psycho-somatic painting process
embodying the five archetypal elements
My first retreat was a Disaster!
Sex in the 21st Century
The conversation usually goes something like this:
Them: You are writing a book?
Them: Wonderful, what about ?
Oh! Wow! (eyes widen, big smile happens),what about sex?
This is not what you are thinking…I begin to explain, I am not a sex therapist, I am an artist. I am writing this book from the experience of having lived in both an Eastern culture and a Western culture. I write about the patriarchy, misogyny, repression and oppression. I also write because of epiphanies I had while researching creative process.
You see, creative energy is really that which the yoga world calls kundalini energy. This same kundalini energy is actually the same energy used for creating all kinds of things in one’s life, a meal, a book, a painting, or even a beautiful living room.
Be the Master of Your Kundalini
Mystics have continuously spoken of how we can be the master of our own kundalini energy rather than allow it to become our master. This is called the use of the will. We humans have this amazing capacity, that which distinguishes us from the rest of earthly creation. When we meditate, do yoga, fast or do any other sort of spiritual practice, what we are really doing is strengthening our will. Mystics, spiritual teachers, and prophets throughout time have known this truth.
What inspired me to write such a book is that I have seen two very conflicting and extreme world views on sex. What is more, in the Western culture that prides itself on sexual liberation, sex is still as taboo as anywhere else. In addition to this, women are still treated like objects, used to gratify a man’s sexual urge under the pretense that there is more. I know, this may seem like a general statement, however there is solid research that has been done. Although honestly, we really do not need this research as we have evidence in the form of the me too movement that took hold of the entire globe just last year.
Sex Education Crisis
In November of last year I came across an interesting article titled The Sex Ed Crisis. This was validation to me that this book that I am taking my time producing is very much needed in our times. On the other side of the spectrum, to this day we hear stories about honor killings in countries such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Women whose lives are taken because they shamed the family name as a result of engaging in some sexual scandal.
This book is about my own experience with a seventeen year marriage which looking back could have been completely different had I even had the relationship and sexual literacy I have today. I bring attention to scenarios that could have been avoided without the social programs that we are fed as children, and the taboos that we are handed down from our mothers, fathers, grandfathers and beyond. Those are the things I wish every young adult can have access to and work with.
Let’s Talk about Sex
You see, dear reader, I do not claim to have the answers, however I feel like this conversation needs to be happening within conscious communities around the world. If we do not begin this who else would? When I say conscious conversation I do not mean that we are to encourage it either. From my learning and experience I believe in finding a happy medium.
I also do not think the problem is solely the women, nor is it solely the men. It is something that we co-created eons ago. We must take responsibility for this culture of misogyny, we (humanity) created it with this default mentality that women are less than men and that men can get away with everything, while women cannot.
I have come to the conclusion that gender is a distraction! Why is gender a distraction? Because it is another way we bypass our common humanity, in essence we are all the same underneath our skin, masks, and gender identities that we are taught as children. Few of us have the courage to break free from such things.
Clearing up Myths
Some of the questions I ask and attempt to answer in this book are, will we ever be able to bring the masculine and feminine to the same level? Why was Lilith cut out from the story of creation? Is there a different creation story that would better serve us?
I also clear up some myths around sex. Did you know that the myth of the virgin is a big lie the patriarchy concocted to control women? The hymen is not a what the patriarchy has taught us. No one ever told us that the hymen is actually like a scrunchy. Yes, that unfortunately was vital information that was left out in our sexual education.
The part I find humor in really is that no matter the great lengths that we have taken to control sex or to sweep it under the rug, sex still happens! Wouldn’t it be better if we actually educate our children to view sex as a completely natural thing, which it is, and not bring in fear, shame and guilt into the equation?
What we really need to fear is people passing on their wounding and abusive behavior to others when engaging in sex . Many of us parents, myself included worry about our children ending up in highly abusive situations. There is no avoiding this as the world is replete with psychopaths. We need to educate our young adults about what healthy sex is -not that sex is bad. Teenagers would benefit from learning to recognize unhealthy relationships, to protect themselves from disease, from harm and to be discerning in choosing partners. Some countries are already teaching children about everything sex related at an early age, it has to be the entire world. If we keep the old programming about sex we will never get out of this vicious cycle.
Creative Process Research
After about eight years of research on creative process, I have come to see that engaging in creative process regardless of what the medium is must be something that every human being is able to do on a daily basis. Being in touch with this aspect of our self is a way to manage, heal and clear our sexual energy. Through the research I found that creative process is the safest, and simplest way to individuation. Carl Jung recognized this many years ago and it surprises me that it has not been widely implemented yet.
Allow me to add that creative process is not enough alone, neither is sex education. We must include a spiritual, mystical education, that sex is sacred and I expand on such a notion within this book, attempting to answer the question what does sacred sex really look like in these times?
I hope this book will become a reference, mostly to young adults as within it will be some helpful information that I draw from my experience, research and the guidance that led me to write such a book.
The Origins of ArtKeyTypes
*image source : Pinterest
I have been feeling like sharing a little in depth about the origin of ArtKeyTypes and where the format and idea came from as I have had several people asking for a little more information on what this is all about.
Most of us yogis and yoginis who have been practicing for a while, know that for any yoga practice to be successful we must incorporate an understanding of the five archetypal elements: ether, air, fire, water and earth.
When we understand the function and characteristics of each element it becomes easier to apply this in our practice. There are a lot of resources and ayurvedic books on this subject and so I will not go into a lengthy discussion of each element. By all means if you are not familiar with the elements as discussed in ayurveda, I highly recommend checking out some of Dr. Lad’s , and Dr. Frawley’s writings, otherwise, you can also attend a retreat with me to get the lengthy details! I do draw from other sources besides ayurveda as the elements are not exclusive to ayurveda.
What I would like to share in this post is a little more about how to embody the elements during yoga practice in hopes of highlighting how such embodiment can be used beyond yoga practice.
Embodying the Elemental Archetypes
Embodying the earth element is when we ground ourself before beginning the practice. Connecting with the earth element in every asana, feeling the earth and how it supports us as we move on the mat.
Embodying the water element is when we flow gracefully, slowly without sudden halts and breaks in our movements. This is especially important in any vinyasa style practice. Flowing helps us avoid injury and requires a complete surrender and relaxation of the entire body.
Embodying the fire element is really engaging the bandhas, and especially the root lock. It is also feeling deep into the movements and practices especially those that offer cleansing such as fire breath, and a faster paced practice, as well as asana that targets working the core.
Embodying the air element takes place by paying attention to every breath we make and insuring that our breath and movement are coordinated. Shallow and choppy breath will always indicate that we need to back out and slow down our practice until our breath becomes stronger.
Embodying the ether element is what makes yoga a transcendental experience. Paying attention to the space we are moving in at all times and at the same time being in our body. It is literally having the capacity to have multiple vision or the ability to watch ourselves from the inside as well as the outside at the same time.
ArtKeyTypes, or the painting experience that I have developed from this understanding is really applying these concepts to the painting process, and literally becoming the elements through visualization, movement and embodiment. ArtKeyTypes is meant to be dynamic and ever changing, evolving and growing. This is not a method or practice and will become what it needs to in any given moment. It is personal to each individual. Because it has to do with creative process and creative process are by nature infinite, this process will have infinite ways of being and becoming.
I just submitted an expanded version of this writing titled: ArtKeyTypes: Bridging Jungian Psychology with Tantra, Ayurveda and Shamanism, for peer review in an art therapy journal and my heart skipped a few beats- I am excited to be sharing ArtKeyTypes for the first time this May!
A Journey Into My Womb. The Myth of Menopause
In April 2017, I had a lucid dream, surely not the first time I have one of those. It was the first time I had journeyed into my womb. I was on a silent retreat with Aisha Salem in the Valencia area in Spain. This dream felt like real life and as I went around I was awestruck. I was walking about in this luminous and yet dark cave, which was my uterus, and really carefully trying to understand every cell of it. It seemed like I was looking at and admiring every ovule that my body had ever made. I was counting the ovules one by one, like precious gems that I needed to understand their dimensions, roundedness, size, and health.
When I awakened I wrote the dream down in my dream journal in hopes of greater insights as to what this dream was telling me. I wondered if it was about the retreat I had led in Costa Rica at Philia Center in January of that same year, as the retreat was titled “Womb Healing”. I really could not understand this dream , aside from the fact that my womb is such a precious part of me. To behold it from the inside was way beyond fantastical. The timing was strange and yet here it was me walking around in my uterus inspecting my ovules. Soon after I returned home I painted the painting which I titled Womb Awakening, featured below in this blog.
In this dream where I visit my uterus, it seemed that it was my unconscious thanking my womb for all the creations it had bestowed upon me, the two beautiful beings who are my children and all the millions of ovules that had such potential. It is okay that these ovules never made it to human form. It is enough that my uterus was actually able to produce them. What miracles. What mysteries. Thanking it for being so fertile, healthy and giving. For standing strong in the face of many storms. For forgiving me for all the times when I forgot my no was sacred. For gifting me so much creative energy to combine with my wild imaginings. For understanding that sometimes I had other priorities and responsibilities than to care for her. She has been the nourisher of my dreams. She has helped me manifest this life.
This is my 50thyear and despite this, she keeps offering me precious gifts. The gift of feeling and knowing. I can feel my ovaries turning around, returning to their origin. I feel when I will be bleeding and when I will not. I am in tune with my body so much so that I can sense the slightest shift. I have also been experiencing insane physical pain in my abdomen that has not received any medical diagnosis. When the pain hits, it feels as if my sides have flaming hot coals in them.
Every test I have done so far has returned negative. Is it because I am that sensitive that I can literally feel this menopause thing as it takes over my body? Is this a past life karma? an archetypal karma? No one ever prepares us for this. I surely was never prepared for it. I have heard about it and never realized that it will arrive one day in this way, and this quickly. Could it be that I am feeling on behalf of those who cannot feel it? Regardless, the intensity has been real for an entire year now.
I have to let you know my dear sisters, it is one of the most mystical experiences you will ever have. It is sacred time. Whatever you do, do not disown it, fight it or ignore it. Be in communion with this season of your life, dedicate your self to understanding it for that is how it will gift you several wisdoms.
Have you heard of andropause?
I have an intuition this goes for men too. I am sure they experience such growing pains as they approach the prime years of their life. This makes me feel so much compassion as most men have no way of expressing or addressing this let alone dealing with it. They can’t walk into the doctor’s office and say please help my hormones are helter skelter! So, yes it actually happens and it is called andropause. Now can someone please explain to me why we only hear of menopause and not andropause? I mean seriously, what misogyny is this? What discrimination, and racism!
Menopause or andropause are not the end of the road as society would have us think. In my experience so far, it actually is a literal re-birth. It is not easy I have to admit, there are physical symptoms that accompany it that are different for each one of us. There are days where I literally feel like I am dying. Society would have us believe that when we reach this stage we no longer desire physical intimacy, that our life is over and we might as well be dead. Some of us will go to great lengths in the hopes of preserving our youth. There is nothing that can preserve it. The harder you try, the more difficult it gets.
Energy is Energy
What if you just let it be? Let it happen? What would it be like to relinquish control and let nature take its course?
It helps to recall the words of Albert Einstein: energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another. Each form has its blessings and gifts to bestow upon us if we learn to harvest them. Instead of lamenting the loss of something, we can rejoice in the birth of what is new.
I am still in the throes of it believe me, and there are days where I have to drag myself out of bed. As a result, of this learning adventure, I have decided to concoct a retreat for women of all ages to learn ways to support and nourish around this season of life.
This retreat will take place in September of 2019 at Rocca Massima. Since this has to do with our creative power, the sacral chakra, svadhisthana, which is also the sexual center you bet I have some juicy creativity stuff up my sleeve. From tips to relieve symptoms without a single hormonal patch, harnessing your creative energy, what to eat, when to eat, treating injuries, and being your own best healer, to planning your new chapter in life. Look for more details as we get closer to September on the FB page under Journey Into the Womb.
Wishing you many seasons of beauty.
Eve of Silence
This Eve …
Around this time last year I did all I can to run away from my feelings. Yes, I resort to such patterns as well. I wanted to disappear, and not feel what I was going through.
As if by leaving the space I am in, the feelings will stay behind and I would not have to feel them. I was in disbelief that this breakup thing was happening to me yet again. I decided to drive thirteen hours to see a friend I had not seen in over twenty years. While that was a gift in so many ways, the running away was not. The feelings I was trying to escape drove thirteen hours with me.
I have had two years now to process the resolution of this fated relationship. A person I opened up to and let into my heart, my home, and my soul, suddenly walked out of my life as quickly as he had walked in. I know I am not alone and many can identify with this feeling. As difficult as this was, I finally found closure in the course of this year. The gift of 2018 to me. A closure that I have had to source from deep within my soul.
How did I find closure? I spent a lot of time in solitude, and naturally in silence.
The more silent and alone I was, the more I was able to see things I had not seen before. I saw my shadow so clearly, I saw his shadow as clearly. I understood my role and the part I played in the outcome, and I understood his role as well.
I am not writing this post as a lament or to play victim. On the contrary, I wanted to say that if I did this, anyone can! I share this incase any of my readers are going through something similar, I highly recommend solitary confinement. Ha!
Jokes aside, really I recommend spending a lot of time alone. I mean really alone. I am actually planning a silent solo- at home retreat for myself this New Year’s Eve. Incase you wanted to try this with me here is an idea of what my day will look like.
I will be avoiding human interaction of any kind, and sitting in meditation for most of the day and evening. I may end the silence towards late evening and get together with a friend, and I may not. If not, I will sleep while still in silence. I am just going to flow and see how my day turns out while holding the intention of silence.
As soon as I arise on December 31, 2018, I will meditate and do a few simple stretches. Nothing too intense, just enough to get the blood flowing. I will have a simple breakfast of kitchari ( I have come across many recipes over the years and my favorite remains the one by Doctor Blossom) and proceed to meditate until I feel I have digested my food. Next I will do a full yoga class that lasts at least an hour long. I will include a variety of poses and make sure I have toned and stretched my major muscles. This I shall follow with more meditation and perhaps a cup or two of tea. I will play and chant mantras for the remainder of the day and use some of this time to prepare food, organize, clean or paint. Anything that does not require me to use my brain. Lunch will be kitchari followed by more meditation. Just before dinner I will do a full body abyangha (self-oil massage). Each person can use the oil best suited for their dosha. If you are not sure what your dosha is, check out this quiz from Banyan Botanicals. After the oil massage, I will most likely stretch a bit more depending on what my body needs. It could be 15 minutes to half an hour. I shall have kitchari for dinner. After dinner I will meditate, reflect, and write in my journal and set intentions for 2019.
This can be done for several days, not just one day. One can also disperse such days throughout the entire year.
The benefits you ask?
Aside from extreme presence, multiple insights, and stress release your New Year’s Eve party will have more color, flavor and texture~ guaranteed!
May we all reap what we sow this coming year!!!
Death to Taboo
Fear of Annihilation
What if we took a few steps back and looked at it from a different perspective? What if we approached it in a different way?
We spend our life trying to preserve ourself staying healthy, fit, doing check ups. Some of us may manage to live for decades and others may not be as lucky, or so we think. No matter what we do no one has managed to stay alive eternally. Isn’t this telling? Isn’t this a phenomenon worth noting?
We begin to die the moment we are born. In other words, there is no birth without death. There is something in us that we shed and something new emerges in its place. Death is a renewal. Even the cells in our body and all our organs renew completely every seven years. We are never the same person from moment to moment as even our psyche is constantly shifting and changing, constantly in flux.
What is this fear really about ? I have been asking myself this question for sometime now and I believe I finally have some sort of an answer.
It is the fear of the unknown. That is it. Combined with the ego, she, the ego, does not like to be ‘nothing’. Our ego fears annihilation. So if we manage to transcend the ego before we die, we have conquered death. Imagine that?! Isn’t that what mysticism is all about?
What an Idea: A Death Manual?
I personally would appreciate that very much. We have to learn to be okay with not knowing. The sad truth is we aren’t. We want to know now. In an age where google, and SIRI have all the answers, perhaps they can help us out on this a bit? Ha!
I mean yes of course there is pain. I am not bypassing this whatsoever, and yes there is an aspect of sadness and grief for the loss of our loved ones. I am not proposing we do not feel the pain. I am proposing we change the story from a fear based myth to a more integral wisdom.
We don’t know anything until we experience it, it may serve us well to understand at a very early age that there are some things that remain mysterious in life, no matter how much we want answers to them. It is the mystery that makes life such a magical place.
Taboos Must Die
When I was a little girl I was told that if I’m good, when I die my grave will expand and I’d be in the company of angels until judgment day, and if I’m bad I will burn over and over for all eternity. What a story to tell a child. Right ? Even if there was truth to it, why does a child need to hear this? This is fear mongering. Every which way we turn we are fed some taboo story that does not serve our development, growth and evolution. It is high time we change these stories into more honest, truthful stories steeped with integrity and wisdom. Yes we need wisdom not superstition. I see an overlap with the stories we tell our children about sex. How can we expect not to have sex addicts, juvenile sex offenders, rapists and abusers in our world when we keep feeding them such lies? Why not tell them the truth?
It is time we re-write these taboos that have not served us for millennia. I sure have taken it upon myself to do just that. I am doing my share with my soon to be completed book on sex. My focus is mainly sex as in the actual act. I have witnessed two extremes in two different cultures, and I am looking for the balance.
Where can we find the balance with the stories about death and dying? Where can we help ease the pain of the beloveds left behind? What can we do to make such transitions simpler so that the grief can be experienced without the need to push it away? How can we be at peace with the way things are?
Celebrate the Gift of Life
What a gift to die to the things we do not want in our life.
What a gift it is to be given chance after chance at being alive.
What a gift it is to be recycled for some grand purpose or to become a tree or a rock.
As I write these last few words on this page, part of me cannot help but wonder about Jesus’s resurrection, a metaphor for the life of every single human being alive today.
Know Thy Self
I am a bit late for national coming out day, well I suppose it is never too late. I have to share something about me that maybe a surprise to most: I am Heyoka. (Pronounced: hey-o-ka).
It finally makes sense. I am an empath. One of the most powerful of my kind. I cannot believe that it took me a lifetime to realize this.
You see when I was young, I would find myself getting really sad and emotional to the point of hiding in a corner when attending events. I would sit there and ball my eyes out. This always left me wondering how come I was so happy to be going to this wonderful event and suddenly getting so sad and emotional over nothing that I can really identify. I never could explain this mystery up until recently. It has been a few years now that I have known I am intuitive and empathic. I finally allowed myself to really know myself and the the knowing hit me suddenly and my entire life made sense in that one moment of clarity. All those emotionally charged moments of my life didn’t seem so bizarre anymore.
I recall one of my teachers writing in my grade book in elementary school: seems to cry for no real reason. Looking back, I am sure I was sensing into someone else’s pain. There was a very valid reason, and perhaps many reasons. No one cries for no reason! It never occurred to me that others cannot feel as I did. I thought that part of being human meant you felt so deeply.
These sensitivities seem to have become magnified as I have acknowledged them, which is really helpful when I am in a Metaphysical Anatomy Technique session and trying to assist someone who is completely oblivious to their pain. I can read into what is not being said. I recently attended a talk by Thomas Hübl in which he said that as therapists and healers we must find the hidden pain that is not spoken. Well, I have great news, I have been doing that all my life!
The funny thing about being an empath is that I do not choose who I am going to intuit. It just happens. I pick up on the emotional body mostly, and sometimes physical pain as well. I can even tell when my cats are hungry.
How I know without a shadow of a doubt that I am an empath:
I have been labeled as “too emotional” or overly sensitive.
I feel people’s feelings.
I am emotionally drained by crowds.
I cannot function without alone time.
Perfumes and chemicals are harsh on my system.
World news kills me.
I may come across as cold and distant.
I easily become an emotional dumping ground.
The sun, and cold can really damage my skin.
It used to be difficult to know which emotions are mine and which are not, however, over the years I have learned to tell the difference. So please think twice before telling me “this is your stuff” it absolutely is not. Most of the time, in large groups, I am acting as a mirror. Sometimes while completely oblivious to it myself.
The Curse of a Gift
I have been given the gift (or curse) of sensing the motivations, and intentions of others. I can read and feel emotions on an energetic level. I also sense physical pain. This is a gift because it helps me with trauma release sessions, however when I do not wish to feel, and I am on break is when it is a curse infringing on my sacred alone time.
They say being an empath is a double edged sword. On the one hand, it is what helps me know what a group needs in a yoga class, it allows me to feel the needs of my children and loved one’s. It allows me to be gentle with those who cross my path, because of an inner knowing of their struggles. On the other hand, if I forget to protect myself, my emotions will become turbulent, I can become depressed for days and sometimes months and begin to isolate myself. The world can get very dark very fast.
My system is like a sponge. I literally take on energies and emotions that if I had the choice to not take on, I would seriously not. As an empath it is important I set boundaries, say no when I mean no and yes when I mean yes. There is no grey area when it comes to that. I had to learn this lesson the hard way. It really took me a long time to understand this about myself. This is why we do inner work. To find ourselves and know ourselves like no other person can. The more I know myself, the more I love myself. Not in a narcissistic kind of way, just in an awestruck, humble, yummy deep I love you Suzy sort of way.
I have been reading everything I can get my hands on about heyoka also known as a sacred clown, or trickster. I find tremendous solace in words like these. I have always been overly sensitive to the misuse of power, and since our world is replete with it, you can understand why I may look miserable on most days. This quote says it all:
The main function of a sacred clown is to deflate the ego of power by reminding those in power of their own fallibility, while also reminding those who are not in power that power has the potential to corrupt if not balanced with other forces, namely with humor – Gary Z. McGee
It is not about me
I am saddened by the fact that hunger, slavery, and wars still exist in the 21st century. These things weigh heavily on my heart if I allow myself to dwell on them. I have to find the balance between feeling too much and too little.
So yes, please, this is not about me, especially not at this time in my life. I have always felt the pain of the world and felt helpless at trying to alleviate it. I realize I was made to be of service just please try not to trample on my giving heart.
When you find me doing things contrary to social expectations and norms, I am actually trying to show you something you may not see otherwise.
We all are empathic and intuitive to some degree. Whatever degree it is, we are born with it. It is not a skill that we acquire. It is something present in our DNA. Here’s how you can find out how much of an empath you are: http://www.empathtest.com
Can you guess what I scored?
Darkness She Speaks
God/dess is light is something I learned as a child. Later on in life, I was able to scientifically comprehend this: that the world is made of energy and this energy is light. It became a concrete teaching as now I had tangible scientific proof. In turn this helped me understand what is meant by the word ‘consciousness’.
Recently, I made an extra leap of consciousness ( ha ha see what I did there?). I was able to understand deeply how God/dess is not only light; that God/dess is both light and dark just as God/dess is both masculine and feminine.
It is because of my darkest days, and there have been more than I care to share here. The darkness is unavoidable. The universe cannot exist without it. Light and dark are both holy.
In the manifest world of physical objects , of which humans happen to be a part of, the light has to cast a shadow. As an artist I look intently for such areas as I draw or paint. Sometimes for months. As an artist I also look for them in humanity. It’s become second nature to me. I used to be afraid of the darkness as I was taught to treat it like a stranger. It has finally become a friend.
These days when darkness shows up, I invite her in like a hospitable Lebanese, make some Turkish coffee and offer her more sweets than she can possibly eat. I then proceed to have a conversation about the reasons for such an untimely visit, how inconvenient this is, how it’s destroying my life, my future, my being. As we converse Darkness says
“ I know I was not invited however it was a matter of great urgency because it is time for you to grow your soul. The pain will boil, fry and grill you until there is nothing left to feel. That is when you begin again.”