Plant medicine and ritual during the eclipse

plant medicineMy dear friend, Tara Sage, has written a beautiful article providing information about the different ways different cultures have interpreted and worked with eclipse energy. She also provides recommendations for integrating plant medicine into your sacred rituals around this eclipse. Even if you have no plans to do anything specific during today’s eclipse, this article is chock-full of information about the different ways different plants are worked with in ritual to promote cleansing, purifying, manifesting, and more. Tara is, in my opinion, a wise and deeply knowledgeable teacher about the sacred art of smudging and incorporating ritual into our lives. Her background of study is deeply grounded, honoring and vast.

Tara has become my teacher in all things smudge-related. I also acquire my smudging tools and plants from her, knowing that she is growing many of the plants on her own property, growing, cultivating, harvesting, and selling with the highest integrity and respect. Visit her Sacred Land Sage store here.

 

Heart centered – what does it mean?

How we each find the best ways to live a heart centered life

Language can be problematic when speaking about spiritual and healing work. Someone recently said to me (paraphrasing), “I understand that being heart centered is important, but some people have bigger fish to fry on a day to day basis.” I have thought about that statement a lot over the past few days. It prompted so many questions that, because of numerous factors, didn’t get asked. The biggest reason I didn’t try to start a dialogue was because the initial exchange was on social media which, for me, is a problematic platform for experiencing deep, mutually respectful, truly clarifying dialogue. Still, that quick exchange prompted a lot of self-reflection (“Am I missing something?” “Do I need to do better, be clearer, be more….something?”) and provided important clarification for me about how I move forward.

What do I mean when I use the phrase, “heart centeredness”? What does healing and living through the heart mean to me?

I talk a lot about heart-centeredness because when my teacher explained the role of the heart to me, my life turned upside down. I walked in a terrified, insecure, people-pleasing, anxiety-ridden person and left with a key to something life changing. Ever since, my life continues to be changed through the explorations and lessons of the Heart. The whole of the subtle anatomy is an important teacher to be sure, and all aspects work together. The Heart is the Leader of the pack – or it can be, when we understand it and its role and how to access and live through it. When we learn to trust everything to it. 

The heart, when known experientially, and when deferred to in all areas, changes everything: perception and perspective, judgment, reactions and responses, emotions, thought forms, actions, beliefs, attitude. It changes our relationship to our own responses and internal experiences, as well as to external events and how we respond to them. It changes the way we engage in relationships with other people, how we view our individual places in the world, and how we see ourselves in relationship to each other – it creates a cohesiveness in a shocking, humbling, faith-filled way. The heart can be a diffuser of escalation and a doorway into honest inner examination.

Heart centeredness has nothing to do with Valentine’s Day imagery, or any aspect of a faux spirituality. It is not about always maintaining an attitude of love and light and positivity. It is not about feeling good or happy. In fact, it is often disturbing the waters to show us how we might get out of our own way and experience more peace, able to be more compassionate. It is not all or only about learning to receive and give unconditional love. There is so much to explore before we could ever claim to have experienced that kind of love, that kind of Grace. The heart is about humility, trust, compassion, faith and surrender – experiencing these energies in a tangible, multi-dimensional, knock-us-on-our-ass way and then finding ourselves surprised because we realize we didn’t understand what humility, trust, compassion, faith, and surrender really were either. And this realization happens over and over again. It isn’t theoretical, it is demanding – compassionately demanding.

A person who makes an agreement to engage in the ongoing work of healing their heart by learning about those energies through direct experience of calmness, compassion, faith, surrender, trust, and humility, is doing extremely challenging, illusion-busting work. There is nowhere to hide from the self and all the stories we have created. There is no room for bullshit or lies, denial or blame. There is no room for pride or excuses. There is absolutely no room to hide from our shadows – that which we are embarrassed by or ashamed of or “unaware” of. This healing work is a deep excavation and involves being willing to see our own bullshit and the illusions we playact within our lives. It’s where everything is called into question.

It is also where we find our power and not some mealy mouthed, self aggrandizing faux power.

Seeing true that we are stronger together.

This isn’t about power over someone or something, this is about a power experienced as a humble warrior that can’t help but empower others to find that same energy within themselves. It breeds freedom within the self and for others. It’s the kind of power that makes it possible to “pick up our cross” and follow Love to the ends of the earth and beyond. This power is limitless and there is enough for all. No one person or entity is doling this out. It is always there, coming from within, and when realized and accessed, is like a battery that never dies. And every time that power is accessed and wielded, it is the most humbling experience. This power is the kind that when accessed and wielded, scares the shit out of the “powers that be.” We have seen heart centered leaders murdered for coming into this self awareness and deigning to spread it far and wide. Why? Because it is truly empowering and who can the ego-maniacal manipulators control if everyone is grounded in their power? Who do they become?

For me, heart-centeredness has to be the underpinning of every aspect of my life. If an area of my life is unhealthy, challenging, scary…. it means I have allowed the underpinning to become weak, or I have not yet examined that aspect of my life through the lens of the heart. This is the kind of work I want to do with others who are also seeking this kind of bone-deep, expansive knowing and power, compassion and grace, peace and surrender.

I don’t know how to stop the mental and emotional barrage, get grounded, and tap into calmness, compassion, faith, surrender and trust, without filtering everything (especially the most challenging experiences life throws at me) through the lens of my heart. In other words, I don’t know how to turn to another person and say, “What’s next? I’ve got your back, let’s go make this world better together.” Or, “What do you have to teach me? Show me what you want me to know,” without being centered in the truth of the heart. Because when the heart is not the leader, (when the ego through the brain/mental field is large and in charge), I’m a confused, angry, fearful, frustrated, self-victimizing weakling of a mess. When the known and experienced heart is handed the reigns – healing, flourishing, expansiveness is experienced.

So changes are coming and I look forward to experiencing what blooms together should you feel drawn to it. If you want to talk more about the heart and healing – if you have questions about anything I’ve written here – feel free to email me. Maybe we can set up a time to chat too.

In peace, through Grace,
Tana

*(The Private, Closed CTSEW FB group page will remain alive and active. Our mutually respectful dialogue and intentional work together is an important aspect of the Program).

Chaos and anxiety having its way with us…

Social media, egos, and the missed opportunity.  

 

The following may not have been your experience over the past few days. I hope it hasn’t been, even though that means this article will be confusing and meaningless to you. For those who can relate, you aren’t alone and this can change for us.

You know, I haven’t had much time to contemplate lately how I might engage with people who identify as nazis or white nationalists. I also haven’t had a lot of time to investigate how I might help to dismantle racist (overt and covert) public policies or institutions. And that’s really a shame (and shameful) because that’s exactly what I ought to have been focusing on these past couple days after racists took to the streets with confidence and thought nothing of inflicting violence and death. I believe that we have the opportunity to influence each other when we engage with each other with calm hearts.  Unfortunately, I’ve (my ego) been very busy worrying about not doing enough according to how other people view me and the way I conduct my business, and defending myself to people who have the same ideologies as I do – instead of engaging with those I fear, or with what I fear in myself. Instead, we turned on each other and wasted time and energy with infighting and judgment. This is a fantastic example of spiritual bypassing.

Taking to social media is not the same as taking to the streets (or whatever productivity looks like to people). And yet that’s the first thing we do when something happens – state something about it on social media and anxiously await validation. Then we get trapped, reading and re-reading, clicking and commenting over and over, thinking that this will somehow do good or help us feel better, safer, calmer. Oh how we have allowed ourselves to be trained….

I read many articles and memes and Facebook wall postings this week (instead of being productive and grounded) battling insecurity when a member of my choir would step out and shame the rest of the choir for not singing loudly enough, not singing the right songs, not singing to the right people, not singing in the right venues. And then I watched myself and others waste precious energy being concerned about being perceived as “good” people doing “good” in the world instead of actually tending to ourselves and others in meaningful ways.

And then we look at each other and wonder why we’re exhausted, why we feel paralyzed and inept, and why we can’t see one proactive task checked off our to-do list over the last week. I’ve been reacting to reactions rather than responding to the inner call of my Heart.  I talk a lot about the Heart – a lot of people do. I talk a lot about the heart because it brooks no bullshit. It is the center of truth. It is the access to the All. Had I drawn all this energy into my Heart space sooner, I would have saved myself a lot of frustration and confusion.

Make no mistake – what is happening right now in the world is a wake up call. But here’s the thing – we don’t get to decide what kind of wake up call it’s going to be for other people. Hell, we don’t even get to demand that other people notice the alarm bells, let alone care about them. Despite the way social media has engineered it to appear, we are not all the same, going through the same lessons, experiencing the same life. So from person to person – different things are being integrated and learned. And other people don’t get to dictate what kind of wake up call this event is for others. We don’t get to control the narrative or the way events are perceived by others, nor how they are influenced by said events. Never before has the phrase, “Keep your eyes on your own yoga mat” been more applicable.

And if I am allowing the judgment of others to pull me out of my Heart space, I’m not keeping my eyes on my own yoga mat. I’m going to give social media (and my ego) less time and stop giving away my energy to judgment. It’s time to stop worrying about responding in a way that pleases everyone (impossible). I know who I am and I know what I stand for. Now is the time to actually BE that and allow my actions to communicate that. Not everyone is going to be pleased  – I am going to make mistakes. I’m happy to learn from those who desire to show me a better way of being and moving in the world. I’m listening, paying attention, and moving forward.

Recommended:

Brene Brown’s Facebook Live “We have to keep talking about Charlottesville” from 8-15-17

Heart-centered, courageous inspiration in action: KKK members leave Klan after befriending black musician

You are always “doing your best.” And so is everyone else….

How Grace is the antidote to judgment when we allow it in

Since embarking on this spiritual and personal wellness journey, I’ve come to realize that I used to talk a lot about concepts that I really didn’t understand because I hadn’t truly experienced them. Concepts like grace and faith and compassion. These aren’t just words, these are experiences of energy. For me, particularly when Grace and Compassion rain down (or arise, or envelope) – it’s a tangible experience. I can feel it arrive, inviting me to surrender into it. It invites me to rest, to trust, to breathe.

Grace visited me a lot in July. I spent that month constantly failing at being a “great” human being. At every turn, I was not doing a great job at being patient or having a soft Heart. And I was seeing it at every turn, getting a chance to practice acknowledging the weaknesses and choosing to respond differently, without judging myself or others. Isn’t that the usual go-to when we realize we’ve made a mistake? One way or another, we have been conditioned to beat ourselves up. We replay the error over and over again, sometimes apologizing over and over again. At the very least, we stand in judgment of ourselves in our minds, putting ourselves through a mental flagellation for being so weak/wrong/stupid/mean/insensitive/etc.

Many great spiritual teachers talk about how people are always doing the best they can in any given moment. I remember when I first heard this, I thought, “That’s the stupidest mumbo-jumbo I’ve ever heard. If people were always doing their best, the world would be in a lot better shape.”

I’ve slowly come to understand that these wise ones are trying to convey the simple truth: that people find themselves in circumstances – each of which have unquantifiable variables, most of which they cannot control. This fact, coupled with the varying modes of “awakeness” (for lack of a better phrasing) each of us experience means that people are doing the best they can in any given moment. These teachers aren’t saying that people aren’t ever messing up or failing miserably. These teachers are conveying a really important lesson about how judgment is a total buzz kill for experiencing Grace because judgment places a false narrative on reality. 

My husband had major surgery last month and being his wife and all, I took care of him afterward. I thought I was prepared: I cleaned the house, caught up on laundry, sanitized the bathrooms. We made sure that the outside chores were all caught up and any major lifting/carrying/hauling had been taken care of.  We were very busy in the weeks leading up to the procedure because we knew he’d be out of commission for a few weeks to a few months. 

Unfortunately I didn’t get a lot of sleep which, looking back, was way more important than cleaning the bathrooms. I was nervous about the surgery, so I didn’t sleep well the week before. When the surgery was completed and everything turned out fine, my adrenals suddenly downshifted back to normal and I felt like I got hit by a mac truck. I was exhausted, achy and overly sensitive and emotional. This isn’t me being hard on myself – it’s just fact. When I don’t get enough sleep, I can get pretty ridiculous taking things personally. It’s like my shell just evaporates and nothing rolls off my back. I’m made of Velcro. Couple this condition of mine with my husband’s – on serious pain management medication and was adjusting to this new role of “patient,” and let’s just say the first couple weeks were rough.

Despite the rough road, my husband and I were doing the best we could. I was being the best person I could be in the situation I created. My husband was being the best person he could be in the situation he was in. And that’s the space where Grace gets a chance to enter the scene. Simple acknowledgment that “this is hard and we’re not perfect” is so much more productive than “this is hard and I’m failing.”

Do I look back and see where I could have done things differently to have had a smoother experience? Yes. Do I make a mental note of it for the future when similar situations might arise? Of course. Do I apologize to my husband for the moments when I wasn’t my best self with him in his time of need? Yes, of course. Recognizing that we’re all doing the best we can in any given situation isn’t about not taking responsibility or getting let off the hook or ignoring mistreatment or hurt feelings. It is about remembering that we are human beings being human. If the core of any given relationship is healthy and strong, these situations that arise in life don’t have to be defining or altering in any way. And we can rest in the fact that each person is doing the best they can always. This is where room for Grace is made – in the simple, “This is hard, we are doing the best we can, and above all else, I love you and am here for you.”

I’m grateful for the opportunity this situation handed me. Had I trudged down the well-worn path of self-and other-judgment, I would have missed the Grace and compounded the pain. It sometimes took effort to choose Grace because, well, I’m a human being, but each time I did, the effort was well rewarded.


A quick note about a new page on this site.

Because of this surgical event…
I took the month of July off from social media, writing, and accepting new clients. Now I’m slowly returning and amping up for September 12th, when registration opens for the Crystal Therapy Certification Program. I am really excited about this fresh start with a new group of practitioner candidates – we’re going to have a great time of learning and expansion together. I have only 4 spots left for 2017. If you are interested, please visit the link above.

I have decided to release some crystals from my personal collection.  I have spent the last two days creating a special Crystal Shop page here on the website. I hope to eventually offer crystal essence sprays and oils too. For now, the shop page will have only a handful of very special, one-of-a-kind crystals, as well as information about my crystal finder service. If you are hunting for a special crystal, I am happy to go on the hunt for you. Simply fill out the contact form found on the page to get the ball rolling.

 

Any questions? Feel free to email me at tana at tanaschott dot com.

With gratitude,
Tana