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

Identification with thoughts – more on mindfulness

Identification with thoughts – more on mindfulness

I’ve been talking a lot about mindfulness and meditation practices in my blog and just in general because finding, learning, and integrating these practices helped me learn how to be with depression, anxiety, and panic attacks differently.

I know people want to hear how they can ERADICATE or banish depression and anxiety from their lives. In my experience, there is no way to minimize the effects without first learning to be in relationship with these energies. In the same way we talk about being anti-something politically…that is until we meet and get to know someone who happens to be that something. You know what I mean? There is no boogieman but coming to this realization is having the courage to come face-to-face with that which we fear. You have that courage. And you don’t have to do it alone. Find a coach, a spiritual counselor, a healer, a good counselor.

So the question is always “how?” How do I meditate? How do I have a mindfulness practice? What is the point? It seems hard. I can’t do it. Etc etc Here, Teal Swan provides a step by step process and explains the role judgment plays AND explains about that ever important gap that begins to form between the identity and the thoughts. Give it a listen. You can choose to cut to the chase at 29:30

Mindrolling with Raghu Markus, ep 113

 

Crystal Healing Spotlight: Stilbite

Crystal Healing with Stilbite

crystal healing stilbite

Stilbite is often found in “wheat” or “bow-tie” formation

Stilbite isn’t a “sexy” mineral in the crystal healing world: it doesn’t garner the attention that say, Amethyst, Ajoite, Sugilite, and others enjoy. I don’t often hear people recommend stilbite to others or mention working with the mineral personally because, well, I don’t know. It’s a fairly inexpensive and easily obtained mineral both in rough/natural and tumbled form. And it’s a great mineral to work with when we understand its physical properties and know how those aspects might have effect on the subtle anatomy. (Real quick note – stilbite is sometimes confused with stibnite because the spelling is so similar. Stibnite is the silvery-gray mineral that contains sulfur (S) and antimony (Sb). Super different minerals with super similar names). 

Stilbite is actually a series name. Depending on the chemical formula, we might have Stilbite-Ca or Stilbite-Na. Stilbite-Ca is the most common type and the differentiation is usually not mentioned because without proper testing, it is impossible to tell the difference. The appearance and growth, crystal system, and manner of formation are usually the same. So -Ca is assumed when testing has not been done. Because it’s the most common and the chemical formula doesn’t deviate drastically, this article is going to talk about Stilbite generally.

Stilbite is found in zeolite deposits, often found alongside apophyllite when in matrix in its most common habit – that of bow-tie or sheafs of wheat. Often peachy in color, stilbite can also exhibit a pearly luster and is often mistaken for heulandite (and vice versa).

Stilbite stats:
Chemical formula: NaCa4Al9Si27O72 · 28(H2O)
Manner of formation: secondary/sedimentary
Mineral Class: tectosilicate, zeolite group
Crystal system: usually monoclinic
Mohs: 3.5
Crystal habit: thin, tabular aggregates in bow-ties or sheafs of wheat; can also be found globular

crystal healing stilbite

When in matrix, stilbite is most often found with apophyllite Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Each physical property listed above an inform us of the mineral’s healing properties. I’m going to take just three physical properties and break them down with you, to show you how the crystal itself is always telling us what its role might be in our healing practices. When we understand how to approach crystals in this way, it helps us make sense of the prescriptions provided in crystal healing books (in case you’ve ever asked, “But how do they know?”). It can also explain why you might have had a different experience than what is described in the crystal Rx books (no, you’re not wrong). It also, if we allow it to, deepens our understanding of and relationship to our crystals because when we learn about the whole crystal and each of its physical properties, we experience it in a multidimensional way that the crystal encyclopedias simply can’t convey.

I typically like to explore new crystals in this order: Manner of formation, mineral class, chemical formula/elements, crystal system. (Color rarely plays a role in my personal practice).

Manner of formation: secondary/sedimentary

The sedimentary (or secondary) MoF is about awareness of influences. Sedimentary minerals are deeply affected by outside influences – weather, erosion, water, wind, and more. As such, sedimentary minerals can be excellent agents of support when we want to become more aware of the ways we are influenced in our lives. Our thoughts, actions, and beliefs are formed and continually influenced by the world around us: our families, cultural mores, societal expectations and norms, religious upbringing, and more, these influences can affect the way we perceive and interpret the world around us which in turn, affects our reactions and responses to it. When we desire to change a thought pattern or belief or way of being in the world, we are often calling into question assumptions about life that have in fact, been taught to us one way or the other. When we begin the work of self-inquiry or calling into question our beliefs, sedimentary stones and crystals can be a supportive ally. Being a sedimentary crystal, stilbite can be a useful ally in this type of healing work. Let’s learn a little more about stilbite to get a more nuanced view of the stone and the specific ways it can assist us.

Mineral Class: tectosilicate, zeolite group

Simply put, minerals are organized into classes according to their chemical composition. Stilbite is a tectosilicate. Some classes are further subdivided based on factors such as appearance, the presence or absence of water, which cations are present and more. Silicates are a huge group and in the Dana class system, there are 6 subcategories, of which tectosilicate is one.  Tectosilicates, also called framework silicates, are 3-dimensional crystalline structures which according to Gienger, have an absorbing and reflecting energy. When tectosilicates are opaque in appearance, they tend to have a more absorbing effect. When having a translucency, a more reflecting effect.

Stilbite, with its pearly sheen and opaque appearance therefore, is a tectosilicate that has absorbing qualities that also have a calming and sobering effect on the mental and etheric aspects of the subtle anatomy. Stilbite is a great stone to work with then, when we are feeling emotionally or mentally overwhelmed, specifically by anxiety or fear. When we are beginning to look at our “stuff,” things can get overwhelming pretty quickly sometimes. If we’re ready to have reflected back to us that which we need to see to create change, we might want to work with a translucent tectosilicate. If it’s beginning stages of this type of personal healing work, and maybe we need to slow things down so that we can process the anxiety and/or fear that is arising, a tectosilicate that is opaque might be a more appropriate ally.

What does the chemical formula: NaCa4Al9Si27O72 · 28(H2O) tell us?

When we look at the elements a crystal contains, we can start to get a more nuanced view of how the broader categories of formation and class might be applied to healing work. Don’t worry – you don’t have to be an expert in chemistry to refer to a chemical formula for information. Let’s pull two elements from this formula and check out what Michael Gienger said about them: Calcium (Ca) and Aluminum (Al). Gienger conducted numerous crystal healing clinical trials with doctors and non-medical practitioners alike who tested the effects of different minerals with a wide variety of people. The results of these trials, together with his scientific understanding of the elements and their roles in geology and biology, provided a grounded and nuanced understanding of how elements can inform us about the healing properties of minerals. His findings are shared in the book, Crystal Power Crystal Healing. Application of crystals in any way is meant only to be carried or worn against the skin – never ingested.

Both calcium and aluminum are abundant elements in the earth’s crusts. According to Gienger Aluminum has physical, mental, and spiritual effects. Physically, Al promotes alkaline metabolic processes, supports absorption of iron in the intestines, and normalizes conductivity in the nerves. Mentally, Al has a calming effect on nervousness and fears, as well as feelings of guilt. Al also can support one in expressing feelings and releasing behavioral patterns – releasing that which no longer serves. Spiritually, Al helps with loss of identity and finding out who we really are and what our purpose might be in this life while also exposing illusions for what they are and helping us learn to deal with them (p 112-113).

Calcium’s physical support is in the metabolism of the cells and absorption of nutrient by cell membranes. Ca is necessary for the formation of DNA and RNA. We all have heard that strong, healthy bones and teeth rely on proper Ca intake. And Ca plays an important role in a healthy heart: regulating rhythm and strengthening the muscle. Mentally, Ca affects receptivity, is emotionally stabilizing, and lends self-confidence. When feeling confused and lethargic, grab those Calcium-bearing minerals. Spiritually, Ca regulates development. Where a person is sluggish, Ca speeds up and regulates that evolutionary process. Where development is happening too fast and there exists chaos, Ca assists in normalizing it.

In looking at two important elements in stilbite’s chemical formula, we come to understand that being a sedimentary tectosilicate, stilbite can specifically assist someone seeking energetic support in maintaining a healthy pattern of spiritual growth, who might experience fear and anxiety, who might benefit from some support in speaking their truth. Stilbite, as with other minerals that contain Al, can help someone who is feeling rather undefined and purposeless, who may benefit from seeing that there are aspects of their life which is holding them back from seeing their true self.

 

crystal healing stilbite

Stilbite is less commonly found as globular formations: Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

crystal healing stilbite

Stilbite can be found tumbled

I have found great freedom in relating to minerals in this way. While these “properties” (I rather prefer the term “possibilities”) are, in my opinion, more grounded being that they arise from a less singularly personal experience (instead arising from different clinical trials combined with what we can learn from the geology and mineralogy of the stones), the most important information (energy that vibrates) that you can get from any crystal is the information it gives you directly when you work with it. I do this type of research with crystals I’m called to work with, but then I follow it up with a meditative experience too. At the end of the day the overriding message has to come from the crystal itself, through my heart space. And I encourage the same for you – give yourself permission to have your own unique experience with your crystals and stones and take their lead, regardless what any book or website has to say about it.

Grace and peace.


PS – Interested in approaching crystals in your personal or professional healing practice in this unique, empowering way? Check out my course here. Enrollment opens in September.
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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 is not a gift or a handicap – unless you need it to be

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:

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 goes unchallenged because people desire to feel special – we want to feel set apart from genpop. And these articles most certainly do that. Often speaking to the specialness of empathic people as a unique and rare class of human beings, who have special requirements, while simultaneously bemoaning the weight empaths carry. 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

Why unconscious? Does it have to be unconscious? But more importantly, where is the follow-up article that talks about how important it is for an empath to wake up to their own experiences and do some self-inquiry? To practice discernment? 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.”)

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 willing to be 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 does honest self-inquiry. Which, according to the first statement, doesn’t seem to be the case for most empaths who are unconscious of their experiences. And oh yeah – no one enjoys being lied to – again – not just empaths.

– Being an empath is not a learned trait – you either are or you aren’t. 

And the proof of this is where? 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? I call BS. 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, no follow-up article 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. Why discernment is not often taught as an important tool to hone for people who are empathic is a mystery as 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? Because you’re willing to talk about it? That’s not evidence. Just because someone subjects themselves to negative images doesn’t mean they aren’t affected.

And 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 (there’s that word again) what is and isn’t real in a way that empaths have not yet learned to discern for themselves.

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.  It was embarrassing for its lack of self-awareness and why I started writing this article that same day. (I had to set this article aside for a time to get perspective). The overarching tone of the article was condescending;  statements made that were assuming, including suggesting 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.

Oh the irony! Yeah, it’s not at all egoic to insist that friends follow through on advice given by an empath because 1. they expended their precious time to listen to your dilemma (something I thought friends just, I don’t know, did?) and 2. it annoys an empath when you don’t follow their advice because they Know. All. The. Things. Because, in case you didn’t read it in a number of articles available, empaths just know. It’s a different knowing than simple intuition of course because empaths are special.

The number one thing empaths seem to want to convey in almost every single article is that they 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. If someone I know calls me “too sensitive” 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 because it assumes too much) 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:

While many of the concepts AH shares through memes could use some fleshing out to fully grasp and implement, this one is pretty straightforward and true. When we blame others or experiences for our emotional or mental state, we are giving away our personal power and othering. Of course, some people do not want to embrace their personal power because it requires taking full responsibility for their lives and how they choose to experience them. But there is no freedom without responsibility.

People have approached me asking for assistance because they identify as empaths and feel overwhelmed, depressed, and/or anxious. Having been there, done that, got the T-shirt, I ask questions 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.

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.” 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 victim identity which seems safer, or feeling 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.

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 be a great way to opt-out of service and compassion and loving kindness because “we just aren’t strong enough to be with that much energy.”

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 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. 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 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 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. 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).

cathedral quartz

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. Whenever I post a picture of a Cathedral on Instagram or Facebook, I add the following hashtags: #oneness #divinemind #collectiveconsciousness because that is what this formation communicates to me. So, when I work with them, my approach and attitude reflects that. 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.

crystal healing course

Are you interested in learning about crystal healing from a grounded, empowered perspective? Do you want to learn how to become less reliant on limiting prescriptives and learn how to experience each crystal on its own terms and work with it in expansive ways? Crystal Therapy in Subtle Energy Work is an accredited crystal healing course available as a personal enrichment experience which can be found here, or if you are interested in receiving a certification, 2 program options for this highly praised program are available here. Elemental Healing Arts and Training is currently accepting deposits to reserve spaces, which are limited, for the September enrollment period. Please feel free to send questions to Tana – tana at tanaschott dot com or you can fill out the contact form at the bottom of the page. 
And yes! I can find a Cathedral Quartz crystal for you. I happen to have a select few on hand, waiting for their new homes and you can check those out on my Instagram Page
cathedral quartz

cathedral quartz

cathedral quartz

cathedral quartz

cathedral quartz

cathedral quartz

When Spiritual-but-not-Religious is a load of crap

or, “How I found myself back in that damn box after clawing my way out”

It’s ironic. Years ago an article came out decrying the “spiritual but not religious” seeker. I can’t remember who wrote it and it doesn’t really matter, but for a while it drew people into a debate about how SBNR folks don’t get it and are deluding themselves; that being in community – the supposed purpose of religion (debateable unto itself) – was key to true spiritual growth. When I read that article, I wrote a response to it on my old blog and I pushed back a little bit. But there was something deep down inside of me that was saying, “You know, they aren’t wrong, but they aren’t right about the what.” But I couldn’t define what rankled me either and I think it was because I was only just beginning to catch glimpses of the religiosity of SBNR communities and people.
Now, years later I can identify the what. Until now, I didn’t feel it was my place to call anything into question broadly. And I was scared. I’m still a little scared, but not scared enough to not put this out there. (And I’m going to start marking my articles NSFW when there is language. When I’m with people I trust, I use “colorful” language so you might be seeing that NSFW more often because hey, if you can’t trust me and I can’t trust you, what are we doing here? I’m exhausted of policing my language for reasons that will become evident further down, should you decide you can roll with it).
Background which informs the present

I was raised by various people, and by my culture to believe in a doctrine ruled by a God which was slightly influenced by Prosperity Theology. For example, one of the versions of God I learned about was the God who punished me with clinical depression and crippling anxiety because I didn’t have enough faith, or because I didn’t study my Bible every morning the week previously, or because I skipped Wednesday night’s small group. That same God also tended to reward people with cushy, medical-issue-free lives when they were faithful to the tithing plate, to their daily Bible readings, and to showing up for small group. When there was any struggle (whether it be medical, financial, emotional, or other), it was explained by the authority/expert/chosen one that it was because I sinned and was too prideful to walk away from that sin and/or I wasn’t serving the church enough. (I mean cause and effect, right? Nope. Just plain old manipulation). There were creeds and doctrines and beliefs – checkboxes that if left unchecked, landed me in hell.
And purity was a BIG DEAL. There were a lot of rules around appearance and language and consumed media choices and sex and just everything. Everything was under a microscope and up for review. We were also always confessing our sins – to God, to each other, in prayer, in song, in everything we did there was sure to be a sin because we were born of sin so just hedge your bets and always be asking for forgiveness and never relax. Ever because – purity, but also, Jesus could come back at any moment and you don’t want to get caught with your pants down. (Gee, I wonder where the depression/anxiety combo came from)? It was very performance and image-based, despite being told that we were saved by faith, not works.
The environment was also extremely insular and therefore isolating which made us dependent on one another in unhealthy ways. We were told to “be in the world but not of it.” I learned that we had to suffer through being in this sinful, dirty, horrible world, with sinful, horrible, dirty people, and that to the best of our abilities, we were never to engage with it or them. (Unless of course, it was to save them). The church was comprised mostly of middle-to-upper class white folks. I was allowed to be a part of this group because I checked the right boxes on the form, and hey, I also happened to look like them and have the same privileges as they did. What does that teach us, even if inadvertently? Well, if the “rest” of the world is sinful, dirty, and horrible, and we are not because we are saved, then anyone who doesn’t look like us, live like us, and have the same privileges as us must be “of the world.” Dirty. To be avoided. (Again, unless we’re saving them).
I can’t forget to mention the ever-looming rapture theology where Jesus could come back at any moment, but not before a lot of really bad shit goes down like martyrdom. (Oh the stories I could tell about “preparing” for this). Watchfulness and readiness was a BIG part of my life. And I was already raised by a police officer who couldn’t help but bring home his constant surveillance skills, knowing what he knew (he was trying to keep us safe). (Gee, I wonder where I get my propensity for picking up on subtle cues and body language. I wonder where the crippling anxiety came from)?
I didn’t know it at the time, but I was being groomed to become a privileged, “clean,” white savior of a world she was simultaneously encouraged to turn her back on. Confusing, no? I was taught to avoid critical thinking and to only engage in self-inquiry when it resulted in self-flagellation and continued servitude to the powers that be. I was taught to willingly hand over my power. I was to never trust my mind or to learn discernment through my heart; nor was I to come to my own conclusions or find my own answers based on my own inquiries and experiences. And it was very subtle. Most of the time.
The in between insanity and sanity
Yes, I had cognitive dissonance all the time, which I repeatedly shoved to the back of my deep, privileged, walk-in closet because if I questioned the teachings, I was warned with a small, disapproving frown, that this indicated a lack of faith and the devil was trying to steal my soul. And you don’t want to take a beat to allow a question to linger in the ole brainbox because what if you are questioning and then BAM! Jesus comes at that moment, or BAM! you get hit by a bus?
That cognitive dissonance didn’t stay hidden. The depression and anxiety didn’t leave me alone either – no matter HOW faithful I tried to be. I got married and moved away and before long I was in an existential crisis. But something great happened when I married too (in addition to being married to my husband who, in case you’re wondering stuck around despite the following). I moved from a very conservative state and insular experience to a very liberal state with nowhere to insulate myself. And thank God, because that forced me to meet people who were different! Like, pagans, people of different ethnicities, alternative wellness practitioners, atheists, libertarians, Unity church goers, non-church goers, gay people, democrats, people who lived together without being married, socially liberal conservatives, women who weren’t married and had kids, women who were married and didn’t want kids, women who had abortions, women who told their male partners what they thought and often took the lead on decisions big and small.
These people seemed pretty happy and they had what they needed. Things weren’t adding up. I was miserable and doing everything “right,” (I was saved) and these people, according to the teachings of my church, were doing it wrong and were happy. It’s hard to unsee a thing once you’ve seen it, so I left: the church, the association, the label, the doctrines, the misogyny, the patriarchy, the false image of God who was a bloodthirsty yet somehow unconditionally loving granter of goods and services only to the faithful. (My head still spins at that last one – what does unconditional mean)? I was miserable with anxiety followed by dark and long periods of depression followed by more crippling anxiety and obviously couldn’t meet God’s requirements anyway so why the hell was I trying so hard? For what?
Put another way – I was so desperate and miserable that I was willing to roll the dice on an eternal life of torment without access to God. And roll the dice I did.
Lest I give the impression that I “just” left
When I say I left, I mean that for 12ish years I continued to have crippling panic attacks while reading scholarly articles and books about the history of Christianity and the Bible, as well as dipping my toe into the history of other religions and spirituality in general (uh, that’s a big no-no where I came from). At the same time, I placed every single thought and belief I had ever acquired on the table for dissection and when exhaustion from that settled in, I would go into a 1-2 week depressive episode.
I forced myself to change ingrained, unhealthy mental habits like constant watchfulness for signs and constant self-doubt. This felt like wearing a 25-pound pack and scaling a mountain every moment of every day. All while also struggling with suicidal ideation because the question, say it with me, fellow Religious PTSDers, “What if they are right?!” lurked in the back of my mind the entire time, trying to lure me back. By then I knew too much to be able to go back, yet that question haunted me.
12 long years. 12 painful, barely-made-it-through long years where childhood and high school friends walked away from me because I was now “of the world” and a host of other personal and family difficulties arose.
I can’t believe I’m being pulled back into this again!
About 9 years ago I found myself empty. I had shed a lot and was asking, “Now what?” because there was a problem. If I hadn’t had some experiences throughout my life that were mystical and sacred, I would have rebuilt my perspective around a completely rational, scientific, possibly humanistic worldview. But I did have those experiences and continued to have them (huh, interesting, “God” or Source or whatever didn’t leave me!) and so I went looking for community and landed with some people who listened to me without judgment and had an accepting nature I had never before experienced. I could QUESTION! I could THINK! I could EXPLORE! I could have an OPINION!
At first.
We who have left organized religion, but have since found ourselves in spiritual groups, can often carry an air of self-congratulations and relief because, “Thank God we’re not still following THAT.” Yeah. Go us. Except for when we are.
The longer I hung around new age/metaphysical/energy healer groups, the more classes I took, the more books I read, and the more social media groups I joined, the more I noticed that much of what I had just extricated myself from had been relanguaged, rebranded, and was being taught and sold in the spiritual communities.
  • Talismans and prayer for stuff and security? Check.
  • Priests and go-betweens? Check.
  • Appearance expectations? Check.
  • Purity expectations? Check.
  • Rituals to appease or attain something from “Source”? Check.
  • Creating victims and then blaming the victim? Check.
  • “Gifts” given to the special chosen few? Check.
  • Defending one’s healing modality as the “right” or superior modality? Check.
  • Requirements to work with and be in communion with Source? Check.
  • Duality? Check.
  • All while preaching unconditional love, self-acceptance, and nonduality? Check, check.
(Dare I bring up the extreme pendulum swing of misandry while simultaneously bemoaning that more men weren’t spiritual in a few instances? Yikes, no. We’ll leave that for now).
So when I read the following in Rachael Rice’s article:
There’s also a military fuckton of Law of Attraction stuff that’s basically repackaged Christian Prosperity Theology for new agers without critical thinking skills….It’s an entitled orientation towards the extraction of resources because “I deserve it and the Universe is waiting to bestow wealth upon me” with little regard for how those resources were accumulated and are distributed. Wealth is de facto proof of being “in alignment with your soul’s purpose” irrespective of how grossly stratified wealth actually is. The inherent racism, classism + other -isms of LOA and The Secret, and other “mindset” and “manifesting abundance” programs are rarely thoroughly confronted.
I sighed with relief. I cried a little bit because she had the guts to call us out on our bullshit. We cannot heal until we’re willing to see our own bullshit.  The LOA has been problematic for me since day 1 and she encapsulates the reason so perfectly. I can imagine people thinking, “That’s not the LOA I follow.” Good! Then start sharing your more nuanced, deeply personally responsible, and widely accessible brand of LOA with the rest of us. Don’t hide that light under a bushel!
But also, can we take a moment to contemplate why we are so focused on manifestation and are so needy for stuff? What do we imagine X is going to solve or heal? What is our obsession with the idea of being able to attain a “perfect looking or perfect feeling life”? Why are we not working with what we got, allowing what Is Now to be our teacher?
Are we brave enough to ask ourselves, “Do I really need that, or am I using this activity of striving to achieve something as a distraction from the real work of healing myself?” 
Honestly a whole host of other questions about self-validity and self-empowerment opens up for us around these concepts, classes, workshops, certificates, and rituals. Trust me, as someone who teaches a course, I’ve thought about this a lot. And I turn people away who think that if they just take this course, get this certification, something will finally be fixed in them. Or they will finally find THE answer. Nope, you don’t need my course or to spend money to access yourself. But more on that later down.
To the person who is following LOA/The Secret and not experiencing abundance: it’s not your fault. You aren’t faithless or unworthy. It’s not necessarily because you haven’t been generous enough in your own life. In the same way that when I had severe depression, it wasn’t because I wasn’t a good enough Christian. You have been misled. Just as I was misled. In the awareness, what do we do next?
Here’s what we (broadly speaking) don’t seem to want to acknowledge: it’s not all Love and Light. It’s not all effortless and dreamy if we just think the right thoughts or clear our auras. When we heal ourselves it is WORK – especially in the beginning. Why? Because we are going against every innate and learned defense mechanism our brains, bodies, and conditioning can throw at us, trying to stop us from honest self-inquiry: a willingness to SEE and ACKNOWLEDGE our honest thoughts, feelings, and motivations to stop us from doing something about it. 

“Everybody wants to be perfect. Nobody wants to be reformed.” 

Carmen Spagnola of the Numinous Podcast (#67)
Do we want to be comfortable and superficially accepted, or do we want to be reformed – changed? Are we willing to do the work it takes to uncover and heal our karma, to learn how to be truly vulnerable and intimate with one another, to experience healthy community, creative expression, and self-actualization together? Are we willing to screw up in front of each other and let that be an opportunity for growth? Are we willing to learn how to observe our thoughts, to learn how to reshape them? Are we willing to stay in the room and learn from each other? Are we willing to learn how to embody love and compassion for ourselves and for each other? Do we want to be happy from time to time, or expand our perceptions such that we can access joy always?

If we are using spiritual principles and rituals as an escape hatch from reality, responsibility, or honest self-inquiry, it’s no longer spiritual.

There are other aspects of bad religion that has been relanguaged and rebranded so that it can be sold in spiritual communities. Another portion of Rachael’s article struck a nerve for its similarity to the messages I walked away from:
Anything you dislike in others is a reflection of something inside of you that needs healing. See also: you have a “story” resulting from a “core negative belief” about yourself
Oh the self-righteousness. Sometimes BS needs to be called out. And sometimes we are the creators of said BS. It doesn’t have to be the end of the world when we come into a realization that we’ve perpetuated BS. Nor does it mean we have to agree with the assessment! And our job is to stop, listen, and consider instead of manipulating the story to serve our egos. Let’s be compassionate with each other and honest. We can be both and if we don’t know how to be both compassionate and honest at the same time, well, it’s time we learned.
You should [have the means to pay and time to] try Landmark / Ayahuasca / Sweat Lodge / fancy detox / healing program / pilgrimage to a shaman / yoga or meditation retreat / Tony Robbins coal walking / etc. and fix your faulty “stories”
For the love of all that is good and holy, don’t let ANYONE ELSE should you. You’re probably shoulding yourself quite enough. And also? Our stories getting fixed – that’s an inside job. You need you. And a supportive, wise friend. But mostly a willing you. There’s not enough money in the world to fix us (thanks, Wall Street for proving that). Money and certificates and experiences can be helpful tools, but they are not necessary. And this is an uncomfortable truth because it reminds us that we can’t blame our lack of growth on not having enough money or enough opportunities to have mystical experiences.
Separation is an illusion; politics is separation consciousness, above these perceptions is unity consciousness, and you’re just bogged down in duality + divisiveness (the unity / oneness bypass in spiritual bypassing*)
Sometimes we talk about big ideas in very concrete and assured ways AT other people instead of with other people in a communal exploration. We aren’t even experts of ourselves. What makes us think we have the answers for other people? This, I believe, is a problem derived from our “insta-certified” culture. Just because we take a class and get a piece of paper doesn’t mean we are experts at anything, (or even qualified to start a practice in any way) and it also doesn’t necessarily indicate that we’ve evolved one iota.
And to be clear, I’m not claiming that I understand nonduality 100%. But I will tell you that what I do know about nonduality has a lot to do with humility and taking personal responsibility – two topics people do not like to talk about because it doesn’t feel “Light” and doesn’t make us feel warm inside. Nonduality encompasses it all. We have to be willing to see and engage with our shit. See our culpability with the problems within ourselves, our relationships, and our communities. But that isn’t fun, sparkly, rainbow-laden, et al. So we accept half-baked growth and evolution. Shame can be an important teacher.
Critique/anger/judgement are conflated with “fear” and are assigned “low vibration” energy
High vibration is not better than low vibration. If we understand nonduality and are truly viewing the world through nondual lenses, then why do we keep perpetuating this ascension and high vs low vibration myth?  Answer: to escape. The ascension talk I hear in some circles is a new brand of rapture theology. And rapture theology is very much about escapism from the pain of this world and taking any personal responsibility in working in community to heal it. Plain and simple.
While I was becoming acquainted with my new community of “spiritual but not religious/New Age/Alt Wellness/etc.” (I’m not being flip – it’s a WIDE umbrella which is part of its appeal) I started hearing other things that sounded similar to the old Christian paradigm I had just spent over a decade extricating myself from.
When someone got sick, I would hear, “Oh, what do you think the root emotional/spiritual issue is?” Huh, weird. That sounds an awful lot like, “You have depression because you don’t have enough faith.” Why can’t we ask, “What do you need? How can I help?”  instead of asking someone who already is struggling to stop and do a personal inventory and critique themselves. It’s not our job to assume that role. (I’m calling this out as someone who has done this to others).
Or, “Oh, you want to take that class but can’t afford it? Set up a manifestation grid!” which sounds an awful lot like, “Pray about it and leave it up to God.” It makes me itchy because while creating a crystal grid (and prayer) could be a great ritual to help someone get clarity around their intention and the motivation behind it, we need to also encourage each other to take actual real-time, physical steps to proactively create their reality, you know, changeand then take responsibility for it. We’re not victims of the universe or of God. Also, can we stop making things into tools that do our bidding? Crystals and God? Can we reframe our relationship with the world and each other as co-creators rather than as a means-to-an-end?
“Carry this crystal for protection,” is a different version of “Say this prayer and you’ll get to skip hell.” Why are we afraid of self-inquiry? Why are we afraid to explore why we feel we need protection? Why are we afraid to look at and be with and learn from things that make us uncomfortable?  By all appearances, we don’t really want to be in true communion with each other. We want to slap a Band-Aid on each other, and get on with our lives where we’re very busy distracting ourselves from our own shit.
And I’m going to say it because why not, I’m probably already up a creek with zero paddles… the whole concept of psychic attack and energy hooks and energy vampires necessitates duality, perpetuates self-victimization, is disempowering, and ignores free will. It smacks of the satan and demon talk which was used in my former life as a scapegoat for taking responsibility, and as a way to keep people disempowered and in fear. When are we going to step into our own inherent power and take responsibility for our actions, and how we choose to interpret our experiences?
I also started to see people talk about the “right” way to practice a ritual or healing modality, and the “right” teacher to study from, and the “right” tools to use. (See also “Original” or “true”). I watched on social media as energy healing practitioners went after each other for deigning to practice energy healing without having had an “authentic” attunement ceremony. Again, this sounds an awful lot like needing to pray the right prayer and needing to be in the right religion and needing to studying under the right pastor. Who do we think we are? And what lie are we perpetuating within ourselves that we think we’ve found the one and only, the “right/true/pure” Way?
Which leads me to learning about energy healing tools by relying on an “expert’s” personal channeled experience. We do not need a go-between to access God or energy or the universe. We do not need a go-between to learn about crystals. We do not need someone else to lay hands on us so that we might have access to the Light. We do not need to keep giving our power away. Look, sharing with each other is one thing – it’s a beautiful thing in fact. Attunement ceremonies can be beautiful, empowering rituals of celebration. But crowning myself or crowning someone else the expert or keyholder of X – that’s the old paradigm. That’s religious paradigm. That’s hierarchy. That’s a powerless people relying on a powerful few. Be willing to have your own experience without external validation. You can do it. You are worthy of it.
And the purity aspect. You know, at first I could not figure out why I got twitchy when I would read or hear someone insist that we had to be “clear channels” before doing energy work. Or that we couldn’t do or eat or drink off of a long list of don’ts. “Don’t eat meat! Don’t drink alcohol! Don’t drink caffeine! Don’t eat sugar! Don’t eat wheat! Don’t watch TV! Don’t don’t don’t don’t don’t.” All this in order to supposedly “be a clean and clear vessel!” Gosh, that sounds an awful lot like purity laws from the Old Testament and the purity laws instituted in 20th century religion.
It also sounds like there’s an expectation that everyone is living in the same body and having the same life experiences. (A la Rachael’s primary point). If we waited till we were “clear” channels, none of us would ever facilitate a healing session. Ever. And if someone has the self-righteousness to believe they are “clear” enough to facilitate a healing session? Are any of us totally reconciled unto ourselves? Are we suggesting that it’s possible to have looked under every rug and into every dark corner? Are we suggesting that in a human lifetime, a person can achieve perfection? Is perfection the goal? Is purity the goal? Is positivity-at-all-costs the point?
This has been there in the back of my mind for years. I haven’t written about this because I don’t want to come across as harsh or confrontational or… who knows how someone perceives this? That’s up to them. I share this from the perspective of someone who has been there, done that, got the t-shirt. Who has also found herself caught in one trap or another and brought others along for the ride before becoming aware of what I was doing.
So many times I’ve wondered, “Do I completely extricate myself from this community?” And, “Do I say something? Do I dare to offer a different perspective?” A couple times I did cautiously say something and that went over as well as you’d expect it to. So I did start to back away from the spiritual and new age and crystal healing Facebook groups. I unsubscribed from newsletters. I stopped going to circles. Not because I’m better or I have things figured out. In fact, it’s precisely because I don’t have everything figured out that I had to back away. If I’m going to continue being an open, honest, self-inquiring seeker, I better find open, honest, teachers and fellow sojourners who are also doing their own self-inquiry. What I was finding in this “spiritual and unaware of their religiosity” crowd was more of what I had just spent over a decade escaping and deprogramming myself from.
If you find a fire breathing dragon in one cave and have the good luck to escape that cave, when visiting another cave if you notice a sudden gush of heat that nearly knocks you over, you are going to slowly back out of that second cave. Even if that dragon’s fire might be glittery and magical. Even then.

 


Joy and Grace in Nondualistic Healing

Joy and grace can be present in difficult experiences – healing from a non-dualistic perspective.

I was listening to On Being’s podcast the other day, excited because Krista Tippett interviewed Richard Rohr. His newest book, Divine Dance, was recently released and Ms. Tippett asked him all manner of important questions and referenced his earlier works as well. As I always say after listening to an interview of Fr. Richard Rohr – I highly recommend it. (He has also been interviewed by Rob Bell and I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve listened to that one interview 7 times. So far). I try not to fangirl over people. I recognize it’s not healthy for me or for the person I’m feeling awestruck about. Richard Rohr would be the first to agree, but if I had a chance to meet Fr. Rohr, well, that would be something else.
In this interview, he shared an experience that resonated so deeply with my experiences that I had to write about it immediately.
MS. TIPPETT: Just coming back to this both/and thinking that is a quality of the second half of life, of spiritual deepening, you talk about this quality of “bright sadness” that in that deepening, there is a gravitas and a lightness both. Say a little bit about the bright sadness.
FR. ROHR: I remember some of the times when I was most happy, after — I used to spend the whole of Lent in a hermitage alone, and I’d come back just sort of glowing, like a bliss ninny, for the next couple weeks. But when people would look at me, I remember again and again, they said, “Richard, you look sad.” And I said, “Oh my gosh, do I?” Because in fact, I’m feeling exactly the opposite….So it’s the strangest combination of being able to hold deep sadness and deep contentment at the very same time. So I discovered that in myself, and my most wonderful moments were also my most sad moments, which leads you to a kind of participation in what I called earlier “the one sadness,” that your very fact of enjoying grace and love carries with it a dark side that I didn’t deserve to know this, I didn’t earn this, and most people think I’m crazy if I try to talk about it. So the two intense emotions very often coexist in the contemplative mind.So that’s what taught me this both/and world view, that opposites do not contradict one another. In fact, they complement and deepen one another.
The act of intentional healing does not wipe away sadness or the other uncomfortable feelings. Rather, in my experience, as I heal, I learn to hold many seemingly opposing emotions or energies altogether, at the same time. Each is informing the other. The more grounded, Light-conscious energies are present and informing the other, less grounded, blurry energies. What is healed and balanced brings what has been in darkness into the Light so that more balance can be experienced. But this doesn’t eradicate pain or the shadow.
I recently wrote an article about depression and uncomfortable feelings. I shared a personal experience I had in early April with depression, including the depressive episode’s conclusion and lessons learned. I received a few messages from people who, after reading the article, wrote to express concern and care for me, hoping that I was feeling better. It’s very kind and I’m deeply grateful that I have people in my life who do care and are willing to express that. But I was also surprised to get this kind of response. In the article, I had shared that the experience was past-tense and even more important – it taught me so much! That’s a cause for celebration!
In trying to be a more succinct writer, I sometimes leave out important bits. Maybe it’s because I’m trying to stay on topic, maybe it’s because trying to put words to these types of experiences is very difficult. What I didn’t share about that depressive episode is that, in addition to it being a teacher, there was an enormous amount of Grace present. While it’s true that I didn’t – couldn’t – feel anything, still I was aware in a way I hadn’t ever experienced before during a depression, of an overwhelming okay-ness. I couldn’t directly access it emotionally, but I was aware of its presence and it was bigger than me.
As I’ve healed my emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects over the years, I have fallen into the trap of thinking after a particularly difficult lesson, “Okay, whew. That’s over and I’ve learned my lesson so I won’t have to go through that again!”  But that’s not how healing works. It’s not dualistic. It’s not linear. It is never completed – as in, “It is finished.” Nope. How many times have I had a particularly challenging time, gotten through it (rather than skirted around it), and thought “that’s over!” only for that lesson to reappear weeks, months, or years later? Many times. Depression and anxiety are two such lessons.
But! (I know, it sounds so dreary. “You mean this difficulty will never go away?” Well, no. But …).
The Big But is that as we intentionally heal and become more aware, we can’t help but experience each instance differently than we did before. Ten years ago, a depressive episode would have knocked me flat on my ass. I would have experienced what the pros call “suicidal ideation.” This time, many years and many similar-but-always-different experiences later, this depression was simply noticeable. This time, I didn’t think about death, rather, I noticed my previous aliveness and knew that would return. I thought, “Oh, you know what’s coming, that ALIVE feeling – pay attention and notice it more deeply this time!” I found the event so interesting even though it was a very detached interest. Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have taken a shower for days on end, and I wouldn’t have left my room. I would have slept weeks away. This time, I allowed myself to relax, but I was still engaged with my life.  I slept normally. And instead of weeks, it lasted a total of 3 days.
Why am I sharing this with you? Well, because I don’t think we’re used to hearing or reading about our teachers’/healers’/coaches’ difficulties. It makes a lot of people uncomfortable when the “person in charge” doesn’t have their act together. Many of us have that inner aspect I call the, “Who do you think you are?” aspect. We ask it of ourselves and we ask it of others. Prove it! Prove your knowledge/health/awakeness/education/joy/etc. Prove to me that I should pay attention to you and what you say. Prove to me that you can help me heal/grow/learn. Prove it! And the Prove It mentality turns in on us too, and if we’re unaware of it, it can keep each of us from becoming more and more of who we are when in community with one another. If I can’t prove that I’m perfect at X, I can’t teach X or help others learn about X!
And so we expect that people who are in any type of leadership have it figured out. People who are in positions of leadership in the healing community  (especially?) let followers see only one side of their lives and only when that side is nice and shiny.
I am very wary of the teacher who stands (or sits) in front of a crowd and doesn’t express him or herself authentically – who doesn’t let imperfections and quirks shine. I’m confused at the idea that I’m supposed to learn how to be a healer from someone who doesn’t continually seek healing for him or herself. And so, I share my experiences with you not to make anyone uncomfortable, but because this is what is true. And I just so happen to be in a place in my life where, as I heal and expand, I can see it and learn from it and then share it with you. Leaders don’t lead by example by being perfect. Leaders lead by example when they are fully present, fully authentic, in their healing work.
I won’t ever share to garner sympathy or pity. By the time I can write about it, I have gone through it and have lessons-learned to share with you. And trust that even as I am going through my stuff, though perhaps not accessible in the same way, joy is present. And Grace. I am experiencing both/and. It is a bright sadness. And it is a holy moment.
We don’t need to require perfection from one another. We don’t need each other to always be happy and pleased and peaceful. We don’t need our teachers/leaders/coaches to have everything figured out. We can be authentic with each other, holding a space of compassion for ALL of it, without fear or pity, without extending sympathy. We do not have to feel responsible either for fixing anything or helping anyone figure out their stuff. This is a beautiful time of learning how to hold a space of compassion for each other and for ourselves. Allowing, allowing, allowing. This is where the both/and blooms.
With deep gratitude,
Tana

 

Depression and other uncomfortable experiences

As we await the end of this long winter, as we learn to maintain presence in a world that appears to be going mad, and as we deal with our own private lives and the issues we personally face, we might be experiencing spiritual, emotional, and mental discomfort more acutely. I have chatted with a few people in the last couple of weeks who have shared that they have been experiencing low-level anxiety, agitation, anger, and depression, for what appears to be no reason.
When people ask me, “How do I get rid of this?”, one of the first questions I like to ask is, “How does this experience feel in your body?” In other words, where do you feel tension or discomfort, irritation or inflammation in your physical body when you are aware of these feelings? What does it feel like? How do you respond to these physical expressions?
Turning toward the body and extending it care and rest can have a huge effect on the experiences listed above. It is unusual for most of us to do this however, because we are a thinking species. We are quite proud of our mental faculties and our abilities to analyze and plan and fix and solve. When these uncomfortable feelings arise, we tend to go to the mind for answers to “fix” whatever is “broken,” bypassing the body altogether.
Always be willing to question the premise.
What if nothing is broken when these experiences come? What if there is nothing to fix because these experiences play an important role in our expansion and evolution? What if everything is exactly as it should be? What if, instead of going to the mind to ask, Why is this happening? How do I make it stop?  we chose to be present, focus on the breath, and get in touch with our body?
Choosing to pay attention to the body can help us ground and connect more deeply to our Heart. The mind can take a rest. We can stop thinking for a second, stop analyzing, and stop wondering why or asking how. When we are focusing on care of the body, our attention is diverted from self-judgment. And we can give the brain a little break from trying to form an escape plan. 
Many times over the years, when I have shared that I had a cold, felt blue, threw my back out, had a headache, or stubbed my toe with well-intentioned fellow healers, I have been asked, “What do you think the root emotional/mental/spiritual cause might be?” Many believe that mental and physical maladies are untreated subtle energetic imbalances in almost all, if not all cases. The idea is that if we identify the emotional, mental, or spiritual imbalance, by identifying it and then healing it, we resolve the physical issue.
On the face of it, it makes sense. I think how we go about it might not. What this well-intentioned inquiry does is remove me from my physical body and places me in the seat of the mind through self-inquiry. It puts me in the roles of Identifier and Fixer – mind activities – when my body is asking me to be with the body. Awareness is wonderful and can be very healing. I believe in the power of self-inquiry and a willingness to be with and examine myself. But I believe there is a time and a place for this and that it must be done through the Heart. When the body is crying out, when a person feels like they are in survival mode – this is the time for rest, love, support, compassion, grace, and above all else – no judgment.
And sometimes a stubbed toe is just a stubbed toe. We are human beings living a human life on this planet where everything we do affects one another and sometimes stuff happens. Determining whether or not an experience is a “stuff happens” moment, or the result of imbalance in the subtle anatomy, for me, involves surrender and time. If there is something deeper to explore, there is no forcing it. To become aware of the unconscious, “deeper” underlying issues that might be present, I have to trust that I will become aware of those when they are ready to appear. In the meantime, I care for my stubbed toe, stay present, and breathe.
My personal experience – with depression, anxiety, sadness, grief, and more – has taught me that there is no real and lasting escape plan that the mind can offer and that there is no eradicating the issue through the mind. In fact, trying to out-think (run away from) an uncomfortable experience can intensify and draw out the experience. I think this is because the energy wants to be seen and acknowledged through the Heart with compassion and faith. Sometimes a willingness to stay in the room and be with that feeling is all it takes for it to dissipate. Other times the energy desires more attention and time, and if we allow that – if we surrender to it, the experience is a lot less painful. There is more grace and compassion present.  
My recent reminder….
A few weeks ago, on a Thursday, depression descended out of nowhere. It had been years since I felt that plummet but suddenly down, down, down I was falling, unable to breathe deeply into my toes and suddenly unable to bring myself to care about, well, anything. I couldn’t make weekend plans with my husband because I didn’t care and I didn’t foresee a moment when I’d be getting out of my chair in the near future. My brain started to send warning messages, “If you don’t snap out of this, your students and clients are going to get upset!” and “Oh no, remember last time? This could last WEEKS!”  But it was too late – I couldn’t care. It’s not that I didn’t care. I literally couldn’t care – about anything. Depression is a strange and difficult thing to experience let alone explain. 
I had been here before. I recognized it immediately. Though I was surprised that it felt the need to visit, I shrugged, opened the door, invited it in, made it sit right in front of me so that I could look it in the eye and acknowledge it. “Hi. You’re here. It’s been a while. I see you.” And then I let myself off the hook, trusting that nothing lasts forever – even when it feels like it will never end (kind of like this past winter). I chose to focus on my physical body, turn the mind-games off, and just exist as-is. I decided to be be with that energy as long as it wanted to stick around. I decided to be kind to myself in the process. 
Over the next couple of days I noticed moments when my mind would try to sneak in and “take care of it.” How can we get rid of it? How can we heal it? What’s wrong with you, Tana, that this is here? Identify that and BAM! Problem solved! Each time my brain tried to elbow its way in, I felt the sensation – or lack of sensation actually – weigh more heavily. I backed off each time, saying, “I see you, you are here and I am here and we are here together.” I stayed with it, giving it and myself compassion and grace.
On Sunday evening of that same weekend, just as quickly as it arrived, it left. I caught my breath and I suddenly felt everything again  – concern, awareness, motivation, responsibility, desire, movement, appreciation. I also noticed something re-enter which I wasn’t aware of before the depression visited: feelings of insecurity I had been holding, worry that I was inadequate in a certain area of my life, and anger seated from a place of judgment I was holding against myself which I was extending , as tends to happen, to others. In this particular case – there were underlying issues that I wasn’t aware of that wanted to be brought into the Light for healing. I can promise you that had I tried to force myself to make inquiries or tried to “fix” the depression, I would have missed the awareness that arose as the depression lifted. 
That experience lead to writing this blog post, Burning Man – on being a healer and our responsibility to self, in which I share, “Love and Light” is a phrase often used. And it can have tremendous potency when uttered by a person who is intimately aware of their own capacity for “Hate and Darkness,” as well as all the energies in between. I have since learned that nothing can truly be swept under the rug or warded off with spells or talismans. The energy is present and it wants to be seen. This is the Age of the Mirror.” 
People sometimes look at me like I’m crazy. “Just BE with it? That’s your big solution? That’s how you heal?” Yes. It’s part of my healing. And it took years of clearing thought forms and beliefs, of learning how to ground in my own body, of experiencing the Heart and learning how to become more and more intimate with and trusting of it before I could “just” be with it. I fought it for a long time. There were a lot of thoughts and beliefs I needed to clear or transmute. The experiences of depression and anxiety showed up for me time and time again – giving me ample opportunity to lean into them and learn how to exist differently, how to shift my perspective, how to surrender and find in that surrendering great freedom.
I relied on mentors and guides and healers and teachers who helped me to reframe or release my inquiries, to show me where my thinking was blinding me from the Light of my Heart. It was a group effort, make no mistake. Can we go it alone? Sure. Sometimes we even have to. When we can ask for help though, I believe we thrive when we do. Asking for help is a lesson unto itself. As much as we’re wired to think our way through “problems,” we’re also conditioned go it alone. But that doesn’t make it the ideal way of being in the world. We’re allowed to buck the system. In fact, I strongly encourage it. 
If you’ve been struggling with finding your footing in the midst of challenging emotional, mental, and spiritual experiences, I encourage you to reach out. Find a heart-centered mentor, healer, coach, guide, counselor – someone with compassion and grace, who understands the role of the mind in relation to the Heart, someone who will be neutral and honest with you. Someone who will help you see the gifts of self-care, as well as self-inquiry. Someone who will help you consider when to cut yourself some slack and when you can dig deep. You can begin this search simply by asking your Source to send someone your way. Healing – it can be simple. And sometimes it is not. Both are accepted. Be kind to yourself in the meantime, and don’t forget to breathe.
With gratitude,
Tana