Last year I became a certified Reflexologist. I love doing the work. For most of last year I worked with a friend who went through chemo, surgery, and finally radiation for breast cancer. She said…“I could not have made it through my ordeal this year without you. Your mojo is what balanced out all the scary medical stuff. I knew I could get through, but relaxing as you did your thing was one of the only times my mind was clear enough to truly embody that message.”
I became a Reflexologist #1, because I was inspired by some awesome reflexology I received in India and #2, I wanted to learn something new and different.
I also do what I call “Shamanic Energy Work” (I use the word Shamanic because I’m Native) but there’s a ton of energy healing modalities out there. Reiki, Quantum Touch, Reconnective Healing. Same same but different as we say in India. Aint’ nothing new. Energy is energy.
It’s so true that there is nothing new under the sun. I’ve been teaching Yoga since 2002. Today I looked at the Omega and Kripalu offerings just to see what’s what. My first thought was, “I’ve been teaching these same things for 15 years.”
“Trauma sensitive yoga? I was teaching Yoga in a domestic violence shelter long before anyone even heard of Dave Emerson or “trauma sensitive yoga.” Other than learning about the physiological aspects of trauma in the body, the training was a rehash of what I had already learned in the Krishnamacharya Yoga tradition.
“Introduction to Yin Yoga”? I was one of the first Yin Yoga teachers in the Chicago area and taught classes and workshops at least 12 years ago. I brought Yin Yoga to the Yoga community in Arusha, Tanzania in 2010.
Sorry J. Brown, but I was teaching “slow yoga” before it became a thing. Breath-centered Yoga? Starting teaching that way in 2005 and ever since.
“Mindful Yoga”? I was in the first Mindfulness Yoga and Meditation Training at Spirit Rock in California 2007-2009. Combining the Buddhadharma and Yoga in my classes felt right to me before I took that training.
“Therapeutic Yoga”? I offered a workshop on Yoga in the Krishnamacharya Tradition for Yoga teachers after my first time at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram in 2005. No one signed up. Not one teacher at the studio where I taught at the time was interested.
Ain’t nothin’ new, kids. The only thing is that those teaching at places like Kripalu and Omega can market themselves a hell of a lot better than I can.
As a long ago private student told me, it’s hard being a pioneer because pioneers get the arrows shot up their asses. Much easier to follow the leader.
Like anything else, I see a lot of people running after that new, best thing. It’s always been there, right in front of you.
Look for the Yoga Elder in your neighborhood. You might be surprised at what you find in the deep hole you dig once you stop digging the shallow ones.
“In every community there is work to be done. In every nation there are wounds to heal. In every heart there is the power to do it.” — Marianne Williamson
Three women from the domestic violence shelter came to my home shala this week. They’ve known me from the shelter since 2004. But I am only there once a month. They want more, and since the shelter can’t give them more yoga, they came to see me. I’ve opened my home to them. I won’t charge them what I usually charge for private yoga, so I tell them to pay me what they can afford. I don’t care.
They know what real yoga does, what it’s used for.
That’s what they were seeking.
She called me because she wanted relief from her anxiety attacks. She wants to be able to sleep. She had been doing well but took a few steps back. She went to the doctor because she thought she was having a heart attack. The doctor ran tests and told her she was fine. She gave her pills and told her to see a psychiatrist. But she did not want pills or the psychiatrist, she wanted yoga, so she called me.
We talked a long time, she told me her stories, what she has been dealing with. I understood completely. Two steps forward, a few steps back.
I give what is needed to heal. I dose intuitively as any good medicine woman does. I flow as I am directed. No asana needed right now, only a heart opening. I placed a bolster under her to expand the chest, some blankets under the arms and head and asked her only to breath, to make the exhales longer than the inhales. When you teach someone a healing pranayama, miracles can happen. I gave her a visualization.
And then they came.
I am also an energy worker, a clairaudient, very sensitive to energy changes. My yoga room has an ananda vibe, everyone says so. She said that sometimes new places make her anxious but she felt safe here. It’s good to feel safe with someone you know but don’t know.
The windows were open and I heard the wind rise, the wind chimes started to ring furiously. I felt the change, I heard the swoop, and knew we were surrounded. She was surrounded. My voice sounded disembodied and I felt pressure on my arms as if someone was touching me. When I am do energy work my hands heat up and vibrate, but I wasn’t touching her.
I don’t know how long she was on the bolster, I don’t know how long I spoke about healing the heart.
All I knew was that it was just the two of us again.
After she sat up I asked how she felt and before she said anything I told her, “you were surrounded by angels.” I surprised myself when I said that, but I knew it as strongly as I know my own name. I said that the concept of angel guides had never resonated with me until I had some powerful energy work myself and then I believed. I told her to call them what she wanted…angels, light workers, spirit guides, it doesn’t matter because those are only labels.
She looked changed, lighter, brighter. Happy. She said at one point that even though her eyes were closed she saw a ball of white light surrounding her and the peace she felt was extraordinary. She said she knew now how to reach that place again.
And then she started to cry.
“Healing is not, after all, the same as curing. Healing does not mean going back to the way things were before, but rather of allowing what is now to move us closer to God.” — Ram Dass
Before any of you start reading, check in and decide whether you believe in energy work, past lives, totem animals, or anything else that is considered new agey woo-woo stuff. If you don’t, stop reading now because you will hate this post. If you’re not bothered by what I am about to say, keep reading.
It is rare that I write about my energy work. I’ve been told I have a gift, but for the most part people just think it weird or don’t believe me or want a definition of it that I don’t have. Some people think I am a healer, but I never call myself that. For one thing, I am clairaudient and clairsentient, always have been. I am a reiki master, but I don’t like to call myself that either because #1, reiki is too puny of a word for what I do, and #2, I am not a master anything because it’s not about that. Some have called me a “yoga master” but the word “master” embarasses me. I have been told, however, that when I am ready to fully embrace my power, only then will I come into my own.
Just like in the yoga biz in the energy worker biz people in the West are impressed by pieces of paper and titles and with whom one studies and who talks the loudest about what they do. Just like in the yoga biz the people with the most letters behind their names are the most successful, “successful” being a relative term. I don’t advertise, never have, and I usually do energy work for free. I do my work mostly in the domestic violence shelter where I teach. The women believe I am a curandera. They don’t need to be convinced by any certificates.
People in India “get” what I do much more than anyone here. Indians have a way of accepting siddhis as a natural aspect of the person while Westerners have that uberduality of mind that needs to over-analyze and separate and intellectualize everything. Yes, I said siddhis because it has been written about for centuries in Yoga and Buddhist texts that siddhis naturally arise or are enhanced by yoga and meditation practice. Western uberduality doesn’t track well with Eastern spirituality. Western minds can not accept that sometimes there are no explanations for things.
Even energy workers need to visit other energy workers, so I go a woman who is above my level, so to speak. I can’t explain what she does or how she does what she does, I just accept it, but the best way I can describe it is that she gets the mojo down to the cellular level and works on your DNA.
For a few months now I’ve been feeling depressed and stuck with my yoga teaching, so much so I have felt like quitting teaching. During my visit with her she used the words “hopelessness” and “despair” to describe my feelings and she felt a deep sadness in me. She asked how I would feel if I quit teaching and the first word that came to my mind was FREE. I told her that I felt my upcoming trip to India was going to be some type of culmination, that I will be finishing a cycle. She agreed. I feel this in my bones just as I had felt for two years that I had to be at the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar in 2010. Nothing was going to keep me from it. According to my natal chart, I will see some big shifts during 2012-2013 — what my astrologer has read in my chart for the last 7 years or so has always been right on. My journey thus far has been a long marinating of the yoga meat and as my astrologer tells me from my chart, I’ve been pregnant for a long time and the shifts will be a birthing of something new and different. We shall see.
The energy worker told me that before a jump up the consciousness ladder, the person usually feels they are in their darkest hour and that there is no way out of the black hole of despair. I have been feeling so stuck for months that I felt there was no way out. She did her spiritual counseling and I got on the table for her mojo. Every time she does her work I experience visions and this time was no different, however, I saw something that I have not seen in a long time, something I used to regularly see years ago in meditation: me in orange robes on a ghat on the Ganges but all I saw were my hands and feet. Now I know why the first time I saw a photo of a sadhu on a ghat on the Ganges in Varanasi made me weep uncontrollably — because it looked so damn familiar and filled me with such a sense of loneliness, it was like a longing of wanting to go home. In my mind’s eye I also saw water, as if I was being washed over, like I was being dunked under water like in a Pentecostal baptism. I was underwater on my back and could see blue sky through the surface of the water. I was underwater but it wasn’t scary. It was peaceful and I didn’t struggle and a thought flashed through my mind, “this must be what it’s like to die.” After five trips to India I am finally going to Varanasi, ending my trip there.
Then I saw what looked like a segmented egg case or a cocoon, something symbolizing birth. The end of it opened up and in my mind’s eye I watched but nothing came out…then the session ended. I told her what I saw but I knew what I described wasn’t exactly right. On my way home I visualized drawing that segmented thing on a piece of paper and it came to me — it was the segmented abdomen of a female praying mantis, ready to lay her egg case.
My vision suddenly became crystal clear because a praying mantis made her home on my veranda all summer. Never left. I saw her every day and I watched her slowly die there when it became cold. Of course one can say that she never left because she had plenty to eat — my gardens go up the veranda so she had her pick of juicy insects to devour. But she was always on my door or siding or in the chairs or on the table. I was so tuned into her that I knew when she was dying and I would pick her up and stroke her head and body. I would try to put her in a comfortable spot every day but she always found her way back to my chair. Then one day she no longer moved.
People who have strong connections to the Earth know that animal totems pick us, we don’t pick them, so I researched the symbology of the praying mantis. It is a powerful totem animal for healers and they represent stillness and going within. I read that mantis medicine is about the creative process of becoming: “if praying mantis is your totem or has crossed your path, you may be a hunter of hearts in a world that has closed theirs. You may do this … as one who meticulously pursues his or her dream.”
In Native American spirituality there are those who can read “signs.” Interestingly enough, for a long time I also had a bumblebee nest inside my veranda and bees, especially bumblebees, are also totems of spirituality. For a few years a hawk would land in my backyard every New Years Day and stay in a tree all day, never moving. Hawks are also powerful totems and are seen as visionaries and messengers in Native American spirituality, the first spirituality I ever studied:
“Often they feel misunderstood in that when they attempt to deliver an important message others may shy away from it….
Hawk medicine people like many who carry strong predator totems may be shunned by others who sense and fear their inner power. Others may sense that this is a person who can see straight through them and as many folks think in terms of judging things as being good or bad, they are afraid that the Hawk person will see who they “really” are…
Red Tailed Hawk – An intensified Life force, often those who carry this Hawk medicine have Pluto and Mars strong in the horoscope. These folks are able to achieve great things through persistence and sheer strength of will.”
A Native American friend named me Loba because he said wild women and wolves are always misunderstood and feared. The hawk in my yard was always a Red Tailed Hawk and both Pluto and Mars are heavy in my natal chart. My Mars is in Capricorn which relates to my Life Lesson: Responsibility for Self Only. The energy worker told me that my authentic path is ultimately walked alone: it has to be that way because there are very few people who will understand it. Pluto, besides being the planet of Death, is also the planet of Spirituality.
My bones tell me why I have been drawn to Varanasi on my next trip, just as sure as I knew why I had to be at the Mela at that particular time in my life.