Breathe

A few months back, I bought a copy of an Astanga Yoga book written by my former mentor. When we were friends, I took Astanga classes from him, and he taught me a lot about the philosophies and the eight limbs that make up the practice. (Tip: The poses, or asana, are only one of the limbs…and not even the first one.)

To be clear, even though back in the day I studied to be an Astanga instructor and had, in fact, passed my final practical exam, I’m *not* an instructor, and not claiming to be. But since breathing is something many of us are thinking about right now, I wanted to talk about this a little.

One of the pieces of yoga that is sometimes overlooked is pranayama, or breathing exercises. When I was working with my mentor, he taught me some pranayama…which, being me, I promptly forgot about when I stopped practicing yoga. But now that I’ve resumed studying, I’m finding the pranayama, particularly one that involves very deep, even breathing, to be vital.

I have a tendency toward shallow breathing. Every once in a while, I take a deep breath that concerns whoever I’m with, or annoys them because they think I’m sighing. The actual issue is that I take such shallow breaths much of the time that I’m not getting enough oxygen, so then my body decides I’m going to take a really, really deep breath to correct that.

But for the past several weeks, every morning (okay, almost every), I do breathing called Sutri Pranayama, in which I breathe so deeply I can literally feel it all the way down through my torso. I take 20 breaths, which takes me over five minutes because I’m inhaling long and slowly, and exhaling equally long and slowly.

And after I do it, I feel better. I feel more focused. Calmer. (Deep breathing is one of the things recommended for people who experience anxiety, which for me is a frequent experience.) I’m in a more positive frame of mind, and my normal breathing has become less shallow.

Especially now, when our world is dealing with a virus that can heavily impact the lungs, I think breathing exercises can be beneficial. (I’m not a doctor, this isn’t medical advice.)

I’m not qualified (anymore) to teach Astanga or any form of yoga, so I’m not going to try to instruct you how to do Sutri Pranayama in case I get it wrong. But if you are looking for a way to help yourself feel calmer and less stressed, and to help your lungs function well, I would definitely recommend looking up how to do it and making it part of your daily routine. Not only for now, but ongoing.

My Body’s Telling Me Something…

I posted this on my Facebook profile a few days ago, but wanted to share it here as well.

Friday night, I realized that every time I turned over in bed, I felt like I was on a sped-up carnival ride. The room spun, my stomach churned, and it was scary as hell.

Saturday morning, I got up…same thing, only worse. I could barely stay on my feet, had to hold onto the wall as I walked the few steps from my bed to the bathroom, and then almost fell over getting out of the shower. My husband ended up taking me to urgent care, where they said, “It’s vertigo,” gave me meds, and sent me home with instructions to follow up with my primary care doctor and ask for a neurology referral. (I get migraine headaches; those have become more frequent, longer-lasting, and worse in general over the past couple of months… but the vertigo is new. So I need to be checked out on all of it.)

The thing is, last week, I was pushing myself HARD. Needed to do this. Had to do that. Had to get my ass in my car and drive Lyft to make more money. I wasn’t resting, I was stressing.

While there is an underlying physical cause for the vertigo and migraines (I don’t know what it is yet, but I know my body), there’s also an energetic cause. My body, my energy, and the Universe were–and are–all telling me to chill the hell out, focus on *me* and not my bank account, and take care of myself.

Illnesses have multiple causes. It isn’t *only* about the physical or physiological. It isn’t *only* about the mind. And it isn’t *only* about the energy. It’s a combination. What affects one affects all; what treats one treats all. Which is why I recommend energy healing to people who talk to me about their health…but I also recommend they don’t treat their health issues *only* with energy healing. It’s called “holistic” for a reason.

I Couldn’t Think of Anything

I sat down to write this blog post today, and even though I had some ideas in mind when I planted my butt in my chair, as soon as I looked at the blank document on my computer screen, my mind went equally blank.

Sometimes that happens. Sometimes, I second-guess myself, or the negative thought loop of “I don’t have anything worth writing about” starts playing in my brain.

In the past, I’ve felt angry with myself at times when I couldn’t think of anything to write. I’ve felt like a failure. I am, after all, a writer; I have a number of published works under my belt, though most of them are out of print now and I haven’t had anything published in a couple of years. So not being able to come up with something to write for my blog or newsletter opens the door to the “see, this is why you don’t write anymore, you failed as a writer and this proves it” thoughts.

I’m not angry with myself about it today. I’ve realized that sometimes, I’m just not going to be able to think of something. Sometimes, my past or my fears are going to get in the way. At those times, I can choose to be angry and fall into the pit of those negative thoughts…or I can choose to say, “That’s okay, it happens. Next time will be easier.”

Practicing compassion for yourself when you’ve been taught much of your life that lack of accomplishment equals failure isn’t always easy. But it is important. Going down the rabbit hole of self-hatred and negative thoughts doesn’t improve the situation, and it certainly doesn’t lead to success. It just perpetuates the abuse, bullying, etc. that led to those thoughts and feelings in the first place. Accepting that sometimes things are difficult, and sometimes you aren’t able to complete a task, leads to the recognition that you aren’t the things you do, and it doesn’t mean anything about *you* as a person if you’re having a hard time completing something.

And when I let go of the “I have to write something, why can’t I think of anything, I’m such a failure,” and instead thought, “It’s okay, we’ll think of something,” lo and behold, I thought of something.

How can you show compassion for yourself today?

Treating Myself

I’ve gone through a lot of financial struggles over the years, starting when I was still a kid. Because of that, I’ve developed an unfortunate scarcity mindset around money; that is, when I have it, I’m afraid something will go wrong and it will all be gone. It’s difficult for me to let myself buy things I want even when I have the money available, because part of me convinces myself if I spend that money, I won’t have money when I need it.

That mindset is something I’ve been working on for a long time now. I’m getting better about it. Sometimes allowing myself to spend still isn’t easy, but I’m in a better place financially than I had been. So last weekend, I took myself to a stones and crystals shop I love, and I treated myself.

This aura crystal is here to remind me that abundance is a thing, and as long as I’m open, abundance will continue to find me. It’s also a reminder that sometimes, it’s not only okay to treat myself, but it’s important. After all, I do deserve good things, and if I’m unwilling to give myself those things, how else will they come to me?

Discouragement and Recouragement (Is That a Word?)

When you’re trying to build a business, discouragement comes with the territory. The problem is that the discouragement leads to frustration and resentment, which leads to negative energy, which leads to the business continuing to be discouraging.

One of the things I’ve found as I’ve been working on RiverEvolutions/River Flow Healing for the past 4 years is that I get discouraged easily…which brings me further discouragement. Things don’t go the way I hope, so I decide I don’t feel like dealing with it. (To be fair, there have also been personal life things and health things that have contributed.)
But also, sometimes… well, okay, most of the time, I haven’t been clear on what I’m trying to create and build. I want a healing business. So what does that mean? What does it look like? Why do I want it?

I’ve been doing some pondering lately, because I reached another point where I couldn’t continue the way I was going and had to decide whether to continue at all. And I’ve realized a few things.

I’ve become unhappy with teaching Chios Energy Healing. I love the modality, and I think it’s highly beneficial, but *teaching* it has become problematic for me. Maybe it’s the way I’ve structured the instruction piece, or maybe I’m not as effective as I could be at reaching the students who would benefit from working with me–and with whom I would benefit from working. Whatever the reason, I’m finding that teaching Chios is not where my heart is, and not where my energy wants to go. I am eliminating offering Chios instruction effective immediately, other than for the students with whom I’m currently working.

I love doing Chios healing sessions. I want to do more of them. I would love to connect with more people who are interested in and would benefit from sessions. I need to create means of finding them.

Channeling scares me… but not because of the actual channeling. I have worked with my guide, a being of light called Shiva, for lifetimes. I feel safer with him than I do with most humans I know, and I know his wisdom and compassion. My fear comes from the worries that I’ll mess up somehow, such as by blocking what Shiva’s trying to say, or that people will think I’m a fake, a liar, or insane. Those are fears I’m working on overcoming, because I really love offering channeling to my clients. I like hearing what Shiva has to say, too. So I need to create/find more opportunities for offering this.

My Best Life Jumpstart program, a 12-week “create your best life” program combining 12 sessions of mindset coaching and 6 sessions of Chios, is available for those interested in beta-ing for me. (That just means you’re among the first to experience the program, and part of your investment will be committing to provide me with feedback and, if warranted, a testimonial.) I’m eager to see if this program is as effective as it feels to me from the planning side.

The cool thing about running a business–and, for that matter, living a life–is there’s always room for reinvention, refinement, and change. And that’s where I’m at right now. I hope you’ll be with me on the next part of my journey.

Change Hurts

In yoga teachings, there’s an affliction called parinamadukha, which translates essentially to “the pain that comes from change.” (I have to admit one of the reasons I remember this is that it’s a fun word to say, though the feeling/affliction is definitely NOT fun!)

It’s human nature to resist change in our lives, even when we know it’s for the best. Leaving a relationship is painful even when the relationship itself also hurts. Taking a new job can be terrifying. Moving to a new location is complicated, stressful, and painful, especially if we’re leaving a place and friends we’ve been around for a long time.

At the same time, though, change is part of life. It’s impossible to be alive and never go through any changes at all. Just for starters, we grow physically. We can’t decide as infants that our bodies are going to remain exactly the same for the rest of our lives. Many people’s brains also go through growth and change as they learn new things and have new experiences. Some growth and development happens whether we want it to or not.

Many of us also reach crossroads in our lives, where we have to make some kind of choice, which necessitates some kind of change. Even if we choose not to choose, we have chosen; and that choice causes a change in us. We then have to live with the choice we’ve made and how we feel about it, and whatever choice we’ve made will have an impact on us somehow. If we do make a choice, that choice might lead to things like ending a relationship, moving to a new place, changing jobs, etc.

I’ve spent the past several days dealing with a painful choice that is leading to painful changes. I’m not comfortable sharing what those are, but I will say that one change is the ending of some people’s presence in my life. People I would really rather keep around, except that doing so is becoming as painful as the thought of not having them around.

Most of us reach points in our lives where change has to happen. It’s completely human to feel fear and pain at those changes, to resist them and even deny them, and to need help getting through them. Ultimately, many of those changes end up being for the better. Even when they don’t, we can learn and grow from them.

Some Things About Me

It occurred to me that people visiting my site might want to know who I am as a person, not only as a practitioner. So here are a few facts about me:

1. I have 2 kids, both adults now.

2. I’m a witch, but I sometimes feel like I’m not very good at it. (I’m a good witch, but not good at *being* a witch.)

3. I prefer following my own instincts, intuition, and focus over following other people’s rules.

4. I’ve been on a journey to heal from abuse, bullying, and trauma for years now, and I love helping others on their journeys.

5. I’m an author; although most of my books are out of print now due to publishers closing, at one time I had over 80 novels and short stories on the market under 2 different pen names.

6. I was a special education teacher for a number of years, and developed a phonics-based reading/comprehension program during one of my jobs; the program’s been on the market since 2002.

7. I’m agender. I don’t identify as female or male, just as me.

8. The “River” part of my business name (RiverEvolutions, formerly River Flow Healing) is part of a name I was gifted when I started studying witchcraft and chose it as my spiritual path.

9. I’m polyamorous, meaning I have the capacity to romantically love more than one person. Thanks to a very understanding and compassionate husband, I have a marriage of nearly 10 years (anniversary in April), a long-term relationship of 4 1/2 years, and other connections that bring me happiness.

10. I’m a grandmother. My older grandson is technically a “step,” but I don’t think of him that way; he’s been part of my life since he was 3. My younger grandson turned 1 yesterday!

11. Sometimes I fall flat on my face when it comes to following my beliefs about healing, manifestation, etc. I’m constantly learning to feel more compassion toward myself at those times.

12. I learned Chios Energy Healing after a friend offered me a session in 2005; I’d never heard of energy healing before that. I became a Certified Chios Master Teacher in less than 6 months because it resonated so deeply for me.

13. I channel a being of light who calls himself Shiva. He’s been my guide my entire life (I used to think of him and my other guides as “invisible friends,” and became very angry as a child when people said my friends were imaginary, not invisible), and I learned to channel him around the same time I learned Chios.

14. Shiva and my other guides, as I said, have been around my entire life, and they offer a lot of guidance and support on my journey… but I don’t always listen to them. Kinda like a toddler doesn’t always listen to their parents…

15. I was raised as an only child by parents who rarely socialized with anyone, so a lot of human “socialing” behavior makes no sense to me. I do much better and feel much more comfortable interacting with people one-on-one than in groups.

16. I tend to overexplain and make really long lists.

Welcome to 2020

2019 felt like a long year. I’ve talked with a number of people who have said they felt like 2019 put them through the wringer. A lot of pain, a lot of struggle. That was true for me as well.

In 2019, I started off excited about my business, then called River Flow Healing…and then things started going downhill both business-wise and, more importantly, in my personal life. The personal life struggles impacted my ability to be effective as a healing practitioner and coach, and at times impacted my ability to do much of anything at all. Those difficulties led to my choice a couple of months ago to go on hiatus and focus on myself and my own healing journey for a while. But now it’s 2020, and it’s time to start fresh.

My journey isn’t over, of course. Life itself is a journey; there isn’t any point where someone can say, “There, I’ve made it, I’m healed and everything’s perfect now.” Life isn’t intended to be something to master. It’s something to experience, and to learn and grow from.

I’ve learned a lot about myself over the past couple of months, though. Things that lurked in the dark places in the back of my mind that I hadn’t really wanted to deal with because we’re taught that “dark” equals “bad,” and that we have to either eliminate the bad things or pretend they don’t exist.

The thing is, dark isn’t automatically bad. It’s just dark. Just as we have to have both night and day, we have to have a balance of darkness and light in our lives and ourselves. The key is to learn to accept the darkness within us and work with it to change the negative results of it being there. 

When a toddler misbehaves, we don’t try to eliminate the toddler; we accept them, love them, and try to teach them more productive and positive ways to act. It’s the same with the dark aspects of ourselves. The goal doesn’t need to be eliminating them. It’s much healthier for us, and more effective in our healing, to accept and acknowledge–and LOVE–those aspects of ourselves, and learn more positive ways of managing them.

As a child, I experienced neglect, emotional and verbal abuse, and bullying. Those things were a constant in my life, day to day, even into adulthood. Because of that, the “dark” aspects of myself manifest, in my mind, as young children. It isn’t my job to get rid of them, but to give them the love, attention, and respect I didn’t receive. That means when one of my child aspects starts throwing a tantrum about how everyone hates her and that’s why I don’t have clients for RiverEvolutions, instead of ignoring her or telling her to shut up, I’m learning to embrace her and say, “I know it feels that way, and it’s okay to feel that way right now, but that isn’t reality. Let’s take a break and come back to this later.”

Taking a break is another key. When emotions escalate, sometimes we feel like we have to “push through” and get the thing done no matter what. But forcing ourselves to keep pushing at something that is causing us pain doesn’t serve us. It is okay to take a few steps back. It’s okay to leave a task temporarily unfinished so you can take care of yourself and let yourself feel your emotions. And when you’ve allowed that, you can go back and finish the task.

There’s a lot I’ve been learning over the past couple of months, and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you as I continue my work on myself as well as my work as a healing practitioner and coach.

Darkness Equals Rest

In the pagan Wheel of the Year (or at least the one with which I’m familiar), we’ve just passed Samhain, the end of the old year and beginning of the new. But we’ve also entered a time of year when, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, daylight is short and harder to come by, and it’s only going to grow shorter until Yule, a/k/a the Winter Solstice.

This is a hard time of year for me every year. The lessening of daylight impacts my mental health, and the holidays I grew up celebrating at this time of year (primarily Thanksgiving and Christmas) were sources of trauma and pain for me. Things will start getting better for me after the Solstice and Christmas have passed, though the cold New England winter that will prevent me from being outside as much as I would like will continue to have an impact.

These are things of which I’m always aware, and I do know how to manage myself and keep myself as focused and positive as possible through this time. But in the past years, I’ve also often put self-care behind trying to push through doing things. Running RiverEvolutions, working other jobs, keeping my house (mostly) clean, doing things that other people ask me to do…

This is the time of year when, thanks to having to interact more with blood-and-marriage family, I’ve most often heard that yet another year had gone by without my doing anything that mattered or anything that anyone could be proud of. And so even though most of those people are no longer in my life, and I know I’ve accomplished things people told me I couldn’t, and have accomplishments I can be proud of, it’s the time of year when I get the hardest on myself for not doing “enough,” whatever “enough” is. And so I push too hard, and try to do too much, and don’t honor my own needs.

This year, I’m trying to be different about that. I mean, seriously, who am I trying to impress by pushing through the darkness to do things that sometimes I’m not even sure have a purpose? It’s a time of year when some forms of life enter hibernation, and some just settle in to keep warm until spring, and I think I–at least the business “I”–am going to follow their lead.

I’m not shutting down RiverEvolutions. I believe strongly in this business. I believe people need balance, relaxation, and clarity, and I have seen through working with clients that I can help them achieve those things. I know where I was fourteen years ago before I learned Chios Energy Healing, and I know how far I’ve come–even when voices from the past pop into my brain to tell me I haven’t come any distance at all. They’re wrong.

But I do believe there are times to work and push, and there are times to rest and recharge. There are times to plant seeds, and to harvest them, and to cover the garden with warmth and let the snow fall.

I’m still open to clients on a very limited basis for both Chios Energy Healing and channeling; very limited meaning a maximum of 2 clients per week. I’m still working with my students, and I’m really pleased to watch their progress, and honored they chose me to work with. I’m still poking at tentative plans and ideas for RiverEvolutions for the future.

For the next couple of months, though, I’m turning inward. Looking at my own healing, and seeing where the weak spots are. Relearning what I learned from my mentor 14 years ago that put me on this path in the first place. Relearning what I learned 3 years ago when I was charged with creating this practice and guiding people on their journeys.

Relearning the “me” that exists under the years of sludge and other people’s voices. Because I will be far more effective guiding others to learning who they are when I’m doing a more effective job of remembering who I am, and taking care of myself.

Honoring a Need

Today is the third day I sat down to try to write this blog post. And it’s the third day that I looked at my planned topic and my brain said, “Nope, not doing it. Too tired.”

It wasn’t a hugely involved topic. It was more that I wasn’t as clear as I would have liked on what I wanted to say about it, and trying to put words together was resulting in a lot of mental twisting and turning. I’ve also been fighting off a cold (thanks to working in two elementary schools a couple days a week) and, as often happens at a season change, haven’t been sleeping well, so my creativity is not at its peak.

So instead of sitting here forcing the post I’d intended to write, which would have resulted in some half-assing and inaccurate phrasing, and probably in the energetic vibration of “I don’t wanna do this” coming through, at least to those who are sensitive to energy, I chose to write a post about how I’m not writing the post I’d planned. Because I think sometimes we all need the reminder that it’s okay to give our brains a break. It’s okay to say, “I can’t think about this right now,” or “I can’t complete this project this week,” or whatever.

Obviously if it affects your job or interferes with someone else’s needs, you might need to think about it more and maybe do some negotiation or compromise. But the world isn’t going to end because I wrote this blog post instead of the one I’d planned. It won’t end if my post is under 400 words instead of close to 1000.

It won’t end if I take the time to honor what I need.

Sometimes, I think that especially those of us who were brought up to believe we were responsible for everyone else forget that our needs matter too, and that the world doesn’t actually end if we say no to some things. So this is just a reminder for all of us.

And now I’m going to go honor my need for coffee. Because coffee.