Category Archives: Energy

Rest in Being: 7 Steps to Meditating

I attend a weekly group meditation during my lunch hour.  I am always so grateful for this shared experience of resting in stillness. The group is a safe place in which to let down one’s guard, quiet the mind and in the stillness, become aware of our divine connection to spirit.

The leader of the mediation group, Henry helps guide us from our mind consciousness which he describes as being busy checking things off our to-do list into our heart consciousness which rests in being and non-doing.

The irony of meditation is that you would think the disconnection from mind would make you feel empty, but the opposite is true. Henry guides us through a progressive relaxation and reminds us to not be perfectionists in our meditation practice. The mind fights giving up control to the heart and will distract you with errant thoughts and twitches.  Henry reminds us to acknowledge the thoughts and return to our breath or mantra to return to stillness.

Once in stillness, you are overcome with a sense of peace, love and gratitude.  It is an amazing place and the energy is amplified within the circle of seated colleagues joined in meditation.  I call this connecting to the grid and have written about this experience before.

Although you might think that connecting to source makes you feel small and lost within the immensity of it all – it is the opposite. The connection fills you up to brimming until it overflows. And all of this is done within stillness. In non-doing with gentle breathing. In and out. Out and in like the tide. No rules. Nothingness. Empty yet full.

The challenge in meditation is to bring the awareness of our connection to source back to our day-to-day activities. I find that the afterglow of meditation stays with me for the first hour back at my desk, but that the connection gradually dims and is replaced by busy-ness.  However, with intentional yogic breathing  I can bring myself back to the peaceful oasis within – even if it is fleeting.

It is a natural that we spend so much of our lives chasing happiness but it is crazy that we let others define what our happiness should look like with checkboxes for the right job, the right car, house, clothes, vacations, friends, pets  etc. You can add your own checkboxes to this list. Deep inside our spirit resists the boundaries created by all these checkboxes because it knows that our happiness does not lie in these false gods. Our happiness lies within ourselves and we spend our entire lives discovering this truth. Meditation helps you discover yourself.

Our happiness lies within ourselves | www.holisticsailor.com
Our happiness lies within ourselves and we spend our entire lives discovering this truth.

So how do you start a meditation practice? Here are my seven steps to begin meditating:

  1. Give yourself permission to take this time for yourself. This is probably the hardest step because we define success by our busy-ness and attach so much judgement to not being busy.
  2. Sit in a quiet spot where you won’t be interrupted. Remember this is your practice so there are no rules. You can sit cross-legged  or in a chair with your feet resting on the floor or whatever position promotes relaxation for you.
  3. Close your eyes and start breathing in and out slowly. Focus on your breathing.
  4. Relax your body by focusing your attention on your feet, knees, upper legs, etc. progressively moving up your body. Initially, you might find it easier to use a guided meditation for this part until you can do this for yourself unaided. Keep breathing.
  5. Some people find it helpful to focus on a word or sound to begin meditation. I use the word “Om”. Breathe in. Breathe out saying to yourself, “Om”.
  6. Continue in this pattern as long as you can. As my mind quietens, I drop “Om” and rest in being. If my mind starts to wander, I reintroduce “Om” with my breath and return to stillness.
  7. Initially, meditate for short periods of time and increase by five-minute intervals. Know that  all of this is meditation. The practice comes from the regular ‘being’ in meditation.

Resist the temptation of the mind to over-analyze and judge your meditation practice.  There is no right or wrong way to meditate. You don’t have to be in a certain space, building or country to meditate.  Eventually, you will be able to meditate on a busy bus, an airplane or during a walk. You carry the ability to meditate within yourself. It does not cost anything but your time. it is a gift of stillness that you give yourself to rest in being. Meditation allows you to discover your best self so that you can share this with your world.

Ego is a Jerk

I started being aware of ego when I was in high school. The “cool kids” in school would sit on the low window sills that lined the hallway outside the cafeteria. You always felt like you were being inspected by whoever was sitting there so you would try to avoid this hallway if possible. I don’t know if the cool kids were aware of the effect that they had on the uncool kids, but I somehow think that they must have. The weird thing is that as uncomfortable as it was to walk that hallway of judgement, there was a twisted desire to be one of the cool kids sitting on the window sill.

I became so annoyed about this group of students passing judgement on the rest of this that I wrote this poem which was published in my high school year book.

Ego - a poem I wrote in high school. | www.holisticsailor.com
Ego – a poem I wrote in high school

EGO

A conceivable object
breeding on liquor and foul language
always lusting for more, yet never satisfied.
Nurtured on inferior minds housed in toys of flesh.
Primates, brains yet to evolve. Lost in double standards.
Pygmies wearing over-sized suits and hats inflated for better fit.
Vulnerable to a pin-prick soon mended by conceit.
Impregnated with childlike notions. Immortal.
Few exceptions to the rule
yet to be found in
MAN.

The more self righteous I became about ego-maniacs and their arrogance, the more in denial I became about my own ego. You see, ego is a jerk and is very good at hiding its selfish behaviour often without any awareness by its host.

I learned more about ego through a meditation group which started exploring the work of Eckhart Tolle.  This reflective work forced me to look at my own inner jerk and I came away from this process with some thoughts that I’d like to share with you.

Eckhart Tolle quote: "Dogmas are collective prisons. And the strange thing is that people love their prison cells because they give them a false sense of 'I know'. Nothing has inflicted more suffering on humans than its dogmas." | www.holisticsailor.com

My belief is that we are all connected through one energetic source (call it whatever suits your spiritual or religious beliefs) and this universal source unites us; it makes us the same. When you are connected to source you have a constant reservoir of energy that sustains you. This connection is very humbling and brings with it an awareness of your responsibility to serve others.

When you are not connected to source, you are in an energetic deficit and have to find an alternate source of energy. A disconnected spirit is vulnerable to the actions of ego: judging others; comparing yourself to others, jealousy, passive-aggressive behaviour; gossiping. Ego loves this stuff because he is such a jerk!

Director, Alejandro G. Inarritu who in 2015, won the Academy Award for Best Director for his film, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virture of Ignorance)” had this to say about ego. (Skip to 2:15 in the video if you are short on time.)

When I worked as a body worker (on people not cars), I was privileged to work with a fantastic group of like-minded people who shared the common desire to help their clients feel better. There was no gloating over successes, bragging or one-upmanship. There was deep satisfaction in the act of serving another. Could happiness be this simple? Could the only person that you compete with be a better version of yourself?

Social media can feed ego if you let it. Likes and faves can cause you to run to your iPhone every half-hour. Apps and services that can buy followers create a false reality of being popular. Facebook posts can show happy-happy days without the reality of poopy diapers and snotty-nosed children. That jerk, ego loves social media!

But is there a place for ego? The yang for the yin? Do leaders need a healthy ego in order to take risks and overcome adversity? Some leaders might fit this profile, but will they be happy in their accomplishments or  will ego crave more power – more money – more something? Consider the candidates currently running for President in the United States. You could line candidates up under one of two signs: “Ego” and “Serving others”.

Ego is a jerk and likes to sneak up on you when you are least expecting it – when you are unaware. So what can you do to keep this jerk out of your life? Lately I have been applying a filter on my thoughts, words and actions by asking myself if this serves my higher self (God spark/source) or ego. It is an interesting exercise and keeps me honest with my intentions because ego tries to convince you that it is acting with the best of intentions but sometimes ego lies because (let’s say it together) –  ego is a jerk.

Do you have any stories to share about ego or tips to keep it in check?

Connecting to the Grid

When I first started doing body work, I didn’t know very much about energy in the body. However, the more that I gave treatments to people, the more aware I became of this invisible ribbon. I was lucky to be surrounded by experienced and gifted healers and was introduced to Reiki. In fact, several of my colleagues were Reiki Masters and I was soon signed up for my Reiki I class.

Through further training, reading and the daily practice of being in the energy field of clients, I honed and strengthened my connection to this energy. Grounding myself in its wisdom and strength before laying hands on each client, I asked for guidance and clarity as I began each treatment. This allowing of the divine energy to enter my body was foreign to me at first but there was no denying its presence.

It is in the allowing that healing happens. It required focusing on working to the highest good of my client without any attachment to the outcome; leaving ego behind at the door and using skills developed over time and through practice. Trusting

“You have amazing hands,” one client told me.

I thanked him but acknowledged that I was only a conduit for the energy.

“That was amazing,” another client said. “It felt like there were two sets of hands on me.”

As I gained confidence in trusting the invisible force, I began to incorporate the teachings from my reflexology, aromatherapy and Reiki training into a single session. And this is where the magic happened. Experience, skill and intuition meeting with a goal to do well for my client. If I was too much in my head, a treatment would be good – not great.

The eleven years that I worked as a spa therapist were some of the most gratifying professional experiences that I have encountered. Our team of therapists were gifted, inspired individuals united in their desire to serve others. We were lead by a great manager who provided a safe, nurturing work environment which allowed us to explore and expand our abilities.

I am no longer working in the spa industry, but I cannot undo the connection to the grid. This has proven to be challenging as I have made the mistake of assuming that others share the same awareness or would even tolerate acknowledgement of its existence. My first reaction to this was to deny my connection and leave this divine wisdom behind me in my spa therapist career, but this duality within myself was not sustainable.

I have recently figured out a solution that is helping me navigate this transition and it is this that I want to share with you. In denying my God spark, I was also denying the God spark in others and this was leading to judgements and resistance. By acknowledging the God spark in others first before you interact with them forces you to acknowledge the energy that connects us all. It allows you to pause and intercept a reactive impulse by keeping you present in your shared universal energy. Ego doesn’t like one-upmanship and will rebel, but if you are grounded in your “I am” there is no threat.

Maintaining the connection to this energy or spirit is the challenge. Actually, it is your awareness of the connection that falters – you are always connected to the grid. The white noise of life has the capacity to drown out the voice of our spirit, but it is always there.

When someone is unkind to you, being grounded in spirit allows you to see the glimmer of their God spark buried under a mess of hurt and anger. It allows you to not be drawn into their drama and move quickly to compassion. This does not mean that you are a pushover – just more aware and tolerant of suffering.

When I am struggling with something or someone, I ask myself if I am acting from my ego or my “I am”. This filter brings another level of awareness to my actions. Ego-based action is an indication of losing the connection with “I am” and reminds you to pause and reconnect.

It is difficult to maintain your connection to the “I am” if you are not taking care of yourself with adequate sleep, nourishing food and time in nature. We can become so unbalanced that we are overwhelmed and do not have the energy to step on the path of self care. My advice to my clients was to choose one thing and start with that. As physical unease diminishes, you will naturally be drawn to choices that support a path of increased energy.

We are works in progress – not perfection although our God spark is perfection. It is in living in the human form that we become disconnected from our divine self.

The God spark in me sees the God spark in you. Namaste.

Your Body’s Wiring

During the 11 years that I worked as  a spa therapist, I became increasingly fascinated by energy. The more that I worked, the more that I could feel it in my body. It was as if I was becoming an antenna for human energy.

With study and practice, I learned how to channel this energy to my hands and learnt how to discard energy that I picked up from my clients. When you try to talk to people about this experience, some will think that you are crazy because it requires believing in something that you cannot see.

My inquiring mind believed that there had to be a logical explanation for what I was feeling. When I read Kumud Ajmani’s post this morning for tomorrow’s #SpiritChat (Sundays, 9:00 EST on Twitter) – he captured succinctly, what I had questioned.

“… the basic principle of electricity – for a given “potential” (voltage), the amount of current that flows through a “circuit” is inversely proportional to the amount of “resistance” in the circuit. The practical application of this principle can be felt in many areas of lives, if we view our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual bodies, each as and interdependent “circuit”. An increase in the amount of “resistance” in any one of our “bodies” will add to the overall resistance of our holistic electrical system, and hence reduce the amount of “current” that is available to us.” You can read more of Kumud’s wonderful explanation here and please feel free to join the conversation during Spirit Chat.

Reflexology was the first therapy that I became certified in.  A sensitive reflex was an indication of imbalance in the corresponding body part – something was either working too much or too little. The more that I could feel the shift of energy in my hands, the more I came to understand the mechanism of how this works. An imbalance in the channel to the reflex impaired the flow of energy in the body and as a result, impaired the flow of circulation of blood and lymph. The cause of the blockage could be physical, mental, emotional or spiritual.

When I was working on someone’s feet, I could feel the congestion in the reflex point and could also feel when it cleared. I was originally taught to press on the reflex point three times before moving onto the next reflex, but as my hands became more sensitive, I would work the point until I could feel the energy shift.

One incredible experience deepened my understanding of the wiring in our bodies. While working on the bladder meridian for a client, she experienced a rush of energy from the point up into her abdomen. She described the sensation as if a lightning bolt had shot through her leg. I gently continued to work the point and could gradually feel the energy start to flow in her foot and then her foot became very warm. Circulation follows energy.

Circulation follows energy | holisticsailor.com

My understanding of reflexology up until this point had been that an imbalance in the channel caused the sensitive reflex point in the foot. However, in this case it was the opposite.

The next day, my client called the spa and booked another appointment.  When I greeted her, she was beaming ear to ear. She told me that the reflexology treatment had cured her urinary track problems. I am reluctant to use the word “cure” and firmly believe that natural therapies aid the body in restoring equilibrium, however, I wanted to explore this further.

I asked her many questions about her urinary track condition and treatment which had developed suddenly six months before. I am always curious when there is a “sudden” change in the body, so asked if anything unusual was going on in her life at this point in time. Rooted in my holistic belief about balance, I was expecting to hear that she had been stressed at the time.

My client couldn’t think of anything unusual – everything was fine except for a klutzy episode where she had caught her baby toe in the car door and broker her toe. Hmmnn. Shortly thereafter, she began experiencing urinary track problems which would not improve in spite of visits to a specialist and taking medication. In fact, when she came to see me the week before, her condition had been worsening.

Could the injury to her toe, have caused a blockage in her “wiring” to the bladder? Could this disruption cause dysfunction along the channel? During the reflexology treatment, was the charge of energy that my client experienced an unblocking of that channel? I do not know the answers to these questions. However, it did make me question the relationship between old injuries and imbalances in the body. I think it would be fascinating to explore these questions through research.

Through my years of doing body work and approaching this work with a questioning mind, I am confident that there are scientific explanations for unexplained healing. We may not have the tools yet to measure the experience, but it does not mean that it isn’t real.

In the meantime, how can we maintain the flow of energy in our wiring? I think, finding balance in our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual selves is key in order to allow the energy that comes from our natural world to move through us. I know for me, that I have to be immersed in nature as often as I can.

Please feel free to share your experiences and understanding of the wiring in our bodies in the comments section. I know that I am not alone in these experiences and would love to hear from you.