Today I’m going to show you a powerful healing sound to release stuck emotion, energy, and congestion. But first I want to share with you how it has changed my life.
When I was 14 I started suffering from debilitating period pain. You know the kind where you feel hot, dizzy, throw up and keel over in agony? That’s what I had, every month. One time it hit while I was at school and I remember my (fortunately short) walk home; abandoning the weight of my backpack with the single focus of finding a safe refuge to get through the pain. Each month I dreaded revisiting this pain and I felt totally unable to control when or how it would happen.
When I was 16 I started using medication to manage it, and it worked. I blindly trusted and relied on my medication until I first experienced plant medicines in Peru 4 years ago; a time that profoundly transformed my life and my relationship with myself. The plants helped me rekindle a deep connection to my own spirit and body and I wanted to learn how to heal my pain without the medication, so I (nervously) went off it. For a time after the plant medicines there was no pain, until there was again. Hopping on a plane back to Peru wasn’t in the cards at the time, but I was dedicated to understanding why I was feeling this way and how I could heal myself naturally. So I started changing my relationship with the pain and my fear of it became overshadowed with fascination. I wanted to learn what this experience had to teach me; I wanted to understand it.
Fast forward to soon after I started my Medical Qigong training and had learned a healing sound for releasing sadness. When I was in pain I was open to trying anything that could help me through it, and I had a feeling that I should try this healing sound. I was lying in bed in intense pain with puke bucket nearby, and I began to say “shhhhoooooooong”. All I could mutter at the time was a whisper, but it felt right. I asked my husband if he would help me, and he made the sound through my back and into my lungs; resonating with me as we made the sound together. And when he made the sound with me, I soon purged and the pain subsided. It became a request I often made of him when my periods were painful, and each time I was able to purge and feel better soon after.
Over time, what I needed while I was in pain changed as my healing progressed, and I have since developed a (mostly) daily practice of self-care through Qigong exercises and meditation. I came to see my pain as stuck energy and emotion that was surfacing each month to be released. My self-care has become a form of personal maintenance and hygiene for my overall health in mind, body, and spirit and I now live medication-free and pain-free. It was a journey to get hear, and it wasn’t until I embraced the pain, and myself, that I was able to understand it and move through it.
Here is the healing sound that has been so helpful for me, may it give you whatever it is that you need from it. And know that wherever you are on your journey, I love you and I am cheering for you.
In Peru, I found a place where magic was allowed to be real. Where it was palpable in the way it wove the dreamlike stories of this life into visions and moments without separation from ourselves, from nature, or from the universe. It was fluid, alive, and not only accepted but embraced by those who lived there. When I came home, my heart began to close as I realized I wasn’t able to share in that magic anymore, not like I had anyway. It was too much for people, too different, too irrational. So I shared it with nature instead. While out on walks, when no one was around, I would lay my hand on a tree and let myself feel what it felt… the warm, nourishing sun on its leaves, the maternal joy that it felt as little birds fluttered around its branches. I closed my eyes and the hypnotic drum beat of a dragonflies wings helped me sink deeper into the tree, into the complete sense of alive presence and endless connection that felt like the tree’s natural state of being. My thoughts were stilled, my heart pounded, I felt expansive, I felt the tree’s joy in sharing this moment with me, I felt my joy in sharing this moment with the tree… they were one in the same. Eventually, I heard footsteps coming and I pulled myself away. My self-conscious mind kicked in… “Don’t look like a crazy tree hugger, Abby. Be cool.” The moment was done. I smiled at the tree and carried on with my walk.
“Nature is not mute; it is man who is deaf.”
– Terence McKenna
Life can be pretty ironic. Humanity searches for intelligent life out in the universe, feeling all alone in an empty void. All while ignoring the brilliance that already surrounds it.
What if it were the belief itself, the thought “we’re all alone” that is the very thing causing us to be alone? In the western world, we speak the language of the mind; of thoughts, words, and facts. But do we speak the language of the heart? Of emotions, senses, and connection? Just beyond the walls of our mental constructs lies the pure consciousness that everything is made of. The only journey we have to go on to discover it is through that of thoughts which say things like “that is a tree, nothing more.” That thought is a dead end to discovery.
To KNOW something with absolute resolve is to cut yourself off from the EXPERIENCE of it.
How much deeper could I have gone into experiencing that tree? The essence of its aliveness is its constantly changing state. There is no limit. As each moment is experienced the very consciousness witnessing it is also taking it to a new place. Nature is ever changing, from birth, to growth, to death and decay. Chemical processes are happening on the micro and macro level in all things at all times. To become stuck is to lose the flow of nature. To attach yourself to a thought, person, place or thing to the point where you won’t go on without it is to fight your own nature. It is to refuse yourself the greatness of evolving through new experiences.
Buddhists speak of non-attachment, and Vipassana meditators will frequently mention the Sanskrit term “anicca”, meaning “impermanence”. In the time it takes us to decide we know something, that thing has already changed into something new. When you let go of having or needing all the answers, it allows your mind to open so you can be present with an experience. And ironically enough, being present creates space for the answers to appear.
But remember that it is all anicca. From the things that feel shitty to the things that feel awesome, they will all pass to allow space for something new. It is when we try to hold on too tightly that we become stuck and fight the flow of our nature. When we try to hold on to a moment in the past, to an ideal, or to a title given to us – like successful, young, worthy, or unworthy. We hold on when we forget that we are so much more than that.
You are not a title or a role, those are just stories in a game.
You are the consciousness seeing what it feels like to play those roles.
You are evolving, and the game is here to help you.
Everything in your life is here to help you grow. It is life happening FOR you. I suffered for a long time under the belief that life was happening TO me. I believed that I was a fish out of water plunked down in a part of the world where magic wasn’t allowed to exist. And it was THAT BELIEF which made me suffer. “You don’t belong here” is a thought I’ve carried my whole life. It has been a building block to help me learn an important lesson.
A few months ago I was listening to my friend practice a talk for her conference. There was a part where we were to write down something that we felt was holding us back in life. So I wrote down the thought that felt like an old, familiar (and shitty) friend: “you don’t belong here.” Then we were to think of what we would say to a friend if they were dealing with what we had written down. Isn’t it funny how it can be so much easier to give compassion to our loved ones than to ourselves? I thought about my friend who felt like she didn’t belong here. I let myself feel love for her. What would I tell her? I allowed my mind to go blank, and after a few minutes, an answer appeared…
“You belong in your heart.”
Tears welled in my eyes and my hand moved to my heart. The beautiful simplicity of truth washed over me. It resonated in my body. It felt light and expansive. It felt true. “You don’t belong here” was a lie I had believed. It hurts to believe something that isn’t true for you, and that pain is your body’s way of telling you it isn’t true. But it can take years, even lifetimes, of identifying with thoughts before realizing they’re lies. “You don’t belong here”, “magic isn’t allowed here”, “you’re stuck here”, “you can’t be happy here”, blah blah blah. My thoughts provided a fury of reasons for why I hurt, all of them stories that weren’t true. I didn’t belong in those stories, I belonged in my heart. But at some point, I had left my heart when I agreed with the thought “you don’t belong here.”
This realization was a huge turning point, but it took time to fully let it go. And I didn’t do it alone. The thought was so big and so deep for me that I decided it was time to ask for help. I called another Shamanic Medicine Practitioner who I met and who inspired me while we treated people together in a public clinic in Vancouver. She is marvelous, but that is another story. I received two phone sessions from her and in that time she helped move through my subconscious mind to uncover and heal history that had been burdening me and affecting my thoughts, feelings, and actions most of my life. In each session, we removed another layer of an onion that had formed around a painful thought.
It isn’t until you shed a burden that you realize how much energy it took you to carry it.
It took a long time for me to build layer upon layer of the thought “you don’t belong here”, and it took time to remove those layers piece by piece. The work I did with my friend and peer was profound and transformative, and yet I knew that I still had more work to do.
My husband is studying life coaching and it’s been fascinating to see how much of what he has been learning crosses over in the work that I do. A fragment of the thought resurfaced not long ago and I asked him to help me with it. To be more honest, my stories around the thought surfaced and I felt hurt and angry and I asked him for help. As I shared my stories of feeling like I don’t belong, he helped me find the thought “I’m not happy here”, another take on my old, familiar (and shitty) friend who says “you don’t belong here”. He asked me if I wanted to do the work on the thought, and I said yes. It was a powerful process, like a sort of self-surgery with the guidance of a trained professional showing me the way through step-by-step. It was a medicine for the mind; to hold the thought under the light of awareness and ask, once and for all, if it was true. When I did this, I realized that no, it wasn’t true. Now, was I going to allow this lie to continue hurting me? Fuck. No. I chose to let it go. To truly and entirely let it go. To thank it for its wisdom, for teaching me that there is no place outside of me that can make me happy or unhappy.
Happiness is a choice and a state of being. Happiness is living in your truth. And part of my truth is feeling that no matter where I am, when I live in my heart, I belong there.
I just heard some advice that I’m taking to heart. It was to relish in the magical synchronicity of life, because it makes them stronger. You know the ones I’m talking about, when you think of someone and then they call you, when you hum a song and it plays on the radio, when the setting sun hits the landscape in just such a way that it pierces through your outer shell and brings tears of joy and wonder to your eyes. These are the moments I’m talking about, and there is one such string of magic that I want to relish in and share with you.
I was on a work trip with my husband, Dave in Miami. We had some time to explore, so we did what most reasonable Canadians would do and decided to take advantage of the room temperature ocean waves and sunshine suddenly available to us in October. As we reached the waves, they seemed to instantly wash away any sense of frustration or discomfort we had, leaving us feeling open and connected to the greater forces surrounding us. As a calm feeling washed over me I started singing a tune that came into my mind… “Lady, running down to the riptide, Taken away to the dark side…” Wait, WHAT? Why am I singing this song in the ocean when I already have a phobia of riptides taking me away?! I focused intently on getting it out of my head, but then a few minutes later I’d realize I was singing it again. What the hell? I eventually gave up and let myself enjoy humming what my thoughts suspected were a subconscious invitation to meet my maker in that choppy ocean. And yet despite my thoughts, it felt so freeing and peaceful to sing that particular song in that moment.
Fast forward two days and we’ve traded Miami’s sun-kissed beaches for Alberta’s snow-capped Rocky Mountains. We’re volunteering at a retreat and every one is sharing their first dinner together in the lodge’s cozy restaurant. People are wearing toques while chatting excitedly to each other as a fireplace crackles nearby. Someone is playing beautiful music in the room next door and I pop over with a few other enchanted guests to watch and listen. My friend, Dana asks her if she’ll join us and play for us and to our delight she says yes. Sometimes it turns out that if you want something to happen all you have to do is ask. Fortunately for all of us at the retreat, my friend Dana understands this.
The lovely musician comes in and seats herself on a chair with her ukelele in hand. Her fingers begin dancing with the strings and the rhythm weaves us all together like invisible threads moving from one heart to the next. The chatter quiets and we’re left with presence and connection. The musician’s soulful and sweet voice harmonizes with the ukelele’s song until it seems there is only the music, our hearts, and the perfection of this moment. As she sings the melody, everyone in the room softly sings with her… “Lady, running down to the riptide, Taken away to the dark side…” Many of us have tears in our eyes as the music connects us in this beautiful, perfect moment. My husband sitting next to me squeezes my leg, he remembers me singing this song in the ocean just a couple of days ago. I smile back at him and my eyes say “I know, isn’t it so magical?”
Fast forward again. It’s late and Dave and I have just finished watching the final season of the show Halt and Catch Fire, and the ending is phenomenal. Without ruining it for you, the characters each experience great personal loss in their own ways, and yet they embrace the pain of it. They welcome it into their hearts and let it show them how to love more deeply. They move forward through their lives and allow themselves to be recreated into someone new each moment. They love without holding onto the object of their love.
I sat there after it was finished and I laughed, smiled and cried for a couple of hours. I sat in wonder at the concept of loving so cleanly. To keep alive the memory of something you loved and lost because the richness of that love is so much greater than any sorrow could ever be. The object of love may no longer be there but the love itself never left. This got to me. It got to my heart. I thought of the people who’ve made a big impact in my life, many of them no longer a part of it. I realized that I loved all of them. I felt so grateful for each lesson and moment of connection I’d shared with them. Even though they were no longer in my life they were still teaching me how to love. I let the depth of the emotion and insight wash over me like a wave taking me out to see. And then I felt it. “Lady, running down to the riptide, Taken away to the dark side…” The words that sang through me were a call to surrender. To let go and feel the wave of being alive. To let myself move deeper into the infinite depths of this human experience. The ocean doesn’t want to drown me. I am the ocean. And you know what? So are you.
“The real you is not a puppet which life pushes around…
You are something that the whole universe is doing
in the same way that a wave is something that the whole ocean is doing.”
– Alan Watts
What are some moments you’ve had when it seemed like the universe was winking at you? Take notice of them, relish in them, and share your stories in the comments!
It’s winter and the days are getting shorter and shorter as the sun creeps across the southern horizon. The bears have joined the trees in their long winters rest from the outer world, moving into a place beyond our waking reality. As they dream their body’s wounds will wash away with barely a scar left behind, just traces of evidence that they were ever even there.
Soon it will be solstice, the longest night of the year, and a time when I feel compelled to light candles and curl inward. I feel like dreaming too. Dreaming away the past year and letting all the mistakes I made wash away, leaving my lessons behind. It’s a time of quiet reflection. Of resting in the spaces between words. Of listening to the whispering hums and rhythms of nature. Of appreciating non-doing, just being.
It’s when I want to sink into the mysterious world of dreams. A place where I can imagine new destinations for my doing self to plot a map. It’s the time of the feminine, yin energy to sink, process, restore, and dream so that when it’s time for the masculine, yang energy to rise and take action I will know where to let the current take me.
In a world sometimes caught up in doing, I intend to sink into and appreciate this time of non-doing; of dreaming. And when my mind feels guilty for not doing, I’ll remind it of the important work that happens in the spaces between words. I’ll remind it to honour the great power of the yin, the feminine, and the dark. For it’s the dark which forges us into who we’re meant to be.
I hope you find time to be with your dreams this winter. May they guide you home.