Monthly Archives: July 2009

>Ecstatic Dance as Moving Meditation by Guest Blogger – Deanne Quarrie

Standard

>Yep, you got it, I’m still on the mend. Again, another author and spiritualist that I admire has blessed me with a previously written essay to share with you on my blog. Deanne Quarrie, known by many as Bendis, is a well-known author, facilitator, teacher, coach, mentor, and feminist within the Dianic Wiccan community. I am honored, and blessed, to have her permission to share this with you. I could write an essay just on her accomplishments and list of involvements, but you can find out more about her, and her ways, here.

Ecstatic Dance as Moving Meditation

Come fly with me
come on, come on, come
dance with me
come on, come on, come fly
come on and dance with me

Dance is a dynamic tool for awakening and stirring up the subtle forces and energies of life. It is an outer expression of an inner spirit. Dance and movement are natural to the universe. Plants will move gracefully to face the sun and wave in the breeze. Birds and animals display magnificent arrays of plumage and posture for everything from courtship to aggression. Dance is natural and vital to us as well.

We are all musical. We all have rhythm. Anyone can dance. We live in a time when we are too self-conscious and caught up with how we might look when we dance.

Ecstatic dance is a moving meditation. It is not a dance to do with someone else unless that is what you want. It is not a dance designed to “look” good. It is free flowing. It is aware. It is between your spirit and the music.

How do you do it? Anyway you want. Anyway you feel the music. The idea is to let the music in, feel it, and release it through yourself in movement. Whatever movement “feels” natural to you.

The choice of music is also up to you. There are many selections available that are designed to be used for movement, but you need to select what appeals to you.

Find a time that you can be undisturbed. Wear clothes that you like and feel good in, and that allow you to move comfortably. Whatever appeals to you that will not restrict your movement. Clear an area. It does not have to be a large area because the dance is really happening within. It is a good idea to be barefoot. I very seldom move my feet at all. It’s about moving the body. Put on your music. Begin your movements slowly, warming up to the music. Breath naturally and easily, focusing on the music. Allow your body to seek a place in tune with what you feel. Get loose.

Begin to warm up by focusing on a body part. Say, first, your neck. Move it in time with the music. Get loose. Now, move your shoulders, your spine, your hips, and your knees. Continue focusing on different areas of your body until you have loosened up all over.

You should really be into your dance at this point. No one is looking. Free yourself. Become the music!

Ideally, your ecstatic dance session should last at least twenty minutes. Most of mine last close to an hour.
When I first started doing this, it was with a group women and we all wanted to experiment. We wore blindfolds. By using a blindfold we were freed from the idea of someone looking at us. Amazing! You can’t see anyone else, nor can they see you! This is not about how it looks. This is about how it feels. Try it! Listen to the music. Act out how it makes you feel. Your imagination is a wonderful tool. Let it make pictures in your mind. Become the music. The first time we tried it, we danced for an hour; one hour of being completely unaware of anything but the music, your mind, and your movement.

Ecstatic dancing comes more easily to some than others. It is particularly difficult for those of us who have allowed ourselves to become slaves to time, machines and consensus reality. Many of us have become victims of our left-brain logic and have stress-related disorders. If this describes you, as it did me, at least try ecstatic dancing. It is a great adventure and an opportunity to meet a part of yourself, which has been dormant for a long time.

The ways and means for achieving altered states are many. Every culture around the world has developed many effective methods. Examples briefly are Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and shamanic journeying. Explore what works for you.

I cannot stress strongly enough, that a meditation practice is essential to your spiritual development. Your journey will unfold in a better way. You will come to know self in ways not thought of and you will tap into your own Goddess Wisdom fully as you walk through this life.

Excerpt from Dancing with Goddess by Deanne Quarrie available at http://www.lulu.com/applebranch

>Guest Blogger – Kim Sisto Robinson, the Phenomenal Woman

Standard

>Still on the mend, more of my writer friends have shared their work with this space to give you something entertaining to read. Today, Kim Sisto Robinson has shared her feelings on one of her, and my, my deeply loved poems. From Kim’s bio at Skirt magazine, (where she is not only a frequent contributor, but also blogger of the year for 2008: ~~I am a struggling writer waiting to be discovered. My dream is to have a directer read one of my blogs and exclaim… “Hey, can you write a screen play about this?!” Remember Juno? Anything is possible, my dears. I am also at an elementary school working as a discipline teacher, a recent college graduate, the wife of a beautiful Brit, and a mother of two wild and crazy teens. I was a cat in my last life; a Siamese, I believe. I looooooove reading other women’s work. I read all of the blogs on Skirt, and seriously, these women have transformed me into a better writer and person! I am addicted to writing, finding the right words, and much more interested and excited about the process than the outcome…..

“If what Proust says is true, that happiness is the absence of fever, then I shall never know happiness. For I am possessed by a fever for knowledge, experience, and creation.” ~Anais Nin~ (Yes, that’s how I feel, too)!~~ This has also been published at skirt.com

~This poem, by the remarkable Maya Angelou, is one of my all time favorites. The first time I read it, I exclaimed loudly, “THIS IS ME!” Thus– the poet’s job is to cause the reader to find herself someplace within the words. I have continually met myself inside Angelou’s delicious verse and prose.

~For those of you who have not experienced “Phenomenal Women” I envy you reading it for the first time. Quite sincerely, she is writing about every woman, everywhere, or at least, how we’d like to see ourselves!

Suggestion: This poem is meant to be read aloud for one to fully appreciate the rhyme and rhythm. The words are syrup surging into the atmosphere.

Phenomenal Woman
~ By Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
but when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
that’s me.

I walk into a room
just as cool as you please,
and to a man,
the fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
a hive of honey bees.
I say,
it’s the fire in my eyes,
and the flash of my teeth,
the swing in my waist,
and the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
that’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
what they see in me.
They try so much
but they can’t touch
my inner mystery.
When I try to show them
they say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman

phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
that’s me.

Now you understand
just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
it ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,
that’s me.

Shalom, Kim

>Guest Blogger – Elizabeth Cassidy Interviews Intuitive Coach Tara Roth

Standard

>While I am on the mend, i’ve asked several of my friends to help out and guest post to my blog. Today’s guest blog is from Elizabeth Cassidy, a certified life and career coach. She is a national blogger for Skirt!(site w/ a very cool attitude), NY Life Coach expert for Examiner.com. and one-half of the Blogging Team – Coaches on the Edge: Skirt. You can also find her at Branching Out Life Coaching. This article can also be found at skirt.com

Intuition is a tool that so many people fail to use when making decisions in their lives. I recently interviewed Tara Crawford Roth, an intuitive coach, and she is sharing her thoughts on intuition and ways for people to tap into their intuitive side. So sit back and get real clear about what you want in your life and then ask your intuition what is the best path to take. You just might be surprised to find out that the answers do lie inside you!

ec: Before we delve into the subject of Intuition and how it has impacted your life, in all areas of your life, can you give us your definition of Intuition? I think there are still some who feel that getting in touch with your inner voice only happens in a smoked filled backroom with a woman named Mistress Sylvia and a crystal ball.

TR: Well that has been known to work but there is a better way. My definition of intuition is that still inner voice within that we all have but have learned to discount. Einstein called intuition the highest form of knowing. The word intuition means “in to you” in Latin. It is the voice of inspiration or sudden insight that comes from out of the blue. It’s been called the sixth sense, an inner knowing or divine guidance. My experience is that it is an incredibly valuable resource that helps us live our lives more fully once we learn to recognize how it communicates with us.

ec: When did you realize that you were receiving intuitive hits and were not just someone with a vivid imagination? Was your reaction one of embracing this gift or were you fearful that something was off? I would imagine it had to be a little unsettling at first.

TR: When I was really young, I could communicate with animals but it wasn’t til later I realized this was unusual. I was the kid who liked to dress up as gypsy and read your fortune with the Magic 8 Ball for a nickel. I thought it was mysterious and fun. Sometimes, when I would get an intuitive hit, it was confusing, especially if I got one that was incorrect. Over time, I learned to pay more attention and notice when it was really my intuition and when it was “just” my imagination.

ec: Being intuitive from an early age, when did you reveal this side of you to your family and what was their reaction? Somehow I don’t think this would have fallen into the same category as discovering that you have a strong backhand for tennis or that your singing ability rivaled Aretha Franklin’s?

TR: Well it certainly wasn’t something you bragged about to the neighbors. I was deemed “sensitive” by my family at an early age; at first that was code for too emotional. Later it had to do with sensing things others missed. I kept this all to myself until I was a teenager and was noticed I was having prophetic dreams. The one that stands out the most is when I dreamt I met Paul McCartney and he asked me for a date. I met him the very next day in Central Park but he was with his new wife Linda, so I guess he couldn’t ask me out in front of her! I shared this story with my family only to find out my grandfather occasionally had “visions”. He was afraid of them so it was a family secret.

ec: So intuition is something we are born with? Like getting your father’s blue eyes or your grandmother’s wide forehead – we are all intuitive souls?

TR: It is something we are all born with and some families who understand it encourage the gift. Most people have no frame of reference for it and discourage it or call it imagination. Ever listen to some of the things kids will tell you? I had a cousin who at the tender age of 5 started telling my aunt stories about her own mom who had died long before she was born. She “knew” about her life growing up in the UK, pet names she called her and other events that occurred. My aunt was amazed and had to acknowledge the accuracy of the information.

ec: Tara, how do we develop our intuition? Are there actual exercises that people can do to sharpen their intuitive skills?

TR: The first thing you need to do is commit to pay attention to the nudges, quiet voice or feelings you receive and acting on them. Intuition is like a muscle that needs exercising and committing to listen for it is the best way to begin. There are many exercise and techniques you can use (many are in the audios on my website) but a daily centering and practicing stillness ritual is critical. You need to “”tame” the monkey mind so to speak to be still so you can hear the guidance of your intuition. Once you have done that you want to start asking your intuition questions every day and then expecting to get an answer. When you expect an answer, you are “tuned in” at some level all the time and open to the guidance.

ec: People who have intuitive hits will say that they had a feeling, they heard a word or a phrase, saw some type of picture pop up in their mind or they just knew. These intuitive hits do have “official” names besides butterflies fighting in the abdomen, hearing the lyrics from a Steely Dan song, a photo of a mountain on fire or being Miss Know It All. Can you please share what they are and it is true that some people pick up their guidance through smell?

TR: There are 4 main ways people receive their intuition and most people have at least two of them operating in their life. They are called the “clairs” meaning clear. There is clairvoyance, clear seeing, clairaudience, clear hearing clairsentience, clear feeling and claircognizance, clear knowing. To give you a little more information clairvoyance is seeing vision, pictures or images both literal and symbolic in your mind and includes prophetic dreams. It is not just seeing full blown 3D visions or dead people! Clairaudience is hearing voices inside or just outside your head and not that kind that require medication! This clair is prevalent in people with musical ears and can include hearing song lyrics that convey a message or a random comment that answers a question you had.

Clairsentience, clear feeling is a very physical form of intuition and includes a gut feeling, goose bumps or butterflies in the tummy. Many people with this clair are empathic which means they are very sensitive to the feelings and energy of those around them. Claircognizance, clear knowing is the most common form of intuition and the easiest to overlook because you “just know” something. Ideas pop in your mind full blown or you get an inspiration or insight out of the blue. Einstein said this was the way his intuition worked.

Two more obscure ones are clairaugustus, clear tasting and clairfragrance, clear smelling. I have never experience the first of these but when my dad, who is deceased comes around I smell smoke. It is his calling card.

ec: Okay, so now we are feeling our intuitive side coming to life, but how do you separate what our heart is telling us vs. what our egos demand?

TR
: You know this is the classic struggle we all face. What part of ourselves are we giving power to- our mind or our heart? Your intuition is always positive and leaves you feel expanded with a sense of possibilities. It is supporting, loving and persistent and will address you in the 3rd person. Even when your intuition is warning you of danger it will do so with positive information and action such as: turn left, go faster, or look behind you.

When your ego is giving you “guidance” it is characterized by many things including negativity and fear. It can have a demanding tone and be judgmental. You may feel discouraged or pressure in your chest. It will tell you how you can’t do this or that or remind you of all the times things have not worked out. It is a little tyrant!

ec: What are some ways that people can “set their intentions” when it comes to asking their intuition for answers?

TR: Setting intentions is as simple as focusing on what you want. Remember, we see the things we focus on and not the rest of what is around us. If you don’t believe me try NOT to think about pink elephants for the next 10 seconds. You can’t do it!

I tell students to set their intention to be intuitive all day, ask questions of it and then expect the answers to arrive. Keeping your focus on your intuition allows you to experience it more easily.

ec: What do you think has happened in our society that people are now taking a look at intuition with new eyes? It is amazing to hear people now say that they are tuning into what their intuition has to say. I am hearing that all the time now. Of course, I am asking people and am thrilled to see that intuition is now becoming one of the tools of choice to use when making personal and professional decisions.

TR: It is time I think we have truly entered the Age of Aquarius where people are recognizing that everything is energy. Through movies and the net, people are exposed to these ideas and science has finally caught up. Quantum physics proves that everything has an energetic makeup, our bodies are composed of energy and so are our thoughts and emotions. Once you can work with that concept, intuition is easier to understand. It is about feeling the vibrations and the energy. I am expecting this shift to increase in the next few years and expect to see intuition become as accepted as any other sense. Won’t that be fun?

ec: As an intuitive business coach, do you see things or get feelings about what is going on with your clients? Do you share these intuitive hits with them?


TR
: I do get intuitive hits when I am coaching clients, sometimes even in between sessions! I keep track and share them with clients, if it is appropriate to what we are working on, but the key is I have no attachment to being right. If I share an intuitive hit and it does not resonate with the clients, we move on. Coaching, as you know, is about serving the client and what they need in the moment.

ec: Why do you think tapping into our intuition is so important? Couldn’t we do just fine without listening to it? Or are you seeing an acceptance from people who happen to be CEOs, budding entrepreneurs, artists and even other life coaches?


TR
: You know many CEOs I know tell me, in confidence, that they are intuitive. It is like having an extra edge on the competition and they have learned to trust their hunches. I believe science is helping intuition become more accepted among the left brained, logical population. Artists and coaches tend to be more creative to begin with and use the right side of the brain where intuition resides.

ec: Alright, so people are ready to start using their intuition as another skill – do you suggest they start off with the small stuff and then work up to the big issues?

TR: You want to start small. You wouldn’t begin an exercise program by going to the gym and lifting 100 pounds! Start by asking questions that are not emotionally charged like who is at the door, how many pieces of mail do I have, what road has less traffic or what task shall I tackle next? If you ask when will I meet my soul mate, chances are you will not get a clear answer this early in the process because you are too attached to the outcome. You can work your way up to more challenging questions after you are clear on how your intuition “speaks” to you.

ec: Tara thanks so much for explaining how intuition can bring more joy, satisfaction and personal and professional growth in our lives. I bet a lot of people may still have more questions. How can people contact you to learn more about becoming friends with their intuitive gifts?

TR: They can visit my website at TaraRoth.com There they can sign up for my bimonthly ezine Intuitive Insights and listen to archives of my radio show Intuitive Living. Or they can email me here. I would love to hear from them.

>Why are we unhappy? (guest blogger Christine)

Standard

>While I am on the mend, i’ve asked several of my friends to help out and guest post to my blog. Today’s guest blog is from Christine, who can be found at her personal blog, Conversations with Christine , but also as a frequent blog contributor at Skirt Magazine.

I heard something very interesting on the radio this morning as I was driving to work. The morning show host had read a study recently that found women today are overall more unhappy than women of past generations. The host was surprised, because (more or less) “with the whole feminist movement and more options we have, how can we be unhappier? It must be divorce.”

I am not surprised at the study, actually. And no, I don’t agree with divorce being the cause. True, the divorce rate is higher now than in past generations, but how many women then were hopelessly stuck in unhappy marriages? There isn’t a stigma attached to being a divorced woman any more. So no, I don’t think that is the reason.

I love that the feminist movement has given women so many options for what to do with our lives! We can have successful careers, go to any college we want, raise a family (or not, it’s our choice), and do basically whatever we choose! Heck, a woman could even be president and a few generations ago we weren’t even allowed to vote.

But – I think this is the root of our unhappiness. Instead of feeling like we have a choice, too many women feel pressured to “do it all” and do it all perfectly. We must go to college, get regular promotions at work, marry, have children, raise those children to be perfect, maintain a spotless home, cook nutritious, organic meals, and look good doing it. We feel this pressure from television, magazines, our families, and ourselves. Out of these, I don’t think our families are malicious with the pressure, but want “what is best” for us. But who knows what is best for us more than ourselves? Unfortunately, if other women are like me, we are our biggest critics. The outside influences, on the other hand, don’t care about us as individuals and press their own agenda: Buy our product! You MUST breastfeed or you are a bad mother! You MUST NEVER make mistakes in raising your children or you are a bad mother! You MUST be skinny and have your hair done in salons! Do it OUR way! Your way isn’t good enough!

We need to stop listening to all the critics! Including our own inner critics. We are human, not superhuman. One woman cannot possibly do it all and do it all perfectly. Something has to give! If we keep trying, it is our health and our own happiness that gets lost in the shuffle. So stop, take a step back, and relax. And breathe.

My new mantra? I am good enough, just the way I am.