“You have a gift”, she said as she walked out of the massage room. A phrase I had heard before, yet still didn’t understand. “Thanks”, and a smile, my conditioned response. Inside though I’m wondering ‘what she is talking about’. A gift? I gave her a massage. She paid me for a service. No gifts. Sure, I have heard the phrase describing someone with special talent or skill, but I studied this, practiced it, worked for it. Gift? Still didn’t get it, or didn’t want to get it? The deeper I dive into my own journey as a spiritual and conscious human being, the more I am faced with needing to understand and accept this phrase. I’ve read it for years, yes we all have gifts, we all have talents, we all are unique, but what does my connection to my own “gift” have to do with it? I have heard people say this and continue to give them my conditioned response, never actually accepting the truth behind the statement. I thought all I was doing was keeping myself humble. Keeping the honor in the work, not taking it on as my own. But I have been very wrong. There is no humility in deflecting recognition for my life’s work. There is no honor in avoiding the truth behind my uniqueness. What I have actually been doing is avoiding the opportunity that comes with accepting the gift, because in doing this, there is a responsibility that I have looked at with fear, rather than empowerment. I have also taken from the generosity of the client in sharing their experience with me, not allowing their truth to be heard. A dear friend pointed out to me that all I am doing is looking at the gift, enjoying the moment of holding the package, but never actually opening it up. This is a great analogy for the years I have spent “accepting” the recognition of what I have to offer. But until I chose to open it, explore it, experience it in all its glory, I will be doing a disservice not only to myself, but to those who come through my doors. Finding a place inside myself that recognizes the gift I have, will not only fill me with deep gratitude, but will help me to always see the gifts in everyone around me. If I continue to deny my own gifts, I will be unable to fully see the beauty in others. I end every yoga class with the word Namaste. My understanding and appreciation of this word has changed over the years, and I am always learning new and deeper meanings of it. Simply put, “The light in me, bows to the light in you”, but first, I must see the light in me. Jenny DeDecker, LMT, CLC, is the owner of the wellness studio, Full Moon Rising, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where she offers bodywork, yoga and meditation instruction and maternal health services. She resides in the U.P., up the hill from a creek, with her husband, and two small children.
Shortly after my father passed away, my sisters and I were sorting through his belongings. Stuck to a bulletin board in his office was a note that read "Charles, Declare your independence!" It was dated July 4, 1977. Then a note on the same page dated 6 weeks later "Forget about it!" My father was a lovely man but like most of us he had some demons that he wrestled with. It saddened me to think that he could see that he needed independence from "something" but clearly could not find a way though it and he in utter defeat declared "forget about it!" Our "demons" or core story and beliefs are like an operating system on a computer. It runs the show until we are able and willing to change the operating system. These days we have many more avenues as well a more open minded view for helping to change the operating system that bind us and declaring our independence from our stories, our wounding and trauma, our core beliefs and our amazing gifts that we might hold too close to our chest. Meditation, self-inquiry, trauma work (such as Somatic Experiencing), bodywork (such as Visionary Craniosacral Work®, counseling, and creative arts are just some of the avenues available to help someone navigate this unfamiliar path. I have found the simple act of "being willing" to see and let go of a core story allows it to begin to reveal itself and unwind for its liberation. Often we push the "demon" away because we don't like how it feels or we judge it for being there, perhaps seeing it as part of our deficiency or weakness. But inviting it, welcoming it to be seen can be a profound healing moment. We are embracing a part of us that has been shunned. When we toward it instead of away, it can lose the power that it has had over us - no longer a demon but something that wants to be brought to wholeness - to liberation. What is it in you that needs to be liberated? Your creativity, your voice, your deficiency story? Your story of "I am not _____ ". (fill in the blank: enough, worthy, smart, pretty, handsome, etc). I invite you to find some quiet time, gently turn toward your Self, set the intention and invite freedom to all the parts of you. Declare your Independence! But unlike my father.... don't forget about it! Be persistent! Remind yourself daily!
As I open the blinds, dust off the curtains and welcome the warmth of summer into my home, I also welcome her into my body and spirit. Springtime has pushed through with its raw power to initiate new life coming out of the quiet of winter. Now it is time to enjoy the flood of energy that will carry me through this next season. When I think about the shift between spring and summer I move into a place of letting go. The spring gave us the opportunity to clean house and now we get to decide if we are going to live surrounded by the boxes of rubbish, or if we are going to let go of the baggage and leave it at the curb. The decision is the easy part. The challenge comes with the follow through. Even though we know it is baggage that does not serve us, we often choose to hold on tight afraid of what might happen if we truly let go. A dear friend recently said to me that as humans, if it’s between the terrible known and the unknown, we will always choose the terrible known. Good to know you aren’t alone? However, we, as healers, have chosen a path that leaves little room for baggage. No matter what modality we practice, we are all taught to set our issues aside when we are working with our clients. We know how to move into a mindful space with those that come to us, seeking assistance on their path, but we often struggle moving into that same space for ourselves. As we enter into the social season of summer, the playfulness can be hindered by staying in the past, reliving habitual behaviors, holding on tight to people and experiences that are causing us to diverge. When we allow ourselves to let go and be present, we are able to see the newness of each and every moment. This translates into a creative process that lets us manage new possibilities, personally, professionally, intimately… We are able to see where we are stuck and renegotiate how we are going to move forward. Once we know where we are and what we want, we can see more clearly the decisions that need to be made to stay on track. This might mean pulling from the fire of summer, reigniting a passion. This might also mean taking time in the shade, noticing the possibility of burn out. When we move through life mindfully and honestly, we can trust that the path with stay under our feet. Letting go is not a one time decision. It is a way of being.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Jenny DeDecker, LMT, CLC, is the owner of the wellness studio, Full Moon Rising, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where she offers bodywork, yoga and meditation instruction and maternal health services. She resides in the U.P., up the hill from a creek, with her husband, and two small children.
Healers generously give to people. It is a beautiful gift, but some recipients do not invest in their own healing. Consequently, your offering to them has a limited effect. If on the other hand, you heal people that are willing to invest in your offering, it completes the circle and makes a huge difference in their lives. So offer them some healing and watch what they do with it. If they work with it, integrate it, and make adjustments to their life- continue investing in them. If however, they use what you give them as long as they do not have to invest anything, it is a sign they want you to do it for them. They are likely looking to be fed. Better to offer your precious gift and vital resources to someone that will do something with it. I do not quote Jesus often, but I love, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your disease.” (Revised Standard Version). It was her faith that made her well. Jesus was a vehicle for people to heal themselves. I submit that he did not go around randomly healing lepers, but rather chose to heal people who were willing to invest in themselves. So ultimately you have to decide what type of healer you want to be. Do you want to be a vehicle for people to heal themselves or do you want to do it for them? Do you want to heal and teach people to solve the origination of the disease or do you want to simply heal their current symptoms. Deciding the type of healer you are determines the type of clients you heal. People are either willing to invest in themselves at the level you are healing them or they are not. Remember, givers and takers often have karmic relationships with each other. Healers often identify as the giver that heals the other person. Takers see themselves as passively receiving the healing and other people doing it for them. So be selective of the people you heal. I personally choose to teach people as long as they are willing to invest in themselves. Who do you choose to heal? Michael Hoffman is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, author, and trained spiritual teacher who offers workshops, counseling, and personalized coaching to help you awaken and unfold your natural way of being and the life you would have for yourself. You can learn more about his work at www.naturalwayofbeing.com
Winter offers us a time to settle into the stillness of the season, allowing our body and mind to be nourished from deep inside. We are given permission to slow down, turn inside and notice what has come before us, as well as clear the way for the path ahead. Allowing yourself time for inquiry and insight can give rise to transformation and clarity along your journey as a Healer. The road can get mucky and we can quickly find ourselves on uneven ground, but having a strong base in mindfulness and self-care can help us keep our balance. As Healers, we are often extending ourselves out to our communities, clients, families and friends, with sometimes little coming back. Expecting the outside circumstances to change will only lead us to desire and attachment, further deepening our suffering, rather than alleviating it. Instead, we can offer softness and self-compassion, turn our awareness inside, and learn that we have the capacity to nourish ourselves. In Chinese medicine, the season of winter is water. It is a time to rest and rejuvenate as the earth quiets and goes dormant. We can harness this opportunity to resonate with the energy around us and relate to the characteristics of the water element. Water is a deeply cleansing element, so give yourself time to take regular trips to your favorite water source and don’t underestimate the bath; soaking and steeping, cleaning and clearing. Add epsom salt and your favorite essential oils for a blissful and productive experience. Also incorporating a hand washing ritual into your practice can help protect both you and your client, providing strong boundaries, limiting transference and counter-transference. In the winter, nature becomes quite and turns its energy inward. If a regular meditation practice seems daunting and overwhelming, try taking one extra deep breath before you connect with your client. Or add mindfulness to an experience you already have every day, such as brushing your teeth, or doing the dishes. The more moments of mindfulness you add to your life, the more intriguing a daily sitting practice will get. The sun is starting to rise a little higher in the sky and a tease of spring is in the air, so instead of eagerly awaiting the change of the season, I encourage you to use what is left of the winter to cultivate a self-care practice that will hold you up throughout the year. Your practice will be as unique as you are and there is no one way to do it. I have offered some ideas, but I encourage you to find what resonates with you and make it your own. When the opportunity arises, step outside, close your eyes and let the rays of the sun shine down on your face. A moment as simple as this can change the ripples of your day. Jenny DeDecker, LMT, CLC, is the owner of the wellness studio, Full Moon Rising, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where she offers bodywork, yoga and meditation instruction and maternal health services. She resides in the U.P., up the hill from a creek, with her husband, and two small children.