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Unsplash image by Rokslana Zasiadko

Read this next time you’re longing to feel beautiful

Are you beautiful? Do you find that a provocative question? Perhaps it hits a nerve that has you listing the ways that you’re not, yet, beautiful. Or perhaps you shy back due to modesty…

We don’t go about openly declaring ourselves beautiful in this culture. And yet we’re obsessed by it!

It’s difficult not to be obsessed considering that we’ve been indoctrinated from a young age, even if simply from watching movies and music videos.

As a maker of jewellery, and a first-house-Venus-in-Taurus, beauty has always held a certain prominence for me. And yet, like many, at the same time I crave beauty, I’ve also felt there was something self-indulgent, frivolous and ultimately irrelevant about it.

But then I started to dig into why beauty is high on my list of values. So I decided to do this series of explorations on beauty and what it really means…

What if beauty is not what you think it is?

Do you recognise that deep longing for beauty that you can feel in your heart and your belly? Do you crave beauty and yet sometimes have this jealousy, this feeling that sneaks up on you, that it’s something ‘out there’ that other women have but not you?

Are you the kind of woman who gets caught in comparisons? Not enough of this, too much of that? I know I am. It’s hard not to in this society where everywhere we turn we see a parade of Hollywood beauties, airbrushed to perfection – or the ‘ugly’ counterpart much used by checkout magazines splashing pics of ‘stars without their make-up’ across their covers.

Remarkably, I notice that whenever I read one of those mags (and only because I’ve been waiting too long at the doctor’s surgery and I’m desperately bored), I feel drained of my energy. Robbed of it, in fact.

And this drained feeling comes from the simple truth that these magazines are stealing my beauty by making it impossible. Since I can only ever be myself, not some copy of a celebrity or supermodel.

What are you allowing to steal your beauty?

In modern times it’s easy to believe that beauty is about a narrow range of visual criteria, because way too much energy is spent trying to convince us of this fact in order to sell us a product or service!

And thus we’ve been trained to forget what beauty really is. We mistake beauty for appearance, or rather we think beauty is in how we appear, when it’s actually an energy.

This is why we can meet people who have perfect faces and bodies, and yet something feels like it’s missing. This seemingly perfect beauty is an artifice.
It’s beauty that does not believe itself because the woman (or man) is not connected to that intangible vitality that energises her from within.

This isn’t just an experience we have with people either. Although the “beauty” industry works very hard to suppress our natural and uncanny ability to detect when something is ‘all surface and no substance’.

Beauty is the vitalising energy of life pulsating through us.

And it’s an energy that can be ‘stolen’… or more precisely it’s an energy that can be diverted or suppressed.

For example, whenever you look in a mirror and critique yourself for not meeting beauty standards, you’re giving away a little of your life energy to some social dictate about what beauty is supposed to look like.

It’s the same when you’re ogling makeup displays in department stores, or poring over the images of Vogue, and you feel this ache for the possibilities promised.

In each of these actions, beyond, around, behind envy is that little delicious scent of potentiality. When we pause a moment to recognise that sensation we’re seeking, when we really feel into the potency of beauty, we get to claim it for ourselves.

Because it doesn’t live in magazines or products, it lives within  our own vitality.

So even if you’re struggling to see it in yourself – or most importantly when you’re struggling to see it in the mirror – seek it not in magazines and advertisements.
Look for it in life. In gardens and galleries, in pets and sunsets.

Just because it seems to be ‘outside’ you doesn’t mean it’s not yours to experience. Beauty is not something we can own. And it’s ironic that the billion dollar industry so effectively keeps us chasing the possibility of it, by promising we can own it via a particular product. Even as we know this beauty is never permanent!

We can’t own it and it’s not permanent, but not because someone else has what we don’t, or time and age take it away from us – but because we can’t own an energy.

You can’t own vitality. You have to let it flow through you if you want the experience of it.

The ancient Greeks thought of the beauty we see as a manifestation of some ideal ‘off-world’ pure essence. But beauty is not abstraction, it’s of-this-world, available through the deeply embodied experience of life pulsating through us – in response to the vitality of a flower, or the energetic presence of the artist in an artwork.

Or the clear expression of our own real-ness in a world accustomed to artifice.

 

Unsplash image by Rokslana Zasladko

 

Beauty is an experience of energy, not a specific thing.

If you want to feel beautiful than dip into your own vital life force and feel it express through you. In laughter, or sadness, or calm. In all its forms.

Every time you see something that is naturally beautiful – flower or sunset, kitten or baby – it’s because there is a pure energy expressing through these.
Accept that energy as a gift, letting it enter your senses, feeling it infuse your body with whatever ‘feel-good’ chemicals that happiness and awe and joy evoke (and there are a bunch of neurotransmitters connected to these experiences).

And then just let that sensation fuel your own beauty, your own deep and vital essence.

Receive the beauty the world is offering everyday. This most simple of actions fuels your own beauty.

Some days you may have to ‘work’ on seeking it out, especially in a chaotic, cacophonous modern city. But whether it means flowers that make your heart sing, or a delicious fabric that enlivens your senses, or the taste of something amazing, let it all in.

Get excited about being alive. Because this increases your reserves of beauty.

And we need to continually replenish these in a world that seems constantly at work attempting to steal the beauty that we naturally have.

Stop hoping for that “One Defining Moment”

“If it would only take one word, perhaps one wise phrase to make us change, heaven would be easy to reach, here on earth.”**

How often have we heard the story that every transformational book, every life-coach loves to tell? That one moment when something clicked and everything changed. The lightning flash of enlightenment that comes from reading a phrase, a sudden revelation while in a state of crisis, or an epiphany in the midst of some everyday activity. And this defined THE moment when they were on the path that lead to success, and the realisation of dreams.

Everyone loves a miracle. I’ve done my share of chasing after them, listening to those lectures, reading those books, waiting for it to happen to me.

But wherever I look, there I am – and where are the miracles that just don’t seem to be happening?

But the real truth is that I’m sitting in the midst of continual miracle making – an aggregation of moments.

There is no single defining moment – we are actually in the midst of making miracles all the time.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve had revelations that changed my world. Eye-opening or gob-smacking or rapturous moments.

But what followed on from there? It wasn’t that everything suddenly got easier. It wasn’t that one decision, one insight changed everything else. Did that mean I was some kind of idiot who just didn’t get it???

 

The truth is, these stories of Defining Moments are simply a dramatic device. It’s the archetypal hero’s adventure. 
Everyone loves a hero, or wants to be one. Hollywood and transformational coaches have taken up where myth-telling round the fire left off.

A sudden message or a stroke of synchronous luck, that culminates in a turning point from which you (the hero of the tale) never look back but surge ever onwards, no longer daunted, or taunted by demons.

 

This is the story transformational coaches love to tell, standing on stages in front of hundreds. I’ve fallen for this stuff, dreamed of having such a transformative experience, the moment that makes all the difference.

 

When I recognised they’re just retelling the ‘hero’s journey’ it became clear that it’s all just ‘backtelling’. Telling the story with the hindsight that helps us pick through the plethora of our lives and pluck out The One Defining Moment.

The key. The singular revelation that has made all the difference.

‘From that point on I stared success in the eye, and I became a winner.’

 

When I look back at my life for that crux point, I can’t pick just one. Does that mean I haven’t had a big enough revelation?

Instead what I see is a collection of revelatory ideas, experiences, feelings – small, almost insignificant, large and loud – all of them building on what’s gone before, and each slightly morphing and reshaping the others as I go along. Outside that reality trick that tells us time flows in a straight line, how can I untangle these moments from each other?

It’s not that One Thing breaks through, it’s that I never could have known or experienced ‘this’ if I hadn’t known or experienced ‘that’.

 

Let’s be clear that this story of the One Defining Moment is just a myth.

Which is not to say it’s untrue. It is simply the format of an archetypal story that snatches our imagination and carries us along on a wave of entheos – all infused with divine hope.

 

The reality is much more prosaic. It’s an accumulation of wisdom, an aggregate of revelations each building on what already exists. We don’t need to have that old-testament-style blinding flash so we finally wake up to our own wisdom and divine guidance.

If you haven’t had that One yet, it’s OK. You still know where you’re going, you’re still being guided. You’re not forsaken. Even your current crap-storm is not something working against you. You don’t have to solve a series of life issues and problems in order to be more ‘ready’ for the One Defining Moment.

This One Defining moment of the hero’s journey is simply an effective symbol of the overcoming of fear. But the overcoming doesn’t happen in the instant.

Maybe it’s true for some people that their fear is overcome in a flash, just as the Archangel Michael slays the Dragon.
Let me know in the comments if that’s the case for you…

I reckon the act of ‘slaying the demons’, however inspiring the story, isn’t the moment when everything changes.

For the vast majority of us it’s incremental steps, it’s recognition put into practice, evaluated and tweaked and practiced again.
One step after another. It’s the ‘chop wood, carry water’.

It just doesn’t make inspiring copy.

Don’t fall for the rhetoric that you need that Moment. In the midst of preparing ourselves for that One we’re not seeing the aggregate of moments, all those minor revelations and miracles which bless – and direct – our life every day.

We simply have to look for them in the dross. Because there’s not One Moment, there’s many.

(**these are the opening words of a song by my gorgeous and wise husband… who like you is a channel helping others recognise they are also channels.)

Zodiac illustration of Aries

What astrology has taught me

I first discovered astrology at a time in my life when I was stuck.
For one, my obsessive desire to be a successful artist seemed to have run aground and I wondered was the Universe working against me? Was I just unlucky? Or just plain ‘not good enough’? Was it a sign that this wasn’t meant to be?

Can you relate to that kind of situation where it feels like an uphill battle and things we have no control over keep blocking the path?

Ah, such a human dilemma! As a species we’ve been chasing that elusive control over our fate since the time before time. Whether it involved inspecting the entrails of chickens, or visiting the priestesses at Delphi for some incomprehensible gibberish, we’ve pursued this hope that if we could just unravel the signs they would reveal the secrets of what the gods had in store for us.

Astrology provided fuel for my obsession to decode the mystery of who I am. (Notice this theme of obsession running through my oeuvre?? And yep, it can be seen in my astro-chart). I’ve always felt different – you know, the weird kid at school, the oddball who didn’t know how to do things right – and I desperately wanted that difference to make me distinctive, instead of a victim of ‘not good enough’.

So initially, like many others, I was drawn by astrology’s promise to reveal destiny.
And I had really high hopes of what I would find – although I confess I was a bit disappointed. It felt like Alice’s rabbit hole and I could keep digging forever without finding definitive ‘answers’…

Now, 20 years later, and with the comforting retrospection that only time affords, I recognise that astrology doesn’t hold all the answers, but it does give us the ability to develop tremendously useful wisdom of the most practical kind.

In fact, there are 4 very useful things that astrology has taught me.

1. Perspective.

Or what I like to think is ‘the God’s-eye view’ – that view from a great height or depth or distance.

What the soul knows that the brain doesn’t.

When we understand how certain qualities we possess create our expectations of what we’ll meet in the world, we can cultivate the ability to ‘step outside’ of the frame and get that ‘big picture’ view.

Astrology gives me perspective on how I ‘operate’ – not only my character traits, but also what my soul is learning in this lifetime.

Ironically, I only developed perspective after I stopped relying on astrology for all the answers to even the little things. Because astrology’s greatest promise is to be a map for the soul, and maps give us a perspective we don’t have when we’re on the ground with the road in front of us. That’s why I refer to the astrology sessions I offer as soul-mapping.

If we start to believe astrology offers all the answers we lose the ability to access the truth it really does offer.

So now I think of our charts as our own personal sacred geometry, a map we can use to navigate life.

Capricorn and Sagittarius
from: Constellations of the Zodiac, Atlas Maritimus by John Seller, 1679

2. Compassion.

With perspective comes compassion. Too often in the age of psychiatry we’re fond of blaming others (especially mum or dad) for our foibles and failings.

Astrology shows me I’m not a victim, and what I’ve experienced is what my soul expected to experience.

It also shows what’s to be learned through having that experience.

I can’t tell you how huge a leap this enables. It helps move me move through resentment and blame, even in the most challenging experiences.
And so perspective has helped me cultivate compassion – for myself, for my parents, or for anyone who’s presented me with challenges  – in way that is completely natural, not forced or obliged.

3. What to do when things get challenging.

Perspective and compassion underpin the ability to know when to act and when to wait patiently. (Or in my case, as a rampant Aries, how to learn patience!)

Astrology not only reveals where I need to be paying attention when the proverbial hits the fan, but also the nature of a challenge – and it’s ‘reason’.

It provides the shortest route to the heart of the matter.
And shows how this challenge fits into the much larger play of time, and my own personal mythology unfolding over a lifespan. It’s even possible to see where it fits the collective challenge of a generation or an era.

4. Repetition is necessary

And in respect to the ‘play of time’ – do you find yourself still doing things that you think you should be over by now? Like perhaps you’re always ‘choosing the wrong man’. Or you could be in a work situation and suddenly feel like you’re reacting in a way that takes you straight back to some high-school horror story…

We think we should be past that by now, but repetition doesn’t mean you’re stupid and you’ve learned nothing.

Astrology has helped me to be OK with repetition because I recognise that when I’m repeating myself it just shows where I’m not really awake yet to what I’m supposed to be learning about this particular theme that keeps recurring in my life.

So that means I really know I’ve ‘got it’ when I don’t repeat it anymore. And maybe that’ll be never!!

 

Aries the ram
from: Constellations of the Zodiac, Atlas Maritimus by John Seller, 1679

 

Essentially, astrology shows me a more wholistic picture of who I am, and how to be more of me – to accept myself as I am.
It helps me get comfortable with being both the shadows and the light.

I don’t need to ‘overcome’ some bits of me in order to be a better human.
Because in every quality there is an advantage and a hindrance.

Of course developing the above skills doesn’t mean life is easy… but it sure makes it easier to deal with.

(P.S. If you want to know more about my astrology technique check out the Body + Soul Code sessions.)

But you ARE your body. Here’s why.

I’ve heard a few people comment lately, following a period of challenging illness, that in the end they discover they are not their bodies.

They are something more transcendental, more unfettered and free.

I always feel a visceral reaction to statements like this. Maybe it’s the Taurean archetype coming out…
While I get what they are saying – we are a soul that lasts beyond the mortal flesh and so forth – to me there is something fundamentally wrong with this attitude.

Think I’m being a materialist here? Maybe I am, just not in the way you are imagining it…

It’s in moments of illness and suffering that we get to feel completely alone.

And we mistakenly think that being ‘trapped’ in an individual body is the reason we are alone, because we really crave the connection, the sense of belonging, the feeling of oneness with a divine source that we know is the cure for any dis-ease.

I say ‘mistakenly think’ because this is a social training. It sneaks in as we are learning how to speak, and as we grow older it becomes more and more the way we think about ourselves – isolated entities, separated into our own individual bodies.

While this appears to be true on the surface (according to visual logic), it’s patently not true on any kind of fundamental level. Molecules, cells, the colonies of bacteria and parasites in our bellies and on our skin, all ensure we are always multiples, never singular.

Each of our cells is a tiny intelligent system, banding together with every other cell to create an “I”.

This apparently singular body is actually composed of trillions.

And do we end at the edges of our skin? It’s a big question, just the kind I like to get lost in.
But don’t worry – I’ll stick to the point.

Which, succinctly, is that when we blithely mouth the cliché ‘you are not your body’ we are throwing the baby out with the bathwater, exacerbating, even perpetuating the split between body and mind, body and spirit.
It’s a dangerous attitude. And sooo old school.

If you’re having a hate relationship with your body – stop!

If you think you have to control your body – stop!

In fact, you are your body, and your body is also so much more than what you think it is.

Your body is a vehicle for soul, sure. But it’s not like getting in your car & driving somewhere.

Our soul (and mind, for those who feel a little uncomfortable with soul stuff) completely permeates our body.
It lives in every cell & molecule. Yep, mind also lives in the body. It doesn’t depart until you die, when everything breaks down & recycles into new form.

When people say “I realise I am not my body” what they are really trying to say is:
‘I realise I am not the body that has been proscribed by medicine, and materialism, and prudish Christians…”.

And what they have actually realised is that they are not what is represented by the concept of ‘body’.

This is the difference between the representation (what we think it is: the concept of ‘body’), and the reality – what is real, what exists despite and outside of the understandings given to us by society, by medicine, or by spiritual systems.

So the problem is not our bodies, per se, the problem is what we think our bodies are…

Because whether we think that the body is the limits of the self, or whether we think that our bodies trap us in a world of matter and separate us from spirit, these are simply ideas we have about bodies.
This holds true whether we’re talking the ideas that science has about bodies, or what spiritual disciplines tell us about bodies.

When we say “I am not my body” we are really trying to escape the constrictions and limitations in our own thinking.

May as well say “I am not my mind”.

So, if you think your body is a dumb lump of flesh, that’s just a concept you learnt somewhere. It ain’t the truth.

We wouldn’t even be able to have a concept about a divine life, or a dull life, without our body.
Any inspiration, or pleasure, any intelligence of any kind comes through perception.
This is the ability of your brilliant physical form to pick up transmissions and translate them from the imperceptible to the tangible.

Beauty, joy, love, all are found in form. And only possible by living it.

The physical body does not make us separate from the great divine web of life – it is our ticket to this glorious event.

Don’t try to get out of your body – try to escape your narrow concept of self.

Your mind is actually your problem, not your body.

The Solstice Gateway

[this post relates to the astrological phenomena of Uranus square Pluto that was active from 2013 to 2015. What happened then is still relevant now].

There’s a revolution underway.
Can you feel it – the pressure of forces beyond our control?

If it’s something you sense, it’s likely that the Uranus/Pluto square has laid siege to some of your personal planets…

Those with birthdays in early April, July, October and January know what I mean.

And for any of you with planets in the mid degrees of the cardinal signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn), Uranus and Pluto have been playing rough on your turf too.

Pluto moves with tectonic slowness.
It unearths the deep psycho-social forces that underwrite human lives.
Its urge is to break down, to split apart the old and the outworn (ideas, behaviours, realities). Things past their use-by-date.

Not destruction merely for the sake of it, but as a necessary natural force, using this energy of entropy to generate new life. Just as soils are made fecund, and seeds are sprouted by the action of earthworms in shit and decay.

Pluto could take 20 years to move us through this elemental regeneration.

Until Uranus steps into the mix, says ‘ready or not’, lights the fuse.

Pressure builds to critical, forces beyond our control push us forward, outward, in any direction.

Even though we want this revolution, because we know it’s the fast track to that re-formation we’re craving, still we respond with fear and resistance.

It’s been going on for a while in fact. Since June 2012, the revolutionary forces have been stirring up the safety and security of position ‘normal’ (if there ever was such a thing).

Seven times they’re squaring off, over a span of years. Not that it’s been a non-stop ride since 2012 – there’ve been months of respite when we get to relax and take in the view.

Even to touch, for long moments, those potentials that we feel coming into form.

 

This week we’ve entered the 6th pass of Uranus square Pluto.

We approach the seventh and final gate in March 2015.

Seven is a curious and unruly number, a prime number (in other words, indivisible).

Not comforting like 6 or 8 which make perfect structures, complete unto themselves.

Apparently, when we’re asked to ‘pick a number between 1 and 10’, the majority of us choose the number 7.

The number has always seemed a little mystical to me. I once made a rather complicated contraption called the Gyromancer with seven rings, one inside the other, all about the revelatory qualities of the number 7.

Seven is the number of process.
The steps towards a goal, where each stage is a challenge that reveals a little more of what needs to be known by the seeker.

Seven is the number of initiation.
Salome removes her 7 veils of illusion, Ishtar passes through 7 gates on her descent into hell to rescue her son-lover.

(A quick aside: this holy incest is not some archaic paedophilic fantasy but rather a symbol of the mysterious and mystical union of creator and creation).

Lately, as the 6th gate approached I’ve been feeling the pressure rising again. Off kilter, out of balance, in my pushing to complete everything before I could start a new year…

While I’m in the thick of pushing to get things done, pushing through difficult moments, it just feels like I am up against an immense and resisting force. Rather like being under siege.

Until I sit back and realise that I am the resistance.

Out there fighting on the frontiers (of my own mind). Recognising that I have fallen back into old patterns. Of using work to feel deserving.
Of trying to control everything by working on it.

It’s the classic response – we cling to the old ways and habits, even if we actually can’t stand them anymore. Because at least they’re ‘comfortable’, and safe. We know them, and when we know something we can feel like we’re in control. Even if it makes us feel slightly ‘mangled’. That’s the funny thing about addictive habits.

Then this week the harmonic balancer in my car’s engine broke. Haha – how’s that for a cosmic joke – a serving of Jungian co-incidence?

The 6th gate was exact on the 15th when a crazed gunman trapped 17 people in a chocolate cafe, dubbed #SydneySiege.
A harrowing event that lead to the sudden deaths of two people in addition to the self-styled revolutionary with the shotgun.

Then days later in Cairns, eight children are inexplicably murdered – perhaps by the very woman who cared for them, in a Medea-like slaying of all that is dear to her.

The gate remains open until the Solstice on Monday the 22nd (AEDT), when there is a conflagration of cosmic events.

Uranus goes direct (the revolution goes full steam ahead).

The moon starts its new year cycle, in rare coincidence with the solstice.

And the sun basks a moment in its longest day (on our side of the world) before turning around and heading north again on its next cycle.

Hanukkah completes, Christmas looms.

All of these events are only significant from our earthly human point of view, of course.

The sun does not go round the earth, the retrograde motion of planets is only apparent to the human eye. Even the cycle of the moon is a symbolic construction.

Yet they’re also perceptible. We experience them.

We’ll notice our days getting shorter and the angle of the sun will change (my good washing days when the sun fills the whole of the back-yard are on the wan). The moon will slowly light up the night sky to it’s fullest over the next few weeks.

And the real power of any act of transformation or revolution occurs on both the perceptible and symbolic level.

Media whipped up a frenzy of fear post the Sydney Siege. Yet, people responded with so many flowers that florists sold out, and the tweet phenomena #IllRideWithYou went round the world.

It appears that still the revolution will not be televised. Only the fear of change gets air-time.

Each day we make a choice about the meaning we give to what we perceive.
To the information coming in, to the emotions we wake up with, to the events which carry us through the day.

Yesterday, I just happened to be listening to a podcast by Walter Makichen, a podcast so ancient it was from 2008 but I hadn’t heard til now. More Jungian coincidence.

I was musing on his theory of 4 levels of spiritual practice.

The first level is when we find a way to make sense and meaning from collapse and chaos – religion, or yoga (real yoga not that stretching at the gym), or meditation, etc – whatever your flavour.

Then it can become a tool for clearing out the karmic dross of psychological wounding; for calming the mind and heart.

After this we discover that spirit is in the creative act, and we begin to understand the power we have to generate our own reality, to bring things into being.

The trouble is that we can get stuck there, and forget that the source of creativity is that energy which is so much greater than ourselves.
We think we can control everything, we get caught up in hubris ( I love that word – the arrogance that challenges the Gods, to which the only antidote is humility).

Walter describes the 4th level as transcendence, the moment when we step out of trying to control everything and we just let it be.

I have an issue with the concept of transcendence – I’m sure we can still be on and of this planet without getting caught up in that particular human need to identify with what gets created, and destroyed.

Instead I prefer to think of this level as what Tosha Silver describes as ‘offering’.

It’s the handing over. It’s surrender.

Not a very appreciated quality in our culture. Suggesting loss and failure.

And so we struggle to find a way to win the revolution, not realising that we’re buying into the very mindset that we are fighting to bring down.
And, ironically, the fate of most revolutions is to replace the ousted oppressor with another form of oppression.

This morning I realised that when I surrender, the revolution is truly underway because the struggle, the resistance is over.
Blockages fall away. The wheel turns.

So this solstice I’m ready to drop another veil, to burn what needs to be burnt, to open up to the future.

I’m asking myself: what revolutionary act, or thought, or feeling, do I want to make a reality, today?

And you, what is your solstice act of release? How are you answering the challenges of the 6th gatekeeper?

7 steps to creating an intentional jewel

The power of your intentions.

One of my favourite books The Intention Experiment by Lynne McTaggart, is an in-depth study of just how much of a difference intention can make.

It’s a fascinating read if you want to know the science of it – i.e. randomised control experiments which have been happening for many years in various Universities and Labs. You just don’t hear so much about this as it’s all a little bit hard for mainstream thinking to get its collective head around!

The observer changes the result.

Quantum physics has been telling us this for years. Yes, I know physicists among you will say that what happens in the quantum level of particles doesn’t happen in the actual world of complex matter.
But perhaps it does, and it’s just all about how we are looking at reality.

Anyway, this post is not intended to be a dissertation on the general consensus of ‘what is reality’. Let’s talk about that another day…

Here, I’m interested in your reality – and how you are creating and sustaining it on a daily basis with what you believe, and what you intend.

So what is an intentional jewel?

Jewellery has a very ancient history of being used intentionally.
A wedding ring is the most obvious example. With it we declare our intention to commit to another.

Then there’s amulets and talismans which go back to pre-history. And before Lord of The Rings there was many a story and folktale of magical jewels with all kinds of healing or protective properties. You’d have already heard about different attributes of various gemstones, and their purported effects.

Jewellery can also contain desires and intentions for the one who owns it.
It holds these rather like ever-present memories.

The jewel (and it’s meaning) can be subtle and private, or a very public display transforming you into something more than your everyday self.
I think that jewellery’s intimacy with us gives it a special advantage – sometimes familiar enough to feel a part of our body, it takes on our warmth, it breathes with us. It works for us.

We all have days when we’re unmotivated, dispirited, anxious, lacking focus. On those days, you can slip on your intentional jewel and you’re reminded of what you’re here to do – or be.

I’ve always been fascinated by the somewhat magical properties of jewels, so I decided to harness this fascination, pair it with a bit of doctor-ish research, and add a touch of playfulness.

Thus the EnerJewels collection was born.

EnerJewels are intentional jewels. While they work with inherent qualities and properties of materials, and also use symbolism, this is only the first step in creating an intentional jewel.

The rest, you see, is up to you.

‘Loading’ the jewel with your intention is a DIY process, but I thought I’d give you some pointers…

7 steps to an intentional jewel:

1. Get clear on what you want.
Remember it’s not about things, events, or other people’s behaviour. It’s about how you want to feel.

Look at the desired goal and then dig down to find out how having this will make you feel – this is your real aim, and the only way manifestation can work.

This exercise of finding out how you want to feel can be quite eye-opening. How many times have you achieved a goal only to feel unsatisfied? Makes you wonder if you really know what you want… but I bet you do know how you want to feel.

Separate the goal of ‘things’ out from how being that, or having that, would make you feel. Whatever comes through, make the feeling your focus.

2. Be able to envision it as if it were real.
Not just envision – embody, which means bringing all the senses into play.

What does it smell like? What does it feel like? What is the texture, the shape of it? What can you hear people saying to you?

Do what’s necessary to get clarity – write it down, imagine living it with all your senses.

Know the experience. FEEL IT.

3. Find the jewel. Or let the jewel find you.
Do some research into gemstones and their properties, or go out shopping.

Or be awake to visions you might have. Perhaps it’s a particular symbol that’s calling you. Maybe it’s a particular material  – a gemstone, a river rock you found. Anything that you’d like to wear.

Trust that once you go looking for it, it will come to you – it will be put in your way.

4. Clean and clear the jewel.
If you are seeking an intentional piece of jewellery, you’re already aware or at least suspect that it can carry your energy.

If it carries energy, it’s already carrying it from wherever it’s been previously – the hands it’s passed through, or the way that it was taken from the ground. If it’s a second-hand piece of jewellery this is particularly important.

Cleansing and clearing doesn’t have to be elaborate – start with the intention to clean and clear, then take the action. If you’re inspired to do something in particular, do it.

If not, use the tried and tested approaches such as:
A salt water bath (providing the material won’t be affected), or simply running water from a tap or a spring. Some like to place their piece in the light of the full moon.

5. Create an anchoring ritual.
Why a ritual? Rituals are actions (they can be habitual but they don’t have to be) that are designed to bring you, jewel and environment into alignment.

What does that mean? Maybe you’re thinking this sounds weird – how do you ‘align’ with your environment?

Think about it as being ‘in accord’. Accord is harmony and coherence.
One way to be in harmony with your environment is to set up your environment in a way that feels harmonious to you.

Since you want to evoke a specific emotion, which you will anchor into the jewel, set it up by using particular objects, times of the day or cycles of the moon. Ultimately it’s your choice, and by becoming bodyful (more consciously embodied) you will be able to make those choices easily.

(I’ll be talking more about bodyfulness, or rituals in this blog – so stick around.)

Here’s a suggestion for an intention anchoring ritual:
Condition your space. Emotions, aesthetics, music, dance, poetry are all acts to condition a space.

Place flowers, beautiful fabrics or objects in the space – or choose a space outdoors that has it’s own beauty and power.

Or create an altar on which you arrange special, meaningful, or sacred objects and images.

The idea is to evoke in yourself the sensations that you intend to experience in the future, when you wear the jewel. This may require meditation, or particularly inspiring music.

In the ritual process put on your jewel, and incorporate the way it feels into your emotional state – in other words be aware of it – touch or hold it.

If your intention is something very practical, such as focus then it’s probably enough to condition yourself through some kind of action – like your morning exercise ritual, or any situation you go into that you already feel focused.

Can’t think of anything for setting focus? Next time you’re doing a disciplined activity that needs focus, wear your jewel. Notice how it feels to be focused while holding and bringing your attention to how the jewel is feeling on your body as you wear it.

On a practical level you are creating a connection between your awareness of experiencing that emotion (focus, brilliance, valuable-ness etc) and the piece of jewellery you can also feel yourself wearing.

You are forming neurological connections between these experiences of wearing, and the experience you desire to have.

6. Keep your intentional jewel in a special place.
If you have an altar you may want to keep it there. Don’t let it hang with your other run-of-the-mill jewels!

Continue to condition your jewel by wearing it. Not every day (unless of course it’s meant to be never taken off like a wedding ring).

Wear it when you want to evoke that emotion.

Say you want to evoke brilliance, just before a difficult meeting, or a challenging phone call. Take a nice relaxed belly breath,  hold the jewel, or touch it in some way so that you notice it, and then evoke that feeling of being brilliant, which you intend to make a regular integrated part of your life.

7. Embodying your intention is a practice.
Continue to condition your jewel regularly through focusing energy on it, meditating and envisioning yourself feeling that feeling, doing what you want or need to do to cultivate that feeling in your life.

And condition the space it lives in (through offerings of fresh flowers, good thoughts, affirmations etc).

Although we may think that the thing we desire (love, abundance, brilliance etc) is something we lack, it’s important to remember that if you desire something, you already recognise what it is like to experience that desire.

At sometime you have already felt like that, otherwise you could not desire it.  And if you have any inkling of what it’s like, it’s possible to re-capture that feeling. Those pathways are already laid down, neurologically speaking.

In the way that every skill is learned through practice, a regular practice of evoking the sensation you seek through some kind of ritual, or through use of music, for example – or simply by recognising and acknowledging when you feel that way – uses those pathways again.

The more you use them, the easier it gets to evoke that experience again and again.

When you have a great experience and you’re wearing the jewel, condition it again by holding it while you absolutely enjoy that sensation, acknowledge it and indulge yourself in it. This is your power to create your own reality.

And if you have a negative experience that seems to hang around the piece and not dissipate, clean it again and re-condition it through steps 4 to 7.

 

Most of all – love your jewel, admire it’s beauty, and enjoy wearing it.

Over time when you put it on you will feel it as a somewhat magical experience.

You will feel how the jewel helps you in loving yourself and in becoming so much more the person you want to be.

Want to know more about intentional objects? Feeling skeptical, or doubtful about it’s effects?

I like to approach the intentional jewel from a holistic point of view – from the historical, the magical, the bodyful, the aesthetic and artful, and yes, including the rational and intellectual.
Keep visiting me here to find out more.

Does the body get in the way of mindfulness?

Back in 2009 when I was a phd student, and exploring the science of consciousness, I put myself forth as a guinea pig for several experiments conducted by other students at the Institution I attended.
Electrodes on the head while staring at computer screens, that kind of thing.

One particularly memorable experiment involved a study into mindfulness.

It all began on a dark night in fluorescent lit, windowless room deep in the bowels of the Psychology department.

We (me and a dozen others) hooked ourselves up to some computers. It struck me that there was nothing natural in this room except human flesh (by which I mean, nothing that is self-creating or self-regenerating – just steel and polymers and glass, a cacophony of cables, and melamine tables, plastic moulded chairs, etc).
And there I was squeezed in front of a computer screen, while the bulbous back of another old-fashioned behemoth beamed its photons into my spine.
Even the air was fake.

I was at that particularly sensitive stage we women enter, just prior to our metaphorical new moon, the onset of our menses. A stage that has, as we know, been much maligned and feared as a time of dark and threatening feminine irrationality! In truth it’s just a time of deepened sensitivity that, when not acknowledged, turns into monsters.

There, in a plastic land vitalised by a cacophony of EM fields, windowless, fresh-airless, I was already feeling pretty weird.

Add to that an hour of staring at the screen doing all kinds of boring tests measuring my attention and awareness, and I was properly screwy.

To complete the exercise, the coordinator took me into another room, sat me in front of a video camera and asked me to unscramble a bunch of letters to make words. While being recorded for observational purposes.

I looked at the gibberish of letters and burst into tears. Flustered, she informed me, that the camera was just pretending. And the words were too – they didn’t spell anything! Basically it was to measure my calmness under pressure. (Giant Fail!)
She didn’t know what else to do with me. Essentially I had wasted her time.

I was the glitch in the stats. Later when I spoke to a psychology professor about it he explained that aberrations like myself are averaged out by the sheer volume of people included in the study. That’s how the making of stats works.

This is what happens when an idea (or experience) must become a theory to be proved through factual ‘observations’. In order to be accepted as medically viable.

An averaging out. A negation of the influence of hormones, and plastic, and EM fields, on the mind.

In this way mindfulness can be quantified, when it is in fact a quality.

Is mindfulness the ignoring of external stimuli, or internal stimuli complaining quite clearly that something is bad for us?
Seemed to me this giant experiment, in it’s search for proof, had missed the point.

I was left with the feeling that all of these studies on mindfulness were fundamentally flawed. They pretended the body had nothing to do with it. Its role in the story could be ‘averaged out’.

Does anyone else smell a decoy here?

This is the problem of the ‘universal body’ we find in medicine. This is the challenge of every family doctor who must balance their collated medical facts with the panopoly of life that comes through their doors.

Perhaps I felt slighted because ultimately my contribution to the study of mindfulness (which I was all in favour of, from the outset) was reduced to naught.

And, being in the control group, I didn’t even get to experience its benefits.

Although, something did come through to me very clearly.
In the measure of mindfulness, my body was an interference.

But does my body get in the way of mindfulness? I wondered.

And I felt resistance. I didn’t believe it.
You know that expression ‘ever fibre of my being screamed “no”’?
Well that’s how I felt.
My fibrous, material, body-self refused to accept that picture of the world.
That tired old paradigm where our body is an impediment to mind, to wisdom, and to spirit.

Ever since then I’ve been on a mission to champion bodyfulness.
And to expose mindfulness as simply a rather misguided remnant of a frayed and decaying worldview that has reached its use-by-date.

Curious? Consider that them thar’s fightin’ words?
Stick around I’ll tell you more about what I’ve uncovered…

Why you don’t want to be right

Saturn is currently marching through Scorpio [that’s if you’re reading this before October 2015!]– and all you Scorps with birthdays in mid-November are you feeling the pressure?

Scorpio is always about lessons in power. Both clean and dirty. And Saturn can be so righteous.

I’ve been getting lots of little messages about rightness and righteousness (bad for the heart – but more on that another day) – and the fine line between them.

About being the one who’s right, or who has the right to do stuff (unimpeded).

We are, of course, in this society, finely attuned to looking out for the congruence between power and rightness. You know the drill – we see it enough in the overblown verbiage of politicians. Even the most reasonable of people can be prone to respect rightness and give in to its domineering nature.

I want to call rightness out for the tyrant it is.

Even while I know it’s a slave master (I’m a recovering perfectionist), like everyone, I love the easy currency of it. We are sucked into it’s simple promises.

We say: “You’re right about that” and “I have the right to do it”.

When everything’s alright we can breathe a sigh of relief and settle down securely.

And what about being present, is it really about being ‘right here, right now’?

I say that if we are to break the spell we need to find new ways to express what we really want to be saying.

And yet how else can we talk about these things and still communicate our assured sense that there is something here that works, that is appropriate, that fits, that is in every way what we describe as ‘right’?

being all right

I’m constantly looking for alternative ways to talk about getting stuff ‘right’. And its damned tough call. Sometimes I just give in and say ‘right’, after all, its easier to talk about it like that and everyone understands what I mean. My nearest and dearest are always getting frustrated by my need to pull words apart to examine the bones of how we think.

I reckon that if we recognise how much words shape our thinking we are halfway to changing the world.

I’m not just talking NLP here. I’m talking about fundamental structures in Western thought that are never challenged.

Like the fact that white people do not exist. (Sorry, but if you’re someone who’s been labeling yourself that way, go put on a white shirt and take a good look in the mirror. What colour are you, really?) Hey, I’m not saying White Privilege does not exist – it does. But it’s because we invented the idea that there is such a thing as White people. Really we’re all shades of browns, and if our language actually recognised that this means our society would know it, and we probably wouldn’t be in this mess we’re in about Rights and righteousness.

Then again, human nature seems to like getting caught up in rightness, so we probably would have created others ways to divide and categorise and privilege.

English is a pretty amazing language. Evocative, dextrous, adaptive.

This makes sense because it’s a fairly recent advance in the technology that is language. It’s a hybrid language, a mongrel with too many bloodlines. Which is why we have such silly spelling conundrums, like threw and through, and rough and though, and, how do you even say ‘slough’? …. Well, you get the picture.

So back to rightness.
Sometime ago, in the early days of my philosophical journey, I learnt that there was even a bias in left and right. To be left-handed is not only to struggle with scissors and power tools. It’s to be left behind, and to never be right.

When we head on back to Latin it’s the difference between the sinister and the dextrous. Lefties are not to be trusted. The righteousness of one’s position gives authority, especially for those on the right-hand side of God.

I realised that being right, and doing right is part of this tyranny of perfection.

Because of course, nothing is ever all right, or it’s decidedly out of balance.
So why do we keep wanting to be alright? Can’t we just talk about this in another way and make things easier for everybody?

I propose we think a bit more like Spanish speakers about this matter. When it comes to being in the present moment, Spanish has a much more precise description – ahora mismo literally says ‘now the same’. This same ‘now’ is the ever-present moment.

No need for ‘right now’, or ‘left behind’.

Aaaaah, is the sound of my sigh of relief, no-one being judged right or wrong for being out of time!

Instead of declaring ‘you’re right’ when someone utters a thought that we feel the correctness of, in Spanish you can say ‘de acuerdo’ – meaning ‘I’m in accord with you’. A synching of minds. How much sweeter and more easeful that sounds than ‘you’re right’, or ‘that’s right!’

Of course it relates to our expression ‘I agree’, and yet it’s subtly different.
Maybe because in saying ‘de acuerdo’ you don’t need this dominant capital “I”, centre of the individual universe. (However, the dominance of the “I” in English is, like righteous indignation, another story for another day).

‘Accord’ stems from the Latin root cor & cordis meaning heart.
In accord is the in-synch of a heartbeat. Harmony and coherence.

When de acuerdo we are simply in synch with another.
No-one has to be right, we simply have to be in accord, in balance. To fit together.

This is as fine a balancing act as maintaining the space between left and right, to be sure, but the subtle undertones of constant judgement are no longer hanging around like a bad smell.

I don’t want things to be ‘alright with the world’.
I want to be in accord, in harmony and coherence. It’s a much more relaxing way to think about how I’m going through my day. And how I’m feeling ahora mismo.

Who else wants to join me in a world where everything doesn’t have to be all right?

What’s all this fuss about wellness?

Ok I confess, I’m a word nerd. There was a time in my now dimmed past when my fav way to spend a Sunday morning involved a toke, a dance around the lounge to a most sexy and inspiring tune, and then an hour or so following the trails of words thorough my very heavy version of the Aussie Oxford English.

Hmmm, scintillating you’re thinking. But if you don’t feel that delicious pull of adventures in wordland, if you don’t feel entire eras and archaic mindsets evoked by a bit of etymology, well I guess I just have to convince you how exciting it really is…

Because this means you’ve not felt that sensation of vistas opening onto entirely new worlds when you break down a word and find not only a meaning but a foundational brick in our fabricated reality.

Let’s take something simple like ‘disease’…
When I first realised that this was in fact dis-ease, I saw something that was known to our apparently dimwitted ancestors (dim that is if we believe the modern scientific perspective on those pre-enlightened folk) – our health is entirely related to our sense of ease in the world.

A truth that is blindingly obvious for the commonsensical mind (I’d like to say something on common sense too – but I’ll save that for another time).

And yet, and yet, as I was PhD-researching to prove this common sense belief I shared with my English-speaking ancestors that health was intimately connected to how at ease we feel, all I could find was some cautious studies tiptoeing around ‘maybe positive thinking affects people’s ability to heal from cancer’. Tepid stuff.

Otherwise I was in the woo-whoa land of freaky science that gets those internet skeptics all het up (you know the ones I mean – the kind that like to come over all righteous, and break out in hives when someone somewhere in the interworld starts talking about miracle cures).

And, well, freaky science doesn’t gel in the Sandstone Universities. So I didn’t progress my PhD much on that point – just a few allusions.
Oh and there was Herbert Benson.

So that’s why I got so freakin excited when Lissa Rankin’s book Mind Over Medicine arrived in the post.

Thank goddess she’s done all the hard work and found all the evidence for me, cos my brain just could not get around those medical journal abstracts, far less up in their reports.

If you’ve been under a bushel and haven’t heard, Lissa tracks down the hard science, and the home truths, then weaves it into a tasty dish of soft values – the kind that makes skeptics break out in rashes.

Bottom line, our bodymind has a remarkable ability to self-heal from extreme diseases.

Yes, the hard-core ones like cancer, HIV, kidney disease etc. And it’s not just up to us either. It’s also about the nurturing care we receive from the experts we trust – whether medical doctors, or other healers.
In other words it’s a personal and collective effort.

All of which is a long winded way to say that if health is connected to ease and trust (trusting ourselves, trusting our doctors, trusting in powers greater than ourselves) then it helps to be relaxed about how we do it.

So what’s all this stuff about working on wellness?

Wellness is a state, stasis, staying that way –  wellness has overtones of perfectionism.

There’s a sense that I get from wellness that if I can just get there I will have reached some goal, some pinnacle. And then what? When do we ever reach a point and stay there? Like many people I’m a recovering perfectionist, and I get all kinda freaked out about reaching goals, cos then I must get onto the next one.
It can get me caught up in this ‘never enough’ cycle.

Wellbeing on the other hand is a verb pretending to be a noun, which means it’s a  process, an ongoing action.

Existing with good fortune, well-fare or happiness. Having an experience. Not trying to hold onto a state.

It means we’re not looking at ‘getting somewhere’, we’re already always in it. It happens  every time we feel good about something, even the smallest, the simplest things, every time we share a giggle about something silly, or stand up and stretch and feel the warm blood running through our muscles.

In every small moment we can be in the process of being well. Not this stuff about striving to get to some point of perfection and then holding on so we don’t loose that place.

So that’s why I’m avoiding wellness. Instead I’m focusing on wellbeing.

Sure it’s just a word-shift, but many times a simple word can change gears in our subconscious mind.

Tell me what do you think about the power of words? Do you have any favourite word-shifts or word-sources that have changed the way you think about things? I’d love to know – please leave a comment below…