Why Robin Williams’s Death Can Be A Good Thing…

writing

My first reaction to Robin William’s suicide death announcement on facebook was astonished  anger.  I felt like he had somehow  copped out, jumped ship.  I was starkly reminded of my dear friend Anne who also committed suicide a month and a half ago…it has been a tough summer.  Lots of people are giving up.

Then sadness took me, in a big way. Maybe it because I am grieving so many significant personal losses and for some very real reasons Robin’s death felt very personal to me. Not only as a fellow sufferer of depression, but because I grew up with him.  All my favourite movies and some of my best moments with my kids include him. He could make me laugh and smile and feel like anything was possible when no one else could. He felt like a friend.

My family has some epic stories, but one of my favourites was when my sister, now an artist but then a high ranking administrative person for Bell Canada was travelling through Los Angele’s and she had the opportunity to meet and speak with him. The one thing that always reminded in the traditional retelling of the story was the effect that his eye had – gentle and full of love she would say. Smiling eyes. robin

And now he was gone.

Depression. Suicide.  My life has been plagued with these two words.  So understandably my next reaction was fear.  If depression could take Robin, then it could take ANYONE…even me.

My story..

I was first diagnosed with depression when I was 15 years old, in university. I was young and far from home and would experience great jags of unhappiness.  A University hospital doctor told me I had depression – a clinical explanation for a chemical imbalance in my brain.  In those days my depressions were only days long – usually right before my period and would disappear in a flash as soon as I would begin.  I never mentioned it, although it felt so terrible because people made so many jokes about PMS – but for someone like me, on occasion, PMS were the two r tree days when I couldn’t make a decision, I couldn’t read two pages in row cause I had no concentration, and I hated myself.

After graduating with my first degree at 18, I came home, worked in a bar (yes it was the Pioneer in case you were wondering) because who in their right mind would hire a kid with a degree in political philosophy.  I had my first child at 25 and within weeks of having her, the depression came back. This time they called it “post partum disorder” –  again my sadness had nothing to do with me – it was BIOCHEMICAL. They gave me magical pills.  SSRI’s had hit the market but barely.  I am not sure which kind it was this time – probably Prozac was about all they really were using in those days.  Thus began my 17 year journey on pharmaceuticals and a coming to terms with depression.

Lots of people have tried to explain to me what depression is.  My easiest depressions only last a day, and the worst one lasted 7 weeks, I was in bed and I came about as close to dying as any living person wants to get.

silhouette-woman-grievingHere’s how it felt to me…

Depression…

    1. Hurts my body. Aches and pains like I am an old lady.
    2. Depression destroys my concentration. I cant read or even watch an entire tv show
    3. I don’t sleep – forget that.
    4. Make me feel like I am no good for anything or anyone.
    5. Makes me believe the world would be better without me
    6. Makes me feel hopeless – no matter what I do nothing will ever feel good again
    7. Causes me to make bad decisions
    8. I suffer from “not-enough-it is” in a deep depression. Nothing I am or I do is ENOUGH.  It;s exhausting.
    9. Depression causes me to harm myself and make bad choices on my own behalf
    10. Makes my family feel hopeless and out of control
    11. Makes my family and friends feel as though they have done something wrong
    12. Causes me to isolate
    13. Makes me feel as though I cant rely on my emotions so I cant make plans = I never know what I will be like in a day or two or three…
    14. Makes it so I am not able to get a full time normal world day job – again the unreliability factor.
    15. Makes me feel ugly, stupid and unlovable unworthy
    16. Sometimes – depression makes me want to stop living (I will differentiate however between “not wanting to live” and “suicidal” -= there is a big difference)

and so on…

Over the years they tried to give my personality lots of names… bi-polar, severe hyper manic rapid cycling depression (this means I m like Eeyore all the time…), border line personality etc.

I was just sad. That’s all. It was a terrible way to live. I would wake crying, sleep crying, no joy, faking everything in my life.  Trying to be the best mom possible, but incapable of really engaging with anyone – because I was incapable of engaging with myself at the time.

So a (male) doctor says he has a pill I can take that will fix the “broken chemistry” in my brain and I will then be NORMAL. I emphasize male because I don’t think any woman who had had a child would have diagnosed me the same way.

But I was so attracted to the possibility of the all encompassing NORMAL. My doctor wanted me to understand…

He drew me a diagram and explained it to me like I was an idiot…

“See these two lines here Josee…” he asked indicating a drawing of two parallel lines about 3 inches apart on a piece of paper. “most people have emotions within those lines” he says drawing an up and down squiggle.   “Your emotions are like this” he said letting his pen go wildly outside of the lines…

Wow. I am nuts.

Then he says something like,  “The medication will bring you inside the lines.  You can have “normal emotions like everyone else”.

Oh lord…I was so happy. They had invented A NORMAL PILL!

Finally someone explained why I wasn’t “NORMAL” (this word was later explained to  me by my Alanon sponsor as which only existed as a setting on a washing machine :)) why I didn’t feel like other people, and why I was SO much more emotional than I “should be”.

It started with anti -depressants, and by the end I had been prescribed every conceivable antidepressant and then some…seroquil, desyryl, welbutrin, celexa, paxil, elavil name it – I took it.

The results?

I didn’t play guitar or sing for 13 years.

I didn’t write

I didn’t draw

I didn’t paint

I forgot what made me joyful

Nothing in life was ever exciting.

Sex was meh…

Was this “normal”?

Not creating for someone like me is like being the walking dead and I became so empty it was ridiculous.

Depression is genetic in my family . I was raised by my maternal grandparents.  My mother told me the story of her first suicide attempt at only 9 years old. Poor thing – luckily the bottle of pills she took were laxatives, which we can almost giggle at, except to consider what kind of despair a child of nine must feel to down a whole bottle of anything, causes the laughter to turn into a choke in my throat.

My grandmother who raised me was a chronic suicide attempter.  In fact, by the time I was 10 I had saved the life of or witnessed the attempt to die of most of the women in my family.   The men (my “brothers” and maternal grandfather” called them weak and “crazy”.  I have one that still does to this day sadly. )  But their uneducated redneck discompassionate attitudes regarding mental health and emotional wellbeing is very representative of a big chunk of western culture. It is these attitude that prohibit a frank open honest discussion.

I would like that to end today.

*suck it up…” they would say.

That’s not helpful.

**I want to say right away that medications are important, and if you are prescribed and antidepressant to get your chemicals back on track and this is comfortable for you, take them, and get your balance back.

But medication is not where it ends,

it can be however where healing begins.

what is healing?

It is ACCEPTANCE OF YOURSELF.

ALL YOUR 2000 PARTS, PERSONALITIES AND EMOTIONS.

Unfortunately psychologist want to focus on your past and tyour problems and psychiatry is looking at “the problem”  only the medicinal aspects to cover symptoms.

It is not enough.

You have to go after THE ABSOLUTE UNADULTERATED  AWESOME BEAUTIFUL TRUTH ABOUT YOURSELF.

ROBIN WILLIAMS’S death can help us remove the stigma overshadowing a potentially open and healing dialogue on this silent deadly killer…robin love eys

No one is going to say he was

    1. Weak
    2. Should have had a better sense of humour
    3. Unintelligent
    4. Had a sad life anyone would want to escape

etc.

We all know,,,Robin Williams was an AWESOME human being – I am so grateful that he was here.

But another part of me understands and can sometimes relate to his hopelessness.

The Buddhist in me finds that his death will cathartically open this dialogue.

Robin Williams is such a key example of someone whose depression led to addiction (avoidance is pretty normal when you feel like crap all the time).

12 step programs are amazing…except for one teenier thing debilitating thing aspect of the 12 step culture…self righteous sobriety. The I’m better than you attitude is not helpful to someone who struggles and although it is are and you will find that 99% of the people you will meet will be supremely authentic and supportive, there are assholes everywhere in life. Right> Like they say in the program – learning to ACCEPT  (even the assholes) is the key.

Good luck though…If you are a person with long term sobriety and you slip – sometimes program people in these programs can be painfully judging and unforgiving – fearing for their own sobriety I suppose.

 

It must have been very hard for him to go back into the program in 2006 after 20 years of sobriety.

The thing is lots of people said they were “so surprised” when he started drinking again.

I always will remember what my mother, 27 years sober when she died said to me

“Never be surprised when an alcoholic drinks. Be surprised if he stays sober”

 

The world requires a dialogue – depression is epidemic and we need to openly share our stories, remove the stigma and walk TOGETHER.

Opening this dialogue and being very honest with myself has been a cathartic experience.

 

I’d like to begin this dialogue.  The only way to heal and see the amazing BENEFITS of having depression are to share our stories, openly.

 

Let it begin right here.

 

This is what i do for my depression today…

 

    1. REMEMBER YOU CANT FIGHT THE OCEAN WITH A TEASPOON…
    2. I try and let myself feel whatever I am feeling.  Trying to NOT be sad, not be depressed NOT BE…anything…is what got you into this mind mess in the first place.  So if you feel like crap…LET YOURSELF FEEL LIKE CRAP.
    3. Identify where the feeligns exist in your physical body – where are your emotions when you feel sad? I find my solar plexus hold this energy.
    4. Don’t use weed for depression. Weed is great – but not when your depressive. It doesn’t work It will make you feel way worse.
    5. Find five things to be grateful for every day – write them down. Or even better share them on social network and help others relate to gratitude.
    6. Eat healthy – treat yourself like your best friend.
    7. Do something nice for yourself; take yourself on a date to a movie, do your hair, a bath? something.
    8. DO THE NEXT RIGHT THING. In massive depression – get up, brush your teeth, make your bed. Do the basics.
    9. Keep a journal. Write every morning,. Don’t edit. Everyone needs a place to spill their guts.
    10. Dont focus on the word “depression”.  YOU are NOT your illness. You are WAY MORE AWESOME than you can tell at this moment.
    11. Find the cool parts – I don’t know ONE fellow musician, artist or writer that doesn’t have some sort of what they would call “mental illness”…although now I am remiss to call it an illness given all the talented beautiful people I have come to know.
    12. Meditate. trust me there is nothing better to remind you that YOU are not YOUR THOUGHTS.

IF YOU SUFFER FROM DEPRESISON PLEASE REMEMBER WHAT I AM ABOUT TO SAY…

** Depression comes from unexpressed emotions.  *not because you have cured depression but because you have found the awesomeness in it.

You know – what we are looking for in life is NOT happiness…It is the ability to handle all circumstances with a peace inside that cannot be shaken.

Everyone can do this.

YOU CAN DO THIS.

Depression is a gift that makes you do the work. People without depression do not need to go  as deep into their self understanding as you can. And the purpose of life IS to understand ourselves better.  Depression is a gift of understanding.

I am suggesting a global open the door on depression initiative.

We need to talk. Openly and unabashedly.

Let us begin this dialogue today.

Tell us about your depression, your story, where has it taken you. What has it taught you?  Where does it come from? Can you identify some needs after talking about it?

Share together. Don’t be afraid.  We will catch you. I promise.  Its a process…and it has to begin somewhere.

I send you real love – although we may never have met I really do understand we are all connected  – we are each other. The more we heal each other, the more the whole world will benefit from your awesomeness.

COME OUT AND SHINE TOGETHER.

In love and service,

Peace

 

 

 

 

On Death and Loving…

12061_10151721634725901_477138869_n
Morning time at WillowCreek

This morning I fed the horses – its a beautiful day. In Canada we get maybe 25 days like this – clear sunny cool. Birds are singing in this constant perfect cadence – it plays like a mediation song as I go about doing my work. I fill buckets and say good morning to each of my herd. They all have very different personalities and different ways of greeting me.

Did you know horses liked music? I didn’t either, until UI had my own farm. When a horse is sick you will try anything in your power to make them feel better, and so over time I discovered that each of my horses has a certain song or types of sounds they like. Some like silenbce. They don’t want us chattering in their faces all the time. Others, especially younger ones like summer, like singing – in her case I always sang her “Summer Lovin” from the grease album – so now when she hears this song she comes running from anywhere to find me.  I love that.

In the past three years my most special time I have to admit has been with Otis my overly tall gangly love machine of a quarter horse,.

otis10Otis came to me through a friend who had kindly adopted him from Texas even after the vets there declared that he had navicular disorder. She has a huge heart and he was truly a “big gentle giant” as his sale advertising said.  What the seller didn’t tell anyone was that Otis had been so gentle and SO perfect, they had overused him and probably destroyed his feet in the meantime.

In Otis’s case, he is the victim of what humans like to see as esthetically pleasing in a horse.  Over time, we have bred quarter horses to have small tiny delicate looking feet- not big and clunky like they should be. Otis is huge 16″3′ meaning he needs MORE of a base to stand on. But he doesn’t have that – so the bones inside his front hooves are twisted and breaking causing him daily and now in th4e past two days ridiculous amounts of pain.

I have made the decision to have him put down tomorrow at 4:00 and today feel like hell.

otis fall 2012 wearing a scarf
OTIS sporting his handsome scarf

Let me tell you about Otis…

Otis is my friend.

I am a rare a very fortunate soul to have had him in my life.  Most people I imagine never have that kind of intimacy and absolute trust and love with another living being never mind something as awesome and created with “ALL SOUL” as a horse.

 

jo and otisOtis is not just any horse you know…He is my soul-mate horse. Better r than any “man relationship” honestly…

The horse of my life..the one you dream of when you’re a little girl.

I never dreamed of a “specific” horse physically.. like big and black or white and shiny…I loved them, all and didn’t care what they looked like really.  I dreamed of the ULTIMATE relationship I would have with my horse – he would follow me and want to be with me all the time.  I didn’t dream of riding and ribbons like the other girls and boys in my riding classes.  I dreamed of a horse that would BE with me – and magical fairy tale like relationship a soulful understanding and connection.  Like Bucephalus and Alexander something extraordinary.

I am so lucky.  Otis was even better than all that.

paulette and otis

He was with me through my mothers illness, problems in my marriage, being alone – Otis was there. He single handedly got me through this winter and the incredible depression –  – I had Otis. His condition is what made me go outside every day, work with him, keep him moving for nearly four years now. Otherwise I may still be languishing in bed.

He loves and adores all humans but especially my mom. He would walk with us when she was in a wheelchair. He was the most gentle safe loving perfect listener. He never interrupted or told me what he thought he knew I just had to talk things out. And when I cried just TOO much – he would rap himself around me like a perfect blanket of love. God Ill miss him and our many hours spent in his stall, brushing him and just humming happily…

He is a grand champion line bred, in Texas he is Pine Zippo Bar something or other…blah blah blah – they tell me. Both grandfathers were most winning quarter horses in the history of quarter horses in USA. Why does this matter ? well because – humans bred him for humans – they were not thinking about the horse. .

otis faceI have tried meds, no meds, shoes, no shoes…walking, stall rest…all of it. I have gone as far as praying over his foot. I have held his leg on my lap and begged the sky. I must have looked like a lunatic in my field on my knees begging.

But my friend Otis is in terrible pain and so it is in my power to relieve him of it.

RANGER
Ranger was 32 when he died

I wonder that we can’t do this for humans…

I saw my vet today and cried all over him. Poor guy. He has had to put up with me for so many years. But again – he is the most HUMAN of all the vets I know. He comes to my fundraisers, quietly always supporting those who would work hard for their horses.  He doesn’t like killing them  I saw today the years had not in fact hardened him – this made me feel good. I need only LOVE to be present when we do this to my horse,

I have not put many horses down in my life. My first horse to die was Ranger – Masters old parted. I was inconsolable for at least 6months.

BY time has passed and I am a real farmer now – not just a suburban throwback hoping to have a pony and a larger garden.

I am a real farmer now.

My hands are hard like leather. I like them like that. It hurts less when I cut them on baling twine.

My back is sore – because I did a good days work.

My feet are permanenelty black with dirt – cause that’s the way we roll in my garden.

I’d rather smell like midnight in the pastures than midnight in paris…:)

I am a real farmer now.

But my heart doesn’t seem very “tough” or farmerish today – I wish it would take a lesson from my hands…

 

When you work on a farm, you are CONSTANTLY in the middle of life and death.

If you watch a death you will see it is just a birth – backwards…cropped-374558_10200344549270175_1888065410_n.jpg

Death and birth are the same.   I feel sorry for people who are not aware of this. Death is not so scary. But living disconnected from nature and the reality of the earth like most people do – is very scary to me.

Death is an opening – a space for something living to come in.

I am not afraid that Otis is going to DISAPPEAR. Nothing disappears.  If you work in nature – you know that very well. IO don’t know allot of farmers who fear death – their own or others.

We leave that to the city people who believe we are all separate living things.

But death is hardest on the living.  I will be lieft5 here…while Otis traipses off to go see my mom and everyone else I love who is on the other side.

I KNOW he will be there for me when its my time to “ride off”…

jo n otis
I love you My Buddy.

But holy shit this is hard.

Thanks for reading.  Please hug your animals and all the living creations you love tonight.

Namaste.

 

I love you buddy…

All About Our BIG BIG Mac…

10400774_10154231481905230_3168287367305301677_n10371922_10154156160555230_526702342723462853_nThis is a story about our horse Big Mac.

The first you need to know if you haven’t met him is that Mac is HUGE.

The second thing is that the reason is that he was made so big is because no other body would have been big enough for his heart – he is comprised entirely of love.

He is nearly as big as the biggest horses in the world who I think beats him by a little under 7 inches.

He is a Belgian Draft horse brought to us to foster and remained here as a permanent adoption as of four years ago.  When he got here he had been left in a field abandoned suffering from malnutrition.  That’s why we didn’t really understand the infections in his eyes when they began. Cancer is very often activated by a compromised immune system which is a natural result of malnutrition.  and the fact that Mac was a pure Belgian didn’t help with their fair skin and proclivity to ocular melanomas.

 

Mac’s first eye surgery for cancer happened back in 2011 in his right eye.  A tumour that looked like a cyst had grown on the bottom eye lid of his eye.  We had a small fundraiser but the costs were enormous and the first surgery nearly cost us a years worth of hay for our entire herd.  10380886_10154232134705230_8153907542623386918_n

Two and a half years later the cancer returned to Mac’s left eye this time with an ugly aggressivity that made it obvious that it was causing Mac a serious amount of distress especially after the warmer weather began to arrive and his tissues became swollen.  AT first I thought it was just an eye infection but nothing I did seemed to make any positive difference. His eye was bleeding and he couldn’t stay outside in warm weather.  Something had to be urgently done and we were in no financial position to do any of it.  Many sleepless nights ensued.

A friend suggested that our band had done so many successful fundraisers for other beneficial organizations, that maybe we could put some of that music behind our very own Big Mac. That’s when the miracles began. 10300516_10154154843540230_1917414507954571037_n

In only four short days a fundraiser was organized to raise money to send mac off to the hospital for his surgery.  Our band played one evening and a local restaurant donated their time and staff to help us out.  Friends came and helped us have an open house at our farm WillowCreek Stables where everyone could come and meet mac themselves. The community and our friends really stepped forward and helped us the create something amazing for Mac.  Soon we had enough to send him in and just four days later I was making arrangements to have the surgery done. I love that horses seem to have that effect on bringing together communities and folks that work together to make it all a little better.  Mac became everyone’s horse that weekend.

And to tell you the truth, without all of generosity and all of the amazing synchronicity that the universe offered us Mac’s ultimate outcome would have to have been euthanasia because the amount of pain he was enduring would have been catastrophic.  We are so eternally grateful.

 

10322760_10154154844940230_1654912656934628871_nMAC THE PIRATE…

The procedure that Mac had is called ENUCLEATION – it involves full removal of the eye.

Just so you know, we didn’t take that decision lightly at all…I had trouble with the idea of this so an equine ophthalmologist specialist was called in to consult.  Dr. Ollivier was very gentle in handling me (and Mac) especially as the first thing I suggested to him is that he not tell me he is going to take out my horse’s eye based on a photograph(good thing I’m studying Non-Violent Communication?) 980673_10152865275580313_1084612641_o

“You know Doc…This isn’t just ANY refuge horse”, I glowered at him, still holding his hand from our initial handshake.”This is MY refuge horse”, saying it with some contrived authority.  Like who I was should somehow mattered to him.

He was smart. He knew how to defuse me immediately…

“I only put the horse first. I don’t even care what it is YOU want”, smiling sardonically. Ballsy and brave. OK. Good. I could see this man would champion the highest and best choice for my horse and my death grip relaxed.

10408109_10154231785725230_2591927709080191288_nWe began an exam with a whole gang of doctors and students. Smart questions, suggestions and treatment options were flying around the room.  They students and doctors  were all so kind and careful to cover any  questions I had.  No quesuiotn was left unexamined and definitely there were no such thing as stupid questions. I felt so comfortable asking as did John.

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My husband and I stayed with Mac for his surgery.  We felt it important that we have our energy there with him to support him – and it felt like one of my kids was on that table.

The surgeon doing the procedure was amazing. Smiling great energy with a room full of curious students.  It was much less difficult to see the procedure when you are watching a bunch of fresh faced curious kids.

The eye removal wasn’t as horrible as I thought. I was actually surprised at how much effort it seemed to take the small female surgeon, her arms wiry and strong looking, to really complete that part of the procedure. I always had the impression an eye would come out easily. It doesn.t We can leave it at that.

Then they cut the skin and tumour off from around his eye.  It was WAY more enormous than I knew.  When I saw the sheer daunting size of the tumour, there was absolutely no question in my mind we were doing the right thing. Then a cryogenics treatment was performed within the eye so that the cancer cells would either die or be unable to grow.

 

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The Observation Room for Mac’s surgery
10380886_10154232134705230_8153907542623386918_n
The surgery room at ST Hyacinth VeterinaryTeaching hospital

 

Mac will come home tomorrow now THE GREAT PIRATE MAC – ARGH MATEY!!

He will:

* Have no pain whatsoever . I know this is amazing – but removal of the eye for horses causes them to have a great relief.

* He will live much longer and totally pain-free from cancer.

* He will gain weight (he has lost about 300 pounds again and trust me …not for lack of food ugh…:(

* We will be able to ride and play with him again

 

Very exciting!

 

We are very grateful for our Mac and for all the love that ahs been demonstrated here.

Horses are truly awesome creatures…bringing out the best in us all!

mac art
WE LOVE OUR MAC !!

 

Online Living: Are We More Concerned With Selfies or Self?

mona-lisa-selfie-2

Do you blog?

For some people blogging is a central theme to their day. Blogging as a sub-culture has emerged from the depths of online living.  I read a few blogs here and there but not many. In fact,  I wouldn’t actually consider myself a “blogger” like some I have seen; you know the ones who take selfies with their French toast actually have the ability to write 750 words on why it relates the second coming of the messiah or something deeply philosophical. That’s a talent I just don’t have.  Not that I couldn’t see myself becoming an obsessive overly-committed blogger if I don’t stay conscious; I have my addictive tendencies just like everyone else.

OK…I will admit to you that when something fun happens I no longer just think simply to myself;

“Oh…that was fun”.

No no… now fun involves a follow-up –

Take a picture…write a blog – a poem, a song…?? hunh?

“Oh..I have to post this!” God. I wonder what my grandmother would have thought about all this?

Sometimes we get so busy writing about our lives that we arent actually living them.  When I grew up, life was lived in real-time.  Oh brother…now I sound like my parents.

Back in my day….imagesCAMLIZPK

…when you had “issues”, big or small, they stayed at home! You didn’t post them or share them or even discusss them with someone who lived two blocks away, never mind the djembe player you met online three months ago who lives in Mali.   Back in “the day” neighbours on either side of you were only privy to what they could hear from the yelling through slightly cracked open windows. But now, with the online culture we exist in, people clear across three continents know when you had a fight with your husband even before it has ended! Not so long ago, there was a sense of “minding our own business” and there were rules!  The rules were expressly told to us and if we folowed them – everythign would be ok. I suppose this kind of living was comforting in one way but more likely it was incredibly isolating, lonely and inherently dishonest.

Online living is causing us to get all mixed up like a gigantic cultural soup.  We are living and learning and exchanging some pretty intimate details about our lives and how we deal events of living like death, divorce, children, parents ,relationships, emotions, understanding. These issues cross al cultural boundaries and even history and bind us all together in commonality.

 

But are we so focused on giving the world that perfect image of us – that idyllic selfie – that we forget to tell the truth about who we are or how we are feeling?

funny-selfie-dogs-smilingAnyways…who tells the truth anymore? Are we busy trying to give the world our best face? And why should we even bother to blog? Isn’t constantly writing about yourself some weird form of narcissistic self-obsession?

Sherwin Nuland would disagree. He was a brilliant professor from Harvard that said “The more personally you write, the more universal your writing becomes”. That coupled with what I read by the Dalai lama yesterday that said something like there should be no difference between your personal life and your private life. That would be dishonest. Not that I believe that we should all be sharing our deepest inner craziness all day – but there is something very helpful in the honest relating of how we deal with life.  Sometimes its just nice to hear that you’re not the only one going through the crazy shit we all go through.

Personally, I find it exceptionally difficult to come to the page when I am in the deepest depths of human misery.   I have been pretty silent since my mother died especially once I realized that the people reading my blog weren’t just anonymous readers from lands far away, but  more likely to be my family and friends. Grief is just not pretty. And all of that is so much easier to see in hindsight.

 

two-faced

My conclusion – its better to keep talking out loud and sharing our stories- even if its only to yourself…a one woman blog? Whatever – share what you are experiencing.  Life is hard enough – making what is hard useful which  kind of takes the edge off it all.

Namaste

 

CHAPTER 4: Matters of the Heart

Fourth Chakra

Anahata-Cuarto-Chakra

Mantra: “Yam”

Colour: Dark Green

 Element: Air

Foods: Kale, Chard, broccoli – all green leafy vegetables

Scent: Tree scents such as pine or cedar, and rose oil, Melissa and neroli.

Imbalances indicated by:

  • Lack of self discipline
  • Difficulty in relationships
  • An attempt to live vicariously through another
  • Dependence on someone else for your happiness

 

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The heart is not only the physical center of our aliveness, but it is also a central area of communication for our bodies. Eighty percent of the signals that affect and activate the heart’s actions travel from the heart to the brain and not the other way around.  Compassion is the ultimate expression of heart energy.

Every seven minutes, someone dies from a heart attack in Canada(1).  Heart disease represents the cause of death for more than 29% of the population.  In a world and culture where we are inundated with daily news of war, political and economic unrest, divorce, family violence, addiction and suicide – the heart is at the center of these matters. Love and the way we express love through compassion, joy, creativity, empathy, kindness, patience is related to how connected we are with the energy of this fourth chakra center.

It is clear that the daunting problems affecting our world could be brought back into balance through a worldwide focus on compassion, love and understanding.  This has been the message of our greatest teachers. However, this process can only begin when individuals look at the center of the heart within the context of their own lives.  This focus can then spread outwards into our families, communities and eventually into the manner in which we are making decisions on a global level.

Our decisions currently and historically have reflected only self interest – interest in our personal individual well being, the well being of our own religions, or philosophical ways of looking at things.  It has been like this since we existed as tribal cultures and only knew how to manage basic brutal survival on this earth. Today, we have the benefit of our history to show us that clearly, this “tribal” instinct must be done away with. The heart shows us we are intricately connected with one another.  The most effective way to connect to this energy is by individually focusing on the matters within ourselves that have affected our ability to express love and compassion on a grander scale. The matters that block our own hearts, such as resentment, anger, jealousy, guilt and fear must be faced and brought into perspective.

Someone once described to me the heart in a very interesting way: they said it was like a beautiful thing that radiated light, but that it had a type of “ethereal net” covering it and that when we had issues in our lives like anger, jealousy, guilt, and fear – they became “stuck” in the net like little packets of darkness which block the light in our hearts from shining outwards.  People that do not deal with these “packets of dark” (meaning simply to become aware of) become afflicted with addiction and anger issues which will cause a variety of physical and mental health issues.  The Heart is the center of joyful living.  Taking time for personal therapy of some form to help you shine the light of awareness of these issues is critically important in helping to clear out the things that block your heart.

As from within – so it is without…

Nothing can happen outside of yourself that you cannot do within yourself. In the world of horse training, we often say that we cannot do something in the saddle with a horse until we know it can do what we are asking from the ground. It all begins with us and the basics self-love expressing outwards. . In other words, if you cannot express love and compassion, patience and understanding to yourself, you will not be effective in doing that in your relationships, your work or any portion of your exterior life.  Simply put, the more you can realize and make choices with love for yourself, the better able will you be to express it to others.  Taking time with animals, in nature any time – is a great and effective way to bring this intention into your life.

secretariat

BIG HEARTED HORSES

Secretariat’s heart was about two and three quarters the times larger than a normal horse’s heart when it weighed in at about 22 pounds at his necropsy.  Eclipse, necropsied in 1798, was the first extraordinary thoroughbred racer to be credited with a huge heart, weighing in at 14 pounds.  Sham, another great winner, was also endowed with a big heart.  In horse-folk circles, if we say “that horse has heart” – that horse has a good work ethic; he is selfless and giving with his cooperation.  He is compassionate and connected.

The heart can be fed – like a great hungry stomach – with beauty, passion, creativity, food, prayer.  When the heart opens, you feel it, like a warm radiating flood of light coming out from the middle of you.

In the chakras, the heart is the place where heaven meets earth.  If you have ever been in love, you understand this feeling; a place where time doesn’t exist and everything feels in balance, easy, exciting and connected.

Connecting to the heart is something that we must do consciously and intentionally. Awareness, acceptance and fearless willingness are the keys to opening the heart.  North American culture does not  exactly teach us to strive for self love and acceptance.  We are critical and hard on ourselves, always looking to achieve something that is temporary, materialistic and fleeting. The heart urges us to settle into something that is unchanging and rooted in deep truth within ourselves.  No one can tell us this truth or teach it to us – It has to come from inside.

Teaching our children to “listen to their hearts”, as my mother often told me when faced with big choices, is a great gift. Teaching them to be kind to themselves, to stand in awe of the miracle that they are and then to take that sense of amazement and cascade it outwards in every interaction they have in their lives, is the ultimate gift and teaching we can give our children.  This can only be taught if we ourselves practice its principles.

LISTEN TO YOUR HEART!

You have nothing to learn. You don’t need to know anything more or new from a fancy book.  You don’t need to be a different version of you.  You just need to listen to your heart and be yourself. Meditation and quiet time in nature can be very helpful in quieting your mind long enough to allow you to hear what you already know.

Belief and Knowing are different.  Belief is based on an opinion, judgment – a conclusion you have made in your thoughts and rational mind. It is a “head” understanding.  “Knowing” –  is something that comes from beyond thought – from your heart.  They say “the longest journey” is the eighteen inches between the head and the heart.  The knowing of the heart feels certain and unbiased. It is a type of instinctive understanding – a feeling.

Love yourself unconditionally – is the message of the heart chakra.  Ultimately you will find that as this love becomes real for you (not just as a thought – but as a knowing in your heart) it will fall out of you and into your life, then into your community, into your country and the world will have a chance to be healed, one heart at a time.  This is the message of all the great teachers who have come before us, and maybe now, we are finally becoming ready to hear it.

Peace

(1)    Statistics Canada 2011

CHAPTER 3: MANIPURA – PERSONAL POWER AND HORSES

A FOCUS ON PERSONAL POWER

THIRD CHAKRA – MANIPURA

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Manipura = “Resplendant gem”

Colour : Yellow

Scent : Ylang Ylang, Rose

Gemstones : Yellow gemstones for this Chakra are Amber, Citrine, Yellow Calcite, Fluorite, Golden Beryl, Golden Yellow Topaz, Cat’s Eye, Yellow Celestite, Yellow Jade, Golden Tiger Eye, Lemon Chrysoprase, Yellow Danburite, Iron Pyrite, Yellow Garnet, Yellow Jasper, Yellow Kunzite, Yellow Muscovite, Yellow Sapphire, Yellow Tourmaline and Yellow Rhodonite 

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RETREAT BASICS FOR MANIPURA

At this retreat we will be discussing the Third Chakra or Manipura which is Sanskrit meaning “resplendent gem”.  It is our center of human personal power and the last of the earth bound Chakras.

The horses will work with us to demonstrate how expressions of personal power can be interpreted by and through the subtler bodies of energy which we refer to as chakras. Horses are the first to sense in which way you carry your belief about your personal power. They read everything about you, in one brilliant instinctive shot.

Based on their experience with humans and their experiences with the kind of energy you bring with you, horses will size you up in one second flat. As prey animals this is their primary survival mechanism – evaluating quickly and efficiently who is friend or foe.  And like all prey animals who rely on quick flight instinct to survive, horses seem sometimes a little paranoid but it is the quickest and the most instinctive of course, that will survive.  So another lesson we learn from horses is to be very conscious of our intentions and body language when we enter into any communication, be it with a horse or human. From within, your sense of power is exuded by the way you present yourself both physically an energetically to the horse and sub-consciously to humans. Horses are more immediately aware of you because they are present in this moment, not caught up in past or future thinking.  Because horses already speak an ancient and subtle language with every part of their bodies, they integrate this understand of body, intention an energy into their evaluation.

This doesn’t necessarily mean a horse will automatically be nervous with you if you are nervous with it. Horses give you indications WAY before they act in an aggressive manner, and even this they only do when they feel cornered or unable to flee if necessary. I call it Standard Equine Claustrophobia.

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I often see people when entering the round pen who are not accustomed to being around horses with their shoulders slumped forward, like a subconscious wish to protect their center from what can be a daunting experience given the sheer size and for most people, their behavior which can seem very alien at first.  However, what the horse is most adept at sensing is the intention you bring with you into your interaction.

Many people ask me if horses will react aggressively if they bring fear with them. Horses are not predators – they are prey. Therefore, if you bring fear, they sense it as a type of insecurity, and they may find they want to move away from you, unsure whether you are the source of the insecurity or not. It is not the normal behaviour of a horse to lash out to protect itself, except in very rare and specific instances, such as stallion territorial behaviour.

Ears pinned flat on the head are a good indication that your horse is insecure and doesn’t want you close. Never try to give a horse affection when it is in this state.  In order to show your horse SECURITY you have to demonstrate leadership to him, and that sometimes means being aware of fear, but not allowing it to make choices for you!

In terms of horse behaviour, one with an unbalanced third chakra is constantly displaying insecurity. It is hyper reactive and overly aware of its environment. It fears that it is powerless; and so is constantly seeking to avoid or evade something. This would be a very difficult horse to ride or train.  A good horse for riding is one that has a balanced sense of its partnership with humans.  Horses that are well-balanced in the third chakra carry themselves well and are not in constant need of aids from the rider, as they tend to be more in the flow of the interaction between the two, and are less absorbed by paranoid vigilant watch which comes from a fearful sense of powerless over the environment.

Humans are the same way, and horses are a very effective way of, excuse the irony – putting the cart before the horse. Sometimes, we can become more conscious of our behaviour before actually changing our mind about how we feel about something. In other words, we can ACT AS IF we have personal power, to help us discover where our true power lies.

In working on our third chakra, horses encourage us to have to EXUDE this outwardly before we may completely feel it inwardly.

horse_training_bottomROUND PEN EXERCISE:

In this exercise, we enter the round pen with a horse, mindful of the sensations in our bodies.  Identifying any tension, we release it to our breath, before our interaction.  Then, we release the loving energy in the center of our being, to the horse.  At this moment, we are not allowing our fears or insecurities to make a choice for us. This is very powerful and empowering all at once.  We ask our body to exude a balanced sense of personal power, perhaps sometimes before we actually feel that authentically within ourselves.

In this way, we create a new experience for our brains.  A new neural pathway, where we have taken over possession of our conscious intention and maintained a different reaction to a fear response.  This is a very healthy thing for everyone to do.

You can take this new way of understanding an old feeling out with you into your non-retreat world in so many ways!

Your boss calls you into her office, and you feel a terrible foreboding.  Maybe she didn’t like that last report? Maybe you are the next in the lineup of layoffs?  Who knows?  But often we are quick to assume a negative outcome at such times.

Yu can use your retreat experience to change the way you perceive stress and anxiety in your life.  Instead of being anxious or worried,  you can find where the feeling of anxiety exists in your body – in your solar plexus third chakra. Place your dominant hand on your  this place and breathe in through that space, remembering to place your body in the same confident way that you had it with the horse you first met.  Your shoulders proud and back. Your head high. And smile. It releases happy endorphins in your brain. Recalling your experience will help to trigger the same positive response feeling as when you were here at the retreat in connection to the horses. Every one of our experiences is recorded in our bodies. It is up to us to access that and use it to help us negotiate the waters of our lives more effectively and joyfully.chakra-3

The flow and health of the third chakra can directly impact your ability to put good ideas and plans into action.  If this Chakra is healthy and spinning freely, you are making creative decisions and feel as though your choices move you forward.  You take good care of yourself in body mind and spirit.  You are enthusiastic about your life and proactive about the positive choices you make on your own behalf.  You demonstrate a good balanced sense of self.

The Manipura Chakra lies in the triangular niche at the base of your rib cage – the solar plexus or zyphoid process, in fancy medical circles.

You can visualize it as a yellow spinning orb of energy, rotating often they say in a clockwise direction. The speed or fluidity of the spinning is our concern here. If it is not flowing as it should, this is when we encounter problems such as feeling powerless in our lives or relationships, powerless over our choices and circumstances. We forget that everything is a choice, when this energetic center is not spinning as it should.

There are things you can do to increase the flow and vibrancy of each chakra.

~ Wear the colour represented by the chakra – any kind of yellow will do.

~ eat foods that support the nutritional requirements needed to optimize this chakra:

Granola and Grains: pastas, breads, cereal, rice’s, flax-seed, sunflower seeds, etc.
Dairy: milk, cheeses, yogurt
Spices: ginger, mints (peppermint, spearmint, etc.), Melissa, chamomile, turmeric, cumin, fennel

SCENTS: ~ surround yourself with scents such as Ylang Ylang and Rose

Here are some quick questions to ask yourself regarding your third chakra:

1 – STRONGLY DISAGREE 2 – DISAGREE 3 – NEUTRAL 4- AGREE 5- ABSOLUTELY

  • Are you easily      irritated – do you have an explosive temper?
  • Have you found that you have an Inability to prosper, no matter how hard you try?
  • Do you      tend to prosper at the expense of others?
  • Have you      ever made yourself feel better by putting another person down?
  • Do you have      difficulty in taking responsibility for your actions and the consequences?
  • Do you alternate      between feeling immensely powerful, only to feel like a victim the next moment?
  • Do you      lack willpower?
  • Have you ever      suffered from ulcers or diabetes (sugar imbalances)?
  • Do you ask      yourself why      am I here (in this life)?
  • Do you like yourself?
  • Are you nervous in social groups?
  • Do you think people believe      negative things about you?
  • Finish this sentence: “when I      grow up I want to….”
  • Are you self-motivated?
  • Do you achieve most of your      goals?
  • Do you      have a strong drive to live and do you feel that you have a right to      exist?
  • Are      you connected to your emotional self and do you understand that feeling      and expressing your emotions are your right?
  • Did      your family of origin make you feel capable of doing anything?
  • Does      your belief system include knowing that a higher power exists and do you      use your personal power to openly discuss your beliefs
  • Do you      always communicate your inner truths and are you open and honest with      others regardless of the situation?
  • Are      you afraid if you act confidently that others will think you are “full of      ego”?
  • Do you know what you want?
  • Have you ever suffered with      anxiety?

1-   Meditate and colour one of the Mandalas below as you focus on these questions and see what answers come to you.

2-   Answer the questions using the numbered scale. Don’t overanalyze! Your past is only a reference point for current understanding.

3-   Choose 2 or more questions that resonate as important to you – write on these in your journal. Share what you want with group.

4-   Share with (your) group. (can be done in circle or individuals groups.

It’s all about personal power – which begins with caring for yourself. How well you take care of you, is very relevant in this chakra.  Your ability to shine forth is directly impacted by how much energy and intention you have invested into developing yourself from the.

Power is defined as “the ability to influence people”. (wiki).

By maximizing the flow of energy in this central portion of your body, you release the possibility of blockage and are able to enter the higher realms of subtle understanding and wisdom brought to us by the study of chakras and the lessons of the horse.

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UNCONDITIONAL LOVE?

I’m learning about Love right now.  All sorts of love, and the ways I experience it, where and how it motivates me and exists within me.   Consciousness urges me to understand a love that is without attachment, requirement or desire; a love that contains only Truth, like pure sweet clean water.  Is it possible that we all already have this kind of love within us and the purpose of this life is simply to uncover it?

 

In a recent conversation with a good friend, he brought up the idea of “unconditional love” recalling a previous conversation a few weeks before where I had declared to him regretfully and honestly that I didn’t think I was capable of such a thing.  Outside of my own children for whom I felt a deeper bond that what can even be described in words, I didn’t think I could love someone completely – I would always judge something about them, this was the human condition I concluded.

My friend said that he had considered my statement over the past few weeks and had concluded that I was mistaken because I was misinterpreting what “unconditional” meant.  I asked him what he meant.

“Can you love me even when I’m being a jerk?” he asked.

History had proven this to be true. We had been friends a long time.

My mind argued that this wasn’t unconditional because it was only one person in seven billion and unconditional meant I could love without condition of who you are, what you do, where you live, what you look like – separate from any judgment my mind may have of you.

So then I tried to imagine other people in my life, and found that in fact, I did love them even when they were acting in a way or saying things that I judged negatively – or even that caused me direct harm, or pain. Yes, I could still Love them, even though I didn’t like what they did all the time.

So then my question had to extend to people I had not yet met, strangers, and people in other lands – could I love those people, even though I don’t know them?

I look on the internet and see faces of people I don’t know and I look deep in their eyes. There is…something there that I recognize.  Something is there that is known to me, even though we have not met. Yes, I can love them too.

We have many incorrect notions of what love is: Love doesn’t mean I want to move in with you, sleep with you, cook your meals, solve your problems or become your therapist. Love means I realize I know nothing actually, and I am open to learning with you and through you.

I realized after my conversation with my friend that unconditional love exists as our birth-right – it is the center of free will.  Judgment is a natural human activity, designed to help us discern what may or may not be the best option for us at the time. It is freedom in action.  We are free to express love or to withhold its expression. And without sounding too much like a hippie we must conclude that if each person held love as the conscious motivation behind each choice they made, things would be very different.  We can love someone but not necessarily “judge” that it is the healthiest option for our choices to have them in our intimate life.  Since everything changes and passes, what is for today is not necessarily what is for tomorrow, But, we can always recognize that the part inside of us which express love is the same part of another that is receiving the love.

Maybe the greatest challenge we all face is to come to a place where we understand that we have to love our own selves unconditionally before we can transfer that love to someone else.  Running workshops on my farm I have had the chance to speak to many people about this idea of being “centered in self”. Although it seems logical to conclude that we can’t give away to someone what we don’t have for our own selves, our culture has communicated a very different type of conditioning to us.  We have told women that they need to put their children and families first and have created a martyr like attitude3.  This has only resulted in a multitude of generations being raised by secretly resentful women.

Men have the pressure of continued roles as “caretakers”, emotionally detached breadwinners and hunter-gatherers,  their success being measured by material acquisition and property value.  This is such medieval thinking in the modern age! The challenge for men is daunting, requiring that they take the very long journey to understanding their own hearts and emotions and putting aside the requirements of society to ignore the basic inner natures.

Unconditional love exists in all of us I see now.  The challenge is in excavating and finding out the truth about how it lives in you. When I look out of my window and see that I am life living in life, I feel a kind of love which expresses itself as joy in my heart.  This love doesn’t require anything of me, it just is.  Gratitude is the natural result of this focus.

Namaste

Magic of life ~ Ajna

third_eyeSixth Chakra Thoughts…

Over the course of the past 6 months and through all of the stages in each of the chakras we have studied, I am discovering that there are certain common conclusions we have arrived at.   First, we have concluded that our lives are ever-changing and the more we learn about ourselves the more empowered we become to understand what we do and do not have control over in our lives.  In order to live a peaceful happy life, knowing what is and is not in our control, what we can and cannot help or hinder – is critically important to our peace of mind.  In other words, we are finding that recognizing where our “powerlessness” lays, can give us a real opportunity to use a greater power that resides within each of us. That is; our intuitive power.

  • Intuition is the power or faculty of attaining to direct knowledge or cognition without evident rational thought and inference (*Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online)

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STUDYING CHAKRAS HELPS US TO BECOME MORE CONSCIOUS AND AWARE ….

KNOW YOUR POWER! When I ask what the most important thing in their lives many women I have spoken to have answered that it is the happiness of their children.   I often reflect on this answer because, I know it is the socially acceptable answer. I was raised in a way that taught that a good mother was self-sacrificing and gave it all up for her children. However in the raising of my own cornucopia of kids – I didn’t quite see it like this.  And I loved them enough to follow my intuition as best as I could.  It became apparent that I couldn’t teach them what I wasn’t doing for myself.  I couldn’t tell them to go and do what made them happy – if I was sitting at home all day unfulfilled crying with depression.  I also discovered that obviously I couldn’t MAKE them happy as I had tried and failed repeatedly and miserably.

I could only show them the way. But how do you show someone the way to go somewhere you have never been?

This meant that I had to get MYSELF happy – make my own path and find the things in my life that brought me bliss.   This was a difficult transition for my family at first because I stopped doing some of the things I was doing which I wasn’t enjoying. They were older now and could handle this.  I decided only to do things for people for the right reasons.  Doing it because I was expected to just wasn’t working for me. I had created that expectation after all. SO, now I would uncreate it. For example,  I stopped cooking dinner unless I wanted to for the right reasons.  I began meditating every day and became centered into my “self”.  And my kids – now older, are gracious and centered simply awesome human beings – who can all cook really well.  They seem to be easily and quite naturally in touch with their own sense of intuition. Centered inside their being, they don’t have the issues my generation had of “finding” themselves. Ask any one of them – they will tell you exactly where they are.

Intuition is that aspect of our selves that can help us make decisions based on something greater than the sum total of our conscious and unconscious thinking.  Intuition is a directive from the Universe.  It is a strong guiding feeling that can lead us to a more serene and peaceful way of living and seeing our lives.

 

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Horses live within a constant sense of their own intuition. Because animals in general live in the moment, existing not in the past r future, they are so finely tuned with their intuition that they do not have the capacity for rational thought.  Rational thought, for a horse, or any other animal, surely mean death. In this retreat will practice some free journaling and writing practices in the field with the herd, introducing awake meditative and silent observation with a focus on BE-ing like a horse…in presence.

lily and jo in arena

For a human, “rational thought” is often the greatest impediment to connecting with the Ajna.  These thought bring us doubt fear remorse guilt and a variety of other un[productive unconscious emotions.  Intuition assists us to become conscious of these feelings. Intuition becomes blocked by things like fear, jealousy, anger, resentment. That is why doing the work that we have done on the previous 5 chakras is so important.  One thing leads to another and with the release of each newly illuminated aspect of yourself, you will find your intuition open in ways you could never have imagined.

Intuition is the magic of life.  It is our co-creative potentiality. Our formal interplay with the Divine.  We were created to have this exchange, and so, Buddhist philosophy would say that each experience in your life which has caused you distress and thus to change and shift, has moved you ever closer to this place of higher connection between you and the source that intended you into being.  It is a truly awesome experience to feel that communion.

At first trying to listen to our intuition can lead to all sorts of interesting outcomes.  It can be hit and miss, because just like every other conscious skill it must be practiced and applied in a wide variety of life experience for you to begin to trust your own self and what you feel and hear within.

Maybe it come sin the form of a random meeting, a phone call, something you read, a song on the radio or just a sudden thought or idea in your head – intuition can speak to you in innumerable ways.  All you have to bring with you is the willingness to listen and the door is open.  You will see that meditation and quiet is very key to connecting with this source within yourself.

I remember when I first became aware of wanting to try to make choices with my intuition –   I rashly quit a good job because I “felt” there was something else calling me.  The phone didn’t ring. Neither did the doorbell. There were no “signs” there was nothing. Just the angry lady at the unemployment office every week. Sadly – or so I thought –  I remained unemployed for about 6 months as I watched a disastrous unforeseen econimic plunge in the job market hit Canada eventually leading me to a lower paying which I soon left actually – for an entirely better life! My intuition told me that something would happen – but what happened was not at all what I expected.  Our expectations are often a source of conflict within us.  In using our intuition we have to learn to ‘Do the footwork and let go of the results”, as my mother is fond of saying.  If you can practice this, then I guarantee you the results will be better than any you could have imagined.

Life is magic.

When things seem to be falling down all around your feet, instead of keeping your head down and staring at your shoes, you may want to try just being present and aware of your body, just take a breath and a moment to not be in your head.  Stop your thinking by focusing on your thoughts.  Just let them pass, and allow yourself to be reminded that YOU are not in charge and YOU will be guided to your next place.  You don’t need to control everything. Actually, you don’t need to control ANYTHING. Do you believe me? Are you relieved?

When times are rough – this is when you should make the greatest effort to make no effort and to just BE.  Sit still – and don’t react, don’t make decisions, don’t have conversations.  Just be.  And have faith that the Source that keeps everything spinning and turning and working in one gigantic amazing synchronous mass – can manage your hydro bill or your marital problems. You don’t need to fix it al today. Ahhh….what a relief! 🙂

Intuition will come to you as you quiet within.  In this retreat we will focus on some pituitary yoga practices which help us to focus on the Ajna chakra.  Our menu will include the colors indigo and red to keep us connected to root and source.

Intuition is the magic of life.  Enjoy your day.

~Namaste~

Equine Nature Retreat ~ Second Chakra ~ A Focus on Self

The biggest problem that faces the planet right now and has since the beginning of time is that we don’t know who we are.  By taking the time to get to understand our most essential natures we are doing ourselves and everyone a great service.  A focus on studying chakras can help bring us closer to this understanding.

There are things we can solve with our minds, but the most important understanding must come from the heart. Whether you have a religious or spiritual belief system or not, it is important to recognize that you are a being made  energy, connected to everything that is alive.  The great mystery exists not only in the understanding of our “small self” – the human self that goes through the practical matters of daily living, but also our LARGER self – the energetic and eternal aspect of ourselves that are fully interconnected with one another.  It is possible that all of the problems that this disconnection over time have caused in history are a result of this “small self” thinking, and have now caused us to need to shift to an understanding of our “eternal” self. The part of us which is energy, flows through time because for it no time exists, has always been here – and will always be here.  Some belief systems call this consciousness. Some call it soul. I call it Self.serenity

Here at the WillowCreek Retreat we use the energy of horses and nature to help people become aware of their SELF through a focus on centers of energies which exist as a part of us, as use that knowledge to find a place in themselves which surpasses even thoughtful knowledge and can be found in the heart only. The Hindu culture calls these centers “Chakras”, which means “spinning wheel” in Sanskrit.

This article will focus on our upcoming retreat on the second-sacral chakra. It is intended for the participants of the retreat, but I want to make following the process available to anyone who is interested.

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bc4a8-chakra

The second chakra, also known by the Sanskrit name, Svhadisthana, relates to those aspects of our energy that have to do with creation, fertility, sexuality and the joy of living.  The physical location is about two inches below your navel.  The colour relating to this center is orange and the element is water.

When this energetic area of your body is blocked, it can result in physical ailments such as bladder problems, circulatory issues, lower back pain, menstrual issues, kidney & reproductive problems.  Life issues can include difficulty working with others in a creative fashion, addiction, sexual dysfunction (hyper or hypo sexuality) in relationships, difficulty setting healthy boundaries, and a lack of flow of abundance (like money and other resources) into your life. Psychologically, a imbalanced second chakra can produce low sexual desire (frigidity), frustration, anger, fear, hypersensitivity, unreasonable feelings of guilt, and being unreasonably hard on yourself.  In your life you may find yourself surrounded by abusive or energetically imbalanced relationships, difficulty in attracting resources, feelings of unhappiness regularly upon awakening. Healthy second chakra energies bring about healthy relationships, well established boundaries and flow of money and resources into your life.  It is easy to see why a concentration on coming to terms with and healing second chakra  energy would be beneficial.

In the west we have an extreme disconnect from our energetic centers.  Eastern cultures socialize their children in  a way that emphasizes awareness and connection to each center of the body.  Through food, prayer, song and other cultural norms, those in the East have a focus on the essential nature of the physical and spiritual connection we have to each other and the world of nature.  Here in the West we are just beginning to see the very real and practical importance of this knowledge.

984297067Horses are an excellent partner to help quiet the mind and open the awareness we have in ourselves of how our body is feeling at any particular moment. Because a horse’s energy calibrates at a higher rate than humans, just being in physical proximity to them can help quiet the mind. This is primarily because they don’t have the thoughts of past and future that keep our energies tied up in illusion and non-reality. Horses can help put our feet back on and into the ground.

A practice of intimacy with any living creature, two or four footed, can quiet your mind and center you in presence.  This is the most important first step for any act of self-inquiry. Without presence, you cannot establish intimacy with yourself or anyone else, for this requires that you be centered in where you are, not in the past or future. Intimacy with another requires intimacy with your SELF first.

484718_10152675059555230_434117789_nHorses can help us to discover our “SELF”.

Intimacy has been expressed as “into me I see”.  Intimacy with another person requires that we first be intimate with ourselves.  This means taking the time to see deeply into our true nature, true mnotivations true thoughts and beliefs about things.  Charka studies are like treasure hunting for truth about yourself. Sometimes the journey is treacherous and can feel a little dangerous, but these are the risks you must take to find the greatest treasures.

The goal is to become unashamedly and blissfully aware of who you REALLY are.

This means learning to be naked with yourself.

An act of emotional vulnerability is sometimes easier with an animal.  We feel that animals don’t judge us, they  won’t take advantage of our feelings of weakness. We feel we can “be ourselves” with animals.

We fear emotional vulnerability with humans because we are accessing negative past experiences and transposing them into the now of life.  Eventually, you will come to  a place where you understand that the judgements of others, neither positive or negative, should be taken personally. That each person’s “judgment” comes from a place of self-judging.  But, when the second chakra is blocked and not yet brought to your consciousness, you can only see what you can see.

Second chakra issues revolve around TRUST and TRUTH.

Who do you trust? Do you have a best friend? When you were young, did you have a best friend?  Have you known someone to whom you could tell all your secrets to and you  knew they were on your side and you would never fear they would break your confidence or hurt your feelings? Do you have someone in your life like that now?

Many people suffer from the loneliness they impose upon themselves from their own self-judgements.

To relieve yourself of guilt – try to remind yourself of this wise thought by author and poet Maya Angelou

“if you would have known better, you would have done better”.

Angelou goes through life with this core belief about people and about herself.  It is a very freeing thought because it acknowledges the FACT that everyone does what they believe is their best at the time they are doing it.  In hindsight, everything has a different hue.

Forgiveness is an important focus for this and every chakra.  Forgiveness is NOT an act of placing an approval stamp on the past. Forgiveness is a recognition that the past cannot be changed. Forgiveness holds within it, if it is the truth, a desire to discover what every experience has brought to you, not what it has taken from you.  Then, focus on the need you were trying to fulfill when you did whatever it is that causes you guilt.  Discover truthfully, fearlessly – the belief behind the need you were trying to fulfill. Then understand fully (prayer helps with this) that your needs are important.  That you can find healthy ways to fulfill these needs without causing yourself harm.  That you can remain from this time forward, aware of your needs, so you make choices and decisions for yourself in an aware an dhealthy way.  This is possible for everyone.

BE LIKE WATER…water_horse_by_grau23-d54263o

But the first steps begin a process of a new kind of thinking. They will produce changes in your life, and the people around you will react.  Be aware of this as you continue.  Allow the changes to unfold, and as the elemtn in the second chakra urges us as does the Tao te Ching – follow the lesson that water teaches us.  It flows with all the circumstances it comes across. It recognizxes that it is ever changing and ever moving, but like water, we never fully disappear.  If we remain like stone, and we are not in the flow of our live, using our minds and thoughts to resist what is, then we will find ourselves being eroded and chipped away, until we are finlly pulled free into the river of what life is doing around us.

TAO TE CHING – VERSE 8

The Supreme Good is like water,

Which nourishes all things without trying to.

It flows to low places, loathed by all men

Therefore it is like the Tao.

Live in accordance with the nature of things,

In dwelling, be close to the land.

In meditation, go deep in the heart.

In dealing with others be gentle and kind.

In speech be true.

In ruling be just.

In action, watch the timing.

No fight: No blame

One who lives in accordance with nature,

Does not go against the way of things.

They move in harmony with the present moment,

Always knowing the truth of just what to do.

Lao Tzu – Tao Te Ching

RETREAT EXCERCISE – SECOND CHAKRAlily and jo in arena

The excercise we will do in this retreat is to request our participants to take a horse aside, privately and have a “conversation”.  You will tell the horse your most deep dark secrets. The one you wouldn’t even tell your best friend. The one your surely wouldn’t tell your priest.  The one you secretly believe God will judge you for.

Then take time to look deeply into the horse’s eyes.  See what they see.  Listen to your self, and acknowledge the feelings you have in this interaction.

Ask yourself some questions and stay in meditation with the  horse – quiet in your present space:

Do you believe the horse can see inside of you?

Can you see yourself as clearly as the horse sees you?

Ask to be shown how to forgive.

Stay quiet.

Observe your horse’s eyes.

Heartfelt_-low-res-file-698x1024What do you feel?