Meditation

Reclaiming Our Innocent Hearts

What is the role of Innocence in the heart of the awakened Spiritual Warrior?

Let me begin by saying that I have never placed an enormous priority on the value of Innocence. To me, the word has often been associated with the idea of naïveté... ignorant of and unwise to the darkness in the goings on of the world and the human realm. I remember reading William Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience in high school English class and picking up on the foreboding undertones regarding the dangers of vulnerability contained in the poems on Innocence. I associated Innocence with childhood, and subconsciously rejected this virtue as synonymous with "unqualified." Especially at the beginning of my professional journey in my early twenties, I was eager to not be seen as “Innocent.”

However, I received some profound teachings regarding Innocence last weekend during a deep meditation ceremony. This gift has since radically shifted my ideas around the quality of Innocence.

Let me share with you some excerpts from my journal about this meditation ceremony:

As I entered a deep meditative state, I began to receive images and information. At first, my guides showed me animals. I connected with (and in some cases, became) a whole array of different creatures, including cats, various kinds of fish, sloths, wolves, foxes, snakes, and so many birds. I noticed as I did so that one quality was ubiquitously present in all of these beings: they lived in Innocence, and in order to connect with them, I also had to be in a state of Innocence. I registered this as congruent with my lived experience of working with animals: in order to engage with animals and connect with them on the heart level and communicate with them psychically, I need to embody my Innocent Heart. I had never consciously recognized the particular flavor of this feeling, but upon further reflection, the energy is unmistakable: being in the presence of an animal (either in the physical or the psychic realm) immediately drops me into my own Innocence.

Following this array of beautiful connections, my guides showed me a series of very dark entities. I saw an enormous, shadowy mask of a being that fed on fear, and I witnessed how these Fear-Feeders cover the Earth, ravenously consuming the energies of human stress, despair, anxiety, anger and loathing… but their favorite food is fear.

I watched this giant shadowy shape with a feeling of detached curiosity. It aroused no terror in me and I felt no need to defend or protect myself. I knew that I was safe. As I regarded it, I noticed at its base the figure of an orange cat walking nonchalantly toward it. The Fear-Feeder had no effect on the cat. I released a gentle breath, and the Fear-Feeder disappeared.

“Fear cannot live in the Innocent Heart.” I heard these very distinct words, and again, I was shown the Earth. This time I saw that the Fear-Feeders easily attached to some people, but not to others. Looking more closely, I noticed that these dark beings hungrily feasted upon the energy of those people who had lost their Innocence, but seemed somehow invisibly repelled by those whose protection came from their Innocent Hearts.

Reflecting on this information post-ceremony, I find myself sitting with this question: What is the role of Innocence in the heart of the awakened Spiritual Warrior?

As a self-identified Spiritual Warrior, I have long associated this archetype with the qualities of courage, resilience, compassion, grace and the ability to fight and be fierce, if need be. The Warrior of the Light must be willing to face the darkness and work in the Shadow realms, though their ultimate power lies in peace.

Until now, I had never attributed the quality of Innocence to the embodiment of the Warrior archetype. However, after witnessing the Shadow entity have no effect upon the cat in its Innocence and arouse no fear in me as I embodied my own Innocent Heart after connecting with the animals, I realized that Innocence is the ultimate protective force. Instead of banishing the Fear-Feeder with an intention, surge of energy or by invoking my Spirit Guides, I exhaled a gentle breath from a state of Innocence and the Shadow being vanished immediately, without a trace or a struggle.

In addition to acting as a protective energy, the quality of Innocence enables deep connection. In the Innocent Heart, there is no room for shame, guilt, blame or unworthiness. Instead, there resides love, compassion, grace, curiosity, acceptance, joy, authenticity, and plenty of spaciousness to invite shared experiences. Think about young children in their Innocence: they love easily, feel no sense of shame or judgement, and effortlessly invite others to join them in their space of enjoying the world.

Is it possible to reclaim our Innocence once we have seen and experienced the darkness?

I firmly believe that there is no experience so terrible that we cannot heal from it and release the wound completely. In light of the messages received during this meditation ceremony, this conviction now includes the belief that part of our journey is to reclaim our Innocence, not from a state of denying or forgetting the darkness, but from knowing that it is there and choosing not to be afraid. When we can accept that the darkness, shadow beings and Fear-Feeders are an ever-present part of the energetic balance of the cosmos, without succumbing to fear or despair, we shall be truly free and empowered. In this case, the Innocent Heart is not naïve, but makes a conscious choice to embody its original nature. It does not deny the existence of the shadow, or engage it in battle, or fear it—the Innocent Heart is simply immune. Its protection is its very existence.

As I sit with this information and integrate the teachings, I invite you to join me! See below for a suggested meditation and journal prompts. Together, let’s explore our Innocent Hearts and find more ways that this quality of Innocence appears in our lives. The Innocent Heart chooses the path of love, and love liberates all beings.

From one Innocent Heart to another, you’re doing great out there!

Here is a suggested meditation ritual for you to explore your own relationship with Innocence:

(For the suggested altar arrangement, please do not choose items that you think “should” be associated with innocence! Let every selection reflect a specific intention and invoke a genuine sensation of enjoyment. If you need some support, call in your Child Self to help you choose those things that reflect your authentic Innocence.)

Find a beautiful candle in a color and scent that is the most pleasing to you. Let it be something that you genuinely enjoy and appreciate. (Bonus points for a beautiful candle holder or dish.) Set the candle, along with flowers, crystals or any other items of your choice, on a sacred altar space. If you do not already have an established altar, please consider this an opportunity to create one!

Place yourself in front of the altar, light the candle, and offer this prayer:

“I call upon and invoke the presence of my own Innocent Heart to guide me in love, grace and compassion. Please help me to fully embrace and embody my own Innocence and reclaim this natural state of being. I ask my guides and teachers of Innocence to please reveal themselves to me, so that I may learn from them and receive the wisdom of their teachings. May my heart be forever pure, and love forever shine.”

Allow yourself to drop into a meditative state and see what comes to you. I recommend sitting with this for at least 10-15 minutes, although please feel free to stay with it longer if you like. When you feel complete, you may close with gratitude:

“It is with so much gratitude that I integrate the wisdom of these teachings. To all the guides and teachers who made themselves available to me for this work, I thank you, I honor you and I lovingly release you now.”

Make sure to journal about your experience! See below for additional journal prompts. Feel free to repeat this meditation and see what comes up as you continue to connect to and build a relationship with these teachers of Innocence.

Journal prompt:

What is my relationship to the quality of Innocence? How can Innocence support me on my path?
When do I feel most connected to my Innocent Heart? How can I more easily embody my Innocence and share it with others?


Grab a journal and a pen. Don't overthink it, just write and see what comes out!

New Moon in Capricorn: Sacred Structure

The New Moon in Capricorn next Tuesday brings us the powerful medicine of Sacred Structure.

Without our bones, it doesn't matter how much muscle or energy or force of will we have: we would not be able to move an inch.

The same is true of anything in our lives: without structure to support and hold a container, action becomes impossible. We spend so much time and energy focused on inspiration, movement, fire and momentum... but running around the world fueled by pure spirit is completely unsustainable. If we're hoping to build mountains, we need to root in the bedrock.

And I'm building mountains. Are you?

If so, we must focus on the foundations of our lives. What sacred structures can we build for ourselves to be able to grow? How can we strengthen the "bones" of our lives to give stability and sustainability to our actions? How can we make our work and our presence in the world more lasting, more meaningful and more powerful?

Let's build our bones together.

Full Moon in Capricorn: Foundation and Freedom

Foundation and Freedom.

Are these two ideas mutually exclusive?

How are the energies of structure, support, grounding, nourishment and community related to those of freedom, expansion, passion, growth and the wild pursuit of dreams?

They're actually deeply intertwined, especially under this powerful Full Moon in Capricorn.

This deep Full Moon container encourages us to evaluate the sources of structure and support in our lives. What is the state of the bedrock of your earthly existence? Is it stable enough to support the rocket launch of your wildest dreams? If not, how can you adjust and call in what you need to construct a more solid foundation? If your foundation is rock-solid and ready, how can you use this amazing framework to support the free, explosive expansion of your joy and purpose in the world?

I've been asking myself a lot of these questions over the last week leading up to this lunar container. Especially over the 4th of July, where the topic of "Freedom" comes up a lot... but what does Freedom actually look like?

For me, Freedom means easy and graceful flow. It means my body, mind, heart and spirit are clear, balanced, healthy and expansive. Freedom means that I am safe, my earthly needs are well-met and I have plenty of space and tine to devote myself to my joy. Freedom means doing plenty of the things I love the most: spending time with dear ones, being active and doing my work. (For real, I'm not just saying that last one because this is a business blog post--my healing, mentorship and teaching work lights me up in a way that few other things do and sets my soul on fire.)

The foundation that allows me to experience deep freedom in this way includes my nurturing home, my flourishing business, my amazing family and community, my health and personal practices devoted to nourishing my well-being. The structures I have created for myself provide a framework for me to be, do and have all the things that light me up. In short, my truest freedom comes from structure.

I invite you to consider these things in the context of your life. What does Freedom look like for you? What Foundation do you have in place to support your continued growth and expansion? Now is the perfect time for these inquiries. Align your energies and intentions with this powerful Full Moon container to build a firm foundation for your greatest freedom.

(For more information on working with the Lunar Cycle, check out my LUNAR ALCHEMY course beginning September 12!)

From one free spirit to another, you look great out there.

Identity Structure

This article is a follow-up exercise to my last post.

What makes up an Identity Structure?

Identity structures are exactly what you'd imagine: they're all the parts of ourselves that constitute any component of what we might identify as "Self." Some of the things included in our identity structures are:

-Physical body: What container do you live in?
-Emotional body: How do you feel about things?
-Mental body: What do you think about things?
-Energy body: What is your vibration and how does it respond to the world?
-Thoughts and beliefs: How do you think and feel about the world?
-Relationships: What role do you play in other people's identity structures and what roles do they play in yours?
-Childhood/past events: What formative experiences shaped your beliefs about the world?
-Memories: What is your subjective interpretation of past events?
-How you spend your time: Sacred Work/job, activities, pastimes... what do you do with your precious days?
-Language: What words do you use to speak about yourself and your existence?
-Interests: What captivates your attention?
...and SO many more!

Understanding Your Identity Structure

In order for us to work with the nuances of identity structure, we have to know what comprises the foundation of our Being. Here's my best advice to you:

Start with ONE of the points above. With your journal, sit quietly in meditative space and write intuitively about what comes up for you when you examine that facet of Self. For example, if you were to choose the "Memories" option, you might ask yourself, "What are some of the strongest memories I have from my childhood? What emotions are attached to those memories? What do those memories say about me? How do I feel about them?"

After you feel complete, review what you wrote and notice what jumps out at you. Is there any new information there? What themes do you notice? Does what you wrote feel positive and in alignment with a healthy identity structure? Does it feel as though it needs some further investigation and support to be fully processed and integrated?

The Outcome of Working with Identity Structure

Why do we do this? Ultimately, knowing who we are on all levels and allowing it to be witnessed is what lets us live our fullest expression. By diving deep and asking ourselves, "Who am I?" we create space for healing, processing and a healthy way of being in the world for ourselves and for everyone else.

The Tao of Carrying Groceries

...or, "How a Simple Chore is Helping Me Become a Better Person"

If you’re like me, rather than dividing the collective load into smaller, more manageable trips, you would rather heave eight bags of groceries from the car into the house in one go. Sling one bag over each shoulder, two bags in the crook of each elbow, clutching the last two in one hand as you fumble your keys in the other and pray you don’t smash the more delicate produce.

I exhibit this same inability to take baby steps in other areas of my life as well. If I wish to cultivate a skill, I pour myself into practice so that I can master it as quickly as possible. If I need to prepare a dish for a party or gathering, I choose the most complicated recipe to try. When confronted with a new idea or concept, I obsessively spin it around my consciousness until I have seen it from all sides. All of this as quickly as possible, of course.

However, the area where this “carry-all-the-groceries” attitude appears most notably is in the context of my own personal growth. Since I work in the field of personal development, energy healing and Spiritual mentorship, I love nerding out over the minutiae of human consciousness, and I am my own favorite subject. Plumbing the depths of my own psychology, emotional intelligence and mindfulness absolutely fascinates me. Why do I make certain choices in my words and behavior? Why do I respond to triggers in a certain way? What, truly, constitutes free will? How am I living as a sovereign being, as opposed to demonstrating the cumulative effects of decades of social conditioning? You know, the easy questions.

Naturally, when a challenge arises in the area of “how can Michelle be a better person,” I throw myself into it with the same determined vigor as I would hauling my eight shopping bags into the house, regardless of whether or not this is actually the best approach.

I discover some hidden emotional wounding from a random event in my past? Unpack all that baggage and sort it out immediately! A challenge arises in my relationship? Jump in and fix it right away! Getting together with my family brings up old dynamics and pushes everyone’s buttons? Let’s all sit down right now and create space to share until everyone feels heard and gets along again!

Based on my extensive self-analysis, the best hypothesis I can offer as to why I must accomplish things as quickly and efficiently as possible comes from a variety of personality traits that somehow add up to me staggering under the burden of a carload of groceries, when any sane person would take two trips. The first of these traits is sheer optimism in my ability to accomplish the task at hand. “Only eight bags of groceries? Of course I can manage that!” cries my inner decision-maker with complete confidence. The second trait is that I love being right. Once the eight bags of groceries are slung around my body, there’s no way I would ever admit to picking up more than I could handle. Reevaluating, taking some off and trying again would mean that I was wrong in the first place. The third trait is the hardest for me to admit, but I am secretly very competitive. This trait has softened over the years, so I am no longer ubiquitously competitive, but if there is a skill that I feel that I SHOULD be good at, I hate being anything less than rock-star caliber. In terms of my own personal development, my competitiveness is of epic proportions. I am well aware of the irony there.

One of the worst parts of my “carry-all-the-groceries” attitude is my own ridiculous hypocrisy. I tell my clients without hesitation to take baby steps as they work through personal challenges. “Be gentle on yourself as you move through your process,” I assure them. “Everything happens in its own space and time. Practice patience and presence, and give yourself permission to not get it perfectly the first time.”

Right?

I have finally decided, after years of not following my own advice, to give myself some credit as an expert in my field and treat myself like a client. Don’t I also deserve to be gentle on myself as I move through my process of growth and development? Bringing patience and presence to my journey of self-discovery sounds great!

So, in true Taoist fashion, I am practicing carrying my groceries in two (or more) mindful trips. Rather than holding my breath to ensure the stability of a carton of eggs perched on top of a precarious pile while leaning just far enough to the side to ensure that fourth bag doesn’t slip off of my shoulder, I will instead take the space and time to carry a manageable, comfortable amount. It might take 30 seconds longer, but isn’t it worth the grace and peace of mind? Instead of worrying about satisfying the competitiveness, the need to be right and the blind, unrealistic optimism of my inner perfectionist, I actually get to take my time and feel more relaxed.

Giving myself permission to practice carrying groceries in multiple trips has offered me opportunities to cultivate patience and ease, and treat myself more kindly through unfolding the facets of my very human psyche. In short, I am finally taking the advice that I have long been offering my clients. Personal perfectionism notwithstanding, I deserve to grow in my own space and time, just as I deserve to bring presence and peace to all aspects of my life, including carrying the groceries. Even a simple chore can be a wonderful teacher and opportunity for growth.

Winter Solstice Blessings

December 21, 2016

I allow my gaze to float serenely over the bare birch limbs visible immediately outside of my office corner window. The sunlight streaming from behind the pine trees turns the water droplets hanging from twigs into gleaming starbursts that decorate the seemingly lifeless boughs.

What juxtaposition to witness this afternoon of the Winter Solstice in its gleaming golden glory. The misty haze that rises from the trees captures the sunlight and turns my thoughts towards tree auras as I imagine my hungry cells, like those of the languid pines, greedily slurping up every photon in photosynthetic gluttony. (I had my DNA tested earlier this year and I’m about 36% solar panel.)

How interesting, I think to myself, that this, the Darkest Day of the Year, can be so full of glowing, radiant light. The sweetness that comes from an unexpected sunny day creeps inside my chest like a beautiful poem, and I feel Gaia whispering to me as a lover would, telling me to relish this gift. I gaze at my sunlit hand in awe, noticing my fierce pleasure at the warmth and illumination. I employ my Hawk vision to help me observe in intricate detail the texture of my skin, the precise shade of each freckle and the exact pattern of the tiny, almost invisible hairs that cover the back of my hand.

Tonight I will drop into the fullness of the darkness and surrender back into the womb space of our Earthly cycles. I embrace the dark. I welcome her touch. I feel at ease in her inky softness. We have worked and played well together over the years, and I appreciate her for her wisdom.

Yet, for now, I hold in my heart the simple joy of knowing balance and grace. Even on the Darkest Day of the Year, there still shines a painfully beautiful light. Even in our own darkest moments, there still exists that same excruciating luminosity. This idea is the very speck of radiance that saved me three years ago, when I thought that I would be swallowed whole by the insurmountable Shadow. Darkness and I hadn’t yet cultivated our comfortable friendship at that time, and I feared that she would make me disappear.

I needn’t have worried (though that was part of the journey). Darkness has proven herself to be a wonderful teacher and powerful ally. She and I have achieved a level of ease and intimacy that I enjoy with only a few trusted beings. I have danced and held ceremony to honor her every year since we began our partnership, and will do so again this evening.

Last year for the Winter Solstice, I wrote a love letter to my Medicine Family in celebration of community, Tribe and witnessing us hold each other through our journeys. This year, I write this love letter to both Darkness and Light to honor their wisdom and their presence in all of our lives.

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. I love you, I love you, I love you.

Happy Solstice.

Grounding for Everyone in Life, Reiki, Shamanic Work and Energy Healing

One of the things I emphasize most to my Reiki and Shamanic Apprentice Program students is the practice of grounding. Feeling grounded is essential for anyone's health, safety and well-being, but this is especially true of anyone practicing Reiki, Shamanism or other energy healing modalities. When speaking about grounding with my Reiki students and clients, I use the analogy of a pyramid. The bigger the base of the pyramid, the taller you can build it--meaning, the more grounded you are and the more solid your energetic foundation, the more you can safely extend your psychic energy into high-vibration realms of consciousness.

The same is true for everyone. We live in a world that encourages people to live anywhere except in their bodies, in the present. We are bombarded with distractions that pull us into our brains, into thinking about the future, into our electronic devices and out of ourselves. The more present and grounded we can be in our roots and our bodies, the greater our capacity for making healthy decisions, being present in our relationships, feeling comfortable and confident and bringing more energy to our lives.

Here is a video I made for you. This is a variation on a meditation that I offer during Reiki class. It offers practice in grounding and connecting to Earth energy, then expanding your awareness upward. This meditation feels a little different every time as you become more practiced, so feel free to try it more than once and notice what changes for you.

Happy grounding!

Many blessings,

Michelle Hawk

Embodiment

Originally published on Eagle Song March 6, 2016.

There’s a term I came up with that I like to use with my clients and students to impress a certain idea upon them. The term is “Divine Embodied Being.”

I find this term very appropriate for a few reasons, but largely because it reminds us of the multi-faceted nature of our existence. The term “Human Being” is of biological origin and serves only to describe our physical and genetic makeup. How are we different from other beings? Well, we’re Human Beings!

However, we are so much more than our limbs and our brains and our genes. We are the embodiment of the Divine. Our physical forms provide the anchor for our souls to live on the Earth plane.

And so, we are Divine Embodied Beings. We are the physical manifestation of Spirit. We are Source and matter.

(For the purposes of this article, I only talk about human Divine Embodied Beings, but plants, animals, crystals, minerals, etc are also Divine Embodied Beings.)

It is so easy for us humans to use duality to separate and exclude: “If A, then not B.” Or, “If I am human, then I am not Divine,” or even, “If I am Divine, then I have no reason to pay attention to my human body.”

This last example is one that I see all too often, especially among people who have begun to realize their Spiritual awakening but have yet to balance it with the earthly aspects of their existence. Many clients come to me who are so focused on the energetic part of their process that they haven’t bothered to bring their physical bodies up to speed yet.

So let’s talk about the purpose and importance of Embodiment practice from a Spiritual perspective.

In order to honor all parts of our nature and live in the world as whole beings, it is of equal importance to devote care and attention to the parts of ourselves that are Divine AND the parts of ourselves that are Matter. Moreover, we must not treat them as separate facets of our existence, but as deeply interwoven and mutually necessary components of our wholeness. It is our bodies that offer a place for Spirit to live inside of us, and it is our Souls that animate our physical forms beyond the level of a biochemical machine.

One of the ways we can support both parts of ourselves simultaneously is through Embodied Meditation. Absolutely any activity can be a form of Embodied Meditation, if you hold the intention for it. When students or clients tell me that they’re “bad at meditating,” I ask them what activities they enjoy, and what brings them peace. Often the answers include things like walking outside, gardening, yoga or going for a run. I tell them that these are all wonderful forms of Embodied Meditation, and when they do these activities, to practice bringing intention and mindfulness to the exercise.

My favorite form of embodied meditation is dancing. And I’m not talking about the kind of dancing where you sort of stand there awkwardly and shift your weight from side to side. I’m not even talking about structured dances with certain steps and standards of correct form. I’m talking about allowing your body to move in whatever way it feels called, whether or not it’s pretty. The kind of dance where you feel energy coursing through your veins, filling your cells and making your chakras spin and glow. The kind of dance where, as you start shaking, you feel all the blockages and stagnant energy inside yourself start to melt and release into the floor. Dancing until you are drenched in sweat and your hair is full of tears from crying as you allow powerful energy to rush through you, releasing old wounds. Dancing and channeling our ancestors who danced for thousands of years before us to honor their bodies, honor Spirit and feel alive. Dancing until you drop in so deeply that you enter a trance state and forget completely who and where you are, and all that exists is movement.

Needless to say, I start more slowly with my clients and we work up to trance dancing when/if they’re ready. I teach some basic practices and help my clients find what works best for them. Some forms of Embodied Meditation can be relatively peaceful, like gentle yoga. Some are more playful, like my friend’s game of “Zen rock-hopping” (jumping from stone to stone through a river or stream. As he says, if you think about it too much, you get wet). Others are fairly extreme, like my roommate running 100-mile races. She told me about one instance, about 70 miles in, were she started seeing ghosts coming out of the ground. But what is the point of activities like that? No matter what form it takes, why do we need embodied meditation?

Physical practices like these unite the part of us that is Embodied with the part of us that is Divine. When we bring our Spirit and our intention to an embodied practice, we can move energy through our physical system. It is the perfect union of tangible and intangible, working across the hemispheres of our brains and across whatever barriers we have put between our energetic awareness and our bodies.

Throughout my whole life, I have had some form of physical practice. Whether it was being part of a sports team or doing activities by myself, I always knew that I felt happier and healthier when I took care of my body. When I officially began my Reiki practice in 2006, it took a few years for me to make the connection between the energetic work I was doing and the physical process of moving energy through my body. There were times when I would do all I could with Reiki to release stagnant energies, but until I went for a run and flushed them from my system, they were stuck. In the last several years I have come to a deep understanding of how physically shaking and sweating old energies out of me is just as important to the healing process as the energy work itself. We are Divine Embodied Beings, and in order to be whole, we must honor all parts of ourselves.

I used to only teach Embodiment practices to my private clients as part of our work together, but I recently included an Embodied Meditation workshop in my Shamanic Reiki Apprentice Program.

Contact me to book a consultation to work one-on-one with me, or if you’re interested in taking classes. In the meantime, I encourage you to look at your physical practice with a new perspective, through the lens of yourself as a Divine Embodied Being. See you on the dance floor.