Protection and Shielding – part of our healing and evolution?

protection shielding Protection and Shielding – part of our healing and evolution?

“The words you speak become the house you live in.”
~ Hafiz
Words are incredible tools that reveal conscious and subconscious thought patterns. We carry these thoughts (forms of energy) around with us always, until we determine that the energy no longer serves us and we seek healing. Our thought fields are really subtle energetic manifestation generators. This means the words we choose to describe our experiences are important symbols.
I engage with people who are in the spiritual/metaphysical/healing (SMH) community-at-large and I read SMH blogs and articles. The SMH community is filled with people who express an authentic desire to help other people heal and to work on their own healing. They see this Earth and their life in it as a school of sorts, designed to provide opportunities for evolution.
Over the last few years, I’ve noticed one particular recurring theme that reveals a need to shift subconscious thought patterns so that we can more accurately convey to each other and to ourselves what we desire – which is our personal healing and the desire to help other people experience healing. Metaphysical-based healing talk can have a self-victimizing energy. Here I’m speaking specifically to the concepts of protection and shielding – a belief that we need to protect or shield ourselves from “negative” energy. Whenever we point outside of ourselves for how we feel, we dis-empower ourselves and we bypass our healing work. Blaming external sources for our discomfort subconsciously perpetuates the idea that we are not fully responsible for our lives and how we choose to experience them.
I do think much of this is subconscious because when I speak to other subtle energy workers or clients of subtle healing, no one says they don’t expect to take responsibility for their lives or that they are looking for “easy healing.” Many acknowledge that this experience of healing is not for the faint of heart. People are willing to do the work.
I think what has happened is that humanity has evolved but our language has not. I think our realization of Oneness has blossomed but we’re still using duality-based, tribal language. What once felt empowered now creates a defeated and passive energy because we haven’t updated our word processing software.
Let’s look at some examples:
“What crystals should I carry to protect me?”
“How can I protect myself from energy vampires?”
“How can I shield myself before going into a store/session/family gathering?”
When someone asks me how to protect or shield, I ask, “What do you believe you need to protect yourself/shield yourself from?” and, “Why or how does X feel threatening for you?” I want to help the person (and me) get clarity about exactly what they are seeking to change and why. Through discussions I come to understand that the real opportunity for each of us is to learn how to maintain our energy and space by knowing ourselves deeply and authentically. Usually the person isn’t seeking protection or shielding at all; especially when their overarching desire is to evolve and heal. Protection and shielding are separators and rely on a foundation of dualism. To learn and grow, we require integration – being fully present in the classroom with everything that is present.
Let’s talk about separation for a minute. People who work with subtle energy experience physical time/space and subtle time/space. Physical time/space – our 3-dimensional reality of time – yields birth and death, growth and decay, and is dualistic in nature. Separation abounds. Subtle time/space is Oneness. It is where everything nearly exists simultaneously in harmony. All options are available, popping in and out of existence at faster than light speed. There are variations on this theme, but this is the gist. Subtle time/space is where we do our work, the “place of understanding” from which we experience healing. It is everywhere and nowhere. We experience our lives in multiple dimensions simultaneously so paradox, which is “both/and” is natural. This is important in healing work.
In The Gift of the Body, Jonathan Goldman writes, “The heart is truthful and clear; it refuses polarization.” When we are living from our Heart space duality feels uncomfortable. That feeling of discomfort is a signal that we’re being given a choice to move from response to reaction, from Heart space to ego. Duality is firmly in physical time/space and we see it being lived out in the way people choose to live and view the world. It is perpetuated by philosophies such as nationalism, tribalism, and is found in religion. Humanity is slowly shifting from dualism to integration. But we’re in Redwood seedling stage and we’re still relying on old dualistic language to talk about integrative, Heart centered healing.
Protection and shielding are words that by their definitions create “us versus them” energy which is a dualistic approach to a situation perceived as a threat. It is a reactionary stance. Seeking protection or shielding indicates you need to defend against someone or something that can harm.
Think I’m being overly pedantic?  (It’s entirely possible. I was an English major who wanted to focus on Rhetoric. Because there are so many career opportunities for English majors with a concentration in Rhetoric). But just for grins, let’s imagine we are standing in a park. You are barefoot, feet in the grass, at peace, enjoying the view. Someone walks by and says to you: Protect yourself. How do your body and mind react to that phrase? Do you take a boxing stance? Think of all the exit strategies out of the park? Cower? Look around for a table to hide under? Panic and wish you had a weapon?
Shielding is the act of creating a barrier between a person and something else for the purpose of providing protection. Its definition is also defensive, creating a dualistic and reactionary attitude.
“Wait,” I can hear people saying. “Are you suggesting that we not protect ourselves? Are you suggesting we actually interact with that which we perceive as harmful?”
Buckle in because yes, that is what I am suggesting – most of the time and when we are feeling strong enough to engage. Why would I suggest such a thing? Because perceptions are not necessarily truth and we are rarely in actual danger. There are certainly experiences which can end life or severely cripple us in some capacity and no, I am not suggesting we run toward that. However, we need to ask ourselves, for the sake of Heart-centered healing, whether we truly require protection or if we are simply uncomfortableThere is a natural tendency to treat anything that makes us uncomfortable as a threat. But 99% of the time, it’s simply a natural state of growth. Learning and growing and healing are uncomfortable experiences. If we are comfortable all the time, we’re in stasis.
When people ask me how they can energetically protect themselves and I ask from whom/what? The answers are usually something along the lines of:
  • I don’t like how I feel when I go to someone’s house/a public place/etc.
  • A person really makes me uncomfortable and drains me of my energy.
  • I don’t trust the energy of that person/place/thing.
What I’m hearing is, “I feel uncomfortable, I don’t feel like I’m in control, and I don’t know how to process it.”
“I don’t like how I feel at…” is an example of not feeling sure how to stay firmly Heart centered and grounded no matter where I am at.
“A person really makes me uncomfortable and drains me of my energy…” is an example of not feeling sure how to stay firmly Heart centered while being clear about my boundaries.
“I don’t trust the energy of that person/place/thing (or the energy is really negative/evil)…” is an example of not feeling sure how to stay Heart centered and grounded in my truth no matter where I am or who I am with.
When we are willing to face what we fear or what makes us feel uncomfortable and work toward understanding it, our perception of it changes and we open ourselves up to healing and transformation. To approach something from the space of our Heart requires letting our guard down. If we’re healers and we’re shielding ourselves, how are we engaging with our clients’ energies? I know it can feel scary to feel other people’s stuff or unfamiliar energies. But we need to be willing to learn to discern between feeling scared of what actually helps us do our work, and feeling scared because we are actually in danger.
As a subtle energy worker, I don’t teach people shielding visualizations. I personally find the practice disempowering. That is my personal experience. I know it is a helpful practice for others and if you practice shielding and it is helpful – I’m not telling you to stop. I tried to learn how to shield for a couple of years after I was first told that I was an empath because it was what I was told to do. I felt frustrated and stopped trying to learn the technique when I realized that in order to heal I needed to be with what made me feel scared. For me, shielding (or attempting to) kept me in a state of fear of the unknown which was actually quite knowable and usually not at all scary once I came face to face with it. The energies that made me uncomfortable for so long just wanted to be seen. All I had to do was look and acknowledge it and the fear dissipated.
As a crystal therapy practitioner/teacher, I don’t recommend crystals for protection. I don’t view myself or others  requiring protection and in my practice, crystals are not worked with as talismans. Crystals are fantastic subtle energy tools for those who are sensitive to them. They offer much in the way of subtle energetic support when worked with for the highest good of all. In my practice crystals help us see ourselves more clearly, help us get in touch with our subtle anatomy, our emotions, mental processes, and spiritual development as well as offer energetic support as we work toward healing. Crystals can help us transmute unwanted energetic patterns, yes, but before we can work with a crystal for that purpose, we need to understand what we want to transmute and why. If you ask me, “What crystal would you recommend to me as I learn how to become less fearful,” I can help you with that with some discussion.
So, okay, you won’t recommend a crystal for helping me protect myself, and you don’t teach shielding exercises. So what do I do?
Creating healthy boundaries is about becoming familiar with your own energy, learning how to maintain Heart-centered groundedness, and being clear about what energies you are willing and ready to work with. When energy you don’t want to engage with arrives, you can say, “I see you. Not now,” without experiencing fear or self-doubt. It’s the difference between feeling fear and victimization, or being firm in one’s autonomy, willing to take responsibility for their experience of life. That’s what we focus on when I work with people.
Someone asked me, “What is the difference between setting a boundary and shielding?
When I visualize an energetic boundary, I see it as a wooden fence a little lower than shoulder height. Similar to the fences people erect to discern property boundaries. (This is my dance space. This is your dance space. Let’s cha-cha.) I can easily talk to my neighbors over the top of the fence. Sometimes I open the fence gate and invite them in for coffee, dinner or game night. Other neighbors who meander by are acknowledged from my Heart space, but are not invited in because I know that in that moment I’m not up for it and I am respecting myself by not engaging out of shame or guilt. But I see them and they see me. We smile at each other. There is still movement and interaction between me and what is on the other side of the fence.
When I was taught to shield, it involved visualizing being completely encompassed within a golden egg of light. I know there are variations on the theme, but this is what I was taught and when I couple that with what I envision when I hear the word shield: I see myself crouching behind a big metal plate, sword drawn – it just doesn’t feel fluid enough for me. To me, shielding feels defensive and carries an energy of survival – it’s either it or me. While setting a boundary feels both/and to me. I’m still available for engagement with whoever comes along if I decide I am up for it, and I’m also responsible for how I choose to engage and for how long. Again – that might feel pedantic to some. That’s okay. My point is – are we being defensive or open? Are we honoring ourselves without shutting down or shutting out?
This is a lifelong process and we can expect to change our boundaries to accommodate new findings and growth. For the person who desires to heal – there is no getting around the work. It involves learning to be honest, vulnerable, living with integrity and in your truth. Regardless from where or how the work arrives – it often involves feeling uncomfortable and even sometimes existentially scared. But we are not alone in this work. We have each other and if we are willing to be vulnerable with trusted fellow journeyers and honest with ourselves, the experiences of this life can be infinite and expanding in ways we can’t even imagine.
In gratitude and Love, Tana

How to Hear and Trust Our Intuition

I spent the last weekend of August in Suttle Lake in Oregon, participating in a 4-day workshop offered by the Essential Light Institute, led by Jonathan Goldman (Gift of the Body). I walked away with a few of what Jonathan calls “Divine Tactics.” If you’ll allow me to, I’d like to share a tactic with you that was a paradigm-shifter for me.

Heart message or ego message?

Recently a friend shared that she becomes paralyzed by her habit of overthinking and that it gets in the way of her being able to listen to and act on her intuition. Does that happen to you? I could relate as she joked that it was because of her sun sign, but I know a lot of people with different astrological charts who share this experience. We think it’s just our personality or our birth order or our astrological sign: things we can’t control. Fortunately our ability to listen to and recognize the messages of our Heart has very little to do with personality types or birth order or astrological signs and mostly to do with learning how to listen without giving our brains the reigns.

Most people I am blessed to know have one thing in common: they are aware of the ego’s capacity to sneak in and take over. So they tend to be able to recognize their intuition, but they aren’t trained what to do with it and because they are hyper aware of the ego’s ability to sneak in, they treat their intuitive messages like any other idea that comes along – they send it to their brainbox where it gets analyzed and categorized as egoic or non-egoic. Except – it rarely works out that way because intuition is just beyond the world around us. Trying to determine an intuitive message’s origin (Heart or ego?) by way of the brain is like using a screwdriver to try to hammer in a nail.

What we start with:

Many of us are not taught how to tune in to ourselves and our inner being. Instead we are trained to pay attention to outside stimuli and to take it to our brains for evaluation. We are encouraged to analyze, categorize, and organize ideas into one of two categories: true or untrue, valid or invalid, proven or disproven, etc. We are predisposed to judge so that we can pick up or discard whatever is being considered and move forward in a timely, orderly fashion.

We want to live through our Hearts which Jonathan teaches carries the vibrational qualities of calmness, compassion, faith, surrender, and trust. But we get caught up spinning round and round because our brains get in the way.

How can we recognize, trust and then act from our intuition without analyzing it?  The exercise:

On day 3, Jonathan asked us to focus on our breath and the inner channel of light that runs through the center of our bodies. We closed our eyes and did that. Then he asked us to feel our root chakras – first physically in our bodies at the perineum. We saw the channel of light flowing down through our root chakras and into the ground beneath us, then into the Earth where the roots hooked into the soil deep below. He then directed us to move our focus to the third eye and then to connect the root chakra and third eye to the heart chakra.

The Root Chakra’s role:

I talk a lot about “grounded Heart-centeredness.”  Why? Because being grounded is so vital to truly inhabiting these precious bodies and experiencing this life we’ve been sent to live and learn from. When the root chakra is imbalanced, I have personally found that it is usually because we have tried to escape Being Here Now. When we desire to be anywhere other than here in this life, in this body, awake to the lessons appearing to us and willing to learn them, we are bound to have imbalanced Root Chakras. (Spiritual people are not immune to escapism. Spiritual by-passing is another form of escapism. Here are links to articles describing spiritual bypassing LINK and LINK. And I have to refer you to Robert Augustus Master’s book, Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters where I first learned about it).

So when we meditate on the root chakra, we re-agree to Be Here Now. To be embodied. To experience this life.

The role of the third eye: 

I should move into first person here as this has already become a retelling of how I experienced and remember the exercise. He then directed me to focus on my Third Eye. (This surprised me a little and I had an epiphany that I associate the ego with the Third Eye. Maybe I’ll explore that with you another time). It’s important to know that a balanced Third Eye chakra that is following the lead of the Heart (what we desire all of our energy centers to do) is essentially about true awakening and taming the mind. It’s about seeing true: releasing preconceived notions, opening closed minds, observing and healing mental filters, releasing fear around truly seeing. So I was to feel that vibration. Find it, sit with it, and experience the vibration of seeing true. (Funnily enough it had nothing to do with ego).

The role of the heart chakra:

He then instructed me to move my focus to my Heart – to bring the vibrations of my root chakra up and my third eye down to meet in my Heart space. We had done an exercise where we felt into the vibrations in the field of the Heart: calmness, compassion, faith, surrender and trust. We also learned that the seat of the Heart is Humility and Trust. Humility and trust gives us the capacity to recognize truth when we encounter it. Our intuition headquarters is founded on those vibrations so we can trust the Heart always.

I was sitting there, seated firmly in my central channel of Light, experiencing being rooted in my body on this Earth – accepting, my open and seeing Third Eye, and what connected the two – my open Heart. And suddenly, I realized this – THIS is how I recognize, trust and act from my Intuition. Grounded in the acceptance of being Here Now in deep gratitude; aware of, unafraid of, and in gratitude for my ability to see; and joining that together in the center of my Being – my Heart from where all energies pass through Humility and Trust, Calmness, Compassion, Surrender, and Faith.

When we opened our eyes and were asked what we encountered, I shared that I in that moment I knew I could discern anything that came to me or from me from a place of truth. And Jonathan just nodded his head. As he does.

Since Heart Camp, I spend time each day, usually upon waking, doing this exercise of remembering. It feels like going home. If you try this meditation, I would love to know how you experience it. I hope it is a blessing to you as it has been for me.

Fundamentalism in the healing community

Fundamentalism is not only found amongst the religious.

Fundamentalism:

2:  a movement or attitude stressing strict and literal adherence to a set of basic principles <Islamicfundamentalism> <political fundamentalism>  From http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fundamentalism

Growing up, I learned about God through a group that taught that there was one way (a strict and literal adherence to a set of basic principles) to understand God and the experience of spirit.  Any approach outside of their approach was wrong if not outright evil, leading to damnation. I was not allowed to have my own thoughts – any I had were always molded to reflect the approved doctrine. I was not encouraged to question or to use my mind. I was also taught that other groups which claimed to be like our group wasn’t really like our group because our group had the Truth and “those people” were deceived and unless they woke up to the truth they too would be damned for eternity. It was a very rigid, dualistic experience of life which required an authoritarian, hierarchical management.

This was not great for me because I was born with a researcher’s mind.  If there was a personal God, that God gave me an inquisitive spirit and then placed me in the middle of a community that did not approve of inquisitiveness! I enjoy reading and learning new things and exploring ideas. And I love history (which I’ve come to realize is doctrine’s worst enemy). The researcher’s heart is anathema to the beliefs of the community I once gave my life to.

Eventually I had a fork-in-the-road moment. I was unwell emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically from years of trying to reconcile what was for me* cognitive dissonance. I had to choose between taking care of myself or remaining a part of the community. When I chose the scarier road and allowed myself to slowly hold up to the Light everything I had been told was Absolute Truth, I lost my community. Dualism breeds separation and fundamentalism breeds duality.

I fought the mental prison that was for me* the fundamentalist approach. It was a terrifying, depressing, anxiety-inducing ride down Nihilism Avenue. As I went along I thought about turning back, repenting and picking up where I left off, but I couldn’t un-know what I had learned so I just continued on, not really knowing how this would all turn out for me in the end.  (Spoiler alert: it turned out well. I’m not nihilistic, I experience joy and I am immensely grateful). 

And then what? Where did I go?

Because I have had experiences throughout my life that didn’t fit into any of the scientific or traditionally accepted cultural norms, I ended up where most of the misfit toys go: the metaphysical community. I was overjoyed to find people who seemed to live and let live while also knowing how to be a source of encouragement and support when needed. It was in this new world that I was encouraged to rejoice in being alive for the sake of being alive, to find value in myself, to help other people just for the hell of it, and to trust. It was also the first community I ever belonged to that didn’t want to control me or how I experienced my spiritual life.

My Reiki teacher was one such person. She came into my life at a time when I was in the process of dismantling the only framework I knew and she offered to teach me an organizing principle from which grow – Reiki. And she gave me that foundation without ever making me feel controlled or managed. She knew how to teach Reiki so that a person could integrate it into his or her experience. 

Huzzah!  I was overjoyed to find “my people.” But as I mentioned at the start  –  fundamentalism doesn’t belong to just the religious – it has the potential to exist in any group, including psycho-spiritual, spiritual, and subtle healing communities. 

But, isn’t there a difference between adhering to a structured practice and fundamentalism? Of course! Using Reiki as an example, I don’t take issue with the attunement ceremonies, the graduated levels of learning, the hand positions, or any other structure-providing aspect. I can personally see a value in each of those aspects and see how they help to define the practice of Reiki – to set it apart as its own unique healing approach. And I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with setting apart different approaches. This gives us a framework in which to work and learn.

I believe we need to learn how to view structure, boundaries, and guidelines differently so that we aren’t requiring a “strict and literal adherence to them” because when we shift our focus from the intention behind the act to the act itself we negate the effect of the intention. When the thought forms we are creating are no longer intention based (healing for the highest good of all beings), but instead become about regulation of practice (am I doing this right?) we have moved from Heart space to ego. And when we insist other people meet our “strict and literal adherence” to our understanding of the practice, that is egoic desire for control.12353992_650042428482589_624574133_n(1)

In recent weeks I witnessed a few exchanges which lead me to write this article. As you can imagine, based on my background, I am sensitive to fundamentalism and I was triggered by these exchanges. Here are some examples of what I saw and how I personally interpreted them.

“As a Practitioner Master/teacher, I call foul.”

My master teacher status gives me the authority to tell you that you do not understand the modality correctly.

“No, you can’t experience this modality’s healing without the ceremony conducted by a Practitioner Master.”

This example is particularly useful because it shows the underlying fear that serves as a foundation of most fundamentalist attitudes which is: You can’t do what you want to do without me or someone like me and this gives me purpose, makes me unique, and gives me authority and that authority gives me control.  

“There are plenty of etheric healing modalities you can learn using the energy you already have, but that’s not the modality I’m a Practitioner Master of. And anyone saying that doesn’t channel the energy I do.”

I am the arbiter of your experience of “my” modality and of your understanding your experience. I reject your autonomy to be self-determining in your personal healing experience of my modality because your interpretation does not reinforce my interpretation. 

“The modality I practice is a discipline. Please don’t attempt it without proper training.”

If you aren’t willing to approach my modality the way I have, then you will be doing it wrong. And my modality can only be done properly by those who have learned it through the proper channels of which I approve. 

To me, these exchanges indicate that somewhere along the way, the finger pointing at the moon became more important than the moon. Are the modalities meant to be served or are we to serve each other through our work with the modalities? 

We don’t need to have a religious background to have fundamentalist tendencies. Society instructs us – now more than ever in the US in particular – to be staunch, to pick a side, to be willing to impose and defend your authority.

My intention is not to be cynical. I would love to give people the benefit of the doubt and I often do – but we also have a responsibility to be honest with ourselves and each other and one great way to get real with myself is to question my motives. Why is something so important to me? Why am I getting worked up? Why am I taking this personally? Why do I feel the urge to ensure people see it or do it my way? The answer is usually seated in fear.

What am I to do about this?

My reaction to fundamentalist attitudes is “No way, you don’t get to decide – for me or for anyone else!” I feel fearful. And to cope with my feelings of fear and insecurity, I have a habit of taking on the role of an archetype I’ve battled most of my life: the hero. *This is where my fundamentalist tendencies play out. And that happened the past few weeks – I wanted people who were part of those discussions to know that they could decide for themselves! That they didn’t have to do it anyone else’s way! That they could have their own experience. But that’s not my job – my job is not to make sure anyone knows anything. Why was I upset? Because I was being shown a mirror. Being someone’s hero  isn’t that far removed from insisting a strict and literal adherence to a set of basic principles that I happen to have. 

So what is my role?

If someone wants to explore empowerment and responsibility, then I am here to explore that with them. If not, or if not with me – that’s okay too.

So if you feel like considering it, I’ll offer these ideas to explore:

  • You have the right to reject fundamentalism in any form from any person or entity trying to control your experience or the way you integrate an idea. Including me.
  • You have the right to walk away from spiritual bullying.
  • You have the right to question any idea, ideology, and any teacher.
  • You have the right to stand in your own understanding.
  • You have the right to have spiritual autonomy.
  • You have the right to make any spiritual or healing practice your own. This includes any traditional or institutionalized spiritual or healing art form.
  • You have the right to question anything someone presents to you as absolute. This includes ideas or traditions from any traditional or institutionalized spiritual or healing art form.
  • It is healthy to question something that doesn’t resonate with you.
  • A teacher empowers. A teacher does not enslave with ideology.

On a side note: what does open, non-dualistic discussion look like and feel like?

When I am in a healthy discussion with others about our subtle energetic pursuits, the most helpful comments are self-referential. “I experience, I feel, I have noticed, I wonder….” The most instructive conversations lack an assumption of universal correctness. And the discussion participants assume that their experiences and their understanding of their experiences cannot be automatically applied to all people all of the time. Because no one is taking an authoritative tone or posture, people feel safe to be open and share. When we take the concept of “wrong” out of the equation – it’s amazing what people will tell us! It is this kind of discussion that I chew on for days if not weeks and it is this type of discussion that most influences me. And I am very fortunate to have these types of discussions far and away more frequently than other types.

The subtle realm in which we work is not a dualistic realm. For every statement made, there is an equally potent paradoxical statement. This is the beauty of the ever morphing, ever expanding, ever evolving work. If we stand still long enough to create a rule, let alone enforce one, we create inertia and take ourselves out of the subtle realm of non-duality and dare I say, out of our Hearts.

In gratitude,

Tana