Crystals and Self-Care

holding crystalCrystals have their own meaning and calling to me. I wanted to write about the role that crystals have played in my work as a dance/movement therapist and counselor because I feel it is a wonderful tool for self-care. I feel like my connection to them is from another time and space, and some people even believe that crystals are actual angelic beings, which I definitely feel at times. The longer I’ve worked with crystals, the more they seem to almost sing or emit a vibration which calls us to other realms or lifetimes. As I’ve alluded to in previous posts, I feel I have been a healer in past lives, which is perhaps why the role comes so easily to me in this one.

Long before I was a clinical counselor, I was the person everyone came to if they had a problem or wanted a listening ear. I was on the path to becoming a social worker when I discovered dance/movement therapy. I then had a major healing crisis and transferred colleges to major in dance. This choice aligned me back with my own power and creativity and then years later I received a master’s degree in dance/movement therapy and counseling. I have been working in the field for over twelve years, with the last five being in the field of addiction treatment and mental health.

As I dove deeper into the contrast (which I now understand is the pull to darkness to find and understand the light), the crystals were (and still are) energy beings in tangible form which keep me from getting stuck in the dark and dense places into which I am sometimes pulled with clients. Crystals strengthen the aura which is helpful for healers who give a lot of their energy to others. As an empath and sensitive being, the energy of other people affects me strongly. Because of this, I find it comforting to wear crystal jewelry or have them nearby as they offer vibrations of Mother Earth/Mama Gaia which help strengthen my aura and in turn, strengthen my connection to my true self. As a dance/movement therapist, a large part of what I do is help people experience a deeper feeling of embodiment and connection to their sensing and feeling selves. The crystals help me to be a stronger conduit as it is literally connecting my energetic field to higher vibrations (in the form of crystals) from Mother Earth.

A good friend of mine from college told me I reminded him of a crystal as I reflected light back to him when he was feeling down. I now understand that part of my mission in life is to reflect others’ light back to them. This is what actual crystals do; they reflect our light back to us. This is why we often feel more energized, calmer or clearer in their presence.

I am trying to befriend the part of me who hides and still has a body memory of being punished for using certain gifts. As I am reminded that crystals are a symbol for purity and highest divine light, I need not be ashamed. As I listen to my soul call and align with my wise self, I know all is well.

If you would like to see some of my crystal creations, visit: http://www.etsy.com/shop/CrystalDreams444

mirror soul

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I know you are in deep darkness right now; I can feel it in my heart without question. I can feel how you may be receiving the same energetic spiritual activations that I am, but your response to them is to fight harder and will yourself to stay in the darkness because that’s where you feel you belong. I am here to tell you that is simply not true. I understand why you might feel that way but I can tell you that the core of my connection to you is pure light and innocence. It feels timeless, like I have always felt this for a resonant soul but it wasn’t until I became acquainted with you that I realized how much your soul reflected mine. It is a connection that I can’t seem put into words but it often makes me cry~not from sadness, but from feeling the walls around my heart slowly melt. All I know for sure is that in spite of what my mind says, my young heart loves you deeply and feels connected to your light, no matter what you do~

i miss you.

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I miss you; where are you? I keep looking in all the familiar places: my heart, my mind, my music, my dance… What is maddening and disconcerting is that I feel you everywhere, all the time, and yet you are not here. Periodically you have emerged from the ether…and even more occasionally, I have reached out to you…but mostly I just feel your energy and wonder if I am indeed going crazy. I distract myself, refocus, reprioritize. I look and feel under the surface of what I perceive is a feeling of longing for you and transmute it into how I long for the deeper parts of myself to come to the surface. So I go spelunking, deep sea diving into the void of myself…or probably more accurately, what lies beyond myself…and attempt to find peace of mind and deeper wholeness. Yet through all this, I still feel you…the echo of you will not leave no matter how far or deep I travel. I hear your voice, feel your energy, and as I move toward it, I am more myself and beyond myself at once. I love you from this deep, dark part of myself that at times I hardly know. She calls to me like a siren song, asking me to go deeper and trust. Her siren song is a response to your being…she calls out to you and me simultaneously. She asks me to surrender to the depth of feeling I have most of all.

 

mermaid painting by John William Waterhouse, 1901

Authentic Movement: A Natural Unfolding

The practice of Authentic Movement was birthed through Mary Whitehouse, a dancer and dance teacher, as a way to bring her own discoveries in Jungian analysis to her students. She wanted to help the dancers she was teaching to move from a deeper and more authentic place. Originally called movement-in-depth, her approach to working with people eventually drew non-dancers to come and work with her to find their own authenticity in movement. One of her students, Janet Adler, developed the form into the way it is known today, as a practice where one moves in the presence of a witness. Whereas Mary discovered and developed what it means to let oneself be moved, Janet delved into what it means to be present in witness to the process of another and how the inner witness develops. Zoe Avstreih, my teacher, was not a student of Mary’s, but instead discovered the form organically as a psychoanalyst and practitioner of Zen meditation. She was teaching a class for dance/movement therapists when she invited students to close their eyes and explore the answer to the question, what moves you? Zoe met Janet at a national dance/movement therapy conference wherein Janet invited Zoe into the lineage of AM after realizing that she practiced the same form. Janet later asked Zoe to take over her training center for AM when Janet decided to move to the west coast.

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I am drawn to Authentic Movement because of the way it allows for deep honesty and the opportunity to fully dive into the truth of ourselves. The trust I have developed over the years that the discipline of the form will somehow hold and create a container for all of the chaos, the unknown and the unconscious material that emerges (sometimes in repetitive movements) is comforting to me. I feel a kinship to this form as someone for whom movement is my first language, my first direct line of receiving and of communication. When I am trying to speak from an honest place, words often come after the feeling sensation or wave of energy. The practice of AM has given me a place to practice listening to my deeper movement impulses and allow them to move through me, as well as allowing my inner witness to hold my experience as it unfolds.

The practice of AM can invite us to let go of the conditioning we receive that our cognitive processes are somehow more important than the phenomena that arises in the body. If we want to find a balanced dialogue between body and mind, we often need to give ourselves permission and space to do so first. If we want to learn to listen more closely to our body’s wisdom, we often need to continually and gently remind ourselves that it is safe to let go of the need to understand every moment as it unfolds as a somatic experience.

Daniel J. Seigel, pioneer of Interpersonal Neurobiology, describes various states of integration that occur within the body/mind. We find deeper states of presence and mindful awareness by allowing ourselves to flow in the direction of balance, which sometimes means allowing ourselves to bump up against seemingly rigid patterns and chaotic emotions. However, our systems are wired to heal and integrate if we allow it, so by closing our eyes and listening to our deeper impulses, we are often inviting the parts of ourselves of which may be getting in the way of our full experience of integration and healing. By following sensations, images, feelings and movement impulses, we are inviting movement from the subcortical region of the brain. This internal listening and exploration through movement is done in the presence of an unconditionally accepting witness so our process has the chance to unfold in a safe space. We have the opportunity to open to these more vulnerable parts of ourselves in a safe and accepting space, which invites us to more deeply accept  these parts of ourselves as well. As we then verbally process the movement experience by speaking in the present moment, we are invited to keep the vitality of the movement experience alive so that we can bring it more into conscious awareness. This conscious awareness allows for deeper integration between the right and left sides of the brain, as well as the lower (subcortex) and upper (neocortex) parts of the brain. As the witness reflects the mover’s experience in a way of speaking and attuning that minimizes projection, the mover is invited to feel the space around her experience as similar to putting a protective fence around a newly planted seed.

As one begins to trust the natural unfolding of the dialogue between body and mind through the presence of a witness and the development of one’s inner witness, deeper integration within oneself is invited to occur. The more integrated we become, the more flexible and creative we are, which allows us to bring more of our true selves into the world and possibly inspire others to do the same. This practice develops compassion for ourselves as we learn to unconditionally witness the unfolding of our own somatic processes. Then there is almost a natural desire, as humans are wired to be empathetic, to see another in the same way. As we hold space for another, we are given the gift of allowing ourselves to truly see another and release blocks for ease in acceptance and understanding. As we practice seeing ourselves and each other with more clarity and less projections, we create a safe space for all of us to step more fully into our true selves where love and acceptance can flow and fear has less power.

 

References

Adler, Janet. Offering from the Conscious Body: The Discipline of Authentic Movement. (2002)

Siegel, Daniel J. Pocket Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology. (2012)

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https://jimchuchu.bandcamp.com/track/surrender-where-i-am-called

Warrior of the Light

I have had encounters with some intense personalities this week. After reeling from these experiences, I realize that they are my teachers as I have been trying to step more fully into my power, and what better way to facilitate that than to have someone try and cut you down. As painful as it was in those moments to endure the emotional abuse and cutting words, something inside of me rose up in response. This felt deeper than a need to defend myself, but rather I heard the voice of my true self, the part of me I often hide when I am afraid to stand out against the status quo, even if I feel there is injustice around me. The words that follow are from the voice of my true self in response to efforts by others to obliterate her.

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I am a warrior of the light. If you try to cut me down because my truth and light are a threat to you, I will rise higher, not lower. If my truth is a reflection for you that you do not want to see, I want you to know that is not my intention. But if you punish me for being a mirror for you, I may be angry at first, but I will rise above it and find another way through. My kindness is not weakness. My kindness is born from pain, as I know what it is like to be treated carelessly and hurtfully. My kindness comes from not wanting to inflict the same energy that I have felt come at me.

I am a warrior of the light. Whenever I can, I will stand up for the downtrodden, the ignored, the unseen. I have felt this way myself, perhaps even in lifetimes other than this one, and there is only balance  the world when we can show compassion to those who are less fortunate than we are.

I am a warrior of the light. I still have my own darkness that I wrestle with, but the light holds me even so.

I am a warrior of the light. I will not argue with you if it seems like doing so will just bring us into more darkness and confusion. If you are so threatened by me that you have to put me down to make yourself feel better, than I care not for your approval. You are vibrating at a level I have no interest in stooping to, no matter what position of power you hold over me.

I am a warrior of the light. And the burning flame inside of me will not be extinguished by your darkness, your smallness or your fear.

I am a warrior of the light. I have all I need inside of me to forge the path that is for my highest good and for those around me. I do not need anything external to tell me this; I can feel it burning bright inside. My light is larger than your darkness, no matter how much power you hold or how you align against me with those weaker than you.

I am a warrior of the light. Those who are meant to be attracted into my world will be drawn to me, and I can let everyone else go on their way. I don’t need to be ‘right’, as the energy I would spend explaining myself to others who cannot hear my truth would take away from the energy I need to forge ahead on my mission.

I am a warrior of the light. I am not going to let your cruelty overtake me or turn me away from the truth inside of me, pulsing from my core.

I am a warrior of the light. I am at times weary from battle, and this is when I connect to my divine source for replenishment and comfort. I hold steadfast to my sword of truth and love in the face of all darkness, for I know that what is inside of me cannot be extinguished. I know in my heart that the light is always more powerful than the darkness, even when it may not appear to be so.

I am a warrior of the light.

 

painting of Joan of Arc by unknown artist

dark night of the soul: part 1

The wise and often internally silenced part of me which I call my witch (as in the part of me who is intuitive and connected to the cycles of nature) needs to be heard and seen through words right now. I realize now that the part of me who is mostly in charge of my work life is the young part who is still trying to get her needs met from an emotionally chaotic and unreliable outside source. The young part is going to work every day and going into the grind, the darkness that the hospital holds and that the patients bring. However the patients don’t only bring darkness, as it is their light that this young part connects to through music, movement, art and relationship. This young part brings the spirit of innocent play to the patients who come for treatment. And while the patients like this young part and she likes them, this young part does not feel heard or seen by the other adults who work at the hospital, who supposedly care as much about the patients as she does.

My witch feels pissed that this young part is the one who letting herself be vulnerable to difficult personality defense mechanisms that patients lead with in relationship until they feel they can trust (little) Jeannine. The young part is open to feeling the pain that comes with relating to others’ defense mechanisms because she is trying to reach the young and innocent part inside of them. She is willing to be enter into the field of relationship and feel the sting that comes with these defense mechanisms. She knows there is beauty and truth of the person past the walls and stingers that are initially received. She believes so deeply in this beauty in each person that she allows herself to be emotionally pummeled at times. Lately, though, this young part is feeling profoundly weary and drained with this relational therapeutic approach. She is, indeed, on the front lines, wanting to make a difference. But this has been her strategy for the last eleven years. She has only cracked the door to the possibility of making a difference from a calmer, more empowered place and perhaps letting this seemingly wiser witch part be more in charge of the helping and healing of others. The young and earnest part is beginning to question how she got to this place and what it is she really stands for and is willing to sacrifice, since she is an army of one in this battle of love. Occasionally, other staff members stand up for her and take some of the heat, but this is only on occasion. She is mostly on her own in this quest.

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Attempting to speak from the wholeness of myself now, the truth is that this painful cycle of compulsive self-sacrifice relates to my own developmental wounding. The veil was pulled back recently after seeing/feeling that the heavy and dark experience of sacrificing my sense of self to be good enough for a disorganized and unaware work environment was akin to doing the same thing my whole life as a response to intergenerational familial trauma. Naming this awareness is not so much about assigning blame to any specific person in one’s family, but about recognizing the how we as healers eventually become aware (sometimes in spiraling layers) of the impact of whatever intergenerational trauma has been unconsciously passed down through the generations. These patterns of intergenerational trauma can be made evident as we become aware of the ways we are conditioned to exist in the world. Often, there is an upper limit to the level of aliveness that is tolerated within in a family system due to trauma such as war, mental illness, addiction. When these traumas are not faced or dealt with directly, the energy they hold gets passed down through the generations.

As healers, we set out on our earnest quest to help and heal others and are then unwittingly catapulted into our own healing journey, our own dark night of the soul, as the ghosts from these traumas past begin to make themselves known to us. As we hold the candle of faith in this dark night, we often see the limiting and stifling beliefs that have been passed down to us as a result of the myriad of traumatic experiences that happened way back when. Once we can see them and how they have manifested in the present moment, we then have the chance to release them, which will not only give us more choice in our lives but also make us clearer conduits to be present to the healing paths of others.

 

above painting by John William Waterhouse, 1916: “Miranda”

 

Introduction

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It will be almost four years that I’ve been working on an inpatient psychiatric unit. I have been getting nudges that I need to be more explicit about the work I do each day and what influences the therapeutic choices I make as I lead groups and work with patients.

I have always been an empathic person, but this work has brought me deeper into my empathic nature. I have been working in the field of mental health as a dance/movement therapist and counselor for eleven years now, but the past four years working with this population has asked me to dig deep into resources I didn’t know I had. The main internal resource I have cultivated is my ability to feel and sense what is happening around me and respond accordingly. I have learned to trust my body’s wisdom and knowing in a way that allows me to navigate within a large amount a chaos. I go to work each day wondering how I am going to get through it, but something always carries me, which is perhaps my deep calling to bring light and love to those who need it most.

 

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