If I hear “meditate!” one more time….Mindfulness in our healing work

If I hear “meditate!” one more time….Mindfulness in our healing work

Two interesting messages came through over the past week. The first was a criticism that in recent posts, I have been too critical of the metaphysical community without providing much in the way of alternative options.

I used to detest criticism. I was once a perfectionist who got a lot of gold stars and extra credit points. I was lauded by my teachers and bosses. When I would receive correction of any kind, I received it like a blow to the chest. I would cry, worry, and overanalyze. I would ping-pong between defending myself and berating myself. I do not doubt that I missed a lot of excellent feedback that would have helped me be or do better because I was too busy having an emotional and mental meltdown.

Now I welcome criticism, in the end. Oh don’t get me wrong, my gut still drops and I get light-headed and can’t take a deep breath for fear that I have been caught out. (At what? Depends on the situation. It’s insecurity, plain and simple). What I welcome is the result. After setting aside the complaint/suggestion/edit so that I can get back into my body, I pick it back up, refocus, and consider it. Sometimes, after consideration of the critique, I make changes. Sometimes I do not. Regardless, the critiques gives me a chance to consider something from someone else’s perspective which is an expansive exercise. It’s nice to see through someone else’s viewfinder once in awhile – to remember that when I see red, sometimes others see green or yellow or blue.

I’m sharing this with you because I believe that they way people choose to react or respond to criticism can inform them about their ability to do honest self-inquiry. If external criticism destroys a person, it is highly unlikely they are going to be able to critique themselves in an honest way. What if everything they feared they might be (loser, failure, bad spouse, bad daughter, bad student, bad anything, idiot, narcissist, ignorant) is actually true? When that fear lingers, the ego is running the show which only means that it becomes more difficult to get out of our own way so that we can find ourselves seated back in the heart.

So what might be a first step toward honest self-inquiry for the purpose of healing? Consider your reaction to criticism. Just think about it without judging it. How do you react when someone tells you that, from their perspective, you are either doing it wrong or could be doing it better? How does your body react? Your gut, your limbs, your facial expression, your brain, your lungs and chest? Observe it as a scientist would observe an experiment. A secondary exercise is to do this without judging yourself.

The second comment received was from someone who was frustrated because they would like to do self-inquiry and begin digging into their healing work, but they are tired of being encouraged to meditate or start a mindfulness practice to do that. When I received this feedback, I silenced my environment and meditated on it. (Which makes me giggle a little bit because I have a semi-warped sense of humor).

mindfulness

The reason why many teachers recommend a mindfulness practice, or meditation, is because learning how to be still helps us become better discerners. It teaches us to recognize thoughts for what they are (potential tools) and how to distinguish between helpful and unhelpful beliefs and stories. Self-inquiry requires the ability to be with the self so that we might know the self. When we become more acutely in tune with our physical bodies and get to know the different ways it communicates with us, over time we are less surprised by our reactions as they turn into responses.

Mindfulness or meditation practices help us get out of our minds and into our bodies, connecting with the breath. They help us slow down and access different parts of the brain. And there are many different ways to have a mindfulness practice. There are many different ways to meditate. Sure, some will insist that there are rules – do’s and don’t’s when meditating. Some will insist that their meditation practice is the only true meditation practice. Well, lots of people say lots of thing. Saying or insisting something is true doesn’t make it so. You get to decide. The payoff of a practice like this is that we learn how to train our brains to be tools of our Hearts. In a meditation or mindfulness practice, thoughts are merely observed: they are not go-commands or absolutes. Through simple observation, we can allow the thought to drop into our heart space where the Heart guides our awareness toward what to act on and what to lovingly set aside.

When I first started meditating I was very frustrated. I couldn’t do it. I would dim the lights, minimize distraction, light a candle, sit on a special pillow, and close my eyes in a sandalwood-infused space and just get frustrated. Time and again, I gave it honest effort for over 10 months, if memory serves, only to end up feeling weak-willed and spiritually lazy. I shared this with my spiritual counselor who asked me, “Tana, how do you spend your time on a day-to-day basis? What do you do and how do you do it?” I told her that I worked from home and that I spent my days researching or writing. She clarified, “So your day-to-day activity is generally done in quiet solitude and it is a very internal, mindful and disciplined experience?” I said that yes, it was. Then she recommended that I stop trying to meditate in quiet solitude because that was my usual way of being to do my job. She encouraged me instead to begin treating other day-to-day activities like doing the dishes, folding laundry, mopping the floor, mowing the yard, cutting vegetables as opportunities to learn how to still the mind. Watch thoughts come, detach, and let them go. Try giving all of your attention to the thing you are doing. Feel the water on your hands, the grass under your feet, the cloth against your fingertips, the knife cut against the board. Notice those physical sensations and get really inside your body. And you know what? It worked.

Before long, I found myself looking forward to chores because I knew it was going to be a chance to take a break from thinking and experience my reality through my physical body. I learned a lot about my physical body which began to teach me a lot about my subtle anatomy in time as well. The connections were starting to form because I was making space for them. Thoughts would come and I would breathe them out and come back to the carrot I was peeling. Thoughts would come and I would fall back into my legs and arms pushing the mower across the front yard. Thoughts would come and I would notice my body’s reaction. In time I was so fully inhabiting my body during these activities that the mind learned, “Oh, this is my time off. Catch ya later.” Once I had learned to fully inhabit my body, connected to my surroundings, connected through my breath, I was able to fall into that Oneness space I had heard so much about.

Something to keep in the back of your mind: the way you access this spaciousness may change over time. After a while, chores didn’t do it for me anymore. My life changed, I changed, my routine changed. I now access that space through another practice. Some people can start a practice and follow it everyday for the rest of their lives. Other people will pick up a ritual and put it down to pick up another one as needed. It’s all good.

We can experience a lot of judgment from others who are only looking to find validation for their own choices and practices. There is no one right way to do most anything. If this were true we would never see new inventions or innovative advancements.  When we talk about meditation, we’re not really talking about meditation. We’re really talking about learning to be with ourselves fully: physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Oftentimes this involves quieting the mind so that we can clearly see how we’ve constructed our realities through a neutral perspective. However you get from point A to point B – I don’t really care and frankly, neither should anyone else. The important thing is that you figure out a way that works for you. If you’re tired of hearing that the answer to every question is to meditate, and you’ve tried to meditate repeatedly with no success, that’s okay. Figure out what meditation is supposed to provide and then figure out another way you can get there.

There are numerous rituals and practices to choose from. Journaling, attending a drum circle, taking a walk in the woods or a hike up a mountain – can you find your true self in these places where you can’t hide? Yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong – can you drop into your center and detach and access the expansive all? Gardening, washing the dishes, pooper scooping the yard (no lie) – do these activities help you assess yourself through your body? What do you do that enables you to observe your thoughts from a non-judgmental space? To access the collective consciousness? To drop into your Heart center? Go. Do. That.


You might be asking why I keep bringing up self-inquiry as a part of the personal healing experience. That’s because the only person who can heal you is you. The only person who can honestly access and assess your actions, thoughts, motivations, reactions, responses, emotions, etc., is you. I can have my perspective about you and your experiences, but I can’t fully understand them because my perspective – based on my personal experiences – will inevitably cloud the view. If you desire to experience healing in your life, you have to be able to know in what way and in what capacity. And then you have to be able to consider what you’ve done, thought, believed, emoted, etc., and how these actions (or inactions as the case may be) have contributed to your perception of imbalance. That’s self-inquiry.

I believe we need community – healers, friends, coaches, counselors, teachers – to walk alongside this sometimes difficult terrain. Other people’s experiences and perspectives can shed light on our own in unique and deeply expansive ways. In the end I am responsible for my own healing work. I am responsible for making the choice to heal and for taking the steps. No one can cajole another person into healing. No one can control another person’s healing and force it. But we can come alongside each other and support each other’s work. Sometimes we need to hear each other’s stories to experience a breakthrough. Sometimes we need someone to be fully honest about how they perceive us because we have blinders when it comes to ourselves. Our self-preservation instinct is strong. But we have to make the agreement.

If you have reached the point where you’re feeling able to dive in and begin a new stage in your healing journey that includes self inquiry – good for you.  It seems that in just about every life scenario, there is an easy-out option that is not only available, but encouraged. And here you are, deciding to let your guard down and peer into the uncomfortable aspects of your life: your reactions, your feelings, your thoughts and beliefs, your routines, your everything. You’ve agreed to honest self-inquiry. As Pema Chodron and every great teacher has said:

Ram Dass’ Facebook Page

Embedded within every complaint I have about an aspect of my life is a choice to stop pushing back and truly be with what I fear, hate, dislike, or am discomfited by. We can’t learn from that which we continue to try to shove into corners or closets. We can’t learn from that which we continue to reject out of hand. Life is inviting us, through each and every experience, to engage with it and learn from it and explore ourselves through it. It is the entire spectrum of experiences and their correlating emotional and physical responses that we’re being invited to engage with, which means not every exploration is going to feel good or safe or comfortable or pleasant. Because all means all. When we try to avoid the less pleasant experiences, we are choosing to only partially engage with Life which means we are choosing to evolve only partially. And this affects not only us, but our families and communities. The complaints or concerns we carry around with us about our experiences, our emotions, our world, our family, our friends, our country, ourselves will only continue to bubble up until we’re willing to fully engage with them.

So it must be asked and only you can both ask and answer the question: do you find that you cannot meditate or find a mindfulness practice because you’ve been too limiting in defining what that might look like for you? Or….Or, do you stop meditating when you become uncomfortable with what arises in your consciousness?

But how do I not become paralyzed when I first start to see my stuff? 

I think one of the biggest lessons of all can come right at the beginning of this excavation process. The first time we choose to sit with an issue and be with it, our egos can really freak out and they try to distract us through judgment and guilt (more concepts/thoughts). This is particularly easy for the ego to do because people new to healing and self inquiry are usually still giving deference to their brains. And the brain usually hasn’t been trained yet to see situations multidimensionally. The brain, a terrific categorization and organizational tool, tends to live in Flatland where only 2 categories exist: good or bad.

The Heart is the place where everything can be held simultaneously. But we have to learn to recognize our Hearts and how to hand over the reigns to the Heart and that can take some time and practice of questioning our thoughts and beliefs and habits and perspectives.

Your “stuff” – whatever you’re seeing that you want or need to change – is not an enemy. It is not out to get you.

And you are not a horrible/bad/stupid/weak person.

You are worthy. You are loved more deeply than you know.

It’s just a rope. It’s just a rope. And we’re all hanging on it together.

 

So much grace and peace,
with gratitude,
Tana

PS: f you work with crystals in your healing practice, some excellent mineral allies include sedimentary carbonates. Calcite, Rhodochrosite, Magnesite (great for Heart work), Stichtite, Serpentine, Aragonite, Azurite, Eilat Stone, Malachite.

PPS: Never want to miss a post? You can now subscribe to this Blog! Just enter your email in the box at the bottom of the page on your mobile device, or to the left of the screen on your desktop or laptop.

Being empathic does not have to be a handicap

edited 6/18/17 – Before you read on….
Just today I was finally listening to a podcast from NPR’s Invisibilia, that had been sitting in my queue for a few weeks:
Apparently the link no longer works to the podcast, but here is the website with information to find the podcast: https://www.npr.org/programs/invisibilia/530718193/emotions
And before reading on, I strongly encourage you to listen to it. It has everything to do with what I write below. It has everything to do with empowerment and not being a victim of your emotions or thoughts. You don’t have to believe me or trust my experiences of relieving myself of anxiety, depression, and overwhelming empathic experiences. You can look to the science.

And now, on to our regularly scheduled post.

How we choose to define an empath

There is a lot of information out there defining empaths according to the burdens they bear. Google “empath” or “being an empath” or “signs you’re an empath” and there are a lot of articles providing people with identifiers to cling to that simultaneously offer very little in the way of discussing how to become a healthy empathic person. If we’re willing to be honest with ourselves, the bad (or incomplete?) information which we keep regurgitating and sharing on social media often goes unchallenged because of our egos which rely heavily on labels and identification. And I think it is very alluring to the ego to feel special, which is what many of these articles proclaim about people who are empaths.
The articles and memes often identify empathic people as a unique class of human beings who have special requirements, while simultaneously bemoaning the weight empaths carry. Examples are prolific – just Google search “empath,” or “how to be an empath.” Here are some examples of problematic statements, which can be found in the mass of articles throughout the web. Sometimes the problem rests in the fact that the statement is delivered as fact without proof or careful inquiry. Sometimes the problem is that the statement makes victims out of sensitive people, providing no follow-up for freedom. Most of the time, the problem with these statements is both an issue of victimization as well as unsubstantiated “facts.”
– An empath is “unconsciously influenced” by other people’s thoughts, emotions, and/or physical sensations
Many of the statements made – the way empathic people are labeled and defined by the authors – are not followed up with questions or supportive advice. For instance, which the above statement, we might ask, “Why unconscious? Does it have to be unconscious? Does it have to remain unconscious? Would not a person become more empowered by becoming conscious/aware of the influences (and then do a second-level inquiry asking, “Is that true?”) Where is the article that talks about “and then what“?
– An empath is able to read people’s intentions and motivations and can tell when someone is being dishonest (usually followed by, “And we can’t stand being lied to.”)
Again, here we would benefit I believe from asking, “Is it true that people who identify as empathic never have to be concerned about projection, assumption, or “bad reads”? This human-lie-detector thing is also problematic because most people can tell when they are being lied to. People who are honest with themselves can tell when they are being lied to. This isn’t a special skill doled out to a select few: this is part of being a human being when the human being is self-aware and paying attention.
– Being an empath is not a learned trait – you either are or you aren’t. 
Is this true? How can we possibly make such a definitive statement? Let’s consider: from where does empathy arise within the subtle anatomy? Or the body? Or the mind? Are we suggesting that only a segment of the human race is capable of deep connection and access to the collective consciousness? How collective is the collective consciousness if only a few people have access to it? Help us all if empathy – a vibrational stepping stone toward compassion – is a rarified gift doled out only to certain people. And help us if we think that empathy is the ultimate goal.
– Empaths pick up and carry the weight of the world’s collective energy and karma.
Can we stop and ask ourselves why we agree to self-inflicted martyrdom? Again, I see no follow-up on how to change this experience and become empowered through discernment. Interestingly, in the dozens and dozens of articles and books I’ve read about empathic people, I don’t think I have ever read the word “discernment.” A spiritual person deep in their healing work is learning discernment. The solar plexus chakra in particular offers an important lesson in discernment which helps us see what we are carrying and from where that energy comes. Discernment is one of the most important and powerful spiritual skills: it teaches us to recognize BS – our own and from others. Discernment is one of the most important things an empath could possibly learn is to distinguish between their own energy and the energy of others.
– Empaths are affected by negative images.
Everyone is affected by negative imagery. And before you tell me, “But I feel it MORE than the average person,” please ask yourself how you could possibly determine that? Just because someone subjects themselves to negative images doesn’t mean they aren’t affected. What if the ability to be with negative images and violence indicates a more evolved way of being in the world? There is the chance that a person has simply learned how to hold a space of compassion for the pain and damage done in the world. Perhaps it means that when watching movies or television shows, or playing video games that are violent, some people can discern what is and isn’t real in a way that empaths have not yet learned to discern for themselves.
What do we do with this energy that has arisen in us? If we feel clear and are standing in our truth when we say that we experience feelings and emotions more strongly than others – okay. But then what? What does that mean? What do we do with that energy that has arisen? What is it teaching us?
What if this discernment enabled people to engage with the idea of violence in a reflective way? If we can’t be in the room with violence or anything else we perceive as negative, how are we ever going to learn how to integrate the whole to heal the whole? How are we ever going to challenge our dualistic natures? How are we ever going to learn to see our own culpability in the violence of the world? Not looking at it doesn’t make it less real or less in need of healing.

How labels stunt our healing

A few months ago I read an article being passed along on Facebook for the friends of an empath. It was a helpful guide to knowing an empath – what to expect, what to be aware of. In other words, it was a list of behaviors that certain people (empaths) should be let off the hook for. (I had to set this article aside for a time to get perspective). The overarching tone of the article suggested that empaths have inherent privileges over other people because of the way they suffer. I will limit myself to only 2.
If we [empaths] give advice, take it. If we take the time to listen to your dilemma, and give you heartfelt advice, just listen to it. We know what we are talking about and if you ask for our advice and ignore it, well, let’s just say it kinda annoys us to no end.
followed two bullet points below by: 
We can’t stand narcissism. If you are head over heels in love with your reflection, your money, and your ego- just stay away. We really can’t roll our eyes any harder.
Can we see the mirroring going on here? Can we see the lack of compassion? Can we see the judgment? I ask that as someone who struggles with judgment of these articles myself. But we need to be able to see it to heal it. I can’t fix what I don’t know is broken. I can’t shift what I am unwilling to see.
The number one thing these article and meme writers seem to want to convey is that empaths aren’t “too emotional” or “too sensitive.” They bemoan these labels while at the same time, providing a detailed list of all the things they need to avoid while implying that you should also be sure to not overstimulate or upset them with anything from the list. What I have learned from my experiences of being called “too sensitive” is that sometimes it is true and sometimes it is not. Regardless, it is another person’s perception of me which means how they are perceiving me is more about them than it is about me. However, sometimes, when it is true, it’s time to consider that I might be acting self-indulgent and expecting others to treat me the same.
I don’t like watching the news. It does upset me, especially when something tragic and violent has occurred. My husband watches the news. Do I insist that he not turn the news on in our house or when I’m home? No. I leave the room. It’s not his responsibility to manage my feelings by changing himself or his preferences. Being empathic (a label I don’t personally subscribe to anymore) is an opportunity to grow for me. It is not a tool I use to insist everyone cater to my unique “needs” of a quiet, low-drag lifestyle.
Abraham Hicks recently posted the following meme on Facebook and Instagram:
When we blame others or experiences for our emotional or mental state, we are giving away our personal power and othering. There is no freedom without responsibility. While responsibility can feel like a drag or can seem daunting – when we step into our personal responsibility, that’s when we find our liberation. From that place we can begin to question our beliefs and conditioning. When we place the responsibility of how we experience the world at the feet of others, there is no spaciousness for expansion of awareness.
People have approached me asking for assistance because they identify as empaths and feel overwhelmed, depressed, and/or anxious. I ask them the same questions I ask myself when these energies arise to help them clarify what they want their life to look like and feel like (something only they can know). I then ask them what about their life is prohibiting that from becoming reality (something only they can know). And when I ask, “What are you willing to change in your thought process regarding your emotions and experiences so that you might make your dream a reality?” I often hear crickets at this one. Our conditioning can be very strong. And we are most often conditioned to not believe that we have the power to change our lives, our circumstances. Moreover, culturally and spiritually, we have a longstanding tradition of being trained to give deference to our minds and giving our thoughts power over us. We are not encouraged to question and we are not taught to question ourselves except when it benefits the powers that be.
There is a different kind of power dynamic at play when we can identify as “X” and then blame something external for how we are perceiving our experiences because we are X. But it’s a false power that crumbles the moment someone in an empath’s life realizes, “Wait, I don’t need to cater to their special needs. I’m not responsible for their happiness or peace of mind. And frankly, as I give this just a modicum of thought, I’m realizing how uncool it is for them to try to put that on me. I’m out.”
And what if we allowed that self-empowerment of others to teach us how to empower ourselves. We could just as easily feel something or think something and rather than immediately believe it, say to ourselves,“Wait a minute. I don’t need to believe this. I don’t need to feel this. I can question this thought or belief and change it to reflect my truth in a more authentic way. I can acknowledge the experience of these emotions arising and then dismiss them.” Inner power – empowerment of the self – can’t be taken away because it isn’t dependent on outside influences. There are choices available to us that can enable us to create a healthier emotional and mental life. We have to be willing to ask ourselves which is more important: the identity of being X, which seems safer, or releasing ourselves from the bondage of labels so that we can expand and feel better in our bodies and in the world? If we truly want to feel better, do better, be better – if we want to truly evolve – we have to be willing to be honest with ourselves about the power dynamics in our lives. Question them. Challenge them.
Put another way: empathy, if we’re not moving through our experiences with discernment and awareness, can be a great way to shift the focus away from the person truly experiencing pain and put the focus back on ourselves. It can become a way to opt-out of service (should one feel called) and compassion and loving kindness because “I’m just not strong enough to be with that much energy.”  Who is the “I” who is not strong enough?
Do people who are more in touch with energy need to practice self-care? Sure. Can self-care include making decisions from time to time to opt-out of an activity because we are tired or overwhelmed? Sure! Does self-care include using that perception of heightened sensitivity as an excuse to remove ourselves from the world and situations where we might be uncomfortable? I hope not.

Is it really a gift?

Is everyone capable of empathy? I believe the answer is yes because every person has a beating heart, a heart field. Every person has the capacity to grow their intuition and discernment through awareness. Every person has the choice to pay closer attention and be self-aware. Every person can choose to become more and more heart-centered and grounded in their body and experiences, to learn and grow and change themselves. Every person can become more attuned to the energy around them.
Then my friends, empathy isn’t a gift. It is a birthright. And it doesn’t have to be a handicap.

What to do with empathy? 

At a retreat I attended a few years ago, the leader was asked, “What is the difference, vibrationally, between sympathy, empathy and compassion?” These three responses to pain are similar and can get mixed up with one another. But they each have their own unique vibrational information. They each come from unique places from within us and each has a different agenda and role to play.
To paraphrase, he replied, Sympathy carries a vibration from the ego, from the solar plexus chakra. Sympathy wants to pet someone on the head and say, “There, there, it will be alright,” or quickly fix the perceived problem in an effort to muffle the pain being expressed because it is making the observer uncomfortable. Sympathy comes from a place of wanting to be a caretaker and “help,” yes, but if we’re honest, it also comes from a place of self-preservation. 
When we try to fix or nullify another person’s pain, we are taking away someone’s opportunity to heal. The energy of pain has arrived – there’s a reason for it. And the person who is experiencing it (not second-hand as an empath) has the right to decide what to do with that energy regardless of how anyone else might be empathizing with it – regardless of how it’s making anyone else feel. We are each responsible for our own feelings and perceptions.
He then said of empathy, Empathy is a vibration that shares the heart chakra and the solar plexus chakra. Empathy is a vibrational resonance that leads to dis-ease. (That got my attention). Empathy is a person coming into contact with the pain of another, picking up that pain, and then choosing to walk hand-in-hand with the other, carrying that pain together. Which sounds comforting and loving, but is really just two people now in pain. 
BINGO. It’s allowing perceived pain to affect the way a person identifies himself in relation to others and the world at large. It isn’t a solution. It lacks momentum. Feeling empathy isn’t end game – it is a SIGNAL to move into compassion.
Of compassion he said, Compassion is a vibration of the heart. When we are in the vibration of compassion, we are not taking anything on ourselves, or trying to solve anything, or trying to erase anything. We are holding a space for the other person to enter into their healing work. Holding a space of compassion does not involve trying to fix, remove, or change the other person’s experience. 
So while we might be feeling deeply the experience of pain another person is having, we don’t have to hold onto it. Why would we? We can choose to become aware of it, release it as it is not ours, and turn our calm attention toward the person going through something and hold space for them to do their work. No judgment, no advice, no fixing. Just holding. Just open hearted awareness and be-ing with them as they continue to follow their path to healing.
Here’s what the articles I allude to above don’t often say – empaths DO have a choice about what to do with the “extra” energy they perceive themselves to be embodying or carrying. They don’t have to continue to carry it, or process through it, or fix it. Once made aware of the energy – of the reason for the moodiness, the anxiety, the depression, the exhaustion – once discerned that it is not their own energy, that energy can be dropped! Let it go. Breathe it out. Empaths don’t have to be victims. They can learn to be a part of the world without crumbling in the midst of all the energy present. They aren’t required to take it on and carry it around with them. There is no merit badge for carrying the weight of the world.
Once upon a time I missed out on fun ballpark experiences, and midnight movie showings of the hot new sequel. I didn’t go into the city with friends or attend healing circles. I wouldn’t watch TV at night because I couldn’t control what might come across the screen and movies were pretty much out for the same reason. All because I felt overwhelmed. Being told I was unique and had a gift didn’t provide me an opportunity to learn from those experiences and heal my perceptions of the world around me. And the truth is that I wasn’t special or more sensitive than my friends. I was simply perceiving the world differently, identifying with it differently, and I didn’t know how to cope because I didn’t understand energy. I think that’s a big problem in the metaphysical world: we talk about energy, we even talk about healing with energy – without really understanding it and our relationship to it.
It boils down to choice. Each of us can choose what to believe, what to carry, which perspective to identify with. Each of us can choose to release what no longer serves. Each of us can choose to spend some time doing honest self-reflection to determine which aspects of our lives, our thoughts, our emotions, our responses might no longer serve. We can learn to co-exist with uncomfortable emotions, images, and experiences. We can learn to hold space for anything that comes our way while standing boldly in our place, grounded in the heart. We can change our habits and thought patterns. Is it easy? Not necessarily.
Is it worth it? I would say it is. I “do life” again. I go to Mariner’s games and concerts and movies. My relationships are healthier because I hold myself responsible for my feelings. Clients and students and friends feel more supported in their healing work because their healing work doesn’t become about me in any way, shape, or form. When they are uncomfortable or in pain, I am not uncomfortable or in pain with them – rather, I can hold space for them to fully be where they need to be and experience what they need to experience. I’m not constantly exhausted anymore and anxiety, when it arrives, has less influence. Energy “vampires” aren’t a real thing in my life anymore because I am responsible for my energy and emotions. I am able to check in and determine if I have the capacity for an activity or not and then honor that without excuses or blaming.
In short, I experience freedom that was out of my reach when I wasn’t willing to look at myself honestly and take responsibility for my thoughts, beliefs, actions, choices. I had to become aware of it, then become willing to change it. Make an exchange if you will.
Grace and peace,
Tana

Working with Cathedral Quartz

cathedral quartzCathedral Quartz in subtle energy healing

Cathedral Quartz Information
Quartz are given unique names to help distinguish between different growth processes, environments, and appearances. Both the mineralogical community and the metaphysical community give names to different formations, for different reasons. Sometimes the names match, sometimes they don’t. And yes, that can be confusing. To make matters more confusing, metaphysical folks tend to apply names based on the energy of the piece, rather than its appearance and formation. This creates confusion about true rarity and quality, location, as well as price. In the mineral world nomenclature is a bit of a mess. Don’t worry, the more you engage with different communities, minerals, and sellers, the more comfortable you’ll get identifying minerals and quartz formations. It just takes time and experience.
A mineral’s price is (or should be) most affected by the availability of the mineral. The more difficult a mineral is to mine, or the less frequently it is found in excavations, the more expensive the mineral will be (before considering internal clarity, color, weight, and condition). When I first started studying crystal healing, natural, unheated Citrine was relatively easy to acquire and afford. In recent years, natural, unheated Citrine became scarce and the price jumped accordingly. Same with Sugilite. Ajoite, especially that from the most popular site – Messina – is no longer available except from collections and the price has gone through the roof. Should a new pocket be discovered for any of these minerals, we will see the price fluctuate accordingly.
Sidenote: (In my opinion, pricing a mineral based on subtle energy experiences is unethical. A personal experience cannot be proven, let alone guaranteed for anyone else, and conveying that minerals and certain quartz formations only offer X is misleading and limiting. Promising a specific energetic experience based on working with a specific mineral and then upcharging sometimes 10 times the actual value of the stone is taking advantage of the customer base, especially those who are new to the art. I have seen this done time and again and it breaks my heart. People are easily influenced and people who are hurting and seeking answers can be especially vulnerable.
Each of us needs to be empowered to have our own experiences: to build our own unique relationships to the mineral kingdom based on sound, grounded knowledge that helps inform the most important aspect of communication between a person and a crystal – that person’s HEART. Just because some people find Moldavite to be powerful doesn’t mean everyone will feel that way with Moldavite. And that doesn’t make either party wrong in their experience or interpretation of their experience. When we price a stone or mineral, the only ethical thing to do is price it according to availability and quality (as well as the hours and energy it took for us to source it. I’m not suggesting people cannot make a living or have a business selling crystals), and to provide the actual, mineralogical name, rather than a made-up and trademarked name that hides the fact that the mineral is actually very, very common and can be purchased elsewhere for pennies on the dollar).
I’d like to address what a Cathedral Quartz IS, because there are a lot of quartz being sold as Cathedral Quartz that are not, in fact, cathedral quartz. Elestial/Jacere quartz, sprouting/artichoke quartz, cactus quartz, candle quartz, and others are often mis-identified and sold as Cathedral Quartz. It’s confusing partly because the term ‘elestial’ has been a mineralogical identifier as well as a metaphysical identifier. Meanwhile other metaphysical names are flat out rejected by the mineralogical community. Knowing which names or labels are truly mineralogical (and therefore used to identify properly the types of minerals we have) can be tricky and just takes time and experience to figure out. Sometimes the mineralogical community will begin to use metaphysical labels when the label just won’t go away and becomes common, or, when they realize they can make a bigger profit selling certain minerals using the metaphysical labels. (Hint, when you know your stuff and can buy your crystals from rocks shops rather than metaphysical shops – you will save money a lot of the time).

 

But even without the mineralogical community, we in the metaphysical community can make things rather complicated all on our own. :) For example, Lightbraries are often known to be Cathedral Quartz, yet the Lightbrary name has since been applied to sprouting Citrine Quartz, once very popular from the DNC (Congo). If you do an Internet search for “Cathedral Quartz,” you will see images of Elestial/Jacare, Sprouting/Artichoke Quartz, Candle Quartz, even Quartz clusters and Cactus/Spirit Quartz. Different groups giving different names to the multitude of quartz formations can create a bit of confusion.
For example, if Crystal Healer Steve decides that Artichoke form should be called Lightbrary because of his personal experience with the stone, and then begins teaching about or selling Artichoke growth crystals as “Lightbrary” crystals, it makes sense that those who have read elsewhere that Cathedral Quartz are also called Cathedral Lightbraries start mixing up Artichoke Quartz formation with quartz that display the specific parallel-grown, stepped formation that we know as Cathedrals.
Artichoke/sprouting quartz are much easier to come by while Cathedral Quartz is rarer. The price tag often reflects this because not only is the formation rarer, but to find a Cathedral Quartz with good clarity and not a lot of damage can be difficult. Plus – Cathedrals seem to arrive in waves every 20-30 years. Right now, we are entering a drought. How long that drought will last is anyone’s guess. But past experience shared tells me that these special formations tend to be found in spurts before a long dry spell when none are mined. I do wonder if the time between showings is getting shorter. 
Though Mindat.org states that parallel, stepped growth formations of quartz are quite common, I have found that true Cathedral Quartz formation is one of the rarer formations of quartz growth and I know I’m not alone in that experience. It can take some time and experience to learn how to distinguish a true Cathedral Quartz – having a specific parallelly-grown, stepped formation – from other parallel growth forms but once you see it, you’ll be able to identify a Cathedral forevermore. (When I say “true,” I am not speaking about the crystal’s energy. I’m speaking about the formation requirements to be classified as a Cathedral Quartz).
What are the identifying features of Cathedral Quartz?
One very important identifying distinction is this: while it might appear that there are numerous quartz points which grew together (smaller attached to one primary larger center crystal), the crystal is in fact, one crystal. If you turn the crystal upside down, you won’t see lines where crystals fused together. Sometimes a Cathedral Quartz can actually be multiple Cathedrals which fused together in which case you will see those boundary lines on the bottom – but the individual points which fused, may still, in their own right, be Cathedral formation.

cathedral quartz

Elestial quartz is more of a patterning on the surface of the quartz. Sprouting or artichoke quartz has one center crystal with numerous, smaller crystals growing separately but attached to the primary point. In a cathedral, even though it may appear that separate crystals are growing off of a main point, in fact, it is all one piece.  A great website to visit is QuartzPage.de (specifically their Growth Forms page). This site is a wealth of information about quartz.
Parallel, step-growth occurs when a quartz crystal experiences a phenomenon called twinning during its formation. In the case of Cathedral Quartz, a double spiral rotation occurs which gives the point a multi-terminated appearance, though in reality, it is ONE crystal, rather than multiple crystals fused together during growth. This is KEY for identifying a Cathedral.
Cathedral quartz are interesting quartz specimens in that they can look like completely different pieces depending on which side or angle you are looking at. Consider that these two photos show the exact same piece – just from different vantage points. For this reason, if purchasing online, be sure to ask for numerous photographs from different sides of the piece if not already provided.

cathedral quartz   cathedral quartz

One more thing: Cathedral Quartz can be found in clear, smoky, and citrine
Cathedral Quartz Crystal Healing & Properties Information
I hope that more than anything you feel empowered to discern for yourself what your crystal masters are trying to communicate to you and through you. Crystals are not stagnant. They are pulsing energy sources with one of the lowest rates of entropy of any physical thing on planet Earth. They are always working with each of us individually in the NOW moment. Therefore, their messages to us will be unique from person to person and applicable to the NOW moment. Tying them down to a singular purpose or chakra or healing focus limits OUR ability to work with them to the highest good of all Beings and to evolve and grow spiritually.
Having said that, when we are learning something new, it helps to have a starting point, a spring-board, right? In the new age community, many have written down their personal experiences with crystals and published them so that we could have just that – a starting point from which we can begin our own unique work with crystals. Even when an author insists their understanding is THE understanding – I always encourage my students to hold these writings lightly, to not create dogma or true/false narratives based on other people’s personal, subjective experiences. The following information comes from Katrina Raphaell’s book, The Crystalline Transmission: A Synthesis of Light, pages 173-183. Katrina Raphaell is considered by many to be THE teacher for metaphysical work with Quartz. Many people resonate with her work and her experiences and so her books have, over time, become the go-to reference tools for learning about different quartz formations from a metaphysical perspective.
Here are some highlights from her section on Cathedrals:
  • Are “universally oriented…synchronized to universal frequencies.”
  • A Thought-Form gatherer and translator:
    • A tool to “…receive new waves of consciousness…” from the Masters. These messages are translated for our understanding through the crystal so that we can comprehend and integrate these messages. “…the wisdom of the soul can take tangible form in thoughts that the mind is capable of understanding.”
  • Exist to aid whoever comes to them, when the heart is open and the desires are in alignment with the Light.
  • Contains knowledge written in the language of Light. (Though is also said to be void of information until programmed – which is not my personal experience).?
  • Can be an access to the Hall of Records (Akashic Records – records containing every thought, word, and deed of every living thing throughout time).
  • Is said to be a “group” crystal (2 or more) though an individual can work with Cathedral Quartz imo
Recommendations for working with Cathedral Quartz
cathedral quartzGroup work
In a group of 2 or more like-Hearted individuals, who all share the intention of grounding Light to Earth, and bringing Universal Divinity into their joint endeavor. Sit in a circle with the Cathedral in the center, apex pointing up to the sky. Holding hands, focus on the inner world of the crystal. Imagine oneself within, focused on the common intention and desire, open to receiving knowledge from the Universal Masters.
Individual work
While many teach that Cathedral Quartz are not “personal” crystals or are specifically meant to be a Master Tool for groupwork, I have found that communing with a Cathedral Quartz can be a very expansive, powerful, empowering, and humbling experience. Holding the crystal or being near it, open yourself to the messages awaiting you. I recommend getting grounded first, firm in your Light, centered in your Heart before entering into this energy so that your discernment is clear. Setting the crystal on your Heart (if not too heavy), or placing the crystal at your feet pointing up, at your head pointing down, or however feels “right” to you in the moment, go into your meditation. Focus on your breath and allow your body to relax. Be open to receiving wisdom, assistance, messages.
Some people meditate while gazing into the crystal. This is particularly wonderful when the crystal has an internal clarity and lots of clear facets on its surface through which to look. Some say that each of the turrets or spires is a room of knowledge unto itself and that we can enter into these rooms and access Akashic Records or universal wisdom or enter into the collective consciousness through these “rooms.”

Personal share:
I do personally find Cathedral Quartz to be neutral, Universally-oriented, as Katrina Raphaell has mentioned. That resonates with me and my experience of the crystals. This may not be your experience – your message – from the Cathedral you’re called to work with. That’s perfectly okay. There is no one-way or right-way to work with the Crystal Masters. There is YOUR way.
I work with Cathedral Quartz when I am seeking clarity on a “big world” type of issue. Or when my mind is not serving my Heart and I am seeking to create a calm ebb and flow between the two with the Heart in the lead. I find myself reaching for Cathedral Quartz when I want to consciously, intentionally send waves of compassion to the Earth or to a specific group of people experiencing difficulties. I go to the Cathedral to ask for clarity; to see the Mirror being reflected back at me from my community, country, from the world. When I perceive the world to be “going mad,” I must ask how I might be going mad. How might I be contributing to the madness within and in my community? I find the Cathedrals to be powerful helpers in this. I also asked for help, guidance, and perspective-widening from my ancestors.
Because Cathedrals are Universally-oriented, they are about The All. Our work with them can often be to understand our place and purpose within The All.