The Courage Required for Transformation

Man cannot discover new oceans until he has courage to lose sight of the shore. Anonymous

Often we only think of transformation in terms of the end result. That’s when we celebrate and reflect on how far we’ve come! We enjoy and feel pride in ourselves for arriving at the new place, whether it’s a new job, new relationship, new understanding, or new version of ourselves. We know that we have put in hours of work, revision, research, and contemplation getting to know ourselves and/or others so that we are able to move forward into the next best thing. The journey has traversed a multitude of potential barriers in the form of challenges, obstacles, and less than stellar encounters. Yet we prevailed and have been transformed!

What we may forget about in the act of jubilation, is the starting point of any change. In facing a major makeover in our lives, we often face a great deal of fear. It can present as an underlying sense of discomfort and anxiety or a debilitating fear. We are embarking on a shift from a familiar situation and taking a leap into what is unknown and unsure. It takes courage, sometimes large amounts of courage, to change and face what may feel like insurmountable odds.

Humans are creatures of habit. Habits are how we learn to function in society. Some habits are simply automatic like breathing; others are necessary for survival like eating and drinking regularly, having a physical shelter where we can sleep safely, or wearing clothing to protect us from the elements. Other habits include how we interact with others, what our habitual mindset is, what emotions are most available to us, or how we treat ourselves. These last patterns are often the result of constant verbal, emotional, or physical reinforcement received at the hands of our parents or guardians. These patterns become locked in and we move about our lives with these habitual patterns running in the background influencing everything we do, say, or believe.

When we are no longer content or able to remain functioning from the background behavioral and emotional patterns, that is when we look for a way out – a way out of where we are in the present moment. Perhaps it has become unbearably difficult to stay in the same job, home, relationship, or, even, be the same person. Perhaps we will die – either quickly or slowly – if we don’t make a switch. Maybe we are so bored that to face another day like yesterday and the previous days without a change is unfathomable. We can be running away from a painful past or moving forward to an idealized future. Regardless of our motivation, we are looking for a course correction.

In order to transform, we must be willing to shed our skins, like snakes, so that the new skin can begin to emerge. During the shedding and before the new skin has fully formed, we are vulnerable. We don’t have the comfort of the old habits to maintain us and, yet, we also don’t have the new future pattern firmly in place. This is where fear comes in.

How do we know that what we envision will work? What if the vision is a moving target? What if we “fail”? How do we trust what we’ve never actually experienced before? Will we have to leave everything and everyone we’ve known in the past behind? Will anyone love us when we have changed? Will we recognize and like ourselves in the future?

Our very identity is at stake. We may have an image or dream to guide us but there is the moment of leaving behind what was and standing at the precipice, before we reach for what will be. We are by ourselves at this moment. It is our decision alone to go forward, stay still, or go back. Leaving the familiar awful for the mysterious unknown. This takes courage, enormous courage.

Sometimes we don’t have the courage required for transformation. In the end, we want to stay as we are with no alteration in our habits. A former friend of mine found that when he was standing on the precipice of transformation, he was not willing to let go. His decision was to maintain the habitual belief that he was not lovable and didn’t deserve to be in a romantic relationship. He was unwilling to change his “story”. Painful as this was to observe, my friend made his choice and turned back from the ledge and walked back to his old way of being. The familiar patterns held a siren song for him from which he couldn’t break free.

In my own life, it has taken enormous courage to make a later life career change to become an energy medicine practitioner. To do so, I had to surmount the fear of financial ruin, the fear of ridicule by family and friends, and the fear that I would fail. Energy medicine is on the cutting edge of health practices and has not been widely respected in the western world. I had to buck the prevalent trend in western medical theories and beliefs. There were days of almost paralyzing fear that I was embarking on a fool hardy course. But in the end, I had to move forward into this new career. Despite the anxiety, I had to step out from the precipice to continue to grow as a person. I found the courage to stride forward into the mysterious unknown and transform.

© 2017 by Sheila Peters. All rights reserved.

 

Sheila Peters is a certified Eden Energy Medicine Practitioner, Reiki Practitioner, and wingWave©Coach. She also teaches Stretch, Energy Body Tune-up, and Jazz Dance classes and workshops. For more information email Sheila at: sheilapetersdance@gmail.com, call 781-354-0725, or visit Sheila’s website at: www.energymedicineanddance.com.

 

 

Disregard the Body at the Mind’s Peril

“Western culture is astoundingly disembodied and uniquely so.”

Dr.  Bessel Van Der Kolk, Medical Director of the Trauma Center at the Justice Resource Institute in Brookline, Massachusetts.

It should not be surprising to anyone that people in Western societies generally do not fully inhabit their bodies. It is a culture that lives more in the mind and, in fact, eschews the body for the perceived ”rewards” of the mind: money, power, success, and one-upsmanship. Embracing the mind as the ultimate in human experience has become the greatest goal of Western society and it has precipitated the decline of the very instrument that houses the mind – the physical body. This way of thinking can be traced back to The Age of Reason which is defined by Dictionary.com as:

any period in history, especially the 18th century in France, England, etc., characterized by a critical approach to religious, social, and philosophical matters that seeks to repudiate beliefs or systems not based on or justifiable by reason.

Reason is the rationalization, through logic, that is behind a course of action. At least that is how it is defined in Western societies. It is considered a purely mental exercise and solely utilizes the intellect of the brain. Clearly there have been many innovations that have benefitted the world through the hard clear logic of the brain, however, there is much that has been lost in the belief that all that matters is the workings of the mind.

By Filosofias filosoficas (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Witness the near epidemic of obesity, the increase of cancer and other immune deficiency diseases, and the loneliness and alienation found in “modern” communities. Our physical instruments are bearing the brunt of our belief that reason is the fundamental and decisive element in creating a utopian world. However, sitting at a desk in front of a computer for 8 plus hours a day without a break will wreak havoc on the body and, not coincidentally, eventually on our highly vaunted minds. Headaches; carpal tunnel syndrome; increased stress on the joints, muscles, skeleton, and fascia; high blood pressure; and heart disease all result from ignoring our bodies and disregarding the intelligence found in the heart and the gut.

We are an integrated system whereby the mind, housed in the brain, is nurtured and kept healthy by the body. The body’s messages are sent to inform the brain to help the mind determine what is in the best interests of the whole organism. When the mind ignores these messages, disaster can strike – namely the breakdown of the body which the mind cannot function without. If the body ceases to exist, then the mind does as well.

Interestingly enough, scientists have determined that both the heart and the stomach are strong centers of electrical functioning. In fact, the heart has a higher electrical output than the brain. HeartMath Institute Director of Research Rollin McCraty authored a paper entitled, The Energetic Heart: Bioelectromagnetic Communication Within and Between People, in which he states that “The heart generates the largest electromagnetic field in the body. The electrical field as measured in an electrocardiogram (ECG) is about 60 times greater in amplitude than the brain waves recorded in an electroencephalogram (EEG).”

In Science of the Heart, HeartMath Institute’s ebook, the new discipline now called Neurocardiology has found that the “heart has a complex neural network that is sufficiently extensive to be characterized as a brain on the heart. The heart-brain, as it is commonly called, or intrinsic cardiac nervous system, is an intricate network of complex ganglia, neurotransmitters, proteins and support cells, the same as those of the brain in the head. The heart-brain’s neural circuitry enables it to act independently of the cranial brain to learn, remember, make decisions, and even feel and sense.”

If the heart has the ability to ‘learn, remember, make decisions, and even feel and sense’, then clearly it has much to contribute towards the functioning of our lives. The heart regulates the flow and rhythm of life-giving blood and distributes nourishing oxygen throughout the cells, muscles, and brain of the body. Thus the heart has direct access to the physical body through its bloodstream and can easily absorb messages that the body is providing. In some situations we may find that our hearts know better than our reasoning minds about how to proceed in the most optimum way. To ignore the intelligence of the heart, and therefore the body, means we function at half our ability to negotiate throughout the myriad challenges and joys that this world offers.

 

Fortunately, western psychiatrists are learning what many cultures have known for centuries – that mental trauma is more easily dispersed if a physical practice accompanies therapy. The mind is not the only place that trauma is stored. It is also stored in the cells of the physical body. Talk therapy can help a client to consciously understand the triggers and cause and effect of events through the reasoning of the mind but the body most likely holds onto the emotional ordeal. The body must be given an opportunity to discharge the distress as well the mind before full healing can occur.

This release can be accomplished through many of the alternative healing methodologies that have been introduced into western culture in the last century or so: yoga, chiropractic, qigong, acupuncture, cranial sacral work, and energy medicine. What these alternative healing methodologies understand is that the body has its own wisdom that may not seem logical or reasonable to the mind. Simple breathing techniques can help calm the body and begin to integrate the learnings of the mind with the cellular memories of the body. Regular movement of the body through exercise can allow the bio-chemicals released through traumatic and stressful experiences to dissipate in a healthy way and allow the parasympathetic system a chance to calm down the flight, flight, or freeze response of the sympathetic system response. Even long term PTSD can be repaired through attention to the body’s physical needs, signals, and responses to find ways to release blockages, chronically held emotions, and Pavlovian type reactions.

We, in the western cultures, ignore our bodies at our minds’ peril. Awareness and care of the body enhances and is essential to the mind’s health. Recognition of the wisdom and intelligence of the heart and the physical body allows us to function optimally – synchronizing heart, body, and mind.

© 2017 by Sheila Peters. All rights reserved.

Sheila Peters is a certified Eden Energy Medicine Practitioner, Reiki Practitioner, and wingWave©Coach. She also teaches Stretch/Energy Body Tune-up and Jazz Dance classes and workshops. For more information email Sheila at: sheilapetersdance@gmail.com, call 781-354-0725, or visit Sheila’s website at: www.energymedicineanddance.com.

The Rhythm of Winter

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I’m feeling it now – the urge to go within and be quiet. Peaceful as the snow falls while I walk in the woods by myself. There are movements and small noises around me with the tumbling of the snowflakes and the slight sighing breeze through the treetops. The tree trunks stand tall and comforting, staying close, almost like a vertical blanket keeping me protected. I can ruminate to my heart’s content out here in nature, almost like being in a trance state.

In my inner eye, I see another scene. It’s still winter but the climate is not cold. The waves call to me from a Pacific Ocean beach as I search the surface of the water for dolphins. This time the breeze is stronger and cools the sweat off my skin as I breathe deeply and let my body relax after running along the water’s edge for miles. The sun’s rays are strong, the water is a deep blue, and I hear the seagulls above my head. My heart beat slows and I feel my consciousness drift.

A new vision emerges. There is dappled light coming through the jungle of trees that surrounds the nondescript hole in the ground. The limestone entrance leads underground to high vaulted chambers. As I descend the ladder, I notice my skin’s slight shiver as the temperature becomes somewhat cooler than the noontime high above ground. The water glimmers invitingly so I slip gently into it and begin to follow the slight current through the ancient cenote. There are sparkles of fish scales and I follow, feeling like I am in the waters of the earth’s womb.

Another winter and I’m by the side of a river dangling my snowshoed feet towards the water as I sit on the snow covered bank. My jacket is off because the heat from the sun is melting all the frozen water around me. I watch as tiny ice particles drip into the semi-flowing water creating paisley-like designs. I’m mesmerized and stay patiently in place as I view the changing microscopic world around me. I look up to the sky and see the clouds are mirroring the patterns that the minute particles of water on the riverbank are creating.

What do all of the above memories share? All took place in the winter season, outdoors in nature, and brought me to a meditative state. I went inward and found myself being part of the eternal beauty of nature. I realized that my physical body and all beyond it were made of the same stuff – elements, atoms, biochemicals, and the spark of universal life. I felt at peace and at one with the rest of the universe. It was mystical, mysterious, and renewing.

Winter is a season of going within, of reflection, of assessing and learning so that energies can be gathered together to become stronger and wiser. This inner reflection generates new thoughts and ideas, and new ways to grow for the coming spring season when innovation can come to life.

Sometimes I am impatient for spring to come especially in the last stages of February. I’m ready to burst out of my shell like a seed waiting to sprout in the nourishing dark earth. So I take myself outside once again and reconnect with the beauty around me. Nature reminds me that this is the time for meditation, dreaming, and just being in my essence. Quiet, still, breathing, listening.

© 2017 by Sheila Peters. All rights reserved.

IMG_0195Sheila Peters is a certified Eden Energy Medicine Practitioner, Reiki Practitioner, and wingWave©Coach. She also teaches Stretch/Energy Body Tune-up and Jazz Dance classes and workshops. For more information email Sheila at: sheilapetersdance@gmail.com, call 781-354-0725, or visit Sheila’s website at: www.energymedicineanddance.com.

November 12 – First Ever Healthapalooza! At Starfish Dance & Yoga

slide1Where could you find 6 wellness practitioners sharing their expertise, love, and devotion to creating more health and providence in your life? At the November 12th Healthapalooza from 12 noon to 5pm at the Starfish Dance & Yoga studio, 135 Commonwealth Ave, West Concord. Demonstrations, mini-classes, and info sessions will be offered by 6 experts during this afternoon to acquaint you with ways to improve your health and wellness. Come learn how to improve and maintain your physical, emotional, and energetic well-being during this interactive and free event!

 
Informational sessions will include: Energy Medicine, Nutrition, BEMER, Iridology, EMDR, and Svaroopa® Yoga. Attendees can participate in demos, classes, and get answers to personal questions. The list of practitioners includes: Sheila Peters, Nina Manolson, Sunshine Beeson, Lisa Pearl, Linsey Hurley, and Lissa Fountain. Go to our website: www.starfishdanceyoga.com for detailed schedule of practitioners and free classes.

 

Maria Skinner, owner of Starfish Dance & Yoga, is proud to present this illustrious group of wellness practitioners at her studio’s first ever Healthapalooza. “This is an exciting event where attendees can learn about many different wellness modalities at the same place on the same day! Also, there are great raffle donations available from the practitioners. Come early and stay late!”

 

About Starfish Dance & Yoga
StarFish Dance & Yoga (formerly Yoga & Nia For Life) has been sharing yoga, dance, and body-centered methods of well-being in West Concord, MA since 1995. The studio shares practices that help keep participants centered, grounded, connected to their healthiest selves and thriving in their bodies. Starfish welcomes everyone and accommodates all levels of fitness to classes and events. http://starfishdanceyoga.com/

 

About the Practitioners
Maria Skinner is the owner of StarFish Dance & Yoga (formerly Yoga & Nia For Life) in West Concord, MA. She is a BeSoul Dance Practitioner, Nia Black Belted, former Nia White Belt Trainer, creatrix of Moga and Elements in Movement, MoveMyWay, and Embodied Astrology. She is also a Certified Ageless Grace® Educator. Maria co-authored the Spanish translation of Our Bodies, Ourselves; Nuestros Cuerpos, Nuestras Vidas; and contributed to My Hungry Head by Marybeth Sherrin.

 
Sheila Peters is an Energy Medicine Practitioner, Reiki Practitioner, and has been dancing professionally for over 35 years. Sheila creates classes, workshops, and private sessions that utilize energy medicine principles and movement skills to help increase vitality, reduce stress and anxiety, strengthen the immune system, improve focus and concentration, aid both personal and working relationships, and facilitate transformational change. She holds a BA in Dance and a MS in Leadership.

 
Nina Manolson has over 25 years’ experience in the health and wellness field and is the recipient of the prestigious Integrative Nutrition Health Leadership Award. She holds a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology and is a Certified Holistic Health Coach, Certified Psychology of Eating Coach and Teacher, and the author of Feed Your Kids Well in a World That Doesn’t: An everyday guide to making healthy food happen in your home and beyond. Nina is also a Bodyworker, Bodywork Teacher and Yoga Teacher.

 
Linsey Hurley is a certified Holistic Health Coach and has been working in the Health and Wellness field for over 25 years. Certified in Bach Flower Therapy and Reconnective Healing, Linsey utilizes many different modalities such as essential oils, homeopathy, and low level laser therapy in her practice. Linsey now focuses her time on BEMER therapy, which is an exciting new medical technology that enhances circulation at the capillary level, and therefore stimulates the body’s own self-healing capabilities.

 

Sunshine Beeson is a certified Iridologist and does holistic coaching and counseling work. Her training includes Western Herbs, Diet & Nutrition, Chines Herbs, Ayurvedic medicine, Aromatherapy, Bach Flower Essences, Psychology/Counseling. She had been initiated by Native American Southern Ute Tribal leaders to facilitate sweat lodges for the past 25 years.

 

Lisa Pearl, MS, RD, LDN, CEDRD, CEDS, is a licensed clinical nutritionist and eating disorder specialist. She is the founder of CNC360 as well as a clinician with over 30 years of experience in providing treatment, education, training and mentoring in the field. Lisa’s services include nutrition therapy, case consultations, and professional supervision.

 

Lissa Fountain is a Leading Svaroopa® Yoga and Meditation teacher, as well as an assistant teacher at Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram. For 18 years, she has been teaching yoga and meditation classes and offering Yoga Therapy throughout Metro-west Boston. In 2008 she was invited to become a national teacher for Svaroopa®Yoga and Meditation, and has been enjoying leading Weekend Workshops for yoga studios across the country ever since.

Seeing – The Art of Observation

How much do you really see each moment in time? How much do you see of the people that surround you? Of the buildings and art that you encounter? Of the natural world around you? Do you sometimes take it all for granted and stop noticing the new messages that are coming at you from people, art, and nature?

 

More often than not, we are so involved in our personal adventures that we don’t physically see what is right in front of us. We get caught up in our heads and focus with blinders or tunnel vision on our emotions, desires, strivings, and accomplishments. Once we embed the essential images of our surroundings and the people that fill them, we often don’t pay attention beyond the immediate need and slip into autopilot. It then becomes easy to miss what is right before our eyes.

 

I remember the summer that I was living in an Airstream RV, just as a place to sleep in. Most of my time was spent out in the trees, trails, and beaches of Cape Cod. I’d stayed in the Airstream before, so I knew it quite well and hardly saw the interior anymore. I’d arrive at nighttime, flop down in my bunk to sleep, and only stay to heat up water for tea in the morning. It took about 5 days for me to finally see what had been there all along. When I did, it was a shock!dangling mouse feet

 

Up in a grate on the ceiling of the Airstream was a group of little feet hanging down. Feet of mice that had wintered in the unheated vehicle and died. They were hanging, barely, by their heads. I had walked underneath them a multitude of times during those 5 days, never even noticing them. They were only a few inches above my head, but I never noticed them dangling there. I was so intent on my preconceived notions of what my environment had been in the past that I didn’t look with observant eyes at what was in the present. I was almost functioning in a trance state, not truly interacting with the “now”.

 

We miss so much! Sometimes being on autopilot is a helpful way of being. But so often, autopilot cuts us off from new thoughts, emotions, ideas, and connections. We don’t notice the messages or synchronicities that are trying to tell us something important…until we are smacked in the face. For example, we don’t register the unhappy emotions that we may be having about some part of our life because they don’t fit into our preconceived notions of who we are. Or we don’t want to feel those emotions and work out what they mean. Then wham! We wind up injured, or having an accident, or getting sick. Only then do we slow down (because we are forced to) and re-evaluate. Only then do we see what we were blind to previously.

 

I attended a day-long shamanic workshop recently where my lack of attention to what I was seeing in my life was viscerally pointed out to me. In performing an exercise given to us by an Ecuadorian shaman, I discovered what had been troubling me. Sitting under the fir trees on a needle-strewn slope and looking down on a raindrop-sprinkled pond, I was able finally to feel what I’d been avoiding understanding about relationships for years.

 

Later, when I moved through the woods during another exercise, I found some clarity about my fears about relationships as I grasped the significance of a tree right in front of me. Looking up into the sky, I saw two trunks with their crowns of leaves moving in the wind as if they were having a gentle conversation, sometimes touching and sometimes not. Following the two trunks down to the ground, I saw that they were actually joined at the base. The image was a profound message specifically for me. I began to imagine how I could be in a relationship where I remained true to myself yet was joined to a partner in a mutually beneficial way.

 

tree trunksAfter the workshop, the image of a tree with multiple trunks fused together at the base was echoed everywhere I looked. Just outside my front door are two such trees. Had I ever noticed them before? Superficially yes, but on a deeper level, clearly not. By being in the moment and deeply seeing, such observations can resonate in our hearts and reveal what may be the very inspiration that we are craving.

 

The art of seeing – of observation – is one that needs to be practiced in the present moment. The world is constantly changing. In fact, it is in a constant dynamic change. We must observe the world with a child’s eye of innocence so that we can experience the world as it actually is, not what we may have thought it was in past moments. If we don’t stay in the present and allow all possibilities a chance to emerge, then our lives become poorer and less meaningful. We lose out.

 

The art of observation is the art of perceiving the new, ever-expanding realm of ideas, themes, symbols, messages, answers, clarity, connections, and beauty that are just waiting for us to notice them.

 

 

© 2016 by Sheila Peters. All rights reserved.

 

IMG_0195Sheila Peters is a certified Eden Energy Medicine Practitioner, Reiki Practitioner, and wingWave©Coach. She also teaches Energy Body Tune-up, Stretch/Energy, and Jazz Dance classes and workshops. Email Sheila at: sheilapetersdance@gmail.com.  For more information, visit Sheila’s website at: www.energymedicineanddance.com.

 

 

I Am Not My Emotions

Sometimes I feel like my anxiety or fear or irritation are all that I am. Strongly-felt emotions can color how I see the world, and the world can seem to reflect them back at me as well. Even on a beautiful sunny day I can feel frustrated, lonely, or bored. There are so many negative human emotions and, at some point in my life, I’ve experienced them all. This is when I need to remind myself that I am not my emotions.

 

Mermaid_WeathervaneEmotions are only indicators – they tell me which way the wind is blowing. If I am feeling anxious, it is a signal that something isn’t right in my life. Whatever it is, the anxiety is letting me know it’s time to look at what the cause might be and to make a change. If I don’t investigate the source of the anxiety then I will likely carry it with me throughout the day, week, or month. It will invade my relationships at home and work.

 

Emotions are a vibration of a specific type of energy. That’s why others around me can tell how I am feeling despite my best efforts to hide my emotions. Body language is a great clue to reading emotional states. Minute facial expressions that fleet across our features can reveal much to anyone that is observing closely. Paul Ekman has been studying these tiny micro-expressions for years across all cultures. He has discovered that certain emotional states are immediately recognizable to all humans, regardless of culture. We are in fact hard-wired with mirror neurons that enable us to mimic the emotions being revealed by those we watch and therefore experience a taste of what is going on emotionally for those we watch.

 

However, there is more to it than that. For example, we may say a “black cloud” surrounds someone who is morose or depressed. But that “black cloud” is more than an expression. Sensitive people can sense what the emotional state is of those they encounter even if they are not staring at someone’s face. Without seeing, they are sensing or “picking up the vibrations” of the energy field that surrounds that person – his or her aura, or as western science has named it, the Biofield. Emotional energy literally fills the aura and is palpable to empaths.

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We have all had the experience of turning en masse towards someone entering a room, even though the second before the entrance we have all been engrossed in lively conversation. Why did we all turn to look at the new person? Because our auras felt the energy of the new-comer’s aura. Whether positive or negative, the new-comer’s emotions were powerful enough that our silent radar could sense them and cause us all to react.

 

When we encounter a friend who has just heard good news, their buoyant good spirits can trigger our own good mood. As we observe the infectious laughter of children at play, it is hard not to smile ourselves. Likewise when we are in the presence of anger, our own feelings can be triggered. Other individual’s emotions may elicit a parallel emotion in others or, paradoxically, a counter response.

 

This is why when I feel blue or irritated, it seems that the whole world is reflecting “blue and irritated” back at me. My emotional state not only affects my interactions with those around me, it affects those people themselves. Others sense how I am feeling and therefore react differently than if I were exuding joy or excitement. Even my voice on the phone will trigger a different response from my caller because my emotional state will affect how I pitch my voice, the tones I emit, and the words I choose. In fact, cold callers are taught to sit up straight so that their lungs will fully expand and their voices will sound more energetic and compelling.

 

There are a number of people who have compiled lists of emotions to illustrate the energies associated with each emotion. Esther Hicks, who channels information from Abraham, has created a list that begins with Fear / Grief / Depression / Despair / Powerlessness at the low end, with Joy / Knowledge / Empowerment / Freedom / Love / Appreciation at the high end. She calls this the “Abraham-Hicks Emotional Guidance Scale.” Using this concept, the way to improve one’s mood is to find thoughts and emotions that match the listing that is just above the one you are currently experiencing. Working up the ladder of emotions is a technique to help you upgrade how you are feeling.

 

Although I have used this and other techniques to entice myself out of a particularly negative mood, the most effective way that I have found to enhance my emotional state is to remember that I am not my emotions. Using the metaphor of a weathervane, I see that the winds of feelings can blow me around. But like the weathervane, I remain the same. Emotions may push me in one direction and then another but my essential self does not really change. I can benefit by letting these momentary feelings act as a guide, giving me information about what needs attention in my life. But, once they blow over, I can return to a calmer place. I am not my emotions!

 

 

© 2016 by Sheila Peters. All rights reserved.

 

 

IMG_0195Sheila Peters is a certified Eden Energy Medicine Practitioner, Reiki Practitioner, and wingWave©Coach. She also teaches Stretch/Energy and Jazz Dance classes and workshops. Email Sheila at:  sheilapetersdance@gmail.com.  For more information, visit Sheila’s website at: www.energymedicineanddance.com.

The Goal Remains, The Path May Change

pathwayMore times than I like to admit, I have confused the path I am following for the goal that I want to reach. If a goal hasn’t been achieved by a specific method and/or timeframe, I sometimes can feel that I have failed. By labeling myself a failure, I can begin to believe that the goal is one I can never attain. Perhaps I’m not good enough, strong enough, or have the knowledge, skill, or fortitude to achieve it. I’m tempted to quit. More importantly, I assume that the goal must be changed or discarded.

 

For example, years ago, I developed something I called the “Moving Massage.” This massage was a 90 minute private session where I manipulated a client’s body in various ways to help them achieve increased flexibility, reduced anxiety, and renewed vitality to deepen the relaxation response. It wasn’t a regular massage and I didn’t use a massage table. I worked with my fully clothed client on a thick pad on the floor. It wasn’t purely dance, yoga, stretch, or Thai massage—it was a combination of everything I’d learned in my career as a dancer and movement instructor with added input from the somatic and therapeutic systems I had studied.

 

It was a blissful event! Part of the process involved letting the client lean into me in what I thought of as a loving “mother earth” embrace. Clients literally put their full weight into my arms as I sat on my heels, allowing them to feel supported and held as they completely released any tension in their bodies and minds. For the client the “Moving Massage” was very successful. For me, however, not so much.

 

My knees and thighs were exhausted by the end of the 90 minutes. Worse, I absorbed any negative emotions and energies that the client let go of. After each session, I had to rest and sometimes took 2 hour long naps to recover. Not a good business model! After 6 months of this work, I had to stop. I felt discouraged and abandoned my goal of using physical techniques to help adults find peace, balance, and relaxation on a mental/emotional/spiritual level.

 

Fortunately, I eventually realized that the goal itself was still a worthy one. It was the method that I had chosen that turned out to be an unsatisfactory way to achieve my goal. Somehow I had conflated the goal with the path.

 

maze-511151_960_720The path is not the goal. A simple but profound statement. One that I remind myself of often because I can easily confuse the two. Serial entrepreneurs know that failure is always part of the journey in creating new companies or organizations. A successful entrepreneur is able to let go of one method or route and explore other ways to get the job done. Perhaps the target market needs to be revised, the price point should be adjusted, or the product rethought. If the goal is a worthy one, it deserves another look at how it can be re-envisioned. Many more iterations may be needed before the goal can be attained.

 

Recently I found myself becoming discouraged by the low and inconsistent number of students at one of my class offerings. I had hung in there for over eight months through wild swings of attendance numbers. The vast majority of students loved the material and left the class feeling terrific in body, mind, and spirit. They let me know that the work was greatly appreciated. However, I still wasn’t getting consistent attendance nor were my classes filling up to capacity. I began to wonder if I was misguided in thinking such a class was a viable offering.

 

Fortunately, early one morning I heard a small clear voice in my head say, “Remember, the goal can stay the same but the plan to get there can alter.” Suddenly, I found myself flooded with new ideas and alternative ways to market, package, and label the class. I felt excited about the new possibilities that were emerging as I let go of the path I’d been following. I was re-imagining the work and its presentation. No longer discouraged, I was exhilarated! I felt free to improvise and to find a new method to achieve my goal. Allowing this transformation enabled me to let go of old strategies and reconnect with my goal in a less rigid way. And even if this wasn’t the final route to achieving my goal of consistent numbers of engaged students, I realized that I could always improvise again!

 

Permitting ourselves to change the pathway to achievement when necessary doesn’t negate our goals. To the contrary, it helps us to be more flexible and more creative. In fact, we can utilize this same concept in all areas of our lives—at home, in our relationships, and in our communities. If the weather doesn’t cooperate when we are planning an outdoor picnic we don’t have to call the whole thing off. Maybe someone’s garage or barn is big enough to house the picnic, and the impromptu venue change might just make the party more memorable.

 

We are, actually, all entrepreneurs—of our own lives. If we can remember that while goals remain the same, the paths to get there can change; we give ourselves the best opportunity of fulfilling our life’s dream.

 

 

© 2016 by Sheila Peters. All rights reserved.

 

 

IMG_0195Sheila Peters is a certified Eden Energy Medicine Practitioner, Reiki Practitioner, and wingWave©Coach. She also teaches Stretch/Energy and Jazz Dance classes and workshops. Email Sheila at: sheilapetersdance@gmail.com.  For more information, visit Sheila’s website at: www.energymedicineanddance.com.

 

The Labels We Give Ourselves

How do you describe yourself to others? How do you describe yourself to yourself when no one else is listening? Do you include your occupation, your age, your financial status, your usualSlide1 emotional state? Do your labels reflect who you truly are?

 

“I’m a dancer.”

 

For years, I proudly called myself a dancer. But in the last few years, I’ve had a hard time with that claim. Am I still a dancer if I no longer perform? Is it accurate if I just teach a few dance classes a week? So I started telling others, “I’m an aging dancer.” But that alteration didn’t make me feel proud of myself. In fact, it made me feel old and devalued.

 

Why did I add the qualifier “aging”? If I could call myself a dancer at age 16 before I began my professional performing career, why can’t I call myself a dancer after I have retired from performing? Why am I disparaging myself? What does it mean to be a dancer anyway? Am I not still a dancer even if I no longer appear on stage?

 

I am also a “mother.” However, my children are grown and have started life partnerships and families of their own. Just because my children no longer reside in my home, does that mean I am no longer a mother? Do I need to modify the label “mother” in the same way I felt it necessary to modify the label “dancer”? Would I say that I am an “aging mother”?

 

“I am an energy medicine practitioner.” I’ve struggled with that statement too. I haven’t wanted to call myself a “healer” because, in my perspective, my clients are the ones who heal themselves. Does it really matter, though, if my clients call me an energy medicine healer? Do I need to constantly correct them by repeating, “I am an energy medicine practitioner, not a healer”? What am I shying away from?

 

During the time that I worked in the corporate world, I made what was to me an astonishing discovery. I realized that I was not a dancer who happened to be human, but actually a human being who danced. The change in emphasis was profound for me. I felt freer and less boxed-in. I felt that this concept of identity would embrace other aspects of myself that were not evident when I solely labeled myself as a dancer.

 

Even the label “human being” may be limiting. Are we just our bodies and minds, or do we have a connection to Soul/Spirit? We may call Soul by other names like God, Creator, Nature, Collective Unconsciousness, or any of the many names used through the ages. Are we limiting the definition of who and what we really are by labeling ourselves “human beings”?

 

If we label ourselves “not worthy,” or “unattractive,” or “not smart,” it is easy to see that we are limiting ourselves. We are creating boxes for who we are. Thus, we also restrict what we can become. Other labels we give ourselves may be harder to discern as restrictive.

 

As a society, we seem to like to self-categorize in order to make ourselves understandable. This is “me” and “us” and that is “you” and “them.” However, in our efforts to differentiate or distinguish ourselves from others, are we not also inviting discrimination–not only against others but also against ourselves? All of us are more than the sum of our parts.

 

Let’s examine the labels we give ourselves. We are more than the few descriptive words we come up with to define ourselves. We are expansive and evolving beings – we can be many things at the same time. Let’s try not to limit ourselves at the onset. Let’s allow ourselves to change labels while retaining whatever features we feel demonstrate the best in ourselves. Let’s own and empower every part of ourselves minus the negative qualifiers.

 

© 2016 by Sheila Peters. All rights reserved.

 

IMG_0195Sheila Peters is a certified Eden Energy Medicine Practitioner, Reiki Practitioner, and wingWave©Coach. She also teaches Stretch/Energy and Jazz Dance classes and workshops. For more information email Sheila at: sheilapetersdance@gmail.com.  For more information, visit Sheila’s website at: www.energymedicineanddance.com.

 

Energetic Spring Cleaning

We all know about the ritual of spring cleaning our homes – clearing out the winter miasma to get ready for the rebirth of spring. We feel motivated to tidy up our living spaces. We want the fresh breezes of late March and early April to flow in through the windows and doors to get rid of any feelings of inactivity or inertia left over from the hibernation during the colder months of the year. We are prepping our rooms and physical environment to embrace the sense of renewal that the spring heralds.

 

What about our physical bodies and energetic selves? Shouldn’t we also be performing a spring cleaning on an energetic level as well? Many of us begin to start moving our physical bodies when the weather outside begins to warm up and invites us to step outside. However, the winter miasma may still be influencing our bodies. An energetic spring cleaning can help purge any remaining holdovers from the winter so that we move into spring with renewed vigor and optimum health.

 

bathtubBaking Soda Baths One simple way to begin an energetic spring cleaning is to take a long relaxing bath. Pouring a cup of baking soda into the bath water enhances the letting go of the old season. Baking soda is a great natural home remedy, especially for the skin. It helps to neutralize skin acidity facilitating the refreshing, renewing and softening of dry winter skin. Baking soda performs the same service for energetic and emotional patterns. It assists in the elimination of energetic and emotional patterns that no longer serve us. Toxins are removed, both energetically and physically, with a baking soda soak that can be augmented with the addition of pure sea salts and organic essential oils.

 

Smudging You may have also heard of smudging. Smudging is an ancient healing and clearing practice to relieve negative energies and unwanted emotional or energetic patterns that may be lingering in our homes. It is accomplished by burning sage or sage in combination with other herbs such as sweet grass, cedar or pine needles. Wafting the resultant smoke with feathers or the hands into the corners of our living spaces helps to dislodge and remove the negative energies.

 

We can smudge ourselves as well. Guiding the smoke up along our bodies, we can invite new thoughts, emotions, and positive energy to enter into our lives while clearing out what no longer serves us. A lovely smudging prayer can be found at The Chopra Center website:

 

A Smudging Prayer

May your hands be cleansed, that they create beautiful things.

May your feet be cleansed, that they might take you where you most need to be.

May your heart be cleansed, that you might hear its messages clearly.

May your throat be cleansed, that you might speak rightly when words are needed.

May your eyes be cleansed, that you might see the signs and wonders of the world.

May this person and space be washed clean by the smoke of these fragrant plants.

And may that same smoke carry our prayers, spiraling, to the heavens.

 

Energy Medicine Exercises There are also a number of energy medicine exercises that can help to clear out unwanted negativity in your physical and energetic fields. In fact, doing a daily energy routine will help you to continually rebalance, renew, and refresh your body and subtle energies. One of the best daily routines can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Di5Ua44iuXc . On this video Donna Eden, a well-known pioneer in the field of Energy Medicine, demonstrates her definitive version of these exercises. Slightly different versions of some of these exercises, interpreted through my own experience as a professional dancer, body-worker, and energy medicine practitioner, can be found at http://dancesheilapeters.com/videos/.

 

Here are two other exercises that can clear negative emotions and can augment an energetic spring cleaning:

 

Emotional Clearing Place one palm on your heart chakra at the center of your chest. Allow yourself to deeply feel the emotion that is troubling you. Once you have connected with this feeling, raise your other arm out to the side and imagine that this emotion is now draining out of your body through the Heart Meridian. This meridian begins in the deepest part of your armpit and runs along the inside of your arm, through the palm and out the small finger. As the tip of your small finger begins to feel full, envision the emotion leaking out of the tip and leaving your body and biofield. Repeat, if desired, by switching the positions of your arms.

 

Porcupine Reactivity According to Ellen Meredith, (Medical Intuitive, Energy Medicine Practitioner, Conscious Channel, Author, and Teacher) when you are in Porcupine Reactivity, you may seem prickly or off-putting to others. You might feel agitated, grumpy, gnarly, over-energized or exhausted, unnaturally calm, detached or listless. The following exercise is Ellen’s way to rebalance and clear out these unwanted energies.

 

      • Place both hands at the crown of the head, as if grasping the edges of a “sock” that is inside out.
      • Breathe in and pull both hands up to full extension above the head.
      • Breathe out and pull each hand out and downwards in an arc and tack the ends of the “sock” to the ground.
      • Grab the other ends of the tube and with your in breath, pull the “sock” up with arms extended to above your head.
      • With your out breath, tack the ends to the crown of your head.
      • Repeat the above steps, starting and ending at the third eye chakra.

 

By completing an energetic spring cleaning, we allow ourselves to let go of the winter blahs and any unwanted holdovers from the past season. We flush out the old energy to provide ample room for the renewed energies of spring so that we may blossom in the coming season.

 

 

© 2016 by Sheila Peters. All rights reserved.

 

IMG_0195Sheila Peters is a certified Eden Energy Medicine Practitioner, Reiki Practitioner, and wingWave©Coach. She also teaches Stretch/Energy and Jazz Dance classes. For more information and assistance with an energetic spring cleaning email Sheila at: sheilapetersdance@gmail.com.  For more information, visit Sheila’s website at: www.dancesheilapeters.com

Rewriting Your Story

What we learned about ourselves as a child doesn’t necessarily reflect who we are as an adult. Unfortunately, many of us are carrying around the old childhood messages.

 

How many of us were told we were “clumsy” so we still, as an adult, won’t take a dance, yoga or martial arts class? How many of us were told our hair was too difficult to deal with as a child so we still wear our hair short? How many of us comforted ourselves as children with food so we still think that’s the way to ease anxiety or emotional hurt? How many of us heard the constant message that we weren’t good enough to be an artist, musician, engineer, astronaut, or fireman when we were young, so that now as adults, we are afraid to try?

 

There is a constant litany that plays in our heads, all about who we were conditioned to be as children by our parents, teachers, and the other adults in our lives. These messages have become part of our subconscious programming and remain there in the subconscious, silently dictating much of our adult behavior and emotional responses. Consciously we may have outgrown, rejected, or updated how we think of ourselves but the subconscious programming remains — influencing and shaping our lives.

 

The subconscious mind doesn’t filter in the same way as our conscious mind. Our conscious mind can discern what is true or false, right or wrong, by using logic. For example, it can understand that the person behind us in line at the grocery store just snarled at us due to their own impatience or bad mood, not because of anything we had done to them. But our subconscious mind cannot so easily dismiss the nasty comment, especially if we were subjected to verbal abuse as a child. The feelings of being at fault or inadequate that are buried in our subconscious can get triggered by the random snarling person because the subconscious doesn’t use logic to process. The subconscious is pure emotion and habit driven – if it absorbs the same message repeatedly, particularly early in life and under emotional duress, it imprints that particular thought/emotional pattern. The subconscious then holds onto that thought/emotional pattern into adulthood.

 

404989742_89aa05a13f_oSo… how can we change our subconscious patterning? There are several ways to do this. First, we must become aware of our subconscious patterns. Sometimes these habits are so engrained that it is hard to even recognize them. Self-observation, talk therapy, review of past relationships, life choices, and recognizing repetitive emotional reactions all help us to become more aware of the underlying emotional blueprint that is hidden in our subconscious. Perhaps a trusted friend or family member can see and then share what is hard for us to identify.

 

Once the main emotional habits have been identified, the next step is to rewrite those patterns to reflect what is true for you now as an adult. This requires a deliberate effort to establish a new habit, as it is much easier to rewrite a negative habit when you have a new habit to replace it with. Timothy A. Pychyl, Ph.D., Associate Professor at Carleton University, Ottawa has said:

“Breaking a habit really means establishing a new habit, a new pre-potent response. The old habit or pattern of responding is still there (a pattern of neuron responses in the brain), but it is less dominant (less potent).” 1

 

Toni Berhard, J.D., Former Law Professor and Dean of Students, University of California, Davis School of Law, elaborates on this same topic:

“We’re learning from neuroscientists that the mind is malleable; this is good news because it means you can change your bad habits. How long it takes to break a habit depends on your willingness to make the effort. The key is to start small. Every time you make an effort to break a negative habit, you’re laying down a new groove in your mind. Even a small groove makes it easier to break the negative habit the next time. As you do this over and over, the groove gets deeper and deeper until you’ve truly changed the way your mind reacts.” 1

 

Creating a new habit of emotional thinking in the subconscious takes repetition of the new replacement habit many times over. When you catch yourself playing out the old pattern, you need to immediately interrupt that train of thought or emotional reaction and replace it with the new paradigm of thinking/feeling. It takes practice and, then, more practice!  Changing habits and patterns can be reinforced by creating a written statement or story that reframes the old childhood stories in a way that reflects the truth about you in your present life as an adult. Perhaps memorable childhood incidents can be reframed and rewritten from your now more logical, less vulnerable adult perspective. Can you see that as a child you were not at fault, not inadequate, not innately “clumsy”? These were labels imposed on you by unskilled or damaged parents. As an adult, can you now see that those labels were not based on reality? As has been said, “Perception is reality.” Thus, by changing our subconscious perceptions, we can literally change our reality.

 

Changing a habit takes time. There have been a number of studies that claim changes can be made in 21 days but it actually depends on the individual, what the habit is, how motivated the individual is to change, and how effective the new replacement habit is. If you have been holding strong negative subconscious habits towards yourself for 50 years, it will take longer than trying to break a habit of several weeks. Patience, self-compassion, and having varied ways to support yourself through this journey are essential.

 

People often find that an energetic/spiritual practice supports making these types of subconscious changes. Meditation, yoga, being out in nature, gardening, and energy medicine have all been found to be helpful. Along with rewriting the subconscious mind, the body’s biofield (aura) requires re-balancing to reflect the new pattern of thought/feeling in the subconscious. The new habit needs to be integrated throughout the body’s fields.

 

It is vitally important to be kind to yourself during this re-patterning process. Give yourself the time you need to fully integrate the new habit.

 

© 2016 by Sheila Peters. All rights reserved.

 

Sheila Peters is a certified Eden Energy Medicine Practitioner, Reiki Practitioner, wingWave©Coach, and also teaches Stretch/Energy classes. For re-balancing and re-patterning support, email Sheila at:  sheilapetersdance@gmail.com.

 

 

1. http://www.hopesandfears.com/hopes/now/question/216479-how-long-does-it-really-take-to-break-a-habit