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

hypnopompic inspiration

The science of sleep has continued to gain attention and over the past couple of decades the field of sleep medicine has experienced a boom. According to American Sleep Association, there are two forms of sleep related hallucinations: hypnogogic and hypnopompic. Some researchers, however, note that the term hallucination is unfitting because hallucinations only occur in the full waking state. Firstly, hypnogogia, is the term used to describe the state one experiences just before sleep. In this state, one may experience hallucinations and sleep paralysis. Secondly, hypnopompia, is the term used to describe the state one experiences upon waking. Sleep paralysis is common during this period, along with perceived complex visual imagery, and increased dream recall.

These sleep-related states can serve creative types well. My own experiences have resulted in decision making, speech writing, and artistic creativity. Others have discovered solutions to complex problems and have even composed musical pieces. When we pay attention and attend to the lived experience of these states, possibilities become endless.

Allow me to share a recent hypnopompic episode. As I was awakening one morning, I saw a strong and fairly clear image that puzzled me. There was a simple wooden wall or plank, with a bright red heart (like a paper valentine’s day-like cut-out heart) floating near the top-left side. To the right was a vertical column of silvery milagros or ex-voto. 649932E1-5FF1-4A6B-B0A3-2EA9E29E6F48Unfortunately, I could not hold on to the exact ones, but I’m certain that they were all body parts. There were at least four, but likely many more. I brought the image to my dream group and processed its many possible meanings. Still, the image stuck with me and I began to draw it, then paint it (I now have plans to construct it in the near future). Through the artistic process my relationship to the meaning behind the raw imagery developed. This style of dreamwork can evolve over a long period of time leading to greater insight and awareness of one’s soul journey. So much of this space remains private, but I am beginning to reveal more and more in time. This image, in its many forms will be on public display in two art exhibitions this spring and summer. I’m excited to share more of my inner work with others and discuss how sleep related states have created meaning in the lives of my community.

Shamans and practitioners of traditional ways do not necessarily label or compartmentalize the human experience the way the West does. No matter which labels (hallucinations, etc.) Western science applies, sleep related states have a long history of supporting spiritual growth and development in many areas (business, career, marriage, creativity). With a pen and paper by the bedside, and a set intention, so much can be unleashed.

 

Be well,

Kim

 

creativity and dreams

Has a dream ever inspired you in some way? Artists of all kinds, such as musical composers, poets, and fine artists, have used their dreams as sources of inspiration. From poetry and literature to painting and sculpture to music and dance, dreams can offer new ideas and make clever contributions. Many well-known writers — Clive Barker, Steven King, and Amy Tan — have credited their dreams for guidance and inspiration.

Recently, I decided to bring my dream images to life through creating fine art. After three vivid dreams featuring an anaconda, I knew I needed to take these experiences beyond my typical dream journal sketches. Since I am most comfortable using stretched canvas, I began there and allowed myself to explore imagery with oil pastels and other media. Not knowing where this would end up, I just kept playing with shape, movement and new materials. It turned out that I enjoyed the process and the final outcome, so much so, that I entered three pieces in a juried exhibition. Mascaro1To my surprise, two were accepted. A few months later, the two pieces you see here were displayed as part of a group art show in Southern California. Each participant was inspired by a dream or a series of dreams, which was reflected in their artwork.

I discovered that this entire process (first dreaming, journaling & sketching upon awakening, then talking about the dream, transforming it into a finished piece, and entering that piece in an art show) brought the dreams to life. The three anaconda dreams continued to unfold in the waking state each time I spoke about them, retold the dream sequences, or continued to develop the imagery. Engaging in the artistic process is one way to work with dreams. Mascaro2This may be the preferred way for those that consider themselves more visual than verbal.

Another way that creating art from a dream is beneficial is that it can bring new understanding and meaning to a dream from long ago, which may not have been understood at the time it initially took place. There is one particular dream I had two or three years ago that still leaves me confused. My plan for this summer is to paint that dream several times, making each version slightly different. My goal is simply to see what can be discovered through the process. Maybe it will help me consider a wider range of possible meanings or spark a flash of insight as to what the dream has to teach me. Once complete, or complete enough I should say, I will share it here with the ‘conscious chimera’ readers. Until then, happy dreaming!

~Kim

beyond five senses

Not all dreams are mundane or ordinary. Sometimes our dreams can be quite extraordinary. Extraordinary dreaming may include perceptions that occur outside of the five senses. Dreams in which one is clairvoyant, telepathic, precognitive, lucid, miraculously healed, or shown details of a past existence are just some examples of extraordinary dreams. For clarity, let’s define some terms. According to Dean Radin, Clairvoyance is “receiving information from a distance, beyond the reach of the ordinary senses.” Telepathy can be understood as two minds exchanging information, or the transmission of thought to another or knowing the thoughts of another. Precognition includes foreknowledge of an event, and is sometimes called a premonition. Lucidity in a dream state takes place when the dreamer knows that he/she is dreaming.

Extraordinary dreams may also be highly creative and the dreamer may be shown solutions to challenging problems. In contemporary Western societies, it is commonplace that, when one shares these types of dreams, they are not often believed or well received. After all, contemporary Westerners, typically, have been taught that these experiences are not real or rational, yet, extraordinary dreams have been reported across time and place. These episodes may startle or shake some people; however, extraordinary dream occurrences, especially precognitive (or premonition) dreams, have so much to offer humanity. They can prepare us for difficult times ahead and possibly prevent accidents, illnesses, or disasters. For example, precognitive dreams about 9/11 and the twin tower attacks were shared and some reported them to authorities, yet the dreamers were often laughed at. Instead of prompting action, they were dismissed. For those who want to understand more about premonitions, in general, I recommend Premonitions in Daily Life by Jeanne Van Bronkhorst. Van Bronkhorst (2012) dedicates a section to learning to become more aware of premonitions in daily life along with techniques for “finding premonitions” – one of the four techniques is with dreaming. I introduced this book in September 2016, so it may be already familiar to you.

Some precognitive or premonitions dreams may repeat themselves leaving the dreamer to ponder its meaning. Rebecca had such an experience. It has been unforgettable! With regard to her recurring dream, she told me,

“When I was seven or eight, I had a reoccurring dream. I do not remember much of the dream. I know that it was a little different each time, but the ending was always the same. I was in the middle of the desert sitting on cement steps with nothing else around but the desert. I was sitting on the steps and my leg was on the shoulder of a very large man.”

It wasn’t until Rebecca’s adolescence that the dream made sense to her, but it also left some big questions unanswered. She said:

“When I was 16, my parents sent me on a wilderness survival program, one of those tough love things for ‘bad kids.’ I was in Big Ben National Park in Texas, in the desert. I fell within my first few days there. They would not pull me out of the program to take me to see a doctor. I had to hike around for another couple weeks all day, every day. My ankles were the size of grapefruits. I was in a lot of pain. They told me I was a wimp and to quit whining. Finally after nearly 3 weeks, they brought me into base camp. It was just a trailer in the middle of the desert with some cement stairs leading up to the trailer door. There was nothing else around, just desert. There was not even a road. I sat on the cement steps with my leg on the shoulder of one of the workers while he wrapped my ankles in ace bandages. He was a very large man. This experience was just like my dream. The dream I had had about 8 years prior. That really got me thinking. Here I was at a tough love wilderness program for bad kids at 16, I dreamt this around the ago of eight… Was I destined to be a bad kid? ”

To this day, Rebecca asks herself that question – was she destined to be sent away on that program…to be a bad kid? What might these types of dreams imply about destiny, self-determination, one’s fate, and Western concepts of time and space? Could this dream have helped to serve Rebecca as a kind of mental and emotional preparation for what was to come?

Some of these particular types of extraordinary dreams can obviously overlap; thus, they are not easily compartmentalized. In the Dream Laboratory of the Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, years of experimental research into dream telepathy was conducted in the 1960s and ‘70s. From those studies, certain telepathic dreams also appeared as precognitive. For details, read Dream Telepathy by Ullman, Krippner & Vaughan (2002). A single dream may contain img_2361elements of telepathy, clairvoyance, or more. Bernard Gittelson reported a case by a woman on a farm in Oregon:

At 3:40 A.M., the woman suddenly awoke by the sound of people screaming. The sound quickly vanished, but she felt a smoky, unpleasant taste in her mouth. She woke her husband, and together they scoured the farm but found nothing irregular. That evening on a television newscast, they heard about a plant explosion that started a huge chemical fire which killed six people. The explosion
had occurred at 3:40 A.M. (as cited on page 92 of The conscious universe: The scientific truth of psychic phenomena by Dean Radin, 1997).

I don’t come across such profound dreams as these often, but when I do, they are not quickly forgotten. When one has an experience like this, I imagine that trust in dream wisdom rises to another level entirely.

 

Until next time,

Kim

 

 

the application of self-hypnosis

Self-hypnosis is another valuable tool. As the name implies, you do it yourself – no need to make an appointment, buy a CD, or download an app! I often utilize self-hypnosis before any event or experience that provokes some nervousness, such as an interview, teaching a large class, public speaking, or giving a presentation at a conference with unfamiliar faces. Self-hypnosis has also assisted me at home, when I am not sleeping well, or want to encourage a particular mood, attitude, or inspiration. There are many ways to use self-hypnosis – there is not just one “right” way. It is important to do what feels safe and comforting.

To prepare, I do as I would when preparing for a client or patient. I may “spritz” the space and my body with a lavender water concoction (other essential oils such as wild orange, clary sage, grapefruit, or rosemary are just fine, of course), gaze at a beautiful image of something from nature (a flower, mountains, etc.), set an intention, light a candle of a particular color (orange for grounding and focus; blue or violet for the higher realms), play chimes, use my voice (vowel mantras are a personal favorite), place a special crystal in my hand or pocket, and/or burn a little IMG_1883sage. Before beginning, I like to say words of gratitude for what is happening, such as, “Thank you for such deep, restful sleep,” or “I’m grateful for this sense of peace and belonging.”

Next, since I am working with myself here, I find a comfortable place to sit or lie down and notice how my body feels against the respective surface (back against chair, feet planted on floor). Once situated, I begin an induction by counting down from 20 to 1. In between some numbers, I add phrases, such as “12, 11, doubling my relaxation with 10, 9, 8, going deeper now with 7, 6, 5, 4, feeling so relaxed and peaceful, 3, 2, 1.” After counting down, I speak aloud some phrases that are meant to assist me in what I need. For example, “This relaxed and peaceful state remains with me as I walk into the classroom.” Another example, “As I sit in front of my laptop and begin typing, creation flows from within. Peace and joy expand, and I find that it is easy to access all the right words and ideas.”

After a few target sentences or phrases are spoken, I tell myself that I will count from one up to five, and that when I reach five I will open my eyes and feel energized, relaxed, peaceful, or whatever state that matches the intention. So, if I want to begin writing productively, I may use “energized.” On the other hand, if I want to fall asleep, I may use “relaxed,” or “at peace.” Once this process is complete, I always say a word of thanks.

Self-hypnosis methods can get very creative, but keep your intentions straightforward and simple. At all times, use affirmative statements – avoid negatives, and non-affirmative statements. Remember, the mind/psyche moves toward the dominant thought. For example, when we hear the words “Don’t run,” we first process the word “run.” Avoid such phrasing, in general. Instead, say aloud what you want! In this case, “walk.” We can create what we want in affirmative language, so plan out the statements to be used in self-hypnosis. For someone desiring a better nights sleep, for example, I suggest the following. Instead of “you won’t wake up in the middle of the night,” try something like, “sleeping through the night happens easily,” and/or “any noise or movement during the night helps me sleep even more deeply.” Keeping your intentions clear and your language affirmative will better the experience. Make it enjoyable and have fun with it!

May you reap the benefits,

Kim

hypnosis 101

Some readers may be unfamiliar with hypnosis and hypnotherapy, and since I recently completed an advanced hypnotherapy certification program, I’m really excited to write about it (again). It’s a topic close to my heart. In this month’s article, some definitions and key points are offered. This information is taken from one of my hypnosis lectures presented in a course I taught for 6 years at Arizona State University. Much of this was taught to me by my talented hypnotherapy instructor, Marilyn Gordon.

Hypnosis is a tool used to induce a non-ordinary state of consciousness (also known as an altered state of consciousness). It involves deep relaxation coupled with concentration. Brain waves, breathing, and heart rate slow down. The body may feel light or heavy. The eyelids may flutter and the eyes may become teary. Hypnotic states vary – one can go into a light trance or a very deep one, but being asleep is not being in hypnosis. The hypnotist may include the use of mental/visual imagery, sound (music, chimes), counting down numbers, touch, or simply their voice.

Hypnosis can be used to explore the deep inner mind, or subconscious, and make changes in one’s life. Usually, one issue becomes the focus for a session, or series of sessions. Some people work with a hypnotist or hypnotherapist to manage pain, enhance performance, support healing post-surgery, quit smoking or drinking, and even to reduce stress, release fears, contact inner peace, connect with deeper purpose and meaning in life, or explore the root of unwanted behaviors. For some, one session may result in noticeable change, while, for others, several sessions are more productive. The state of hypnosis is a tender one, and should be approached with grace and respect.

images-1 2

Some hypnotists and hypnotherapists differ in style. For example, some professionals may be directive in the session, while others have a more spontaneous or non-directive, client-centered approach, serving as a “tour guide” and interacting with whatever material arises at the time. Either way, in hypnosis, you are always in control of your behavior. At no point can a hypnotist make you do something you don’t want to do.

Beyond the helping professions, this tool has been used in medical settings, dentistry, and historically, in criminal investigations. For published articles and more information, go to www.ncbi.nim.nih.gov, www.pubmed.gov, and www.ncjrs.gov, and enter the relevant search terms.

If you are a psychologist, or psychotherapist, certification in hypnotherapy can be especially valuable. For those in the SF Bay Area, I recommend certification through the Center for Hypnotherapy in Oakland, CA. Contacting the National Guild of Hypnotists (NGH) is also advised. The NGH can provide helpful legal information so all clinicians practice lawfully.

Because hypnotherapy can be valuable for a variety of reasons and to a wide population, including children, I strongly recommend looking into it. You never know what you’ll come across – remember my surprise?

With gratitude,

Kim

 

welcoming deceased loved ones in hypnosis

Earlier, I wrote about significant images, whether animal or human (or beyond), that may appear in dream or hypnosis. While separated by time, chimera was a significant image that appeared to me in both states. However, chimera was far from the only one.

While deceased loved ones may appear to us in dreams or visions, they may also appear when in hypnosis. Around the time I became certified in hypnotherapy in 2005, I had a beautiful experience. Another student of hypnosis was working with me that day and after the brief induction, I felt relaxed and comfortable. I hadn’t dropped deeply, but I definitely felt the enjoyable effects of the hypnotic state.

For this experience, I chose to make contact with a heaviness I had been carrying in my heart region for some time. I wanted to understand it and transform it into something positive and light. After exploring it in a light hypnotic state, the hypnotherapist asked my deep inner mind to reveal an image, sensation, or message that could assist me and my heart. To my surprise, my dear Uncle Joe appeared, along with his boat – I was so happy to see him! In my core, I knew everything would be okay and relaxed into the experience. Carefully and gently, the heaviness was removed from my heart center and placed in his boat before he drove it out into the middle of the lake where it was released.

IMG_1873This memory has stayed with me for over 10 years now. But it didn’t end there. Before being guided back to my ordinary state of consciousness, I thanked my uncle for his help and then attended to the empty space that was left after the removal. In hypnosis, I imagined soft golden and white light filling the space and unifying my center. With gratitude, I opened my eyes and thanked the hypnotherapist as well.

While one can ask for assistance from a particular person, spirit, power object, or animal, it is also possible that one just appears. This was the case for me that day. Sometimes we can be surprised! We can trust that whatever appears to us, in whatever way, is just right…just what we need at that moment.

In loving memory,

Kim