Tuesday, January 6, 2009


The holidays threw me out of balance. The crescendo of activity, including intensive work in my massage class, a two-week visit from my parents, a couple of short trips, and the usual holiday celebrations decimated my spiritual practice. I meditated less, and was more distracted when I did. I went from writing every day to no writing at all. I stopped going to the gym. Contemplation turned to compulsive thinking.

All of this has shown me how easily I can be drawn away from taking care of myself in all respects - physically, mentally, and spiritually. Yet what happened yesterday or last week or last month is immaterial at this point. I feel imbalanced right now, and therefore I need to focus on bringing balance back into my life. The beauty of January is its quality of restoring calm and order to lives frenzied by holiday chaos. It can be melancholy, but it can also be comforting.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Vibrational Healing Massage Therapy

Yesterday I started a program of study in a healing massage modality called Vibrational Healing Massage Therapy (VHMT). It is taught exclusively at the World School of Massage in San Francisco. I have no massage experience, but I am fascinated with working with the body's energies for balancing and healing.

On our first day, we began to learn about the principles of VHMT. Fundamentally, the technique is working with energy flow in the body. VHMT is based on a model which views the body as completely fluid, and so a critical aspect of VHMT is moving energy through the body in a fluid way, as well as helping the practitioner and the receiver become conscious of their bodies as fluid mechanisms. To this end, in class we learned about a particular pattern of energy which flows through the body, and we practiced moving this energy through each other.

In our first exercise, we worked with another student to simply feel their energy flow without actually touching them. I was surprised and delighted that both my partner and I picked up significant information about each other from this exercise alone. In the second exercise, we practiced moving the energy again, but this time by hands-on work on joint segments. For example, we held one hand on the receiver's ankle and the other on their knee. This process continues on joints throughout the body. It sounds mild, but it is surprisingly relaxing and effective.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Way of the Shaman

I just finished reading The Way of the Shaman by Michael Harner. I am already quite familiar with shamanism, mostly from a local shamanic group I was a part of for five years. I've also read all of Carlos Castaneda's books, as well as those of his cohorts, and a number of other books on the subject. I read this book in preparation for a new shamanic circle I was thinking of joining, because the woman who leads the group recommended that I do so.

I had seen this book in bookstores, but it never really appealed to me. It seemed a bit dry and intellectual. In fact it is almost thirty years old, and it is somewhat dated (especially the illustrations). However, I was pleasantly surprised at how engaging and informative it is. The book is not an entertaining read like Castaneda's, but this is because it is much more grounded in reality (rather than drama) and is based upon actual shamanic tradition from several cultures. It is a great basic introduction to shamanism, which is why it is considered a classic, yet there is enough material in it to make it an interesting read for those who have mostly read about or experienced today's largely "New Age" version of shamanism (for example, Alberto Villoldo's books and programs). So although I didn't love the book, I found it engaged my interest and I enjoyed learning some new perspectives on shamanism based on various global cultures.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Your Problem is Already Solved

As I've written in previous posts, I'm a huge Caroline Myss fan. Lately I've been listening to podcasts of her archived radio shows from Hay House Radio, and they are magnificent. This woman is so incredibly wise, insightful, and brilliant. One of the things I've learned from listening to her is a method she recommends for dealing with any frightening or stressful situation, including illness. Her advice is to see the situation as already healed by God. She emphasizes the importance of accepting that everything is as it should be, even if we can not understand why. Accept that, and then view the issue as already healed.

This can be a difficult exercise to perform, especially because our rational mind makes us believe that we must try to figure out why things are the way they are, and that we need to remain frightened until the situation is resolved. Yet the power of surrendering to God is enormous, and it is not a rational process. Our rational minds are certainly important and useful in our everyday affairs, but we are mistaken if we believe that the rational mind is useful for every situation - especially a spiritual crisis. A spiritual crisis calls for a different approach, a spiritual solution rather than a rational one. Try it for yourself - see your problem as already healed, and have faith that it is.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Road

Last week I finished reading Cormac McCarthy's novel The Road. When I bought the book at my local bookstore, the clerk got very excited and told me the book was "brutal" but excellent. I agree with the brutal part, but I had mixed feelings about the excellence of the book.

Without doubt, this book is Fine Literature. It is creative, moving, and rich with symbolism. Yet I did not have a feeling of overwhelming admiration for it. The story was not exactly inspirational, and in some ways it felt manipulative to me. The extreme post-armageddon setting and the tender father-son relationship at the center of the story feel too easy to me, too much in service to the Big Themes the book ultimately conveys. Although I can understand why the book is so highly praised, I frankly would only recommend it to bookworms and English majors. I have nothing against "parables" or stories heavy with symbolism, but I prefer novels that are also rich and entertaining on the simple level of story and character.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Power Loss

I just watched a DVD of Caroline Myss from about 10 years ago, with a dual program of lectures called "Why People Don't Heal" and "Three Levels of Power." In these lectures, she was talking about how we lose or give away our power, and the impact this has on our health. I was so impressed by this discussion, because I have never thought about the ways in which I give away my own power.

For about five years I worked for a woman who was a terror. She was manipulative, harsh, and overbearing. She was also very good at her job and very smart, but at the same time she was petty and vengeful. When I watched these lectures by Caroline yesterday, I realized how much of my power I gave to my boss back then. I was scared of her. I was afraid of her wrath, and her spiteful behavior. I did everything I could to appease her and keep her happy, but I did that out of fear. I worked for her for so long because I was afraid that if I asked to be transferred to another department, she would sabotage me as vengeance for leaving her department.

I eventually quit my job, primarily to get away from this woman. I got myself to the point where I would rather leave the company entirely than ask for a transfer out of her department - that's how afraid of her I was. I've never had a boss like that before or since then. When I thought about how much power I gave to this woman, I was shocked at my capacity to compromise myself out of fear.

To whom do you give away your power? Who or what are you afraid of? Do you make decisions based on what other people will think of you? Why? It is important to contemplate these questions, because sooner or later your health will be compromised if you continue to lose power to other people and things.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sacred Contracts - My Natal Chart

After this post, I will move on to other subjects. But to end this particular series of posts on Sacred Contracts, I will list the archetypes in my natal chart, and the houses they are in:

1. Saboteur
2. Magical Child
3. Seeker
4. Dilettante
5. Mediator
6. Healer
7. Warrior
8. Victim
9. Prostitute
10. Lover
11. Hermit
12. Writer

Each house is associated with the same themes as the astrological houses. So, for example, the seventh house is associated with relationships. This is where my Warrior archetype landed. At first this bothered me, then it greatly intrigued me. I needed to consider how this Warrior energy plays out in my relationships, and I needed to look beyond the first association that came to mind: "Love is a Battlefield"!

There has certainly been plenty of that in my relationships, but there is more to all of the archetypes than the literal meanings. They are, by definition, symbols, and need to be understood symbolically (although a certain amount of obvious literal energy does manifest). In this case, the Warrior is the archetype in my chart with the most "male" energy. That is certainly welcome in my relationship house. The Warrior requires me to fulfill the active principle in my relationships, meaning that I frequently must be the initiator in my relationship dynamics. Also, the Warrior is committed to his cause and has a huge amount of loyalty. Perfect for a committed partnership!

These are just some of the meanings I can read into this configuration, and there are eleven other archetype-house energies to integrate in the same way. Furthermore, as in astrology, the energy in each of the houses interacts with the energy in other houses. I am awed by the enormity of the Sacred Contracts natal chart, and the huge themes it highlights in each persons life.