in remission, radical-style

How do people get diagnosed with a terrible disease, forgoing any kind of conventional/allopathic treatment, only to later discover that there is no evidence of that disease? One year, it’s stage four, the next year it is gone – how does this happen? Radical remissions have boggled the mind, however, the spontaneous disappearance of disease is now much more well-documented than it was a half-century ago. The Institute of Noetic Sciences published a report in May 1987: Brendan O’Regan’s lecture, titled Healing, Remission and Miracle Cures. Yes, these types of spontaneous remissions were

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thought to be miracles by some, yet in the medical community these remissions were often considered to result from misdiagnosis. In some cases even, amazing healing stories were silenced.

Miracle, luck, or otherwise, let us look at what these individuals have done – their behaviors, beliefs and practices – that have likely been responsible for such a miracle to have taken place. Since the 1980s, science has demonstrated that the mind and body are connected and in communication with each other. It’s appropriate to consider the mind and body to be a unified whole. Understanding this helps digest what we will see below.

Dr. Kelly Turner’s 2014 book Radical Remissions and her 2020 book Radical Hope outline the key factors for healing. In Turner’s multifaceted definition of radical remission, one component includes those who healed from cancer (and other serious diseases) without conventional treatment. More and more attention is being placed on how we can empower ourselves to increase responsibility for our own health and healing. So, let’s review the 1O factors that emerged from Turner’s work. They are:

  • Radically changing your diet
  • Taking control of your health

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  • Following your intuition
  • Using herbs and supplements
  • Releasing suppressed emotions
  • Increasing positive emotions
  • Embracing social support
  • Deepening your spiritual connection
  • Having a strong reason to live

and

  • Incorporating exercise into your life

These healing factors need no additional explanation, however, if you are facing an illness, I encourage reading Turner’s books sooner than later. These books are so inspirational and will answer the dozens of questions likely forming in your mind right now. Could these factors reported by Turner bring an individual from a late stage cancer diagnosis to having no evidence of disease (NED)?

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There are no definitive conclusions – Turner’s research was not causal. At the same time, I feel great promise. We seem to be heading in the right direction here. I attend to each of these 10 factors almost every day of the week. By simply aligning myself with them, I feel at my best.

If you are well, taking these 10 factors seriously could keep you that way. In terms of prevention, why not take action by making these key factors a part of your life. Notice how many of the factors are psycho-social-spiritual? These emerge frequently in my private practice, given my work as a psychologist and psychotherapist. For the other two factors (herbs, supplements, diet), consult with a Naturopathic Physician and Registered Dietician to get professional guidance. I cannot stress this point enough! Lastly, remember that if you have a diagnosis and find yourself on the journey towards healing, know that you do not have to make that journey alone. Allow others to support you and walk beside you along your path.

 

To your health,

Kim

 

If you would like holistic support, see my services by CLICKING HERE.

To get my book, Extraordinary Dreams, CLICK HERE

 

 

shades of grey

With all that’s taking place in our world right now (pandemic, violence, loss of security and even life), it’s easy to slip. No, not with alcohol (although that might be happening much more lately), and no, not on a banana peel, but with our thinking. Negative thought patterns and cognitive distortions flourish in difficult times. If we don’t pay attention to our own thinking (metacognition), we are liable to continue along with the same mental errors.

There is a branch of psychology, known as cognitive psychology, which focuses on mental processes. Cognition, or thinking, shapes our behavior and feelings. Furthermore, thoughts, behaviors, and feelings are in a constant relationship: one affecting the other. If we think of a negative event repeatedly, replaying it over and over in our mind, for instance, we can bet that we’ll feel lousy for the rest of the day. If we feel lousy and are holding onto some ugly thoughts, how do you think we may act or behave toward others or in a stressful situation? From another angle, let’s say that we do something without thinking (against our better judgment), and are left feeling guilty or embarrassed. This can lead to becoming fixated on the event, perhaps even labeling ourselves, or calling ourselves names. A downward spiral has begun with thoughts, behaviors and feelings all fueling each other.

Several decades ago, research by psychologists Aaron Beck and David Burns lead to identification of some of the most common cognitive distortions and the problems they can cause. Here, I will describe a few of them.

Black-and-White Thinking: This dichotomous, either/or thought pattern is also known as all-or-nothing thinking. Things are good or bad, right or wrong – there is no room for any shade of grey. Because the middle ground has been ignored, and only two sides or outcomes are believed to exist, there is little possibility in finding reasonable ground.

Overgeneralization: Does your inner voice like to use the words “always,” “never,” “every,” or “all?” If so, be on the lookout for falling into the trap of overgeneralizing. One or two single events cannot provide a reliable conclusion. We need much more data to make solid generalizations. For example, if you are stood up on a blind date, that doesn’t mean that blind dating is unreliable or that every scheduled blind date will lead to being stood up.

Catastrophizing: When something unpleasant takes place in your life, do you twist it into something potentially ‘off-the-charts’ disastrous? “A person who is catastrophizing might fail an exam and immediately think he or she has likely failed the entire course. A person may not have even taken the exam yet and already believe he or she will fail—assuming the worst, or preemptively catastrophizing.” (borrowed from GoodTherpay.org)

Should Statements: It’s fairly common to direct ‘should statements’ toward ourselves and others, even though the end result is no fun. Be on the lookout for “should,” “must,” or “ought” because they indicate that you are operating here. “She should have told me sooner!” “I should have arrived to class earlier.” “He ought to thank me for all I’ve done for him.” “I must ace this mornings exam!” If you feel guilt, shame, frustration, anger or bitterness, examine your thinking. Is this cognitive distortion common in your mental life? Should statements serve no healthy purpose and typically lead to feeling lousy. Spot them, challenge them and see what you discover.

A full list can be found online in blogs at goodtherapy.org and psychologytoday.com.

From a cognitive therapy standpoint, we can get a grasp on this whirlwind by first identifying maladaptive thinking – those pesky patterns of thinking that do us no good. Without attention or correction, a negative outlook on life can develop. The correlation with depression comes as no surprise. And again, without attention or correction, these negative schemas are likely to stick around, sometimes for a lifetime. This is bad for one’s health and no good for anyone’s long-term well-being.

A beginning step toward resolution, is to slow down and live ‘in-the-moment’ in order to increase awareness of cognitive distortions as they rise. Every time I have shared the above list with a university student or psychotherapy client – I’m talking hundreds, if not thousands of times – each one of them has quickly identified the distortion(s) in which he or she frequently operates. Just know that these are THAT common. Each time I share these with others, I look at my own patterns of thinking again and again. I’m grateful for the practice because thought patterns can become habitual and need frequent examination. It’s good practice to shine a spotlight on shades of grey.

By tracking our thoughts, we have the opportunity to increase our awareness of our own thinking habits. Do they serve us or would it be best to make some changes? This awareness allows us to challenge ourselves and choose more adaptive thoughts for a more positive way of living and being. There is no shame in adopting more thoughtful, enlightened responses and charting a new course.

 

Here’s to clear thinking,

Kim

To get my book, Extraordinary Dreams, CLICK HERE.

essential oil essentials

Ahhh, the aroma of lavender in the air – the luxurious sensation as the oil touches the skin… Unless that sends you into anaphylactic shock (Woah!). Yep, essential oils are all the rage these days. From claims of ailment alleviation to promises of enlightenment, essential oils are praised to the 10th degree. I absolutely love essential oils and use them often. Per client request, or having been granted permission to do so, I have also used them in both individual and group therapy sessions. Other times, I use essential oils before a therapy session to help me prepare, or afterward to release the day’s residue. A saltwater-essential oil bath does wonders!

While essential oils can do a ton of good, unfortunately, there are loads of misconceptions regarding them. During this time, especially, with the stress brought on by COVID-19, we are all looking for relief. Grabbing a few bottles of essential oils might be someone’s go-to remedy for a mental or emotional boost. This is a wonderful use for img_5326those properly educated on their use, thus aware of the benefits and possible drawbacks. When it comes to essential oils, use caution and consult with a professional before diving in. My biggest concern is that many people are ingesting synthetic essential oils, whereby making them anything but essential! Essential oils are for external use only and should be diluted with a carrier oil (such as jojoba, for example) or lotion. Before using essential oils, consult your healthcare provider, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medications, or have any health conditions.

To help me uncover some of the BS surrounding essential oil use and the many unfounded claims, I interviewed Lisa Mandelbaum, L.Ac., DPLOM of Nevada County, California. Lisa is a licensed acupuncturist, functional medicine practitioner, and is certified in Oriental Medicine. She has studied essential oils extensively, even beyond her formal academic years.

When people ask me about the best essential oils for relaxation and for calming themselves before bed (both physically and mentally), lavender immediately comes to mind. Lisa confirmed, “Lavender is the key for sleep.” She added, “I also like grounding the bottom of the feet with black spruce.” What a lovely bedtime ritual.

Others wish to know which essential oils will help them stay asleep through the night. They’re sick and tired of waking up at three or four in the morning! This can be a tricky area. Lisa told me that this is “…hard to say because people wake up for different reasons.” If someone wakes up from pain, Lisa recommends frankincense. However if the awakening is due to anxiety, she suggests bergamot. While for grief, Lisa recommends geranium.

On a different note, there are essential oils that help with grounding anytime of the day or night. Cedar is one I have used for this purpose. Lisa highly recommends anything deep and rooty, such as black spruce and frankincense.

One of my favorite essential oils assists in opening the third eye. Just dab a drop of clary sage essential oil at the brow center, lie back and relax. Lisa taught me that one!

I wanted to know which oils were Lisa’s most loved. One of Lisa’s favorite essential oils is bergamot. She said, “It is super relaxing and fits everyone’s constitution. You place it near the tip of the ear.” Sometimes we just need to wake up and get going though. Lisa told me that placing a drop of “…rosemary on the top of the head is great for a burst of energy.”

In this May 2020 blog article, only a handful of essential oils have been named. Below, I will list just a few of them alongside some of their functions according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

Bergamot: Regulates Qi; settling to the heart; balancing to the spirit.

Black Spruce: Strengthens lung and kidney; expels phlegm; strengthens the spirit.

Clary Sage: Activates Qi and blood; harmonizes the spirit.

Frankincense: Activates Qi and blood; Strengthens the spirit.

Lavender: Activates Qi; clears heat; calms the spirit.

You may soon find these wonderful oils ‘essential’ to your life, as I have mine. For more information on essential oil properties and functions or continuing education units for acupuncture and oriental medicine healthcare professionals, visit Snow Lotus at snowlotus.org.

For information on essential oil warnings and risks, here is one popular report: https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/news/20170809/essential-oils-natural-doesnt-mean-risk-free

does your pet talk to you?

This past month has brought many new experiences – isolation, restricted movement, heavier reliance on technology, and more. Almost all of the information flying towards us at warp speed, in addition to the COVID death toll, is about how we must take care of ourselves. Expert after expert is giving us instruction. As a psychologist, I think about this stuff a lot, but sometimes I just need to go somewhere different, take a new route, if you will.

So, with that said, let’s have some fun here. When we think of the concept consciousness, it’s typically human consciousness. How often do you ponder animal consciousness? Furthermore, how often do you think deeply about how humans can tap into the consciousness of animals? This article is about just that. Here, I will introduce you to Leslie Rolleri, an experienced pet communicator, who helps cat and dog owners understand their pet’s most intimate desires and needs. But first, let’s look into what pet communication is all about.

Pet, or animal, communication is the phenomenon whereby a human comes to know an animals thoughts and feelings as well as their energy and sometimes confusing behavior. Have you ever felt that your pet is trying to telling you something, but you just couldn’t figure it out? Most animal owners have had this experience more than once, and it can be frustrating.

Many animal communicators are also energy workers, psychic mediums, or animal behaviorists, and empathic. I know, that’s a wide spectrum, but it’s what I have found in my research and in speaking with pet communicators. These phenomena are all related.

My last dog, Sage, was an American Rottweiler. Sage met Leslie on a couple of occasions and liked her very much. Sage behaved differently when Leslie was around, especially when Leslie turned her attention toward Sage. It wasn’t strange behavior, per se, just different, and in a subtle way. I spoke with Leslie about her experience as a hired pet communicator. She explained how she works with an animal:

“I have had a strong connection to animals my entire life and found I have the ability to understand them and connect on a deeper level.  I’ve noticed all my life that pets would gravitate towards me and trust me. I studied an energy release work for pets under a pet chiropractor, which uses unconditional love to release physical tension helping pets to IMG_0521be more in the present.  I’ve also studied Theta Healing, a modality that uses the theta brain wave for intuitive healing. This modality works with animals to communicate in pictures. Yes, animals communicate in pictures and many understand words but they respond to energy and pictures immediately. Pets are simple, really. Most desire the walk you promised or a toy, or even a blanket they like to sleep on. Just like people they have personalities and motivations and dislikes. I have found that people also need to be worked on in order to help the animal’s situation and, when possible, I like to work with the whole family. I have a deep respect for animals and all life and feel a need to convey their wishes and desires. Often people want a dog or cat to behave a certain way and get upset when they don’t.  It’s all about reading their body language because they are always reading yours.”

Leslie continues, “When I first work with a client and their pet, I inform them that I will be checking in on their pet 15 or so minutes before the session to check in and see what the pet wants to show me and communicate.  I do this because once I’m there the client may distract my clear communication with the animal. It also gives me a chance to see if my intuition is correct, as I’ve never met the animal before. Usually this involves knowing their address and name and getting permission from the owner to work with their animal. When I’m working I’m sending unconditional love. Dogs are very loyal so they need permission from their owners to convey this is okay and a gift.  Before I leave to see a client I go into a Theta state at home and command I connect to an animal and once I’ve remotely located the pet I will first come into their space and ask for their spirit name and if It is okay to work with them. Then I will ask them intuitively to show me what is going on and what they would like to communicate to their owners and I will also do a body scan if there are physical problems. This takes just a few minuets and usually what I get are quick images of things and sometimes words like walk. Yes, most dogs just want a walk! Sometimes I will see a toy, say a grey teddy bear and a leash, or maybe a window and a particular colored blanket. Just like people pets have connections to their toys and situations and will let me know what they are missing or what is important to them. For example, I will jot down some notes like grey toy, walk, and also any physical areas I notice are dark. I don’t put labels on the areas unless I’m told something (for example, “it’s a blockage”), but often I’m not told it’s cancer. I just see the blockage and then I command Creator/Source to remove it in the highest and best way.”

When asked whether she believes anyone can learn to do this work, Leslie said, “I have always been very intuitive but anyone can learn this skill – it just takes some practice.”

Leslie commented on an animals diet. Considering pet food choices, Leslie added, “Most dry pet foods are not good for pets. Canned can be better however, dehydrated and homemade with fresh ingredients are the best.  I recall my Grandfather making his dogs food in a big pot on the stove. Today’s dry dog food is a rather new thing for our pets to digest, historically speaking. Raw is also a great alternative as most animals are hunting their food and eating it fresh, uncooked.  We all should be eating foods that are 70% hydration so eating dry food is the hardest on your pet so make sure they have plenty of fresh water.”

Leslie continued, elaborating on her experience working with pets, especially how injury and illness come into play. She shared that, “Often our animals take on some of our problems – they think they’re helping us. Yes, they can physically take on your illness – they are trying to help you. I will usually have difficulty finding cats as they sometimes don’t want to do the work and instead they will want to stay in a comfort zone. Once I’m able to connect with them (sometimes physically, sometimes remotely if they are hiding), they will usually come out and just stare at me wide-eyed as they realize I’m working with them. I usually do the energy release to get them calm and centered then I will convey their owner’s desires and also tell their owners their issues. Sometimes they feel like an outsider, sometimes they miss a family member and other times they just want that blanket back on the bed so they will sleep there again. Usually the client notices a shift in the animal within a few hours and over the next few days. I usually get info on time frames regarding illness or injury. Often within the session I will convey to the client the information that I’ve received (i.e. the cyst will burst, or the animals will get along and finally sleep together, or return home). Sometimes it’s subtle, sometimes it’s more obvious.”

So what can pet owners do? Leslie suggests, “You can help your pet so much by hearing what I’ve told you and then using your ability to visualize and communicate with your pet.  I realize it takes some work but they are already seeing your thoughts and reading your body language – you just need to be aware of it more.  For example, you’re trying to get your dog to drop the ball but it just wants to play and make you chase it around instead of listening to you.  Instead of getting upset or yelling, remain calm and send an image of your dog dropping the ball in your hand, your dog will pick up on the image far quicker then any verbal command especially if you are angry or making different deep or high pitched sounds. Also, if you notice your pet doesn’t like something. l always respect their boundaries. When you think about it this is what we would all like our experience to be so respecting your pets boundaries does wonders for you also in finding your own boundaries.”

When asked about her business location and services, Leslie stated, “I live and work in Sonoma County, California, but I can also do this work remotely, over the phone. If this interests you, be sure you are home when we plan a session. I prefer this because I have had check-ins where the client isn’t home yet and when I’ve connected they are traveling in a car, which can be disorienting for the pet.  When you are moving like this, time and space are influences making it more difficult. If you’re interested in learning more, Theta Healing books and classes are amazing. I encourage you to explore and try visualization with your pets and see how your connections deepen.”

Leslie Rolleri can be reached at 707-478-3218.

 

Light & love,

Kim

coping holistically though COVID-19

Here we are, living day by day with ‘shelter-in-place.’ The news reminds us to play it safe by wearing masks and gloves, keep the six foot minimum distance when in public, and most of all to stay home. In addition, media sources show us what to fear most and blast the death toll constantly. This provides information, sure – yet it can also increase stress and elevate fear, obviously. During these times, it is crucial that we learn to take really good care of ourselves, from the physical and mental, to the emotional and spiritual. This doesn’t need to cost a penny, nor does it need to become a burden. You can find a free 12 minute guided imagery experience at the top of my product page – or just click here.

I’d like to see more about holistic self-care from the media during times like these. I think the increase in online ‘happy hours’ and classes of all sorts has been really helpful as a way to build comradery, decrease lonliness, keep life as consistent as possible, and offer an alternative to television. There are some really creative outlets out there! For example, just about any form of physical exercise can do wonders for our mental and emotional states while ‘doing right’ for the body. Most people know this. Personally, I’m not a fan of the gym; I prefer exercises I can do in or near my home. Some of my favorites include mindful stretching and yoga, hiking, and dancing. Learning certain practices, even something totally new, can be done online. Tai Chi, Qi Gong, or yoga are just a few examples that bring with them a positive holistic impact. Mindful movement that attends to the breath does wonders! Most recently, I was invited to an online Zumba class and a group of friends decided to attend on the same day. Now that’s an energy release combined with laughter and emotional support!

Considering mental and emotional states, I think about my habit of overscheduling. I’ve been considered a “go-go-go” kind of person most of my life. It took a serious illness for me to learn to say “No” and seriously scale back. Furthermore, from my years teaching Cognitive Psychology, I knew that multi-tasking was not any faster than completing one task at a time. In fact, with multi-tasking we are worse off. Most people are doing too much. I knew I was too, but also struggled with making lasting change in this area. I’m hopeful that this virus will pass sooner than later, but until it does pass, we can use this time to ask ourselves how would we want to spend our time (especially if we knew we had so little of it left). So, if you need to say “No, thanks, not today” in response to an online invite of any kind, that is okay!

On a spiritual level, “living every day” becomes a way of life, especially for those most closely impacted by COVID-19. I’m talking about those that are currently ill or know someone who has been infected, along with every single person that is working to get us all through this: Nurses, mental health professionals, grocery store clerks, bankers, gas station attendants, and other service workers come to my mind immediately. How about for you? Those that cannot #StayHome during this crisis, may not be feeling isolated, but may be feeling incredible levels of stress. They may just want to sleep during the off hours and that is alright – sleep is very healthy. While on duty, conscious, abdominal breathing or slipping in a three minute mindfulness break while in the bathroom (I’m very serious about that) may be all that is possible. Do not underestimate the value of just these alone! If you are on the front lines, know that I am here for you and will gladly send free, pre-recorded guided mediations your way – just send me your email address through my services page. In addition, limiting exposure to politics and news stations can help reduce anxiety and relieve mental tension. You probably hear more than enough at work! Recognize what sources provide quality information as opposed to hype and drama.

Here are some additional ideas that can make life a little better when feeling alone, lonely or isolated, or in need of a little nurturing:

  • Get sucked into fantasy with a good book. Maybe reread one that you put back on the shelf years ago. I’ve been doing this lately and have even come across ones that I never read in the first place!
  • Begin journaling. Some prompts are as simple as “What am I feeling today? How is this similar or different than yesterday?” Other people use journals to write a letter to your future self. Project yourself in 5 years. What are your hopes and dreams for 2025? And of course there is dream journaling. Have you wanted to start engaging your dream life more? This just might be the time. Journaling our dreams is a great IMG_2508practice. Dreams are like a mirror, reflecting our inner world. They are the language of the soul. Dream plots and imagery are also inspirations for poetry, story-telling and art.
  • Take a sensuous bath – add oils, flowers, herbs or sea salts to the bath water. Allow yourself to soak away. Light candles or bring a good book for additional relaxation.
  • Write letters, the old-fashioned way, and snail-mail them. No text messaging this time! When was the last time you did this? I bet it’s been years. If you have old, used greeting cards, cutting them at the fold, turns the front side with design or picture, into a postcard. No need for stationary.
  • Spend time in nature. When was the last time you did a nature walk in your town? Get outside and notice what’s in bloom. Take in the spirit of mother nature, commune with her aliveness. If you have kids, a spontaneous treasure hunt or eye spy game is fun. Some kids love to collect leaves, bark and other tidbits to make a collage. Got glue?
  • If at all possible, allow yourself to sleep in! After all, you probably are not commuting to work or school (unless you work in particular industries, that is). That commute time, whether it be 30 minutes or an hour, can go toward increase shut-eye. This is healthy on so many levels and who knows, maybe you’ll have dream visitors – friends and family that, during these time, feel so far away. Give a dream hug! It can feel just as warm and beautiful…
  • Find a recipe you’ve always wanted to try and make it. Got any neglected cookbooks on your books shelf? This becomes extra fun with kids involved, so long as the adults feel calm and patient (Ha!). Or even better, go online and enter someone else’s kitchen – cook right along with them.
  • Consider doing a craft. This can really take our mind away from problems we are currently facing. Arts and crafts pull me into ‘the zone’ and I loose all track of time. How perfect on a rainy weekend! Consider this easy craft: Turn your attention to img_5155that stack of old magazines and catalogs lying around the house and simply rip out the images. Find glue or tape and a piece of cardboard, paper, or poster board (If you’ve ordered anything online recently, these can often be found in packing material once your product arrives) Once you’ve collected those, you are ready to begin constructing a vision board. The basics of vision board making include imagining what you want to complete or accomplish within the next 3-6 months. Be as specific and concrete as possible. From there, find images that reflect this. The idea is to create a board of images that move us in the direction we want to go. Imagery is powerful, so I suggest avoiding (or seriously limiting) the use of words or phrases – try to stick solely with images. I’ve made vision boards for my biggest goals: finishing a PhD program, getting published, finding the perfect home, and more.

Are you already engaged in any of these practices? Let me know what works best for you!

 

Wishing you wellness and inner peace,

Kim

My book, Extraordinary Dreams, can be purchased here!

 

divination in rough times

As we are all currently living through these uncertain times, the desire to know what lies ahead and what we can do for our future runs high. These days, with the heightened anxiety and strong waves of emotion and fear, it is diffcult to determine if we will out come out of this img_5062alright. What’s in your toolbox? We rely on our inner strength when separated from our communities. Mindfulness, prayer, and phone calls to loved ones help the days pass. I am certain that those who practice the art of divination are using all they know to navigate the oncoming terrain. If you have no experience in this area, why not start learning now?

Divination is “the art of discovering the future right now in the present,” it is the art of prophecy and the foretelling of the unknown, explains Judika Illes in her writings. The art of divination is passive in that it is not done to effect or cause change, but rather, it is a conscious attempt to obtain information regarding events. For many practitioners, she says, this art is sacred and spiritual.

This behavior, of divining, is nothing new. Divination has taken place for thousands of years, indeed it is an ancient practice that that grown and evolved over time. Long ago, diviners were consulted before the biggest decisions were made, such as those regarding war or sacrifice. There was great pressure to make accurate predictions, as you can imagine.

Just a few centuries ago in Britain, cunning folk (wise men/women) used methods of divination to restore or locate lost goods, whether stolen or misplaced. Sometimes divination was used to find a missing person. Other times it was used to make predictions, thus providing advice, on all sorts of matters. Wise men and women were also called upon to discover whether or not one’s illness or misfortune developed from malevolent witchcraft. As you can see from these examples alone, there are many reasons why one would want to develop this art, as it has served humanity for ages.

There many tools at the hand of a diviner – numerous methods and techniques are available for divination. Tarot, Runes, I-Ching and even palm reading rank at the top of the list concerning popularity. Below, I’ll describe some of my favorites or at least those that I find to be the most interesting.

  • Automatic Writing or Psychography is written communication with a spirit done unconsciously by a person in a trance or semi-conscious state, according to paranormal-encyclopedia.com, however, I tend to think of the writing that emerges as coming from ones consciousness or higher power. A piece of ‘automatic writing’ can bloom out of a simple guided imagery or even a light state of self-hypnosis. I’ve experienced this through different class/workshop leaders and have found that diverse facilitation styles work well.
  • Cartomancy is divining from cards. Sometimes the tool is a deck of tarot cards, img_5149other times it is a standard deck of playing cards. The branch of cartomancy that is specific to the use of the tarot for divination is called taromancy. I’m a fan of the classic Rider-Waite-Smith deck. I’ve had mine since I was 18 years old, tried-and-true!
  • Gyromancy is divination in which one walking in or around a circle falls from dizziness and prognosticates from the place of the fall. To expand on this definition, paranormal-encyclopedia.com, explains gyromancy as a form of divination that takes place by walking or twirling around a circle marked with letters until dizzy and, using the letters at the point where the person falls or stumbles to spell out a prophecy. Now that’s fascinating!
  • Necromancy is a form of divination that involves communicating with the deceased and can involve summoning of the spirits of the dead for purposes of magically revealing the future or influencing the course of events.
  • Oneiromancy is divination by means of dreams, specifically through the interpretation of dreams. This is a favorite. It is a divination method that I have practiced for about 15 years. One can incubate a dream in order to assist with the process.
    • Dreamers report receiving messages or learning new information from the dearly departed. I add this here because sometimes deceased loved ones pop up in dreams to express love or just to tell us that they are okay. This is different that necromancy, as defined above. You can read more on this in my book Extraordinary Dreams.
  • Radiesthesia describes divination through the use of a pendulum or rod. There are several ways in which to divine via radiesthesia. It describes the sensitiveness held to enable a person with the aid of divining rod or pendulum to detect things (such as the presence of underground water, the nature of an illness, or the guilt of a suspected person).
  • Scrying is sometimes called crystal gazing, but it is more accurately the term for divination by seeking a vision while gazing into a transparent, translucent, or reflective object. Crystal scrying, sometimes done with a crystal ball, is just one well known example. One can scry with a bowl of liquid (wine, water, ink), a mirror (or specifically a black mirror), in fire (including the embers or smoke) and even through another person’s eyes. My very first experience of scrying at the age of 19 was done through the eyes of another. This friend (and his eyes) were my first teacher into the art of scrying. Later, I came to prefer dark reflective surfaces because they have worked best in my experience. I take good care of my obsidian mirror.
  • Tasseography or tasseomancy is divination is done through the reading of tea leaves, coffee grounds, or wine sediments. Know that there are different ways to do this. For example, first brew a loose leaf tea (without a strainer), then when it has cooled down drink the tea as you concentrate on the question. Next, drain out the remaining bit of liquid by turning the cup over completely. Some or all of the remaining leaves will spill out. What remains in the tea cup reveals the prediction.

Throughout history, the ancient art of divination, in so many of its forms, has been both outlawed and condemned during certain periods of time, while during other times it has been praised by those in power, and even expected to some degree. Today, divination seems to have made its way into the spotlight again. Although those of certain persuasions do not speak highly of it. In my opinion, it is a personal decision to access materials and techniques for divination. If you don’t like it, leave it be. If instead, it calls to you, try it out. During this current ‘shelter-in-place’ order, it just might be the right time to delve into this ancient art. Just remember to dedicate yourself and practice daily. There are many experienced diviners of all types that are open to teach, consult and counsel. What tools and techniques do you want to learn more about? Which might you already use?

May your future be bright,

Kim

the body is always there

When you think about your life, what has been your guiding compass? Maybe it has changed over time, or evolved in some way. Our bodies can be this guiding compass, serving our highest good.

Our bodies are tools or vehicles providing us tangible or visual form to a feeling, a quality, or a state of being. How does this come about? Well, first know that the body is not the servant to the brain, as some believe. Through the practice of embodiment, and getting out of our head, we attend to sensations. From this calm, quiet space, we can gain new knowledge.

Let’s try a simple exercise: As you continue to read the next paragraph, maintain awareness of your posture. Be in your body fully, as you make any physical adjustments, scratch an itch, or shift your weight.

Yes, the body can produce new knowledge if we are patient and make room for it – areas of experience in which we were previously unaware can come forward. Embodiment is a non-verbal human trait. It is the present time felt experience of awareness in a moment as it is happening (Tantia, 2011). Embodied knowledge precedes cognitive awareness. Some have said that our autonomic nervous system is the system of the lived experience. By practicing the skills of embodiment, we may discover that some sensations do not have names or commonly used descriptive elements. That’s okay! One client I worked with earlier this week, used the term “Crinkly” to described his inner experience which was a combination of sensation with visual form located in a specific area of his body. Staying deeply in his body and experiencing what was manifesting in that moment provided him with information beyond what his thoughts, beliefs and judgments could offer. This bodily information system helped him make a decision about something he needed to do; The decision being an informed one from both his intelligence and his inner awareness.

Goldstein (1993) noted, “Practicing mindfulness of the body is one of the easiest ways to stay present in daily life…Our body is quite obvious as an object of attention, not subtle img_5092like thoughts and emotions. We can stay aware of the body easily, but only if we remember to do so” (p. 139). Are you still aware of your posture, in this moment?

With practice, we can experience embodiment while going about our day. If you are new to this, I invite you to put your electronic device down and close your eyes if that is comfortable for you. Take a few conscious abdominal breaths. Notice various sensations. Any areas of tension or numbness in the body? This is a beginning step which can expand embodied awareness with time dedicated to practicing.

Remember, the body is always there. Consider it a trusted guide, a lifelong friend, a forbearer of self-knowledge.

May we continue to blossom along with the coming spring season,

Kim

To order my book, CLICK HERE.

References:

Goldstein, J. (1993). Insight meditation: The practice of freedom. Boston, MA: Shambhala.

Tantia, J. F. (2011). Viva Las Vagus!: The innervation of embodied clinical intuition. The USA Body Psychotherapy Journal, 10(1), 29-37.

mindfulness

Everything I have shared here over the past four years, through the Conscious Chimera blog, has had an impact on my life. Every anniversary article, like the one I am writing this month, is extra special because they highlight subjects that are not only impactful, but have a special status in my life. Lucid sleep was the topic of Conscious Chimera’s 3rd anniversary article, and this month, for our 4th anniversary article, I will focus on mindfulness – it’s been over a year since I wrote on this subject. Mindfulness is a term that some have come to dislike. Is it because it is unclear, in vogue, an umbrella term, or something else? I don’t know, yet in this article I will provide some credible definitions and explanations to start. Mindfulness is so important because without an aware, mindful state, maintaining lucidity in dreams can be nearly impossible. Mindfulness practices support conscious dreaming and a conscious waking life.

So what is mindfulness? Mindfulness may be considered both a trait and a state of being, as well as a skill, and it may also be considered a practice or style of meditation. Through the cultivation of such a state, mindfulness expert Joseph Goldstein (1993) explains that mindfulness “uncovers the characteristic nature of experience itself.” But let’s not jump too far ahead. Becoming more mindful can be simple.

There are numerous ways to enter this “wakeful” state: anything that brings attention into the here-and-now by way of body, breath, and sensation, Goldstein (2013) explains. Consider these additional explanations by others in the field:

Mindfulness is bringing “neutral attention and non-judgmental awareness to body, breath, and sensations as well as anything passing through the field of awareness” (Desai, 2017, p. 230). Jon Kabat-Zinn, in a 2012 interview, stated, “Mindfulness is about love and loving life.” How perfect for this time of year – I’m a big fan of Valentine’s Day. Rick Hansen explains mindfulness in simple terms. He says, mindfulness means “being able to stay in the present moment, moment after moment after moment.” Sounds easy, but even simple tasks like this can be challenging. After all, most human minds are used to doing what they want to do, whether that be fixating on an issue from the past or imagining what can be cooked for dinner later that day.

Even with the simplest and most clear definitions, mindfulness is a huge topic, to include a variety of diverse practices, with no single agreed upon meaning (Davidson & Kaszniak, 2015). Disciplines such as yoga, tai chi, or qi gong cultivate mindfulness. Anyone can benefit from these.

As a psychologist who serves a lot of parents in my psychotherapy practice, I often get asked if mindfulness can be taught to children, and how to go about that. Yes, we can definitely teach mindfulness to children. According to Goldstein (2013), second graders have said, “Mindfulness really gets me calm,” and “Mindfulness helps me get better grades.” Isn’t that what every parent wants to hear? Other children have said “Mindfulness helps me calm down when I get upset. It also helps me with sports and to go to sleep at night.” Further more, second graders have stated, “Mindfulness is the best thing I have done in my life,” and “I love mindfulness.”

Both adults and elementary school aged children can begin their mindfulness journey in the simplest of ways. For example, attending to sensation while washing your hands is img_4983one way. What does the soap feel like on the skin? And the sensation of the water running over the skin? Is the water hot, warm, cool, or cold? Another way of practicing mindfulness is to ring a chime or bell, then stay completely focused on the sound until it is no longer detectable. After, notice all other sounds in the environment. A third example could be to smell some things in your environment and really stay with the scent. If your lunch is in front of you, that makes this easy. If not, look for flowers during a walk, or a bouquet at the office. From the two photos here, you probably have an idea of what I love to smell – haha! Seriously, if you are at all like me, you might even carry a sachet of dried flowers or an essential oil in your bag. This is one of the reasons why I make dream pillows (see my product page for an idea). A final example for this article would be to stay connected to your breath. Notice each inhalation and each exhalation. Are you img_4965taking long deep abdominal breaths, or are they shallow, in the chest? Just noticing and staying connected to the senses and the body are ways of entering a mindful state. I hope you are encouraged to bring mindfulness into your daily life.

Research on mindfulness reflects numerous benefits of a sustained mindfulness practice for both body and mind. If you live in Northern California, consider attending my upcoming March presentation: The Art of Presence 101

Interested in knowing more about mindful-based practice? Write to me at kmascarophd@gmail.com

May you be mindfully aware in your daily tasks and your wildest dreams,

Kim

To order my book, click here!

self-care

Happy new year to you all! This month’s article is not about resolutions, but about something we should be doing regularly (and probably should have been doing all along): that is self-care of the mind, body, emotions and spirit. It’s never too late to start – anytime is a good time. How about now?

Sure, it’s nice to take a steamy bubble bath, or buy something nice for ourself when we can afford it, even indulge in a sweet treat, or get a mani-pedi…you name it. However, caring for the self goes much deeper. I was exposed to this concept around 1999 or 2000 after having worked in the child abuse prevention and trauma field for a brief period of time. For the last 20 years, I have had a self-care regimen of some kind. Still, I have been treated for vicarious traumatization (VT) and secondary traumatic stress (STS)/compassion fatigue (CF) due to all the exposures in my field and my particular work as a trauma therapist over the years, in addition to my own history. Life can be complicated and we can be complicated creatures. No one self-care routine is best. They can differ drastically from individual to individual. One routine may feel sufficient for months, then suddenly more support may be needed in one or more areas. A lot of what professionals teach regarding self-care, we can learn on our own with some research and thoughtful consideration. If you are experiences symptoms of VT, STS/CF, consult with a professional – that is a licensed psychologist or licensed psychotherapist specializing in trauma. After all, it is an opportunity to have another offer evaluation, new ideas and emotional support through a heightened self-care process.

Sometimes, self-care is divided up into physical, mental, emotional, spiritual categories, which is alright, but I prefer to look at things differently because one action, or domain, can support each of these categories.

One major self-care domain is Time in Nature. Getting regular time in the great outdoors and away from busy city life can do wonders for our nervous system and for calming theIMG-4846 mind and the emotions. Taking in fresh air while surrounded by plants and trees is a gift in itself. We can connect spiritually in nature as well. After all, everything is alive. Some people I know go camping (sleeping on the ground directly) every season while others dedicate a weekend day to beach walks, forest trail running or engaging in the practice known as Earthing. Earthing, sometimes also referred to as Grounding, is basically walking barefoot on dirt or grass (not on concrete) for example, like our ancestors did. The last time I did this, it was 45 degrees outside. My feet felt the chill of the ground, but I was bundled up everywhere else, so I was fine. The practice of Earthing is recommended in order to absorb some earth energy, as the planet is negatively charged. IMG-4842The build up of positively charged free radicals throughout the day can be tamed through Earthing due to it’s antioxidant effect. It’s an anti-inflammatory technique! Instead of coffee, try 15 minutes of Earthing in the afternoon as a caffeine substituting self-experiment for relieving grogginess. If getting your shoes off is impossible, do not give up – do it with bare hands instead.

Another major domain in my life is Organic Whole Food, Plant-based Eating. I used to complain (a lot) that organic purchases were too expensive, and that I didn’t have time to cook. Then I had a wake-up call teaching me that buying cheap food on the fly can lead to expensive medical treatments needed to correct a problem I encouraged through my behavior and choices. The inflammatory garbage I was putting in my mouth most days came with a cost. Basically, it’s pay now or pay later with a potentially bigger cost. This decade, it is even more critical since hundreds of new chemicals are being introduced into the environment each year. We know (for years now actually) that babies are born with toxins in their umbilical cord blood. Pregnant mothers’ blood carries many toxic chemicals too, of course. This develops by way of environmental exposures, one being the pesticides in processed and conventional foods. Thinking more about costs, some organic choices are very affordable, such as bulk beans, grains, and even certain fruits and vegetables are similarly priced to conventional. If it’s possible to grocery shop with a friend or family member with similar interests, the experience can be educational, curious, and maybe even fun. Eating as clean as possible offers benefits not just for physical health, but mental and emotional health as well. It’s true – consuming organic foods can be a support for optimal mental and emotional functioning.

An additional major domain is what I’ll label as Cleaning. Our entire being –mind, body, emotions, spirit – can benefit from regular cleaning. By cleaning, I mean committing to actions that invoke reflection, gratitude, clarity, protection, and especially release. Here are some examples:

Unstructured, reflective journaling,

Warm epsom and Celtic sea salt baths,

Writing gratitude lists (at least 10 things I am grateful for),

Mindfulness practices including meditation and guided imagery,

Energetic services such as Reiki or acupuncture,

Tracking dreams and looking for patterns and themes,

Adopting a short home-based energy medicine routine (see November 2019 article),

Getting lost in a craft such as knitting, painting, or coloring mandalas.

That’s only eight examples, but naturally, there are dozens and dozens of ways to clean. I clean daily-to-weekly. How about you?

Most of the ideas I have shared here can be combined in a variety of ways and many of them support more than just one aspect of ourselves. What you see here is by no means an exhaustive list, so add to it, and please share your ideas with me. Remember, a solid self-care routine can be done at-home and cost nothing, or if you have extra funds, hiring a service provider can be very nice.

Everyone wants their personal compass pointed in the direction of good health, happiness, meaning and connection. The power to make changes lies within each one of us. There is no rule saying that changes must be drastic or come all at once. Every small step we make in the right direction for our lives and the lives of our loved ones is well worth it in my book. May this new year bring all good things your way!

 

2020 blessings to you and yours,

Kim

#selfcare

To order my book, click here!

winter season festivities

Season’s greetings! There are many holidays and celebratory traditions during this time of year. While I honor them all, there are a few traditions that are given special attention in my life given cultural and personal factors: these are Winter Solstice, Yule, and Christmas.

Winter Solstice takes place on the 21st of December each year and is the day of the year with the shortest day or period of light and the longest night or period of darkness. The attention given to this time of year by way of rituals and celebrations is ancient. We celebrate the return of the sun and the days getting longer and longer (until Summer Solstice that is). Winter Solstice is celebrated all over the world, yet it is Stonehenge that attracts thousands of people on this day. While I enjoy the slowness and ‘hibernation’ that winter brings, I am a true summer lover. So, there is excitement about each day becoming a little longer and longer.

The first day of Yule is typically on December 21st as well. Much of what many today associate with Christmas actually emerged from the Germanic tradition of Yule. Bringing nature indoors is the thing to do – trees, logs, garlands, holly, wreaths, mistletoe – you get IMG-4808the idea. In addition, caroling, bells, and candles also come from the yuletide season. The two traditions, Yule and Christmas, have blended together in many ways, yet are distinct. This year, the twelve days of Yule are from December 22nd to January 2nd. However, most years the yuletide season runs from December 21st to January 1st. Anytime during this period can be spent decorating the home with wreaths and garlands, or decorating a Yule log to burn one evening.

Having been raised Catholic, Christmas eve and Christmas day (December 24th and 25th) have always been a focal point. From midnight mass to tree decorating and from gift-wrapping to candy-making, this time has contained multiple family rituals across my lifespan. Enjoying special foods and offering gifts to family and friends is a highlight!

These seem to have some things in common. That is the acknowledgement of natural cycles – from darkness to the birth of new light. May you and your loved ones know peace this winter season and fully enjoy your unique expressions and celebrations during this time of year.

 

Happy holidays to you all,

Kim

To order my book, click here!