Michelle Schrader, Local Photographer
Self-Care, Uncategorized

New in the Office: Michelle Schrader Photography Canvas Art and 5×5 Prints

Michelle Schrader Photography
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“Most people have a positive response to something – whether it’s music, painting, poetry, trees, animals, the sea, mountains or whatever. So sometimes it may be necessary to turn your attention deliberately to something you enjoy, something you have a good response to, and that will introduce another element into your experience. A more energetic, exuberant element that will help you to take a more creative approach to life’s ups and downs.” —Ratnaghosa

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Featured Artist: Michelle Schrader Photography

If you haven’t been in the office recently, you’ve been missing out! Reflecting on beauty is a heart-opening exercise; and I’m delighted to share with you that local artist, Michelle Schrader, has been offering her visual healing to folks coming through the space. Currently we have four prints hanging and a number of 5×5 inch prints for sale. Her work celebrates the natural beauty of the West Coast and plays with the warmth of light cast in oft-overlooked spaces.

To see and/or purchase her work online, visit her Square Market store, Michelle Schrader Photography. You can also view and purchase the canvas prints “Carved Head,” “escape,” “Ghost Town 12×12″,” and “blue door” at the office, as well as many of her 5×5 prints.

Follow Michelle on Instagram or Pinterest; or contact her directly by phone (206.639.7326) or email, moonsongmichelle@gmail.com.

Reflect on Nature for Stress and Anxiety Relief

trees for stress reductionDid you know looking on nature isn’t just a nicety? It directly impacts our body’s stress response. Recent research out of University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign and University of Hong Kong found that even just watching videos of trees was enough to reduce stress and anxiety in subjects. The greater tree coverage there was in the imagery, the stronger the calming effect. This is so powerful for folks living in an urban environment, or unable to leave their homes or bed due to illness!

Remember, we don’t always have to be with what we love to cultivate the mood of love in our lives. The brain is amazing this way! We can start with simply imagining it – bringing what we love to mind through recollection.

What might you surround yourself with at work or at home to help you stay in the mood of ease and love? To what might you turn your attention to lift your spirits and remind you of greater possibilities in life? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!



White Tara Mantra

oṃ tāre tuttāre ture mama āyuḥ-puṇya-jñāna-puṣṭiṃ kuru svāhā

For love, compassion, wisdom and protection

This is a beautiful layered mantra calling on White Tara for her Divine Love, compassion, wisdom and protection. Running seven and a half minutes, this recording covers just over 27 recitations; for the greatest benefit, strive to listen to the piece four times in a row or throughout the day. There is no introduction at the beginning of the track which makes it easy to listen to on a ‘repeat one’ setting.

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White Tara

Giving back

30% of all profits from the sale of this track will be donated to the Seattle Buddhist Center.

About the recording of this mantra

I felt a real burning to get this down ‘on paper.’ I had looked on YouTube for any other recording similar. But, a lot had musical backgrounds that didn’t speak to my taste. As I sat at my computer I kept hearing the layers of this piece build; and I just had to get it out. A day and a half later, this is what you get! 🙂

Ground after listening

After listening to it nonstop for hours, I can say I was feeling a bit high-as-a-kite yesterday. I encourage you to do quite a bit of grounding after listening if you find you experience the same effect.

Open your inner eye

The root note in this recording is “A,” which resonates with the third eye. You might gently invite your inner vision to open to greater wisdom as you let the waves of music gently guide you.


Lastly, there are some panning effects that you might enjoy more if you are able to use headphones.

Thank you

If you find you benefit from this meditation, please consider purchasing the MP3, supporting Melissa to make more of these creations and supporting the Seattle Buddhist Center to continue offering gatherings, classes and retreats by donation.

 May you benefit greatly from your practice!

Crystals and Gemstones, Oh My!
Energy Work, Self-Care

Crystal Spirit Guides: How and Why to Work with Gemstones as Allies

“It’s an honor to be a caretaker for crystals. Treat them as you would dear friends; in other words nurture and respect them. Their support strengthens your ability to realize the essence of universal wisdom.” Virtue & Lukomski, Crystal Therapy

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What’s a Crystal Ally?

When it comes to energy medicine, everything alive is medicine. We can equally learn from members of the animal kingdom, as we can from the plant or mineral kingdom. A crystal ally, therefore, is an umbrella term used to denote any crystal, mineral, rock or gemstone spirit guide. For the purpose of this article, I will use the terms “crystal ally” and “gemstones” interchangeably to speak to guides from this larger mineral kingdom (likely much to the chagrin of geologists everywhere, ha!).

Why work with gemstones?

As I mentioned in the first of this short series on spirit guides, working with any guide is about learning a new quality of being. And nothing grows quite like a crystal! When folks wonder why one might work with gemstones as opposed to animals or plant medicine, that is my answer. Think about it: How long does it take for a stone to form? What tremendous strain does it endure – pressure and heat – to come into being? If you’re looking for unique resilience, stability, strength,  power, and beauty – stones are your answer. Stones are your medicine.

Let’s look at an example: Obsidian


Beautiful Volcanic Glass: Obsidian


How do gemstones form?Obsidian is one of my favorite stones for helping give people the sense of spaciousness when dealing with intimidating or fearful experience. To better understand why this might be the case, we can start by reflecting on the rock’s life experience. How did it form? What did it have to endure and master?

Technically, obsidian is a type of volcanic glass. It’s formed when hot lava cools too quickly to form a crystalline structure. As a result, obsidian’s texture is smooth; and the rock typically forms above the earth’s surface. To give you a more palpable sense of its ‘nurturing’ environment, let’s remember what a volcanic eruption looks like (see: photo).

Yea. So, that happened. 😉 Seriously, though — can you imagine what quality of being one would have to possess in order to feel calm under that level of pressure, heat, and smoke? Looking at these conditions of growth, we also start to understand why obsidian might also be helpful for clearing ‘psychic smog’ in addition to helping ground one’s fear and anger.

How to Choose Your Crystal Ally?

In my experience, many times, stones choose us. We’ll catch it out of the corner of our eye and simply feel drawn to it. We may not know why at first; but we feel interested. In those cases, I’ve found it’s best to just say “yes!” and learn about the stone later. But certainly, you can also go backwards and look up properties of stones or which stones resonate with a particular chakra’s energy. In those cases, however, I’d suggest you try holding the stone before committing to working with it to see if it resonates with you. Even within a container of many polished stones of the same gemstone, there may be one individual piece that resonates with you more than another. Allow yourself to explore and feel.

How do I know if a stone is resonating with me?

When you come into contact with a resonant ally, it might feel like things sliding into place– like the feeling of being with an old and good friend. Or maybe you might feel excited in a positive way– like finally starting the adventure you’d been waiting for. If your extrasensory perception is more developed, you might notice the stone telling you quite directly it’s been waiting and is (happily) ready to work with you. They can also be quite direct in letting you know when they’re waiting to work with someone else. In this case, we can express our gratitude for its coming to our attention, its beauty and wisdom; and move on confidently that our ally is waiting for us elsewhere.

What’s the best way to work with gemstones?

There is no right way to work with gemstones; but there are certainly many options! Regardless of what method you choose, you’ll always want to clear your stone of any lower vibrational energy before using it. Remember that part of your stone’s history may have been its traveling through the hands of many other people before getting to you. Cleansing your stone helps to clear it of any energetic residue left from those individuals’ experience. Think of it like an energetic dusting. (You’ll also want to cleanse your stone regularly based on how much you use it.)

When you’re ready to work with your crystal ally, you might consider working with your ally in any one or more of the following methods:

Carry your Stone

Tumbled gemstone pebbles arpThis is how I got started. This is largely an subconscious way to work with a crystal ally. You just clean your stone, set your intention to receive the stone’s assistance with [xyz], carry it on your person [either in your pocket or as jewelry] and simply invite its wisdom.

This is great if you need more physical support or if you’d like more active, ongoing support. For example, you might carry hematite in your pocket throughout the day if you had trouble staying grounded. Or, you might consider wearing an aquamarine necklace if you wanted ongoing support for the throat chakra in building trust, ease, and the courage to speak your truth. If you’ve been working on an affirmation using a gemstone mala, continuing to wear your beads throughout the day is a great way to extend the benefit of your practice. Any stone is a good candidate for carrying on your person.

Sleep with Your Crystal

2008-04-12 Freilichtmuseum Detmold (12)This would be another largely subconscious practice of working with gemstones, but no less effective! Just as you would carrying a stone, you’d always start by clearing your stone energetically, setting your intention for working with the ally, and welcoming its support. Reasons to sleep with your stone may include to reduce nightmares, to protect your energetic space while you [astrally] travel, to deepen sleep, or to invite lessons through dreamwork. (It’s helpful to keep a journal next to your bed if you’re inviting dreamwork!)

Some examples of stones that are helpful to sleep with include moonstone, rose quartz, prehnite, labradorite, and danburite. I remember when I was going through a particularly stress time in my life, I found sleeping with a huge chunk of rose quartz was the only thing that could get me to calm down enough to fall asleep. What a gift!

Meditate on Your Ally

Labradorite detailAll stones make for a great meditation partner! We can consciously meditate on stones to better under their way of being and medicine. We can also meditate with our crystal spirit guide in order to see our experience more clearly in times of doubt or confusion. Lastly, some meditate with stones simply to improve their psychic and mental activity. Remember to always clean your stones and set your intention before meditating. You can connect with eyes open or closed, gazing into the stone or simply holding the stone in your hands as you slip into the astral plane for guidance.

This method of working with stones, I’d say, is better for folks whose extrasensory perception is more developed. In my experience, working with stones in this manner is not unlike lucid dreaming in which even inanimate matter can speak and point to insight. You do not need a physical stone to meditate on a crystal ally; however, I have found a direct physical connection does deepen meditation and learning. Stones that aid with insight are particularly great to meditate with, such as clear quartz, labradorite, dumortierite, or fluorite.

Take an Elixir

This would be an internal method of stimulating change, by using a gem essence or elixir. This is essentially a ‘decoction’ of the stone, either directly or indirectly. I don’t recommend folks try making their own without proper training as some gemstones are toxic. Even when elixirs are made indirectly (e.g. placing a toxic stone in a glass container that is then placed in the water that will later be consumed), the medicine is quite strong. For this reason, I’d suggest sticking to very few remedies from a reliable source or asking a qualified professional for their recommendation.

Thank Your Crystal Ally

Love propels the universe. If you’ve benefited from working with a stone, let it know. In the world of energy work, appreciation goes a long way!

Has there been a stone whose wisdom has been particularly meaningful for you? How did it find you? I welcome your story in the comments section!

Peacock Animal Totem
Energy Work, Reiki

Animal Spirit Guides: How and Why to Work with an Animal Ally

“All things on Earth Mother and all things in the Universe are capable of being Spirit Guides. Why? Because the Spirit of the Creator is in all things.” Source: Manataka American Indian Council

Peacock Animal Totem
What’s an Animal Ally?

What a great question! Some would say that an animal spirit guide is the same as a power animal or animal totem. They’re not. If you’re not Native, the terms and ideas of “power animals,” “animal totems” and “spirit animals” do not apply. For us, we can think of it like inspiration – the mirror of qualities within us ready to be birthed, or released– an invitation to expand our understanding of ourselves and the great unknown. It may be interesting to learn the Manataka differentiate between animal allies, naming those that come into our life as a:

  • Messenger guide
  • Shadow animal guide
  • Journey animal guide
  • Life animal guide

Depending on how long an animal ally’s support is needed and in what way — through mirror or contrast — an animal inspiration may be considered to be any one of these four types of guides.

How do Animal Allies Show up?

During Reiki sessions, it’s not unusual for me to call in a guide for clients. This is especially true when we are navigating self-limiting and outdated thought patterns and beliefs. I might start with feeling out, does the kind of guidance needed feel like plant, mineral, or animal? Other times, I might just ask for an animal specifically. If animal medicine is what’s most helpful, an animal ally will arrive. It never ceases to amaze how eloquently they embody and mirror what is needed!

Some folks find their animal inspiration simply shows up, and keeps coming up. Perhaps you keep seeing red-tailed hawks, or people keep mentioning them to and around you. You finally think, “Hm! What is it about red-tailed hawks??” Then you might go online and find an article like this on Red-Tailed Hawk Alliance.

Lady Bug Power Animal

Learn about Your Animal Spirit Guide

When an animal guide shows up, the medicine they offer is their way of being. Our job is to listen, to watch, to study, to embody their medicine. What do you notice about this animal’s physical nature? Emotional nature? Social behavior? Think about it like a scientific study. Here’s a sample of questions Home Science Tools suggests when exploring lady bug, for example:

  • Where did you find the most ladybugs? Were they on leaves, on tree bark, in the grass, on flowers, or somewhere else?
  • Were they in groups or by themselves?
  • Based on where you found your ladybugs, what kind of home do you think a ladybug would like? Describe it or draw a picture of it.
  • Did you see any ladybugs eating? What were they eating?
  • What can ladybugs do to protect themselves? Do they have places to hide?
  • Do ladybugs have wings? Can they fly? How far do you think they can fly?
  • Do all of your ladybugs have the same number of spots? What do you think their spots are for?
  • What color are your ladybugs? Why is that a good color for them?
  • How many legs do they have? Do you notice anything special about their legs?
  • What do their heads look like? Do they have eyes? Do they have antennae?

In addition to reading about the animal’s physical nature, I’ll also often google, “[name of animal] animal totem” to get a good list of impressions and current appreciation of an animal’s medicine. This is not to say that someone else’s experience is ‘right,’ or even the right interpretation for you. So, rather than thinking of this information gathering process as ‘truth’ gathering, I invite you to think of it as an exploration of ways of being. What resonates for you? What in what you’ve discovered feels supportive, inspiring and opening to you? Go with it! All the other stuff? Don’t worry about it!

Reflect on Your Animal Ally

After information gathering, you might imagine shape-shifting into your animal. For example, were you working with ladybug, what would it feel like to shrink down, feel all these new legs, your antennae, hard shell, to flap your wings, etc? Notice what doing so changes about your breathing, your posture, emotions, and thoughts. Remember, what you’re exploring is a new way of being; so have fun with it! See what it’s like to break out of old habits and try something different, even if only for five or ten minutes. Once you get a baseline for how you might feel differently incorporating this ally’s medicine; then you might recall that experience in different situations. For example, how might you respond differently at work if you were living lady bug medicine? What about at home? etc.

It can help to keep pictures around of your animal spirit guide to remind you of its medicine and your intention to expand your experience. It’s easy to get wallpaper for your smartphone lock screen or for your desktop that features your animal. You can also print some images out to put around your home or office. Every time you see your ally, you reinforce your connection to the medicine.

Thank your Animal

As with anything or anyone, it benefits all to share appreciation. This might look like donating time or energy towards a cause working to protect or support your animal ally. Googling “[name of animal] conservation” should give you some great starting points for this. You might also consider offering a personal, heart-felt thank you at the end of meditations with your animal, or before bed; wishing all beings be well, all beings be happy.

nonviolent communication-empathy (NVC)
Book Review, Self-Care

Learning NVC: The best decision I almost didn’t made

“All that has been integrated into NVC [Nonviolent Communication]  has been known for centuries about consciousness, language, communication skills, and use of power that enable us to maintain a perspective of empathy for ourselves and others, even under trying conditions.” — Marshall B. Rosenberg, Phd

nonviolent communication-empathy (NVC)

Would NVC really be useful for me?

I was like most people the first time I heard about NVC. I heard, “Nonviolent Communication,” and thought, “That’s nice… for you.” Most people figure they’re (mostly) not violent, so why bother spending time learning how to be communicate nonviolently? And like most people, I passed on it the first time a friend invited me along to her practice group. It wasn’t until I moved a thousand miles from anyone I knew, and had ‘nothing better’ to do with my time, did I decide to go to my first practice group in Taos, NM. Nine years later, I realize learning NVC was the best decision I almost didn’t make– for my peace of mind, my health, and for my relationships and interactions with any and all human beings. It’s now one of the techniques I recommend to patients most regularly — that’s how big of an impact its had on my life.

How does practicing NVC help?

Increased Peace of Mind

Probably the biggest insight I’ve gained from Nonviolent Communication, also known as Compassionate Communication, is the understanding that everything we do, and everything we feel, is a reflection of our needs being or not being met. That means there is no [true] emotion that is too ‘unreasonable.’ There is no action too ‘egregious,’ or person too ‘evil’ for either. With no perceived demons, there can be peace of mind. In today’s political climate, holding this perspective is an invaluable tool for staying present, open and engaged.

Increased Wellbeing

Over the years I’ve been practicing, I think the biggest paradigm shift for me was to learn that in NVC: Having needs doesn’t make someone ‘needy.’ What if how you felt really mattered, and was perfectly acceptable? You got it. What if you simply needed what you needed, and that was OK? You got it. What if, out of this understanding, you could come to care for yourself — for what you really needed — without shame, guilt, or fear? You got it! Talk about a huge weight lifted! Nonviolent Communication is such a gift to one’s own wellbeing precisely because it separates our needs from our strategies [to get those needs met]. That means, you don’t have to change how you or someone else feels or needs to be able to be healthy and happy. Instead by listening to what we need, we can seek out the supportive conditions to our health and wellbeing. Mind-blowing, I know!

Heartfelt Connection

Once we’ve learned how to be open to the seemingly ‘unacceptable’ within ourselves and our world, the ultimate goal of Nonviolent Communication is to be able to connect with others from the heart. Could you imagine what the world would be like if everyone knew, and treated one another in such a way, that “everyone’s voice matters, and what is alive for each is sacred“? It’s no surprise NVC is used all around the world to settle everything from domestic to political disputes. It’s practiced by all types of folks in prisons, schools, health care, law, and social services.

Don’t let the name fool you

The biggest hurdle to Nonviolent Communication tends to be the name. Once you realize it’s not really about communication at all – but about how we connect with ourselves and others, you realize there is no self talk, no small talk, or conflict in which NVC doesn’t apply. There are few tools so vastly impactful!

Want to get started?

Awesome! Check out the Center for Nonviolent Communication‘s website. For a brief introduction to the work, I encourage you to read John Cunningham’s booklet, “Compassionate Communication and Empathy’s Awakening.” For anyone interested in self study, I’d recommend getting both founder Marshall Rosenberg’s book, Nonviolent Communication, and the accompanying workbook by Lucy Leu. For folks in Seattle interested to practice in a group setting, I’ll be leading a workshop covering the first eight chapters of Marshall Rosenberg’s book come March. I would love to see you there! I encourage you to register early as there are limited seats.


Seed Cycling for an Irregular Period
Chinese Herbs & Supplements, Self-Care

What can you do about an irregular period?

What’s causing your irregular period?

If you’ve ever searched online for treatment options to regulate the menses, most sites list few options: hormonal therapy and/or possibly nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication. Well, I’m happy to say, for many women, these are not your only options. A lot of women can regulate an irregular period with seed cycling at home and/or Chinese medicine support. Before you can figure out truly what your options are, however, it’s important to have your particular situation assessed by a medical professional. The causes of an irregular period can vary significantly; and depending on the severity of your condition, home remedies may not be advisable.
Seed Cycling for an Irregular Period


Will seed cycling help?

Largely promoted by Naturopaths, seed cycling is a method of naturally regulating the hormones through diet. It’s not a traditional Chinese medicine practice; but I have seen it benefit many women. Typically folks are encouraged to ‘seed cycle’ for three to four months before the period is expected to regulate. To learn more about this home remedy, I’d suggest reading, “Seed Cycling for Hormone Balance – Gentle Ways to Restore Normal,” and/or “Seed Cycling for Hormonal Balance.”

What about Chinese medicine?

Whereas seed cycling divides the cycle into two phases of treatment, Chinese medicine actually considers a cycle to have about four phases of treatment. This may include Chinese herbs, acupuncture, moxibustion and/or dietary therapy. Our treatment principles will vary depending on these four phases:

Days 1-4: Regulate the qi and blood

goji berries for bpa-induced reproductive damageDuring this phase, we want everything to run smoothly. When the blood or qi is stagnant, we can experience more blood clots, cramps, or breast tenderness. To counter this, we can use herbs and acupuncture focused on moving the blood and qi.

Days 5-12: Nourish blood and yin

After the period, we want to replenish the body’s lost resources. When we are blood deficient, we experience more fatigue, poor concentration, and unrestful sleep. As such, it’s important during this phase to nourish the blood and body’s viscous fluids.

Days 13-16: Regulate qi and blood

If you’re someone whose ovulation is delayed, we would want to reinforce your body’s battery, or “yang,” as well as move the qi and blood during this phase. At ovulation the body is making a big shift from estrogen production to progesterone. By regulating the qi and blood we help make that a smooth transition.

Walnuts for healthy spermDays 17-25: Warm and tonify yang

At and after ovulation, we want the body’s temperature to warm up. You’ll notice your body basal temperature should go up about 0.3-0.5 degrees during this phase. If a woman’s yang is insufficient, she’ll find her lower abdomen can be cold to the touch, she’ll have a slow rise to her luteal phase and tends to have clots almost black in color. In Chinese medicine, we can use warming foods, medicinals, and moxa to support this phase.

It’s important to note that, for some women, too much heat can cause an irregular period. In that case, we wouldn’t want to warm during this phase, but rather support the overall cooling of her system. Too much heat could present as a shorter cycle.

Where do you go from here?

If you haven’t already, in addition to seeing your ob/gyn, I’d encourage you to start tracking your body basal temperature. Get a second opinion on your options by seeking a consultation with a Chinese medicine practitioner. The earlier in life you regulate your hormones, the easier it is to avoid pregnancy when desired, to increase chances of pregnancy when desired, and to smoothly navigate later life changes. It’s worth it!

Acupuncture, Self-Care

Acupressure and Foods to Treat Morning Sickness

 Acupressure for Morning Sickness

Self-Care for Morning Sickness

Thankfully, Chinese medicine has quite a bit to say about treating nausea. (Did you know it’s so effective, most insurances reimburse for acupuncture treatment of morning sickness and nausea from chemotherapy?) Some of my favorite points to use with moms during pregnancy include:

Ren-22 (天突, Celestial Chimney)

This point is located at the very base of the throat, just above the sternum.

Pericardium-6 (內關, Inner Gate)

Use your one hand to locate this point on the opposite arm. You’ll find the point between two major tendons roughly 2 inches up from the wrist crease on the inside of the forearm. The exact distance equals the width of your index, middle and rings fingers when measured across the knuckles furthest from the body.

Kidney-6 (照海, Shining Sea)

You’ll find this point in a depression just under the high point of the ankle bone on the inside of the foot.

How to Do Acupressure

It’s best to see your acupuncturist first to ensure you’re stimulating the correct point. Once you’ve got it, you’ll want to stimulate both sides. Massage gently at the point for a few minutes, using your intention to imagine you and your baby coming into harmony and alignment. Imagine all stress being released with the out breath and support coming in on the in breath. You can even couple with an affirmations like, “I love knowing my baby and I are safe.” “Every day it becomes easier to trust the process of life.” “Everything in my life takes place in perfect timing.”

foods to clear heat: watermelonFoods to Reduce Morning Sickness

Beyond self-acupressure, foods are, of course, the most effective home remedy for morning sickness. I encourage you to read the article from Karen Hurd as to why pulses (aka beans) are your best friend right now. In Chinese medicine, we have largely two patterns that fit the symptom of morning sickness. One is Spleen-Stomach deficiency (see: “Deficiency” column in table); and the other of Liver heat or stagnancy overacting on the Stomach (see: “Excess” column in table). Your acupuncturist/herbalist should be able to tell you which category better suits your needs if it’s not readily apparent to you looking at the below presentations.

Spleen-Stomach Deficiency

Symptoms of deficiency include vomiting of watery fluids (may have undigested food, no particular smell or taste), poor appetite, and fatigue.

Liver Excess Overacting on Stomach

Symptoms of Liver excess include vomiting with bitter or sour taste, sour belching, strong thirst, a feeling of restriction through the side ribs, headaches (largely one-sided), dizziness and irritability.

[table id=13 /]

Need more help?

If you need more help in getting relief, consider coming in for acupuncture. In addition to treating nausea and vomiting, acupuncture can also help relieve back pain, headaches, insomnia and depression during pregnancy.


Breathing Techniques for Stress Reduction
Energy Work, Reiki, Self-Care

Breathing Techniques for Stress Reduction and Energy Work

“Breathing is massively practical,” says Belisa Vranich, a psychologist and author of the book ‘Breathe,’ …It’s meditation for people who can’t meditate.” –Source: NYTimes.com

Breathing Techniques for Stress Reduction[wproto_divider style=”gap”]What I’m Reading: Breathing Techniques for Stress Reduction

NYT article, “Breathe. Exhale. Repeat: The Benefits of Controlled Breathing

Author’s Key Points

Breath: An Essential of Energy Work

Did you know controlled breathing is also an important part of energy work? In qi gong, breath is considered the second of three essentials to energy work practice. As far back as 168 BCE the Chinese had already been documenting breathing techniques for health (see: 卻穀食氣, Que Gu Shi Qi). Of course, it’s not just breathing for breathing’s sake that makes the practice essential. It’s about integrating the body-mind-spirit through breath, intention and movement/posture. I love this quote from a pupil’s Qi Gong Master on the subject, “movement without breath integration has limited health benefits and practice without mind is a waste of time.”

Energy Work Breathing Techniques

Countless ‘schools’ of energy work also employ mindful breathing techniques to facilitate the shift into altered states of consciousness. Coupled with intention, the breath can also direct different energies into the body (such as Heavenly energy, Earth energy, or the Rays, etc). In Reiki, we regularly use the breath to move Reiki energy through more powerfully. We can blow Reiki symbols into the auric bodies and/or chakras; and/or we can channel Reiki through the breath when we ‘beam’ Reiki into the aura. If you’re interested in exploring the world of energy work and breathing techniques, here are some starting places for you:

Set Your Compass, then Breathe

You can learn to breathe and to breathe mindfully; but to what end? Without a compass setting for your practice, meaningful progress won’t be far in my experience. This is where studying with a teacher or within a system can be helpful if not essential. This is also why I like to teach energy work as a hybrid course with Reiki. In my opinion, it is not enough to know we can effect change with intention and practice. We also need to know why we want to do so. What are we hoping to co-create in this world through our words, actions, and exchanges? It’s this rectification of paradigm, I believe, that facilitates the necessary internal shift(s) that move us towards a more meaningful and peace-filled life.

Why and when do you breathe mindfully?

Has mindful breathing helped you in your life? How? I’d love to hear about it the comments. (PS there’s an excellent version of the Mindfulness of Breathing practice on the Insight Timer for anyone with that iPhone/iPad app, “Anapanasati Breathing Meditation,” by the Samahita Thera Forest Sangha.)

Forcing positive thoughts

Why forcing positive thinking won’t make you happy

“…emotions like sadness, guilt, grief and anger are beacons for our values. We don’t get angry about stuff we don’t care about. We don’t feel sad or guilty about stuff we don’t care about. If we push these emotions away, we are choosing not to learn about ourselves. We are choosing to ignore our values and what is important to us.” Source: A Harvard psychologist explains why forcing positive thinking won’t make you happy – The Washington Post

Forcing positive thoughts

What I’m reading on Positive Thinking

Article: “A Harvard psychologist explains why forcing positive thinking won’t make you happy,” Washington Post

Article’s Key Points

  • The “tyranny of positivity” is leading to a (largely) fundamentally-avoidant cultural dialogue
  • Emotions are “beacons for our values,” including our sadness, guilt and anger
  • Pushing away [negative] thoughts and emotions only serves to have them come back magnified
  • “…emotional agility is a skill set that builds on our ability to face our emotions, label them, understand them and then choose to move forward deliberately.”

What about Law of Attraction and Positive Thinking?

In energy work, we talk a lot about the importance of positive thinking when it comes to applying the Law of Attraction (i.e. the world reflects back what we project). The idea is if we are to attract what we want, we have to project and feel what we want. A lot of folks confuse this with forcing positive thinking, and positive emotion. But there’s a huge difference between forcing positive thinking/emotion and cultivating *positivity*. This is one point I’d like to clarify from the article.

The way out is through

Cultivating positive thinking: It is safe to feelSo many of my patients and students come in deeply desiring “to be rid of” what feels uncomfortable and unpleasant. They want to “get rid of” their anger, their sadness, their guilt, etc. When we force positive thinking in these cases, we stuff the unpleasant. Or, we dissociate from our being, so as not to feel the unpleasant. But what happens to the ‘unpleasant’ in these cases? It compounds, because it’s not being dealt with. Now we carry the weight of the last time we felt this unpleasantness, our resentment for having it at all, and the frustration of not having dealt with it already, etc. Multiply this compounding by each time this emotion or story arises. Each time we stuff part of our experience, or dissociate from it, it makes our negativity seem that much more real, and that much more insurmountable. But the good news is, you don’t have to get over it. You can move through it.

Feel the emotions, listen for the needs

In the system of Nonviolent Communication, emotions simply reflect needs being or not being met. They’re reflections, not entities. So, to cultivate positivity would be to hold in compassion where we feel sad, angry, guilty and afraid. To listen to what needs are not being met and to what values we hold dear. Through listening, we open the door to serving our values and needs. I see time and time again in Reiki sessions ‘negative’ emotions and thoughts simply dissolve when tended to with love and willingness to understand. This is Law of Attraction in action — being the embodiment of love, staying in the frequency of what you want.

Need help?

Sometimes we can need support to take that first step or even to persevere in the face of discomfort. Reiki can be an excellent support on this journey in helping to create a space of unconditional love and illumination. To book your local or distance treatment today, visit Black Pine Holistic Healing’s online scheduler.