"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked."Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: "we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad.""How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice."You must be," said the Cat, "or your wouldn't have come here."
---Alice's Adventure's In Wonderland [Lewis Carroll]
"Think with your Heart, Feel with your Mind"
"A dream is your creative vision for your life in the future. You must break out of your current comfort zone and become comfortable with the unfamiliar and the unknown."
"It is fully practical to create that which has form in the silence. The noise art makes is usually heard by those whose lives listen to god. It is not adviseable to cheat that which has no other stake than the deeps and brights of all man."
"If we walk in balance and travel in peace the divine creative energy of our soul will inspire others to journey into realms of sacred exploration."
"When the first chakra is disconnected from the feminine Earth, we can feel orphaned and motherless. The masculine principle predominates, and we look for security from material things. Individuality prevails over relationship, and selfish drives triumph over family, social and global responsibility. The more separated we become from the Earth, the more hostile we become to the feminine. We disown our passion, our creativity, and our sexuality. Eventually the Earth itself becomes a baneful place. I remember being told by a medicine woman in the Amazon, "Do you know why they are really cutting down the rain forest? Because it is wet and dark and tangled and feminine."
"One cannot live a creative life without first letting go of the fear of being wrong."
"The pain in those chakras is meant to be felt; experienced. You are going to feel it (the sadness, and despair) move. It's part of the "push-through". The energy in the solar plexus, especially, needs to move...Balance. Practice. Meditating upon my form. These are three excellent spiritual practices to put my teachings in place. I want people to know that spirituality is a focus, a commitment, not a punishment. It's liberating."
"If you think that peace and happiness are somewhere else and you run after them, you will never arrive. It is only when you realize that peace and happiness are available here in the present moment that you will be able to relax. In daily life, there is so much to do and so little time. You may feel pressured to run all the time. Just stop! Touch the ground of the present moment deeply, and you will touch real peace and joy."
---Thich Nhat Hahn
"Where are you? Here. What time is it? Now. What are you? This moment. "
"Accepting, allowing and interacting with your life as though it is exactly as it should be, without making yourself wrong (or right) for what you discover is it the way to Self-Realization."
"You can't put people in boxes, and you can't fit life into compartments."
"We must embrace the imperfection in our parents before we can embrace the imperfection in ourselves."
---Laura Teresa Marquez
"I don't know what I'll do, or what I'll become...only what I am."
"Love what is."
My mind has been to the heavens. My mind has been to hell. And I am still alive to depict such experiences. In fact, I would argue that my life was Divined so that I could lead others through their heavens and their hells---no matter how significant or how slight. I believe that I chose this particular path so that I could learn and teach about my Way and the Way of others.
Ok, you know what I am going to say. It is all about Love. And while that is so true, it is difficult for individuals to experience the love they want to experience---even expect to experience. And part of that is that people focus on romanticized versions of love. But part of it is that people aren't even sure what love is.
When I was first diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, I began to strongly identify with Alice in Wonderland. Everything was craziness, and I was naive, so naive. I just felt constantly overwhelmed [Hence the Lewis Carroll quote at the beginning of this blog.] .
Psychiatric medicine, I have learned over the last 16 years, does not advocate for patient education. Medical checks between patients and their doctors last 15 minutes. Furthermore, many patients are not referred to a psychologist either. Patients are prescribed medications without any explanation. This often occurs in hospital settings that are filled with confusion and disturbance.
In 1994, I graduated with honors from University of Florida. So, I can say fairly confidently that I am pretty intelligent. I am classified in the top 40% of the people diagnosed with my disease because I am high functioning. However, I was relatively clueless about Bipolar Disorder until I returned from Hong Kong in 1998 [six years after my original diagnosis].
I went overseas thinking if I took my medication I was cured. [That is what I had been doing since being diagnosed.] I didn't know that if I missed a dose here or there I would fly into a rapid fire hypomanic or manic episode, or that I would dip into a clinical depression. At the very least I would have tidal wave mood swings. I didn't know that my disease was constantly cycling. I had no idea that if I messed around with the timing of when I would take my medications bad things could happen. I didn't fully understand the lithium levels I had to get periodically. I didn't realize how many different factors trigger episodes or what to do about them. I sure didn't get the full impact for my medications if I began drinking alcohol or taking caffeine---or for that matter drinking tap water filled with salt and random chemicals. I was ignorant.
When I was diagnosed, my then doctor looked at me intensely, and then said, "Don't go off your meds or it will be much worse for you." As a result, I lived in fear-driven compliance. I didn't understand what a psychotherapist was used for. I just thought they were around for me to talk with. I had experienced many professionals that did just that.
Yet when I returned to the States in the winter/spring of 1998, I began to learn the full scope of my illness. I was confused at first. I was disshelved. I didn't know what happened overseas. My mind raced and then plummeted a lot. I knew my meds got mixed up. But the reality of everything eluded me. I didn't begin to perceive the comprehensive view of my disease until I was home in Kansas for a couple months.
I went through two psychologists. The first woman was everything I didn't need. I was matched with her because she and I were both Christians. From what I could see, there was no other reason. In the midst of my mental chaos, I had to reach inside myself and find the strength to ask for a second psychologist. It was not easy and straightforward. I had to confront the woman first . I had to tell her she was not working for me. The woman was not egoless. She got upset. Wow! that was hard. I was so fragile and insecure at the time. But, eventually I was assigned a second psychologist and that person did work for me.
And she, also, helped me begin to piece together the concept of Bipolar Disorder---especially in terms of my personality. It was difficult. There were many tears. But I managed to accept my situation a little bit. At the time, I was still identifying strongly with my college girl persona [And I would for years.]. I was also living in the dream of Hong Kong---being a missionary, a teacher, and an explorer of the world [And I would for years].
I did not perceive how complex my disease was. And, my family didn't help me most of the time. I think my family members were mirrored my reality and that was awful for them. Few were there to support me. Generally, I felt very alone in the situation. And I felt I had to fight, fight, fight to survive.
Many ugly things were said to me before I returned home to the States. My headmaster called me stupid because I "stopped" my medications. He told me I could pray at home and to not ask for prayer from my peers to present at daily devotions. [I was to be forgotten as quickly as possible at ICS.] A "good" friend told me God would strip me of everything unless I gave everything over to Him. Many peers told me I just needed to pray harder. And my heart vanquished me the most. It asked incessantly, "How, why did everything happen to me while I was sincerely praying and living a dedicated, abstinent Christian life every day while I lived overseas as a missionary/teacher?"
Moreover, while I was hospitalized overseas, my meds were switched around. I was prescribed Depakote (valporic acid) rather than lithium. From 1998-1999, I experienced the ups and downs of not being on the appropriate medication [mood stabilizer]. Eventually, I learned that some meds work and some do not. It was a "tough trial and error" learning curve. Oh how I wish that I didn't have to learn that way!!!
I moved back to Virginia during that period. I was feeling so isolated and horrid in Salina. I lost the vision of Hong Kong as my life played itself out each day. I began to want to die the pain was so deep. I needed the hope of friendships I thought I had back in Chesapeake. My mom made some sacrifices and I got on the road to recovery---Virginia.
In addition, in the spring of 1999, I decided to switch back over to lithium since the mood swings were still rampant. Since I was not hospitalized, my doctor prescribed the lithium on top of my Depakote prescription. My tremor increased to an ungodly intensity. I looked like I had advanced Parkinson's disease. And then, finally, it was over. I was safely back on lithium.
Things settled down fairly quickly. I went to work for Barnes and Noble. Retail was an easy fit for me. I could do it in my sleep. I had managed a few departments when I worked for Hecht's previous to Hong Kong. Barnes and Noble was busy but relatively mindless. I got to interact with people.
I expected to be there for three months. I was there for 3.5 years.
My life was decent for awhile until the shift work began to mess with my Circadian rhythms. I went into a period of great rapid cycling. I was disabled over a 22 week period. That was another horrendous learning curve to endure!
The curve ceased in 2004. I was prescribed Seroquel in addition to the lithium. My last hospitalization was for a psychotic, suicidal depression. The Seroquel rectified the extremeness of the disease. My moods leveled. And I began to get better and better. It was that time frame when I, also, realized that my menstrual cycles were a huge factor that triggered the episodes of the disease. I was on my cycle during every clinical situation that I lived through.
My ex-boyfriend left me with a legacy of healing routes. I first began to learn about the chakra system.
Chakra Pali: chakka, Tibetan: khorlo, Malay: cakera) is a Sanskrit term meaning circle or wheel. There is a wide range of literature on chakra models, philosophy, and lore that underpin many philosophical systems and spiritual energy practices, religious observance, and personal discipline. Theories on chakras fit within systems that link the human body and mind into a single unit, described as psycho-physical, or sometimes called the 'bodymind' (Sanskrit/Pali: namarupa). The philosophical theories and models of chakras as centers of energy were first codified in Ancient India.
Anodea Judith provides a representative modern interpretation of chakras:
A chakra is a center of activity that receives, assimilates, and expresses life force energy. The word chakra literally translates as wheel or disk and refers to a spinning sphere of bioenergetic activity emanating from the major nerve ganglia branching forward from the spinal column.
There are six of these wheels stacked in a column of energy that spans from the base of the spine to the middle of the forehead. And the seventh which is beyond the physical region. It is the six major chakras that correlate with basic states of consciousness...
Chakras are commonly described, as above, as energy centers in the spine located at major branchings of the human nervous system, beginning at the base of the spinal column and moving upward to the top of the skull. Chakras are considered to be a point or nexus of metaphysical and/or biophysical energy of the human body.
The following primary chakras are commonly described:
Muladhara (Sanskrit: मूलाधार, Mūlādhāra) lower body
Swadhisthana (Sanskrit: स्वाधिष्ठान, Svādhiṣṭhāna) reproductive parts
Manipura (Sanskrit: मणिपूर, Maṇipūra) navel
Anahata (Sanskrit: अनाहत, Anāhata) heart
Vishuddha (Sanskrit: विशुद्ध, Viśuddha) throat
Ajna (Sanskrit: आज्ञा, Ājñā) eyebrow or forehead
Sahasrara (Sanskrit: सहस्रार, Sahasrāra) top of head
Chakras in the head from lowest to highest are: golata, talu/talana/lalana, ajna, talata/lalata, manas, soma, sahasrara (and sri inside it.)
The concept of chakras is often treated in different ways, depending on the cultural context. In Chinese medicine, traditional chakra locations correspond to acupuncture points. In some Eastern thought, chakras are considered to be gradations of consciousness and reflect states of the soul--these systems rely less on proof than on experience (under the assumption that 'proving' the existence of chakras is asking to 'prove' the existence of the thought process).
A mystic may deal with chakra as a model for their internal and external experience, and when talking about 'energy centers', may be talking about subtle forces which connect to the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of a person.
Sahasrara or the crown chakra is generally considered to be the chakra of consciousness. Its role may be envisioned somewhat similarly to that of the pituitary gland, which secretes hormones to communicate to the rest of the endocrine system and also connects to the central nervous system via the hypothalamus. The thalamus is thought to have a key role in the physical basis of consciousness. Symbolised by a lotus with one thousand petals, it is located on the crown of the head.
Ajna (along with Bindu, either or both are considered to correspond to the third eye) is linked to the pineal gland which may inform a model of its envisioning. Ajna is held as the chakra of time, awareness and of light. The pineal gland is a light sensitive gland that produces the hormone melatonin which regulates sleep and awakening. Symbolised by a lotus with two petals.
(Note: some opine that the pineal and pituitary glands should be exchanged in their relationship to the Crown and Brow chakras, based on the description in Arthur Avalon's book on kundalini called Serpent Power or empirical research.)
Vishuddha (also Vishuddhi) or the throat chakra may be envisioned as relating to communication and growth, growth being a form of expression. This chakra is paralleled to the thyroid, a gland that is also in the throat and which produces thyroid hormone, responsible for growth and maturation. Symbolised by a lotus with sixteen petals.
Anahata or the heart chakra is related to complex emotion, compassion, love, equilibrium and well-being. It is related to the thymus, located in the chest. The thymus is an element of the immune system as well as being part of the endocrine system. It produces T cells responsible for fending off disease and may be adversely affected by stress. Symbolised by a lotus with twelve petals. See also heartmind.
Manipura or the solar plexus chakra is related to the transition from simple or base to complex emotion, energy, assimilation and digestion, and is held to correspond to the roles played by the pancreas and the outer adrenal glands, the adrenal cortex. These play a valuable role in digestion, the conversion of food matter into energy for the body. Symbolised by a lotus with ten petals.
Swadhisthana or the sacral chakra is located in the sacrum (hence the name) and is related to base emotion, sexuality and creativity. This chakra is considered to correspond to the testicles or the ovaries that produce the various sex hormones involved in the reproductive cycle which may cause dramatic mood swings. Symbolized by a lotus with six petals.
Muladhara or the base or root chakra is related to instinct, security, survival and also to basic human potentiality. This centre is located in the region between the genitals and the anus. Although no endocrine organ is placed here, it is said to relate to the inner adrenal glands, the adrenal medulla, responsible for the fight and flight response when survival is under threat. In this region is located a muscle that controls ejaculation in the sexual act in the human male. A parallel is charted between the sperm cell and the ovum where the genetic code lies coiled and the kundalini. Symbolised by a lotus with four petals.
Woodroffe also describes 7 head chakras (including Ajna and Sahasrara) in his other Indian text sources. Lowest to highest they are: Talu/Talana/Lalana, Ajna, Manas, Soma, Brahmarandra, Sri (inside Sahasrara), Sahasrara.
My understanding of the chakra system enabled me to be the body-mind I had been struggling to be for years. My health insurance company even began to manifest that reality.
I switched from Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield to Optima Health. Optima recognized my disease as a legitimate physical illness. Despite their classification of Behavioral Health, I was able to seek as many psychology visits that I needed per fiscal year. Anthem, on the other hand, gave me a cap of 20 visits---4 visits short of 2 visits per month. If I got in trouble and needed assistance, I had to pay for that help out of pocket. There were a number of years where that was quite unaffordable. And, of course, that is when I needed the health care the most!
You'll notice that I link the manifestation of an insurance policy that met my needs with my understanding of the chakra system. That is because the chakra system fosters a whole life paradigm. It assumes the holographic universe is in place and is working just right. I have come into the realization that we are the co-creators of our life. Our thoughts, our energy, our focus builds every aspect of who we are, what is inside of us, and what is surrounding us.
This belief does not fight against a God-reality. Rather, it supports it. Everything that happens in this plane we are living on happens as it should. For that matter, everything that happens on every plane happens as it should. God established a perfect place for life to grow and develop in. All systems are go! All systems consist in perfect order and harmony.
I intimately connect with the God-reality. Daily.
The beautiful thing is to understand what is going on and how we are to join the rest of life as we were meant to do. We are One in the space that beyond Maya.
There is a lesson I continue to learn...grounding. That is where I root myself to the earth and then pull the energy from the earth upward through the various energy centers, and then I pull the life force (chi or prana) down from the universe and back through all the centers and into the earth again. For me, it is a challenging activity.
Apparently all the aches and pains I experienced in my body-mind over the years caused all my parts to go haywire. I didn't want to be in my body. I wanted to be in the heavens "where God was." I couldn't stay centered in my chakras. I dissociated [In psychology and psychiatry , a perceived detachment of the mind from the emotional state or even from the body. www.medicinenet.com/posttraumatic_stress_disorder/glossary.htm] to avoid my life. I super spiritualized to gain relief from the agony of my existence. I am not sure how that happened in my physical representation, but some sort of split did occur.
Learning how to ground and to stay grounded has been an interesting challenge. My friend who does my craniosacral work constantly reinforces me about the importance of grounding and centering. I am grateful for that.
It is through the process of balancing my daily living experiences [my energy] while aligning and realigning, opening and reopening my chakras that I am able to obtain a healthy state of being. Occasionally the chakras are too open, and then they must be brought into balance as well with a little bit of closure.
I find that the chakras are a great reminder of how we should approach life. It is not natural that we live in the heavens while our feet should be resting on the planet, firmly planted, to ready us for action and effectiveness. Living requires us to be here 100% of the time. If we are in our head and not in our body, that is a problem. If we are not present---if we are in the future or in the past, that is a problem. Furthermore, if we deny parts of our body through suppression, repression, or addiction, then that is a problem. We were designed to be right here, right now.
When I was in my "High Christian" phase during the pre-Hong Kong and Hong Kong years, I mostly lived in my head and in my heart. I rarely touched the ground squarely with my feet and with my central force. I often disallowed natural attributes of my body, and I rewarded myself by telling myself that it was good of me to live above life---that it was good of me to forget whole parts of myself. I believed that true spirituality came at a horrible physical cost---even death to Self [I never recognized that that could mean a lessening of the ego]. I believed the body was only righteous if I rooted out all its natural desires---even its natural functions.
I held myself in very austere and aesthetic circumstances. And I got sicker and sicker.
The chakras are all about the body. They recognize the lower chakras and the higher chakras as equally important. I look forward to the moment when grounding and centering comes easy to me. Currently, I often feel that I am fighting with a bear to get grounded. I have a highly developed upper chakra system (The 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th chakras). I have worked and worked on my 3rd chakra over the solar plexus. I had quite a bit of life damage in that energy center.
I found after an interim period of great difficulty, that spirituality is much easier to sustain if the energy centers are aligned, opened, and grounded. I don't go flying into the heavens. I am perfectly content to worship and live with God right where I am at. If I find myself looking forward with wistfulness, I am not present. I take a moment and get myself back into my body---back into my physical self. Likewise, if I am longing for the past, I am not present.
I am so much more powerful as a creature that owns my reality as it IS. I manifest my desires so much better when everything is working as it should. I, also, understand Scriptures that say we were created as planned. That we were created with hope! I understand that each experience brings me closer and closer to my Highest Being. I understand that God [Love] IS right here, right now. Life is full of abundance because God IS everywhere---including in each of our atoms, cells, etc.---and He [She, It] IS endless. God IS and we ARE. We are love because God IS love. When we choose to accept our "now" realities, we choose to experience Spirituality at its finest. We experience all that IS. We experience Love---ours and all that we are One with.
Love has healed a lot of my physical deficits. I look forward to getting better at grounding and centering so I can experience even more healing. Everything comes to me as it should. The more I stay present, the more I am able manifest the desires of my heart.
Logic often ridicules love. But, LOVE is the most logical element that exists. LOVE is ordered. It is circular and powerful. LOVE never stops giving. IT is endless. IT is infinite. LOVE knows all that IS because LOVE created everything we know and see and experience. Get in touch with the LOVE that you are. Learn what grounding is [Ground is the reference point in an electrical circuit from which other voltages are measured, a common return path for electric current (earth return or ground return), or a direct physical connection to the Earth. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ground_(electricity)] [Ground: Start by sitting comfortably in a chair. Make sure your spine is straight and your feet planted firmly on the floor. Say in your mind, the word, "ground." Begin to visualize your feet growing roots like a tree, through the ground, all the way down to the center of the earth. See these roots anchor themselves there, in the earth's core. Feel the depth of this connection stabilizing you. Allow any negative energy to drain down through these roots and be burned up. Center: Take a moment to observe where you are in the here and now. Notice how you feel. Don't judge it. Just notice it. Say in your mind the word, "center." See these roots pulling white light from the center of the earth, up into your heart. Pull all your awareness into your heart, as this light forms into a growing, glowing ball. Imagine YOU are inside the center of this ball, and you are one with it. http://www.holisticjunction.com/displayarticle.cfm?ID=1157]. Learn how to center. I am special enough to get in touch with the LOVE. Therefore, you must be special enough as well.