Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Wisdom of the Chakras by Ellen Tadd, Review

Lantern Books offered me the opportunity to read and review The Wisdom of the Chakras by Ellen Tadd which I graciously accepted. Without this opportunity, I may not have found this gem for quite a while.  I started reading it, got about halfway through and noticed I had so many post-its sticking out of my book, that I might as well start over with a highlighter. So, I did.

The book is filled with insights on how the chakra system affects our thoughts, words and actions; and how we can use simple practices to create harmony and balance in our daily life.

I have read quite a few books on the chakra system and this book is very unique. This book is written with all levels of experience with the chakra system in mind; through experience not just information. This style of writing makes balancing the chakras more attainable to those just starting their meditation practice as well as beneficial for those with a deeper practice. It is also beneficial to those who have no attachments spiritually and are just looking for ways to divert their focus from everyday challenges and struggles.

Ellen Tadd wrote the book in reverse, starting with the Crown Chakra, whereas most start with the Root. Tadd reasons that, "Starting from the base, we must do all the work ourselves. When the crown is open and functioning well, we connect to spirit, and we become aware that we are never alone in the process of growth and transformation." This ideal is a wonderful way to visualize and open the chakras.

A Must Read!! I recommend this book to everyone.

Friday, September 24, 2010

This Moment

{this moment} -  A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. 

Wishing you a lovely weekend!

(inspired by Soul Mama)


Friday, September 17, 2010

This Moment

{this moment} -  A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. 

Wishing you a lovely weekend!

(inspired by Soul Mama)


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Don't leave Peace behind.

September 11, 2001, I stepped outside my office building when I heard of the attacks on the World Trade Center, so close to my home, family and friends.  It was a beautiful day. The skies were blue without a single cloud and it was very silent.  Not a bird seemed to fly, the winds forgot to blow, the temperature was perfect and everything seemed to stand still.  

As I sat outside this morning taking a moment of silence; I took a look at the sky and listened to my surroundings.  It brought me back to that day.  Today the weather is exactly as it was, nine years ago.  The sky is blue and cloudless.   The wind, birds and animals are silent as well.  Everything is still. 
“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace." Jimi Hendrix
 Tragedy came to us that day.  It hit close to home to all Americans, on our land.  But, it also happens all over the world, daily.  Take a moment today to not just think of our loss on that day, but the loss of mankind all throughout the world who have innocently lost their lives at the hands of violence and war.  Also, take a moment today to thank and bless the men and women all over the world who help save, rescue and promote peace.  Without these people, mankind would be lost.
“Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will be as one." ~ John Lennon
Today is a day for great sorry, but it is also a day of awareness and awakening.  Until we apply love and unity to our lives and diminish hate and violence the world will never know peace.  Be mindful in your thoughts, words and actions.  "Peace is not a season, but a way of life."

Friday, September 10, 2010

This Moment

{this moment} -  A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. 

Wishing you a lovely weekend!

(inspired by Soul Mama)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Our Universal Identity

The first chakra we are going to explore is the Crown Chakra (Sahasrara translation: Thousandfold).  The Crown Chakra is located at the very top of the head.  This Chakra is associated with divine wisdom, our spirit, our Oneness with the Universe, our Unity with all that is, and Enlightenment.  In Yoga, this centre is referred to as the Thousand Pedaled Lotus, representing purity, refinement and beauty.  We use this chakra as a tool to communicate with our spiritual nature.

To truly open this chakra, one has to let go of all earthly attachments, forget the past and let spirituality in; bringing you to complete awareness.  It is then that we actualize spiritual qualities such as love, trust, clarity, confidence and well-being and let go of qualities of impulsiveness, lack of confidence, fear and depression.  It is only when the other six chakra's are opened that we can reach this state.  Just as we are all interconnected, so are the chakra's.  When one chakra opens or closes it affects the rest of the system.

Environmental conditioning and cultural attitude are the prime sources of a closed crown chakra.  They perpetuate fear, anxiety, suspicion, worry, self-doubt and can even lead to depression.  But if looked at from a spiritual perspective, the fear of inadequacy is generated by identifying oneself with one's behavior rather than spiritual identity.  Fears of being unsafe in the world or death occur when people do not recognize that their physical body is temporary and our true essence or spirit is eternal.  Indicators that the crown chakra is not functioning optimally is if you find yourself  stuck in the past, without faith or just have a feeling of disconnect from the world in general.

"Ultimately, all beliefs rooted in fear can be transformed through drawing on spiritual principles such as love, compassion and balance; and working to manifest them in everyday life."
Inspiration, Devotion and Spontaneity are ways to unblock the crown chakra.  It is impossible to be frightened when we manifest any of these.  I for one find inspiration through pictures, poetry, prayers, blessings and short stories.  I share them on my blog, Chasing My Bliss, so others can find a happy spot to sit and relieve some stress and anxiety.  But what inspires me, may not inspire you.  You need to look within yourself to see where you find inspiration.  Devotion creates a feeling of unity, which opens the Crown Chakra as well.  Whether it is a dedication or worship that is focused on spiritual matters, a child, spouse, friend or pet.  Spontaneity is the by-product of trust which of course eliminates fear making those care-free moments wonderful ways to open the Crown.

"People who attempt to meditate with closed crown chakras can achieve a form of relaxation, but they are unable to experience expansion and direct contact with Spirit.  Meditation is listening to Spirit; therefore the door to Spirit - the crown chakra - must be open.  With an open crown chakra, insight and connection to the spiritual life force are available to everyone."
Because the Crown Chakra is a tool to communicate with our spiritual nature, the best yoga method is meditation.  The asana's (poses) that you may like to incorporate into your practice are lotus pose (Padmasana), Headstand Pose (Sirsasana), Easy Pose (Sukhasana), or any other meditation pose that you prefer.

 There are three steps to achieve Vipassana or mindfulness meditation - Awareness, Mindfulness and Intention.

Attention is the first step.  By being attentive to one’s own breathing, thoughts, feelings or bodily sensations, the mind becomes calm.  The most common technique is to observe one’s own breathing, either by feeling the air move through the nostrils or by being aware of the abdomen moving in and out. The calming of the mind alone doesn’t constitute vipassana or mindfulness meditation. As long as the underlying causes of restlessness and suffering are not removed, they will keep coming back.   Until the mind is fundamentally transformed, it will keep getting disturbed again and again. Most minds are being caught in (usually unconscious) patterns of reactions to certain stimuli, leading to cycles of negative emotions and suffering. The mind has to be made aware of these patterns by the practice of mindfulness.  Inspiration, devotion and trust are all tools that can be used to help become aware.  You may want to start with an inspiring poem, visualization or prayer to help aid your focus.

The second step is mindfulness.  When attentiveness becomes lasting and strong and the mind is sufficiently calm, it becomes mindful of its own workings. This includes putting a stop to the endless judging and commenting going on in the mind.  Being mindful means neither grasping nor pushing things away. It also means living truly in the present moment and seeing things as they really are.  A tool to use to stay mindful is an affirmation or universal truth.  It could be something as simple as "I am" or as long as "I soar upward on wings of joy!"  Find one that connects with you and sit with it.

The final step is intention.  It happens spontaneously as the result of the practice of calmness and mindfulness.  When one releases the affirmation and works to hold the mind still.  Just as muddy water becomes transparent again once it is allowed to be still, and the mud has settled down; so a mind purified by the practice of calmness and mindfulness will spontaneously reveal its true nature.

"When we focus on the gift of being Spirit in human form, sources of inspiration become abundant.  We appreciate the possibilities of learning and creativity in life.  Happiness becomes a state of being, not a state of acquiring."
 This week, I offer you the following practices to help open yourself to your spiritual nature.

Day 1 ~  Take a sheet of paper and list all your fears.  Everything from the smallest insecurity to the biggest struggle.  When you are finished listing them go back to the first item and write why you have this fear and how you can overcome it.  Continue this throughout the list.  How many can you overcome with simple inspiration, devotion or spontaneity?  Would you be able to meditate on these fears to release them?  Please share which fears you can not overcome so maybe you can find inspiration from another person.

Day 2 ~  I invite you on a creative journey today.  What inspires you?  Share your inspirations with us by making a vision board, painting, writing a poem, making a video or other creative way and share it with the group.  Tell us how these inspirations can help you open your crown chakra.

Day 3 ~ Today we are going to look at The Key to Happiness.  Again, take a sheet of paper and list all of your desires from the ones you share with those close to you to the ones you harbor inside.  Now look at your list.  Are the desires spiritual or cultural?  How would you feel if certain desires could not be fulfilled?  Sit on this mindfully for as long as you can.  Release the desires that contaminate your happiness.  Come back here and share with us how you feel now that you no longer are carrying these burdens.

Day 4 ~ Stress and anxiety are our focus today.  I want you to be mindful of your body, mind and spirit; and what causes you anxiety or stress.  Whether it is from a social, personal or spiritual standpoint.  I want you to become aware of the triggers and journal about how you paused and released it.  Share this journal with the group.

Day 5 ~ Today we will begin focusing on meditation.  When you have 10 minutes of calm, I invite you to use this Guided Meditation with Karen Kallie.  Share with the group your experience.

Day 6 ~ Today's meditation comes from David Pond's book, Chakra's for Beginners.  "Draw a beam of white light and trace the movement of the white light down through the chakras and, let it rise to your Crown Chakra and out.  Picture a violet glow surrounding you and as you hold your breath, fill yourself with this light.  Realize that you are no longer alone as a separate being; you are one with all.  Feel the sense of spiritual protection as you align with the Divine.  Breathe out and send the energy of your being to the Divine and the world around you.  With your eyes still closed, begin to sense that you are sitting in the room.  Again become aware of your surrounding noises and smells.  Still keeping your breathing regular, open your eyes and notice the refreshing awareness of NOW."  Share with the group your experience. 

Day 7 ~ Today is our last day focusing on the root before we move onto the third eye chakra.  After a week of absorbing information and guided practices, I ask that today you sit on your own.  Use any of the tools I have shared to help you open your crown chakra.  For the final day on this chakra, I ask that you write about your experience this past week.  How have you grown spiritually?

Do not forget the practice in upcoming weeks.  Remember all the chakras work together.  To share in this exploration journey, please join us over at Meditation and Weight Loss.  Namaste.

All information on the Crown Chakra has been collected through various sources and personal experience with the intention of sharing them with like-minded individuals who are exploring the chakras.  All quotations are from The Wisdom of the Chakra's by Ellen Tadd unless otherwise noted.  I highly recommend this book.

7 Week Journey of Spiritual Exploration

I am about to embark on a seven week journey of spiritual exploration through our energy centers; and how they affect us and how we can clear them so we can enhance our lives. I am honored that I was asked to lead this journey at SparkPeople's, Meditation and Weight Loss Team.

Chakra is the sanskrit word meaning "wheel" or "vortex." There are seven major chakras in the body that run along the spine and correlate with certain body parts, emotions and senses.

Each chakra is associated with particular functions within the body and with specific life issues and the way we handle them, both inside ourselves and in our interactions with the world. As centers of force, chakras can be thought of as sites where we receive, absorb, and distribute life energies. Through external situations and internal habits, a chakra can become imbalanced.

Lets take a look at the chakras.

1. Root Chakra, located at the base of the spine, is the center of discipline, responsibility, order, and one's comfort in the physical body and on earth.

2. Sacral Chakra, situated at the mid-point between a woman's ovaries and at a comparable location in men, deals with the balance between the receptive and directive forces and with relationships, sexuality, creativity, and one's identity in the world.

3. Solar Plexus Chakra, located in the naval area, where you experience butterflies when you're nervous, is the center of feeling, emotion, harmony, and intuition.

4. Heart Chakra, in the middle of the chest, is the center of love, joy, generosity, courage and forgiveness.

5. Throat Chakra, located (obviously) at the throat, is the center of power, confidence, expression, growth and truth.

6. Third Eye Chakra, in the middle of the forehead, is the center of focus and concentration, wisdom, clarity, clairvoyance and discernment.

7. Crown Chakra, located at the top of the head, is the center of trust, devotion, inspiration, spontaneity, and happiness, and is an access to spiritual dimensions.

There are many spiritual practices to help open up and balance the chakras and together we will explore these many options and their benefits.  We will be using Yoga as one of the practices.  Yoga is more than a way to be more flexible. Its therapeutic effects reach beyond physical fitness and mental relaxation. 

Each week we will focus on one of the chakra's. Ellen Tadd offers a fresh approach to the Chakra's by starting with the crown.  In  The Wisdom of the Chakras, she reasons with the following, 

"Starting at the base (root), we must do all the work ourselves. When the crown is open and functioning well, we connect to spirit, and we become aware that we are never alone in the process of growth and transformation."
Because this book contains good practices and experiences with the system and I am currently finishing it thanks to Lantern Books; I am going to follow Ms. Tadd and work this journey backwards starting with the Crown Chakra.

To join our journey, please visit Meditation and Weight Loss.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

First Days...

Today was Mikey's first day of Second Grade and Max's first day of his second year in Preschool.  First days always seem to keep me in a fog.  I long for the past when they were tiny babies and I look towards what fine young men they will become in the future.

Today was no different.  As I helped Mikey get ready this morning, I shared with him my memories of the first time he went on the bus and how I watched out the window for his return all day.  He's growing up so quickly.  I helped him package up his book bag and reminded him to be mindful in class.  We walked to the bus stop together and shared a few goals for the new school year and then I kissed him goodbye (thankful that he allowed me in front of his friends) and watched my little boy transform into a second grader.

 Later that morning, I had to do it all over again with Max.  Last year, Max had a classroom of all boys so he was looking forward to a classroom with girls in it.  This led his father to tease him about kissing girls.  I laughed but felt a ping in my heart, realizing that it is not that far off.  I made him a special lunch, we packed his snack for school together and then Alex and I watched him venture onto the bus and journey to his next chapter.

That left Alex and I alone for the afternoon.  The only thing I like about sending my older two off to school, is the quality time I get to have with my peanut.  Being the third child, we didn't get the quality time that his brothers were able to get as a baby or toddler.  These are the moments that I get to explore and watch his true personality.  When my little one doesn't mirror his older brothers but shows who he really is. 

It wasn't until this point that the fog truly cleared.  Yes, my boys are growing up and I do accept it.  I am blessed to share this journey with them.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


Since becoming a mother, the luxury of bathing comes few and far between.  Showering is a rushed experience done simply out of necessity.  While in the shower, my thoughts circle the many things I have to accomplish, the kids homework assignments, meal ideas, etc. and my anxiety grows. 

However, last night when I stepped into the shower, I cleared my mind of the worries and woes and I actually felt the water wash over me.  I enjoyed massaging my scalp while lathering shampoo through my hair, taking in the smell of my soap against my body and the heat of the steam rising around me and the goosebumps that raised from the contrast of the cold room to hot shower.  When my mind tried to wander off, I brought my attention back to the water. 

With my focus only on the shower and my thoughts only on cleansing myself, it made the experience serene.  Instead of jumping out like I normally do and haphazardly wiping myself dry and throwing my pajamas on, I stepped out slowly.  I let the cold air hit me and patted myself dry slowly, making sure to dry every inch of my body.  While brushing my hair I felt the teeth touch every part of my scalp.  I lathered my body in lotion and dressed slowly.  I exited the bathroom with a sense of peace and shared the experience with my husband.  

It just takes a mindful moment -- small pauses throughout the day to transform everyday moments into something meaningful.  There are no ordinary moments in life; every moment is sacred and deeply spiritual if we are open to changing how we relate to them.  


Friday, September 3, 2010

This Moment

{this moment} -  A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. 

Wishing you a lovely weekend! 

(inspired by Soul Mama)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Simple Gesture

A simple gesture.  A single rose. 
Can change your outlook on the day,
and your presence in the moment.

What brightened your day, today?

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