What is a Labyrinth?

I had the great privilege to attend the first women’s retreat held at the Findhorn house on Iona – led by Dr. Emma Rochester. During the retreat, Dr Emma taught us much of the history of the island where St. Columba settled with his followers after his banishment, took us on walks to visit beautiful natural sacred sites and created sacred space and rituals. Most astounding was learning about labyrinths. We drew, built and walked labyrinths.

WHAT IS A LABYRINTH?

Labyrinths date from the Neolithic and Bronze Ages and have been revived at various times since then. A labyrinth is a path marked out on the ground with rocks, shells or other suitable materials found in the local vicinity. The path of the labyrinth winds around from an outer starting place to a place that is central in the pattern. Unlike a maze, which is a puzzle to be solved and where one can become lost. Labyrinths have only one path into the centre and as this is also the way out – one cannot become lost.

What is a Finger Labyrinth?

finger labyrinth

 

Finger labyrinths are a hand-held version of a labyrinth. Since it can fit in your handbag, you can carry it with you and use it whenever you have a spare moment – feeling nervous before an appointment, to clear your mind before an exam.

 

 

I personally found that using a finger labyrinth is a little different from walking a full sized one as it is safe and easy to close your eyes and concentrate as your finger traces the path.

Your finger walks the path as you would walk a full-sized one. Stopping every so often to scan, breathe and release as you walk with your finger is very effective and serves to connect the tactile sensation of your finger to the rest of your body and Mother Earth.

What patterns make a Labyrinth?

The most simple labyrinth pattern is a spiral.

This spiral labyrinth can be found at the Findhorn Foundation – created out of rocks in the area.

 

 

 

 

Dr Emma guided us to create this labyrinth on the beach near where we stayed on Iona. It was a joyful experience as we worked together in community – gathering seaweed, shells and rocks to define the edges of the path. Joyful even though a gale was blowing and icy rain falling intermittently! Somehow the added difficulties served to bring us together with the one purpose creating a sacred space and experience setting the stage for walking within – to the centre of the labyrinth – to our centre.

 

 

 

As the patterns become more complex, the path winds around itself and moves back and forth across the spread of the pattern.

 

The famous Chatres labyrinth has four quarters with the path winding in and out of each one.

However complex the pattern, there remains only one entrance and the path takes you to the centre. From the centre, you proceed along the same path to reach the exit, which is also the entrance.

 

 

 

 

 

Why walk a Labyrinth?

Labyrinths are perfectly designed for meditation. The act of walking and being held in the present moment is constant as one concentrates upon keeping on the path and following it as it twists and turns. Walking mindfully like this, is an age old technique that has been scientifically proven to assist with dealing with strong emotions such as anxiety.

The labyrinth is a safe place. There is no fear of becoming lost as this is not a maze; a trick, – it is one path with one way in and the same way out. Often Labyrinths are in a public place where one walks alongside others, or in a community group.

Symbolism is known to create powerful connections in the mind. Symbolically walking toward the centre of a labyrinth provides us with the opportunity to take us on a journey deep within ourselves – our psyche – our centre.

Walking the Labyrinth

There is no one prescription for walking a labyrinth and you can design your own ritual to serve your personal intention. Traditionally, this is one way to walk the labyrinth – As one walks into the labyrinth, it is an opportunity to release all that no longer serves us. Spending time at the centre allows us to adjust to how we are now, having released. Walking out is a celebration of the new way one decides to be from now on.

Setting an Intention

Take a quiet moment to decide what you would like to achieve from your walk into the labyrinth. Use simple words to describe your intention, adding that it be for your highest good and serve to ease your journey.

Examples:

My life will be full of joy peace and calm.

I release all that holds me back from ….

I attract loving people into my life.

HOW DO YOU WALK A LABYRINTH?

  • There is only one entrance to the labyrinth and this is on the outer edge. Pause at the entrance, take a breath in and release it down to the Earth, announcing your intention as you move into the labyrinth.
  • As one walks the labyrinth, you only need to be aware of where you are at any particular moment – placing one foot ahead of the other on the path. As you place your foot (or finger, if using a finger labyrinth), become fully aware of yourself; your mind focused on you in the present moment, your body sensations and the placement of your foot/finger on the path – at once grounding you to the centre of Mother Earth. This way, you are taken away from your busy brain to the present moment.
  • Closing your eyes removes the distraction of sight, directing your focus onto the path. This may be difficult, even potentially risky when walking a labyrinth, so try focusing your eyes softly on the path directly in front of you rather than looking ahead and all around you.

You are not in danger of falling with a finger labyrinth! Closing your eyes allows for more concentrated focus on the sensation of your finger feeling the edge of the path and will ensure you are able to follow the path even without being able to see where you are going.

  • Going in – to the centre of the labyrinth can be the time to release all that no longer serves you in relation to the intention you have set for your walk.
  • After going a short distance, ground, scan, breathe in – being aware of any feelings and sensations in your body – and release, saying ‘I release all that no longer serves me’.
  • When you reach the centre of the labyrinth, you have space to pause. Feel what it is like to have arrived here – what it is like to have fulfilled your intention. Imagine how it is to walk in the world now – Savour the feelings and the images.
  • Walk out of the labyrinth carrying these feelings and sensations in your body – as you walk mindfully out and into the world.
  • Take a few moments to ensure you are well grounded.

Like to know more?

I am facilitating workshops to learn about, experience and make finger labyrinths. I also have some for sale on my website: Lifehealingjourneys.com.au

If you would like to know more, please personal message, text or email me.

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Injalak

How Shamanic Journey Helps Solve a Dilemma

 

Confused ideas and choices entangled stops the flow forward

Confused ideas and choices become entangled and stop the flow forward

Angela’s heart was racing. Her chest contracted and fire burnt from her heart down her arms. Her throat was closed and tight. She wasn’t sure why this was happening, but she had been told it was a panic attack. She realised that for some time she had been worrying over changes she would ultimately have to make in her life and she was becoming more anxious as time progressed. She had heard about the gentle process of  a shamanic journey and how it would empower her to make her decisions.

When Angela came to see me, she was distressed. She was experiencing panic attacks and felt that her world was going to collapse. All this, because she couldn’t make a decision about what her next move would be. Either way, she felt that she would lose; that the change involved would be frightening and challenging. She wanted clarity. She wanted to be able to decide what was best for her from her heart – with confidence and courage.

Angela decided to have a session where she would be guided on a journey within. By journeying within, she would be able to explore the different scenarios of her choices and gain a true feeling about how each one would impact on her – without the distraction of her fearful brain. She would be fully supported and safe as she was guided on the journey.

Injalak

Angela was concerned that she wouldn’t be able to journey; that her brain would stop her with too many thoughts. I supported Angela as she constructed a clear intention for her journey to ensure it would be purposeful. She breathed deep and slow and relaxed. With my guidance and the company of her spirit guides, she journeyed deep into the earth; into a cave.

After her journey, Angela was both surprised and enlightened by her experience. She said that as she visited the nooks and crannies of the cave in her journey, her experience showed her the reality of each of her possible choices. She hadn’t expected to be so connected with her feelings during the journey. She now felt confident with a clear vision of what she truly wanted to achieve and had new creative ideas to grow.

Before her experience, Angela was torn between several choices. She couldn’t decide what to choose because her fears and fearful brain were cluttering her mind, stopping her and leaving her more confused than ever. As time progressed, this became worse and was a continual assault upon her life. When she decided to act, a weight was taken off her shoulders.

The process of the Shamanic journey was gentle and supportive, boosting her confidence and understanding of who she truly is, and opened the way to a new chapter in her life.

When you want to make changes in your life – you feel stuck and yet want to move forward – you don’t have to do it alone. Shamanic journeys provide gentle guidance for you to find your way, and put your vision into action.

If you would like to journey with my guidance, please contact me. I offer private sessions, group healing circles and meditation.

How to clear mind chatter and make space for useful thinking.


mind chatter
Jenny was stressed. She had several projects on the go and the added challenge of organising a family dinner with her partner’s relations. So many thoughts overloaded her mind, with some going around and round creating ‘thought demons’; each demanding attention. There was no space left for thinking clearly about any one thing. She felt she wasn’t capable and was overwhelmed by the constant mind chatter and her anxiety was at a peak.

Jenny decided that this wasn’t good enough for her since she wasn’t enjoying life, so she followed the steps that I’m going to give you here.

6 Steps to Turn Down the Volume.

These steps are the beginning of a lifetime habit that will quieten mind chatter and make space for clarity, problem solving and creative thought.
Changing any habit takes time and persistence and most or all commitment. Monkey chatter is a habit of your brain!
  • Make a commitment to invest some time in changing your monkey chatter.
  • Raise your AWARENESS – Recognise when your mind chatter appears – make a note of what it is.
  • Mind chatter loves attention – don’t fight it. Acknowledge it and change it.
  • Prepare for transformation – ready yourself with positive thoughts (affirmation) to replace the negative busy ones.
  • Create your vision of how you want to be – Have an image of how you are when thinking is clear and productive. Have a symbol for this clarity and bring it to mind when you notice mind chatter.
  • Practice – Each time you notice mind chatter, acknowledge it (you don’t have to agree!), visualise your symbol and say your affirmation – change your thoughts to what you want to be thinking about.

What it takes!

“But I’m in a hurry”, you say. “I don’t have time for this!”

The truth is, you don’t have time for the mind chatter either. It’s unproductive. By dedicating a relatively small amount of time to commit to and practice these steps, you will find it will become an automatic reaction to mind chatter and your mind will have the space to problem solve and create.

Why not make a date with yourself today to begin practicing being in charge of your thinking brain?

Positivity: How to change the consequences of things you cannot change.


Emotional responses
I leant into the cupboard to retrieve my art materials. As I came up to standing, I was at first curious and then shocked, as blood streamed across my vision – my eye was bleeding inside. Just like that! I was blind in one eye and even though I knew it wasn’t permanent, my life for the next months would be severely impaired. I couldn’t drive. I couldn’t see anything on my left side. Reading was a challenge – to name but a few of many things I now couldn’t do normally. Suddenly I had joined the ranks of the partially disabled. How could this have happened to me?

Emotional choices

Emotional choices

Emotional choices

Emotional Choices: How do I want to be?

Having a vital part of you taken away, whether it be physical or situational, is a recipe for disaster and deep depression. I was blind in one eye. My perfectly healthy body had let me down. I couldn’t change the fact that my eye was blind. Everything was a chore. Going to the shops was even more unappealing than it was before – dizzyingly so!

Luckily for me, I have had an amazing life where I have been intensely curious about my emotions and feelings. I choose to live my life in a ‘shamanic’ way, and the guidelines of this path remind me to ‘live in the light’ and to ‘create joy’. This is what saved me from going down the depression path. I made a clear and conscious choice to make the most of my situation and be POSITIVE.

How to be positive in a negative situation.

It’s one thing to make a commitment and another to make it happen. How did I achieve being positive in what appears to be such a negative situation?

¨       I made a choice.

I used to think that emotions and feelings just happened to me. I now know this – I can make a choice about how I feel and dissipate the emotions that arise from negative feelings. I decided that I could choose to be miserable, or I could choose to shine the light on all the positive aspects of being forced to live my life differently. I discovered that, although I had previously been excited about my plans for the year ahead, I had quite a few projects I had put off for a long time and needed to complete. I now had purpose – I had found the positive outcome of my situation.

¨       I made a commitment.

Making a clear and determined commitment is needed to help you follow through. This is true for any changes you choose to make. When make a commitment, there are two main things to consider. Firstly, write it as though it has already been achieved, and secondly make it concrete – write it down and put it where you can see it.

¨       I had a vision.

Every morning I take time to vision my day or something of my choosing. In my situation, I came to vision myself feeling contented and happy doing the things I wished to complete. Visioning is traditionally thought of as having a visual image, but it is more than this. When you vision, bring your feelings into your vision – so visioning myself creating a dreamcatcher became – me feeling the joy, curiosity, serenity, inspiration as though I was present, doing it, in my vision – focus on the positive feelings.

¨       I transformed the negative.

Shamanic practice has taught me to be consciously self-aware. This is such a great tool. It means that I notice when I’m feeling negative before it can get too much of a hold on me. I have learnt to feel into it; acknowledge the feeling and its details. Acknowledging it brings it to the light – out into the open so that I can choose that this is not how I want to be, and change my direction.

¨       And looked for positive.

In her book “Positivity”, Barbara Frederickson says that moments of positivity come in tiny windows. None of us are positive all the time, or we wouldn’t be able to operate in this world. What I have learnt from her research, is that you can catch the fleeting moment when positivity occurs. (conscious self-awareness) MAGNIFY it. CELEBRATE it. CREATE JOY with this moment.

Taking action.

Throughout life things happen to you that you cannot change. It is easy to fall into despair and become immobile.  If you’re feeling like you’re falling into a great hole, falling often feels like the path of least resistance because you have no resources to do it differently. Doing it differently requires you to step up and do something to change the consequences of those things that you cannot change. Stepping up means that you have made the choice to find the benefits and illuminate them and bring them into being. The steps above are designed to help you to act to become positive – in small do-able parts.

Because it is difficult to action new ways of being without knowing what it feels like to be that way, Life Healing Journeys provide you with the opportunity to immerse yourself in this process with compassionate guidance.

Life Healing Journeys come in many forms; individual sessions, small group circles and workshops. These are advertised on lifehealingjourneys.com.au and by newsletter.

Shamanic Wisdom ~ Walking in the East with Spirit.


horse - symbolism

I woke up feeling sad this morning.

The reason for it is one I don’t need to share except to say that it involves the behaviour of another…. and discussing it is not an option at this time. So, what to do? I could, as I have in the past, spiral downwards, become more upset and try to manipulate the situation with my emotions, or I could draw upon all my Shamanic wisdom and resources and be responsible for myself and my reactions.

How I took action.

I decided that the best thing to do was go for a walk. Walking shifts the energy in my body while it gives me the opportunity to ask Spirit to help me out. In the past, I would have indulged in my thoughts; they say this, they said that and I felt this and that etc. and in this way, put things into perspective in my mind. I would become very emotional and allow my emotions to fully expand and explode. Now I find I do it somewhat differently. Today I stepped out calling upon Great Spirit to help me with this situation; to put it into perspective and show me what to do and how to be.

On the Sacred Circle Map, I was walking in the East; in Spirit. Previously I would have been in the South, indulging my thoughts or the West with my emotions or maybe in the North looking for practical solutions. The North was helping me out with physical activity of walking to help me connect with Spirit. This means that I was walking mindful of my surroundings with my mind quiet and the issue resting with Spirit. I breathed in the air, the scents, sounds and sights and felt and acknowledged the great sadness within me, while feeling gratitude for the beauty around me.

Message from Spirit.

When I arrived at the field where beautiful horses graze, I found my solace. Today there were five horses (the number for my name) – usually there are four. Four of the horses were standing facing away from me in the shade. Sitting on the warm gravelly sand next to the small pond was a dapple grey looking straight at me, as though to say, ‘Yes, this is it! Take note!’ Then he proceeded to lie down and relax in the warm sand, then sit up and look at me again. Then he did it again but this time he turned his tummy to the sky and lavishly wriggled in the sand before sitting and looking at me again.


Horse symbolism

The Meaning.

When receiving messages, it is important that you have a clear intention in the first place so that you know what it is referring to! Today I stepped out calling upon Great Spirit to help me with this situation; to put it into perspective and show me what to do and how to be. Here was a clear message to ‘Chill out and relax!’ Tummy to the sky – vulnerability – I’ve allowed myself to be vulnerable and this is important; now things will have the opportunity to shift. Sitting by the pond – look at your reflection; know who you are and what you want that will serve your higher good. Also, be aware of the other’s reflection – it is different from yours. Take care of yourself, enjoy and relax. Horses are earthy and grounded. They take us on journeys as they take us for a ride. They are playful, intelligent, independent and yet giving. These are qualities that I also bring into my message.

Further along the track, a little stick called me to pick it up. It is a beautiful wand and reminds me of the magic within me and that I am responsible for making the magic happen.

Wand symbolizes the magic.

Conclusion

On my return journey, the horses had dispersed and were munching grass in the sun. I had my answers and will take time to allow myself to process how they will manifest from in my life.


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Walking in the East:

  1. Make a clear decision that you are going to walk with Spirit and that you will release your mind/brain.
  2. Set a clear intention.
  3. Walk mindfully, noticing if your brain engages in deep thought. If it does, thank it and tell it you are looking at nature in this moment.
  4. Notice what grabs your attention and take in all the details.
  5. Sit quietly, breathing into your belly and this will help you absorb the meaning that arises from the symbols you’ve collected.

Anxiety or Excitement?


Anxiety

ANXIETY

is only one BREATH

away from

EXCITEMENT!

Anxiety or Excitement?

Feeling emotional? Often we just take it for granted that the word we connect with the emotion we are experiencing is the right one. ‘I feel challenged – I must be anxious’.
When you begin to in to your body for feelings you will notice that there is very little difference between the feelings you have for anxiety and those you have for excitement.
Being aware of your thoughts will inform you of the thought processes that bring you to the conclusion; anxiety or excitement.  You do have the ability to choose! You are in charge of your brain and your thoughts – or are you? Are your thoughts running your life by naming your emotions in a negative way?!!
Time to play! Tune into your body and choose the happy emotion; the positive one. Breathe into it and enjoy the fruits of positive emotions and feelings. Anxiety really is only a breath away from EXCITEMENT!!

Courage or Fear


Courage

COURAGE

is

STRENGTH  and DETERMINATION

in the face of

FEAR

Courage comes easily when we are feeling good about ourselves. We are confident and fear stands out of the lime-light.

When I’m feeling courageous everything is bright and possible.

Yellow is my colour for courage.

When things seem to be too hard and I’m questioning my commitment, I know that fear has taken over. That means it’s time to take out the Yellow flag of courage. In these times courage is drawn upon in the face of fear which can be difficult to do especially if it isn’t a situation where our values or empathy are being seriously challenged.

With courage I can attempt anything and while I’m trying new things I’m learning and growing. Success is knowing I’ve tried.

Breathe! It’s Important.

Breathe! It’s important!

I breathe to live

I breathe to energise

I breathe to be calm

I breathe to ground and to be confident

I breathe to ground

I breathe to release

I breathe to relax

I breathe to relieve anxiety and other strong emotions

I breathe for Mindfulness

I breathe to heal

Most of us take breathing for granted. After all our bodies take care of this every moment of life function. The truth is though, that we get tied up with the story of our lives and all of the stresses and strains, conditioning, self judgement and fear, to name a few things change the way we breathe. Our ‘normal’ breath becomes changed so that it is no longer as effective in its function and this affects our bodies’ oxygen supply.

How can Breathing Help?

  • Mindfulness; watching how the breath enters and leaves the body is a major key in using the breath to help feel better in all ways.
  • Stress and anxiety is caused by the fight, flight or freeze programming in the brain. Breathing is an almost magical tool in creating a ‘switch’ to turn this programming off or at least tune it down when it has gone out of control.
  • Used mindfully and with intention, breath can be used to clear the energy field and body of negative emotions and past trauma.
  • With mindfulness and intention the breath can also be used to ground yourself, and along with visualisation, to draw into yourself the way of being and feeling that you desire.

Could you ever have imagined that something that is taken for granted; that is so simple, could be so powerful!

In Gratitude,

Betsy

If you’d like to know more about the micro skills; building blocks of self-care that help you to reconnect with yourself, try my book, “The Building Blocks of Self Care: what everybody needs to know.”

Being Creative

2015-09-27 16.30.22Creativity is an essential part of each one of us.

Being creative is essential to our every day self-care and well-being.

 

 

When I was painting this picture, the joy of doing it was in the creativity.

I had no idea of what it would turn out like. I had a sketchy vision in my mind – the creativity was in choosing the colours, the shapes, the material I glued on, and relating them to each other using my intuition – my feeling and knowing what to choose and use!

I had no agenda, no desire to succeed, just to be in the moment and do what came to me. I took a risk with every move I made and trusted that it would work out well.
When we think ‘creative’ we often think ‘Art’.
The words Creativity and art are not necessarily interchangeable! While some of us express our creativity through art, others express it in other ways!
Think of the many ways we express ourselves and become more aware of how you most easily express your creativity.

Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences can help us here

  1. Language
  2. Visual
  3. Logic (e.g. problem solving, chess)
  4. Inter-personal relationships (with others)
  5. Intra-personal relationships (with ourselves)
  6. Music
  7. Spiritual
  8. Kinesthetic ( using the physical body eg. dancing, playing sport)

We often combine two or more of these at a time.

It is always interesting to choose one of the above that isn’t in our usual comfort zone and experiment with it. For example, I am not a dancer by any long shot!! However, I love to be given permission to move creatively and have attended workshops that do this. So it is fun when I do the giving of permission and jump and jiggle around the lounge room!

Why is this self care? Doing anything in a relaxed way gives our brains a rest. It becomes a different kind of meditation; a moving meditation. It activates parts of the brain that otherwise don’t get exercised and allows the brain to relax and new ideas arise: more creativity.

Don’t put this off! It is too important. Give yourself permission to be creative today.

Knowing Yourself



Knowing Authentic Self

is the KEY

to

living authentically

and

achieving your dreams.

Each of us are the total of our conditioning, cultural upbringing, experiences, relationships, potential, abilities and talents, values and physical selves and I’m sure that you will find other aspects that I haven’t mentioned! These aspects of ourselves and our lives set us up for our life’s journey and somewhere amongst them is our true self, pushed here and there, influenced in this way or that. … So how do we re-connect and re-discover our true self?

SELF AWARENESS is the beginning and the absolute core of getting to know yourself well. You will begin to find out where you are reacting and responding in ways that are authentic to your true nature. You will be able to learn to change the reactions that you don’t like to more authentic responses. You will come to know what your true values are and what interests you and alights your passion.

HOW do I get to REALLY KNOW Myself?

Well a good start is to learn to BE AWARE of myself; how I feel, how I deal with those feelings, the effect I have on others and how much I allow my brain to make decisions for me.

Here are ten tips that I’ve noticed help me to BE AWARE

  1. Regularly stop and do a body scan, noticing where in your body you are tense and how each part of your body feels.
  2. Now brains can be bossy. They think that they know what is right for you and want to keep you safe. So, notice what your brain is saying to you and question the validity of what you hear. “Does this serve me well?” Much of what the brain rabbits on about comes from conditioning (e.g. messages your parents and teachers repeated to you) and you may notice that much of what it is saying is negative, fearful and downright unhelpful! CHOOSE to transform these thoughts into positive loving conversations that will serve you well.
  3. Learn to ‘ground’ yourself and you will find that you will be more in tune with yourself and your actions and reactions will be more reflective of who you are.
  4. Take keen notice of how your body and your brain react to others and what they say and do. Decide to work out what the ‘story’ is behind your reactions.
  5. When you find yourself reacting negatively to what someone is doing or saying, ASK them questions about the situation. Become curious and find out all the details. You will be surprised how often our initial reactions are based on too little understanding of others.
  6. With self awareness you will become clearer about your values.
  7. With self awareness you will begin to notice your self-talk. This will tell you whether the beliefs you live by are serving you well or are due for an overhaul and to be framed in a different light.

 



Tree Metaphor

I looked for a tree symbol of my inner self.

Meet my beautiful tree! She is straight strong and true.

She is thoroughly grounded.

Her branches tell me to reach for the sky in all directions.

Her bark is continually renewing and harbors small animals, while her branches embrace the nests of birds.