Category Archives: Uncategorized

Self-care soul warnings

I woke up one morning 2 weeks ago, having had another of my recurring dreams.

The recurring dreams I have aren’t exactly the same, but they have a recurring theme.  Each time I have one of these dreams, I am observing lions, tigers, or big cats of some sort, in an enclosure, sometimes at a zoo and other times in some other random setting.  The thing that is unusual about this is that in every dream, I eventually discover that the enclosure is not secure – either a gate has been left unlocked, or the fence is broken, or sometimes it’s even just a matter of me suddenly realising that this ain’t no regular big cat enclosure – wire farm fencing or flywire is hardly going to protect me if they decide they want to come and play.

I’ve pondered on the meaning of these recurring dreams over the years.  Of course there are many different interpretation guidelines and methods I could follow, but I prefer to take the intuitive route.  I’ve always felt into my dreams, to contemplate what emotions they evoke, and how they make me feel, and what the themes and specifics symbolise for me personally.

My hunch has always been that these dreams are a warning signal for me.  A soul warning that whilst on the surface things may seem to be hunky-dory, I’m actually in dangerous territory.  It feels as though I’m not paying adequate attention to a situation that seems to be under control right now, but that won’t take much to turn into full blown and life-threatening catastrophe.

I’ve wondered what specifically these dreams are pointing to.  What is it that I’m not being careful enough with?  The past 3 years in particular have seen me dedicate to working on improving my life by practicing self-care from a spiritual and energetic perspective, and I feel incredibly grateful that I’ve found and followed this path.  If I hadn’t made the changes I’ve made, I believe I’d be in a state of worsening depression and overall mental health, and declining physical health.  So I felt that even though I couldn’t pinpoint the specifics of where I was in danger, I felt as though I was taking proactive action from a broad perspective.

So, when this dream cropped up again the other week, it caught me off guard.  Haven’t I come so far?  Aren’t I doing all the right things?

Pondering this again has prompted me to get a lot more real with myself this past week.  I’m doing a lot of stuff “right”.  I generally eat very well, I exercise, I meditate, I do yoga, I manage my energy, and more recently I’ve begun incorporating my new love – essential oils – into my life for their therapeutic benefits.  But the truth is, in so many ways, I’m ignoring a number of aspects of my self-care that are having a negative impact on my health.  I’ve made no secret over the years of the fact that I struggle with disciplining myself to get adequate sleep.  There are days when I eat an entire block of chocolate within the space of 15 minutes, kidding myself that because its 95% cocoa it’s “healthy” and therefore ok.  And since beginning my business, I’ve really succumbed to the compulsion to be “on” all the time – checking and responding to emails and messages into the night and first thing when I rise.  Then there’s also the “I don’t have time” excuse creeping in here and there: my daily morning walks have become “sometimes”, and there have been a few too many instances where I’ve let my meditation practice slide.

The truth is, whilst deep down I know these actions aren’t helpful, I do them mindlessly.  I slip into habits that are supported by cultural and societal norms.  I allow my conscientiousness and work ethic to dictate over and above my inner knowing.  I zone out and let my actions happen, rather than acting with intention.  I let my ego take the driver’s seat, bowing to her justifications for emotional eating and behaviours that set my nervous system on edge.

And when my inner truth, the voice of my soul, gently whispers to me that I know full well that these behaviours aren’t helpful or sustainable or aligned, I pretend that I can’t hear her, or that I don’t know how to do things differently, feigning helplessness.

This recent dream has prompted me to sit a little more still with these gentle whisperings.  When I do so, it’s quite laughable how hypocritical I have been, always singing the praises of self-care, energy work and alignment, and yet completely disregarding the truth of my actions.

I started this business for so many wonderful reasons, many of which centre around how it gives me the freedom and autonomy to work the way I want to work – in a way that is sustainable and flexible for me and my family.  I work this business educating others about the importance of improving our health and wellbeing using simple and natural self-care solutions, and yet here I am sabotaging all the efforts I do make.  The leaders within my team promote self-care and sustainable work habits as essential to our success.  And yet, my ego does its best to convince me that I can get away with these dirty little secrets by making up for them with the good stuff that I do actually do.

But that’s not how it works.

As I sit with these truths, I can acknowledge that when I’m not getting the sleep I need, my mind isn’t as sharp, it takes me longer to complete just about everything, and I don’t look my best.  Added to that the longer term health implications of inadequate sleep in general, coupled with the hormonal imbalances and disease I am challenged with.  When I wire my nervous system with screen time into the evening and night, my sleep is affected.  When I drown my sorrows in a block of (oh-so-delicious) chocolate, the pleasure only lasts as long as the mouthful takes to swallow, and I’m left with the sugar crash that inevitably follows.  When I skip a few too many morning walks, my body gradually becomes stiffer and I feel less and less grounded.  The cumulative effects of all of these actions include sluggish digestion, mental fogginess, skin breakouts, susceptibility to illness, long term health decline, inability to practice mindfulness, mood swings, difficulty articulating myself clearly …  this list is nowhere near exhaustive.

We all know, deep down, what we should and shouldn’t be doing.

So if we know this, why do we sabotage ourselves?  I think there are a few key reasons.

Firstly, we are seduced by the notion that ignorance is bliss, that if we just squish that little niggling, knowing voice down far enough, we can hide out in the luxury of shunning responsibility for our lives.  This happens so easily and comfortably that we’re virtually unconscious of it.

The ignorant path may seem the easier option in the moment, but when we live our lives day in and day out with the consequences of our actions, the “easy” option doesn’t seem so easy to live with.  We’re forced to live with the pain of our karma.

The truth is, we essentially know what we need to change about our behaviour.  Acknowledgement is the first step.  Then it’s a matter of taking responsibility to create the kind of life that we want to live, a life that makes us feel good.  So, why don’t we do this?

This brings me to the second key reason we sabotage ourselves.  As I’ve sat with this topic since having my most recent dream, the answer has become clearer with each passing day.  I believe it comes down to our egoic yearning for approval.  Let me explain.

So often, when chatting with friends and fellow mums in particular, I find that we’re all having an almost universal experience in our daily lives: the feelings of being perpetually busy, over-extended, drained, overwhelmed, stressed, unable to get ahead, and constantly tired or even exhausted.  And what is also almost universally similar is that so many of us feel powerless to change by implementing self-care habits that will turn this situation around.  We know we should exercise more, we know meditation could help, we know we need more down time, we know we need to review our diet, we know we should get more sleep … BUT, these things require effort and energy and time.  So, we repeat the mantra of our societal era: I DON’T HAVE TIME.

The very idea of practicing self-care feels like adding more to our already overloaded list.  So what do we do?  Nothing.  We lament the so-called fact that we just don’t have the time or space to implement these changes.

We don’t prioritise ourselves.

The truth is, we could swap out these changes for other stuff that we are doing, but we don’t make them a priority, so they fall to the bottom of the list where to-do’s that are never-gonna-happen live.

I believe there is an insidious little cultural norm that drives this pattern.  We do what appears “right” from an external perspective.  We are terrified that if we actually prioritised our health and wellbeing before anything else, that we would be judged and condemned as selfish, uncaring parents, heartless citizens, and just plain bad human beings.  We think that everyone believes that self-care is a luxury for the self-centred.

We know deep down that if we took prime care of ourselves, we would have more health, energy, and vigour to gift to our families and the world.  We would get more done in less time.  We would succumb to illness less often.  We would have the energy and motivation to give our everything to the causes that most touch our hearts.  But our ego slyly pipes up with that devastating question that shuts down our sensibility: What will everyone think of me?

What will my children think?
What will my spouse think?
What will my family think?
What will the school mums think?
What will the neighbours think?
What will my employer think?
What will my work colleagues think?
What will the world think?

And as quickly as that, we place everyone else’s opinion of us before our own knowing.

The point I’m trying to make here is not to make you feel bad about yourself.  Rather, I’m observing that we all slip into habits of thinking and behaviour that society deems normal or required in modern life, and we allow these habits to derail us.  The team I am a part of in my business fully promotes and supports sustainable self-care, lifestyle and work habits to support our wellbeing, and yet it has been SO EASY for me to disregard these and slip into habits that leave me depleted, all the while telling myself that I’m practicing adequate self-care.

Looking after ourselves isn’t rocket science.  But I’m discovering that it takes courage.

Are you triggered by this idea?  Do you feel helpless and trapped in your current circumstances?

I challenge you to sit with this notion that your wellbeing is completely within your control, and that you know what to do, right now, and that you actually can do it.  I’m not downplaying the challenges that so many of us face in our everyday lives, but I truly believe that you can create true wellbeing for yourself.  I truly believe that if you are privileged enough to be reading this right now, you have the power within you to shape your experience of life.

It’s time to take stock of our lives, and notice the areas where we are vulnerable: where are we ignorant of the fact that the lion enclosure isn’t protecting us?  I for one am spending this time in the lead up to Christmas and the new year getting real with myself about where I’m shirking my self-care responsibility and succumbing to the herd mentality that it’s all too hard to create a life of health, wellbeing, and success that incorporates caring for myself as well as others.  I’m building the courage, step by step, moment by moment, to take a stand for prioritising my self-care.  I invite you to join me in creating a 2018 where we dare to buck the trend, and place our self-care at the top of our lists.  Let’s not leave it to fate to determine whether we find ourselves suddenly face to face with a metaphorical lion, all because of our fear of judgement.  Let’s be brave together.

 


You may also find this post relevant to this topic.

Also see the previous post for ideas on how to get started with cultivating calm.


Relevant resources that I stumbled upon in the lead up to writing this post:

The Kate & Mike Show podcast: Karen Brody, Daring to Rest: https://katenorthrup.com/podcast/episode-64-karen-brody-daring-rest/

The Quote of the Day Show podcast: Work Doesn’t Work Without Play, with Shonda Rhimes: http://seancroxton.com/quote-of-the-day/289/


Main image credit: Lions by Christopher Michel via Flickr.  Used under licence.


Hmmm … seems I have a bit of a thing for lion images 😉

Consciously Cultivating Calm this Christmas

I’ve been so challenged recently with keeping grounded, maintaining my self-care practices, and maintaining calm and order amongst so much “busy-ness”.  As Christmas draws nearer, there are moments when anxiety and fear of not being able to “get it all done” sets in.  In truth, there are times when it’s tempting to admit defeat and resign myself to a sea of overwhelm.  Sometimes it feels like it would be so much easier to throw my hands in the air, give up and wallow in self-pity and victimhood.

But I’ve come far enough on my path to know that what seems the easier option in these moments, actually ends up feeling so much worse.

I’m keeping my head above water, and I know what to do to help myself to rise above these challenges.  I come back to my spiritual practices.

Meditation is the basis of my spiritual practice that keeps me sane during good times and bad.  As I shared recently on my Facebook page, it’s often during the more challenging times that we find it increasingly difficult to commit to or keep up with a meditation practice, when in truth, these are the times when we need them the most.  It’s so easy to believe the excuse of “I don’t have time”, especially during the festive season, and yet prioritising the time to commit to this action actually has this seemingly magical effect of opening up more time – it never ceases to truly amaze me.  Then on the other hand, when things are going smoothly, it can be easy to fall into the trap of letting our practice slide here and there because we’re feeling good, and it doesn’t seem to urgent or necessary.  However, it’s important to maintain our practice so that when challenging times do arrive (as they inevitably do if you’re human!), then you have the resilience to face whatever comes your way with more ease and grace.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers.  I don’t pretend to be the perfect example.  And I most certainly do not wish to make you feel that you’re inadequate or a failure if you don’t add my suggestions to your list of “Things That I Really Should Be Doing”.  Been there, done that.  And I’m pretty sure that your To Do list is more than long enough as it is.  I share based on my experience, with the intention of inspiring you, because I want you to feel better.  I invite you to take some serious consideration of the possibility that prioritising meditation can literally turn your life around and create the space and calm you crave.

So today I’m sharing some resources that can help make meditation a regular part of your life.

Chakra Cleanse Meditation

If you’ve been reading my words for a while, you’ll know that I love and recommend Belinda Davidson’s Chakra Cleanse Meditation, which is my daily practice.  It is incredible, and it has changed my life.  Having a guided meditation recording makes things so much easier in my opinion.  I personally have found it easier to focus when concentrating on the guidance of Belinda’s words and instructions than simply focusing on my breath, which finds my mind wandering almost instantly.  And, of course, this particular meditation is specific to cleansing and strengthening your chakras, so whilst you’re getting all the regular benefits of meditation, you’re also intentionally creating a strengthened energetic/vibrational state from a chakric perspective.  This version is 35 minutes.  Read more about chakras and Belinda’s work here, and about my experience with Belinda’s School of the Modern Mystic and my chakric journey here, here and here.

Meditones

If, the concept of meditation is new to you, or you’ve tried it and it all seems too hard, then another incredible tool that I love and recommend is the amazing work of Tahlee Rouillon of Sonesence.  Tahlee incorporates binaural beats into her divine meditation tracks that she’s dubbed “Meditones”, which in layman’s terms basically means this: listen to her Meditones tracks through headphones, and you effortlessly get many of the benefits of meditation.  Tahlee’s music is truly heavenly, and I adore listening to it in the evening before bed as a beautiful way to wind down.  If you’ve attended any of my essential oils classes, it’s Tahlee’s music that I play on loop as gorgeous background tunes to help set a high-vibe tone.  I love recommending Tahlee’s work, because it essentially means that there is NO EXCUSE!  Anyone can sit back, relax, and listen to music through headphones.  You can find out more about Sonesence meditones here and visit Tahlee’s online shop here.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is another pillar of my spiritual practice, which for me is more about the way in which I go about my day, rather than a specific period of time when I sit down with my eyes closed.  Mindfulness is actually quite a broad topic, but to begin with, it can be described as being aware of the thoughts that you are thinking.  People often get caught up in thinking that they’re no good at meditating because they can’t focus, they drift off, and spend their time in meditation thinking about what to cook for dinner or the million things on their To Do list.  The truth is, meditation is not about emptying your mind of these thoughts, but rather being aware that you’re having them, and then re-focusing your attention onto the object of your meditation, whether that be your breath, a mantra, one of your chakras, or something else.  Simply becoming aware that you’re having these thoughts is progress in mindfulness!  So please, don’t give up.

My mindfulness practice sees me aiming to be aware, as often as I can throughout the day, of the thoughts that I’m having.  I found this very challenging initially, and it’s taken a lot of practice.  When I’m doing something as common as washing the dishes or having a shower, I notice with more regularity what I’m thinking about.  When I notice this, I automatically disconnect from the thought, and then I do my best to focus instead on the experience I’m having: the feel of my hands in the gloves, the scent of the shampoo.  The effect of this practice, over time, has been phenomenal in keeping me calmer, and dealing with my children with less reactivity.

A great book to start with as you embark on your mindfulness journey is The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris.  It’s a simple, easy read and very practical.  The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle is an incredible and much loved “bible” of many a spiritual seeker, but it is definitely a more challenging read, and perhaps not ideal if you’re in a state of overwhelm or new to the spiritual path.  Please don’t dismiss it, but perhaps keep it on the shelf and know that the time will come when you’re ready for Tolle’s enlightened wisdom.

Essential Oils

How can I not mention the new loves of my life as such a beautiful way to support you with a meditation practice?!  I love diffusing my dōTERRA essential oils every time I meditate to help me focus, to help me feel grounded, and to connect more easily to the spiritual realms.  In addition to the physical therapeutic properties of essential oils, there are also the more subtle emotional effects that their chemical composition has on our brain.  When you inhale the aroma of an essential oil, the scent is processed in the olfactory system of the brain, which connects to the limbic system where emotions and memories live.  As you breathe in the scent of the essential oil, the limbic system creates a response in your brain based on memories associated with that particular aroma.  Many times, the responses triggered by the limbic system can be emotional responses that are calming or uplifting, depending on the unique chemical structure of the oil as well as the your unique memories associated with the aroma, so each person can have a slightly different response to a particular oil.  However, essential oils have specific chemical elements that can create a desired benefit.  The following images from dōTERRA illustrates the properties elicited by an essential oil based on its chemical constituents.

I particularly like to use my oil blends with grounding and soothing properties during meditation, such as InTune or Balance, but it also varies depending on my emotional state and what I’m wanting to achieve.  Frankincense is a favourite, but if I’m tired I’ll add an energising oil such as Peppermint.  I’m also finding that aromatic use of essential oils are contributing to my mindfulness and presence practice, as they help me to be less in my head and more in my body – they give me something experiential to focus on.  I become aware of the aroma of the oils in the diffuser, or the scent of the oils I’m wearing topically.  In addition to these beneficial effects, they’re just such a yummy addition to my day and give me a little boost of motivation to sit in meditation and enjoy them.

Find out how to purchase dōTERRA essential oils here.

Delete or Delegate

So my last suggestion is not so much a resource, but a tip for you.  If life is so full and so busy and so overwhelming that not one of the suggestions and resources above seems possible for you to incorporate into your life, please don’t feel bad.  Try this: commit to removing at least 1 item from your To Do list.  In our overstimulated and overworked society, we have the habit of over committing and often overcomplicating things.  It doesn’t need to be this way.  Take a look at your list, and find something – anything – and delete it.  There is something that you can say no to.  There is something that you can delegate to someone else.  You don’t need to do it all.  Just lightening your load that little bit can make a difference to how you feel.  And if you make it a practice to delete 1 item from your list monthly, weekly, or even daily, it will soon add up and free up some space for you.  This practice will help you to consider what you put on your list in the first place more thoughtfully.  It’s about prioritising, about asking for or accepting help, and about knowing and believing that your worth is not determined by what you accomplish.  You are enough, you are worthy, just because you exist.


Disclosure: This blog contains affiliate links.  If you make a purchase through these links, I may receive an affiliate commission.


Main image credit: Road meditation by Nickolai Kashirin via Flikr.  Used under license.

Perfectly imperfect – the bumpy ride is better than no ride

Oh it’s been a bumpy ride so far, this new business venture and adventure!

I’ve been so challenged with finding balance, because I’m so lit up by this “work”, and I just want to do all-the-things and share with everyone!

I’ve been so challenged with staying true to my why, to my intentions, with staying aligned.

I’ve found myself so easily falling into the dark holes of FOMO (fear of missing out), rushing to “get there”, comparison, and trying to emulate my mentors instead of sticking to my own path.

I’m loving what I’m doing, and I’m on fire with the message of the oils, the empowerment of the business opportunity, and the philanthropic heart of the company I’m partnering with. This is not the issue.

The issue is falling into old habits and thought patterns, allowing my ego to creep back into the driver’s seat intermittently.  I find myself with a scarcity mindset, feeling fearful, being in a lack mentality.  I find myself worrying, I find myself operating from a place of fear of failure, which has me slip into desperation mode.  This all drives me into old behavioural patterns of poor boundaries, working late, and getting inadequate rest.  This leaves me feeling tired (or exhausted), overwhelmed, ungrounded, forgetful, and foggy, and all this leads me become at risk of triggering or worsening my health challenges, and making poor choices.  This becomes a perpetual downward spiral, and sees me focusing on unaligned goals out of a desire for validation, approval, and praise.  And then, I recognise all this and I feel bad that I’m doing this to myself, and that it has a negative impact on those around me.

Gosh, that’s draining just to write!!

So why am I sharing this story of woe with you?

Because, as always, I know that if I’m experiencing it, someone else is too.  Because in my lessons, you may find lessons relevant to your own path.

None of us is perfect.  We each have our “bad” habits, tendencies, and negative programming that keeps us stuck.

We each have the voice of our ego telling us that we’re inadequate and doomed to fail, that we may as well give up.

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t succeed.  It doesn’t mean that you can’t do good in the world.  It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t give it a go, that you shouldn’t give it your best.  It certainly doesn’t mean that you will fail.

What it does mean is that you’re human.  Every single human, including all those out there who appear to be “successful” (however you define that for yourself), have an ego that tells them just these kinds of thoughts every day.  The key is, not everyone listens to it.  Not everyone believes what their ego has to say, or allows it to dictate their actions.

What it does mean is that the road may be a little (or a lot) bumpy.  You will no doubt make mistakes.  No matter how much your inner perfectionist strives for impeccability, it won’t all be perfection.

The point is, it doesn’t matter.

When you notice your mistakes, fix them.  When you recognise the voice of your ego, don’t believe its words, or allow them to dictate your actions.  When you see you’re stumbling or veering off course, pick yourself up, re-establish your footing, and course correct.

Keep coming back to your why.  Keep coming home to your soul.

The universe is forgiving.  You won’t be marked down for getting sidetracked or swept up in egoic delusion.  Every time you return to your soul, all is forgiven.  The slate is wiped clean.  Just ask for guidance and help, and trust that the answer is given before the request is even made.

You don’t need to be perfect, or get it all perfect.

I’m so glad that I’m in a place energetically where I don’t allow these challenges to stop me.  I’m so glad that I can recognise and observe what I’m doing, forgive myself, and course correct.  I’m so grateful that I have my spiritual tools to keep me on track or to get me back on track.

Do what your soul guides you to do, and it will all be perfectly imperfect.  It’s all part of the human experience.


Image credit: via Death to the Stock Photo, used under license.

Forging Faith

Forging Faith

Faith.

What does it mean? What does it mean to you?

I’ve been pondering this a bit recently. Through the inevitable ups and downs of life, the ebb and flow, I’ve questioned the strength of my faith, and even whether I have any at all.

The Oxford Dictionary defines faith as “complete trust or confidence in someone or something”, or “strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof”. For me personally, in this context, faith is my complete trust, confidence and conviction in my spirituality, my spiritual practices, and the spiritual teachings I follow, regardless of any proof or lack thereof.

So, the question I’ve asked myself lately is, do I possess unwavering trust and confidence in my spiritual journey?

The answer, I’m afraid, is no.

But it’s not a terrible thing, and it’s something I’m constantly strengthening with my daily devotion. Let me explain.

When things are great and I’m flying high, it’s so easy to have faith, to trust that I’m headed in the right direction, and that my spirituality is my guiding light. But on the down days, when life feels like a slog, it’s so easy to ditch that faith straight into the rubbish bin, convincing myself in my negative downward spiral of ego-identified suffering that “this sh*t doesn’t work”.

I’ve found myself there many a time. With infuriating frustration, I agonise over why it’s not working for me, why I’m failing despite my dedicated practice, that I must be defective because it’s working for everybody else. I get enmeshed and weighed down in expectations and comparison. I throw my faith out the window with the temperament of a 3 year old throwing a tantrum.

But I am determined. I claw my way back, eventually, into the upswing. And when I do, I laugh at how my descent into suffering is not only part of life for the unenlightened, but that when I’m down I rub dirt into the wound by failing to be vigilant and on guard with one key spiritual practice: mindfulness. I identify with the ego who tells me all these sickening lies, and I believe them. I might sometimes manage to observe my negative thoughts, but even when I do, I often find myself forgetting to disidentify with them, and believing them regardless.

The key here: this is a practice. I’m realising that faith isn’t something thta is necessarily unwavering, is something that I need to practice, just like my spiritual practices. It doesn’t matter, in the scheme of things, if my faith seems to waver from time to time as I descend into an ebb, because I’ve embedded my spiritual practices deeply enough into my everyday living, through devoted repetition, day after day after day, that I KNOW I will come out the other side, rising like the phoenix from the ashes. And I trust – I have faith – that with more practice, I’ll increasingly improve my ability to disidentify from my ego, and those ebbs will become less dramatic, and be fewer and further between.

But there is another aspect to this faith question that has arisen for me. The catalyst for my foray into my spiritual path was my recurrent struggle with mental health, which, amongst other drivers, was largely fuelled by a persistent yearning to find my way, to know and live my purpose for being here in this life. As such, whilst I’m coming to terms with the fact that this doesn’t necessarily look the way my ego wants it to – a concise job description that, if I follow it, will definitively bring me joy and complete fulfilment from now until my last breath – there is a part of me that has continued to seek a specific level of connection to God that will guide me on my correct path. To put it more specifically: I’ve been waiting for my intuition to kick in and ramp up, so that I can make confident choices and take actions that feel aligned with my soul. I’ve had faith that through working on my energy, through strengthening my chakras, I’ll learn to connect to that inner guidance, that indwelling divinity. I’ve had faith that I’ll become strong in my certainty that my third eye intuits with accuracy and precision, that my solar plexus communicates to me definitively. That my heart communicates with clear distinction from my head. That I can access my chakra eight and communicate with my soul with ease and clarity. Almost three years into my journey, I’ve questioned why I’m not there yet, as though the spiritual path has a final destination with a due date. I’ve had such faith that this path is THE path for me, but the test of time has strained that faith. I’ve been impatient. I’ve questioned why, after so much devotion, I’ve still felt so lost. It’s hard to keep the faith when you aren’t getting what you want in your anticipated timeframe, when you’re stuck in egoic thoughts about what should or shouldn’t be happening. But like I said before, I’m determined, and I’ve clung on to that faith.

Something about this quandary has shifted significantly for me very recently. I could attempt to attribute it to one of a number of specific things, but ultimately I think it’s a culmination of everything leading up to now – my continued devotion to my spiritual practice, some energy healing work I’ve done with a few practitioners, my readiness to begin working with intention setting, all the self help and spirituality books and podcasts I love to gorge on, the affirmations I’ve been repeating, the EFT tapping I’ve been experimenting with, divine timing, external conditions, perhaps even the full moon lunar eclipse and this lions gate thing everyone’s been banging on about! I’ve recognised that some of my negative subconscious programming has been rewritten. Areas in which I’ve previously felt so blocked have suddenly become free-flowing, unhindered, non-issues. It feels miraculous and magical. I’ve found myself doing certain things, without having given them much (if any) thought or effort. I’ve found myself unconcerned with potential challenges and stumbling blocks, inherently knowing that I’ll find any necessary solutions, but not consciously thinking through this as a strategy. I’ve then found myself, at random times (like when I’m on the toilet!!!) instantly coming up with solutions to challenges that I didn’t even realise I was attempting to solve. I’ve found myself taking constructive actions almost impulsively, which previously would have taken much self-coercion and motivation mustering. Things that previously I allowed fear to hold me back from, now I’m boldly marching towards with conviction and FAITH that it’s the right direction to move in, and that even if I fail, it’s all part of the journey.

What I’m coming to realise is that surrender is a big part of faith, that letting go and allowing the natural intelligence of the universe to flow unhindered through me is key. When I have faith, I know that there’s no need to strive, no need to worry, no need to push. I trust that I’m guided, and that even if I take a wrong turn, I can get back on track and appreciate the detour for the lessons that it gave me. But previously, surrender has felt infuriatingly elusive. How does one simply “let go” of trying to do everything we can to obtain something we want so desperately?

Six weeks ago I began working with the “Lunar Abundance” practice created by Dr Ezzie Spencer in her book, “An Abundant Life: Flourishing with the cycles of the Moon”. Ezzie’s practice provides a framework whereby you set a feelings based intention at the new moon, and then use the lunar cycle as a natural time keeper and self reflection tool to manifest your intention. At the last new moon, I found myself setting my second ever lunar abundance intention:

I feel safe, held and supported, trusting and knowing that the divine within me is constantly guiding me towards living my souls purpose.

Little did I realise what I was conjuring with this intention. The setting of it arose organically and intuitively through the process, and I assumed it was about my ongoing desire to discover my souls purpose. But I was also actually asking to find my faith. Following the practice, in which I intentionally felt and embodied those feelings of safety, of being held and supported, of trusting and knowing that I’m being guided by God towards my purpose, I was manifesting. I was making magic. It felt so sublimely good to feel the way I wanted to feel, and by intentionally doing so, I believe I flicked a metaphysical switch that had me realise that I’m now feeling the feelings because I already am being guided. I realised at the full moon that I didn’t have to imagine the intention manifesting in order to feel the feelings, because the intention already was manifest, and the guidance had been there all along – I just hadn’t recognised it before. I just need to feel the feelings and then remember that the divine is always working through me. It was around this time that the shift took place, and things began to flow. Like I said before, I believe it was a culmination of multiple contributing factors that brought me to this shift point, but this specific aspect felt particularly relevant and enlightening, highlighting for me what had changed. It was so easy. I’m in awe.

So am I insured from ever again losing my faith in this respect? Well I’m not sure, probably not. As in my more general spiritual journey, it’s possible that there may be times that my faith will waver, but I believe that I have the tools and practices that will always bring me back into alignment and back to my sense of faith. Faith therefore isn’t something I have to feel obliged to perpetually uphold in an attempt to maintain a spiritual identity, but something that I can trust will always be available to me when I’m ready to come home to myself after the inevitable missteps into suffering.


Main image credit: Rainbows 526 by Rocky Raybel via Flickr.  Used under licence.

The glorious perfection of a messy life

For so long I’ve felt stunted in writing in this space.  In fits and spurts I manage to create a little something here and there, but consistency has eluded me, pretty well from the start.  I go for weeks or months without writing, and then announce out of the blue when I’m back.

I’ve questioned this erratic pattern, I’ve told myself that if I want to make something of my writing I need to get consistent, I need to be creating content, I need/should/must do this and that.  Constant judgement and criticism.  And that, my friend, is a prime recipe for procrastination & paralysis.

When inspiration hits, the words come flowing in my mind.  I’m consumed by them, I’m illuminated by them, I’m propelled by them.

Sometimes, I prioritise getting them out of my head and onto the paper or screen.  Other times, I tell myself “later”, because there’s the cooking and the washing and the million other things on the to-do list.  Generally, later never comes, or if it does, the words seem to have left the building – what was earlier an abundant overflow of ideas and words becomes a deserted, empty, echoing chamber.  That is frustrating.

The thing is, I know that it’s futile to wait until my ducks are all in a row to make a go of creating something of beauty, meaning or significance.  And yet, it mostly feels like life is always in the way.

My journey, particularly over the past 3 years, has bought me so far.  So much healing, so much growth, so much expansion.  And yet, so often I find myself questioning why I haven’t reached my destination yet – I have this vague concept of arriving in a place of perfection where all my wounds are healed, I’ve got my sh*t completely sorted, I’m in perfect health, I’m living a life that from an external perspective looks successful, and I’m in perfect alignment with the divine and living my soul’s purpose.  From that place, I tell myself, I’ll be able to share words of wisdom that are truly of service.

This egoic questioning is ceaseless, and the judgement and criticism of not being “there” and of being where I’m at, of course, drags me down and pulls me further and further away from this imaginative nirvana.  It also goes against everything I’ve been taught.

It physically feels like being caught in the thick and tangled web of a mammoth spider, so rope-like and thick that it chokes my breath and holds me captive, blocks my view, weighs me down and slows me to a crawl.  It feels incomprehensibly penetrating, like it pierces through my body as though it wasn’t even there.  And yet, I know there is a way out.  I know that I haven’t been wound and tightly bound by any spider, helplessly trapped and doomed for annihilation.  I walked my own way into the web, and got myself into this mess, entangling myself more and more with every egoic thought that I entertained.

And so, the time eventually arrives when I see the thoughts for what they are, I recognise that they’re just thoughts and they’re not me and they’re not truth, and I am freed.  Things pick up, and I swing into an up-cycle where I’m on top of the world and at peace within.

I know, when I’m on the high, that the low thoughts will return.  I’m aware and on the lookout.  Sometimes, when they arrive, I see them for what they are, and I sidestep another low.  Other times, they hit me and I forget all I’ve learnt, and I go through the cycle again until I catch a glimpse of the light and bring myself back to peace again.  And on and on it goes.

The downs have become fewer and further between, but they have persisted.  Sometimes, the very fact that I’ve avoided a downer in so long becomes fodder for my desperate ego to latch onto, as I criticise myself for falling victim to this habitual pattern again after doing so well.  Why, I ask myself, do I allow this to happen when I know better?  Why do I fall continually when I know how to rise, why do I fall victim when I know what’s coming?  Why do I allow myself to descend into hell when I know how to reside in heaven?  Why do I do this, as I watch my peers and teachers continue to rise and transcend their hell?  And then, in a disorienting twist of consciousness, I know that this thought is just a thought and if I allow it to it will drag me down further, and yet I believe it.  I merge with it.  I become overwhelmingly ensnared within the web.  I identify with the egoic part of me that says this is true, even though I know it’s not and I know it’s simply a thought that my mind is having.  **Exhausting.**  Confusing.

So today I’m here.  The thoughts and ideas of my morning mind wanderings are not morphing into the words right now that I expected, but they’re along similar lines.  What I know is this: just because I haven’t got it all worked out, just because I haven’t arrived in that utopian paradise where I’m essentially a saint or a guru or spiritually enlightened, doesn’t mean I don’t have value to share.  Just because I don’t have all the answers doesn’t mean that there’s not value in the lessons I have learned, or even in sharing my lows along with my highs.  My intention has never been to seek sympathy or publicly air my demons for the purpose of narcissistically offloading my woes.  I speak of my shadows and darknesses in the hope that I can aid someone, anyone, even just a little, in lightening their load along with me mine.

And then, so easefully and gracefully, everything changes.  I remind myself that the utopian paradise, the idealistic destination, doesn’t exist – it’s a figment of my imagination.  There is no destination.  Only a perpetual journey.  In the simple turn of a thought, I find myself surrendering to what is and letting go of the pain and the epic struggle.  The spiderweb disolves into nothingness.  I discover that I’m back on the upswing, and I’m once again living in heaven on earth.


Main image credit: Rain and Rust by Mooganic via Flickr.  Used under licence.

Demystifying Manifesting

Something a little different today!  I’m feeling called to share what’s currently capturing my interest.  Right now, the topic of MANIFESTING is totally lighting me up!

Manifesting, in the way I’m using the term, is the process of bringing things into being, into reality. When talking about manifesting, many people think only of what they want to create in their lives – things they want to have or experience. What they don’t often recognise, is that everything they already have has been manifested by them, both positive and negative, via the energetic realm. So, consider that you have manifested your job, your home, the food in your cupboard, your friendships, your children, your computer, the holiday you’ve booked, the cold you caught last week, the fight you had with the parking inspector, everything in your life. When we study the art and science of manifesting, what we are interested in is CONSCIOUSLY and INTENTIONALLY manifesting our desires, which might include experiences, physical objects or belongings, relationships, healings, both personal and external. Sometimes people can get stuck in the perception that manifesting is a very egoic, surface level, even selfish practice, but this is not necessarily the case – you can manifest health for your family, an improved social condition, environmental healing … the possibilities are endless.

My most in-depth training in manifesting to date has been through Belinda Davidson’s School of the Modern Mystic (SoMM), in the Level 1 course. We learnt a powerful technique to manifest our wishes utilising the chakra energy system, the White Light, and mindfulness. Some of the things I’ve manifested so far using this technique have included (but are not limited to) unexpected income (seemingly out of nowhere) to buy tickets to a workshop I wanted to participate in, an interstate trip for a meetup with the SoMM community and a workshop, and 3 free tickets to see Danielle LaPorte speak in Melbourne. Through my experience and practices learnt through SoMM, I’ve also manifested many other wonderful things without following the specific technique learnt, simply through changing my energy to be an energetic match for that which I desire (think “law of attraction”, a concept you may have heard about) – free enrolment into an online course, a pro-bono 3 month coaching series, the healing of my son’s ongoing ear infections which prevented impending surgery, and the healing of my husband’s severely debilitating back injury. It’s been a roller-coaster journey, and I’m still very early on my learning path, but it’s thrilling!

Interestingly, I’ve been noticing the parallels between this method and some of the concepts I learnt growing up attending a Catholic school and going to church every Sunday. I remember learning things such as asking God through prayer to take care of all our worries, that God is love, and trusting in the infinite power of God. These concepts and more, in my opinion, are essentially the same as what I learned through SoMM, but just explained with different language. The language of the bible and religion is cloaked in metaphors and hidden meanings, and from what I understand, is misunderstood by the vast majority. For me, the language and techniques I’ve learned through SoMM have simply resonated and made more sense to me – they aren’t necessarily better, they’re just expressed in language that I can understand and apply, and they have been what has worked for me. They have given me a sense of power in my life that was previously missing.  It didn’t occur to me for some time that manifestation is actually referred to directly in the bible – Jesus healed the sick, fed the masses, and turned water into wine. He was, indeed, a master manifestor.

The most important thing I learned in the manifesting module of SoMM was that in order to live our soul purpose, we need to be able to manifest. As Belinda described it, we need to know how to manifest to get ourselves out of the struggle cycle so that our energies are freed up to live and pursue our purpose. Depending on an individual’s specific circumstances, this will look different – for some, they’ve manifested financial stability, but they may need still need emotional support through close relationships. For others, it might mean manifesting a secure income so that they’re not worrying about how they’re going to pay the bills every week. When life is working for us and our needs are taken care of, we can devote our time and attention to the “bigger” picture, to our bigger dreams and desires, to our purpose for being here in this lifetime, to our soul purpose.

It’s a fascinating topic, rich with intricacies and nuance. I’ve been reading and researching to gain some different perspectives on the manifestation process, and the more I read, the more I discover there is to learn and understand.

E-SquaredE-Cubed

E-Squared, by Pam Grout, is a fabulous book to start with if you’re new to this topic (or not!). Grout has a brilliant ability to mix wisdom, science, and humour into her writing in a way that makes this topic so simple to understand and apply. The book is designed as a set of simple (even kid-friendly!) scientific experiments that you as the reader conduct yourself in order to have the principles demonstrated in a very real and obvious way. This is a really fun book, and it was followed up with a sequel, E-Cubed, which goes to a deeper level again.

cars

Since reading this book over 18 months ago, I’ve adapted one of the experiments and I conduct it on an almost daily basis. Every day that I leave the house and I’m on the roads, I set an intention to manifest seeing at least one car of every colour of the rainbow – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. I’m strict with this intention – it can’t just be any red car, or any blue car – the colour must be vibrant and complete. Can I tell you, I have manifested this outcome with a success rate, by my estimation, of approximately 98%! I reckon that’s pretty impressive given that bright, vividly violet cars are thought to be relatively rare! Funnily, on the few occassions where I haven’t manifested one particular coloured car (usually purple), I can rest assured that the following day it will turn up in overload, and I’ll see two, three or four purple cars in one day!  This ongoing experiment has been a brilliant learning experience, teaching me a lot about my mindset, my subconscious programming, and the nuances of the manifesting process. I highly recommend it!

Wishes FulfilledWishes Fulfilled is a wonderful read by the delightful Dr Wayne Dyer. Dyer has essentially condensed and translated the vast array of spiritual teachings that he has studied on the subject, mainly (in this book), the works of Neville and Ascended Master Saint Germain. I’m up to the final chapter, but so far, this book has been brilliant at offering me the ability to understand concepts that before I had zero understanding of, and that I didn’t have clarity around how they related to manifesting. Dyer focuses on how and why we are of God, we have God within us, and that we essentially are God. This informs the tools he provides for practically applying the manifesting process, and offers a bridge to the belief that we are the creators of our reality.

Manifesting MatisseAnother recent read was Manifesting Matisse, by Dr Michelle K. Nielsen. This book is a thorough, well detailed, 10-step “practical system for reality creation”. Alongside the system, Nielsen has documented the story of how she manifested her son’s miraculous healing. Her son, Matisse, was born at 29 weeks, and by age 5 was experiencing severe developmental delay, neurological damage and attachment problems. Whilst his extraordinary healing is a fascinating read in and of itself, it provides a brilliant illustration of how powerful this technique is, that no matter how unrealistic a desire might seem, that miracles are possible.

Manifesting MichelangeloManifesting Michelangelo by Joseph Pierce Farrell is another brilliant book that offers insight into the very real possibilities, or potential, available to us to manifest miracles. The book is divided into two parts – Farrell’s story, followed by his manifestation process steps. Whilst I didn’t personally gain enormous growth from his process (even though I found it completely valid) given my journey so far, I found Farrell’s story offered a marvellous demonstration of the reality of miracles, because it seems so completely impossible. As the book describes, Farrell discovered that he has the ability to transform human tissue using the power of consciousness. Specifically, Farrell has eyewitness medical testimony, scientific evidence and photos to demonstrate that he can heal broken bones, restore facial deformities, heal chronically injured joints, dissolve inoperable tumours, and more. He has even used his abilities to provide cosmetic “surgery”. This is an absolutely fascinating story, and Farrell has dedicated his life to “exploring human consciousness and its relationship to health and healing in order to bridge the divide between science and spirituality”.

The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success

Deepak Chopra has written a book on the topic of manifesting, called The 7 Spiritual Laws of Success. As the name suggests, this book is particularly spiritual in nature, and quite profound.  I first read this book many years ago, and honestly, it went completely over my head. But I read it again a few months ago, and it took on new meaning for me and made so much more sense. If you’re familiar with Chopra’s work and perhaps a little way in on your spiritual journey, I highly recommend you check it out, because it contains much wisdom. This is a book that I feel I will need to keep going back to as I progress further on my path, and I’m certain that with each reading, more of that wisdom will filter through to my conscious brain!

What the Bleep do we KnowWhat the Bleep Do We Know bookIf you’re not keen to get reading, you might instead like to check out the film, What the Bleep Do We Know (which has actually been adapted into a book as well, so you could read it too!). This film combines documentary with a narrative plot, and offers a view of the universe and human life, linking neuroscience and quantum physics, to illustrate how and why we do indeed have the ability to manifest the life we desire.

The Law of AttractionAsk and it is GivenWhilst I haven’t yet read any of their books but have watched a number of their videos, Esther & Jerry Hicks have provided the world with a wealth of information on the law of attraction that is, at it’s core, all about manifestation.  The source of their information comes from “a group consciousness from the non-physical dimension” (http://www.abraham-hicks.com/lawofattractionsource/about_abraham.php), referred to as Abraham, that Esther interprets (whilst many refer to Esther as a channel for Abraham, they make a point of saying that such a word is inaccurate).  Abraham’s profound spiritual teachings centre on topics such as reality creation, emotions as guidance, and that life is supposed to be joyful.

The Hidden Messages in WaterLastly, this book may seem a little off-topic, but I feel compelled to include it as it gives more food for though regarding our manifesting powers: The Hidden Messages in Water, by Dr Masaru Emoto. Emoto presents a theory of how water is connected to human consciousness.  In a series of experiments, Emoto exposed water in glasses to different words, images, or music, and then froze the water and examined the resulting ice crystals with microscopic photography.  He found that water exposed to “positive” variables produced beautiful, brilliant, complex and colourful crystals, whereas water exposed to “negative” variables produced disfigured, incomplete, asymmetrical, dull-coloured crystals.  Whilst there is much criticism of Emotos work and theories from a scientific standpoint, it nonetheless offers a provocative concept – “since people are 70 percent water, and the Earth is 70 percent water, we can heal our planet and ourselves by consciously expressing love and goodwill”.  If you’ve read E-Squared, you might recognise the similarity between Emoto’s work and the experiment with growing seedlings – directing loving energy towards one set of seedlings, and negative energy towards the other set.  words-healDanielle LaPorte also referenced Emoto’s work in a blog post, and conducted an experiment of her own using an apple.  I find this whole theory absolutely fascinating, and it resonates insofar as it is linked with the concepts of law of attraction, vibrational resonance, and the power of love.  Whatever your take on Masaru’s work, it’s worth trying it out for yourself (although I must admit, I struggle with the idea of having to deliberately direct negative energy towards anything – I don’t want to hold that vibration within myself!).

If you’re curious to learn more about this topic, I recommend checking out some of these books and more, as well as surfing the web – there is such a vast variety of information out there, and you can get started on your path of learning and practicing straight away!  I’m keen to expand my reading into the area of master manifestors, the holy people and avatars of the world, to give me more awareness of the limitless possibilities and to help re-program my limited beliefs. I’m utterly captivated by stories of gurus materialising objects out of thin air, of men and women who can do the “impossible”. Whilst at this stage I don’t believe that level of manifestation is part of my path in this lifetime, it nonetheless ignites incredible inspiration for what I can achieve. I’m finding that the more I explore this topic, the more I want to learn, and the more the belief becomes cemented into my consciousness that manifesting is a very real process that we absolutely can take control of, in order to create the life of our dreams.

Do you have any favourite manifesting resources?  Please share your favourite books, websites, YouTube clips, and films in the comments, I’d love to know what inspires and helps you, and I’m always interested to learn more!

Happy manifesting!
X


Main image credit: Chiseld Flurry, by LadyDragonflyCC via Flickr.  Used under license.

The Good Witch of the South Eastern Suburbs

So today is Halloween, and it has prompted me to write about a topic that is currently holding my interest: witches.

I’ve never been a big fan of Halloween, nor have I really gotten into the spirit of it, apart from the one year when, as kids, my brothers and I naïvely decided to carve a jack-o-lantern out of a rock hard pumpkin, and spent hours trying to scoop out the raw flesh and carve a face without stabbing ourselves in the process (pumpkins suited to carving weren’t readily available from the local supermarket here in the early nineties). We were never allowed to go trick-or-treating (I’ve held on to that tradition with my kids – mean mum alert!), and the only time I can think that I would have dressed up would have been if a friend happened to have a themed birthday party at this time of year. I actually don’t remember or know a great deal about the origins of Halloween, other than the fact that here in Australia, it’s really only gained in popularity in recent times thanks to commercial reasons.  Retailers saw a gaping hole in the market that represented millions of dollars in potential revenue. Get Aussies on board with Halloween, and you can sell a truck load of Halloween stuff to them.

When I do think of Halloween, the standard images come to mind: pumpkins, ghosts, skeletons, vampires, and witches. Scary witches.

I used to joke years ago that if I’d been born a few hundred years earlier, I would have been burnt at the stake for supposedly being a witch; I’ve got red hair, green eyes, I’m left handed, and I have knobbly knees and a boney nose. I look the part. It was a throw-away joke, and it was funny to me – it certainly didn’t upset me that I looked that way. I didn’t really think a lot about what I was referring to – the fact that in times past, innocent human beings actually were killed for being believed to be witches.

I’ve learnt recently that the history of witch trials, which hunts and witch burnings is taught in school curriculums in other parts of the world as a part of history education. It’s a significant piece of human history that I’ve been largely ignorant of.

This topic has landed more frequently on my radar since I began studying energy medicine. Many of my classmates bring up the topic of witches, given the subject matter of what we’re studying. Initially, I had quite an aversion to the topic. I certainly didn’t want to identify as a witch – witches were scary and freaky and horrible in my naïve experience. And yet, here were my friends and teachers and soul-tribe, speaking so passionately about this topic, and many speaking as if that’s what they are: a witch.

My aversion to something that was so openly and commonly discussed amongst my tribe perplexed me. This home that I’d found amongst friends felt so right, and yet this subject matter worried me, because it didn’t bring me the joy that I found in every other aspect of this environment. After some time, I came up with a solution that suited me just fine, even if it turned out to be temporary: I could identify to some degree with being a GOOD witch. Yes! If being a witch was a part of this new world, then perhaps I could be just like Glinda the Good Witch of the North, from The Wizard of Oz. She was all pink and sparkles and love. What made this idea feel all the more pre-destined was that in high school, my graduating class produced a special year book, which included a fictional story in which many students featured as special characters. I had been depicted in this story as none other than Glinda.

As time has passed, and I’ve progressed on my journey, I’ve found this subject matter cropping up more and more frequently, and things have begun to shift. Whilst I certainly wouldn’t describe myself in a bio as being a witch, or when introducing myself to a new acquaintance, I can’t deny that there is an aspect of who I am at a soul level, and what I love, that certainly would have had me burnt at the stake in another time and place. I am devoted to my daily energy medicine practice, and it informs every aspect of my life. I use the White Light to heal. I have a fascination with all things metaphysical. I have a tendency towards using alternative and complementary medicine. I have an open-mindedness towards shamanic practices. I have a penchant for crystals which I cleanse under the light of the full moon, and I wear a treasured necklace with a citrine crystal that has been infused with prayers and White Light.  I have a fascination with psychic abilities, and I’ve undertaken education and training to better understand and to strengthen and further develop my abilities. I have undertaken spiritual journeys on different planes of existence. I’ve developed a surprisingly thrilling fascination with hunting for “fairy toadstools”! I’m a student and active community member of the “School of the Modern Mystic” for goodness sake!

Just call me "The Toadstool Hunter"! ??

Just call me “The Toadstool Hunter”! ??

Interestingly, I received an energy reading last week, which included a reading of the energy that  I am currently emitting which originated in past lives – energy that came about as a result of events that took place during past lifetimes, which has stayed with me and is affecting me in this present lifetime.  In one of these past lives, I was a healer. My healing work was my passion and purpose – it lit me up and made me feel brilliantly alive.  The circumstances I was living in at that time meant that I had to practice healing in secret – the stereotypical, almost corny image of the woman meeting with her patient under the cover of night in the safety of a darkened forest.  This need to hide my true nature angered me, but didn’t stop me – I was brave in my actions, and my passion fuelled my courage. This lifetime did not end well – I was eventually betrayed, and killed for being a witch.

So I’ve begun to research, and learn more about what this word “witch” actually means. I’m very early in my research journey, but I’ve already discovered some things that put my mind at ease, that reassure me that I’m not a freak, I’m not crazy, and that it’s perfectly acceptable for me to embrace this part of who I am.

A preliminary web-surf of Wikipedia has shed a surprising amount of light on the subject. The following except from the entry on “witchcraft” sums things up rather succinctly:

Witchcraft (also called witchery or spellcraft) broadly means the practice of, and belief in, magical skills and abilities that are able to be exercised by individuals and certain social groups. Witchcraft is a complex concept that varies culturally and societally; therefore, it is difficult to define with precision and cross-cultural assumptions about the meaning or significance of the term should be applied with caution. Witchcraft often occupies a religious, divinatory or medicinal role, and is often present within societies and groups whose cultural framework includes a magical world view. Although witchcraft can often share common ground with related concepts such as sorcery, the paranormal, magic, superstition, necromancy, possession, shamanism, healing, spiritualism, nature worship and the occult, it is usually seen as distinct from these when examined by sociologists and anthropologists.

This says a lot for me: witchcraft means different things to different people, particularly across different cultures and societies though out human history. There is no one singular definition that encompasses all the practices, beliefs and nuances that fall under the umbrella of witchery.

What I have discovered is that there have been numerous periods throughout history in which a terrorising fear of witchcraft has led to mass hysteria, resulting in witch hunts, witch trials, and witch killings. Ignorance and religious influence have played key roles. Men, women and children believed to be witches have been subjected to assault, abuse, torture, and killing. Wikipedia states:

The period of witch trials in Early Modern Europe were a widespread moral panic suggesting that malevolent Satanic witches were operating as an organized threat to Christendom during the 15th to 18th centuries. Those accused of witchcraft were portrayed as being worshippers of the Devil, who engaged in such acts as malevolent sorcery at meetings known as Witches’ Sabbaths. Many people were subsequently accused of being witches, and were put on trial for the crime, with varying punishments being applicable in different regions and at different times.

A painting in the Rila Monastery in Bulgaria, condemning witchcraft and traditional folk magic. The inscription is translated as: “Magicians and healers are servants of the devil. That’s why the devil rejoices greatly, jumps around, and dances in front of people who come to them. And what they [the healers] give them to drink and eat is devils’ filth. Those who abandon God, the laws, and the church, and go to the healers, are servants not of God, but of the devil.” Source: original photo by Nenko Lazarov 06/12/2005; adjusted by Martha Forsyth 4 April 2008, via https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rila_Monastery_wall_painting.jpg#mw-jump-to-license

Punishments for those found guilty of witchcraft have included imprisonment, exile, fines, and capital punishment by hanging, beheading, or burning at the stake. Methods for determining guilt throughout these periods included such bizarre practices as tying the suspect up and throwing them into a body of water. If they floated, they were deemed guilty and sentenced to death. If they sunk, they were deemed innocent, but many drowned in the process. The estimates of how many people died as a result of these witch trials varies greatly, but the “scholarly consensus” according to Wikipedia seems to be in the region of 40,000-60,000.

1533 account of the execution of a witch charged with burning the German town of Schiltach in 1531.

image

Execution of alleged witches in Central Europe, 1587

Burning of three witches in Baden, Switzerland (1585), by Johann Jakob Wick.

Burning of three witches in Baden, Switzerland (1585), by Johann Jakob Wick.

I’ve begun reading a book* about the “Salem Witch Trials”, in which two dozen innocent men and women were hung from the town gallows in 1692 in newly colonised America (New England). This horrific injustice came about for many complex and startling reasons, but was largely influenced by ignorance, religious and spiritual beliefs, a profoundly deep-seated fear of God’s wrath, and a religiously motivated desperation to build a colony that upheld the morals of Puritan Christianity, in addition to a shockingly inept justice system.

Disturbingly, this isn’t a topic confined to the past. In various parts of the world today, men, women and children are still accused of witchcraft and subjected to assault, abuse, torture and killing. According to Wikipedia, approximately 750 people were killed for witchery in India between 2003 and 2008, 1000 children over the past decade have been murdered in the name of witchcraft in Nigeria, Saudi Arabia continues to issue the death penalty for sorcery and witchcraft, and in Britain there is an ongoing problem with (particularly immigrant) children being accused of witchcraft and subsequently being abused and tortured, including money making scams in which a pastor accuses a child of witchcraft and the family subsequently pays for an exorcism.

I’ve also read a little about Paganism and Wicca, sub-categories which are certainly worthy of further exploration, but that I don’t feel are especially relevant to my particular interests.  Presumably, further research would also expose evidence of people who did (or are) indeed practice malevolent forms of witchcraft, justifying accusations and promoting the fear-inducing archetype we’re used to associating with witchcraft in popular culture.  This convoluted narrative of history isn’t only about innocent victims.

As already outlined, it’s evident that the concept of witchcraft and witches is complex and variable. The witches that we associate with Halloween in modern Western culture are largely a product of folklore, story-telling and Hollywood’s characterisation of this multifaceted and mercurial archetype. I have a long way to go in my research (Wikipedia doesn’t really cut it for a thorough and in-depth education!), before coming anywhere close to fully grasping the intricacies of this topic, and this brief overview barely skims the surface of this broad subject.  Nevertheless, my preliminary reading has brought me to a place where I can drop the fear associated with witches.  What does being a witch mean for me in my personal experience? Well to be honest, the word itself still doesn’t quite sit comfortably with me, but it represents the wise woman, the healer, the seer, the psychic, the magician, the shadow-hunter, the light-worker, and the holy, the regal woman who knows her power as the individualised expression of God.

For me tonight, Halloween presents an opportunity to do something different and somewhat unexpected: to light a candle and say a prayer for the souls of the men, women and children accused of witchcraft, who have suffered assault, abuse, torture and murder across the ages.


* Francis, Richard (2006) Judge Sewell’s Apology, The Salem Witch Trials and the Forming of a Conscience, Harper Pernial, London.

Main image credit: by gliss.gliss, used under license.

Drumming up Drama

Oh how skilfully our ego can take us over and sweep us up in a shitstorm of drama and stress! After thinking recently that I was starting to get a relatively decent handle on catching my mind and avoiding identifying with my ego, the universe delivered me an excellent situation which perfectly highlights just how deep this unconsciousness runs, and that mindfulness is an ongoing practice. No need to be getting cocky any time soon!

My day, my energy, shifted in an instant. It had been a pretty regular day, I was out of my usual routine but it was nothing startling and all just normal life stuff. I was feeling good despite a few little niggles here and there, my energy has been refreshingly and gratifyingly on the rise lately and I am recognising the pay off from my devoted spiritual practice. All it took was a quick glance at an email that had arrived in my inbox in the early evening.

My heart squeezed. My stomach instantly began churning. I felt ill. I was physically shaking.

It’s comical retelling the story with hindsight. This instant and dramatic shift in energy, all from a short email. No terrible news had been delivered. No significant problem had been revealed. I won’t go into the details of this private matter, but suffice to say, it was a simple email. It was simply a small piece of information, and a request for my opinion.

But it’s what my ego, my thinking mind, did with that information, that sent me into a tailspin.

The thoughts that I conjured from this short email were mostly along the lines of:
– People I love must think I’ve been deceiving them;
– My words and actions have caused other people to worry, stress, and take unnecessary actions that they would otherwise not have taken;
– I’ve disappointed people I love;
– I’ve inconvenienced people I love;
– People I love must be angry with me, annoyed with me, and think less of me.

Yep, although I was very concerned about my loved ones, the crux of my freak out came down to my concern around what others think of me, and I concocted all of those assumptions based on a brief email that included no comment whatsoever about me, or what anyone thought about me.

So the drama was firmly established in my mind, and then some conversation ensued around a highly emotional topic.  Any other day, I would have simply shed a few tears. But in this situation, I allowed it to snowball me staight into meltdown city.

Situations where our reputation or character is perceived as being under threat are not uncommon, and it’s a normal human response to try to maintain a favourable standing amongst our family and community. Evolution created our brains in that way, increasing our chances of survival amongst the safety and support of the tribe. It’s a base chakra phenomenon, and our ego isn’t all bad – it’s a survival mechanism.

But this brain wiring does cause us a lot of unnecessary stress, and we’re at a point in human evolution where we are better served by being aware of this process, and how to use that knowledge to reduce our suffering.

All of my thoughts around this situation were just that – thoughts, created in my mind. They weren’t truth. No one had said any of those things. And yet, I believed them as truth, and I gave them meaning without even consciously thinking about it – I am a bad person. The churning and nausea in my stomach was a clear sign that the weaknesses in my solar plexus had taken a huge hit. My self confidence isn’t unshakeable. My ability to safeguard my energy isn’t yet quite as robust as I’d like it to be. I place a grossly unbalanced weight of importance in what other people think of me.

If I’d managed in that moment to observe my thoughts and avoid identifying with them, I’d have been able to handle the ensuing conversations much more gracefully. I’d have been able to calmly and effectively respond to the email without drama. I’d have been able to see the situation for what it was, and not attach all that meaning to it. I’d have avoided much of the pain, suffering and tears that followed.

This situation has been an illuminating learning experience for me. I’m so grateful that these days, I can at least recognise what I’m doing to myself, and diffuse the anguish and suffering a hell of a lot more quickly than in the past.

As I said to my mum earlier today, tongue in cheek, clearly I needed to drum up a bit of drama for myself, seeing as I’ve been so stress-free lately and it felt too foreign! Thanks for that ego, job well done.  Time to move on.


Photo credit: by Nicholas A. Tonelli. Modified and used under license.

Emerging from Inspiration Hibernation

Inspiration. She is a capricious phenomenon.

The way Elizabeth Gilbert describes it in “Big Magic”, is that we are merely hosts for ideas to come to. Inspiration is a sign that an idea has found us, and wants us to work as the vessel through which they can be brought to life. If we choose not to take action on an idea, it will depart in search of a more suitable host. Or, if we deliberate for too long, the idea will get impatient, and again, depart in search of a more motivated host, and we discover that the inspiration is no longer within us.

I’ve been finding myself increasingly subject to this phenomenon lately. Just days ago, I awoke after a night filled with wonderful dreams and ideas, spent the early morning meditating, and felt a marvellous sense of inspiration to birth my words into the world and express the delicious joy that was brewing within me. Then … daily life interrupted my little bubble of bliss. I was busy, distracted, occupied. There was nothing terrible about this – it’s just how the day panned out. When I eventually got back to contemplating the idea of publishing on the blog … crickets.

So. Frustrating. Not to mention, disappointing.

Where my heart had been full to the brim with enthusiasm, bravado and inspiration that morning, it was as though all those ideas had quite literally packed their bags and departed in search of someone who was ready to action them sooner.

I go through many moments when I’m lit up, engaged and moved to share. One of my soul essences is a lion, and he has a loud and powerful roar, a message that he intends to be heard. I know that there are things within me that must be expressed, and I know that it is my destiny to do so. I often feel these idea bubbling beneath the surface, waiting for me to find the time and energy to release them out into the receiving ether. Sometimes, when the bubbling builds to boiling point, I find a way to get the job done – the inspired idea explodes forth in the form of a lengthy blog post that has consumed me as I write it, and I experience such gratification and relief in birthing it out of my head into cyberspace. But, more often than not, I allow fears and circumstances to get in the way, muffle my roar, and convince me that I don’t have the time to devote to such a frivolous endeavour. As such, so many of my ideas and musings have departed: the bubble dies down until I’m left with stone cold nothingness. It’s an interesting situation, because it’s so easy to sit idle and accept that now isn’t my time, that I’ve got other responsibilities to attend to (read: distract me), and yet I feel this constantly recurring urge, as inspiration returns with new ideas, forgiving my past inactivity and bringing me new opportunities to bring them to life.

It’s not working well for me. I don’t want to suppress this inconvenient energy. Because although many of my ideas may depart, in my experience, I suspect that at least some of the really inspiring ones haven’t really departed – they’ve gone into hibernation below the surface of my consciousness. I suspect this because, when I suppress and muffle my inspired ideas, I feel jammed up and confused. When I fail to express these ideas, they get stuck, muddled around, and lose their meaning and potency, and I wind up feeling lost. I know they’re inspiring, but I can’t quite remember what they are or why they inspire me any more. The message, if delayed, doesn’t always depart me in search of a speedier vessel through which to be expressed, but instead gives me the benefit of the doubt, and takes a nap while I dilly dally, taking up valuable headspace. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful that they’re hanging around instead of abandoning me, but when I continue in this fashion for too long, the pile of snoozing ideas start overcrowding the available neural space in my head, and I can’t work out what’s what any more. I know that the correct order of things is to allow the ideas to come to me, flow freely through me, and out into cyber space.

I know this is important, for two reasons:
1. If I continue getting jammed up with sleeping ideas, I’ll loose my marbles.
2. When there’s no more real estate left in my mind, the ideas won’t even bother trying me out, they’ll pass right on by.

So, inspired by a recent interview with Seth Godin, I’ve decided that the time is now. There’s no need to write my magnum opus each time I publish. I just need to allow this space to be my vehicle for expressing my inspired ideas. I have a feeling that as I do so, those sleeping ideas will awaken, and I will again have the opportunity to bring them to life. Then, the path for fresh new ideas will be cleared.

This lion will roar.


Image credit: by Eric Kilby, used under license.

Ego: Dream Killer

The new month has brought with it a significant shift in energy, and I know I’m not alone in feeling it. I don’t know if it’s the new moon in cancer, the new financial year giving off January vibes, or something else altogether, but there’s no denying it. Personally, my mood has lifted (alleluia!), I’ve had significant insights, and I’ve set new intentions that have flowed to me fluidly rather than forcefully.

Firstly, I’m realising with increasing clarity that I grossly underestimated the level of commitment and sustained diligence required to disassociate from ego and live in alignment with my soul.

Yep. Big.  (Massive.)

Following this realisation, I’m beginning to recognise the degree to which I’ve allowed my life to be dictated by my ego. To put it another way, my default mode of being is to allow my ego to stop me from living my dreams. In particular, I’ve uncovered a deep, long-held, heartfelt dream that I’ve skirted around, hidden, denied, and turned away from, for as long as it’s resided in my heart.

It’s only been in practicing mindfulness and  disidentifying from ego that I’ve been able to see the truth that’s been under my nose all this time. My ego has told me I’m not good enough to pursue, let alone achieve, this dream. My ego has convinced me that I’ll make a fool of myself to even admit this dream to anyone.  My ego has given me all the reasons why this dream is a foregone failure. My ego has told me I’ll be selfishly squandering my money to pursue this dream, money that could be put to better use for my young family. My ego has reminded me of my past failures and used them as evidence that this dream is destined for the same. My ego has laughed cruelly in my face for even daring to dream such a ridiculous dream.  My ego has even rationalised that this dream isn’t quite right for me.

If the ego were a person, that person would be judged as a pretty horrible person, and not a wise choice of someone to confide your dreams to.

The amusing thing is, since getting back on the mindfulness bandwagon and choosing not to take the ego’s opinions on board, I can actually see all the signs that the Universe (God/Source/the Angels) has been persistently placing on my path in an effort to steer me in the direction of this dream. There have been sparks of interest, meetings with inspiring role models, fascinations, signs, omens, synchronicities, serendipities. And if you consider my email subscriptions and social media feeds, it’s so blindingly obvious that this dream totally lights me up.

*Sigh.* All I can do is laugh about it.

No matter. I believe that I, just like everyone else, am exactly where I am supposed to be, and my journey gives me everything I need to grow. I trust the entire process.

There is so much I don’t know, so much I don’t understand.  I’m learning, and it’s a lifelong process. Whilst sometimes I think I can’t be helpful to anyone if I don’t have all the answers (hello again, ego!), I trust that by sharing my journey, full of struggles and mistakes as it is, may help you to have your own realisations.

Perhaps you have a dream that you’re ignoring or denying or hiding, because you’re believing what your ego has to say about it. Try this: dream the dream anyway. Don’t believe what your ego has to say on the matter. Envision the dream in your mind’s eye, ignoring the ego’s heckling jibes telling you that your dream couldn’t possibly come to fruition. Feel the feelings of living your dream, disregarding your ego’s persistent snide remarks that your dream is an impossibility. Dream the dream. Forget the how’s. This is where the magic begins. Because even if your dream doesn’t turn out the way you hope for, LIFE is where you pursue the dreams of your heart for the pure joy of the experience living in alignment with the callings of your soul.

xx


If you’re serious about disidentifying with ego, I recommend the following books that were recommended to me by my teacher, Belinda Davidson. Read them, study them, re-read them. Then read them again.

  • The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle
  • The Happiness Trap, by Russ Harris

Image credit: by Deb Stgo, used under license.