Archive for August, 2011

I’ve recently been out of commission for a few days to have knee surgery on a torn meniscus.  I’m still recovering, but look forward to being able to use both my legs again to go hiking and do yoga on both sides of my body.

As I was hobbling around our house after the surgery, I realized I was limping like I had been before the surgery, not necessarily as I needed to limp after the surgery.  My body had picked up some ways of moving that weren’t necessarily appropriate any longer, but I was still using them.

How many other things have I been reacting to out of habit?

Part of the healing process is the integration process afterwards.  This is true whether it’s a soul retrieval, spirit release, or meniscus surgery.  Things are different after the healing, and we need to let ourselves be different.  There might be a period of time when we are sorting out what’s what, like clearing the smoke out of a room after the actual fire’s gone out, but eventually we want to make sure we are responding to what is, not to how things used to be or how we’re afraid they are.

When you are in an argument with your partner, are you responding to something they actually said, or something a parent screamed at you 40 years ago?

When you decide not to wear something because you don’t like how it looks on you, is it because you really don’t think it looks good on you, or because on old boyfriend or girlfriend told you you were ugly in a similar color when you were in college?  Let your old patterns and fear be pointers to old hurts that need attention and healing.

What does your body actually look like?  What actually makes your soul happy today?

And if you’re still limping, do you really need to be?

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When I moved to Los Angeles, one of the first things I did was to start container gardening in the back yard and driveway of our rental duplex. I also started a worm bin, and promptly fell in love with worms. The red wigglers used for vermicomposting, as it’s called, are a bit different than the earthworms I’d always been fond of, but are of the same general personality type. I looked forward to looking under the bin’s lid every day to see what had changed. To getting to know these gentle, quiet, tireless creatures. And I journeyed to them a lot, getting to know them in both ordinary and non-ordinary reality.

After several years of rough drafts of poems trying to express my relationship with these creatures, the worms themselves asked for a voice. I’ve always loved St. Francis of Assisi’s “Prayer for Peace,” and the Worm Spirit began to use that as a template for communicating.

As this year’s vegetable garden starts winding down, I thought I would share the poem that came through from the Worm Spirit, and encourage you to connect – both in ordinary and non-ordinary reality – with the spirit of the living beings that surround you, no matter how humble they may seem.

May your day be filled with wonder and transformation. And I highly recommend worm composting!


after St. Francis of Assisi’s “Prayer for Peace”


Surrender to our subtle, quiet mysteries,
and let us help you find peace.
Where there are stormy fires of undigested passion,
where there is the new pain of unreleased injury,
we offer you the cool salve of earth and silence.
Where there is doubt and mistrust,
we offer you the imperturbable elegance
of transformation.
When you are stifled by despair,
we offer our rich castings of promise.
For your sadness, we offer the gentle smiles of our curves.
In our darkness, feel the comfort of shadow.

Release all that no longer nourishes you.
Allow yourselves to slough off the old, to grow,
to acknowledge mistakes,
to say, “this isn’t working anymore, this isn’t right,
this isn’t doing anyone any good.”
Together let us explore the silent, mysterious journey,
the non-linear churnings,
the indispensable winding detours.
Let us turn your leftover mustard greens and sweet melon rinds,
your jagged egg shells and ignorance
into new gardens flowering with broccoli and lettuce,
cherry tomatoes, daffodils, and wisdom.
Let us teach you
of time’s unhurried alchemy.

Till your gardens with kindness.
Slip under the earth’s brittle crust with us
and delight in the infinite, hushed shades of our brownness,
and the fertility of decomposition,
as we wrap our long, comfortable bodies around the world,
transforming the world
one moment at a time.

May the cycle of blessings
and the blessings of the cycle
nourish, sustain, and intrigue you.



(“Worms” © Lynda Skeen, with thanks to the publications Abalone Moon and Tiger’s Eye where it was previously published)

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I’m grateful having a good dentist and oral surgeon to take care of this tooth.

I’m grateful for anesthetics (even if needles are involved) and nitrous oxide.

I’m grateful for having a car to get me there, and the chocolate sorbet and seedless watermelon that will be waiting for me when I get home.

I’m so thankful for my teeth, which have been healthy most of my life.  This is my first root canal.  It started as a crown (my first crown) a few weeks ago; one thing led to another, and here I am, nervous but very grateful.

The sun is shining. I will soon be able to eat on both sides of my mouth again.

It’s a beautiful day for a root canal.

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I’d been trying to write this post to describe the basics of shamanic healing, but for some reason I’d been blocked.  And it finally dawned on me why:  I’d been too focused on the list of the techniques, while the actual beauty and power of shamanism is something much greater than any linear description of a process could capture

As much as possible, the practitioner is a “hollow bone” for Spirit to work through.  Shamanic healing is about Spirit coming through the healer, who is a facilitator, not the one actually doing the healing.  It’s more of a co-creative process.  The client, the practitioner, the helping spirits – we all need to do our parts in order for the outcome to be as positive as it can be.

A shamanic healing session is about restoring your soul to balance.  It’s about returning parts of yourself to you that you might have lost connection with, releasing energies that you might have collected along the way that aren’t doing you any good, and learning how to maintain a healthy balance once it’s reestablished.

It’s about waking you up to what makes your soul sing, what makes you feel alive, discovering your passion and creativity and your reason for being on the planet.  It’s about learning to consciously connect with your sources of spiritual power, changing the dynamics of your relationship with any challenges in your life, and honoring your part in the whole of All That Is as well as the parts that other beings play as well.

Healing sessions are a constant flow of energy in and energy out.  In addition to energy work and journeying, for “energy in” I might work with soul retrieval and power animal retrieval.  “Energy out” techniques include extraction, cord cutting, and spirit release.  And I offer suggestions for ways you can continue to work on these things after your session with me.

In a nutshell, shamanic healing is about reclaiming joy and releasing suffering.

And some other cool stuff in between.

© Lynda Skeen

© Lynda Skeen

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I was recently at a poetry reading and reconnected with poetry friends and the teacher of a poetry workshop I haven’t attended for a few years.  I hadn’t seen them in a long time, and when they asked, “So, are you still writing?” I had to pause before answering.  Yes, I’m still writing, but it’s changed a lot in the past few years.

A funny thing happened when I hung up my Shamanic Reiki Practitioner shingle and started seeing clients on a regular basis.   I found that healing work came from and nourished the same place in me that my poetry came from and nourished, so I actually wasn’t writing poetry as much.   For some reason this surprised me.  Why wasn’t I sending out submissions and looking forward to publication like I had been?  The drive had just evaporated.  Not completely, but pretty much.  My healing work is filled with the same mystery, metaphor, creativity, and connection to Spirit that my poetry is.

I think what’s happening is I’m being asked to let my poetry take a break for awhile.  There are still half-finished poems I want to get back to, and rumblings of new ones that are asking for a voice.  And I did send one out last week for consideration in a contest.

But I think we need to let our creativity and connection to the Mystery be flexible.  We need to let go of old dance steps and learn some new ones.  Not that we stop dancing.  Just that we might tango instead of doing aerobics for awhile.

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Today, let me remember that nothing stays still. Let me remember that the wheel keeps turning. That no matter what phase things are in, it won’t last forever. Let me acknowledge and honor all the directions and the gifts that they bring.

Let me breathe in the air of the East, the air of newness, of spring, of fresh beginnings.

Let me bask in the fire of the South, of the heat of summer, of things as they come to fruition.

Let me rest in the gentle waters of the West, in the cooling down phase of autumn.

And let me honor the deep earthy resting winter of the North, the time of pause between one thing and another.

No wheel is made of just one spoke. No trip around the sun is made of just one season. No day is just one position of the sun. No life is just one expression of a face.

And let me acknowledge and honor this ongoing cycle of impermanence with a heart full of compassion and love for all beings as we move through this mystery together.

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