Experiencing Life Through the Perspective of Another

 

On my second trip to Ocho Rios, Jamaica with a humanitarian, dental, non-profit organization called Great Shape/ 1000 Smiles, I again found myself working in a remote, jungle community called Walkerswood at the local school… in fact, the only school. It was a series of small, run-down, dirt-floored buildings joined together by sidewalks, metal bars in the glassless windows & surrounded by a rough-shod playground.

The kids, who ranged in age from 5 through 17, were more than curious as we hauled in box after box of dental equipment & chairs. They couldn’t wrap their minds around our odd ways either, whether it was petting or talking to the myriad of poor, starving dogs everywhere or wincing at the sight of bug-covered food that they would eat without a second thought… bugs & all.

Although the principal & staff cared greatly for these children, they were very strict about manners, obedience & the effort they put into their studies. I was even asked to speak at their monthly PTA meeting! The parents initially had a difficult time believing we would actually volunteer to take  time away from our own jobs & families & pay our own airfare to come there & not want something in return. Their own survival had always depended on having to hold so tightly onto anything they could get.

It was also an expectation throughout the community that if someone’s child was caught misbehaving, whichever neighbor happened to see them could take it upon themselves to mete out punishment which often included hitting them… the old “spare the rod… spoil the child” mentality.

The second day there, I met a teenage girl, Dana… 15 years old… who lived nearby. Her developmentally disabled brother attended the school & although she was no longer a student there herself, she could often be found helping with him or just hanging around. Her mother was a local healer… a very spiritual, church-going woman who was well-liked & respected in the community.

As we struck up a conversation, I asked why she wasn’t in school. She had attended previously & had actually been a very good student. At some point though, she’d come down with an auto-immune disorder which slowly robbed her of her ability to function. Often exhausted, she would ask the teacher to be excused. Her mother, being very concerned, had taken her to various local healers with no luck. She was finally able to get a clear diagnosis from a medical center some distance away.

Unfortunately because of the culture there & a lack of understanding, that explanation wasn’t well-received by the school staff. Assuming she was just being lazy, her teachers became so hard on her she eventually dropped out of altogether. Fortunately by the time we met, her symptoms had begun to go into remission & her strength & energy were slowly returning.

Since we were short-handed, this seemed like an ideal opportunity to have her work with us as a team member & build her self-esteem at the same time… a win-win! She seemed to have a natural aptitude for dentistry & before long she was performing a number of tasks quite well. The change in her demeanor was palatable & it did my heart good to see her confidence in herself grow.

Each year as our trip came to an end & we prepared to go back home, there was always a dinner back at the hotel to say “thank-you” to everyone who had participated & give them a chance to say their good-byes to so many they had developed strong bonds with. Everyone shared how much it had meant to them to really be able to help but they also felt they’d received so much more in return.

Our team invited Dana to come spend the night at the hotel in my room so she could attend the dinner & with her mother’s permission, she excitedly agreed. I knew this would be a great experience for her but I had no idea what an adventure it would be as well… for both of us…

She arrived carrying a change of clothes and an old, ragged towel in a paper bag. I explained it wasn’t necessary for her to bring her own towel as the hotel supplied them for their guests. I then told her to go ahead & feel free to take the first shower. She headed into the bathroom as my roommate & I took that time to kick back after a long, hot day.

About 20 minutes later, out she walked… tears in her eyes… red blotches all over her skin. Surprised & concerned, I asked her what was wrong. “I tried to stay under the spout” she said “but the water was just SO hot, I couldn’t stand it anymore!” To my dismay, I realized she had never been in a shower with hot & cold running water before.  I thought about how naïve I’d been not to realize that. Most Jamaicans shower in rainwater they trap in vats on their roofs. It’s a tropical climate so water heaters aren’t used, even though there are days I’m sure it’s chilly. They simply can’t afford the electricity or plumbing.

I apologetically explained the situation to her & helped her get ready for dinner, all the while trying to ease her extreme nervousness.  By the time we got to dinner & seated ourselves, the poor thing looked like she was going to pass out!

As our dinners were served, I noticed one of the Jamaican waiters standing by the wall near our table, quietly & quickly came over to her, placed her napkin in her lap for her & showed her the silverware. Once again, I realized she had never been to a restaurant… never experienced the nuances of having her glass filled with water or ordering from a menu. Again, I felt like I’d failed her in not being aware enough of the circumstances she came from. No wonder she was so anxious!

There are many people who live in the U.S. who also go without these things as well but even more Jamaicans do. So many of us in this country are so blessed to have enough to eat, a place to sleep, a chance for an education, clothing, charitable organizations who are available to make up the difference & opportunities for some type of dental & medical care should an emergency arise at least. We can’t know what we haven’t yet learned & sometimes it’s easy to forget to appreciate what we haven’t had to go without.

Gratitude is our gift to ourselves & to the collective because if we can’t see our own reasons to be grateful, we’re not near as likely to be there to support & empower others.

                                                 GET CURIOUS… REMEMBER…

 

 

 

 

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The Physics of Humor

I became acutely aware a few years ago of just how powerful laughter can be. As with everything in this Universe, humor has its own vibration. Higher, lighter, positive things have a higher vibration while just the opposite is true of denser negativity in any form.

As a shamanic healer, I’ve trained in various modalities but the core of my training the past 13 years came from a fairly large community of healers from the US and Canada. After reaching a colleague status as a faculty member with this particular group, each healer is invited to attend a yearly, 9-day conference in Canada where we collectively learn & work experientially on far-reaching projects in service to our own personal growth, each other & the wellness of our planet.

Although we have our own, individual experiences there, I can tell you housing that many lit-up Healers & Light-Workers under one roof or via the phone (often 200+) for that many days packs a very powerful energetic punch! It allows us to do some wonderful work but it’s also one, eye-opening way to learn about the negative energies that exist was well & how hard they can work to stop large gatherings like this & the Light they bring in.

The older levels in this training spend a great deal of effort building energetic constructs well ahead to shield & protect us all from this type of interference. We each also do our own work. I’ve witnessed & had amazing & often terrifying experiences during this gathering. That’s why healers need to be aware & diligent about understanding what this calling requires for their own safety. That especially applies for a shaman. As near as I can figure, I seemed to get hit with these types of things more than most. But that’s another whole story…

As a large group, upon arriving in the conference area each day along with all of our other safe-guards, we included PLENTY of laughter. There are those who seemed to have missed their callings as stand-up comics. We’ve laughed there… on outings… among ourselves & with our peers… It was a big part of the week… not forced in any way… just “on time”.  Initially I thought it was simply a group of people who enjoyed each other & loved having fun. It didn’t take me long to realize that although that was true, it also had another very specific purpose.

 

As “tuned-in” as we are so well-trained to be, when we sense any dark energy pushing in, we also feel the lightness of our humor & laughter which almost immediately dispels it. For several years as I traversed through an often terrifying & unexpected “initiation” into shamanism, I used this very real form of “protection” many times.

Humor & the laughter that usually accompanies it benefit us on many other levels as well. On our physical, it releases our “feel-good” brain-chemicals, endorphins which raise our immune systems, boost our energy & protect us from stress. Additionally, our neuro-pathways are formed by the quality of our thoughts & our actions… and repetition.

On a mental & emotional level, anxiety can be a pre-cursor to many things. Relieving stress helps us relax & enables us to gain a wider perspective beyond the confines of only that which we’re upset about. We stop taking ourselves too seriously. Of course, there’s a monumental difference between laughing “at” & laughing “with” ourselves or anyone else. The latter is only a matter of letting go of our limiting egos!

Laughter feeds our ability to strengthen relationships, work as a team-member & attract others. People by nature gravitate toward positivity. It symbiotically feeds them & creates an up-spiral of energy.

So… how does one go about learning to laugh if we’re having trouble seeing the humor in our lives? Shift your perspective. Watching the antics of our pets or children is one great way which allows us a gold-mine of opportunities. Every year on their birthdays, I give my now adult daughters a kid’s toy… something fun that I remember playing with (& still do…)… silly putty… bug-catchers… balls & paddles… yo-yos… kites… you get the idea. Go outside & play… take a walk… connect up with Mama Gaia… go to an art museum… read a great book… remember to let your inner kid out… You know… the innocent one who just wanted to be a kid… even if only for a while. If you weren’t fortunate enough to have that experience or simply can’t remember, just go watch a group of kids or dogs for a while at a park… on a playground… etc. It’s infectious.

Honor yourself. It’s never too late to meet up with your inner-kid! After all… that’s who we all were early on before we got saddled with those “life-lessons” we’re all familiar with. There’s great wisdom in immaturity at that age!

                                         GET CURIOUS… REMEMBER…

 

Looking Beyond Our Physical To Our Spirits

A number of years ago, I spent 5 years volunteering with a wonderful hospice program nearby. It proved to be perfect practice for my studies in energy healing at the time. Also, as the intensely curious individual I’ve always been, it gifted me with the opportunity to learn more about the subject of near-death experiences & the relationship between our physical & spirit bodies.

As synchronicity would have it, I was actually able to meet and speak with Dr. Raymond Moody, a local physician & one of the pioneers in this research which he chronicled in his book “Beyond the Light” & others. Because of  the wisdom & information I gained from him & the hospice nurses & what I personally witnessed as I observed & shared the experiences of many who were transitioning out of their bodies & this life, my view of the role our Spirit plays in relation to our brains & physicality changed forever.

Our physical bodies are simply our vehicles for any given life that allow us to live out that karmic cycle & hopefully learn the lessons we came to learn. The real “meat” behind them, guiding the way is our Spirit bodies… unseen but very much alive. I saw time & again how patients “chose” the timing of their final breaths sometimes waiting until their loved ones holding vigil at their bedside, finally stepped out for a quick cup of coffee or moved their bedside chair or cot out of the room.

Love is a very powerful energy & the natural worry & sadness that so many experience as a someone they love is slipping away causes us to want to hold on more tightly to them in some way. That literally holds them back from leaving in our presence. They worry for us.

Our human hearing is also one of our last senses to go. Even in a deep, comatose state, patients have regained consciousness & been able to re-iterate everything that was said around them while they were “unconscious”. They also reported floating above their bodies, looking at themselves and others in the room, describing these situations in close detail.

I also found that Alzheimer’s patients in the advanced stages of their disease would respond with surprising clarity at times when I would speak to them with kind, compassionate intent despite the fact they’d been in a vegetative state for weeks and months. That part of them that wasn’t broken or sick… their Spirit… was aware, very much alive & intact. Yes… love is a powerful energy.

Our Spirit bodies are the true essence of who we REALLY are… who we came into this life as & have always been since the very beginning… before we were loaded up with emotional & physical lessons from the “school of life”.  It’s one hell of a learning curve! That’s why it’s so important to peel back the layers through awareness of what isn’t us and never was. Our authentic, individual, beautiful selves are under there just waiting to be fully discovered!

We’re NOT our mental health issues, handicaps, “dis”eases, habits, addictions or FEARS…Until we “REMEMBER” who we ARE & live true to ourselves, we can’t recognize our purposes for being here & trust me… every one of us has one!  I refer to it as our “Natural State” & our “Rites of Passage”. They’re key components in a gradually- unfolding, 2-step process. Its all part of a much bigger scope of things & a plan that allows us to keep growing and expanding. The key lies in truly wanting it & asking for it.

                                   GET CURIOUS… REMEMBER

Wisdom From the Herd… Behaving As If All Life Mattered

A couple of years ago for no obvious reason, horses began to cross my mind…continually. I thought about them during the day, dreamed about them at night & began to see them in photos, paintings, articles, etc. This type of thing has been happening to me for many years now and as I’ve studied the physics of energy in more & more depth, I’ve learned to just stay very aware & try to recognize the reason or message behind this phenomenon each time it happens.

Eventually, it came full circle and I began to learn & understand the message… so simple & yet so truly profound. Horses like all of nature, hold up mirrors for mankind to see itself in & that includes me.

 

 Many misguided humans measure an animal’s intelligence by what it can do most like a human…count, draw, do tricks, verbally speak, paint, use tools, etc. What they’ve failed to recognize is the innate wisdom the natural world & its inhabitants are ever-willing to share with us beyond our linear thinking & arrogance… that is if we’re paying attention.

When a good friend of mine told me about a local workshop on horse communication, I knew it was part of the trajectory of synchronistic events already in motion. The moment I stepped out of my car and walked to the area where they were waiting, I already knew which horse I’d be working with. In fact, I felt like I was looking at myself in horse form.

 

Throughout the day as we interacted with these sensitive & intuitive animals, we each learned our own lessons in our own ways. For me, it became clear what I had shown up as a student. It’s called GRACE… simple in its presentation & yet so profound. This was a quality I’d developed in many ways through learning and insight from my work… emotional… mental… spiritual… but the physical has often eluded me for some reason.

 

It used to be common-place to glance at my arms & legs and see a myriad of burns from grabbing something carelessly from a hot oven or bumps & bruises from hitting the corner of a table or the counter because I was in a rush & preoccupied. It’s a good thing I have a high tolerance for pain.

 

I’ve come to recognize the inattentiveness in this area of my life for what it really is… a lack of honoring my physical form that houses my spirit. It’s speaks disrespectfully to the true gift it really is.

 

It also goes hand-in-hand with getting quiet & gentle inside as well. When I don’t do that, I can’t “hear” the wisdom the silence has to offer & a lot of information is missed on many levels because it’s all connected.

 
A horse doesn’t walk without grace… it saunters. It doesn’t plow through things… it steps over or around them. They always live in the moment. Nothing exists to them before or after that moment so they fully embrace it. They “graze” and when they’re fed at the end of the day, they quietly, slowly eat with each other or alone… they take their time… no gobbling in this crowd! They have dimensional sight and always see the ALL as ONE.

They’re also very telepathic and sensitive to the emotions of their herd and the other living things which share their space, including people. Three of the females were allowed to wander around those of us who were participating as we sat in a circle expressing our individual reasons for attending, some with a lot of emotion involved. Here and there, sensing the need, one would walk quietly up to a participant & put her soft, velvety nose against their cheek or on a shoulder for a few moments.

As we each took our turn grooming & working one-on-one with our assigned horse, we were shown how to tune into the horse’s energy mentally and physically. They wanted to be led but in PARTNERSHIP… NOT POWER-OVER. My usual pace when I hike or walk with friends is fast & often out ahead of everyone. It’s been a habit for as long as I can remember & I’ve never given it much thought.

 

Sun, the spirited gelding & my “teacher” for the day, immediately and gently showed me myself & how that affects the whole. He tuned-in & connected with me immediately when I stayed present with him but the moment I stepped out ahead of him, I could feel him disconnect and he would just wander off. Nothing personal!

 

We held a very loose rope to begin with which didn’t serve as much more than a small crutch for us but soon the rope was removed and we were asked to work with the horse strictly through mental imagery & energy…no touch except to gently say “good job” & “thank you” I initially felt pretty powerless until I was able to slow down and really sense his energy. Once I could do that, I could literally feel the two of us connect and become one. This is the same connection which is possible between one person & another if we’re just willing to slow down & stay aware & tuned- in. 

I was also told that horses don’t respond well to being stared at. As a healer, I get a great deal of information & connection with people by looking into their eyes & at their faces. This doesn’t work with horses. Standing beside them, creating a clear, mental picture of what I wanted Sun to do was the ONLY way to guide him.

 

So I stood there, looking forward WITH him…side-by-side… & envisioned exactly where I wanted him to go with me. He immediately stepped in unison with my feet. When I stopped… he stopped. When I stepped sideways… he stepped sideways. He walked exactly where I asked him to go using only the picture in my head. He gave me a couple of pushes into the fence just to push his boundaries a little and it was at that point I realized that along with kids, pets, students, etc., we also get the horses we deserve! 

Ahhh… we humans… the ONLY creatures living on our sentient Earth who in our ego, fear, greed & hatred… destroy, pollute and otherwise negatively impact the balance & abundance of the natural world. It struggles to feed us while it suffers because of our short-sighted choices & patiently waits for us to WAKE-UP before it’s too late. WHO are the intelligent ones really?

There’s a great deal of beauty in this world despite what the media would often have us think… the “powers-that-be” behind it all who work to keep us in fear and complacency (if we weren’t afraid, we might just get angry & courageous about a few things). IMAGINE…

 

More & more people ARE waking up and beginning to understand what all native peoples & shaman have known since the very beginning… we MUST live in a symbiotic partnership with our Earth and each other. It’s about survival and it’s also about love, compassion & quality mentally, spiritually, physically & emotionally. Every bit of it is connected & it starts with each one of us doing our “inside” work on ourselves so it can spread to the “outside” & each other.

 

                                         GET CURIOUS… WAKE UP… REMEMBER…

 

We’re Bleeding at Our Roots…

The horrific news about the shooting this week at the elementary school in Newtown, Conn. also brought to the forefront once again, those people who believe this is a call for more guns to defend ourselves with…. everybody for themselves! Our local gun stores here saw their sales for assault rifles like the one used by this shooter go through the roof… in fact, they sold out!

Lot’s of FEAR… anger… anxiety… I’ve never seen “more guns” ever solve anything because at the core of this perspective is still fear and anger which in the law of physics literally creates more of the same as well as the violence that comes along with the ride. It’s like trying to put a band-aid on the problem instead of healing it at it’s cause. WHAT IF we “the people” took our power back & used it to build more support systems for those who not only suffer with mental illness as the shooter did (& their families) but also the growing number of those people who find themselves isolated, alone and unable to fit in. Sadness, lonliness & hopelessness can create resentment & a skewed perspective on reality for anyone. Kindness & compassion can be just as powerful in creating healing & connection.

We need to educate ourselves so we can not only identify those like this who are suffering in our neighborhoods, schools & workplaces but also learn to extend ourselves in the spirit of community as the connected individuals we ALL are whether we like it or not. What affects one of us affects all of us collectively on some level. As a healer, I’ve seen many, many times how even the simplest gestures of kindness and compassion can have noticeable & immeasurable effects.

If you doubt this… try it for yourself… Saying “Hello” in passing to a stranger in line, on the sidewalk, a friendly wave from your car… in essence, just acknowledging that someone was worth the effort in many cases is the first time in a long time or sometimes ever that they have been made to feel like they deserve to take up space in this world. I never ceased to be amazed at how many people feel that way that nobody would guess. There’s something I see in their eyes… an energetic crack… an opening of a realization when they’re acknowledged with kindness. It may lead to a healing or even change their perspective so that instead of contemplating harm to someone, they’re actually able to feel some compassion or connection because it was shown to THEM. Compassion begets compassion as well. WE HAVE TO LEARN TO SEE EACH SITUATION THROUGH THE EYES OF EACH PERSON & NOT JUST OUR OWN… otherwise we’re only seeing half of the whole picture. We can no longer afford to live as if we were islands unto ourselves.

Mental health issues worldwide are growing because our environment is getting more toxic on every level and we’ve lost touch with what “feeds” and nourishes us at the core of who we are… physically, mentally, emotionally & spiritually.These things will continue to snowball until more of us awaken in growing numbers and truly see the Big Picture. We have become what we eat, drink, spend our time & focus on, how we treat and interact with Mother Earth, the Source of our existence & with each other on an individual basis. We have to be the change we want to see.

GET CURIOUS… REMEMBER…

Recognizing Shame and Finding Grace

african angel

Sometimes the best avenue for really understanding the value of something is to view it from the polar-opposite perspective first. “Dis-grace”…. When have you felt shame & embarrassment over not measuring up to someone else’s ideals? Although we need to be self-policing, I have continually met & worked with SO many people who carry such immense shame that was never theirs to own…often through entire cultural histories… always caused by abuse & a lack of respect & value for them as individuals, usually very early on. Their shame blinded them to their own value & ability to make better choices for themselves. I’ve always recognized it in their eyes.

The good news is at the end of each & every day, we’re our own jail-keepers. That truth allows us the opportunity to stand in our own Personal Power and re-define ourselves. As tempting as it may be to place blame for our decisions on someone or something else, we truly disable ourselves by not recognizing & accepting responsibility for our own “stuff” & allowing others to do the same. Our human mistakes are how we learn what we’re actually capable of & we remain stuck & disabled when we’re “rescued” from that… whether through good intentions or forced slavery. And yes… what doesn’t “kill” us, actually does make us stronger!

I watched African American adults in the South where I grew up for 10 years during the 60’s & 70’s, carry themselves in shame… heads down… shoulders rounded… adults unable to look me eye-to-eye even in my youth.  I was a 21-year old, blue-eyed, blond intern working with their children… the ONLY Caucasian in that entire, inner-city, elementary school. I also felt the sting of being treated by the staff there as not worthy of acknowledgement which I eventually realized in hindsight was just their shame manifested in another form.

I interacted with wonderful, loving Africans in Jamaica who carried great shame from their own slavery into their culture in so many insidious ways. Their people were only emancipated in the 60’s & in a more passive-aggressive effort to speak to their pain & anger over losing their freedom; they ceased to create their vibrant art during their enslavement. The poverty in which they live leaves them feeling very much “less-than” the many tourists & elite but very small upper-class there. They fear being judged & defined by it.

The energy work I’ve been involved in with various Native American, tribal communities over the years is yet another example of a gifted people who have been so lost in the painful issues that have plagued them for generations…alcohol, drugs, physical abuse, suicide, etc. They still hold great, intrinsic wisdom and insight through their DNA from their early ancestors but collectively they’re unable to see the higher vision of themselves through the lens of shame they’ve carried even though it doesn’t belong to them. It was put in place long ago when their way of life was crushed along with their spirits by the early settlers who took away their right to choose the life they had embraced & flourished in.

Enslavement of any kind robs humanity of its Self-Love & higher vision of itself. As Maya Angelou so simply & wisely put it… “When we know better…we do better.” Sometimes it takes some assistance from others who can hold up that vision for someone of who they truly are until they can see it for themselves. Every person needs to “see” who they came here to be… underneath the layers of painful “lessons” we all tend to collect in our lives. If we don’t discover who we authentically are, how can we really know our purpose? We ALL have one.

Because our thoughts so very much create our realities, learning to live in “GRACE” is profoundly important. Grace is not perfection but rather the ability to see the Higher…Bigger Picture of things so we can gain a more realistic perspective & then to “let go” and allow it not only for ourselves but everyone else. It is and always will be an inside job!

   “GET CURIOUS …. REMEMBER”