Author Archives: Suzannah Tebbe Davis

Three words I Rarely Use

elipsesDe-cluttering has become a buzzword for many, an act of shedding that which no longer serves a functional purpose and allows space for forward movement. Typically, de-cluttering is associated with physical possessions. I offer an additional perspective, the de-cluttering of words.

Some years ago, during a shamanic retreat, our teacher, a paqo (the medicine people within the Q’ero nation of the high Andes of Peru. Paqo means priest, or mystic) relayed that the paqos consider Quechua, the language of the Incans, to hold a high and sacred vibrational essence. Quechuan words are used with deep intention during ceremony as part of the healing process. He went on to offer his perspective that the English language was a dead language. I have heard this belief repeated by several different sources over the years, always from teachers I highly respected. This led me to engage in a personal reflective practice, one that has spanned the last four or five years.

I began to pay attention to primary words I use that have bound and restricted me, which are as subtle and toxic as breathing in polluted air, drinking polluted water, listening to fear induced news and readings, eating processed food.

Worry

woman worryingThe first word I engaged with was “worry”. During a rather charged conversation a number of years ago, a friend adamantly stated “Do not worry about me. When you worry about me, you project that something is wrong with me, that I am in need of help or rescuing. You place me in the role of victim.” The truth of her message deeply resonated within me. I could remember, during times of uncertainty in my own life, requesting prayers, requesting support, requesting space-holding. I could not recall one instance of requesting that someone worry about me.

I became conscious of when I verbalized the word “worry”. It emerged around friends who were experiencing obstacles, a healing crisis, a societal disruption, around perceived personal limitations, for instance money, at the juncture of a major life change, at the growth edge of leaping fully into my Soul’s expression. Worry is a disabler. It is a cement block attached to our feet to drag us down. It emanates from a place of fear, not love. I made a conscious decision to remove this word from my vocabulary.

Hope

Sign pointing to Hope

The second word that emerged was “hope”. This word presented challenges as it is so often paired within a daily social construct – “Hi Jane, How are you? I hope you are well.” The implication is that Jane is not well. The definition of “hope” as a verb is “to want something to happen or be the case” Its vibration feels like a swimmer paddling furiously to keep from submerging. I practiced substituting, ”I trust you are well, or simply- “I am thinking about you. “ With respect to the use of “hope “ as a noun, which is defined as a feeling of trust, I engage in judicious use, generally when I strongly call in Spirit, or wish to join with another’s hope, as part of a collective vision.

Just

My current dance partner is “just.” This one offered up some surprises. In the beginning weeks (it’s been about two months now), I became aware that I used the word “ just” on average of 8-10 times a day. I began paying attention to other peoples use of the word, without bringing their attention to it. I noticed how much more frequently this word is used by women than men. “Just” is most commonly used within the context of diminishment, i.e. I’m “just” writing this blog. I’m “just” a healer; I’m “just” a mother.” I’m “just” wanting a break. Just is a necktie, a corset, a constrictor of our full expression of power.

Just is also used in the context of marking time, in quite a linear way; i.e. I “just” arrived I decided to substitute other words in this context, as I don’t feel comfortable be the linear restriction. Also, I have observed that the use of “just” or “justice” as a noun, the definition being: the quality of righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness, is rarely used. At this phase in my practice, I may have to reframe a sentence once or twice daily as the word emerges without my conscious awareness. The majority of the time, I catch it mentally, and notice, as I speak my sentence without it, how much more powerfully my words and intention vibrate. I am (delete “just”) engaged in this project; I (delete “just”) realized how important this issue is.

It is remarkable how the deletion of one word so powerfully shifts the energy and flow not only of the oral communication, but the life force. I am stunned by the shift in my life flow through the elimination of these words.

I invite you to consider that English is not a dead language, rather that much of the sacred quality of its roots have become polluted, suffocated and poisoned by words that are distorted and toxic in their vibration.

I invite you to notice what words have become the unconscious disablers in your communication and your life. Where can you become a more powerful manifestor of your truest expression by consciously using your words from the place of the Sacred?

 

The Gift of Stress

The Gift of Stress

The Gift of Stress

Image Credit: pixelperfectdigital.com

During the month of December, when daylight hours reach their nadir, we enter the season of celebration, of gift giving. In addition to Christmas, many other holy days, including Kwanza, Bodhi Day, Chanukah, Solstice, Dies Natakus Solis Invicti , give us pause to embrace the darkness, and honor the return of the sun, the return of the Son, the miracle of light and the gifts that we give and receive.

In its original context, this anticipation of miracles, of the birth of the Sacred, of light, by their very nature are accompanied by darkness, by shedding. Just as Mary went into labor in the darkness of night to birth Jesus, so we are gifted the opportunity to shed that which is no longer serving us in order to give birth to our highest Self, to behold our inner Light.

Why then, is such a sacred time accompanied by so much stress? I typically see clients during this time of year who are in crisis, overwhelmed, depressed, feeling isolated and alone. They generally describe themselves as “stressed out”.

The term “stress”, was coined by Hans Selye, a German doctor of chemistry, in 1936. Dr Seyle defined stress as “ the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change”.

Bookended between Thanksgiving, which brings us back to our roots ( and in the case of dysfunctional family histories bears little resemblance to “thanks-giving”) and preceding New Years, we find ourselves in a feeding frenzy- overindulging in food, drink, substances, partying, rushing around to “get ready”. There is an urgency to our actions; buy more, find the perfect gift, send out cards to everyone you ever knew, cut down a tree, decorate a tree, do more, more, more. We are under the illusion that these external activities will illuminate us, that they will grant us access to the holiday “Spirit”. At a time when our ancestors would surrender to the darkness, move inward and slow down, we speed up. Thus the phenomena of stress begins.

When we experience excessive stress, whether we perceive the source to be internal or external, a bodily reaction is triggered, called the “fight or flight” response. This response is hard-wired into our brains and represents a genetic coding designed to protect us from bodily harm, from real predators. The response corresponds to an area of our brain called the hypothalamus, which when stimulated initiates a sequence of nerve cell firing and chemical release that prepares our body for fleeing or fighting.

Here-in lies the gift of stress. A tremendous amount of energy has been mobilized. Rather than taking action to fight or flee, if we pause and listen deeply, we realize that it is our Voice inviting us to journey to a richer, more mysterious place. We have the opportunity to accept the invitation, to sit in the darkness, to embrace whatever gifts await us, and to behold the miracle that is our true nature, our inner light .

So how can we move into this place of acceptance? We can begin by listening to our body’s innate wisdom. When is our body asking for nourishment, for nourishing food, water, rest, self-care? Are we remembering to breathe? Can we stop whatever we are doing and allow ourselves to respond in a compassionate and loving way? Can we open our hearts to compassion, love and gratitude?

We can discover opportunities to honor and celebrate that which we hold most sacred. To light a candle reflecting our inner light, to connect with someone we love, to allow ourselves to explore the places of darkness within us, to remember our gods, our ancestors, our guides, our loved ones.

And we surrender to the sacred realm of dream time, to journey, drink in our deepest truths and return to the external world replenished.

I honor the light within you and the gleaming galaxies of infinite possibilities we all co-create as we illuminate our Sacred Selves.

Reach out to the darkness, fall into the light…..

Efforting as Spiritual Practice - Awakened Life, Living with Passion and Purpose

Efforting as Spiritual Practice

Efforting as Spiritual Practice - Awakened Life, Living with Passion and PurposeHow are efforting and spiritual practice related? How do we awaken to the relationship between the two?

I recently read “ The House of Shattering Light” by Joseph Rael, a Native American Mystic.  Joseph says that putting forth effort puts us in touch with inspiration. As we distance ourselves from our bodies and the earth through technology, we no longer apply effort to Being. Efforting  brings us joy and happiness.

Swimming was my gateway to efforting. I grew up by the sea and now live among the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.  Swimming has been confined to  one week a year at the ocean, where I spend hours body surfing. It no longer was enough for me. I found a local pool and began the practice of swimming an hour a day. The first week, when I left the pool, an inner voice reminded me “ I am a swimmer “.  Deeply moved , and somewhat frustrated with my progress, I determined that I wanted to bring a greater effort to this renewed passion.

One early morning during my swim, I noticed two fellow swimmers accompanying and passing me,  always to my left. But the thing was, no one else was in the pool. Who were these shadowy figures?

As part of my spiritual inquiry, I decided to explore this experience with a shaman, who invited me  to close my eyes and envision who these swimmers represented , how my perception of them was getting in the way  of efforting, and how I could begin to see them as gifts. Immediately I recognized them- my old friends Distraction and Overwhelm.

Distraction was always calling for my attention, a call to a friend, doing the laundry, taking the dogs out for a walk, checking my e-mails, saying yes to a lunch invitation. Distraction keeps me moving, but in an unfocused way.

My friend Overwhelm, on the other hand, paralyzes me. I have a to do list with more to dos than I care to admit, some of which have been there for years.   Holding on to everything, I become contracted, it all becomes too much and I lose focus.  I then become distracted. Ah, my two old friends.

As my shaman guided me to look for the gifts these two friends represented, they swiftly rose to the surface. The gift of distraction represents my ability to shift my perceptual state, to notice that the rain and the sun are both outside my window, that the stream of subconsciousness is flowing within me and that I can accept the invitation to join in. From this place, I can focus my efforting,  release that which does not serve me, and embrace emptiness.  It is no longer too much. Diving into the waters, literally, with effort, has liberated me and allowed me to swim within the embryonic waters of my Becoming.

Who is it that swims alongside you?  What gifts do they offer? Are you ready to accept?

awakening

Awakening

awakening

This life is about waking up from the dream. It is 3:33 am. I awaken from a most powerful dream about coming to the crossroads. My Brother Jim and my husband Tebbe are there I go outside to sit by the moon, now occluded by the clouds of the approaching rain. The smell of smoke from last nite’s fire and the alchemy which it has ignited within me course through me.

Last night I stood in circle around the fire with brothers and sisters from all nations. On the top of a knoll, surrounded by our beloved apus, our beloved mountains, a single hawk circles to herald our arrival. One by one we come, about one hundred in all, waiting to be smudged , then entering this circle to join in ceremony to bless this medicine space , newly co-created by Kevin and John, to divest ourselves of what we no longer need, to leave it at sacred fire, as an offering of our awakening.

The elders lead us in ceremony. One by one they come to the fire to make their offerings – the Hopi, the Cherokee, the Daoists, the Tibetans, the Q’ero, the Pachakuti Mesa, the keepers of Plant Spirit Medicine, the Celtic, the All. And then we are invited to come to the fire, to offer our individual prayer bundles and to feed our Spirits from the great Fire.

The smoke clings to my Soul, my imaginal cells course with alchemical shift that has occurred. Together as we awaken, we dream the world into Being again. In peace, in understanding, in reverence. In remembrance. In honor of the Dreamkeepers.

Aho.

how to overcome overwhelm

Moving from Doing to Being

how to overcome overwhelmWe live in a culture of overwhelm. At a time when many of us have multiple responsibilities we feel driven, out of control. Technology brings information to our fingertips in overwhelming amounts. We find ourselves multitasking, reacting, doing as much as we can in the least amount of time. The downside is that we lose touch with our natural rhythm, our body wisdom, each other, we become like the proverbial hamster on the wheel. When people ask how we are, “Fine” has been replaced by “Too busy.” We lose our health, we lose our minds, we lose ourselves.

Feeling too busy drives us crazy. Falling ever further behind as our to-do list relentlessly grows is nerve-racking and stressful. Sleep evades us. We become addicted to caffeine, sugar, junk food, junk news, anything to keep us moving, stressing our adrenals and triggering our primitive brain’s fight flight response in the process.

We begin to feel like prisoners of the to-do list, prisoners of our lives and our desires, prisoners of time.  We become addicted to the state of doing.

The brain generates 50,000 thoughts in a day, many of which are related to fear, worry,  anxiety. Our mind or ego needs something to do so it creates stories to keep it busy. These stories are subconscious, originating from our life experiences and the way we made meaning of them. We may have been taught that success is hard work so we look for ways to be busy to create “success.” That definition never included happiness or peace.

What beliefs do you hold about being busy? Can you identify your subconscious belief statements about being busy? Perhaps you were taught that if you weren’t busy you were lazy, that it wasn’t safe to rest, that you were not worthy of having fun. There is a powerful clue to the conditioned response of our reaction to busyness. It is found in our language. The word is “should”. When you find yourself agreeing to do something because you think you should, I invite you to pause and reflect. Whose voice is it that says you “should?”  If you can take a breath and reflect, substituting the words “I choose to” or “ I don’t choose to”, then you begin to live in a way that  adds value to your life that shifts you to a way of being.

Sometimes just a phrase can help: Repeating  “Not busy “ or “Just this”, we are reminded that it is our feelings, thoughts and reactions that make us feel pressured, not the tasks we have to do.

Tuning in to our breath is a simple technique which is always available and profound in its results. As we notice our breathing without trying to alter it we become aware of the inhalation, the exhalation, and the momentary pause that follows the end of the exhalation.  The pause is a well, a resource that is always available to us.  If we can relax and surrender to the restfulness in the pause we can learn to trust that the next breath can arise out of the pause without our grabbing for it.  There is nothing to “do”

Our breath is a powerful metaphor for the choices we can make on how we live our lives- where can the inhalation remind us of the places we are “in-spired “ in our lives? How does the exhalation inform us of that which we are ready to let go of, which no longer serves us? And where can we create natural spaces in our day to refresh, reflect and create anew?

As we slow down and listen to our inner wisdom, we might find it instructive to reflect on Turtle Wisdom.  In Native American teachings, the turtle is the oldest symbol for the planet earth. Turtle invites us to honor the creative source within us, to be grounded, to take pleasure in the simple things in life and to treat ourselves and others with compassion, to slow down and just “be”.

Turtle wisdom reminds us that all we need for all we do is available to us if we approach it in the right manner and time.