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

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/

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.

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

 

 

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