Everyday Mindfulness – A Book Review

Everyday Mindfulness: 108 Simple Practices to Empower Yourself and Transform Your Life

By Melissa Steginus

Granger, IN: TKC Publishing.Com  2020

242 pages

Meditation is vital because “it helps us to know ourselves. . . . The reason that people harm other people, the reason that the planet is polluted and people and animals are not doing so well these days is that individuals don’t know or trust or love themselves enough.”[i]  If the American Tibetan Buddhist and ordained nun, Pema Chödrön, is correct about the connection between harming people, the planet and animals and knowing, trusting and loving oneself, then every person on the planet is called to dive deeply into self-awareness in order to uplift the world.

Everyday Mindfulness, by coach and wellness specialist Melissa Steginus, is a carefully mapped journey toward self-knowing that tours the realms of the physical, emotional, rational and spiritual aspects of self.  This 108-day expedition also visits the occupational arena of managing time and energy and the land of networking to deepen our sense of belonging.  Every day, the excursion presents a five-minute exercise that includes a brief overview, a suggested practice, and reflection questions that unearth deeper awareness.  As the trail meanders through each territory, it occasionally winds back on itself to expand or strengthen the reader’s experience. 

Written for “anyone who wants to live with greater awareness and intention” (Foreword), Everyday Mindfulness delivers a great diversity of methods for self-reflection.  It offers a good starting point for all who are ready to embark on the path of self-knowing.  It provides a well-laid-out route that builds momentum as it establishes a habit of self-reflection that can carry the reader forward into a personal practice once the 108-day adventure comes to an end.  The journey charted in Everyday Mindfulness deepens and expands each one who travels this path toward self-knowing.  If Pema Chodron is correct, when we know, trust and love ourselves enough, we will be able to uplift the world.

[i] 5 Teachings of Pema Chödrön from Lion’s Roar magazine& Shambala Publications. p. 6.  Free download available at https://www.lionsroar.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/PemaChodronPrimer2.pdf.

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Solstice: The Dawning of a New Cycle

The Winter Solstice on Friday, December 21 represents the turning point in the sun’s journey from the shortening to the lengthening of daylight hours.  In the days leading to and following the Winter Solstice, we have the opportunity to connect with the wisdom of the sun.  Today’s post offers a brief description of sun qualities, poetic excerpts about the sun, some reflection questions to support the dawning of a new cycle in your life and an announcement that this is my final blog post due to a newly emerging cycle in my life.

Sun Qualities

The sun brings light and life.  It energizes us, fires us up and inspires us.  Sun qualities correspond with the spiritual power behind the sun.  As a consequence, the sun becomes a symbol for Divine Source.

Poetic Excerpts

Numerous poems express the power of the sun.  Hafiz an ancient Persian poet, wrote:

And still, after all this time,

The sun never says to the earth,

“You owe me.”

Look what happens with

A love like that,

It lights the Whole Sky.1

A poem attributed to Veronica A. Shoffstall (“even though there is no conclusive evidence as to whom exactly is the author of this poem”2) reminds us that:

After a while you learn that even sunshine

burns if you get too much.

The Book of Runes pays homage to the sun with these words:

You who are the source of all power

Whose rays illuminate the whole world

Illuminate also my heart

So that it, too, can do your work.3

Reflection Questions

During this season of the Winter Solstice,  you might want to pause and reflect on the Sun in relation to emerging cycles in your life.

What do you want to bring to life during this new Sun cycle?

Are there any qualities of the Sun that you want to cultivate as the daylight hours lengthen?

How might you bring more light to:

  • your thoughts and emotions?
  • your relationships?
  • your work?

The New Cycle Dawning in My Life

I am experiencing a new cycle dawning in my life.  Recently, a member of my extended family had an accident that created a dramatic need for assistance.  As a result, I am reorganizing my life in order to respond to the high level of need.  I am letting go of many activities and areas where I make contributions to others.  I am also creating space for stillness and quiet so that I have the resources I need to provide assistance.  One of the changes I am making is to discontinue posting a monthly blog.  I am grateful for your participation as a reader in this community dedicated to soul work.  As I say, “Goodbye,” I share with you my two favorite resources for sustaining spiritual, mental, emotional and physical health and well-being:

The Mastering Alchemy Website offers a free monthly webinar that raises consciousness and offers tools for navigating the rapid changes we are experiencing at this time in humanity’s evolution.  The December webinar will be on December 20 and is titled, “December Solstice – A Gift, the Freedom to Choose.”  Recordings of all webinars are available in the free webinars section of the website library.  https://masteringalchemy.com/decsolsticefreedom

The renown healer, Donna Eden, offers a free monthly newsletter that provides general information and includes a minute-long video demonstrating an energy tool to support physical health and well-being.  You can sign-up to receive the newsletter by going to: http://www.innersource.net/em/

Blessings to you as you continue your journey.  May your new cycle be filled with peace, joy and an abundance of all good things!

1 goodreads website. (2018). https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/337355-and-still-after-all-this-time-the-sun-never-says

2 Wanis, P. (2016).  You Learn, After a While, Comes the Dawn. https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/337355-and-still-after-all-this-time-the-sun-never-says

3 Blum, R. (1982). The Book of Runes. NY: St. Martin’s Press.

image: Sunrise over Elliot Bay



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Keep Your Energy Flowing with Sound


Today’s blog continues last month’s theme of keeping energy flowing, like oil on canvas.  Moving beyond the tools developed by Donna Eden and her husband, this post examines how sound influences energy.  It provides an overview of sound, describes the influence of sound on the physical, mental, emotional and energetic bodies and introduces the healing properties of Tibetan Singing Bowls.


An Overview of Sound

Sound is a vibration that travels as a wave through a medium such as air, water or a solid, including our bodies.  The ears receive the waves and the brain processes the information.  At the same time, the pulsations penetrate the body, vibrate the cells, organs, bodily fluids and tissues, activate emotions, influence brain activity and stimulate the chakras.  Unpleasant noises cause stress while harmonious sounds, like music, soothe us.

The Physical Body

In terms of noise, the body reacts to sudden or startling sounds when the brain releases cortisol and triggers the fight/flight/freeze response.  In terms of harmonious sounds, there is evidence that listening to music is associated with an increase in immunity-boosting antibodies and cells that protect against bacteria.[i]  Depending on the style being played, music can either calm or energize the body.  Beats activate motor areas of the brain and propel our bodies to move spontaneously to the rhythm.  Disc jockeys frequently play music that throbs at 120 or more beats per minute to elevate each dancer’s heart rate, build energy and create a sense of excitement.

The Emotional Body

Sounds from nature, such as bird songs or a bubbling stream, generate calm feelings while the pounding of a jackhammer creates stress.  When listening to music, people sometimes choose a song to match their current emotional state and other times prefer to stimulate a different mood.  Music enriches both possibilities.  Researchers studying the relationship between music and mood have found that frenetic and harsh classical pieces stir up feelings of uneasiness and anxiety within the listener while low-energy songs significantly decrease systolic blood pressure.[ii]

The Mental Body

Listening to music boosts brain activity.  The Be Brain Fit website reports findings from numerous studies investigating mental benefits associated with listening to music.[iii]  The cited studies suggest that:

  • background music enhances performance on cognitive tasks, improves accuracy and enables the completion of repetitive tasks more efficiently
  • software developers produced better work more efficiently when listening to music
  • surgeons worked faster and more accurately when listening to music while operating
  • music, whether taught in or outside of school, helps students improve language development and test scores, and increase brain connectivity and spatial intelligence
  • for seniors, music protects against memory problems and cognitive decline

It’s never too late to receive brain benefits from listening to music.

The Energetic Body

The chakras are centers in the body’s energy field.  They relate to and interact with the physical body.  Sound is one of the many characteristics associated with the seven major chakras in the body.  Figure 1 lists the pitch, vowel and mantra syllable associated with each chakra.

Crown B B eee Me Ah

or silence

Ajna A E aye Say Om go
Throat G A eye I Ham at
Heart F D ah Father Yam at
Solar Plexus E G oh Go Ram at
Sacral D C ooo You Vam at
Root C F uh Up Lam at

Figure 1. Sounds Associated with the Seven Major Chakras

The Healing Properties of Tibetan Singing Bowls

Tibetan Singing Bowls are made of seven metals that are melted, combined and formed into a ball which is pounded, by hand, until it takes the shape of a bowl.  Striking the bowl produces a rich, complex tone consisting of a specific, dominant pitch with multiple overtones.  This unity of a single tone from the diversity of many metals creates great power that can be harnessed to soothe and heal your physical body, emotions, mind and spirit.

The sound waves from the struck bowl penetrate the body, vibrate your various cells and organs, and bring all aspects of your physicality into harmonious alignment.  Think of a rowing crew.  The more synchronized their sculling, the greater the power produced with each stroke.  Similarly, the more the parts of your body align with each other, the greater the amount of energy available to activate and maintain optimal health and well-being.  Furthermore, the bowls create a resonant coherence that quiets the mind, calms the emotions and smooths the energy field surrounding the body.

A sound bath with Tibetan Singing Bowls can reduce stress, improve concentration, reduce blood pressure, stimulate life force flow in the body, improve immunity, harmonize the chakras, synchronize the brain hemispheres and enhance creativity.[iv]  Why not treat yourself to a sound bath?  Your well-being is worth it!

For those who live on the Kitsap Peninsula or in the Greater Seattle area, I encourage you to experience the healing, harmonizing sensations of an hour-long Sound Bath with Tibetan Singing Bowls:

Bainbridge Island – 11 AM, Sunday, Dec. 16 at WillowTree Market at 169 Winslow Way NE.

Seattle – 7 PM, Wednesday, February 6 at my home in northeast Seattle.

For more information or to register, contact me at info@catherinegrytting.com.

[i] Ashford University Staff. (2017). How Does Music Affect Your Brain? Student Lifestyle. Ashford University. June 7, 2017. https://www.ashford.edu/online-degrees/student-lifestyle/how-does-music-affect-your-brain

[ii] Kim, M. (2015). The Secret Math Behind Feel-Good Music. The Washington Post. Oct. 30, 2015. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2015/10/30/the-mathematical-formula-behind-feel-good-songs/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.1c5e2d564c17

[iii] Alban, D. (2018). How Music Affects the Brain.  Be Brain Fit. Better Mind.  Better Life Website. Updated Nov. 15, 2018. https://bebrainfit.com/music-brain/

[iv] Shrestha, S. (2009). How to Heal with Singing Bowls: Traditional Tibetan Healing Methods. Boulder, CO: Sentient Publications.

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Keep Your Energy Flowing in Relationships

In September I focused on the concept of keeping energy moving, like oil on canvas, as I introduced Donna Eden’s Daily Routine to support the physical body.  Today I am expanding this perspective by exploring energy flow within relationships.  I will describe the energetics of relationships and identify tools to unscramble your energy when you experience a conflict or relationship challenge.

Energetics of Relationships

Since humanity evolved within tribes, the nervous system developed under conditions in which survival depended upon the protection and shared responsibilities of tribal members.  As a result, the reptilian portion of the brain perceives conflict and relationship challenges as a threat to survival.  Even in modern times, when you argue with a loved one, the reptilian brain activates the body’s fight/flight/freeze response.  Blood flows away from the brain to the heart and lungs as the body prepares to fight or flee.  Hormones surge through your system.  Your perceptual focus narrows.  “Energetically, the auric field and the chakras become tight like a tense muscle, mobilizing you into emergency mode.”[i]  These conditions cause your energies to scramble and you lose access to many of the skills and capacities available when you are free from stress.  The more deeply we care about the person with whom we are interacting, the more strongly the stress response gets activated and the more muddled our energies become.

Tools to Unscramble Your Energy

One of the quickest ways to unscramble your energy is to use tools described in The Energies of Love by Donna Eden and her husband David Feinstein.  They published both a book and a DVD on this subject and they developed a STAR Pact that teaches people how to use Energy Medicine to keep their relationships thriving.  Although it is written for intimate couples, I find that these tools effectively unscramble my energy in any situation that activates my fight/flight/freeze response.  STAR is an acronym for a conflict-intervention process which includes the following four steps: Stop, Tap, Attune and Resolve.[ii]

The first step of the STAR Pact is to Stop.  This means that as soon as you recognize that your loving connection has been interrupted, that you are caught in a downward-spiraling pattern or that your energies are scrambled, you stop whatever you are doing and realign yourself.  Proceeding with jumbled energies invites an escalation of problems.  It is like watching television on a static-filled screen.  The static interrupts the clear flow of information and causes gaps in understanding, misinterpretations and erroneous conclusions.  This step is more difficult than it seems because you already have momentum carrying you along your previously established pathway of interacting.  Therefore, when you see that you have slipped into scrambled or negative energy, Stop.  Then proceed to the next step.

Tap means that you do The 4 Thumps exercise that you may already know from Eden’s Daily Routine.  This step grounds you, gets your energy flowing in the correct direction and centers your energies.

Attune means that you complete six additional exercises to realign your energies.  These tools remove the static in your energy field as they create space for your energy to flow freely, help your energy cross over, calm the fight/flight/freeze response and open your heart.  To Attune, do:

  • The Crown Pull
  • The Cross-Over Shoulder Pull
  • The Wayne Cook Posture
  • The Triple Warmer Smoothie
  • The Triple Warmer/Spleen Hug and
  • The Breath/Belly/Heart Technique

This set of techniques is from the DVD[iii] and differs, slightly, from the items listed in the Energies of Love book.  I prefer the DVD version because of the focus on the Triple Warmer meridian which relates to the fight/flight/freeze response.

If you have learned the Daily Routine that was introduced last month, you will recognize half of these exercises.  If you need a review, The 4 Thumps, Crown Pull, Cross-Over Shoulder Pull and Wayne Cook Posture are described in Eden’s Daily Routine which can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Di5Ua44iuXc.

To see a demonstration of:

Although I could not find a demonstration of the Breath/Belly/Heart Technique, it is easy to describe.  First, bring your awareness to your breath.  Then soften your belly.  Finally, place your hands over your heart as you gaze, lovingly, at your partner.  If you are unable to gaze lovingly, return to The 4 Thumps and then repeat the Attune process.

Engaging in these steps balances and stabilizes your energy so that you are calm, coherent and steady enough to move to Step 4 and Resolve the original concern.

The STAR Pact keeps your energy flowing in your relationships, like oil on canvas.  While every relationship is unique, in general, when you know how to maintain balance and coherence in your most intimate partnership you also have the skills to competently navigate all your relationships.

[i] Eden, D. and Feinstein, D. (2014). The Energies of Love. NY: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin. p. 83.

[ii] Eden, D. and Feinstein, D. (2014). Ibid., p. 80.

[iii] Eden, D. and Feinstein, D. (2017). The Energies of Love DVD. Studio: Innersource.

Image: Auric Fields of a Couple in Love from Light Emerging by Brennan, B. (1993). NY: Bantam Books. Figure 14-1. Art by Thomas J. Schneider and Joan Tartaglia.


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Keep Your Energy Flowing This Fall

I recently read the fictional mystery Maise Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear, in which Maise’s mentor advised that when Dobbs reports her findings to a client, it is best to “[k]eep the person moving, in the way that an artist keeps the oil moving when he is painting.  Don’t give them a chance to dry up, don’t allow the client to shut you out.” (p. 51)

As an energy healer, I resonate with the image of keeping someone (or something) moving, like oil on canvas, to prevent drying up and shutting out.  Inspired by this quote, today’s blog offers reflections about keeping your energy moving to prevent the physical body from drying up.  This post begins with a description of the drying or vata energy associated with fall.  Then it illustrates the value of including an energetic perspective when focusing on the body.  Finally, it discusses a Daily Routine developed by the internationally recognized leader of Energy Medicine, Donna Eden.

Fall: The Season of Vata

Vata is a concept found in Ayurvedic medicine.  It is characterized by properties of dryness, cold and movement.  Because autumn is dry, cool and windy (creating erratic movement), fall is considered a vata season.  During this time of year there is a natural tendency for our organs, joints, skin and other aspects of the body to dry out.  Keeping energy flowing helps counter this tendency.

The Value of an Energetic Perspective

It can be very beneficial to include an energetic perspective in our care of the body.  For example, I have a client who injured herself in a skiing accident five years ago.  Although she did not break any bones, she suffered tissue, muscle and ligament damage.  Unfortunately, she continued to experience pain long after her body repaired the physical damage.

Knowing that energy practices support the physical dimension, I found a way to assist my client.  Donn Eden teaches that, in response to long-term pain, the brain and body can develop an energetic habit in which pain signals continue to fire in the brain even when the stimulus has been removed.[i]  In other words, a person continues to hurt even after the body heals.  Working at an energetic level and using techniques developed by Eden, I eliminated my client’s discomfort by interrupting the energetic habit of pain.  Then I re-established the pattern of energy flow that is associated with health and well-being.  In this case, focusing on the energetic dimension provided an extremely effective approach for supporting the body.

The Physical Body

From an energetic perspective, the body’s basic needs are for energy to:

  • Flow in the correct direction
  • Cross over the central axis (moving from left to right and from right to left) and
  • Have the space it needs to flow freely

Eden has developed a Daily Routine that takes approximately 5 minutes and keeps the body’s energy flowing like oil on canvas.  While there are many ways to keep your energy flowing, Eden’s Daily Routine consists of seven short exercises specifically designed to get energy flowing in the correct direction, crossing over and creating space for it to flow freely.

Beginners respond to Eden’s Daily Routine with a variety of experiences ranging from feeling nothing at all to reporting that the body feels tingly or more alive after doing the Daily Routine.  Overtime, people generally notice a decrease in minor aches and pain and an increase in the amount of energy available for their daily activities.

To see Eden teaching the Daily Routine, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Di5Ua44iuXc

Although the video is 11 minutes, once the sequence becomes familiar, most people can complete it in about 5 minutes.

Like an artist moving oil on canvas, this fall you can keep your energy from drying out by engaging in a daily practice such as Eden’s Daily Routine.

[i] Eden. D. (1998.) Energy Medicine. New York: Tarcher/Putnam.


Image credit: Autumn Bridge by Rybson courtesy of freeimages.com


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Setting Intentions for a New Beginning

Happy New Year! 

Although the end of August may seem like an odd time for this proclamation, after 33 years of teaching, my inner rhythms match the academic calendar.  So September feels like a fresh start as I shift my energies into fall.

Every new beginning provides an opportunity to align our intentions with that which has purpose and meaning for us.  Today’s post shares a broad range of thought-provoking and heart-centered intentions from “The Magnificent Code” by Carl J. Powell.[1]  Powell is an author and speaker committed to well-being.  He writes that we can live smarter, not harder, when we remember:

To be realistic, to be in control of my response;

to have faith that everything will work out in my favor;

to take care of my body as an act of love;

to keep my eyes and ears open;

to always find the lesson;

to dream wide awake – in color;

to be honest with myself and with others;

to search for the benefit in all situations;

to free myself of ignorance and judgment;

to release myself from resentment;

to give only what I have and choose to give;

to take my time;

to be a child and to appreciate the child within;

to love without conditions or limits, to trust the process;

to eliminate procrastination, to just do the thing;

to keep myself prepared – for victory and defeat;

to search for triumph, . . .

to never, ever, ever give up;

to love and respect myself, right here, right now;

to always know that in this world I am the best me!

To truly know that

I am Magnificent, I am Powerful!

Perhaps portions of Powell’s “Magnificent Code” can support you when you set intentions for a new beginning!

[1] Powell, C. J. (2018). Setting S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Intentions: A Magnificent Plan to Live Smarter Not Harder.  Columbia, SC: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.


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Whose Voice is That? Practices to Hear Your Soul

Let’s play a listening game!  Pause for a minute and pay attention to your immediate surroundings.  Generally, the most distinctive and loudest clicks and roars dominate.  Ignore the most noticeable noises and listen more deeply to find quiet and subtle sounds.  Expand your awareness and hear the sounds coming from a greater distance.  After a few moments, contract your focus and concentrate on the gurgling and rustling within your body.

The listening game provides a framework for exploring how to hear the soul.  At the same time, we must nuance the comparison.  Rather than ignoring distracting thoughts, we want to eliminate them.  Before expanding and contracting our awareness, we must quiet the mind.  In addition, we need to we raise our vibrational level to be on the same wavelength as the soul.

This post describes three practices that help you hear the voice of your soul.  These include:

  1. a tool to eliminate, from your awareness, external voices that you have internalized
  2. activities that quiet the mind and
  3. a way to raise your vibrational level

Eliminating External Voices

Jim Self, the founder of Mastering Alchemy, developed an excellent tool for removing the thoughts of others that dominate your inner hearing.  (For an expanded discussion of this concept, go to the May 2018 post, “Whose Voice Is That? Identifying the Source of Your Thoughts.”)  Self calls this process “Exploding Roses.” [i]  You begin by removing the energy of the thought.  Then you clear-out the energetics associated with the thought, including the energy of the person who introduced the thought into your consciousness.  Finally, you call back your energy.  The rose tool consists of the following steps:

  • Picture a rose 14” in front of your third eye (the point between your eyebrows)
  • Direct the rose to draw out of your energy field the thought that does not belong to you
  • Explode the rose like fireworks
  • Put up another rose 14” in front of your third eye
  • Direct the rose to draw out of your energy field the energy of the person associated with that thought
  • Explode the rose
  • Repeat the process of putting up a rose, drawing out energy related to the thought and then exploding the rose. For example, you might direct the rose to draw out the color, sound and/or texture associated with the thought.
  • Put up a rose, direct it to clean-out the place in your body where you feel the energy of that thought/person
  • Explode the rose
  • Put up another rose
  • Direct the rose to draw your energy back from the energy field of the person associated with the thought you have just removed
  • Explode the rose
  • Take a deep breath and notice how you feel

When I explode roses, my inner space expands.  Greater spaciousness allows more room for the soul to enter my consciousness.  I also experience quiet, clarity and peace.  Quiet is needed to hear the soft whispers of the soul.  Clarity and peace are high-frequency states that align with the dimension of the soul.

Quieting the Mind

In addition to removing external voices, we must quiet the mind.  When the mind is quiet, we can more easily expand and contract our awareness.  Both seemingly opposite perspectives provide access to your deepest essence because the soul dwells in the realm of Oneness/Wholeness where both poles of duality co-exist.  There are numerous ways to quiet the mind and generally people find that some methods are more effective than others.  Three of my favorite approaches are engaging in creative endeavors, spending time in nature and practicing mindfulness.

Creative endeavors quiet the mind as they place us in the terrain of the unknown.  We enter a venue where the mind’s knowledge and experience are limitations rather than assets.  Creative interests include cooking, building models, writing, painting, photography, sculpting, performing arts such as dance, music and theater and many more pursuits that move us beyond the mind’s expertise.

Another way to quiet the mind is by spending time in nature.  This approach includes gardening, hiking, skiing, fishing, camping and other outdoor activities that engage the body along with the senses.  Being in nature has the added benefits of expanding our awareness and grounding our energy.

Practicing mindfulness is the most well-researched of the approaches to quieting the mind.  This practice involves “focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.” [ii]  One way to develop or expand mindful awareness is to link your practice to an action that is already part of your day.  For example, as you brush your teeth, purposely focus on the sensations of the toothbrush on your teeth and gums or consciously notice the taste of the toothpaste.  Acknowledge and accept the feelings and thoughts that arise and gently return your awareness to your physical sensations.  Once that habit is well-established, add another mindful moment to your day.  Over time, the mind becomes more willing to stay in the present moment rather than flitting to the past and the future.  When the mind stands still in present time, it grows quiet.

Activating and Maintaining High-Frequency Emotions

Finally, when we want to access the realm of soul, we must activate and maintain high-frequency emotions because soul consciousness is incompatible with low-frequency feelings such as anger, frustration, guilt, boredom, disappointment, worry, irritation, etc.  High-frequency emotions include peacefulness, love, gratitude and joy, to name just a few.  Consciously activating such feelings is like building a muscle that grows stronger with regular use.  Returning to the example of brushing your teeth, as you pay attention to the physical sensations, you might also recall something that makes your life more wonderful and allow appreciation to flow through your entire being, raising your vibration as you quiet your mind.

Once you have cleared away distractions, quieted your mind and raised your vibration, invite your soul to reveal itself.  Then pay attention!  Even sitting in companionable silence strengthens the relationship between you and your soul.  Gradually you will hear your soul speak.

The HeartMath Institute has developed a technique to activate a high-vibrational state called heart/mind coherence.  For more information go to the HeartMath website at https://www.heartmath.com/quick-coherence-technique/.

[i] Self, J. (2017). Exploding Roses. A Course in Mastering Alchemy: Level One. Mastering Alchemy website. https://masteringalchemy.com/content/fundamental-tools-10-exploding-roses

[ii] Google. (n.d.). Mindfulness. https://www.google.com/search?q=what+is+mindfulness&oq=what+is+mindfulness&aqs=chrome..69i57j0l5.4880j1j9&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

Listen photo by karith on Flickr.com

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Whose Voice Is That? Identifying the Source of Your Thoughts

Michelangelo’s painting of Isaiah listening to the angel at his shoulder

How do you distinguish between soul murmurs and societal sayings?  Recognizing the difference is like learning the sound of someone’s voice on the phone.  The more we pay attention, the more familiar we become with the characteristics of each voice.  At the same time, each of us is so unique that the ways you identify these voices might be very different from the suggestions offered in this post.  Be assured that there is no single, right way to decide whether you are hearing the expressions of your soul.  The following paragraphs describe markers I use to discern the origin of my thoughts.  These indicators include body sensations, emotional responses and the words that structure my inner conversation.

In terms of the body, I pay attention to my level of physical tension.  For example, information from the soul is associated with a relaxed body, a soft belly and inner spaciousness.  Societal messages cause my muscles to constrict, my belly to clench and my breathing to be interrupted or shallow.

My emotional responses range from calm to stressed.  Soul whispers accompany feelings of peace and ease.  Communications from society activate a sense of urgency along with feelings of responsibility, duty or obligation.

As I listen to my inner language, I recognize that the soul’s voice is gentle.  When I hear myself wonder about possibilities or ask questions such as “What if,” then I know I am pondering the realm of soul.  Phrases such as “I should,” “It’s time to” and “I need” inhabit the domain of society’s strictures.

While these markers provide reliable information about the source of my thoughts, I also know that certain soul sentiments create body sensations and emotional responses that are the OPPOSITE of what I have just described.  For example, soul nudges activate anxiety when they encourage me to step beyond my comfort zone.  Similarly, thoughts that reflect societal concerns can be calming when they strengthen the status quo.  Even so, if my inner witness dives beneath the surface of my initial response, then soul and societal differences match the indicators described in the first few paragraphs of this post.  In addition, when I traverse the anxiety arising from soul voicings, the apprehension propels me through the heavy atmosphere of societal norms into the lighter stratosphere of ease, well-being and joy.  In contrast, when stress originates from societal sayings, it neither dissipates nor serves as a propellent.  Instead it spins like a gerbil wheel generating movement but going nowhere.

These physical sensations and emotional responses are VERY subtle.  They are easily overlooked when I am in a hurry, focused on outer circumstances, multi-tasking, trying to figure something out or so involved in a task or process that I find it difficult to turn my attention inward.  In other words, I miss these quiet cues when I am operating in my head rather than my heart.

It is important to remember that we are infinite beings.  Therefore, our understanding of these signposts continues to change and grows more subtle as we deepen into the expansively refined dimensions of soul.  Nevertheless, the more we pay attention the more easily we recognize the soul’s voice.

Next month I will describe practices that help us hear the whispers of the soul.  If you feel like sharing your wisdom and experience on this topic, please use the comment box at the end of this post.

Michaelangelo’s Isaiah courtesy of Google

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Whose Voice Is That? Differentiating Between Society and Soul

How do you tell the difference between the song of the soul and the thoughts that echo societal messages?  Frequently, the soul murmurs to the heart while communication from the collective reverberates through the mind.  Over time, societal messages take precedence in our inner hearing.  This post examines brain wave patterns to explore how we unconsciously absorb ideas from others and replay them in our minds, drowning out the whispers of the soul.

Brain waves, like sound frequencies, are measured in cycles per second, called Hertz (Hz).  Each brain wave pattern correlates with a specific state of consciousness.  In general, the slower the frequency of your brain waves, the more relaxed you feel. While various authors designate different ranges for each classification, a Scientific American article by Educator and Management Trainer Ned Herrmann states that there are four main brainwave patterns made up of the following frequency ranges[i]:

Delta (1.5-4 Hz) – slow, high amplitude waves that generate a sense of detachment from external awareness and are present during deepest meditation and sleep

Theta (5-8 Hz) – associated with drowsiness and meditation, Theta is a gateway to learning, memory, intuition and internal signals such as dreams, imagery and information beyond our normal conscious awareness

Alpha (9-14 Hz) – quietly flowing thoughts in present time that provide a resting state for the brain

Beta (15-40 Hz) – the state of normal waking consciousness associated with focused mental activity when attention is directed toward cognitive tasks

The Brainwaves[ii]

In addition to these four states of consciousness, the brain produces fast, high frequency Gamma brainwaves (faster than 40 Hz) associated with simultaneous processing of information from different brain areas.  This state is only accessible when the mind is quiet.  Tibetan Buddhist monks have shown a correlation between Gamma and transcendental states of consciousness.

It is important to understand that the brain of a young child operates primarily in the range of Theta which is the same state activated during hypnosis.  This means that when we are children, we unconsciously absorb attitudes and beliefs from the adults in our lives, including family members, caregivers, teachers and ministers.  After taking in ideas from important adults, we replay them in our mind.  The content from the absorbed information remains accessible while the origin of these thoughts falls outside of our conscious awareness.  Therefore, these ideas seem to be our own rather than attitudes and beliefs we have adopted from others.  We rarely pause to notice which of the thoughts we think were simply accepted from others and which ones were developed by critically thinking about our own experiences and understandings of how the world works.  Consequently, the clanging gongs of other people’s ideas drown out the whispers of the soul.

In late childhood, the normal waking state of consciousness shifts from Theta to Beta.  Yet we continue to unintentionally take in outside information when we watch television and activate the relaxed, detached mental state associated with Alpha brainwaves.  Although TV shows, advertisements and news reports can express perspectives that have nothing in common with the viewpoint of the soul, when we are in Alpha, the information soaks into our awareness and blurs the distinction between our inner wisdom and outer opinions.

How do you tell the difference between the song of the soul and the inner thoughts that echo societal messages?  Next month I will describe markers I use to distuinguish between society and soul.  If you feel like sharing your wisdom and experience on this topic, please use the comment box at the end of this post.

Human Brain image from an unidentified source

[i] Herrmann, N. (2018). What Is the Function of the Various Brainwaves?  Scientific American. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-is-the-function-of-t-1997-12-22/

[ii] Herrmann, N. (1989). The Creative Brain. Minneapolis, MN: Brain Book University of Minnesota.


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Stopping the Train of Your Thoughts

How often are you able to quiet your mind and access the silence that arises when thoughts cease?  This state of mental emptiness provides many benefits.  In this post I will highlight three opportunities associated with inner tranquility:

The ability to let go

The possibility of accessing new information and

The opportunity to move in a different direction

Letting Go

When we become quiet, we interrupt or short-circuit energies that are incompatible with that state.  Gradually, the electro-magnetics that hold well-established patterns in place weaken enough that we can simply let go.

For example, a client shared an experience of arguing with her spouse about their finances.  After she described the situation, we sat for a few minutes in silence.  During the stillness she noticed how strongly she was pushing against her husband’s perspective.  Breathing into this new awareness, her tension softened enough that she was able to release her resistance.

Accessing New Information

When the mind quiets, the absence of thought creates space for new knowledge to arise.  It is as if the silence on the surface of awareness opens a doorway to information teeming beneath the surface.  In the example of my client, the quiet contributed to a softening of resistance.  It also unlocked deeper feelings of grief.  In addition, it released fear that had been too overwhelming to face when their finances changed.

Moving in a Different Direction

Paradoxically, a quiet mind allows movement in a different direction because it reverberates in stillness.  Think of a ball that has been tossed into the air.  At first, it moves upward.  Then there is a moment of pause before it begins falling back to the ground.  During that moment of pause, it is much easier to push the ball in a new direction compared to when it is moving upward or falling down.

Similarly, every aspect of our lives is in motion.  When we quiet our thoughts, we access a still point from which we can more easily initiate a new course of action.  Since our outer lives reflect our inner experience, the interior adjustments that we make from the still point eventually show-up in our attitudes, actions, relationships and experiences.

For my client, after feeling the grief surrounding all that had been lost, she could stand with her husband rather than rail against him.  She could also address her fear.  The change in her perspective provided a new platform from which she and her husband could work together to respond to their newly challenging financial situation.

Quieting the Mind

When I first began meditating, I read about an approach that has been of great assistance to me.  While I cannot remember the author, I do remember the practice:

Imagine that your thoughts are like the cars of a train.

Slow your thoughts until you can see through the gap between the cars.

As each gap passes by, gaze into the territory beyond the train of your thoughts.

If possible, pause your thoughts.

Allow your awareness to step between the cars, into the vastness beyond the train.

This is the place of emptiness where all potential resides.  This is where you can access the possibilities that emerge from inner tranquility.


Train photo by Scribblebug; flickr.com

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