Recently I went to a community-healing event called Changing Patterns with acupuncture and crystal resonance therapy. I was one of seven participants at the 3-hour experience with Samantha Story and Christel Alberez.
As I lay on the floor of The Reiki School + Clinic, a singing bowl sounded and Christel began a guided meditation. The image I recall most from her words was the invitation to see myself as a snake shedding my skin by slithering along the rough earth.
Loosen what is dead, expose what is fresh.
Samantha placed acupuncture needles in my hands, feet, elbows, knees, third eye, and at the crown of my head. Christel arranged clusters of garnets on my chest.
I felt restless and caught up in my story. Who I’ve been on this planet in this life. Who I’ve hurt. Who I’ve loved. What I’ve created. What I’ve destroyed. My illusions and delusions. My gifts and adventures. My hopes and fears.
Brain clutter, day dreams, soul aches.
The singing bowl sounded again and I was asked to arrive back into the moment, and into my body, to open my eyes to the bright 2pm daylight.
When I was fifteen and falling into dating for the first time, which overlapped with my Aunt Joan’s death, I used to spend hours sitting on the slate pathway in my front yard burning sticks and leaves over little tea candle flames, chanting along to songs by Ani Difranco, the music of my magic heartache.
During that time I recall feeling quite tortured by the pains of growing up, isolated in my grief, and desperate for communion with the mystery of Spirit. Without external direction, my intuition led me to that ritual.
Burning stuff up was a vital lifeline for me.
That was one of my only intentional coping mechanisms at that time and it’s still a practice I turn to these days. The candles I use today are clean burning soy wax in glass containers with lead-free wicks and I’m partial to burning palo santo and sage instead of random sticks found in my backyard.
The raw materials have matured, but the tool still serves me. This ritual helps me to get present with myself and the flow of life, to honor the elements, and to meditate on a flame, usually accompanied by music.
As a grownup on an intentional healing path, I still can find my way to feelings of emotional torture, social isolation, and desperation for soulful connection.
Today though, I have more ways to intentionally navigate these feelings.
The tools arrived one by one and my capacity to pick them up has grown slowly. I give myself Reiki when I wake up and before I go to sleep. I meditate for five to twenty minutes most mornings. I record my dreams from the night before when I wake up. I drink a veggie juice or smoothie daily. I believe in something bigger than myself and I pray to turn my life over to that guidance.
I draw about my feelings, read the books that fall off the shelf, seek out teachers to make suggestions along the way, and do my best to help someone else as often as I possibly can. I get massages regularly, I confess the truth about my destructive obsessions to another human being daily, and I work on cultivating compassion for myself about letting the dishes pile way up in my kitchen sink.
Another one of the tools I’ve been learning to use is making the choice to grow in community and to work with other healers — devoting time, money, and attention to healing spaces, experiences, practitioners, and community.
So, back to the Changing Patterns event. I went to the event to support my friends Christel and Samantha and also to experience what might unfold from announcing to the universe in a room of other seekers that I’m available for my old, used up patterns to change.
I came, I meditated, I received, I shared.
That would have been enough.
A cool thing though about my experience on the healing path, which is not unique, is that a lot of the medicine from any session — be it art making, shiatsu, acupuncture, storytelling, Reiki, hiking — is what unfolds in the time after the session.
In the two weeks since the Changing Patterns situation, the following things have happened for me:
+ Told my healing story to a room of 50+ people for half an hour
+ Paid off my way overdue taxes from 1.5 years ago. I said “there’s more where this comes from” as I wrote each check and drew a picture and the words “Thank You” on each envelope.
+ Prepared my documents for last year’s taxes BEFORE the April 15 deadline (shocking stuff)
+ Created a website that I said I would complete one year ago
+ Saw so many puppies this week that made my inner child squeal with glee about the possibility of adopting a dog soon, something that’s been emotionally off the table for what feels like ages
+ Took a bath with rose petals
+ Had numerous soul connection conversations with kaliana mitra (friends on the path)
+ Said “no thanks” to a few out-of-alignment invitations
+ Made an altar in honor of my burgeoning solo tantra practice, which has been intimidating me for a while now
+ Am feeling brave enough to share these wins with you here
I feel steeped in acceptance, love, and support.
I feel confident that as change arrives — and change is the only thing that is guaranteed — I am flush with tools to move through whatever pain arises. I’ve never felt this way before now. For me, the self-acceptance and self-confidence of an inner knowing that says, “The Universe has my back, show me what you’ve got,” is enormously comforting.
I’m writing about this for three reasons.
1. I’m learning that a wealth of healing medicine comes from sharing shame, insight, and joy with community. In that light, I want to celebrate what’s working.
A rising tide raises all ships.
2. I didn’t always feel this way. I was interviewed last month and the journalist contacted me this week for a round of fact checking. When I heard him read back some of my quotes about how awful I felt before the onset of this healing journey, I had to pause for a moment and ask myself, “Did I really feel that soul-sick? Did I really want to die? Was I actually having panic attacks that often?”
The answer is Yes — that is what was going on for me before I surrendered to the fact that most things in my life were undergoing change and that I was in dire need of more strategies for living life.
I want to survive depression, addiction, and un-relenting self-centered fear.
3. I’m sharing about healing within community, my personal successes (taxes, art, and pleasure), and a reflection on how crap my life felt before this devotional journey began because I’m gearing up to create a book filled with my art and writing about my unfolding path and whatever is useful to share in that format. I imagine that I’ll also be making online group courses around art, healing, and spirituality as I draw, write, publish, and launch that book. And I want to keep you in the loop.
Right now I’m working on making a free gift for people who sign up to join my mailing list and I would LOVE your feedback so that I can create something that you would genuinely enjoy receiving. Follow this link to anonymously fill out my survey, which could take two to ten minutes of your time.
I am so relieved that these days I have a ton more tools in my toolbox than burning stuff down (the metaphor slays me) to cope with being human. And I’m ready to share more of those practices with you.
Pick one tool from this list and let your day shift:
+ Get a Reiki session
+ Record your dreams
+ Drink some green juice
+ Turn the moment over to something bigger than yourself
+ Say a prayer
+ Read a book that calls your name
+ Seek out a new teacher and take her suggestions
+ Help someone else
+ Get a massage
+ Tell a truth that needs confessing to someone you trust
+ Cultivate compassion for whatever mess is in your life
+ Take a bath with rose petals
+ Light a candle and burn a stick