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Jesse Jacobs, Founder Samovar Tea Lounge

Jesse Jacobs, Founder Samovar Tea Lounge

Everywhere I go, people tell me how horrible it is to be drinking so much coffee. I get it. Extreme coffee experiences can put your whole sense of well-being out of whack even if it does jolt you to your basic senses first thing in the morning.

So more and more, I’m substituting my coffee routine with tea and I’ve rediscovered a long forgotten passion that began steeping in my soul since my childhood. Growing up in Texas, I was raised on iced tea. Huge tumblers of frosty deep amber tea with lemon. Tea has always been in my life in one way or another. And when I spent a summer in Winchester, UK when I was 14, my admiration for tea culture was officially born. I found the perfect teapot for my mother and I ritually drank my tea while reading Alice in Wonderland or The Chronicles of Narnia. Later, when I went to college in Boston, I had boxes of herbal teas stashed in every corner of my apartments just to help fend off the biting, inhuman cold. Later, I lived in a Zen Center in Hollywood, where I enjoyed the art of tea ceremonies during retreats and using hot tea at every meal to clean our eating bowls.

So it was with great pleasure that I recently discovered Samovar Tea Lounge. Based is San Francisco and shipping around the globe, Samovar recently put together a custom blend prepared for His Holiness The Dalai Lama called Ocean of Wisdom. The tea accommodated The Dalai Lama as he traveled to various art institutions exhibiting the project “The Missing Peace.” Samovar has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today rated Samovar teas as one of the top ten teas in the US.

Jesse Jacobs founded Samovar six years ago. I recently had the chance to ask Jesse some tea-related questions.

JHR: We live in such a dense coffee culture, but it seems like tea drinking is on the rise. Is that true and, if so, why? Also, can people really “get going” in the morning with a cup of organic, hand-crafted, artisan tea? Isn’t espresso, you know, faster?

JJ: In the ’90s, the specialty tea industry made $1 billion. In 2007, it was at $7 billion, and its forecasted by 2012 it will be at $14 billion. So, the tea industry is definitely on the rise. Samovar Tea Lounge has grown 300% in last 3 years. Tea has caffeine, and yes it can be used “as a get up and go beverage,” but with less jitters, and more focused awareness. It doesn’t have the same amount of caffeine as coffee, but artisan teas naturally carry caffeine and L-theanine, which induces the alpha state. Its scientifically proven that L-theanine aids in a state of relaxed awareness. This is helpful for the start of your day.

JHR: You’ve created a culture of mindfulness in your business. How important is mindfulness in the hectic life of a business?

JJ: Its very important because life is hectic and can be a frenzy, so there is more need for focus to get things done. I think mindfulness is the same as awareness. Awareness is the key to living fruitfully because if you are aware, you know what’s going on around you. You are sensitive, you can listen to the marketplace, to your customers, to your vendors, to yourself. And if you can listen, and hear, you can make effective and adventageous decisions. Interestingly, awareness is intrinsic in the practice of tea. So, the practice of tea aids in a successful practice of business.

Business is never ending, it is literally a practice, like meditation, or yoga or a martial art. It takes continual refinement, and as a practice, it requires mindfulness. Any study on mindfulness whether it be in meditation, drinking tea, yoga, martial arts, it’s helpful in achieving a better handle on how you approach business. I spent all of my life studying mindfulness practices, on the mat, on the cushion, in the martial arts dojo. Now, this business is just another manifestation of my mindfulness practice.

JHR: It seems like having tea is a time to slow down, connect and regroup. If someone wants to plan the perfect tea time, what are some important elements?

JJ: The important elements are having the freshest, best tea you can find. Having good quality hot water. And, having a moment to manage brewing the leaves, a mini-ritual to slow you down, stop you in the moment, and allow you to consciously take your next step.

JHR: What are some of the health and well-being elements of tea?

JJ: The scientifically proven health benefits of tea are that it is full of antioxidants, there are cancer fighting elements, and numerous vitamins and nutrients. Thousands of studies have been conducted on the benefits of tea. Additionally, a benefit of tea is that is it delicious, it pleases the palate, but also allows for a sense of setting a mood. It serves as a gentle awareness inducing uplifter. Tea brings people together, it serves as a natural social lubricant today just as much as it has when it was discovered several thousand years ago. It brings business, family and personal relations together, and today we really need togetherness. It creates ritual in our highly digitized, fast-paced, frenetic world. We are lacking ritual… the ritual that offers us to slow down, make us healthy, and connect us to the earth, and our humanness.

JHR: What is your current favorite and why?

JJ: Organic Masala Chai: I love this tea because the taste is very complex: spicy, great fragrance, nutty, sweet, aromatic, and earthy. Cooking the chai at my home or at Samovar, it fills the entire space with these overwhelming aromas. The caffeine is a natural and stimulating uplifter.

JHR: You started a podcast series called Passage to Peace linking tea to promoting universal peace. How did that come about and what has the reaction been?

JJ: It came about by looking at what our customers, and therefore the world needs. They need peace. This is part of our mission. So, I thought it would be interesting to connect the people involved in the tea business (i.e. carpenters of peace) to the world at large through a multi-media, educational visual medium. The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, which has motivated me to continue the series in an expanded new direction. We are launching a new video series.

JHR: What ignited your passion for tea?

JJ: My need for slowing down, and having time for myself and for my friends and family. And a remembrance of my childhood on the East Coast where I grew up with being surrounded by constant tea culture. I was always exposed to Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese and European influences.

JHR: Can you share five books that have either influenced you or that you just like to read with, well, a good cup of tea?

JJ: Shibumi: Trevanian; The Sun Also Rises: Ernest Hemingway; Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Shunryu Suzuki-Roshi; The Book of Five Rings: Miyamoto Musashi; Body and Mature Behavior: Moshe Feldenkrais and Carl Ginsburg
The Executive In Action: Peter F. Drucker

Note: Samovar Tea is nationally available for purchase at http://shop.samovarlife.com/.

Let Yourself Feel Supported

Let Yourself Feel Supported

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For all the years I have spent with my spiritual practices, it seems there are still times when the whole system crashes and you fear you’ve lost everything on your metaphysical hard drive. Perhaps it’s one major thing that happens suddenly that can derail you, or a perfect storm of many areas of your life that seem to come to a head all at once.

For me, I’ve sort of experienced both in the last few weeks. I go through my journals, ask my guides, recall some great advice, meditate, connect with friends, read a book— all in an effort to understand not just why something happened, but how miserably I am dealing with it.

What I do know is that nothing is black and white. We are a society driven by consumption and turning to external sources to resolve or remove bad feelings. It’s all very extreme– we’re either inundated with negative outlooks, people, images and experiences or we’re struggling to always be “in the light”–in that zone of hyper positivity and gratitude in order to ward off bad vibes.

But we need that negativity and adversity in our lives (what Abraham calls “contrast”) in order to really understand what it is we want in our lives. We need to experience the full gamut of human emotions in order to grow– I believe that’s why we’re all here.

In that spirit, every person who comes into our isolated worlds can be our mirrors, our greatest teachers. I know this to be true, but in the midst of conflict it’s very difficlut to really embrace that. But I’m pleased that the time between conflict (inner and external) is collapsing quickly. This encourages me and makes me believe that the work I’ve done is having a positive effect on my life.

So what happens when things (relationships, finances, career, health) literally just fall apart? Some people theorize that when this happens, a soul is begging to grow and get to that next level of acceptance and clarity with oneself. There is an opportunity to go in the direction of fear and self-loathing, or go in the direction of faith and love. I believe we ask for these experiences on some level in order to reach the mountain top, so to speak.

But I think the key to moving through troubled times with grace, strength and compassion is to have support. This is a major lesson for most people… to learn to reach out and be with like-minded and hugely supportive people. This reinforces the universal code that exists in all people: we are one. And when adversity bears its teeth at us, it is the tribe of friends, family, support networks and spiritual guides that can shield and protect you from your own spiraling negativity.

So if you’re in a negative frame of mind, or something is appearing that causes you great pain and stress, it’s OK. It’s OK to feel that way and know that you’ve attracted these experiences into your life to ultimately help you. Don’t get me wrong– there is a huge difference between “causing” something to happen and simply “attracting” something. There is no blame or judgement when universal laws are at work. No one “deserves” to be in pain. Because it is everyone’s birthright to be joyful and free and totally in tune with the beauty that surrounds us.

So, yes, I definitely ask myself “why did I bring this into my life?” and “what the hell is going on?” But now, the work lies not in THAT anything happened but HOW I choose to deal with it. So how do I feel today? Not that great… but better since I began writing this post and reminding myself of the power of self awareness and self care. It’s Monday, and I have a million things to do– but nothing more important than being kind and gentle with myself and easing into the day.

At one point or another many of us come to a crossroads in our professional and personal lives. We sit back, sigh deeply and ask ourselves “is this all there is?” For Renee Trudeau, the deep inner calling of her life became louder and louder until one day she decided to leave a successful corporate career and change the direction of her life forever. What happened next not only took her own family in an entirely new direction, but her powerful message of motherhood and self-care has changed the lives of thousands of women worldwide. Now, Renee is exploring the world of everyday spirituality. And somewhere in the process of being a student, she has become the teacher.

 

CL: You left behind a lucrative and very stable career in order to pursue your passions. Can you tell me about that decision, what you decided to do and how leaving the corporate environment changed your life?

RT: Gregg Levoy, author of Callings: Finding and Following An Authentic Life says “Generally people won’t pursue their calling until the fear of doing so is finally exceeded by the pain of not doing so. But, it’s amazing how high our threshold is for this type of pain.” I knew after a stable, 14-year career in the marketing communications field that there was another way I was meant to use my gifts and talents.

I had coached professionals (for free) for years on how to develop and leverage their personal brand and I had a strong desire to help others express their potential. So, after much soul searching—more on this journey in my book– I launched Career Strategists in 2000, based on my strong belief that we are truly meant to integrate “who we are” with “what we do” in the world. Yes, like all that make the leap to self-employment, I had a lot of fear come up. But I knew that the life I desired (one where I was the master of, not the slave to my life) was more important than the fear. Ultimately, I had no choice but to take this leap.

I believe we all receive these taps on the shoulder throughout our life. The question is, next time you receive a tap, will you shrug the feeling off, or say yes (to your life)?

CL: How did the concept of personal renewal groups and your book, The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal, initially come about and what has been the response?

themothersguide_cover_000RT: After having my son at age 37, I was shocked to realize how profound the transition to parenthood is. I believe having a child, literally changes you on a cellular level. Who you are will never be the same. And, at the same time, it really rocks you to your core and challenges you to get clear on why you’re here, what is your path and what does the life you truly desire—look like? (My video talks more about this.)

After searching for resources and books that support mothers in nurturing their essence while taking care of their kids, I found nothing and was ultimately guided to start a Personal Renewal Group (self renewal circle for women) in 2003. Five years and countless groups later, after repeated requests from my Personal Renewal Group members, The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal was born. Now thousands of women around the US/Canada and beyond are leading these groups, which are based on the Guide, and supporting women in nurturing their emotional well-being. The response has been phenomenal (many therapists, coaches, doulas and women’s empowerment advocates are being called to lead groups.) Everyone seems to immediately get how important and needed a life coaching program like this, is. The book will be published in Korea later this year. It seems that the messages that came through me are resonating on a universal level.

CL: When people come to a crossroads in life, they are often told to pursue their passions and the money will follow. Do you believe that’s true?

RT: Yes! After working now for more than 20 years in this arena (I started helping family/friends with career strategy when I was eighteen) and having supported thousands in both big and small career and life transitions, I absolutely believe it is our job, our responsibility, to give birth to the best that is within us. And when we do this from a place of truth and authenticity, we will prosper.

I also work with clients a lot on marrying their passion with their brilliance (what you innately “do best”). This is where the magic happens! When we leverage our innate God-given talents, we’re in flow. We’re doing what we were put on the earth to do. And, when this happens, we can’t help but prosper financially. Interestingly, for most of my clients, the hard work isn’t around manifesting, it’s around “receiving” (believing that you’re worthy to be paid for these gifts).

CL: We all know how important it is to take good physical care of oneself in order to be effective in life. What else do you advise people to do to take care of themselves? What is your definition of self-care?

RT: Self-care is the practice of self-nourishment and self-nurturing. It’s essential to feeling whole and to being human. Cancer survivor/activist Audrey Lorde says “Self care is not about self-indulgence, it’s about self-preservation.” Taking time to fill our cups first before helping others is essential to our well-being and to optimal living.

Start by cultivating an awareness of how you talk to, treat, think about and care for yourself—physically, emotionally and spiritually. I have found the practice of self-care is a portal for many of us to our deeper selves. Loving ourselves and treating ourselves as if you would treat a small child, requires a deep honoring of spirit, of our essence (you can learn more about the transformative power of self-care in The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal). Begin with baby steps, be gentle with yourself and know that developing a self-care practice takes time and being around others who believe this is essential, too.

CL: What are you reading right now? What are some books that you can recommend for people interested in personal/spiritual growth?

RT: Life coaches Jennifer Louden and Cheryl Richardson are two of the original self-care advocates/pioneers and all of their books are wonderful and highly recommended, particularly if you’re just getting started on your self-care journey. In terms of physical self-care, I am reading Quantum Wellness by Kathy Freston and The Wisdom of Menopause by Dr. Christiane Northrup—both are very holistic and integrative in their approach to physical/emotional/spiritual well-being. I am also reading (I’m a multiple books at one time reader) Practicing The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, Soul Signs by Diane Eichenbaum, Conversations with God (again) by Neal Donald Walsch, This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women and Open Heart, Open Mind by Father Thomas Keating (who will be in Austin Feb. 21-22).

CL: I understand you are working on a new project. Can you tell us about that?

RT: Since last summer, I have been researching and exploring the theme of “everyday spirituality”—the idea that the sacred is present and accessible everyday, through simple daily rituals and activities like walking in nature, playing with our kids and artistic expression, etc.

I think most Americans are overwhelmed, overworked and overscheduled. They are craving meaning in their lives, but when they hear the term “spiritual practice,” they think forget it, who has time to go on a ten day silent retreat or go sit on a mountaintop! I’ve got kids to get to soccer and bosses to appease! I believe strongly that there are many avenues for nourishment on the“spiritual practice” continuum and that each of us just needs to get quiet and hear what spiritual renewal looks like to us.

I was raised in a very interesting family (my latest blog posting on Spirituality talks about this)—I have a brother named Shiva and a sister named after St. Theresa. Questions around spiritual renewal and fulfillment have been sitting with me for a long, long time. I believe this is the direction my work will be taking me over the next 5-7 years.

Upcoming Events:

Renee Trudeau is holding a Career Mojo workshop on 2/26/09 as well as a women’s self renewal retreat on 3/24/09. Current Living readers can enjoy a special early bird rate for the women’s retreat through April 10th!! But register early because these workshops fill up fast. Please go to www.reneetrudeau.com for more info.

Sandra Yancey, Founder & CEO, eWomenNetwork

Sandra Yancey, Founder & CEO, eWomenNetwork

I was invited by Patti DeNucci to a great women’s networking event today produced by eWomenNetwork. The founder and CEO, Sandra Yancey gave an inspiring and powerfully honest speech on weathering the current economy by focusing on using this time to re-tool, re-examine, refine and redefine what we are doing with our lives. There is so much opportunity out there, and it was nice to be among positive, passionate women who are choosing not to let themselves be frightened or paralyzed by the news of apparent and imminent economic disaster.

We also had the opportunity to see the trailer for her new movie, GLOW, which includes a series of interviews with powerful and successful women including Cathie Black, President, Hearst Magazines and Dr. Helene Gayle, President and CEO, CARE (among many others). They all understand that unique and elusive formula for personal prosperity and fulfillment.

I was fortunate enough to spend time with Sandra in her limo on the way to the airport. Down to earth, insightful and rich with experience, her life has been dedicated to empowering women to be smart, be authentic and to be passionate. (Check back here soon when I post an interview with Sandra)

In the meantime, I urge you to watch the trailer. Check out information about the 9th Annual eWomenNetwork International Conference and Business Expo.

Here’s the trailer:

I’m in this Mastermind group focusing on prosperity and abundance, and Mind Mapping is a very big part of how we come into vibrational alignment with what it is we want to manifest.

Created by Tony Buzan, Mind Mapping is a great way to creatively and instinctively come up with solutions, eliminate mental blocks, break apart negative and limiting beliefs, and develop amazing clarity about what it is you really want.

All you need is a sketchbook, colored markers or crayons (lots of colors are better), and a desire to achieve clarity about any situation that is demanding your attention: relationships, finances, health, absorbing and learning complex information and more.

Here is a cool video about Mind Mapping:

ww.russellforsyth.com

ww.russellforsyth.com

Russell Forsyth is a healer, medium and Angel Therapy Practitioner. I recently spoke to Russell about his path, his work and the possibilities of listening to your personal guidance system.

CL: What is the primary focus of your practice, and how did you choose this line of work?

RF: I consider myself a healer-helper. Everyone has the natural ability to heal themselves. I try to empower them with that energy to release old patterns, blocks and anything that is not in alignment with their current beliefs, goals and health practices. My primary focus is on the chakra or ‘energy centers’ of the human body. Most emotional, physical and spiritual conditions that are considered unhealthy can be traced from these centers. I was a carpenter/contractor for thirty years, until I asked Spirit and the Universe to guide me into my encore career in service to others. My construction work started to phase out, while my readings increased. I feel like the work chose me.

CL: What happens in a typical Angel Therapy session?

RF: I am usually guided to ask a series of questions designed to allow the client to openly express themselves in a safe environment. These expressions usually unveil the feelings of the heart and uncover basic needs of the individual. From that information, I am usually guided to do energy work and/or deliver messages from the angels that are directed toward a spiritual overview. Some sessions are without the message aspect and geared toward energy movement with a heavy focus on the chakra system.

CL: Are you seeing an increase or a decrease in interest surrounding connecting with angels and guides? Who is your typical client?

RF: The latest events in the world have more people seeking answers from a spiritual source. My business increases with fears and worries about the economy and the global environment. People are going back to some basics of life with more focus on health, career and finances with interest in the future. My typical client is a professional and I see doctors, lawyers, politicians, musicians, engineers and your typical Austinite. I also have people that travel some distance to see me. So in a typical day I might see people from Dallas, San Antonio and Houston. But sometimes I might see someone from Germany or South Africa as well.

CL: You have created a unique healing modality called the Harmonic Crystal Healing Bed. How did that come about and what benefits does it offer?

RF: It is a long story, but basically I started receiving guidance from the angels and ended up with a 10K word document journal with a complete description of the construction of the bed. After months of asembly, I studied the components and discovered the science behind the crystal bed. I was never into crystals before, but have since gained quite a appreciation for their healing benefits. The crystal bed used sound, light, color, magnets, crystals and an angelic gateway to do everything from releasing an emotion to working with the worst physical ailments such as cancer or heart disease. The number one response from a session on the Harmonic Crystal Healing Bed® is an overwhelming feeling of peace.

CL: Can anyone hear guidance from angels or guides? How do they communicate?

RF: Yes, they communicate through the “claire” senses which everybody has. Clairvoyance is one that most people have heard about and this is the sense of vision. You can receive a message from the angels in the form of a vision in the mind’s eye, such as a dream or a waking vision.This is one of several ways to connect. Angels and guides use signs such as feathers, coins, jewelry, and electrical devices to get our attention. They often use repetitive symbols and metaphors as a way to message a feeling or illicit a response. Our guides will not meddle in our affairs under normal circumstances, so we need to engage in asking for their help as a way to start the connection process.

CL: What are the differences between angels and guides?

RF: Some people make no distinction, but to me a guide is usually someone that has walked the earth plane in some form, while the angels generally have never had that experience. An Ascended Master such as Quan Yin would be a good example of a guide while Archangel Michael is one angel that many have heard of. My clients connect with guides such as deceased loved ones, ascended masters, shamans, fairies, elementals and even star beings, so there are a lot of choices when choosing to connect with a alternate source. The other side of the veil has many options for those seeking an unearthly form of support. Others believe the guides are all one flow in the same energy, and it is mankind that chooses to separate and name these sources. I try to align myself with an individual’s belief in order to do energy work without imprinting my own beleifs.

CL: There is certainly a psychic element to this work. Are you psychic, and what does that term mean to you?

RF: Everyone is psychic! I have exercised and developed my senses in order to do this work, but everyone has gifts and it is up to each of us to decide how far we want to develop these gifts. There are many who have experienced past lives and witnessed the evolution of mankind. This past is filled with many harsh events that can have a lasting effect on people even in today’s world and spell danger for some. This can be a block and prevent people from opening to these gifts. Others feel that using psychic gifts goes against their belief systems. I feel like there is no elitism in this area and we are all equal. Some have not discovered this about themselves. Psychic awareness is on the increase in today’s world and to witness this is relatively easy, especially in the technological arena of the modern society.

CL: You’ve also entered the world of mediumship. There are a lot of misconceptions about mediums and what they do. Can you clear up a few of the more common misconceptions?

RF: When I started doing angel readings, deceased loved ones started coming forward in my sessions. I went for additional training in this area and now teach mediumship in workshops. If someone you knew walked into your room and your eyes were closed, you would then be left to feel the energy of that person in order to identify them. Connecting with the deceased is not much different. A medium has learned to take that ability to the next level. Using the “claire” senses and trusting yourself is the key, but you are simply connecting with someone that is not in the physical body. In all the work that I do, I have witnessed the most dramatic changes and healing through a medium session. Wrinkles disappear, the eyes get brighter, the face shines with a glow and the energy around that person gets lighter. The sessions are quite different from others, in that the deceased loved one is a person with free will and therefore dictates the session. You never know what will happen and that makes it interesting and exciting! Some religions have demonized this type of work and Hollywood has done their share to raise fears in this area. My experiences have been filled with love and compassion without the energy of fear and evil like some would have you think. Unfortunately our history is filled with abuse within the family structure and one opportunity to deliver a message of forgiveness makes the life of a medium very fullfilling. There are some who have given the work a bad name, while some people have had negative experiences engaging in the activity, so there are many misconceptions. My suggestion for those considering using a medium for the first time would be to talk with friends to find a referral to someone that has had success in the past. If you go to a medium, limit your expectations and open to the experience for the best results with the idea that people are people…….in the body or not(lol).

CL: Who has inspired you the most in your work?

RF: Dr. Doreen Virtue, John Edward and Dr. Marcel Vogel.

CL: Could you recommend three books for someone just beginning to learn about receiving guidance to help with life purpose, relationships, spiritual development, prosperity, etc.?

RF: I recommend books that I find resonantion with the majority of the writing. I rarely find one that I agree 100%. I would recommend Doreen Virtue’s Angels 101 or The Lighworkers Way, The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren and Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth and anything from the Abraham-Hicks collection .

CL: In addition to your healing practice, you are a musician and author. How have these three passions intersected and what are your future plans for writing and producing music?

RF: Since changing careers and life paths which occurred in April ’06, I have written 4 books and am 75% complete with two more (I never considerd myself a writer). I have completed a 16 song CD project and am getting ready to record another CD in January. I write a weekly colum called ‘Angel Whipsers’ and have been filmed for a pilot show on the work that I do that is currently being presented to TV networks. I often integrate the use of my books and music for teaching workshops as channeled writing and music is a connnection to Spirit. I was passionate before my shift occurred, but the creative energy exploded when I dropped all my past hurts, forgave myself and those around me and openeed to what the Universe had to offer. I simply made the choice to create beauty, ease suffering and bring joy into the world around me. My future plans are all-inclusive of these passions, for together they bring balance, grounding and harmony to my own peacful existence. The positive experiences of others when exposed to these artistc mediums is icing on the cake!

For more information about Russell Forsyth, please visit http://www.russellforsyth.com. His latest novel is Mariposa and his most recent CD is titled One Thing.

Our sweet dog died three days ago. He was beautiful, forgiving, loving, joyful and funny soul. We will miss him dearly. My husband had the privilege of holding him and comforting him in the still darkness as our dear friend made his transition.

The following is a beautiful “explanation” of what happens when an animal’s soul is released to the universe. It was written by a dear longtime friend. This is what he wrote:

LIFE, DEATH AND THE IN-BETWEENS

Hearing your teacher talk about his death is bound to vibrate something way down within you.  Birth and life let us know that ‘we are’, but death teaches us ‘what’ we are.  As mike pointed out there is a lot of talk about birth in this field, but my personal involvement with craniosacral work arose out of death. Ten years ago I was walking in the woods near my grandfather’s cabin in the Pocono Mountains when I came upon a clearing.  A small brown mouse was resting on a patch of dirt in the middle and something drew me towards her. I approached as slowly as I could until I was kneeling just an arm’s length away feeling very surprised that she hadn’t run off. 

I felt a connection form between us, and when I reached out to gently stroke her forehead she allowed me.

After some time, I picked her up and placed her in my open palm. Although she got a bit excited, moving around in circles and sniffing my fingers, she didn’t seem to object in any way. Her tiny feet and nose tickled my skin as I carried her back to the cabin. She looked at me curiously as we swayed together on the rocking chair on the porch, and then she seemed to settle down again, resting quietly. That was when it dawned on me that she was dying.

I simply sat with her in stillness, bearing witness to her life. As time passed I became aware that I could feel the energy within and around her small body. I was very aware of the movement of her breathing, particularly as she approached the end and it became labored. But I was equally aware that her energy was also breathing – very very slowly – expanding outwards for about a minute, and then receding back inwards for another minute or so. Through the feeling of that energy breath I could feel her appreciation of my being present there with her. And after about an hour, when she finally made one great last gesture with her arm and rib cage, she breathed her last breath…

…but she was still there. The slow breathing of her energy field continued, undiminished, even after her respiration and pulse had ceased – what I now recognize as ‘the long tide’. True to its name, it continued for a VERY long time! We remained there together in deep contact and presence, and it was abundantly clear that the absence of the body-processes was irrelevant to her Being-ness. Finally ‘something happened’; there was a shift of some sort and her energy separated from the body, and then slowly floated upwards, through the trees and towards the sky.

Read more…

Jackie Gaston is a healer and teacher based in Austin, TX. I recently asked Jackie about her work, and its connection to creating balance and well-being in all areas of our lives.

CL: For people who are wondering why they are “stuck” in certain emotional or mental patterns, is there any physical explanation for that? If so, what can be done about that?
 
JG: This is a good question in that it seems to start with the assumption that there is a division between the mental, the emotional and the physical.  This is a view that has been held in western thought since Descartes hypothezied that thought equals being.  William Blake said that the body is the soul as perceived by the senses and I feel this is more accurate.  The question also addresses a state that we all experience from time to time.  The feeling of being “stuck” seems to be an unavoidable part of the human experience. I think it is more useful to look at this state in terms of what it may be telling us rather than as something that we need to do something about.  Why are we feeling stuck?  What is going on in  life that is allowing this feeling to be present at this time?  After these factors are identified, we can begin to take action to either change or accept them.  Doing this usually results in an awareness of the choices we are making and a feeling of more control in life.  Stuckness can’t stay around when we feel we are in control.
 
CL: What are some of the more powerful modalities that can assist people in attaining a greater sense of well-being?
 
JG: Sometimes old conditions set up shop in the body and are little bit slow to leave.  A simplified example is a period of time after a sore foot has healed when you still find yourself limping from time to time out of habit.  The cells in your body that reproduced during the time of the injury reproduced exact replicas of themselves.  The replicas contained the information that the foot was sore and limping took the pressure off of it.  Nerve patterns transferred this information to the brain and back to the muscles that moved the foot establishing patterns that told the muscles how to behave.  It takes a little while for all of those cells to get the message that the limping is no longer useful. Energy work can help repattern these kinds of messages.  My preferred modalities for this are craniosacral therapy and Reiki combined with specific massage movements for each part of the body. I also like acupuncture and chiropractic care.
 
CL: Explain what a typical Reiki or energy work session involves. What are some of the positive results?

 
JG: A Reiki session is done with the client fully clothed and looks like a ‘laying on of hands’ for lack of a better description.  I prefer to use my massage table for this but I have been known to work on people on their sofas, easy chairs or beds, folding chairs or whatever happens to be around.  The intent is to send energy to any place that needs it and/or clear energy blockages that may be causing problems.  The first result is usually a deep relaxation.  Some people can feel the energy moving through them while others report not really feeling anything.  I have never heard of anyone having a negative reaction to Reiki. However, I have known of people who were disappointed because they expected some big emotional or physical release.  While this can and sometimes does happen, it can be a much more subtle modality and the experience is different for each person.
 
CL: Do you recommend having ongoing energy work done in order to help with chronic conditions, or can some conditions be resolved in one session?
 
JG: Yes and yes.  There are some conditions that can be and are resolved in one session while others, especially chronic ones, benefit from ongoing sessions.
 
CL: What motivated you to become a healer and choose these modalities for your work?
 
JG: I have never had a job in which I did not feel that I was helping others.  In fact, the only criteria that I have ever had for work is that it allowed me to help others.  I have worked for a major insurance company, taught special education classes, worked with blind people and with developmentally handicapped people and worked for the Texas Rehabilitation Commission before becoming a body/energy worker so I guess the progression was logical.  I first began hearing about Reiki in the early 90s when I was working the first aid crew at a music festival. I asked questions about it but nobody really wanted to tell me very much.  Then, in 1996, a friend of mine left this time/space reality via running her car into a tree.  I traveled from San Angelo to Kerrville to her memorial service and she decided to accompany me home.  She literally pestered me into taking my first Reiki classes.   (I could go on and on about how weird this all seemed in San Angelo, TX but I’ll spare you that discourse.)  I had a craniosacral session in 1998 and felt my jaw unlock while the practitioner’s hand was under my sacrum.  I just had to find out how to do that.  Since then, I just have not been able to stop exploring different modalities.  I feel that I could spend the rest of my life studying ways that the body manifests the spirit and the ways in which it can be addressed.
 
CL: Are types of energy work ever combined to create some new form of healing?
 
JG: Certainly.  I seldom use just one modality.  Sometimes I don’t even have a name for what happens in a session.  Each person has different needs and responds to different combinations of modalities.
 
CL: People have ideas about what kinds of therapies they need to help with certain physical issues. Do you ever counsel against using certain methodologies?
 
JG: This is a fairly common occurrence.  A lot of times people think they want a deep tissue massage and it is often not what their body will accept, especially if they don’t get bodywork on a regular basis.  They have just heard the term a lot and think is sounds exotic or something.  I won’t do deep work or use much pressure at all on recent injuries.  There are other contraindications for bodywork such as illness, fever, and etc. But almost anyone can have energy work at anytime.

CL: In the greater mind-body-spirit-heart connection, how does your work to influence all of these areas of life?

JG: My intent is to help the client integrate the mental/emotional experience with the physical one and to set things up so that he/she is open to healing themselves.  Yeah, I said ‘healing themselves’ because I can only facilitate the healing by creating and holding the space for it to happen.

CL: What are you reading?

JG: Just finished Eat, Pray, Love, a book I did not expect to like based on reviews that I had read but I had heard so much about it that I gave in and read it.  Loved it.  I am also reading Marriage of the Spirit by Leslie Temple-Thurston and an autobiography of Judy Collins.  I am forever picking up the Abraham-Hicks books and reading a page or two.  I keep some of those cds in my car and usually listen to one while I drive around.  I am studying the work of Sanaya Roman and Duane Packer as well.

For more information on Jackie’s work and range of services, please visit www.jackiegaston.com.

I loved the movie Once and was incredibly pleased that Glen Hansard (of popular Irish rock band The Frames) and Markéta Irglová won Academy Awards for their song “Falling Slowly.” I think this montage is a beautiful representation of two like souls coming together to co-create from the heart. Enjoy!

I believe there is a universal dialogue that is happening all around us at every moment of every single day that we are on the physical plane. This dialogue is designed to bring us into a state of harmony, peace and prosperity in all areas of our lives. There is a dramatic unraveling of old beliefs and systems that happens when a person decides– consciously chooses– to walk in the direction of spirit. This walk is the journey back to your true self, your original nature. In many ways, we have been conditioned to ignore these signs from God, our guides, angels, universal intelligence, Source energy. As children we are surrounded by other older beings who have suffered the same addiction to paying attention to only that which is apparent to the naked eye or what people have unwittingly called “reality.” All we see is a chair, a plant, a face, a rock– a whole pictiure which we collectively and individually create. The light bouncing around this planet is the canvas of our thoughts, and we create what we see in the physical plane.

But what would happen to you, and what would happen to the story of your life if you decided that everything– even as something as solid as a tree– were simply molecules vibrating at different frequencies? What if you accepted that everything– money, people, cities, the natural world– were all vibrational extensions of the universal intelligence of which we are all very active and vibrant parts? You would understand that your thoughts give you the power to create your own world in any way you choose.

But that’s quite a leap of faith, isn’t it? Perhaps on a spiritual level this makes sense to you. Maybe even on an intellectual level this is in line with other information and teachings that you know to be true from either firsthand experience or through observation. And let’s say that you even have a sense on a deeply emotional level that you are, indeed, a child of God– a being that is so perfect, and so complete that the idea of fully accepting your power raises your vibration so intensely that it might even bring a deep, throbbing sense of relief to your whole being, or perhaps even tears of joy to your eyes.

In my experience, signs are literally everywhere. But there are two critical components to living in a world where these important signs can direct you down your holy path. Try this three part process and see if signs begin to appear in your life. I have received incredible inspiration from Sonia Choquette regarding this work, and encourage you to check out her work. If you’re open to the process, I believe you will manifest signs quickly and frequently. And this should comfort and support you in your spiritual development.

1) Ask for signs. The Universe is like a patient and wise teacher. You are never without guides, angels and non-physical teachers of every kind who are eager to help point you in the right direction. Even if you do not completely believe that signs are real, just sit quietly for a few minutes and open your heart and mind to the possibility that there are many entities waiting in the wings to be your support. Ask them for it. Try saying “I am ready and open to receiving guidance from my guides, as well as signs to point me in the direction of my dreams and greater purpose.” Because I believe that finding your purpose (and it can change a lot or a little along the way depending on what your calling is) is truly the path to prosperity in all areas of your life– relationships, money, health, everything.

2) Pay attention. I know this sounds simple and somewhat like a teacher telling her students not to slouch in class. But whether you are new to this journey or a seasoned student, being present is one of the most powerful spiritual principles that humankind has had the good fortune to embrace. As Alan Watts said, “Be here now.” In relation to this process, once you have asked for signs, move through your day expecting them to appear at any moment. Do not dismiss anything. Every person, every phone call, every e-mail, every destination, every experience has the potential for presenting a spiritual roadsign for you.

3) Act on them. So what if you’ve actually been seeing signs? Maybe you received a voicemal from a long lost friend. Call her back. She might have an offer, a piece of information, some wisdom or perhaps something physical like a job or a material possession that is trying to come your way. Perhaps you’ve been struggling with a weight issue and you find yourself stuck behind a bus in traffic with a new weight loss ad that looks intriguing. Give them a call and find out more. Maybe you’ve been struggling with your financial situation. Simply asking for a sign from the spirit world letting you know that they are there for you is just enough to reinvigorate your belief in the universe. This gives you the conviction and courage to follow your intuition and allow the universe simply to do its job. Sometimes signs are extremely simple. They are brief and powerful indicators that your guides are with you, and that God is present to take care of you and whatever you are struggling with.

Signs can do so many things, but in experience they allow me to continue to believe in the universal process and its laws. They strengthen my faith and keep me on track emotionally and intuitively. They reinforce my spiritual process and allow me to concentrate more fully on what it is I want to manifest.

So how have signs worked for me recently? Be prepared to be amazed:

1) As I recently began to work with my guides and angels, I set out a deliberate intention with them, as I do everyday now… “Send me signs that you are with me.” Two days after I began doing this, I was literally cornered by an old woman in a store full of people who came up to me and said “I need to ride down the street after I finish my shopping. My legs hurts and I would appreciate it.” I instantly told her I would absolutely take her to her destination. We met in front of the store and I helped her into the car. She told me her name was Nancy and that she felt drawn to get off at the bus stop nearby to pick some things up at the store. “I had to meet someone,” she said. “I guess that’s you.” She looked remarkably like one of my very favorite aunts– a striking resemblance, really. This aunt had taken care of me when I was a baby and toddler, and we were very close. So Nancy proceeds to tell me that she had recently given everything away– her car, her possessions, most of her worldy goods to become a missionary and to counsel people who needed spiritual guidance. She said she felt very guided by the Holy Spirit and that if she could do anything for me, to let me know. I told her she already had. I dropped her off and we parted friends.

2) The day before yesterday I checked one of my online accounts where the username that I have is accompanied by a user picture/logo that I downloaded several years ago. I’ve had this same logo in place for at least four years and never changed it. Remarkably, my logo had been mysteriously replaced with the image of the angel which is at the top of this blog entry. I scoured my account to see how this could have happened, and there was absolutely no way I did this myself. My husband was equally dumbfounded and delighted. “That is definitely a sign that you’re moving in the right direction,” he said. And I agree.

3) Today, I asked my guides to show me some blue glass. I had been disappointed recently that I had tried to manifest some peonies– one of my favorite flowers– all week. No luck. But today when I was visiting a client, I was pleasantly surprised that in the kitchen of the office were two blue glass vases in the windowsill over the sink I had never seen before… and one of them had peonies in them.

I have a variety of other examples, but the ones that are most fun are the ones you will experience in your own life. I hope you can share some of them with me!

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