Archive for the ‘centering techniques’ Category

Ode to Serena and the Mastery of Power

Monday, July 20th, 2015


I’m a big tennis fan, and so Wimbledon on TV was a bonus during this time of recovering from foot surgery. Feeling rather powerless and in need of some inspiration, a second bonus was spotting the invisible battle going on while Serena was winning the singles championship at 33.

Watching the outer battle…I mean, wow. The woman is a national symbol of the potential for feminine power. I remember watching her play with her sister when they were teenagers, the only black feminine faces in a privileged white sport. Not only have they both risen through the ranks, Serena has navigated the politics of sports, become an international star, and now has maintained and surpassed herself. She has overcome injuries, illness, inevitable aging, incredible competition—and is dominant in the world of athletics. That’s power.

Still, in her final match I watched her battle the personal demons that have come out to haunt her on international television in the past. As she admitted in her interview, her biggest challenge is not physical, but mental. Despite all her achievement, training, hard work and success, mastering herself is the hardest work of all.

I have compassion for her in this struggle. Tennis was my sport, and my biggest enemy was myself. I could rip myself apart faster and more viciously than any critic could have managed. I never did master myself through the crucible of tennis.

Watching Serena reminded me of the Hindu story of Arjuna, Krishna and the chariot. Lord Krishna drives a chariot onto the battlefield and Arjuna is a passenger seated in the back. Arjuna represents the embodied individual soul and Krishna, the higher Self– going into the midst of a battle between the armies of our “lower nature” and our Divine nature, on the inner battlefield. The reins are the mind, the horses the senses. And the whole operation works depends on collaboration between them all. (

I saw Serena’s real battle was to harness and channel the huge power she has amassed. It can be used, like all power, for destruction or for good. The bigger the power and the more fully we enter the bigger area, the more intense the tension gets. Looking through my lens it was not, “Will Serena beat Garbine Muguruza?” as much as it was “Will Serena let Arjuna keep the reins?”

Under pressure, we are all tempted to regress into the habit of allowing our ego or smaller self to grab those reins, triggered by whatever bugs us the most. When Serena’s serve goes sour, it must feel like her power is betraying and eluding her. Her ego must want to scream out obscenities and try to force the issue.

The maddening thing is, the opposite is required. The real battle is to create enough quiet to remain the neutral witness, to listen to higher instruction, to trust that magical flow is just outside our reach, possible once again if we relax and allow it. Letting go over forcing the chariot. Trust over fear.

It’s a mighty challenge for every one of us, collectively and individually. And at the top level of sports, we see the truth: that in a battlefield where every top player has already achieved top fitness, strategy and skill, it comes down to the inner stuff.

What we’re all after is Realization, or whatever you’d like to call it. Peace, happiness, joy, flow. We’ve all had it, and we’ve all lost it. Every one of us is on that battlefield and the skirmishes won’t stop, whether we’re playing on a tiny neighborhood court or in the halls of Washington.

Who’s driving your chariot, or piloting your plane? Are you even acquainted with that higher Self? You’ve met her in those moments where the magical flow just swept you along through difficulties you didn’t think you could master. That’s what I’d call your Arjuna, your Divine Self. You could just call it The Friend. I call it Big Pam, as opposed to Little One.

How can you allow the Friend to take the reins again? Well, I think the first step is always, Just STOP. When anger or panic or pushing or striving or forcing has got you by the throat, just STOP.

Now breathe. Just breathe right into the feeling, wherever it lives in your body. Give it a chance. Give it a little space, a little pat. It’s just your own private angry toddler. Surely you won’t let it drive. You know how that ends. DUI’s or worse.

Now ask. Ask your Self, your heart, for help driving this unruly vehicle. Ask, and it shall be given. Maybe you won’t win the match. But you will have practiced your power serve. You will be one step closer to what I see Serena mastering: authentic power.

Finally, thank your inner Self, your master charioteer. Serena thanks her Jehovah God, which used to annoy me. But now I get it. “It is His strength I rely on,” she confessed. You can call your charioteer Joe if you want, or Delilah. But when you have surrendered the reins and harvested the reward, give thanks and then try to keep doing that.

Your inner crowd will stand up and cheer.


Tools for Taking Back the Pilot’s Seat

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Sometimes I cringe when I meet someone who asks me what I do. Answering either “life coach” or certainly “energy medicine practitioner” or for sure, “shamanic practitioner” can lead to immediate Eyes Glazing Over Syndrome.

Sometimes I do better when I tell a client story, but the best approach is asking questions. Like, “Have you ever had the feeling that something is missing in your life, even if you’ve read a lot of books, had therapy or tried meditating?” (At this point, I am checking for “Woo Woo, Checking Out Now Syndrome.)

But I persist. “Do you ever feel confused about your purpose? Or feel that your passion for your life has gone flat?”

Even though such complaints are vague, most of us have experienced them. Someone who says “Absolutely not” would probably not want life coaching or any personal development enrichment.

In reality, we have all experienced feelings that some might call burnout, and others might describe as being out of balance. Even someone who has never quite found that path, that center, usually can recognize these symptoms. The vocabulary isn’t important. And so…what?

I would call the feeling of being in our center, on our path, feeling passion and purpose “the pilot’s seat.” And I would say that the one who has taken the pilot’s seat in such moments must be the essential self. The one who is all about our life force, or soul.

Sometimes the essential self manages to take the pilot’s seat “by accident,” or really without our effort. In those moments we might call grace, we simply know and we simply are.

When you’ve been there, it’s painful to be dislodged from the pilot’s seat, or to have it commandeered by sub-personalities, or by the ego, who is not well-connected to essence.

Sometimes just the awareness of being off-center is enough to correct the situation. Other times, we need help. We need tools. Here are some to consider:

  •   Deep talk, soul sharing with a friend or advisor who listens well
  •   Traveling into invisible realms for guidance, through meditation, prayer, dreams or shamanic journeying—or my Sand Spirits Insight Cards!
  •  Any breathwork or meditation system that leads you back into your heart
  •  Asking the Great Mystery for help
  • Work with changing old beliefs and releasing old patterns

If any of this resonates with you, I invite you to call me for a complementary phone consultation. Or if this has helped you remember your own tools, please add your comment!

Getting ready for fall

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Sand Spirit Insight card #1

It doesn’t feel at all like fall yet in Tucson, but they tell us that the fall equinox is Wednesday, September 22. This marks the beginning of fall in the northern hemisphere. So I drew a Sand Spirit card, asking the question in the title: how do I best get ready for fall?

I drew card #1, which looks to me like a being who is very still and focused inside. I see the hands in prayer, and I see another being or energy in the lower right hand corner–perhaps another person or issue that is in the outer world. What do you see in this image?

This being tells me this is a good time for me to be focused inward, to remain calm and remember who I truly am. What does your image have to say to you?

Fall is a new beginning for many of us who grew accustomed to school beginning, and thus entering a “new year.” I used to buy day timers that went from September to September. Does a new chapter begin for you in fall?

I’ve recently gotten a little more interested in numerology and how it relates to the Sand Spirits. #1 is all about new beginnings. And September, being the 9th month, is all about completions, prior to October, being a #10, which reduces to a #1. So the message I get is, focus inside and find that still place, that place of reverence and prayer and solid ground–so that you can be calm as you complete things this month and prepare for new beginnings next month.

Finding the still place resonates with me, because I’m finishing the editing of the first of the seven lessons in my book, Flying Lessons. The first lesson is “Know Where You’re Going to Land.” It’s all about finding solid ground inside.

What is your safe landing space in life? Do you look to relationships? To your job? Do you have a still place inside that is there despite outer circumstances? Surely we all need this in times like these.

I wish for you that you see something inspiring in this message and that you use it to get yourself ready for fall, for new beginnings, and for strengthening that place within you that represents solid ground.

Slowing down long enough to see

Friday, April 30th, 2010

speedAmong the many prophesies about these challenging times we are inhabiting, the Hopi have commented on how things will continue to speed up. And their advice? “When things speed up, slow down.”

Isn’t it true that when we do slow down, the days seem longer? When we were children, time went so slowly. As we grow older and accelerate our “progress,” time speeds up. Proof that time is relative.

And isn’t it true that right now everything seems accelerated? For me it seems harder to stay in touch with everyone on a deep level, in spite of all the social media. Lives are getting more challenging and complex. Things are speeding up.

All the mindful meditation practices encourage us to notice all the elements of this very moment. That is slowing down to the now. And when I do that, I can actually see where I am. See better what drives me, what delights me. See more clearly what action I’d like to take next.  See more wholly how I can serve.

What do you think about time? Is it running you? Are you “running” out of time? Or are you pausing, stepping out of time? Slowing down long enough to see and be?

Winter Remembers the Spring

Sunday, February 28th, 2010


I walk out into the desert’s winter, watching for signs.

The blonde brittle grasses part, giving me a glimpse of apple green beneath.

The hard ground softens for ants wakening to build spring mounds.

Black broken trees play dead, but tell me the sap is rising like warm honey in their limbs.

The mountains’ sprinkling of sugar pours down into liquid in the washes.

Wildflowers are plotting from deep within their seeds, imagining their riot.

And I thrill to the feel of my heart widening into the sweet flow of breath within.

The land is remembering me into new life.

A Sand Spirit’s Healing Message

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010
Sand Spirit Insight card #4

Sand Spirit Insight card #4

I’m continuing my experiment of asking a question about a personal issue of mine, and then thinking of a number between 1 and 36, since that’s how many Sand Spirit Insight cards there are in the set. Today I asked about my lingering laryngitis.  What do I need to know or do to get completely well?

Two numbers came to mind: 31 and 4.  Interesting, since 4 is the sum of  3 and 1—so 4 seems to be up with this issue. The section on numerology and the Sand Spirits in my own workbook lists these words for the number 4:  Work, foundation, order, health, service, practicality, application, loyalty, struggle against limtis, steady growth, rigidity and repression. Some words having to do with the light side of me and some referring to the shadow.

The Sand Spirit image looks like a guardian angel to me, and always makes me feel I am surrounded by protection and support.  That’s a comfort. So I ask this angelic advisor, what words apply to me now, and what can I do to improve my health and my immune system?

The Sand Spirit points out that there’s a whole back story here about me not wanting to slow down, fighting limitations, not listening to my inner voice, and suffering health issues as a result. But I’ve been working on this. So now what?

“Still more layers,” she answers. “Loyalty…to others or to yourself? You’re still making your way toward equality in this department. Be willing to slow even more. Be very practical. You want to serve, and that is great. But some of your own needs are still being repressed.  Look for them in your body…”

“So, would you say this has to do with speaking up for myself, or feeling I have no voice to do that?” I ask.

“Remember the little one at the bottom of the image who is the younger, smaller you?” the Sand Spirit asks. “You need to be her guardian angel and prompt her to speak up for herself. She needs to feel equal to the aspects of yourself you consider more worthy, more together, more of an achiever. When you accept the shadow as equal to the light, all will be well.”

And so, once again, the Sand Spirit has more wisdom that I know how to live out. So I am off to give that a try.

What did you see in this Sand Spirit image? What message does the figure have for you today?


Saturday, February 13th, 2010
self portrait with grasses

self portrait with grasses

I’m taking a wonderful tele-course from Craig Hamilton, who is teaching for Integral Enlightenment.  Craig seems to be a highly evolved, gentle and thoughtful human who is giving his listeners wonderful exercises for shifting their lenses to a place beyond ego. Even though this kind of surrender isn’t something we can “do” or “accomplish,” it’s so lovely and true when we experience that place that I want to extend and expand my experience of living from that place.

Craig led us on a guided meditation back in time to the moment when the universe had just begun, as a tiny seed or point of energy he calls the evolutionary impulse. We felt the impulse within that seed to expand and create, and experienced the evolution of all things. We were each within that pinpoint, and thus were asked to experience ourselves as the evolutionary impulse, now in the form of a body/mind. Then, through that lens, he asked us to view whatever challenge we are facing in our lives and see how that challenge looks.

All I can really put into words is that next to that experience of being the evolutionary impulse, or being part of God, my challenges look pretty insignificant. My body felt a great relief, a relaxation, a surrender. Now I don’t hve to do it all by myself, I remembered. Now there is no self that has to try so hard.

And how did this feel, we were asked.  Well, to me, surrender feels like being a blade of grass that is being gently blown by the wind. I bend, and am caressed.

And so, as my spiritual practice, I’m going to try to return to being that evolutionary impulse or that aspect of the Creator every day, which after all, is what every spiritual practice is about. If, once again, I can surrender to the intelligence of that Creative Force, I can be at ease, in grace, beyond ego–and connected to all that is.

What is your spiritual practice to move beyond ego, and how does it work for you?  What does surrender mean to you and how do you experience it?

Sand Spirit #18

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

18.09Often I pick a Sand Spirit Insight card at random, trusting that I know which one will tell me what I need to remember for the day.

This is an image I’ve always loved. I see a woman with a heart-shaped face, wearing flowing robes and bedecked with ceremonial scarves and decorations. Her body looks relaxed and she is walking forward gracefully, her right hand over her belly.

This woman is full of love and grace, and she is very earthy.  She loves her body and loves and cares for herself in the best sense.  She has a sense of humor and loves pleasure. All who come across her feel better just for being in her presence.  I feel better just drawing the card with her image on it.

This Sand Spirit has come to remind me that we all–men or women–have this juicy, beautiful, fun and holy feminine energy within us. I think today my message is to bring her out and let her show, let her walk in the world. That ought to make today a magical day.

What do you see in this card? What does the form or figure that pops out for you have to say? And how do you respond?

Tea with Henry and Ella

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

Henry and EllaWhenever I go to visit my grandchildren in South Pasadena, CA, I stay at a sweet B&B called the Artists’ Inn, where every room is decorated to honor a different artist. I’m especially fond of the Georgia O’Keefe room, but really the best part of my stay is afternoon tea. Ella and Henry, the eldest of the grandchildren, come and have tea with me. They each choose a china cup, and every day a different treat has been freshly baked. I flavor the tea (you can guess that sugar is a major ingredient) and set us up in the dining room. Their mom gets a little break, and I have the pleasure of giving them a ritual they only do with me. I also have the pleasure of giving myself a ritual I only do with them.

Ella and Henry look like little European children to me in their black hats, seated in front of lace curtains. And, there’s something about them having tea that suggests another country. We don’t pause for tea in America; in fact it’s hard to pause at all. Maybe that’s why Starbucks has become such a phenomenon.

I wonder what would happen if I treated the child inside me to a sweet pause in the middle of every afternoon.  A china cup with sweetened tea, a conversation with a friend or a poem to read and consider. I might be healthier and stronger for it, and perhaps more peaceful.

Our pace of living today is frightening. And my only choices seem to be to 1. complain about what the world’s coming to or 2. take control of my own pace and regulate it.

How do you regulate your pace? Do you pause every day? Do you give yourself something sweet–sweet tastes or sweet music or sweet musings? I invite you to share your thoughts–they might help preserve life seen through an artist’s lens–or through a child’s.

Know Where You’re Going to Land

Thursday, February 4th, 2010
Flying Lessons

Flying Lessons

Want to fly?  Especially if you’ve seen Avatar, you know what I mean. Don’t we all long to soar in that free, powerful way that connects us to everyone and everything? It’s an image as old as humankind–soaring above our earthly cares and the solidity of the material world.

There’s only one catch–the one I learned when I was in flight training, earning my private pilot’s license back in the late ’90’s.  The catch is that the scariest part of flying isn’t taking off or soaring or looking down on the little ant houses below. It’s getting that heavy piece of machinery back on the ground in one piece. It’s landing.

And yet we have to address that catch, because it’s basic. That is, who would be crazy enough to take off and soar if you didn’t think you could get back on solid ground? We are human, after all, and subject to gravity. So sooner or later we have to come home.

When I was learning to fly, and especially through the years that have followed my training, I’ve chewed on the metaphor of flight and on the many lessons for life my female flight instructor, Clio, taught me. Clio didn’t intend on being a spiritual teacher or the “aviation therapist” I called her, but I thought the spiritual training I got was pretty cheap at $65 per hour.

So now I’m writing a book:  Flying Lessons for Life. And as I work on Lesson #1, Know Where You’re Going to Land, I’m full of thoughts about how important this concept is to me and to the clients I see. Almost everyone these days is “in transition–” a polite word for deep doo-doo in some area of life. The economy is hard, relationships and systems are falling apart, and the universe seems intent on decomposing anything that isn’t sustainable for the new future it must have in mind. So knowing where we’re going to land is more than just a handy skill; it’s a basic necessity.

Where do you go when everything falls apart?  How do you find solid ground? Do you go to outer things?  To family and friends?  To substances? Activities?  Or do you go inward?  If so, how do you find center, that place where you can stand no matter what is going on around you?

I’m working on some ideas around these questions, but I’d love to hear from you.  How do you know where and how you’ll land?

Happy flying!