11 January 2013

Finding Solace in the Deep Waters Within

Despite some of my best efforts to resurface lately, my soul is persistent in gently pulling me back down to the solace of the deep waters within. Is it the season? Perhaps. Winter is known for it's introspective nature and it's inclination for most of nature to hibernate. I used to dread this time, due in part to the fact that I would go to great lengths to ignore those deep feelings. I simply was not really comfortable swimming in water that deep.

I'm finding now as I embark on my journey to evolve on a soul level, I'm quite content with swimming in the deep, dark waters within. For the first time probably ever, I don't feel claustrophobic, or like I'm going to drown. Letting myself float amongst the flotsam of my psyche is quite liberating. Instead of clambering to the surface every time I bump into something in a state of sheer panic, I find that I'm content to turn around and take a closer look at that "thing" that just bumped into me. Sometimes the things I discover are quite illuminating. They serve as a light to guide me on my swim, shedding light on some of the other things that I bump into along the way.

The first time I went under, I hit the bottom and landed on a ship that had sunk quite some time ago. I wanted to shoot right back to the surface, but curiosity got the better of me. I decided to explore. Somehow I managed to find a hidden treasure amongst the barnacles and rot. The pearls of wisdom were blindingly glittery despite the darkness. It was probably one of the most illuminating swims in the fathoms within, and when I resurfaced, I was forever changed. Never again would I be afraid of the deep water.

As a former land-lover, I've discovered here lately that I'm more content swimming in the deep, healing ocean of my soul. It's SO quiet here. There is so much chaos and clatter on land that my spirit longs for the silence when I'm above too long. Ah, the sweet surrender of dropping below and going within!

Lately, I've been swimming daily. Yesterday, I was quite piqued when I encountered a door. I didn't see it coming, and it hit me square in the forehead. Of all things to hit in the water, I never expected to hit a door. Especially one that seems to be free-floating. Perhaps today, when I take my daily swim, I'll manage to figure out if I open it or swim around it. I know that no matter what, the discovery will be transforming somehow. I can't wait to put my bathing suit on!

29 December 2010

The Truth Is Not a Spear, Part One

How many times have we felt the need to jab our spear of truth at someone when we’ve felt threatened, or passionate about a situation? When faced with heated situations, or even those not heated, have you ever found yourself needing to pierce someone with that spear to hurt them as you’ve been hurt?

If you are like me and resonate with a Warrior spirit, you may find yourself feeling like you have to defend your perspective, whatever it may be, by being forceful with your words. If you feel threatened, you may feel like you need to yell, raise your voice or be cruel to establish your Warrior position. I know I have been guilty (and admittedly still catch myself doing it sometimes) of “rising up” on someone and stabbing them with my “truth”, my “truth” that says “you will NOT get the better of me.”

My God, aren’t you tired after something like this transpires? I know more often than not, I’m left feeling off balance, out of my heart zone and utterly exhausted, with nothing being accomplished. What a waste of energy! But how can we be more effective with defending our boundaries? Isn’t there a better way to deliver our truth without having to stab someone to death with our truth spears?

The answer is yes, but it’s not a simple process, especially for those of us who are Warriors at heart. Interestingly enough, a Warrior is most powerful when they are soft. The true power of a Warrior comes when a balance of honor, respect, integrity, presence and fair communication are present.

According to Angeles Arrien, author of “The Four Fold Way: Walking the Paths of the Warrior, Visionary, Teacher and Healer”, honor and respect are the most crucial. Arrien states, “Honor is the capacity to confer respect to another individual. We become honorable when our capacities for respect are expressed and strengthened. The term respect comes from the Latin word respicere, which means ‘the willingness to look again.’ The Warrior is willing to take a second look rather than remain stuck in a particular view of a situation or individual.” (Pp. 15-16)

Very simply put, this means that we have the courage to face ourselves and be accountable for what is out of balance, then fix it. Only then will we be truly comfortable in our own skin. Only then will we not feel the need to pick up a spear to have to defend ourselves with, because we will be able to appreciate the differences in ourselves, thus allowing us to appreciate the differences within others.

In order to extend respect to someone, we must be willing to “look again.” This creates a softening, a flexibility that will allow us to flow with the circumstance, rather than plant our feet in the ground, tensed up, spear in hand, primed for battle. Think of it this way: what is rigid will at some point break when enough pressure is applied. What is soft and yielding will sustain the flow and become one with it.

Which would you rather?

Zen and the Art of Allowing

Recently, I’ve begun devoting more time to my prayer/healing work. I’ve diligently been practicing and focusing on doing some pretty far-reaching deep inner healing work daily. While I’ve been focusing on several areas for healing, such as letting go of any tendencies that no longer serve me, I realized all this time I’ve been missing a key component: giving myself permission to do this work. This has created a huge shift in my self-healing work, and honestly, I think there is great value to this component.

One of the areas I’ve focused a lot of time and energy into healing is letting go of any past emotional, physical and psychic trauma I’ve sustained. I know I carry around the dense vibrations of these traumas still, and it manifests in the form of extra body weight. Not that I am greatly overweight, but frankly, this body is just too heavy to carry me around in the higher vibrations that I want to exist in. For me, the time has come to lighten up a bit. And as determined of a soul as I am, determination without permission to be determined is fruitless.

I stumbled upon this crucial piece of the puzzle in a body work session one day while receiving a massage from one of my mentors. Before my massage, I sat in a coaching session with my mentor and we were discussing the benefits of allowing ourselves to soften on all levels and drop the spears we often carry around and aim in the name of “truth.” (That’s another post for another day) It occurred to me at that moment that allowing has a lot of power. In fact, it can hold all the power, depending on your intention.

It occurred to me that if I added the words, “I now give myself permission on all levels, with full cooperation from every aspect of myself, both physical and non-physical, to release that which no longer serves me,” I may experience a deeper realm of healing. I was right. My healing has accelerated faster than a driver on the Autoban. And thank Goddess for it!

The definition of permission is: “authorization granted to do something; formal consent; the act of permitting.”

Let’s think about the power of this for a second, shall we? If, in meditation, we asked for alignment with our Higher Self or Soul, and then granted ourselves formal consent to do whatever healing we needed to do, can you imagine the delight from Heaven? Talk about a giant green light! Since the Universe only gives us what we allow ourselves to receive, perhaps telling the Universe, “Hey, I’m now giving you permission to help me with this healing work” would be just the ticket to allowing that healing to actually happen?

Since incorporating this into my daily practice, I have had all kinds of things come up to be released. When I do discover something has cropped up, I give myself permission to address it and process it. Then I bless it and thank it for its service and give it to Source. I ask for all of the negative effects be transmuted into positive energy that I can use to better serve my Higher Purpose and the highest and greatest good of all. The results for me, are astounding.

18 August 2010

I Know What I'm Doing, Here...

If you happen to be on a spiritual path, you know what hard work this path can be sometimes. It means saying and doing things that keep us in alignment with our Higher Truth. Sometimes, that Higher Truth seems so elusive, especially if we find ourselves in a challenging situation. In the face of chaos and upheaval, it is very easy for us spiritually-minded folks to get knocked off balance and away from our center. Our lives begin to look like we are viewing it through 3-D glasses where nothing is in focus.

I happen to find myself in one of these “challenging” life situations right now, and it is anything but comfortable. For a little while, everything seemed out of focus and I found myself feeling like I was floundering like flotsam in the sea. Whenever I find myself faced with financial uncertainty, that floundering feeling always presents itself to me. Often, I end up being sucked into “poverty and lack consciousness” for a bit before finding my way back to shore. Thank Goddess, I have been able to limit my time in fear-based consciousness and re-center more quickly.

How do I re-center after being knocked off balance? It’s actually a lot easier than it seems, but it takes diligence and awareness. In other words, it takes time, patience and practice. It boils down to remembering what I am here to do and knowing that I’m already on my Life’s Path. Also, remembering that no matter what, I choose my experience and I choose whether or not I want to struggle or grow with joy in any given situation I am faced with.

I often remind myself, “Hey, I know what I am doing, here, there are no worries”. I don’t need to frantically search for the “magic” answer on what to do; I already know what to do. I just need to be quiet and listen to myself. And somehow, the answer always seems to crop up just when I need it.

If you find yourself faced with a challenging situation and you feel like you just cannot take one more thing, I invite you to stop. Close your eyes, and breathe long and deep through the belly. With eyes closed, focus at the center of your forehead, and continue breathing. Breathe until you feel calm and more centered again. Mentally recite a poem, quote or mantra that comforts you while doing this quiet breathing.

When I am in this state, I tell myself, “I know what I am doing.” I repeat that until I feel it resonate within every cell of my body. Sometimes it takes me five minutes. Other times, it may take an hour. The point is, I’m diligent and I find that it really works for me. I can face a “crisis” more clearheaded and centered within myself.

Another great tip to getting back to center quickly is a bit trickier, but extremely powerful. Let me give you an example: You and your spouse get into an argument about the kids. It quickly goes from bonfire to wildfire and both of you are standing there with gas cans pointed at one another. If you can stop for just a second and remind yourself mentally, “Wait. This is hell and I am not doing hell. There is no enemy here. I am not the enemy; you are not the enemy; we are a team.” Breathe.

The bottom line here is you own the power to take a stand to claim whatever experience you want to have. Remember, you are a powerful being that can claim safety, joy, peace, stability, harmony and abundance whenever you want to. Claim those things often, and relish in the fact that you are not a victim of circumstance, rather you are a master at creating peace at any given moment if you so choose to.

Yes, there are moments that come up that really, REALLY suck, but remember, you are separate from that situation. It is not you and you are not it. Finding happiness amidst the chaos is the pearl of wisdom, here. Don’t make your happiness contingent upon your current circumstance; be happy now in the present moment.

*Author’s Note: I would like to give full credit for most of these tips and insights to Georgie Weston. She is a Life Coach and a mentor of mine. Without her, I would not be so calm, or sane for that matter. For more information on Georgie and her services, visit www.ggweston.com

23 June 2010

How Do Italians Stay So Slim?

Our culture seems to revolve around fast-food, decadent desserts and colorful candy. Unfortunately, more often than not, we order our dinner at a drive-through and ten minutes later, we are on our way home with dinner in a bag. Americans are a driven society, and with both parents often working away from home, “fast” food or packaged food has a high appeal.

The truth is, most of these “fast” foods are loaded with calories, artery-clogging fat, sodium and MSG. Where is the healthy stuff? More often than not, these meals offer nothing but an expanded waistline and very little nutrition. We wonder why our nation ranks the highest for chronic illness and obesity. Compared to nations such as Italy or France, what are we doing wrong?


Perhaps our biggest fault is portion size. Americans are very accustomed to huge portions and have a hard time recognizing what a “healthy” portion size really is. A perfect example of out of control portion size can be found in restaurants like Black Bear and Claim Jumper. Their portion sizes could feed three people!

We wonder how countries such as France, who are notorious for their rich fare, have such low instances of obesity? In fact, obesity is rare in France. This is largely in part to the attitude towards food in European nations. They make each meal a huge production and take the time to enjoy it. Meal time in European countries centers around savoring the food and relishing in each other’s company. In addition, their portion sizes are substantially smaller than American portion sizes.

What We SHOULD Be Eating

Abundant in seeds, lean protein such as chicken and fish, and plant foods of all colors, the Mediterranean style of diet is a more whole-foods approach to eating. These types of foods are rich in cancer-fighting, disease-preventing antioxidants, and vital minerals and vitamins that keep the immune system operating efficiently. Since most of the vitamins and minerals needed by the body are abundant in this type of diet, the need for additional supplementation nearly vanishes.

The Mediterranean diet is beneficial in lowering bad cholesterol while raising good cholesterol due to its high content of monounsaturated fats. These friendly fats can be found in foods such as olives, olive oil, fish, avocados, nuts and seeds. The Mediterranean diet is also a major threat against diseases like cancer and arthritis due to anti-inflammatory properties prevalent in most of the foods. Anti-inflammatory foods are also extremely beneficial in lowering the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease.

How Do Italians REALLY Eat?

The pinnacle of the Mediterranean meal is food derived from plant sources. Lean protein is included as well, but plant foods as well as whole grains dominate the meal. The main difference between American fare and Mediterranean fare is that the focus is more on the vegetables and grains, not the meat. Breads made of whole grains are a bulk of this diet, but the use of butter is extremely rare. The use of olive oil and balsamic vinegar is a typical spread, as it is lower in saturated fat than butter.

The Mediterranean diet also centers around freshness. Each meal is prepared from scratch. No boxed meals or frozen T.V. dinners here. Meals generally consist of grilled chicken or fish, steamed or grilled veggies with bread or rice, such as basmati. The body can assimilate more nutrients in fresh, unprocessed foods than it can in boxed foods.

Getting into the habit of preparing your meals has its perks. Not only does a healthy meal of fresh foods taste good, but you can prepare it in the time it would take you to sit in a drive-thru line. The next time you feel like boxed chicken nuggets and fatty French fries would be the best choice, opt for grilled chicken and steamed veggies instead. Your waistline will thank you.

25 November 2009

Cold-Fighting Power Foods

As the leaves begin their transformation from vibrant green into the rich, jewel tones of red, yellow and orange, we find ourselves coming upon cold and flu season. The common cold is a communicable virus that is highly contagious and is easily spread from one person to another through touching common surfaces with an infected person, as well as being an airborne virus. For many years, people blamed that extra “snap” in the air and damp weather that the autumn and winter seasons bring for the onset of the cold. Research has shown that it is not the weather to blame, but rather the fact that people tend to congregate together indoors during colder weather. While there is no known “cure” for the common cold, there are plenty of steps that can be taken in order to prevent and shorten the length of the cold should one succumb to it.

Vitamin C

Perhaps the most common supplement used in both prevention and treating the common cold is Vitamin C. This can be taken in a myriad of ways: in pill form, effervescent powders, or in foods such as oranges, tangerines, strawberries and bell peppers. Just how much Vitamin C is sufficient? The FDA recommends a meager 60 milligrams a day, but according to two-time Nobel Prize laureate and author of the book “How to Live Longer and Feel Better,” Dr. Linus Pauling suggests taking 2 grams per day, divvied up in three doses throughout the day. To give you an idea of how much that is, an orange contains 45 milligrams of Vitamin C per 100 grams of weight. Strawberries contain even more Vitamin C than an orange, with one cup exceeding the recommended 60 milligrams. Sweet red peppers contain a whopping 4 times the Vitamin C of an orange.


Garlic has risen significantly in popularity for being a “natural” remedy for treating and preventing the common cold as it boasts “notable antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial properties”, as reported by the National Geographic Desk Reference to Nature’s Medicine by Steven Foster and Rebecca L. Johnson. Allicin is the compound found in garlic that is responsible for those properties. But be warned: Allicin is highly unstable and breaks down in prolonged exposure to heat. Garlic is best to eat raw if possible, as tossed into a vinaigrette salad dressing or added to food right at the end of cooking just before serving.


Many people can associate folate as the “pregnant woman’s supplement”, but it’s highly effective for helping to prevent and treat the common cold. Folate is a B vitamin found in leafy green vegetables such as kale, spinach and broccoli. It is also found in abundance in legumes and asparagus. The recommended daily dosage of folate is 400 micrograms for adults. In addition to its immune supporting functions, folate also supports healthy cell reproduction. Vitamin C is necessary for folate to convert into its active form, so enjoy a wonderful dish of lentils with some sweet red peppers and have an orange for desert.

Shiitake Mushrooms

This delicious Asian mushroom may seem like the sleeper in the race to fight off a common cold, but don’t underestimate its amazing immune –stimulating properties. Shiitake mushrooms contain significantly higher levels of protein, B vitamins fiber and minerals, notably calcium, iron and phosphorus according to as the more commonly found grocery store mushroom variety, or “Button” mushrooms. Shiitake mushrooms also contain polysaccharides that are crucial for immune stimulation while also increasing the production of interferon, which is an antiviral substance the body produces in response to infection.

These suggestions are at their most effective when taken on the onset of a cold. As an adjunct to the aforementioned remedies, ingesting warm liquids such as hot tea with honey can also be a soothing treat for a scratchy throat. In addition, warm liquids also assist the body in thinning out mucous, which can help relieve sinus pressure. With these suggestions, hopefully cold season will be short-lived for those who find themselves faced with a cold, or better yet, non-existent altogether.

05 September 2009

The Health Benefits of Yoga

Improved immune function. Lower blood pressure. Detoxification. These are just a few of the many health benefits yoga has on the body. It is considered by some to be the “perfect” exercise. Why? Many people who employ a regular yoga practice boast incredible results, such as increased flexibility, beautiful toning of the muscles and less stress in their daily lives to name a few.
One very well-known benefit of yoga is increased flexibility. Yoga provides equalized activity in opposing muscle groups simultaneously. Every single muscle group in the body is used with strength and balance. Not only does this activity of utilizing opposing muscle groups simultaneously increase flexibility, but it also stokes the metabolic fire. This activity is also auspicious for increasing range of motion in the joints as well as the connective tissues, such as the ligaments and tendons.
Yoga also is beneficial in lowering blood pressure and strengthening the cardiovascular system. Yoga poses, by engaging the muscles as they do, help increase the blood flow in the body, and subsequently oxygenate the blood, increasing circulation. The increased circulation lowers blood pressure and pulse rate by transporting nutrients throughout the body. Higher levels of cardiovascular endurance are also a wonderful byproduct of a consistent yoga practice.
The practice of yoga also serves as a method of “wringing” the internal organs out like a sponge. This “wringing out” of the organs expedites detoxification by releasing toxins and other unsavory substances that may be lurking within them. This release allows fresh, oxygenated blood to flow to these organs, thus enabling optimal function in warding off disease by improving immune function.
In addition to the many physiological benefits that yoga possesses, it also yields many psychological benefits. Many yoga styles emphasize long, deep breathing, which is important for slowing the mind down enough to become present in the moment. So many get caught up in the events of the day or what is coming up next that the ability to be in the “now” is forgotten. Being in the “now” allows the mind to quiet enough to allow healing of the body to happen.
As one gets settled into their body during the yoga practice, quietly breathing long and deep, many wonderful psychological things can happen as well. Areas of the body, such as the hips and shoulders are huge storage depots of residual emotional “junk”. Flowing into certain yogic poses and holding them allows those areas to open, and blocked emotions can then be released. Many have claimed that lifelong fears have evaporated and they’ve experienced clarity of mind like never before. The release of blocked emotions can also serve beneficial to the health of the body as well; it can release much uncomfortable muscular tension.

In summary, the health benefits of yoga are powerful. With healthcare costs at astronomical highs, many people are seeking more preventative measures to keep potential health issues at bay. Yoga can serve as a wonderful tool to lay the foundation for a healthy body and mind for years to come.

How To Balance Your Emotions Through Yoga

In this day and age, juggling the rigors of jobs, family and home-life, more and more people are finding themselves overwhelmed with excess emotional (and sometimes physical) baggage. Stress is over-abundant and the ill-effects of it are taking its toll on our bodies and minds substantially. One major system of the body stress has a huge impact on is the glandular system, which directly affects the emotions and overall sense of equanimity. Kundalini yoga, like acupuncture, stimulates various meridian systems to restore the body’s balance. With regular practice, kundalini yoga will also set the stage for personal breakthroughs on all kinds of different levels.

A typical kundalini yoga class normally will begin with a breathing exercise. This helps you to quiet your mind and become centered in your body. Stretching and warm-up exercises are next, followed by a unique set of exercises called a kriya. A kriya is defined as a set of progressive exercises which work together to help balance different systems of the body. Each kriya has a different purpose. For example, one kriya may be structured to help balance the emotional body, while another may be structured to help kick-start movement the lymphatic system. Once the kriyas are completed, there is typically a “deep relaxation” element to allow your body to assimilate the exercises just completed.

During some kriyas, special breathing techniques are used to enhance the effectiveness of the exercise. Two of the most widely used breathing techniques in Kundalini yoga are deep breathing and the Breath of Fire. Deep breathing is a three-part breath, inhaling into the abdomen, then into the ribs and finally the lungs. The exhale begins with the lungs, then down to the ribs, ending in the abdomen, squeezing it in towards the navel until all the air has been released. The Breath of Fire is defined as a “sniffing”, where the inhale and exhale are of equal length, akin to a dog pant.

Kundalini yoga has kriyas specifically designed for mood mastery and emotional balance. One particular kundalini exercise that is wonderful for combating depression is a yogic backbend called Camel Pose. Breath of Fire is used while in this pose, with eyes closed. This exercise specifically stimulates and helps to balance the pituitary (or Master) gland, which is crucial in emotional balancing. To do Camel Pose with the Breath of Fire, follow these instructions:

1. Come onto your knees with the knees hip-width apart. You may use a blanket for padding under your knees if they are sensitive.
2. Open your chest, sternum up as you reach back for your ankles.
3. Push your hips forward and let your head drop back, opening the throat area.
4. Once in the pose, close your eyes and begin the Breath of Fire. Hold for as long as you can, ideally a minute or more.

Beginners: If you cannot reach back and hold your ankles, try placing your hands on the small of your back. Another modification is to interlace your fingers and pull down. Go to whatever position you are comfortable in.

If you are interested in giving Kundalini yoga a try in a class setting, you can find a class near you at http://www.yogafinder.com/. If you would like to try some DVDs in the comfort of your own home, I highly recommend anything from Ana Brett and Ravi Singh. You can find DVDs and a wealth of information on Kundalini yoga on their website. Go to www.raviana.com. Sat nam!

26 June 2009

Divine Recognition

"Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I sort of agree with this quote. I definitely agree with the latter part, but am not quite so hot on the former, not entirely, anway.

I believe that in order to have love, you do have to gaze at each other first, as an acknowledgement and recognition of the Divine in one another. In my experience, after the gazing comes recognition; that recognition of "Ah, there is the Divine in you, just as it is in me." Maybe not everyone can see this. Maybe not everyone honors this as I do. Maybe this is not everyone's process.

Perhaps this may be subjective, but to me, that recognition needs to happen before I can look anywhere with someone else, be it a lover, child, co-worker, Pope. A personal example of my process was when I met my husband. There was an instantaneous spark of recognition that absolutely lit my heart on fire. I literally thought to myself, "Oh boy, here we go."

Once that fire was lit, the walls within me went down and I opened myself up to him. I opened up to so much, and allowed myself to see the direction he wanted to go, and vice versa. How can one see what direction the two (or three or four) are going if the Divine recognition has not happened? How can one open for allowing and accepting the Divinity of the other if that Divine recognition has not happened? Perhaps that is a different discussion for a different post? :)

Personally, I think there is so much strife in the world today because we simply do not take the time to recognize (and honor) the Divine within one another. I've attached a poem of mine titled "Recognition" to perhaps illustrate my point a little bit better.


I've known you before
I recognize your eyes
Curious, I gaze intently
Desiring fervently to invoke
The sleeping recognition that
Rests soundly in your subconscious mind
The intersection of our souls
Populates the map of Karma
That has been laid before us
We stand, woven together with the thread
Of Karmic Retribution, we stare
Disbelieving at first, but curious nonetheless
We gaze deeper into one another's eyes
And the spark of recognition ignites
You slowly remember me
For a split second, everything falls
Serenely quiet and suddenly I know
I am now looking straight at the person
My incarnate soul was born loving
One whose tranquil presence
Seems to embody deep love and spirituality
And I hold you tightly in my arms
The embrace of all things dreamlike and receptive,
Such as perfect and unconditional love.
© Heather Sewell 9-Sept-08

25 June 2009

The Magic Wand of Healing

It seems as if the Quest for The Quill of Inspiration has not only helped me get back in the saddle of writing, but its inspired me to search deeper within. I have felt compelled the past few days to really focus on researching and practicing spiritual methods that are dear to me, hence my absence on the blog. No excuse, but I got sucked in to some serious meditations and note-taking on the various practices of Wicca that have been calling to me.

I'm grateful to say that I've found my magic wand and have been trying it out this week. It's really amazing to see what things have been happening for me and my family. It's been wonderful to actually feel grounded again. Being grounded is a very hard state for me to maintain, because I am an Air sign, with Air in my Sun, Ascendant and Moon positions. (Gemini-Aquarius-Libra) I've found that practicing ritual has helped me stay grounded immensely.

On Monday, I reached a new level of awareness as I did a ritual bath with candles and gemstones to practice and deepen my healing energies, for both myself and the healing I send to others. As a Reiki Master, I'm familiar with channeling the Universal Life Force and how it feels to do so. On this night, I felt a power like I've never felt before; calm, harmonious and completely balanced. I felt so much love and peace surround me and I felt my healing energy surge. It was absolutely breath-taking. I've definitely found a practice that will enhance my healing meditations and I am very excited about that!

Blessed be to all! Let the healing and peace begin!