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.

What To Say?

In the past week, our world has changed drastically. I’m not going to enumerate the changes, because if you have access to any news source at all, you already know.

I’ve had trouble focusing on accomplishing tasks for the past week and a half, since I started seeing news about colleges sending students home. One of those colleges was my daughter’s, and helping her navigate that massive change and the effects it might have on her graduation this May and her continuing to graduate school in the fall took a lot of my emotional bandwidth. Don’t get me wrong; I was grateful that she came to me for support and that I was able to help in some way.

According to what a friend of mine posted on Facebook, some are talking about the current crisis being part of a “great awakening.” Maybe so. I do believe our world and our Universe are shifting and changing… but then, I believe that is ALWAYS the case. I don’t believe it’s my place, or the place of any other human, to tell everyone what the Universe or any Creator power has in mind. I think it’s completely fine to share your own beliefs with others, but not to force those beliefs. Not to look at someone who’s lost a loved one to this illness and say, “It’ll be all right, this is just a great awakening,” or look at a parent struggling to feed and care for their children with schools, day cares, and workplaces closed and say, “Don’t worry, just think abundant thoughts and you’ll have everything you need.” (I have not seen the first one personally; I have seen the second.)

I believe this is a time that humanity might learn a few things about ourselves. I believe this is a time that might lead to greater understanding, tolerance, and kindness. But it starts with us *being* understanding, tolerant, and kind. It starts with supporting one another, not telling others they’re wrong for not believing the way you do. It starts with saying, “I believe” instead of stating your beliefs as facts. It starts with recognizing that not everyone believes what you do…and the acceptance of the possibility that you’re wrong. You might be right, but you might not be.

It starts with knowing that this crisis will pass, as crises have a tendency to do. Eventually, this illness will fade out. Schools, daycares, and workplaces will reopen. We’ll be able to get together with friends again, go out to eat, go to a movie. We’ll be able to walk into a grocery store and find what we need, instead of seeing aisles of empty shelves.

And maybe, when that time comes, we’ll all be a little less set in our ways, a little less “you’re wrong, I’m right,” and a little more open to the reality that we don’t know everything, we can’t say what the creative power in our Universe is thinking, and sometimes we just have to accept what happens and learn from it.

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.

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?

Speak Up, Don’t Shut Up

My mother talks a lot. I mean, a lot. I’m not saying this to be mean; it’s a statement of fact. She will start talking and continue for an hour, repeating herself several times and not stopping even when someone leaves the room. As a child, I sometimes witnessed her talking to empty chairs if she didn’t think anyone else was home, not because she believed anyone was in the chair but because she needed to talk.

The problem was, she didn’t believe other people had any reason or right to talk. If someone was speaking and she had something to say, even something completely unrelated, she would talk right over them. If someone else started speaking and didn’t finish fast enough for her tastes, she would tell them they were finished and go on with whatever she wanted to say.

And heaven help anyone who interrupted her, even unintentionally or with something as innocuous as a deep breath.

Putting words together into a form I can speak that others will understand has always been a bit of a struggle for me. So you can imagine that my need to stop and think for more than half a second to form a sentence didn’t mesh well with my mother’s need to fill any silence–any at all–with her own words. Nor did my anger at being interrupted and disrespected mesh well with her belief that she had the right to interrupt anyone, but they had no similar right.

I learned early to shut up. Whether it was with my mother, or with people who bullied me, or with other family members. If I didn’t like something, I learned, I had no right to say a word. If someone treated me badly, I was expected to just accept it. As an adult, in my marriage to my children’s father before it ended, I learned that not only did I not have the right to speak up if he said or did something hurtful or harmful, but speaking up was a dangerous thing to do. I learned not to speak for the sake of my own safety and, sometimes, my kids’.

That “put up and shut up” tendency still follows me, having become so deeply ingrained that sometimes I don’t even realize when I’m holding in something I need to express. If someone hurts me, I often keep it to myself. If I have an issue with someone or something, I don’t say a word.

Of course, that doesn’t solve anything, and often worsens a problem. If I’m feeling angry or upset about someone’s behavior and I hold it in, eventually the lid is going to blow off the pot of anger and resentment. Usually at a time when something that seems, even to me, quite small happens, so no one, including me, can figure out why I’m “overreacting.” It isn’t an overreaction; it’s a built-up reaction from weeks or months of not expressing those emotions when I needed to. And obviously that isn’t healthy or helpful.

I am better about it, thanks to a husband and a partner who both have a lot of patience and have worked to show me that it is safe for me to speak. Because they have listened when I needed to express anger, even if I didn’t do it in a particularly constructive way, I’ve learned how to express it more constructively. To ask for a moment of quiet so I can put words together. To say, calmly and respectfully, “I’m feeling this way and I need to tell you why,” instead of just going off.

Having had to hold in anger, and having been told that “good girls don’t get angry” and other such bullshit, since early childhood, learning to manage anger in a healthy way has been a difficult but vital part of my journey. And I think it’s one a lot of us struggle with when we’ve been in situations where we weren’t allowed to show anger or other negative emotions. If you’ve had to bury something, sometimes it gets away from you–and sometimes you just continue to bury it because you don’t know what else to do.
You have the right to speak up for yourself when someone has hurt or harmed you. When you feel angry. When someone’s behavior is disrespectful to you. You have the right to speak those things instead of swallowing them and pretending they don’t exist. Obviously you don’t have the right to cause hurt or harm to someone else, but you can speak your feelings without causing harm. And not speaking them may be harming you.

Imposter Syndrome Happens

I started learning Chios Energy Healing after the first time I had a Chios healing session, which I blogged about recently. After I’d trained a bit, it was time to start *doing* Chios sessions.

This was not as easy as I’d thought it would be.

I didn’t have a lot of confidence in my skills. I knew I was a good healer; I’d been told things since childhood that indicated it. But actually doing a session with another person, intentionally, with skills I was still learning and didn’t feel I’d mastered, was a different prospect entirely. Especially since the first person who requested a session from me was my mentor.

He was someone who had studied energy and energy healing for years. He was a Reiki master as well as a Certified Chios Master Teacher, and from my perspective in the sewer of low self-esteem, he knew more about everything than I did. How could I dare do a healing session with him?

By this point, he knew me well enough to understand my fears. It wasn’t that I didn’t know how to do the healing. I had a massive case of what some people might call Imposter Syndrome. “I don’t know enough, and this person’s going to realize I’m a fraud! Or worse, I’m going to totally screw everything up!”

I didn’t screw anything up. I did the session perfectly competently, though he pointed out afterward that I had been noticeably nervous and I might want to work on that before I did sessions with anyone else. He understood the nerves, but a client who was relying on me to provide healing might not. But, he told me, I brought him a lot of benefit through that one session.

Imposter Syndrome happens, especially for someone from a background like mine. I was taught most of my life that I knew nothing, was worth nothing, and had no business “pretending” otherwise. I also was a perfectionist before I could even pronounce the word; even as a toddler, I refused to do anything unless I was sure I could do it completely right the first time around. Which meant there were an awful lot of things I never did.

I’ll be honest. I still get nervous before healing sessions. Not nearly as much as when I did that first session back in 2006, fortunately, but still, every time there’s that little niggle of “What if I don’t actually know what I’m doing? What if they think I’m a fraud?” It’s normal to have those questions. It doesn’t mean I’m not an effective healing practitioner. It means that as I help others work on their healing, I’m still working on my own, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

I was angry the day I did that first healing session, because I was afraid and my mentor refused to let me back out. He was right not to let me. Fear will become an insurmountable obstacle if you let it win even once. So even though fear still follows me around and whispers in my ear, I’m thankful my mentor pushed me through it that one time, so that now, I can push through it on my own.

I Was Skeptical About Chios…

In 2005, I became friends with someone. We bonded over a shared love of reading and writing, but as we spent more time together, I found out he had other interests as well. Things like energy healing, which I’d never heard of or at least had heard extremely little about.

As our friendship grew, I shared things with him about my life. Traumas I’d experienced as a child and was still experiencing in my marriage at the time. Healing didn’t occur to me; I didn’t know it was a possible thing. I just knew it felt good to talk to someone who seemed to care.

After a while, he offered me a Chios Energy Healing session. Once he explained it to me, I figured maybe it wouldn’t hurt, but I didn’t expect much to come of it. To be honest, mostly I only agreed to it because I wanted to spend more time with my friend, and this would be a reason to do so. Plus I didn’t want to disappoint him or upset him; my fear, irrational though it was, was that if I didn’t let him do a healing session with me, he wouldn’t be my friend anymore. I needed the friendship; it was the only thing in my life at the time that I felt like I was doing right. (I loved my kids, and they were my heart, but I knew I was screwing up as their mother.)

The day of the healing session, I was nervous. I didn’t know what to expect, and my friend couldn’t tell me much because healing sessions are different for everyone. When I realized I had to lie down on a massage table, I almost gave up then and there; I was afraid to do that. But I swallowed the fear and lay down, and my friend closed the door of the room so his cats wouldn’t try to “help,” and we got started.

Fourteen years later, and without notes to refer to, I don’t remember everything about the session. I remember crying a lot, and apologizing for it, and my friend telling me to stop apologizing. Trauma memories I’d intentionally buried resurfaced, along with memories I didn’t even recall suppressing. I talked throughout the session, telling my friend what was coming up, and he gently reassured me but refused to stop the session unless I explicitly said to. Which I didn’t, because as hard as facing these things was for me, I knew it would ultimately benefit me.

Afterward, he gave me something to eat and drink. I don’t remember what it was, only that it was something I liked, and it was vegan (because everything he ate or drank was vegan). I felt exhausted and shaky, and stabilizing my emotions seemed impossible. But I also felt triumphant, because I’d allowed the session and I’d gotten through it.

For over a week afterward, as the energy filtered through my system, memories and ideas and thoughts continued to surface. My friend patiently waded through pages of emails to address my concerns and offer support as I dealt with the memories. He never once told me to get therapy (we both knew I needed it, he knew I couldn’t get it at that point because of my husband, and he knew I knew I needed it). He never told me to get over anything, or to let it go, or to stop whining, or any of the other things I’d heard from people who claimed they wanted to “help.” He simply listened–well, read, anyway–and reassured.

I kept having sessions with him, but after just that first session, I knew I needed to learn Chios. It had had such a profound impact on me, and I wanted to share that impact with others. My friend strongly recommended I have one or two more sessions myself before I started learning, which I did. He was my instructor, and I was so excited to learn it that I went through all three levels in under four months.

That friendship and those healing sessions made an incredible difference in my life, and although the friendship itself only lasted about two years, the impact has lasted ever since. And that friend is a huge part of why I do what I do.

Sharing Chios

Since Chios Energy Healing, the modality I practice, isn’t very well-known, one of my chosen missions is to bring awareness of it to more people. That’s part of the aim behind my #Healing100, in which for 100 days, all private Chios and channeling sessions are discounted by 40% to make them more accessible to more people.

But private sessions don’t necessarily help get the word out, so I also am always thankful for the chance to offer Chios sessions or teach Chios workshops in other venues. This weekend, I get one of those opportunities! I’ll be at Elemental Energies, 27 North Berwick Road, Wells, ME from 10-4 offering Chios healing sessions. (These sessions are slightly different in terms of length and logistics from the private sessions, so the rate is lower and the #Healing100 discount does not apply.)

People are welcome to contact Elemental Energies in advance (you can find contact info on their website, http://www.chrisann-jeff.com) to guarantee a spot, or just walk in. 

Elemental Energies is a great store to visit, in my opinion. A couple of weeks ago, I brought my offspring and grandsons there, and all of them enjoyed the energy. Jeff, one of the owners, even took some time to teach my 6-year-old grandson about runes, which fascinated my grandson! So if you come in and decide not to have a Chios session, you’ll still have a wonderful experience visiting this high-vibration store.

Yeah, okay, I know this post sounds like an ad, but it does come from the heart. I teamed up with Chris Ann and Jeff to offer Chios at their store because of the incredible positive energy, and because of the chance to spread the word about Chios. And I hope to see you there!

Trance Channeling–An Inside View

In the years since I learned channeling, I’ve practiced two types: relayed and trance. Relayed channeling is pretty easy to explain and describe. I sit with my client, listen to their questions, and listen to the answers my guide Shiva gives. Then I pass those answers along to the client in Shiva’s words, or as close as I can get, and give clarification when asked.

Trance channeling is harder to describe, both from the perspective of an observer and from the perspective of the one doing it. But I’m going to try, because trance channeling is something I’ve found people don’t always understand.

As the name might imply, when I do trance channeling, I’m in a trance. My body is relaxed and, if I’m doing it right, so is my mind. I have a process for getting into trance that simply involves slow counting backward, and when I reach the right level of trance, I invite Shiva to “come in.”

Basically what that means is that my consciousness, in a sense, steps aside to allow Shiva’s consciousness to use my body to communicate with a client. It isn’t the same as possession; Shiva’s consciousness is just visiting, so to speak, and I can break out of the trance–thereby displacing him–at any time. 

It also is not something Shiva will ever do without my invitation. Sometimes, when I’m getting into trance to do a channeling, I forget to explicitly say, “Shiva, please come in,” and when that happens, he won’t do it. He might prompt me to say it, because he knows sometimes my memory doesn’t work as well as it could, but he won’t do anything more unless I ask.

While Shiva’s doing his thing, my body gets very hot. This happens to a lesser extent even when I do relayed channeling, because Shiva’s high energetic vibration causes heat, but it’s more intense when I’m doing a trance channeling. No matter how cold the room is, if I’m doing trance channeling, I’ll probably be sweating by the end of it.

I can hear everything that’s said, because I haven’t gone anywhere. My consciousness is still in my body; it’s just moved over a bit like someone might move over on a bench to make space for someone else to sit down. But hearing doesn’t mean remembering. Another side effect of the energy shifts as Shiva shows up and leaves is that the energy tends to interfere with memory. That’s why I recommend clients who are having trance channelings either take notes or record the session on an audio device (I don’t allow video), because they might not remember everything either, and I won’t be able to help them.

On the plus side, since I don’t remember much of what’s said, confidentiality is pretty much assured. Shiva definitely isn’t going to tell anyone what happens in a session!

I can’t see anything, because my eyes remain closed. Shiva could open them if he wanted to, just as he can move my mouth and sometimes my hands if we’re doing an email channeling. But I’m extremely visually oriented, and if my eyes were open, even with Shiva’s consciousness at the forefront, I might get distracted by something visible and end up breaking trance. So my eyes stay closed.

When the session’s over, Shiva leaves. That feels like something is exiting my body, and I usually end up slumping over for a second or two, until my consciousness moves back into place. Depending on how hot my body got during the session, I might feel cold and even shiver until my body temperature readjusts.

Trance channeling is definitely an interesting experience, and one that pushes my comfort zone. Even though Shiva won’t do this unless I ask, and I know I can break trance at any time, giving up even some control over my body is a scary thing for someone with my trauma history. I’m also sometimes afraid I’ll “do it wrong,” or that the client will either think I’m faking or get freaked out, both of which have happened in the past. That makes it hard for me to take the final step of inviting Shiva in. It’s something I’m working on, and when I’m able to get out of the way, trance channeling has been a good experience for the majority of the clients for whom I’ve done it.

If you’d like to learn more or schedule a channeling session with Shiva and me, please visit my Channeling page.

Much-Needed Respite

Every year for the past few years, in May, I’ve gone to a spiritual event/retreat. Sometimes it’s relaxing. Sometimes, depending on what’s going on in my life, it isn’t.

This year, I wasn’t really looking forward to going because of some issues in my personal life that were taking most of my emotional bandwidth. I almost backed out of going at all, but I’d made some commitments I needed to fulfill during the event, and I don’t break commitments if I can help it. So I went.

One of my commitments was teaching a Chios Energy Healing Level 1 workshop. I’d done the workshop at this event before, a couple of years ago, and was looking forward to sharing Chios with more people. Although fewer people came than I’d hoped, the important thing was people came! And learned, and seemed interested. A few people later mentioned having wanted to go, but they weren’t able to because of scheduling conflicts. So hopefully I’ll be able to offer the workshop again next year.

Aside from that, I wasn’t able to put as much energy into the event as I usually do. My body decided to rebel against me, leading to my needing shuttle rides around the campground where the retreat is held and to my going to bed before 10 every night. (Usually more like 8. Which is earlier than I ever go to bed at home.) During whole-group activities, I had to sit down and observe for the most part, though I was able to take an active role in one.

I wasn’t happy about it. I seriously dislike not being in control of my body, and the pain and exhaustion were beyond my control. But at the same time, at least I was at the retreat. I was able to participate to some extent, and I had plenty of time to reset and relax. Maybe that’s *why* I was exhausted and in pain. Maybe it was the Universe’s way of telling me to use the retreat to slow down and rest for a while.

Sometimes that’s the way things go. If you don’t take the gentle nudges toward the best course for you, the Universe steps in and gives you a not-so-gentle shove.

I came home from the retreat feeling more positive than I had beforehand, and feeling more rested as well. And I’m looking forward to being there again next year.