Animal Communication: What if we could talk to animals?
Energy Work, Uncategorized

What if you could talk to animals?

Reblogged from

What if you could talk to animals?

This subject has been coming up a lot in my conversations with people lately, so I thought I would post some thought-provoking content and links to resources for folks.

“We can!”

The first thing that came to mind when my nephew said to me in passing that he wished people could talk to animals was, “But we can!” Of course, he was thinking he would use these important skills to let his dog know that the smell of his farts are unbearable. [Awkward pause.] Nonetheless, I like to think his sentiment was still genuine in simply wanting to connect with the beings in one’s life. 🙂 With that in mind, I was elated to introduce him to an abbreviated video that had been making the rounds (to see the full-length video on Anna’s great work, see: Animal Communication):

Communication: More than words

I think it’s important to stretch our minds and question what we think we know is certain. The truth is, we only know what we know, and that’s very little in light of all possibility. Obviously, words communicate most clearly for us humans; but there’s still a lot that can be communicated beyond words, like when a friend gives us that look of appreciation and love, or when a dog’s loved one comes home after being away for 6 months:

Most animal communicators explain their ability as “telepathy.” Telepathy is simply the communication of ideas transcendent to words. If you’ve been reading this blog, you might have learned extrasensory perception can come through various means, such as clairvoyance or clairsentience. Regardless of the means, this telepathic experience is simply the connection to what is alive — communicating by way of the web of life which is common and shared among all beings, animal or other.

Ways to learn

There are a number of folks offering educational opportunities in interspecies communication:

Your practice

Consider simply inviting the question, “If the animals I(‘ve) encounter(ed) in my life have thoughts and emotions, what would I (have) consider(ed) important to communicate to them or to learn from them?”

Energy Work, Uncategorized

Mental Illness & Spiritual Awakenings | Reiki Energy Work for Everyday People


Shaman, Mental Illness, and Spiritual Awakenings

What a Shaman Sees In a Mental Hospital | Spirit Science | Reiki Energy Work for Everyday People.

In the shamanic view, mental illness signals ‘the birth of a healer,’ explains Malidoma Patrice Somé. Thus, mental disorders are spiritual emergencies, spiritual crises, and need to be regarded as such to aid the healer in being born.

Mental Illness: Breakdown or Breakthrough?

A friend recently posted this article, What a Shaman See’s [sic] In a Mental Hospital, published on Spirit Science. The article explores the subject of mental illness and sensitivity as seen through the different cultural lenses of “breakdown” or “breakthrough” [of a spiritual awakening]. Dagara elder, Dr. Malidoma Patrice Somé (PhD),  shares his thoughts and experience in seeing these different treatment of mental illness in West Africa and in the the US.

Empowerment in the face(s) of schizophrenia

The first time I was introduced to this idea that schizophrenia is just the unmitigated experience of the spiritual in the physical realm was during graduate school in my patient counseling class. Lucky for me, my instructor was both a counselor and an energy worker/intuitive; she had plenty of first-hand experience seeing the many ‘unseen’ beings that came in with clients. She talked boldly of a time when she shared this knowledge with a client, letting him know he was not alone in his experience. Most importantly, she was the first person to teach this client about boundaries; and doing so empowered him to manage the situation from a place of strength and support.

Managing sensitivity

Many of my Reiki students start off considering themselves to be ‘insensitive’ to subtle energy. I, myself, started off thinking I was a “dull” type — unable to sense energy at all. Interestingly enough, however, many of these people (myself included) would say they are more sensitive than others when it comes to feeling overstimulated by sound, conversation, information, etc in daily life. Coincidence? Not really.

Sensitive is sensitive; it’s a gift. It’s the gift of caring, noticing, listening. Managing it is a skill — the skill of saying when to listen,when to say “I can’t” or “No, thank you”, and/or when the most caring thing you can do for someone else is to take care of yourselfbefore responding to a person or situation. In my opinion this is the big difference between what we call mental illness and what we call energy work: A sense of boundary and autonomy.

All the more reason to study with a teacher!

Your Practice This Week

Reflect on your commute to work or around town — have you ever passed someone you wrote off as “crazy”? Would your attitude towards them change if you believed they were communicating with an actual entity? How might you feel if in talking to everyone you know around you, no one experienced a shared reality with you? (Intense!)

Charles Bonnet Syndrome Hallucinations
Energy Work

Eye condition makes man hallucinate tapestries and monks (BBC News, Audio) | Reiki Energy Work for Everyday People

Eye condition makes man hallucinate tapestries and monks (BBC News, Audio) | Reiki Energy Work for Everyday People.

Eye'll be Seeing You

I came across this article on Charles Bonnet Syndrome today by the BBC News, “Eye condition makes man hallucinate tapestries and monks.” This was the first time I had heard of the condition and its symptom, hallucinations.

Charles Bonnet Syndrome

Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS) refers to the  the visual hallucinations some folks experience in cases of visual acuity loss or visual field loss. The condition was first noted in the late 1700s by Swiss naturalist and philosopher, Charles Bonnet, but didn’t earn its official diagnosis until the 1930s. Currently it affects 300,000 people a year.

In 2009, Mary Lou Jackson, MD, of the Harvard School of Medicine–affiliated Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (Boston, Massachusetts), cited that CBS, while often underdiagnosed, actually affects 10% to 38% of patients with visual impairment. According to research collated by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (UK), three out of five individuals experiencing serious sight loss may develop this condition.

Hallucinations in CBS

Johann Heinrich Füssli 063

Tiresias, the blind prophet of Thebes, famous for clairvoyance in Greek mythology

In the BBC clip, a man describes his experience of seeing everything from a familiar cartoon face to an Indian tapestry in central vision, skulls, silver swirls, a stained glass window, Tibetan monks and dancing green and/or red men. He explains the visions tend to be more prevalent under conditions when the lights are low, things are calm and quiet, and when he is feeling a bit more tired. He mentions a “vision change” that can cue an oncoming hallucination.

Western medicine does not know the cause of the hallucinations; though researchers M.L. Jackson, MD and Joseph Ferencz, MD PhD write the condition is “most commonly attributed to deafferentation or lack of true visual input into the brain, which causes a release phenomenon similar to phantom limb symptoms after amputation.” Differential diagnosis includes assessing the patient’s ability to distinguish that which is “real” from that which is not, even if only explained to them after the event. As to be expected, not all individuals hallucinations are a sequela of sight loss; there can also be mental health concerns.

Visions in Energy Work

In the world of energy work, seeing visions is known as clairvoyance. Listening to this man’s audio journal, I was struck by the similarity. Clairvoyants see what to some may be called a hallucination; and they know that it is both real in its message, while not necessarily existing as “real” on this plane. Clairvoyants work over time to stay mindful through the experience while staying grounded in their body and consciousness on this plane. We also often choose lower lighting, and meditative conditions (read: “calm and quiet”) to help us see multidimensionally.

I wonder, what would happen if these folks with Charles Bonnet Syndrome chose to study with an energy worker or Shamanic practitioner? What if they learned to work and play with what arose? Would they gain deeper insight into their lives and experience? Perhaps what Western medicine calls a “syndrome” is really a gift, honed with guidance.

Visions and Blindness

Blindness and clairvoyance have long gone hand in hand in history. (My brain always goes to the Odyssey and Clash of the Titans….) The thought is when the external vision grows dim, inner vision is allowed to arise. We spend a lot time deeply enmeshed in our outer senses; it’s easy to miss the subtle. That’s why we energy workers practice!

Not only can visions be suggestive of possible outcomes to the current stream of events (as is the case in prophecy), but more importantly, in my opinion, clairvoyance allows for deeper insight into one’s nature and the nature of reality. It allows us to dream bigger than we could ever think up; it allows us to connect more deeply with what’s truly alive for us in our hearts and in our bodies.

Managing Visions

I agree with Jackson and Ferencz that it’s imperative one be deeply grounded in our common reality and in one’s being (my terms) for experiencing visions to be a safe and comfortable experience. Without a solid foundation, a person can get disconnected from the self and feel split in consciousness. This leads to a sense of being out of control, and unsafe. With that, comes a whole slew of other things.

For anyone already experiencing hallucinations or visions, unsure of where to start, I recommend working with a good counselor, energy worker, and meditation instructor. If your ability to function in daily life is impaired, I’d recommend starting with seeing a psychiatrist.

Your Practice

Reflect on your experience; have you ever seen, heard, or felt something that wasn’t “there”? Does daydreaming count? (Why or why not?)

Energy Work Practices
Energy Work, Reiki

What Are Energy Work Practices?


· · in Definitions, Energy Work, ESP, Uncategorized. ·Edit

Author and inventor Dr. Lin Yutang wrote in his 1937 bestseller, The Importance of Living, “…[A]ll human happiness is sensuous happiness”(125).  He goes on to explain our capacity for enjoying the “positive joys of life” is inextricably tied to increased sensibility of our senses, and our full use of them.

To illustrate his point, Dr. Lin lists Chin’s Thirty-Three Happy Moments, suggesting that “the truly happy moments of human life [are those] moments in which the spirit is inextricably tied up with the senses”(130). You’re probably not surprised that I agree! (Why else would I start my post with this?)

Energy Work is Mundane Work

People often confuse energy work with something ‘beyond’ the ordinary, human experience. Or people think it’s something to ‘attain,’ or something mystical. Most often people think energy is separate from the body; and therefore consider the physical simply crude, unnecessary material they’re just waiting to shed to get back to the ‘good stuff.’

But, while energy permeates and animates physical matter, the physical experiences Spirit’s sublime nature. The physical interprets energy, and affects the world with energy. That’s potent stuff! Without the ability to sense, energy could not know itself. For this reason, while we are in the world, knowing we are not of it affords us a unique opportunity to care for and appreciate our vessel (the physical body), while experiencing Spirit in action.

Can Energywork Be Bodywork? (And Vice Versa?)

When we talk about types of energy work, some practices might fit under the category of bodywork, while others might be considered emotional release techniques, mental concentration practices, or in some cases spiritual or religious practice. At first glance someone with no background in energy work might think, “Hold on a minute, this can’t be right! Isn’t energy work stuff just ‘woo woo,’ waving hands in the air?” (I’m reminded of Christopher Walken’s trivial psychic skit….) No, it’s not. Remember, I defined energy work as any practice that works with our body’s energy; and if you understand that our spirit is inextricably tied to our body sense-experience, you’ll understand energy work in practice may involve the body, mind, and/or emotions.

A Short List of Energy Work Practices

What Are Some Energy Work Practices

There are countless practices that involve energy work I could name in this post today. Nonetheless, I’d like to introduce you to a short list so you can start to see that you’ve likely already been introduced to energy work, and perhaps have even been practicing it already. What makes the energy work a stronger aspect to physical, emotional or mental practice? Intention.

You’ll notice I slipped intention work and affirmations under perceiving energy. (Pretty much all the things on this mind map can be swapped from one side to the other.) I did this intentionally (ha!) as a reminder that sometimes we can learn things about what we really think or feel deep down when we try on a new, positive affirmation or intention. Resistance can crop up saying, “Yea, right! I don’t deserve that!” etc.

My today’s short list includes:

  • Acupuncture
  • Bowenwork
  • Dream work (including interpretation and lucid dreaming)
  • Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
  • ESP (including clairvoyance, clairaudience, clairgustance, clairsentience, claircognizance, and “medical intuition”)
  • Feng Shui
  • Homeopathy (including flower, gem and environmental essences)
  • Intention work (including affirmations)
  • Journeying (including to the Akashic records, Lower World, Middle World, Upper World)
  • Meditation
  • Pranic healing
  • Psychic awareness (including psychometry)
  • Qigong
  • Reiki
  • Rosen Method
  • Shamanism (including soul retrieval)
  • Yoga

Your practice this week:

Reflect on a time in your life when you felt most alive, connected and ‘in the flow.’ How did you feel in your body? How was the state of your mind; and what were the circumstances under which you had this experience?

Has an energy work practice greatly impacted your life or growth? I’d love to hear your story in the comments!

Energy Work, Reiki, Self-Care

Why Learn Reiki Energy Work?

learn Reiki energy work

I was first introduced to energy work practice while in school for Chinese medicine. Qi gong, or Chinese energy work, is considered one of the three pillars of Chinese medicine; the other two are Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture. It’s an ancient practice, with instructive texts dating back to the Han Dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE). My teacher was a two-time gold-medal winner in international martial arts, Liping Zhu (a truly lovely lady). When we started class, she said that each person may have a different awareness of energy – some may see it, others may feel it, some may have no sense of it whatsoever. Then she shot out qi (energy) from her fingertips and asked us all to “receive” it with our hands. “Do you feel anything?” No. Nothing.

I thought for sure I was a “dull type;” that’s what Liping called someone who has no awareness of energy. Well, class was required, so I had to finish the semester no matter what I ‘was.’ Every week we’d meet as a class of maybe 20, practicing our exercises in a group; then I’d head home for daily solo practice. Well, wouldn’t you know, after a few weeks, I felt something! We were in class, “scanning” each other energy with our hand, and I felt something prickly in my palm a few inches above my partner’s body. When I moved my hand away, I didn’t feel it anymore. So, I moved back again, and… yes, felt it again. So, I asked my partner, “Do you have any concerns or issues with this part of your body?” “Yes!” she said. Voilà! Hence began my hearing the subtleties of our body’s language.

You could say it’s like waking up a new sense, in addition to the standard 5 (touch, smell, sound, taste, and sight) and optional 6th (the mind). But, it’s not really. One of the most surprising things to people unfamiliar with energy work is that the way energy is understood is through our same, basicsenses. Clairvoyants ‘see’ energy; clairaudients ‘hear’ energy; clairsentients ‘feel’ energy, etc. In actuality, we might say that energy work is more like refining our senses, expanding our awareness to greater layers of subtle information readily present. There’s nothing particularly strange or fancy about it, other than our perception of its possibility.

So, if not to impress at parties or feed our sense of grandeur, why bother to learn energy work? Well, can you imagine not having one of your senses– after you’ve already experienced the richness of life with the aid of that sense? I don’t think anyone would dream of giving up one of their sense organs! In this way, once you’ve opened to a new depth of life experience, you’d never dream of going back. Energy work practice is one way of cultivating this greater depth of life perception.

Energy work is also a practice of living honestly. You can’t fake it! (There’s no faking it!!) The body never lies when it comes to disclosing our truth and the ways in which we self sabotage. So, for folks aiming to live more in line with their values, energy work can be a tremendous aid. The nice thing about Reiki-style energy work, specifically, is that the practice is rooted in a love-based paradigm. When we rest our fears on this fundamental acceptance, love and understanding, it’s much easier to feel encouraged and supported in going forward. It helps one establish a foundation of trust—in one’s self, and in the workings of the universe at large.

Everyone, of course, would have their own reason for doing things. This post is not to suggest one thing or another, or to in any way be comprehensive; but I hope it will inspire you to imagine living life more colorfully, more meaningfully. If learning energy work speaks to you, great! If not, great! For me personally, Reiki has allowed me to fall deeper into my sense of self; and in listening more to my being, I’m better able to hear and respect others’ authenticity. It’s given me yet another tool with which to treat myself and others with kindness and to offer myself healing love and light. It’s taught me fear is not an effective motivator; it’s an effective captor. And, one day, when I woke up, I just decided I’d rather be free. Choice: That’s the power of waking up.

If you want to join us, you’re invited to a 9-week course for beginners in Reiki energy work at the Seattle Buddhist Center in Northgate. The class starts April 17 and runs through Jun 12, Wednesdays, 6:30 – 8p. For course content, visit Classes; to register, visit Enroll; to read what students have been saying, read Reviews. Or if just want to enjoy some great videos (including Mister Rogers remixed–yes!!), feel free to peruse my Reiki I Class Video Resources.

Energy Work, Reiki, Self-Care


The different 'faces' of confidence.

Lately, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about confidence. What is it? How do we get it? How is it dashed? How is it different from self-esteem, if at all? Even searching for a photo to go with this post, I was struck by wide range of images people associated with confidence on Flickr (see above): children, smiling faces, knowledge, and sexual body language. Shouldn’t be too surprising, really — Merriam-Webster cites confidence as everything from a “quality or state of being certain,” to “faith or belief that one will act in a right, proper, or effective way,” to even simply the “feeling or consciousness of one’s powers.” Still the fact that a child’s face and a topless man’s bicep can be used to impart the same sentiment is kind of mind-blowing to me, in this case.

Alright, so we’re starting to get a sense that confidence can range from a quality of being, to faith in one’s ability, to a feeling or awareness of one’s own power. And when don’t we feel our own power? When we give it away! Even in the dictionary we find opportunities to lose our sense of self: What does it mean to be right, or proper? To be effective? Right here it would be easy to insert, “what other people deem” before any one of these assessments. For example, confidence is “a faith or belief that one will act in a [way that other people deem is] right, proper or effective.” Yikes! That looks like a recipe for disaster. We could spend our whole lives running around trying to be and do what we thought other people viewed as right or effective. Obviously, I’m not encouraging anarchy here – everyone for his/herself!! No, there is a way to be one’s own self and yet remain harmonious in our actions; we can always find and choose strategies that are effective in getting everyone’s needs met.

Is confidence the same thing as self-esteem? Some people talk about confidence as the facade, and self-esteem what exists under the veil. But I think we find something much more interesting when we go back to good ol’ Merriam-Webster; they define self-esteem as “a confidence and satisfaction in oneself,” a synonym for “self-respect.” Wow!! Alright, now we’re talking!! Here find the sense that “I know my strength, my power; and I am enough.” Powerful stuff! I suppose it would be completely possible to be in touch with one’s power [read: confident], and to still have the false belief that it isn’t enough [read: low self-esteem]. So, how can cultivate a sense of abundance, a sense of our own subjective-and-harmonious strength and effectiveness as we navigate our way through the world? We can work with our physical, mental and emotional bodies.

Our Navel or Solar Plexus energy center holds our sense of Self.

Our Navel or Solar Plexus energy center holds our sense of Self.

In energy work, personal power is associated with the 3rd chakra, or ‘Solar Plexus’ energy center. This center is located between the umbilicus and the lower rib cage. It makes sense, then, that when we feel most ashamed or disempowered, we feel “hurt in the gut.” We also tend to gain weight when we feel vulnerable in this way, especially around our abdomen, as a way to physically create distance between us and the world. (This is not to say that everyone who is overweight has these feelings; this is simply an example of possible outward expression for what we feel internally.) This is our physical body reflecting our emotional experience. We can work to build confidence right here, from the outside-in. Simply strengthening our abdominal muscles can help translate to a stronger sense of one’s own power.

From the inside-out, we have to work to release old stories of how we’re not enough, how we’re undeserving of the very best in life, how it’s not safe to be our self. And we have to find confidence [read: certainty] in the knowing that we can create conditions of safety for our self; that we are deserving simply through our being, not our doing. Ultimately, we must come back time and time again to the unwavering truth that we are enough. Affirmations are very helpful for this practice.

Louise Hay talks about anger and fear as the root of ailment. To cultivate true confidence and self-respect, we must let go of these energy drains. We have to forgive and to step into our truth. Return the center of power to your person; be the active agent. See how it feels to know you are enough; how do you perceive people differently? Do you find your interactions with others reveal more about how they are feeling than about your worth?

In going back to the Flickr photos, do you see self-satisfied confidence differently now? Which images convey “I am enough, just as I am;” and which convey, “I am just what you want me to be”?

ps. Want to learn more about your energy body and how to support it? Join us for our next Reiki I class April 17 – Jun 12, 2013.

Energy Work, Reiki

Exploring Reiki I: Awakening

Rainbow bokeh

How do you teach the experience of Cosmic Consciousness through the human senses? This has been the question on my mind as I prepare to teach Reiki again this Winter. In teaching, I find it’s important to stay open to further developing and re-developing material– to keep asking the questions, “Why?”, “How?” And Reiki is such a big topic! There are so many whys and so many hows: Why does it work? How does it work? How do I know it works? Why do I need to know how it works?”, etc.

It’s been almost 10 years that I have been practicing Reiki; and it’s wonderful to see that my perspective on the work has evolved over time. This shows me I continue to learn, continue to question. Lately, I’ve been seeing the practice of Reiki more like a relationship, for example, that between a spider and its web:

Spider web with fog droplets

Yes, there is this ‘thing,’ this amorphous entity, called Reiki. Through an insight experience, Mikao Usui in the early 20th C. became aware of this “Reiki” (i.e. “spiritual energy”), and found he could channel it through his body and out his hands; and that by channeling this energy, he was able to heal people. He also found he could pass on this knowing, this ability to access Reiki, through empowerments or what are now called attunements. Through raising the awareness and energetic vibration of those willing and intending to channel Reiki, Mikao Usui started a lineage of practitioners. This we can imagine is the spider: A lineage and the embodiment of Reiki practice. But what is a spider without its web?

A web stabilizes and supports a spider; a web is how the spider gets its nourishment. A web is also unique to the spider that builds it, and the time and place in which it is built. What’s more, I recently learned that a spider’s web actually grows stronger when its threads are broken. What does this say for us, Reiki practitioners, the spiders of this web?

To me, it says our life context is important–really important–for how we move in this world and how we find nourishment in this lifetime. It says to me that equally important to teaching the logistical practice of Reiki, is teaching perspective; we have to examine how the practice is supported (or not supported) by how we view the world and our place in it. With so much fear fueling people’s decisions, it is more important than ever to teach and uncover a love-based paradigm– a world in which everyone’s needs can be met, with skilful strategy. I feel super excited to share this perspective with folks and see just how far they can fly with it!

“How do we teach the experience of Cosmic Consciousness through the human senses?” I think we look at the spider, but we remember the web. Perhaps we mindfully break those threads we built out of fear, anger, and ignorance–knowing that, sometimes, breaking down builds us up. Perhaps most importantly, we sit back and enjoy feeling supported in our every movement, knowing that our mindful efforts are rewarded in profound nourishment!

Want to join us? Classes run January through March at the Seattle Buddhist Center and the Seattle Center for Structural Medicine. Registration deadline is 12/15/12. I look forward to seeing you there!

Energy Work

James’ Reincarnation

I found this to be a compelling story; if for nothing else, for its ability to make people question their beliefs about what is possible in this world. Reincarnation is a question that comes up often for people. For some, it’s a way to explain how they feel in this life about certain things (usually the things about which they’d prefer to feel differently); for others it’s a reassuring confidence of their choices or their relationships.

In an interesting read, Many Lives, Many Masters, psychotherapist Dr. Brian L. Weiss discusses the potential for healing in this life by working with the issues carried over from past lives. He found resolving past life issues created vast shifts in his patients, and resulted in great progress. It’s a great read particularly for those who find the idea of reincarnation hard to wrap one’s brain around.

I think stories like these highlight the importance of taking stock of where we’ve been and what we’ve experienced. In this way we bring awareness to our experience–we can let go of what no longer serves us. We can grow into more of ourselves; we can find strength in our expanding resources.

Equally important, I believe it’s also important to stay present with the experience of the pain or the disconnect–regardless of the backstory. One wants to be cautious not to ‘explain away’ and/or compartmentalize our experience or feelings. It’s easy to push our feelings away when we’d rather feel something else, or when we think we “should” be feeling something else. But when we push our feelings away, we push ourselves away. We silently reject ourselves; we silently tell ourselves we’re not OK the way we are. And when we’re in pain, when we need love and compassion to get the unkind response of shame and silence–that only adds insult to injury.

If nothing else, may these stories remind us that we’ve each been places we may or may not remember; we’ve all seen things we may or may not remember; we’ve all experienced things we may or may not remember. In any moment we can be open to how we got where we are; and whether or not we get clarity on this issue, we can be open to where we are in the moment – to our feelings, to our thoughts, to our own fabricated stories. Bringing deep love and compassion to our experience, we accept ourselves just as we are; we bring healing to our disconnect, to our pain.

For those interested in seeing more reincarnation stories, try the incredible movie, “Unmistaken Child.” A Buddhist monk finds his beloved, reincarnated teacher….