J2P: Moving toward a loving heart

I know, long time since you’ve seen a Journey 2 Peace post.  Peace, love and compassion have been on my mind lately — or always? — and I’m finally seeing more essays in which people are calling for the power of love as the force we need to change, so I felt moved to return to J2P.

To me there are two parts to creating a peaceful, loving heart:

  1. clear away any negatives, lower energies, issues from your being
  2. fill yourself with love, raise your energy vibration

I’ve been working at both the clearing and the filling/raising for years.  Recently I’ve been a bit more interested in the second part than the first, but last year after being introduced to Steve Nobel’s meditations, I fell in love and in part because they address both.

For nearly a year now I’ve been trying out various of his meditations, repeating some numerous times and always intrigued to try another new one.  One of the things I really love about them is that virtually every one starts with some amount of clearing old energies.  Some spend quite a bit of the meditation just on clearing.  Some clear first and then work on raising energy or filling with love, etc.  Some mainly balance chakras but do some negativity and lower energy clearing as part of working on each one.

All of them leave me feeling energized and elevated.  Some of them rock me for days as the clearing and filling work their way through.

The latest one I’ve fallen in love with is The Archangel Chamuel Transmission:  Becoming a Lighthouse of Love and Healing Light.  Everything I aim for all in one meditation.

 

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The right stuff finding me

Throughout my journey I’ve been kind of up and down about how well I pick up on my inner voice — and whether I listen to it when I do hear it…  In a couple of arenas though, I consistently both hear and receive/act on the messages:  which alternative health therapies, therapists, supplements, etc. are the next best step for me and which spiritual teachers, classes, etc. are for me.

In the last couple of months I’ve had several alternative medicines tap me on the shoulder and trying them has been life changing.  Several people over the years have expressed interest in hearing more about some of the alternative health paths I’ve explored, so I thought I would share these latest additions.

Catnip Tincture

First, my friend Hanna started touting catnip tincture and gave me a sample from a recipe made by a friend.  She offered it for sleep and, while it does ultimately help me with sleep, nothing is enough to overcome the muscles in my face yanking.  But I quickly noted how very calm and peaceful I felt and then that I slept a bit longer and more deeply once the yanking stopped.

I googled and found recipes and made a batch of my own.  Initially I just used it once or twice a week, especially if I faced a busy day and wanted to be more sure of getting some rest.  But lately I’ve been taking some every night and have had more sleep in a week or 10 days than I’ve normally had in more like a month.

Nasaya Oil

Facebook has figured out that I’m interested in alternative remedies, so sometimes I see something there that’s new to me.  Most of the time I shrug and move on, but once in a while something grabs me in that “knowing” sense so I do some research and nasaya oil was one of them.

This winter I had an unusual run of allergy issues and just as I was wondering what alternative thing I could try — besides the nasal cup I already use daily — nasaya oil popped up.  It’s an ayurvedic formula of essential oils and you just put a drop on your finger and rub it around a bit in your nostrils.

Not only did it clear my unusual sinus/allergy problems in winter, but now that we’re in the spring pollen season which is often miserable for me, I’m having no problems at all.  Not even on the days when the pollen count is super high.  If I start to itch, I can rub a drop around and in minutes, problem solved.

It’s so effective I have a tendency to forget to use it every day and the impact even lasts pretty well through several days of spacing it out.  And as soon as any symptoms arrive and remind me to use it, one drop erases the symptoms.

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha appeared on Facebook one day, felt drawn to it, and immediately set off to read about it.  There’s a nice piece on Chopra’s site and also a good explanation here.  I was excited by what I read.  While most customer reviews rave about its stress-relieving effects, it was the thyroid and adrenal benefits that roused my interest, along with its boost for weak immune system, and antiinflammatory impacts for my mom’s arthritis.

Last year the muscles around my thyroid loosened enough for me to spontaneously lose quite a bit of weight as my thyroid began to function again.  I still have some symptoms of low thyroid but I figured with the looser muscles there’d be a chance a supplement would help.

My various acupuncturists used to treat me often for weak adrenals and sometimes their needles and/or herbs gave a boost but once I found out the real problem was muscles squeezing all my glands and organs, I understood why none of it ever lasted.

Recently the muscles squeezing my kidneys and adrenals have finally loosened a bit.  Seemed like a perfect moment to see if ashwagandha’s adrenal benefits could give me a boost.  After a bunch of research on the “best” ones, I chose Nutraherbal Organic Ashwagandha with Black Pepper Extract.

After looking at lots of them I realized they come in many different numbers of mg and with wildly differing suggested daily doses (mg wise).  I picked this one not only because it made several “best” lists but it’s also one of the highest dosages.  I started off trying just one of the two suggested daily capsules and it has turned out to be plenty for me — in fact two seems like too much, moving me from energized to feeling a little hyper.

Many sources told me it could take a month or two to decide whether it helped, but I felt energized an hour after taking the first one.  Since then I have been building more energy during the day, going to sleep earlier at night (that one still needs a lot of adjusting but any change helps!), staying asleep for more hours (helped along by the catnip tincture).

Back when I was getting regular acupuncture (and the chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia were FAR worse), I’d get a boost from each treatment  or new herb try that would give me a few days of pretty good energy.  Since stopping acupuncture in favor of body work for the muscles, I have rarely had any of those “energy” days.  And once the unwinding started interfering with sleep, almost no days of feeling energetic.

As the muscle stuff has gotten better, I’ve been working a bit at re-building stamina and have been pleased with small increments of improvement, but most of the time I’ve just felt exhausted.  I’ve been taking Ashwagandha for about six weeks now and energy has been slowly building.

I’m regularly staying a bit busier during the day than I’d been able to be for years, which has been helping the stamina building process.  I haven’t felt this good in decades — and to be honest the last time I had this long a sustained period of feeling energetic, it was mostly thanks to caffeine and nicotine– combined with being completely neurotic and anxiety ridden– pumping me up.

Ashwagandha so far has exceeded my expectations, bearing out once again how well my instincts operate for this kind of thing.  I’ve been waiting for years for all the alternative treatments and therapies to finally bring me some energy back.

Without all that came before, I doubt the Ashwagandha would be having this dramatic impact, so I don’t credit it alone, but wow, how perfect a tap from the Universe this was.

 

Meditation can plumb or cover the depths

A conversation yesterday reminded me of a teaching offered during my Fisher Hoffman process that has been key for me along this journey since I first heard it 25+ years ago.  Ellen, our facilitator, told us practices like meditation or pranayama can wind up adding another layer of obfuscation instead of taking us deeper, depending on how we approach it.

She used a chart about the diamond heart, culled from A. H. Almaas*.  It’s a simple set up, showing a diamond at the center with a series of circles around it.  The diamond represents our true essence.  The first circle represents the “bad” ideas we got about ourselves and who we are at an early age based on the criticisms and teachings that took us away from essence.  It surrounds the diamond heart and covers it.

The next circle is the set of behaviors we adopt to keep other people from seeing the unpleasant things we believe about ourselves in the circle beneath.  Once you’re living with those two circles of mask covering badness, the only way to get back to your true self is to go through those two circles, to penetrate the mask and the illusions about being wrong or unworthy, etc.

Meditation and pranayama, in quieting your mind and helping you zero in on the truth, have the possibility of opening pathways to help you get to the center.  But they can also be used to create a layer of calm and serenity that pointedly ignores the troubles lying beneath the mask and then you just have a third circle keeping you even more separated from your essence.

I’ve known a lot of people who’ve gotten into any one of several ancient traditions with its own form of meditation who managed to meditate for years without ever resolving an issue or penetrating the circles.  Insight Meditation is one example I’ve encountered.  The initial teachings are just basic mindfulness meditation practices.  There are other practices if people advance through the teachings where there’s a lot more work about identifying thought patterns and beliefs and letting them go.

But many people find such relief in the serenity and calm from just doing basic mindfulness practice that they become addicted to meditating in order to create the facade of calm that keeps them from looking at anything roiling beneath.  Ellen called it “narcotizing” (among a long list of ways in which she thought we all tend to narcotize).  I’ve known a number of long-time devotees of vipassana and other forms of meditation who have clearly been using meditation to hide more than to illuminate.

I immediately recognized I’d been doing just that.  I was in a bad situation at the time and I kept meditating and doing pranayama to calm down the angst I felt.  It’s not that it was bad to do it — once I understood the process, those practices helped me to calmly figure out what to do and to have a fairly peaceful confrontation.  But until I saw what was happening, the practices just helped me to bury the hurt and anger I felt.  The problem is even trickier when it’s repressed memories you’re keeping buried.

Ever since then I’ve periodically realized I have to check in about this.  I still practice yoga, meditation and pranayama enough to stay in a pretty peaceful place.  Once in a while I check in and see I have stronger feelings about something than I’m letting myself feel because the practices keep smoothing everything over.  Again, once I’m aware, the practices are a help in figuring out the best path toward resolving the feelings.  But if I don’t check in, it’s easy for me to use them to keep from feeling; burying things and keeping a rigid front in order to be sure they remain buried is a major trait for me.

I see Americans in general as being inclined to hiding from looking deep within, so it’s an issue for most spiritual seekers in this country (maybe all of Western civilization?).  Just be aware as you create all the peace and calm with meditation, etc.:  are you letting them open you or using them to hide from your truth?

*Either culled or they learned the idea at the same time — both learned Fisher Hoffman and other teachings in classes/workshops they attended with Claudio Naranjo in the 70’s.  Ellen died some years ago so my source for the origins is gone.

In Comparison, an Easy Phase

So, this is kind of how I’ve been feeling for a while. And confirms info I get when I check in with guidance… And partly why I haven’t been blogging much…

Welcome to Brenda's Blog

Life Tapestry Creations - Blog Banner LTCLife Tapestry Creations - Brenda Black PhotoChanneled by Brenda Hoffman for http://www.LifeTapestryCreations.com

Summary of Brenda’s April 20, 2018, channeled 15-minute “Creation Energies” show at BlogTalkRadio.com/brenda-hoffman:  You’re transitioning from participant observer to parental observer. Imagine your child fighting about a pail with another child in a sandbox even though two pails are available. You, the parent, see the silliness of the children’s actions for neither child is enjoying the sandbox. So it is for you now as you observe those who wish to remain in the dark a bit longer. 

“Fairy Godmothers/fathers” is the title of last week’s “Brenda’s Blog” – her weekly channeled blog for LifeTapestryCreations.com.

Brenda’s “Creation Energies” show and “Brenda’s Blog” contain different channeled information.

Dear Ones,

Perhaps you feel you are so deeply in a void you will never experience true earth joy again. For many of you have reached a stage of no longer fully participating in earth activities and not…

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Women and humans and all

In recent months I’ve read a lot of articles about White Privilege, schooling me in the many ways I automatically am privileged because of the color of my skin.  I kind of knew that, but it has been chilling to read whole collections detailing the experience of being a person of color in America.

One thing I kept noticing, though. in articles by women:  some of the incidents they described left me frowning and thinking, “that happens to me too.  It didn’t happen because you’re Black, it happened because you’re a woman.”  Which is not to say they didn’t also describe plenty of examples stemming entirely from racism, but something really struck me about the way issues that might really be about gender seemed to be categorized as issues of race.

While white men remain at the top of the heap in terms of privilege and white women fare better than women of color, when it comes to gender rather than race, men of every color seem to do better on pay scales and advancement than women of any color (it’s a little hard to calculate because most studies break it down by the women’s races but not, say, white women compared to black men).  Pondering that, I began wondering how much more power the women’s movement would have if ALL women banded together to demand gender equality as the biggest issue they endorse.

This brought me back to one of the notions I’ve pondered for years, relating to how splintered the movements for rights in general are.  From women to LGBT to Blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, etc. the quest for rights is divided up into pockets of people agitating for the same rights but for specific groups.  And I keep thinking, “what if we all joined together to be FOR human rights?”

How much power could we wield, how much change could we bring if all these groups who seek justice and equality joined together and sought them for all?  Just thinkin’….  and wonderin’… and dreamin’

Practices and Changes

Some years ago I wrote about how much I loved practicing the 8 Key Breaths, the Five Tibetan Rites and Flying Crane Chi Gung.  I’d turned to those three for their combined impacts on opening energy flow, building energy and balancing energy.

After faithfully practicing for 5 or 6 years, I started slowly moving into doing kundalini yoga more and always sliding in some sets of my flowing body work.  I’ve never dropped the energy practices, but I’ve rarely done all three.  I’m probably most faithful about the 8 Key Breaths, which I have loved since I first learned them in 1990, with the 5 Rites landing in second place.

Tuesday I felt really drawn to do the three for the first time in ages.  Not only did it feel amazing, but because of the opening unfolding in my body, I could feel energy moving through places I’ve not felt it before. And the fullness and flow of energy in the hara, or sea of chi,… wow… amazing.  It’s been one of the most thrilling things about the slow healing of the many issues in my muscles:  revisiting practices after time gaps and feeling the energy of it.

While I’ve always felt energy build in that area during tai chi or qigong practice, I’ve also been aware the energy wasn’t as full as it should be, nor did flow through the whole area.  So the sense of the bigness of the energy and how well it flowed through both second (where hara is located) and third chakras was a big eye-opener for how much progress my muscles have made.

Much of the super tight core in my face that’s unwinding now is connected into patterns going all the way down my body, so each time a knot or two opens, I feel impacts all the way down.  This was the most intense moment of realizing what this opening means for the flow of energy.  Wow.

Women’s Issues: How We Treat Each Other

In my last post, I talked about women and the “right to be sexy”. The sexy issue ties in with the issue I think looms largest for us, which is the degree to which women are so immersed in the patriarchal culture–and the “romance” fantasy that serves it so well–we don’t treat one another as equal to men.   If we women don’t see one another or ourselves as equals, how can we expect men to?

When we favor men over women

The realm of dating/romance is where I see this problem most clearly.  Since my college days I’ve scratched my head over the norm in which most women will dump a plan with a woman to go on a date with a man in a blink.  There’s no hesitation, the dump is generally conducted with the unspoken assumption doing something with a man always trumps any plan a “girl” has with anyone female.  With a wink and a “you understand” both women collude in placing any time with a man in a category of “above” or “better than” any time spent with a woman.

Doesn’t matter if the woman has been your stalwart friend for years, held your hair while you puked, shared your secrets, stood up for you against the guy who broke your heart, if some man you barely know asks you on a date for the same night as your plan for dinner and a movie with a woman friend, you dump the woman — wink, wink because we all understand the man is better.  Any man, no matter how little known or how bad he may turn out to be is just more important.

I can’t quite decide whether I feel more disturbed by the women who dump their women friends so readily or by the friends who accept it as natural and right to be dumped any time there’s a chance to do anything with a man. (I will admit I never demurred–knowing it was a losing battle–but the women who did it to me got put at arm’s length and went way down my list of trusted people…; I don’t take kindly to be treated as less valuable than a man)

I told many men, back in the years when I was serial dating, that I had a plan on the night he asked about, could we choose another night.  Never once did a guy say no to a different day.  So I got to enjoy the plans with my girlfriends and then enjoy the date.  No good reason to discard the girls’ night in favor of the man.  Except maybe you don’t think women are as worthy of your time.

I know few women who would say this out loud or even admit they feel that way.  The behavior says otherwise.  I’ve known strong, independent women with impressive jobs who would flake out on a plan with me in a heartbeat if any man whatsoever asked them out on a date.  I’ve known women with amazing resumes who’ve turned on me snarling at the suggestion that women shouldn’t treat one another that way.  “Stop being childish” or “you’re just being naive”.

I’ve never said I think shifting that mentality would be easy.  The fairy-tale-happy-ending fantasy has become a deeply rooted delusion of our culture.  Issues about men and women and romance are usually complexly tied to unresolved issues about Mom and Dad, so generally get into the heart of our deepest wounds and issues in the world.  Add in the deep cultural undercurrents about men being stronger, smarter, faster, more capable, better at leadership, etc. and you have a formula for women putting men and romantic relationships with them before all else, in many cases unaware of the degree to which they’re doing it.

Nor am I saying you need to hate men or eschew marriage.  I’m not sure why so many women put this extreme interpretation on any efforts to get them to shift their behavior and offer more esteem to women, but I think there’s a middle ground.  You can love a man — hopefully one who admires and respects you and treats you as his equal — and still love the women you know and give both types of relationship equal weight.

I make no claim about how we shift all these intertwining issues.  Or that it will be easy.  But as long as women are treating one another as second class citizens and refuse to even acknowledge it’s what they’re doing or the fact it’s a problem we need to address, I don’t see how we imagine men will ever treat us as equals.  We have to feel like equals and treat one another that way first.

When we don’t see our own worth

I’ve also been looking around at studies on the pay gap and the low numbers of women in upper level positions of business and government.  I was interested but not surprised to see besides gender discrimination, many bosses report women are less likely to demand a raise or promotion and studies found women are also far more reticent about putting themselves forward.  (Probably not helped by the general male attitude that any woman who does push for advancement is a bitch…)

In a society where women are raised as less than, often told their main jobs are cleaning and child rearing, so many of us lack the kind of confidence and self-esteem most men take for granted.  Most of us are so entangled in the world view of a society that values men over women it is hard for us to feel confident and worthy.

Some inner searching and working on raising our sense of worthiness are so important if we want to break out of our web of male privilege and achieve real equality.

When we stand together

Our best hope, I think, of stepping outside the patriarchy and insisting upon equality is to support one another.  To help one another heal the issues keeping us in thrall of romance, the issues of low self-worth and confidence, the habit of valuing men over one another, etc.  Together we heal.  Standing together we are a force.