All posts by Patricia Dornelles

The Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music

GIM is a psychotherapeutic tool that helps to expand consciousness. It helps an individual access their own inner wisdom that lies just beyond their own awareness. GIM uses music, classical music, that is carefully selected to facilitate an individual’s journey. In ‘guided imagery’, the guide is the music, not the therapist.

Before going through a GIM session, you sit down with the therapist and explore your intention for the work you want to do. You then lay down, or lay back in a chair. You listen to the music and the music guides the experience. You will come up with images, feelings, kinesthetic experiences that take you on an experiential journey that will touch on your intention. As long as you ‘go with the flow’, allow the music to lead you and don’t try to impose your will or your sense of what ‘seems right’ or that has a ‘logical’ progression of events, you will have an experience that will lead you to a greater understanding related to your intention.

As with just about everything in life, you get better at using GIM as you get more familiar with it and are better able to relax, set aside your self-consciousness and enter into the music.

I will be going into the final Level III phase of my training in conducting GIM sessions this year, participating in a series of trainings and supervised GIM sessions over the next couple of years that will enhance and expand my skills. In my psychotherapy practice, I have facilitated GIM sessions individually with clients, alternating GIM sessions with standard ‘talk therapy’. I have found that it is a very useful intervention that enables an individual to access deeper aspects of their own truths that sometimes lay just beyond their active awareness.

I hope to offer up to you information related to GIM as I move along in this work. Feel free to contact me if you would like more information.

No More Auction Block for Me

Given the state of the political world this past year, I have started thinking about protest music – songs that make a statement about the need for social change.

Protest music has been around a very long time – as long as there has been music and something to protest.  At times the complaint is hidden within allegorical lyrics, or the tone of the song contradicts the content – for example it can sound like a ‘happy’ song though the words betray that.  In other cases, happy lyrics can be sung in a sad sounding key.  Other protest songs are musical storytelling – an oral history through song.

‘No More Auction Block for Me’ is clearly a direct statement of protest about slavery by simply stating ‘no more’.  ‘No more whip lash’, ‘no more pint of salt for me’.  It is powerful in its simplicity.

Can there be healing in a protest song?

In looking for the first song to write about here, I first listened to the version sung by Sweet Honey in the Rock.  It sounds more like traditional black spiritual music that I have heard.  It was very powerful to hear the voices harmonize and weave through the melody and lyrics of the song.  I then listened to Paul Robeson’s version – I initially did not like it due to what seemed to be a British accent, but as I heard each of these versions as well as more modern versions, his low voice and the lyrics started to reverberate through my body.  I got images of my root chakra and glimpses of an energetic shattering of the fear and immobilization created on that auction block.  This happened with ‘casual’ listening in my living room, with no personal knowledge of being a descendant of a slave.  I can only imagine the impact during a sound meditation.  The lyrics are written below as well as links to three different versions: Sweet Honey in the Rock, Paul Robeson, and Odetta.  All touch one’s soul in a slightly different way.

Take a listen and let me know how they impact you.  Does the melody sound familiar?  It was subsequently used by Bob Dylan for his song ‘Blowing in the Wind’

No more auction block for me.                  No more, no more.                                        No more auction block for me.             Many thousands gone

No more driver’s lash for me.                    No more, no more.                                        No more driver’s lash for me.               Many thousands gone

No more whip lash for me.                          No more, no more.                                         No more pint of salt for me.                  Many thousands gone

No more auction block for me.                   No more, no more.                                        No more auction block for me.              Many thousands gone

Paul Robeson

Odetta

Sweet Honey in the Rock

It’s Inevitable – How to Save the World

I am requesting that everybody reading this post set aside 1 minute each day to contemplate on healing the world / the universe. I have my alarm set to go off every evening at 9pm. At that time, I stop what I am doing and visualize the planet earth. I visualize healing energy to geographic locations that are experiencing political unrest, natural disasters or man-made disasters. I usually visualize blue, violet, or green healing energy to a particular spot or enveloping the whole globe.

I actually had started doing this a while back, but had slacked off for the past month or so. This morning in a meditation though, I got the thought to start doing this again and to put the word out so more people will do it too.

Below is a quote from David Bohm’s ‘Wholeness and the Implicate Order’.

“One might say: ‘Fragmentation of cities, religions, political systems, conflict in the form of wars, general violence, fratricide, etc., are the reality. Wholeness is only an ideal, towards which we should perhaps strive.’ …. Rather, what should be said is that wholeness is what is real, and that fragmentation is the response of this whole, to man’s action, guided by the illusory perception, which is shaped by fragmentary thought. So what is needed is for man to give attention to his habit of fragmentary thought, to be aware of it, and thus bring it to an end. Man’s approach to reality may then be whole, and so the response will be whole.”

I see so many commercials for ‘end of the world’ shows on TV. Then there’s the news programs that report on ever increasing random violence. It’s gotten so bad that I recently imagined myself getting a gun for protection. Prayer and energy work was not on the table. It’s pretty easy to get carried away from a media-influenced world view. Through that lens, prayer and energy work is easily forgotten.

But there is another lens, another framework to view all this violence and discord on this planet. This lens which includes ‘all there is’ allows for individuals to be able to make a difference. ‘All there is’ includes us. We can make a difference not by donating money or marching in a protest (though those are good too) but through prayer and energy work.

David Bohm was a contemporary / student of Einstein. What he is saying is the same as many people say, such as Marianne Williamson, Louise Hay, Ekhart Tolle, and various ‘New Age’ type people.

Many years ago I read ‘Dancing Wu Li Masters’ by ….. Which connects spirtuality/ New Age ideas and quantum physics. At the time, I was entering into some spiritual practices that my skeptic mind was having difficulty with – I did not want to be ‘deluded’ into believing in something that wasn’t really true. This book helped me take my next few spiritual steps.

This link is to an earlier post of mine from a couple of years ago, entitled ‘How to Save the World’ which approaches this idea from different angle: How To Save the World

Let me know if you start this 1 minute practice, and if you have other ‘world healing’ practices let me know, let US know, as well. It’s ALL GOOD! If you still have doubts, that’s fine too! It’s ALL GOOD!

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!