicine bundle of a paq’o in the tradition of the Andes.

Categories: Gratitude, Healing, Meditation, Sacred Reciprocity, Spiritual Evolution | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Not-So-Secret Access to Consciousness

In The Energy That Finds Its Source, I shared how I stumbled upon a strategy through meditation that greatly affected my artwork in a positive way. I want to build on that by discussing something a number of us do unconsciously—but brought to consciousness can generalize to different contexts of your life. It increases clarity and mental/emotional flexibility, in addition to creativity. I’ll use writing as a springboard for an example here.

One of the biggest challenges fiction writers have is to breathe life into the characters of their stories, to make them believable. This is particularly true if your book is character-driven. You want readers to connect with the story and those in it: to love or hate them. A reader of my latest book Portals to the Vision Serpent wrote to say how she couldn’t stand Sybilla, who features prominently in the novel—until she really understood her. Then she had great empathy. Even if the book is plot-driven, you want the characters’ actions to make some level of sense from their eyes.

We all have a specialized, individual template we live by. Here’s a quick review on how that happens. Your brain codes experiences you have. The original coding usually takes place early in life. The coding becomes your perceptions…translating to the beliefs you have about yourself, others, the world in general, even what’s possible. This template also becomes the filter through which you experience your life. You develop strategies for thinking and living that further reinforce the original beliefs—those that support and those that get in your way. When something significant happens to disrupt the old beliefs, things can shift dramatically.

Characters in a novel are no different. Here’s a way to uncover their templates by “stepping into” different perspectives.

  1. From your “self” position as the writer, note how you experience different characters: the nonverbal signals, the way they speak, your own response to them.
  2. Now taking each character at a time, imagine you can slide right into their body, look out of their eyes, become them—rather than witnessing them—and answer these questions: What is their family of origin like? Based on what they unconsciously ingested then, how do they experience their own identity, who they are? Note the trickle down effect: What beliefs were generated? What about capabilities? Resulting actions? How they experience their environment? This way you can really get inside the hearts and minds of the characters.
  3. Then step back. By being a detached observer you get additional valuable information. Given what you discovered about your individual characters, now you can really get a bead on important dynamics between the major players and incorporate them into your writing.
Secret Access

Secret Access
Mixed media on canvas
©2014 Carla Woody

By using a method like this, you also invite your reader to tag along through your writing, to undergo the same discovery and identify with different characters. They’re playing out the human condition, no different than the rest of us. We are all who we are based upon where we’ve been. But when something of great enough significance interjects itself, triggering a change in one character…it also affects the others in close proximity. That’s how things get shaken up; the story becomes so much more interesting; the characters can grow in various ways.

I realize in the writing of this piece that, because this strategy is so engrained in me, it’s another way of describing what I wrote about in The Energy That Finds Its Source. I was very much in the “self” when I was meditating. But when I came out of meditation, I became the “observer.” When the artwork communicated with me, I may have been in “other” position…or an unexplainable esoteric element occurred…

Of course, you can use what I’ve written here as a guideline to explore other aspects of your own life, not just your creative outlets. This is a brief primer toward self-discovery and relationship dynamics that I use with clients as a springboard for transformation.

I’ve adapted the content of this post from my mentoring program Navigating Your Lifepath addressing how to live through your deeply held values—and thrive.

Categories: Compassionate Communication, Creativity Strategies, NLP, Personal Growth | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Energy That Finds Its Source

Sometimes it’s powerful to change things up in your geography, to experiment and see how you may further engage creativity…and The Muse. In the last several months, I’ve done just that—albeit unknowingly—and have been fairly astounded at what has unfolded.

I meditate first thing in the morning, usually before dawn. Over the last thirty years of doing so, it’s set the stage for my days and provided a consistent segue for insights, higher guidance. But I’d never considered using it as a tool for my artwork. It happened accidentally.

I would undertake my daily ritual in the back room, sitting cross-legged with straight back, always in the same spot for as long as I’d lived in this home, an anchor to the process. One morning for no apparent reason, I chose to meditate in the front room. Whenever I feel complete, I come back with “soft eyes”…slightly defocused…slowly returning, integrating the state with my day ahead. That morning my gaze came to rest on the easel and canvas I’d been painting for a while. And suddenly I experienced the piece in a whole new way. I saw things I hadn’t seen before. I felt a previously undetected presence, perhaps waiting until I’d opened a door and it could reach through and guide me. I’ve continued this change in geography while keeping my long-time meditation ritual. My artwork has more depth and meaning. I feel the intent of pieces is coming across in a way I’d just hoped for before. I had the beautiful feedback from a couple from Canada who approached me—after seeing My Magdalen Heart in person—saying they’d experienced the piece literally speaking to them.

The Inner Chamber

The Inner Chamber
Mixed media on canvas
©2014 Carla Woody

People have puzzled over the creative process for eons. Some ascribe to a belief that the source of creativity rests within the self absolutely, which places enormous pressure if you find not so much coming through. Others are certain it comes from another source, perhaps a higher power. Author Elizabeth Gilbert spoke eloquently on TED regarding this controversy.

I believe it’s a combination of the two. First, I have the choice to say “yes.” Then it’s a matter of showing up consistently, having faith that something will be delivered…and being patient with the process. I recognize that I’m a vehicle. I’ve chosen to develop certain skills. But, for me, there’s no mistaking when I’ve tapped into another realm entirely outside myself that moves beyond the mundane. My senses are heightened and the energy moves—whether through brush on canvas, fingers on keyboard…whatever the art form—to find ground. There’s a distinct collaboration…and it’s something else again when your subject matter starts communicating with you. Strange as it seems, that’s how it’s happening for me these days.

When I was writing Portals to the Vision Serpent my practice was to begin writing after meditation, at least five days a week for at least three hours at a time. Again, I didn’t realize at the time I was accessing my craft through an altered state of being. It was as though I watched a movie and wrote down what unfolded in front of me. One day I reached a point in the book where I needed to get a main character down to the rainforest of Chiapas, Mexico but had no idea how. Within a few days, a completely new character stepped forward to introduce himself from the shadows where he’d been hidden. It turned out that he provided the way; the novel moved on.

The poet Mary Oliver said, “…The part of the psyche that works in concert with consciousness and supplies a necessary part of the poem—the heart of the star as opposed to the shape of a star, let us say—exists in a mysterious, unmapped zone…Say you promise to be at your desk in the evenings, from seven to nine. It waits, it watches. If you are reliably there, it begins to show itself—soon it begins to arrive when you do. But if you are only there sometimes and are frequently late or inattentive, it will appear fleetingly, or it will not appear at all…”

If it hasn’t yet happened for you in the way you desire, I believe it can. It means opening yourself up, stepping outside your comfort zone, changing up your geography. It’s an agreement you make…an intent you hold…and then let go.

Such an energy finds its reciprocal Source.

Categories: Arts, Creativity Strategies, Meditation, Sacred Reciprocity, Spiritual Evolution, The Writing Life, Visual Arts | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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