Monthly Archives: January 2015

What to do if you are Sensitive, See Spirits, Energies, or Beings: The Basics

One of the things I get asked about most by people is what to do if they naturally are open to the Spirit World, Energetically Sensitive, and/or are an Empath, Clairvoyant, Channel, Medium etc.

In this blog I will discuss what to do if you naturally are in tune with seeing spirits or other energies. What do I mean by other energies? I mean that you are seeing or sensing energies that surround people, places, and things, that other people don’t typically notice.

The first thing that I tell people who are sensitive and/or who see spirits is to simply accept it. The way I describe it is like this: some of us walk into a room and notice 10 things, some of us walk into a room and notice 50 things, and some of us walk into a room and notice 5,000 things. For many, this changes, and on one day you may notice 200 things, and on another 2,000, but the more you live with your sensitivities, the more you will figure this out.

So, simply accept the fact that you are sensitive. It is not a bad thing, something to hide, or something to shy away from. Most artists are sensitive, great thinkers, therapists, healers… all are likely sensitive. We have a tendency to denounce being sensitive, or have been told many times as children that “Oh, she is just too sensitive” as if it is a bad thing. It isn’t, and it simply the way that you are wired. Much of our suffering comes from being sensitive when you denounce who you are, or try to hide it. So accept that you are sensitive, that you notice more than others, and learn how to work with it.

The same goes for seeing spirits. There are all sorts of things beyond the purely physical in our world. Some people are able to process non-physical dense matter, such as spirits. Some other sensitives are able to notice energy within people, places or things, other dimensions, other times, other energies (such as elementals or thoughtforms). What seeing spirits means, or any of the other sensitivities I listed, simply means that you need to properly learn and process all of the extra information coming at you. So accept that you see/feel/hear more than others, and learn to work with it.

Working with it
These are some tips that I have learned throughout my journey as a sensitive.

Don’t deny who you are– this doesn’t mean you have to proclaim to the world that you are clairvoyant or can see someone’s dead uncle hovering over them. But learn to be fine with the fact that you are sensitive, and that you can see/feel/hear/smell more than the average Joe

Learn that this doesn’t make you really special, or a God, or Guru– simply because you are more sensitive doesn’t make you special. We are all special in our own unique ways. You have the ability to relate to the universe in a different manner than other people do, and the ability to know more, but when you are really in tune with your gifts, you will realize that:

You are not alone, you are not the only one with these abilities

There are always people better, faster, smarter, more in tune, more Awake, more Enlightened, more sensitive, etc. than you– you, and only you, do not know the Truth about the inner workings of the Universe. You may have an idea about what is going on, but this is always through your ego, your perceptual lens, past experiences, cosmology, religious and community affiliations, common societal thoughts (you get my point). So understand that you may know more about certain things, but there are always people who know more, and there are many different Truths out there- so don’t get a big head about it.

• Learn how to ground in your physical body– many sensitives I meet are not in their physical body, they are not grounded or connected to the earth. Many prefer to be this way, either fully disassociated or partially out of their body. What I can tell you about this is this- when you are fully disassociated or partially out of your body you are jumpy, have a lot of fear, have pain in the lower body (feet, knees hips), feel like you don’t belong on this earth, need to protect yourself (because you are out of your body and open it allows other energies to come in), and most importantly, it doesn’t allow for you to process all of the input coming at you appropriately.

There are some wonderful tools and ideas for grounding, among them are: doing things in nature, gardening, imagine that you are a tree and planting yourself in the earth, taking care of your physical body through exercise, nurturing yourself with baths, lotions, experiencing your senses through art. But most importantly, you need to want to be in your body. Seems strange, but many people don’t. Accept that you have a physical body, and that although you are a spiritual being you have a physical container, and many of the issues I listed about being sensitive will be greatly reduced or simply disappear.

Learn how to work with and become “friends” with your spiritual helpers– most people on this path have a religious figure, angel, power animal, or other spiritual helper that they feel connected to. Start praying or simply asking that spiritual being to support you, to guide you on your path. Nurture the relationship with them by meditating or praying and asking for help. Gradually, you will develop a relationship where they can help you on a regular basis.

• Connect to your Ancestors– chances are if you are highly sensitive that it is genetic- meaning that other people in your family are sensitive and psychic. You may not be aware of this, or you may be intimately aware of this. For any highly spiritual and/or sensitive person, learning how to work with and listen to your ancestors can be an important step in your spiritual evolution. A teacher (such as myself) can help you learn how to connect with your ancestors for guidance, support, and answers.

Get a physical teacher, guide, healer, or someone who has already walked this path– like anything, choose a teacher that you feel a connection with, that doesn’t have a huge ego or guru complex, and has the ability to help you out with compassion. Take classes if you feel guided, or simply visit a few healers like Energy Workers, Shaman, or Meditation Instructors in your area and see how you feel around them, how the session was, and how they answer your questions.

It is part of my calling to work with Sensitives and Psychics to help them understand and work with their abilities. I teach Psychics/Sensitives how to utilize their gifts, how to protect themselves, and how to go about being a sensitive in the world safely and with boundaries through programs, readings, and individualized sessions. You can read about my individualized services here or contact me here.

Top Ten Myths About Kundalini Part Two

In the first part we discussed five of the top ten myths about Kundalini awakening. You can read these here. Here are the last five myths:

6. Kundalini is all about bliss. Many people hear about Kundalini awakenings and associate it with a feeling of bliss, or have heard about spontaneous orgasms that can occur. While there is a certain amount of bliss that does occur, especially in later stages of Kundalini, for most Kundalini-ites the moments of bliss are few and far between. Simply put, there is lots and lots of trauma, emotions, thoughts, belief structures, and more locked in our physical bodies. When we begin awakening these come up to process. This is often a difficult process, and is out of our control. We can be sitting in bed and all of a sudden recollect and process our birth, or a bad incident that happened when we were five, or the time we broke our leg, complete with physical sensations, emotions, and energies coming up for us to resolve and integrate. We then may have a taste of bliss, or we may be really exhausted.

We may also experience bliss when we are “dancing”- when a wave of Kundalini is so strong that our limbs, our bodies begin shaking and moving intensely and spontaneously. Even in total surrender there is some fear (especially at first if you do not know what is happening) but even in later stages there can be simple fear of safety- such as ensuring that you are in a safe environment so you do not hurt yourself before our body movements or consciousness is overwhelmed and we can no longer respond as we normally would for a period of time.

Most people associate the “bliss” of Kundalini with the reports of spontaneous orgasms. This is what happens when your first chakra opens a bit, your Kundalini emerges, and you have a huge amount of fire in your first chakra. We live in an oddly puritanical yet at the same time have a generally sex-based sex-starved consciousness. As a society we think that the Kama Sutra should be all about the pictures, that Tantra is all about the long period of sex, and are generally disempowered sexually to think that any sort of body centered human, primal sexual drives are deviant. This also means that our minds flip to a sort of odd addictive seeking state where we desire anything orgasmic, including spiritual experiences. Although this may not make sense to everyone, this sort of dual thinking, it is pervasive if we look at sexuality and anything spiritual. Tantra is turned into prostitution rings, women turn into “Goddesses” because the thought of identifying with our own human sexual drives, our own bodies and its inherent primal nature doesn’t happen until we are fairly awake. But I digress. The point is that spontaneous orgasms are more about heat in the first chakra than anything. This type of bliss is more about our own sexual, primal drives momentarily being awakened than anything. And having orgasms through spiritual awakening sounds wonderful until they happen in the middle of a grocery store.

So if we were to sum up, bliss does happen during a Kundalini awakening. It is really flickering unless you are in later stages though, and is not the type of sexual thrill that most report through their momentary exploration of heat in their first chakra. Most people who are going through a Kundalini awakening have not awoken it past the second or third chakra, and those who have awoken further know that bliss and contrary states, such as fear, or pain, or rage, can occur simultaneously. And looking to awaken your “bliss” through having a Kundalini awakening is like going to a “Tantric” practitioner who advertises on Craigslist.

7. Kundalini awakenings can start from anywhere, like the crown. Kundalini awakenings always start from the root chakra. That is where the “coiled snake” is dormant, that is where it arises from. That is what a Kundalini awakening is. It is possible to have a partial Kundalini rising through secondary channels- through Ida and Pingala (you can read about Kundalini energetics and pathways here) but these are also in the lower body, and are actually a significant and problematic energetic dysfunction that needs to be corrected by rerouting energy and an opening of dormant Kundalini at the base of the spine.

In our world any big spiritual experience is currently called a Kundalini awakening. This is because of a basic surface level understanding of most spiritual phenomena that is present, and the fact that we live in a materialist sort of culture and Kundalini is known as a big rather loud energy and a huge spiritual experience so people want it. The irony here is that people who actually have Kundalini awakenings go through intense suffering, and if the “aspirational” Kundalini-ites knew what an actual Kundalini awakening was like they simply wouldn’t want it.

A lot of people simply do not have the language or have not done the research to understand that they are not going through a Kundalini awakening, and that they may be having an entirely different spiritual experience, such as channeling, astral projection, disassociation due to trauma, possession states, psychic abilities, or a Top-Down awakening (read about that here). Many people have opened their crown chakra or third eye through various workshops and spiritual activities. This is not a Kundalini awakening, although it is possible to have a Kundalini awakening and a Top-Down awakening happening at the same time (and actually happens quite regularly).

8. You can control Kundalini. Unfortunately the answer to this is a resounding no. I love the Zen proverb “let go or be dragged” because it perfectly describes the Kundalini experience. Anyone who believes that they can control Kundalini simply hasn’t experienced a Kundalini awakening. It would be like putting yourself in the middle of a volcanic eruption and thinking really hard or waving your hands to stop lava pouring out at you. It just doesn’t happen. Frequently people do not let go, and are dragged by their experiences, which is not suggested and is very painful. By surrendering the Kundalini experience gets better. Kundalini awakenings teach a lot about control, and how little we actually have. It is actually very freeing after a certain point. But before that point we endlessly create rules and belief structures and think we can control Kundalini, that we can control divinity itself.

9. You can stop a Kundalini awakening. Unfortunately the answer to this is also “no”. I have worked with a lot of people at this point who have been to well-meaning healers who “teach” people how to stop their Kundalini, or treat it as anything from a possession state to mental illness to an energetic aberration that must be “fixed”. This causes a lot of chaos, pain, and emotional/spiritual damage and trauma to the experiencer of the Kundalini awakening. What can be done is to process whatever is coming up, to surrender, to let go and let God, so to speak. There are specific tools that can be taught, understandings that can be had to come into better alignment and have a better relationship with Kundalini. Once you are out of your first three chakras things typically improve a bit, or at least are not so physical in scope, and you have a better perspective of the process. There are teachers, such as myself, who can help you learn these skills. There are also many healers, such as CranioSacral therapists, who remain in a neutral, witness state to help you process energy and the trauma, emotions, etc. that are coming up.

10. A Kundalini awakening is always difficult and horrible. A lot of people who have done basic research on Kundalini come across two things. The first is people who have no idea what they are talking about espousing the various memes of what a Kundalini awakening is like- that it is a bliss and orgasms and that you go into some sort of hippie oneness state through it, or that for only X amount of money they can give you one. When you do more research you find the accounts of people who have had the worst sort of Kundalini awakenings- the near death experiences, the sickness, the divorces, the upheaval of your entire existence. Basically, the horror stories. I always joke that if you look up your symptoms on Web MD you are going to diagnose yourself with cancer. This is kind of the same thing. Kundalini awakenings are difficult to traverse. But there is good and bad. Some people who have had years of bodywork, therapy, and meditation practice tend to have less difficult awakenings. They have the understanding level and the body consciousness to navigate it reasonably well and have likely worked through some of their trauma. People who have had a lot of trauma, have not worked on themselves, have not even meditated or had any interest in spirituality there can be a steep learning curve and a lot of difficulties.

But the interesting thing about Kundalini, about any spiritual process really, is that it is difficult. For everyone, especially in the beginning, but also ten or twenty years down the path. It is isolating- not many people will understand you and you will see and feel and understand too much. But it is also breathtaking, and beautiful, and leads to expanded spiritual states, complete body awareness and integration, and a resolution of trauma and patterns that block most from seeing the world for what it is. It allows for us to work through everything that obscures who we truly are, and to let go of all our patterns, our beliefs, our thoughts, and the thoughts, beliefs, patterns of our families, our ancestors, past lives, society, the world. This is both difficult and wondrous. Not one or the other. Both…

Mary Shutan helps people going through spiritual experiences, such as Kundalini, to develop tools and understandings to navigate their experiences. She sees patients worldwide through individualized consultations and for spiritual healing, and has developed intensive programs for people seeking the tools and skills to live in the world while undergoing Kundalini/Spiritual Awakenings or dealing with Psychic Abilities and Sensitivities. You can contact her here.

Top Ten Myths about Kundalini Awakening

Much like the “12 Myths about Shamans” blog that you can access here, there is a huge amount of misinformation about Kundalini and Kundalini awakening out there. There is very specific criteria for what is considered a Kundalini awakening, some of which you can read about here (you can also click or search for “Kundalini in this blog).

The reason that so many people are confused about Kundalini is that modern spiritual circles and authors have heard about Kundalini from a teacher or book and then passed on wrong information. It is like a bad game of telephone… where one teacher has formulated an idea about what Kundalini is without reading any classic scripture such as the Vedas, Gopi Krishna, or even Wikipedia, and has not had any sort of direct experience with it… teaching students their ideas about it, and those students go on from the already watered down version of their teacher and add their own pop-culture twist to it, etc.

As a note, before we begin, I sometimes get a lot of flack from people who argue with me that “nobody really knows what a Kundalini awakening is” or that “sources disagree” or that “everybody has an equal, valid opinion”. My general answer to that is that spiritual syndromes, such as Kundalini, are written about extensively through source material (meaning you will have to read something fifty years old or much, much older). There are precise accounts, symptoms, and understandings of what Kundalini and a Kundalini awakening is. You can only argue about something if you do not know what you are talking about. Picture this- you go to your doctor and insist that you have Leprosy. Your skin is not falling off, you don’t have any sores, and you have no muscle weakness. The doctor insists that you do not have Leprosy because you do not have any of the signs. But you insist. The same thing happens all the time with Kundalini and Kundalini awakenings. It is simply the newest, pop culture spiritual “issue” to come about- people hear about it and it seems like an intense experience and so they want it, or think they have it. But most people do not, and never will. And not everyone has an equal, valid opinion about everything. My friend that studies tRNA certainly has a much more valid “opinion” about it than I do.

Now that I am done ranting, here is the list…

10 Myths about Kundalini Awakening

1. A Kundalini awakening is something that happens once or twice. This is a myth. A Kundalini awakening is a permanent condition. People who have awakening Kundalini permanently feel it. It is constantly working, constantly doing things in your body. It may have more active and less active periods, and even periods of relative dormancy, but even in those periods you are still aware of it. If Kundalini is something that happens once or twice, it is likely not Kundalini. It is possible to have a Kundalini stirring, a temporary realization of the energy, but these are low-level, meaning that they are a temporary occurrence and the person can go back to their existence once it is through in relatively the same manner as they entered. For more about the different sensations of Kundalini, such as stirring vs awakening, go here.

2. I can awaken my own Kundalini, or have a guru do it for me. This is a popular myth. It is so popular because people make a large amount of cash from it. I have never met a tantra teacher, Reiki master, Spiritual/Energetic practitioner, or guru of any sort who actually has awakened Kundalini that would promise to awaken yours. It just doesn’t happen, and is a scam perpetrated by people who do not have awakened Kundalini. Because if you do have an awakened Kundalini, you have ethics and have to tell the truth and live a righteous sort of existence, especially if the energy has gone above your third chakra. It literally injures you to lie (this actually can suck sometimes, but I digress).

Any guru or teacher who has an awakened Kundalini knows that whether or not your Kundalini is going to awaken has to do with fate, not with you doing breathing exercises or clearing your chakras. When my Kundalini was still in my lower chakras I blamed myself for “activating” my Kundalini due to Mantak Chia’s Microcosmic/Macrocosmic Orbit. I was very upset with myself for a very long time. Until Kundalini reached my third eye, and I realized that anyone that I have worked with or met who has awakened Kundalini it is a result of it simply being time for their Kundalini to awaken. People can meditate for decades and not have their Kundalini awaken, people can also never meditate and not consider themselves spiritual at all and suddenly be in the midst of a brutal Kundalini awakening. Bottom line… it is not in your control. It is a divine, vital force. Do not spend your money on people who are all too willing to “activate” your Kundalini for you.

3. Feeling of energy moving or twitching hands/feet is Kundalini. One of the biggest symptoms of a Kundalini awakening are kriyas and mudras (hand, finger twitching and body movements happening spontaneously). However there is a huge difference between nervous system activation, qi circulation and feelings of qi, and Kundalini. 99 percent of the time that twitching, energy movement, and even hand/body spontaneous positions occur it is either the body releasing energy or trauma or it is qi, a force that we can all feel if we do some work to, such as through meditation, Reiki, tai chi, martial arts, yoga, etc. Qi is a vital force that creates our world- it flows through it. It is a magnificent thing to feel, to be aware of. But it is not Kundalini.

4. Reiki awakens Kundalini. This is a big one that people really, really want to believe. Most of the people that believe this are Reiki teachers and students who have felt wonderful energy of all sorts and insist that it is Kundalini. In some cases Reiki can certainly be a catalyst to awaken Kundalini (that was already fated to happen). I did something like ten different attunments within a year which was really not a smart idea and possibly caused my Kundalini to awaken a few years before it was supposed to (according to my Vedic astrologer). Even “Kundalini” or “Tummo” Reiki are not guaranteed to awaken Kundalini. I have certainly met plenty of Reiki practitioners, even “Kundalini” ones who would not know the energy if it sat across from them in a bar. I have certainly crossed paths with some who have awakened Kundalini, but Kundalini awakenings are fairly rare, and Reiki doesn’t awaken Kundalini… if anything Reiki allows for us to feel and work with qi and for some practitioners, to channel energy.

5. Kundalini yoga awakens Kundalini Kundalini yoga is one of the biggest fads right now (in the United States especially). I have never actually met or interacted with a Kundalini yoga teacher that actually knew what Kundalini was beyond a very basic, intellectual understanding of the subject. Breath of fire and the type of breathing and environment that Kundalini yoga creates get us in touch with our qi and our yang, our own ministerial fire- the fire of our own bodies. It gets us in touch with our chakra system, allows for us to become more aware, and it may get us in touch with our spiritual and divine natures. But this does not equal a Kundalini awakening. Getting in touch with ourselves is wonderful, exercise is wonderful… but Kundalini yoga is actually one of the most detrimental activities that someone undergoing a Kundalini awakening can do. Heat is not good for the already hot nature of Kundalini (or really anyone who is not of a robust, very health and vitalized constitution), and the breathing techniques can be extraordinarily damaging, particularly if you are having a block in one of your lower chakras and are undergoing a Kundalini awakening. Top this off with a teacher who likely only has an intellectual understanding and no direct experience of Kundalini you can find yourself in a lot of trouble.

Again, no activity is going to trigger Kundalini if it is not going to happen. Feeling heat or qi is wonderful, but someone can go to a Kundalini yoga class once and have a Kundalini awakening, and someone else can be a teacher of yoga for twenty years and not have an awakened Kundalini.

A note about this: I am sure that my bias is showing slightly with these last two categories. I have worked with many people who have gone to yoga classes and had either a temporary experience of Kundalini or a full-blown Kundalini awakening and their teachers had no idea what to do. I also have worked with and interacted with many Reiki masters/teachers and practitioners from all over the globe, many of whom are lovely people, but most have not had any sort of direct experience of Kundalini. These teachers will then teach their students that they are activating their Kundalini, or what Kundalini is, without having any sort of understanding of it. These same teachers will then have students have difficulties and they will either dismiss their students or give them really terrible advice because they don’t know what they are talking about. Although this seems brutal to say, it happens often (and I have the thousands of emails over the past few years to prove the sort of weird, misguided advice and odd behavior that teachers can have when presented with something like Kundalini that is way past their own experience level).

Read Part Two of Top Ten Myths about Kundalini Awakening

Guidance for Family Members- Spiritual Awakenings and Kundalini Syndrome

One of the more frequent emails that I get are some basic variation of these:

I have a family member (son, daughter, mother, father, brother, sister, cousin) or friend who is going through a Spiritual Awakening. How do I help them?
or
How do I know if my family member/friend is really having a Spiritual Awakening or is just crazy?
or
How should I know if I should put my family member into counseling/therapy/medication or hospitalization? How do I know if it is the right time for my family member/friend/loved one to get off their medication?

Although different in scope, many of these are really the same sort of question. What you are really asking is if Spiritual Awakenings are real, and if they are, what the hell do we do about them, especially in a world/culture where any sort of mental or emotional deviation from the “norm” is medicated so we can return to the normalcy of what is to be expected of most of our lives.

The biggest issue here is actually not if the person is “crazy” it is if they are functional. This is important to understand. If someone is going through a spiritual experience, no matter how big or mind-blowing or Jesus-talking, Kundalini feeling volcano-ing, seeing stars and communicating with the depths of the universe it is, the person should be reasonably functional in their daily, mundane lives. If they are not, they need help.

Basic Types of Spiritual Awakenings and Functionality
There is then a question of what sort of help they need. Many people have spiritual experiences that can temporarily cause issues in their mundane lives (and by that I mean going to work, going to the grocery store, etc. I certainly do not mean “mundane” as a negative). But even the highest, most intense spiritual issues should be able to be integrated after a period of time. If someone is still reeling from a spiritual experience after a week or two to the point that they are no longer functional, it may be time to take next steps.

Many others have long-term spiritual experiences that are incredibly destabilizing and too overwhelming to process. These are the people that end up hospitalized, medicated, and so forth. Unfortunately what happens in our culture is that once someone is stabilized they are rarely titrated off their medication so they remain medicated and partially stuck in the midst of a spiritual awakening for a good portion of their lives, if not their whole life.

Others have spiritual experiences that are difficult, destabilizing, and are difficult to integrate at times but remain reasonably functional in their lives. This group, if they do not know what is going on, may enter talk therapy, get on medication, or are more likely to seek out a spiritual worker or spiritual counselor, do bodywork or energy work, or seek out a guru who can possibly help them.

Many others are having mild spiritual experiences that they can seek out on weekends, in workshops, through meditation and other means. They are able to go on with their lives and suffer little to no repercussions physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually for having an interest in a spiritual path.

So what to do? What are next steps?
Generally my guidance for this is entirely individualized. But if I were to generalize I would say…

1. If they are reasonably functional in their lives, simply let them be. So they talk about weird stuff, let it go. Support them the best you can even if you do not know what they are talking about. Again, the question isn’t if a psychiatrist in a room with a bunch of ink blots would think that they deviate too far from the “norm” but if they are functional and reasonable in their daily lives. If they are, let them be.

2. If they are reasonably functional typically, but are going through a hard time… consider waiting or other options. This is more individualized. If your loved one is typically a stable, peaceful, and logical individual who is having an intense “wave” of Kundalini, is reliving a trauma in order to process, clear, and heal it, or is dealing with a physical sickness that no doctor can figure out, I would again suggest giving them a bit of time. In spiritual awakenings old events, traumas, and even physical sicknesses come up to release. This can be quite difficult to deal with. In spiritual awakenings an immense amount of energy can get activated and cause a whole range of odd symptoms and behaviors. This can also be difficult to deal with. But if you are dealing with a normally functional, reasonable human being who is having a rough weekend of Kundalini activation, I again would consider letting them be and telling them that you are there for them if they need you. Treat them as if they have the physical flu- ask them if they need anything, make sure they are safe, and offer them some soup or to come over and hang out with them. Suggest that they see an energy worker or spiritual worker familiar with spiritual awakenings so they can develop tools to deal with rough times. If this lack of functioning continues for a period of time (such as over a week or two) or you are in fear for their personal safety, or you cannot get them to see a spiritual worker, you may need to consider next steps.

If your loved one is in the same scenario as above (having a rough week with a lot of symptoms, basically) but they have a background of being emotionally unstable, traumatized, or were not very functional to begin with, you may also need to consider next steps.

3. Medication, Hospitalization, and Psychiatry
I would love if every person experiencing a spiritual awakening could find a spiritual worker or healer that actually knows what they are talking about or doing, or a psychotherapist who wouldn’t judge the person as “abnormal” and tell them to get medication. I would love if every person who was going through a spiritual awakening had loving and available family members to take care of them during the times that they were unable to function (this is, of course, a lot to ask). I would love if every person experiencing a spiritual awakening would take personal responsibility for what is going on and begin learning the tools in order to navigate their experiences, to go to healers to help them through the trauma and issues coming up for processing, and begin meditating, walking, or doing whatever activities were necessary to make them feel whole.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen. Spiritual awakening is disorienting and it is likely at some points to make the person non-functional. In cases where the person already has a background of trauma or emotional instability it can break them. Many times people undergoing spiritual awakenings need to be able to work, to be a part of their family, or do not have loved ones able to care for them for whatever reason. This is totally understandable.

In mild to moderate cases, or in cases where a normally stable and emotionally sound person is temporarily destabilized, these are always the first steps I suggest. I first suggest bodywork, such as CranioSacral therapy, as well as Spiritual Healing and Counseling to anyone going through a spiritual awakening. I suggest meditation, learning and practicing tools learned through the Spiritual Healer, gentle to moderate exercise, reducing television and Facebook/internet time… but sometimes symptoms are so severe or the person is so traumatized that these “first steps” cannot happen.

In this case I suggest a Transpersonal therapist or a Jungian therapist if you can find one. They are aware of the spiritual dimensions of care but are also part of the typical “Western” allopathic framework- they can suggest medication, hospitalization, and so forth. I would work with them and their suggestions.

In severe cases medication and psychiatric interventions, such as hospitalization, may be necessary. If the person is in danger of hurting themselves, cannot tell where they are, and is completely non-functional they are in need of drastic care, even if it is temporary. In my experience medication (in very few, but still some) cases is necessary- it puts a stop to the spiritual experiences so the person can become more functional. Nobody likes hospitalization, but if it needs to happen it needs to happen.

The “trick” here is even if drastic intervention is necessary, it does not need to be necessary for the rest of their existence. So if someone is destabilized enough that they need hospitalization or medication, allow for that care to save your loved ones life. When they are out of danger, even if they are still in the care of a psychiatrist, even when they are medicated, start working with a bodyworker, Acupuncturist, and a Spiritual Worker so they can process the trauma and experiences they have had and through the Spiritual Worker learn the tools they need.

In some cases, long term medication, or life-long medication needs to happen. In many cases, this does not need to happen. Titration of the medication can occur when the person learns tools and re-stablizes after their experiences. It is up to you, as an advocate for your loved one, as well as your loved on themselves, to express (or unfortunately demand in some cases) a plan for doctor supervised titration of medication, and to make a plan for the side effects of titration (such as acupuncture appointments and herbal medicine) as well as to come to a new sense of normalcy after being medicated for a while.

Spiritual awakening is a healing process. At some points it can get overwhelming, especially for friends and family who have no direct experience or understanding of what is going on. For very few, it is a process that needs to be stopped, medicated, and treated long-term through psychiatry and hospitalization. Although I am not an advocate for allopathic approaches such as medication and hospitalization, I recognize the need for it to happen in some cases, but would like for them in the vast majority of cases to be thought of as temporary and/or life-saving rather than a permanent solution to spiritual awakening issues. The vast majority of people undergoing spiritual awakening may just need the right tools and understandings to navigate their experiences, as well as the right practitioners and loved ones to help them through, before the experiences get to be too intense.

Mary Shutan, L.Ac, CST-D, CZB, ABT offers mini consultations (20 minute phone/Skype calls) and full length consultations (60 minutes) via Phone/Skype to people who wish to find out how to help their loved ones through a spiritual awakening, or wish to have a better understanding of the process. You may contact her here for appointments.

New Years Resolutions and Gratitude Practice

When I was younger I would make a long list about things that I wanted to accomplish in the New Year. I wanted to exercise more, meditate more, lose weight, gain weight (depending on the year), get healthier, eat better, learn to cook, paint more, watch less tv…

I would invariably be disappointed when I wouldn’t achieve my goals, or I would start my goals and then they would trail off as daily life, and the “real world” of work, school, family life continued, and I would find myself stressed out and again deciding to watch tv instead of exercising, or eating cookies instead of cooking a meal.

We all fall back on these patterns, They are ingrained in us. For most of us it is too much to suddenly decide to be a new person, to go from couch potato to Crossfit or marathon runner. We freak out… it is simply too much change. Although we mean well going from eating cookies to eating tofu is too much and our bodies react negatively, causing physical, mental, spiritually, and emotional issues.

This is the definition of a “loop”- an ingrained behavior or pattern of behaviors that we do again and again. This is a concept in neurology but is also a simple psychological truth. We do things a certain way and our brains form our reality around that way. It is comfortable. We cross the street in the same way, take the same route to work, and do the same things when we are stressed because it makes us feel in control and it provides us comfort in a sometimes stressful and out-of-control sort of world.

So how to actually do New Years Resolutions? (My 3 step process)
1. I have a practice each year of making a list of what I want to let go of from the previous year. People, events, emotions, and more that no longer serve me. This year I burned the list (safely, outside), and am burning a 7 day candle (basically a candle encased in glass) that lists the things that I am ready to “burn away” from my life.

2. I also make a list of what I want to bring into my life in 2015. I do not make any big plans or schedule myself with this. Keep it simple. Simple and progressive change is how we feel comfortable changing our loops. When we do this in a positive way we are more likely to change. Adding things to our lives gradually is much easier than taking things away or denying ourselves things. So if you want to exercise, do not write down that you are going to exercise every day for 60 minutes. Simply write down something like “move more”. If you wish to lose weight, consider adding more vegetables or healthier options at first rather than cutting anything out or denying yourself anything. This practice is how people actually lose weight and keep it off. So instead of writing “lose 30 pounds” writing “learning to eat healthier” keeps it positive, gradual, and does not freak out the loops or ingrained behavior that you have developed.

For #2, also realize that positivity can be a wonderful attribute. When we word things in a positive way it can make a great deal of difference. When we have gained a lot of weight (for example, this is a big resolution for most people) many of us hate ourselves for it. We distance ourselves from our abdomens, our hips, or our bodies as a whole for gaining the weight. When we make Resolutions it is from this place of hatred. We hate ourselves, our bodies, for changing, and we are going to be mean to them and continue to hate them until we are back in line. When we approach ourselves from a place of compassion and understanding instead we can achieve our goals more readily. So in this example when we wish to lose weight we can begin the practice of loving ourselves but compassionately letting ourselves know that we wish to be healthier, more grounded, more energized, more relaxed… and then weight loss becomes almost a byproduct of overall becoming healthier and developing compassion for ourselves.

3. I then do a gratitude list. This may sound cheesy to some of you, but it is a wonderful practice. I have had some difficulties in 2014- I lost two pets and had to deal with some situations that were not easy to navigate. But I have a lot to be grateful for. A wonderful family, a loving husband, two new cats, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances who I respect and cherish, my spiritual practices, a practice in which I help people every day from across the world, appreciative emails I get from people who I have worked with, meditation, the ability to constantly learn and unfold and be and do what I want to do in this lifetime, to be authentic and true. I am very grateful to have let go of chaos and trauma and to be in a place of relative peace in my life. I am constantly learning boundaries and how I can be a more ethical and compassionate person yet still be a person who has boundaries and focuses on my own needs. I am grateful for all of this, and it is a lot.

I realize that for some of you that you may not be in a clear enough place to list all of your blessings or come up with a whole gratitude list. You may not have a partner, a cohesive family unit, or even a pet to be grateful for. I understand this place, I do. But there is something to be grateful for- even if it is a warm coat when it is chilly, or your favorite tv show on Netflix. These seem simple, and stupid, but there is always something positive going on in our lives- even when chaos and negativity is being thrown our way- even when our lives, other people, our jobs, our families may not be something we can find gratitude in.

So I make a list of these three things. I keep it simple, and clear, and do not make any distinct promises. Things I wish to let go of from 2014, things I wish to bring in to 2015, and what I am expressing gratitude for in the past year. These can be one to three words for each item. I have placed my list under my candle that I am burning and return to it in prayer and thanks for facilitating releasing, bringing in, and thanks for bringing forward the energies of my list.

May you all have a blessed New Year. I wish to again express gratitude for all of you whom I have had the pleasure of working with and interacting with. You have taught me so much and continue to allow for me to grow. It is wonderful to work with people willing to change, to learn, to grow, to move past their “loops”, their traumas, their restricting world views. When one of us heals, it shows others that they can as well. I am grateful for every single one of you that has made the decision to learn, change, and heal… in whatever small or large way that is. Thank you.

You can contact me here with any questions about my readings or other services.