Are you a breath-holder? A to-do list checker? Sometimes feel like you've been shot out of a cannon, driving toward your tasks and goals, without a moment to look right or left? Given the time pressures most of us face, even if you aren't a "Type A" personality, it is all too easy to go into hyper-focus, juggling so many commitments.
"I just don't have enough time." "I can't unwind and relax." "I've lost touch with my center." These are common statements that reflect our feelings as we rocket through our days, meeting deadlines, responding to the avalanche of emails, keeping up with the laundry, groceries, cooking, and still trying to take time out for reflection and restoration.
Hyper-focus is a response to the rush of life flowing toward us, an attempt to stay the course, concentrate, get things done. As such, it is an adaptation we sometimes have to make. But sometimes we get stuck that way. And then our energy starts to get sticky. Tasks actually get harder: we're tired, wired, and low on creative resources because we're not getting replenished.
We can break the pattern, though. Stop, tune in to your body, soften your gaze, and breathe deeply. And take a cue from the plant world.
Plants have adapted to their rooted existence by working with the flows of energy around them. Optimizing color and shape, they face into the flow and direct toward them what they need to thrive. The morning glory above opens wide to the sun and the bees, its form and colors pointing to the center stamen, to attract the helpful pollinator. The funnel-like leaves of the plant below can grow as big as a Chinese take-out box, and work to channel rainfall down toward the stems.
These plant adaptations can only work by remaining open.
The same really goes for us--if we narrow our focus, we begin to lose functionality, not to mention spontaneity, creativity, and the joy of being in the moment. Eileen McKusick, who specializes in Biofield Tuning, emphasizes the value of energy shifts that "open the aperture of possibility"--enlarging our field of vision and action. Without this open aperture, we can feel stagnant, bogged down, and hopeless. The video below demonstrates one way of shifting these energies. Opening up your face, which Donna Eden regards as a whole chakra of its own, is easy and relaxing to do. It will make energy flow more like the morning glory and the big green funnel leaf. Resembling both a face, and a heart, this leaf models great face chakra energy!
You can expand your field of vision, too, by following along with me in the video below.
If you check out the internet right now, you'll find countless beautiful videos of humans and horses in healing relationships. People are bringing Reiki and other energy modalities to rescue horses, and horses are bringing their huge heart-energy field and herd wisdom to rescue people--vets, prisoners, children, people with trauma.
Between the ages of 8 and 23, I was fortunate enough to spend a lot of time, riding, grooming, and just hanging out with horses. Although I haven't been able to get up close and personal with them for many years, horses are still in my heart. Literally. All I need to do is visualize a horse, with their large expressive eyes and attentive ears, their whiskered chins and velvety lips, and my heart rate variability and coherence improve immediately. Just a few moments of visualization, along with slow, deep breathing can act as a calming therapy, measurable by biofeedback device.
In Eden Energy Medicine, this kind of activity is recognized as Radiant Circuit work--or more appropriately, play. Radiant Circuits are the highly mobile energies of joy and presence that are activated by imagination. The more you activate them, the more they circulate, heal, and create coherence.
The creation of energetic coherence is also central to Biofield Tuning, an exciting modality I am currently studying. We use the organized energy present in the sound of tuning forks to identify and then help harmonize "noise" and discordant areas of our energy field. The tunings can be powerful, as this clearing of resistance frees up energy and puts it back into circulation. (It is not, however, indicated for those with pacemakers, serious illness, or pregnancy.) If you are interested in shifting rhythms and patterns that you suspect aren't serving you, Biofield Tuning can be an effective aid, and can spark some deep insights about your energy history.
Starting Saturday, September 24, I will be offering a series of fundraising Sound Spas with the tuning forks. These relaxing and energizing one hour sessions focus on the meridians, accessing them through points on the face, fingers, and toes. With a suggested donation of $30, all proceeds will go to support the work of the Equine Advocates of Chatham, NY. This farm is a haven for rescued horses, ponies, mules, donkeys, draft horses and wild mustangs. Home to over 80 equines, the organzation educates about the plight of mistreated premarin mares, and abandoned work or race horses. Watch the video below to find out more!
I hope you'll contact me at email@example.com to make an appointment for a Sound Spa!
Are you sinking under the weight of advice about your own health, let alone that of the planet? Do you feel that if you add another task to your list—read labels, drive less, walk more, swelter or shiver longer, buy local, juice your fruits and veggies (but only in season)—you’ll break down, give up, roll over, and die? Each bit of advice comes not only with its own behavioral burden, demanding extra effort and attention. It often also packs a psychic burden: awareness of the ills and evils it will purportedly help you avoid.
I don’t want to add to your To Do list or your Oh No, Not Another Thing to Feel Bad About list. I just want to share a few little gizmos that will do a lot of good work for you, with very little effort or expense on your part. And I’ll put it as simply as possible.
So here it is, folks. After doing lots of research, I found that could fulfill a number of healthy person, healthy planet goals easily, by attaching a low-tech, low-flow shower head, to an installs-in-a-blink chlorine filter. Then, I smacked an even lower-tech shower timer on the wall. Done. Easy-Peasy.
I’ll break this down, with the minimum of factoids. The low-flow shower head reduces the stream of water, but still provides a fine shower experience. You save water (I’ll spare you the depressing statistics on how much water we use compared to the rest of the world), as well as the energy costs of heating it up, simply to pour it over yourself and send it down the drain.
The shower timer—basically, a laughable 5 minute hour-glass on a suction cup—augments those two savings. If you are like me, and tend to go into a trance while showering, you may be pleasantly surprised by how long 5 minutes actually is. You can indeed get every necessary thing done in 5 minutes, with time enough to space off a little. If you are one of those people who waits for the conditioner to set in, you can use the handy little lever to further lower, or even shut off, the water flow temporarily.
But only if you are not also using the chlorine filter, which will blow out with the pressure. However, if you are using the chlorine filter, you may find you don’t need to use conditioner.
Let me explain, again, in minimalist terms. Chlorine may be a great way to kill germs in your water system, but it isn’t that good for you. You can research the depressing facts about chlorine yourself, if you feel like adding to your psychic burden. Here’s what it boils down to: chlorine in the vaporized form it takes when you are in a nice hot shower, breathing deeply and opening all your pores, is not a true friend to your hair, skin, lungs, and bloodstream.
I have a friend who told me she solved a longstanding problem by simply moving one object. No, she wasn’t talking about Feng Shui. (Or maybe she was?) She wanted to bike more often, but she didn’t seem to be doing it. She really enjoyed riding, and it reduced her stress. So, she took a second look at what was derailing her intention (pun intended). She realized that she was keeping her bike in a spot that required too much effort to get out. (Our house is full of such places. We call them “have-to-stand-on-your-head-to-get-it” spots).
She moved the bicycle. Problem solved. I suspect many of us are stalled out by small impediments like that, and mostly too busy to stop and consider.
That’s the beauty of my shower “system.” It takes about 5 minutes to set up, and then it starts working for you. It is extremely low maintenance. You simply change the filter once a year. And you probably won’t forget, because you start to feel the personal benefits (all that smooth skin and soft hair) tapering off. No headstands required. Turn on the water, turn your timer, and enjoy. Easy-Peasy.
' A therapist friend once suggested that I try to think more metaphorically about my experiences. I admit that I scoffed, just a little bit, at the advice. After all, as an English professor, I certainly spent enough of my time dealing with metaphors. Why extend that to my personal life any more than I already did?
But I decided to give it a try. To make the proverbial long story short, I found it helpful, useful, and fun. Thinking metaphorically about what is happening in your life can give you both needed distance, and deeper insight. Finding parallels in nature, history, or mythology pulls you out into a larger point of view. This can help you personalize universal themes, and vice versa. Exaggerating your situation through metaphor can sometimes help you actually laugh at yourself. And getting creative with metaphors can offer fresh perspectives, allowing you to see new solutions.
My first impressions of the chakra system skewed them toward the metaphorical. They seemed so strongly linked to life themes, that for a long time, I didn’t consider them on a physical level at all. That changed when a friend cleared my third eye chakra and a fierce headache simply dissolved. I began clearing them for headaches and bellyaches when my children were young, and always felt newly astonished at their rapid results. Funny, but I had to learn to take the chakras literally.
As a culture, we’re becoming more aware of the interlaced nature of our minds, bodies, and souls, but many of us still tend to compartmentalize our workings. Approaching the chakras more holistically can be a great journey of multi-level understanding. I’d like to share a quick example. At the winter solstice, I offered a class in which we identified an intention for the next annual cycle, and then checked in, to see if there was a chakra that needed support for carrying that intention forward. “I’ve been working steadily with my root chakra since that night,” a woman in the class told me recently. “As I’ve been meditating on the root chakra, I have realized that we’ve lived here for years, and I still don’t think of it as home.”
This is a huge realization, and one that makes perfect sense given the themes of belonging and stability associated with the root chakra. But what she said next was even more significant: “I began wondering what I could do that would help change that. I decided to plant asparagus in my garden. Since that takes several years to mature, it means I consider myself ‘rooted’ and committed to being here, at home.”
What a beautiful example of working with the literal and the metaphorical aspects, the mental and physical dimensions, simultaneously. Her root chakra--and her wide-open awareness--offered a valuable insight, along with an action that she could take to make a positive shift occur. Plus, she’ll get to look back on all that in a few years when she’s eating her asparagus!
Explore Your Chakras in this Upcoming Course:
If you live in the Albany, NY, area, we invite you to join us in a wonderful, 7-week interactive chakra class coming up in April, 2016. Integrative nutrition and health coach Joan Bender, LMHC, and I will be teaching a course all about energy, food, and the chakras, entitled Care and Feeding of Your Chakras. See http://www.jbenderwellness.com/caring--feeding-your-chakras.html for more information and registration.