2016 will go down in the books as an intensely challenging and pivotal year for a great deal of us. If you too are counting down the days to starting over in 2017 with a vow to change and have a better year, let’s reflect on these resolutions and how to make them last. Mentally we need that idea of pressing a magic reset button in hope that we can leave our baggage behind in a four digit number and wash our hands of it. By the end of the year it’s as if our candle has been burned at both ends and we grasp at the belief of starting over at the stroke of midnight.
I have learned through my own ritual work with the moon and seasons that everything is on a cycle and having our own practice to mark the beginning and end of them can help you manifest things you want to attract and release that which no longer serves you. The moon expands, gets full and bright and then retracts until its dark only to start the cycle again. In the fall, the leaves die and fall off of the trees, everything retreats and goes within for Winter and emerges with new life and birth in Spring. We are not immune to these natural cycles. It’s why we focus so much on the New Year! But before we can make room to bring new things into our lives, we must release the old and clear out the clutter. I am going to help you set this intention for release through a simple ritual I have experienced results with.
I am excited to bring you the first post in an ongoing series from Brook Albrigo, a Shamanic Reiki Master and very dear friend of mine. You have heard me speak previously about the very important roles that reiki and the subtle body have played in my healing journey, I have also shared very specific details of healing sessions with Brook. Brook will be joining us here monthly to share more about reiki and the strong influence in which energetics can play in healing, including simple tips to restore balance and promote vitality and wellness.
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When will the rollercoaster of emotions from the past few weeks stop? The severe divisions, the resulting solidarity being shown in protests and by people vowing to stand up for one another, the complete shock of realizing how profoundly the beliefs of others can potentially affect us. If the current events have left you raw, breaking down crying at the grocery store, or fumbling for control of your anger or incredulousness perhaps what I have to share can help you get your bearings amidst absorbing other peoples’ emotions and amplifying this difficult time. The beauty of this is that we are all waking up to just how deeply connected we are to one another.
In hindsight, as I was in Yosemite national park a week before election day, the powerful flow of the storm fed waterfalls and rivers were a premonition. I gathered strength from the waters, mountains and trees not knowing I was being prepared for the events that were to follow. As a shamanic healer I use a technique known as Nature divination- the practice of connecting to elements in nature to receive guidance. Messages come from particular nature spirits -like trees, plants, mountains or waterfalls. We believe in shamanism that everything has a spirit living inside of it that we can communicate with if we learn how to listen. On my solo adventures on hiking trails, I gave attention to each rock, tree and animal; tuned to receive messages. Lucky for me, I was alone and spared the curiosity of fellow hikers wondering why I was talking to a tree!
I was intensely concerned with the violence and conflict at Standing Rock in North Dakota and while the guidance I sought was regarding that situation, I found it to be relevant to what we are experiencing today as a human collective and have felt comforted by receiving this knowledge. When we feel helpless, sometimes that is a sign that we need to re-center and remember that we are part of a higher calling, a bigger picture, and we should listen to our guides that are right in front of us everyday. This is how I was able to maintain the past week and be of assistance to others.
I realized the tools and techniques needed to ground and care for ourselves may get lost in the daily shuffle of life but they are always there and I have created a simple list of self-care rituals to help us all through. We just need to decide our well being is worth making the time for and be willing to get a little bit out of our comfort zones.
I am so excited to introduce you all to Brook Albrigo, a very dear friend of mine. You have heard me speak previously about the very important roles that reiki and the subtle body have played in my healing journey, I have also shared very specific details of healing sessions with Brook. I am very honored to announce that Brook will be joining us here monthly to share more about reiki and the strong influence in which energetics can play in healing, including simple tips to restore balance and promote vitality and wellness.
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If someone had told me 6 years ago that I would become a Shamanic Reiki Master I would’ve laughed in their face and told them to get their head checked. Those words just didn’t exist in my vocabulary until the day, immobile and injured, I sought physical pain relief and found healing on an extraordinary level.
The path that followed was one I never for one moment felt that I chose, but rather that it chose me. I had to surrender to it or be dragged kicking and screaming. Either way, THIS was happening!
Before I discovered healing through energy work, I was completely comfortable in my routine of self destructive and toxic co-dependent ways. I was living in New York City, working in the beauty industry, sometimes working weeks without a day off. I was convinced all the sacrifice would pay off – it’s all part of the ‘city hustle’ and you can sleep when you’re dead, right? The stress and disregard for self care was so out of control that I had developed insomnia, digestive issues, a constant eye twitch and I couldn’t calm my nerves enough to take the subway home without at least two drinks in my system.
Looking back and knowing what I know now, this was all just a major distraction. A diversion I had unknowingly created to avoid the real issues underneath the surface. I was more willing to sacrifice my health, happiness and overall well-being than face the hard truth – I simply did not love myself. Even worse, I hated myself. I had been on antidepressants for years trying to numb this feeling of never being enough or worthy. I was adept at smiling and pretending that I had it all together, but deep down was this great deal of self loathing and suffering. While initially antidepressants did help me get through a tough time, I had come to rely on them for too long and wanted to eventually come off, but did not think I was capable. All of these circumstances combined with my Saturn Return (an event that happens to all of us about every 28—30 years which brings about major change), the perfect storm was created.
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I’m very excited that as Tasty Yummies evolves in 2016 and a brand new website is on the horizon, to be bringing you more content, beyond food, to support your individual healing journeys. I hope you enjoy.
How Stress, Energy and the Subtle Body Can All Play a Role in Your Healing
Over this past year my ongoing healing journey has taken on many different faces and the path has very much evolved along the way. I have shared bits and pieces here on the blog, but so much of this past year was so up in the air and very changing, that most of the time this was something I chose to keep to myself.
Having been diagnosed with an autoimmune form of kidney disease late in 2014, my main goal in 2015 was to figure out what I needed to do to get this disease into remission. At the start of the journey, the biggest struggle for me to overcome, was the fact that I seemed to have no real outward or debilitating symptoms of the kidney disease, it was only discovered through a routine life insurance physical the year prior. However, after a brief time where my fear got the better of me and went the western medical route, including several rounds of varying pharmaceuticals, slowly this symptom-free girl found herself with a lot more issues. In turn, I had also found myself overcome by fear and feelings of helplessness.
As my state of mind shifted, so did my health. I began seeing a naturopathic doctor in January 2015 and we began the slow and arduous process of healing my body, first by approaching what could be (and for most people usually is) the underlying problem, my digestion. After the several rounds of prescriptions drugs for my kidneys, my gut was quite unhappy and the rest of my body also began suffering because of it. My naturopathic doctor suspected leaky gut, among other possibilities and this began the shift in my focus towards gut healing.
I spent the better part of the year trying out various protocols, elimination diets, supplements and so on. There were periods of great relief where I had felt better than I had in a very long time, as well as many stretches where I felt terrible, my body likely responding as it does, to the healing process. In the times of struggle it was hard for me to keep a positive mind. When I felt like I was doing absolutely everything I could, life began feeling limited because of the various protocols and plans I had committed to and my healing became, at times, at the center of my consciousness – my life truly felt like it was in a holding pattern because of it. I began to identify as someone being imperfect and I put things, goals, on hold until I “felt better”. It is inevitable that I hit my breaking point in the later part of last year.
For me, the true realization that my healing goes beyond physical, began as I chose to honor myself more deeply and recognize unhealthy habits, that I was inadvertently choosing to ignore. My amazing naturopathic doctor often asked at the start of my appointments what my stress levels were and most times I exclaimed “Oh, me? I have no stress, I am good! Life is great”. I have news for you, just because you are positive person, if you choose not to acknowledge or dwell on stress or emotional distress, this doesn’t mean that it isn’t there doing harm, deep in the darkest depths of your soul. It’s there wreaking havoc, I can almost promise you. Ironically, the realization came for me during one of my school lessons in the Nutritional Therapy Program I am currently enrolled in. As we covered the digestion module, we talked at length about the need for our bodies to be in a parasympathetic state when eating. Our digestion works best when we are in a rest and restore/digest state vs the very common sympathetic fight or flight mode.
I realized how often I was actually eating meals under stress. While cleaning up the kitchen from a long day of recipe development, while reading, watching TV or standing over the kitchen counter cooking another recipe or some other unnecessary task that had my mind preoccupied. In doing so, my body wasn’t truly acknowledging, honoring or respecting the fuel I was feeding it. Even on a physical level, you chew less and quicker, swallowing larger bites and giving your digestion even more work. This for me, was step one in realizing that healing my body required so much more than taking a few supplements and changing my diet. Any healing protocol needs to be multi-layered approach, to be effective.
Just in this single realization alone, honoring the body’s need to be in a more relaxed state for proper function, I saw instant results in my digestion and I also began to acknowledge other areas of my life I was holding onto stress and other stagnant emotions. I am not saying this solved my underlying problems or cured me for good, but it was a small first step in a large overall problem and I was happy to see that a small change, could make such a large improvement. Stress can manifest itself in many different ways for all of us, but recognizing it’s presence, acknowledging the source and taking steps to lessen it, are vital in the healing journey.
ENERGY and THE SUBTLE BODY
As a yoga teacher, I was already very aware the roles that the subtle body plays in our health and vitality. Yoga, meditation, exercise, these have all played a big role over the years, in my choice for a more mindful lifestyle. All bringing a deeper awareness of the flow of subtle energies in and around the body, I have always honored the role that these subtle energies play into my health and vitality. If we can look to our life force energy as a source for our overall balance, health or ease, then we can assume it’s lack is the cause of imbalance, illness or dis-ease.