chronic hope at the holidays

Holiday season is underway – that often means a change of focus for people, such as turning attention toward festivities as well as deeply connecting with family and long-time friends. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? For some though, the holiday season can be stressful for reasons I have not explicitly named in previous blog posts. I’ll get to the point. The reality of managing chronic illness during the ‘season of giving’ isn’t so easy. I know some of my readers here are already nodding their heads. For starters, the pressure to simultaneously consume and avoid, whether that be through making unnecessary purchases while dodging celebratory sugar-laden foods and beverages, or otherwise, is not helpful or easy. In addition, expectations to attend gatherings or donate volunteer time in the service of others has both pros and cons. If you are experiencing good health, and I do hope that’s the case, then this article may not be for you…unless you are a primary caregiver to someone with a chronic illness. If that’s your reality, read on. Managing chronic illnesses are time consuming, energy-draining, expensive, and can leave one feeling like an outsider in the home. Now don’t go feeling all down in the dumps – There are ways to manage these things and brighten our days!

I have found that being open about my own experience of managing chronic illness has been much more of a blessing than a curse. Yes, this is risky and does take courage to some degree, I admit. By sharing my experience, I have found that many people are experiencing something similar if not the very same thing (now or in the past). I have been stunned to learn this! This means resources are shared, lived experiences are validated, and acceptance of what I can and cannot give is understood. If I can’t show up, there are no guilt trips, and accommodations are made on my behalf when possible. I have learned what ‘ask and you shall receive’ actually means. I have also learned the value of setting boundaries. And I have also learned that most people carry within themselves secrets. Those being grief, trauma memories, regrets…but most of all, a particular state of mind, and that is HOPE. From all of this, might we realize that we are not so alone after all, and that the risk taken by reaching out to a stranger or by stepping into a new group may offer the connections we need most.

Photo by Disha Sheta on Pexels.com

Whether you are feeling isolated or are just desiring a shift from the how things have been going this year, take advantage of online groups. Some are free or low-cost. I like to tell people about meetup.com, which I have used on more than one occasion because the results were positive in my experience. Recently, I typed ‘cancer’ and ‘chronic illness’ (separately) in the search box to discover supportive online offerings for both. Additionally, I now offer free online guided meditations every Wednesday evening – they last for 40-45 minutes. Others offer dream groups, creativity classes, or unique support groups. Here is another option: Jane Carleton is an experienced dreamworker and facilitates small-sized dream groups online. She has used her dreams to facilitate her own personal healing journey as well. If you are inspired to contact her, go to yourdreamingself.com.

Because of my particular interest in meditation, yoga, creativity and dreams, I’d like to share with you some of the beneficial outcomes of this type of group participation. For example, I’ll now share a bit about a past project that has inspired me. The Healing Power of Dreams project led by Tallulah Lyons and Wendy Pannier and supported by the International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD) brought dreamwork into cancer facilities across the U.S. From surveys and assessments, they found numerous benefits for those managing a chronic illness – in this case, cancer. I’d like to share some of the benefits with you here: Dreams, even nightmares, were reported to offer insight and energy for healing and personal growth, in addition to guidance with decision-making and lifestyle change, especially when there is imbalance. Dreams reflected enduring strengths as well. Furthermore, while research suggests numerous benefits from the use of guided imagery and mediation, the finding from this project showed that using personal healing dream symbols in guided imagery sessions made positive impacts. Last but not least, participants in the cancer project experienced increased feelings of hope, confidence, control and connection, while feelings of anxiety and stress decreased.

There is good reason to expand social supports when facing chronic illness, especially with those that place a focus on unconventional and creative avenues in support of healing. While family and close friends have a lot to offer us, we may need to look outside of our close(d) circle to discover something fresh and new. Whatever you choose, hold tightly to hope. Miracles do happen. The few resources listed above can get you on your way.

Virtual hugs,

Dr. Kim

holiday season roadblocks

Happy November y’all! Did you survive the ‘candy binge’ that we call Halloween, here in the United States? I hope you woke up today headache-free – LOL. Believe it or not, I did not consume a single piece of candy. Yes, I know, it’s sad, but after all, I am dealing with a chronic health issue, so no sugar for me. Boo.

Do you ever wonder why ‘cold and flu season’ hits right in the middle of Winter? Could it be that it hits when it does because of the major events that precede it? Notice that colds and flus surface just after several holidays where high amounts of sugar and alcohol are consumed. Think about it, in the United States we have Halloween followed by Thanksgiving, followed by festivities in December such as Christmas and New Year’s Eve. December often includes several end-of-year celebrations, work-related parties, or other seasonal gatherings. This could mean tolerating people we may not like, plus consumption of cocktails, cookies, homemade candy and many other unhealthy ‘treats.’ Sure, it can be fun, but that’s not all it is. Tack on the stress that comes with attending and organizing these events, end-of-year deadlines, etc., and the body is like, “WOAH, JUST STOP ALREADY.” So, all I’m saying is that it is possible that the circumstances (in addition to our behavior) can lead to an increase in cold and flu susceptibility. Now that you’ve heard me out – haha, thank you very much – let me share with you something in my healthy ‘bag of tricks.’ You’ll find it in a blog I wrote for Best Holistic Life – the place to go for excellent health and wellness information by a diverse group of experts.

Let’s really get down to business now. We all want to stay healthy, right? Seriously, can you name someone who enjoys being sick? Best Holistic Life recently featured a short piece that I wrote on vegetables. That’s right — you read that correctly — healthy, wonderful vegetables. We do our best dreaming and living (and partying) when we run on clean fuel. I advocate for eating as many dark leafy greens and cruciferous veggies as possible all Fall and Winter long. Think of them as medicine…because they are!

Pop quiz!!! Can you name at least two veggies from the cruciferous family? How often do you consume those? What health benefits do they deliver? The answers to these questions and more can be found in my article here: https://www.bestholisticlife.com/dr-kims-4-good-mood-seasonal-veggies/

Oh, and in addition to their wellness blog, Best Holistic Life has a unique podcast – check ‘em out!

Wishing you a thriving and health-focused season,

Dr. Kim

journeys into the imaginal

Do you ever think about how different our lives would be if we were born several hundred years ago? That’s a lot to think about, I know. How about specifically with regard to health and healing? What did people do before modern medicine, psychiatry, and wellness coaching? Who or what did they seek out in order to get well? Historically, healers across the globe have gone by many names. In this short article, I will focus on a particular type of healer, a practitioner of traditional ways, sometimes referred to as ‘shaman.’ For shamans, healing is equivalent to transformation, not simply focusing on curing an ailment (Kalweit, 1992).

Shamanism has an extensive history (evidence suggests going back tens of thousands of years) on every continent of the world. The word ‘shaman’ comes from the language of the Tungus people of Siberia (Harner, 1980, 1990), although, the word ‘shaman’ however is not typically used by shaman’s themselves (it can be considered bad luck) and traditionally, it is not a role one volunteers for (Ingerman, 2004, 2008). Basically, one does not chose shamanism, it chooses you. Shaman’s, appointed by their communities, act in service of those communities on many levels. Shaman’s are also skilled dreamers. Restoring balance (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually) is among the many duties performed. Duties can take place in dream consciousness or others states of consciousness, such as a shamanic state of consciousness.

Whether we call them shamanic journeys, imaginal journeys, ecstatic journeys, or something else, humans across time and place have known how to travel to, entering and exiting, otherworldly realms, or unseen worlds. This is done in order to gain access to a wide variety of information, ask for spiritual help and support, and heal themselves, their families and communities. These unseen realms have been referred to by different names across the globe, such as “Other World” in Celtic Shamanism and the “Dreamtime” in Australian Aboriginal tradition (Ingerman, 2004, 2008). These ‘other’ locales can be divided into three major territories: Lower, Middle, and Upper Worlds. Each ‘world’ has something different to reveal to us or teach us. The ‘laws’ we have come to know and expect, do not apply any longer. The community-appointed shaman is considered an expert in navigating these realms. Diverse communities across the world have used various means to assist the shaman in altering consciousness in order to begin the journey. Most commonly repetitious, monotonous sounds, such as those created by a rattle or drum, or chanting, are used.

One can experience a shamanic journey without being appointed shaman, and many do, myself included. As one who uses hypnosis and various types of meditation and breathwork for my own benefit (and offers these services to my clients), it is clear that there are similarities and differences among these trance-like ‘altered states.’ An ability to concentrate is key! Learning the skills to enter a shamanic state of consciousness with intent and purpose, and return to the ordinary state of consciousness can be taught by experienced practitioners and skills can be honed by dedicated students. After all, these are natural conditions. That being said, the worlds entered through a shamanic state of consciousness are not playgrounds and there is a lot to learn before jumping onboard.

Restoring wholeness, coming into balance and harmony with the universe, as well as our full creative potential can be supported through shamanic journeying, as the practice supports us moving forward in our own soul’s journey (Ingerman, 1991).

If this topic interests you, and you would like to learn more, I recommend reading the books written by Michael Harner, Holger Kalweit, Sandra Ingerman, and Robert Moss, for starters. If you want additional references and resources, contact me.

As we approach Samhain, Dia de Los Muertos, All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day, I wish peace and harmony to you and to all of your family members and ancestors, whether embodied or otherwise.

~Dr. Kim

an early autumn medley

It’s been a busy Fall season here! Didn’t Fall just begin? How about for you? How are you holding up?

Before we get going, I want to tell you about The Shift Network – they offer amazing summits and courses online on a variety of topics that touch the soul. I’m honored to have been invited to host this year’s Dreamwork Summit. I can’t believe the event was free! Did you see it? The 20+ dream experts I interviewed shared valuable and profound information on dreaming, including lucid dreaming and dream yoga, various methods on ways to conduct dreamwork, and much more. I was grateful to have presented on how visitation dreams and shrine-making intersect. If you missed it, but are interested in that subject, I will be posting the video interview on my website soon.

Shifting gears now…Today, I want to share some of the things that have kept me occupied and inspired lately. These just might entertain you for a while too, especially during this pandemic and seasonal shift.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

First, Joe at SacWellness asked me to write an article for their blog and I jumped at the change to write about the importance of the breath. Believe me when I say that breathing with awareness is everyone’s best friend. Our breath has our back! Deep, conscious breathing supports the parasympathetic nervous system – aka ‘the brakes’  and our ‘rest and digest’ system. Furthermore, our breath can become our most trusted guide and most easily accessed inner resource. Here’s the link to the article with video: https://sacwellness.com/the-importance-of-breathing/ My YouTube channel has additional videos on breathing techniques – see my series titled, “Let’s Breathe” at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5uiyWhrG8N8gNsYbZbGK8w

Life Coach Path is a place for all those in the coaching industry. I had a good time when Brandon interviewed me on their Coach’s Circle Podcast. The Coach’s Circle Podcast is brought to you by Life Coach Path, an online resource for anyone who wants to learn more about becoming a life coach. During that very fun interview I shared how I came to practice the way I do, along with how I went from being an artist to a licensed psychotherapist and somatic psychologist. Since my practice is eclectic, I explained how I weave together traditional therapy with hypnosis, art-making, yoga nidra, and more. We also touched on imposter syndrome near then end of the interview. Listen here: https://www.lifecoachpath.com/coachs-circle-73-kimberly-mascaro/

Dr. Joshua Black has conducted some fascinating research on dreams of the bereaved. He invited me onto the Grief Dreams Podcast to discuss the power bereavement dreams can hold for so many people experiencing loss. This is a topic close to my heart. Our conversation was deep as well as touching. You can list to our conversation, if you like, here: https://griefdreamspodcast.podbean.com/e/e173-dr-kimberly-mascaro-announcing-dreams/

National Parent’s Union delivers a powerful webcast, regularly. I love how it begins with a moment dedicated to self-care, after all it is “a nightly restorative check-in!” Dr. Enjolie Lafaurie hosted me on October 9, 2020. We discussed so many dream-related topics such as our experiences with visitation dreams, my research on announcing dreams, a colleagues research on wellness and health dreams, how to work with dreams and more. These webcasts are live on Facebook and can be accessed here: https://fb.watch/1a0T-bgF4t/

Well there you go, enjoy those links to dream-related topics as well as self-care and conversations on life’s big moments and decisions.

Happy October to ya,

Dr. Kim

join me for some dreamwork

I’m excited to be blogging about an upcoming free event (October 13-16, 2020) that I am privileged to host! When The Shift Network contacted me to ask that I host this year’s Dreamwork Summit, I was thrilled. This article delivers what you’ll want to know about this most amazing event, straight from the producers themselves:

Beholding our world in a state of upheaval, it may seem like we’re descending into a collective nightmare.  

With worsening environmental disasters, continued health and economic uncertainty rippling across the globe… and mounting social unrest and political turmoil… many are disoriented and mourning the loss of normalcy.

In the realm of dreamwork, nightmares serve as important messengers, prompting the sleeper to awaken — not only from the dream, but spiritually and personally as well. Learning to unlock the deeper meaning of your dreams, especially the frightening ones, can illuminate a pathway through the confusion into clarity, peace, and renewed vision.

As a collective, we can choose to view these challenging times as an invitation to dive deep… to uncover and work with our shadow side and the things we need to wake up from. Exploring your dreams can help you unveil inner wisdom that’s been clouded by the stressors of your waking life. And it can help you access your intuition — a source of clarity, guidance, transformation, and the key to manifesting what you need to navigate these difficult times.

Dreamwork can help you imagine and live a new story for your life. It can help you transmute fear into self-compassion, courage, and better understanding of yourself and others.

The Dreamwork Summit is here to help you develop a healing relationship with your dreams. When you befriend your subconscious mind, it can provide you with clues for your next steps… and unique insight into the state of our world.

You’ll discover ways to hone your discernment — while sifting through excess “psychic noise” — and sharpen your intuition.

During this 4-day free online event, you’ll discover a variety of dreamwork methods that can help you reframe and work through painful experiences, ease stress, and provide new perspectives on your challenges — and even break through lifelong blocks to start living the life your soul intended for you.

Click on the link below to register for this Free Online Event

https://shiftnetwork.infusionsoft.com/go/dws20a22143/a22143

P.S. I’m honored to be among more than 20 of today’s leading master dream teachers, psychology professionals, and celebrated authors — including Sandra Ingerman, Robert Moss, Jean Shinoda Bolen, Paul Levy, Clare Johnson, Andrew Holecek, Adriana Ayales, Sharon Blackie, and Sergio Magaña…

… each of whom will be offering effective practices, tools, and techniques for tapping into the soul-guided wisdom, healing power, and creative inspiration within your nighttime dreams. 

Here’s some of what our brilliant speakers will be sharing with you…

  • With Sandra Ingerman, you’ll learn to decode prophetic dreams and understand how you can ask for guidance in a dream by working in “The Land of Dreams.”
  • Learn the 9 keys to understanding your dreams, taking action to apply their guidance and embody their healing creative energy, with Robert Moss.
  • Sharpen your ability to discern true vision from false messages with Kahontakwas Diane Longboat, who’ll share ways to live your dream messages and fulfill the visions you receive.
  • Sharon Blackie will introduce the practice of “dream-weaving,” her unique active imagination process — and the ways it can help you connectwith the spirit of a specific place.
  • With rainforest herbalist Adriana Ayales, you’ll experience a deep immersion into the powers of the pineal gland… and discover which teas, elixirs, and smudging plants to use before sleep.
  • Dr. Enjolie Lafaurie & Cihuapactli Collective will discuss dreams from a Latinx and Indigenous perspective, focusing on the cultural interpretations and implications of visitation dreams.
  • Andrew Holecek will offer wisdom about liminal dreaming, lucid dreaming, dream yoga, sleep yoga, and bardo yoga… which together create a unique form of “night school” — offering huge transformative potential.
  • Join world-renowned healer Sergio Magaña as he describes the transition to a new time according to Toltec and Aztec wisdom, and explains why this is THE time to learn to create your life through dreams.

RSVP here for The Dreamwork Summit — at no charge: https://shiftnetwork.infusionsoft.com/go/dws20a22143/a22143

I hope you have a blast at this awesome event,

Dr. Kim

To work with me, contact me through my Services page or click here: https://consciouschimera.com/professionalservices/

grounding in the ashes

Let’s face it, 2020 continues as one scary, wild ride. We need to take care of ourselves and our families now more than ever. I’m writing this article from Northern California, where COVID continues to have a long, harsh impact, and where acres are scorched in just about every county. The air is very unsafe to breathe and bits of ash fall like a light dusting of snow. Even amidst the chaos and despair, there are ways we can care for our bodies and our mental health while simultaneously praying for rain. Staying present, mindful and grounded are some of those ways. Remember that you and I are not the only ones experiencing uncomfortable or negative feelings. And we surely are not the only one’s feeling unsettled or distracted. So, for one of my favorite techniques continue reading. You can share this with your children too!

Today, I want to share with you a simple, yet effective grounding technique known as 5 senses grounding. This technique was taught to me over a decade ago by Dr. Stephanie Covington. It’s one that I use anytime I need to get out of my head and into my body. This easy, yet brilliant, go-to technique brings quick results and has helped so many people return to their breath and body, plus lower the heart rate, when frenzied thoughts and intense worrying persist. Take a look at the graphic below!

Now if you’ve worked with me individually or in a group, you know how big I am on self-care, so you probably know this one. I’m curious how this technique – 5 senses grounding – has been helpful in your life. Do let me know. If you’d like to work with me this Fall and Winter season, contact me by clicking here, as it will take you to me services page.

In resilience,

Dr. Kim

the fall lineup: dr. kim’s top 10

Can you believe it? Fall is just around the corner! I have to be honest with you, I  worry that a Fall AND Winter season during this pandemic (with the accompanying power outages and California wildfires) will just be too much. How are you preparing? Are you even preparing?

One way I am preparing to shelter in place in the rain, snow and freezing cold (possibly without electricity) is by spending the month of September to order the books I want to read during those days and nights in isolation. Of course, I’ll be sure to have other necessities (extra candles, warm blankets, dozens of batteries for my battery operated lamps, and bottles of water). Let’s get back to what is important for a full inner life  – that is, BOOKS. Wonderful, amazing books! Yes, I am a reader and a true lover of books – not ebooks, but REAL BOOKS – The kind you need paper clips, highlighters, and handmade book markers for. So here, in this article, I want to share with you my top 10 nonfiction recommendations. You’ll find the list below, in no particular order, as they are all equally important to me:

1) Morning Altars: A 7-Step Practice to Nourish Your Spirit through Nature, Art, and Ritual by Day Schildkret

  • For those days when the sky is clear and you feel drawn to go outside, consider creating a natural, earthy altar. By doing so, you practice the art of nonattachment, of letting go. This is important during these unprecedented times when we cannot make our usual predictions about tomorrow. Will a wildfire erupt in our neighborhood? Will a family member contract the coronavirus? Will power outages last several days? In this book, Schildkret walks us through the steps toward creating a beautiful natural piece of art. No glue needed! We use what we find in nature and when the creative process is complete, we give it back to the earth, allowing the winds and rain to take care of it. This is a lovely practice for all ages as well as for the entire family. If you find that constructing these kinds of altars are helpful in your life, for cultivating peace, beauty and nonattachment, why not make them a regular practice?

2) Yoga Nidra: The Art of Transformational Sleep by Kamini Desai, PhD

  • This books covers all you need to know for the deeply relaxing, transformative sleep-based meditation known as yoga nidra. This form of guided meditation is a foundational part of my life. Dr. Desai even has a yoga nidra app which includes 4 recorded meditations for a great price. I have it on my smartphone and use it weekly – once a week at the bare minimum. I have found this practice to be very nurturing and an anxiety reducer.

3) Conscious Dreaming: A Spiritual Path for Everyday Life by Robert Moss

  • While this book was released many years ago, it is still and always will be one of my favorites. Moss has written a dozen books on dreaming, but this is the best in my opinion. He covers just about everything related to dreaming with awareness, including working with your dream guides. This is an inspiring book and one I recommend on very bookshelf. I have a lot more to say about this wonderful book, so click on this link – it brings you to my YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43JtsnOeO50

4) Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Lucid Dreaming: A Comprehensive Guide to Promote Creativity, Overcome Sleep Disturbances & Enhance Health and Wellness by Clare R. Johnson, PhD

  • Lucid dreaming is a hot topic these days and there are several solid publications on the subject. Dr. Johnson’s book is the most comprehensive I have ever come across. As a psychologist with expertise in dreaming, I can say with certainty that this amazing guide will take beginning lucid dreamers to advanced lucid dreamers on a fun and intriguing adventure! Daylight hours are shortening with the approaching Fall season and these unprecedented times have allowed many people to sleep (and dream) more that before. I claim that this is the right time to train yourself to lucid dream, and this is the book to show you how. You won’t be disappointed!

5) Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening by Joseph Goldstein

  • The world is shifting all around us on so many levels. It’s time to wake up. We can no longer sleepwalk – it’s hurting the planet and hurting the children. While stuck indoors this fall and winter due to rain, snow, and the pandemic, why not dedicate 10-30 minutes a day learning to meditate? This can be done with a spouse, friend, or your bored teenagers. While there are much simpler books that teach mindfulness, this book is a classic. It is detailed and rooted in Buddhist teachings so that the reader comes away with an education in the history and philosophy of the origins.

6) Dreams That Can Save Your Life: Early Warning Signs of Cancer and Other Diseases by Larry Burk, MD, CEHP and Kathleen O’Keefe Kanavos

  • Here, a three time breast cancer survivor and a radiologist team up to deliver a book like never before. Since people are reporting higher dream recall this year, it is wise to track our dreams in search of what they may be telling us. Our bodies know things before our conscious, intellectual mind does – these messages can come through in the dream. Read this book and you’ll see for yourself. My video comments on this book can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXETJELQUgw&t=82s

7) Dream Yoga: Illuminating Your Life through Lucid Dreaming and the Tibetan Yogas of Sleep by Andrew Holecek

  • I can’t say enough about this amazing book. While Holecek teaches us that lucid dreaming can promote self-improvement, he takes a deep dive into how waking up in our dreams can lead to self-transcendence – a spiritual dream practice known as dream yoga. Eastern and Western lucid dream induction techniques are covered here so the reader walks away with plenty of opportunities to immediately delve into this life-changing art journey. This book is a gem, requiring a highlighter in my opinion – That speaks to the level of profound insights captured within these pages. Here’s where I say a little more about Holececk’s work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jW9ymibgmUo

8) Dreams of Light: The Profound Daytime Practice of Lucid Dreaming by Andrew Holecek

  • A few years after Dream Yoga was released, Holecek delivers Dreams of Light: a perfect pairing for those on a conscious path to awakening to the true nature of reality. This book, like Holocek’s Dream Yoga, is also rooted in the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism. A main difference is that this book focuses on the daytime practices more so than the nocturnal practices. Dream Yoga and Dreams of Light marry well together. By absorbing the information contained within these pages and actually doing the practices in a serious way, life as we know it changes in ways beyond what we imagine.

9) Radical Hope: 10 Healing Factors from Exceptional Survivors of Cancer and Other Diseases by Kelly A. Turner, PhD with Tracy White.

  • Dr. Turner’s previous book, Radical Remission, was fabulous and this new book on healing is just as wonderful. As the subtitle reflects, there are 10 things we can do to support our health and healing. This is one of those books that you gift to family members – it’s that necessary. I’d like to tell you about a favorite chapter, but truth is, I found all 10 chapters to be equally valuable. This books flows beautifully and I’d bet that you could read it cover to cover in under two weeks. Find my earlier blog on miraculous remissions here: https://consciouschimera.com/2020/06/15/in-remission-radical-style/

10) Italian Folk Magic by Mary-Grace Fahrun

  • You don’t have to have Italian ancestry to enjoy this book. The beauty of this book is that it serves as a reminder to all people and all groups that there are stories, rituals and beliefs that are carried deep within us to connect us to our past. Now if you have ‘lost’ Italian roots, allow this fun read to reacquaint you with your history. After reading Italian Folk Magic, I was inspired to continue asking questions about my family history and request the retelling of old stories. I gather that this book truly comes from the heart.

So that’s my top 10 – obviously, I recommend them all. Clearly my prized book collection features many publications on ‘the inner work.’ That’s what I love and that’s what Conscious Chimera is all about. What would you add to this list of Fall/Winter nonfiction recommendations for 2020? Let me know. I’m always looking for a good read!

Cheers to all my booklovers,

Kim

Here’s the link to get my book, Extraordinary Dreams: https://mcfarlandbooks.com/product/extraordinary-dreams/

got divine femininity?

We are living in a world lacking balance. This is especially true in modern Western society where patriarchy has imposed definitions of what it means to be feminine. I write from the United States, so my views are birthed from a lifetime of living in this nation. While living in this nation during this era affords so much, it lacks something img_5622deeper, something critical for long-term survival and prosperity. This lack is rooted in the spiritual (not to be confused with religious dogma). We have collectively lost our divine feminine soul.

When we talk about the divine feminine or feminine energy, we are not talking about gender. We are also not talking about modern depictions of women in media who often come across as insecure, jealous, sarcastic, competitive, bitter, resentful or catty – anything but harmonious or spiritually developed. What we are talking about are concepts beyond that, such as creativity, flexibility, wisdom, intuition, community relations, compassion, empathy, sensuality (senses not thought), cooperation and img_5620collaboration. Those qualities enliven feminine energy and when they are lived through the body and move the spirit, we touch the divine feminine.

When it comes to the feminine, it’s easy to lose touch with this part of ourselves. Masculine energies are highly rewarded in this society and have been for a couple thousand years now. Nothing is wrong with these energies when they are in balance with the feminine. As the first sentence highlighted, we are out of balance. Not all is lost though, as we have an opportunity each passing moment to reestablish equilibrium. 

The seven years I spent doing doctoral work alone left me deeply rooted in the head, even though the program was somewhat balanced in that my clinical psychology concentration was somatic psychology – a highly intuitive embodied practice. That said, my personal journey to further restore a masculine-feminine energetic balance has led img_5610me in a few directions. I had found myself drawn to meditate on the Goddess: Gaia, Brigid, Diana/Artemis, among others – this surfaced years ago. This year, I have returned to bring home an aspect of my Roman Catholic roots. That is turning my attention back to the Blessed Mother, Mother Mary, the Madonna. In addition to meditation and contemplation, I have opened myself to a kind of creativity that blends these ingredients by crafting small shrines in Her honor. As a longtime artist and craftsperson, I see how my consciousness shifts when I get into ‘the art zone.’ Time freezes, senses come alive, thoughts cease, and something bigger opens. This is just my current way of doing things and experiencing the mysteries of the process. I am no expert when it comes to the Divine Feminine. Like everyone else, I search for meaning.

While my story and my journey are incomplete (is anything ever complete?), I hope it, along with the photos of my work, inspire you to reconnect to the feminine energy within, in your own unique way. We can revive, reunite, restore and rebuild at any age, at any time. It’s not gone, although sometimes it gets lost. I want to proclaim that we, as humans, have created a balanced world, but I cannot — At least not yet. What are you doing today to bring more balance to your one-of-a-kind life and to this beautiful world?

 

Compassionately yours,

Dr. Kim

For a free 12 minute guided meditation, CLICK HERE.

To see my shrines for sale, CLICK HERE.

To get my book, Extraordinary Dreams, CLICK HERE.

5 tips for sanity in the summer of 2020

So here I am, blogging in my home away from home in an attempt to escape the Jones Fire. One of my favorite months (August) is now entwined with anxiety. Last summer was just as unnerving. I just love living in a forested, mountainous region, but I am a city-girl after all, having been born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. While I love my new community, I have noticed that I am definitely much more uneasy than the locals when it comes to forces of nature. That’s just a fact, whether it is a family of bears at my front door, a wildfire, or the random pine tree dropping some of its branches on my roof. Furthermore, as I sit here and blog so soon after having evacuated from my home, I can’t help but wonder…what is wrong with me? Shouldn’t I be focused on something else?

This article is one attempt to stay sane amidst this pandemic and the start of wildfire season. Below, I will share with you 5 tips for wellness and sanity – things that I practice every day. I will lay out each tip in the order in which I do them.

  • 1) Immediately upon waking up I remain still and see what dreams I recall. If nothing is clearly recalled, I notice how I feel. I don’t care if I wake up at 8am or sadly, much much earlier as a result of worry. Why? Dreams or the feeling they give off can tell me a lot with regard to what I should focus on that day. For example, did I wake up with a sense of dread and feel compelled to pack or recheck my ‘go-bag’? If yes, then I do it! Did I wake up to recall a seemingly random scenario? If so, I pay attention. You see, dreams can provide precognitive elements – that’s a glimpse of a future event. So many people (both those in the United States and the Middle East) recalled dream predictions of 9/11, and other disasters. So when I wake up in the middle of the night or the morning, I take notice. It is okay to act on information from dreams. They just might be helping me out!
  • 2) Once awake and moving about, I list 10 things I am grateful for. Sometimes, the list doesn’t change much from day-to-day. That’s alright. The point is that I take a minute or two to set this tone. I like to do this while I enjoy my morning tea. The positivity and humility carry me throughout the day ahead. I can easily return to those thoughts of life’s simple blessings whenever I need to.
  • 3) I’m told over and over that I am what I eat, so I start the day with a healthy boost. I have both a juicer and a Vitamix, but that isn’t necessary. One appliance will do. This month I have turned toward my Vitamix almost daily. I toss in organic broccoli, cauliflower, dark leafy greens, and berries. Once blended, I sip my vegetables while knowing that I have given myself a healthy phytonutrient blast. If I eat something that’s not so healthy later that day, I don’t feel so bad about it. Important side note: if you can afford organic fruits and vegetables, it’s worth it. I read a lot about food politics, but I won’t get into that here. Trust me, buying organic is worth your money!
  • 4) A period dedicated to some form of meditation acts as a reset when the day becomes hectic or unmanageable. Before diving into work or leaving the house, add a 10 to 15 minute time block to the calendar. This makes it more likely to happen. I’m sure you’ve noticed that as well. The e-calendar on my smart phone is a placeholder for wellness-related activities, not just appointments and tasks. Honor this time that is set for self-care. For support, I sometimes use an app while other times I choose walking meditation or sit down for conscious breathing time. This tip alone does wonders for our physiology, supporting the parasympathetic nervous system (that’s ‘the brakes’ or the part that supports ‘rest and digest’). I consider any form of meditation a foundation healthcare practice. Switch out the afternoon coffee break for a meditation break. You’ll get a much healthier level of support to finish out the workday.
  • 5) It’s blazing hot outside, so to finish my day I head outdoors around sundown. During that time, I water the garden, toss around the tennis ball with my Border Collie, or go for a neighborhood stroll. This kind of gentle movement and down time allows me to reflect and process the day behind me. Now that it’s evening time, I can return to step 2 if I need to. There’s no harm in that.

I hope you use these 5 tips as you move forward into this stressful fire season alongside the pandemic. Everyone, everywhere, can use a little help from time to time. I am happy that I shared some of the activities and behaviors that have helped me move toward a heathy lifestyle. Wishing you and your loved ones wellness, safety, and good fortune, from California.

 

Cali Love,

Dr. Kim

For my free guided meditation recordings, CLICK HERE!

For my previous article on breathing and breathwork, Click here.

To purchase my book Extraordinary Dreams, CLICK HERE.

breathing for health

No one needs to convince us why we need to breathe. Sometimes, however, we need convincing as to why we should do it consciously, with awareness. Study after study shows us that intentional, abdominal breathing has direct affects on the body – this is good news. After all, it is free and can be done anywhere, at any time. Stress doesn’t have to get the best of us! By just a few minutes spent each day on the practices I’ll be describing below, one can invoke healing in the immune and nervous systems. This stuff calms the mind as well. Don’t we all need that, especially during this time?

When I demonstrate these techniques to my patients, I first begin by putting one hand on my chest and the other hand on my abdomen. This sort of check-in tells me whether I’mPhoto on 7-27-20 at 7.34 PM #2 breathing into my chest (shallow breathing) or whether I am taking a fuller breath in so that my belly expands (this is what we want). If my breathing is in my chest, I can consciously imagine my next inhalation moving deeper down into my body. I do this – as many breaths as it takes – until abdominal breathing is comfortable. Try it for yourself now. See what I mean?

From there, I love to move on to the 4:8 breathing technique. This is done by inhaling for 4 seconds, pausing for a second, then exhaling for 8 seconds. Simple, right? I like to do this for about 5 rounds or so. At that point I am really starting to notice the effects. The 4:8 breathing technique is so wonderfully calming.

Another way to encourage this kind of slow, rhythmic breathing is to use visualization. This was taught to me by one of my best yoga nidra teachers, Kamini Desai, PhD. With each exhalation, image that you are blowing the air out through a straw. So that’s inhaling through the nose, pausing for a second, then exhaling with softly pursed lips as if blowing through a straw. Really see that breath being pushed out through a skinny tube to slow everything down.

Another technique that involves counting, but in a much different way, is to count each inhalation and exhalation. Work downward, from 10 down to one. Some people recommend counting only the inhalations or the exhalations, while others recommend counting both. So, it would look like mentally/silently saying to yourself ‘10 I am inhaling…10 I am exhaling…9 I am inhaling…9 I am exhaling…8 I am inhaling,…’ and so on. When I was training in hypnotherapy, I was reminded that counting down (not up) was important to encourage greater levels of relaxation.

We all know that stress equals disease onset. In our overly-stressed society, conscious breathing has become a necessity. Not only do our bodies benefit, so do our minds. After all, the mind and body are linked – they make up a whole. You could even say that they are ONE. While these techniques are for anytime and anywhere, I find that they are perfect upon waking up each morning as well as at bedtime. That’s because an AM breathing practice sets the tone for the day, while the PM practice supports the melting away of stress and the day’s residue. It even adds to a solid sleep hygiene routine. With consistent practice, I expect that you will see a difference. I know I did.

If you’d like one-on-one coaching for stress management or support with your health goals, contact me. I can assist you in breathwork and in building a mediation practice. I offer guided imagery, hypnotherapy, and yoga nidra (a sleep-based meditation), in addition to counseling services.

 

Here’s to your health,

Kim

To order my book, Extraordinary Dreams, click here.