Siva Sankalpa Suktam

 

Siva Sankalpa Suktam

Link Here to the PDF: shivasankalpa

The Shiva Sankalpa Sukta is a powerful six-verse hymn from the Rig Veda that entreats the mind “to dwell on the auspicious will of the Divine,” and helps cultivate conscious resolve in alignment with one’s purpose and most benevolent life.

 

The Siva Sankalpa Suktam comes from the Yajur Veda and is a Mantra or Vow (vrata) for developing calm clear thoughts, alignment to dharmic living and for strengthening resolve. It also powerfully rewires the brain and nourishes the subtle tissues to be more in harmony with the light of one’s Soul and one’s unique purpose in the Web of Nature. When we are lost, confused, in doubt, fear or despair…this mantra is a beautiful balm. 

Shiva means: auspicious; meditative; Godly; divine mind; benevolent; beneficent. Sankalpa is resolve. 

Swami Veda Bharati of the Himalayan Sage Tradition taught that the entire 6 verse Mantra could be remembered in its last phrase,

Tan me manaha siva sankalpam astu

and that this phrase especially, is very useful during the day when in a pause, rest or transition from one thing to the next. It is also best chanted before bedtime, as in sleep our minds return from “traveling far and wide (with the senses), back to the peace, the innermost dweller, the light of the Soul (Vs 1). Much healing & refinement of the mind can occur in our sleeping hours after chanting this ancient prayer. Not only does it harnesses thoughts and brings them into one pointed focus, but cultivates a sattvic mind (purity, harmony) and strengthens one’s relationship to their mind.

This Mantra/vow also is a powerful aid in supporting one’s practice, or sadhana because it is the will that gets us onto our cushion or mat and once there, a pure, focused and clear mind to reach that juicy nectar of “the perfect practice” “the most delicious meditation” or…samadhi.

This Mantra is also a prayer. It is praying to the subtle tissues of the mind and the deity of Mind for organization, benevolence and resolve. In this prayer one invokes alignment to dharmic living instead of being caught in the swirl of adharmic living (Vs. 2) “This is a prayer for the mind’s purification & pacification

 

The fact that SSS creates a strong relationship between the practitioner and his/her own mind is very important for advanced tantric practices such as the Rudra Yaga, a powerful fire ritual that invokes the forces of Nature for deeply powerful karmic healing & transformation. If you wish to learn more about this connection, check out this article by Rolf Sovic: Fire Ritual: Awaken the Subtle Forces of Life.

How SSS Relates to the Yoga Sutras

A teaching from the yoga sutras is that without an organized, clear mind, life is challenging, confusing, distracting and perceived in pieces. The “reality” is broken into bits and we feel lost confused disconnected from our source. The ancients teach that the subtle power of mind is necessary to be in alignment with our soul and hearts desire in order to be happy and fulfilled. Sankalpa shakti is the power of will/resolve that is more subtle than mind but as such is also more capable (powerful when accessed) of being  able to direct the mind. Setting intentions, setting goals, persevering… create a strength that harnesses a focus of the mind stuff… The vrittis. This mantra is our ally in doing that. (Bs from reading  Panditji’s intro & also a teaching from Swami Rama)

Cool Supportive Facts:

According to Swami Rama, the ancient forest dweller yogis did not have the same access to the variety of physical objects traditionally used for rituals. “Their way of worship was symbolic and internal, so were their methods of meditation. Their methods of worship were lifted to the mental level and then finally, to the spiritual level.” -SR Wisdom of the Ancient Sages

Resources:

Swami Veda Bharati Articles

Ashram Manual from AHYMSA

Jon Janaka (PDF translation)

4 Remedies to Transform Negative Election Vibes

Here are 4 helpful allies & remedies for fear and challenges that may be supportive for you or someone you love right now. I am working on a Survivalist’s Guide to the Flowers, which should be ready soon and will focus on community healing, moving through despair and activating self empowerment. This post is just a tiny piece, addressing mainly fear. What we are dealing with right now is not all about fear though, so I don’t want to stress fears although I want to address the fears. I think a more well rounded repertory or “guide” for our current socio-political situation will be very beneficial…so, coming soon:)
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For Fear & Terror:

Mimulus:

“Extreme apprehension for new thresholds of experience.”

Is your stomach tying up in knots of fear or do you have an inability to shake the looming, heavy nature fear is bringing into your mind and heart? This one is a favorite of mine, having fittingly met it in ‘real life’ for the first time growing all along the edges of the American River’s “Tunnel Shoot,” a man made rapid (from explosives in the the 1800s Gold Mining times) that causes an upswing of fear due to the intense rapids, sharp edges of the river bed and the possibility you may fall in and get swept under the tunnel….the very essence of fear.

The plants always appear where they are needed most and this one is a great one to alleviate fears due to circumstances we can see or not foresee. The coolest thing is it is a yellow Monkeyflower, with sweet little red freckles. Cute & powerful! And I have to say here…you as an adult may or may not have processed yours (and others) fears, but don’t forget your children. Many of the children I know are in acute distress right now. Flower Essences work magic on helping our children process big emotions and Mimulus is a great ally for the kiddos. Remedies that support Mimulus are Chamomile Flower Essence (which has the profile of “stomach tense with emotion”) and one of my classical favorites, Walnut (which offers a loving “shell” or womb while dealing with any kind of physical or emotional transition.)

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Rock Rose:

This is a remedy best for extreme situations that call for extreme measures. Many people I know already have PTSD and are receiving really upsetting news and stories post elections. Rock Rose, one of the key ingredients in the classic Rescue Remedy formula (of which would be handy for many folks to have now too) offers peace & resolution in the face of fear & terror….that kind that paralyzes someone when facing death or annihilation (or extreeeeeeeme loss). Typically this is used after an experience (such as a violent act, traumatic accident, rape or abuse) so horrible we have to “check out” as a survival mode, but if you have a past trauma in your tissues, the current events can trigger “episodes.” This remedy is for that kind of situation and is great for children of parents who have suffered trauma, as they often pick up the trauma like little sponges.

It may be a good thing to note that if you are experiencing any anxiety, insomnia, heart palpitations, nausea, depression etc..contemplate the possibility that you are holding fear and it has travelled into your nervous system and tissues. You may need assistance in releasing the emotional charge. Don’t underestimate the power of the flowers and the intelligence of the body. Your body will speak up. The flowers will support. I know personally that although I feel mentally I can take on a lot—such as really horrible news or stress–my body tells me differently and is a wonderful “talker” such as my heart begins to feel weak or do little flip flops (like when I found out the final news of the elections), I forget to fully exhale and my sleep becomes disturbed. This kind of somatic response is what shows up when trauma hasn’t left body memory. Most of our human race has experienced trauma. So, as one of the original Bach flower essences, this baby has had half a century of use and can continue to support us as it is not only powerful, but gentle. And like with all flower essences, great for all ages. Rock Rose goes great with Star of Bethlehem (for trauma…ever…in life),  Dandelion (for tension built up in the musculature) and Elm (for dealing with overwhelming situations.

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Penstemon:

“Penstemon has enormous strengthening powers, enabling the soul to tap into reservoirs of courage and resilience which are normally inaccessible to the human consciousness.”  This one I fear, is going to be needed a lot in the next few years. Keep a watch out on your community….virtual and land based. Look out to see, possibly someone you know could use Penstemon as an ally in their life. Do you have any friends that are in acute fear and challenge right now? Or people you know that have had incredibly hard life experiences? LGBT community? Immigrants? Blacks? Women? Folks whose innocence, trust, love, security, etc…have been taken away by another or by life? Serious blows such as truly unfair life circumstances & harsh situations leave people pigeonholed into negativity & the feeling that all they will know is suffering & getting the short end of the stick. The ability to persevere and to learn how to trust again is offered a boost with this flower essence, especially helping to transform those who have victim mentality into seeing that their intense struggle can be a stepping stone to powerful soul growth. This is definitely needed for good action and positive change and these flower essences work like a shrink in a bottle. Good Medicine. A wonderful ally for this plant is Scotch Broom. Scotch Broom is an ancient Celtic protection plant that invokes a strong fire of action when in the pit of world despair. More to come on this plant soon, as I feel it to be Very Fitting to our Current Needs.

Red Clover

The last one I will mention here right now (look for the full guide soon) is for helping people find their own stability, opinion & centeredness (calm mind) while in collective fear. Many folks I know are empaths, and having just returned from Japan, where there is more community mentality than individualized mentality makes me truly see how connected we are, and how dangerous one strong sweeping emotion can be to a community. In the Japanese chapter of the Flower Essence Society, there are case studies of red clover, yarrow and other flower essences helped to heal the nation’s distress, by cleansing the fear & helping release built up emotions from the Japanese’s psyche after a massive earthquake. See Here for link. This same approach can be really useful with families of immigrants, blacks, LGBT who are sensitive enough to feel and love each other so much that they pick up and fuel one another’s fears. This remedy (especially with Yarrow, which not only promotes a feeling of protection but helps one access their warrior Self within) is a great one to bring up and pass along….so again, please share. I will also add that there are a number of Yarrows that are powerful for emotions & boundaries, and perhaps the best to work with with Red Clover would be Pink Yarrow (for the empath that can’t separate their own feelings from another’s) White Yarrow (for that psychic protection and warrior strength) and Golden Yarrow (for the artist/musician needing to numb down and protect with drugs due to picking up everyone else’s emotions.)
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If you or someone you know needs help, I hope you can find solace in the flowers. May they continue to bring Grace, Healing and Light to our lives.
The quotes above are from flower essence diva Patricia Kaminski, psychologist & founder of the Flower Essence Society. Camille, my new assistant & I can make some up for you if you wish to purchase in our store, as single essences or blends. Just go to the menu & check out with a note of which essence(s) you would like. You can also find flower essences at a local health food stores or Co-Ops. Email if you do not know how to use them or would like more info about them. If you also just want to pass this info along, please do so.
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Energy Mastery Training Level I

Anji Energy Mastery, Level One Energy healing for wholeness, awakening and activation of the divinity that dwells within.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday November 4-6. Friday 10-3, Sat/Sun 10-5. $200. Open to 10.
 
We begin the weekend with Reiki style empowerment. This is a turning on and turning up of the healing force that exists within you and in the universe. We continue with hands on healing protocols that will work with: awakening of fulfillment (an essential step for those on the path of self realization!), alignment with soul purpose, past life resolution, and a connection to ancestral imprinting that will bring the entire family lineage (as well as the student) to Avatar Consciousness. This very potent weekend will culminate with an activation of hitherto unknown aspects of the energy body that relate to universal service.
Contact Daisy to Register:

Daisy
828-460-3872

Plant Initiations

by Brooke Sullivan

It is my belief that our plant allies mirror and support the human condition. The main difference is their soft spoken, immobile (planted) nature and selfless action. I also wonder truly, are they selfless? More than humans, that is for sure. Flowers are the plant’s full expression when nurtured in such a way that the highest, most complete aspect of its Self can blossom. I see that they are unique like us with particular purpose and unique shaktis (powers) specific to their nature, habitat, growth pattern and relations. As humans we also have a purpose that we came in with (SvaDharma) and patterns unique to us determined by our environment, tendencies, conscious and subconscious desires. The point I wish to share in this moment though, is that I truly feel in our symbiotic relationship we have to our green allies, it is our consciousness, as we awaken into our highest nature, that mirrors the flowering blooms of plants. And it is the flowering bloom of the plants, that can help us awaken our consciousness!

When I was in Midwifery School we were blessed to be trained by an elder rich in creative initiations. Not a typical school, the House of La Matrona and the beloved teacher/director Whapio was a center of Spiritual Emergence, Empowerment and Supportive Life Rituals. She made us think, question, reveal and become vulnerable. She taught us to sit on our hands and trust the divine as much as to speak our voice to wield like the cutting edge of a sword. My newfound spirituality, connection to community and this rugged path of the healer was like a new born baby swaddled in the center of life’s potential. We had the ability to recreate ourselves, to detangle from old preconceptions and to grab and rip apart the self deprecation that had gripped most of us women. Our teacher, our guide, our midwife… was Granny Raking Bones as much as the White Buffalo Woman and She Who Sits On Her Hands. She taught me, with the wings of the ancient owl leading, how to access my power as a woman, healer, yogini and spiritual midwife. With her wise initiations, this potent, living teacher helped us to break free from our cocoons and emerge newly with fresh eyes, fresh energy and best of all, a fresh start.

It hit me strongly after my meditation today, that this is also the medicine of the flowers. They are catalysts for initiation…into one’s psyche, and for growth in the world. Dr. Edward Bach, the founder of our current flower essence therapy system, taught that by taking a flower essence, or the dew drops collected from the leaves or petals of a blooming plant, we take in their positive virtues. This potent force of energy, a positive light of awareness, when ingested, can rattle our predetermined beliefs to help us shift direction-broaden perspective-see things In A New Light. The Flowers are initiatory by Nature and as a part of Nature, when working with a particular plant, Nature (Prakriti) assists the plant and our Highest Self to activate an awakening. The Divine Essence shines light on our psyche and opens doorways that have been previously closed, helping us to meet challenges with courage, grace and awareness. These plant initiations are a sweet ceremonial fire that let our past go so we can actively take the reigns of our present and lead ourSelves more mindfully into our future.

We don’t always need harsh experiences to access these profound awakenings. We don’t always need to walk barefoot into the desert and starve, to face the coyotes and rattlesnakes to clear our minds of our fears. Our lives are often harsh enough. We don’t always need strong medicines that tear us apart so we have to reconstruct ourselves from scratch, such as the plant entheogens and harsh psychedelics. We don’t always need strong fiery methods although We Do need TO WAKE UP, which IS elemental fire and awareness!! We do need balanced means to continuously challenge our belief systems, mental grooves and actions that keep us perpetually stuck in vicious cycles and downward spirals. The flowers in my opinion, are gentle and safe, yet profound and filled with sage wisdom. Much like a ceremonial fire safe in the constructs of the havan kund, prepared with boundaries, just enough fuel and just enough flame to Not burn the house down, the flowers offer the catalysts, for our own awakening. They offer Divine Initiations right from our homes, our backyards and retreat spaces.

Touched by a Naga Baba and other Ashy Practices

Brooke Sullivan and a Sadhu

Touched by a Naga Baba and other Ashy Practices

If I could say one thing about my life in the past 15 years, I would say  that unfortunately, along with all of my growth and accomplishments, I have been largely motivated by fear.

Perhaps this fear really began at 26, when I gave birth to my daughter. The shocking reality of the weight of responsibility to direct, care, love and support something so precious and vulnerable as another human’s life. Perhaps it was my shift of direction into that of the healer, a path that introduced me to the depths of subtle and physical woes. Perhaps it was the desire to be a good wife and to do anything for my family including getting up on stages, dancing and singing in front of thousands of people. Or, perhaps it was stress-induced survival to make all ends meet?! Who knows…probably all of the above!

And I share this because the fear is going away. I would love to say that there was one thing that made this happen—and in a way this is true. But to be clear, it is due to many practices rolled into One…a Daily Practice. From ancient wisdom handed down to me from my teachers, mantra meditations that connect me to the Divine and my Higher Nature to connections to Mother Nature….I dedicate every single day to my practice. And its working. I share this with you because my next chapter in life is to Share these practices…with you.

This year I am adding a few more programs to my Sage Apprenticeship. I have dedicated a lot of time and love to building these programs up to the 500-hour level, and the community is growing strong. My new offerings are: Tantra Shakti and The Vital Essences and Kundalini Shakti: Alchemy of Yoga & Mind. So hop here if you are interested in checking out my 5 Sage Apprenticeship programs.

And as for my recent experiences of the Sage Apprenticeship in India..here are some highlights!

IMG_89761.- We met Shiva at my great-grand teacher’s Ashram in Rikishesh! I know this may sound absurd to some, but in a tiny temple on a hill, I poured some Ganga water over a Shiva lingham, (a symbol of one-pointedness in mind and clear absolute stillness of pure consciousness) and as if I were touched by a magical vacuum, all thoughts and subtle thoughts vanished. I melted into an ease of peace and tranquility that lasted for days…now I really Get Shiva. Mmmmm.

 

 

 

IMG_13092.- We burned our fears and other gunk (ashes to ashes baby) in the innermost sanctum of the Chandi Devi Temple. The Goddess that resides in this temple lies at the heart of Sri Vidya Tantra and is a big presence in my lineage. We received the unexpected gift of a private fire ceremony in her ancient temple, which was intense due to the stormy weather…but super potent! Here at the top of a mountain in the foothills of the Himalayas I was given the honored seat to pour ghee (an offering of clarified butter) alongside the Pujari (Temple priest) and we chanted Swaha! as the wind, rain and ashes blew fiercely at our faces. All of our crap coming up into the surface to be turned to ash…released and transformed. It was powerful, juicy, & so healing…I feel we all sparkled the next day:)

IMG_13123.- Lastly…I was touched by a Naga Baba. Wow. Have you ever encountered a naked Sadhu, hair matted in dreadlocks, covered in ashes with a skull around his neck? These holy men are renowned as being hermits in the caves for most of the year, coming out only for the spiritual gatherings (such as the Kumbha Mela, which was happening during our yoga adventure.) They are the yogis who face fear and negativity by facing it in every moment. Their practices often involve having to do things such as: find a human skull to carry around as their food bowl, facing death and negativity in cemeteries, and transmuting the negative karma of and for the community. For some reason This Naga Baba happened upon our group ready to depart to a temple and decided to gift me with his blessing. Unexpectedly he placed his hand on my head (I was definitely freaked out for a moment)…yet the feeling of peace and love that filled me for hours afterwards was undeniable. Who would have thought?! I do believe he helped clear me of some unsettling thoughts and deep fears. Thanks Baba!

There are times in life that are completely unexplainable, but lead you to a certain point. We can let fate drag us there or we can choose, with clear sight and a strong will, how to more effectively reach our goals. We can also choose to do practices, with faith, hope and determination, that bring more of that good ‘unexplainable’….the stuff of miracles. After almost 2 decades of practice and studying, the one thing I can say that I completely align with, is that practice is magic. “Practice, and all is coming”  is a famous quote by Ashtanga yogi, Patthabhi Jois. And it is true. The unexpected appears, magic unfolds and how one perceives and experiences their reality, can be completely shifted for the better.

This year can be a shift in how You perceive life too, just by dedicating more time to your own growth and practices. Check out my Trainings in the Sage Apprenticeship if you are ready to dive deep into practices that can serve YOU. One is coming up soon, the other…save your moola cause we are Going Back to India!

1.-  Prana Shakti, a program of the Wild Temple School 300-hour YTT: This insightful program is perfect for graduates of the Sage Apprenticeship or for advance students who want to deepen their practice and knowledge of plant medicines.

2.-Sex, God, Yoga: a online seminar part of The Women’s Conference at WhereIsMyGuru.com (details for this coming soon!)

3.- The Yoga of Ayurveda, a Fall program of Sage Apprenticeship 200-hour YTT: a yoga immersion rooted in the practice of Tantra Yoga, Ayurveda and Traditional Herbalism.

4.- North India Retreat: Feb 10-23, 2017 Alchemy of Yoga & Mind: a 100-hour YTT in Rishikesh and Haridwar. More details coming soon!

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The Mother Science of Tantra

Tantra Shakti In India

Transformation.   Clear Perception.   Connection.   Wisdom.

On many levels we are accelerating, moving forward, changing lifestyle habits and expanding our perceptions. Belief systems handed down to us through our families, friends and personal experiences are taking a watery shift, morphing into new feelings, old feelings, a range of sensations and expanded views. The changes we are undergoing as a human race on our dear Gaia are creating a necessary restructuring of the balance of the elements within and around us. With balance we can attain clear perception. It is imperative that we awaken to what is going on inside of us, as this is the best teacher and guide for our own healing & transformation.

3 Things that keep us centered amidst change are: 

1. Understanding how and what is needed to ground us (personally) in the center of change
2. Opening to new ways of communication, relation & support
3. Connecting with devotion to our Source(s).

The Mother Science of Tantra:

This is the focus of our retreat in February 2016, establishing practices based on the Mother Wisdom & Essence of Tantra. Giving yourself the time and space to healYourself is one of the best activators for healing on our planet, as what you bring to your family and communities will ripple more balance, clarity and positive action.

Each day of our Tantra Shakti and Vital Essences Immersion, we devote time to practices that have been passed down from the sages. Deep nourishment with colorful & delicious meals & the loving guidance of the tour leaders and teachers, will offer the support (and container) to go deep into the Science and Spirit of Tantra. Please join us this February, for an experience of a lifetime. Haridwar, India Feb 8-18th. Deposit now as space is limited! Sign Me Up! or click here for More Info Please!

In love, Brooke

More About Tantra:

Tantra is the path of acceleration, a science of life that teaches (in methodology and embodied practice) an awakening to That Which Supports and Guides Us. It helps us to access our internal and eternal wisdom. Tantra is a spiritual path of connection and grace, supporting the individual in a continuing connection to what is true for them. The beauty of Tantra is that it is not religious, yet supports those on the religious path as well as the scientific & spiritual path. Methodologies handed down are rooted in both science and a tradition that draws from over 5,000 years of human experience, passed down lovingly from teacher to student. The practices help to guide one to deepen one’s connection to Source, no matter what one’s personal beliefs. They also offer the courage and the perseverance to be a pillar in one’s own life.

Rise to Be Brilliant: Holi

Holi-India-1

We rise to be brilliant, sparkling flames to burn through the dust of our past and the darkness of our doubts and fears. The flame is a symbol of transformation and wisdom, beauty and Divine Source.

Today in India, people are claiming that power, celebrating life and burning through the normal & mundane with play & mischief. Colors bathe the streets and bodies as all classes, all sexes unite in celebration. In India, today is the first day of Spring and they call it Holi. YES! To mischief! Yes! To Colors!! Yes!!!To blurring the lines of  human separation and welcoming in the celebration of life in crazy colors. YES!! To calling this HOLI!!

So hmmm.. we do not have the Parrot Tree with the Sacred Palash Flower to make red/orange dies to throw around. And the city councils may have a fit if we Americans bust out our paint guns and start tackling the town. So what to do?? How can We bring more mischief, color & play into our lives today?? Food fights? Jello Fun?? Marker wars? Big hugs that squirt spy ink that appears to stain at first and then disappear?! (yes my daughter does this one to me!!)

Find some time today to be happy, under the last tendrils of this full moon blessing. Lets actively light up and play, clear the dreary and get some mischief going!

Flame of the ForestThe Sacred tree, Butea monosperma (also known as the Parrot Tree in English) plays an intimate role in the celebration of the first day of Spring in India. Also known as the “Flame of the Forest” Its flower is the Palash Flower, a beloved plant honored in songs & poems & planted throughout India for soil health (drought & eroded areas). It is the state flower of Madhya Pradesh, a beloved tree found in forests & near homes for rich beauty and easy harvest. It is still used today in fire ceremonies & as a flame colored dye for anointing & the the Festival of Colors, Holi ceremonies. The Flame of the Forest Tree represents the power of Agni, or fire, which throughout centuries, honors the power and the sacred within and all around us.

Flame of the Forest Treephoto credits go to Dr Paresh Prashant Phalak of the Gifting Trees Blogspot & J.M. Garg (the Palash flower image from Wikipedia)

 

Bad Ass Antiviral: Blend Your Own Empowerment

Bad Ass Antiviral

Elder Berry  (diaphoretic, expectorant, antiviral,  antioxidant, anti-catarrhal) 1 part

Elder Flower (acrid, bitter, cool, diaphoretic, anti-inflammatory, de-toxicant) 1 part

Lemon Balm (cooling, spicy, sour, calming, sedative) 1 part

Cleavers (astringent, bitter, cooling) 1 part

Yarrow & Elder Flower Essences  (2 drops each)

1part = 1/2 oz for a 2 oz. bottle

This is one of my favorite blends for those who love to avoid doctors and couching it when the flu season is floating around! My dear friend, teacher and colleague Daisy Marquis (The Shanti School Master Herbalist/Energy Healer) offered a key ingredient to my formula when I first started Vital Yogi Herbals (back in 2011)….the Lemon Balm piece. It is a powerful antiviral, even in just ‘drop’ dosages (2-5 drops/dose), but because it is in the mint family it is also very gentle. At the time I hadn’t worked a lot with Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) but as it is in the magical workings of Nature, as soon as we notice something or fall in love with it, we see it everywhere (which inevitably means in herbalism, it ‘calls’ you left and right, and so you use it left and right!)

I’m giving this formula out  because I feel it is so important to share information these days. Particularly info that is affordable, effective and easy to access. The fact that many of these plants are found right in our own backyards or nearby woods (both east and west coast) is even more enticing. I cannot stress how cool it is to learn about the plants around you!!! It is useful for your own health (as well as family & friends) and breathes a deeper connection and awareness to our Earth. Feeling love for our planet creates a desire to care for it, which as a human race is something we need to wake up to quickly!

When we learn about plants Nature opens up to us, like a book of wisdom or a conversation of depth and beauty. A win-win situation! I know that there is iffy politics around selling herbal medicines (the FDA is cracking down on really amazing herbalists and products right now) but circulating plant knowledge is still positively A-OK…

SO…..if you have made tinctures before and have them sitting on your shelf as simples, this formula is a nice one to concoct on a rainy, craft, or medicine making day. Buy yourself 2oz cobalt blue or amber dropper bottles, labels and a gelly pen. Make some Bad Ass blends for yourself or as gifts for a friend. If you know how to gather these plants (ethically of course and this requires a separate article) & can tincture them (another article), you would do so singly and then mix together. You can also purchase each remedy from your local herbalist (which is way cheaper than Whole Foods or a health food store) and make your own medicine. Its great to have a bad ass antiviral blend handy and tinctures keep for years.

Tincture with Love

Tincture with Love

About the Blend:

Rich with powerful plants that assist our immune system’s optimum performance, the Bad Ass Blend is both tasty & effective. It includes the invaluable Elder (which is a one-plant apothecary in its own right), Lemon Balm (antiviral & tasty nervous system supporter), & Cleavers (known as ‘nature’s first Velcro’ & a powerful blood cleanser). Cleavers are AMAZING in helping move lymph, which is a huge key towards heath. In my yoga classes I like to add a bit of shaking or bouncing to get this system activated. Folks love it.  I think of Cleavers tincture as the plant equivalent to trampoline bouncing in a bottle!! Wheeee!

The flower essences in the formula give additional support on the energetic realm because many physical ailments begin as energy and if not cleared or dealt with, then manifest in the body. Yarrow flower essence helps reweave the energetic fibers that create our aura, which is the subtle counterpart to our skin. Just like the skin, our subtle body protects us from environmental toxins & pathogens. Certain life situations such as traumas and former drug use perforate the aura, leaving open spaces for unwanted energies to attach to us. Yarrow strengthens the aura and the vital inner being in a way that makes this plant an ally as it reminds us of our innate power. I consider it the warrior of the herbal kingdom. The elder flower, another warrior, blooms many tiny flowers in circular white clusters with what appears to be mini arrows in their center. This signature reveals the strength and protection offered by this amazing plant, cultivating our own strength and vitality, particularly with the throat (great for sore or weak throats), the throat chakra (willpower and creative integrity) and the solar plexus (our seat of individual power.)

Slow Down and Eat UP

Its been awhile since I ventured into my kitchen with awe and inspiration. Maybe it is the summer heat or just running around being too busy to hang at the hearth. But my personal desire to stand at the stove or the sink seems to wane every summer, to come back strong again in the fall. When the air begins to get cooler it is as if I could set my watch to it. The magical shift of autumn awakens something very deep and ancient inside of me, changing my connection to relationships and how I give/receive nourishment.  As a result, I have been cleaning and organizing my cabinets, bringing in fall decorations (my corn doll, beeswax candles, orange and red napkins, a cute and kinda scary flying bat) and setting up my kitchen altar. The dust of summer clears to reveal Autumn’s slow-time, spicy beauty!

A Practice to Slow Down: Samavritti

When cooking something in the oven or on the stove, sit down for some pranayama. Take a moment to feel the quality of your inhalation. Let it become soft and smooth, deeply nourishing. Also feel into the quality of your exhalation. Are you breathing out fully or is a bit still trapped in the lungs? Smoothing out to equalize your inhalation and exhalation is one of the most dramatically effective ways to clear the mind and settle the body for a natural pause.  So simple, eh? This simple ‘awareness in the kitchen breath’ is shared by all of the wise ones, from grandmothers to yogins… Enjoy.

Hawthorne: (Crataegus Spp.) IMG_3580

A deciduous tree or shrub, now is the perfect time of year (Autumn) to meet this plant in its full berry glory. Rich in folklore and magical herbalism, the Hawthorne tree was brought to popularity (or unpopularity) in England in the 1600s, when the parliament decided to enforce the Enclosure Acts (parceling off formerly common lands into private lands so the rich could get richer (and yes the poor poorer)). Planted everywhere, the berries (and even the leaves) became staples in the English diet, offering up food/medicine to those with meager diets. The spring leaves and buds were historically referred to as ‘bread and cheese’ by the peasants. The magic of the Hawthorne is ancient, beloved by humans and fairies alike. It offers protection (most have thorns so beware!), guardianship and has the ability to heal the physical-and spiritual-heart. Contraindications for taking Hawthorne are: don’t eat the seeds because they are toxic, and if you are on heart medication it is best to avoid. Hawthorne helps to balance arrhythmia of the heart, strengthens the heart, and can lower or balance blood pressure. It is my favorite cardiac tonic. The berries can be made into syrup, elixirs, cordials and even jelly. I will have that recipe/video in the near future!

Hawthorne Berry Elixir

Take a Pint Jar and fill it halfway with dried or fresh:                                                                                       Hawthorne Berries                                                                                                                                                               Bilberries                                                                                                                                                                                     Rose Hips                                                                                                                                                                                   Hibiscus Flowers                                                                                                                                                                     Goji Berries

Cover the plant matter with Apple Cider Vinegar and then top with your local Honey. Place a square of parchment paper under the lid to protect from rusting and close the jar. Shake every day (or whenever you remember) for 2-3 weeks. This yummy tasting ‘Oxymel’ will be delicious as a Salad Vinegar or even put into a shot glass to sip on for boosting your health.
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Plant Study: Mullein

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Plant Study: Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)

Common/Folkloric Names: “Great or Common Mullein” “Lungs of the Earth” “Cowboy/Hippy/Indian Toilet Paper” “Flannel Leaf” “Velvet Dock”

Common Mullein is a reseeding biennial. Although not a native to the US, it has naturalized and can be seen throughout the country. In its first year, the ‘mother’ plant emerges as a rosette of leaves close to the ground, a spiral of green and silver growing from the center outwards. Looking into the rosette one spies the sweetest fuzzy leaves, appearing slightly silvery, as if kissed by the soft moonlight. It feels like childlike wonder to reach into and touch this sweet softness, like Mother Nature’s baby blanket or stuffed teddy bear (hence the name velvet dock or flannel leaf). As the rosette grows, the outer leaves become a deeper green and sometimes lose that silvery color and poofier‘fluff’. These outer leaves are still soft, but in many of the plants, not as fresh and tender-seeming as its center. After a few more weeks the leaves that have spiraled to the outer edges may become more thin, less fuzzy and in a more mature plant, yellow.

The mother plant will appear to die back during the colder months but in truth all of its life force has just gone to bed, down into the soil of the earth. From the same roots the following year, its dead looking rosette fills back with a beautiful green color and grows an additional tall stalk from its center, with spiraling blossoms of five petaled, symmetrical flowers.This stalk is stronger than it looks, sometimes growing straight up like a phallus (hence its more masculine common name  of “Aaron’s Rod”) and at other times (depending on light, stress or genetics) curving a bit or producing smaller stocks from the central stalk. At the end of its second year when the weather becomes colder, the mother plant will return completely to the earth in its final stage of death. However, the seeds from the flowers drop easily to the earth and are not discriminating. They can grow in most soil, both fertile and desolate. This easy seeding and hardiness, not particular to just fertile ground, is the reason Mullein can be found everywhere. It is considered invasive to gardeners who don’t know the benefits of mullein, and don’t use the plant for medicine. Instead they see it as an annoying, wild volunteer, taking over their gardens by growing prolifically amidst everything.

Mullein in its second year can easily be seen by the roadside, as it grows well in wastelands & places of disrupted soil. The beauty of common mullein is that its large taproot descends deep into depleted soils to find and gather essential minerals and nutrients. The taproots gather, then pull the nutrients up and into their fuzzy, furry leaves. This ability to gather nutrients gives mullein the permaculture name of dynamic nutrient accumulator. Due to Mullein and other beloved ‘weeds’ such as red clover, wild oats and comfrey, depleted soil & desecrated land can be returned to balance & vitality. So let it grow!!

**This Post is only 1/2 done! Stay tuned for The Herbal and Psycho-spiritual Medicine this plant has to offer!

Bringing Yoga to Life…Transforming Fear into Living

How can we love fully, without the fear of loss, without the feeling that we must tip-toe around life in order to hold so delicately, the experiences and relationships that make us feel so good? How do we wake up each morning, with trust and hope rising with the light of the sun, knowing that our efforts will reach fulfillment and peace touch our hearts? How do we not wake up in fear or doubt? We know that all of this does not last, that all of this is temporary, including ourselves!! Nothing is assured and nothing is eternally stable. Living in the world today either brings a strong awareness to how messed up things have gotten, or its opposite-an extreme dulling of awareness (disconnect) just to survive. This dullness and disconnect has us wearing masks that make us seem to be living, when in truth we are just living shadows of what our life could really be.

One of the biggest remedies for this is to move energy. To wake up and Live. To embody the passion that stirs us to be out in nature and gaze at the stars, to dance wildly amongst strangers, to sing even when the voice is out of breath and off tune, to love with all of our hearts and to feel love & compassion when those around us are not doing so well. To move through our fears & doubts whenever we feel not so shiny.

We can exercise to move energy, which pumps us into feeling lively as our heart beats stronger, our blood gets flowing, and more oxygen moves through the body. This works great to stimulate the mind and get momentum into the air, but can be a temporary fix for some, an addiction for others.

The other is using the elements of yoga, specifically asana, pranayama and meditation. Prana shakti (the force of energy), when moving in the right way enables us to spark awake our internal lively-ness, not just working at the physical level, but the energetic, mental and soul-level too. When I feel scared or depressed, I pay attention. I watch myself craving chocolate or a tasty IPA, to stay busy with tasks, or to pull away from the world to be alone. Do to my practices, I can now watch how these patterns want to come to the forefront and with awareness, watch my response.  Not allowing my patterns to always rule me, the emotions from deep in my subconscious driving my life, takes strength, courage and action. I have to do something. This doing activates the prana that moves strong emotions. Moving, stretching, breathwork, all get me into the right head space to meditate. Meditating (and mantra practice) is really the biggest and juiciest action for transforming fear and unwanted emotions, but thats a topic for another time.

My world sparkles more now because I have a dedicated practice and this has awakened MORE LIVING! I am now bringing my yoga to life, such as just in the past few weeks, white water rafting, skydiving, creating amazing programs and leading a workshop at a beloved annual women’s retreat. These opportunities to really live give me the freedom to take off my mask and move through my fears, knowing that even when I die…I have LIVED.  Living in this way awakens a fire within me that brings my yoga practice to life. This fire also burns away the heavy, leaving me feeling connected, passionate, radiant and free. So when I wake up in fear or I wake up in doubt, I choose to live. I choose to step away from the old habits of pulling ‘comfortable patterns’ towards me. Instead, I move energy…practice, breathe, and step outside, connecting with the stars, the songs, the river, the yoga, the good company and the forces of nature/love that guide me in life. Ashay.

sage apprenticeship                        rapid transformations: a tantric white water journey

Detangling Of The Mind: Success

A friend once called me Matrix Eyes, as she claimed to think I saw the world in a very strange and unique way. I agree. I also know that writing helps me to find clarity, hence the “Detangling Of The Mind” writing series I have decided to play with. This is the first topic that has come to me, and it is on Success. I am so very grateful when I am given an idea or thought-wave that dives me into deeper contemplation, and therefore more depth in understanding a subject matter. The topic I am writing about today is one that I am particularly curious about to see its unraveling, as I feel that as it does so, there can only be more light shining into my mind, and therefore more peace into my heart. So thank you Muse, I appreciate your gift.

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Success is a very interesting word. So seemingly innocuous yet mysterious and charged, Success seems to require both the insight of intention, set at the beginning of any trodden path, as well as foresight for the result, the final golden carrot so to speak, dangling down to represent the fruit of one’s actions. Success to me is mysterious, not a solid object or reward as one might expect, because it can shape shift, assume different forms, wear exotic masks and even possibly,  take us away from that main path. Perhaps this is due to internal changes or perspectives. Perhaps this is caused by external forces.  Or even perhaps the goal itself -the SUCCESS- has been changed.

It always helps me, when trying to understand something, to begin with its definition. This is step one in the detangling of the mind.

The simple meaning of success without digging into the baggage of the many levels of its definition, is attaining one’s goals. I can easily rant on the ups and downs of this definition, especially in regards to… ”What if one does not have clearly defined goals?” The answer to this shines piercingly through the murky waters of unclarity. To want the golden carrot, to wake up each morning in search of success and yet not understanding what success really means, creates a whirlpool of doubt, misery, failed projects, disconnections and fear. So, thank you Muse in offering me this new perspective on Soul Purpose for I have realized that I, along with (I suppose) many folks, have been wrapped and shrouded in contradicting and overlapping layers of colors, textures and beliefs that all claim to be success. How confusing.

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First of all, I believe that there are many levels of success. A successful woman may very well be a wonderful cook, an amazing mom and yet suck at cleaning. She may have a luscious garden and friends that adore her, yet not be satisfied in the work she brings to the world. Is she successful? I suppose it is up to her to decide. How does she define success? Does she allow society to define her? Is it defined by each day, month or year?

 My Views Of Success

Taking the time to realize that I need to redefine what success means for me and my life helps me to understand that I have been blindly moving forward, trapped in the box of other peoples beliefs and expectations. I am not pointing any finger, I take absolute responsibility for my own ignorance, disorganization and lack of clarity. I have come to realize (thanks again Muse!) that it never served me to be fuzzy on this subject. I have to know what success means, to reach it and feel happy.

I just had a thought…What if my main purpose in life is just to become clear in my mind and actions, and to evolve and to enjoy myself? To give up the ‘necessity’ to be an Ayurvedic Doctor, an Accomplished Yogini, a Psychosomatic therapist, a Dancer, a Writer, a Whatever…and just live in a manner that suits me. That would be a riot. And if this is what I find to be successful, what a blessing it would be to know this, so I can relax and be free of all of this doubt and insecurity! If this is the case then this question that I have asked is a critical starting point for my own personal salvation. I have been stuck for years, not feeling content. An unsettled feeling in my gut and a sadness in my heart always leads me to question “What am I doing with my life? What can I be? What should I do? What job will bring me the most happiness and success?”

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My heart and my soul long for simplicity, but I have created complexity and confusion by strolling blindly forward, waves of emotions and desires pushing me to do this or let go of that. My lack of clarity swishes me into other people’s arms to support them, connect with their work, their dreams and their goals. This entrepreneurial entanglement regarding Self Worth and Work, Mine and Yours is not just a result of confusion, but also strange safety zones I have created for myself, as well as momentary breaks from trying to figure my success story out. I help others until I am clear. Wow. That brings me some freakin deep understanding! I also compare myself to others and rate myself as ‘better than” or “worse off” depending upon who I am hanging out with. If I take a moment to pause and breathe, I can appreciate all of these steps on my journey, and I have taken a lot of these steps. I can then recognizing the odd jobs and skills I have collected not as failures, but as stepping stones to my own heart’s desires. These stepping stones are not quite linear, but a spiral path of mini- successes that have brought me to where I am today. {Insert big sigh of relief here as I am thoroughly enjoying this clarity!!}

My Breakdown (or breaking apart) about what Success Means To Me:

Success to me is being able to feel happy and content.

Success to me is bringing something to completion.

Success to me is making advances in growing and evolving in my Self and in my Life.

Success to me is having breakthroughs (acknowledging, digesting, appreciating and moving on).

Success to me is having the time to take the assured steps, with patience, stability and clarity to reach my goals and the time and space to pause, and to recognize when I have reached them!

Success to me is being able to take care of myself and supporting my family in ways that feel good and having ample time to pursue my dreams (heart-led desires)..in a beauty-filled, art-full manner.

Success to me means having a vital body and a calm, clear and focused mind.

Success to me means doing what I love, seeing others doing what they love and supporting others doing what they love.

Success to me is telling my truth, my story, sharing wisdom and being heard.

Success is knowing who I am, being ok with who or what I am not, appreciating my uniqueness and standing up for what is best for me.

Success As Defined By Our Culture…(points palatable to me): 

Success is making money, making a living, or exceeding basic necessities and having money for joy and freedom.

Success is rising to the top, moving past limitations, becoming the best at something .

Success is improving or bringing betterment to people places and ideas.

Success is inspiring others…perhaps by being the person who belly laughs the most.

Success is power…and hopefully, the right use of power.

Success is a clear, sharp mind with innovative ideas that move humanity forward as a whole.

How Success Can Mislead Us:

Success comes in many shapes and forms. One person’s success can be another’s failure.

Success means inspiring others or rising to the top even when one is not happy inside.

Success is accomplishing the fruits of money, power, or {fill in the blank} for someone else, instead of working towards fulfilling your own life purpose and dreams.

Success is a one time thing, a big event of having attained! and each day working towards this sense of accomplishment while being unhappy or discontent that it hasn’t been reached yet.

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Ok. So detangling the thoughts in my mind and sorting out what Success means to me (or doesn’t mean to me) and to folks in my current society, have enabled me to fold very nicely, a clean laundry pile of what Success now means in my personal daily life.

Success is:

Fulfilling my Duties

So for example. My duties are to keep the house clean, drive my daughter from school to home to dance to home, pay the bills, cook, fill the car with gas ( Im only adding this here because I try to avoid it at all costs), gardening, lesson planning, marketing and bookkeeping my yoga classes, and manage our family band. These are my duties. On a daily or weekly basis, reflecting on whether I am successful in the maintenance of my family duties seems to shift from day to day.

This is ground level basic stuff…Earth chakra, root stuff. The dedication and devotion I place in fulfilling my family duties should be TOP SHELF PRIORITY, for it is this foundation that gives my man and I the freedom to be our creative selves, musicians and healing artists in life. Working on this 1st, not only pleases my ancestors, the Grandmothers (they sure do love a tidy home!), but gives me the muscle memory for structure, perseverance, and stability. Meeting deadlines, showing up on time, being prepared, while feeling balanced fills me with such a huge amount of accomplishment (can I say success?!) as long as I enjoy  the breathing room to really stretch out and enjoy the process of accomplishment. Balancing this drive with the breathing room is the tricky part and so I highlight it for more awareness. Its a delicate matter to observe the ‘sense of accomplishment’ attitude vs. the overdrive of type A-stressed out-crazy bitch.

Feeling content

The feeling of contentment is largely entwined with both remembrance and balance. What have I committed to? Do I have the time, appreciation and dedication to devote to my commitments? The balance of being able to maintain my commitments, and doing them well brings me content. The reflection of all I have done up to this point offers a connection in remembering the goals I have set and what I have achieved, which fills my heart with content. This contentment, or Santosha in Sanskrit, fills me with a sense of accomplishment and success.

Living Passionately

Doing what pleases me…living my passions…without having to worry about an end result, creates freedom and joy in my heart and a smoothness in my breath. So doing things such as dancing, singing, writing, teaching, healing, traveling and playing, fills me with gratitude, senses of accomplishment and purpose. A beautifully perfect example of success in my book.

The Four Flower Essences I wish to share now..are not one to help figure the question: “What am I supposed to do for a living, that pays me well, supports my heart’s desires and supports my family’s needs=Success?” Instead, they offer clarity, steadiness, boundaries, clear action and balanced retrospection to feel success as I have defined it.

Pomegranate: finding balance between one’s home/family and career

Sagebrush: resolving inner conflict around Soul Desire in the world= offering simplicity and discernment.

Oak: balancing strength and determination: not taking on more than one can handle

Cosmos: collecting ideas from the cosmic realms to organize them into clear words

The Sacred Pause IS the Golden Carrot

Ok. So this is the end of my musings for today. To feel successful, I must honor the time I set aside for work, fun, play and chores. I need to observe the levels of successes in my life, and honor the fact that each one takes a different amount of time, dedication and devotion. This leaves space to then acknowledge and appreciate what has been achieved. I have spent a good couple of hours dissecting success. Now it is time for a pause.

The sacred pause offers space to integrate and appreciate all that I have accomplished, including this writing.  It is I believe,  the golden carrot.  Dang. My Virgo-Sun-Self really needed this dissection and assimilation today. What freedom, clarity and timely relief. Success is what I make of it, and I have the power to define it for myself. Jai Ma.

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