Coloured portrait

Coloured portrait

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Chakras as Body Mapping

There are many ways to slice a pie. The body is holographic: every part of the whole holds the information of the hole, and various maps look at the whole through specific entry points: eyes, hands, feet, hair cells, blood cells, the DNA.

Throughout the times and cultures, sensitive people interested in the body and healing have noticed correlations between parts of the body, and human traits, tendencies and behaviours. As my QiGong teacher Ken Cohen was explaining in one of his trainings, someone must have pressed a point on their hand, and felt a response -say- in the stomach. They noticed a consistency of response, so they mapped that particular point on their hand as being correlated with the stomach, using methods such as applied pressure or inserting a needle to elicit a positive health response in the correlated organ. This is how acupressure and acupuncture were likely to be born.

Every moving object has an electromagnetic field around it, and so does the body, and so do the organs and the glands.The field around each gland appears to visually sensitive people as whirpools spinning like wheels, which explains the Sanskrit word for those fields “Chakra”, wheels. Highly sensitive and perceptive people have noticed a correlation between the energy field of each gland or organ, and certain psychological qualities and themes. The field around the heart or thymus has been associated with love, the field around the pituitary gland, and the area between the eyebrows has been associated with imagination and visionary wisdom, and the field around the pancreas has been associated with personal power, dominance and control.

Language has differentiated between the physical organ and its biological function, and the organ’s Chakra, or energy centre, and the physical and psychological correlated aspects. For example, when speaking of the heart, you refer to the muscle whose function is to pump blood through the body. When speaking of the heart chakra, you may make reference to a person’s receptiveness and generosity to love.

In the past years, Western medical science has shown an increased interest in the correlations between the dysfunction of a body part, and the associated psychological disturbances.

The main fallacy committed in published writings about the chakras is claiming causality where there is none but correlation, drawing criticism upon this paradigm of thought and body mapping as pseudo-science.

In fact, just as thoughts affect biology, and biology affects psychology, it is hard to say whether the health state of an organ affects its field, or the integrity of the organ’s energy field affects the organ’s function. I believe the influence goes both ways, and my experience of twenty years as a Reiki healer working with the body’s fields has shown me that affecting the field can affect the function. The Western Reiki practitioners learn how to sense the chakras by scanning with sensitized palms, and position their hands in a pattern which follows the chakra mapping of the body.

It is common practice during my Reiki training programs for students to experience the resonance between declarative statements and the felt sensations in their corresponding chakras, thus having a personal and direct experience of the correlations.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Why Diet May Not Be The Answer To Your Health

Health food stores are popping up like mushrooms after rain online and offline, thriving on people’s single-minded obsession with food. 

What began as useful awareness that what you put in your body affects the state of your body (and mind!) has turned into an almost religious fervour pursued by those of us seeking to heal ourselves, our families, our pets and our planet. 

I, too, have joined the conscious eating masses years ago, resorting to diet as medicine for my ills. I had a difficult, distressful marriage, and was an immigrant into a radically different culture, environment and climate than what I had been used to. I was fatigued, anxious, and had muscular pain shooting down my arms and legs. I became increasingly sensitive to sugar, wheat, dairy, especially cold, sweet dairy, and fungus enriched cheese like blue cheese, Camembert and Brie. My favourite treats were eliminated and replaced by a collection of vitamins and supplements, and yet, I was still ill, and suffering.

Then I noticed something unusual: whenever I traveled to Israel and Romania to visit my family and friends, I got away with eating all that I fancied, including dessert made with white flour (not organic!), white sugar, and real whipped cream, and even wash all down with a glass of wine. I looked for answers in the food: the wheat has not been GMO-ed or sprayed with Roundup - but the sugar? How come I can eat white sugar and be well, when at home sugar makes me so sick?

An integral view on health has changed my mind: factors that lead to health or disease range from individual subjective factors, such as one’s beliefs about health, one’s self image, self-confidence, and emotional makeup, to objective factors such as diet, exercise, air quality, geographical positioning, home orientation, light, sound, electro-magnetic fields, and even architectural shapes; to intersubjective factors such as the quality of one’s relationships, shared meaning about health, the kind of affection, encouragement and support one gives and receives; to collective objective factors, such as the availability of medical care, the types of health care in society, and the material and financial resources available for healthcare.

Among these factors, some weigh more than others, and in my subjective assessment, for example, the quality of relationships weighs more than diet. If you haven’t spoken with your mother for thirty years, giving up sugar won’t make a difference. As I found out, living with daily conflict and emotional disconnect harmed me to the point that everything got to me, while when I spent time among people with whom I connect deeply, harmoniously and with great affection, I was well, and could stomach any food. 

A single-minded view on health misses all that: the single-focused obsession with food, or the single-focused view that reduces health to biological chemistry, or the claim that if you only do this one thing (exercise, or zap parasites, or meditate) you will be healthy and well. Health is not the result of one single factor, but many, and it is useful to sort these factors in two categories: importance, and changeability.

What really matters

My work with clients looks at body pain and symptoms as signposts to pay attention to when navigating through life. Leading a person through an embodied inquiry into the physical pain reveals something that she must change, that may have been deemed by the person’s reason as secondary in importance, but held highly in importance by the body’s own wisdom. What transpires in a session is often surprising for my client, and has to do with either something from the past that hasn’t been fully processed or resolved, or a current situation that must be looked at and digested or changed. In twenty years of working as a healing facilitator, the root cause of physical pain and discomfort in my clients has been rooted in a relational event. I have not worked with people traumatized by earthquakes and tsunamis; everyone that I worked with has been affected by some kind of neglect, cruel behaviour, or some intentional or unintentional harm caused to them or by them in a relationship. I have not encountered yet a body pain that embodied inquiry revealed as being rooted in eating sugar, cheese or non-organic wheat. It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist - I have not seen it.

Most often addressing relationships has resulted in a change in symptoms.

We are social animals. Our human species has no claws, powerful fangs, protective body scales, or the ability to spew or spray venom (other than verbal, that is). Our survival and thriving entirely depends on cooperation. We are deeply wired to connect and belong, and when we fail, or are threatened to loose the connection or belonging, we are risking our lives, and become ill. Social isolation is worse for us than many other harmful factors. Social connection, caring touch, moving and singing together harmoniously in community has been a favourite medicine used by all cultures, and present in all perennial wisdom traditions. That’s why I dance with a Tribe: many times I went to the weekly Biodanza - a conscious and relational dance movement started by Rolando Torro in Chile - and began my evening with a low mood and body tension, and ended up the two-three hour evening glowing with joy and pain free. 

Another factor that seems to me to weigh heavier than sugar and cheese is the narrative one generates as a dialogue or internal dialogue, or participates in. All narratives have a point, a bottom-line conclusion of the story, and the point is either a deficit “And thus, my dear friends (or dear Self), this is how I am wronged / others are wrong / something is wrong with me / you / them / the world)” or a resource: “And thus, my loves / my Self, I learned and grew / I am better off / this is how I shine / this is what’s good about me / you / them / the world”. I encourage you to try an exercise in embodied awareness: scroll through the social media posts in your newsfeed, and look for the bottom-line point in each narrative, while noticing any changes in your breathing, body temperature, pressure, weight, movement, spaciousness and luminosity. This will tell you how each narrative affects you. Then pay attention to your own stories. 

The Low-Hanging Fruit

I live in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Ottawa is situated in a valley, has high humidity and precipitation all year-round, and long, harshly cold winters. This affects everyone’s health, and I met more people with depression and arthritis in Ottawa than anywhere else. Humid, cold atmosphere reduces mobility, and I feel my own body moving differently here than in a warm, dry climate. And for many Ottawans, relocating is not an option. And for all of us, changing the climate is impossible.

What is wise and useful to do is to look at all contributing factors to health - and I like the QiGong philosophy for a comprehensive mapping of influencers - and to change those factors that are most readily available to you. Start with the low hanging fruit - but not one piece of fruit only, like a single-minded obsession with food: change all that is available for you to change, beginning with what is easy and available, and then working your way up to what really matters that is available for change. 

Some of the things that I do to recover from trauma and grief, to heal and to thrive, and you can do too: 

  • A daily practice of prayer, meditation, Metta (loving-kindness) practice, Reiki, and QiGong
  • Gratitude and appreciation
  • Dance, move, touch, hug and kiss people
  • Elimination of toxic relationships and conversations
  • Watching only movies and video clips that uplift, inspire and enrich. Ingesting information that nourishes, staying away from information that poisons, especially news that I can do nothing about
  • Feng-shui remedies in my home, including de-cluttering, and cleaning the house physically and energetically
  • Personal hygiene practices, body and energy - shower daily, smudge myself with sacred plants daily
  • Diet: eating what nourishes physically and emotionally, without obsessing about it
  • Therapy, including bodywork, energy work, talk therapy and homeopathy
  • Playing and cuddling with fur friends - dogs and cats
  • Humour and playfulness
  • Service: contributing to the well-being and happiness of others is powerful medicine
  • Creative endeavours, such as writing, drawing, singing, dancing, cooking out of imagination

An integral view on health frees you from obsessions, puts things in perspective according to their importance, and opens you to a wider range of options for your well-being and thriving. 

Remember that what matters is not only what you eat, but who you eat with, where you eat it, what are you looking at while you eat, and what you and the others are talking about while you eat.

And show this article to your doctor and your nutritionist!

Saturday, October 6, 2018

The World as Patterns, Your Actions as Symbolic Gestures

The model that looks at the world as patterns which repeat themselves to infinity has useful practical applications. If something that happens somewhere, happens everywhere, then you can change everything by changing anything.
I keep this model on my mind when doing even little things, turning my actions into intentional symbolic gestures. 
Removing the dead leaves on a house plant becomes symbolic for removing that which has died and not viable in my life - be it relationships, activities, views, objects. 
This morning I re-gifted a box filled with medicinal balls that I didn't use; a school teacher took them for his physical education classes, for the kids. My Mom used to say: "Dar din dar se face rai" - "Gift from a gift makes heaven". My clutter became someone else's treasure. I think of this gesture as a metaphor, prayer and intention to let go of that which I have no use for in ways that enrich others, and create space for what is useful.
If you connect the dots of life, all is related to all, money, body fat, house clutter. Perennial wisdom traditions make a wise point: problems are rooted in disharmony and imbalance: too much of the unnecessary, for example, body fat, too little of what's useful, for example, lean muscle. Too much stuff, too little money, or space. Too much disturbing information, too little visionary, nourishing, uplifting information. And on and on.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Diversity of Views

Listening to a variety of world views and narratives is beyond enriching: it transforms you. Statistically speaking it is unlikely that you are the smartest person in the world or the only person who is 100% right. When you listen to a diversity of group narratives, you may also consider that your group is not 100% right about everything all the time. 
You will find a common thread of universal truths. Diamonds are harder than soapstone everywhere in the world. Caring touch is healing everywhere in the world. Music is nourishing and noise is not, everywhere in the world. Find that which is universally true and own it. 
Question everything else.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Tana Saler’s Seven Principles for health recovery and well-being

1- First condition to recovery: have a life purpose and meaning that is compelling enough for you to want to be well. Have a “Why” before the “How”. Everything else depends on having this condition met.

2- You are in charge of your health decisions, and nobody else is (assuming that you’re over 18 and able to make life decisions for yourself). Everyone else is in your team of support. They can counsel you, inform you, offer you therapeutic intervention and make suggestions. But your body is your own to decide upon. So educate yourself, learn how to use embodied intuition, and do what is right for you.

3- Build health, don’t fight disease. Be aware of what is not working, and focus on what’s possible (resource-oriented rather than deficit -oriented).

4- Be curious about what’s possible. Nobody is a prophet, and gloomy prognoses are made by fallible people who can be as wrong in their assessment as your weatherman. 

5- Don’t settle for “Living better with (name of disease)”; look for what’s curative and aim to thrive. See principle #4. 
Coping with disease and living with it implies improvements. It is a socially acceptable option and a convenient one, as it requires little commitment.
Aiming to thrive implies transformation, and it’s the long, scenic road which requires long-term commitment, patience, curiosity, time and money. This option is not backed by everyone: those who do not inquire into what’s possible will discourage you from experimenting with unorthodox methods. Which leads to #6:

6 - The road to thriving is the scenic road. You will engage in therapy methods that are at times lengthy, at times costly, and with no guarantees. You will commit to a regular practice of healing exercises and activities. You will transform your entire lifestyle, from food to movement to sleep to sex to work to relationships to environment to your own language, in order to support your recovery and thriving. You’ll be on call for your well-being 24/7.
The scenic road to health has ups and downs, but in the big picture it always takes you to being better and better. See the image below (finger-drawn on the iPhone).

7 - Meditate. Actually, this principle should be numbered 1 and a half, it’s that important. Before any measuring instruments can diagnose you once a year or when you see your doctor, Clarity in embodied awareness will guide you every moment. Learn how to pay attention! 
You already know when you’re hungry, thirsty, horny or tired: you feel it! These are the gross basics. You can refine your sensitivity to feel more and more subtle messages of your body to steer your choices towards getting well, staying well and thriving. 

To health and life!

Relationships are Medicine

Relationships weigh heaviest as factor in health and well-being, much more than diet, arguably exercise, and drugs. I’ve felt at my worst when living or working in emotionally toxic environments, and at my best when being part of a supportive community.
Lack of care and support, given and received, is a poison. It causes body tension, rigidity and pain. The antidote is love and the best prescription for health is loving touch, lovemaking, making music and movement with a harmonious Tribe and, in general, belonging to a community which supports you, your strength and your growth.
Therapeutic relationships are useful for this reason: they foster trust and care, and a good therapist has your best interest, strength and growth at heart. The therapist is paid to care which makes the relationship less than reciprocal. But the trust, sincerity and receptivity practiced in therapy can be, and should be translated to real life relationships. 
Bottom line is, (note to myself too!) - put more time and action in giving and receiving love, and worry less about food supplements, super foods, coconut oil and filtered water!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Tana Saler's Enlightened Commerce Principles:

1- Choose transaction partners who love what they do, and are both happy and passionate about their work. This includes the cook who makes your food, your kids' school teachers, your dentist, your car mechanic and your airplane pilot. 
2 - Choose transaction partners with a sense of humour. Outsource if humour is scarce in your culture. I just crossed the town today for the car mechanics who meet both principle #1 and #2.
3 - Enter transactions that are mutually enriching. If both you and your transaction partner are better off for doing business together, this is a transaction worth conducting.
4 - Do business with kind people first. Their goods and services carry the essence of their kindness and will add to your well-being and possibly inspire you to be kinder.
5 - Think systemically. Create business transactions that are good for you, and your family and loved ones, and your community, and the world at large. As much as possible. 
6 - When you sell goods and services, make your business other-oriented: focus on how your goods and services will nourish, nurture and enrich your clients. This is the difference between being service-oriented and self-serving oriented. Take joy and pleasure in enriching your clients.
7 - Listen nine parts out of ten, talk one part. As the buyer, you'll end up with the best goods and services for you and yours. As the seller, make listening your first marketing skill and strategy, and this will help you match your goods and services with the right people, at the right time, in the right way, for the right reasons. I can't stress enough how important it is to learn how to listen. Learn and practice inquiry and embodied listening skills, and your service will shine!
8 - For sellers: set your fees using your head (marketing rates, value offered), heart (be generous) and guts (set fees that sit well with you). I set my fees feeling the sensations around my chest and belly: too low feels depressing, too high closes the heart. I play with the numbers until it feels right. 
Any other principles should be on the list? What did I miss?