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Communication. It seems so simple to express how you are feeling. Yet, we often end up feeling overburdened, underappreciated and locked into commitments or undesirable situations because we do not voice our own feelings and needs. You feel bad for telling a friend "No" when they asked you to do something for them (even at your own inconvenience), so instead of turning down the request, you seemingly welcome it with open arms. Sometimes, this might be OK. It is in our nature to want to help others in need. However, that does not mean that every situation or request should be so quickly accepted.

Boundaries are an important part of every relationship — familial, romantic, friendly and otherwise. Boundaries often need ongoing re-evaluation and support. Even if you were okay with doing something five years ago, you might not be okay with it today. And that is fine. We can establish a certain kind of understanding in our relationships if we can effectively communicate what our needs are. Maybe it bothers you when your mother-in-law shows up unannounced. Maybe it bugs you when your friend asks for your help endlessly, but never returns the favor. Maybe your husband is not being considerate enough and is often only seeing his side of the situation. In these instances, a conversation going over your needs, feelings and opinions can ward off continuous frustration, arguments or even the demise of a relationship. If we express our needs, we are holding up our end of being honest in the relationship. You cannot control the response or reaction you receive. In loving and caring relationships, though, the other party is hopefully capable of being understanding of your needs. And if they are not receptive of your communication, maybe you need a little (or even a major) break from them.

A good way to address your needs is in a non-accusatory manner. For example, instead of saying, "You always think about yourself. You are wrong. You should be considerate of me," try saying "I feel like sometimes I am a bit forgotten. I would greatly appreciate it if you could think of me in the situation and how that might make me feel." This starts the conversation in a positive way instead of coming into it with guns blazing. It also provokes a sense of trust and safety between both parties.

Another example, instead of saying, "You always ask me to do this and you never do this for me," you could try, "I do not mind helping you from time-to-time, but I would appreciate it if the favor could be returned."

If the kind, gentle approach does not work, sometimes you will need to express yourself in a more emphatic way. And if that does not work, it might mean putting a pause on the relationship until you and your concerns are heard. It is not always easy, but it is sometimes necessary.

Communication is one of the greatest strengths a relationship can have. It helps avoid confusion, misunderstandings, frustration, arguments and ultimately resentment. Not being able to communicate, and thus not being able to establish boundaries and express needs, can weigh on you mentally, physically and spiritually. You can quickly become drained or find that you are harboring negative energy towards another individual or yourself, which can lead to perpetual negative energy if never addressed. If you are having a hard time deciding what you want to do, how you want to react, what you want to express or figuring out what your needs are, find a quiet place to retreat and meditate or reflect on the situation. Instead of reacting or deciding on the spot how to respond, give it a day and allow your true thoughts and feelings to form first.

Communicating effectively is also a means of self-care. You can cleanse your mind of thoughts and feelings, lighten the “load” that holding your feelings inside brings and perpetuate a healthy means of interaction, whereas not communicating your needs can lead to overextending yourself, becoming burnt-out or experiencing irritation on a regular basis. This is far more harmful to you in the long run.

You are deserving of the same care and consideration that you extend to others. Your opinions and needs are just as important as the other person's. Keeping this in mind as much as possible can lead to better growth as an individual and in turn, within a relationship.

And next time someone asks too much of you or you are not being heard, make sure you COMMUNICATE! An expressed self is the best self.

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Hello, Spring!


Spring has always been my favorite time of year. There is something about this season that brings an added joy and warmth to my soul. The sun seems to be shining harder. The breeze so effortlessly makes me feel at peace. Birds are singing to one another and a variety of beautiful and colorful plants and flowers begin to reemerge, painting the scenery surrounding them once more with the vibrant hues of life.

Spring is a time of rebirth and growth; perhaps this is why there is something so inexpressibly refreshing about this time of year. The once-wilted rose bush blooms yet again, bringing with it new color and a totally new energy. If plants can experience this continual rebirth and growth, so too, can we.

This “rebirth” does not necessarily mean that any part of you has to go or “die off” to experience it. Rather, we can identify and nurture those parts of ourselves that deserve more attention, love and care. Is there a part of you that has been neglected, that you could spend time tending to and watering so that it can grow?

What are some of your goals, spoken or unspoken, that you have not yet focused on and achieved? Have you been meaning to start meditating daily but have slacked in making it a priority? Do you talk about spending more time in nature, but forget to do so? Have you thought about taking the next step toward giving your energy practice more attention, but find your attention elsewhere constantly? Search inside to find what parts of yourself and your life you have been neglecting and find the answer to how you might help grow these areas in your life.

You can ask the universe, your higher self, Spirit or any higher power that you believe in, “What areas of my life deserve more attention and care? What parts of myself can I nurture and help grow?”

You might find the answer as seemingly simple as cooking more and eating out less. Or, you might find something within you, that you never even thought of, that deserves more attention and awareness. Whatever you find, know that you are worthy of the love, attention and care that this part of you requires to grow. You are worthy of the health, happiness and contentment that this growth might bring you.

Spring is a time of reawakening. We reemerge to find fresh beauty all around us. Let your inner world experience this same transformation. Give yourself permission to grow and watch the blessings around you bloom.

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Savoring Summer’s Sweet Slowness

shutterstock 289586102 500In my last blog post, I shared that radical self-care is the only thing keeping me going through a difficult transition. Christine Valters Paintner, whose job title is “Online Abbess and Dancing Monk” of Abbey of the Arts, shared in a recent blog post her ideas for how to savor summer. Her suggestions and questions for reflection struck me as tangible applications of what I wrote about previously. Below is an excerpt from her article to spark your creative exploration of self-care. I will certainly add some of her recommendations to my regimen and look forward to savoring summer. To read the full piece, go to http://abbeyofthearts.com/blog/2016/07/17/savoring-summers-sweet-slowness-a-love-note-from-your-online-abbess/

Summer calls me to relish the gifts of slowness, attention, and wonder. The season immerses me in the sacramental imagination—the recognition that everything is holy, everything shimmers with the sacred presence if we only slow down enough to see.

Let's celebrate summer's gifts with a list of some things that should be done s-l-o-w-l-y:

  • Taking a long swim in the open water, feeling the stretch of your muscles
  • Eating fresh sweet berries and peaches letting the juice drip down your chin and fingers.
  • Cooking a meal with complete loving attention to each chop, sprinkle, and stir.
  • Napping in a patch of sunlight.
  • Hiking deep in the emerald woods.
  • Ordering a soft-serve cone from the ice cream truck and giggling as it melts down your hand.
  • Buy yourself a bouquet of peonies or sunflowers at the farmer's market.
  • Listening to the rhythms of the ocean until you discover your own heartbeat hidden there.
  • Rubbing a dog's belly.
  • Rolling in the grass.
  • Letting a piece of music wash over you and knit itself into your being until you find yourself dancing.
  • Listening. To a friend, a spouse, a stranger. To silence, to the holy presence.
  • Making love and being loved. Treasuring the sacred gift of touch.
  • Gazing upon a work of art or a sunset and really seeing it. Gazing upon a loved one and really seeing them.
  • Transformation: The long slow process of becoming who we really are.
  • Breathing. In. Out. In. Out.
  • Grieving. Experiencing the fullness of sorrow and loss.
  • Basking in gratitude for the simple joys of each day.
  • Lingering under the bone-white face of the moon as she blesses the night.
  • Allowing at least one moment each day when you release doing and simply are.

Consider making a list of the summer gifts you love and then letting your summer practice be to enjoy one slowly each day. What are the things worth savoring? What might happen if you slowed down enough to hear deeply the God who speaks in sheer silence? What is being whispered to you there?

May each of your journeys unfold with a thousand delightful surprises these summer days. May the sun bring you the gift of illumination. May the sweetness of summer elicit a long sigh of surrender from the deepest places of your being.

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Radical Self-care

shutterstock 322985951 500For years I have been writing about the importance of self-care. I have also been practicing what I preach—most of the time. I have the basics covered such as eating healthfully, exercising regularly, meditating daily and allowing sufficient time for sleep—usually. Except when life gets busy and I take short cuts. The problem with short cuts in self-care is that you really do “get out what you put in.”

Currently, I am going through a challenging life transition that will upend almost every aspect of my life. I have clung to my own self-care advice like never before and have practiced it fervently during this unsettling time.

And guess what? Self-care really works!

Exercising hard five to six times a week rids my body of the physiological impacts of stress. Meditating clears my mind so I can think straight. Avoiding sugar keeps my moods more even. That last one is not easy for a self-proclaimed sugar addict. But the difference between adhering to these self-care activities and taking short cuts is so substantial, I cannot imagine cheating right now. It is the difference between having enough creativity to problem solve and enough love to be generous, or going over the deep end.

Deeply caring for myself allows me to walk through these uncertain days with the grace and strength I strive for every day. Trust me, not every day is perfect. But in those moments of fear, I fall back on my tool bag of self-care tricks to get through it, like deep breathing or going outside to soak up nature’s healing energy for a few minutes.

This experience is a reminder that when this all passes, as it eventually will, self-care is a powerful tool for everyday living as well. Once life settles and I am not directing energy toward coping, I will remember this wellspring of life force that can be directed toward positive, productive endeavors. I will be unstoppable!

For tools to support your self-care, go to the Downloads tab above. 

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shutterstock 124776217By Guest Writer Holli Brown, BSEE, LMP-NCTMB, HTCP

I recently returned from an advanced training class in energy medicine. I learned many new techniques and new aspects of the chakras and energy field that increased my awareness and understanding of how we hold and manifest dis-ease in our lives. Do you know that saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears”? My personal philosophy is: when the student is ready, the information, situation, client, opportunity, challenge appears to help that student consciously evolve. “Teachers” often come to me in different forms. “They” are not always a person, but as of late, a concept of self, a holding that needs release, a belief that needs healing.


The beauty of taking healing courses with other practitioners is that I get to learn new things from the teacher and other students as well as get to work on my own issues as part of the hand-on learning. The depth of work can be moving, challenging and so liberating! In my recent class, I was personally working on issues around boundaries, speaking my truth and being heard, and my personal power. Many issues for my clients, as well as my own, are rooted in family of origin. What a powerful situation we manifest in our lives – being born into a specific family with its bounty of lessons. Soon after returning from my class, the Universe (bless you) bestowed on me the perfect challenge to hold the energy shift I had uncovered and was learning about. I was ready! I was up for the challenge! And in my ability to be clear, speak my truth, and stand in my own power, release and growth was realized.

Personal growth doesn’t happen in a straight line for any of us. I believe it is a magnificent spiral, and as we grow and change, we travel around the spiral, upwards towards consciousness (perhaps some call this enlightenment). I again found myself on the spiral, not on the same loop however, upwards, but again in the same spot/issue. Now on a new level, I looked at the issue from a different perspective. My boundaries were clearer, my voice was easier to find, and my personal power came much more naturally. Do I think this issue is now completed? No. I do recognize I have more work to do. Uncovering the root (so to speak) of my issue around boundaries is a gift and every loop upwards on the spiral enables me to be clearer. I do anticipate the day when this issue can be released to the Universe with a kiss and a wave. Until then, upwards I go!

Reprinted with permission from http://heartlighthealingtouch.com/blog/

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Parking Karma

shutterstock 127209596 350I have an amazing gift. I can find a parking place in front of wherever I am going probably 75% of the time. I live in a big city where parking is a major issue. I say out loud, “All right parking karma, I want a spot right in front!” It is truly amazing how often I get what I ask for. It has become a bit of a joke. People want to take me with them just so I can land them a good parking place.

A prevailing belief in the Energy Medicine, quantum physics and self-help worlds is that we shape our realities with our thoughts. I wonder, what would happen if I asked with such confidence and clarity for other things? Jan Engels-Smith writes about prayer in the latest issue of Energy Magazine and defines it as simply being “focused energy with strong intent.” If you have ever done any of the “energy experiments” in Pam Grout’s bestselling books E2 and E3, you know this is exactly what she is talking about as well. I have tried the experiments, most of which are frivolous and fun, with mixed success.

Maybe I have such success with parking places because I have built up the confidence needed to ask with assurance (strong intent) and because I am very, very clear about what I want in that moment (focused energy). While parking places are trivial, our clients’ challenges are not. As a Healing Touch Certified Practitioner, I’ve learned the techniques of the Healing Touch Program. I know where to put my hands and in what order. I know how to set my intention and ground myself. But as I go deeper into the work, it is becoming even clearer how important this “focused energy with strong intent” is. It is everything. It is the mechanism that initiates healing.

In order to know what to focus on, we need to listen carefully, both to our clients and our intuition. In this way, we get clear about what specifically to ask for. Asking for pain to reduce from 7 to 0 on a pain scale or for infection to leave the body is powerful. I have started restating out loud the goals my clients and I set in the intake once they are settled on the table. This helps not only me as a practitioner, but also my clients. After all, all healing is self-healing, so reminding clients what they are asking for engages their thought processes and their innate ability to shape their own reality. It is the same as me sitting in my car shouting my request at “parking karma.” The only difference is that our clients’ health and well-being are far more significant. 

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Saint Valentine, the Healer

hearthands 376If you’re like most Americans, the words “Valentine’s Day” conjure up images of red and pink hearts decked out in lace. Or chocolate. Or flowers. While I love Valentine’s Day as much as the next romantic, the trappings of our modern Valentine’s Day hardly reflect the original story, except for love notes.

Mists of legend surround St. Valentine, clouding who he was and what he did. We know he was a priest. We know he lived in Rome in the third century under the rule of the cruel emperor Claudius II. Beyond this, myth becomes stronger than fact. But it’s at this point that I become charmed by his story. One version claims he was a healer, using herbs and salves along with prayer. Because of his Christian beliefs, he healed in secret—the penalty for being a Christian in Rome at that time was death. A prison guard brought his young, blind daughter to St. Valentine in the hopes that he could heal her. They became friends and when St. Valentine was arrested by the Roman authorities and taken to prison, he sent a note to the girl. Her father read the note to her which said, “From your Valentine.” It was then that her sight was restored. Shortly thereafter, St. Valentine was beheaded on February 14, around the year 270 A.D. We will never know the true details of St. Valentine’s story, but I am inspired by his courage and commitment to heal those who suffered, even under the threat of death.

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Of One Energy

handsworld 500On a rare sunny, winter day in Seattle, I was walking in my neighborhood, practicing a core belief of the Healing Touch Program. The core belief is that we are all one—individually unique, but made of the same divine energy of the universe that connects all living beings. My neighborhood is a great place to practice this belief because of its diversity. Our mixed-income community shelters public housing renters alongside home owners in an effort to diminish the ravages of urban poverty. At first glance, the differences seem vast. Income, education, language, race, religion, cultural norms, clothing, family structures and gender roles all differ tremendously. Community signs are posted in nine languages. We are a true melting pot. But as we Americans know, while there is exquisite beauty in melting pots, they are also full of tension as competing values, histories and perceptions collide in our everyday lives. As I walk, I practice recognizing our shared divine energy. I look at each person I encounter and remind myself that our core selves are one.

Make no mistake. This is not about holding hands, singing Kumbaya and having a Hallmark greeting card moment. Sometimes while I’m walking, fear of “the other” rises up in me, fueled by a lifetime exposure to the prejudices and stereotypes our society perpetuates. This is tough work, the dismantling of untruths. I must first recognize the source of that fear: the thoughts that hide in my subconscious. Then I must look “the other” in the eye, let go of the fear and remind myself of the truth: we are one. Smiles and greetings flow naturally and authentically in that moment of shared humanity. The differences don’t disappear. They will still clash at times. But with awareness and practice, we can move beyond the false perceptions to something greater, something that inspires us to care for one another. Something that allows us to truly be a healing presence in our messy and beautiful melting pot. 

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My Healing Touch Journey

hearts-heartThis piece, submitted by Diana Wright, depicts her journey in the practice of Healing Touch.

By Diana O. Wright
One morning in late April 2013, I was lying still, barely awake, asking God what I, a retired English teacher, should do with my life in a new city. The phrase Healing Touch (HT) popped into my mind and refused to leave. I tried all day to push away those words, but they clung to me for dear life. Finally, I looked up the class calendar for this spiritual energy-therapy modality and emailed my friend Jean to ask about prerequisites, expecting—and fearing—that I would not qualify. Jean’s reply surprised me: “You need a compassionate heart, a willing spirit, and two hands—and you have all those.” I registered for the first Level 1 class that fit my schedule, which meant a wait until August. It was worse than waiting for Christmas when I was a child! I was eager to begin this new path, and August finally, finally arrived.

During the prior year, I had read a book here and an article there about qi gong, intuition, quantum physics, Emotional Freedom Techniques®, premonitions, The Emotion Code®, vitalism, higher-sense perception, and Matrix Energetics® so I could grasp the content of a project I was editing for a friend. However, I decided to go to class without reading books about HT to preserve the pure experience of beginning from scratch. Little did I know that tapping my intuitive side through the reading I had done had prepared me, surreptitiously, for studying HT. When Jean, my teacher, introduced studies about the Individual Energy Field and the Universal Energy Field, I was glad to have delved into that material! What I was hearing made perfect sense to my developing right-brain perception, whereas it would have escaped my former purely logical left-brain thinking. A year earlier, I would not have been ready to study HT. Now I was ready, but I doubted that I would be able or be allowed to sense a single thing or to effect healing. I was wrong! Virtually every experience in class amazed me, including breaking up a classmate’s sinus congestion with the first treatment technique I tried. I can’t count the times my jaw dropped in awe and wonder while my eyes lit with excitement that weekend. I had landed in the right place at the right time in my life! Old dog that I am, I discovered that I can learn new tricks.

About a week after my Level 1 class, a friend contacted me requesting prayer for his suicidal and bulimic teenaged daughter who had been hospitalized the night before. I promised to pray and asked for his permission, as her guardian, to treat her with HT. He said yes and asked me to treat him, too; he was worried, couldn’t sleep, and suffered stress headaches. These were distance treatments since the clients live in another state. (Remote HT intervention, like intercessory prayer, is highly effective.) The next day, my friend reported that he had slept deeply and that his daughter sounded much more like “herself,” although she faced a complicated recovery with help from mental-health specialists and medication. (HT never replaces medical treatment or counseling but is best employed with other necessary interventions.) He asked me to continue HT for her, so I treated her once every week or two for a while, based on updates he shared concerning her condition. Later, my friend informed me that his daughter was out of the hospital, was doing well in school, no longer obsessed about food, had recovered her bubbly and witty personality, and required infrequent counseling sessions.

There have been numerous occasions to treat friends and family members, and I remain amazed and grateful to hear reports of the benefits. Since I am not currently working in a clinical situation, most have been distance treatments. But the results have been as effective as with the hands-on cases. After I took the HT Level 2 class, friends volunteered for in-person treatment to allow me experience with physically present clients and managing paperwork, beyond the limited face-to-face training with fellow students during class. Now, I have completed Level 3 and will take Level 4 July 31-August 3. Then I will be a Healing Touch Practitioner Apprentice, required to complete 100 treatments before Level 5.

HT is a complementary healing modality, easily integrated with other health-care practices; it does not replace patient-to-professional relationships with physicians and/or other medical or alternative specialists. HT Students, Practitioner Apprentices, and Practitioners always ask permission to treat, from the guardian of a minor or from the adult client, and permission to apply light touch (which is, actually, optional). HT Students are volunteers who may accept donations toward tuition, while Practitioner Apprentices and Practitioners may set fees (subject to individual state laws).

The Healing Touch Program (HTP) expects practitioners to engage in regular physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual care. Suggestions include consuming a healthy diet, drinking plenty of water, meditating and/or praying regularly, avoiding environmental toxins, maintaining appropriate health and dental care, practicing proper hygiene, seeking energy therapy (HT, massage, Reiki, etc.), exercising moderately, journaling, and practicing self-care with HT techniques. After the Level 1 class, I sealed a potentially annoying paper cut so fast, using two quick techniques, that I forgot it had happened until an unrelated event reminded me days later. Generally, I rely on Self Chakra Connection, a whole-body energy-balancing technique learned in Level 1. So far, my favorite is Self Spiral Meditation from Level 2, which I can use any time, but I especially love it if I toss and turn at night. I do Self Spiral Meditation, and the next thing I know (usually), I’m waking up the next morning. Clients, too, may learn techniques for practicing self-care after or between treatments.

I am humbly grateful to be allowed to become a conduit for others’ self-healing by eliciting a relaxation response through HT techniques. Sometimes, I have been surprised to be allowed to treat someone I expected to be skeptical. I’m learning to avoid such assumptions, trusting that the client’s receptivity of my offer to treat exists in a higher realm. Since I still have much to learn, if I need help determining the best interventions for an issue, I consult Jean, my teacher and mentor. She validates my intuitive treatment decisions and, if necessary, suggests adjustments or additional techniques and/or intentions. I have attended to these cases, so far, all with positive feedback: suicidal threats, behavior, plans; headache; backache; wrist pain; anxiety, nervousness, fear; mild concussion; pre-surgery preparation, post-surgery anesthesia clearing; clearing negative effects of chemotherapy; sinus congestion; sciatica; inferiority, shyness; stomach virus; menstrual cramps; leg cramps; faster wound healing; panic attacks; insomnia; tennis elbow; courage to speak; atrial fibrillation; negative emotions; jet lag; scratchy throat; relaxation; clarity concerning a major decision; heart palpitations. HT practitioners never diagnose health issues, never prescribe surgery or drugs, and never suggest changes to a client’s medical advice from a physician or other health-care professional. The clients self-identify their physical, emotional, and/or spiritual concerns, and HT treatments involve healing the energy centers and energy field.

“Healing Touch is an energy therapy in which practitioners consciously use their hands in a heart-centered and intentional way…to enhance wellness in themselves and the lives of people they care about by using the gift of energetic touch.” (HTP website) I thank God for the joy of serving God’s children by applying what I have learned and am learning through the Healing Touch Program. What a wonderful way to spend the golden years of my life!


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