You Spot It, You Got It

One indirect way that fears rear their ugly head is to take the form of projection – we believe others are feeling something that we in fact are feeling, but are unable to acknowledge: ‘THEY think I’m _____’; ‘THEY are saying ______’. It is then easier to focus on angry feelings: ‘ how dare someone judge me or gossip about me.’
Projecting your own fears makes them unmanageable because it is impossible to control what someone else is thinking or doing. But if you identify and ‘own’ your feelings, then it becomes more likely that you can work through them. You can become more active in getting the necessary skills or support; You can
process with someone who knows you and can give you more accurate feedback.

Chakra framework

The chakras energetically hold all of our life memories. Throughout our lives, our consciousness is impacted by the events of our lives. If we do not or are not allowed to process these events in a functional way, our interpretation of these events is what leads us down the road of shame; self blame; secrecy; automatic thoughts or automatic feelings that no longer apply. If you journal, reread passages from different years of your life. Is there a theme that emerges? A theme will most likely emerge in the interpretations you make, which tend to center on fear or shame.

Chakra work gets around over-analyzing data. It is important to have an understanding of your issues through psychotherapy and/or self-help groups. Chakra work is not a short cut around the traditional process of psychotherapy and possibly painful emotional work; but it does help release emotions / thoughts that have been hidden from view. Sound healing restores balance to your chakras. Depending on where you are in your personal healing – chakra work will enhance or deepen the work that you have already done/are doing and lead you to greater freedom from the shame or fear based thoughts.

Third Chakra – Solar Plexus

third chakraAs we move from first and second to third chakra, we move from passive elements of earth – influenced by gravity; and water, going down the path of least resistance, to fire which burns up, destroys and transforms. First we build a sturdy house where we can get all our basic needs met and feel safe. We make a family and allow ourselves to experience joy and pleasure. Then we say to ourselves ‘is this all there is?’. There is this whole great big world out there, where do I fit in it? Part of the work of the third chakra includes our will and our sense of power; our will helps us change, to take risks and get out of our comfort zone. Do we feel powerful, in control or powerless, unable to take the reins of our life?

One can get stuck in the energies of the first 3 chakras when the question ‘is this all there is?’ is answered by taking actions to attain yet more perceived safety, more money in the bank, more pleasure, more sense of control. The feeling that what one has is not enough is usually fueled by fear and unresolved issues. In order to continue energetically to a higher order consciousness, one goes beyond the self to a Higher Power, to knowledge and actions that reflect the beliefs that ‘it’s not all about me’ and that the hole in your soul will not be filled with more ‘stuff’ or more power.

The fire of your will and your actions is fueled by the air element coming from your heart chakra. Your ability to thrive is enhanced by your compassion, expressing yourself in a healthy way, your attitude and listening to ‘the still voice within’, and by your spiritual life and beliefs. This is not solely about your particular life circumstances, but how you handle your circumstances and if you have compassion (for yourself and others), ability to seek help, and belief in a Higher Power that helps you rise above your immediate circumstances and helps you look at the ‘bigger picture’ of your life and place one foot in front of the other.

Sacral Chakra

As we work our way up the chakras, it is important to remember that energy flows downwards as well as upwards. All chakras are active and influence each other both positively and negatively depending on our history and what we have worked on as well as what we are currently acutely dealing with.

As we move from the first chakra to the second, our energy expands: From earth to water, there is a liberation of energy. Once you are safe and your basic needs are met, there is now time for pleasure and joy.

There is the image of a child on a beach, running towards the ocean, then running back to shore for safety. Each phase of childhood development is faced with this cycling between risk and safety: being able to experiment with joy, play and pleasure while having a safe ‘home base’. Trauma, shame, inability or lack of opportunity to process a difficult event or even cultural or religious mores connected to the work of the second chakra leads possibly to impact a person’s ability to risk joy, to risk pleasure. Imagine one extreme of being thrown in the ocean in order to learn to swim – sink or swim. Or the other extreme of being held back from even getting close to the water because ‘you never know what could happen’.

Addictions are a part of second chakra work. They are a way of seeking joy, pleasure and a way of avoiding pain. Addictions may be due to earlier trauma, but addiction may be due to having the genetic/cultural or familial propensity towards an addictive behavior, without necessarily having a trauma or situation that is ‘making’ you drink or do something else addictively.

The chakras energetically hold all of our life and past-life memories. Throughout our lives, our consciousness is impacted by the events of our lives. It is also impacted by our collective history – as a gender, race, cultural group. If we do not or are not allowed to process these events in a functional way, our interpretation of these events is what leads us down the road of shame, self blame, secrecy, automatic thoughts or automatic feelings that may have been helpful or appropriate, but no longer apply. If you journal, reread passages from different years of your life. Is there a theme that emerges? A theme will most likely emerge in the interpretations you make, which tend to center on fear or shame. Same play, different actors. Or like I used to like to joke ‘I was in the same relationship for many years, the only thing that changed was their social security number.’

It is important to have an understanding of your issues. Chakra work/sound healing is not a short cut around painful emotional work, but it does help release emotions / thoughts that have been hidden from view. Chakra work/ sound healing gets around over-analyzing historical data, also called rumination. Sound healing restores balance to your chakras. Depending on where you are in your personal healing – chakra work/sound healing will enhance or deepen the work that you have done/are doing and lead you to greater freedom from the shame or fear based thoughts.

**I want to give thanks and credit to Anodea Judith, PhD, who is inspiring me with her published book on the chakras: Wheels of Life, and whose work and way of looking at the chakras greatly influences my thinking**

creating a sacred space

sacred space In order to begin the practice of meditation one needs to create a sacred space. Sacred spaces are not just meant to be in cathedrals, churches or other special locations. A sacred space is an area that you set aside for yourself – a space where you can spend some time in prayer, that is dedicated to prayerful thinking and can have objects that are spiritual or contemplative in nature; or maybe they are simply pretty to look at. A candle, statue, rosary, sage, incense are some items that come to mind. Depending on your spiritual inclinations, you could have a cross; a Buddha statue; or prayer beads – whatever calls to you. It is a space, area, spot that is not used for other things – like placing the remote, or TV Guide, or last night’s glass of soda.

This sacred space does not have to be big. It could be a placemat with some items on it that are important to you, possibly a daily meditation book or even an index card with your favorite prayer written on it that you can read aloud during your prayer time. Maybe your sacred space is portable – you put it out, pray, and then put it away in a safe place. Possibly, your sacred space is in a discreet location – something that only you would know was sacred – such as corner of the room or spot behind a curtain that no one goes near.

As you think about creating your sacred space, what are the thoughts or feelings that come up? For some it may be centered on issues of safety or privacy. For others, there may be thoughts/feelings of unworthiness – feeling embarassed about setting aside a space for meditation and prayer. Who are the people in your household ? Are they supportive of something like this? Are you afraid to find out?

sacred space

Write down your thoughts, no matter what they are. Write down all your desires, concerns, fears, hopes related to setting up a sacred space. I’d like to hear from you what your obstacles are to creating a sacred space for yourself. This is the work. The inner work does not begin after the sacred space is created, the inner work is getting to the emotional place to be able to have one - to get through all the issues, whether real or imagined, that block setting up that space.

When working on yourself doesn’t feel like you’re working on yourself

When you’re in pain and life is hard; when your self esteem is at its low point and you are struggling. As you work on your issues, you work through painful feelings and you feel like this struggle counts as ‘working on yourself’, and it is. One way of coping through difficult times is by listening to music. You can listen to happy music that inspires you and changes your mood. Or you can, like I have preferred doing, listen to music that expands or plays out your feelings in way that you are not able to. The song helps you emote.

The video above is best reflects my self-esteem when it’s at its lowest point. I imagine my self-esteem taunting me sarcastically in the lyrics to this song. Paradoxically, it makes me feel better.

Another way of working through feelings is by using sound. Sound without a melody and without lyrics. The focus is on the vibration of the notes, and the harmony between the notes. Using sound and vibration for healing does not rely on words to process the feelings. It does not require the use of the left side of your brain – the logical, thinking side.

A simple practice that you can do to begin understanding the use of sound as a healing tool is toning. Toning helps with reaching a meditative state and getting some vibrational movement into your body and through your energetic fields.

Sit down in a comfortable position, sit cross legged on the floor; or in a chair with both feet flat on the floor. Preferably without shoes on.

Do 1:2 breathing: Inhale slowly through your nose, hold your breath briefly and then exhale slowly through your mouth. While inhaling, count up – for example when I inhale slowly I can count (in my head) up to 10. So then, on the exhalation, double it to 20.

When you feel comfortable, on the exhalation instead of silently breathing out, start toning by saying vowels. Say each vowel 3 times to start. As you say each of these vowels, place your hand on your heart chakra and notice the vibration that each vowel creates. Place your hand on your solar plexus or throat chakra and see if you can feel the vibration. Experiment with different notes, different vowels to see what you feel. Don’t worry if you can’t actually feel the vibration initially, the vibrational energy follows your intention.

As you do this on a regular basis, you may notice a greater affinity to a particular vowel; so you can feel free to say that particular vowel more often.

say ‘aaah’ (as in ‘pot’)

say ‘ehh’ (as in ‘fest’)

say ‘eee’ ( as in ‘feet’)

say ‘oh’ ( as in ‘fold’)

say ‘u’ ( as in ‘food’)

If you are new to using sound as a way of healing, toning through difficult times may not feel like you are ‘working on yourself’, but it is! One aspect of toning is the meditation which is calming; and then the toning vibration clears up emotional and energetic blocks that allows you to have greater clarity about your situation.

Let me know if you try this exercise and tell me how it goes! As always, if you have any questions, feel free to email me or ask in the comments section.

What is meditation and why should I do it?

Everybody talks about meditation, but I’m not really sure what the benefit is. I sit down, can’t sit down cross-legged like they show in the pictures; and then I try to be quiet, but all I really do is continue thinking about stuff. Is it really possible to stop thinking? Yeah, I know, you are supposed to ‘notice’ the thoughts as they drift by, but not get caught up in the content of the thought. Eventually, your mind is supposed to become still…

Up until not too long ago, I have been saying/ thinking the above. I liked the idea of meditating to get to a calmer state, but it just wasn’t happening. Every once in a while, I would resolve to start meditating. My attempts at meditation would just eventually whither into nothingness; or even sometimes increased anxiety. I could not stop my stinkin’ thinkin’. Being a skeptical sort of person, I could not really see the connection between meditation and ‘being better’. I am not a ‘bliss bunny’. Bliss bunny is a term that a former sound & music teacher used for individuals who are … well, bliss bunnies. The way I conceptualize it is people who are eternal hippies; forever happy, smelling flowers; twirling around in tie-dye clothes, with no obvious source of income and no apparrent worries about it either. Not. Me.

Although that persona , if real, is appealing; I never really believed it when I saw it in others; and I definitely did not think that this was an achievable state of mind for me. I do realize though, that the part of me that disbelieves ‘bliss bunnies’ is exactly the same judgmental; critical aspect of myself that judges and criticizes me and has at times been the obstacle to me pursuing certain goals.

The only times that I have felt in a meditative zone was when bicycling on long stretches of road – where I basically focussed on my pace and not much else. Those instances though, were few and far between.

Now however, I do meditate. I still don’t sit down an ‘Meditate’ with a capital ‘M’, but I do sit down on a daily basis, in the morning and in the evening and engage in a form of meditation. I sit down and do breathing exercises; I sit down and tone., I sit down and I drum. This gives me a focus. It allows me to open my mind to the universal energies. (Yes, I did I just say that) I still think, I even still have “stinkin’ thinkin’ ” at times, but mostly, I can get into the drumming or the toning and ‘defragment’ my brain(1).

My goal in this blog is to post different exercises to facilitate getting into a meditative state. Exercises that have worked for me and hopefully for you too!

I would love to hear about your experiences with meditation; and let me know what works or doesn’t work for you.

(1) I read this analogy somewhere which is in terms I can understand, but I don’t remember which book it was in- as soon as I find it again, I will post it here.

Have a hard time meditating? Try Alternate Nostril Breathing

Alternate Nostril Breathing is a simple, yet powerful, technique for centering and grounding yourself.

You breathe in one nostril and breathe out the other 10 times and then switch nostrils.

This is the hand position you use. The index and middle fingers are placed on your forehead, between your eyebrows – a location that is called your ‘third eye’. Your ring and pinky finger press one nostril, and your thumb alternately presses the other.

alternate nostril breathing hand position

alternate nostril breathing hand position


how you place your fingers on your nostrils and third eye

how you place your fingers on your nostrils and third eye


There are variations of alternate nostril breathing that you can find in books and on the internet. I am only going to present the one that I was taught and that I use.

Sit in a comfortable position; feet flat on the floor.

Place your right hand (you can use whichever hand you feel most comfortable using) on your nose, in the position shown above.

Close the left nostril with your ring and pinky finger and inhale through your right nostril.

Inhale deeply, and then cover your right nostril with your thumb and exhale slowly through your left nostril.

Switch back and cover your left nostril again in order to inhale through your right nostril and repeat this whole process 10 times.

After the 10th exhalation from your left nostril, instead of switching nostrils, now inhale through this same nostril while keeping your thumb pressed on your right nostril.

You are now beginning 10 inhalations through your left nostril and exhalations through your right nostril.

Try this for a week and see how you feel. It won’t take more than a few minutes to do. This is a great way to begin a meditation practice. Let me know how it goes!

You find what you look for – getting past the root chakra

Please watch this video before reading the rest of this post.

Do you often wonder what someone else’s ‘angle’ is, finding it difficult during a conversation to take things at face value? Or maybe you just feel lonely, not liked by many people. Perhaps there was some past trauma that has left you hypervigilant and unable to move forward. How often do we ‘look’ for things and ultimately find them? What is the likelihood of seeing something that we are not looking for?

I have worked with many people that count their personal slights; they look at and report on the number of times they have been ‘betrayed’. Often times, there is unhealed trauma that keeps perpetuating itself in various ways that appear to be unrelated to the original event(s). One is left with unrelenting sense of ungroundedness; fears, insecurities and inability to take risks due to a fundamental sense of lack of safety.

As in the video above, how often do you ‘count’ the number of times someone has wronged you; or how many times you have been hurt? The bigger question is, though, how often have you missed the ‘moon-walking bear’? How many times has a kind gesture gone unnoticed; an invitation to lunch left unanswered?

The root chakra – located at the base of the spine is the energetic center that holds our most basic survival needs: physical safety; financial stability; shelter. When our root chakra is clear, we feel stable, grounded, safe. We are able to venture out and take risks. When there are blockages, or ‘sanskaras’ – imprints left in our bodies from past experiences that impacted our basic sense of safety or stability – then we become, or remain, ungrounded, insecure or fearful. We may have physical problems in the general area of the root chakra or emotional problems stemming from the lack of groundedness such as depression or anxiety. The events that lead to PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – could also cause a disruption in the root chakra, especially if the individual is not able to or does not have the opportunity to process the trauma.

Talking about the past in therapy is a wonderful way of working through past trauma. It is a forum to work through difficult social interactions and the full range of emotional issues that stem from them. There are specific cognitive- behavioral interventions that help an individual move past their specific life events in order to live happier healthier lives. However, sometimes an individual can get stuck with the whirlpool of talking about their problems and remaining unable to move beyond this.

Sound healing can be a tool to help an individual move to the next level in their psychotherapy; give them that extra ‘oomph’ or insight into themselves that helps them along in their growth. Using toning; tuning forks and other sound healing tools – in meditation or with a sound healing practitioner – can help an individual heal and move forward.

My little hater

A while back, the church I attend announced that it planned on raising 1.5 million dollars through it’s parishioners in order to give the church a makeover. My spouse immediately said ‘I’m going to get involved!’ and I thought to myself that this would be a waste of money as the church would never raise the needed money.

More recently, Marianne Williamson – an ‘internationally acclaimed spiritual author and lecturer’ – announced she will be running for congress in her district in California. I love Marianne; I’ve read many of her books, attended her lectures; and think that it would be great if she could be elected to Congress. But then I thought: ‘she won’t get elected’; ‘the general public won’t go for her’. I read some of her website, there were some parts in her FAQ’s that I felt were a little awkward; so again, I pondered that maybe she was putting energy into a losing battle; ‘she’ll feel bad if she loses’. I read some of the comments, and already there were some haters posting ridiculous statements.

Sometimes I look at the comments section of Youtube videos, or of articles that I read and there are always haters commenting, no matter what the topic – sometimes important, divisive topics; and at other times quite innocuous topics. A few years back, I had posted a Youtube video that I had taken while on an airplane whose wings were being ‘de-iced’. I put the video to music and posted it. It was innocuous enough for me that I could post it, I wasn’t putting something dear to me online – but still, there were hater comments. I’ve wondered about the haters that have time to post toxic commentaries online, and I wonder who they are in their ‘real’ lives. But then, I don’t really have to look too far, because I have my own little hater.

The church placed this fundraising thermometer with their goal amount. I was embarrassed for the church, that they would set themselves up for such a major disappointment. As the weeks passed, slowly but surely the red marker kept rising. Eventually, and this didn’t take a long time either, it reached it’s goal and then surpassed it. I was stunned, and I felt it was a lesson learned. The church benefited by having many people who were like my spouse – they took the leap of faith and put their money where their mouth is.

I don’t know if Marianne Williamson will win, nobody knows that. But she is taking that leap and doing what she feels called to do. It is a major leap, that won’t be easy – but what is life, if not for the leaps?

All of these negative thoughts I have – about the church’s inability to raise money; how they’ll embarass themselves; how Marianne will be disappointed to have put herself out there – are comments that I make to myself. My projections. I am my own little hater. Statements that are preemptive strikes to any action that I may desire to take. ‘this is stupid’ ‘people won’t understand’ ‘nobody would buy that’ ‘it’s not good enough’ ‘I’m not an artist’ ‘I don’t know enough’.

Do you have a little hater? How does your little hater stop you in your tracks; slow you down; make you doubt yourself?

Working with music and sound in therapeutic ways is something that I am feeling called to do. In doing this work, I have to bring in all of me. I do have something to offer despite being imperfect. As this blog evolves; as I evolve – I hope that you will be able to get something that you could use for your own personal growth and healing.

http://www.holynamebrooklyn.com/

fundraising thermometer

fundraising thermometer

http://marianneforcongress.com/
Marianne Williamson


Beating the Little Hater

sound bites – the elements and mindfulness

Click on the top left corner of the image to hear the sound for that image. These short Vine videos help you focus on individual sounds that may go unnoticed around you. After browsing through these, take time throughout your day, to notice the sounds in your immediate environment. What element does it represent?

EARTH – what is an ‘earth’ sound – footsteps, metallic sounds? The earth is unmoving, solid below our feet. Do you feel grounded, steady or stuck and unbalanced?
pawsteps

footsteps

walking in the grass

subway – underneath the earth (lower your volume!)

WATER – what are the variations of water sounds that you could think of? What sounds suggest the element of water? Water flows down the path of least resistance but with quantity or over time, can effect much change in the landscape. What do the sounds of water bring to mind?

morning dew by a stream

water in a bowl

dripping faucet

water fountain in pond

FIRE – As compared with water, which flows down, fire rises up – it transforms. what images or sounds elicit the idea of fire?

lighting a match

AIR