Well, here we are. When we began the journey this year, I started off by telling you that there are many different chakra and energy systems in the world. Even since I originally began this discussion, awareness have expanded. With energy accelerating at the speed that it is, we are constantly understanding and defining our reality deeper. In Cyndie Dale's encyclopedia called The Subtle Body, she begins her section on "Energy Bodies from Other Cultures" by saying:
"There are hundreds, maybe thousands,
of energetic systems functioning in the world,
many of which include, or allude to,
the chakras and other energy bodies."
Indeed, it has been my experience every time that I travel to a new country and explore their healing modalities or ancient civilizations, I learn a common, yet different energy system. If fascinates me that all of the world we have numerous systems - thousands according to Dale - and yet, here in America, our medical system still cannot digest much of it and learn how to use it to help people truly heal. The fact is that these subtle bodies are available to all of us, if we just take the time to learn by daily practice how to work with them.
Dale's work discusses a twelve-chakra model that she developed. Of course, understand, that I am working with her model to then incorporate yogic techniques for our community to use. I've spent twenty-some years learning about energy and using it in my everyday life and work. It cannot be everything, and it may not resonate with everyone. But, as Swami Satchidananda said, "Truth is One. Paths are Many."
As the final chakra that we will review for this year, the 12th seems to be the end of the system, although we can discuss that perhaps it is just the beginning! Where the first seven chakras are aligned within the human body, the five additional connect to spiritual energy. If you take a quick look at the picture above you will notice an energy egg around the body with lots of lines going to and from it to the body itself. Dale recognizes the 12th chakra as a collection of 32 different points that she details as the "Secondary Chakra System."These points correspond to things like the lungs, cranium, ankles, liver, elbow, upper brain, etc. I will not list them all here, but understand that they also correspond to the chakras where they are physically located. The point of these chakras is to connect everything together, and ensure that the boundaries of visible and invisible are also connected. Many other chakra systems discuss the energy egg, but what Dale says makes hers different is that she defines points that link the body to the egg, allowing us to explore the boundaries of our being.
How do we practice our connection to this "ending of the human self?" Because according to Dale, this chakra has no front or back side like the others. She says that the three spheres concern our divinity and how well our divinity is reflected in our everyday human existence. The first layer helps us to deflect or attract energy to support physical manifestation based on our internal programming. The second layer attracts what we imagine within our unconscious through dreaming and wish-making. And the third layer attracts only what fits our highest potential. So, let's try to explore this as best we can - although our understanding will most certainly continue to expand and change as we expand and change!
12th Chakra Basics:
Name(s): 12th Chakra, Energy Egg
Location: 32 points within the body and secondary sites: knees, elbows, palms and organs that connect to the energy egg
Color: White & Gold
Mission: Ending of Human Self, Access to Energy Egg
Do I have physical issues with my knees, elbows, palms or any of the organs?
Do I feel energy around me?
Do I still have issues in my lower chakras to work through?
Have I stepped up my connection to energy?
Can I successfully clear negative programs and heal my life?
Am I connected to my Divinity and Higher Self?
Has my positive manifesting skills become a daily reality?
Some things to do this month to work with the 12th Chakra:
Go back through your chakras and review outstanding goals.
Meditate on your auric energy.
Continue to cultivate purification methods.
Make connecting to energy a daily practice.
Yoga Practice to link body, mind and soul.
Asanas - Practice any postures that are still not comfortable. Remember that asana means "seat." You want to find a comfortable seat in all postures, sit and feel relaxed and calm. If you cannot do this in certain asanas, then those are the ones to practice. Finding equanimity within them is the goal, and breath is the key.
Breathing - Full Body Breathing. When you inhale, feel the boundaries of your body expanding outward. When you exhale, feel those boundaries retracting inward. Ensure that you pause between both. Play with your expansion of the boundaries of your human body into the energy body, auric field, and into the energy egg.
Meditation - Find a comfortable seat with the spine erect. Concentrate on the full body breathing. Begin to visualize energy coming in through the crown of the head and down through the sushumna nadi or central channel. At the base of the spine, feel the energy coming out and down to touch the Earth Star chakra. Visualize that this energy wraps from the Earth Star up around the body and back down through the crown of the head. At the same time, visualize energy coming up from the Earth Star chakra through your center and out the crown of the head. From above at the 9th Chakra, visualize the energy flowing out around the body and down to the Earth Star, and back up through the body. Visualize all these currents of energy running through and around the body. Visualize the energy clearing out any issues in your physical and mental bodies. Then imagine the life that your Highest Self wants. Fantasize about all of the little details. Ask your Highest Self to help you harmonize your inner and outer being, and connect you to the people, places and things in your life that will catapult you to the most positive, vital, thriving CREATORSHIP energy possible. Visualize this connection.
Love & Light, Tracey & the Teachers at One Yoga & Wellness Center!
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Special Message from Tracey for December...
Can you believe that this year is coming to a close already? Time has indeed sped up! This year has brought many big changes for me personally as well as more revelations. I continue to constantly work to hone my skills and my offerings to our community and in working with my Highest Self and potential. I cannot imagine a time when I will no longer be working on this connection. It pains me to see others struggling when I can see the Highest Potential in them. But I have come to realize that I cannot and should not intervene with anyone else's journey here. I can simply be a light in which to hopefully helps others find their own way. One thing that continues to be for sure, it is a constant process.
Should you ever feel that you have cleared all of your old patterns and truly ascended the struggles of everyday life, take another deep look. Yes, we can access unlimited Creatorship potential. Accepting that we have the capacity for manifesting the life that we seek and healing old wounds is important. But the layers run deep, and the deeper work remains - if not for you personally, then to step up into healing this world and helping to elevate the consciousness of all living beings on the planet.
What we think turns into what we speak. What we speak turns into what we do and manifests into reality. With manifest reality more and more connect to the energy. We need to attune to higher energy frequency and vibration, for the purpose of uplifting all life. The ascension is from duality to Oneness. The yogis say that we are still in the Kali Yuj, a difficult time period on our planet's evolutionary process. But, we are close to the end. We may or may not see it in our lifetime, but we can be the forces that create it and the blissful and beautiful time period to come after.
I never claim to have all of the answers. I share what I learn and understand as I grow and do my own work. I encourage you to do the same, but in the process, how are you sharing and helping the world? If you are only working on yourself, you are starting. But the big work, well, that requires us to step out and step up. And, now is the time.
In Love & Light,
Stone of the Month: Clear Quartz
Perhaps the most common crystal known is Clear Quartz. It is arguably the most powerful healing stone on the planet and is known to amplify any energy or intention as well as attune you to your Highest Self.
We currently have Quartz Points available at the Natural Healer Shop.
The Sun's energy is something that humans have honored since the beginning of time. Indeed when we awake and look up into the sky and see that golden disk of light, we cannot help but celebrate its light and energy. The Sun equates to the Divine Masculine energies, just as the Moon equates to the Divine Feminine. The Sun is fiery and ignites, while the moon is watery and cools. Together, they harmonize and balance. A trip to Peru is not complete without a visit to the famous Machu Picchu. And within that, a trip to Machu Picchu is not complete without a hike to the famous Sun Gate.
The first steps just to reach the main platform to see the infamous Incan site can be challenging for some. The altitude and the climbing together ensure that you take one step at a time, and enjoy the journey. The view is, of course, worth the wait, and many stop here to enjoy with photos and smiles. But the journey up to Sun Gate contains a little more emphasis. The hiking up sometimes narrow, but often wide rocky path takes a little time. There is ability to stop as often as you like, and I do recommend this, however, the climb sometimes feels as though you are going...and going...and going. When you finally reach the famous Sun Gate, there is most certainly a feeling of elation. The "I DID IT!" moment.
The day that our recent group of nine ladies made the trip to Sun Gate was perfect. The weather was beautiful at Machu Picchu, the tourism seemed a little less mass than usual, and the view was, as usual, astonishing. There is something quite exhilarating in the culmination of this climb. This was my third time climbing to Sun Gate. The first time in 2015, expertly led by my friend Jorge Luis Delgado, provided to be a fantastic voyage. Jorge weaves the Incan and Andean spirituality effortlessly through his journeys, and I wanted our women to have the same sort of experience that I did the first time I magically encountered this place. In 2016 when we traveled there again, we were unable to perform a certain little meditation due to the Machu Picchu guards being quite strict. But alas, this time, no guards being present, I recreated the famous Condor Meditation that I had received with Jorge back in 2015.
Here at the top of Sun Gate, a massive stone juts out above the land. By carefully lying back, having your feet held in place, you allow your head to fall off the end of the stone, open your arms, and fly! The Condor is the bird who sees the bigger picture and rules the upper world. By breathing and trusting, you allow yourself to experience this disorienting moment of fear, and then open to the richer experience awaiting with love. Each woman who took a moment to experience this meditation was profoundly affected.
What is is that the energy of the Sun awakens within us? As connected to our third chakra/ solar plexus/our own inner sun, the Sun's energies magnify our inner strength and power, and allow us to soar to new heights previously unavailable to us. The affect? Transformation! For you cannot "unsee" what you were able to see once you fly like the Condor, and allow yourself to soar to new levels. It is a simple yet profound experience, indeed!
When we feel stagnated, afraid, or unsure, the solar energy of the Divine Masculine helps to provide for breakthroughs. Each time I have escorted people on this trip to Sun Gate there was a person afraid of heights. Both times, both made it to the top and felt a result of empowerment through his achievement. For me, that is the true gift of Sun Gate.
In life, there are struggles and challenges. We all have them. With those we always have choices. How will we react? How do we move through it? Or, do we either get struck in it or stuck repeating it over and over again? Personally, I would like to get the lesson and move on. But this requires great courage. That is what the energy of the Sun provides us with. Finding our inner sun can be difficult, because it often entails coming face to face with our biggest fear.
And although this magnificent energy is vitally important, I am always careful not to play with too much fire. A little empowerment goes a long way. A lot of solar energy, and we are at war again. History has proven that over and over again. Balance is the key to power and strength. The afternoon after our morning hike to Sun Gate, we traveled down to a beautiful waterfall for a sprinkling of Moon energy in which to cool off the Sun's. As we hiked down from Sun Gate, it was as if Pachamama had already known this. Fog and rain moved in, and the balance came regardless of my plans to encounter the waterfall.
What are your deepest fears? Do you suppress them? Have you worked with them? Would you like to tackle that? Do you want to move beyond fear and into love?
Come with me to Peru or another Sacred Journey and see just how transforming it can be!
Near the city of Cusco, Peru there is a small temple that is less traveled: the Moon Temple. Here, off a dirt road up a mountain is a small structure nestled between the rocks. A small waterfall cascades downward through a small canal, and if you follow it up you will find two large rocks above, with an ancient carving on the side of one.
There is no mistaking that this is sacred ground.
The Inca's used this as part of their highway system, but there is more to the energy of this place. Jorge Luis Delgado describes the area of Cusco as "located at a crossroads of ley lines and is in a prominent position on the most major ley line that progresses northward from Tiawanaku, Amantani, and Puraka, to Cusco. Originally Cusco was divided by its Inca founders into two parts to indicate the flow between the dualities, masculine and feminine." Yet even with that, the land breaths an origin that is even older - deeper in spiritual lineage.
My group arrived here on a beautiful day November 7th, 2019. I had the amazing opportunity to escort nine lovely women on a 40th birthday celebration trip. The collected feminine energy of the group was powerful and soft. Our male tour guide was most certainly in heaven. The arrival to the Moon Temple had once again showered our group with massive blessings. The rain due that day was delayed, and we found the site to be completely empty of other tourists and locals. We had her to ourselves, and I did not want to waste this moment.
As our guide prepared the Palo Santo and Coca Leaves for ceremony, the group headed up through the rocky terrain to see the special area above. We took a few pictures and then I asked the ladies to move in between the two rocks, with a deep sense of going into the womb itself. Once there, I guided them, to place their hands and foreheads on the rock to connect with the energy of the land, and I began to channel the Divine Feminine herself.
I cannot remember exactly what I said during this meditation, but it must have been powerful. One woman reminded me that at one point I said, "There is no time left for being small." I do remember that, because when I said it, I felt a deep truth in my solar plexus shake, and an urge to cry. Indeed, women on the planet there is a deep need for us all to rise up and regain our power and our strength. We see this happening and playing out, but still on a level of duality. No, the vision that I see is not a divided masculine/feminine energy, but a combined totality - a true energy of Oneness. Women on the planet need to rise up and take our station in the healing of this planet. Men on the planet need to make space for this. And then collectively, we can make miracles happen.
After our time up on the Huaca (sacred site), we gently came down to meet our guide for a brief Coca ceremony in which to bless the land. Three coca leaves are taken and held in a particular pattern, we concentrate, blow onto them our essence and intention, and then leave the coca leaves on the site. Even the three coca leaves, to me, represent that coming together of the male (right coca leaf) and female (left coca leaf) in union (center leaf).
True, for harmony we must come together and bridge the energy of duality. Yet so many women have not awakened to their light and their power. I felt our group awakening, one by one. We began in celebration of a birthday, but as we traveled through this sacred area together, the calling came to each of them. And even now as I watch the group chats from US soil, I can see and feel the deeply rooted connection to Pachamama (Mother Earth), and their own connection here.
Women of this world it is our time to rise up. There is no more time for thinking small - living small - being small. We are the key to healing our precious planet and the people in it. We have shrunken down and away for far too long...and look where we are.
Where can we find the power and the light to awaken? I suppose this is different for each woman. I can say from experience that visiting the power places on the planet that I have been afforded the luxury of doing so has certainly helped me, and I feel that it is my continued duty to help others awaken through Sacred Journeys - not just women, but men too. Remember, we must work in harmony together.
We head back to Peru in September of 2020. There are also other Sacred Journeys that you can attend with me throughout the year. I look forward to working and traveling with you to connect to your highest self.
Ah, so THOSE are the chakras in the hands and the feet! I remember in my own yoga teacher training hearing talk about these "minor" chakras, but never learning anything more about them. Yet they are so important in understanding energy. This is where we feel energy between one source and another. Take a pose as simple as Downward Facing Dog. What are your hands and feet doing in this posture? Do you know that there is a specific way to connect them to the earth? Not doing so, leaves you disconnected to energy and unable to convert it towards optimum vitality in the postures.
Yoga Mudras are also an importation component of energy conversion. We take the energy associated with each finger, manipulate their positions, and thus create new energy patterns within us. Mudras are so simple and yet so misunderstood and underused! Yet Yogis will tell you to sit with a particular mudra for a length of time can actually "cure" different issues in the body and mind.
Anyone who is an energy practitioner (this includes yoga teachers) has a deep sense of this energy in his/her hands. If not, then I suggest getting to some expert classes to reconnect. And the more that you work with your healing gifts, the more sensitive you are to the energy here. We are all healers, we just have not all awakened to these gifts. But, why not start with your own self? Put your hands on a part of your body that needs healing, focus and breathe. Just hold space for the healing to occur. Be patient, and notice. You will feel something if you do. And then you will be more inclined to go deeper into this practice.
In your yoga practice this month, pay particular attention to the cues given for the hands and the feet and the bandhas or locks there to focus on. So let's do it!
11th Chakra Basics:
Name(s): Hasta and Pada Chakras
Location: Around the hands and the feet
Issues: Energy Transference, Transmutation of physical energy
Physical Connection: Hands and Feet
Things to Ponder about the 11th Chakra:
Do you feel energy or heat in your hands? Feet?
Are you an energy worker/healer?
Do you feel energy coming from the earth?
When you shake someone's hands, can you feel their energy?
Do you like to hug?
Do you love to touch living things to feel the connection?
Do you ever feel electrical charge in your hands?
Have you been able to heal or change energy with hands-on intentions to do so?
Some things to do this month to work with the 11th Chakra:
Walk barefoot on the earth
Hold crystals in the palms of your hands - Meditate on what you feel
Try hands on healing with intention
Take Reiki or other energy healing trainings involving use of hands
Get a Reflexology treatment
Care for your feet with a pedicure or new shoes with good support
So what type of things should you practice for your 11th Chakra?
Asanas - Any postures where feet or hands touch the ground and root down. Work a lot with pada (foot) and hasta (hand) bandhas, the locks in the foot and hands when in the postures. Ask your teacher for assistance with the location in various postures if we do not refer to them.
Mudra- Mudras are particular positions of the hands (and the feet), whereby touching one part of the hand to another you create particular healing energy. Mudras relate to the energy of the planets and the elements. For instance, the thumb represents the planet Mars and the fire element. The index finger represents the air element and the planter jupiter. The planet Mars is often called the "Task Master" and with fire and the 3rd chakra being bold and ego strength, this is a highly charged energy in the thumb. The index finger's association with the heart charka and energy of love, combined with the planet Jupiter known as the "Planet of Luck." When we bring the index finger and thumb together in a yoga posture, it is called the Gyan Mudra, and it allows the active energy of Mars to come in tune with the air element energy of love and balance. Immediately the mind is calmer. This is often a great mudra for meditation. There are many, many mudras, and the benefits of using them are endless. For research look at Gertrud Hirschi's book Mudras - Yoga in Your Hands.
Breathing - Place the right hand on the heart and the left hand on the solar plexus. Allow the feet to be flat on the earth, so you may need to sit in a chair. This creates a balance to the forces of the right/left side of the body (male/female, respectively) and the solar plexus and heart chakra. Then, inhale filly the abdomen up to the chest. Pause/Hold. Then exhale relaxing the chest and squeezing the belly in towards the spine. Repeat, focusing on the energy in the hands.
Meditation - Pranic Ball. Stand in Mountain pose with feet flat on earth. Connect/earth down. Cup hands at waist, fingers touching, imagining that you are holding onto a ball of Prana. Inhale the ball upwards, keeping elbows in towards ribs and relaxed. Exhale ball downward. Repeat. Then, play with the ball if you like by imagining holding it between both hands. Slowly move hands further apart but continue to feel connection to the energy ball. See you far you can move hands apart or take ball from your body to still feel the energy.
Reiki Level I is Sunday November 10th! Start your journey as a healer this month.
Love & Light, Tracey & the Teachers at One Yoga & Wellness Center!
Stone of the Month: Selenite
Selenite is one of the only crystals that cleanses and charges other stones without needing to be recharged and cleansed itself, making it the ultimate healer!
Our Natural Healer shop has Selenite wands and pendants for sale now!
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pecial Message from Tracey for November...
For the longest time the chakras in the hands and feet felt like secret places that no yoga teacher wanted me to know about! These chakras were referred to but never discussed in depth, so they always had an heir of mystery about them. Even today, try to google hand or foot chakra, and you don't get a lot of information through reputable yoga sites. So, I have to say, "thank goodness" to the holistic healers of the world who are starting to discuss these chakras, which, by the way, are NOT "minor" in any way!
How sensitive are your hands? Is this something that you've even discovered? When you shake someone's hand, do you pause to feel the connection? Or, is it a another quick thing you do mindlessly? What about your feet? Do you feel the connection that your feet make with the earth and actually feel the energy there? Or, do you hurry around, disconnected, constantly covered with socks and shoes? Yogis, just like babies, like to explore the energy in the hands and the feet. Watch a baby. They are fascinated by their appendages! They appear to even see the energy coming off of them. This is a "beginner" mindset that yoga teachers often refer to. In the beginning, you were amazed by what you felt here...and now?
Many of you already know that I started my Reiki healer journey over twenty years ago. I took Reiki I and II and just didn't "get it." I didn't see anything like other people said that they did. I couldn't remember where my hands needed to be or how to hold them. I wasn't even sure what I was supposed to be feeling. I became a massage therapist and for years felt the physical - muscle tension. Last year I completed my Reiki Master with Michele Granberg because I was finally ready to. My hands are on fire, often. Whenever someone comes into the studio who needs healing, it's like they wake up. My feet also need to be connected. I don't like socks like I used to. I want to feel things with my feet. My hands and feet used to be terribly cold when I was a teenager and even into my twenties. Now that I work with this energy on a daily basis, they are rarely so, and no, it is not menopause!
The 11th Chakra is not just the hands and feet, however. It is also the skin, muscles and connective tissues, in general. We take in and give out energy through all of those tissues. While particular vortexes exist in the hands and feet, it is not uncommon when you start to connect deeper to this energy to feel forces of energy in all parts of your body. Being a yoga practitioner is an energy worker. You are working on your own energy healing and conversion every time you step onto the yoga mat. Even if you never take a Reiki class, you will still hone these centers and start to notice greater healing gifts that you can use for yourself or share with others. And isn't that why we are here? To help ourselves and others heal in any way that we can?
This month focus on loving your hands and feet more and be receptive to the energy centers here. The world needs healing, and it does start with each one of us.
So, I realize that this blog will be controversial. Those in the Western Medicine world will come up with a litany of things to throw at me. To them I say, "get your own blog." I am discussing my story, and only my story, and from my perspective what I have gone through and continue to with respect to my ongoing issues with my back. I have great respect for both traditions, however, it is not the only game in town. I guess that you can see where this is headed already. Here goes...
Since my fractured spine when I was 16 years old, I have had many ups and downs with my back. Yoga has been an amazing godsend for me and has helped keep me in a fairly good place for many years. However, the stress I had in my life, contributed by nearly 2.5 hours of driving a day, was undoing any physical yoga practice that I was able to muster the energy to do. Honestly, most days I was too exhausted to practice anything much. For many years I lived in constant pain. Now, the pain usually resulted from overexerting myself or being on my feet too long. I would come home and my husband would give me a bear hug and my back would "crack." Once this happened, the pain would go from an eight to a two or less. This was my usual for many years. Then, a couple of years ago when stress intensified, things got worse. I put on a little extra weight, and I started having ongoing issues with my right hip. As a soft tissue girl, I contributed it to muscle tension, and tried to get regular massages to alleviate this issue. Again, not enough massage, and too much stress and driving equals it not working to well.
About six months ago the pain started to travel around my right hip and down my inner thigh. It nearly got to my knee, and I often had trouble taking my first steps in the morning. I was pushing through the day and I knew that I was going to have to look into something else. I was not sure what the whole problem was. I had noticed that little by little, something was changing in my back because I was no longer to do the same postures I used to. My twists had been challenging and I could twist A LOT farther to one side than the other. When I did, I heard and felt scraping in my lower back. Backbends had become a thing of the past. Suddenly my back had just seized up, and I knew that it was more than tension in my muscles. So, I called my primary care physician.
By the time that I was able to see him, things and progressed to a pretty bad point. So much so, that he was able to push my insurance company to do an MRI, convinced that I had lumbar spine disc issues. I went that week and got my MRI and waited to hear something. For a week I got nothing from my doctor. So, I went to see my chiropractor and he was able to call and receive the MRI report the same day. We reviewed it and there were some surprising things there. Muscle atrophy around my fractured "deformed" vertebrae, and arthritis in all my lumbar facet joints. My disks, however, were apparently perfect.
I was in the middle of moving my home, so that was probably the last time that I got to see my chiropractor. But when I moved in to the new home, I quickly began seeing my old chiropractor, and he also received the MRI report. This was probably a four week period. And although I had called my primary, he still had not called me back. The woman in the office had said that there was some issue she found in their system and that was why they hadn't received the report, but that she had fixed it and they should have it the next day. Still, no word from my primary.
I started chiropractic care with my new/old chiropractor, gently. But he suggested that I try a detox to get my inflammation down. I knew that this was a major problem for me and decided to go for the detox.
I rang up my primary again - now about there months later - and was told that I missed a scheduled appointment to speak to him about my back. Now, I do not miss doctor appointments. And I know that nobody ever called me to schedule one, nor had a ever received the usual confirmation reminder call about it a day or so prior. Yet, they insisted that it had been planned and I had missed it.
In the meantime, I decided to start acupuncture for pain management and also to get the energy moving again in my back. I realize that discussing "energy" with my primary was not anything that he could discuss, so I reserved the opinion to not tell him about these holistic methods, and just do them myself. The first session moved so much energy that I had to sit in the waiting room for about a half an hour before I could leave. The second session started to really get things moving again. I was also a week into my detox, and had lost about five pounds too. The pain no longer radiated down my leg and was isolated to my right hip again. I felt like I was peeling back time, ever so slightly.
So I go see my primary, loaded with my information and he suggested physical therapy and pain management specialist. I stare at him. He gives me the scrips, and I leave the office. I make an appointment with the physical therapist, but the pain management guy can't see me for a month, and I cannot attend the one single appointment that they offer me, so they go into November, with one date when I will be out of the country. The woman on the phone says, "Well, I don't know what you want me to do. You aren't able to come at the times that I am offering you." "Okay," I say, "but you only gave me two dates in two months on specific times." This was greeted with silence, then more distain and attitude. I hang up. My primary gives me another option to call and I make the appointment to see him the next week.
Now two weeks into my detox I am feeling really good physically. I lost about eight pounds, and my daily pain is more consistently a two than an eight. Of course, I have moved and am not driving more than 50 minutes a day now as well as having A LOT less stress. And, there's the acupuncture and chiropractic care that I am doing on a regular basis.
The physical therapist and I have a good rapport. She understands yoga. She suggested three things to do daily, which it cannot hurt to try for a week to see where it gets me. She seems to really understand the two very different issues I am facing: one, the instability in my fracture that will never return due to the muscle atrophy, and two, the pain in my hip associated with years of torture. We decide to work on the later, as the former is a lot more complicated an issue.
The pain management guy is a spinal surgeon. Who knew? He listens to my story and does a little exam. He says, "you have a 51-year-old-back with an old compression fracture. Surgery is not suggested, and you seem to be doing everything else that I would recommend. Have you tried CBD?"
In fact, yes, I did a bout of CBD. It worked great initially, then nope. So, I consider finding another product that may better suite me. I thank him and leave, knowing that basically, I have to find another way to live with my issues, until I am so incapacitated that they have to do spinal fusion. Great...
Had I not gone to my chiropractor and started a detox, and then added acupuncture and certain specific yoga that I detailed for me, I would not be feeling better. Even the destress and the less commute, I would still be in pain from the chronic misuse and spinal, I am going to use the word "decay." None of the western medical doctors will say that I have disk issues. But my chiropractor says looking at the image there certainly appears to be disk issues. Even if the surgeon did admit that, he would still not recommend anything, except he can give me a nerve block if it starts to travel down my leg again.
I certainly cannot say that I am at peace with this. My out of pocket expense for holistic practices has been a lot, but it has worked. The medical insurance that I pay a lot for has provided me with little to nothing - except the images so that I can see for myself what is happening inside of me, and so that I can figure out the best way to handle that on my own.
If I am 80 years old and still able to lay down on the floor and crack my back in on a daily basis, I guess I will be happy about that. But wouldn't it be great to be able to wash dishes without being in pain after and have my back "out?" I can't stop doing things for myself because I am a person that does things, and I also do not have the luxury to pay people to do things for me. I pay for 100% of my medical insurance, and it provides me with imaging and emergency care. That is what I am using it for moving forward. The lack of concern or care from the various offices astounded me. I felt so unimportant, so neglected, so mistreated by office staff in the western medical offices. Yet, my chiropractor will spend an extra twenty minutes talking to me about whatever I want, and my Acupuncturists's Mother sat with me for nearly a half an hour until I felt okay to walk out. And, at the end of the day, western medicine basically said, do these few yoga poses and try CBD oil.
My story is unique. Nobody else in the world has a compression fracture where I do nor a spine that has mutated and changed in the way that mine has. I'm not in an ongoing acute phase anymore because I did things in my life to change that and because as a holistic practitioner, I understand what I need to do to heal my body so that I am, at the very least, much better than I was. Will my back change? No. Will it continue to be terribly unstable? Yes. Will I have to work mindfully and diligently to ensure that it does not get any worse? Absolutely. Will Western Medicine help me with any of that? Probably not. Will Holistic practices? You betcha.
I don't know what else to say. I certainly appreciate having doctors and my insurance. If I get sick or break something, I appreciate that. But, for this particular issue in my life, I have to say, once again, another checkmark for the Holistic practices.
This summer I did something that nobody who knows me could have predicted ever happening: I enrolled in seminary school for my Master's in Divinity.
As anticipated, this enrollment came with a huge mix of responses. Some of the people who I thought would "get it" the most, did not. Most people were simply shocked. A few understood. It is okay. I did not enroll for the approval of anyone else. And, my reasons are my own personal reasons, not to be understood, necessarily, by anyone else. But, due to the nature of my open-book policy, I want to talk about it a little. So, here I am.
First of all, understand that I did not grow up in an organized religion like most of my friends did. While my friends were headed to church on Sundays, I wrote stories or read books. I was raised by parents who always told me that when I was old enough, I would figure out what I believed in. My Grandmother was Jewish, but did not practice any rituals nor went to Synagogue. My grandfathers and other Grandmother was not religious. My Father's extended family was associated with the Methodist church in their town, so when I was born, and probably since I was the first grandchild and everyone wanted some big celebration, I was Baptized in a Methodist church. I still have the little Bible they gave me. It is scribed all over inside...and I love that.
Growing up I remember going to Catholic church with my cousins when I slept over their house. Getting dressed up and going out was fun, but I did not understand all the components of the service and giggled a lot every time we had to stand up or sit back down. It seemed kind of silly to me. I remember my cousin Kristin and I getting yelled at for laughing in church a lot.
In Burlington City where I grew up, we lived on a small two-block street. Across the street was a church that held Vacation Bible School during the summer and many of my friends were going to attend. I asked my parents if I could go and since it was no extra cost they said Okay. We didn't have a lot of money back then, and I'm sure that the fact that I was going to be attended to for a week sounded pretty good to my mother as well. And if she needed me, I was literally right crossed the street. I actually loved Vacation Bible School! I learned all these incredibly Bible stories that my friends already knew. They seemed bored and couldn't wait to get to arts and crafts, but I loved listening to tales about Noah, Moses, and Jesus. They were wonderfully colorful and with positive messages at the end. Well, the spin for children was positive, anyway.
Now about another block away there was another church in our neighborhood - St. Mary's. I used to walk through the yard on the way to school because it was a shortcut. I felt very comfortable there. One day I lost my house keys and I was so afraid to tell my parents. My mother told me that she would not be home in time and I would need to use my key to get in the next day. I started sweating. I didn't know what to do. That day after school I stopped and, instinctively went inside the church. I went to the front pew and sat down, and prayed to God to help me find my key. I was so scared. I was scared to tell my mom that I had lost the key because I thought that she would think I was irresponsible and I was scared that I was praying to something that I did not understand. But, I did it nonetheless. I didn't know how long I should stay there. I looked around a little. I was the only one in the church. I thought that I should get going and made my way out of the church and down onto the bluestone path, sliding my hands into my vest pockets.
Suddenly I realized that there was a hole in my pocket - the last place that I had left my keys. I stopped short, just steps away from the church door. I took off my vest and snaked my hand through the hole and around my vest. And there it was - my house key, tucked in the back of my vest, hidden, but present.
God had heard me. Or, I thought, I was magical. I erred on the side that God had heard me, but I never told anyone about it until many, many years later. But it has always stayed with me.
As a twenty-something-year-old I started to go to friends weddings. Due to my lack of connection to spirit, I made this running joke that every time I went into a church for a wedding or a funeral that there was a 50/50 chance it would burn down. People thought this was funny, so I kept it up. But somewhere in the back of my mind I had this interest in learning more about world religions. I even toyed with taking some courses during my thirties and forties, but never did. But that interest was always there.
In my twenties I found new age, earth-based spirituality. Rituals and energy became a huge part of my life. I found out about the Divine Feminine and that really opened me up to the nature of spirit. It expanded my understanding, but I still felt mildly disconnected. Many of the women that I met along this path were very deep into Goddess worship. And while I respected that aspect, I felt somewhere that there needed to be some sort of balance, no? I mean, you can't hate men and find power in the Goddess only - isn't that the same as honoring God and relegating women to second class citizens? I kept my mouth shut about it. I went to the rituals and did all the earth-based, energy, elemental stuff. And I learned to honor the Goddess when I felt her, when it was authentic.
And then l I became a yoga teacher. Now, that happened purely out of physical reality of the benefits of yoga on my body and mind. But, it opened me up to Hinduism, and I learned of the comparable natures of Shiva/Shakti and the dance that the Divine Masculine and Feminine do together. One is no more or less important than the other. That felt right. Through my continued yoga education, I was led to many Hindu rituals that honored the many faces of God through different deities - both male and female. To this day, Lord Ganesha is one of my deepest connections that Hinduism brought me. And yet, I knew there was more.
I could go on and on with my studies in Buddhism, Shamanism, and other Pagan religions. Suffice it to say that for most of my adult life, I have done my fair share of independent research into the nature of God. I continue to do so every day. One of the things that I have come to understand is that what makes one person find understanding and meaning, is important for them. But, it may not be meaningful for me. And yet, I can find a peace of meaning and understanding in someone else's experience. And yet...
Who is God to me?
Flash to my recent Dark Night of the Soul, a three-year period of intense internal examination. Too much to discuss here. Coming out the end was an understanding of true Oneness, something I taught in theory for nearly twenty years. And there it was - this need, a calling, to deepen my ministries and attend seminary school for my Masters in Divinity. Why? The truth that I have come to know is that everything is ONE, that energy on a planetary level is changing rapidly, and people need help navigating these changes. Through an Interfaith approach of honoring all spiritual traditions, I hope to help guide people to their own deep understanding of Oneness. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what path anyone takes to get to their own connection, just as long as they eventually do find one.
So, there you have it. I'm in seminary school. I've already been given the title of Associate Minister with The Interfaith Temple, and I continue my journey. Where it takes me remains to be seen. The seed was planted many years ago, probably when my parents first told me that I would figure out what I believed in on my own. And what I believe is that we are all ONE. And that it is our duty to expand from duality into Oneness by whatever means we are inspired to take.
I'm here for you, if you want to go deeper. Just reach out.
This weekend while at a retreat for my seminary school (which I will blog about separately), the idea came up that I may be challenged by my interfaith approach. Without hesitation I said, "Oh, I am used to being challenged, that won't be a problem for me." In fact, within the span of that weekend, I had received a message challenging me about something. I have found myself in this situation many times in my life and have come to some very powerful conclusions - for me.
First of all, I want to say that when someone challenges something that I have said, I stop and take pause. I listen to what they have to say and I give myself time to digest it and feel it. Then, I do a little research to see if I am, in fact, coming from a truthful place. Sometimes that research is meditating on who I am. Other times I am pulling out books or looking up things online. The point is, I don't just lash back quickly. I take time to look into what I am being challenged about.
When challenged, and even upon deep inquiry, we may not ever know who is "right" and who is "wrong" because there may not even be a context for that. Something that I have come to believe in VERY strongly, is that there are many ways, many paths, many completely different ideologies, and there is validity in all of them. What works for or resinates with one person, may not with another. So why not honor differences, instead of creating division?
We could bring this idea from simple conversations with friends, to the social media context, politics, and religion. The arenas in which this touches are endless. The basic theme is that there are differences, and they are not mostly being honored. More and more there is a need to be right, share your idea or viewpoint, and not create space for another to explore theirs.
I wish I could remember the movie I saw years ago with a Catholic Priest who struggled with his faith. And one of the kids who he was working with went to the head of the church and said this of the Priest. The head of the church said to the kid, "It is because he challenges his faith everyday, that makes him a good Priest." Yes. It is good to be challenged! It is good to investigate what you feel, think, or know. And, at the end of the day, if after that investigation you still feel the same, then great, you have a deeper sense of self and a deeper conviction to your ideology.
As an owner of a yoga studio, I often share what I have learned, which comes both from teachers, my own reading and research, and self exploration of the practice. Someone who practices Bikram Yoga and teaches to lock the knees, would challenge my teaching people to NOT lock the knees. I explain that locking the knees stresses the joint and allows one to rely on the joint and general flexibility, thus putting strain on said joint, rather than the strength of the muscle around the joint, which creates a balance of tone and flexibility. There, I explained myself. Go try it out, if you practice Bikram. If you like it, keep it. If it does not work for you, let it go and go back to locking your knees. I can't change what you feel is right, nor should I want to. Guess what? I will still "like" you if you do not agree with me. But don't insist that I am wrong, and that the Bikram method is the only valid one. This type of thinking is what gets us in trouble all the time.
When was the last time that you were challenged by someone about something that you "believe" in? And, how did you handle it? What was the resolution?
Its sad that today many people do not understand that not only is it important to be challenged so that we can look deep within ourselves and question our truths, but it is also even more important to accept other viewpoints as their truths. (And, of course, I am not talking about sick situations of mass injustices that hurt and kill other beings. That is another entire discussion, and honoring narcissistic energy that only wants to hurt others for their own gain is certainly never going to be okay).
Swami Satchidananda said, "Truth is One, Paths are Many." This idea is shared in the Yogaville LOTUS Shrine in Virginia at his ashram that I had the privilege to visit last year. It resonated with me deeply, since I named the studio ONE, and truly believe that we are all One, and that we can coexist with different viewpoints and ideologies, as long as there is love and respect for one another that goes along with it.
So the next time that someone challenges you, take a moment to reflect. Maybe do some meditation or research. And respond from a deeper place of understanding, but in the energy of love and respect. Let's see if we can change the world, one challenge at a time.