Yay To The Shadow!

So, as you can tell, I haven’t been posting blog entries for quite awhile. My absence has been less about finding time to write, than questioning whether I had something worthwhile to say. By diving into my Shadow and surviving a rather messy fight with a rather damaged part of my psyche, I made a small but significant win. I rediscovered a voice to write. Honestly, I am not sure where the voice will take me, but I am setting it down in a field of faith.

Isn’t it amazing that Shadow work has the potential to heal us all?  In my work as a Reiki master, I accompany and encourage people to make their own subterranean journeys to unveil the treasures down there. Yes, it is scary work to begin. Maybe staying asleep is preferable. Leave the dogs of trauma to rest in perpetuity. But as the deaths and losses piled up in my life, I realized how little time we are given in our bodies and minds. So is it not worth accessing all the energies that lie within us, the light and the dark?

To be honest, I resisted the call of my Shadow. Blaming others, world events, astrological transits, omens and universal energies seemed a lot easier to do. I have literally spent hours doing visualizations, relinquishing mental obstacles to abundance, and bathing myself in the glow of the Vortex. And I really didn’t feel much of a difference. I would make tenuous gains that disintegrated in a second. And, delving into self-help work left me feeling broken, that I was somehow deeply deficient. Oh, the self-help world can be seductive while at the same time quietly admonishing us for our perceived flaws.

So I said screw the light. In a state of desperation, lying on my bedroom floor crying from my gut, I pleaded for help –from Spirit, the Universe, the Goddesses, whatever and whomever. The hushed voice replied “You are not screwed up. You are lost. Look within. Your answers are in the awkward places.”

What did that exactly mean? So I decided to skip yet another tour of my light and goodness; how worthy I was of love and abundance and ease. I took another turn, into the darkness, to look at what I try to hide from the world. My sense of victimhood, ugliness, greed, jealousy, envy.

And you know what? I discovered that I actually liked a lot of what I found in my Shadow. Indeed, much of it serves me to stay small and comfortable. I realized how feeling victimized helped me fell entitled and powerful. That feeling ugly encouraged me to stay safe and invisible. That feeling envious justified my laziness.

Being okay with the victim, the envy monster and ugliness actually led me to a big spiritual exhale. These dark aspects actually hold power. They are not the undoing of me, but if I can mine the reversed treasures in the Shadow, I will be even more authentic and powerful. (Insert a cartoon character of me flexing my biceps proudly!)

So, yay, for my Shadow! Say yes to feeling ugly … worthless … impoverished … generally screwed up. That is exactly where my power, authenticity, beauty, and yes, true happiness lies.

Where are the sticky places within you, where you stuff and suppress the parts of which you don’t approve? How are you excavating your Shadow to glean its treasures? Tell me. I’m listening.

Balancing Your Hormones With the Moon Cycle

As tonight there is a new moon to celebrate, I felt inspired to share my thoughts on balancing your hormones with the lunar cycle. Although different cultural traditions give different meanings to the new moon and full moon, I have learned that the new moon signals the beginning of the female hormonal cycle and the full moon is associated with ovulation. As such, you can eat foods that support the predominant hormone in the first half of your cycle, specifically estrogen. Foods like fermented soy (for those who are tolerant of soy), ground flax seeds and pumkin seeds all gently support estrogen. In the second half of your cycle, eating foods such as sesame and sunflower seeds can support progesterone which is the prominent hormone post-ovulation.

In fact, I often prescribe the ‘seed/oil protocol’ to gently bring a woman’s cycle back into balance, especially after stopping the birth control pill or whenever menses become irregular. For this protocol, you simply eat a Tablespoon or two of ground flax seed + pumpkin seeds from the new moon to the full moon. From the full moon to the new moon, switch to a Tablespoon or two of sesame + sunflower seeds. If you don’t like eating seeds, then you can take high-lignan flax oil instead of flaxseed and evening primrose oil in place of sesame/sunflower seeds.

Of course, just being aware of the lunar cycle will help to keep you connected to the natural cycles of your body and your hormones. Doing a small ritual at the new moon and full moon will aid in forging this connection. I often think of what I want to let go of at the full moon and then what I want to bring into my life at the new moon. Even a few minutes devoted to this practice can be helpful in shifting your energy in a positive direction.

So, try eating with the lunar cycle and honouring its constant ebb and flow. See how your body-mind, and specifically your hormones, respond.

Having A Vision AND Routine

The key to development along the Buddhist path is repetitive routine guided by inspirational vision. It is the insight into final freedom—the peace and purity of a liberated mind—that uplifts us and impels us to overcome our limits. But it is by repetition—the methodical cultivation of wholesome practices—that we cover the distance separating us from the goal and draw ever closer to awakening.
– Bhikkhu Bodhi, “Vision and Routine
Even though this quote refers to Buddhist practice, it offers insights into naturopathic healing. While working with people, I help them clarify their vision of health. What do you feel and see when you think of your own optimal health? Each person has a unique take on this goal. Without a plan of daily action, though, such dreams never materialize.
So then the work begins — to cultivate daily habits that bring you ever so closer to the optimum of health. Merely going through the mundane activities of the day, even if they’re healthy,  can be draining. Indeed, it can be easy to think what’s the point, why bother? When habits are tied to a greater goal, however, motivation can always be renewed. 
So what is your vision of health? Immerse yourself in every sensory pleasure of that vision. And what will you do today to support this goal? Even the smallest step in that direction is important. Small changes done consistently over time make the most massive transformations. 
I would love to know how you envision your peak health and what you do to actualize it. Please leave me a note on this blog.

The Tension About To Be Released

In recent days, I have been experiencing all manner of distortions of time and place. Sometimes time seems to move so slowly. At other times, I wonder where I truly am in this life. Last week, I did a Sacred Space session with one of my teachers, Dora. It really seemed to open up this vortex of changing times and places. It’s Sunday now and I am easing into this new reality. I feel, too, that the true start of my new year is about to happen. For the first few months of 2013, I have felt like an arrow being tensioned in a bow. I’m ready now to fly. Has anyone else felt this shift in the energy of the universe? As though you too have been held back but soon will be free? Please leave me a comment here to let me know that I am not alone in this experience!

“Your time is l…

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Steve Jobs’ Stanford Commencement Address

Looking Closer…

Looking Closer…
In Toronto right now, everywhere I look, I see the grayish- brown hues of early spring. The snow has melted, revealing the debris that winter hid. It truly is a muted, ugly sight. Yet when I look more closely, I see the buds of my neighbour’s crocus patch in his front garden. I notice that dogs linger a bit longer on their walks , seeming to enjoy all the new smells that the melted snowbanks have offered. Just a few days ago, two robins sat on the roof outside my bedroom, seeing only possibilities of nesting and creating new life.
In these moments I realize how the scale of my vision is off. By adjusting it down to these details,  I can only see beauty and opportunity.

Embracing Change

Since the New Year, I have been focusing on murturing my body. For much of my adult life, I have cultivated my mind, absorbing all the knowledge I possibly can. Although I still love my curious mind, I felt lopsided. My physical being felt withered under my benign neglect. So now I am eating slow- carb, healing a lingering hip injury, and having fun with exercise. All the changes I’m making are challenging but I try to avoid making them in fear. Fear is helpful to signal discomfort and give initial motivation for a change in behaviour. Living in fear, though, is ultimately destructive of the spirit. And changes made in fear are rarely sustainable. For real transformation, get clear about your endpoint. Why do you want it? What or who are motivating you? What gets your passion up? Not sure? Just follow those moments of joy in your everyday and the clarity will emerge.


My Year of Facing Fear

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am not a fan of new year’s resolutions. I must admit, though, that I have thought of what I want to accomplish in 2013. To my surprise, when I meditated on this question, a quiet yet urgent voice emerged. It told me “face your fears. It is time.” Honestly, I wanted my theme of 2013 to be something like ‘receiving the abidance of the universe’ or learn how to revel in the pleasures of life’. But no, my path to joyousness (which I discussed in my previous post) appears to be lined with confronting fear. Fears have always trailed along me, from infancy onwards. Fears have both lurked in the periphery and in my centre. I have struggled with panic attacks and vague fears throughout long periods in my life. So, it actually makes sense for me to finally turn and look directly at the monsters. I know that in doing so I will release the strictures on my passions and create even more energy with which to create my life. So, here it goes. I will use every day as an opportunity to face a fear, whether tiny or deep. I will endeavour to share my successes, challenges, and insights here on this blog. Perhaps I can help to inspire you in your own relationship with fear. 

How do you relate to fear? Are you a brave warrior heading straight into the heart of it, or do you turn your back in hope that the fearsome monster will disappear? As always, I am eager to hear your feedback. Please send me a comment about this post. 

Use The Momentum of Possibility

As many of you know, I am not a fan of new year’s resolutions. I never understood why you would save your motivation for a particular time of year. Instead, make change now, in whatever way you can. Still, I do feel the New Year’s buzz of excitement at the gym, in emails from my mentors, and with clients. Why resist the opportunity that presents itself at this time of year. I wonder, though, if there can be more success with a different approach to the new year’s penchant for self-improvement. How about visioning on how you would like to feel this year. What are the emotions that you would like to bathe in each day? After some thought, I declared 2013 the year of joyous abundance for me. Every day, I have been visualizing myself as a virtual sponge for all that is good and light and joyful in the universe. I accept all the good and reflect it back into the world. I am not thinking of what I have been eating or how much I weigh, whether I have an ache in my back or feeling tired. I just soak in the joy. Even though it’s only been a few days, I have noticed a change in how I interact with the world and how I feel in my body. I look to have experiences that support this feeling of joy. I make decisions based on the pursuit of the joyful state. My goals naturally flow from maintaining joyousness. It really has been a transformative experience thus far.

So, how do you want to feel in 2013? What are your desired feeling states? How will you pursue them? I would love to know, so please send me a reply to this blog entry.

The Sweetness of (Un)Certainty

Recently, I have been the lead lecturer of the first year Health Psychology course at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. I began the course with the intention of engaging the students in experiential learning and lively discussions. I also consciously avoided the temptation to merely read the powerpoint slides to them. As the semester has progressed, the students have meditated and visualized, listened and discussed. Some of them, however, have expressed concern that I haven’t followed the powerpoint slides closely enough. They’re worried about how they will study for and excel in the final multiple choice exam. Despite my repeated assurances, some students remain unconvinced.

At first, I felt sad that I had failed in my experiment in teaching the students how to think and to practice as naturopathic healers. I realized, though, that I had the same worries as a new student at the College. That I allowed fear to guide my thoughts and actions all too often. How it took time to ease into comfort as a naturopath and lifeline learner. So, I compromised this week and followed the powerpoint slides more closely. I met the students in the middle, just outside their collective comfort zone. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to be comfortable, but learning and evolving exist outside of comfort. My job as their teacher is to offer a bridge to the places where the students fear. I hope that I have done that.

How do you stay in comfort? How do you resist the urge to stay in its warm yet stifling embrace? How have you challenged yourself to go outside of this? Let me know by posting a reply to this blog.