Medicine

My #1 Piece of Advice to Healers, Coaches, Practitioners and Fellow Seekers...

My #1 Piece of Advice to Healers, Coaches, Practitioners and Fellow Seekers on the Path

Nobody ever told me this.

In my 15+ years practicing Shamanic work, 12 years practicing Reiki and 9 years owning and operating my own business, not one single person ever gave me this piece of advice.

Which I find hilarious, because it's one of the most common pieces of advice that I'm offering to my Spiritual Mentorship clients.

As I continue to work with more and more people in a mentorship capacity (healers, coaches, practitioners, both those who are new to their practice and those who are well-established but wanting to serve more), one glaring commonality keeps coming up:

"I can't ____________________ until/because _______________________."

I can't start taking clients until I make a website.
I can't start offering sessions because I'm not totally clear on my niche yet.
I can't do healing work for other people until I've healed myself.
I can't take clients until I've practiced more and am really good at ______ first.
I can't _________ because I don't have a certification.
I can't quit my job because my healing practice isn't where I want it to be yet.
I can't shift the focus of my work because I'm known for __________.
I can't introduce this new practice I'm really excited about because it means I will lose clients who are used to me serving in a certain way.
I can't ___________ because the market is saturated and a bajillion people do that.

Do any of those sound familiar?

We humans are really, really good at coming up with reasons why we shouldn't do something that will stretch us, challenge us and move us in a direction of growth and expansion. I'm not sure if healer/coach/service-types are more prone to this (or if maybe that's just who I hang out with), but I can't tell you how many people over the years I have heard give all sorts of reasons why they can't offer their work.

Believe me, I do this, too! I have been through all sorts of my own versions of these statements over the years. They still come up, but I've learned to recognize them and move through them with a smile.

How?

Okay, so this #1 piece of advice actually comes in four parts. Here they are:

1. There is no "arrival."

Many of these "I can't" statements are conditional upon some sort of "arrival" or achievement--the idea that we must reach some sort of arbitrary finish line in order to finally offer our work or service.  Here's the kicker: the finish line keeps moving.

The more we know, the more we realize we don't know. (Or maybe that's just me.) We think that getting that certification will finally enable us to do this work, and then once we have it, we think we need another training on top of that, and then  we need to go study this supplementary practice, and then go train with XYZ expert in the field...

Guess what: we are never "done." There is no "arrival." There is no "I am finally qualified because I have all the certifications and know every little thing so now I can officially open my practice and start helping people!!"

Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying, or has stopped growing, themselves.

You don't have to have all the answers to be a good healer/coach/practitioner/whatever. And while there might be some fields where certification or licensure is required by law, for the most part, you probably don't actually need to cross whatever arbitrary finish line you created for yourself in order to serve the people you want to help.

In fact, by waiting to offer your work until you've "arrived," you are making yourself unavailable to the people who need you.

Which leads me to...

2. Just do the thing!

Yup. It's that simple. Just start offering your work. Don't wait until you figure out exactly what you're offering, don't wait until you have a website, don't wait until you quit your corporate job, don't wait until you've healed yourself completely (see #1).

...because the best way for you to figure out what you're offering is to get immediate, direct feedback from doing the work.
...because the best way to make your website is once you already have a clear vision of how you are supporting people.
...because the best driver and inspiration for you to leave your corporate job to do the thing you love is doing the thing you love.
...because we are never done our healing journey. It is possible to be a phenomenal healer and still be on the path ourselves. In fact, it is impossible to be a phenomenal healer and NOT be on the path.

By simply doing the thing, eventually you will...

3. Master your craft.

Mastery comes from practice. There is no shortcut. There is no other way around it. Stop looking for a magic quick fix.

...and enjoy the journey of discovery! What happens when we treat the process and practice as the goal itself, instead of any imagined end result?

  • We allow ourselves to be fully present within the process.
  • We treat ourselves with more compassion, patience and generosity.
  • We treat others with more compassion, patience and generosity.
  • We are able to practice our craft with curiosity and awareness, as opposed to judgement and comparison.
  • We release attachment to outcome and take pressure off ourselves.
  • We usually enjoy ourselves more.
  • We get really freaking good at the thing we are practicing.

When we treat Mastery as a journey of practice, rather than any sort of state of enlightenment, it becomes more accessible to us and to our potential clients. I can guarantee you that anyone would rather work with you, the human who is practicing and mastering their craft all the time, than the all-enlightened-super-perfect-master-on-the-mountaintop. You've got this.

Which leads me to (most important part!!!)...

4. Let your I AM be your Medicine.

In other words, let your most authentic, fully expressed Self be your service. Yes. It's that simple. YOU, yourself, are the best Medicine you could offer.

As long as I'm making guarantees, I guarantee that there is someone out there who needs you, exactly as you are, to support them on their path. Not the version of you who looks cool on Instagram. Not the version of you who seems to have their whole life together. Not the version of you who has finally "arrived." (See #1.)

You, in your I AM, as your fully expressed Self, are ready to offer your Original Medicine to the world. Let that be enough.

Because it is enough.

Because you are enough.

This is one of the biggest challenges I have faced, personally and professionally: the idea that my Self, my I AM, exactly as I AM, is the perfect Medicine for me to offer. That it can really be that simple.

And the more that I have embraced my I AM and allowed my Original Medicine to come through in my work:

  • I trust myself more than I ever though possible.
  • I AM supporting myself and my clients through even bigger life challenges and changes with ease.
  • I have dramatically upleveled my practice and my business to greater degrees of alignment, effectiveness and grace.
  • My work is even more subtle, even more powerful and more enjoyable for me and my clients.
  • I AM experiencing more freedom of choice, time, resources and abundance.
  • I feel more authentically embodied in my life and my practice than ever before.

What would that version of your life be like? What would that version of your practice feel like?

Can you let your Self be enough?

If this advice resonates with you, I would like to offer you an invitation:

Next week, on Monday, August 13, I will open applications for I AM Medicine: the fall iteration of my Spiritual Mentorship work that begins September 4th. There is space in this work for you to explore your own I AM and claim your Original Medicine.

Are you ready to release any sense of "arrival?" Are you ready to just do the thing you have been waiting on? Are you ready to master your craft? Are you ready to let your most authentic Self be enough?

Any good mentor is walking the path with you, and I promise that I AM right here on this journey, too.

Reclaiming My Original Medicine

Original Medicine, Part 1/4

About a month ago, I experienced a profound shift back into myself, which reconnected me with my Original Medicine in a way that I hadn’t even realized was missing. I’ve been keeping quiet about this as I integrate and process, but I’m finally ready to share. This is the first of four installments in the story of Original Medicine that I will share with you during the month of July.

As part of a mentorship weekend with my cohort, I had the pleasure of receiving a session of Equus work from Jesse Johnson. I had looked forward to this for the entire six months leading up to the weekend. I have always felt very connected with horses (both through riding them as a kid and working with them as part of my practice in recent years).

In Equus work, the horses serve as the guides and mirrors of the person receiving the session. I knew that whatever energy and emotion I was feeling would be reflected in the behavior of the horses. These horses in particular were all wild mustangs that had been rounded up by the BLM off federal land in Oregon. Their first contact with humanity had been incredibly traumatic (think helicopters and lassos), but they had since been rescued and gentled under the compassionate care of the ranch owner. I felt simultaneously honored to work with the horses, humbled by their powerful presence and reverent of their pure energy.

Horses.png

Our exercise consisted of working directly with the horses in pairs. My partner and I elected to go first and were matched with a gorgeous black gelding named Kett. My intention for this practice was to simply enjoy myself, to embody and emit my heart light and to connect with my Original Medicine. Our goal was to silently/nonverbally communicate and connect with Kett and with each other. There was no particular agenda to this exercise, but to simply play with the dynamic.

I immediately dropped into my heart space and felt resonant with Kett. I stood next to him and placed my hand on his withers, then issued a silent invitation and started walking. He paced next to me, turning as I turned, stopping and starting again as I walked. I felt completely present, joyful and aligned.

After a minute or two, I felt my thoughts shift to my partner and my desire for her to have an experience with us. Instantly, Kett stopped walking beside me. I tried to gently encourage him to resume our engagement, and even tried to amplify the energy to elicit a bigger response, but he stood resolutely still. I attempted to shift my energy back into my heart but found myself wrapped in thoughts like, “I really want my partner to have the experience she wants,” and “I hope she doesn’t think I’m monopolizing the exercise.” At this point, my partner stepped forward and formed her own connection with Kett. He began to walk with her, just as he had with me.

As I witnessed their interaction, I felt my energy return back into my heart and connected with my partner. I relished feeling her enjoyment of the experience. I then felt our collective three-way energy as both my partner and I connected with each other and with Kett. Together, my partner and I amplified our collective connection and made our energy bigger. Kett began to trot, then to canter around the arena as we silently urged him with our energy and intention.

As we brought Kett back down to a walk and closed the exercise, Jesse asked me what I had noticed and what Kett and my partner represent in my life. I shared, “Kett represents my connection with Spirit and my authentic light… My Original Medicine. My partner represents my Earthly support and physical structures. When all three (Self, Spirit and Earth) are aligned and connected, amplification and movement happens. When I tried to amplify the energy with Kett by myself, it didn’t work. When my partner and I worked together to amplify the energy, it worked and we got to run together. In order to create movement with my light and with Spirit, I need to bring in the Earthly support. Then we had momentum and it was easier to keep it going.”

Since this experience from last month, I’ve been sitting with that question. How am I living in alignment with my Original Medicine? How am I bringing this into balance in all three realms of Self, Spirit and Earth? Are there areas where this is incongruent?

You may recall that, a few weeks ago, I told you that I was remodeling my work and I asked you what you would like to see from me and my offerings. I have taken your feedback to heart and have made adjustments accordingly. This new direction feels far more aligned between Self (what I’m excited about and lit up by), Spirit (my authentic agreement with Source and my Original Medicine) and Earth (how I am offering and expressing this work, and what my community is asking of me). I will be sharing the result of this inquiry in two weeks (on July 18).

In the meantime, here’s what you can expect from July:

July 4 (today): Reclaiming Original Medicine (story and context for you)
July 11: What Is Original Medicine? (information and offering for you)
July 18: Introducing the I AM Project (special offer for you)
July 25: Introducing I AM Medicine (special invitation for you)

Song as Medicine

Over the past month or so, I've been sitting in deep contemplation with my relationship to music and song. This is still a fairly new and somewhat vulnerable theme for me, but I feel called to share it with you! (For more background on how this has been coming up for me, check out this previous article.) Suffice it to say that I am currently exploring Healing Songs as an important manifestation of my medicine and Sacred Work in the world.

Last night, I had a Medicine Dream that reaffirmed this theme for me:

In my dream, I was performing as the closing act of a concert which took place in a church. I was supposed to play a song on the flute. Even though in my dream I didn't know how to play the flute, some part of my subconscious nature did, so I trusted that I would be able to perform the complicated song when the time was right.

I opened my performance by speaking about Standing Rock and offering a prayer for the sacred waters and the Water Protectors. Many people in the audience started talking and ignoring me as I spoke. I became angry and frustrated and tried to play my flute song, but was barely able to make any noise come out of the instrument. As I grew more frustrated and the show director asked me to leave the stage, I heard a subtle thread of drum beats and music coming from somewhere nearby. My microphone was still on, so I started to sing. I sang my frustration at the people for ignoring the prayer, I sang a call to prayer and I sang the prayer itself. People stopped talking in order to listen to the prayer song, and I started dancing the prayer as well. It was a simple, powerful song that reverberated around the church and pulled people into its strength.

At this point, some older men came into the church, playing drums. It was their music I had heard in the distance. They came to play with me as I sang and they spoke to me, offering me their blessings and witnessing me in my prayer song. I awoke still reverberating with the power of the song and the message.

I know these men represent my guides, who appeared to support me in sharing my song. My voice is my instrument of power, and while I don't know exactly how it will manifest, Healing Songs are an essential component of my Sacred Work in the world. While revealing this publicly still feels sort of new and tender, I am so excited to continue exploring this powerful Medicine! More on this to come, I'm sure.

I Am Not A Musician

I AM NOT A MUSICIAN.

…or so I keep telling myself, but my relationship to music and the way it manifests through me seems to be up for reconsideration.

I love to sing. My voice has always been my chosen musical medium, and other than my ceremonial hand drum, I have only ever played an instrument with the intention of providing a background for song to pour through me. Over the last several years as I stepped more fully into the practice of channeling healing songs during my energy work, what began as a few hesitant notes and chants eventually grew in fluency and fluidity. They now flow effortlessly in a cascade of moving energy to support nurturing, catharsis, activation, clearing and death. The healing songs I bring forth have given a voice to the grief, joy, innocence, pain, sweetness, rage and love of my clients (and of myself). Sometimes these songs have words, but mostly they consist of a blend of syllables and tones that provide some semblance of structure to an otherwise formless melody. While there might be similar themes, most of the songs are completely new in the moment and leave my consciousness as soon as they pour out of my throat. One or two, however, have come through so often and so strongly that I know them as allies that are here to stay and can call upon them consciously.

So, you might ask, what is it that has me meditating on the medicine of music? Let me take you through some standout events of the past week.

Last Friday, I attended a gong meditation and sound healing bath. I absolutely love these events and always go deep with the sound healing, and this was no exception. Despite the volume and intensity of the gong, I fell asleep, as I do when receiving deep healing. When I awoke near the end of the event, I suddenly heard a chorus of flutes within the shimmering tones of the gong. I listened, transfixed, and perceived the melodies of the ancestors making their way through the gong vibration. I felt my body respond with subtle shifts and releases as the sound of flutes intensified.

The next evening, I went to the closing ceremony of Sun Gate studio. In addition to the beautiful community container and celebration of the space, this wonderful event featured some amazing live music. As I drank in the deep heart songs, I heard that same chorus of ancestral flutes! Someone there was playing the flute, but what came through was much richer and more ancient than a single instrument and I knew that the ancestors were making their presence known. Later in the evening as other musicians shared their medicine, I experienced similar sensations of seeing/knowing/feeling the space from which they were channeling, and feeling that intimate connection with my own version of bringing forth healing songs.

Also at this event, I ran into a friend of mine whom I hadn’t seen in a while. He is a wonderful cellist, and we have enjoyed the occasional singing and playing together. He asked me, “Michelle, when are we going to make some music together?” I told him I don’t play an instrument, and he said “Well yeah, I know, but you sing.” I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I do remember the feelings of resistance and shame and shyness that rushed through me, because after all, I’m not a musician and would have nothing to offer.

Fast forward a couple of days to a conversation with a friend. I don’t remember how the conversation arrived at this point, but he said something to the effect of “You’re going to sing during your speech” (meaning the speech that I gave yesterday at Embrace Festival) and my reaction was along the lines of “Haha, yeah right. I’m not a musician.”

The conference began on Friday, and the very first speaker was a woman from Australia who captivated me with her heartfelt talk on nonviolent direct action… and the pieces of songs of Australian First People that she wove into her talk.

Yesterday, I gave my speech at the conference, and as my friend predicted, I sang onstage. It was entirely unplanned, but as I gave my talk, I realized that I was actually offering a group healing session to the audience. In typical fashion, a healing song poured out of me. That was the first time I had ever sung a healing song in any kind of public context—a fact that didn’t register with me until just now.

Last night, I received some more deep medicine of powerful heart music during the Embrace Festival closing ceremony. I enjoyed every musical offering, but hearing Peia and the profound ancestral magic that poured out of her left me dissolving and raw.

…oh, and yesterday, a friend with whom I haven’t spoken in several months got in touch out of the blue to ask if I wanted to buy her ukulele.

…and the woman from Australia, after hearing me sing a healing song during my talk, said she wanted to give me some songs, so we sang magic together as we walked through the streets of downtown Portland.

I don’t really need to be a “musician.” I don’t even know what that means. But I do think my relationship to song and the way in which I share it with the world is up for reexamination. I know I cracked at least a few people open from giving my talk, and song medicine was a part of that. Given my philosophy on radical transparency (the reason I publish all the personal musings), if anyone anywhere could benefit even a little bit from me sharing a story, no matter how vulnerable, then I share it. I think the same goes for song. I have no idea what that looks like moving forward, but I will hold space for it to manifest in its perfect space and time.

Words—my normal, comfortable means of communication and a significant component of my medicine—seem to be failing me at the moment. The same thing happened repeatedly last week whenever the music cracked me wide open (as it did a few times) and I was left trying to communicate that which exists beyond words. Better quit while I’m ahead and leave it to a song for another time.