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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Melting Frozen Emotions: Tapping Acupuncture Points to Access Emotional Freedom

Are you aware of the self-help tool called tapping?  For some people, this technique is as familiar as their face in the mirror.  Others have never heard of it.  If you tap regularly, today’s blog may open new possibilities for how to use it.  If you are unaware of this procedure, perhaps this post will pique your curiosity as I offer a brief overview of what it is, how it works, how it can change your life and how I have used it.

What is Tapping?

Tapping is a procedure that is also known as Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).  It loosens stuck energy by stimulating acupuncture points while focusing on specific memories, beliefs or emotions.

How Does Tapping Work?

The internationally known authority on Energy Medicine, Donna Eden, sees energy in and around the body.  “In the world according to Donna’s eyes, tapping anywhere on the body while mentally activating a troubling memory or situation has a calming effect.  She sees a ‘flare’ of energy come out from the skin when you tap on any point.  She also sees that energy ‘sink’ into the body. . . . In general, the points used in the tapping therapies produce a larger ‘flare’ than random points, and she associates this with a larger effect.” [i]  In other words, tapping calms the mind and emotions, releases stuck energy and makes that energy available to the body.

Tapping specific acupuncture points while focusing on particular thoughts, feelings or events:

  • changes brain chemistry
  • soothes the fight/flight/freeze response which allows higher-level thinking processes to engage
  • brings unconscious feelings and beliefs into conscious awareness
  • clears stuck energy
  • interrupts current patterns
  • opens possibilities and
  • establishes a new foundation from which to move forward

How Can Tapping Change Your Life?

The clinical psychologist, David Feinstein, writes that tapping promotes “greater emotional control, inner peace, and effectiveness.” [ii]  You can use it to overcome phobias, improve relationships, boost performance, change unwanted habits, reduce pain, support weight loss, increase health and well-being, enhance your enjoyment of life, alter your relationship with money, overcome unwanted emotions, align your life with your dreams and much more.  Thousands of YouTube videos demonstrate the Emotional Freedom Technique of tapping.

Some concerns like nipping a cold in the bud can be accomplished with 15 to 20 minutes of tapping as demonstrated by Beth Tuttle.[iii]  Other issues, such as changing unwanted habits can take much longer as each round of tapping prunes a branch of the problem until the root is finally uncovered and removed.

How I Have Used Tapping

I first became aware of the power of tapping in 2001 when I changed jobs.  As a classroom music teacher with more than twenty years of experience, I had frequently played piano for a variety of audiences that included students, teachers, parents and community members.  While I always felt nervous when performing, after changing jobs, my anxiety sky-rocketed.  During the first performance of the year, my body began trembling to the point that I could not lift my foot to play the pedal and my hands lost so much strength that I could not play with expression.  I knew I had to take immediate action because monthly performances were part of my job description.  I turned to the Emotional Freedom Technique and over the course of a month, I completed many rounds of tapping, each between 60 and 90 minutes long.  At my performance the following month, there was no trembling in my body.  My baseline level of nervousness was lower than before doing the tapping.  For the remaining ten years of employment, I maintained this lower level of nervousness when performing.

Most recently, I used the Beth Tuttle YouTube video, mentioned above, to eliminate a scratchy throat after being exposed to a cold.  After twenty minutes, I was able to interrupt the progression of the cold.

Tapping is an effective tool that anyone can learn to support their health and well-being.  If you want to know more about this powerful procedure, two sessions with me will give you a foundation to begin using this technique for yourself and your loved ones.  Contact me at info@catherinegrytting.com for more information.  You, too, can experience emotional freedom, improved health and enhanced well-being!

The March eletter from Donna Eden’s INNERSOURCE website includes an article titled, “Brain Scans Give Glimpse into How Tapping on Acupuncture Points Impacts the Brain: Research to be Presented at Upcoming ACEP Conference.”  Although this issue has not yet been posted to the INNERSOURCE website, if you contact me at info@catherinegrytting.com, I will forward, to you, the email that includes this article.

Electrified Heart image courtesy of freeimages.com.

[i] INNERSOURCE.  (2018).  What Donna Sees When Someone Taps.  Innersource Website.  http://www.innersource.net/em/article/333-resources/e-letter/1170-what-donna-eden-sees-when-someone-taps.html

[ii] Feinstein, D., Eden, D. and Craig, G.  (2005).  The Promise of Energy Psychology.  New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin.  p. 3.

[iii] Tuttle, B.  (2016).  EFT for a Cold (Tapping for a Cold) – YouTube.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZtBH8p3PKA

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Expanded Awareness: Perceiving Other Realms

The French philosopher, Teilhard de Chardin, reminds us that “we are not human beings having a spiritual experience.  We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” [i]  How might your life be different if you lived from the expanded perspective of your soul/spirit?  We can glimpse one aspect of this possibility by exploring the experiences of people who have perceptual abilities that are not usually available to the general population.  For example, many visionaries, artists and writers open to dimensions that enliven their creativity.  Peak performers in every field access a realm beyond our typical understanding which they name as flow or being in the zone.  I know people who sense the presence of people who have died.  Others recognize energy originating from different lifetimes.  Several colleagues communicate with animals and many more converse with angels and ascended masters.

As an energy teacher, I recognize that we can grow our consciousness and expand our perceptual abilities.  One way to open the door to other dimensions is to observe from the heart.  The Episcopal priest, Cynthia Bourgeault looks to Wisdom traditions to know what it means to see with the heart:

  1. The heart is an organ for the perception of divine purpose and beauty. It is our antenna, so to speak, given to us to orient us toward the divine radiance and to synchronize our being with its more subtle movements.
  2. The ancient Wisdom traditions . . . directly perceived that the physical world we take for our empirical, time-and-space-bound reality is encompassed in another: a coherent and powerful world of divine purpose always surrounding and interpenetrating it. . . . [I]f the heart is awake and clear, it can directly receive, radiate, and reflect this unmanifest divine Reality.
  3. The heart serves as a bridge between the mind and the body and also between our usual physical world and this invisible other realm. [ii]

The following meditation opens the eyes of the heart:

Begin by taking several breaths and focusing your awareness on your heart.  Then look around and notice your surroundings.  Let your eyes pause on one object and simply observe it.  If you notice your mind activating a thought such as a label or a judgment, take a breath, return your awareness to your heart and continue to simply observe the object.  If you notice your mind moving to the past or future, take a breath, return your awareness to this moment and continue to simply observe the object.  As you give your full attention and presence to this object, gradually let your gaze soften.  Be aware of opening your heart to take in more than the outer appearance of this object.  Deepen your awareness to encompass the Source of All Creation present within this object and within you.  Rest in this expanded awareness and allow your experience to unfold itself.  After several minutes return your awareness to the room, knowing that you have expanded your perception and created a clearer pathway to and within your heart.

Although the process of expanding awareness can be dramatic, like a quantum leap, more often it is very gradual and subtle.  Repeated practice clears the pathway.  Be curious.  When you open to new possibilities you might discover unknown horizons of awareness that make life magical.

To read more of Cynthia Bourgeault’s discussion of how Wisdom traditions view the role of the heart go to https://cac.org/blessed-pure-heart-2018-02-05/

Starry Night by van Gogh, (1889) courtesy of Google.

[i] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin Quotes. (n.d.). BrainyQuote.com. Retrieved February 19, 2018, from BrainyQuote.com Web site: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/pierre_teilhard_de_chardi_160888

[ii] Cynthia Bourgeault, The Wisdom Way of Knowing: Reclaiming an Ancient Tradition to Awaken the Heart. (Jossey-Bass: 2003), 33-35.

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