health

Diving Into the Shadows

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I have had the pleasure and privilege of spending the last several days in Maine on my favorite lake enjoying the sun and nature. Last night, it began to rain so my daughter and I decided to watch a movie. After scanning the selections and reviews on her computer, she suggested we watch “The Florida Project,” a 2017 slice of life drama which, according to IMDb TV, follows a “precocious six-year-old Moonee as she courts mischief and adventure with her ragtag playmates and bonds with her rebellious but caring mother, all while living in the shadows of Walt Disney World.” 

Childhood. Adventure. Disney World. Sounds endearing, right? 

Not exactly.

I did not like the film at first. I kept waiting for the plot to unfold or an inspirational moment, but neither surfaced. Instead, I felt a mounting anxiety combined with sadness and despair as the reality of life in a poverty stricken hotel-turned-residence community exposed all the things that make me uncomfortable: poverty, lying, foul language, cheating, stealing, hustling, betrayal, fighting, child abuse, pedophilia, drug use, prostitution. 

The movie was shown through the eyes of a child who had friends, freedom, food, community and a caring mother, all of which made it more palatable. However, the stark contrast of the lives profiled to those of the privileged thousands visiting nearby Disney World, made me stop and think.

The movie did an outstanding job of portraying the reality of the situation, but I wasn’t happy with the way it left me feeling. Something was tugging at me to look deeper. 

It wasn’t until morning that I realized the importance of what I was experiencing. It became clear that the issues in the movie that made me uncomfortable were the ones I needed to examine more closely. Maybe it was time to look at what it means to lead a privileged life. Had I been turning a blind eye to the realities of those less fortunate?

With all of the recent unrest and attention pointing towards inequality and racism, my viewing of this movie was particularly timely. It became evident that the cinematic story I witnessed was one I had chosen to overlook, just as many instances of injustice get somehow justified through the selective stories we tell ourselves and the parts of our psyche we choose to keep hidden. 

I have recently been working on my own personal growth and have also started “The Life Purpose Project,” a series of one on one sessions to help people reach their life’s purpose through discussion, dream interpretation, tarot, and flower essence therapy. 

I am a believer in the power of positive thinking and healing through love. However, I have been finding that in order to truly heal and make significant progress forward, we need to look at something called our “shadow self”. 

According to an article in highexistence.com, “the shadow is a concept first coined by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung that describes those aspects of our personality that we choose to reject and repress. For one reason or another, we all have parts of ourselves that we don’t like–so we push those parts down into our unconscious psyches. It is this collection of repressed aspects of our identity that Jung referred to as our shadow.”

Full Article:  https://highexistence.com/carl-jung-shadow-guide-unconscious/

Some examples of repressed shadow tendencies include  “aggressive impulses, taboo mental images, shameful experiences, immoral urges, fears, irrational wishes, unacceptable sexual desires.” 

Our shadow self develops as a result of societal expectations that tell as we are a “bad” person if we have certain thoughts and behaviors. We want to fit in and be accepted, so we deny and hide these impulses and pretend they do not exist as parts of ourselves. On top of that, if left unchecked, these qualities feed into a larger collective societal shadow which can multiply and become more systemic, resulting in a world that tolerates prejudice, racism, abuse, and inequity.

Jung believes that these innate qualities are present in all of us and the only way to effectively deal with them is to recognize, accept, and find ways to constructively manage their presence within our lives. 

I have been using dream interpretation and the Tarot to help uncover the shadow within myself and my Life Purpose Project participants. Both methods point out areas of the subconscious that ultimately want to be seen and accepted before allowing us to move forward on our spiritual path. Meditation and identifying psychological triggers can also help shed some light.

One thing “The Florida Project” made clear was that when we look at these shadow qualities, whether within ourselves or society as a whole, the feeling can be extremely uncomfortable. It can bring us to places and uncover a world that is unnerving and painful. 

The idea is not to run and deny, but to look directly into the areas of darkness. When we do this, “fear becomes an opportunity for courage. Pain is a catalyst for strength and resilience. Aggression is transmuted into warrior-like passion. This wisdom informs our actions, our decisions, and our interactions with others..” (highexistence.com).

If we seek to accept the shadows as part of who we are, if we allow them to come forward without condemnation, we may be able to heal not only ourselves but the world as a whole, and people like those featured in the “The Florida Project” may have a fighting chance.

The Power of Flower Essence

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I first got involved with flower essences about 15 years ago when I was studying energy healing for personal growth. My soul had been nagging me for years to take a deeper look, to make some changes, so that it could bloom in full. 

I tried a variety of modalities including yoga, Reiki, massage, craniosacral therapy, and nutrition and although they all helped to center my mind and calm my energy, they weren’t able to specifically address my deeper feelings. I realized there was an emotional component to whatever was holding me back and until I could temper it, I would never be able to fully heal and move forward.

The mentor with whom I was studying at the time recommended I try Essence Therapy.

I was quick to fall in love. I ordered a few bottles of the concentrated remedies from Alaskan Flower Essences (https://alaskanessences.com/) and began to experiment.  Their gentle healing energy flooded my senses in the most subtle ways and suddenly I would notice my perspective had changed or I was no longer feeling angry or sad about a particular situation. It was that easy. No talk therapy. No painful memories. No medication. No discomfort.

Many years have passed and I am once again revisiting the power of the flower essence. 

As I began to work on the Life Purpose Project (a business I started recently), I noticed that a lot of the obstacles that keep people from moving towards their fullest potential have an emotional component. I realized that even though I had developed tools for gaining insights and designing action steps, without the ability to remove the emotional roadblocks, we can only get so far. 

 

In my program of identifying and moving towards one’s life purpose, I encompass dream interpretation, tarot, collaborative discussion and planning, and lots of additional resources. I also encourage everyone to choose one or two flower essences to help them move along more quickly and easily. 

There are many excellent sources for essences including Alaskan Essences (https://alaskanessences.com/), Hawaiin Essences (https://www.janebellessences.com/), and the most widely known, Bach Flower Essences (https://www.bachremedies.com/). 

According to the Flower Essence Society, “flower essences are liquid extracts used to address profound issues of emotional well-being, soul development, and mind-body health. They are part of an emerging field of subtle energy medicine, which also includes homeopathy, acupuncture, color therapy, therapeutic touch and similar modalities.”

Essences are made by harvesting pristine wild flowers and garden blossoms and then capturing their unique energy imprint in distilled water as it is infused by the sun. The potentized herbal infusions or decoctions are then preserved in an alcohol base and further diluted before being distributed. They are administered by putting a few drops under the tongue a couple of times a day or by dropping the essence in a glass of water and sipping as needed.

Many people confuse Flower Essences and Essential Oils and although each complement the other, they are in fact very different.

According to the Flower Essence Society, “The most significant difference is that essential oils have definite aromas; flower essences do not. Essential oils work primarily through the sense of smell and its effect upon the old brain. They are highly concentrated chemical substances, many of which are quite poisonous taken internally.  Essential oils are produced from large quantities of plant material, the flowers, roots, seeds, or bark, depending on the location of the volatile oils in the plant. Steam-distillation is the most common extraction method. With flower essences, only the flowers are used and in a very small quantity. The vibrational imprint of the flower is extracted in water, which is then further diluted. Thus essential oils are a physical extract and flower essences are a subtle energy extract.”

For more information, visit  http://www.fesflowers.com/learn-about-flower-essences/what-are-flower-essences/

During the pandemic, I have experienced more anxiety than usual. I have found Bach’s Rescue Remedy to help curb the stressful feelings and keep me calm. I am also working with Bach’s Star of Bethlehem and Walnut.

I am an advocate of flower essences for many reasons, but perhaps the most powerful is their ability to balance our emotions and help us adjust to a healthier perspective through the gentle and subtle genius of nature. Sometimes life’s greatest healing gifts are right outside our door.

What the World Needs Now is Self Love

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As a woman, mother, wife, and healer, my tendency is to take care of those around me. I have always felt a responsibility for the happiness of my children, husband, friends, family members and clients (really, anyone significant in my life). Whenever things get difficult emotionally, I fall into action and begin the process of consoling, re-arranging, compromising, supporting, comforting, rescuing. I do whatever I can to assuage the anger, sadness and hurt, even when it means sacrificing my own needs. 

I have been under the assumption that by keeping everyone around me in a state of joy, I would secure my own well being. It’s taken me over 50 years. I’ve been through a divorce and experienced my children leave the nest, but I’m finally seeing that this is not at all the case.

I have realized that I had been shouldering the emotional baggage of my family for years and had grown tired and resentful. What’s more, the pain and discomfort always came back. In attempting to solve the problem, I was actually preventing my loved ones from learning and growing, and I was sabotaging my personal journey along the way. In trying to make everyone else happy, I was missing the point. 

Recently, I have been thinking about the concept of self love. What would it mean to treat myself as if I were worthy and loveable? What would it feel like to console and comfort my inner being with soothing words when I was upset? What if I spent time and energy rearranging my schedule so that I could do something that meant a lot to me? 

According to an article in Psychology Today by Deborah Khoshaba, (March 2012), “when we act in ways that expand self-love, we begin to better accept our weaknesses as well as our strengths, have less need to explain away our short-comings, have compassion for ourselves as human beings struggling to find personal meaning, are more centered in our life purpose and values, and expect living fulfillment through our own efforts.”

The steps Khoshaba prescribes are; be mindful, act on what you need, stay away from automatic patterns that get you into trouble, keep you stuck in the past, and lessen self love, practice good self-care, set boundaries, protect yourself by bringing the right people into your life, and live intentionally. 

Full article: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/get-hardy/201203/seven-step-prescription-self-love

The Law of Attraction.com also recommends that we practice the art of self love by having fun by yourself, travelling once a year on your own, forgiving your mistakes, starting a journal, taking a break, making a list of accomplishments, creating a vision board, pursuing new interests, challenging yourself, giving yourself credit where credit is due, and working on self trust.   Full article: https://www.thelawofattraction.com/love-yourself/

Learning to self love is a process. It takes time and consistent effort to nurture our own growth. It takes regular practice to change the negative internal dialogue, to let go of perfectionism, and to find the beauty in all that we are. It takes effort to change old habits and beliefs.

I have begun to pay attention to my own destructive patterns and negative self talk. I have realized that I am harder on myself than anyone else in my life.  I have noticed that when I am angry with something I’ve done and my self esteem is low, I take it out on others. I become angry quicker. I make hurtful comments. 

I am a better person when I am loving myself.

Sometimes I wonder what the world would be like if everyone practiced the art of loving themselves more.  Would there be as much hatred, anger, defensiveness, hostility, and aggression? Perhaps if we each loved ourselves more fully, there’d be less room for injustice, violence, abuse, and inequity. 

I wonder. 

If the hate that feeds on human weakness is replaced with love, it will have nowhere left to go. Once it loses our attention, its power will diminish, and the next time it comes knocking, we won’t even notice. We’ll all be too busy enjoying our own company.

The Life Purpose Project

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Even before the pandemic hit, I had been trying to discover my life’s purpose. Why am I here? What am I meant to do? I can remember (as far back as my teenage years) feeling that I was meant to do something important during my time here on earth.  I began to pursue different options in my 20s, but then, like many people, my focus turned to finding a partner and starting a family. I knew I wanted to have children. That was a certainty.

My family life was traditional. My husband worked long hours while I managed the house and our two girls. We were busy. Between gymnastics meets, crew regattas, music lessons, schoolwork, meal planning and home management, my time and energy were pretty tapped. I added a part time massage business when my younger daughter was 5 and this satisfied some of my yearning. However, I knew it wasn’t enough, and although I received immense joy from raising children, I felt there was something else waiting for me. 

I am now in my 50s. My girls are out in the world beginning their own lives and I have found myself staring into the future, knowing that the possibilities are endless, but also feeling myself frozen in old habits and uncertainty. Midlife is a challenging time of transition, loss, and redesign. Yet, it also offers a broad spectrum of possibilities and another chance to uncover the reasons why we are here. There is an entire new chapter of life waiting to be written. 

During the recent quarantine, I have had time to reflect on where I’ve been and where I want to go. With the world in enormous flux and a massive state of upheaval, discovering my soul’s path seems that much more urgent.

I have been thinking about a way to realize my life’s purpose while also helping others reach theirs. I have been studying and testing a number of modalities and approaches over the years and feel that now is the time to put them into a comprehensive package ready for implementation and action. 

I see myself as a Life Purpose Facilitator of sorts with the objective of helping individuals identify their life’s mission and then begin to remove blocks that prevent them from moving forward. 

I envision myself attracting those who have an inner gnawing and strong desire to uncover a hidden or under developed life purpose. This journey can begin at any age, though I see a particular need for middle aged men and women going through their “second birth.” 

A couple of weeks ago, I put together a program that I can carry out online through a weekly zoom meeting. I decided to offer it to 5-10 volunteers free of charge once a week for one month as a way to practice, revise, and refine the service. I sent out a letter to my past and present massage clients and the response was affirming.

I am now halfway through the month-long trial and it is going extremely well. I am offering a holistic, natural approach to soul purpose discovery combining tarot, energy healing (distance Reiki, chakra healing), dream interpretation, and flower essence therapy. These are all modalities I have studied over the years for personal growth and am now thrilled to be able to share them with others. It is encouraging to observe the insights and breakthroughs that are already beginning to happen with my clients.

The Life Purpose Project, as I am calling it, is the perfect convergence of many areas of interest and study. Everything about it feels right. I have a sturdy base of knowledge with much to learn (all of which is inspiring and intriguing), and although I’m not sure exactly where it will lead, I can tell that I am on the right path. What a surprising irony, that my own life purpose would be to help others find theirs.

What to Keep

LA SkylineAs the world struggles through the Covid-19 pandemic and begins its slow recovery, there seems to be a need to shed all that is no longer serving. In order to heal, we need to reflect on our current condition and define that which is harming us and that which makes us stronger. We need to let go of old practices and patterns that are holding us back and build upon the things that work.

I believe this to be the case with the Earth, with the global economy, and with each of us individually.

Ever since the human lockdown in mid March, the Earth has felt substantial relief. With an enormous decrease in the use of fossil fuels, the carbon footprint has been drastically reduced and as a result we have seen less pollution and a re-emergence of wildlife. 

Many believe that we are being offered a unique opportunity to use the reduced levels of CO2 output as a starting point and find ways to maintain this lower level in the coming years. However, many also fear that as we re-emerge into the world, it will be easy to fall back into our old habits without earnest intent and strict discipline.

The good news is that we have been given another chance. What remains to be seen is how we choose to move forward.

Economically speaking, there is an overwhelming need to re-evaluate as well. With many businesses being forced to shut down (albeit temporarily), consumers have explored alternative ways to satisfy their needs.  

We have cooked more of our meals or done takeout and curbside pickup.  We have turned towards alternative forms of exercise such as walking, biking and online workout classes. We are seeing the benefits of internet shopping as we enjoy the safety and convenience of having food and products delivered right to our doorsteps, and as additional people work effectively from home, we question the need for elaborate office space in expensive locations (or any office space for that matter).

Many of these new practices will permanently replace the old ways of doing business. We may see fewer restaurants, gyms, office buildings, and storefronts. We’ll see a difference in the way food is distributed and how we work. In an attempt to survive financially, we’ll rid ourselves of the practices that no longer work in favor of those that do.

On a personal level, I have been consumed with a similar thought process. My life and habits have changed drastically over the last few months and I’m realizing some of the new ways may be working better. I have found that coloring my hair once a month is easy, looks almost as good, and is much more time and cost effective. I have found that I can cook a meal just as well if not better than most restaurants at a fraction of the cost and that the scope and variety of workout options online may be all I need. I have realized that I don’t have to travel long distances to find adventure and outdoor activity, and I have seen the advantages of being able to work virtually.

The overall trend is towards scaling back, becoming more efficient, spending less, choosing quality over quantity, having a decreased impact on the environment, reducing meat intake, and adopting a healthier lifestyle (which values less as more). In other words, shedding what I don’t really need and building on the rest. 

As the world begins to re-open and we evaluate our new and old habits, I urge everyone to give careful consideration to what is working and what is not, for the earth, for our economy and for ourselves. I hold hope that we will let go of the habits and practices that are harmful and decide wisely what to keep.

A Night Without TV

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I have never been a big TV watcher. For as far back as I can remember, I could only take so much. I would have periods of binging or try out the most popular show, but the distraction never lasted long because ultimately, it didn’t make me feel good. 

Since the pandemic quarantine, however, things have changed. 

We have been watching TV nearly every night. With the scope, variety, and quality of shows offered by Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and HBO at our fingertips, there is never a shortage of options. That, coupled with the need to escape from the world right now, makes the temptation hard to resist. The increase of stress, uncertainty, change, and loss in our current lives leaves us seeking relief, and with those distractions involving socialization unavailable, what’s left?

For most of us, the ritual of evening TV watching does the trick. It pulls us away from our thoughts about work, family, finances, the future, and sucks us into a world of make believe. It entertains us. It numbs us. 

In the long run, however, it may be making things worse. 

According to the National Sleep Foundation, watching TV before bed can have a negative effect on the quality of your sleep. Not only do you tend to stay up later to find out what happens next but the increase in programming with high levels of violence, gore, or suspense “may leave you feeling anxious and contribute to tossing and turning.” On top of that, an even bigger problem is the light emitted from the screen which disrupts your body’s natural clock and inhibits its production of melatonin, throwing off your REM sleep and resulting in morning drowsiness.

Full Article: https://www.sleep.org/articles/is-it-bad-to-watch-tv-right-before-bed/

Binge watching (even during the day) can cause problems as well. According to Jenna Birch in an article in the Washington Post, How Binge Watching is Hazardous to Your Health  (June 3, 2019), “binge-watching can affect your cardiovascular system, your vision, your socialization and your sleep patterns which can lead to other problems.”

Full Article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/how-binge-watching-is-hazardous-to-your-health/2019/05/31/03b0d70a-8220-11e9-bce7-40b4105f7ca0_story.html

Last night, we decided to take a break. 

Instead of planning our night around a new Netflix show, we spent some time chatting while cooking a special dinner. We played our guitars, went for a walk, and got into bed early with a good book. My eyes were closed before 10 and I had the best sleep I’ve had in days. 

We are not planning to cut out TV altogether, but we do see the benefits of cutting back. With the high levels of gore, violence, and suspense in the real world right now, we don’t see a need to add more. Our vow is to look for activities that are calming, healing, and relationship building. 

It’s an idea worth considering.

Photo from NBC News https://www.nbcnews.com/better/lifestyle/back-basics-how-instituting-nightly-reading-ritual-has-become-my-ncna1071391

 

Using Color to Meditate and Heal

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I am almost one week into my daily meditation experiment and it is going well. At some point during the day (usually the morning), I set my timer, settle into a seated position with feet flat on the floor, and then drop into the moment as best I can. I usually begin by taking three deep breaths.

It is amazing how once we shift our focus to our breath, we come into the moment almost immediately. The trick is to stay there for the duration. 

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, there are many ways to approach meditation. We can use music, color, mantras, visualization, object focus, crystals, and essential oils to keep our focus and clear our heads. The idea is to train our minds to stay on one thing like a phrase, a scent, a sound, or a visual and keep the river of thoughts at bay. The better we get at quieting the mind, the easier it becomes to reduce stress, increase concentration, and open up to more truths and creative ideas.

Each time I have settled into my practice over the last week, my mind has migrated to the use of color. I remember a meditation practice I was implementing years ago in which I would visualize white light energy coming from above. I would pull the white light into my body through the top of my head, down through my face, neck, chest, down my arms and through my fingers, then through the stomach, abdomen, pelvis and out through the legs and toes. I would allow the light to spill out of my body and form a protective layer around myself.  

I would then ground my feet into the earth and pull up energy from as far down as I could imagine. Once the heaven and earth energy were flowing simultaneously, I would begin to bring in the colors.  Red first, then orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. The colors would come from deep within the earth, up through my feet and into all parts of my body. I would allow each color to take its time, stopping wherever there seemed to be a need. I would then allow the energy to settle in the appropriate location where it would rest, spinning in a healthy spiral. 

I have been using this technique in my daily meditation as it is very effective in allowing me to clear and balance my energy while keeping my mind away from incessant thinking. 

According to Jan Purser in her book, Meditation, Easy Techniques to Help You Relax and Focus,” each color has specific qualities which can affect our emotions and in turn help to balance our physical and mental health. For example, red is the color of power and action. It is a warming color and represents vitality, sexuality, and high energy. Red spurs us into action by increasing our motivation and aggression.” Blue, by contrast is “calming and encourages feelings of peace. It is the color of serenity and protection and promotes restful sleep.” Yellow brings happy joyful thoughts and magenta is “excellent for helping you step away from obsessive behavior.”

While meditating, we can allow colors that come to mind to swirl through the body in a way that is guided by our inner intuition. The idea is that these colors will bring the necessary qualities for balance and healing. 

Once we become more familiar with color energy, we can introduce them as we see fit. For example, if we are hoping to gain more insight and intuition, we can bring violet into the session. 

Another beautiful way to use color for meditation and healing is through art. In recent years, I have noticed coloring books for adults, which claim to reduce stress and promote mindfulness. More recently, I have thought of painting.  As I struggle through some of the mental and emotional challenges of the recent pandemic, I have been sensing the need to bring more color into my life.

Today, I ordered some acrylic painting supplies and checked out a few YouTube tutorials and I have to say, I’m excited. In addition to my daily meditation, I feel that mixing colors and putting them on a canvas will not necessarily result in a masterpiece, but it may just help me stay balanced, happy and healthy. 

Photo from Nambu Botanicals. Link to article with color and sound meditations: https://nambuherbs.com/blogs/news/heal-your-chakras-to-change-your-karma-color-sound-meditations

 

Meditation for Beginners

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As the pandemic continues, a lot of talk has turned to mental health. How are we faring at home, void of social contact, stripped of our normal routines, off balance and isolated? How is our anxiety level as we contemplate our financial future, our careers, the safety of our re-entry into the world? Although we are resting, spending quality time with our families, eating well and spending less, many of us are struggling to stay positive and keep our minds on a healthy trajectory. The length and uncertainty of the situation is wearing and there are days that it is hard to hold up the positive.

I have been doing well for the most part. However, there are times when the anxiety creeps in and there are nights that I do not sleep soundly. There is also the added pressure I am putting on myself to be productive, to use this time wisely and find ways of bettering myself. I have been working towards strengthening my ability to put positive thinking to work, to attract what I really want from my life. My belief in the “law of attraction”  is unwavering. However, it is only as good as the vision itself and I have also been seeking ways to get more in touch with my life’s purpose.

All of this searching has led me to consider the benefits of meditation.

According to a report published by the Mayo Clinic on April 22, 2020, meditation has numerous benefits, ranging from the reduction of anxiety, depression, insomnia, and chronic pain to the increase of imagination, creativity, patience and self-awareness. 

Full article: https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/meditation/in-depth/meditation/art-20045858)

I have known about these claims for years and have wanted to integrate meditation practices into my life. However, creating a consistent routine has not happened and it is only through the current crisis that I have realized now is as good a time as any to give it a try.

Through my research I am finding that there are many forms of meditation and it can be easy, simple, and fun. It can be done anywhere for any length of time and can be tailored to your individual taste and lifestyle. For example, some may find a form of meditation while participating in a challenging physical activity, learning a difficult piece of music, walking in nature, or staring into the flame of a favorite candle. Once we become more practiced, we can bring meditation into the daily workings of our life and use it to achieve more mindfulness and peace.

In her book, Meditation: Easy Techniques to Help You Relax and Focus, Jan Purser outlines different types of meditation such as breath-watching, visualization, mantra, music, walking, and object focus. She gives the reader different options for posture and breathing and exercises to get your practice started. She describes how some may want to use music as a way to still the mind while others may be attracted to the use of color, crystals, or essential oils. 

Whatever method you chose, the results are sure to prove valuable. Like most things, if you set the intention and then show up, you’ll experience the desired outcome. It can be that simple.

I plan to practice meditation for at least one month starting today. I’m excited to try the various suggestions presented by Purser as well as to create a few of my own. I also plan to keep track of any changes I notice through journaling (which is a daily practice I already have underway) to note how my anxiety levels, sleep, and connection to my inner self may be affected. I encourage you to do the same. After all, if even a few of the benefits shown in the studies prove true, it may be just the panacea we’ve needed all along.

 

What Animal Totems Tell Us About the Current Pandemic

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For most of my life, I have been attracted to Animal Totems and the beautiful energy that they offer. The theory is that every animal (usually wild) has a powerful spirit defined through certain characteristics, talents, and habits. When we look at these unique attributes, we can understand the medicine or message being brought forth. 

Many people have one or two animals as Totems which they carry with them throughout their lives. These animals bring messages and themes that help guide them spiritually and practically. We do not choose our spirit animal. They choose us and come into our lives in a variety of ways if we are open.

I have had several animal totems throughout my life. Most recently, I have developed a relationship with the spirit of the hawk. It appeared in my life several years ago as I began contemplating some major life changes. I would see it flying overhead as I drove down the road or perched on a mailbox nearby as I waited at a stop sign. It seemed to be following me and would come to my consciousness at opportune times as if to tell me where I needed to shift my focus. 

According to Ted Andrews in his book, Animal Speak, the hawk will appear as a totem “at that point in your life where you begin to move toward your soul purpose more dynamically.” “It awakens our vision and inspires us to a creative life purpose.” These were themes I had been contemplating for years and it felt like the hawk appeared in my life to reinforce that the time to take action was nearing. 

The hawk led me through a difficult divorce and reassured me whenever I began to question my motives. On the day our family house sold and I removed my final belongings, I stumbled over a hawk’s feather, standing upright in my path as if to say, “Congratulations, you made it.”

In addition to a life or situation themed totem, I also like to receive the messages offered with each animal encounter. Whenever a fox crosses my path or I come face to face with an owl, I look to the possible meaning and message that it may have for my life at the time. It always speaks to something current. 

As the Covid-19 pandemic began to spread, along with the rumors of its origin in bats, I was naturally drawn to the bat spirit and the possible messages that were coming forth. I pulled out my reference books and this is what I discovered.

The bat is symbolic of rebirth and transition. According to Jamie Sams and David Carson in their book, Medicine Cards, the bat “symbolizes a new truth being awakened” and “promise amidst the sometimes chaotic energies of change.” The book also states that bat medicine suggests,  “We will not only be able to fly as a result of the change, but we will be able to see the world from an entirely new perspective.”  I believe, through this pandemic, we will be faced with shedding old habits that no longer serve us and emerging with a new, healthier and more loving approach to life on earth.

The healing energy of the bat also addresses facing our fears and the need to make peace within ourselves. Andrews points out that many cultures, including the Shamans, performed initiation rituals around bat energy which mentally and physically challenged a person to face their fears by spending a night alone, partially buried in the earth, until they were ready to re-emerge with a new perspective. Like the Shaman initiates, the pandemic is offering us a chance to come to terms with our fears (which like a virus can “spread, uninhibited, eventually permeating our system and creating a kind of madness within our lives”) and re-emerge with new insight and perspective.

Bat energy is powerful, and if we choose to embrace its message, it will help us understand and accept the magnitude of change occurring around us. It will assure us that facing our fears will lead to freedom and the opportunity for rebirth, and it will offer us a better tomorrow, one that focuses on humanity, care and respect for the earth, conservation, and love.