28 January, 2013

Healing the anxiety and hypervigilance of PTSD and panic attacks

Over this past weekend, I worked with three different people during Healing Ceremony. One ceremony provided many lessons on how to work with anxiety, grief, and PTSD-like symptoms.

(I am changing the personal details in the following story, to protect anonymity.)

I was contacted by a gentleman who was experiencing great anxiety, ruminating thoughts, and panic attacks. He works in the healthcare field, and recently lost a patient in the Emergency Room. He had to perform CPR, but wasn't able to save the patient.

I immediately felt compassion for the man, as the patient's death obviously affected him in some way. He agreed, but felt that it was only a "surface pain" and that there was something much bigger and more "shadowy" affecting his ability to cope with regular life. He felt that he was "loosing it", because he had such hypervigiliance at work (senses heightened for any crises, always feeling on edge, not being able to calm down, feeling paranoid that co-workers were silently judging him, etc.). He stated that he had lost patients before, it was a necessary evil of working in an Emergency Room, and his training usually kicked in and kept him compassionate but distant from the effects of death. But now he felt panic, and had so much difficulty even getting out of his car to walk into work, that everything felt like a crisis, and he wasn't sure he could cope with it anymore.

I worked with this gentleman shamanically, and together, Coyote, Bear, Flamingo and I worked with his chakras.

As we began at the feet and Root, we saw great inflammation and pain. Bear spoke of a need for better shoes at work, and the lack of trust in other co-workers. The client agreed, stating that he does not trust in his coworkers beyond working with them, and so he felt as though he could not start any close friendships with any coworkers because of the backstabbing and gossip that he perceived. Because of the constant stress of holding everything in and not trusting others to "vent", the patient's death severely affected his self confidence and his ability to stand firm.

We moved to working with the Power chakra, and it was full of intrusions and cords (mostly placed there by the will of the client). He looked exhausted. We saw images of money, banks, and "allowance" given out. This highlighted to me that this gentleman's concept of power and will centered around money. I asked about his relationship with money, and if he thought it was healthy, or anxiety-provoking, etc. He spoke of the difficulty of "always ensuring that I have enough money to support others."  Because of the economy, many of his family members were unable to find gainful employment, and so he felt it was his responsibility, and a demonstration of his love and power, to financially support them. Coyote helped highlight a darker aspect to this type of power, and we spoke to the client (very delicately) about the use of financial power as a means of feeling in control.

Immediately, his face changed from anxiety to confusion to wonder. "Wow!" he exclaimed, "that's really interesting! Maybe by trying to help my family with money, I am trying to control their own emotions of disappointment and sadness, and then I feel in control of my family's joy and feelings of self-worth!" It was a wonderful breakthrough, and I had him write it down, as "shamanic homework" for the next few months.

As we moved to the Heart Chakra, we discovered a battleground. Barbed-wire fences, band-aids, smoke, and feelings of despair. Underneath the band-aids (symbols of the client trying to mend his own heart), there was intense image of Grief and Death. The patient that died was a mere shadow, barely on the surface of this warzone, but as we waved the image away, we saw two deep, bloody scars along the heart. As we shrunk ourselves down to go inside, they showed images of the times in which they occurred. One looked like a female that was paired with the client, and another, a stereotypical mother-figure.

I asked the gentleman about the images, and he grew very silent, and then began to cry. He spoke of two deaths, of his ex-wife and his mother, and that they both occurred within the past 2-3 years. Bear showed me that his grief process had been aborted, as the gentleman felt that he had to show love, compassion, and power for the remaining relatives (for the kids when his ex-wife died, and for the family when his mother died). This was the root of his anxiety & PTSD-- the patient's death at the ER was the Universe's way of restarting this man's grief process, so that he could experience these emotions (and not cover them with scars).**  He had poured out so much love to others, that he was unable to focus inward anymore. Bear and I spoke about the need for self-love, in order to balance the love and compassion that goes to his family, patients, and significant other. And we also spoke about the need to reflect and integrate his experiences, which may be painful.

At this moment, the gentleman relaxed, and began talking aloud (while we brought parts of his Soul back to himself). He spoke of the need to call EAP (employee assistance program), as it was a confidential and free way to seek out therapy. We heartily supported him with this, as it may help him process out loud, and move the great anxiety and panic out of his physical body.

We completed the healing, and gave him a big Bear-Hug at the end. He appeared stronger and more peaceful, and stated that he was already thinking of ways in which to deal with his grief and loss. We thanked him, said our goodbyes, and wished him luck and love.

I am constantly thankful for the working relationships that I have with different spirits, and that they are able to help others in this way. I am also amazed at how emotional health and well being has such an affect on physical health. I pray that this man continues with his "shamanic homework" so that he may feel greater healing.

** All emotions can be processed through the physical body, which can be both positive and negative. In the case of this gentleman, he was unable to work with and integrate his grief emotions, because of his need to support others (a noble need). The human mind is wonderful at being able to section off different painful thoughts so that we can continue with life. However, if that pain is not processed at a later date, and/or  is constantly ignored, then it may have the side effect of creating physical symptoms in the body (panic attacks, hypersensitivity and vigilance, etc.). This is called the psycho-somatic effect, and is a very real power that the mind and body share. Read more about it here!

13 January, 2013

Working with the Nagas for Healing

I am reading through all of my old journals and notebooks, trying to organize all of the information I've learned in the past 3~4 years. I came across my first journey to meet the wonderful healing spirits, the Nagas (a race of sacred healing snakes).
Nagas in front of a Thai temple (public domain stock photo)

The Nagas have an incredibly important and sacred role in the universe-- they transmute negative energies into neutral energies.

When Caroline Kenner first introduced my class to these helping spirits, we had discussed some of the difficult practicalities  of Healing. For example, if a shaman has helped remove intrusions and negative "gunk" off of a client, where does it go? How can we safely dispose of it, so it doesn't affect anyone/anything else?

After Journeying to meet the Nagas (see journal entry below), I learned that the Nagas actually "gobble up" intrusions, negative energies, and demonic possessions, and transmute the harmful energies inside of themselves! The energies removed by the shaman and his/her helping spirits can be disposed of quickly, ethically, and in accordance with the purpose of the universe.

I have worked with these beautiful snake spirits for almost two years, and they are extremely helpful for my clients' healings, and my own as well.

Here is a journal entry that I made back in January 2010, of the first time I met the Nagas:



Journey to meet the Nagas (January 2010)

I rattled and Journeyed my way to Coyote, who introduced me to the Nagas, a sacred race of snakes that are extremely important in Transmutation.*  We traveled through water tunnels, land caves, jumped out of cliff towers onto forest floors, and ran to a rock ledge in frozen tundra.
Coyote and I like to run, and it was fun chasing them. Eventually, we caught up with them, and they were dancing and swaying around a fire. I asked if they would like for me to give them rats and mice to eat as offerings, and they very clearly said, “No, that’s more of what our mundane counterparts eat.”  It was the first time (but definitely not the last time) that I heard NO in my mind during a Journey, and I felt a bit silly trying to compare these great spiritual beings with the snakes I see in zoos…
I left Coyote outside, and entered their tunnel into a gigantic cave. The Nagas were very tall (couldn’t even see the tops of their heads or the ends of their bodies until they came down to my face), and completely white (although I may have seen small areas of deep red along the belly and possibly the eyes). We began conversing, and they spoke of how they “Redress the Balance” of the world, and “consume and transmute the Negative.”  I felt like I should stand up at that moment, and the Nagas wrapped themselves around me! Whoa- thankfully I’m not too afraid of snakes!
They looked inside my own body, and actually went inside of me. I could see them eating black gunk on my right knee, inside my uterus, and on my back and shoulders. I thought back to what they told me, and understood that the Nagas were eating the pain, negativity, and spiritual intrusions that had attached themselves to me! These amazing spirits have the ability to ingest intrusions, demons, anxiety, release magical and psychic attack, etc. and it becomes neutral energy inside of their bodies. What a wonderful way for the Universe to transmute this type of energy that is the root of so much pain, distress, and illness!
We worked together to heal a spirit during this Journey, and I also learned that as the Nagas remove and transmute negative energy and intrusions, it is my job as the Shaman to replace the spirit’s and/or person’s energy. Depending on the type of healing needed, I may have to bring the client’s energy back to him/herself first, or s/he may have “side effects” after the Nagas remove intrusions.
Before the end of this lesson, I asked the Nagas, “What type of offering(s) would you enjoy, so that I may honor our relationship?” They responded with, “Blessed and/or Energy-filled water.”  I was instructed that the Nagas are primarily water snakes, and that this type of offering is of most use to them.
I thanked them for their lessons, and for the beginning of our healing relationship. Coyote and I traveled back, and I ended the Journey.


*Q: What is "transmutation"?
A: The name of the process that is used to completely change an "energetic state."  Energy can be positive, neutral, or negative, and all three types have different effects on all three bodies (read my entry on Removing Emotional Pain ).

12 January, 2013

Between the Worlds, Part One

A little over a month ago, Assembly of the Sacred Wheel sponsored an incredible magical conference, Between the Worlds;

(C) ASW 2012
This advanced conference was so awe-inspiring and profound, it has taken me a full 30+ days to begin integrating the messages from Spirit and the Teachers.

Of the many classes and ritual workshops that I attended, I think that I enjoyed the Plenary Discussions the best. The Assembly has graciously filmed and created mp3 files of the two talks, and I will include links to them here.

The first Plenary Discussion was on Friday morning, and was titled,

"The Turning Of The Ages: What To Keep, What To Throw Away, And How To Decide"

The following Honored Teachers were members of this panel:

Aeptha, of Light Haven 

T. Thorn Coyle 

Ivo Dominguez, jr. 

Katrina Messenger 

Sam Webster 

and Michael G Smith as moderator. 

If you haven't already watched the panel online (about 1.5 hrs), I would suggest that you find some time (perhaps on a weekend when you don't have any chores/appts.) and commit yourself to the inspiring messages given through these teachers. They discuss humanity's evolution, and how this past Solstice (of 2012) was such a powerful moment in Time. I know I will be referring back to it over and over again, especially as I don't understand everything that's said until the second or third time around!

Here are some profound quotes, to peak your interest (presenter's names abbreviated & cited next to quote):

  • "It is our duty to bring transmutation and change to everyone, because we are the only ritual tradition in the West who knows how!" (SW)
  • "How can we force a change when we can't change ourselves?" (SW)
  • "You must cross a boundary with Intent and Expectation (be prepared for the consequences)!" (KM)
  • "If you have a plan to break/destroy, then have a plan to create/grow!" (KM)
  • "Focus on safety, but be prepared for Uncomfortable." (KM) 
  • "For those of you in this room, your life's work is about the changing of the Ages." (Ivo)
  • "Breathe in curiosity, and learn how to learn again." (Thorn)
  • "Even the most perfect plans need adjustment." (Ivo)
  • "Magical people have a greater capacity to be Awake and Present in their lives, and not just Fade Out and go on Unconscious Navigation." (Ivo)
  • "Good Errors happen while we are awake, and Bad Errors happen when we are asleep at the wheel!" (Ivo)
  • "It takes a great amount of Awake-ness to remain open and not define ourselves by what we are Not; it leads to greater growth and accountability." (Aeptha)
  • "I am not any of the things I name myself." (SW)
  • "Am I running away from my gifts, or towards them?" (Ivo)
  • "We are not necessarily going to see the End Game of the change we help foster." (Aeptha)
  • "We need to think at the Mythic Level: what will we learn? What is the end result?" (KM)
  • "We need to feel the pain and not get trapped in it!" (Thorn)
And their final words for the new Age:
  • "Make a commitment and stop fucking around!" (Thorn) 
  • "Invoke often!" (SW)
  • "Form spiritual and mundane relationships!" (Ivo)
  • "In the words of Samuel L. Jackson, 'Wake the Fuck Up!' " (KM)
  • "Do the work in all aspects of our lives!" (Aeptha)
Here's the website one more time, to watch the amazing lectures yourselves, and please respond with your own thoughts! What do you think humanity's job is for the next ~2,000- 4,000 years?

06 January, 2013

LATE POST: Ethical Certification for Practitioners

Back in September 2012, I began speaking with a wonderful woman, June Kent, about the possibility of writing shamanic healing/teaching articles for her professional magazine, Indie Shaman. As we discussed it over emails, she wrote about the application process for Certification as an Ethical Practitioner.

I immediately applied, and awaited the interview and investigation process. I am a huge supporter of this major distinction, as there are many many people all over the world who may have been shamanically-trained, but have damaging, judgmental attitudes towards the people they work for, and/or the Spirits they work with. After working in public service/mental health for almost 10 years, I understand the amount of training and experience needed to create a strong, ethical healer. Sadly, not all training programs focus on ethics (thank the Gods that Gryphons Grove does!), and it is up to the shaman him/herself to continually strive for more experiences and better ethical protocols when working for the public & community.

On 12 November 2012, I was given full certification:
Wahoo!
I'm not sure yet how to attach Word documents to my blog, so here is the assessment, for those who are interested:



INDIE SHAMAN ETHICAL CERTIFICATION ASSESSMENT
MONIKA LEIGH
www.spirit-at-ease.co.uk

Services available
·         Various shamanic healing and blessings.  Reiki healing

Evidence of Complying with Criteria

1.       To use their skills in the betterment of the individual, the community and the land
·         Certificates displayed on website.  Training sources verified.
·         Master's Degree in Psychology and experience of working in field of mental health (clear information given that not registered in Maryland and therefore does not currently provide counselling services)
·         Good background information given on website including a statement about the importance of ethics

2.       To be honest, open minded, non-judgmental and treat all clients and/or customers with equal respect
·         Confirmed in email 09/11/12

3.       To strive to source and use goods that are produced without the exploitation of other people, animals or the land
·         Confirmed in email 09/11/12

4.       To only charge an appropriate fee and to discuss this fee with the client or customer in advance of any work being undertaken
·         Fees displayed clearly on website

5.       To maintain client confidentiality, unless this is overruled by a child protection issue or vulnerable adult protection issue, in which case to report all suspected such cases to the relevant authority
    Clear information given on website about referring to an appropriate service provider if needed

6.       To not knowingly work with an individual under the age of 18 years without the prior permission of their parent or legal guardian
·       Confirmed in email 09/11/12

7.       To not knowingly work with an individual without their informed consent
·       Confirmed in email 09/11/12

8.       To refer any client to a qualified health professional when appropriate
·       Clear information given on website about referring to an appropriate service provider if needed
·       Medical disclaimer on website