I’ve been craving grapefruit for the past 48 hours. To be clear, I haven’t been thinking about grapefruit. I’ve been tasting its tang on my tongue. I’ve been feeling its little pockets of juice burst when I bite. I’ve been smelling its sharply sweet citrus so intensely that I half expected to find one magically waiting next to my laptop. That is a craving. It’s not a thought. It’s not a rational want or need. Rather it’s visceral. The primal union of a need and a want.
In the US, when we talk about cravings, our minds usually land on diet rhetoric fraught with terms like “curb your sugar craving.” Through that paradigm, we have collectively come to understand cravings as illicit thoughts that we must find a way to control. If there was ever a nod to our puritanical roots, it’s our attitudes toward and very definition of craving. We’ve put craving in a metaphoric corset and told her to sit down and shut up. We’ve given practicality precedence. And we’ve relegated cravings to chocolate (actually the iron in chocolate) when we have our periods.
Well, Loves, I don’t like chocolate. So I started considering my cravings, which strayed far from the norm. I started distinguishing between wanting (a thought) and craving (a sensual experience). Here’s what I’ve learned: Wants come and go. They can be forgotten. Cravings are persistent. They will not let you forget them until they’re sated. Wants emerge from a lack of something. Cravings emerge from a desire for something. They point us towards fullness. The purpose of cravings is not simply pleasure or play or satisfaction. A craving invites us to expand our capacity. When we answer our cravings we find ourselves transforming into the most powerful, lush versions of ourselves. We find ourselves ready, even hungry, for more in our lives.
When we start listening to our cravings, they demand a new kind of listening. Cravings are primal. They require us to remember ancient ways of listening. We need to metaphorically put our ears to the ground and wait for the distant vibration of footsteps. We need to pause, not just for a breath, but for the whiff of longing our breath might carry. Because cravings arrive in subtlety. They’re melted into the layers beneath our thoughts, beneath our skin. However, don’t mistake their subtlety for impotence or simplicity. Cravings are sensual. They’ll take us over, if we let them out of their cages.
They can turn you into a huntress, bent on feeding all her hungers. They can turn you into a creatrix, laser focused on making and birthing. They can turn you into a seductress, brimming with sovereignty and softness. Cravings are the flame in the dark leading you back to your inner fire.
So let me ask you: What are you craving?
In 2005 I was sitting in a Human Services class at Schenectady Community College listening to my professor explain the cycle of abuse. She described how a woman (or man) returns to her abuser an average of seven times before permanently leaving the relationship. She explained how the abuse would, at some point, be internalized and woven into her belief about her worthiness. She told us how external abuse often turned into self-abuse – willingly allowing manipulation, fear, and guilt to guide her life, accepting emotional crumbs instead of expecting support and love, and punishing herself physically and emotionally.
I sat there, lifting as far out of my body as possible, in a state of numb realization. In that moment my only thought was: run. Rage and terror and grief boiled beneath the surface. In a moment of self-preservation, my sunny exterior took over with a Stepford-eque vengeance. Faking it a majority of the time felt like negotiating between life and death. I had a grip on my role, on my smile and laugh and amiable personality, that could break a neck. I had a death grip on my mask, because the second I let it go there’s a chance I’d fall apart. There was a chance I would turn to dust or burn up. Or worst of all, the world might confirm that I was as worthless, ugly, weak, and disappointing as I had been lead to believe.
I’ve spent the last twelve years peeling away the layers of my mask, wading through the pain and scars and lies, reclaiming my beauty and power and radiance. That process brought me to the brink of my life, unsure if I could take another breath. It brought me into skin-tearing, raw-throated, sweat dripping, broken hearted suffering that felt endless.
On the days when I couldn’t feel or think or see the light, or breath, I let God move my lungs and limbs. I struggled. I fought. I anchored my entire being in the knowing that love always wins and it would win in my life and the world around me. I freed myself, wound by wound, from a mind that had been turned into a prison.
I’ve reach a mountain peak in my life. There are certainly more valleys and more mountains ahead, but right now, the view is spectacular and there’s more light than I could have ever imagined. I’m safe and loved and so are you. Joy washes through me with every breath because something became clear:
No matter how much rage you have right now, no matter how deeply your grief cuts or your pain digs, your suffering carves out a greater capacity to love and heal and contain this wild world.
Your wound is your medicine. So let this cut a little deeper, let this take you further into your ferocious truth, into your capacity to love yourself, to forgive, and let that love gush and overflow to the world. You’re here to heal, Beloved. We are here to heal.
If your heart says it’s time to go deeper, let’s talk.
I am so fucking sick of binary conversations. I am fed up with narrow minds and fearful hearts that believe we can’t contain contradictions and find new solutions and outcomes. There is always a third way.
We no longer live in a world where muddling by is enough, where our calling is merely to survive another day. We no longer have the luxury of hiding behind resistance or platitudes as excuses for inaction.
You can fully honor how you feel and still show up in service of raising our collective vibration. You can work through pain and change lives at the same time. You can be spiritual and political. You can look our collective darkness full in the face with the glint of flinty joy in your heart. You can be infinitely powerful and simultaneously soft. You can feel ecstasy and despair in the same breath.
Many years in the past and many years in the future, right here in this moment, your soul made a decision. It heard and heeded a call to touch onto the earth right now at this very time in your exact body, to create change. You are here to create ripples of a new vibration.
As the world seethes with confusion, pain, helplessness, and redemption, you are not here to drawn a line in the sand. You are here to be a line in the sand. You are here to bring heaven to earth. You are the second coming. You are God incarnate. You are a living prayer. You are a revival. You are the Universe’s commitment to grace and light. You are sacred text and holy ground. You are Emmanuel, God with us.
Let’s start acting like it.
We often talk about healing in glowing terms. We invest time, effort, and financial resources into mending ourselves and moving through our blocks so we can live bright, glorious, rich lives. But what about when a wound begins to feel whole and that brings up more angst than celebration?
Wounds often inform so much of who we are. They build our strength, color the lens through which we see the world, and call our gifts out into the light. However, while we diligently (or not so diligently) work on them, they can become excuses or reasons to hold back or play small.
As you begin to feel whole, some questions might rise to surface in the wake of a healed wound. What will I be without this wound? What will I co-create with the Divine as the next iteration of my life? Without this excuse, what is God going to ask of me?
Healing can be so challenging because healing removes the excuse of the wound. We heal to break down the barriers between us and God. We heal to fill our hearts and dance into the life we’re made for.
Sometimes… That’s. Terrifying. It’s one thing to understand the healing journey cognitively. However, to feel that process in our hearts means watching the sun set on one version of ourselves and a new day dawn. It means touching the unknown with brave, trembling fingertips. It means stepping forward without being able to see the path before us or ground beneath us. It means practicing radical trust in ourselves and the Divine. That’s a monumental task and requires all of us, not bits and pieces or divided attention. It requires all of our brokenness and distraction. It demands all of our fear, avoidance, and denial. It asks for the totality of our being to enter into the healing journey and sacrifice the ways we hide.
So today, we pray: “God, may my life be an ever unfolding prophecy of triumph.”
I’ve been on the bridge between Catholicism and New Age Spirituality for years now and there’s something missing. There’s a critical piece that few people are talking about.
We’ve got gratitude practices on one side, liturgy on another, and still a posture of the heart, an engagement and surrender of our spirit remains in the proverbial toolbox. Perhaps it’s the association with a more evangelical version of Christianity that causes us to shy away. Or perhaps that much power at our disposal, truly a way to step out of our pain, scares the shit out of us. Perhaps we believe that we’ll never have one-up on the darkness around us.
Instead, we prioritize pleasure, we pray, we set intention, we meditate, we create rituals, we draw oracle cards, we say the rosary, we attend mass or moon circles – different practices and forms for the same understanding: we are embodied divinity. We are bearers of Christ-light. We are light workers and change makers.
Amid this profound knowing, we are tasked with addressing darkness within and around us. Resistance, shadows, sin, trauma, excruciating pain or challenge, the devil finds us in the details. Always.
In my experience, our most powerful and underutilized tool for addressing this darkness is worship.
It’s not gratitude (exclusively). It’s not a magnification of ourselves or a basking in our own light. It isn’t dry or regimented or ritualized.
It’s wanton. It’s hot. It’s a love surge from our heart. It’s the wild meeting of surrender to and jubilant awe of the Divine, often at the exact moment when we’re feeling hopeless or terrified. It’s an acknowledgement that we’re human and our sight isn’t perfect, but the path before us is. Worship is the practice of gathering together words, music, and movement as a offering to the One who called us here. It’s like magic. It works an immediate, profound miracle, both in our spirit and our environment.
It fills our hearts.
It washes us in joy.
It turns our weakness into strength.
It turns our strength into cosmic power.
It rings us out.
It changes our perspective.
It reminds us that we have everything on our side.
It elevates us.
It evokes Divine Authority and Sovereignty.
It takes use to the edge of our comfort and discomfort.
It shifts our state.
It comforts and clarifies.
It allows us to see and feel the wide open channel between us and God.
It shakes loose everything that binds us.
It reminds us what we’re here for and what we’re capable of.
It protects us.
It turns and returns us into temples.
You know what I mean by “ick,” right? Ick is a totally unpleasant cocktail of heavy, hopeless, empty, angry, guilty, overwhelmed, and sad. The ratios might change, but at the end of the day it all feels awful. Maybe there’s something specific bringing on the ick, like a project you’re avoiding or an area of your life that feels stuck.
It’s easy to look at social media lives and think your fellow humans skate along in a cloud of joy, perfectly processing all their negative feelings and energy. Don’t be fooled.
Before I launch something new, face a fear, or accept a challenge, there are often days or weeks of wading through the muck of resistance. The sneakiest characteristic of resistance is it’s ability to put blinders on you. It tricks you into thinking the only possible outcome is eternal paralysis. Again, so not true.
When I get into that funk of resistance and the ick starts creeping in, I turn to The Golden Ocean. It’s a simple visualization really, but it’s rich and vivid enough to expand in my mind, giving me a bright blast radius of spaciousness and room to breathe.
Here’s how it goes:
Stretch out somewhere comfortable and quiet. (Sunlight helps, but it’s not a requirement.)
Close your eyes. Loosen your hold on reality. It’ll still be here when you’re ready.
Imagine yourself on a beach. Smell the salt and sand. Feel a breeze.
Look at the water sprawling out in front of you. It’s reflecting the sunshine.. but there’s something more.
The sun is catching flakes, sparkles, swirls and swaths of golden light.
Wade, then swim out into the water. Let it carry you.
Now float. Trust the elements around you. Let all that golden light surround and remind you of radiance.
Feel the gold-infused water lap at your collar bone and hips.
Allow the light to move closer, slipping around your bones and snuggling up to your muscles,
coating and mingling with the energy of each of your chakras.
As the gold seeps in, notice how your body feels.
Let the light come between you and anything that feels heavy or harsh.
Let the light carry it away through the water.
You are surrounded and permeated by light.
You are the power of light.
Rest in your radiance.
Rest in your power.
Take your time in the golden ocean. Listen to it. Feel it.
Breathe and return.
Bring it with you when you emerge back into your reality.
Do you have any foolproof tools or visualizations for shaking of the ick when it threatens to take over? I’d love to hear them!
photo by Edmund Garman
During a session, I often close my eyes and slip out of this layer of reality and into another. This happens most often when I’m addressing the spacial aspects of a client’s energy. Their limits, edges, boundaries and pathways come into vivid visibility in my inner sight. The other day, in a session with an Embership participant, I felt into the outermost reaches of her self/field. This is what happened:
My fingertips tingle. It feels like tiny sparks are flying out from beneath my nails.
The pull of her field draws my eyelids closed and my attention deep into another dimension.
I’m standing on a lawn, lush and manicured, surrounded by an 8 foot hedge.
It’s her permeable boundary. It’s the gentle, living edge of her deepest self.
It stands alone. She needs more.
I ask for more on her behalf, feeling into the far reaches of her energy.
Trees materialize beyond the hedges. Massive, ancient oaks and maples.
Their whispers weave an impenetrable web of fortified gossamer threads.
As their whispering grows firmer and more sure, I lift out.
Her field becomes secure and self-contained, its own universe.
Here is a core truth about boundaries: the strength, intensity, elasticity and integrity of your energetic boundaries create and inform your reality. When you take the time to build a safe, sure container for your life, your perception and experience of the world around and within you shifts.
Any situation or experience that makes you feel emotionally unsafe or drained is prompting you to examine your boundaries.
photo by Kosala Bandara
Almost every client has asked me at one time or another, “Aren’t you exhausted at the end of the day?” or “Do you take on some of my energy when you work?” My answer has always been the same: At the end of the day, I could run a marathon. How am I able to merge with multiple other energy fields in a day, touch some of their deepest darkness and most painful wounds and walk away clear, whole, and energized? Boundaries.
The line between their energy and mine is crisp. And when it’s not, I pause, breathe, and wait for it to come into focus. I imagine the golden edges of our energy fields, separate and distinct. Without that clarity I’m both ineffective and dangerously vulnerable. This applies to all relationships.
My most useful tool for this is a visualization. It’s become a Sunday ritual. I get comfortable and let my body relax while my spirit travels to the outposts, the farthest limits of my boundaries (note: that’s different than the furthest reaches of my energy). That place looks like castle walls. In this realm, I walk the walls. I stalk hooks and intruders, erosion and breakage. I repair and defend. But most importantly, I discern who and what is welcomed in.
During the week I check in with those walls when it feels like someone is closing in on me or siphoning off energy without permission. If I feel watched, tracked, attacked, or off balance, I take to the boundaries and feel into where needs my attention. This is how I find and mend energy leaks.
2015 has been a year of transition for me, of dismantling the structure of my life and rebuilding a reality infused with my truth. I have allowed my power to be strengthened by the Divine, which has in turn stretched my capacity for surrender.
In any transition, up-level, or huge leap forward, there’s inevitably some darkness. While this has been a really exciting year, it’s also been really challenging, full of days and weeks cloaked in doubt, fear, and inertia. I think I’ve cried more in these twelve months than I have in the last twelve years combined.
Through that darkness, some serious light has emerged. First, my beautiful business, which surprises and delights me every single day, has grown into a life of its own. That alone leaves me in awe and gratitude. Second, I’ve released unhealthy relationships and invited in new people that love me as I am and make my life so much richer. Third and most important, my inner life has blossomed in the freedom I’ve afforded it.
I’ve reintegrated the practices of prayer, worship, and spiritual warfare that I grew up with and woven in newer practices like mantras to ancient goddesses, deep lucid dreaming, archetypal exploration, and regular work with spirit animals. Combined, it feels like I have the inner life I’ve always dreamed of but could never quite “achieve.” There were always pieces missing. I always resisted pieces of me, thinking that I couldn’t or shouldn’t bring together all the spiritual practices that I found nourishing because they were from different faith traditions. Now I feel whole.
Bringing together all of my spiritual practices was a game-changer. There’s something explosive and magical that happens when you acknowledge and embrace all of you who you are, even if that means being a living contradiction in the eyes of the world. In a single day, I might offer a mantra to the Goddess Parvati, engage a demon in spiritual warfare, say the rosary, worship God with song, go deep into the prayer of yoga, and play in an enchanted forest with my lioness, dragon, falcon, and wolf. In the same day, I may shift between the warrior, queen, and healer archetypes – my holy trinity. I may address God as my inner flame, my lover, my breath, and my friend.
Here’s the truth of this year: When I devote and surrender to a spiritual practice, no matter what it looks like, it carries me forward through the darkness and deep into the profound nature of my life light.
photo by Chelse Thompson
p.s. here’s my theme for 2016.