“Life and death are of supreme importance. Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost. Each of us should strive to awaken. Awaken. Take heed, do not squander your life.” ~ Dogen Zenji
This quote from Dogen has stayed with me from my early Zen days, and I’m finding it handy when life presents challenges.
Yesterday I learned that I may need to find a new place to live in the coming months.
This morning, my adored one messaged he’d started having symptoms of COVID. I’ve been exposed. I’ve escaped it so far, one of the few.
Here I sit with change, hoping for the best outcomes on all counts, holding confidence in that.
My Biodynamic Meditation was deep. Breaths, posture, radiance at my face, Tide in central energy channel. Healing energy in pelvis, heart center, ajna chakra, balancing my instinctive, emotional, and mental centers.
The healing energy knows I need to be resourceful. It knows!
Sometimes in Craniosacral Biodynamics sessions, the practitioner’s head involuntarily nods, from brainwaves heading into delta territory.
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.
Help may 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 to help minimize the chaos.
It’s been a good long while since I’ve posted anything here, and I have a free Monday morning, so here goes!
I just got back last night from a 3-day retreat on Biodynamics and Spiritual Embodiment taught by my colleague Christian Current. (If you don’t know already, I practice craniosacral biodynamics in Austin and Taos. Professional website: maryannreynolds.com.)
The setting was a private rural acreage 25 miles away from my home — with only the sounds of birds, wind, wind chimes, and running water from bubbling pools and fountains. No noise from traffic, sirens, planes — lovely. There were cabins, an Airstream, and a Winnebago for sleeping, and a talented young cook provided fresh healthful tasty food for the 12 of us. A pool and hot tub and gardens rounded out the amenities.
The retreat centered around the three energetic ignitions that occur in every living human before and right after birth: the conception ignition, the heart ignition, and the birth ignition.
Please note that the locations of these ignitions correspond to the upper, middle, and lower dantiens in Taoist energy physiology, to the three bony compartments of our bodies, the cranium, rib cage, and pelvis, and to three major energies we experience as humans, the energies of being, of relating, and of autonomy.
I learned a lot! Did you know that there’s a flash of light at conception, and that after the invited sperm embeds in the ovum, the sperm head dissolves and 20 minutes of complete stillness follow?
Maybe that’s why so many meditation guidelines recommend 20 minutes once or twice a day.
Did you know that the place where the sperm enters the egg becomes the third eye/ajna chakra/third ventricle of brain?
Did you know that blood is the first organ (it’s connective tissue) and it forms the heart? Not, as one might think, the container forms first and then fills.
Did you know that when the umbilical cord stops pulsing (on its own — it’s frequently severed too soon) and the first breath is taken, an ignition occurs that where the baby separates as an entity from its mother?
There was so much more. Some of it I’ve learned in previous trainings, but not in this much depth.
Oh, and it was full of great questions:
Who am I?
What do I want? What makes me happy?
What power(s) do I wield? What effects do I see I make in the world or myself?
I wanted to find the clearest truth possible in each of my answers:
I am loving awareness, which is always present as a baseline.
What I want and what makes me happy are the same: fulfillment.
Yesterday was rough. A dear friend for over 20 years was in the hospital having breast cancer surgery with preparation for reconstruction. We’d had ceremony Wednesday night for support, a gathering of friends to hold her and another friend with a serious health issue in our big collective heart as we move through this difficult part of the journey, walking each other home.
I shared part of that ceremony with three other women, and we laughed a lot. Fishermen’s Friend does that to people. May our laughter contribute to the healing of all.
Dear goddess, bless you for the gift of levity in the face of the unknown.
The surgery was longer than expected — 9 hours. Pauline’s older sister Marie was there at the hospital with her, and I was Marie’s contact person to post progress in the ceremony’s Facebook event for all to see.
Surgery started at 8. By 10:30 am, Marie shared that the sentinel lymph node that was removed and examined was cancer free. Good news. Marie said the surgeons expected her to go to the recovery room about 3-4 pm.
At 5 pm, I’d heard nothing and contacted Marie. Marie texted that Pauline was in recovery but she (Marie) was still waiting for the doctors to come talk to her.
And then, finally, the news came that both surgeons were pleased with the outcome. Whew.
I also did some deep digging and writing yesterday morning to a friend on something he’d challenged me to examine. I love doing that kind of self-examining work, and I needed time to let it cook into coherence.
It takes attention to go within so deeply. I went back to a time when my legs went out from under me, the beginning of not wanting to be here, having learned very young of the existence of unspeakable cruelty in a very personal way. Wrote it, sent it, went out to meet the day.
After my morning obligations were met — and my networking group laughed a lot — again, thank you, dear goddess — I came home and crashed. I needed my own space and stillness to let my earlier self-examination continue to unwind its gifts and flow through me with attentive care.
I lay in a heap of exhausted sorrow and realized this happens when I go there. It depletes me to remember. This is why I don’t do it often and not just for anybody. It’s always for me, really. I could have said no, but I was curious about where my behavior was coming from too.
I cried. My tears felt good and tasted salty.
I didn’t get stuck with the raw bleeding heart sensation. It was there but wasn’t as intense. It’s open and tender today, a bit achy.
It’s vulnerable, revisiting a trauma. Sometimes the truth — or a truth, because when the spiral comes back around, truth will be different, with different insights — is hard fucking won.
I learned something valuable about myself, that I need to push, and sometimes I push against others, and it’s probably not very pleasant to receive. I come across as blaming and misunderstanding, rightly so, on a superficial level. I grasp at an excuse to push. And really, it’s an indicator that I need to set a healthy boundary and perhaps offer a challenge myself.
Where does this behavior come from? I push to get out of the box, the box of being violated, disrespected, dishonored, crushed, silenced, dominated, overpowered, overlooked, robbed of my agency, minimized, underestimated, isolated.
I push to make space for me, to stand on my feet, connected to heaven and earth with the horizontal embrace of humanity as well, life force flowing through me freely.
I am a troubled person too sometimes, and I’m working on it. I’m trying to think of a name for the troubled part of me, because I can, much of the time, come from a healthy place, and when this troubled part comes out, I’m usually aware of it but sometimes not, and I need others to help me see it so I can do my healing work.
I’m learning toward Harriet, because I don’t know anyone named Harriet. “I’m wondering if Harriet would like to say something.” “Hi, Harriet. What are you experiencing now?” “Harriet, what do you need?”
Do you have any other suggestions for a name?
Eventually my energy moved toward equilibrium, and to cheer myself up, I remembered my favorite cartoon, What’s Opera, Doc? I must have watched it half a dozen times. Elmer and Bugs sing Wagner. Elmer is pretty funny, but Bugs is my cartoon hero. He’s brash, witty, unpredictable, a wisecracking carrot-eating trickster — and oh, yeah, he’s Jewish.
Third time: thank you, goddess and Chuck Jones, for the gift of levity.
Then the good news about my dear friend’s surgery.
Feeling so much appreciation for my offspring, my sistren and my brethren, for the ability to process and learn, to dive for a fish and come back up with one in my hands. Today, it’s all good.
This study represents one of the first successful attempts to directly measure an energy exchange between people, and provides a solid, testable theory to explain the observed effects of many healing modalities that are based upon the assumption that an energy exchange takes place.
Researchers found that the exchange is strongest through touch, but that there is still an energy exchange that occurs from proximity.
I’m not sure who is still doubtful about this, except that Western medicine seems to want scientific proof. Here it is.
This finding applies to the healing modalities that include touch and proximity (all forms of massage, Reiki, faith healing, and deeksha come to mind, and also psychotherapy and being in the presence of spiritual teachers).
I beg you, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language.
Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now.
Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer. ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
I have a friend who just had a second surgery on his heart in two weeks. His heartbeat has not had a regular rhythm for some time now.
I’m searching the internet for a sound file or an iPhone application that is just simply the sound of a normal heartbeat. The longer the better, and if he can loop it to listen to all night with headphones as he sleeps, fantastic.
At a minimum, it will be soothing, because if you can imagine, heart surgery is a pretty nerve-wracking big deal, especially when the problems aren’t fixed the first time.
At best, listening to the sounds could entrain his heart into a normal rhythm, which he did experience briefly after the first surgery.
If you know of anything, please comment or email me. Thank you.
Meanwhile, remember that besides the brain in your head (headquarters for the nervous system that runs throughout your entire body), you also have two other centers of intelligence: your heart and your gut.
I believe Rilke is onto something about the intelligence of the heart.
I have learned to sit with the questions in my heart and let them transform me, and I am a much better, broader, deeper person for it. I get perspective on my own fear-driven behaviors. I get insight into the behaviors and possible motivations of others.
I don’t know that I have answers. Perhaps the only answer is to be willing to sit with the feelings that are unresolved and allow them to change, not forcing or judging, just allowing and noticing.
It does seem to me that gradually healing occurs. Gradually forgiveness comes. Gradually lightness replaces heaviness. Gradually clarity replaces confusion. Gradually …
If you’re at all familiar with this blog, I bet you think I’m going to say meditation. Guess what? Ha ha, I’m not!
It’s way simpler than that:
Whenever you’re doing something that does not require use of your hands, turn them so that they’re palm-side up (see the picture above). You also can do it while standing or walking, leaving your arms down at your sides and turning your palms so that they face outward in the direction you’re facing.
This palms-up position may be familiar to committed meditators and yogis who practice shavasana, but it’s foreign to those of us who spend a lot of time at a computer, behind the wheel of a car, holding babies, making lattes, or doing pretty much anything else that requires constant hand use. Even when we’re not using our hands, it’s just habit to sit, walk or stand with our hands facing down or behind us.
Wait for it — there’s a meridian connection:
In acupuncture, the meridians that run along the inside of the arm, from the chest/underarm to the palm, are Heart, Pericardium and Lung….
Here is just a smattering of the functions each meridian is involved in (there are many more):
Heart: breathing, cardiac function, sleep, emotional balance and heat regulation.
Pericardium: breathing, blood circulation and upper digestive function.
Lung: breathing, immune function, perspiration, body temperature and urination.
…our lifestyles force our hands and arms into an almost constant downward/backward position, creating a tendency to slouch forward. This causes us to cave our upper bodies inward, crunching the Heart, Pericardium and Lung meridians.
Allowing these meridians to flow more freely optimizes their ability to perform their respective functions.
These three meridians are all yin meridians, flowing from the torso to the fingertips.
This is a mudra (energetic gesture in Hinduism and Buddhism). The palms-up mudra, you might have guessed, has to do with receiving energy from spirit or the universe, with allowing. It has to do with being open and surrendering yourself to the Mystery.
Try it when you think about it. Let one or both palms rest facing up, or outward if you’re on your feet. Notice the subtle but significant changes in posture.
Neurophysicists have been astonished to discover that the Heart is more an organ of intelligence, than (merely) the bodies’ main pumping station. More than half of the Heart is actually composed of neurons of the very same nature as those that make up the cerebral system. Joseph Chilton-Pearce, author of The Biology of Transcendence, calls it “the major biological apparatus within us and the seat of our greatest intelligence.”
The article states that the heart’s electromagnetic field is the strongest in the body. An EEG designed to read brain waves can read the heart’s frequency spectrum from three feet away, without electrodes!
I was really fascinated by this image of the shape of the heart’s energy field:
The Heart’s electromagnetic frequency arcs out from the Heart and back in the form of a torus field. The axis of this Heart torus extends from the pelvic floor to the top of the skull, and the whole field is holographic, meaning that information about it can be read from each and every point in the torus.
I love learning about the heart’s energy field. The heart chakra is central among the seven chakras — three chakras above and three below. It includes the arms.
The human energy field has often been described as oval or egg-shaped — is it really the heart’s energy field? And while some descriptions have that egg-shaped field extending below the feet, at least one that I know of (Castaneda) describes it as encompassing the body from the pelvis up, excluding the legs.
(My biggest wish for a Kindle or Nook is to be able to search the Castaneda books electronically for references I remember reading and compile some of the body wisdom contained in them. Here’s a passage on this topic I found on the web.)
The spine and spinal cord of Western anatomy/sushumna nadi in yoga/conception vessel and governing vessel in TCM extend from the pelvic floor to the top of the skull.
I love it when the ancient traditions and science come together.
More on the holographic aspect:
The Hearts’ torus electromagnetic field is not the only source that emits this type of electromagnetic field. Every atom emits the same torus field. The Earth is also at the center of a torus, so is the solar system and even our galaxy…and all are holographic. Scientists believe there is a good possibility that there is only one universal torus encompassing an infinite number of interacting, holographic tori within its spectrum. Because electromagnetic torus fields are holographic, it is more than likely that the sum total of our Universe is present within the frequency spectrum of a single torus.
This means that each one of us is connected to the entire Universe and as such, can access all the information within it at any given moment. When we get quiet and access what we hold in our Hearts, we are literally connecting to the limitless supply and Wisdom of the Universe, thereby enabling what we perceive as “miracles” to enter into our lives.
What does that do to your mental map of who you really are?
Here are some awesome tricks you can use to relieve nasal congestion, hear better, cure an ice cream headache, make a minor burn not blister, cure a side stitch when running, stop a nosebleed, and more.
Here’s how to get your heart rate back to normal after an experience of heart-pounding:
Trying to quell first-date jitters? Blow on your thumb. The vagus nerve, which governs heart rate, can be controlled through breathing, says Ben Abo, an emergency medical-services specialist at the University of Pittsburgh. It’ll get your heart rate back to normal.
Yesterday I got certified in CPR and first aid as part of my training to become a massage therapist.
I’ve been certified several times in the past. It’s gotten simpler as doctors learned more about what really works and refined the curriculum. It’s pretty damn simple now.
These days, the real value of CPR is to keep someone’s heart going until you can use a defibrillator on them. About 70% of the time, an AED saves a life.
There’s a free smart phone app called “handsonlycpr” that you can install. Even if you’re not trained in CPR, if you see someone collapse, and they’re not responsive and not breathing, this little app will help you dial 911, and then it will show you where to push and tell you how often with a beep.
If you’re giving CPR and aren’t sure how fast to push, here’s all you need to keep the rhythm. May this song get stuck in your head at exactly the right time!