Solstice: A Universal call to the Light

picture1Solstice is coming.

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,

“Sol Invictus”

(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.

Finding the Yin-Yang balance in relationships

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.

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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?

Apollo and Artemis, by Gavin Hamilton (c) Glasgow Museums; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Apollo and Artemis, by Gavin Hamilton (c) Glasgow Museums; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

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 new world vision: School replaces detention with meditation

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.

Resistance: Know your Enemy!

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Waboom! The epiphany descends, a glorious new creative idea. In a Technicolor flash I see the spectrum of my next great screenplay, sure to be success, the best I’ve ever done. I scribble down the first few lines and resume my day, satisfied I’m still on track towards my dream of becoming a filmmaker of fame and fortune. Then, as usual, life gets busy. A few days pass, I keep telling myself I’ll wait for the right moment to sit down with the project, to devote some real time to developing it. A week passes and then another, I start to doubt that the idea is even worth it. A month later, I find the scribbled page of my notebook with the original flash. Damn, this is an awesome idea. I’d been had, and it wasn’t the first or the last time…

“Most of us have two lives. The life we live and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands resistance”.

Stephen Pressfield, The War of Art

You’re too tired, too busy, too distracted. The idea is so good that you need to just do one more thing before you really really start. It’s too noisy outside, you’re suddenly hungry, the fridge really needs to be cleaned and oh wait, your pants are too tight.

Sound familiar? These are all symptoms of resistance, and you are wise to get to know your foe before it totally derails you from ever knowing the feeling of realizing your potential.

Resistance is an unconscious mechanism that will do anything to stop us from achieving our evolution, be it spiritual, creative or making our mark on the world. Stephen Pressfield’s creative handbook, “The War of Art” goes into great depth of exploring where and how this nemesis plays out. He describes creativity as a war, and as his 5th century predecessor, military strategist Sun Tzu states in “the Art of War”, it is always wise to both know your enemy and yourself before going into battle.

The Many Faces of Resistance

Remember, Resistance is unconscious. Would we stop ourselves from achieving our true potential? Nevertheless it is a worthy opponent and is often fueled by our underlying fears. The antidote? Do it anyway! Call the job lead, go to the event, take the singing lessons. No one is immune to resistance; those who succeed in achieving their goals have often built the strength to forge ahead, to know the many faces of their enemy.

Procrastination, self­doubt, fatigue, drama (getting pulled into yours or others) are all familiar tropes of resistance. It can get tricky sometimes, like when resistance often tells you that it would be easier NOT to do the task at hand, which is probably true. But is life most satisfying when it is easy? Do we grow and thrive when everything is a mouse click away?

And how about when reality doesn’t behave? You finally psych yourself up to go to the gym and a massive rainstorm comes down as you go to catch the bus. Or your computer crashes when you sit down to write the first draft of your book. Is this the universe giving you a sign that it’s not meant to be, or is it resistance? The answer: Get wet and start your first draft on paper. i.e. Do it anyway and see how good you feel on the other side!!

Get Smart

We all have our weak areas that the opponent will seek out. Get to know how resistance shows up for you and what it feels like when you are in it. I know that resistance comes in as fatigue and even physical pain for me. My strategy: take little bites everyday. I won’t let resistance take a day of writing from me, even if it’s just 20 minutes at a time. And if I miss one, I am more ruthless to make up the time the next day. Know your blind spots and make a plan. I had a friend who was always late for her meditation classes. Her approach? Leave an hour earlier.

Ultimately consider Pressfield’s suggestion to “use it as a compass.” When resistance shows up, it means you’re onto something really good. If it persists, you are really going strong! As you continue to build up your ability to face it and conquer its temptation, the more you will be able to feel your Genius and follow her guidance.

For more tips on living spiritually strong, check my post The 5 keys of the Spiritual Warrior.

Elinor Svoboda

~Level 1 and 2 teacher

 

 

5 essential keys of a Spiritual Warrior

 

Archetype

“The basic difference between an ordinary man and a warrior is 
that a warrior takes everything as a challenge, while an ordinary 
man takes everything as a blessing or as a curse.”

Don Juan, the Carlos Casteneda series

As a teacher of Level 1, I always welcome my new students by congratulating them for having made it to the first class. They often nod in appreciation; surprised I acknowledge how hard it is to arrive to the threshold of a quest towards self-awareness. But there is a reason that everyone doesn’t choose to pursue a spiritual path in today’s world. They may not be ready or interested, but they may also know that it requires a level of effort and dedication.

The concept of the Spiritual Warrior is not new to the modern-day spiritual seeker. In fact it has been around for thousands of years in martial arts and many ancient traditions. In Buddhism the spiritual warrior fights self-ignorance (avidya), who is the ultimate source of suffering. The Spiritual Warrior acknowledges that the greatest battle is within, be it between good and evil, or simply towards a state of enlightened awareness.

So how is this relevant to our day to day lives? In the West, we rarely place ourselves in cloistered situations, where can we devote our life to spiritual training. And yet if your goal is to live consciously, it is a commitment that must come from your full self, like a noble soldier takes on battlefield.

In my many years of spiritual training, I have learned there are a few traits that make up the Spiritual Warrior’s armory. As you unlock the path for yourselves, here are 5 few keys to consider:

1. It’s all about you.

The Spiritual Warrior fights their battles on the inside first. What are you fighting? Whatever keeps you from your Spiritual connection. Sure, the conflict can appear to be from the outside world: A tyrannical boss, a demanding schedule or overdue bills. But a Spiritual Warrior realizes they are at the center of their reality, so anything that comes at them has to do with what they are putting out there, conscious or not. If you want real change in your life, it has to start with you. The Spiritual warrior is never a victim; they take responsibility for their part in any of life’s dramas and meet it from their spiritual center within.

2. It’s not all about you.

Many spiritual truths are rooted in paradoxes. Once we address our internal battle-field, we realize our external is full of factors that have nothing to do with us. Our relationships, small and large, challenge us to hold our internal love and awareness steady. Yes, we have our part to play in any dynamic, but once we know what that is, the Spiritual Warrior realizes that there is another Warrior on the other side of the table, with their own battle to fight. It is not up to us to save others or take on their negativity. Through forging our own path, we set an example of love and kindness to the self that radiates to others. It would be wrong to do their battle for them, so it is helpful to remember, their struggle is not always your struggle, even if they try to make it that way!

3. Focus, focus, focus.

How can you know if it’s about you/not you without developing an ability to see through the drama of life? When we imagine a true Spiritual Warrior, they stand with some badass weaponry and look sharply ahead, staring their opponent directly in the face. How do they do that? They don’t have superpowers, they have focus. A Spiritual Warrior trains to hone their perception, to see through distraction and deceit so they can know the nature of their battle. Through the internal practice of meditation and building focus, like an internal muscle, you can hold your inner knowledge steady in the storm of life.

4. Courage

The Spiritual Warrior draws their sword and trudges into the unknown of self, for they know that there is no growth in what feels safe and secure. They crave discomfort because through that tension comes triumph over adversity, and the adventure and fulfillment of self-discovery. It takes courage to go into the dark, to face what is ugly and senseless, to look at the trauma and pain and have the strength to reach for the light. The Spiritual Warrior does not function on bravado. True courage comes from the heart and their connection with the Divine Self for which they fight.

5. Discipline of Love

The Spiritual Warrior fights for consciousness, healing, truth and ultimately, Connection to their spirit. This requires a discipline to maintain that divine connection. As discussed in my previous post, Why is Self First so hard? Tending to the Self first is of upmost importance to creating a sustainable spiritual practice. Another aspect of the discipline of love is to know when to ask for help. Sometimes Spiritual Warriors get knocked or wounded on the battle-field and require assistance from their teachers and fellow Warriors. Be humble and know when to reach out for support, your vulnerabilities are part of your strength. When you reach out for others, then they may feel safe reaching out for you next time they need help.

 

“For the average man, the world is weird because if he’s not 
bored with it, he’s at odds with it. For a warrior, the world is 
weird because it is stupendous, awesome, mysterious, unfathomable. 
A warrior must assume responsibility for being here, in this 
marvelous world, in this marvelous time.”

Don Juan, Carlos Casteneda series

 

Go forth and fight the good fight Warriors!

 

Elinor Svoboda

~Level 1 and 2 teacher

 

This is YOUR 2016

A few years ago, instead of New Years resolutions I started to make a yearly intention for manifestation. This is a magical way to start the year and a very empowering exercise to make this year YOURS.

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Here is a formula I like to use on New Years Eve. It can be a personal exercise to do in a meditative space with you and your journal. It is also can be part of celebrating the New Year with your partner or like-minded friends. Either way, saying your intentions out loud will help your manifestation thrust. Writing them down is even better!

  1. Take stock of the past, land into the now.

Setting intentions is most powerful when you are fully in the present moment. Take time to acknowledge the year you’re leaving behind. Celebrate your achievements, challenges and mistakes -Yes, mistakes! On a path of personal growth, there will be inevitable bumps in the road. See the year as a whole, like a chapter in the book of your life you are now ending. High points, low points, honor them all. Be grateful for where you are now and then release it to the past where it belongs.

  1. It starts with a feeling.

New Years resolutions often stem from issues that we think we need to fix. But thinking won’t get you very far when you are getting into the drivers seat of creation. Manifestation starts with a feeling.

Picture this: You are leaning back into a comfy leather bucket seat in a sweet purring sports car. You are on the highway of 2016. Take a breath and open your heart, connect with your inner wisdom or higher self, that compass that guides your path toward your self-realization. Feel what your heart desires for 2016. What do you crave? What do you need? What is your next step of growth? Find a few key words that describe these feelings and write them down.

  1. Visualize

With your key words in tow, now comes the detail work. Studies on visualization have established that visualization, with all 5 senses, activates the same functions in the brain as action or result. So step into the reality right away! How does your mind buzz with the development of your creative practice? How does it taste when you are eating healthier? What does it feel like in your body when you love yourself more? Amplify this process by describing your reality through writing or by talking about it with someone as if it is already happening. Remember, this is your road – just tell your car where to drive.

  1. Commit

These ideas and visions wouldn’t come to you unless they were, in some way possible. Now is the time to commit to this path and whatever surprises lie ahead. There will be inevitable twists and turns in the journey, challenges that will make you question and even doubt yourself. Connect to the greater sense of purpose that drives your visions. Know that your Spirit will guide you along the way. Take your key words and make them a part of your everyday life. It may be a sticky note on the bathroom mirror or your computer, or daily reminders in your phone, whatever it takes, commit to reinforce your 2016 vision every day.

5. Surrender and Receive

You’ve set the tone and are cruising on your road, now it’s time to let it go. While it is good to be specific when setting a manifestation, it’s better not to try to control how it’s going to play out – you’ll likely encounter frustration and disappointment. Instead open your heart, be grateful for what is emerging day to day and receive the adventure and the gifts ahead.

To a joyous, prosperous 2016 to you all! Keep us posted on how your manifestations are revealing themselves in the New Year!

~ Elinor Svoboda
Level 1 and 2 Teacher

Are You First in Your Own Line?

When I was growing up, I had two homes.  In my first home, my every movement was controlled and I had to follow many rules. In my second home, I had freedom and I was loved.  This one was hidden deeply within myself.

While the outside world kept pushing me to become useful, I daydreamed a lot. I learned to lock myself away in a bathroom to create space and time for me to read and dream.  But over the years, I had such intense training to become useful to others that others became the priority in both my homes – both my external and my internal world.

I became almost obsessed with mastering skills to help others in better and more efficient ways.  My focus in training, schooling and a variety of courses was to perfect myself for the world.  It took me 48 years to discover that I had totally lost myself in other people’s lives.

During a workshop that I was taking, all the students were asked where they stood in the line up of their personal priorities.  For me, the idea to be the first in my own line never occurred to me. I found myself unconsciously stepping into space number 21 in my line.

To my surprise each participant was asked to openly tell the class each of the people in their lives that took priority. And I found I didn’t have any difficulty naming those people whose needs were more important than mine.

This experience was an eye-opening process for me. I could not hide from this knowledge any longer.  It was then that I decided to put my needs and myself first on my own to-do list.

But now I had a dilemma – how could I be first in my life? How could I be good to myself for a change? I had no clue.  I knew that I liked to be liked, appreciated, useful – even if that meant loosing energy, health and time.
Ania
So I read more books and took more workshops. But I found myself still following the same pattern of always putting others first before me. I was unable to shake off the responsibilities that I believed were mine to carry. By this point, I was exhausted from a combination of stressful work situations, dealing with dying patients, and being the main caregiver for a seriously-ill family member.

One day, I heard an announcement at work about a meditation course.  It was offered by a nurse who was doing research for her Masters thesis at UBC.  I signed up.  It felt like this course would offer me the assistance that I desperately needed. It felt like this was a way to rediscover myself.

During the course, my journey back to myself began.  I learned wonderful tools. I learned “how” to put myself first. And I now had the help that I needed when challenges arose. Most importantly, I started developing a true relationship with myself. It is an ongoing process. But I am now first in my own line.  I still care for others, but after caring for myself.

Now, I teach this meditation course. If you desire to be good to yourself, to be first in your own line, welcome.

~ Ania Jasiak
Level I Teacher, Artist, BC Therapeutic Touch Practitioner, BC Instructor, BC Health Clinician BSN

Six Ways Meditation Can Make You a Better Writer

Ever since I printed my first letter “A” while watching Sesame Street as a toddler, I wanted to be a writer. I spent a good deal of my childhood and teens expressing my innermost thoughts and feelings through stories and poems. Once I reached a certain age, however, my yearning to write became more of a problem. According to my parents, it would get in the way of my earning a real living.

So, over the years, I tried to find a middle ground. I gave up fiction for a while and became a technical writer. It wasn’t until I learned to meditate, over a decade ago, that I realized I owed it to myself to pursue my dream. This article talks about how meditation made me a better writer, not a better writer than other people, but the best writer I can be.

1. Meditation allows me to get a different perspective: 
First of all, meditation is a spiritual practice that teaches us to seek within ourselves for guidance. When I meditate, I can get truly free of not only the perspectives of other people or what’s been done before. I can tune into my inner wisdom pull myself out of any problem. This different perspective really assists me in writing. I can use it to get to know my characters, to hear their voices. I can also use it to try to figure out how they would solve their own problems. If I get caught in a story idea, or character’s problem, I meditate until I find the answer. And I trust that the answers will come.
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2. Meditation allows me to find inspiration: 
Similar to the way meditation allows for a different perspective, it’s also a wonderful way to attain creative insight and inspiration. I can tune into different worlds, allow myself to dream, and try out different story ideas until I find the one that calls me to write it. In fact, one of the courses I teach has an amazing tool for using your dreams or meditations to problem solve.

3. Meditation teaches me not to compare myself to others, to anyone else’s journey or achievements: 
One of the most difficult things for writers to do is not compare their successes (or challenges) with others. It’s so easy to get bogged down in other people’s opinions, or why one person is more successful than you are. When I meditate, however, I am reminded of the infinite abundance of spirit that connects us all. My spirit is working for me. My journey is different than other people’s but it’s perfectly tailored for my learning at this time. A friend once said to me, “Don’t give up your insides for someone else’s outsides.” I’ve come to realize that my life is a gift, just the way it is. And what other people have in their life does not matter. This is a discipline I’ve cultivated through a meditation practice.

4. Meditation keeps me humble, out of ego-first thinking: 
As with comparison, meditation allows me to see myself as I truly am: a spirit having a human experience. If I forget that, I can be led around by my ego, needing everyone to like me and my writing. It has been my finding that if I need anything from others, my neediness can push that very thing away. Ego can make us quite needy. It is only when I am humble, and out of ego, that I can open to my true potential.

5. Meditation assists me to move out of blocks – writer’s block or otherwise:
As part of my meditation practice, I have cultivated a life of truth. This means telling myself the truth, feeling my true feelings, and being willing to face my spirit no matter what. Every block I’ve experienced in my life stems around a feeling that I’m afraid to feel or a truth I’m afraid to face. The same is true of writer’s block. It’s simply another area where fear has me in its grip. I meditate to ask my spirit “what am I truly afraid of?” Once I face that fear, the block lifts.

6. Meditation gives me patience that sustains me when the path is long and arduous: 
Fulfilling any dream takes time, be it becoming an author or poet, or finishing medical school. There’s a discipline involved in studying and learning to get better at your chosen craft or profession. Meditation teaches me patience. It re-energizes and rejuvenates me to keep me focused on the long haul.

Though these are listed as six ways meditation has made me a better writer, truth is, I believe these lessons apply to any and all areas of life. If you have a particular meditation practice, keep up the good work!

Namaste!

~ Lisa Voisin,
Level 2 Teacher

Reprinted with thanks from Lisa’s blog,
https://lisavoisin.wordpress.com/2015/03/09/six-ways-meditation-can-make-you-a-better-writer/

Chocolate to Meditate On

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:

Chocolate Bark

  • 700 g dark chocolate, brickchocolate
  • 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
  1. Chunk the chocolate brick, and melt in a double boiler over low heat, until melted, then take off the stove.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then spread the cardamom seeds and dried mango randomly.
  3. Pour the melted chocolate over the cardamom and mango. Add the pistachios and sea salt to the top.
  4. 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.

~ Matthew Craig

Meditating with Crystals – Garnet

For years, I used to pore over books about crystals, finding contradictory information and wondering how to know what was correct. As I mentioned in my post about Sodalite once I decided to meditate with my crystals and see what information they had to share with me, I discovered that every crystal is a unique individual.

As I began treating each crystal in this way, I could see the common properties and similarities between all stones of a type. But just as crystals amplify, absorb, clear, and store energy, they are affected by their experiences, the places they’ve been, how energetically clean they are, and the people who’ve handled them. Interesting how like us they are.

The garnet crystal I worked with in this session was one I bought at a rock and gem show in Abbotsford a few years ago. I bought it because it seemed to call to me from across the room. It was love at first sight.

garnet
In general, garnet is a rich red stone with a lovely energy. Because it’s commonly used in jewelry, you often see it cut and polished. In its rough form, however, the rich red garnet looks like a brownish red pebble. Garnet is sometimes known as the birthstone for January.

Here’s what I discovered about my garnet crystal when I meditated with it:

  • Garnet energy is quite grounding.
  • It heals and opens the sexual and procreative areas.
  • It enhances passion.
  • Garnet is good for the root chakra.
  • It allows for creative vision.
  • Garnet energizes the aura in a calm way and amplifies energy without any jarring.
  • It sharpens all the senses, especially smell and taste.

Garnet energy is self-contained, never showy. It is often used as a stone of protection. It promotes prudence and energetic awareness, clarity and calm.

As I experimented, I discovered some specific uses:

  • Held over the second chakra, it promotes creativity, the freedom to explore who you are and the ability to move from a plan into action.
  • Over the heart chakra, it enhances a love of truth, and opens your heart to your physical self.
  • Over the thymus, it opens you to stardust energy.
  • Over the throat, it opens you to creative communications – new ways.
  • Over the 3rd eye, it enhances archetypal visions, such as remembering experiences from past lives.
  • Held over the crown chakra, it encourages a flow of energy from the crown down to the root chakra – grounding, and bringing light into the body.

These are just some of the things I learned while meditating with this piece of garnet. I encourage you to do the same with some of the crystals that you share your home with.

~ Lisa Voisin, Level II Teacher
lisavoisin.com