Portraits of the World’s Vanishing People by Jimmy Nelson (on TED)

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Sleep, Play, Glove: Baby Knows Best

We must attend to ourselves, like a babe in arms. Babies are super tough in their own way. They take in SO much, put out so much, & are instinctively wired for sleep… & play. Growing like weeds, we pull on the garden gloves to tend the field; rubber gloves to clean up spills; oven mitts to protect from burns; & Kid Gloves for loving care. In any scenario, the cycle of life seems to be: Approach & retreat, rinse & repeat.

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These days, our baby within gets no respect. In the U.S., for instance, our Protestant work ethic coupled with a greater divide between rich & poor has spread far & wide. This is making life unbearable for lots of folks including actual babies, & children of all ages. With the unprecedented pressure cooker we live in, all age groups are starved for a break. The new crop of burgeoning adults, our teenagers, are especially at risk. They are sorely lacking in this department, at the time they need it most. The older crop is burning at both ends & also needs a dowsing of downtime.

There is no substitute for sweet slumber. For example check out All Things Considered featuring Dr. Maiken Nedergaard, professor of neurosurgery, discussing how it is that our brain cleanses itself while we are asleep. Sleep is mighty. It is highly underestimated & undervalued in our so-called ‘modern’ society. This is counter-intuitive, given how critical it is for the regeneration & repair that we so desperately need, & that cannot happen unless we are in a sleep state. This is relevant, no matter our age. Sadly, many of us are so out of balance that we can’t even give into it if we try &/or are so deprived of it that we literally, & figuratively, risk falling asleep at the wheel. Getting through the day without stimulants? Unheard of. Getting through the night without relaxants? Unheard of. I worry about us, collectively, as a species.

For we humans quality AND quantity of sleep has been, & still is, a non-negotiable requisite for survival. Check out the TED Radio Hour featuring a discussion of Psychologist Abraham Mazlo’s Hierarchy of Human Needs. According to Mazlo’s hierarchy, sleep is the most important survival basic (for memory, judgement, immune system, physiology, & protection against infection, to name a few). Surprisingly, it is usually the first thing to be sacrificed, with subsequent bragging rights. There’s a certain status that comes with being so busy that one doesn’t have time for such lazing about. Some of us have no choice but to stock our shelves with multiple jobs just to make ends meet. Whether we’re trying to stay ahead or just keep up with the race, it’s a problem that doesn’t discriminate. Rich or poor, sick or well, young or old, we must find a way to achieve some sort of balance, even if it’s just 5 minutes 3x a day to ‘hit pause & set refresh’, in any small way we can. Stop, stretch & stare out the window (not at your phone). Enjoy a tall drink of water. Nibble a handful of protein. Close your eyes & go to that happy place in your mind’s eye. (I’ve heard it’s just as valuable as physically being there). Take a walk around the block. Dawdle, or doodle. The more balance we achieve during the day, the better off we’ll be in bed, when it comes to rising & setting.

Doesn’t my doodle just scream, “Creative Play”?? LOL.

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In addition to sleep, nothing can replace the release we get from uninhibited fun & creative expression, which of course varies based on one’s idea of such. Nothing can replace a hearty serving of divested downtime (a.k.a., wild abandon), where there is no agenda, no pressure, competition or restraint. Nothing can replace the freedom of oft overlooked SIMPLE PLAYTIME. It doesn’t have to be messy, OR neat. It’s whatever constitutes a comfortable digression from your normal routine. The point is to lose one’s self in fun & creative play that disengages us from stress & engages a unique part of our brain. Playful fun is a state of mind with which you approach the mundane. It doesn’t have do be formal. It can be spontaneous…dancing around the living room in your pajamas; making a joke or hearing one & having a good belly laugh; goofing around with your kids or your pets in the backyard. This process of loosening our grip actually improves our sanity, helping us to be better problem solvers & to be more ‘productive’ in the long run…in all those other ways upon which society demands/requires. Check out what Sociologist Christine Carter had to say on Forum with Michael Krasny, discussing her new book The Sweet Spot ~ High Productivity & Low Stress.

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The Universe projected itself into my not-so-clean back porch, with a smiling rainbow. 

So no worries… Creatures of habit that we are, I’m here to pass along the Encouragement Reminder: Today’s the day to Re-Create! It’s never too late to reconfigure. You are still being productive even while you’re down (for a nap) & out (playing). Life is a juggling act, for sure. This chef cautions you to feed yourself by focusing on just one plate at a time. Many dishes, one plate. As I always say, everyone’s circumstance is different & everything has its time & place in the big scheme of things. In that vein, honor creativity as your life-blood, your birthright. It’s the spice that makes life palatable, & extra-ordinary. So season well, with gusto. Try new taste sensations. Carve out a little space & go ahead…play with your food! Don’t waste it.

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with wild abandon or not at all. ~ Harriet Van Horne

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The Creative Force is the Source. Don’t outsource your Force!

The importance of rest & recreation is especially true if you are in the process of deep-healing, &/or other life transitions. As a Fundamental Field® Therapist, I see this in my Energy-Balancing Bodywork practice all the time. I share the opinion that stress & its effect really is our primary downfall. Check out Stressful Lives: Components, Causes & Solutions, from the website of my mentor, Dr. Richard Metz. I’ve learned to honor & encourage rest & recreation in myself & others, ways both solitary & social. When one is experiencing deep-healing & major life changes, personal energy reserves & coping capabilities are at risk. If you are in such a state, an individually tailored energy evaluation/session is recommended, for extra support & nurturance as well efficiency! I know that there are many contributing & complex factors regarding these topics, that’s why I don’t usually give blanket advice. But sometimes we just need a blanket, not a total remodel. It’s empowering to be a do-it-yourselfer. Therefore, I came up with my first test-case of blanket assessment & advice, as follows.

As with our deep-seated issues, most surface strain can be attributed to issues of excess &/or depletion.  I’ve noticed that when clients come to me presenting with everyday stress, I tend to concentrate on Fundamental Field reflex points on the head & feet which usually have to do with Ether & Fire elements in the Positive Pole (Conscious Mind), as well as in the Negative Pole (emotional warehouse of the Unconscious Mind). In addition to other qualities, these energies have to do with physical & psychological interaction, boundaries, order & organization. In addition, I work  Air in the Negative Pole which has to do with speed, mental acuity/support, & the immune system. I usually gravitate towards working Ether, Water & Earth elements in the Negative Pole to connect clients with relaxed creative expression & play. In addition to other qualities, these energies have to do with expansiveness, self-expression, flowing yet grounded. Stress & work-a-day life is especially depleting to these & all energy centers, on top of whatever other life issues (chronic or acute) we make be dealing with.

Since this is such a common problem I came up with an antidote, two mini-treatment Protocols for you to sample. Self-care is not selfish, just like the flight attendants say in their safety talk as you’re preparing for takeoff. The best way to come to the aid of others, especially our dependents (pets included), is to help ourselves first. We set the standard & relieve them of taking on the needs projected by our unbalanced energies. Thus, when we interact with others, we are better able to address their needs from our own more balanced state. The following recipe for self-care is designed to help you deal with stress, thus inducing sleep/relaxation, which feeds back to foster your creativity. If it doesn’t put you to sleep it should help you feel more relaxed, in compensation for its lack; &/or it may address deeper issues behind your surface stress.

So here we go: Ideally the 1st Protocol would be completed ~2 hours before the 2nd. You can do it while meditating, listening to music, watching TV, or my favorite…while steaming in the tub. If you you’re unable to do the 1st that far in advance of the 2nd, you can wait & do it up to 30 minutes prior. If you can’t do both Protocols, at least do the 2nd, which can be repeated throughout the night, if necessary.

 1st Self-Care Protocol: Pre-Bedtime (Hold each step for 30 seconds to 3 min.):

  1. Place palm of right hand vertically between eyes, while left hand to throat.
  2. Clasp index fingers, first do left finger with right hand, then vice-versa.
  3. Simultaneously clasp together big & index toes on each foot, with hand of opposite side. Right hand to left foot, left hand to right foot. Ideally you would do this while sitting cross-legged yoga-style. (If you can’t manage that, lay down with knees bent, or sit in a chair cross-legged. In this way you can reach & clasp together big & index toes with one hand, one foot at a time, while placing the palm of your free hand vertically between your eyes).
  4. Simultaneously massage sides of head at temples, with hands circling up & forward.
  5. Simultaneously rub temples up & down, then hold. 
  6. Place palm of right hand vertically between eyes, with left hand over belly button.
  7. Simultaneously place index fingers inside ears, while clasping behind ear lobes with thumbs & resting other fingers at temples.

2nd Self-Care Protocol: At-Bedtime (Hold each step for 1 min., or as you like):

  1. Place palm of right hand vertically between eyes, while left hand to throat.
  2. Simultaneously massage sides of head at temples, with hands circling up & forward. 
  3. Simultaneously rub temples up & down, then hold. 
  4. Simultaneously place index fingers inside ears, while clasping ear lobes with thumbs & resting fingers at temples.

Most of us have trouble turning the off switch on our obsessive thoughts. If you’re struggling with this, try focusing on body sensations as you move through the steps; &/or the stillness between your eyes where the energies of the spiritual & physical body ‘meet & greet’. Deep breaths will come naturally as the subtle energies move & balance.

Do not force anything. (Now there’s some blanket advice for you). :)

If you’re already on sleep medication or supplements, I recommend taking them about a half hour before you administer the shorter bedtime Protocol. For best results, follow the entire recipe with consistency for at least 1 week before reaching an initial verdict. Please do let me know if you experience a shift, or not. I’m interested in any constructive feedback you may have. (Of course you realize that this is not a substitute for medical advice from your own doctor, rather a suggestion based on my own knowledge & experience).

(Last edited 5/7/15)

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Heart & Feather Flock Together

Feathers are a marriage of form & function. 

They are beautiful & virtually weightless, while allowing flight.

Soar where the Current takes you.

IMG_2978.JPG(This little feather in particular landed right outside my doorstep. I discovered it upon arriving home from a family wedding.  Isn’t that loverly?)

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Contemplations for the Spirit (Lucky #13)

Random Card Draw:

Light + Compassion = Synthesis

We must shine the Light upon ourselves & have Compassion for what we find in the shadows.

This coming together of disparate parts, Synthesis, will strike a chord in our own lives, & the greater cosmos, as healing energy reverberates throughout.

A choir of souls can create beautiful music… in bowing to a Benevolent Conductor.

IMG_2985.JPG(These little cards you see above appeared in my life via my mother. Originator of the deck is unknown. I give such person credit, nonetheless).

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Contemplations for the Spirit (#12)

Random Card Draw:
Transformation ~ Willingness ~ Synthesis

Life is full of it.

Start from the Center & work your way out.

IMG_2975.JPG(These little cards you see above appeared in my life via my mother. Originator of the deck is unknown. I give such person credit, nonetheless).

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Contemplations for the Spirit (#11)

Random Card Draw:
Harmony ~ Flexibility ~ Power

When we experience a wave of Harmony, inside & out, Ego recedes with the tide.

We are made to be flexible. Flexibility allows us to bend like a reed with the natural ebb & flow of the current, as well as in times of drought & flood.

Our Power is found in surrendering to something that is bigger than our own limitations. Letting go of the need to feel in control, while remaining grounded in fertile soil…This is where our Spirit can flourish & our Soul can grow.

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(These little cards you see above appeared in my life via my mother. Originator of the deck is unknown. I give such person credit, nonetheless).

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Contemplations for the Spirit (#10)

Random Card Draw:
Transformation ~ Tenderness ~ Simplicity

As we go through the shape-shifting of deep, healing Transformation, may we show ourselves the same gentle Tenderness we would afford a fragile newborn. In this time of birth & rebirth, may we approach our internal & external lives with the uncluttered focus of Simplicity.

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(These little cards you see above appeared in my life via my mother. Originator of the deck is unknown. I give such person credit, nonetheless. Photo by Maggie Begley).

Hmmm, the synchronicity of a ‘random’ card draw, so in line with Lent, & the Vernal Equinox. This season before Easter, & the onset of Spring, presents a prime opportunity for taking stock & regrouping, an invitation to formally retreat. We are encouraged to set aside downtime within the routine of daily responsibility.

We can retreat for a weekend by getting away to a supportive, contemplative venue; or, by reserving daily time & space within our own home. It is the supreme Spring cleaning. Regardless of where we do it, I realize that for most this break from worldly reality is rather a luxury, but for some it is a spiritual necessity. The reward, so to speak? Our angst carries with it unworldly blessings just ready & waiting to shed their disguise & claim their rightful place in our lives.

It is not uncommon to have Transformation foisted upon us, rather than being a choice we are given. It seems that each season of life calls for transition, often for which we are unprepared. Transition can be a super-charged catalyst for forced Transformation & vice-versa. (As is often the case, when it’s happened to me, I’ve felt I had no choice in the matter…except that I DID pray early on in my life for God to care for & direct me in ways everlasting. I wanted to cleanse, & thereby build up my soul, in a way that I could carry forth, not to pass this way again. Geez, as they say, be careful what you wish for! Lol).

I have learned in this journey that Tenderness & Simplicity are key, as the process of Transformation demands a huge dose of time & energy. Over & over, in stages, we die & bloom again. Growing pains are real as we slowly develop & redevelop, ultimately expressing our way outward. Like the babe in the womb, or the larva in the cocoon, may we build a strong foundation from which to burst forth & take flight. Follow the Light.

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