Portland

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.

Peek Behind the Veil: What happens at I AM Alchemy Retreat?

I just got back from our second four day retreat with my I AM Alchemy 2018 students, and I feel...

...full of energy, enjoyment, grace, and amazing food.

...inspired by my amazing students, by my personal takeaways, and by the body of knowledge itself.

...supported by my wonderful Shaman Sister, Katherine Bird, and by Ruthanne and Heaven and Earth Retreats.

...eager to share the magic with you!

Here's a sneak peek inside what goes on during a magical I AM Alchemy retreat:

Every morning, we began our day with Qi Gong practice lead by guest instructor Katherine Bird. Kat brought us practices from her Medical Qi Gong studies to support the energetic work. During this retreat, part of our focus included working with the Three Essentials (Salt, Mercury and Sulfur) and our personal Planetary Constitution. Here, Kat introduces us to the philosophy behind our movement practice:

We learned how to calculate the personal planetary constitution of everyone in the class, based on the Alchemical doctrine of Planetary Rulership. This includes primary archetypal influences, personal "power hours," and supporting the energies with corresponding metals, herbs, colors, foods and embodiment practices...

I AM Alchemy Retreat Teachings Planetary Correspondence
I AM Alchemy Retreat Planetary Constitution Moon Mars

 

...Then we studied  the necessary correspondences to support our personal Salt, Mercury and Sulfur Level Planetary Forces. I'm a double Moon plus Mars, which explains a lot.

I AM Alchemy Retreat Class Lightworker Portland Alchemist

We played games and found out who among us is competitive (hint: 2/3 of Team Mars, big surprise). We ate incredible food, we did intuitive readings and healing work for each other, we took a stargazing stroll and saw Jupiter, Saturn, Venus and Mars. We laughed a lot and witnessed each other through our joy and our tears. We examined our personal and professional practices in light of this mystery school and renewed our commitments to Self and Spirit as wayshowers for a New Earth.

I AM Alchemy Retreat Altar Ceremony Oracle Magic Eclipse Vision Quest

We all took an afternoon of solo ritual space to Vision Quest and practice journey work to step into this next initiation phase of our course. Everyone worked some pretty powerful magic and came back with epiphanies, commitments, messages from Guides and new, powerful energies to supercharge the next stage of the journey.

 

I AM Alchemy Retreat Personal Practice Journaling Alchemist Teaching Portland

 

 

The weekend included plenty of time for journaling and personal reflection. In such a beautiful setting, you can't help but breathe a little deeper, tune in to a more subtle awareness and just let yourself simply be.

 

 

I AM Alchemy Retreat Portland Alchemist Magic Spirit Synchronicity

 

 

There were signs and synchronicities everywhere! We received plenty of visits from animal guides, whispers from Spirit, and massive inputs of eclipse energy. Every sign felt like a message from Source, saying "you're on the right track. Enjoy the journey."

 

 

I AM Alchemy Retreat Heaven and Earth Portland Alchemist Training Teaching Magic

 

 

Plus, we got to wake up with this right outside every morning. Check out the view from my bed:

 

 

I couldn't have asked for a more beautiful, nourishing, inspiring retreat experience! This work is so much FUN, and I get to share it with a cohort of passionate, powerful students who are changing their lives and changing the world. It is truly an honor and a joy to dive deeper and deeper into this work. I AM Alchemy is stretching me, pushing me and inspiring me to uplevel my practice and my craft in ways I never imagined. What a journey.

If you're interested in I AM Alchemy 2019, get on the wait list here!

I'll be taking the next few days to rest and integrate! Catch you in August.

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.

Your Intuitive Birthright

“Wow, you are so intuitive! You must have just been born with that ability.”

I regularly hear some variation of this comment from clients, students or people who get a taste of my work for the first time. My answer usually begins with, “Well, yes and no…”

We are all highly intuitive beings. Each one of us was born with the ability to access this innate knowing.

When you first entered the world as a tiny human, you arrived with no filters in place. You experienced everything as a clear channel. Completely open to all sensory input, you made no distinction between how this information came into your awareness. Touch, emotion, sight, thoughts, taste, energy, sound, vibration… you experienced them all without any preconceived notion of what was “real,” or any hierarchy of some senses being more valid than others.

As you grew older, you started to become aware of how you received information, and maybe felt that you “weren’t normal.” Maybe your family was afraid when you told them that you saw beings that “weren’t there,” or when they found you having conversations with thin air. Maybe your sensitivities were dismissed as invalid, or no one believed you when you shared what you intuitively knew to be true. Maybe you were diagnosed with anxiety, or ADD/ADHD, or some mental health condition. Maybe you were medicated.

You still felt the vibrations and were sensitive to the thoughts and energies of other people, but without the consistent validation from those around you, you began to let this intuitive awareness fade into the background. You built your understanding of the “real world” based on the commonly understood five senses. You allowed yourself to become numb to your intuition.

But these hidden parts of ourselves don’t always stay quiet in the background. Maybe you always knew that this innate sense was still there, waiting to be revealed. Do you find yourself knowing things that you couldn’t possibly know? Are you seeing, feeling and sensing things you can’t otherwise explain?

Is your intuition waking up and demanding that you claim that which has been yours since birth?

Join us for the ongoing Sensory Intuition class series (first class takes place on Sunday, March 26th) and learn tools and techniques to reawaken your innate intuitive abilities. Now is the time to cultivate the knowledge and skill to easily and gracefully access your inner wisdom. There are no prerequisites for this class, and all levels of energetic experience are welcome. Whether this is your first foray into the magic of your intuition, or whether you have been a professional psychic for years, there is something for you in this class series to further grow and refine your abilities. Register now to reserve your space.

The Door of Awakening

AWAKENING is the door you don’t notice until you’re ready.

It’s the door that’s always been there, unobtrusive, in the wall that you walk past a hundred times a day without ever registering its presence. Maybe you’re too busy. Maybe you’re preoccupied with your job, your family, your finances, your everyday life. But still, the door to your Awakening has always been there, waiting for you.

One day, you walk by the door and notice it for the first time. You’re suddenly startled, because you’ve passed this wall a thousand times and could have sworn there was nothing there! As you gaze in wonder and disbelief at this revelation of a door, the edges start to glow from the blinding light on the other side.

You have a choice. Here on the Earth plane, we all have the same choice. Are you going to open the door and walk through it, or go back to pretending the door was never there?

What if you choose not to open the door? Maybe you go back to your life and forget all about it, but the door still appears in the space between dreaming and wakefulness. Maybe you try to avoid that section of wall, but always find your steps leading you back to pause in front of the door-that-isn’t-there. Maybe you work so hard to numb yourself to its existence that you numb yourself to all things—your feelings, your family, your dreams, the essence of your joy…

But what if you did choose to open the door? What if, blinded by that omnipresent glow, not knowing what would happen, you stepped through anyway?

What if you claimed your AWAKENING?

What might you discover about yourself? What deep soul purpose would reveal itself to you? How might you come into remembering of who you truly are, and activate within you your own, infinite potential and vibrant nature?

There’s only one way to find out.

Animal Song

ANIMAL SONG: What does it mean to be an Animal Song Carrier?

A person who has been gifted the role of Animal Song Carrier fully embodies the medicine of that Totem. The Animal who chooses to offer its song to you declares in doing so that it gives you permission to access its magic, and that it trusts you to hold its energy and bring it forth into the world. The Animal Guide who invites you to carry its song empowers you with its medicine so that you can, together, co-create alchemy on the Earth plane. The Animal totem, after all, has a purpose and wisdom all its own, and by sharing its song with you, invites you to enact its vision into reality.

Working with Animal Totems is a significant component of my medicine and my discovery of Animal Song began (subconsciously) when I was very young. I have felt a deep connection with animals for as long as I can remember—in fact, my very first memory of this lifetime features the dog that my parents had when I was born (my parents are nowhere in this memory). As a child, when walking in the woods, wild deer would gently step out from between the trees to look at me before moving away into the dappled shadow. I remember visiting a flock of swans and watching them aggressively chase away other children who approached, and yet they allowed me to walk among them and sit peacefully in their midst.

The idea of connecting with animals in the energetic realm always made sense to me. My favorite stories growing up involved talking animals, and I read every book of Native American folk tales I could get my hands on because animals were featured as powerful, intelligent beings with a purpose and wisdom completely separate from human motivations.

I experienced my first Shamanic journey to discover my Spirit Animal when I was 14 years old. The Totem that revealed itself to me made its presence known in my life in a beautiful, supportive way, and I still receive the benefit of her guidance, even 15 years later.

As I deepened my relationship with Animal Guides, I discovered that I had many. I devoted myself to meditating with my guides, learning their medicine and honoring their wisdom. I found that some guides work specifically with certain situations and energies, some are present for short periods and others are lifelong totems.

Eagle is one such governing Totem in my life. In 2012, while offering blessings to a pair of bald eagles, they told me: “Eagle Song is more than the cries of the bird—it is the BEING of an eagle. It is the movement of air over feathers and the flexing of powerful feet and talons. It is observing without being observed. It is intensely knowing your body and valuing every part: there is no waste, only maximum efficiency for flight. But there is a part beyond our physical selves: that which lives between the layers and flies to the sun and back. This, too, is Eagle Song. Our wisdom comes from intimately knowing these parts and uniting them in our Highest Selves. We—and you, too, Child of Earth and Light—are far more than our physical bodies.”

In 2015, I participated in a traditional Native American dance ceremony, during which the Eagles told me that I am an Eagle Song Carrier. It was then that I truly delved into the essence of Animal Song and learned the enormous magic that comes from receiving such a gift. Being a Song Carrier for an Animal Totem is both an honor and a responsibility. By answering the call of the Spirit Animal who entrusts you with its Song, you effectively create a soul contract with that archetype to actualize its energy on the physical plane. You offer yourself as the vessel through which the medicine of this Animal Guide may flow as it works its own brand of magic for the well-being of Earth.

I carry other Animal Songs as well, but Eagle was the first to initiate me into this medicine. As such, I honor this totem through my work, and help others align with the Song of Animal Totems through private sessions, journey work and events featuring a particular Animal Guide.

It is my honor to facilitate another such event this Sunday afternoon (January 29), during which we will connect with Wolf Song. Wolf medicine is very strong in its cycle of power at this time and wishes to share its magic with the Earth plane for the benefit of all. Please join me this weekend to tune in to this powerful wisdom and let us together honor Wolf Song. Event information here.

Image by EntheoNation

Image by EntheoNation

Reclaiming the Dark Goddess

Originally published on Eagle Song March 14, 2016.

On Friday night I offered Priestess facilitation at a Goddess event in Portland. I created a space for people to compose prayers to the Goddess, spoke with attendees about their relationship with the Divine Feminine and helped them craft their intentions. The show featured DJs, live musicians and channeled ceremony. All the performers, live painters and facilitators were female.

In preparing for the event, I imagined that many people would interpret the Goddess in typical fashion: flowing, white fabrics, sparkles, flowers, and other symbols of the gentle feminine. My relationship with the Goddess (especially lately) has been much more influenced by the Dark Goddess, so I was determined to represent her in her powers of destruction and transformation. I wore a beautiful and slightly intimidating boar tusk necklace given to me by one of my deep medicine sisters, strung feathers through my wild hair and donned subtly shimmering black and purple clothes. (I’m not much of a “photo person,” so it wasn’t until after the event was over that it occurred to me that I should have taken a picture. Oh well.)

I was pleasantly surprised to have my expectations proven completely inaccurate! Most of the attendees looked dark and fierce in their interpretation of the Goddess, and as I spoke with people throughout the night about their relationship with the Divine Feminine, I found that many more than I expected were tuning into her aspect as Destroyer. Plenty of people are actively calling upon Kali to help bring about some serious change in their lives. I also welcomed the opportunity to discuss the Aztec Goddess Tlazolteotl and her Divine service through her role as the Filth Eater. Deep in conversation with someone about the Goddess as Transformer and hearing him passionately proclaim the need for societal revolution, I expressed my preconceived notion and how happy I was to see people reclaiming the Dark Goddess. He agreed completely. White, flowing fabric has its place, but now is a time for teeth and claws.

My favorite part of the show was the midnight ceremony facilitated by a woman called Lux Moderna. I met her backstage before she went on, and she told me that her entire dance performance is channeled in the moment as Spirit moves through her. During her time onstage, I felt like I was high. I could absolutely feel the energy she brought forth through the ceremony and the entire room was buzzing in response.

I had the opportunity yesterday morning to go to brunch with her, as she is staying with a friend of mine during her visit. Amidst our collective nerding out over the New Sacred movement and Goddess Spirituality, she brought up the Oracle at Delphi.

Brief history lesson: the Pythia (aka Delphic Oracle) was the name of the priestess of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. This temple was originally built to honor Gaia, then was taken over by the Apollonians. The Pythia, who was always a woman, was held to certain standards of purity and dressed as a virgin to symbolize her readiness to form a union with Apollo. She was forced to inhale “sacred vapors” (fumes emitting from a volcanic vent beneath the temple), then priests would interpret whatever she said as a prophesy in exchange for money from whoever wanted to ask her a question. In other words, the house of the Goddess was taken over by the masculine and Priestesses were fetishized and forced into spiritual slavery. (For a very “Hollywood” interpretation of this, see the movie 300).

I’m not going to delve at all into whether the visions that she had came from a connection with Spirit or were drug-induced raving (but who’s to say that some of those ravings were not inspired by Spirit?). My point for the purposes of this article has to do with a potent example of the power of the Divine Feminine being seized, manipulated and sexualized by the out-of-balance masculine. For thousands of years, we (as collective humanity) have learned that “feminine” qualities include grace, beauty, virginity, gentleness, purity and nurturing. The Goddess was put in a pretty, little, white box.

So you can imagine my fierce pleasure the other night when I witnessed hundreds of women and men coming together to honor the Divine Feminine, and the predominant vibe was that of the Dark Goddess unleashed at last. Yes, the Goddess is all of those qualities listed above. But the Goddess is also destructive. The Goddess is ruthless. The Goddess is the embodiment of transformation: she receives the seed and transforms it into a tree, alchemizes solid rock into molten lava and composts decaying flesh into healthy soil.

The Goddess belongs to no one, yet lives in all of us. We are most able to honor and receive her when we embrace all aspects of her medicine–light and dark, creative and destructive, birth and death. Regardless of where we are on the gender spectrum, the Divine Feminine shows herself through us. How does the Goddess manifest in your life?

I am currently accepting clients for my three month long intensive transformation healing program, New Moon Rising. In our work together, you will receive energetic healing, coaching and practices to help you through your Spiritual Awakening or Deepening. Together, we will delve into your relationship with the Divine Feminine and Masculine and examine how you can balance them in your life in a healthy, constructive way. We all have an inner Masculine and an inner Feminine. It is time to honor all parts of ourselves so that we may be whole and healed, and honor all parts of the Goddess so that we may fully receive her medicine.

Contact me for a consultation to work one-on-one and commit to yourself and your journey.

Many blessings,

Michelle

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.

A Love Letter to My Medicine Family

Originally published on Eagle Song December 22, 2015.

Dear Tribe,

Happy Solstice! I am so grateful to take this time to reflect on the past year and its lessons, and on the people with whom I exchanged beautiful energy.

Thank you so much for the times we danced together, laughed, cooked amazing food, dressed up in costumes, drank tea and talked about the Universe and sat in hot springs until we felt like we were dissolving into infinity.

Thank you for sitting in the forest with me and listening to the rain, nerding out with me over communication and human consciousness, serenading me with beautiful songs and feeding me chocolate.

Thank you for witnessing me in my grief, offering me reflections on my process, being amazing mirrors for my own growth and awareness, teaching me about Power and Love and living your own journeys so fiercely that it inspires me to do the same. Thank you for showing up to talk about the hard stuff with me.

I am so happy to hold space for your process, to reflect with you on your journey, to hold you as you cry, to read your words, to crack jokes all night so you can laugh for a moment and forget your broken heart. I am happy to hold ceremony for you and offer you healing.

I love journeying with you into your own darkness, helping you discover your demons and shine a light on your deepest fears. I will always be there to share my insight, offer my intuition or be a sounding board. Tell me your stories, share your epiphanies and bare your hearts. I love watching your soul sparkle as you speak your Truth.

This past year has been particularly magical because of my amazing Medicine Sisters who have shown up in all the most beautiful ways. Never before have I had such a strong reflection of the Divine Feminine from so many powerful women.

I am also so grateful for my Medicine Brothers and their embodiment of the Divine Masculine.

This is also a dedication letter of sorts. As I continue on my path and step more completely into alignment with my role as a Shaman, there is a necessary acknowledgement of purpose and commitment. As a friend told me, a Shaman doesn’t choose to become a Shaman. They do so because it’s the only way they know how to heal themselves. And once they pass through the Shadow realm and come out the other side, a Shaman’s life belongs to their tribe.

The work that I am doing now is the work that I will be doing (in some form or another) for the rest of my life. So many thanks to my amazing Tribe–you make it so easy to commit to you! And that’s exactly what I’m doing: I commit to supporting you, my Tribe, in your health and well-being, especially in regards to your Spiritual journey.

I hold so much gratitude for my Medicine Family. Thank you for seeing me. I love you, I love you, I love you.

Many blessings,

Michelle

Advanced Empathy: Moving Energy for the Collective

Originally published on Eagle Song October 27, 2015.

I began writing this article exactly two months ago. I set it aside for awhile, but since then, new insight has come forward to lend itself to greater understanding. Here is the original portion of the article from August 27th:

I had one of those Universal “Oh, duh!” moments today about an idea that feels so important I can’t believe it hadn’t consciously occurred to me before. Or rather, it probably has, but never in such an obvious way that highlighted its perfect truth.

My day today was full of experiences which contributed toward a feeling of hypersensitivity–I had a fantastic long run this morning in which I felt strong and present in my entire body, I enjoyed a very expansive meeting with a client, and I drank a lot of tea (a somewhat psychedelic pu’er) while talking for hours with a friend about communication, connection, Spirituality, interpersonal dynamics, etc. All in all, by the time I got home this evening, I was in a heightened state of awareness and receptivity.

So when I discovered that an acquaintance of mine had taken her life a few days ago and witnessed the outpouring of grief from those close to her, I felt myself immediately get swept into an intensely emotional space. I recognized my natural empathic response and started the process of identifying “What is mine? What is not mine?” in regards to the cascade of feelings. Like always, as soon as I put a name to “I am channeling the collective consciousness of grief on behalf of all of these people,” I felt better. I have spent many years practicing emotional and energetic boundaries so I don’t take on other people’s stuff.

And yet, it occurred to me that maybe having solid emotional and energetic boundaries is only part of what it means to use empathy in a healthy and constructive way. As soon as I delved into this thought spiral, I felt a deep resonance with the idea that someone who has practiced grounded and self-aware empathy will be able to use their gift to move and transmute massive amounts of energy on behalf of others.

This is where the “Oh, duh!” moment occurred. In fact, now that I think about it, a few examples immediately come to mind where I have done mass-consciousness-level healing in the last year by channeling the wounds of the collective through empathy.

Let’s look at the layers of understanding around empathy (and here I use “sadness” as an example, but it could be anything):

  1. Unconsciousness: I have feelings! Sometimes I feel sad and I’m not sure why.
  2. Awareness: Other people have feelings! I feel sad when other people feel sad.
  3. Identification: That feeling of sadness does not belong to me.
  4. Separation: I am holding my emotional and energetic boundary so I can witness your sadness in compassion, but not feel it myself.
  5. ***HEALING*** (this is the new idea): I recognize the sadness and wounding of this individual or collective group of beings and, knowing and trusting in my capacity to let it flow through me, I give permission for it to do so in order to transmute this energy on behalf of these people and for the benefit of all beings.

When I tuned in to Spirit for any guidance on the subject, I received confirmation in a big way. Yes, this is part of the purpose of empathy.

That is where I left the article at the time. Fast forward to this morning (October 27th), when a close friend of mine tells me about a profound healing experience she had over the weekend. This healing allowed her to release the energy of shame around sexuality that she had been holding onto since her childhood. She told me about what it felt like to process this shame for herself and to let it go, and then went on to describe how she felt the sexual shame of all women flowing through her to be transmuted and released in the same way.

I told her the ideas I had about “Advanced Empathy” and how someone practiced in holding their personal boundaries could move a step beyond the separation and allow the energy to flow through them to offer healing for the benefit of all. She was intrigued by the idea and agreed wholeheartedly, I remembered this forgotten article, and here we are.

Let me note that I call this idea “Advanced Empathy” for a reason. Both my friend and I are extremely practiced healers who have spent years cultivating healthy boundaries and learning how to safely move powerful energies. Most empathic people, when they discover that their capacity for empathy makes them susceptible to the feelings of others around them, take steps to learn how to protect themselves from being overwhelmed (Separation: #4 on the list above). This is both a totally reasonable and completely necessary tool for forming constructive boundaries. I remember learning in my late teens and early twenties that having solid energetic boundaries was the only way for me to comfortably live in the world.

But what is the true purpose of empathy? Humans evolved as a cooperative species in which the survival of the group depended on each individual feeling connected to the community, cared for and invested in the well-being of others in the tribe. We’ve moved beyond some of the nitty-gritty aspects of survival, but still, feeling other peoples’ emotions is essential to the human experience. It is when a person doesn’t have empathy for other beings that they are capable of unkindness, inflicting pain, cruelty, murder or genocide. The purpose of empathy, then, has to do with not only sensing the feelings of other people, but with using it as a means of connection and healing, rather than as a cause for separation.

And it is only through “Advanced Empathy” that we can go about healing some of the massive wounds that exist in the collective consciousness. When I learned about my acquaintance who ended her life, I used empathy to offer healing not only to her, but to all those who grieved for her passing. And really, to all those who needed help moving the energy of grief. When my friend experienced her healing and release of sexual shame, then felt the energy of the sexual shame of all women moving through her, she was using empathy to heal the feminine collective consciousness. When I channeled Joan of Arc a few months ago and felt the energy ripping through me, I was offering healing by holding empathy and transmuting the wounds of all those who had suffered, who had lived in fear or who had been killed for revealing who they really were. That’s another story in itself, but there’s the short version for now.

Where do we go from here? Learning healthy and constructive boundaries is always a good thing. People who can hold a safe energetic container and who have practiced a high degree of self-awareness will be in a great position to take empathy to the next level. There are so many wounds that exist in the collective consciousness, and the more that we can transmute this energy into healing, the better. The times I have worked with channeling empathy for healing of the collective, it was pulled out of me unconsciously. My personal goal is to move into a place of conscious empowerment around empathy, when I can use my healthy, grounded boundaries and say, “I recognize the wounding of the collective consciousness and, knowing and trusting in my capacity to let it flow through me, I give permission for it to do so in order to transmute this energy on behalf of these people and for the benefit of all beings.”

Animal Guides: Spider

Originally published on Eagle Song September 3, 2015

About a month ago, Spider announced herself in my life in a somewhat startling, then very beautiful way.

On the night of the last Super Moon at the end of July, I brought all my crystals outside to soak in the moonlight. I joined them on an air mattress and was sleeping relatively peacefully, until sometime in the middle of the night when I awoke to feel a spider bite my top lip, right in the center. In my half-asleep, bewildered state, I announced to the spider, “That hurts! Who does that?!?” I rolled over, already feeling my lip swell under my fingertips. I managed to fall back asleep fairly quickly, thinking that the spider had some nerve biting me (on my lip, no less) while I was minding my own business, sleeping.

The next morning, my upper lip was swollen to several times its normal size. I endured a few hours of talking strangely and drooling a little bit, but with my magic natural detox, my lip looked pretty much normal by midday. I filed the incident under “Unusual, but not significant,” and moved on.

Two days later, I participated in a traditional Native American dance ceremony. At some point in the late morning, I noticed some very tiny spiders appear on me. I escorted them down to the safety of the grass, only to discover more and more baby spiders show up throughout the next several hours. They appeared as if out of nowhere to crawl on my body and my clothes, and I gently transported them to the grass and nearby plants where I wouldn’t accidentally smoosh them with my movements. I asked both of my dance neighbors on either side (about 5 or 6 feet away) if they had any tiny spider visitors, and I felt surprised when each of them told me that they were completely spider-free. Apparently there had just been a hatching immediately over my head. The rain of baby spiders continued through the early afternoon, and while I thanked Grandmother Spider for sending me her grandchildren and tried asking her what I was supposed to learn, I was sufficiently distracted by the dance ceremony itself (read about it here) and did not have enough attention for an answer.

When I eventually did get to meditate with Spider energy a few days later, the information that came through resonated deeply with me:

Spiders are the weavers of life. Through their weaving, everything is connected. They help form the bridge between the past and future, the subconscious and conscious, male and female, waking and dreaming life, physical and spiritual realms. They embody infinity, and their webs’ spiral shape represents the First Cosmic Key of the Universe, from which all other forms manifest.

Research from outside sources revealed that Spider is the keeper of ancient languages and alphabets, and that the geometric shapes found in a spider’s web became the first symbols of written language. Spiders are storytellers! How cool is that?

It blows my mind that I could be so deeply connected to Spider without consciously knowing that I work with her energy. Maybe that’s why she sent one of her children to bite me in my sleep, on my lip, infusing me with a strong dose of Spider medicine to aid in my own storytelling of weaving the bridge between human and Divine realms. (I even use the term “Thought Spiral” when I’m describing the long, multidimensional path an idea takes when it pulls together many seemingly unrelated concepts that ultimately connect to form a complete and cohesive picture. Thank you, Spider.)

All that said, working directly with Spider medicine has not felt completely intuitive to me. Some animals (generally mammals and birds) are so much easier for me to jump right into a very embodied understanding of what it means to access their energy. Maybe it’s partially due to cultural conditioning, maybe it’s because their movement and body shape are so unlike my own, but I definitely need to sink deep in order to fully honor this guide and do her justice.

That’s partly why I’m so excited to teach my Animal Dance workshop next weekend in Portland, OR. While I guide others through the process of discovering their Animal Totems and moving into a place of embodied understanding, I plan to do the same with Spider. I am so grateful for the opportunity to facilitate this journey! Working with my own Animal Guides has been a rich, truly educational experience that helps me discover more and more layers of my own consciousness and personal evolution. I can’t wait to help others access the wealth of knowledge and powerful wisdom available to them from their Animal Guides.

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Workshop information here.

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