Distant Healing Circle

When dear friends shared the stunning news of their son’s serious health challenge, I reacted the way you probably would by saying “I’m so sorry.  Is there anything I can do?”

Instead of the expected “No, but thank you.”, his mother said, “Yes, actually there is.  Let’s form a healing circle for him.”

A healing circle is a gathering of people who combine their individual power to send intense healing energy to the person in need.  While we set the intention for our desired outcome, we surrender to the knowledge that healing takes many forms & the outcome is not ours to control.  In the ceremony, I often say a prayer that includes a sentence such as- “May this healing energy be used for the person’s highest good.”  Under no circumstances do we imply that this replaces medical care of any kind.  Energy healing complements medical treatment but does not replace it.

When designing a distant healing ceremony, I ask several questions including–

  1. Does the person give us consent to perform the ceremony?
  2. Is the person willing to attune to our efforts on the specified date & time?
  3. What do I need to know about the person to facilitate the healing session?

I ask these questions because, first & foremost, the individual has to want the healing.  Second, the person has to be an active participant , doing everything in his/her power to affect change.  Third, details about the person give us a single-minded focus for the work we are about to perform.

All aspects of the healing circle are created with a combination of intuitive insights & good old-fashioned hard work & planning.  On the surface, I design & facilitate rituals & ceremonies.  On a deeper level, I co-create them with those involved, making each experience beautiful, meaningful, & extremely personal.  Customized rituals & ceremonies alter the participants in profound ways– inspiring, connecting, & reaffirming the inherent worth of each of us.

Ceremonies & rituals honoring our special moments should be as unique as we are.

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An Unlikely Labyrinth

When is a labyrinth not a labyrinth?

When it’s the sidewalk I travel while walking my dogs.

While there is a beautifully-designed labyrinth in a serene setting within 20 minutes of my home, it’s not always convenient to go there when I need a contemplative walk.  Labyrinths, unlike mazes, have one clearly marked path leading in to the center and back out again.  I enjoy walking them because they allow me to focus on the journey rather than the destination.  Isn’t that ultimately something we all want to do… enjoy our journey without worrying about where it’s leading?

If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you know that my earth-centered spirituality means I hold every place in nature sacred– my backyard can be just as holy a place as an ancient stone circle or burial mound.  That broad view of the sacred led to my next question… Can any walk be a labyrinth walk with the right intention?  I immediately answered yes, as long as I’m not preoccupied with where I’m going.

I gave it a try a few days ago, when taking Freyja for her walk.  We both know the route so well that thinking isn’t necessary.  I set the intention before leaving the house to respectfully walk away from my home in prayer, talking to the Divine and return to the house in meditation, listening to what the Divine had to say to me.  All relationships, including our relationship with Source, require great communication skills.  The ability to know when to talk & when to listen.  Labyrinth walking, for me, allows a balance of both.

There is a specific issue weighing on my mind so I shared it for the first half of the walk, praying silently so people wouldn’t look at “this woman” muttering to herself like she’s crazy.  When I felt I had shared my heart’s concerns fully (this took an extra-long walk), I paused & lifted up my concerns.  “This issue is completely out of my control; I know that.  Help me do what I can to improve the situation & release what I can’t for the greatest & highest good.  Blessed be.”  I took a deep breath, let it out slowly, & returned home in quiet meditation.  Among the birds twittering & wind howling in the fir trees, I heard a whisper of encouragement.  I wasn’t walking alone.

So, to answer my own question, “Yes, an ordinary walk can be a labyrinth walk with the right intention.”  It’s amazing how much better I feel when I approach ordinary experiences with a more spiritual attitude.  Walking dogs, picking berries, or even washing the dishes can be spiritual.  All it takes is a shift in focus, allowing it to be so.

Roots II & Roots III

As I continue work on my “Roots” series, I’m reminded of my connection to all that is.  Roots symbolize groundedness & being rooted in the present.  While many of us have lost that sense of unity, it’s within our grasp if we get back to nature.  I recommend spending time silently in the presence of a tree.  Keep one or both hands on it as you meditate.  If you are confident in your appreciation for nature, rest your forehead against it’s trunk along with your hands.  If you are too self-conscious, sit with your back against it instead.  Be aware of any sensations, thoughts, or feelings that come to you.  Let them flow through you as you maintain a connection to the tree.  End with gratitude for all that trees provide, for we know, there would be no life on earth without them.

Roots II

Roots II: in serene blues & violets.

Roots III

Roots III: in orange, purple, & green

Take a look at my Art Gallery page to see all my recent work. 

Check out the pieces for sale at www.etsy.com/shop/PureSusan

 

Being Still

When I tell people that I’m grateful for being sick with the flu for a few days, they tend to give me confused looks & change the subject.  It’s really not that odd when you stop to consider it.

For 2 years, I’ve been getting the same message whether I journal, journey, meditate, or pray- “Be Still.”  I thought by meditating & praying I was being still.  Apparently not.

It wasn’t until I got sick that I understood the magnitude of those words & came to appreciate their profound meaning.  For days, I only did what was needed to survive- sleep, drink ginger ale, & try to eat a few crackers.  There was no artwork, no writing, no chores, no errands… not even any spiritual practices that I lovingly do daily.  My mind was completely still.  I didn’t even dream!  (That’s highly unusual for me as I can recall between 2-5 dreams per night on average.)

Stillness is so important for balance.  Think of your typical day; where is the stillness?

I believe the Divine speaks to us in a gentle whisper, at first.  However, if we ignore the message, it speaks more loudly to get our attention.  The flu was a way to get my attention.

For many of us, being still is a real challenge.  I’m asking you to give it a try, even for just 20 minutes.  Sit somewhere in total silence & listen.  Is there a message that you need to hear?

Thoughts Become Things

Am I living a life in alignment with my authentic Self?

Whether it’s the darkness, the cold, the end of the calendar year, or just the fact that I’m not getting any younger, this is a period of rest, reflection, & redefinition for me.

Rest:  I put great care into making my home a sanctuary, a cozy place where I can be still to listen to my heart as well as the great Spirit of which we are all a part.  I take stock of everything in my home, from clothes to decorative objects scattered about.  Do these material possessions speak to who I am now?  Or, should they be given to charity to be appreciated by someone else?  I declutter my home & my spirit.

Reflection:  Through various techniques, I reflect on my values, priorities, & hopes for the future.  Anything in my life not aligned with my authentic Self needs to be seriously reconsidered & possibly discarded if it can’t be transformed.  This period of soul searching isn’t easy.  Not at all!  Change is scary.

Redefinition:  I ask questions such as “What is important to me?” and “Where do I want to be a year from now?”  The challenge of turning my thoughts into actions occurs at this stage.  I can’t simply sit passively, waiting for life to happen.  It doesn’t work that way.  I have to take the first step so the Divine (call it Fate or Destiny) can meet me along the way, illuminating the next step.

It all starts with thoughts… then thoughts become things.

Sit In Silence

I was going to post a blog about the coming of autumn but I’m delaying that for a few days.  This message seems much more important.

Why is it that when we get stressed, we go into over-drive & race through life at a wreckless speed?  The higher our level of anxiety, the faster we go to compensate for the lack of control we are feeling.  In this state, we make more mistakes & experience careless accidents that might be avoided if we were in a calmer state of mind.

Last night, I watched Short Cut to Nirvana, a 2004 documentary about the Kumbh Mela festival in India.  This celebration attracts 70 million people, the largest gathering of people in the history of humankind.  How is it that I’ve never heard of it?!  Unbelievable.  Spiritual men & women attend this festival, held once every 12 years, to share their wisdom with anyone willing to listen with an open mind & an open heart.  One guru pointed out that Westerners cannot sit in a meditative posture for 3 hours because we are in too much of a rush.  He believes that if we tried, we would find that to be the most valuable 3 hours of our day.

I’m realistic.  Most Westerners won’t do it.  We’re “too busy”.  How about this… take fiveJust take five minutes today to sit in silence.  Focus on your breath & listen to your authentic Self.  Be still.  And tomorrow, take five more minutes & sit for a total of ten.  Like exercise, the more you practice, the greater your rewards.  I predict that if you are saying, “I don’t have time for this”, you are one of the people who needs it the most.  Give yourself the gift of time.  You deserve it.  Take five.

Write- For the Spiritual Journey

At long last, the final collage of 12 for my series titled, “For The Spiritual Journey”.  Write represents our desire to put our spiritual beliefs into words. Closely connected to mediation & prayer, writing is the concrete act of expressing who we are in relation to the Divine.  It gives our beliefs substance & provides an opportunity to share with others if we so choose.

Write: An expression of what we value & believe

Writing takes many forms including sacred texts such as the Bible & the Koran, spiritual poetry, a sermon waiting to be shared with a congregation, a journal of private thoughts, a Lorica written & recited for protection in the Christian Monastic tradition, a Book of Shadows for recording spells & rituals in the Wiccan tradition.. the possibilities are endless!

I write because it helps me articulate my connection to the Divine in all its many forms & provides a starting point for conversations with others who wish to explore spiritual matters.  Writing can build community & aid in understanding if we write, & read with open minds & open hearts.

Here is the entire series of collages.  My own spiritual practice does not include all of these but I include them in my series for you to consider.  Namaste

MEDITATE

DANCE

SERVE

STORYTELLING

RITUAL

READ

DRUM

PRAY

CREATE

SING

VISUALIZE

Retreat to Find One’s Self

Isn’t it funny how we tend to go on a retreat or vacation when we want to find our Selves?  I picture this little voice inside of me yelling, “I”m right here; I’ve always been here.  You just have to look!!”  But that’s challenging when there are errands to run, chores to do, & appointments to keep.  We’re so busy DOING that we leave no time for BEING.

Being in that predicament, I felt the need to get away from the busyness of daily life & go to a place where it would be peaceful enough for me to hear my Self & serene enough for me to reconnect with my Self, without distractions.  So, I went on a week-long retreat to the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY.  Absolutely one of the best experiences of my life!!

I woke each day when I was ready, not because of a buzzing alarm clock.  I performed a ceremony to connect with the earthly & divine… plugging in to the energy that not only connects us all but comprises us all.  I also tried different forms of meditation.  While I tend to squirm after a few minutes of seated meditation, the focused attention of walking mediation resonated with me more.  By walking very, VERY slowly, I could hear the chipmunks scurrying through the bushes; feel the breeze on my skin; & notice the waterlilies & koi in the pond near the Japanese-styled Sanctuary.  I tuned in to nature.  And when my overactive mind took me away from the present moment, I focused on my breath, let go, & got back to HERE & NOW.

It boils down to this:  By relaxing my mind, I was able to hear the authentic voice inside of me.  The voice that had been there all along.

 

Koi Collage

I’ve always enjoyed visiting gardens where Koi ponds are a focal point.  The fish swimming serenely in a natural, beautifully-designed setting bring serenity to me, too.  As an artist, I love the contrast of orange & white against the deep blue water & dramatic black shadows.  While my ancestral traditions harken back to central & eastern Europe, I can appreciate Asian cultures & the contemplative nature of their gardens & meditative spaces.  Nature & spirituality are one.

Koi: a multitude of blessings & good wishes

The inspiration for this collage took its time coming to me.  I painted the background & thought about the possible composition for days.  About the time I stopped thinking about it (isn’t that usually the way?), inspiration came to me quite clearly.  I literally saw the Koi swimming on the canvas!  Funny how that happens sometimes 🙂

After completing this piece, I found out as much as I could about Koi.  Various sources say it is a symbol of perseverance, endurance, & longevity.  Others say it symbolizes love, affection, peace, courage, & tranquility.  All consider it a positive symbol of qualities we’d all like to have in our lives.  May those qualities already be present in yours.

Check out the art I have for sale at www.etsy.com/shop/PureSusan

Serve- For the Spiritual Journey

It’s been weeks since I worked on a new piece for my collage series entitled “For the Spiritual Journey”.  Last week, “Serve”, #10 in the series, finally came to me in a moment of inspiration.  I laughingly say “in a moment of inspiration” because inspiration is a funny thing.  In a way, it can’t be forced.  That’s why it took so long for me to complete this piece.  Yet, in another way, inspiration has to be encouraged by looking at the unfinished work daily, letting it incubate in my mind & heart, sketching ideas as they come, & persevering until the right image appears.  Like Thomas A. Edison said, “Success is 10% inspiration & 90% perspiration.”

This collage series represents the many components of the individual spiritual journey.  Some may resonate with you while others do not.  That’s ok.  Take what works & leave the rest.

“Serve” resonates deeply with me because it takes spirituality to a more meaningful level, by looking within to discover gifts, talents, & strengths to share with other beings.  Beliefs & values become purpose-full actions.

I created a figure standing on an open lotus blossom, awakened by the divine energy entering the crown of his head.  His outreached, deliberately over-sized hands open to the world, allowing that divine energy to flow through him & radiate to the world around him.  He discovers his life’s purpose through the act of service.

Share your unique gifts with the world. “Serve”

What does this look like in my life?  I’m still figuring that out.  But I think I’ve purchased enough books, taken enough classes, & meditated enough to know that the next step is serving as the opportunity arises.  I don’t have all the answers but like the figure in this piece, I’m open to the Divine & willing to share of my Self.