Coloured portrait

Coloured portrait

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Language and Teaching Healing Arts, Martial Arts, QiGong, Reiki and Yoga

It occurs to me how difficult it is for artistic minds to teach effectively their art - particularly the teachers of healing arts, martial arts, QiGong, Reiki and Yoga. 
When the purpose of practice is attaining a certain state of mind-body (peace, expansion, clarity and insight), a good teacher must first attain such states herself, and also be able to lead the students in the practices conducive to those states. 
The teacher must offer a good transmission, that "something", the glow, the quality that touches and affects positively the participants beyond reason and words. 
The teacher must also offer easy to follow instructions that students can follow and remember for home practice, so they can attain useful states on their own. 
The two skills are rarely present together in the same teacher. Attaining hightened states can make one "spaced out" - when I practice one hour of meditation, Reiki or QiGong I feel blissful and my language naturally revolves towards poetry. Bliss is like being high on substance, which is why you are told not to listen to meditation audios while driving. In such states, operational language is almost unavailable, at least not without serious training. My theory is that this is the reason why most mystics taught and wrote in metaphors and riddles. Some speculate that the metaphors were used to encrypt information and keep it from the masses to prevent misuse. But it's also possible that mystics were natural poets who did not know how to use objective language. 
My guess is that much of the perennial wisdom has been transmitted beyond words, as the words used have been to a great extent extraneous to proper instruction. The Western mind needs feasible directions, a clear-mapped set of instructions as easy to follow as assembling Ikea furniture. 
I drew this map to play with my theory: the language of exaltation (connection to Heaven or Spirit) is poetic, filled with metaphor, comparisons and allegory. The language of grounding (connection to Earth) is objective, precise, and operational. I added the Humanity dimension (or should I extend it to all sentient beings?) - where we use poetry to uplift our relating (the aesthetic of love being romance); we use factual language to get close and intimate with each other; and we use a specific language for bonding: the language of playfulness and humour.
Add to this map your own insights!
Credits for my factual language training go to the man who ruined my Reiki teaching  Paul Linden. Thank you, Paul!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Five Reasons Why You Are Addicted to Television Series and One Big Reason Why Watching Is Good For You

Nobody I know is addicted to documentary. Everybody I know who binges on Netflix, like I do, is addicted to television series. 

The difference between the two are emotions. Documentaries present facts while television shows, drama and comedy alike, presents emotion. And nobody I know is addicted to cold, objective facts, and everybody I know who is addicted, is addicted to emotion. 

1- Emotions are addictive. The great spectrum of human experience moves us deeply, from the surface of our skin to the depth of our cellular activity. Emotion changes the depth and pace of our breath, our heart rate, the expansion and contraction of our musculature, and the chemistry of the substances released in our blood stream. The more we feel, the more we move - and movement is life.

2 - Emotions are contagious. The characters of television shows express emotions which touch us through empathetic resonance. We feel what the characters feel, and in the course of a fifty minutes episode, we get to experience a wide range of emotional feelings. We tense up when conflict arises, breathe with relief when the conflict is solved; we cry the loss of a character’s loved one, cheer the the triumph of a hero, resent the mean scheming of a baddie, and secretly rejoice in the payback revenge. 

3 - Validity of experience. Societal rules demand restraint in our emotional expression. Depending on the flavour of a particular culture we belong to, some emotions are encouraged to express, while others are frowned upon. Nothing human is foreign to us, and we are fully capable of feeling the full spectrum of human experience, but real life calls us to conceal what societal convention deems as undesirable traits, drives, impulses and emotions. However, when we watch an emotionally charged drama, we are freed from all restraints, and free to identify with any character at any time, to try on her predicament for size, and feel her feelings. This side of the television screen allows us incomparable permission to be fully human, from whore to saint, pauper to king, servant to master, compassionate to revengeful, even if for only fifty minutes at a time. We get a better deal than even the actors themselves, as they can only depict one hero, while we are free to juggle several personalities all at once. This exercise is so fulfilling that it is therapeutic. When I lead a coaching client through a voice dialogue practice, I see the same kind of fulfillment, only personalized to the client’s own inner heroes as they show up, minus the landscape setup and period costumes. 

4 - Connection and bonding. Emotions connect people with each other and with animals. Drama characters may not reveal all of their feelings to each other, but they reliably reveal their interiors - feelings, motives, intentions, reactions and drives - to us, the spectators. We get to witness the psychological interiors of characters with greater depth and accuracy than we do with our off-the-screen loved ones. Our family members may hide things from us, while the drama heroes live in full disclosure. And we listen! We are more likely to check our phone while our friends and family members talk to us than when the television characters speak. As spectators we get a taste of an idealized form of connection: the other is fully transparent to you, and you are fully present with them! This creates a sense of bonding in you, and if you think that this is not true, watch how sad you feel when a hero (man or beast) gets hurt or dies. 

5 - Projections are uni-directional. Whatever biases and moods you have when you sit in front of the screen to watch your favourite drama, you can always be sure that you can say anything you please to the characters, declare your endless love, fire insults at them, smother them in harsh criticism and show them the finger without the risk of reactive responses from the heroes. For the length of a full episode, you get to be as transparent and openly expressive towards your on-screen friends (and foes) as they are with you. No fake smiles, no lies or deceit, no putting up a face. You find yourself in a virtual reality of risk-free intimacy with people (and animals) that you love to love, and love to hate. You end up fulfilled and unscarred. 

Clearly, watching drama characters living their lives is not the same as you living yours. Is it even useful to spend any time in front of the screen when you could go dance, eat, make love, hike, fight or travel with real people? 

My theory, as I am binging on Downton Abbey, is yes, it is useful, and here is why:

A well-thought and researched television series such as Downton Abbey depicts its characters as layered and complex human beings. You are presented with only a few extremes of either super-virtuous or super-villain heroes; the rest are shown as fallible human beings, with strengths and faults, trying as best as their past conditioning and present predicament allows. And yet, you fall in love with all of them! You may cheer their kind and appropriate action, and protest their mean or stupid thing they say or do - but you love them nevertheless, and wish the best for them.

And this is exactly the useful practice we should apply in our real life relationships. Neither you, nor your loved ones, friends and family members are super-heroes or super-villains. Everyone you know, beginning with your own good self, is a fallible human being, with faults and strength, and under the influence of a myriad factors in past experiences and present predicaments. And while you cheer good deeds and protest bad ones, according to your views and values, you separate the doer from her doing, and love her dearly, because you connect with her, reveal yourself to her, listen to her as she reveals herself to you, and bond with her not because she or you are perfect, but merely because you share a great deal of emotion, and the two of you bond so well.

And this, my friend, turns Netflix watching from entertainment into a practice worth getting addicted to.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Self-Care and Service

Self-care and service build on each other.
Without the purpose of being of service, there is no motivation for self-care, or motivation eventually wears off. In the harshest, coldest times, I have fantasized about living somewhere warm, spending my days on hot sand beaches. Then my fantasy took shape of a hut where I'd give Reiki to tourists. But tourists travel for fun, and nobody on a beach holiday is seeking to do deep inner work, so fuck that fantasy, I'd be bored in two short weeks and out of there. 
Without self-care, there is no service. Without facing one's own pain and shadows, owning and integrating one's own fragmented bits of the psyche and without growing strong, kind and skilled, there is nothing there to support, educate or inspire others. I can stay fully present with my clients' pain because I don't ignore or avoid my own. I treat the pain and darkness arising in myself with mindful presence, and not with drugs, alcohol or distractions; I'm not afraid of the dark in myself which makes me available to meet the dark in the women and men that I work with, and guide their shadows out into the light, Kindly, fiercely, skillfully. I know how it's done: I do that every day!
Without purpose I would have died a thousand times. Without self-care I would have died a thousand times, and would have helped nobody.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Alleviating Pain Vs. True Healing

There is a fundamental difference between true healing and mere alleviation of pain, symptoms or discomfort.

True to its meaning - to make whole - healing involves the integration of various parts of the psyche which the self had been disconnected from or hasn’t yet fully expressed. 

Alleviating pain doesn’t remedy a fragmentation of the system. Even if the physical or emotional pain subsides, if the disconnected part of the self hasn’t been integrated together with the pain alleviation, it will find expression later on either as the same pain returning, or as a different kind of symptom or discomfort. 

Deep, profound healing is not a linear or comfortable process. Integrating younger parts leads to revisiting older experiences in order to bring the experiential unfinished business to completion. What feels like a regression takes you to feeling old sensations and emotional feelings, crave foods that you ate in a specific time period, even remember songs and fragrances from that particular time. You may touch upon an old pain but this time you will be equipped with greater clarity, insight and skills to address that pain and resolve it from its root. Healing culminates with a new decision made from the perspective of the current mature self, quite different in its nature that the then necessary, but now dated decisions that your younger self had made during the original hurt. 

The body-felt experience of integration may subsequently lead you through pressure and tension, then tremors, then vibrations, then chills and cold, and eventually a spacious, glowing flow. 

The bigger picture of your life will reflect true healing with greater insights, clarity and creativity; your actions might be more courageous, purposeful, consistent, and effective. You know that you have deeply transformed when your resourceful actions surprise not only your family, friends, and co-workers, but your own good self!

Author’s note: this post is written while listening to an old Electric Light Orchestra album and feeling like her teen self!

Oh, what a Strange Magic :-)

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Adversity Response

Adversity Response a la Tana Saler

What I do when something goes wrong, in ten steps. Add your own or subtract a step according to your own taste.

1 - Immediately say: “Oh f**k!”, “Oh no!”, “Oy vey” or any other alternative in your native tongue (unconscious reaction).

2- Go to your habitual coping strategy of dealing with conflict and stress. Mine is playing computer games on and on for hours, or browsing and shopping for pretty things that seemingly become urgently necessary in the light of the recent screwed-up events (unconscious reaction).

3 - Dissociate and project. Ignore anything going on from the neck down, and circulate your thoughts until the head, neck and shoulders become hot, pressured and stiff. Then blame your predicament on a guilty other - person, event or deity, in this particular order (unconscious reaction).

4 - Become curious and ask yourself some questions. Feel free to recycle old ones, such as: “Why me?”, “Why is this happening again?” And “What’s wrong with the world / other people / me?” Or skip this step and go to the next one:

5 - Awareness. (First conscious step of the bunch) Notice your body, your breathing, your sensations, your feelings and your thoughts. Take some time to merely stay present with that which arises inside and outside your skin. 

6 - Acceptance and inquiry. Say and ask: “It is what it is. Now what?” And: “What is the kindest, most useful thing for me to do about this?”

7 - Expansion and inclusion. Expand your attention beyond the boundaries of the self, in all directions, all the way to infinity, until all people, animals, plants, fungi, amoebas, sounds, sights - okay, you get the drift - are included within your awareness. Feeling at one with this expanded is-ness, look at the people, events and situations which had triggered you as mere external representations of your mind. Each person, dark cloud, loud truck, wayward conversation, is an externalization of an aspect of your psyche.

Warning!! Step #7 will come at a cost! You may experience loss of arrogance, righteous indignation, complaining rights, shame, and every other perk that comes with the separation between Self and Other. Don’t tell me that I didn’t warn you! 

Maintaining expansion, proceed to the next step.

8 - Shadow work. Identify the bothersome or admirable traits, qualities and behaviours to which you had an emotional response, and embody them, giving them a voice, stance and gesture. Look for what is valuable in each such trait, quality and behaviour, and think of times and situations when they could prove valuable. Feel your heart warm, open and glowing, and think of yourself and the people and situations involved with benevolence.

9 - Identify needs. What would you like to see happen now? What matters to you? What does the other party (the other parties) need? What does the relationship need? What does the world that you and the other(s) are part of need, or need more of?

10 - Make amends. Assess what is reasonably possible, say what needs to be said, do what is kind and useful for you and for those involved, and what connects and expands.

When you’re done, congratulate yourself for your pshycho-spiritual growth, do a dance, hug someone, eat some ice-cream, go for a walk in the sun, and cuddle a furry friend. 

Friday, March 16, 2018

Anxiety - causes and cures


What it is, causes, cures

The earliest memories of anxiety are from my childhood, when my mother would get ready to go out and I felt an unpleasant coldness in my belly, hands and feet. When I turned eighteen I had my first full-fledged panic attack, when my heart raced so hard that it felt like it was going to break out of my chest, and I thought that I was going to die. For many years after this first incident, I had numerous shades and grades of anxiety, and when I began to experience relief through healing arts and methods, I found out that there was a rich world of information laying  underneath my feelings.

Anxiety is an umbrella term for a set of feelings such as tension around the chest and the belly, cold sensations, heart palpitations, and pressure in the head. The experience can arise in response to a life event or situation, or it can be chronic and generalized.

To address anxiety, it is helpful to begin by looking at its possible causes and factors. A few factors to consider are:

  • An unresolved current life dilemma. For example: should I stay in my stressful job or marriage, or should I leave? Very often merely making the decision is all that is needed to have peace. Even if there are difficult consequences as a result of this or another course of action, resolving the dilemma through choice brings immediate and significant relief.

  • A parasitic - viral, bacterial or other infection. Parasites are known to affect the host’s mood in order to elicit a behaviour which ensures the reproduction of the parasite. For example, the rabies virus that has infected an animal causes its host to act aggressively and bite another animal, ensuring self-propagation through the infected animal’s saliva. A civilized infected person won’t bite another, and if emotion-type feelings are not being expressed in an embodied way, any aggression that the parasite causes remains internalized, causing anxiety. For the sake of peace of mind it is useful to get tested and rule out parasites.

  • Extreme fatigue, whether physical or mental, feels like anxiety. In the healing arts jargon, Qi / Chi / Ki (vitality) depletion causes an anxious feeling, and is usually treated with energy healing and by practicing a Ki management practice such as Qigong, Tai-Chi, Reiki, Yoga or some Martial Arts.

  • A nutritional deficiency can cause fatigue. Looking at the minerals and vitamins in the body could prove useful, as well as replenishing the deficiency while remedying its causes. For example, low vitamin D due to insufficient exposure to sunlight can be remedied either with getting more sun or vitamin D supplementation.

  • Say what you need to say! Holding back from articulating something important, such as a request for need fulfillment, creates a tension in the body which is interpreted as anxiety. There is no medication that can remedy this kind of tension other than saying what needs to be said. This is true for words that must be uttered today, or something you needed to say thirty years ago, but for some reason you couldn’t. 

  • Unfinished sensory business. Experienced meditators think that chronic anxiety and pain are merely experiences that haven’t been fully experienced, and that bringing that unfinished experience to completion is all that it takes to dissolve the solidified physical or emotional sensations into flow, and have peace.

  • Vicarious anxiety. When a person lives with someone who suffers with anxiety, empathetic resonance can cause the person to feel the other’s anxiety as their own, making it difficult and often impossible to tell the difference between what they themselves feel, and what their partner, parent or roommate feels. The remedy is either to move out or to practice specific personal protection and enhancement practices like the ones taught by practitioners of  Qigong, Reiki and Martial Arts. 

In regards to a cure, there are those of the opinion that anxiety cannot be cured, and one must learn to live and cope with it. Then there are those who hold the view that all anxiety can be cured by one single method or set of prescribed methods and remedies.

I personally disagree with both views, and think that each person and situation must be looked at, assessed and addressed according to the specific particulars and context in which the anxiety has arisen.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Anxiety and Your Dog

A Reiki Alpha Bitch post

If your fur baby suffers with anxiety, her distress very likely causes you distress. And you'd like to help, and you've tried everything.

The problem is, your own distress goes right back at Pup and distresses him again. Dogs are highly empathic creatures, and very much tuned in our embodied and mental states. They can see micro-movements of your body, smell your emotions, and some say even see your aura - the energy field around your body. Smiling when you're stressed may fool some people, but won't fool your dog. She knows that you are stressed, and this stresses her more.

The solution is to tend first of all to your own self-regulation. Next time your dog is anxious, try this:

1- Belly breathing. Inflate your lower belly like a baloon with every inhale, and deflate it on the exhale. Belly breathing triggers the relaxation response and you will feel calmer in just a few breaths.

2 - Touch your pup. Place your hands on your dog's head or back and keep practicing the belly breathing. Feel what's going on with Pup: is she trembling? Are her back muscles hard or soft? Warm or hot or cold? This is called "presence" - your ability to witness your dog deeply. The touch with presence is soothing and reassuring.

3- Take a few audible sighs, making the loud sound "aaah". Dogs sigh when they are peaceful and content. Since Pup is looking at you for clues whether he should worry or be calm, your audible sigh will tell him that it's okay to relax.
I hope this helps. Let me know how applying these tips have worked for you below in the comments.
Hugs xo