I haven't blogged much recently because I've been extremely busy either working on books or traveling. The result is that there are lots of new books available - dream interpretation, crystal alchemy, energy healing, an all degrees Reiki manual, and the upcoming crystal grids books were all topics of books I completed within the past year. There's another I've completed but am not ready to tell you about yet, so keep an eye out!
Jim and I have been traveling every few months - some as quick getaways and some extended trips. Two of the places we've visited are highly sacred places to me: Mount Shasta in Northern California and Sedona, Arizona. Both are places where the energy is just different. It's healing, loving, and accepting. In fact, because Mount Shasta is within driving distance, we've been there twice in about a five month period. It's a little bit more of a haul to get to Sedona, but we visited twice in the past year and hope to return once a year or so.
Mount Shasta, California
Mount Shasta is believed to be a healing vortex, and I can definitely attest to its healing and restorative powers. The town is filled with light workers - psychics, energy healers, astrologers, and others. And although I haven't seen any, I've also heard it's a great place for UFO spotters. Legend holds that the mountain is also home to multiple highly evolved beings that live inside of the mountains and the nearby Black Butte and Castle Crags.
We like to stay in the small town of Mount Shasta at the Shasta MountInn, which is a small B&B that's the perfect, peaceful location. The photo above of the alpenglow was taken from the second story deck of the Shasta MountINN, so you can see the view is fabulous as well.
One special feature of the Shasta MountInn is its Vogel crystal healing bed. It provides a powerful healing experience. It combines light and color therapy, Vogel crystals, sound, and vibration.
I also really love that tiny town has 8 or 9 metaphysical and crystal shops as well as some of the purest water in the country. You can even visit the headwaters of the Sacramento River while you're in town and gather some spring fed, pure water that has filtered for seven years through the mountain before it forms the Sacramento River. The waters are said to be healing, and many people gather the water for drinking when they visit. The headwaters are also said to be an energy vortex where one can encounter angelic beings and gain sacred understandings.
Another healing place in the area is Burney Falls, which is located about a 50-minute drive from the city of Mount Shasta in McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park. Theodore Roosevelt called Burney Falls "the eighth wonder of the world," and the local Ilmawi believed it was a power spot and used it as a place for meditation and vision. The falls are fed by an underground aquifer, and they are also believed to be the home to a water sprite called Undine, who is seen emerging from the mists of the falls.
It's a quick 1/3 mile hike from the upper falls down to the base of the falls on mostly paved switchback trail, and it's well worth the short walk.
While in the area, you can also take a short 10 minute drive down I-5 south to see Castle Crags, a 225 million year old 6,500 foot tall rock formation. Legend suggests Castle Crags is the remains of the ancient civilization, Lemuria and the remains of the lost continent of Mu.
When I visit Sedona, it always feels like the mothership calling me home. Sedona has a very special energy, and it's also known to be surrounded by multiple healing vortexes. The town is friendly and filled with an eclectic mix of artists, spiritual seekers and teachers, energy healers, retirees, and tourists. It's also one of the most physically and energetically beautiful places on the planet.
The photo above is the Chapel of the Holy Cross. It's a Catholic chapel, but it is also one of Sedona's easiest to feel healing vortexes. I performed a distance Reiki healing session for a large group of people here, and it was incredibly powerful. In fact, I had my own healing experience at the Chapel of the Holy Cross last year when I was in Sedona.
I had experienced a major blood loss event and had lost about 50 percent of my blood. I was barely ambulatory, but Jim and I had a non-refundable trip to Las Vegas scheduled, so we decided to go anyway. I barely made it through the airport in Portland and actually had to pre-board the plane. At the time, I could walk maybe five to ten feet before I'd need to sit down and rest.
Instead of exploring Vegas, which is virtually impossible to do when you're as ill as I was, Jim spent each day driving to different places nearby. The first place we drove was Sedona. The chapel sits up on top of a hill, and there's not a lot of parking, so Jim dropped me off at the bottom of the hill below the chapel and went to park the car. While I was waiting for Jim, I experienced a surge of energy and walked up the hill to the chapel with no trouble at all. Suddenly, I felt incredible. I was able to not only walk up hills, but I was able to walk around Las Vegas and at Bryce Canyon (also an incredible sacred healing location) without any of my earlier issues from the blood loss. It was a profound healing experience for me, which is why I decided to channel distance Reiki from that location on this last trip.
Sedona has multiple vortex sites in and around town, although many of them (such as Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte above) require a hike to get to the very center of the vortex. However, even nearing these huge rock formations allows you to feel the energy . of the vortex, so if you're not up to hiking you can still experience on a milder level how the vortex feels. The two easiest to reach vortexes are at the Chapel of the Holy Cross and the Airport Vortex. With both of those, you can park and only need to walk up a short hill to get there, and at both the views are spectacular.
We also hiked to the Seven Sacred Pools which is on the Soldier Pass hiking trail. It's a relatively easy walk along wide, rocky trails to get to the pools, and the scenery along the way is incredible. It's about a .6 mile walk to the pools from the trailhead. The pools are a natural sandstone formation with seven pools tumbling down over the red rocks. This was a sacred site to local indigenous peoples, and it has a peaceful and beautiful healing energy to the location. To me, the seven pools felt like a place to balance and clear the energy of your 7 sacred centers, your chakras.
We also took a small, 6-seat sight seeing plane trip over the Grand Canyon. Being above the earth in such a way inspires awe for just how amazingly created this world we live in actually is, and for me it instilled awe and an understanding of how perfectly our planet has been formed.
Bryce Canyon, Utah
I visited Bryce Canyon last year on my trip to Las Vegas, and we will visit there again next spring. It's an incredibly beautiful place that was once home to the Paiute. There is a Paiute legend about the canyon that Coyote turned bad people and creatures into the rock formations in the canyon, which are called Hoodoos (also called fairy chimneys or earth pyramids).
While visiting, I experienced a profound sense of the sacred there. I believe the Hoodoos are the source of the sacred energy because I experienced a similar sensation in Oak Creek Canyon outside of Sedona, which also has hoodoos.
Finally, another place where I truly feel sacred and healing energy is on the island of Kauai. I haven't visited in a few years, but I wanted to include it as one of the sacred places I've visited. Kauai and the Hawaiian Islands are another place some people believe is the location of the ancient civilization Lemuria. And whether it is or not, to me it has an untouched beauty and sacred energy that never fails to renew and heal me.
I talk a lot in my books and classes about transmuting negative energy to positive, but what does that really mean? Negative and positive are polar opposites; they represent polarity or duality, which is what we all enter into when we choose to become embodied as human beings.
Negative and positive are also value judgments. In general when you ask someone, which is "bad" and which is "good", they will likely answer that negative is bad, and positive is good. And perhaps in our embodied experience of duality, this is often true. However, in ultimate reality, they are equal. For example, in electricity you need both positive and negative poles for currents to flow. In chemistry, you need both for molecules to attract to form matter. Our bodies are made up of matter formed from opposite polar energies, which forms the basis for one type of energy healing, polarity therapy.
Taoism and other Eastern philosophies express the concept of polarity as yin yang, the balance and distribution of opposite energies flowing one into the other, each containing the seeds of the other. Both energies require the other to make a whole, and each has equal opportunity for expression in the physical world. Neither is inherently good nor inherently bad; both just are, and both are necessary when we are embodied.
This moves beyond philosophy and embeds itself deeply into our lives, although our value judgments often make the experience of duality uncomfortable for us. For example, we may deem sadness as "bad" or joy as "good" although they are both the same thing: emotion, existing on a spectrum. You can't fully experience joy if you have never understood sadness.
So while we see polarity as a series of opposites with one side more desirable than the other, in fact duality is always a spectrum with one opposite flowing into the other in an endless cycle. Each expression along that spectrum has equal value. None are inherently good nor bad. They just are. It is how we choose to allow those qualities to express in our lives that truly matter.
I can provide some examples of spectrum energy to illustrate. Hot and cold are opposite energies in our world of relativity, but they don't feel like the same experience to us at all. With one of these energies, we shiver and bundle up. With the other we sweat and strip down. Hot and cold are the same energy. They exist as a spectrum, and while some of us may prefer one or the other, in fact both have equal value. Both are merely an expression on a scale we call temperature, and we can choose to some extent which expression of temperature we'd like to experience by the clothes we wear, what we eat and drink, how we move, and how we control the climate in the spaces where we live, work, and play. Neither hot nor cold are inherently bad nor inherently good. Both are necessary expressions of temperature that nourish the natural world and make it possible for varied life to flourish on our planet.
Here's another example: beginning and end. In our embodied experience, everything appears to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. In fact, life is just this: birth, living, and death. This cycle continuously expresses throughout our lives in various ways such as idea-creation-usefulness-obsoletion (rotary telephone anyone?). These cycles repeat endlessly, over and over again as we move through our own process of creation that we call our lives. And often, we apply value judgments to the parts of the cycle; we see one part as good, positive, or desirable and its opposite as bad, negative, or undesirable. In doing so, we often fail to recognize that value judgments aside, each expression we chose of an energy always contains the roots of its opposite. For instance, endings always hold the seeds for new beginnings. Anger holds the seeds for forgiveness. Fear holds the seeds of love.
So when I suggest that you can transmute negativity into positivity, what I mean is this: your experience in each moment exists along a spectrum that we call duality. In those experiences, we often ascribe the qualities of "good" or "bad", "negative" or "positive", "desirable" or "undesirable". And we have the ability to choose how we quantify the experience and how we choose to allow it to express in our lives. To transmute negative to positive means choosing what you consider the more "positive" expression of a quality that exists on the spectrum. In other words, choosing the expression of joy if you find that more desirable than sadness, or choosing abundance if you find that a more desirable expression than lack.
Astrology contains great examples of this. In astrology, your "sign" is part of your karmic imprint. Each person is born with a karmic imprint, which are qualities that will express in your life making you the unique person you are. However, you are never "stuck" with the qualities you are born with based on your astrological chart. Instead, you get to choose how those qualities express in your life. For example, my sun sign is Sagittarius and my rising sign is Libra. Both of these have several influences on my personality, but for simplicity's sake we'll stick to a single one: both Sagittarius and Libra are often free-spirited. However, both Sagittarius and Libra can also be restless and easily bored. These are the opposite expressions of the same thing, and at different times I choose each expression. Sometimes, I am restless and bored, which is not an experience I enjoy. And so, when I find myself choosing this expression, I can transmute it from what I judge as its negative pole (restless and bored) to it's positive expression (free-spirited).
Another example that shows up in my chart are the opposite energies of easily hurt and compassionate. One of those feels negative to me while the other feels positive, but in fact, one flows into the other. In my life, the ends of this spectrum are inseparable, and each is necessary for the other. The things that hurt me allow me to feel greater compassion. I need the hurt experiences to help me be more compassionate towards others and towards myself. Here's another: my chart suggests I am flighty and disorganized but creative and enthusiastic. Certainly both are true, but I choose the creative and enthusiastic expression more frequently because it feels more desirable to me than flighty. However, my creativity and enthusiasm often lead to my disorganization, and my flighty nature often is what sews the seeds for new creation. They are both expressions of the same energy, and each is necessary for the other.
So when I talk about transmuting negative energy to positive energy, what I mean is choosing that aspect of a certain energy that feels more desirable to you in the moment. Which expression of an energy do you choose in this moment? And realize, the expression you choose is neither right nor wrong; it's merely right for you right now. It can change from moment to moment, and sometimes the expression needs to change in order to serve your highest good.
I have two tattoos that remind me of this. On the front of my right shoulder, I have butterflies, which represent yin energy to me. On the back of my left shoulder, I have a hummingbird, which represents yang to me. Together, the two remind me of the balance and flow of the spectrum of energies and the importance of allowing the expression of both in my life. The energies join together and intertwine in a cyclical dance that shifts and evolves to continue to serve the highest and greatest good.
One of the great things about Reiki is it flows through you and not from you. However, many people drawn to Reiki and other forms of energy healing are empaths. Empathy is a form of psychic ability in which you feel the physical sensations and/or emotions of others as if they are your own. In general, empaths may have difficulty differentiating between a physical sensation or emotion from another person and one that is his or her own. This can be confusing, so it’s important you begin to recognize and acknowledge your empathy and work with it as you do energy healing.
Empathy is a gift for an energy healer or Reiki practitioner because it allows you to be more tuned into your healing partner and provide a more intuitive and personalized session. However, if you don’t manage it carefully, you may wind up taking on any negative energy from your healing partner while transferring some of your positive energy to them. This is one reason grounding and breaking the connection following an energy healing session is so important for both you and your healing partner. If you've received energy from your healing partner, you don't want to carry it with you throughout the day or into your next session.
In my First Degree Reiki classes, I teach my students to run their hands under cold water and touch the floor after a session to release the energetic ties between practitioner and healing partner and for grounding. This is an effective practice. However, as you begin to work more intuitively and allow the energy from your healing partner into your own energetic space in order to create a more focused and personalized healing session, it becomes even more essential to practice good energy hygiene in order to maintain your own energetic boundaries and well-being.
Learn to Differentiate Your Energy from Theirs
First on your agenda is discerning what physical or emotional sensations are yours and which are your healing partners’. Some techniques for doing this:
Ground or Push Out the Energy
Once you have read your healing partner's energy and understand what it is telling you, there’s no need to hold onto it for even a second longer. Therefore, once you’ve acted on the information you’ve received from your healing partner, you should ground it or push it away from you. Because you receive lots of information during a healing session, you may need to do this multiple times throughout. To do this:
Step Under an Energy Waterfall
Likewise, especially if you’re empathic, you will always need to ground and clear energy after a session, so you don’t carry the energy of your healing partner’s dis-ease with you into later sessions or as you go about your day. To do this, after your healing partner leaves and before your next session, use the exercise above. Then, visualize a Reiki or energy waterfall pouring down from above and filling your aura, chakras, meridians, and entire body with beautiful, pure, life force energy. This will remove any energy you've taken on and replenish any you've inadvertently given away.
If after this, the energy still feels connected or strong, consider a more powerful personal energy clearing, such as a salt bath or crystals.
A few years ago, I got conked on the head. Hard. I spent a good part of the remainder of the month in the fog of a concussion with frequent headaches and plenty of confusion. That, combined with a few other minor inconveniences life throws one’s way from time to time left me feeling a little flat, slightly down in the dumps, and not quite my normal sunny, optimistic self. The energy in and around my house and my person stagnated, and when I finally emerged from the fog of my bonk on the noggin, I realized my thoughts and energy from that period left my energetic environment muddled.
So, like any normal, rational person who never does anything that seems strange to other people, I decided it was time to clean up my energetic environment and recharge it so my home, personal energy, and surroundings were filled with my more customary positive energy. I engaged in several cleansing rituals that returned my home to its pre-head bonk energetic state.
Negative Energy Spirals
While I’m sure we’d all prefer life was constantly sunshine, rainbows, and unicorn farts (which I am told look like rainbow-colored glitter), that isn’t always the way things work out. Sometimes life gets you down because stuff happens. You suffer financial setbacks. You have an altercation with someone. A toxic person comes to visit and befouls your positive vibe. Someone you’ve known for years suddenly starts acting like a middle school mean girl. Someone you love is ill or dies. You experience a health issue. There can be all sorts of things that can change your personal energy and the energy of your environment.
In the midst of all of these normal day-to-day setbacks, it can be difficult to be a sunshiny, happy, positive thinker all the time.
I believe thoughts become things. We are creative individuals, and the way we think and speak creates and shapes our reality. But when things start to go poorly, it’s easy to get stuck in a pattern of negative thinking that energetically contributes to more things going badly. Without intervention, it can become a downward spiral. Negative thinking begets negative outcomes, which causes more negative thinking, which leads to more negative outcomes….and on and on it goes. It can be difficult to recognize a downward spiral as it happens, and breaking the pattern may be even harder.
Negative energy spirals hurt more than the environments in which we live. They also harm us. Negativity permeates our subtle anatomy (our energy systems). When it does, it weakens our auras, making it easier for harmful energy to move through it and into us. Once past our aura, the negativity can set into our other subtle anatomy, our chakras and meridians, creating imbalance and blockage that can lead to physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional dis-ease (lack of ease that often results in illnesses of the body, mind, and spirit).
Enter the Cleansing Ritual
I believe there’s magic in the cleansing ritual, but maybe not for the same reasons other people do. While I know the methods that follow can help shift energy and vibration, the other reason they work is perhaps even more important: intention. Engaging in a cleansing ritual sets your intention to convert a pattern of negative energy to a positive one. It symbolically shows you (and the universe) that you recognize the negative spiral you’ve been in, and you’re ready to begin consciously creating positive energy once again. It is a starting point for you to once again engage in conscious creative positive thought, word, and action.
What Cleansing Rituals Are Not
You’ve probably heard that if you want to get rid of ghosts or evil spirits, you can burn sage. This is an example of a cleansing ritual. And by the way – I burn sage. I burn the heck out of that stuff. But burning sage doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to get rid of ghosts or negative spirits. Rather, it is a way of clearing out negative energy patterns and creating a space where you can then fill it with positive energy.
What Cleansing Rituals Are
Cleansing rituals aren’t about other souls and spirits. They are about you and the energy of your environment, and they are about your own focus and intention. They are a starting point for creating a new pattern of energy within your mind, your space, and your environment.
Types of Cleansing Rituals
Cleansing rituals are largely symbolic, and intention plays a huge role in them. Therefore, while there are some very common cleansing rituals – like the aforementioned sage burning – I recommend people rely on instinct and engage in rituals that create an energetic shift for them. In other words, if it feels right, do it.
Burning Herbs & Incense
Many people are familiar with the ritual of burning herbs or incense. Sage is a commonly burned herb, believed to clear away negative energy, leaving room for positive energy to enter. When I burn sage, I always follow it with burning something that invites positive energy, such as palo santo (my absolute favorite), lavender, or sweetgrass. You can also burn incense that invites positivity, such as Nag Champa (my other favorite).
To burn incense or herbs, either place the burning herbs in the middle of a space to fill it, or walk with a burning bundle around the space. When I want to cleanse my whole space, I walk around the perimeter of every room in my house with a burning sage bundle. I wave the smoke into every corner, closet, and cupboard, taking time to go around each door and window. Then, I follow doing the same thing with a smoldering stick of palo santo or a burning braid of sweetgrass. I also use the smoldering palo santo stick to draw Reiki symbols by all entrances to my home: doors, windows, vents, and drains to invite Reiki energy to fill my home.
How you go about this ritual or whether you use burning herbs is up to you. What’s important is you do so with the intention of creating positive energy within your environment.
Crystals to Cleanse and Energize Spaces
Another way of cleansing is sprinkling or deliberately placing crystals around your environment. I buy crystal chip beads and toss them about and also use a few strategically placed larger crystals. Typically, if I’m strewing crystals about, I’m doing it outdoors in my yard where it won’t get sucked up by the vacuum. Larger crystals I place in various locations in my yard and home.
There are many types of crystals you can use depending on how you wish to shift the energy of your environment. While going into every crystal is beyond the scope of this blog post, I will share a few of my favorites.
I placed all my crystals after I’d done a sage and palo santo burning ritual. In other words, I put the crystals in place after the energy in my home had shifted from negative to positive. The outdoors crystals are naturally cleansed by sunlight and moonlight. My indoors crystals I cleanse once or twice a week with smoke from palo santo or incense.
Salt for Personal Cleansing
Another cleansing ritual involves sea salt, Himalayan pink salt, or Epsom salts. Whenever I feel myself slipping into a pattern of negative thinking, I bathe in Himalayan pink salt with a few drops of sandalwood essential oil added to the water. In this ritual bath, I close my eyes and focus on bringing positive energy into my space and person while the negativity drains from my body into the bathwater. Then, I drain the tub completely before I step out to dry myself.
You can also sprinkle sea salt, Epsom salts, or Himalayan pink salt around the outsider perimeter of your home after you’ve cleansed it with burning herbs. This seals in the positive energy and keeps negative energy at bay. You'll need to replace it every time it rains.
Inviting Positive Energy
You can also use other forms of positive energy and visualization to cleanse your environment. For example, you can close your eyes and envision white light pouring into your home, surrounding you and your home and washing away negativity. You can engage in positive affirmations. Or, if you do any form of energy healing, you can send the energy from you into every corner of your home. This is how I prepare my classroom spaces before I teach, and it’s how I prepare my energy healing space before I give someone a Reiki session. Other methods you can use to create positive cleansing energy include the following.
Essential Oils Clear Energy Too
Like other energy healing tools, essential oils have a high vibration that can entrain with the energy of spaces or living beings to help raise the vibe and bring about cleansing. There are many ways you can use essential oils. Here are a few of my favorites.
Good Juju Essential Oil Cleansing Spray
I use this spray – or a variation of it based on the needs of a healing partner – when homeowners or businesses are stuck in negative patterns and really need positive changes to occur. To use it, shake it well and then spray it around the inside perimeter of the house, building, or room.
Spirit Crossing Spray
Sometimes, spirits request assistance in transitioning to the spirit realm. I use this spray, which contains sacred funeral herbs, to assist with the transition. Spray in the area as you continue with any other spirit crossing rituals in which you engage. NOTE: This does not force spirits to cross. It only aids them if they wish to go.
Mix the following ingredients in an 8-ounce spray bottle:
This blend promotes deep meditation. Put it in diffuser with the recommended amount of water and keep in your meditation area.
Psychic Awakening Oil
Dab a little of this on your third eye, either during meditation or whenever you’d like to awaken your psychic abilities. You can also put it in a roller bottle that has amethyst chips in it or has a gemstone amethyst roller to enhance its properties. Note: Always dilute essential oils in a carrier oil or water if you will bee using them on your skin or you may have a reaction.
Prosperity Diffuser Blend
To promote prosperity, mix the following into the recommended amount of water for your diffuser.
For peaceful sleep and happy dreams, mix the following into the recommended amount of water for your diffuser.
No matter how you choose to cleanse your space, the most important aspect of cleansing rituals is intention. It starts with recognizing the energy in your space has shifted in a way that no longer serves you. Then, by creating a ritual that re-sets your intention to bring more positive energetic patterns into your life, you can push the re-set button and get started on a different path.
For all the ladies of a certain age (or partners and family of ladies of a certain age who want to help), if hot flashes are a thing in your life right now, I've found something that works amazingly well.
I was at Celestial Awakenings in Vancouver, WA yesterday (one of my favorite crystals stores - they also have a Portland, OR location on Stark) chatting with the store's very helpful owners Jeff and Kim. I started to have a hot flash and asked them what they recommended for hot flashes. Jeff handed me a piece of indigo Gabbro (also called blue Gabbro and Magic Merlinite), and as soon as I held it in my receiving hand (which is my non-dominant hand), all of the rising heat drained from my body. It stopped the hot flash dead in its tracks.
It was a pretty neat trick, so I bought a piece. Every time I felt a hot flash rising for the rest of the evening, I grabbed the Babbro and BAM - hot flash thwarted.
Jeff suggested holding it in my hand while I sleep, putting it under my pillow, or placing it between the mattress and box spring. I know myself. Nothing is going to stay in my hand all night, and it probably won't stay under my pillow either. Jim offered to put two-sided carpet tape on my hand and stick the piece of Gabbro to it, but I had visions of all sorts of things I would wake up with it stuck to my hand in the morning, such as my dog Monkey. Instead, I put the Gabbro between the mattress and box springs. I typically wake several times during the night to throw off covers (hot flash) and then again to put covers back on when the hot flash becomes a not flash. It only happened once last night.
Now for the geology geek bit: indigo Gabbro hasn't been mined for long (a few years). It comes from Madagascar, and it is an igneous rock with a chemical makeup that's pretty much the same as basalt. There's Gabbro in the earth's crust, especially the oceanic crust. While it forms as one rock, it is made up of several crystalline minerals including chlorite, serpentine, magnetite, feldspar, muscovite, and pyroxene in a silicate (quartz) base.
Physically, along with hot flashes Gabbro may be helpful for other heat conditions in the body, including fever and inflammation. Spiritually, Gabbro is a stone of balance. It helps integrate the dark and the light inside of you, so it's a good stone for meditation and shadow work. It can help to bring balance to your life between the physical (body and mind) and the ethereal (emotions and spirit). It can also help unify and integrate other aspects of the yin and the yang (duality). It's a good stone to have if you're doing integration or balancing work of any kind in your life.
Finally, a quick reminder. If the Gabbro is working hard for you, don't forget to cleanse it. For people in the throes of intense hot flashes (or similar conditions), I recommend cleansing it daily with smoke or sound. The cleaner energy will help it help you more efficiently. If you're not using it as much, a once a week cleansing when you cleanse your other crystals should suffice.
I am frequently asked about weight and weight loss after my classes, online, and when I appear at events. Today, I realized it's not something I've discussed in my energy healing books, which is strange when you think about it because according to NIH, 2/3 of the adults in America are either overweight or obese. It may even be doubly strange I haven't talked about weight in the context of energy healing because I often write about body image and health nutrition in my other work, particularly my cooking blog and cookbooks.
At one point, I would have described my own journey as a "struggle" with weight and told you that while it wasn't something that I necessarily felt defined me, it has certainly been a lifelong issue with which I continue to contend. I have gained and lost what I can only imagine are hundreds of pounds over the course of my life, and often my self-image of the moment was tied in to how much I weighed or what size I wore; or, as I thought of it, where I was on the yo-yo. I even had a body positivity essay I'd written called "How Being Fat Set Me Free" published in a Chicken Soup for the Soul book.
However, as new research has come to the fore and I've worked to heal my own spiritual, physical, and emotional, and energetic issues, how I think about and understand weight gain, overweight and obesity, nutrition, body image, and health have shifted completely. And so I want to address weight in a very honest and compassionate way based on not only my understanding of nutrition and health, but also from the perspective of energy healing. Buckle up - this is going to be a lot of information.
I want to start by saying this: If you feel weight and body image has been a defining struggle in your life, you are not alone. It is something many people ask me about after my energy healing classes or in the messages they send me. They usually ask privately and quietly, looking around to make sure nobody else can hear them. As an empath, I often sense a deep feeling of shame from them as they ask. Trust me. I get it. It took me years to come to terms with my weight and even now, when I look at pictures, I sometimes cringe because I am heavier than I would like to be.
Weight is a painful issue for many. Being overweight is one of the last acceptable prejudices in our society. I spent years seeking medical diagnosis of a condition I knew I had from physicians who were unwilling to listen to anything I had to say from the moment I walked into their office as a fat woman. It took me more than two decades to even have a doctor be willing to order the simple blood test I needed to diagnose my Hashimoto's thyroiditis in spite of the fact I knew what it was due to my family history almost immediately when I started experiencing symptoms (and I fiercely advocated for myself). No matter what my health issue was for which I sought care and treatment for nearly 25 years, the diagnosis was fat. I had a cold because I was fat. I had kidney stones because I was fat. I sprained my ankle because I was fat. A bug flew into my eye because I was so fat, how could it miss me? Try as I might to advocate for myself, because of this dismissal from virtually everyone I encountered in the medical field, I felt deeply ashamed.
I've spent years studying health, nutrition, energy healing, weight, autoimmune disease, and many other subjects. I believe nutrition, movement, health, and physical habits are just as important a part of honoring our soul's path as spiritual practices and energy healing. There is a deep, unbreakable connection between body, mind, and spirit and when we experience imbalance in one, then there are imbalances in the other two as well. The result is dis-ease: a lack of ease in the body, mind, and spirit. This is important to understand for all conditions, and particularly for issues associated with weight.
When you consider this interconnectedness of body-mind-spirit from a weight perspective, it becomes even clearer. The best way I can explain it is from the perspective of my story, which I'm sure is similar in many ways to some of yours.
I've always been a curvy girl. Even when my body fat was extremely low when I taught aerobics and competed as a bodybuilder, I still had boobs and a butt. It's just my body shape (I'm an hourglass), but in the 80s as I grew into my adulthood, curvy girls weren't fashionable. The body type back then was aerobically fit, flat, and extremely slim. Because of my body type, I often felt fat, and people often commented that I was "overweight" (I wore a 1980s size 7 which is probably about a 3 to 5 now). Media images perpetuated the message that my perfectly healthy body was somehow gross and aberrant.
Because of this ambiguity about my weight, I developed the belief I didn't deserve to eat. When I ate anything, I felt powerful shame for my weakness. And then I spent hours exercising just to counteract an apple. Perhaps not surprisingly, by the time I was in college I had an eating disorder. I mostly didn't eat. When I did I threw up and exercised fanatically. I came home from my freshman year in college the thinnest I'd ever been as a 1980s size 0 to 3, and for the first time ever, people started complimenting me on how my body looked.
And so, I developed a belief about my body and food. Eating - any type of eating - was bad and shameful. I was not entitled to eat. Think about that. I developed the belief I was not entitled to provide my body with nourishment. When I ate with people and they expressed envy at how little I ate, I felt virtuous. If I did eat something on the "bad" list and someone made a comment such as, "I don't know how you can stay skinny and eat a cookie," I was embarrassed and ashamed. I had created and embodied a pattern of thoughts that continued to plague me for decades.
I also believed that about three hours of punishing exercise a day was good. If I only did two, I was ashamed of myself. If I sat and rested, I felt ashamed. I came to believe I was no longer entitled to nurture my body and give it rest, even when it cried out for it or when it was injured. At one point, I broke my foot (I dropped a 50 pound dumbbell on it) and continued to work out on my foot because to not work out didn't seem like an option.
After college, I was certified by ACE as a personal trainer and an aerobics instructor. I worked in a gym and taught 12 90-minute aerobics classes per week. I was a competitive bodybuilder and coached a bodybuilding team, so I also spent at least 3 hours and usually more per day lifting weights. At the same time, I ate about 900 calories a day (I know because I tracked it religiously) so I could lose body fat and be competition ready. I was exhausted all of the time and terribly unhealthy, but people regularly complimented me about how I looked, how fit I was, and how thin I was. I wore a size 0.
I clearly remember the day it all changed. I was at the gym doing my normal thing when I suddenly felt something shift inside of me. As if someone had flipped a light switch, all of the energy drained from me, and I started to shake and cry. It was as if one minute I felt normal and the next minute, I felt totally unlike myself.
And then the weight started to come on. After the first 40 pounds, I went to see my doctor, terribly ashamed of what was happening. I remember telling him what my symptoms were: exhaustion, anxiety, hair loss, always being cold, brain fog, rapid weight gain in spite of the fact I was only eating about 900 calories a day and continuing to exercise as much as I could. This is what my doctor told me: "You're not a bad person because you're getting fat. Remember that. But you are eating too much and not moving enough. I think you must be underestimating how much you eat and overestimating how much you exercise." He didn't order tests. He didn't do a physical examination. He sent me home with a pamphlet on diet and offered me a prescription for diet pills, which I had the presence of mind to refuse. So essentially he told me a) I was getting fat; b) it was my fault; and c) I was either deluded or a liar about my food intake and exercise. And although I measured every portion, tracked every calorie, and counted every minute of exercise, I believed him because he was an authority and I was not.
This was the pattern for the next two decades until my weight soared to over 300 pounds, I was exhausted all the time, I had exercise intolerance, and I constantly felt ill. During that time, doctors continued to berate me for my weight, tell me all I needed to do was eat less and move more and be more honest about how much I ate and moved, and not a single one ever suggested that what was happening to me might be a symptom of something else. In most cases, I had begged those doctors to test my T3 and T4 thyroid hormones because I knew what was happening to me, but they would only test my TSH, tell me it was within normal limits, and send me on my way feeling discouraged and ashamed.
As the years went on, I developed a deep distrust of the conventional medical system in our country. I stopped visiting doctors unless it was an emergency, because I knew what they would say and how they would treat me. Most could barely hide the disgust in their eyes and their impatience. I started to work with energy healing and alternative medicine concepts and studied nutrition in depth to find out what it was my body needed. I was beginning to get a picture of health and nutrition that was quite different than any of my doctors had ever shared with me, and I knew I needed to make vital changes in my emotional, spiritual, and physical self.
Then one day I ran into a friend who had shared many similar struggles. She had a sparkle in her eyes and looked healthy and happy. She'd also lost significant weight. It turned out, she had been treated by a local nurse practitioner who didn't approach health care in quite the same way. With a glimmer of hope, I made an appointment. It was life-changing.
At my first appointment, the nurse practitioner ordered what I'd been asking doctors to order for years - a T3 and T4 thyroid blood test. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it came back abnormal, and I was finally able to receive the Hashimoto's thyroiditis and celiac disease diagnosis. She told me that my health picture was complex from years of misdiagnosis and misinformation, but that we could unravel the knot. I cried on the way home from my appointment, relieved someone had finally talked to me and heard what I was saying rather than talked at me and berated me.
With my prescription of natural desiccated thyroid medication and the elimination of gluten from my diet, I noticed a substantial improvement in many of my symptoms, and I actually started to lose weight. With that puzzle piece in place combined with what I'd learned about nutrition, movement, and energy healing, I began to make real strides in improving my health and finding a place of balance once again. It took a long time, and I had to make significant changes in my beliefs about myself as well as in how I nourished my body.
What You Can Learn from My Story
My health picture was extremely complex, and it was deeply rooted in trauma I'd experienced in my life, my belief systems about myself and food, the ways I chose to move and nourish my body, and much more. The shame I felt and my belief my body had completely betrayed me also contributed to my growing ill health and dis-ease. In my case (as in almost everyone else's case), the physical affected the emotional, which affected the spiritual, and it all looped around itself with each of these factors affecting the other to create a state of chaotic imbalance in my being. Therefore, regardless of what I did for diet or how I tried to balance myself spiritually, until I'd worked through the emotional beliefs I'd absorbed and created about food, my body, and health, I was unable to unravel the gordian knot.
As I started to unravel it, I realized my weight issue was related not only to messages I'd internalized about ideal bodies, but also to trauma sustained as a child and in young adulthood, food choices that didn't work with my body's unique needs, lack of care when my body cried out for food and rest, shame about the biological necessity of nourishing my body with food, negative messages from the medical establishment and media, and much more. My body was the outward expression of all of the pain I was holding onto. The fat created a layer of protection that I felt kept me safe from sustaining further trauma. It was only with a combination of loving care for my body, medical intervention to diagnose celiac and Hashimoto's diseases, healing nutrition, sustainable and pleasurable movement, forgiveness of self and others, deep spiritual and emotional work on body image, energy healing work, and additional spiritual work that I was finally able to gain some level of control. And for most people with overweight and obesity or body image issues, their situation may not be exactly the same as mine, but it is likely just as complex.
Managing the Physical Aspects of Obesity: It Is Not a Disease - It Is a Symptom
Here's something many of you have probably never heard from your health care providers, but it is nonetheless true. Overweight and obesity is not who or what you are. It does not define you, nor does it say anything about you other than this: It is a symptom of underlying medical issues. Obesity and overweight is not the disease. It is the symptom. Even if you're drowning your sorrows in a gallon of ice cream and two large extra cheese meat lovers pizzas every night before you go to bed, it is a symptom. I'll say it again because this is so important. Overweight and obesity is NOT a disease of its own. It is a symptom that is the manifestation of processes that have gone wrong in your body (often hormonal), and obesity researchers are starting to recognize this. Some possible causes of the symptom of overweight and obesity include:
So what can you do? There are several physical steps you can take:
Eat in a Way that Nurtures Your Body
Every body is different, so we all need to find ways to eat that work for us. However, one of the most important physical and emotional things you can do is eat to nurture your health. This involves a process of figuring out which foods work for your body and which don't. To discover this, I recommend a 15 to 30 day elimination diet (I've outlined an elimination diet in this blog post) followed by several weeks of testing various foods to see what your body tolerates well. Some general suggestions to eat to nurture your body:
Respect Your Body's Needs
Our bodies are constantly talking to us. We've just learned not to listen to them. Think about it: when we have a symptom, one of the first things we do is take a medicine to suppress it (aspirin for a headache, for example). But these symptoms are your body's signals, telling you there is an imbalance that needs correcting. When you mask the symptom or ignore it, you are discounting your body's message, which is telling you there is an underlying cause and something is wrong. When you are tired, your body is telling you it needs sleep. When you are in pain or have a symptom, your body is pointing out an imbalance that could lead to dis-ease. It's up to you to start to respect and listen to what your body has to tell you, and then to thank it for sending you clear signals.
Managing the Emotional and Spiritual Aspects of Weight
Ah the emotional aspects of weight. When you truly stop to think about what body fat is and what its purpose is, it seems almost silly body fat, the number on a scale, or the size of our ass are so emotionally fraught for so many of us. And yet, it is. We have huge emotions tied up in weight. We allow it to control us and to direct our self-image. Sometimes, we allow our fat to keep us from living our best lives. We allow our body size to define us. We believe that if there is more of us than there are of others, we are somehow, on some level, less than. And so, when we look at ourselves in the mirror or in a photograph, we cringe inwardly and send the message to our bodies, "I hate you."
With those simple three words, we do so much damage to ourselves. We hurt ourselves emotionally. We harm ourselves physically. And our spirit recedes just a little because we are disowning this spectacular biological marvel we carefully chose and gifted to ourselves when we were spirits deciding who and what we'd be in the adventure of our new embodied lives.
When we look at our bodies and hate them, we are rejecting the gift we gave ourselves out of love before we arrived as babies in our mothers' wombs.
Thought, words, and belief are powerful. Look no further than Masaru Emoto's research he laid out in The Hidden Messages in Water in which he showed just how powerfully thoughts affect how matter manifests. Look at the powerful picture of broken, muddy water crystals from thoughts like I hate you, versus lovely, ordered crystals from thoughts such as I love you. Your body is 60 percent water. Imagine how your thoughts, such as "You're ugly" or "I hate you," or "You're disgusting," affect your body, which has done nothing but love and support you from the moment you were born. If thoughts, words, and beliefs harm water, what does that energy do to you?
Don't believe your body has supported you since the moment you were born? It's a marvel. Every day your respiratory system takes more than 23,000 breaths without your intervention. Every day your feet and legs support you as you stand. Your heart pumps more than 115,000 times each day, sending the life force that is blood throughout your body. It has carried you all your life - millions of steps to get you where you need to go. Our bodies do this for us without being asked. Our bodies have always been there for us, but it's so easy to hate them rather than holding them in the awe, gratitude, and love they deserve.
There are many reasons we disconnect from our bodies. I know I did. For many years - most of my adult life actually, I felt as if I existed somewhere outside of my body - as if I hovered above it rather than inhabiting it. I had decided if I had no control of what was happening to me physically, I'd just become a mind and a spirit instead, and focus on those aspects of self. But without balance between the three, body-mind-spirit, there is no health and there is no wholeness. Even if we are gravely ill, we cannot disown our bodies. In fact, illness, pain, and bodily issues exist to force us to inhabit them so we can find balance and seek healing.
For many, disconnection from the body feels necessary to survive. For people who have endured physical or sexual abuse or trauma, it feels safer to pretend our bodies don't exist or aren't part of us. And often in the case of overweight and obesity, we pad ourselves with additional girth with the false belief we need extra size to keep us physically and/or emotionally safe. This creates only a false sense of security, however. Doing so distracts us from the true issue, and it keeps us from finding balance and true healing.
In other cases, our bodies are larger than normal to hold our generous, gigantic, overflowing spirits and big dreams. They have grown to suit us. They have grown to fit and support us. And yet, in spite of the gift our bodies have given us in this way, we say, "I hate you. Why can't you be thinner/more attractive/curvier..."
Our bodies need us as much as we need them. It is a partnership of three, and in order to live a rich, full embodied human life, we must respect this triumvirate. We cannot heal until we can look at our body in whatever form it takes with however much fat as it has on it and say with a depth of truth and gratitude, "I love you."
So how do we heal when we have internalized so many messages about our bodies for years, when we feel our bodies are a source of pain or shame, or when we truly feel betrayed by them because of what has happened to us? How do we learn that in order to be a fully realized and whole human being, we can't be a mind and spirit floating outside of a body? How do we get to a place where we can look at ourselves and truly say, "I love you body. Thank you body"?
We do the work. We delve deeply into our shadows to find the parts of ourselves that we hold in shame or pain, and we shine the light of love on them. We recognize the fallacy in the beliefs we hold about our physical selves. We speak words of affirmation, love, and acceptance towards our bodies, even when we don't believe them. We fake it 'til we make it. We wear clothes and jewelry that make us feel good. We stop worrying about what others think, throw convention aside, and clothe and decorate our bodies in ways that make us smile and laugh. We start using our bodies in ways that feel pleasurable and joyful to us. And we constantly monitor our thoughts for those fleeting messages that flit through our minds that tell us our bodies are somehow wrong, shameful, or not enough. And then, we practice gratitude with our bodies. We notice all they do for us and we take the time as often as we can to gently place our hands over our hearts, close our eyes, and say quietly and with feeling, "Thank you body."
You Have This Body for a Limited Time Only
Finally, remember this as you work on healing. You will you occupy this wonderful, beautiful, bold body for only a short time before you leave it, return to the Source, and then choose a new one for a new life. You chose this body when you were in spirit. You wanted it for a reason. It is where you reside, and for the immediate future where you go, it goes. It is here for you, and regardless of its condition, it is a pretty amazing partner that supports you even without you asking. Your body deserves your love. You deserve your love. It doesn't matter what size your body is or how it looks. It only matters how you inhabit it, how you treat it, and how much you love it for the time it is with you. So you might as well settle in and find as much joy in this lifetime as you can for as long as you have this body. It's been with you since birth, and it will always give you exactly what you need to serve your greatest good in this lifetime.
Thank you body. I love you body.
I woke up this morning at 3 AM with tightness in my chest, a a cough, and congestion. Given it's cold and flu season, it doesn't take much for me to understand what's happening in my body physiologically, and it's easy to reach for the nearest symptom relieving medication so my body's signals don't bother me as I go throughout my day.
It has been my solution for years; take care of the symptoms so I can power through. In the Western world, this is often how we deal with physical discomfort - a.k.a. symptoms. We ignore the invitation for rest and contemplation they provide and instead go straight for suppression because having symptoms during our busy lives just feels so darn inconvenient.
I came into adulthood in the 1980s when the motto was, "No pain, no gain," and I took that crap seriously. No matter what my body signaled, I powered through it either ignoring or suppressing any symptom that arose. Perhaps not surprisingly, the messages from my body grew louder and more intense until my first chronic illness entered my life: Hashimoto's thyroiditis. That was my body sending messages loud and clear to me, and yet I continued for a few more decades to power through until I discovered a kinder approach. Even today, powering through is my first instinct, arising from my ego which loudly proclaims, "Show no weakness! Pain is for wimps!"
In Ayurveda, there is a principle called samprapti, which describes six stages in the progression of disease. Each stage progresses from the one before it, offering you the opportunity to heed a signal (symptom) before it becomes systemic. Ayurveda focuses on doshas, or forces, comprised of the five elements. These dohas, Vata (air and space or ether), Pitta (fire and water), and Kapha (earth and water) must be in balance for emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual health to be optimal. When imbalance between the elements occurs, it first shows as a symptom. If the imbalance is ignored instead of addressed, then the progression of disease begins.
These six stages include:
Therefore, it's in our best interests that, instead of powering through, we accept our body's invitation to bring it back into balance when the first symptom, no matter how mild, arises.
When you have a symptom (physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual), no matter how mild it is, your body is issuing you an invitation. It's alerting you to an imbalance that is present and inviting you to discover how and why it has occurred.
During these times, the best thing you can do for yourself is to take a moment to sit quietly with the symptom instead of ignoring it and forging ahead with your day. Close your eyes for a moment, focus on the symptom, and ask, "What is it you are trying to tell me?" Then, breathe deeply, empty your mind, and listen. Your innate intelligence will tell you what you need to do to return to balance because your body, mind, and spirit always seek to return to a harmonious state before imbalances can set in, get stuck in your body, and manifest as illness.
BJ Palmer, the son of the father of chiropractic Daniel David Palmer said, "The power that made the body heals the body." In other words, your body has an innate intelligence to return to balance and wellness if you remove the forces that are causing its dis-ease. And sitting with discomfort of any type (mental, physical, emotional, spiritual) as soon as it arises allows you to listen to the invitation being issued in order to address an imbalance long before it ever has the opportunity to progress into something catastrophic you can't ignore so your body, mind, and spirit can return to a place of optimal wellness through its own innate intelligence.
And so I laid in bed at 3 AM, with my eyes closed and my Reiki hands resting over the area of tightness in my lungs. I listened to my body's invitation for balance, and I listened to what it told me was out of balance. I breathed deeply and allowed my mind to go where it needed to in order to release emotions that had stuck in my chest. I didn't try to suppress the discomfort. Instead, I moved into it and allowed it with all of the attendant thoughts, emotions, and beliefs that came with it. If the symptoms arise again, I'll need to do it again, sitting with my mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical symptoms alerting me to the opportunity to recognize imbalance and release it so my body, mind, and spirit can heal themselves.
Energy forms the structure of the universe. Everything is energy in a different form. What we perceive as solid matter is vibrating strands of energy held together by force fields to give the illusion of solid objects.
This means at our core, we are no different than anyone or anything else. We are all pieces of Source energy held together by force fields that create the ego identity of "I". This allows us to perceive we are different from others. It allows us to believe we have some special "otherness" that makes us stand out from the pack. And certainly we have our own goals, ideals, ambitions, and gifts. We've all taken something different from the creative energy from which we are birthed, and we've all expressed that creative energy uniquely in our individual lives and in our own expression of who we are. But all of us have the sum total of every expression within us; we all have the same potential for love and compassion or hatred and violence, for example. The entire spectrum of emotion, behavior, and expression exists inside of every human being. What makes us different, however, is how we each choose to be, and which of the ALL we wish to make present in our lives. Ultimately those choices bring us closer to or drive us farther from who we are as the essence of love and oneness. However, eventually, we all return to our source and rejoin with the oneness of the creative energy that makes up the core of who we are.
When you realize this, there's only one conclusion we can make. We are One with All. We are all Source energy in different packages, but underneath we are all expressions of the same creative force. What I do to another expression of vibrational energy, I ultimately do to myself. Understanding this makes it easier to choose compassion, love, and kindness as the places in which we dwell while we exist as embodied energy known as human beings.