Archive for July, 2011

So I’m in the process of treating a recently diagnosed torn meniscus in my right knee.

Does having an injury mean my power animals weren’t watching out for me?

Not at all.

Power animals don’t control our lives, learn our lessons for us, or take over when we need to be taking care of ourselves. Spirit helpers in the form of animals, they are powerful, loving, wise beings who are sources of protection, wisdom, and a different perspective, but we should never give over our free will to them, never be bossed around by them, and never expect them to do for us what we should do for ourselves.

Power animals do indeed protect us – sometimes by giving us a head’s up that we should do one thing instead of another, sometimes by their communications with other beings on our behalf – but only if it’s in our best interest and doesn’t rob us of an opportunity for growth. And they can help alleviate the degree of suffering in our lessons by letting us know we’re not going through it alone, by helping us learn our lessons, and by helping the healing process along – if we ask for their help and if we pay attention.

Illnesses, if we approach them consciously, can teach us many things about ourselves and our relationship to the universe. They can also be a sign that we need a soul retrieval, or an extraction, or some other kind of healing work in addition to physical healing. Sometimes the healing that is most important isn’t physical “curing.” What does the illness have to teach us? Sometimes that is the healing we need the most.

One of the lessons I am learning from my torn meniscus is about taking care of my body and its ever-changing needs. Like the need to stretch before an afternoon of deep squatting at the Los Angeles River while picking up trash, followed by two weeks of vacationing in New Mexico. Which is, apparently, how I tore my knee. And I also journeyed to my spirit helpers about my knee to see if there was any healing or information they could share, and ended up having a soul part returned from a previous lifetime that had been lost due to knee trauma several hundred years ago. On a physical level, I have had x-rays and an MRI, and will probably be having arthroscopic surgery in the not-too-distant future. I’m grateful for all modalities.

It’s important to address all levels of injuries and illnesses – physical, spiritual, mental, emotional. Address their underlying patterns and causes, their current symptoms, and our relationship to them. We can journey directly to them as well, not as enemies, but as beloved friends with whom we are going through a rough time. Our bodies are amazing teachers. If we listen to what they’re saying instead of shutting them down when they’re pain, we have a better chance of keeping them healthier in the long-term.

I’d love to hear your experiences around this. How do you relate to your power animals? Please feel free to leave comments below, or you can email me at lynda@lyndaskeen.com.

I look forward to hearing from you!

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Start where you are.  Breathe in and thank the air circulating through your body.  The same air that circulates around the rest of the planet.  The same air being inhaled and exhaled by all the other humans, animals, plants, and life forms on the planet.

Thank the sun for its life giving fire.  Thank your heart for its life giving pulse.  Thank the fire in your belly that gets you up each day.

Drink a glass of water and feel gratitude and connection with the water that was at some point in the ocean and sky.  The same water that has been circulating around the planet like waves since it was first created.

And thank the earth that is under your feet and in your bones.

We are not separate from nature.  We are part of nature.  And when we offer gratitude, we activate our connection to the rest of the web of life, the rest of all that is.  We can feel our connection resonating.  As our heart opens, we know we are not alone.

A daily gratitude practice helps my mind to calm down and my heart to open.   A daily gratitude practice can be simple.  As simple as acknowledging the elements and directions in the morning, or saying grace before a meal to thank not only the Creator for the meal but the life forms (whether cow or carrot) whose life force you will be feeding on.

And I frequently journey just to hang out with my helping spirits and thank them for all of their support and friendship and guidance.

Gratitude grounds the cosmic concept of “all is one” into reality and opens our hearts to what that really means, allowing us to experience our connection to the rest of life, to know that we are not alone.  And that, in my opinion, is worth being very thankful for.

© Lynda Skeen

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I recently came up for air after watching three consecutive seasons of the TV series “Breaking Bad.” I’d been avoiding it on TV because I hadn’t wanted to get involved with a meth dealer, but my husband finally convinced me to give it a try. Wow. I was hooked after one episode and didn’t stop watching until I was all caught up and ready for the season 4 premier last weekend. Amazing writing, acting, subject matter, and New Mexico landscapes.

But I found I needed to take a break between episodes to remind myself that it was only a show, that it wasn’t my actual life. I wasn’t cooking meth in a trailer in my driveway; the drug cartel wasn’t after me or my with axes; I wasn’t addicted to this substance that could take over my life and take away my freedom.

Of course, I could choose to be a meth dealer, or a meth addict, or both. I could choose to live that life. I could choose not to come up for air between episodes. I could create that reality.

The way I understand the whole “you create your own reality” thing is that there is a larger, objective reality of which we are a part – the reality created by Spirit. There is the reality we have all agreed to be a part of, the natural world with rules such as gravity. And there is the reality we create with our mind, our beliefs, and our consciousness.

It helps to come up for air each day and decide what we want to create. Maybe we just want to experience something as a voyeur for a couple of hours by watching a DVD. Or maybe we actually want something to be a part of our larger life.

It’s up to us. Who do we believe we are? Who do we think we are? Who are we actually? Who do we want to be?

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I’ve been enjoying reading Traveling between the Worlds, Conversations with Contemporary Shamans, by Hillary S. Webb.  Lots of food for thought.  Like this quote on page 68 from Gabrielle Roth:  “People today are still very reliant upon indigenous cultures, indigenous models, indigenous pictures of what a shaman is.  Although the work of a shaman is timeless, the form of it, the theater of it, the energy of it will have to change because shamanism is indigenous to its time and place.”

Indigenous can be defined not only as “originating in and characteristic of a particular region or country” but as “innate; inherent; natural” (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/indigenous).

Our spirituality can honor both where we come from as well as where we are now.  We all come from a culture that is indigenous somewhere if we go back far enough.  But what about this life – what is “innate, inherent, and natural” to us right here, right now in the 21st century, whether we’re shamans or secretaries (or both), cooks, actors, river runners or whatever?  What resonates in the bones of the body we live in in this life?

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So the other morning I dipped a metal scoop into a bag of dry cat food to feed our cats, but I could feel without looking that it wasn’t picking up any food, even though there was plenty in the bag.

After a couple of tries, I finally pulled the scoop out and looked at it.

I’d had it turned around backwards. The food just slid off the flat side of the scoop even though there was plenty of food and plenty of room in the scoop – the other side of the scoop.

It doesn’t do any good to have an empty scoop or a beginner’s mind if you effectively put a lid on it or point it in the wrong direction.

“If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.” – Shunryu Suzuki,
Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind (p. 21)

p.s. The cats ultimately did not go hungry.

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I’ve mentioned shamanic journeying several times, so I thought I’d explain what I mean by that.

Shamanic Journeying refers to entering an altered state of consciousness to connect to your spirit helpers.  I use drumming and rattling, but there are other ways as well.  Although I connect with my helping spirits throughout the day, when I journey, I am more sure that my mind is not in control.  My first journey was meeting my power animal (a helping spirit in animal form), and I was overwhelmed with the sense of homecoming I felt from the first drumbeat to the callback drumbeat a few minutes later.  It seems to be in our DNA; we seem to be hardwired for it.  People have been journeying since there were first people banging sticks around a campfire.  You can journey no matter what your religion; you don’t have to believe or not believe in it – it is to be experienced.  That’s the beauty of shamanism – it’s experiential, not something you have to close your eyes, cross your fingers, click your heels three times, and hope for the best for.

But I digress.

Most people are able to learn to journey pretty easily.  I like to teach my clients to journey to their returned soul parts or to their power animal and other spirit helpers during a session – I want them to be able to journey on their own after they leave my healing space.  If journeying doesn’t resonate with them, I help them explore other ways of connecting with their source of spiritual power, whether it’s meditation or yoga or tai chi or whatever.  And regardless of what their path is, I always encourage people to connect to the natural world.  To find a tree to lean against.  To appreciate the beauty of a full moon.  To listen to the sound of surf against sand.  To close their eyes and smell sage baking in the sun.

We are blessed to be able to drum and journey, dance and pray and meditate in whatever combinations resonate with our soul.  It hasn’t always been this way.

Here is a photo of my drum and a couple of my rattles.

© Lynda Skeen

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A true gem

(from doña Esra’s Facebook page)

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