New Moon Intentions Part 2 of 3: Spirit Creations

As I mentioned yesterday, I have been setting intentions for a long time. I like to think of this as a form of spiritual goal setting and have used this process to move the picture of my life into greater alignment with who I really am.

In the last decade so much has, and continues, to change. I hardly recognize the insecure and fearful girl I used to be. My shape and fitness levels have improved, I have moved to sunnier climates, gone from serving in the military to more peaceful work as a yogi, writer, and entrepreneur. I have gone from jealous, suspicious, and frightened to trusting, peaceful, and loving. I have broadened my horizons, shed layers of a false identity, and moved into a place of greater authenticity. While I once felt disconnected, I now enjoy a direct, close, and ineffable relationship with the divine.

When I first started setting intentions they were super specific and tangible, as is usually suggested. I would list things like “tall, handsome, athletic and well-traveled man” or “job with a start-up that includes travel and high income”, and I was able to get both of those things quite quickly and easily. Our minds are incredibly powerful tools and with a little faith, we can manifest anything we desire – this I believe with all of my heart. The problem is, very few of us really know what we want.

On a list last year I listed:

  • a “Graceful exit from Convoy” – a company that I couldn’t leave because while I was miserable in the role – they had just paid a lot to move my things from Miami to San Francisco and it would have felt unprofessional to quit.
  • Enough money to start a business
  • A bed & breakfast
  • My own yoga studio

All of these intentions fruited within 3 months. I was laid off from my job, given a severance, and encountered a unique opportunity to rent a small hotel in Ecuador where I had my B&B and taught yoga from my own studio there. It was perhaps my most powerful list to date. The problem with this list, and specifically the B&B and yoga studio are that these were not in alignment with my spirit’s desires. I just didn’t realize it at the time. As these manifestations eventually crumbled, I came to understand the difference between creating from ego and creating from spirit.

When we allow our ego to run this process, its creations are made from fear and insecurity which makes for a fragile structure that may temporarily result in peace or happiness, but will eventually self destruct. The yoga studio I manifested was not coming from a place of higher good such as, I want to share the gift of yoga with the world. It was instead coming from a place of needing validation from the world that I deserved the title of yoga teacher. I have many examples of this such as my last two jobs in Silicon Valley, past relationships (ie. that athletic and cultured man that I landed), and several other situations.

Since leaving Ecuador and the hotel behind, I have realized the importance of aligning to my spiritual desires and forgoing any intentions that I’m not clear on. We co-create with the world around us and that brings responsibility. When I left the hotel after realizing how far out of alignment it all was, several people were negatively affected and I felt horrible. For several months after, my intentions were related to my personality and to aligning with God’s will for my life, rather than people or situations. I haven’t wanted to affect others unless perfectly clear on what I wanted. This is a poem I wrote at the time while reflecting of these ideas.

          All I’ve ever known is slipping from my grasp
          Beneath it is a whisper…
          Let go of that which is going

          My hands and mind have been like magic wands
          Creating all I’ve ever wanted
          But magic doesn’t last

          Ego-creations can glimmer fancy in moonlight
          When no shadow is cast
          But they decay in the sun

          And so I’ll try something new, I give it up to God
          Naked and scared, I ask
          Where then am I going?

          There is a whisper above it all. Surrender…
          There is nowhere to go.
          All is coming, Love.

When we create from spirit we move into divine alignment, resulting in more solid foundations and greater joy. Our hearts are like magnets that pull in people and situations that are aligned to our frequency so it’s important to have positive feelings here, love & gratitude for what already is. A sense of bitterness, lack, or resentment will manifest bitter, lacking, and resentful situations.

Spirit centered intentions look more like this…

  • A loving and emotionally supportive environment
  • Alignment with my purpose
  • To be kinder
  • To be more loving
  • To be of service in the world
  • That my skills and talents be used for the greater good
  • A partnership that is spiritually nourishing with someone who inspires me to be my best authentic self

The Universe is self-correcting and interested in us thriving. No matter our mis-steps, it will meet us where we are every time we want to begin again. We do not need to have it all figured out right now. Part of the beauty here is getting onto a regular schedule – using the new moon as a reminder is a great way. The more we practice this, the better we get, moving into greater alignment with our highest selves each time. Just keep an open heart and an open mind.

Tomorrow I’ll share my process in case you’d like to borrow from it in creating your own intention setting ritual.

I love you.

 

New Moon Intentions, Part 1 of 3: Introduction

I believe ritual is a necessary part of a vibrant spiritual practice and there is a reason that all the major religions contain them. It is a demarcation, an acknowledgment that brings significance to events whether it be a union, a rite of passage, or in this case – a sacred act that demonstrates ones commitment to living a purposeful and divinely inspired life. This is a time that is set aside for reflection, a time to get in touch with our deepest desires and to move energy in those directions. When we know what we want, we can begin to align our inner and outer worlds, which results in much greater satisfaction and joy in life.

In farming traditions, the new moon is a time when the soil is most fertile and is considered the beginning of a growth phase, an ideal time to plant seeds. This is symbolic as well, allowing us a fresh start in our circumstances with each new cycle. We set intentions, “plant seeds” in the garden of our hearts and minds to bring about positive changes in our lives.

Tuning into the natural cycles of the moon brings us back into connection with our bodies, feelings, and our natural environment. I read some time ago that a woman’s most natural rhythm is to get her period during the New Moon. Not only is this the first phase in the feminine cycle, but it contains the quality of reflection and introspection – a perfect time to look within and get clear on what we want.

Due to hormones in our food, birth control, city lights, and a variety of other factors, many of us have fallen out of phase. This has been validated in my own life. In the several months that I’ve been focused on my health and well-being I have personally experienced a shift, with my period arriving on the New Moon like clock-work after decades of misalignment. If you don’t currently cycle with the moon, there are many ways to move into a more natural rhythm.

One need not be a woman or have a period to benefit from intention setting. The act of “planting seeds” alone consciously directs our energy in the direction we set out. Just like when we want tomatoes, we plant tomato seeds – our minds work the same way.

An easy example to understand how we direct energy is the simple act of waking up in the morning. We wake up and we think, “I need to get up and get ready for work.” The thought alone is sent as an energetic signal through our nervous system, which in turn activates our muscles, bones, and ligaments. Our bodies go to work for us, moving energy in the direction of our thought. Soon, we are physically moving – we getting up and getting ready to go to work. The thought “I need to get up for work” results in the reality that you physically get up for work. Our thoughts create reality and our life’s circumstances are the direct result of a thought we had at some point. They are the seeds and our circumstances are its fruit.

Through setting intentions, we calibrate or tune in – like a radio receiver that switches stations and finds clarity, you too are able to better tune into people or situations that may help you move along your desired pathway. It brings awareness to our lives. For example, if I have “loving, kind, and committed romantic relationship” as an intention, dating becomes “conscious dating”. Knowing what I want here keeps me on the path toward getting it, so I don’t get carried away in a relationship that is not aligned with what I want.

There are so many ways to look at it. It’s also like a non-secular prayer, on a schedule. It’s an act that relies on the divinity within and our connection to the universe to bring forth that which wants to come forth in our lives. We are incredibly powerful creatures and in fact, we are creators – I believe this is what is meant in the Bible when it is said that we were created in God’s likeness. We have so much more potential than we’ve been led to believe. This is a way of tapping into that power.

Setting intentions at the beginning of each moon cycle is one of my favorite ways to connect with my spirit. This is time and space that has been set aside to check in with myself – to take an honest look at my life. Because it honors the rhythm of nature, it also serves a reminder of the connection we have to Mother Earth and To Great Spirit. Recognizing their presence removes any sense of isolation I might feel, and performing this ritual with others brings me into communion with them as well.

Tomorrow, I’ll share some of my personal experiences with this process and on Saturday, I’ll post with my actual process so that you can give it a try if you’re inclined. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.

I love you.

Honor Thyself

What follows is taken from a FB post I made a week and a half ago. I was in the middle of writing the Plant Medicine series and didn’t want to interrupt that flow here, but the response I got was overwhelming – It so clearly resonated with my tribe that it only makes sense to share it here as well.

11/6/2017

Remember this picture? I was soooo skinny! And I was so sad… can you see it?

I woke up this morning feeling on fire and I thought back to July, in India, and how sad and skinny I was. I was defeated. I had lost my curves and my fire. I was so sick of myself, of my choices, of my neediness, of my controlling and addictive behaviors. I was crying alone in my room, night after night, demanding God’s intervention in my life. I gave it up to God and started following my intuition. We already know what to do… We just need to do it! I was exhausted, but I picked myself up and I made some changes.

Nearly four months since I’ve had a drink or any drugs, since I’ve had sex or any negative energy around me. It’s been nearly four months since I’ve compromised my own self worth so someone else could feel better. Four months that I’ve put myself first, that I’ve been eating healthy, that I’ve been meditating consistently instead of just leading others through their meditations. Four months that I’ve held my own time and space to be healthy instead of everyone else’s. Saturday, I canceled my salsa plans to write. Yesterday I canceled my writing plans to shop. I did what I wanted to do.

It’s clear I’ve been feeling good – you guys know that. I’ve gained a few pounds back and yesterday I bought a pair of sexy heels. This morning I woke up, rolled out of bed with my messy hair feeling like a million bucks. I put on a pair of tight black jeans and my new heels, looked in the mirror and delighted in my curves – I’ve missed them. I feel my old fire returning but this time it burns along calm waters. I’m the old me mixed with the new me and it feels so GOOD!

You can stay true to yourself while you change. You can and should put yourself first. Don’t let people treat you like shit and don’t treat yourself that way either.

The only constant IS change. Take advantage of it.

Anyway, just my morning thoughts. I love you!

Plant Medicine Part 5 of 5: Ayahuasca Upgrades

It took me a while to recover from my first Ayahuasca experience in 2015, but it’s been on my mind ever since. Looking back, I realize that the purging I did was not simply a physical purge, but a release of so much toxicity I was holding in my body. While I had many opportunities for another Aya ceremony while living in Ecuador, the timing simply wasn’t right and so I abstained, but it never left my mind.

I was looking through Facebook one day when I saw that a friend of mine “liked” a page – Soul Quest – an Ayahuasca church in Orlando, Florida. Aya had been on my mind daily for at least a month and I was even looking at flights back to Ecuador for a ceremony. Intrigued, I followed the link and saw there was a ceremony that weekend.

Four months clean from unprocessed foods, all drugs and alcohol, sex, and caffeine, my body was as pure as its ever been. Four months of detoxing from unhealthy relationships, my heart was on its way to purity as well. With my last weekend free before teaching yoga again, the timing was synchronous. I was called and when Aya calls, you go. Two days later, I was driving twelve hours to Orlando.

The retreat was three days and two nights, with an Aya ceremony each night and an optional daytime ceremony on Saturday. There was also a Rapé (rah-pe’) ceremony late Saturday afternoon – another sacred medicine from the Amazon, a powder made from tobacco and other plant leaves, finely ground herbs, seeds, and ashes. Check out my last post for my Rapé experience.

Friday Night
The medicine was mellow. I did throw-up once but it was minor. I cocooned on my mat and slipped in and out of consciousness for hours. At one point, I was held in my grandmother’s bosom while I felt the pain of losing her. I cried as I could feel that at our core, we are all the same and we are all craving connection. I felt the desperate longing for connection within my own soul.

I looked at the fire and saw the volunteers all dressed in white, looking like marshmallow men. They were enjoying each other and I was tapped into their energy as I found myself laughing along with them despite not being in on their jokes. The rest of the night passed quietly.

Saturday Night
It was clear that Friday night was prepping my body for Saturday as the medicine came on strong. I lay cocooned in my blankets, in the fetal position with my eyes closed. With the sound of crystal bowls resonating in the background, a most miraculous show began to unfold. Geometric patterns of the boldest alien-like colors sliding around in my head. I was entranced for a while before I began to demand, What is behind the show? I watched. I waited. I demanded again, Behind the show. Behind the show… I want to see what is behind the show. I’m not here to be entertained. I realized I was whispering this aloud.

A voice emerged and a conversation began. I was told,

     You can have anything you want, Stephanie.

     Anything? I countered.

     Anything.

     Fame and Riches?

     Yes.

     Really?

     Yes. Make it so.

I found it interesting that Fame and Riches were my first ask. I’ve realized that “Fame” and “Riches” are the worldly validation of what I actually want: To be valued and respected as a thinker and a writer. My logical brain knows this is already so, but my heart doubts. It’s so full of fear. Fear and its transcendence was to be the theme for the night.

We had been warned about the music. Our Sound Goddess, Amy, had said she would be playing some tracks that we might find unnerving. To let it take us deeper inside ourselves. There would be dissonant tones and they were meant to break up energies…. Ummm….Yeah. That worked.

I began to feel uneasy. The music was heavy. My organs were shaking. There was too much pressure in my body. I was running my hands through my hair incessantly as if smoothing my hair would smooth out my nerves. Finally, I purged.

It was all black liquid. A mixture of Ayahuasca, Rapé from earlier, and bad energy. I was on all fours in tabletop position, hovering above the bucket and staring down at my vomit. I was asking,

     What just came out of me???

     “Do you really want to know?” I heard. “I’ll show you if you want to see it.”

As I stared down at the liquid an image began to form as if looking into a magic mirror. Then I heard, “You don’t have to look. You can leave the past in the past and be happy it’s out of you.” I pushed the bucket away and laid back down on my mat content to leave the past behind me.

The show began again. The patterns, the colors, they carried on in their glory but I wasn’t here for a show so I repeated… What is behind the show? Then I heard, “Open your eyes and see. Look at all the light beings.”

I opened my eyes to the most incredible sight. Amongst the construct of reality that I had known before drinking the Aya were also the light beings. Thin holographic ribbons of rainbow light streamed through the air in many directions. It looked like a trail that Tinkerbell might have left behind, but these ribbons were entities in their own right. I was told, “These are the light beings. They love you more than you can imagine. You are surrounded by love.” And I felt it, I felt all of the love in the world. And then they told me…

There’s no wrong way to be. There is no wrong way to be. There is no wrong way to be!

It started as a message but soon I was the one whispering it aloud, There is no wrong way to be. So I can be me??? I asked.

     Yes! You are a Stef, Steffing! You’re not doing it wrong. No one can tell you you’re doing it wrong! There is no wrong way for you to be. Be You, Stephanie. Do not worry about what others think. It does not matter.

I was like a child full of wonder. It was hard to believe that I’m allowed to be myself. That I’m allowed to be open and vulnerable, to be strong, talented and successful, to be unapologetically beautiful and sexy and kind and smart. To be a gift in this world.

It feels hard to believe that I can be a gift in this world. But I am. I am a gift. We all are.
Why are so afraid of it? Why have so many of us been made to feel shamed for who we are?

The sights and sounds carried on as I marveled. The messages were firing at me second by second.

     Lay down your “needs”, Stephanie. You don’t need anything but to breathe. You have everything you need. Stop with the neediness. Lay it down.

     Take better care of yourSelf. Your energy. Your spirit.

     Don’t worry about food. Stop counting calories. Start counting blessings.

     Stop digging for skeletons. You already know what’s there. Set down the past. Leave it behind.

     Don’t worry about timelines.

     You’re too controlling. Stop forcing things. When you resist life as it is, you push tension into your unconscious mind. This is why your body hurts.

     You made a mistake with CAYA Yoga. You knew it too. When will you learn? Listen to your gut, Stephanie. You already know everything. Stop doubting yourself.

     Your writing is a beautiful gift in the world. Stop being afraid of it. Don’t worry about what others think. Create from within. Own it. Share it.

     Let your body age. Stop resisting it; it’s inevitable. Let your insides show. You’re beautiful. Be graceful.

     Tell everyone how beautiful they are.

I asked about a former lover. I asked why I couldn’t let him go. She told me to “Be love and then leave.” This was what he had done and it was the lesson for me to learn. I hold on for too long sometimes. Sometimes it’s okay to just go.

I kept asking how to be an open-hearted being in the world. She said simply, “Be open-hearted.” I asked, BUT howww???? She grew tired of it. “It’s simple,” she said. “BE Open-hearted.” And so I’m opening. Poco a poco.

I was in awe of my experience. I was crying while saying “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” to Mother Ayahuasca. I was overcome with a sense of sacredness, sensing the ineffable presence of God. I understood, with all of my being, the sacredness of this plant and that it is not to be abused. She should be treated with absolute respect. And then she said to me…

You, too, are beautiful. YOU are worthy of love.

I felt so vulnerable – so fragile and passing – but at the same time seeing so much beauty in that. I was overwhelmed with the feeling that I am incredibly special and that I am worthy of love – all while feeling like I might disintegrate at any moment. It was like being a strand of the highest quality and most delicate golden thread, lingering out in space. I sensed my own value and fragility. I understood the need to protect my self-worth by setting clear boundaries with others.

I’ve never been clear with personal boundaries and I was receiving the message that I need to be. I need to understand my own self-worth and I need to protect my body, heart, mind, and spirit at all costs. I’ve never before considered any part of myself sacred. I was never shown that I am, until now. This was some very deep second chakra healing.

The thing that’s amazing about Ayahausca is the clarity it brings. This has always been a fuzzy area for me. I have moved through the world confident and self-assured, not even realizing that I had no sense of self-worth. They are different things – one is based on merit and the other is based on the inherent value of being. But lacking this esteem has resulted in depression, falling short of my own potential, and tolerating abusive situations and relationships. Aya illuminates the limiting belief systems that we are all carrying around unconsciously.

As I started to come down, I felt the need to expose my belly. Since feeling my IUD with San Pedro and having it removed a couple of weeks later, I was concerned that I had damaged my body. I was told to expose my belly so that the sounds could reach it. My womb needed healing from decades of birth-control.

Eventually the medicine wore off and I fell asleep. I awoke from the most beautiful journey feeling self-assured. Renewed. Upgraded.

We gathered for integration where I heard stories of recovery from addiction, fear, trauma, and pain. I heard people discovering purpose, who had uncovered their next steps, and who were taught how to connect with themselves without the medicine. Stories of how to be. How to heal.

For me, perhaps the greatest message that I received was to stop hiding. To be myself.

I have been conservative in what I have shared in the past. I have also made many choices that were not in alignment with who I am, in an attempt for validation. I have pretended to be someone else for too long. And so I will do my best to step out, into the life, and to be unapologetically Me.

We are all rising. This is a promise. We are the bringers of light.

I love you.

Plant Medicine Part 4 of 5: Rapé

My initial draft about my recent Ayahuasca ceremonies came to seven pages, too much for a single post. Given that I experienced two different medicines while there, I’m extending this Plant Medicine series to five parts – Rapé and Ayahuasca each with their own entry.

The retreat was three days and two nights, with an Aya ceremony each night and an optional daytime ceremony on Saturday. There was also a Rapé (rah-pay’) ceremony late Saturday afternoon – another sacred medicine from the Amazon, a powder made of tobacco and other plant leaves, finely ground herbs, seeds, and ashes.

Saturday
With only traces of an Ayahuasca experience the night before, I was keen to partake in the daytime ceremony despite not originally planning for it. After all, I didn’t drive 12 hours for traces. While waiting for the ceremony to begin, I was talking with a new friend, who had his own Rapé and blowpipe. Though there was a Rapé ceremony on the schedule later that evening, he saw my curiosity and offered me some. I accepted.

He sat in front of me on my mat. He filled one end of the blow pipe with snuff, brought it to my forehead and we breathed together, then he brought it to my heart and we we breathed together. Next, he placed one end of the pipe into my left nostril and blew. I was immediately overwhelmed by energy, my entire body on hot pins and needles. We repeated the same ritual with my other nostril.

I got up to purge but couldn’t get my legs and stumbled around helplessly. He rushed to hold me upright. I was dizzy then lightheaded. Energy surged through my arms and hands then flowed quickly down through my legs and into my feet. I sat for a few minutes breathing and talking to him about my condition. He thought it should be dissipating, but it grew stronger with each second. He held onto my hands; he could feel the heat. I had to lay down.

A facilitator saw what was happening as it started to become a scene. I noticed everyone staring at me; I must have been ghost white. My hands locked up, and then my calves and feet. Someone brought me a cold pack and I continued to breathe, waiting out the effects. They  were massaging my feet and hands while asking me to move them, which I was still able to do with conscious effort despite their rigidity. Despite the drama, I was never scared. Everything passes. This I know. But I was incredibly uncomfortable as I continued to breathe through it.

I laid on my mat for a while until I needed to go to the bathroom. The Ayahuasca ceremony had started without me and it became quite clear that I would no longer be joining in. A facilitator helped me to the bathroom, where I was lost in my thoughts for a while. Eventually, I made my way to another mat nearby and away from the ceremony.

A few visitors checked on me. They were upset that I was given the snuff by another participant outside of ceremony. They knew from experience that one in a hundred people might react like I had and it should never be done for the first time that close to working with Ayahuasca. I was apparently in the one percent of highly sensitive people. They were all quite upset about it. I just wanted to be alone and eventually I was.

I lay on my mat thinking, everything unfolds exactly as it should. It was supposed to happen this way, but why? The answers came streaming in.

You weren’t supposed to work with Ayahuasca today. Two ceremonies in a weekend are enough for you. You always push it. You are always pushing it.

Slow down! You hit everything so fast and so hard. Look at your life. Look at your habits. Look at yourself. It’s too much. Slow down, Stephanie. You need to take better care of yourself.

You are sensitive. You keep learning this lesson. When will you finally learn, Stephanie? Honor Yourself.

I was uncomfortable and I was going out to space. I was fighting the sensations; I wanted to ground so badly. I thought, I’ll get up and eat something. Food is grounding; that will fix this. I headed to the kitchen. I walked five feet before laying back down. I returned to my mat for five minutes before trying again. After failing to make it to the kitchen for the second time I realized I needed to stay on the mat. The food would wait – I needed to ground by staying put. That’s when the lessons continued.

Stop resisting this. Feel what you’ve done. Feel it. There’s no numbing this time. No food, no weed, no more of your nasty habits. Feel what you have done. You are always resisting and you are always controlling. Not. This. Time.

I considered my life and how much I have been in resistance to it. How much I have numbed myself. I have been addicted to so many things – to food, to weed and other drugs, to relationships, to worldly approval, to all of it. All of it an attempt to numb the pain of disconnection. Disconnection from my own spirit and from yours.

I have been scared of being hurt. As a child I learned to associate pain with “love” and I have feared it. While I have so many beautiful friends, a feeling of disconnection has lingered. With fear inside, I have lived in self-imposed isolation. My challenge now is to find comfort in my own skin. To be open-hearted while standing on solid ground. I have needed to ground my spirit. I received,

That’s right, Stephanie. Your vibration is changing. There’s no room for you to force anything now.

It’s clear that I’m still in the thick of transition and my vibration has been shifting higher and higher. I’ve been dating here in Asheville, but it’s felt forced. I don’t want my next relationship to be like what I’ve already experienced. I want to be my most authentic self and to attract a vibrational match. So rather than looking, we’ll see what comes naturally.

Once my body and mind returned to normal, I got some food and went out to my car. It’s my cave, my womb. I love it because I can put down the seats and make a bed. I have two foam crates, pillows and blankets in the back that I can always escape to. It’s my private space where I can ground if necessary, in most any situation. It’s a way of taking care of myself. Sensitive and introverted, I like to cocoon in my own energy sometimes.

I had come for Ayahuasca, but unexpectedly learned so much from Rapé. It’s doubtful I’ll try it again knowing how sensitive I am to tobacco (and if I do, I’ll go slow!), but I am so thankful all of this happened. It put a lot into perspective for me and it set the table for my absolutely incredible Ayahuasca journey later that night, which I’ll be sharing here early next week in Plant Medicine Part 5 of 5.

Thanks for reading! I love you!