Shaping the Spirit
The more comforts we have, the more uncomfortable we’ve seemed to become. Most of us spend our time with our eyes glued to a screen and fingers trapped by the keyboard. This may be why we are seeing a shift away from technological fixes and toward introspection and self-improvement, as some want to reconnect to the human and spiritual sides to ourselves. Meditation and yoga have become mainstream, and younger generations are less motivated by money and more by personal experiences. People are also turning to alternative methods of healing to improve overall well-being. We talked to a few local healing practitioners who offer courses and sessions to ground us out and comb through the noise. The science is still out on some of these methods and others are supported by research, but all of these pracitioners say the end result is a healthier and happier perspective.
Mindful self-compassionWe are our own worst enemy is a phrase that rings true with a lot of us.
“Most of us treat our loved ones and friends with warmth, tenderness, and patience at times when they struggle, fail, or fall short. But we have a hard time bringing the same quality of compassion to ourselves in the same situation,” said Myoung Lee, a certified mindfulness teacher who is launching her own mindful self-compassion and inner resilience workshops.
MSC combines mindfulness, focusing awareness to the present moment, with self-kindness. It was developed by clinical psychologist Chris Germer and self-compassion researcher Kristin Neff in 2010, and the method is supported by peer-reviewed research linking self-compassion to healthier well-being.
Lee said there are biological reasons for being self-critical. Modern-day cortisol-spiking threats are no longer caused by hungry saber-toothed tigers, but by threats to our self-concept and sense of fitting in. When that self-concept is threatened, we attack the problem – ourselves. To make things worse, Lee said we have around 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day, and many of them are ruminations or fantasies of stories that don’t exist.
“It’s like we are in a film. A beautiful movie that sometimes can be so tragic, but there is no editor,” she said.
Mindfulness, one of the three components of MSC, helps quiet these stories. It allows someone to bring a balanced awareness to a difficult situation. The second component is common humanity, an understanding that the difficulties one is experiencing are part of a larger human experience, and the third is self-kindness.
Lee said some people confuse self-compassion with someone like Al Franken’s old Saturday Night Live character, the self-indulgent crochet-sweater wearing Stuart Smalley. He would stare in the mirror and say affirmations like,”I’m worth it. I’m an attractive person. People like me.”
Some may connect it to self-pity or weakness, but Lee said research shows people who are more self-compassionate tend to take responsibility for their actions and apologize easier. They don’t ignore their own flaws. Self-compassion helps us bring our shadowy side to the light and love it as equally the other parts of us. It’s an act of courage, she said.
Sound healingNails on a chalkboard will make us cringe. Freddie Mercury hitting a power note in “Bohemian Rhapsody” will send chills up our spine. There is no denying that our bodies are affected by sounds and vibrations, but does it have the ability to stabilize us? Amy Wantulok describes herself as a tuner of bodies. She is a biofield tuning practitioner who uses tuning forks to make sure the body is harmonizing like Simon and Garfunkel.
“You’re basically tuning your body like an instrument, and we are putting you back to a factory reset that you once had,” she said.
The process is based on Eileen McKusick’s research on vibrational sound therapy. Her book, “Tuning the Human Biofield,” offers research in the field. Humans put off electrical energy called the biofield. Incidents such as stress, injury, and trauma are “mapped” on our field and will create noise or static. Wantulok, an ex-hockey player, will strike a tuning fork on a Canadian hockey puck. When the tone falls flat, she can find these disturbances on her client’s biofield map.
“I can physically feel when the fork is going south and you can really hear depression, you can hear sadness. It’s a tone you would associate with those emotions,” Wantulok said.
Wantulok is a musician and plays West African drums. She compares biofield tuning to ancient music such as the didgeridoo or chanting monks, who would put people in trances. The synchronization puts you in a relaxed state and is essentially what the body’s biofield is doing.
“It’s going to find a coherent signal it identifies with and start to imitate it,” she said. “Your body is smart enough. Just like when it’s sick, it sends chemical messengers to go fix it. When it hears there is a discordance in its own electromagnetic field, it’s going to fix it.”
Psychic medium and angel channelerMany of us have experienced a pull to call a friend while not knowing that they are experiencing a crisis, or had an intuition that something is going to happen before the dominoes fall. Whitney Lamb listens to the coincidences and signals in this life, but also communicates with other planes.
“I channel beings from different dimensional realities. I talk with angels. I talk with loved ones who have crossed over,” she said. “I talk to a lot of different things that help people on their path to awakening, to unfolding who they are, even helping them through some of life’s difficulties and challenges.”
After reading “Embraced by the Light” by Betty Eadie when she was 19 years old, Lamb’s life changed. She started reading books and studying angels, and day by day, things began to unfold for her.
“I became a 5-year-old. I turned to my innocence and just believed they were with me,” she said. “Life got more magical. I started watching a lot of serendipitous moments and synchronicities. Things were connected in a way where you just go, ‘That couldn’t have happened,’ but it did.”
Lamb said everyone has angels that love and protect us at all times, and once we begin to trust they are there, they will give us inspiration to help ourselves. She describes them as having warm and humorous personalities. They appear as vibrant, vibrating visions of color, like a fractal, or maybe with a human form. This is unlike the human souls she communicates with during mediumship sessions.
These shape-shifting spirits sometimes show up in their elderly body to let her know how they’ve passed, and they will morph into a form where they felt most like themselves. Lamb said clients see her for mediumship sessions for different reasons – closure, to apologize, or to find out if their loved one is all right.
“The beautiful thing is when souls cross, they see things on a higher perspective – on their roles that they played, the life that they lived, and finally being able to say ‘I’m sorry and I own this.’”
Lamb said she isn’t trying to convince the naysayers, but hopes people take what they learn from their sessions and just roll with it.
“Hopefully, one day, this whole idea of psychic will be normal,” Lamb said. “A lot of people are starting to honor that part of themselves. We are taught at a young age that, ‘That’s silly and you’ll grow out of that. You can’t sit around talking to fairies all day (laughs),’ so it’s squelched.”
Body-centered wisdom You’re a pain in my ass. It was a gut feeling. Heartache. Julie Gentry said it’s no surprise humans associate our emotions to parts of the body through common phrases like these. BodyTalk practitioners use a complex and comprehensive exploratory chart to “listen” to the client’s body, mind, and spirit. They use muscle-checking techniques to access communication disruptions within the body and improve overall well-being.
“BodyTalk is based on the premise that we have innate intelligence (within us) that is so far beyond our thinking mind, so this is a way to access that,” Gentry said. “It brings things to our conscious awareness out of our unconscious.”
The practice was started by John Veltheim, a chiropractor, traditional acupuncturist, philosopher, and Reiki Master after his own health was compromised. The premise of BodyTalk is that humans are designed to be self-healing, but become out of balance due to stress or trauma. The distracting input overload of the modern age makes it easy to neglect silent reflection. By bringing conscious awareness to what’s happening, clients can start to heal.
“It’s harder and harder to tune in and take quiet time,” Gentry said. “A lot of us don’t feel like we have the luxury to meditate or go to therapy.”
Gentry said most first-time clients come in because they are experiencing physical discomfort and later uncover emotional pain that is associated with that area. Gentry said according to Chinese medicine and other ancient practices, different parts of the body are associated with both physiological functions and conscious functions – the lungs are where the body can process grief, and the heart processes joy and sadness.
“Body, mind, and spirit cannot be separated,” she said. “The physical stuff will get us to pay attention.”