Connecting To The Heavens

Years ago, I remember reading that the ancients had no vocabulary word for sky. They simply spoke of the celestial sphere above as "The Heavens". I prefer that noun as it conjures up an image of a fullness of consciousness.

Tonight as I stepped outside into the cold clear air, I looked up for the first time in probably two weeks. Shame on me! This can happen to me when I am living in or near the city and void of natural light. This can happen to me when I am so focused and on task with projects that I keep my head to the ground,  my eye on the wheel or I am too deep in thought.  And when this happens to me, I forget momentarily who I am, to what, and to who else I am connected,  in my life.

Tonight, I see the star studded constellations and I feel connected to my ancestors who have passed before me. Tonight , I see several of the planets beautifully aligned and punctuating the deep dark sky before all the other stars fill in the void and I feel the depth of my connection to all my love ones near and so far away. Tonight, I see that I am seeing and therefore, I experience gratitude for the capacity to see and know what it is that I see.

It is Spirit in all of its forms that I see; It is Spirit that moves me to remember to look up once again. It is Spirit that has me remember that The heavens hold us all together here, there and forever. We are constellations of love and of light that orbit round and round in a universe that we call life.

Have A Good Night  





On a recent visit to Morikami Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach, Florida ,I was reminded of an essential theme that is characheristic of all Japanese Gardens. That is the qualitative value of placement in relation to everything else.  

           Everything has a presence because it belongs to the greater landscape that is beheld. We too have a presence when we feel we belong to something greater than only ourselves. Belonging is to "be in longing" and our emotional, spiritual and psychic survival continues to depend upon this, years past one's physical needs have been met.  

Belonging is the deepest request for relational connection that invites us to be both vulnerable to receive, as well as, to participate in offering the best of oneself. Belonging gives us a relational sense of placement in the world in our personal and social framework of one's life. Belonging to something greater than oneself allows us to rest deeper into the womb of life. It creates an environment for one to extract meaning from its surroundings as well as develop a personal sense of meaning and purpose.

When one feels lost in life, it is because feelings of uprootedness and a disconnection from self, other and Spirit occur. Belonging is key to a feeling sense of harmony and peace. We all need to feel we are a "piece" of something in order to be at "peace". It allows one to settle into the soul's body and draw from both one's internal roots of wisdom, the soul wisdom of one' social network and from sources of wisdom experienced as spiritual, in nature. .

When we feel safe and have a sense of belonging, whether it be in the foreground or background of our personal, social, or spiritual landscape, the soul then roots itself comfortably into the body and begins to dwell. This dwelling within allows one then to be  both present to life and free to accept the changes that will naturally occur.







On this bitter cold, sunfilled weekend in Chestnut Hill, a historic suburb in the northwestern part of Philadelphia, I  took a walk up Germantown Ave and  came across this shocking truth on the front lawn of the Presbyterian Church. There is a memorial posted by a group called Heeding God's Call that can be found at www.heedinggodscall.org

331 TEE SHIRTS FOR THE 331 PHILADELPHIANS MURDERED DURING 2012, MOSTLY BY ILLEGAL GUNS. While I walked through the memorial graveyard made up of stick crosses, that hung tee shirts with name, birthday and the age of the victims whose lives were eclipsed by gun violence, I felt a profound sense of vacancy and senselessness. As their untold stories were left blowing in the wind, I noticed how young most of them were. 15, 20, 25 years of age. I became more and more saddened. I was reminded of the collected shoes of victims of the Holocust that lie in the Holocaust Memorial in Washington, D.C.  I was reminded of how I felt the first time I went to Gettysburg, Pa. and walked on the bloodshed fields of the Civil War. More soldiers killed there than anywhere else at one time. Brothers killing brothers.

Battles in the fields, battles in the streets, battles in the homes, battles in the schools and battles in the psyche. Our world of agression and trigger happy reactions, has cost us our humanity and our most precious relationships. Learning to deal another way isn't easy when you live in a hostile environment. Most people who have experienced repetitive aggression have become the less understood survivors of PTSD.  Unfortunately, the lines can become blurred enough that sometimes, victims of post traumatic stress disorder can also become later the perpetrators of violence themselves. When PTSD occurs, individuals perception is altered in such a way because their senses are heightened into a hypervigilance that is wired for survival. When this takes over, a chemical reaction occurs that signals the fight and flight responses of the sympathetic nervous system to kick in. Cortisol hormone is released from the adrenal system that heightens one's capacity to react and the rest becomes history. His story or her story, but mostly a story that now reveals a passing, a loss, a moment that can not be retrieved or revisited. 

So what are the alternatives? Yes, we need to review, then revise the guns laws and put the legislative government to task. Yes, we need to redefine how we, as a society, view mental illness and remove the taboos associated; while we roll up our sleeves and help tormented individuals and families get the support required. Yes, we need to bring our brothers and sisters out of neighborhood war zones. What else? We, ourselves,  need to learn and teach our children, new ways to respond, not react, to hostile environments. How often do you snap unnecessarily at your love ones when you are feeling pressure or angry? We need to develop new tools of resolution that end our limited choices of confrontational engagement. After all, are we not deemed to be the inheritors of a higher consciousness? Can we not find a way to feel empowered and peaceful at the same time? 

Activity that helps to increase the experience of relaxation and creativity belongs to the region of the Autonomic Nervous System called the parasympathetic. When the parasympathetic is engaged on a consistent enough basis then it can play a key role in countering  stress triggers and support greater self regulation. This will bring about a control of one's reactive impulsivity when triggered by danger, perceived danger or excessive stress.  It will also create a more even temperment and develop a prolonged sense of wellbeing. Such training can be found thorugh means of healing massage, meditation, yoga, tai chi, Zen practices, creative processes, and extended exercise that puts you in the "zone" as a emptying state of mind.

For those of you who saw the latest movie Life of Pi, you realize the moral of the story is that, in the rare occassions that we are met with survival conditions our Tiger will emerge and react accordingly; but otherwise, if we don't learn to tame the Tiger within, we are a victim to an inevitable passing.   Peace


Body Wisdom Keeps Us Thriving Not Surviving


In an asphalt world that signals the signs of inhabited modernism and progressive living, there stands alone a Fiscus mysorensis fig tree, in Palm Beach, Florida.  It spans over a 100 feet wide, several stories high and lives behind the infamous Palm Beach Grill, in a parking lot that is down the street from the Flagler Museum. It is a true phenomena of nature.

Upon discovering it recently, I found myself returning each day, for several days, to begin to absorb its natural power. I nestled in her bosom by climbing up in her low limb boughs and allowed the wonderous one in me to be held in the canopy of her living presence. I  studied her form, like a sculptor, captivated by the musculature of her body. I was in awe of the countless fruit she bore from her higher branches and dropped for local animals to eat.

This tree stands alone as a testimony to the impulse to thrive; irregardless of the environment that surrounds it. 

When I look at this tree, which ironically is a native of Mysore India,  I am reminded of the Dancing Shiva with her countless gesturing arms that keeps in balance the polarities of the world. I see that her secret to thrive ,not merely survive, lies in her thick roots system that affords her a trunk that is easily fifteen to twenty feet wide.  Her very presence is a reminder to all, of the organic wisdom of embodiment. Without a healthy grounding, it is impossible to weather the storms of life. Recently, her survival is at stake because the owner of the property wants to develop further his parking lot. Her survival may well now, not be be based on her own strength to endure hardships, but because of her supporters and friends of the earth that are dedicated to her historical preservation.

Learning how to become grounded or remain so, when you are being challenged in ways that make you feel uprooted from your routines and life rhythms, is a result of cultivating body wisdom as well as circles of friends,  that provide protection and support.  In the course of one's life, we all need reminders on how to stay rooted.  Some of our sense of connection is an internal process and some of it is a social process.

Here are some of the body wisdom tools I have integrated in my own life and in my private practice with clients. 1)Incorporating root vegetables into one's diet creates a sense of solidity because root vegetables are full of minerals from the earth and its' slow release into the bloodstream will help sustain you.

2)Yoga postures that help you bring your conscious awareness to the base of your spine( such as squats) can help shift your energy downward. Breathing in deeply into the abdominal region and sounding deep base tones will reverberate in the womb of your body and help get you out of your head.

3)Walking barefoot on the earth and sand sends earth energies up your legs and helps to rebalance your electromagnetic field. 

4)Moving about slowly helps re-establish a rhythm in your body that you can trust when all else feels chaotic.  

5)Visualize a deep tap root extending from the base of your spine and goes as deep as you are tall. This will also help you stand firm and tall.

6)Visualize the Mycena Fig Tree who extends her roots as wide as her arms can bear. Visualize that you are open to receive and that you give as much as you get.

7) Learn to ask for support when you know you need it. Don't allow personal pride get in your own way. Develop over time a circle of friends that allow you to be vulnerable so, if and when the time comes, you don't need to feel alone when you need your friends and family most.



The Unbroken Connection of Spirit Between Us

This year Patrick, my former husband/partner of twenty seven years and I,  gathered together with our family of children and grandchildren to share in the celebration of Christmas. Although we now live 2,000 miles apart, we continue to have an unspeakable closeness. We spent our young precious years together growing up, united by the social, political and consciousness revolution of the sixties. We were united by our committment to parent a family; by our common love for the arts and most of all, our love for the Spirit that moves in, through and around us.

This year for Christmas we both gave each other works of art as gifts. What occurred on this day was a classic Patrick and Ellen moment that speaks volumes about our unbroken connection of Spirit.

Above on the left and right are two works of art. Within and between these two pieces of art, there lies the telling of our relationship. A relationship of spiritual connection that could only be revealed in such a profound and  uncanny way. The sculpture on the left is called "My Spirit and I". I bought it from Simba, a Philadelphia based artist from Zimbabwe, Africa. The photograph on the right which Patrick bought for me is taken at the sacred Mayan site of Teotihuacan in Mexico by Colorado artist, Li Rose Moore.                                                                                         .

Both works of art are meant to be sacred art that reveal the mystery of Spirit and man in a black and white language. Both reveal the metaphoric images of an "eye" or "I" that sees. One is in the heavens , the other an earthly eye. One is formed by gaseous air vapor, the other solidly made by stone. One appears whole in its form because of the counterpart of a faceless, white Spirit.  In the photograph there is a celestial cloud formation that outlines half of a face of a divine being with a large open eye. Both works of art speak of the nature of seeing. The question is who sees? Who is the I that sees?  When we see what light are we reflecting ?                                                                                                                                                                                                 Surprising one another with this extraordinary gift exchange that speaks to the " exact same subject matter" falls in a category of unlikely odds. In both pieces of artwork the message is clear. The eye is the I is the Spirit. It is wonderfully refreshing to realize we are still being moved by and through the Spirit; It is wonderfully refreshing to realize that somethings between people never change. It is wonderful to celebrate what remains the unbroken connection of Spirit between us.