Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Why should you listen to me anyway?

For a lot of my clients, their journey with me starts with a story about pain. Chronic pain, aching pain, lightning pain, hot pain, nerve pain, turned-me-into-a-different-person pain. Pain that has created two very distinct phases of their life -- before pain and after pain. Or, their story tells of discomfort, of health issues that are uncomfortable and embarrassing, or of issues that sound "weird" or don't make sense to the medical world.

Sometimes, people come to me because they're seeking clarity or grounding. They find themselves in a rut, feeling scattered and unable to call enough energy together to make change. They feel like they're in a cycle they can't get out of.

And to all of you out there who haven't yet decided to schedule a session with me, I wanted to tell you more about who I am and why I can help to address these issues and all of the day-to-day things that may bring you in for an Intuitive Coaching session.

I've been there.

I've had pain. I've had the chronic pain, the pain that wakes you up in the night, that doesn't cease in any position, that keeps you from doing everything you love until you don't know if you have the capacity to love anymore. I've had the kind that makes you bitchy, makes you snap at waiters and loved ones and makes you feel like a jerk who should have stayed at home. I've had the kind of pain that defined me and became the backdrop for how I knew myself.

I've also been the one with embarrassing, hard to identify health issues that had every doctor starting their prognosis with, "Well, I've never seen anyone with this reaction before...."

For me, pain manifested as a chronic back injury that blew up in my face one day while rock climbing. It wasn't the rock climbing that did it, mind you (although that twisting, manteling move wasn't exactly spine-friendly), it was the 20 years of overuse, of shutting my pain up with Ibuprofen and muscle relaxers, of never seeing pain as a sign but rather an annoyance to my goals. My body had given me plenty of signals throughout the years, signals to slow down, take a day off and mellow out, but I didn't listen. Then one day, BAM! My body didn't give me a choice that time.

So when people come to me with pain, I tend to imagine that they're telling me this story of pain and believing that I may not know how they feel. Trust me, I've been there. And I'm here to tell you that I got out of my pain and you can, too.

At first, I was desperate to get relief. I still saw my pain as an annoyance, like a brush fire that just needs to be stomped out as quickly as possible. So I threw myself to mainstream medicine -- sports medicine doctors, pain relievers, mainstream physical therapy, all the best recommendations I could find. And I failed. Not more than a week after my official care ended, I was re-injured.

I'd received the best care that my medical doctors could give me, so why had it failed?

My treatment failed because I wasn't listening to my inner voice.

Instead of listening to my inner voice, I was listening to the smaller voices inside of fear, telling me to get to a doctor, a real doctor! Telling me to listen and follow their advice because they always know better than you, they're the healers! And those smaller voices told me to question my intuition about my back because intuition isn't medical and can't help you heal.

I had run out of options. So instead of looking outside of myself and my knowledge base, I decided to look inward. When I did, I realized my body was looking for a very deep kind of healing, healing of the connection between body and spirit. This initial realization scared me, because the little voices in me weren't sure I was capable of this kind of healing. But my True Voice, my Inner Voice, was sure. The more I learned to listen to my inner voice, the more it lead me to healers and specialists who were aligned with my true healing path.

Next, I could tell you the story of how I met an amazing group of women who combine yoga with physical therapy to attain fantastic results. And I could tell you how I was one of the most difficult cases they'd ever seen, and how much work and frustration the healing process was. And it was. I found these healers through listening to my inner voice and sticking to what I believed healing could be. Just as important as finding this team of healers was the internal transformation and healing that took place through continuing to listen to my intuition and my inner voice.

One of my first realizations came in a yoga class that I was teaching. I'd said it over and over to my students, "You have to find the balance between ease and effort." I realized then that my whole life I had practiced effort and loathed to practice ease. Effort to attain good grades, effort in relationships, in friendships, in accommodating others. I always worked and created from a place of effort. Effort was everywhere, there was no ease!

It's not that effort is bad -- just like yoga says, we need both ease and effort. But when I took a closer look at the motivations behind all my effort, I realized that they were all fear based -- run an extra three miles so you don't get fat, do the extra credit even though you have a perfect score so that the teacher will like you, do everything for your partner because that's what good girlfriends do (even if he doesn't reciprocate), eat a perfect diet because it's "healthy" even though it's not fun.

I also realized, through intuitive insight, that this concept of favoring effort over ease had been programmed into me. I realized that somewhere in my development, I began to associate accomplishment with love. So I worked with a lot of effort in order to achieve love and affection. I also applied that same principle to myself -- only if I accomplished great things during the day was I worthy of my own love.


Low back injuries are often a sign of "lack of support or stability." If I couldn't love myself unless I accomplished, no wonder my body felt a lack of support.

I had to learn to be on my own team. I had to learn to balance effort with ease and to replace the old programming that associated accomplishment with love to something that served me better -- like the promise to myself to always support myself and my decisions when following my inner voice. To always gently guide myself back to my path if I have fallen off, and to not berate myself for any mistakes. To choose, instead, to learn from my mistakes and make the next decision in accordance with my higher voice.

Sometimes, our inner voice asks us to do things that are scary. It might ask us to quit that job that keeps us stressed all night, or to leave a partner that makes us feel undervalued, or to separate from friends who aren't in alignment with our highest goals for love and friendship. These changes and seem big and scary. What I have learned is that the inner voice is persistant and patient. It will continue to ask you to change, to move on, to grow. I've also found that when you do listen, and you take the big leap, it can feel scary and uncomfortable for a while, but the inner voice is tapped into the Ultimate Wisdom of the universe and always has a way to catch your fall, even if you can't yet see where you're landing.

I don't have back pain anymore. I experience some discomfort during certain activities, and I use meditation and physical activities to keep my body healthy. I'm still on a healing journey -- and although it can be uncomfortable at times, I don't think I'd have it any other way. This is how I learn to listen to my inner voice and it is through this path that I am able to connect to my clients.

I can continually use my inner voice to guide me to health and healing, and so can you.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

First Tool: Grounding

Those of us following a spiritual path, or taking yoga classes now and then, or even just exposed to spiritual culture in general, might often hear about the concept of grounded. "I was so grounded!" Is a phrase you might hear people exclaim. Or "Wow, I really need to take some time and just ground."

What does grounding mean?

When I first heard about "grounding," I had a vague sense that it meant somehow chilling out for a few hours or days and letting yourself "settle in." Usually, grounding referred to settling in to some new situation, life event, or during or after a long stint of travel.

Trying to get "grounded" without understanding the mechanism was like watching women get pregnant when I was six years old -- both seemed like something you waited around for and then just happened some day. If you don't understand the mechanism for achieving a state of being, either energetic or physical, it's going to be a lot more difficult to get there and to recognize yourself in that state (well, except for pregnancy... I'd imagine you'd notice).

When I started receiving intuitive readings around the age of 20, one of the first feedbacks I almost always received was that I needed to be more grounded. I still had a vague sense of what it meant to attain grounding and what it felt like to be there. Let's talk about being grounded verses being ungrounded and what the two states mean for operation as a spiritual being on the planet.

Grounding means that we are connecting with the earth. A state of groundedness allows us to recognize, own, and utilize our connection to planet earth. The earth provides us with a solid foundation to literally set foot on -- if you've ever experienced vertigo or been in an earthquake, you know how important it is to feel the steady earth underneath you. For a moment, think of the main quality of earth -- that's it's stable or solid. Just like a stable, solid friend will always be with you during hard times, a shoulder to cry on or someone to talk to when things get tough, the earth is always there for us for stability.

The stabilizing quality of the earth provides our foundation for feeling grounded. Grounding to the earth also provides us with a mechanism for releasing energies that aren't ours, or that aren't serving us. Just like we might process our troubles with a stable friend, we can continually release energy to the earth, for it has the energetic ability to absorb our energy, recycle it, and make it available to us again in a form we can better use. We see this ability of the earth scientifically through large old growth forest -- large, old trees sequester carbon from the atmosphere, pulls it into their bodies, and releases oxygen instead. The earth is a great recycler of nutrients and energy. When we are connected to it, we can process energy more effectively.

What happens when we're not grounded? Many of us spend most of our lives ungrounded. In an ungrounded state, we lose the capability to release outside energies effectively or efficiently, so we often operate in a muddled energetic space. Because grounding helps to connect our energy bodies to the planet, including all of our chakras, being ungrounded can cause excess or outside energy in our chakras to run all over our aura or to spill outside of our aura.

One of the best and most extreme examples of being ungrounded is when you are drunk. After a few drinks, the light and hot qualities of the alcohol release our grounding the planet. We are unable to make stable decisions based on what is best for us, and we feel uninhibited by the heavier parts of life. Another example is when you've worked on the computer or watched TV for too many hours at a time, and when you step away, you feel like you're in "digital world" -- your brain feels foggy, you groggily walk over to the fridge and grab something to sip on unconsciously, or a bag of potato chips to munch on. We also can become ungrounded when we're thinking creatively. Being ungrounded isn't necessarily a bad thing. The space of being ungrounded can be a lot of fun -- we might have great or creative ideas or be really productive on a project.

So why get grounded? Gathering creative ideas is great, but executing them comes from being grounded. When it comes time to sort the good ideas from the messy ones, grounding is what helps us to achieve that. Watching a marathon of Grey's Anatomy can be a great stress release, but grounding is what will bring you back to the real world and allow you to release all the emotional ups and downs you felt while watching it. Grounding brings us back to our very exciting reality on earth so that we can create as spirits exactly what we want to create.

Okay, so how do we do it? Grounding can be simple, and it takes some practice. Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the ground. Close your eyes. Imagine all of your energy gathering around you into your aura, which extends from your skin to about an arms length all around you. Feel your energy centering in the center of your head, which is behind your eyes and between your ears. Simple know that your energy is here. Then, visualize a grounding chord forming from your first chakra (which is at the base of your spine) down into the earth beneath you and extending all the way to the center of the planet.

Make sure the grounding chord is as wide as your hips. You can visualize it in any color or shape you want -- you can build a skyscraper reaching downward, or use a tree with roots, or use a color or shape you like. Have fun with it! It doesn't have to be perfect; imagine that you are in kindergarten as you draw your chord. Once it reaches the center of the earth, let it grow roots and stabilize itself there. Then, give your grounding chord a "release" switch. With your psychic finger, turn your grounding chord to "release," and allow that any energy in your body is heavy and releases from your grounding chord to the center of the earth.

Grounding might feel strange if you haven't done much of it before, but ultimately your body will like it here much more. By being grounded, you now have a better ability to process and remove energy that's not yours, freeing your space up to hold more of your vital energy! Like I said, the earth is a great recycler and will know what to do with the energy you give it. Keep releasing and feeling your connection to this great planet we live on!