Amongst the giants I stand tall, as I enter the ancient, sacred redwood groves of Muir Woods National Park in Northern California. I am there with a new friend and kindred spirit Cindy Olsman. I am aware that I feel infinitely small in my corporeal self, as I stretch my perception to view the vast canopy of  tree tops provided by the Great Sequoias. My breathing becomes noticeably deepened, as my lungs begin to crave this optimal oxygen that I am being fed through the rich foliage, moist air and earthy, sweet fragrances. It is a spontaneous visceral response that I am having and I realize, I haven't been breathing so deeply in a while. I notice the forest floor is swept with a carpet of sorrel, horsetail and ferns while a meandering stream that fleshes out this fertile ecology is visited by darting birds.  This enchanted land is the home of a thousand years of history and I am a sentient being passing through.

The body psychotherapist in me is fully aware that my spine is elongating incrementally with each step that I take.  I ask myself, is it really this simple?  When I step out of my ordinary urbane environment and enter such natural majesty, I am enlivened. My senses become open portals and are awakened with a heightened sensibility. I am experiencing the world in vivid dimensions once again. I remember years ago a dear friend of mine ,Marie, took a pause from the corporate world she worked in and went to the Himalayas on a treking vacation. She said she thought long and hard about returning from this foreign and breathtaking place in the clouds because she expereinced herself more alive than ever before. What a challenge we face in our ives to stay fully awakened in our senses, to not live only in our heads nor moved purely by our emotional center. 

My crown chakra, the invisible energy center located in the region above the head, opens up immediately. I can feel the presence of the ancient natives who lived amongst the Giants here and revered the sacred Earth. I am aware that I am singing in a low voice a chant that comes from a native tongue familiar to my soul but not my ears. I can hear in a whispering voice carried through the fog and breeze Great Grandfather speak "Enter  and Awaken Your Consciousness; Be humble in your soul before the Presences.  Speak your native language. Speak your heart. Speak your BodyWord" 

 Luckily, I am with Cindy who is very attuned to the natural wisdom that the Earth speaks and senses the elementals that inhabit this enchanted territory. She shares with me her own delicious perceptions from time to time and I receive them as candy, wrapped in haiku. Cindy insist that I am a woodland fairie and although I only smile at her, I must admit, this is not the first time I have heard this.  Here, I am in my element and therefore my glory.  Amongst this rose tinted glow of Mother Nature, I am frequently misted by the low level fog at every bend on this late spring afternoon.  I am aware that life pulsates here. I am aware that there is nothing else to grasp but the pulse of life. I am aware of the difference in my life and when the pulse is present or not. I am aware that it is up to me to seek and exist in the heartbeat. I am aware that this is the secret of my eternal spring. 



We most often use the common term "growing pains" when we are talking about youthful bodies stretching and growing beyond what feels comfortable within one's own skin. In time, the muscles, ligaments and skin cooperate and lo and behold, we become more grown up. Then before you know it, the time comes again for the same metamorphosis to happen, only now the territory that needs to grow is internal. This is called soul growth or soul evolution. Hence, what was once growing pains now become "learning pains".

Life, by its very nature, is designed to keep you growing, evolving, if you will. Every soul has a natural impulse to become so much more than one permits oneself to imagine and grow toward.  My experience as a body psychotherapist has taught me that individuals, as humanistic soulful organisms, have the capacity to respond in proportion to their measured sense of safety and security. If you feel you are standing on solid ground within yourself and in your environment, you are more capable of accepting and creating the needed changes in your life. When life feels continually tumultous and perhaps, even dangerous, then it is harder to respond wisely on your own behalf. We are reminded of the recent kidnappings in Ohio and the women who felt too trauamtized and therefore paralyzed to risk their freedom.. 

I know from my own experiences that when I have resisted my own forward movement, it was during times that I didn't feel grounded in myself. I had moved from one location to another and although my bags were upacked I was emotionally unsettled. I further complicated my life by creating distractions that took me further from myself rather than settling in. I used clever deflections and excuses such things as: higher pursuits, business projects, my children's needs, house cleaning, partying, decorating, shopping, or worse yet, helping others improve their lives! I eventually always came back to the same inevitable, restless feelings. When I was finally ready to or forced to face my own personal truths, I grew immensly.

What is most important to remember is that when your own avoidance factor catches up to you, and you will feel forced to deal that an emerging response, try not to react. Realize there is a great difference between responding and reacting and each one leads to a different outcome. Reacting is connected to quick impulsive behavior and can cause damage and regret. It generally is harsher, more adolescent, desperate and sourced in a deeper fear that never got resolved from the past.

Learn to take a deep breathe and ride the wave of your pain, anger, loss and fear all the way through. If you do, you will learn what you still need to address within yourself while everything else falls to the side. You will realize that the pain you have carried and avoided has been waiting for your attention so you can heal. Your growing pains are your learning pains. They exist to serve you in growth that wouls otherwise not occur. Carl G. Jung, mystic, psychiatrist, father of archetypal psychology reminded us , "There is no coming to consciousness without pain." Suffering is a part of your personal path toward wisdom. It is through addressing your suffering, as Buddha reminded us, that you become free from the illusory fears that keep you held and bound in captivity. Once your soul can breathe and stretch again, you discover that you are comfortable being in your own skin. 





The Power of Beginning

Often in therapeutic sessions I hear clients share their concern and fears about the transitional times they are going through and are exasperated about "starting over", having "lost time" or worse yet,"wasted time" and now experience an urgent need to "catch up". In each of these conversations, we are always brought back ,through circuitous conversation, to the same place. NOW

No matter how you look at it, each time your awareness awakens to your current situation and you decide that you must create a change , you are entering an experience that feels new and is better known as beginning again. Each time you wipe the tears away, shake the cobwebs from your mind, take a deep breath, dare to step forward, say the unthinkable, risk being vulnerable and loveable, ask for what you need, claim your inherited right to be, drop an addiction or the fear of it, start a new relationship, walk away from a bad one, you are beginning anew.

Each Autumn, for over a decade now, I attend a retreat with a group of people, better known as the Logos Group, in New England.  We come together with an intention to stretch our capacities to think and feel more deeply into the sacred experience and meaning of the Logos.  Our guiding mentor for more than two decades was Georg Kuhlewind, a Hungarian philosopher of Esoteric Christianity, a professor, scientist, meditation teacher and prolific author of over fifty books.

On one of those special weekends, when Georg was still with us, he brought to our attention that many of the nuances of meaning are lost in translations. He made a point of demonstrating this when he referenced the first verse in the Prologue to the Bible. Reading from six different bibles the same verse, he revealed that the omittance or addition of a single word could changed the deeper meaning of the verse. In this case, he brought to our attention how many of the translations  begin with "IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE ...... Georg identified that other older translations in Aramaic, Greek and Hebrew omit  "the". Thus the meaning shifts dramatically from a specific beginning to an eternal now. It became clear to us that there can be no such thing as "The Beginning" or in other words an  "absolute beginning" . That is like saying Eternity starts here. 

What this nuance in language speaks to, is the lost ability for humans to comprehend and therefore translate the concept of an "eternal beginning". How beginning is a timeless experience, not relegated to our concept of a when. In our mortal thinking, if everything becomes past, or future, then we are aways suffering from the illusions that we are  'too late" or "too early" for living at all in the present. If we accept for a single moment that we are also immortal in our spirit, then it allows one to imagine accepting another reality.... BEGINNINGS ALWAYS ARE. I have come to cherish this teaching from Georg and the revelation of understanding that it brings to mind. Dare one live with eternal springs of beginnings.

When our experiences lose the felt sense of beginningness, there is a clear sign that we are living too much in our head. We are forgetting to engage all of our self and our senses.  The freshness of a moment becomes separate from our fuller embodied consciousness. Try consciously to enter each moment and stand in your own presence. Take another step into the next moment. This is the secret of walking meditation. There is no where to go.  Bring all of you with you; When you cannot, then it is a good opportunity to ask yourself what part of myself am I leaving behind? What is back there that I need to resolve so I may come forward into this moment of my life?

Such questions are essential if you want to practice mindfulness. Becoming sensitive to your own comfort level of living in the present as  "beginning experiences" requires you to find and gather all of yourself so you are vital. When your mind creates illusionary time sequences that stop you from seizing the moment, you are taken out of the present and the energetic charge that always exist is reduced to a duller reality. How often have you read about people who decide at a ripe age in life to take up a new hobbie or athletic feat? They defy their age, logic etc. because they have freed themselves of the confines of limited thinking. Whenever you limit yourself with a  mental scenario you begin to feel depressed and experience a resignation that it is too late to be anew.

So, in the spirit of my dear beloved mentor Georg Kuhlewind, who always posed a question or statement to contemplate on, I will do the same to you.  Who creates Beginnings? 







I have the good fortune to spend this week with my grandchildren at the beach in Florida. Lyle is three and a half yrs. old and was able to take hold of the wonderous possibilities that the day offered, in an otherwise adult day of outdoor dining, shopping and walking the posh streets and vias of Palm Beach.  

How so? When everyone else ran for cover in a spontaneous rain shower, Lyle danced and played with glee. When the outdoor bistro brought everyone else there lunch and forgot his pizza, he entertained himself patiently, with two lizards who enjoyed his small offerings of bread from the table. When Lyle and I strolled through the back vias off of Worth Avenue, and the adults window shopped, he found many a delight to see. 

How is it that we, as adults, lose the capacity to see all that is before us and managed to become "bored", "preoccupied" or "restless" to move on, while the moments, hours, days and years at hand slip between our fingers? Do you recall how it is when you are first in love? Every sound, every ray of light, the gentle breezes against your cheek , the words exchanged, all casts a special meaning on the moments shared.  You are in a state of illuminated living. A state of perception that children always perceive from when they are not crushed by the density of adult consciousness. This is a state that those on the threshold of dying also reexperience ,as their veils of consciousness are once again lifted and the soul's eyes can see again.

So the question becomes, how do we return to such a state of illuminated living that allows us to bathe in the joys that life offers us, dance in the rain that showers liquid light, see the beauty in the smallest of creatures, fall in love over and over again with the one you are with?

IT IS ESSENTIAL TO FREE YOUR INNER CHILD AGAIN by assuming, even amongst the terrible trajedies that also exist, that beauty and illuminated moments of grace are awaiting you too. Search with an open inquisitive mind for the wonder in every circumstance, find words of peace for your listening soul to respond to, receive the simplest gesture of intention from someone as a gift and then place this in your heart so you can feel nurtured. Open your eyes to small things so you can remember that there exist an exquisitely quieter world that reveals mysteries, rare findings and infinite surprises that will delight you. Find a small child to be your guru and teach you again the joys of this wonderous world called life. Blessings



Recently, I broke a promise that I had made to myself when I first started writing this blog . I said to myself "write once a week Ellen, no matter what". Well, I guess the old adage is right, promises are made to be broken, because not having enough matter has not been my issue. Nearly a month has gone by and not one word had I written. Why?, sometimes the words were scripting across my mind in such rapidly fury that the unfolding stories of my experiences would have filled volumnes. Other times, I could not find a single word to describe my feelings because I hadn't yet had the time to digest my quantitative and qualitative events. In these moments, my tongue lay silent and dormant, waiting to name these hallmark moments that could do justice to my soul.

Perhaps my truth is simply this; sometimes, I jump into the river of life and feel adequately prepared to trust in the current of possibilities that move me forward. When the rapids appear, I begin to feel my adrenaline rising with the water level and I remind myself that saying yes to life, is not without risk. It never fails that once my nervous system has thoroughly kicked into high gear and I am in new territory, that my "eddies" appear. An Eddy is an unstable water vortexthat creates turbulant circular motions driven by an air current; much like a perfect psychic storm, when I am in emotional overload, I begin to over think my situation and excess self analysis begins. Now, I am living in my head and am temporarily doomed.  When I lose connection to my body, I lose connection to my essential wisdom and my ability to navigate through any tumultuousness.  These psychic eddies trap me in a temporarily state of internal self doubt and review that calls forth all the "what if" and "if only".  When I am finally thrown back out of the eddy to continue on my way, I am left, once again, humble, sleep deprived, vulnerable and wiser. I have come to learn and accept that this is our natural part of any good journey.  

Yes, my days as well as my nights, have been full and long with emotions of haunting sentiment. While I prepared the traditional foods on Good Friday for Easter dinner, in the absence of my mother, who passed one year ago on Good Friday, my daughter and  friends helped me, entertained me and surrounded me with their love. It was for the love of her and my grandmother that each year I partake in this ritual of rolling dough, then filling, folding and pinching together our infamous Ukrainian pirogies. There were moments this year that my eye caught the similarity of my own bony and muscular hands and  that of my Grandmother's hands. In these moments, I smiled inwardly and felt her presence coming through. Continuing this simple tradition is the closest I can get to touching her and my mother, so I don't imagine I will end this Spring tradition any time soon. 

I also celebrated twin birthdays as I do every year with my daughter Iris, who was born at home in my woodland sanctuary thirty years ago. Each year, I relive the memory of her birth with all its power and spiritual blessings. I remember myself as a young mother, who possessed a primordial power of fearlessness and confidence in my feminine body. I had utter trust in my body and in Spirit, that I would know how to move my baby through the dark birth canal and coax her out into the light. She had a translucent quality about her the day she was born, a light which has never left her.

In this same month, I had the opportunity to create, with my ex husband, Pat,  a sacred ceremony that brought a healing closure to our marriage together as a couple. We were able to define the love and light that we shared, as the young lovers and believers that we dared to be.  We acknowledged our efforts and the ways we will always be a part of a family, while we now live apart. We spent time washing clear the past wounding that we caused one another as well as, exalted in the two lovers who took the risk to love unconditionally. I am grateful that we are able to be wise and mature enough to dignify our relationship again even as it transforms once more. Most couples never have the opportunity to create such important rites of passage and blessings of transition are as important as anything meaningful. It is one of the great failings of our society that doesn't offer more rituals of healing. 

Finally, in this time of spring renewal, I have made a new move into a relationship that involved me moving all my belongings into a new home. Packing, sorting, recycling, gifting, remembering, releasing, laughing, crying and holding on to those meaningful, energetic objects that tell the tale of my journey to date, as I continue down the river of possibilities.  



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