Monday, 1 December 2014

Merry Everything!

Have you noticed the indignation of people who are upset because people are saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas"?  I am a bit confused by it all.  For most of my adult life the companies I worked for sent out "Seasons Greetings" cards in order to be all-inclusive so why now the big palaver?

I honestly wonder if when asked the people know what it is that they are complaining about. Now before you throw me under the bus, or should I say sleigh, by no means am I belittling or demeaning the Christian, Christmas traditions.  Christ Mass, the birth of Jesus Christ… that is after all what Christmas stands for.  There are millions of Christians around the world who will be celebrating with a tree, Santa, presents, lights and food, but also going to Church, Mass or whatever their Christian denomination denotes.

Some of my confusion stems from the fact that many of the people getting upset aren't necessarily the ones who follow the Christian tradition of Worship.  It is my humble opinion that the blatant commercialization of Christmas is causing far more harm than saying Happy Holidays. From now until December 24th we will be bombarded with buy, buy, buy!  Christ is so far removed from Christmas it can’t be made any more ludicrous by saying Happy Holidays. In fact I feel they are doing us a favour by including all others.

I remember well when my children were young and we had been in North America for a few years; as I was preparing for Christmas I asked them if they knew why we celebrate Christmas.  I was taken aback when I learnt that they didn’t have a clue, all they knew was that they get presents.  Needless to say I remedied it that year and we went to a little Lutheran Church on Christmas Eve so they could learn what it was all about.  If we were to celebrate Christmas it seemed important to me that they know and understand.  The fact that I follow another path is neither here nor there.

What is this time of year really about, not just for Christian, Jews, people who celebrate Kwanzaa or even Pagans?  It is about peace, harmony, love, joy, letting go of differences and blessings. So, I say - say whatever you like, as long as you mean it and you are wishing the other person peace, joy and many blessings from your heart!

Love and Light

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Do you know your darkness?

I will ask again..."Do you know your Darkness?"  Have you made friends with it, healed it or do you at least understand it?  

So many of us only want to see the "good" in life.  We want life to be like the fairy-tales we were told when we were little.  The men are all hero's and the women are saved from a terrible life by a handsome prince charging in.  Picket fences and all that.

Then we get to the age where something changes.  It happens to all of us sooner or later. Somewhere between the ages of six and nine everything we believed in is broken and we are left to pick up the pieces and try to make sense of it all.  The first seed of doubt, pain and fear is planted and then we feed it, allowing it to grow.  

Innocence is lost.  It could be as small as disappointment in your parents voice or as big as abuse it is all the same for the one suffering the pain and humiliation.  Some become vindictive, lying and causing hurt for others while others fold in upon themselves like origami burying the shame deep within the folds.

Now as the Darkness of November approaches, it is time to pull the hurt, shame and loss out.  Examine it carefully and drag it into the light.  Heal the self and above all forgive the self.  Real forgiveness for yourself and others will allow the hurt to shift and be transformed.  The darkness will always remain but if you know where it is and how it was created you can work with it and use it to become whole and balanced.  Light and dark equal and partners in the path ahead.

You have a choice!  You can choose to let go of the past and live in balance truly knowing who you are....

Love and Light!

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Relationships... the eternal challenge!

People have problems every day; at work, home and even socially and when you peel away the layers it all boils down to relationships. Many people are unable to negotiate relationships. We would like to think that love is enough to make a relationship survive but it takes more than that for it to be healthy. When the heady feeling of love and lust has ended the hard work begins to keep the relationship strong. The first thing you should know is that all your relationships are about you. If the relationship doesn't feed you on every level there will always be a gap in your life. What are the biggest triggers for relationships you ask? Here are ten examples that I see on a regular basis in personal relationships:

1. The people in the relationship think as individuals.
If you are not dreaming a common future and do not have the same dreams and goals nothing will save the relationship as you want different things. Therefore if there are too many “I’s” and not enough “We’s” it is probably best to let it go.

2. Fear of asking for what you need.
Most people know in their gut that the relationship is not what it is supposed to be. Not only do they ignore all the signs they are too afraid to speak up and ask for what they need from the other person. This fear is often driven by a feeling that should they ask for what they need the relationship would most likely dissolve. The strange thing is that if they eventually gather up the courage and ask, the result if usually favourable.

3. Not asking the hard questions.
It is amazing how many of us figure out too late that the other person doesn't share our values i.e. want to get married, or have kids, or how they feel about looking after aging parents or even how to blend two families, raising children . When these issues arise, and they will, it can cause an eruption in the relationship. Granted, some relationships survive the bump in the road but depending on the importance of the matter some don’t.

4. Think they can change the other person.
The fact is people change all the time however we are not talking about those changes. We are talking about traits that you don’t like in your partner right from the beginning. Thinking that you can change the person into your vision of what and ideal partner should be is a recipe for disaster. Love is warts and all, if you can’t deal with the character trait… move on.

5. The relationship is out of balance.
The relationship is out of balance when one of the people in the relationship gives far too much and the other takes without giving much in return. Two things happen in this situation. Firstly the person giving starts to feel resentful and used. The other feels guilty for accepting and frequently manipulated and emotionally blackmailed.  

6. Lack of mutual respect.
This is where one partner feels spoken down to and the other is always in control. It is a slippery slope where eventually one of the partners feels like nothing they do is ever right. Sometimes this is a mirror for the other person to see that there are control issues at work but mostly it results in one person feeling minimized. If this lack of respect is left unchecked it can spiral down into mental abuse.

7. Interests in and outside the relationship.
It is important to have shared interests however it is equally important to have interests outside the relationship in order for each person to retain their own sense of identity.

8. Not being present.
When you are together you need to be present in the moment. When one partner is distracted and not engaged with the other or the relationship it will eventually end.

9. Neediness.
Although some people actively seek out people who are needy, I call it the “Knight in Shining Armour Syndrome,” the game quickly wears thin. In the end the Knight will tire of all the saving and when that happens, the other person will end up feeling abandoned. It seldom ends well.

10. Jealousy.
Jealousy is a death knell to most relationships. The jealous person is suffering from low self-esteem and has much work to do to heal while the other person is often victimized within the relationship, blamed for things he or she has not done and left feeling anxious and fearful. There is a good possibility that jealousy will spiral downward into physical abuse.

Don’t worry… normally we don’t have to deal with all of these in every relationship and some of them never present. The key to dealing with all of the above is communication! It is essential to face your fear and speak your truth from a neutral position and take responsibility for your part in the relationship.

Love & Light

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Transcending Ego

Transcending Ego – this statement has given me much food for thought.  It is held as a beacon as something to aspire to but what does it really mean?  In order to understand it you have to go back to what the word Ego really means.  There are a few definitions:
  1.    A person’s sense of self-esteem, self-worth, self-respect, self-image
  2.  Psychoanalysis - The part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity.
  3. Philosophy – A conscious thinking subject

Does that mean that without an Ego we would have no sense of self?  If I transcend my ego what happens to my sense of self?  Do I become self-less and is that even possible?  The definition of Selflessness is:
  •  Having little or no concern for oneself. 

In my way of thinking that doesn't sound healthy from a day to day perspective.  Of course if one was acting selflessly in a moment of danger, then it means something else altogether.

I believe my Ego is where the development of my multiple processes, cognitive function, defenses, and interpersonal skills emerged.  It has shaped me in many ways.  Then how do I transcend it and why would I want to?  To kill off the ego would make me psychotic… not a Sage.

Human beings all have ego and this is not a bad thing. We are designed to want instant gratification and without our ego’s we would act of every desire and whim good or bad.  Just think of a baby and how it reacts and interacts with its world.  It wants its needs seen to immediately – should you make it wait, then the baby will cry incessantly until the needs are met.  Our Ego’s help us determine what is good for us and shapes our reality.  It is when this ego is out of balance that we have a problem.

The unfortunate thing about our egos is that it often “lies” to us.  It deploys a defense mechanism in order to help us cope with the reality we create.  This is especially true when we are making choices that are in conflict with social norms, our own personal morals or taboos.  The defense mechanisms come in many forms such as, denial, displacement, intellectualisation, fantasy, compensation, projection, rationalization, reaction formation, regression, repression, and sublimation.  Our fear also resides in this place of ego and if our ego feels that we are putting ourselves in harm’s way it will stop us in our tracks.  That little voice that says:  No;  You can’t;  You’ll fail if you try… it resides there in the basic instinct of our Ego’s.    

In my practice I have seen many people who have employed one, many or all of the defense mechanisms because of Fear and the greatest fear is one of change.  The biggest problem is that they then make the decision to squash the ego and not act at all becoming immobilized by their fear.  They start feeling stuck.  The Ego must be heard for the individual to move forward and ignoring it just makes everything worse.  This does not have to be “transcendence” but rather finding a way to put it at ease.

One of the techniques I teach is an ancient Hawaiian Ritual called Ho’oponopono.  It comes in four parts; I love you, I am sorry, I thank you, I forgive you, ending with I love you.  This ritual allows you to clear the ego and allow it to feel heard instead of suppressed.  It allows you to find the courage to make the change you need to and step outside your comfort-zone. 

Keep in mind that Egotism is something completely different.  This is a place of self-importance, entitlement and arrogance.  I feel that people often confuse Egotism with Ego and that it has become one and the same in people’s minds.   When you are acting out of self-interest and narcissism and only thinking of how things affect you with no concern for others then you have another issue altogether.  In Shamanism we know that Self-Pity is the other side of the coin of Self-Importance.  That makes sense really; you have to have an inflated sense of self to feel sorry for yourself.

As for transcendence of the ego, I am still working on it.  What is transcending ego really mean you ask? It is to have knowledge of your True-Self and realizing your true nature.  There are times when I feel that I have connected with my higher self and that I no longer hold the view of myself as limited but rather as limitless.  I aspire to connect to my true self, the one that has no boundaries and engage in my life more fully, with a deeper connection to Spirit using the Self and Co-creation to accomplish my goals.  It is a strenuous task at times with all the external noise that we have in our lives but when it happens it is joyous and nothing short of a miracle…

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Mental Illness

With the suicide of Robin Williams everyone is talking about the seriousness of Mental Illness and how devastating it can be. Depression hurts in more than one way and sometimes the person pays the ultimate price. From the psychological and psychiatric perspective, a mental disorder is an illness with psychological or behavioral manifestations associated with impaired functioning. It can be due to biological, social, psychological, genetic, physical or chemical disturbance. It is measured in terms of deviation from some normative concept. Each illness has characteristic signs and symptoms. From a Shamanic perspective, mental illness is caused from mal-adaptive patterns of pain that impact a person's meaning and purpose in life to the point of causing their emotions and inner dialogue to erupt. This causes an interruption in how a person perceives reality. The person then creates an adapted reality in order to cope. My question is, who decides what is normal? Everyone responds to pain differently. Also, we can't continue to only treat the symptoms. A pill may lessen the anxiety but it will not heal the underlying pain. This is the major cause of relapse for many. When you are well you will take the medication but when stressed you won't in which case you will once again slip into your own private hell. With Shamanism we help people find the heart of the matter and heal the pain that is causing the mal-adaptive patterns. It is a healing process that allows the person control over what they think and feel and gives them valuable tools to counteract their reaction to pain triggers. Awareness is crucial! This healing process however requires determination, and commitment, and in this day and age of immediate gratification feels like too much work for some. I don't know how often I hear someone say, "I don't have money for that." (healing). Then they buy cup after cup of coffee... shop for things they don't need or buy illicit drugs to dull the pain. When will people learn to prioritize their health? Although Shamanism affords most people a much faster healing path there is still time and effort involved. There is no such thing as a quick fix when it comes to mental health...

Friday, 4 July 2014

Independence Day

This year I am in the USA celebrating the 4th of July with my American honey. It is the first time I have actually been State-side for this celebration and I am paying close attention to what is happening in our neighbourhood. It is mid morning and like any other weekend morning people are out mowing lawns, washing muscle-cars or the houses and yards look quiet. I am sitting at the kitchen table writing this blog while eating "biltong" which we bought on our way down in Oakville, Ontario. So that should give you some idea where I am from. Later today we are going to have what Richard refers to as "a cook-out" otherwise known as a "BBQ" in Canada or a "braai" in South Africa. As I sit here typing away I reflect of all the different culture I have been exposed to. In my own homeland South Africa all the African cultures, Afrikaans, English, Sesotho, Zulu, Xhoza, Swahili, Venda and many more. Since I have moved to North America I have embraced Canadian, Native American cultures and now also American... it seems endless! Americans fought a hard battle for Independence. The right to make their own decisions and determine their fate. What does Independence really mean to me? Freedom to choose my own path. It means that no-one but me can decide how I should live my life. With that right comes responsibility. I have to take responsibility for all my choices. I can never blame someone else for events in my life. On a spiritual level Independence means that I have stopped listening to fear. I opened my heart to learning and thinking new thoughts and making the unknown my friend so that I can be fearless in going forward and following my chosen path. I have made peace with the part of me that lives in the shadows and I am gently healing the scars that I created. I too have fought a battle to bring all of me into the light and make myself whole. I have unleashed my shinning by teaching, and guiding others towards their own healing. This is an honour and a responsibility that I do not take lightly. My medicine has become an integral part of me and I pledge myself to it.... Love & Light!