I believe that post-traumatic growth is the positive change that can happen in the wake of a traumatic event.
Even though adverse life events such as serious illness, accident or injury, abuse, bereavement or relationship breakdown can be a trigger for depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress, people are capable of finding transformation through trauma.
And here’s where the good news gets even better: my friend Jennifer Cunningham is a trauma survivor who got through cancer feeling like her identity had become all about that experience. She decided to be true to herself, take on new challenges and view life from a wider perspective and so she brought together 24 experts, including me, to share our strategies to shift from trauma to enlightenment.
I’d love for you to join us for the Post-Traumatic Enlightenment Summit. Reserve your FREE spot by clicking on this link.
We visited Integratron and experienced a sound bath. I’ve been bathed in the vibration from giant gongs before, but never had I encountered the resonance of this many—and this size—quartz crystal singing bowls.
There were roughly thirty people in attendance. Each of us lying on our backs on a comfortable mat, looking up at the domed ceiling. Once it began, many of us closed our eyes; some fell asleep.
After listening to a brief introduction, we were asked to turn off our cell phones, please not make any noise, and refrain from taking photos until the session was finished. From their website, this is a description of what takes place during the experience:
I can’t begin to express the excitement I felt when Certified Professional Coach, Sarah Jordan, invited me to be her guest to launch Season 4 of her wildly popular podcast series. This season’s focus is TAKE CARE.
If you’ve ever wondered what goes on inside the head of a transformational life coach…
If you’ve ever wondered what a coaching session might be like…
If you’ve ever wondered about the business of forgiveness…
…this podcast is for you.
In the first six minutes and forty-five seconds of this podcast, Sarah takes care of some necessary housekeeping with her regular listeners; then I jump in. She’s amazing, and I hope you’ll become part her tribe at sarahjordancpc.com.
At times we may feel small, insignificant, and unable to help when people are suffering, or there’s a catastrophe in another part of the world. But there is something we can do.
Tonglen—Tibetan for giving and receiving—is an active practice of loving-kindness; a simple act of compassion that anyone can do. Here’s how it’s done:
Sit or lie quietly in your own “inner sanctuary” and imagine someone that you want to help.
Inhale the heaviness of their energy. Breathe in the condition, emotion, or suffering of another to make space for healing and comfort within.
Exhale whatever you feel will fill them relief. Breathe out hope, strength, joy, peace of mind, love, or ease.
I took this photograph at the Boise Botanical Garden. In my mind’s eye, this is how I imagine my inner sanctuary.
Tonglen is a soothing and calming meditation that can be done by people of any spiritual tradition, or none at all. It’s a simple, non-denominational practice that acknowledges we’re all connected no matter who we are, or where we come from.
“There is a place in you where you have never been wounded, where there’s a seamlessness in you, and where there is a confidence and tranquility in you, and I think the intention of prayer and spirituality and love is now and again to visit that inner kind of sanctuary.” —John O’Donohue
Each year at this time I trim our rose canes back to half their length. Typically I wear gloves when I tackle this task — except this year. By letting my guard down, I got a tear in my thumb. After cleaning it up, I put a Band-Aid on it. Unfortunately, it hindered my typing.
That’s when I discovered New-Skin Liquid Bandage. It goes on clear and forms a protective shield — a waterproof barrier that provides me with unencumbered, full use of my thumb!
It brought to mind Captain Kirk ordering Shields Up! as the Starship Enterprise braced itself for a fiery blast from the Klingons.
“This is the Captain. Condition Yellow Alert. Phaser crews stand by. Deflector shields up. We’re going in. Peacefully, I hope. But peacefully or not, we’re going in.”
In life we have visible and invisible barriers and boundaries — protective shields — that safeguard our physical and emotional wellbeing.
No matter how well we eat, there are usually some nutritional gaps in our diet. Multivitamins and minerals are an easy and convenient way to help fill those gaps and insure that our bodies get all of the nutritional support they need every day.
There are 13 vitamins classified as either water soluble (C and B-complex) or fat soluble (A, D, E and K) each having a key role to play in our bodies.
Water Soluble Vitamins: Stored in the body for a brief period of time, water soluble vitamins are then excreted by the kidneys. The one exception is vitamin B12, which is stored in the liver. Water soluble vitamins need to be taken daily.
Fat Soluble Vitamin: Together with fat from the intestine, these vitamins are absorbed into the circulation. Any disease or disorder that affects the absorption of fat, such as celiac disease, can lead to a deficiency of these vitamins. Once absorbed into the circulation these vitamins are carried to the liver where they’re stored.
In addition to vitamins, our bodies need several minerals for the proper makeup of bone and blood, and for maintenance of normal cell function. These are divided into 2 groups:
Major minerals: phosphorous, calcium, sodium, potassium, chlorine, sulfur, and magnesium.
Below I’ve provided a brief thumbnail sketch of some of key vitamins and minerals. It doesn’t include healthy oils (i.e., fish, garlic, flaxseed) or herbal supplements (i.e., milk thistle, ginkgo biloba, ginseng, echinacea).
Vitamin A – Vitamin A prevents eye problems, promotes a healthy immune system, is essential for the growth and development of cells, and keeps skin healthy.
Vitamin B-Complex – It’s my perspective that B vitamins should be taken as a complex, a combination of B vitamins that are essential for quality longevity, heart health, and aiding the body during times of stress. Here is a quick look at the individual B’s:
B-1 (also known as thiamin) helps the body to convert carbohydrates into energy and is necessary for the proper function of the heart, muscles, and nervous system.
B-2 (also known as riboflavin) is essential for turning carbohydrates into energy and producing red blood cells. It’s also important for vision.
B-3 (also known as niacin) helps the body convert food into energy. It helps maintain healthy skin and is important for nerve function.
B-6 is important for normal brain and nerve function. It also helps the body break down proteins and make red blood cells.
B-9 (also known as folic acid) helps the body make red blood cells, and is needed to make DNA.
B-12 helps to make red blood cells, and is important for nerve cell function.
Vitamin C –is needed to form collagen, a tissue that helps to hold cells together. It’s essential for healthy bones, teeth, gums, and blood vessels. It helps the body to absorb iron and calcium, aids in wound healing, and contributes to brain function.
Calcium – Essential for teeth and building strong bones. Adequate calcium in a healthy diet may reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
Vitamin D –Promotes the strength of the immune system, supports bone and joint health, and enhances calcium absorption. Vitamin D is unique in that the body is able to produce it when ultraviolet rays, specifically UVB, penetrate the skin. When these ultra violet rays come into contact with a compound in the skin called 7-dehydrocholesterol (a cholesterol precursor), this compound is converted to 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (vitamin D3), the active form of vitamin D.
Vitamin E – is an antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage. It’s also important for the health of red blood cells, maintenance of a healthy heart, lungs, prostate, and enhances digestive tract function.
Folic Acid – aids in the prevention of birth defects when it is taken prior to conception. Given its potential to protect the health of newborns, healthcare professionals strongly advocate that women begin taken folic acid supplements three months prior to the time they plan to conceive.
Iron – helps red blood cells carry oxygen to all parts of the body. Symptoms of iron-deficiency anemia include weakness and fatigue, lightheadedness, and shortness of breath.
Vitamin K – is necessary for blood clotting.
Magnesium – helps muscles and nerves to function, steadies the heart rhythm, and keeps bones strong. It also helps the body create energy and make proteins.
Phosphorous – helps form healthy bones and teeth. It also helps the body make energy. Every cell in the body needs phosphorus to function normally.
Potassium – helps with muscle and nervous system function. It also helps the body maintain the balance of water in the blood and body tissues.
Zinc – An infection fighting mineral, zinc is important for normal growth, strong immunity, and wound healing.
Not all vitamins and minerals are created equal, be sure to read the label. Naturally, you should work with your healthcare provider to find out which supplements you could benefit from, and how much is right for you taking into consideration your gender, age, weight, activity level, health concerns, and any medications you may be taking.
Pay attention to the small stuff - Lichen on a tree, John Muir Woods, WI
Dust motes, ladybugs, lichen…
In her book Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility, Dr. Ellen Langer had this to say about mindfulness as it pertains to health:
“The simple act of noticing new things—is crucial to our health in several ways. First, when we’re mindless, we ignore all the ways we could exercise control over our health. We turn that control over to the medical world alone and accept limits, which closes us off to the power of possibility.”
In my experience, mindfulness is an agent of transformation and healing.
Mindfulness is simple, but it’s not easy. Mindfulness is the open-hearted energy of being aware—now, right now—in the present moment. It’s the daily cultivation—practice—of touching life deeply. To be mindful is to be present with, and sensitive to, the people we’re with and the things we’re doing, whether it’s raking leaves, washing laundry, brushing our teeth, or peeling potatoes.
At a presentation given by Jon Kabat-Zinn he said:
“Mindfulness points to being aware of, and paying attention to, the moment in which we find ourselves. Our past is gone and our future isn’t here yet. What exists between them is the present moment; the link that holds what was and what will be.”
That brief teaching in mindfulness changed my life.
Mindfulness is our capacity to be fully present in our own life, to be fully aware of what we’re doing as we’re doing it. As we develop our awareness, an inner stillness naturally grows. In this case, stillness doesn’t necessarily mean without motion. Rather, it means to be free from inner tumult; to be tranquil. When we function from a place of tranquility we’re better able to embrace the world and better equipped to respond wisely and lovingly.
It’s my perspective that mindfulness is more than paying attention, it’s paying intention.
Paying attention engages the mind.
Paying intention additionally engages the will.
Intention is beautifully illustrated in a story that my friend “B” shared with me. She said:
“I used to be part of a dinner book club where each month the group members would contribute a dish for dinner and after what was always a wonderful meal, we discussed an agreed upon book.
“One month, Debbie’s food offering was a loaf of Challah bread. As we were eating it and praising her efforts, she told us that as she kneaded the bread, she chanted our names; as she braided the bread, she said intentions for the well-being of each person who would later be partaking of the bread. I remember how honored I was when she told us this.”
When you’re mindful, do you pay attention or intention?
The words “gratitude” and “grace” share a common origin: the Latin word gratus, meaning “pleasing” or “thankful.”
In the monthly copy of the AHP newsletter (Association for Humanistic Psychology) that I receive, a recent article defined gratitude as “orientation towards noticing and appreciating the positive in the world.”
I won’t argue with that, but I’d like to add a qualifier. I believe that definition describes passive gratitude. If, however, that spark ignites a fire that inspires personal change, that passivity transforms into active gratitude.
It is my perspective that gratitude in action—as a regular practice—has a wide brushstroke of positive effects:
Inward—through appreciation we find contentment.
Outward—it inspires generosity—be it our time, skills, or money—and gifts us with opportunities to serve.
Environmentally—it’s a catalyst for healing our planet through the respect of nature.
For thousands of years gratitude has crossed religious and cultural boundaries not only as a social virtue, but as a theological virtue, but it’s a relatively new subject in the field of scientific research.
The University of California Davis psychology professor Robert Emmons’ research indicates that “Grateful people take better care of themselves and engage in more protective health behaviors like regular exercise, a healthy diet, (and) regular physical examinations.” His research also revealed that grateful people tend to be more optimistic, a characteristic that literally boosts the immune system—a clear physical benefit.
Dr. Alex Wood, a postgraduate researcher in the Department of Psychology, University of Warwick says, “…gratitude is an integral part of well-being;”—a distinct benefit to our mental and emotional faculties.
Gratitude helps to open the heart, the seat of compassion. It helps us to see the good in our experience, regardless. It enhances trust and helps us to forgive—an unarguable benefit to our spiritual aspect.
Better than a multi-vitamin, gratitude is plain good for us!
How do you weave gratitude into your life tapestry?
Metaphorically speaking, a feather is synonymous with the soul. Sacred since the beginning of time, feathers have symbolically represented spiritual evolution, truth, speed, lightness, ascension, and flight—freedom of the human spirit.
Native Americans wore feathers to symbolize their communication with Spirit, and to express their celestial wisdom. They also represented the power of the thunder gods, along with the power of air and wind.
Celtic Druids wore ornate feathered robes in ceremonies to invoke the sky gods and gain knowledge of the celestial realm. They believed the feathered cloak along with the presence of the sky gods allowed them to transcend the earthly plane and enter the ethereal realm.
Egyptians believed that feathers were symbolic of sky gods too. Ma’at, the Egyptian goddess of justice, would weigh the hearts of the newly dead in the underworld against the weight of a feather to determine the worthiness of his or her soul.
In Christianity feathers represented virtues—faith, hope, and charity. An image of three feathers were made into signet rings, and then worn as a symbol of a virtuous soul; they were also used as wax seals.
In dreams feathers mean travel or the ability to move more freely in life. White feathers in dreams indicate innocence or a fresh start in a spiritual sense.
The Path of the Feather is the simple practice of going inward and embracing your source of power. It’s a daily journey of spirit that transforms, empowers, and heals. It’s sacred awareness. It’s BEing aware. It’s BEing awake.
Sacred Feathers—The Power of One Feather to Change Your Life by Maril Crabtree is an excellent book. In the introduction she says, “Feathers! Magical, mystical, incredible feathers! Feathers of all shapes, sizes, varieties, and colors. Throughout history, feathers have served as spiritual symbols for shamans and priests, as symbols of royalty for kings and chiefs, as symbols of healing, or a symbol of sacred power for cultures as far back as the ancient Egyptian, Asian, or Celtic eras. These cultures possessed abilities to communicate with nature in ways that have been overlooked or forgotten in our town time.
“Yet feathers are more than history. For many, they are mystical signs, messages, or opportunities. They are scraps of synchronicity in the flowing patchwork of universal meanings. Feathers appear in unlikely places as assurances of well being, as a comforting sign of abundance in the universe, and as unmistakable messengers of hope and encouragement. Their ephemeral grace makes them the perfect emissaries of spiritual and emotional freedom.”
I happen upon feathers all the time—they seem to throw themselves at me out of the clear blue sky. Have you ever happened on a feather, or has a feather ever happened upon you?
Important Note: Under the current language of the eagle feather law, only individuals of certifiable Native American ancestry enrolled in a federally recognized tribe are legally authorized to obtain eagle feathers. Unauthorized persons found with an eagle or its parts in their possession can be fined up to $25,000. The eagle feather law allows for individuals who are adopted members of federally recognized tribes to obtain eagle feathers and eagle feather permits.
Additionally, most migratory birds found in the United States are protected by international treaties as well as U.S. laws. No part of protected birds, live or dead, including feathers, claws, bones, skins, or taxidermy-mounted birds can be possessed without an appropriate permit, which is exceptionally hard to obtain even for legally acquired birds or bird parts.
You’ve seen them. Those things that look like cherry tomatoes or large berries flirting with you from between the leaves on your rose bushes. Those are rose hips. They form after the rose bloom has died. They’re typically red or orange, but depending on the type of rose bushes you have, they can also be purplish to black in color.
Providing almost 20-times the amount of vitamin C as oranges, rose hips are an incredible source of vitamin C. In addition to their anti-inflammatory properties, they also help to protect against cancer and cardiovascular disease.
You can use them fresh off the vine, dried, or preserved. They can be used in apple sauce, soups, stews, syrups, puddings, jelly/jam, bread, and pie. My favorite way is to use them is to make rose hip tea. Regardless of how you use them, you’ll need to prepare them first.
Place the hips on a clean surface to dry. When the skin begins to look slightly shriveled it’s time to split the hips in half and remove all the seeds and tiny hairs in the center. After the seeds and hairs are removed, let the hips dry completely. Don’t wait to remove the seeds until the hips are completely dry because it’s harder to de-seed them.
If they’re not going to be used within the week, store the prepared hips in sealed plastic bags and freeze them. If you’re going to use them in the next few days, simply place them in the refrigerator. Somewhat like dried cranberries, they can be eaten as a healthy snack anytime.
Boil the dried and crushed rise hips for about 10 minutes (about 2 tablespoons of berries per pint of water). If the mint in your garden took over like ours did this year, you can add a crushed mint leaf (fresh or dried). Depending on your geographic location, you may even be fortunate enough add a few hibiscus flower petals as well.
If you’re going to add honey, make sure it’s locally grown – this will help to combat allergies.