October 29, 2010

Sports Players as Healers? And Are They Worth the High Salaries?

I once mentioned to a dear old friend, who was also a healer, that school teachers should be paid what sports players make and the guys who run around with a little ball should be paid a teacher’s wage. She replied, “We need sports as an outlet for frustration and aggression. Instead of invading neighboring tribes and villages, that energy is channeled into organized play. The team is the tribe. The games themselves are the attack. It’s valuable to our society.”

Hmmm, you mean it might be a worthwhile thing to pay millions of dollars to guys in little matching uniforms so they can use a wooden stick, tackle each other to the ground, or run back and forth on a little rectangle while bouncing a ball? Interesting concept.

Perhaps the reason why school teachers aren’t making more money is because they aren’t preventing village attacks. But sports-as-healer? I wanted to consider this.

It does prevent violence among our youth. It does offer society an outlet for pent up emotions. We know putting young boys in sports keeps them active, physically fit, focused, and out of trouble. For all involved there are natural lessons in cooperation, group contribution, patience, winning and losing. At its best, it inspires confidence, enthusiasm, and camaraderie.

What about statistics that show domestic violence increases the day of the Super Bowl? Apparently the “healer” theory has a few holes. Still, it has validity, and maybe the players don’t earn too much money, unless they’re abusing dogs, or sending photos of their private parts to young women. Let’s not go there, because that just puts more holes in the theory.

This topic has been on my mind since the San Francisco Giants began their journey into the World Series. Living in Giants territory, it’s mania around here. Giants paraphernalia cannot be escaped in my own house. My black dog, who hasn’t missed a game, sets out on his morning walk donning a bright orange collar. The cat sits in front of the wide screen, apparently a discriminating Bochy follower. My husband, a 50+ years Giants fan, wants a “Let Timmy Smoke” t-shirt. Lord.

My habitual reaction in the past decade has been to ignore competitive sports. After all, don’t they promote fighting and conflict? Aren’t they the cause of some nasty human behavior? Isn’t it unspiritual? Folks spitting on each other, throwing things, screaming obscenities, actually hitting each other. Granted, the latter was something I witnessed at a Red Sox-Yankees game in Boston where I spent more time watching police round up unruly fans than I spent watching the game. Uncivilized!

But these days I see the softening of my formerly held beliefs on how life should be. Now I watch a group of what I call “sweet boys” (all of whom I’ve grown to love) work together for a common goal, support and encourage each other, and say only wonderful things about opposing teams and players (ok, there was that one thing between Jonathan Sanchez and Utley…).

So are they worth the money? I can only speak from my experience. Sometimes appearing as a scrappy bunch of street kids, the guys give it all they’ve got. “Misfits and cast-offs,” an unconventional bunch of underdogs have quickly come together to form a cohesive group with a desire to succeed. Hailing from varied backgrounds, revealing their quirks for all to see, they demonstrate how cultures, idiosyncrasies, and differences can be integrated into a heartfelt, valiant group endeavor.

It’s said they are perhaps the most endearing team in Giants history. And I get it. They’ve shown millions of people how to prevail, to get up again as if it’s a brand new day, offer your best, and have fun while doing it. They’ve shown us the spirit of courage and love. Yes, it’s true! Not uncivilized at all, and quite worthwhile.

As of this writing, I don’t know yet who wins or loses this World Series. Either way, Northern Californians and scattered fans around the country will be happy. We not only channeled our emotions and lost our voices, we’ve been inspired. We’ve run the gamut from hope to despair and back again, many times.

Sports players as healers? I think so, and worth the high salaries if not all of the time, then much of the time, especially in days like these.

October 27, 2010

How to Clear the Energy of Your Home or Office

Illness, violence, arguments, drug-use, thoughts, and moods influence the energy of a place. When you enter someone’s home or office, part of you automatically notes how it feels. Conscious or not, this awareness seems to be a survival mechanism, keeping you alert for protection and safety.

Sometimes I meander through our neighborhood “open houses” to satisfy a curiosity about what type of home is selling for what price. These homes all speak to me about their dwellers. In some of the homes, the energy is such that it’s hard to breathe. If realtors were aware of how this energy affects the unconscious of potential buyers, they would clear the home energy first, before putting it on the market.

Clearing a place serves to reset the energy. Just as you would clean dirty floors in a new home, it’s important to clean the energy. If you can’t see this energy, that doesn’t mean it’s not there. Before you bring anything into your new home or office, clear the space. Otherwise, you’re living in someone else’s energetic dirt, which can affect you.

I once toured a famous historic home near Boston. Our small group was told about the home’s original owners – folks who lived there when the first shot “heard ‘round the world” occurred. It was one of those places I had trouble breathing in, which was one sign the energy was stagnant. When we entered an upstairs bedroom, I could not only feel illness in the air, I could smell it. I said, “Someone had a long illness, probably died in this room.” The tour guide and the others looked at me as if I’d grown a second head. The guide then confirmed that an older woman had died there. I knew part of her was still hanging around.

The energy of folks doesn’t go out the door when they leave. It clings to walls, drapery, furniture, carpet, and the air. When I have moved, I’ve tried to find out what was going on with the former tenants. How was their relationship? Their finances? Their mood?

This coincides with the ancient practice of Feng Shui, which advises us to know the history of the home and its inhabitants before moving in. For example, if someone was ill, or if they fell upon desperate times, financially or otherwise, it’s unadvisable to move in behind them because the same thing can touch you. This can work positively as well. In one home I lived in, a two-story duplex, each of the tenants downstairs began as a single woman and moved out newly-wed.

We aren’t always going to know what happened in a place before we move in. This is why I would clear any home or building as a rule. Clean thoroughly, wipe down walls, shampoo carpets and floors, and let fresh air blow through each and every room. Bring in as much natural light as possible. Sounds, chanting, singing, living plants, fresh flowers, and certain crystals are also helpful in moving and transforming energy.

In tougher cases where something seems strange or you know there was negativity or death, use additional clearing techniques. The main one I use comes from the Native American tradition. This technique was explained to me years ago by a Native American medicine man in the hills near Lake Arrowhead. A friend had just bought a fixer nearby which had a dreadful energy, to the point we didn’t want to enter one of the rooms at all. We wanted the medicine man to come to the house, but he said it wasn’t a good day for him and we could do it ourselves.

Of course, he said to use the Native American herb white sage, wrapped into a tight bundle (sometimes called a smudge stick or sage wand). Open all the windows or just crack them if it’s windy. Open cabinets and closet doors. Light the tips of the sage with a match and extinguish the flame so the wand lightly smokes. Walk counterclockwise around the home, into each room. Allow each corner, cupboard, and closet to receive the smoke. When finished, pass by again in a clockwise direction.

Sage alone creates a void, so it’s advisable to use another herb blended with it such as lavender or sweet grass. This pulls in a more positive energy as the older, stagnant energy exits. If you just have straight sage, use your intention to bring in higher, more positive energy. Our medicine man also advised us to throw sea salt in the corners of the house for good measure and leave white candles burning (with supervision).

There are many different variations on how to clear a space. I’ve found a thorough cleaning combined with the simple use of sage is usually enough. Ongoing, sage can be used to reset the energy of a place after there has been any sort of upset.

Anger & Hatred in Politics: A Trend Reflecting Individual Fear

I have never quite seen the likes of the mudslinging and finger pointing that has become the tornado of American politics. I can hardly keep up with the opinions of various factions: who has disappointed who and why, or who will simply not do what needs to be done in the way it should be done.

There is ongoing political conversation over whose beliefs and ideas are archaic, while on the other hand whose are too progressive. We hear accusations about who is corrupt, dishonest, philandering, pandering, inexperienced, overly entrenched, too conservative, or too liberal. Who supports corporate domination, who’s a hypocrite. It’s gone far beyond respectful, responsible analysis that’s helpful to the public, revealing instead conflicts and fears within each individual.

Each criticism we speak exposes something about ourselves. For example, do you have anyone in your life who seems to bring out the worst in you? Or at least brings out a side of yourself you aren’t comfortable with? Your answer is yes, unless you’ve been living as a hermit. We all have people in our lives who trigger so-called negative parts of us we’d rather not acknowledge.

Typically, however, we don’t recognize this discomfort as something that comes from within ourselves. Rather, we point the finger and spend our time figuring out what they are doing wrong, even better if we can get them to see the error of their ways. The bigger we make our case to prove ourselves right seems to correlate to the size of the can of worms we won’t admit is ours. 

In keeping with the political theme, remember when Bill Clinton was in deep with his lady troubles? Of course… but think back to whether you harshly criticized him or whether you thought, “What’s all the hoopla about?” I noted at the time that some of those who screamed loudest about how awful he was were the very ones who had done or could have done a dirty deed themselves, but had not come to terms with it. Others who were at peace with their own integrity around cheating were more likely to let Bill off the hook, even those who opposed him politically. The chastising occurs inside first, and this made the whole finger pointing circus fascinating to watch, to see who was saying what.

If passionate condescension emerges from an individual or group, it stems from fear. This is what makes our system appear unstable and chaotic at the moment. Lots of fears, masked as anger, coming to the surface to interject themselves into what could otherwise be a reasonable, effective process. Now we’ve got the most incredible nastiness flying around in our political atmosphere, which is divisive, serving to further break down cooperation that might actually serve people.

I like to have a sense of balance, so if someone is critiquing the left, I’ll often try to see the point of view of the right, and vice versa. If someone is bashing a woman candidate, even if I disagree with her position, I’ll tend to look deeper into the reason the woman is being so severely disparaged. The way I see it, women in politics get bashed more readily than the old guard. And there’s my next example. I am sensitive to the injustices women face and I want them to succeed, not be publicly insulted. Therefore, I don’t want to see women of either party vilified. I defend them all, to an extent. My opinions and passions stem from inside myself first, perhaps from fears that women have been relatively powerless.

So if you want to do an interesting experiment in psychology, either on yourself or in your observations and relationships with others, notice what you and others say about people. It isn’t necessarily the truth being spoken, rather verification of the pains and fears within the person speaking.

Within one’s own self is the answer. If you take a moment to consider our current political climate, who or what comes to mind? Do you come up with a criticism immediately about a situation, a person, or group? If so, ask yourself, “What about me is reflected back to me in what I’m saying? What within me fears this?” If you are honest with yourself, invariably you’ll find that what you dislike or find abhorrent in another has its root within you.

Awareness of what you say is a step toward greater effectiveness. Maybe look at the mud in your own hand before you sling it, asking first if there is something about you that could be looked at from a fresh angle. I think taking responsibility for our own individual fuss and muss is the best way to contribute to a cooperative world.

October 14, 2010

Witch’s Brew to Beat the Flu

The old wicked witch is making headlines between Delaware’s Christine O’Donnell and Halloween’s approach. It was interesting to see the responses to O’Donnell’s admission that she’d dabbled in a little witchery in her youth. When I first heard about it I thought, “Considering how things have been going, what’s the harm with having a little magic in Washington?” It looks like it could use some to me.

Then I got to thinking a little more about witches and how they’re viewed with fright and disdain. They aren’t that scary, and I’ll explain why.

The true definition of the word “witch” is “Wise One.” She was the natural healer and midwife for centuries, using herbs and skills passed down through many generations to help peasant populations. She birthed the babies, assisted the dying, and helped heal the sick. The witches were often the only practitioners of medicine for entire villages. Many of her remedies are still used today. Did you ever drink mint tea?
Hundreds of years ago, European ruling classes began training men at the university level to become physicians. This brought on the medical profession as we know it today, which is based on science. This fascinating history is well-researched and reported in a book called Medicine Women: A Pictorial History of Women Healers by Elisabeth Brooke.

Women had been deeply involved in the healing arts for centuries. In the midst of the new practice of medicine based on science, they continued their own healing practices, using extensive knowledge of plants, herbs, and roots. To their ultimate detriment, they also relied heavily on what could be called intuition, a 6th sense. For the new ruling class, this was too mysterious, and against God’s law.

Along with the cultural change that the new European ruling classes inspired came the notion that healers were not following a proper code of conduct. Indeed, some of their practices were so strange (rituals, nighttime celebrations, and so forth) they could very well be assisted by the devil himself. Healings that occurred in ways that didn’t make sense were deemed too magical, unnatural, and opposed to God.

During this time, woman-as-healer was turned into the wicked witch she is caricatured as today, complete with evil intentions, scary spells, a big crook nose, dark draped clothing, a broomstick, and a loud cackle. In a Google search to define the word witch, a variety of definitions come up, including a woman who practices black magic, an ugly, ill-tempered old woman,  a woman having a compact with the devil, even “a woman who is not submissive to her husband.”

Because the mysteries and misunderstandings of old-fashioned herbal healing became mixed up in this confusion, women healers (and a large number of male healers, too) were eliminated. They were silenced through fear or violently killed. But the practice lived on. Even some of the common rituals and celebrations have been incorporated into our modern holidays.

Plants that sprout from the earth have healing qualities, and this simple fact isn’t easy to ignore. Why not use some of them? It’s that time of year when we find ourselves or loved ones catching a bug. I think you’ll find this special brew to be a welcome “magical potion,” helping you feel fine throughout the flu season. You can use it when you’re coming down with something or when you are already in the midst of a cold or flu.

Witch's Brew to Heal the Flu

3 quarts water
8-10 pieces of fresh ginger (cut into ½” pieces)
½ tsp cayenne
The juice of two organic lemons
2 TBS crushed organic garlic (don’t be afraid of garlic – better to smell like it than spread germs to others!)

Put all ingredients into a stainless steel, ceramic, or glass pot. Simmer 8-10 minutes. Drink as warm as possible. This can be left on the back burner of your stove for a few days to be reheated as you go along. Drink 3-4 cups a day, as needed.