Homesickness for God directs us toward peace and healing

This quote from Stephen Levine about being homesick for God accurately captures why I’m so drawn to Craniosacral Biodynamics, and why I want to share the practice of Biodynamic Meditation with you.

Today’s sit: breathing, central energy channel, sensations, Tide, radiance at my face, swirliness in upper abdomen, sacral stillpoint.

Experiencing gravity and levity and balance

I dreamed I was dancing, able to leap high enough to touch the branches of trees, and to descend to the earth safely, only to do it again and again and again, higher, higher, almost floating back down, with buoyancy.

How exhilarating!

So… We were talking about the Tide, about sensing the Tide ascending and descending in your central energy channel.

How to be still and bring your awareness to that channel, the channel that is home to and connects your chakras.

The cranial pole of the channel (crown, sahasrara chakra) opens upward, to heaven, the cosmos, the universe, spirit.

That upward direction is called levity.

The sacral pole of the channel (root or muladhara chakra) opens to the earth.

That direction is called gravity.

Gravity and levity. Grounded and open to Spirit: balance.

My dream was about levity.

Who needs a dream like this?

Someone who is growing a private practice in Craniosacral Biodynamics, exploring Biodynamic Meditation with you :-), teaching, making 5 trips this year for training and personal growth, who is now also looking at a new location after 12 years in the same place.

Lots going on. Balance needed.

Today’s Biodynamic Meditation was about breathing, posture, sensing Tide. I invited a cranial stillpoint. Ajna chakra, radiance at my face, crown chakra. Swirliness in my cranium, then in my abdomen at manipura chakra, then in pelvis, ending with sacral stillpoint.

Balanced.

Sensing swirliness is sensing your body healing itself

What is this swirliness that I sometimes sense in my Biodynamic Meditation sessions?

Another name for it is the inherent healing process.

Synonyms for inherent include intrinsic, integral, essential, natural, innate, inborn, inner.

I believe this inherent healing process is available in all of us humans…and Biodynamic Meditation is a path to discovering it in yourself.

To sense our own self-healing, our minds need to be calm, gently focused within on our sensations to the point of familiarity, and receptive to what we notice.

This is the heart of why anyone would want to learn Biodynamic Meditation.

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Biodynamic Meditation posts on Instagram

I started studying craniosacral therapy in 2011 while still a massage student, after receiving it monthly for 3 years and understanding its sometimes-subtle but cumulative benefits to my health and well-being.

I started studying craniosacral biodynamics in 2013. Three days after learning it existed and hearing it described, I was in a class.

It’s a passion of mine. I’ve taken dozens of classes since, in both biodynamic and directive, Upledger-style CST. I’ve taken several classes multiple times and been a teaching assistant.

Craniosacral biodynamics works quite a bit with interoception, the “felt sense” in oneself.

A lot of the language in my classes was highly conceptual even though referring to felt states. There’s a big gap between concept and experience, between the map and the territory. It was frustrating!

What does the Breath of Life feel like? How do you distinguish the different tides? What does a still point feel like? How do you track potency? What about the different stages? What the heck is Dynamic Stillness and how do you get there?

I started experimenting with trying to sense these concepts in my meditation practice and had some pretty profound experiences, such as feeling like I was in the ocean and currents were flowing through and around me, experiencing a me-shaped hole of emptiness surrounded by dense energies holding me in place, the sense of being breathed, and the like.

But they were random experiences and I still didn’t know the names for them or how to get there. Hence pursuing more training.

Sequencing is important in a yoga class. You prepare carefully with easier poses and work up to the harder poses you didn’t think you could do — and then, wow, you’re doing them! It’s important in teaching and learning Craniosacral Biodynamics, too, guided by carefully considered preparation.

All of these states and experiences have helped me become more whole and healthy, wise and compassionate about our common human experience. They help me heal, and I do have experiences to heal from, still.

Samsara can be so rough.

I am an investigator, an Enneagram 5. I am driven by curiosity and learning and compassion. I came into this world to make a difference, and although side-lined by early difficulties, I’m doing it now.

Where I am now is this: I have a private practice in West Lake Hills, an old Austin suburb, where I offer two specialties: Craniosacral Biodynamics and TMJ Relief.

I also offer the same specialties in downtown Austin, at West Holistic Medicine.

And, I’m doing an experiment on Instagram. Every day I do a #biodynamicmeditation and post about it on Instagram. I choose images and music to accompany my words. It’s fun and growing, gaining followers, including teachers of Craniosacral Biodynamics.

If you want to follow me there, I’m @mareynolds. These posts also appear on my Facebook business page and on Tumblr and LinkedIn.

What’s behind this new endeavor? Well, if I could receive a Biodynamic session every day, I would! But I can’t afford it and don’t always have time.

However, I do have time to meditate every day. So do you, most likely, on most days.

So I practice Biodynamic Meditation and post about it, with an eye to eventually teaching it as a recognized form of meditation where the focus is on self-healing and restoring vitality. You can follow my progress.

Whatever we couldn’t process at the time gets contained energetically. Sometimes we experience releases and may or may not be aware of it. We feel more ourselves, more centered, grounded, vibrant, confident, resourceful.

Craniosacral Biodynamics greatly augments the body-mind’s ability to heal itself of dysregulation, stuckness, inertia.

When that energy is released, it returns to our overall vitality and well-being.

It accelerates wellness.

I’ve been practicing Biodynamics in meditation, in classes, and with clients for almost a decade. I am far from enlightened, though I have moments of deep presence and clarity about who I am, why I’m here, and what I want.

I am much healther, grounded, centered, aware, bigger minded, and bigger hearted than I used to be. And people who have known me for that long or longer have noticed.

This is where I am now, and I appreciate you reading about my process. There will be more to come, I’m sure. If you have questions, please ask!

Bounce-dancing on a rebounder in intervals after eating is fun!

Factor #1: My friend Katie and I had dinner at a Mediterranean buffet restaurant recently, and she suggested we walk right after eating, citing studies saying that walking for a few minutes immediately after a meal stabilizes insulin.

I looked it up (you know me!), and it has a lot of other benefits. It boosts metabolism, speeds digestion, reduces bloating, increases endorphins and serotonin, promotes better sleep, helps regulate appetite, improves learning and memory, increases circulation for better delivery of nutrients, etc.

Plus, walking with a friend is sweet. You get to catch up with each other and get some sun and fresh air and move. I especially love to go for scenic walks with my friends.

Factor #2: I love ecstatic dancing! It’s free-form movement to music. Dancing the 5 rhythms has been a fairly regular practice since 1995. I love the creative aspects of dance, letting my body move how it wants to move, exploring new movements, getting more familiar with my body, and becoming one with the music.

It’s a fun practice for self-expression and discovery, with health benefits.

Factor #3: I recently bought a rebounder so I can use it at home when the weather is bad or I don’t want to leave. (I’ve become a homebody.)

Rebounding is great for the lymphatic system, which cleans up metabolic waste and toxins in the body, improving immunity, and I’m all in favor of that! It has other benefits, too. Bouncing works the feet, calves, and hips (if you raise your knees), you can add in upper-body movements, and it is good cardiovascular exercise.

So…putting those three factors together, after I eat, I put on some music. It’s important to get the BPM right. I’ve found a couple of tunes that are 45 and 49 BPM. Not too fast, nor too slow, but perfect for bouncing.

Then I start bounce-dancing! I bounce with vigor for a minute, getting out of breath, exploring various ways to bounce (jumping, running, hopping, crossing one foot in front of the other alternatively, doing knee raises, adding kicks, scissoring, etc.).

Then I slow way down for a minute, minimally bouncing, maybe doing some upper body twists, letting my heart rate slow.

I alternative the vigorous and the slow phases, doing a minute of each, for however long the song lasts. It’s also a pleasure to discover new music for bounce-dancing! 10 minutes and experiment with the shortening the length of the slow intervals.

The beauty of bounce-dancing is it’s fun and it’s healthy in many ways. I’ve just been doing it for a few days as I remember to do it, and what I notice most is that I sleep better and have more energy.

Also, I love having strong feet and legs!

Just coincidentally, the New York Times just published an article on rebounding, aka trampolining, Bouncing Your Way to Better Health.

“I’m just the little one. Please help me.”

Sometimes life can be overwhelming. Trauma is an obvious example. So is simply having too much to manage coming at you all at once.

Right now, in early November 2022, politics and prospects for the future of the U.S. are in our faces, as well as our individual prospects for the future. Personal finances for those depending on Social Security and Medicare, civil liberties for (it seems) everyone but the “Christian” far-right, changes in how we work, the polarization of information sources, the influence of commerce and materialism, disasters from global warming, and so many loud, angry voices, often with guns.

We are living in what currently looks like a post-pandemic world, and we are trying to reorganize amidst a lot of uncertainty. There’s too much unease if you’re sensitive…and if you’re not sensitive, bless your heart and wake up.

I’ve been practicing something new to me. I ask for help. Every day. Sometimes multiple times a day.

I added a line I learned from constellation work to precede my plea. It refers to the innocent, vulnerable child inside all of us — no matter how big or old we are — who is given too much to deal with.

”I’m just the little one.

Please help me.”

You could call it a form of prayer, although I’m not particularly religious. It’s a message and a plea and an acknowledgment that this world of some sorrow is troubling.

I send this message out to whatever unseen power it is that is bigger than me. A higher power. God-Universe-Spirit (GUS), as some friends say. The planets.

I don’t know if there will be an answer that I can understand.

I open my heart and my mind when I make this request. It does seem to help me to at least feel less alone with my struggles.

I don’t know how help will show up. I just trust that it will.

Your help me come in the form of an inspiration to vote, if you’re registered but not in the habit, because this election could be the last election, in which case you will lose that right. Democracy requires participation. No choice means someone else makes decisions that affect you, your family and friends and community, your finances, your future, your freedom.

You may be inspired to become a poll watcher (or watch the poll watchers to be sure they don’t interfere with those voting).

You may be inspired to give people rides to the polls if you can.

You may be inspired to avoid the news until at least a week after the election, since that’s how long it takes just to count all the votes. Or even longer, since the courts will probably decide in some cases.

I hope you vote for peaceful and reasonable solutions to our problems and help stop the chaos.

A mystery: Unwanted shaktipat? Boundary violation? Free-range potency?

Decades ago, I experienced something that stands out amongst all my human experiences.

I was alone at dusk, listening to beautiful singing and suddenly out of the corner of my eye, noticing a lightning storm in the distant mountains.

Everything in me wanted to pay complete attention to this experience, to be as present and attentive as possible.

And as soon as I set that intent and tuned in to the sounds and sights, something very unexpected and unusual happened.

I felt a strong energy enter my body, piercing me from the top of my head to the bottom of my torso. Crown to root.

The energy was forceful but not painful. I didn’t see it with my eyes but had a sense that it was white.

It was forceful like lightning, yet soft. It felt like it pushed things out of the way to make a bigger, clearer channel. It had a huge amount of what I now know is potency, or biodynamic life-force energy.

And as soon as it reached my root chakra, it left, leaving me in shock, wondering what the fuck just happened.

I didn’t know anyone at that time in my life to talk to about this experience who wouldn’t have thought I was crazy, so I kept it to myself. It seemed like a very freaky experience. I even wondered if I was crazy.

Is my focused attention really that powerful? Did I draw it to me somehow? Who needs an experience like that? Well, apparently I did.

I did save my ticket stub to the Santa Fe Opera where this experience had occurred, on a night with singers trying out for opera directors and hardly anyone in attendance.

I later came to consider it my energy awakening.

Years later, it occurred to me that it may have been related to me starting a practice of hatha yoga a year or so before the event.

I began to think of it as being zapped by Source, and I was feeling a little satisfied that even though I started learning hatha yoga from a book, rather than from an in-person or TV teacher, I must have been doing something right for this to happen.

Even now, decades later, I am convinced that the purpose of doing asanas is to open the energy channels, a step on the way to samadhi.

Later, after learning a bit about kundalini yoga, I wondered if what I had experienced was a spontaneous kundalini descending. I believe it was, although I’ve never practiced much kundalini yoga — been to a few classes in recent years but was never regular with it.

It seems that kundalini rising (from root to crown) is a goal in kundalini yoga.

No one mentions kundalini descending. Same energy channel, opposite direction. Why would one direction be favored and the other not?

My crown chakra is often open, and I wonder if that zapping left me with a more open sahasrara chakra.

Even later I learned about shaktipat, which as far as I understand is something a guru gives to initiate a student into his school of teachings — with the student’s agreement and consent.

As I understand it, shaktipat is more of a third-eye zapping. But I had no guru. What instigated that experience?

A little over a year ago, I experienced once again being pierced by energy, this time in my third-eye chakra. I actually saw the nearly-transparent energy coalescing in front of my face before it suddenly zapped my third eye/ajna chakra, going into the middle of my brain.

This time, I was with someone I’d just met that day. I don’t know if he gave me shaktipat without my consent or if it was spontaneous for both of us, or even if I somehow unintentionally gave myself or us both shaktipat.

I was simply too stunned to say anything, and I have no idea what his experience was.

If I knew how to give someone shaktipat, I would never do it without actually being a guru (not very likely), asking if they wanted to receive it, and only giving it if they gave their explicit consent to receive it.

It is shocking and invasive, not something to mess around with, although the benefit seems to be a clearing out of stagnant energy and strengthening the energy channel it penetrates.

It feels really fucked up to give it to someone without their consent. What kind of person would do that to someone they barely knew? Had he spent too much time in the nondual world to know how to interact responsibly and mindfully in the world of duality? Did he think he was my guru?

The experience was not sexual, but there was definitely an energetic penetration of personal boundaries.

Whatever amount of clearing out my ajna chakra may have occurred from that experience simply wasn’t worth it. My intuition was already pretty strong.

And then again, what if it was spontaneous for both of us? I’ve talked to a mentor who believes that free-range potency exists and that perhaps it was karmic. In a way, it reminded me of the proverbial romantic spark between two people, certainly igniting an interest, except much more powerful than I ever imagined it to be, and also not with someone who is available for a romantic relationship, even if I felt comfortable with it, which I don’t.

At this point, I sometimes wish it had never happened. It’s been a distraction, an energy sapper. I’ve observed this person being impulsive and presumptuous toward me since. Maybe he thinks I made it happen but isn’t comfortable talking about it.

He is actually a pretty cool guy, someone I want to like and trust, but I set a boundary I feel good about for now. Respect and mindfulness are important.

Trust can possibly be rebuilt, or actually, built in the first place, but only with accountability, respect, and honesty. That’s going to be some conversation, if it even happens.

Jittery about the election? Here are some simple things you can do to reduce stress

I recently completed a 4-hour continuing education class in Ethics, Communication, and Boundaries through the Lens of the Nervous System. The instructor based this course around applying polyvagal theory in a massage therapy practice.

I want to share some simple things that anyone can use to reduce stress, because many of us may be feeling jumpy and tense, especially with an election approaching. 

Experiment with these and find your favorites — and use them as needed when your stress response is activated! 

  • Making your exhalations longer than your inhalations for a couple of minutes.
  • Singing and humming. 
  • Orienting to the space you’re in by slowly gazing all around you. 
  • Lifting your gaze and imagining the sun shining on your face, neck, and shoulders. 
  • Finding something that’s pleasing and telling yourself “I am safe and happy”. 
  • Making micro movements, dancing, doing yoga. 
  • Listening to calming music. 

Do you find yourself doing any of these without a thought? My mother often hummed when she was washing dishes.

Music and dancing are important parts of my life. I created a playlist of happy music with the help of numerous friends on Facebook who made recommendations. I’m capping it at 100 songs and will post a link to it on Apple Music when I’ve finished listening to everything…a lot of it was new to me.

I have noticed already that some of the happiest-making songs are about dancing!

 

10 years after she died, a tribute to Gabrielle Roth

One of my practices is ecstatic dance. I discovered it in 1995 in Austin, and it became part of my life. Gabrielle was my primary teacher, through teachers she trained and also in person.

Gabrielle was, well, not the inventor of ecstatic dance, since I’m pretty sure it was happening the moment humans began creating rhythm, perhaps even before then in response to nature’s rhythms, shapes, sounds.

She named these rhythms and sequenced them: flowing, staccato, chaos, lyrical, stillness. A wave.

If you’re not familiar with it, ecstatic dance is not performative. It is about connecting with your own body, moving from the inside out. We dance like nobody is watching.

I have danced with several of the people in this video: Kathy, Lori, Andrea, Vincent, Ya’acov, Jo, Michael, Amara, and I met Robert.

Watch Gabrielle move at the end.

and then I met Gabrielle | memories of Gabrielle Roth, 1941-2012

Most of my ecstatic dancing has been here in Austin, which offers many choices now, though we started as Sweat Your Prayers, dancing the 5 rhythms.

I’ve danced in Dallas, Santa Fe, Taos, Mill Valley, Santa Cruz, Maui, London, Montreal, and DC.

My primary teachers have been Claire Alexander, Lisa DeLand, and Oscar Madera.

Ecstatic dance helped me get into my body and move in an authentic and pleasurable way, challenging myself to find all the movements, developing finer coordination and balance, being able to hold my space in a room full of dancers, connecting, becoming part of a community.

Over these many years through this practice, I developed an auditory-kinesthetic synesthesia, in which sound and movement are one. It gives me a lot of satisfaction to tune into my body and let what wants to move, move.

Dancers enjoy the fun of dancing. It’s not intellectual. It’s not serious. We are present and full of vitality, aware and responsive. We show up with who we are. We communicate nonverbally, inviting another to move with us, or moving into our own solo dance, with eye contact (or lack of it), using prayer hands, touch (with consent), bows, moving toward or away, expressing with body language.

We tend to hug a lot, and we’re pretty good at it.

I’m so grateful to have found ecstatic dance and to have practiced it for nearly 30 years. I believe it’s helping to keep me young, and the older I get, the younger I get!

👣💚🙏🏽

For more of Gabrielle herself, she spoke at length at the Breath of Life Conference in London in 2009, to practitioners of another one of my practices, Craniosacral Biodynamics.

Here’s the video.

Whole grain bowls are healthy and creative!

A local food trailer that serves wonderfully healthy vegan food has inspired me. The food trailer is called ATX Food, and it’s parked just outside Bicycle Sports Shop on South Lamar, just south of the McDonald’s on Barton Springs and Lamar (which appears to be closed).

ATX Food makes fabulous quinoa bowls! There are several varieties. Each bowl on their menu includes toasted quinoa, half a perfectly ripe avocado, pickled red cabbage, and a generous dusting of sesame seeds. These bowls are colorful as well as healthy!

The photo below is their Chickpea Power Bowl. Other ingredients include wild mushrooms and fresh field greens (hiding under everything else). A green goddess dressing tops it off.

You can get bowls with squash, tomatoes, kale…and there’s even version with barbecued tempeh.

One of these bowls is more than enough food for me. And they are $12. I thought I would try my hand making them at home.

I like to improvise, and I went to town on my homemade grain bowls! Every day I concoct something different. like a variety of colors and textures and tastes. I like my bowls to serve my health as well as my eyes and tastebuds and mouth-feel.

So far I’ve used quinoa and wild rice, both hearty grain-like seeds. In the future I may use brown rice, black rice, buckwheat.

I could also replace the grains/seeds with legumes, and if I want more protein, I can add baked tofu, nuts, seeds, a jammy egg, feta, a sardine. (I’m not vegan, but I am making my diet more plant-based.)

I typically add spring mix but I could use any other kind of lettuce. Other raw veggies: those colorful mini-bell peppers, mixed colors of cherry tomatoes, cucumber, snap peas, green onions, chopped cauliflower, broccoli, or kale will all make a more salad-like bowl.

Possibilities for cooked veggies include asparagus, carrots, celery, green beans, mushrooms, spinach, sweet potatoes, squash, kale, chard, collards, beets. It’s good to research which veggies have more nutrients cooked, versus raw. (Not everyone agrees.) It’s a good way to use leftovers, too.

I enjoy the taste of pickled veggies, and I’ve pickled red cabbage at home…it’s easy, adds a pop of color and taste, and is a lot faster than making kraut. Pickled beets, okra, or ginger add nice pops of flavor, too.

Fermenting food is one of my favorite ways to prepare food. How much should you eat in a day? Short answer: as many types as you can, to strengthen your immune system and improve digestion.

Right now I have kombucha in my cupboard, going through a second fermentation with pomegranate juice. A two-quart jar of beet kvass sits on my counter. My refrigerator holds two jars of homemade kim chi.

I’ll soon be making kraut from a big beautiful red cabbage and salt. Kombucha, kvass, kim chi, and kraut are the big 4 Ks in my kitchen.

I also fermented soy beans, inoculating them with store-bought frozen natto. I now have lots of sticky, stringy natto that is so good with kim chi, and so good for getting calcium into your bones.

Wow, where am I? I really went off on a tangent there! I add kim chi or kraut to my bowls.

There are lots of ways to garnish a bowl: fresh sprouts, microgreens, pepitas, pistachios, chopped walnuts or almonds, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, flax seeds, pomegranate seeds, blueberries!

I like Bragg’s dressings made with olive oil. I love a good sesame-ginger dressing too. There’s a delicious miso dressing sold at H-E-B (Oka’s) that I want to replicate with healthy oil. Salsa, tahini, and yogurt are other possibilities.

The opportunities to create beautiful food that tastes great are many. These bowls are balanced, colorful, textured, and nutrient-dense. I like to eat one for my main meal of the day. If I’m hungry in the evening, I eat lightly.