What happens to the mind and body during a sound bath?

We live in a vibrational universe. Modern science has proven that everything is always in a state of vibration. From the movements of the planets to the beating of our heart, every atom, cell, tissue, organ, and bone in our bodies is vibrating and that vibration produces sound, whether or not the sound is audible to the human ear. And each of these parts of our body are vibrating at a specific rate, that together creates your own resonant frequency. When you’re in a state of health and vitality, you are actually vibrating at a specific rate. When you become stressed, sick, or simply feel out of balance, your frequency changes, literally causing internal and external dis-harmony. 

It makes sense then that if we are all vibrating with sound, we can use it to promote health in our lives. Through sound, we can change the rhythms of our brain waves, our heartbeat and our respiration affecting our overall health not just on a physical level, but emotionally and spiritually as well. It’s this effect on our health and wellness using sound to regulate the brain waves that I will focus on in this article. 

Brain waves & Neuroplasticity 

It’s a relatively new discovery that in fact, our brains are electrical. It was first published in the British Medical Journal in 1875 and nearly 50 years would pass before the first human EEG (electroencephalogram) was recorded.

There are 5 brain wave frequencies and each correlates with a specific state of consciousness. Like sound frequencies, brain waves are measured in Hz, or cycles per second. In general, the slower the frequency of your brain waves, the more relaxed you feel.

Sound therapy/healing is an effective tool to help regulate and control your brain waves for better health, higher performance, and an overall more positive experience of life.

It’s important to note that due to neuroplasticity, we now know that our brains can be re-wired, including by using sound. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to modify, change, and adapt both structure and function throughout life and in response to experience.

The 5 Brain wave states


Your brain cells generate electricity to communicate with each other and this electrical activity forms patterns called brain waves. They can be measured by electroencephalography (EEG), a non-invasive method of recording electrical activity using sensors on the scalp.

Scientists have found five main patterns of brain waves: alpha, beta, delta, gamma and theta. Each brain wave state corresponds to a different state of awareness as shown below.

Brainwave graph via Muse

Gamma brain waves– Frequency: 32 – 100 Hz

Associated state: Heightened perception, learning, problem-solving tasks

Gamma brainwaves are the fastest measurable EEG brainwaves and have been equated to ‘heightened perception’, or a ‘peak mental state’ when there is simultaneous processing of information from different parts of the brain.

Gamma brainwaves have been observed to be much stronger and more regularly observed in very long-term meditators including Buddhist Monks.

Beta brain waves– Frequency: 13-32 Hz

Associated state: normal alert consciousness, active thinking, and “doing mode”
For example, active conversation, making decisions, solving a problem, focusing on a task, and learning a new concept. We spend most of our time awake daily in this state and they’re easiest to detect when we’re busy thinking actively.

Alpha brain waves– Frequency: 8-13 Hz

Associated state: physically and mentally relaxed
They can also often be found during activities such as: yoga, just before falling asleep and when being creative and artistic. During a sound bath, you will shift first into this state before moving into the theta brain wave state. Alpha brain waves are some of the most easily observed and were the first to be discovered. They become detectable when the eyes are closed and the mind is relaxed.

Theta brain waves– Frequency: 4-8 Hz

Associated state: creativity, insight, deep meditation, healing, reduced consciousness
This is the state where the magic happens and I’m trying to guide people into during my sound baths. Most frequently, theta brainwaves are strongly detectable when we’re dreaming in our sleep (think, the movie Inception), but they can also be seen during deep meditation and daydreaming.

Delta brain waves- Frequency: 0,5-4 Hz

Associated state: deep, dreamless sleep
These are the slowest of all brainwaves and are strongest when we are enjoying restorative sleep in a dreamless state. This is also the state where healing and rejuvenation are stimulated, which is why it’s so crucial to get enough sleep each night.

Brainwave entrainment & Binaural beats

An important discovery in the recent history of neuroscience is the significant differences in brainwave characteristics of highly experienced meditators. Expert meditators not only have different resting-state brainwaves from non-meditators – but they also seem able to control their brainwaves through voluntary thought control with greater ease than others.

Sound therapy is an effective method to “re-train” our brainwaves. This can be achieved in person during a sound bath which uses specific instruments, such as quartz crystal singing bowls, gongs or tuning forks, to entrain the brain waves of participants into the theta range. Or can be done using stereo headphones and a specifically created sound recording.

Binaural beats effectively synchronize & entrain your brainwaves to enhance a specific brainwave pattern. The word binaural means “having or relating to two ears”. Brainwave entrainment happens inside the brain and is caused by a physiological response. Upon hearing two tones of different frequencies – sent simultaneously to the left and right ears through headphones, or with certain instruments – the brain perceives a third tone based on the mathematical difference between the two frequencies. The brain then follows along at the new frequency (5 Hz), producing brainwaves at the same rate as Hertz (Hz). The technical term for this process is ‘frequency following response’.

For example: if a 200 Hz sound frequency is sent to the left ear, and a 205 Hz to the right ear, the brain will process those two frequencies and perceive a new frequency at 5 Hz which is in the Theta range.

Ancient cultures have been doing this for thousands of years. Scientist Melinda Maxfield, Ph.D., conducted research on drumbeats used during rituals of ancient cultures and found that they generally beat at a steady rate of 4.5 beats per second. This consistent beat induces a trance-like state for the tribe, due to the brain shifting into a 4.5 beats-per-second brainwave frequency, which is a low theta brain wave state. 

Entraining your brain waves can be a highly effective method for personal growth by allowing you to change your state whenever you want. 

You can even use Bio or Neurofeedback to try to understand and control your mind and body. According to researchers, with the aid of a machine, you can become aware of your blood pressure and may learn to reduce it. Similarly, if you are shown a real-time EEG (electroencephalograph) that reflects brainwave patterns associated with either attention or relaxation, you may eventually learn to adjust your brainwaves to produce the desired state.

Experiment

To entrain your brain waves into the theta range, try listening to the below spatial audio meditation created by Stacey and her music group End of Time. 4D Theta Meditation YouTube link Here. Headphones recommended. Close your eyes, breathe in deeply, and let the 4D spatial sound bring you into the theta brainwave state.

About Stacey Griffin

Stacey Griffin is a certified sound therapist and meditation teacher based in Amsterdam but originally from Canada. An innovator in the field of sound healing, she’s brought her integrative approach to thousands around the world. From leading conferences and festivals such as SXSW and Wanderlust to corporations such as Calvin Klein & Mercedes, to museums and nightclubs; she believes in the power of sound to heal and transform. Learn more



Have you ever felt there was a life waiting to be lived inside of you? 

We enter this world as a blank canvas, pure energetic beings with no marks upon our psyche nor limits to what we can do, be or imagine. As we grow, we experience and learn how to interact with the world – we learn to walk, talk, and survive in our surroundings, we learn not to get too close to the fire and to look both ways before crossing the street. All necessary limits we must respect and follow to keep us safe on our journey of life. 

Over time, we accumulate many different types of rules and limitations, handed down to us by family, friends, and institutions, we slowly become educated on how we must be to fit into society. These experiences influence our beliefs and form our perspectives, creating our worldview of what is possible.  

“I believe ordinary people can do extraordinary things”
Patricia Stephens Due

The power of belief

At the age of ten, my Year 6 teacher told my parents during a parent/teacher interview that I would struggle in high school. I was falling behind the rest of the class and my grades were slipping. I heard this for the first time on my 21st birthday and by that stage, I had completed my bachelor’s degree in psychology and criminology and had recently received a promotion at work for quickly picking up systems and processes faster than my fellow employees. I was Intelligent, well-read, and articulate. Completely unaware that at any point in time someone would have described me as a struggling student.

My parents had spared me from the knowledge that I was underperforming for my age. This freed me from a belief that had the potential to jeopardise my entire future. I may have never enrolled in pre-university units or applied for university at all. I may have never given myself the chance if I believed I wasn’t smart enough. 

This was one belief I was lucky enough to escape, but there were many others that impacted my life and stopped me from taking chances on what I felt to do in my heart. 

You can’t do that!

No

Be quiet

Sit Still

Do what you’re told

That’s not possible!

Keep dreaming!

That won’t work because ….

I’ve heard it all. Reason after reason of every combination of what is and is not possible. Different perspectives from all types of people. Many living from a place of fear, imposed their limited mindset on my developing mind, telling me why something wouldn’t work or that I should play small to survive. As I grew, I met others with a completely different point of view, they believed the world was full of opportunity and that nothing was off-limits. Both people are right in their own minds, each manifesting their reality based on what they believed. 

Over time, I began questioning my own beliefs and instead started listening to the quiet voice inside me begging me to take a chance on what I loved. I took a deep dive into the unknown, risking failure and ignoring the thoughts in my mind telling me it wouldn’t work. One by one I began to break through my limiting beliefs that had built up over the years and it became clear to me that they were in fact an illusion.  I was more than capable of doing and achieving what my heart wanted to try. I learned to snowboard, and surf, completed a yoga teacher training, danced, and started my own business. There was no limit to what I set my mind to. The only barrier I faced was my belief in what was possible… Beyond this lay my infinite potential to be and to do whatever I wanted. 

Our beliefs are precious and powerful beyond measure

Belief determines what we choose to take a risk on or whether we choose to play it safe. Transformation requires us to empty the beliefs that hold us back and reconnect with the innate wisdom we were born with – that Beyond the limits of learned experience and inherited rules, lies a world full of infinite possibilities. A world where roadblocks shift and move beyond the realm of possibility in unexplainable ways. We owe it to ourselves to explore our beliefs, question their truth, and nurture those that support us in living our best lives. 

What beliefs have stopped you from doing what you love? 

Were you advised that a career in the arts wasn’t sensible, so you never enrolled in that art class? 

Were you told you couldn’t dance or sing when you were only just learning? 

Did failing at school stop you from taking a chance on a business idea or career path? 

What have you not taken a chance on because you believed it wasn’t possible?

It seems easier to play by the rules, to be ‘smart’ and ‘responsible’ as opposed to taking risks on dreams that are abstract and seem like a fantasy. Many people have chosen this path and despite following the rules are sometimes let down by what they were told was the best option, denying the feeling inside of them, ignoring the unlived dream yearning to be seen and heard. 

“You can fail at what you don’t want so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.” –  Jim Carrey

Are you willing to take the other path? The road less traveled leads into the unknown guided by the wisdom that lies within you. Where a completely new way of becoming available to you. Beyond the perimeter of your thoughts, beyond the rules presented to us within society awaits a world where anything is possible. 

I believe many of us have the power to wake up from a limited mindset, that underneath all of it is an innate ability to do and be whatever you want. Whether it’s to Dance, sing, travel, or teach yoga. Extraordinary things lie within us yearning to be expressed and shared. So…… In the times you find yourself alone when it is quiet and still, listen to the wisdom that lies within your heart and ask…. What extraordinary gifts lie waiting within me?

About Chloe Weston

Chloe creates a business vision based on what a person shares with her about what is in their heart. She captures it in writing in a way that truly represents them and speaks directly to their ideal audience to be used for their Website, Blog, Newsletters, or Social Media. She’s a passionate creative entrepreneur who values honest expression and living in harmony with the natural world. Writing, for her, is a creative journey that lights up my world. She loves using it to give conscious and creative entrepreneurs and businesses a voice in order to make the world a better place to be. “My process gives your vision structure, clarity, and an inspiration boost to help you move forward in following your heart. Let’s co-create your conscious business today.”~ says, Chloe.

Chloe Weston Home • Chloe Weston • Conscious Copywriting.

How important is yoga posture alignment, really?

When we practice yoga we often wonder if the poses we are doing are correct, and perhaps wonder why they look differently on us than on others. Yoga teacher Silvia explains what is important in aligning and refining our yoga poses, and also how functionality and aesthetics affect the way we do poses, as well as what our own uniqueness has to do with it.  

Correcting Yoga posture alignment, does it really matter?

When I first started practicing yoga asanas (physical yoga postures), I felt great and liberated, but also at times quite awkward. I felt myself getting stronger, standing up straighter, but also wondered ‘Am I doing this right?’. Some poses didn’t quite click for me,  and in no way looked as great as everyone else’s. Many great teachers have helped me align and improve my asanas, but most of all, have helped me feel into them, understand them in my own body, and express them from the inside out rather than perform the perfect looking poses.

What is yoga pose alignment? It is using your whole body in an integrated way to move it into a specific shape, aligning it correctly in order to hold a pose and gain the most benefit from it. 

A correctly aligned pose will allow you to use the right amount of muscular strength, mobility, and flexibility in your practice. It will help you both in yoga, and also in your life, the way you walk, hold yourself, and your self-confidence and promote general ease and comfort. Probably most importantly, a long-term yoga asana practice will help you be able to sit and meditate for longer periods of time without strain on your back, hips, and neck.

Uniting the body and mind

In class, you hear a teacher’s instructions about where to place your feet, how to hold your spine, where to engage a muscle in your leg, your belly, how to reach through your arms, etc. You are absorbing and translating these instructions into physical action which is creating a pathway each time from your mind to your body, uniting the two. Once you get familiar with this, things start to ‘click’ and make sense. Then the real fun begins – learning to breathe correctly while doing a pose, which is the ultimate ‘alignment’, and the asana’s true expression. It is meditation in movement.

Some insights about Yoga posture alignment:

1. Your body is unique.

Alignment for you might not be the same as for someone else. The build of your joints and proportions of the body vary greatly from person to person. For example, if someone tells you to straighten your arms over your head, straight for you might be very different than straight for someone else. There is only so far your skeleton and musculature will allow you to straighten your arm and this has to do with how your joint is built and bones naturally stack.  Finding the correct amount of effort in straightening to your limit and holding it there, is what your definition of ‘straight’ is. After some time, you might be able to change this and improve your range of motion, strength, and flexibility to a degree. If you were to force straighten your arms beyond your natural capacity, it might realign your spine, and overarch the upper back. Another place you see these differences is simple cross-legged positions, for many people they are very diverse.

If you are interested in learning more about this, you can check out these wonderful short videos by renowned yoga teacher Paul Grilley here and here where he introduces these ideas.

2. Use yoga props.

Blocks, belts, blankets, and chairs, are all wonderful ways to access and explore alignment in poses, even sometimes when you think you don’t need them. They help you learn to use the correct muscles, enter the pose gradually and spare yourself from injury. Check in with your teacher on how to use them.

3. Ask your teacher to break down the most common postures for you and check your alignment. Sun Salutations, warrior poses, backbends forward bends, etc. Ask your teacher to help you find your correct alignment for the most common postures that you do over and over frequently, and some insight about your unique anatomy so you have something concrete to work towards. Getting a few private lessons is a great investment and will make the group classes even more beneficial. If you’re really into it, there are many interesting yoga anatomy workshops out there too.

4. Be aware of ‘doing what feels good.

During our lifetimes we build up movement patterns, some are good and some can be detrimental in the long term. Bad movement patterns can come from sitting, doing exercises incorrectly for a long time, computer usage, old injuries that our bodies had to work around, etc. When we are told to do what feels good in a pose, we sometimes revert to a movement pattern that might feel comfortable in the body at the moment – but is actually furthering a posture or habit that doesn’t help our overall well-being or can even cause injury. Challenging our alignment and changing the way we do a posture in order to correct it might be a hard process and doesn’t always feel good, but that’s ok too. Try not to judge yourself if it’s hard, take it to step by step, and always remember to balance the amount of ease and effort you exert. This is what alignment is all about.

5. Functionality over aesthetic.

We all get inspired by a beautiful yoga pose, with long lines and fluid angles. That’s fine, but not when we lose the connection to our practice because we try to fit our bodies into postures that we are not ready for, or how it looks on someone else. The practice comes from the inside out, we feel inwards, we adjust, we breathe, engage, relax, and all of this combined makes a functional yoga pose. It works for you, and sometimes you will feel the aesthetic beauty too. But it’s not the priority or why we do it. Remember – yoga asana is meditation in movement and just one part of the big picture of our practice.

6. Keep it playful.

Try different things, and diversify your practice. Dare to unaligned and do something totally different, so you can feel the ‘other side of the pose, and then come back to the ‘classic’ alignment. Sometimes poses make sense to the body when you leave it for a totally different angle, and then come back to it. 

Summary

When I first became a  yoga teacher I was a bit too focused on getting everyone to do the yoga poses ‘correctly’, the way that I learned. In the end, it is you, the student, who taught me to let go of that rigidity and to realize alignment can be different for everyone. If we are too obsessed with perfection, that becomes a story the mind easily loops into, which is the exact opposite of what the yoga practice is all about. So, celebrate your own unique anatomy, stay curious and open, and never hesitate to ask your teacher for guidance, but most of all, enjoy the journey.

Hopefully, this is helpful, and always feel free to reach out to me to ask about alignment! This goes for everyone, past students, present students, it is really something I am passionate about. There is nothing like feeling the yoga practice progress and feel more connected, more intimate, and less rigid.

About Silvia

Silvia is a Yoga teacher, physiology enthusiast, and spiritual seeker. She is passionate about making the yoga practice accessible and functional for everyone and helping others find their personal expression with joyful movement.  Read full bio

How To Learn Telling Your Truth Even When It Feels Hard?

Have you ever heard of Satya – the yogic practice of Truthfulness?

Imagine yourself coming home after a nice shopping day. You just spent 300$ on some gorgeous boots and you feel a bit guilty, but hey, it’s been a while since you treated yourself and so what, money needs to flow, right? Your partner watches you unpacking your boots and he or she looks at you with a smile and says, “Oh, these must-haves cost a fortune, right?“. Before you think you hear yourself answer, “Oh no, I got them on sale, they were the last pair and I only paid 100$ for them. Aren’t they gorgeous?” You notice a little iffy feeling inside of you, and wonder why were you not just sharing the truth?

Sounds familiar?

We all do it in some form or another, we cancel dinner dates saying we committed already to something else, when the truth is, we just don’t feel like seeing anybody and rather stay home. These might seem like small lies with little consequences, but what I am getting at is that it’s so much more liberating to learn to speak your truth.

So why are you afraid to tell your truth? 

Every time you don’t speak your truth or honor your needs, you’re not acting with the fullest integrity towards yourself. In the end, how can you fully trust yourself if you’re finding excuses or lying about things here and there? To train your muscle of Self Trust and Confidence you can start by learning to speak your truth. Every time you catch yourself wanting to find an excuse or use a little lie, instead take a deep breath and share what’s really true for you. 

Satya

“In the Vedas and later Sutras, the meaning of the word Satya evolves into an ethical concept about truthfulness and is considered an important virtue. It means being true and consistent with reality in one’s thought, speech, and action.”

The beauty is that when you start sharing your truth from a soft, honest place in your relationships, it will be well received. And it’s like you’re building your muscle of truth as you keep doing it. Starting with the “small stuff”, it feels so liberating, that you will get more courageous to also share your bigger stuff. 

You’ll create more trust in yourself and feel more connected to your own needs. You’ll also practice receiving truth from other people with more softness and less judgment.

The practice of Satya through Dyad

Here’s a great practice, known as Dyad, which totally saved my relationship during Covid Lockdown. We were having a hard time communicating, missing our own space, and were getting into constant little nagging arguments, which we normally don’t do. So we started the practice of Dyad or Sacred Space. Each person gets to share for 10 minutes (times can vary, you can also do a few rounds like 3x 10 minutes each) and while one person speaks, the other only listens. After 10 minutes you say only thank you and switch to the 2nd person. After the 2nd person finishes you either stop or do another round (I love doing this also on retreat, it’s great with people you don’t know so well too). You don’t comment on what the other person said and just let it be spoken and heard. 

What is so great about this?

In my own experience, the practice contributed to deepening my relationship with my partner. I have come to really love Daniel again for the unique person he is. I see how he moves through his day, what he feels, what he thinks about and it’s free of my own lens of judgment or assumptions. I often felt there wasn’t enough space for me in our relationship to say all I wanted to say, yet in this practice often I didn’t know what else to share and had 4 minutes left! So I would consciously think about how I want to spend the next 4 minutes and often use it for gratitude and appreciation towards Daniel or my life. I can only tell you how much it has improved our life and communication. When we were going through this rough time we did the practice daily, these days we do it maybe once a week. Note: It’s not necessary to make it about your relationship, you can use your time to share ANYTHING you like to share. But of course, it also helped us to communicate relationship issues. Just be honest!

Summary

Satya creates harmony, and trust me, those people who are not willing to listen to your truth or let you be who you want to be? Maybe it’s time to shift and create new relationships. But always remember, everything starts with you. Your willingness to speak the truth will encourage others to be honest with you, and wouldn’t you want that?

About Dagmar

Dagmar Spremberg is the founder and director of Montezuma Yoga in Costa Rica. While growing up in Germany all she could envision for herself was a life in the sunshine and under palm trees. After 20 years of soul searching and many detours that let her explore city life in Los Angeles and New York, she found her dream life by the beach in the lush & tropical nature of Costa Rica. Through her own experience, she believes that everybody can live their dreams and that our work is to become clear and open to receiving the gifts we all deserve.

How the Elements Heal Us

So much of the fracturing, I see in my clients, and in the collective, comes from one fundamental illusion: the feeling that we are separate from nature. Ancient cultures all over the world lived in deep reverence for the natural world and saw all of humanity as an interdependent part of the whole. Within this deep respect for plants, animals, the sun, moon, and stars, there was also a deep respect for the elements.  The elements represent us. They represent different aspects of who we are and the gifts we carry. When they are in balance, we are in balance. 

The elements represent us. They represent different aspects of who we are and the gifts we carry. When they are in balance, we are in balance.

Fire

Fire represents the spirit, the flame, and the creative passion we all have. Our fire is our childlike desire to play. It is also our unbridled passion and our tenacious ability to transform what is no longer healthy for us or others. Fire purifies us. The practice of gazing into the flame of a candle in a dark room cleanses our eyes and perhaps, our energetic vision. We work with fire when we want to release something. Fire teaches us that rather than throwing something away, we can surrender it to our Spirit to let it be transformed into something new. 

Water

Water represents our intuition, our receptivity, our openness, and our ability to go through or around anything. Water is our emotional intelligence, our subtle senses, and our imagination. Water supports us by helping us find compassion. Our bodies are over 70% water, and all of life on earth is nourished by water. In ancient times, sacred wells and watering holes were where people gathered to heal themselves. Water teaches us to reflect and see everything around us as a sacred mirror. 

Air

Air is the element of communication. It represents the wind carrying our prayers and hopes to the heavens, our ability to sing and express and clear the air when we seek connection and understanding. Air also represents the intellect, which can support and transmit our creative dreams when it is working in harmony with the other elements. When we stand in a strong wind, we may hear it whisper to us. When we let wind dance all around us, it cleanses us and helps us to let go of what we are grasping. 

Earth

And lastly, the beloved earth is the element of our bodies. It is the element of the plant and animal kingdom, the stone people, and our ancestors. Earth is our fertility, the warm embrace of nutrient-dense soil that protects the seeds that have yet to grow. The earth element helps us to ground our spirit, helps us to slow down, be patient, and listen. The earth element teaches us slow transformation built by maintaining healthy habits. It teaches us creativity and sensuality. The earth is the home of decomposers, mushrooms, and mosses that are thousands of years old. The redwoods and the mountains teach us about the stillness and silence available to us when we know who we are and trust our own wisdom. 

 The earth is our body, the water is our blood. The wind is our breath and the fire is our spirit. When we respect the natural world, it brings us healing. When we respect ourselves, and every element within us, we can become a vessel for healing the natural world, and the spiritual world, and remind ourselves that we are so incredibly connected. 

Conclusions

Perhaps you have an affinity for one element more than another or even a resistance to a specific element. The beautiful thing about the elements is that they are meant to work together. When we balance the elements within us, we find peace. When we have a lot of mental chatter, we can work with the earth by moving our bodies and grounding ourselves by putting our feet on the roots of a tree, and allowing that mental energy to move.  When we have a lot of fire, we can work with the air element by journaling onto paper what our spirit is desiring and wants to transform, or we can cool ourselves with a cup of water we have blessed by holding it in our hands while focusing on who and what we love most in this world. When the water element within us overwhelms us emotionally, we can work with the fire of the Sun to warm us and bring us back up from the depths of our grief. We can also transmute our feelings with the element of air by singing a song.

You see, we are the elements. The earth is our body, the water is our blood. The wind is our breath and the fire is our spirit. When we respect the natural world, it brings us healing. When we respect ourselves, and every element within us, we can become a vessel for healing the natural world, the spiritual world, and remind ourselves that we are so incredibly connected. 

One of the simplest ways to begin to connect to the elements is to prepare a ritual bath. To inspire you, here is a bath from my book, Ritual Baths.


I Am Nature Ritual Bath

When we talk about getting grounded, what we are really talking about is returning to the source, returning to the truth of where we come from, returning to the earth. This bath is designed to help us remember the truth of who we are. Follow this bath with a walk outside. If there are certain ingredients that you do not have on hand, don’t worry. Your intention is the most powerful part of this ritual. 

Ingredients

  • Red clay, mixed with bentonite clay and Graviola powder, nettle leaf powder, or matcha
  • 1 cup black lava salt
  • 1 cup pink rose petals
  • 1 bunch of fresh rosemary
  • 10 drops each of rose and rosemary essential oils
  • All of your non-water-soluble crystals

Ritual

Mix clay and plant powders with spring water to create a thick paste. Cover your body head to toe with the mixture. If you have the luxury, go outside naked, covered in the mixture. Stand in the sun. When the paste begins to dry, rub it off your body. It will create a fine, very exfoliating dust. Notice how grounding and awakening this practice is. If you cannot go outside naked and covered in green mud because your neighbors will be convinced that the zombie apocalypse is here, then prepare your bath while you’re letting the mixture dry. Place all the other ingredients in the bath at a temperature of your choosing.

Light a candle. Create a smudge using white sage by putting it in a nonflammable tray of some kind and igniting it. Waft the smoke around your body using a feather you have found. Step into the bath and dunk your head underwater. Place the crystals on your body wherever your intuition is guided to place them. Sing this song (original author unknown):

Earth my body. Water my blood. Wind my breath. And fire my spirit.

Take ten deep, grounding breaths. Sit and soak in the medicine you’ve created.

Summary:

  • Fire represents the spirit, the flame, and the creative passion we all have.
  • Water represents our intuition, our receptivity, our openness, and our ability to go through or around anything. 
  • Air is the element of communication. It represents the wind carrying our prayers and hopes to the heavens, our ability to sing and express and clear the air when we seek connection and understanding.
  • Earth is the element of our bodies. It is the element of the plant and animal kingdom, the stone people, and our ancestors.

About Deborah:

Deborah Hanekamp aka Mama Medicine is a *Seeress carrying over 16yrs in the healing arts as an Initiated Amazonian Shaman, Reiki Master, and Yogini. Guided by the present moment, Deborah has facilitated Medicine Readings and Medicine Reading Ceremonies all over the world. Her work has been featured in Vogue, New York Times & Marie Claire Magazine

Mandali Paradise- Poem 

This poem is dedicated to my wife Verena and daughter Hanna, who inspired me on this journey; to our fantastic teachers Silva, Mario, Steve, and Daniel, who opened new windows in my life; to the wonderful Mandali team around Prema, who created a unique place to find inner peace; and to every wonderful person of the Mandali Retreat from March 25-27, 2022, who allowed for this lifetime experience.  

If my soul could found deep ground, 

where everything begins, 

the source from which everything springs, 

It could find it here: Mandali 

If my searching spirit 

could arrive at its destiny, 

Where everything comes to rest 

and is simple in silent harmony, 

Then it would arrive here: Mandali 

If my heart could find a place where it unite forever 

With you, the flowers, the trees, the bees, 

The stars and the All, 

Then here: Mandali 

If I dream of a place 

Where woman and man 

unfold humanity and love to full blossom, 

to feel sympathy for every creature 

living together with mindfullness in joy and peace, 

I dream of you: Mandali 

But we are travelers of life, 

its steps don’t know any beginning, 

We shall pass cheerfully through room after room 

To none as to a home cling, 

The spirit of the world 

does not want to bind and limit us, 

He wants to lift us step by step, to widen us. 

But for a moment of eternity, 

We become one, arrive at the ground, 

Find the spring and the real meaning of life. 

For a moment we dive in, 

newly born we dissolve to infinity — 

and a radiant breath of enlightenment 

falls onto our lives, 

Through you, Mandali, 

And on the magic of every beginning, 

That protects us and helps us to live.

About Burkhard

Burkhard loves to write since a teenager. To him, language is one of the most fascinating phenomena and the key to our consciousness and mind. Burkhard is at the age of 58, German, a proud father of four children, and happily married to his wife Verena. Besides writing, he loves gardening, music, cooking, running – and for a few months yoga and meditation. Professionally he works for the Swiss industrial technology group Bühler and leads the Corporate Communications department.

Five Steps to the Present Moment

You’ve probably heard that in order to arrive at a state of inner peace and deep relaxation, first, you have to connect fully to the present moment, the ‘here and now’. That’s why I like to call meditation the Practice of Presence. There are various techniques to connect to the present moment and to exercise your ‘silent muscles’. If you’ve experienced meditation with me, you will know that I don’t follow any specific concept or religion… Yet the basic steps to meditation are similar to most of the approaches I’ve explored. Let me introduce these steps to you with a little guidance. I trust this will support you in your practice!

Loving Kindness towards yourself: 

So often we are tied to complaints from our inner critic, who push us to do more, to be better or more efficient… Nothing wrong with self-development and growth, but we have to remember that in order to evolve, we need the fuel, the positive energy, which arises from self-love and appreciation. Adopt an attitude of gentle loving-kindness towards yourself. Breath it into your heart and let it be the main signpost in all stages of your meditation (actually, in your daily life too!). 

‘I am aware that every moment of my life, I am doing the very best I can. I am enough – exactly as I am.’

Acceptance:  

Acceptance in meditation means to be connected to whatsoever is going on in this moment – within as well as around you. Your thoughts, feelings, the situation, even the possible restlessness or rushing thoughts often arise at the start of your meditation practice. 

I am not implying that you should become a doormat for people, events, or circumstances in your daily life. Having healthy boundaries is essential for our life in this world.

For your meditation, however, I simply invite you to accept ‘what is’ authentic in you and to embrace it completely. The following steps will help you to expand this state. 

‘God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.’ 

R. Niebuhr

Relaxation: 

Your mind, body, emotions, and spirit are interconnected. When you get tense or stressed, it makes it hard to think clearly and it is difficult to connect to a meditative space. When you start relaxing your body, the mind and emotions will naturally follow. You can become more grounded by focusing on the rhythm of your breathing so it becomes regular. Additionally, you can do a body scan and gently invite each part of your body to relax and soften. You may notice that as your body relaxes, your mind becomes less frantic, less harsh, softer. Thoughts may still be there but now you may notice there is a certain distance created. 

“As the body relaxes, the mind clears, the heart opens and there is a merging of body and soul, like a wave collapsing into the ocean.”

Non-Judgment:  

In the context of meditation practice, I perceive non-judgment as ‘letting go of any labeling or signposting’. Again, it touches all parts of our Being. ‘I should not think when I meditate’… ‘I should not feel restless.’ … or dividing emotions as ‘good or bad’… these are just some examples of judging which you may encounter within your practice. In meditation, you can let all these labels go. What matters is to observe what is going on within and around you in its full authenticity – without actively engaging, resisting, or fiddling with it. 

“With non-judgment, there is no division. When each part of you is lovingly embraced, integrity, wholeness, and transformation arise.”

Awareness: 

This quality is sometimes referred to as the ‘observer’ or ‘watcher’. It is the part of you that is simply AWARE. Metaphorically, you can imagine this space like the center of a hurricane – the calm, still, silent part of you which is calmly observing the context of your experience, here and now – your emotions, thoughts, body sensations, or the situation around you. By resting in your observer, you are connecting to your very core – the nourishing source of your inner peace, harmony, and creativity. The unique beauty of your Essence.

‘Above the clouds of the mind, there is a clear blue sky. I will meet you there.’

Self Love, Acceptance, Relaxation, Non-Judgment, and Awareness. These are proven practical steps to help you to sink into the nourishing space within you. They are interconnected, so even if here they are described as ‘steps’, it does not necessarily mean you have to practice them in this order. One element flows into the other, like the waves of the ocean that merge into and complement one another. Their common purpose is to bring you to your ‘inner home’. A warm space filled with a deep peace and satisfaction that comes from simply being present. 

From here, you can respond to life in a relaxed, healthy, and resourceful way.

With love,

Peter

Peter Harper is an experienced spiritual guide with more than 30 years of experience in meditation guidance and self-discovery retreats. Peter is the founder of The Drunken Monk Conscious Living project connecting spirituality with daily life.

Want Peace? Embrace The Conflict.

Want Peace? Embrace The Conflict.

The paradox of the compassionate heart

A Tibetan monk, who had spent more than 18 years in a Chinese prison labour camp, told the Dalai Lama that on a few occasions he really faced some danger. So, he asked him, ‘What danger? What kind of danger?’, thinking he would tell him of Chinese torture and prison. The monk replied, ‘Many times I was in danger of losing compassion for the Chinese.’

The recent war in Ukraine reminds me of one thing. We are in danger, in danger of ourselves. When I look around, I notice that people are angry, afraid, and feel powerless. And rightly so, but with whom are we angry, who are we afraid of and why do we feel disempowered? 

At the heart of the problem lies our denial as a species that we are not just aware, loving, and caring beings but we have the potential to be killers as well. The spectrum of what the human being is capable of is vast; on one end we can love unconditionally and on the other end we can kill and destroy cold-heartedly for our own benefit. Now, this is the part of us that we don’t like being reminded of; our dark side or the shadow as Carl Jung called it. Our unloved Self is too shameful, painful, or traumatic to bring into the light and acknowledge. Acknowledge that this is part of who we are, what we have done, what we have created.

And by that very suppression of our dark side over years, decades and centuries, individually and collectively, we have created a massive polarised energetic charge that continues to infuse conflict in ourselves and thereby the world around us. Just like any pressure, that charge seeks expression. And this is what we see in and around us all the time; an excess charge that is trying to find a way out.

As long as we keep coming into action from that old unresolved business, we will have more of that pain and suffering again. This is no rocket science. Well actually it is…quantum physics shows us over and over again that we create our reality on a moment-by-moment basis based on the thoughts, beliefs, and preferences we’ve subscribed to in the past. So, if we hold a tense and contracted state of reality in ourselves, we will see that same reality manifest around us. We are co-creative beings of our reality, not victims to it. 

As much as we would like it to all just go away, we have to deal with the mess we created. But it won’t if we keep coming from the same principles we applied to live in the past. Einstein reminded us of this when he said that we can’t solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.

And apart from the same thinking, it might not even be thinking at all that is going to get us out of the woods. It could very well be that the thinking mind is never going to get us to the place where sensible solutions to problems can present themselves: the present moment. And it can’t because the job description of the thinking mind is to seek, to go out on a quest to find something other than ‘this’. ‘This’ is the very moment in which life manifests as it does. And that manifestation is all-inclusive, not just peace and harmony but also conflict, pain, fear, and all other aspects of life.

Now we may want to ask ourselves if this is a problem. I have come to see that we don’t suffer from being afraid but from our inability and resistance to consciously experience that fear. Our judgment, fear, and denial of that which life presents and our immediate need to fix it creates the very charge we hold on to as stress and which we keep feeding back into the system, thereby perpetuating conflict.

In my belief and experience, the solution to this can come from our compassionate hearts. Contrary to the thinking mind our compassionate heart has the ability to experience all aspects of life freely in all its intensity without knowing or understanding. At the same time, the compassionate heart has the ability to let that experience be without personalizing or needing to fix it.

In this sense, compassion exposes the illusion that what happens in this very moment is personal and needs fixing. It is simply how life unfolds. True compassion ends the personal drama and sees life as it really is; a free fall of endless possibilities. 

The union of compassion and being aware of how life is now having an immediate and noticeable energetic effect. It will release the old charges and prevent them from building up again. The effect of us holding less charge from the past is that we no longer project it into the reality of tomorrow. 

If we apply this principle to war, for example, we have to make an entirely irrational step in how we have dealt with this before. We now need to consciously move towards something that we previously tried so hard to run away from. And rather than fix it we now let it be. We can see it for what it really is; an aspect of life that has come into manifestation. Letting war be, does not mean approving of war or condoning it. That is what your mind will tell you in facing the compassionate embrace, which instantly ends the story it wants to keep going so badly.

What happens is simply astonishing. We will lose charge around our perception of war. And by no longer holding that charge in us we don’t feed it into the reality we manifest in and around us. When more and more people practice this and thereby end their contribution to the conflict, we literally disempower the war. Not by fighting it, opposing it, or trying to fix it but by embracing war as part of life as it could potentially manifest.

This is a much more aware and realistic approach to living. We need to get real, wake up. Life is not just a fluffy cloud of pink marshmallows; it is a living system of endless diversity and potential. What part of that potential comes to life is up to us. The first step is to take responsibility and deal with our creations from the past in a conscious way by no longer giving them energy. Denying it or running away from it didn’t get us anywhere. Neither did peace demonstrations. Taking sides only leads to more polarisation, energising the very things we wanted to put an end to. Noticing the present moment in an aware state and embracing that which presents ends the unconscious re-creation of the past and gives way to a much more harmonic principle that is no longer based on our personal limitations that come from fear, greed, and ignorance.

When we move out of a contracted state of being we come into the flow. A natural state of energy, which moves into directions that benefits all of nature. The actions and decisions we then make come out of clarity and awareness and have quite a different outcome than the ones we used to make from our contracted states of being.

We can no longer exclude the parts of life we don’t like or want and thereby polarise and charge them. We need to learn to embrace the diversity of life and experience it without reservations, including the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Does this mean we will never be angry again, that there won’t be any fights? It is a romantic idea but completely unrealistic. Trying to achieve that would be missing the point here. Look at life, it is everything. Making ourselves consciously available to all of it allows us to experience its endless diversity and intensity, without being a victim to it any longer. I believe it is the only way to freedom and peace. 

A Tibetan monk, who had spent more than 18 years in a Chinese prison labour camp, told the Dalai Lama that on a few occasions he really faced some danger. So, he asked him, ‘What danger? What kind of danger?’, thinking he would tell him of Chinese torture and prison. The monk replied, ‘Many times I was in danger of losing compassion for the Chinese.’

How to connect with your body?

When we talk about body-oriented work or somatic work we intend to focus on the connection between body and mind. We believe that the relationship with ourselves, with others, and the world around us is strongly conditioned by this connection. One of the basic elements of this approach is that the person experiences itself not only in the mind but above all through physical sensations and feelings. We can consider this a “bottom-up” approach because it starts from exploring the physical and emotional perceived and then subsequently access the processing of the mental arena.

Essential concepts of this work:

• Body, mind, and emotions are always in interaction. We can consider them three intelligences that influence each other.

• The body can be a guiding tool in inner growth.

• Physical sensations, emotions, images, thoughts, or reasonings can represent a map through which the person in this approach can get to know him/herself.

• The body through its posture and the tonicity, tensions, or stiffness represents an armor that defines either a physical structure or a character structure that is correlated. 

• The person is animated by energies (mental, emotional, and physical). The well-being of the person lies in the natural flow of energy loading and unloading. When the natural flow comes disturbed, interrupted, or altered, one can experience physical, emotional, and relational stress or dysfunctions.

• The body records and maintains memories of lived experiences including traumatic ones. When these experiences are not integrated and processed, they are created, physical blocks, held emotions, physical dysfunctions, and relational dysfunctions.

How does the method used in Feel Free work?

In both individual and group meetings, the person who wants to work on a topic starts by exposing it. During the exposure work, we try to bring attention to what is happening in the present moment and in the body. In observing the body, the person is asked to: slow down, avoid getting lost in a long description of its history and draw attention to any physiological changes caused by tensions, contractions, or sensations of release or expansion during sharing.

The intent is to accompany the person in an exploration of himself, of the held emotions, of his physical state, of the awareness of the body-mind connection. This exploration is intended to support restoring a greater sense of inner expansion and well-being.

Depending on the physical and character structure of the person and on the theme expressed, the work may be accompanied by body movements, breathing exercises, listening exercises, physical sensations, interior dialogue, and the meanings attributed to one’s own experience. The proposed work is carried out based on the person and what they can contain and process.

The techniques, exercises, and work methodologies used within the session can be different: from Gestalt therapy to Core Energetics work, to the techniques used in somatic experiencing, to the use of conscious breathing, mindfulness, and meditation. 

Who can this experience help?

In this holistic view of the person, physical or mental discomforts or disorders are considered on the same level of importance. Many of the issues of emotional distress have somatization in the body and acting on the body, they can be transformed into an experience of well-being for the person who does the work of inner growth.

Often chronic pain, insomnia, poor digestion, physical and mental fatigue, apathy, anxiety, the difficulty in creating satisfying and healthy relationships, are all signs of discomfort or trauma not yet completely elaborate and could benefit from somatic work.

What benefits can this work bring?

This work helps people to be more present in themselves and more aware of it. Thoughts, physical and emotional sensations, and our behaviors are all connected. It allows us to move more easily from a state of emotional disturbance to a state of greater inner stability. When we work on traumatic past episodes it allows us to manage the sense of emotional overwhelm and to re-establish the state of stillness and centeredness more easily. Increase our resilience and ability to tolerate the complexity of daily challenges. It increases the sense of inner security, creating greater confidence in oneself and in life.

Spiritual Activism: Being Mindful In Deep Connection

In this time we are living in, there are many changes happening around us, some are very positive. The world is becoming smaller and we are all seeing very clearly that we are part of a global family. This is a positive thing as the old divisions are becoming increasingly irrelevant and we can have the opportunity to treat the whole planet as one living organism. On the other hand, we are on a very dangerous slide to complete environmental collapse as global warming and environmental destruction are increasing every day and governments are doing very little to make real change.

“It’s my conviction that we cannot change the world if we’re not able to change our way of thinking, our consciousness. Collective change in our way of thinking and seeing things is crucial. Without it, we cannot expect the world to change. Collective awakening is made of individual awakening. You have to wake yourself up first, and then those around you have a chance.”

Thich Nhat Hanh: “Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet”

First, we need to look very carefully at the source of all the problems we are facing today. How can we really solve a problem unless we find the real source? Otherwise, we are not uprooting the difficulties at their source and they will keep coming back again and again. Everything around us in the human realm has been created by our minds. Our cities, the internet, our country borders everything we have developed by the power of human consciousness. So many positive things have come and also many destructive things have come from this powerful human mind. So the solution to our problems must also come from our minds. How can we hope to eliminate the greed that destroys the amazon, the hatred that creates division and wars, and the ignorance leading to apathy so that nothing changes, if our mind is full of greed, hatred, and ignorance?

Real spiritual activism starts with ourselves. And from there it will spread outward to change the world

If we try to make an external change coming from an angry or fearful mind then our minds are burned first and then enemies are created, and the whole divisions of right and wrong start appearing. Suspicion and paranoia start to invade our minds and we see the governments or secret societies are out to enslave us or so many other fears can start to appear. The angry mind is not clear, it doesn’t make the right decisions and anger only creates more anger in ourselves and others.

If we try to make an external change with a greedy, self-obsessed mind then everything is seen only in relation to what benefits our personal ideas, not reality as it is. Again paranoia appears and we are caught in the trap of trying to protect what is ours, our country, our family, our livelihood, instead of seeing the interconnectedness of everything we only see through our paranoid lens of self-absorption fuelled by fear and insecurity.

If we are simply ignoring the situation, not taking action, pretending that these problems we are facing will just go away on their own, and we continue to avoid looking, feeling the enormous problems we are facing today, then we are really down a dangerous path. The human mind is an expert at fabricating reality and not so good at seeing things as they are. Especially if action is needed that will upset the comfort or security of the individual.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

There are no easy solutions to the problems we face internally and externally, but we can start with our own minds. We can see when actions are motivated by anger or fear and step back until clarity arises, then take action if needed. We can see when our minds are dominated by greed and we can create some space to feel the interconnection of all things, until clarity arises, then take action if needed. We can see our lazy comfort mind that pretends things are ok when the house is on fire, and wake it up. Clarity will come and we can take action if needed.

The awakening of clarity is the key to real solutions, and how we get clarity is through mindfulness.

A practice in mindfulness to develop clarity

Mindfulness practice is at the heart of Buddhist spiritual practice, essentially mindfulness means to be present and not be distracted. The whole heart of effective spiritual activism rides on our mindfulness. It is a practice in the sense that we have to be interested first of all in waking up from our anger, greed, and dullness, then we will automatically start to bring our attention to our lives in a mindful, deeper way. The best way to develop mindfulness is to put your full attention on the present moment. Whatever you are doing, do it in a mindful way. For instance: we may be eating a sandwich for lunch and instead of being completely there, tasting the sandwich, we may be talking with someone, scrolling through social media, or just lost in our heads. The moment has been lost, and in a real sense, if we are distracted in this way most of the time our whole life is lost. Our life exists in the present moment, not in a distracted mind running into the future or past.

So the simple practice is: when you are eating your meals, just be completely present with each moment. Eat mindfully.

Start with this and then move into other things in your life, like washing the dishes, cleaning the house, or working on the computer. Be mindful of each moment. But start with the small things, like eating. Let your mindfulness expand to your whole life, then it will move beyond you into your family, your town, your country, and the whole world. Imagine if everybody on the planet was interested in being mindful! What a different world this would be.

May all beings be mindful and loving.

Namaste

Kevin Sahaj

“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.”

John Lennon

About Kevin Sahaj:

Kevin Sahaj is a dedicated yoga practitioner who has been studying and practicing yoga for 30 years. His approach to teaching is eclectic and draws from many different methods and teachings to help students align their lives towards awakening. His focus is to offer the right method for the individual according to their needs and aspirations. He is the life partner of Katiza Satya and together they are leading the Delight Yoga Teacher training and offering guidance in the spiritual direction of the school.