This quote from our Level 1 foundational course says it all. It seems so simple and yet, when we begin to look inside ourselves and seek our healing, it can take us to deep and dark places. Ultimately, this is what we want. In order to free ourselves of negative behavioural patterns, we have to get to the source of the original pain. This inevitably takes many of us to our childhood memories.
These patterns can show up on any level: mental, emotional, spiritual and physical. As an academy of spiritual healing, we acknowledge that the body is an important part of any healing process. The physical form holds our painful experiences and if unrecognized and untreated, this trauma can manifest as illness.
There are new advancements in medical research that now prove this is not only the case, but that childhood trauma impacts the way various systems develop. This includes our brain, immune system and endocrine system, which regulates our hormones.
In the TED Talk below, Nadine Burke Harris discusses the medical research that connects childhood trauma to long-term illness. She shares her own preventative model to intervene with impacted children before any medical issues appear and asks the questions: How might this impact our view of illness and what does this mean for us as a society moving forward?
Spiritual teacher Faye Fitzgerald is never one to shy away from the big questions of life. She has a knack for bringing big lofty concepts down to earth in a way that makes them tangible and easy to understand.
In this interview, we tackle the big topic of capital “P” Purpose: What is it? Where does it come from? And how do we as spiritual seekers make it a part of our lives? Faye doesn’t disappoint with offering her profound, yet practical view of the nature of Purpose, while sharing some of her personal story along the way.
While this isn’t the first interview we’ve done with the founder of the Training in Power Academy, this time we decided to take different approach and create an audio podcast for your listening pleasure. Enjoy and please share!
After the historic women’s marches that took place across the world on January 21, 2017, the global consciousness was reminded of what women, when united, can achieve. For those who participated, there was a palpable power, a healing quality to the experience. It was a macrocosm of what many of us feel when we come together as women on a day-to-day level.
This is the sisterhood, a timeless force that draws women together to build communities, nurture each other and stand up for injustice when the need arises.
Despite their power, sisterhoods are also vulnerable to infighting, division and attack from external forces. Since the January march, the question has been asked: how to we keep the momentum moving forward? How can the sisterhood continue to be an effective collective voice and not scatter or become distracted?
Divide and conquer
Studies have shown that women not only enjoy the bonds we form with other women, but they are intrinsic to our health and wellbeing. Yet, there are many pitfalls that are prevalent within female relationships that can make women cautious and mistrustful of each other. Competition, betrayal and soldier gathering are all part of bullying behaviours that occur in groups of women. There is no girl who hasn’t felt the sting of backstabbing friends in middle school or popularity contests that invite you into the ‘in’ one day and abandon you to the ‘out’ the next.
Some of these dynamics are a result of living in a patriarchy where, in the past, we would need a man to survive or have status. Women have been socialized to compete for male attention, stepping over our bonds with each other to secure a social position. While modern life, to some extent, offers us independence in our power, many of these attitudes prevail. Though we know ourselves to be free of the restrictive social rules on paper, many of them still run freely within us on a subconscious or semi-conscious level.
In her bestselling book, Lean In, Sheryl Sandburg talks about how women have internalized the glass ceiling, we don’t even need the bullies to do the work for us! We have learned from years of subtle (and not so subtle) cultural messaging to second guess ourselves, hold ourselves back and not act until we consider ourselves to be ‘perfect’ or good enough. We are our worst enemies, keeping ourselves from success while our male counterparts climb the ladder in the workforce, confident and without any doubt that they have the right to do so.
In our work at the Training in Power Academy, starting with Level 1, we work by the philosophy “heal thyself, heal the world.” This means you can’t really start fixing the world, or anyone else for that matter, until you address your own issues. So when it comes to our relationship to each other, women have to ask some difficult questions of where we play out the negative relationship dynamics with ourselves. This could be defined as internal misogyny: where we dislike, mistrust, judge and malign ourselves because we are women. It may be so habitual and subtle, we are not even aware of it.
Love the woman in the mirror
Maybe it began with messages you absorbed from home or school about being a girl. Maybe it’s from years of viewing disempowered versions of women and their relationships in the media. Maybe the first time we are betrayed in a female relationship, you blamed yourself for being open to it in the first place. Where did you close yourself off and learn to be guarded and watchful of not only other women, but also the female portion of yourself?
Without having a conscious awareness of it, many women will walk into a group of women expecting to be judged. So the question would be, where do you judge yourself? When you look in the mirror, what tone of voice are you using? Who do you perceive looking back? Is your relationship with yourself, as a woman, a safe, nurturing place? Or is it something you struggle to uphold without self-betrayal, judgment and pettiness?
Because of the healing nature of this reality we live in, if we don’t address our internal dynamics, we will feel compelled to play them out with others again and again. So if we want the movement of the sisterhood to sustain and thrive, we must start by fostering a healthy connection within. We need to start honoring and loving ourselves as women and seeing our own innate value. We can use our community as a platform for this process, but knowing that we must be accountable for our own wounds that we seek to heal.
So I present this final question: What if the real fight towards the injustice that threatens our world starts by facing our internal negativity? Imagine the collective strength of a group of women who know themselves and love themselves. And then support each other to become even stronger! After centuries of being kept from our power individually and collectively, it’s time for us to become the resilient force that we know we can be. The world needs the sisterhood and the sisterhood needs each other, may we keep up the good fight and continue striving forward!
I get so very excited these days when the great wheel of time swings around to mid-winter’s eve. Let me preface by assuring you that I was once a tremendous humbug about Christmas time. I felt like there was magic happening but somehow the stories I was being told about the reasons for this magic fell short for me. So I started to research the origins of Christmas.
That’s when I discovered this amazing thing. This amazing truth that binds us all in an undercurrent so powerful that we are swept out of our routines by it. All the seasonal traditions – wreaths, candles, bells, bonfire, gift-giving, gathering with your loved ones – all of them are born of ancient rituals once used by our ancestors to call back the sun.
I do say ‘our’ ancestors, and I do not need to know who your ancestors are to say that. Look it up. I don’t care if you are Lebanese or Latvian, Irish or Icelandic, Japanese or Javanese…look into your myths for the story of the departure of the sun, for the waning of the light… and you will find it. Look into the history of your peoples and you will find that they did this. Jewish folks may be thinking that Hannukah is a celebration of a historical event so does not fall into this category, but many scholars believe that this holiday of light replaced an older Solstice celebration in the Jewish calendar.
Sunwatchers or stargazers of ancient times saw the sun stand still. That’s what Solstice means: “Sun stands still”. Y’see, as the year goes along the sun can be seen rising and setting in a southerly trajectory along the horizon. Ancient astrologers and sunwatchers marked that passage so they could predict when to plant and when to harvest. What they saw, all of them, in every country, was that during the 6 days around winter solstice, the sun stops travelling along the horizon. It stops in one place, rising and setting there for nearly a week. And every one of those days, the sun rises lower in the sky, making the daytime shorter.
Our ancestors worried that the sun was losing some celestial battle for its life, or that it had lost interest in caring for the people of the world. Every culture on the planet created a plan to call that sun back. Among many Aboriginal peoples, the Raven was called upon to steal the sun back from the evil wizard Tupilak once again. Goddess Beiwe was summoned by the Saami to bring back the sun and the sanity and hope of light. Mesopotamians took to the streets to act out the eternal battle between their god of fertility and the dragon of the underworld. In Japan, Ameterasu had to be coaxed from the cave of her self-imposed exile. The Bushmen of Africa tossed their Sunman into the sky so that all could share his light. The Kachinas were called back from the sacred mountains to bring the magic of all life to the Hopi. The Oak King rose to kill his brother, the Holly King, and take back the throne in their eternal cycle of rising and falling to each other at the solstices. The Incans tethered the sun to specific ceremonial stations to keep it from wandering off.
Think about it. Before there was even any contact between these ancient cultures, each one of them performed some kind of magic to call back the support of the sun. From isolated pockets of civilization, this magic of hope and renewal stretched up from all corners of the earth, in unknowing synchronicity, to pull the sun back from the brink. This simple magic of Solstice united every human on the planet, at a time when some did not even know there were other people. I can get pretty verklempt about it when I really imagine that unified intention.
I often think, if only everyone knew this.
We really have an opportunity to take down some cultural walls here and join together knowingly in this old tradition.
That’s my Solstice wish for all… a sense of unity and belonging to something greater than your human self.
As the Romans used to say,
(Hail the Return of the Invincible Sun)
Shaughna Born is an author, storyteller, researcher and spiritual teacher. She is a longtime member of the Training in Power Academy Faculty where she specializes in the Archetype and Alchemist classes. If you live in the Vancouver area, you can join Shaughna at the Secret Lantern Society’s festival as Solstice Historian at Granville Island to hear “Solstice stories- a sample of myths from all around the world”. Take a look at Shaughna’s website The Solstice Lady to see how our ancestors marked this time and read some of those myths for yourself.
Shaughna will be doing an online presentation of her talk “Return of the Light: One Woman’s Journey from Christmas back to Solstice” on Monday Dec 19th at 7 pm PST. 10$ per person. Email her at Shaughnabis@gmail.com for more info and to register.
Be it romantic, friendship, family or business, relationships are a cornerstone of the human experience. We are all made up of male and female energies, described in the East as Yin and Yang. We reached out to Faye Fitzgerald, founder of the Training in Power™ Academy to chat about how we can better understand Yin and Yang to bring more health into our relationships.
The Eastern concept of Yin and Yang is a well-known method of explaining the two opposing energies in nature and in ourselves. It is often used to describe the unifying or polarizing forces of female and male energy. What is your perspective of these two energies?
Yin is of the non-matter position or spirit frequency and the Yang is the matter position. This includes the bio-matter, which is your own physicality. So you are always both.
We have the symbol of Yin and Yang: Yin is dark because it encompasses the unseen portion of things. Consider the Buddha who described our thoughts as being ‘subtle matter’. This unseen portion is the area of will, which forces our existence to produce or manifest.
This concept of Yin and Yang can easily be applied when dealing with relationships. This includes a male-female dynamic as well as same-sex relationships. The ultimate goal is to find a energy balance between the two individuals.
Sometimes when you have a partner who is only on the Yang, then you’ll have them coupled with someone who is only on the Yin. A classic picture might be a huge, loud guy and she will be small, quiet female. He just finds her lovely and everything she wants to do is just fine by him because she’s Yin and he’ll never understand her because he’s so Yang.
You have counselled many couples and have developed 2 ground breaking relationship courses. What has been some of the key observations you made with how Yin and Yang plays out in relationships?
Every person is a mixture of both energies, but when you have two predominantly Yang people together it can be dramatic and often stressful. That’s because they are butting heads and they act everything out on the external level. For example, a Yang man would be wise to not compete with a Yang woman, but rather give her room to pursue her ambition. She in turn would benefit from not being overbearing or controlling with him. The best position for the Yang dominant relationship is if they join forces and support each other in their respective intensity.
On the other extreme, you can get two Yins together too. That is interesting, because they are both full of ideas, but they keep waiting for the other to take the action. If they don’t take action they will lose respect for each other and it can build resentment between them. If they decide to work together on a creative project and go into action-mode, they are often very sensitive in their approach and can be very successful.
What are some classic archetypes that you feel describe a healthy Yin and Yang placement?
I think Apollo is a wonderful Yang archetype. He shines the sun and brings fertility and love. He is the beauty of the creative male who understands himself and doesn’t need to berate or belittle anyone to be strong. He is the Yang who comprehends his aggression is for protection, not to harm the beings he supposedly loves.
I would choose Diana, the Goddess of the moon for a healthy archetypical Yin. She is known as Artemis in Greek mythology. She is the huntress and a warrior. She is independent and connected to the mysteries of the universe. Her internal motivation creates a sense of trust and self-sufficiency, so she is not at risk of submitting or buckling to anyone else.
How would you then describe a healthy relationship dynamic?
I would describe it as mannerly, polite and formal. This means being mutually supportive and willing to divide areas of strength and cover areas of weakness. The 100% required for a relationship is required from each party. If you’re only willing to give 60% that leaves 140% on the shoulders of the other partner and there will be a gap. When there is a gap, it tends to widen as time goes on. You can’t owe, otherwise you’ll have resentment and cheating, so it’s best if both parties find a way to give equally to the relationship.
How do you counsel people to get in touch with their Yin and Yang in a healthy way?
An imbalance of Yin and Yang will often show up as the need to control. If people are over controlling on the external, chances are they feel out of control on the internal. The Yang controller will focus on a need for dominance and their behaviour will be visibly dominating.
In contrast, the Yin controller is the one who will “tsk tsk” under the breath. They will give you approval only when they get what they want and there is a passive aggressive dynamic rather than the aggressive of the Yang.
On either side of the spectrum, they’ve got to move out of their fear and find the courage to go inwards. That is a lot of what we teach in our training – the journey inward – where all the answers really are for your life. Of course, if you are busy having all the answers for everybody else’s life, you might be missing out on a couple of things on your own. You’ve got to be conscious, which is what we try to offer our students, a clear path to that conscious living.
Faye Fitzgerald is the founder of the Training in Power Academy, a spiritual education system that offers over 20 courses in meditation, spiritual healing and self-empowerment. She has been teaching and counselling people to their spiritual wellness for over thirty years. Find out more at www.fayefitzgerald.com
A Baltimore elementary school has been getting a lot of praise and web-traction lately for their use of meditation instead of detention. For the past year, children are sent to the “mindful moment room”, when they have misbehaved or need to wind down. Here they are coached to breathe and reflect on their feelings and actions. The school has also integrated Yoga into their holistic program and as a result of their new approach, there have been no suspensions in over a year.
This news led me to reflect, how would have things been different for me if I had been given this knowledge as a child? What if punishment was replaced with an opportunity for self empowerment?
While I was generally a well-behaved student, I was a very sensitive and high strung child. I dreaded going to school most days. I had a hard time sitting still in class. Eventually, my mother sent me to school with a “doodle book” every day to keep my hands busy, where I would scribble and draw while the teacher spoke. This habit followed me all the way until university, until I learned to meditate.
As I learned to be comfortable in my body, present in the moment and focus from a greater part of my mind, the need for constant distraction disappeared. That’s not to say I stopped drawing, this was a constructive outlet that eventually enriched my creative life, but I stopped needing it as a coping mechanism.
In many ways, I believe children are naturally built for meditation. Although most kids are busy and sometimes frenetic, if you watch them when they becoming engaged play and imagination, the same kind of focus is engaged as we use in meditation. Clinical psychologist Dr Lee Pulos has done extensive research on brainwave patterns and has proven that young children live primarily in the Theta and Alpha brainwave patterns, until they are adults when they move more into the logic-based Beta pattern. These Theta and Alpha patterns are the same states that artists, well-practiced yogis and practitioners of meditation achieve in their practice.
If we can catch children early on and give them the scientifically proven benefits of meditation, then imagine what kind of foundation of emotional health, inner wisdom and personal strength they could develop! If we did this as a society, what kind of world might we build? Something to meditate about, no doubt.
Read the full article about the Robert W. Coleman Elementary school here.
We do so much for others at this time of year, and for the outward displays of spirit. Whether celebrating the return of the sun, Christmas, Hanukkah, Diwali, or others, festivities and events call us to service. And sometimes, as adults, the little person inside the grown-up starts to act out. The office parties, holiday gatherings, gift shopping, all take energy and are fraught with expectations of ourselves and others, and something snaps.
I was volunteering at a community festival. I’d helped with set-up, the stringing of lights and banners, and at the event I was greeting people at a door, taking donations, giving directions. Yet eventually, I started to notice I wasn’t getting to participate in the fun part. Everybody was having fun, except Meee.
In earlier days, I would ruthlessly squelch that plaintive childish voice and keep on, smiling cheerfully and pretending it was alright, better to give than receive. But as a person of spirit, I need to take care of myself too. So I took a breath, checked in with the increasingly frantic tone of my inner self and realized she was right. It was time to take the help that was offered, let go of my self-appointed martyrdom and pass the torch to another person. So I asked, and another woman arrived at the post, and she was lovely, kind, smiling. I felt good leaving it in her hands.
As I remember this, I realize that she was showing me what I had contributed, all unknowing, to the event. Steadiness, good humor, unflappability. And now she could also bring those beautiful qualities to the world. And as I allowed myself to go and have fun, I will have that happy memory to add to all the reasons I volunteer here.
So, as you find and create the special places of light inside you and out in your world, remember that child inside of you. You also need to play, and it’s a different kind of sharing, to ask for help so you too can relax and join the fun. And then when you step back in to help, it will be even more a gift from the heart.
Sending wishes and light for joy and love, peace to the world and happiness to all that you are.
I’ve practiced meditation for many years and now I’m embarking on the process of training to teach it. I’m training to teach Level 1 – The Prophet. I’ve grown so much through my meditation practice and I want to help other people, the way I’ve been helped. I want to empower others to fully live their own life.
A few months back, I attended the Academy’s annual Teacher’s Conference. It’s an amazing gathering where I get the chance to explore my inner landscape, learn some tools and tips for teaching, and network with other teachers. Some of my colleagues have taught hundreds of people, some a dozen, and others are learning – like me.
One of my favourite parts of meeting and connecting with other teachers, is sharing my joy of food – in particular, chocolate, one of my favourite foods. Each year as I prepare for the Conference, I reminisce over the past year’s best chocolate experiences, and bring some of my favourites to share. I often bring my own chocolate bark– here’s the recipe:
700 g dark chocolate, brick
200 g raw/roasted shelled pistachio seeds
100 g dried mango, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tsp cardamom seeds
1 tsp coarse sea salt
Chunk the chocolate brick, and melt in a double boiler over low heat, until melted, then take off the stove.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then spread the cardamom seeds and dried mango randomly.
Pour the melted chocolate over the cardamom and mango. Add the pistachios and sea salt to the top.
Place in the fridge for half an hour, until solidified, then break up into pieces, and enjoy!
This year, I was excited to showcase one of my favourite local chocolate artists from here in Vancouver, Beta 5 Chocolates. Not only do they use my favourite chocolate base, from Michel Cluizel of France, they also create fascinating shaped Polygon Bars and incorporate fantastic flavours and colours. I tell everyone who will listen.
Another Canadian chocolate maker, Theobroma, based in Quebec, uses non-GMO ingredients, is gluten free, Fair Trade, and one of my perennial choices. When I want yum without having to think, Theobroma is one of my go-to chocolates.
You can tell I love chocolate. A bit of a connoisseur, really. Well I also love knowledge. A bit of a seeker, for sure. And as I shared chocolate experiences with my colleagues, and learned more about teaching and this amazing energy work that we do, I realized how much I appreciate this community of teachers who truly appreciate my unique gifts. So now as I prepare to teach, I find myself meditating often on chocolate.
One glorious summer day, as I was watering the garden with the garden hose, I became aware of a rainbow in the diamond-like water droplets coming from the hose. As I watered and watched the rainbow, I realized it was upside down with purple on the bottom and red on top.
And then I remembered there are always two rainbows. As I lazily gazed more gently into the cascade of water droplets spraying from the garden hose, there it was – the second rainbow right above the first. It was fainter and reversed – it had the red on the bottom and the purple on the top.
Transfixed, I watched the rainbows streaming their coloured, arcing light right into the earth, and the garden came alive with a circus-like symphony of dancing garden sprites. The mirrored rainbows extended themselves and became mirrored rainbow circles – looping into the ground – joyously circling through the earth to join the arcing rainbow light on the other side. The faeries teased and taunted and danced joyously as they urged me to paint bigger and smaller circles. So I whirled around with abandon, painting the entire garden with rainbows.
And then… I turned around, looking into the sun now, and continued to water the garden. But I could only see water coming from the end of the hose. Where did the rainbows go? I felt sad, and somewhat confused. So I turned back, and there they were – joyful, double-rainbow circles with those garden sprites playing in the spray, pulling the rainbow arcs into the earth. When I turned around again into the sunlight, the rainbows and faeries were gone – only water came out of the hose.
These two very different perspectives made me wonder…. And I realized that what I’m able to see in each moment is all about my position – the position I hold. When I was blinded by the light, I could only see water coming from the garden hose. I could only see “reality”. But with the light behind me – and in me – my world was filled with magic – dancing faeries and arcing rainbows of water and light. All from the same garden hose.
Of course. It’s my choice. Always. And I choose to be in light.
So often in my life, I have expected a big brassy fanfare or an elegant display of light to precede big spiritual moments. When I find myself waiting for the fanfare, I’m reminded of a time from my teen years.
I grew up in a small town about sixty miles outside of Chicago, where the suburbs halt and give way to the cornfields. Although my high school was quite small, our marching band was quite good and quite a bit larger than one would expect.
One year, our band was invited to march in the famous Chicago St. Patrick’s Day parade. It was freezing that day. But even with the cold and long time waiting in line, we were all entering a new chapter in our lives. Many of us had never been to Chicago before. Few had witnessed such a huge community of spectators. For sure none of us had seen so many bagpipes at one time before.
We felt so good that day! The notes from our instruments expanded in a regal way as they bounced from skyscraper to skyscraper. And in these last 40 years thinking about that day, I don’t recall our marching band ever looking or sounding so good.
So where am I going with this? We won first place out of over 50 marching bands in the parade. And because no one had ever heard of our small town, we were lined up near the back of the parade. We didn’t even make it on the three hours of TV coverage. We surprised everyone that year. None of us cared about the recognition. We each knew the experience was perfect just for us.
Throughout my life, spiritual mo
ments of any magnitude came in like this. The fanfare was of a different type and always took me by surprise. It was never what I expected. Sometimes it would touch a different place in my life than I envisioned. Most of the time, these moments of magnitude come quietly at the end of the parade. But without exception, each time that I am gifted with a real connection to Spirit, to Source, to the Universe, I am amazed at its perfection.
~ by Patty Ferris – Public Speaker www.pattyferris.com
Level III Teacher and Spiritual Counselor with Training in Power Academy