Upgrading Your Filters

As an empath, introvert, HSP, or simply someone who is sensitive to the energies in your immediate environment, social situations can be challenging. You might become overwhelmed by others’ emotions, sometimes to the extent that you’re not sure whether what you’re feeling is yours or not. Sound about right? Then this post is for you.

Over time, taking on others’ negative emotions can wear you down, drain your energy, and even affect your physical health. I’ve found that setting up “filters” around your energy system, or aura, can be helpful in keeping your personal boundaries intact.

I’d like to share with you the meditations I use to create and maintain these energy filters. I wrote these meditations up in response to a request from a friend. I’ve been using them for years, but had never put them down in writing until fairly recently. They are based in part on techniques I learned at Vermont Witch Camp in 2005. The Reclaiming Collective, founded by one of my favorite Pagan authors, Starhawk, runs these amazing camps. I learned so much just in that one week I attended, and I highly recommend them.

Without further ado, here are the filter meditations!

Filter Creation Meditation

Relax and get comfortable. Take a few slow, deep breaths. Close your eyes and imagine a tiny golden ball of energy in your head, behind your third eye. Watch this tiny, spinning golden ball. As it spins, it gathers up your thoughts, helping you let go of distractions. Continue to breathe slowly and watch the tiny golden ball.

Visualize the ball starting to sink slowly down through your body. See it sink down the inside of your body, past your neck, down into your heart area. The ball continues to sink slowly, and as it does, you relax more and more. This golden glowing ball sinks down into your belly, and comes gently to rest there.

Now see the ball starting to gradually expand. As it starts to get a bit bigger, you notice that the ball looks like a tiny net. It looks like it’s made of the same material as a window screen, with tiny little holes. The ball grows until it becomes the size of a golf ball. It’s still golden, with a perfect mesh pattern. It expands until it’s the size of an orange, then a grapefruit. The ball keeps expanding, and now it’s as big as a basketball. The mesh pattern is still small, with tiny holes like the screen on a window. The ball is a lovely golden color, and as it expands and grows, you feel relaxed and protected.

The golden ball grows until it is a big sphere, long and wide enough to encase your entire body. You feel calm and safe inside the ball, which is a golden filter. You see that the netting is there to filter out any negative energies from outside yourself. All the things that you want inside your filter, like love and joy and fun, will come through. All negative energies from other people, like anger or fear or judgement, are now being filtered out for you.

This golden filter is the perfect size for you, and will stay with you as long as you like. The netting will keep out any energies that are not yours that you don’t want to feel. It will be working for you even if you don’t remember it’s there. And anytime you’re feeling especially overwhelmed, you can focus on your filter and remember how it helps protect you from unwanted energies.

Relax now and let go of seeing your golden filter. Know that it is still there even when you’re not focused on it. Take a few deep breaths and come back slowly to the room you’re in. When you’re ready, open your eyes.

Filter Maintenance Meditation

Every couple weeks or so, or when you’ve been in a particularly emotional or overwhelming situation, it’s a good idea to clean and maintain your golden filter.

As before, relax and get comfortable. Take a few slow, deep breaths. Close your eyes and visualize your golden filter surrounding you. Notice if there are any places where the screen seems clogged or dirty. Focus your attention there, and imagine tiny cleansing bubbles scrubbing your filter clean. Continue the process until the filter is all sparkling and golden, just like new.

Now examine your filter and see if there are any rips or tears in the screening. In your imagination, picture a little robot with tiny tools to repair your filter. The repairs are made quickly and easily, and the places that were harmed are now perfectly repaired. Your filter is all-new, golden and glowing, ready to protect you from unwanted energies that come to you from others.

Let the image of your filters fade, and take a few deep breaths. Trust that your filter is still there, shiny and strong, ready to protect you from unwanted energies.

Starcat’s Favorites: Slowly, Slowly

snowyscene.jpgThis winter has been especially snowy here in northern New England, as I’m sure you’ve heard by now. I don’t know if that’s contributing to my own desire for extended hibernation or not, but I’m not complaining. When the latest winter storm cancels my plans, I’m happy to stay at home. I’ve been moving slowly, relishing some inner changes that are rippling outward through my world. Dreaming, and drawing, and playfully planning some exciting things for this year.

You’ve heard of the slow food movement? I feel like I’m part of some kind of slow creativity version. In a good way.

It’s nice to just be, to play and explore my inner worlds and let it all unfold slowly, slowly, and with positive intentions.

How’s your winter going?

I usually post my favorites on the weekend, so you have some time to dive in and enjoy the links. Just another sign of moving more slowly, I guess. If you’re too busy today to explore the links, save ‘em for your time off, when you can relax with a hot beverage and explore some uplifting reads. Enjoy!

For my fellow recovering perfectionists.

Be your own buddy. It’s much more fun.

Stay close to the pace of your own delight. I guess my delight is strolling slowly through the falling snow!

Yes to playful creativity! Here’s something that looks super fun to try.

Encouraging your resilience and forming a habit of savoring life.

Oooh, a new book list! I’ve read 7 of these, and heard of a few more, but it definitely added to my (huge) to-read list.

Your Spiritual Superpowers

We all have various talents and skills, ones that are innate to us and others that we may have nurtured and refined over time. In modern culture, valued skills are ones that are obvious to everyone. You might be a great cook, able to repair just about any piece of machinery, a whiz at computers, or a talented musician.

But there are invisible talents, too, and I call these spiritual superpowers.

Years ago, a friend who was a working mother complained to me about her stay-at-home partner. While he was terrific with the kids, she was feeling put out because she had to come home from working a full day and do the housework as well. After thinking it over, I asked her to expand her view of her partner’s role in the family. His energy was calm and centering, and he was largely responsible for keeping the family grounded. Sure, he wasn’t great at tidying up the living room or getting the laundry done, but he kept house in a different way. My friend was able to recognize his contributions, and how he was a touchstone of sorts. It was one of his superpowers.

I recently became more aware of one of my own spiritual superpowers. In the middle of an intense conversation, a friend told me that I’m a “space-holder.” She said it casually, as if it was completely obvious, but it took me a moment to understand what she meant. My old self-deprecating pattern first translated it as “just a placeholder,” but my feisty friend soon set me straight.

This particular superpower is about accepting people and situations for who and what they are. I’m a sensitive type, an empath, and I feel emotions intensely. Not just my own, but those of others, too. Over my lifetime I’ve learned not to take them on, not to take them personally, but instead to sit with them and BE and accept and listen and, well, hold the space for whatever comes next.

Granted, it doesn’t always work; sometimes it’s all just too painful, and I run away or otherwise act without grace. But when it flows, it’s a valuable talent. 

What are your spiritual superpowers?

Do you inspire new ideas in the people you interact with? Can you ground someone’s anxious flightiness with a simple hug? Do you perceive the heart of an issue and deftly mediate between two people who can’t see eye to eye? Are you warned of possible troubling events in dreams? When you begin a new project, do you draw the right people to you effortlessly through magnetic leadership? Do you tend lovingly to a piece of land where animals and nature spirits take refuge?

In modern culture, as in the best superhero stories, these gifts are often unacknowledged and unseen. It’s important to recognize them in yourself and give yourself credit. Do what you can to help, and then make sure you fill your cup so that you can stay healthy and continue to be of service in the future.

Recently I held space in a tension-filled meeting. Everyone was being as civil as they could, but emotions and anxieties were high. When I was younger, I would have wanted to be anywhere but there. Now that I do this work more consciously, I sat and did some Reiki on myself, and watched the threads of energy cross the room. I checked in silently on those who seemed especially anxious, and tried to ease things where I could.

After the meeting, and a couple of errands I needed to run, I went home and took a nap. It was time to recharge. Most people wouldn’t see where I’d expended any effort – I just sat there in a room, after all. So what?

Spiritual superpowers are intangible, and their value often isn’t validated externally, unless the situation is extreme.

As I write this, I’m realizing that it was my power as a space holder that my friend Jenn wanted when she asked me to spend her final days in hospice by her side. On the surface, I didn’t really do much. I mean, I held her hand and gave her Reiki, but for much of the time she was beyond any conscious awareness of that. But by holding that space, letting things be, perhaps I helped ease her passing. Some of her family members thanked me, after her death, just for being there.

Remember those times when you’ve been there for someone, or helped in a troubling situation. What spiritual superpowers did you call upon? Think about how you can nourish them, and use them to help others, even when there’s no likelihood of recognition.

These powers are yours for a reason. You are needed and cherished, even when the recipients might not be able to articulate why. All of us are superheroes in our own way.

Barefoot In the Snow!

Guess what? I did it! I took the dare and went outside in the storm to feel the snow under my bare feet.

It felt unexpectedly good. Very invigorating! I felt tingly from the soles of my feet all the way up through the top of my head. It could have been the full moon. I’ll have to try this again.

BarefootSnowDare

If there is snow where you are, I double cat dare you – go outside barefoot! You’ll love it.

Starcat’s Favorites: Barefoot In Winter

snowday2No, I’m not gonna step outside and put my bare toes in the acres of snow that surround our house. Though maybe I should. It could be quite invigorating. I get the chills just thinking of it…brrrrrr!

What I’m referring to is an amazing new opportunity for women (if you’re a guy, please read on below for this week’s links, and perhaps share this with the beloved women in your world!) who’d love to add some peace and purpose to your daily life. My sweet soul sister Nova Om created the Barefoot Being program in order to help you do just that. By working with daily intentions, supported in a sisterhood of spiritually-minded women, she guides you to a deeper and more powerful way of living.

Nova reached out and asked me to join the program last month. At first I was on the fence about taking on another online course, because I’m so focused on my own creative goals this year. But I know the magic that Nova can inspire, so I said yes. I’m amazed at how powerful and nurturing Barefoot Being has been for me thus far. It’s uplifting me in so many ways! In fact, I love the program so much that I signed up to be part of the “behind the scenes” team for the February session. It starts tomorrow. I’d love it if you’d join us! You deserve it!

In the meantime, brew a cup of your favorite hot beverage and put your feet up. Here are some links to help inspire you this weekend. And tell you what, if I do decide to try the barefoot snow thing, I’ll post a picture here later.

I’ve been spending some extra time in the kitchen during the recent snowstorms. I made these yummy peanut butter cookies (and added chocolate chips to some of them). I haven’t tried these vegan recipes for stuffed mushrooms and raw peanut butter pie yet, but they are both on my list.

How to release the feeling that you need to Do It All. Love it!

Some delightfully irreverent, hilarious, and useful advice for writers, and for life in general. Language warning – and be prepared to laugh!

Warning signs to stop and listen to your intuition. Trust your gut reaction!

Just as you suspected, it’s all about you. And the perfect corollary, how to stop taking things so personally. Don’t you just love paradox?

A lovely little article about kundalini and the chakras. And this one on listening to your soul. Simple and sweet.

Enjoy your weekend!

Starcat’s Ten Best Books of 2014

Each January, I like to reflect back on what, in my opinion, were the best books of the previous year. Below are 2014’s winners. Please note, these aren’t necessarily books that were published in 2014, though a couple of them were. These are just my favorites of the 45 books I read over the past year. Enjoy!

toreadCreative Visualization by Shakti Gawain. This book had lived on my shelves for many years, and I can’t believe I hadn’t read it yet. It’s a metaphysical classic! This slim volume contains many useful and simple techniques for helping you create the life of your dreams. One of my favorites was to visualize upon first waking up and just before going to sleep, when your consciousness is more fluid.

Practical Prosperity Magick: Crafting Success & Abundance by Ellen Dugan. This is a Pagan book on how to encourage prosperity in your life. She offers spells to help get the money flowing, but also encourages you to take action to follow through in practical ways. I found lots of helpful suggestions and ideas here.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel. I had enjoyed the movie and wanted to check out the book it was based on – especially after someone told me there was a long section of philosophical discussion in the book. I think they were trying to warn me, but I loved it. This book has so many layers to it, from the adventure tale itself to contemplation of the meaning of life and our interactions with other beings.

Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture by Toby Hemenway. BlackLion and Quester are the gardeners in our family. I love plants, but I seem to have a brown thumb. Still, I wanted to see what this whole permaculture thing was all about. I resonate with the philosophy of it, and I’m delighted that our yard is slowly being transformed in this direction.

Invoking Animal Magic by Hearth Moon Rising. I may be a brown thumb with plants, but animals and I have always gotten along wonderfully. This book is a treasure trove of information on communicating with and understanding the wild (and not-so-wild) critters in our lives. It also references many fascinating myths from a variety of cultures.

Shamanic Awakening: My Journey Between the Dark and the Daylight by Sandra Corcoran. This fascinating book ranges from Native American teachings to dreamwork to alien contact. The skeptical reader might be doubtful about some of the alien encounters Corcoran describes later in the book. Suspend your disbelief – whether or not the stories can be proven as literal truth, there is much wisdom to be found here. I think reality is much more fluid than we often give it credit for.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. This was a fantastic novel that had me captivated. I can’t even really say why. Suffice it to say that my own imaginary world expanded after reading it.

Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey Into the Afterlife by Eben Alexander, M.D. This was a book that my friend Jenn read while she was dying of cancer. It’s about how a near-death experience convinced a scientist who had always thought of the afterlife as nonsense to believe that our souls continue beyond the death of our physical bodies. While I am already very open to ideas of past and future lives, it was captivating to read Dr. Alexander’s journey and see the changes in his mindset as a result.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. This memoir is one of those books that for some reason stuck with me long after I finished it. It’s about one woman’s epic personal quest, the heroine’s journey that Joseph Campbell wrote about. Raw and real.

Stillness Speaks by Eckhart Tolle. Okay, so technically I’m still reading this book, though I started it in 2014. Tolle’s words of wisdom are always succinct and profound. It’s delicious food for thought – or rather, no-thought. I very highly recommend this one.

A Graceful Snow Day

Sure, the weather outside is frightful. But it’s also beautiful. It’s been rather nice having a snow day, with the whole family here at home. Quester has been clearing the snow at our house and next door at Aunt Peg’s, with help from Dryst. I’ve been blessed to stay in and be cozy and warm. The kids went outside, all bundled up, and played like they were ten years younger! (They’re 18 and 16). We did lose our electricity for a couple hours, but it’s back on (at the moment, anyway).

This morning I slept in and hung out with Quester. Then, while he was out clearing snow, I did our taxes, which was a big job that I knew was going to take a few hours. We had some lunch, Then I got inspired by an oracle card in the Barefoot Being Sisterhood, a wonderful online course I’m participating in (more on that in a future post). I finally sat down to do my vision board for 2015! It’s based around my Word of the Year, which is GRACE.

bycandlelightWhile I was still cutting out pictures and words, the electricity went out. So I made my vision board by candlelight! It was so magickal and lovely.

We decided to play a family card game, and pulled out a new game some friends gave us for Winter Solstice. We played it by candlelight, and had lentil soup. Pathfinder Munchkin is a lot of fun! We own the original Munchkin but hadn’t tried this new one. BlackLion won. Just when we were finishing up, the lights came back on.

Now Quester and Dryst are out doing another round of snow removal, BlackLion and I just made some spaghetti sauce for Dryst’s dinner (he doesn’t like soup), and ElvenTiger is waiting for us all to finish up so we can watch the X-Men.

An extra day off is nice once in a while. Life is good, and I’m so grateful!

2015VisionBoard

Spending Time at Home (and a Recipe)

I love where I live. We’re in a small rural Maine town. Some of our neighbors include those who keep horses, sheep, and a very cool donkey who announces the arrival of morning. We live next door to my aunt, where my grandparents lived when I was growing up. It’s so peaceful here, and we can see the stars, take walks through the woods out back, and even skate on the pond down the road.

woodswalk

In the winter we spend more time at home, and I wanted to give you an update on our homesteading, something I haven’t done for a while.

The cats, as usual, are hanging out with us in the “cave.” They sleep a lot, and prowl around to see what we’re doing, and the brothers wrestle now and again. We gave them catnip treats and boxes to play in for their birthday last week, which was a big hit.

catsinboxes My Christmas present from Quester was tile in the kitchen, and it looks really great!

kitchen1

kitchen2

We’re making plans to paint the whole downstairs area in the spring. It really needs to be done. While the color, a sort of light mint green, is nice, it’s time for a change.

Even before painting, thanks to our de-cluttering and re-organizing, the house looks pretty. I’m so thankful to have such a wonderful place to live!

knickknacks

cuteshelfpic

We keep faerie lights up throughout the winter, and I love the warmth it brings to the great room.

faerielights

We also burn more candles. Our art supplies are kept close at hand.

artsupplies

Cooking is fun in the winter, and we’re focused on eating healthy meals. Soups are a regular part of our fare (except for Dryst, who takes after his uncle and doesn’t like them). I made a delicious lentil stew last weekend. Tonight’s meal was created because I had a package of tofu and some wild rice, and it came out quite well. Without realizing it, I made what tastes like garlic broccoli from a good Chinese restaurant, without a recipe.

Here’s the recipe ElvenTiger and I created, though sadly it was consumed before I thought of getting a picture.

Before leaving to visit some friends, ElvenTiger prepared the tofu. She cut it into chunks, then heated some soy sauce in a cast iron skillet. She cooked the tofu for several minutes, adding herbs (rosemary, black pepper, sage, and thyme) and turning the tofu carefully until done on all sides.

I started the rice. I had 1 cup of wild rice blend and half a cup of brown rice, which I cooked in 3 cups of water and a teaspoon of liquid smoke for 45 minutes.

Then I heated a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet. I added chopped broccoli and 3 cloves of garlic, crushed. Once the broccoli began to get green, I added a cup of water and 1/4 cup of Bragg’s Amino Acids. This is the part that tasted just like garlic broccoli from a restaurant! Once the broccoli was done and the liquid was simmering, I shut off the pan and stirred in the tofu.

When the rice was done, I stirred all of it in with the broccoli. We served it with a delicious tossed salad made by BlackLion, with a choice of homemade goddess dressing or homemade balsamic vinaigrette. It was so yummy!

While the kids were out, the rest of us watched The Grand Budapest Hotel. What a fun and crazy movie!

I’m so thankful for being in a good mind space this winter, and that, other than some colds and viruses, my extended family is all healthy. I hope you are as blessed in lovely spaces and loved ones to share them with!

Keeping Lists vs. Letting Go

“Desire is summoning.  It’s always flowing through you. You have the opportunity of opening to the harmony of the vibration of your desire or not.  As the desires are being summoned through you, and you go with the flow, you thrive, but if you use things to be your excuse for not going with the flow, you are arguing for your limitations. We want to show you how to go with the flow.  Which means nothing more than finding vibrational harmony with your own desire, and letting the Universal Energy that your desire is summoning to it flow to it through you.  It is optimum creative experience.” – Abraham through Esther Hicks

 I’ve been focused on letting go of control, trusting, and going with the flow for the past couple of years now. As we began 2013, I let go of my usual list of goals for the year, and decided to focus on intentions instead. That seemed to work well, for the most part. Last year, when 2014 was about to begin, I further refined the process, mostly by realizing that I could be happy with my life just the way it is.

By going with the flow, I’ve been much happier and more open to creating a life I adore.

At the same time, I’m a Virgo and I love lists. I love organizing, planning, and scheduling my time. There have been some interesting changes in my relationship with my lists and plans as I work on letting go. I discovered ROW80, which is an ongoing writing challenge that encourages writers to be productive even in the midst of a busy life. It’s flexible, in that you set and adapt your own goals…but still, you have to have goals in order to participate.

Goals means lists of things to accomplish! Oh goodie! My Virgo side was delighted.

But I’ve had to be careful, because lists can become a driving force of their own. I start to feel like I’m “good” because I’m “doing stuff” and “making things happen.” Those check marks when you accomplish something on your list feel good, people. Really good.

The flip side, though, is when you don’t do the things on your list. It’s easy to forget that you’re the one who make the freaking list in the first place. Nope – you didn’t do all this stuff on it, so clearly you’re a loser. Talk about encouraging your limitations!

Then I remember about letting go. I relax, breathe, and start over. I let go of self-criticism and put down the list. I check in with how I feel. 

So, are lists and letting go just too different to be part of the same lifestyle?

No, I don’t think so. Lists are, after all, a tool. So are goals. They are ways to keep yourself focused on your most powerful intentions, your most cherished desires, the passions that light you up inside.

I’ve discovered ways to use lists and plans more as guidelines. I still keep lists, but I don’t take them as gospel. When I start to feel like I’m not accomplishing enough, I think about what I do enjoy about my life in this moment.  

It helps to make some adjustments to your lists: either cross things off the list entirely (the ones you didn’t really want to do anyway), forward them to another time (without guilt), or break them down into smaller tasks (which helps with avoiding overwhelm). Those “you may not want to but you must” items, like doing your taxes or going to the doctor, are still there, but you can temper them with fun things like working on your novel or taking a yoga class or playing a game with your kids.

Lists can be useful tools that help you remember to go with the flow. When lists and schedules are put into the appropriate context, they actually help make space for the creative chaos that enhances your life. They help you remember to focus on the flow, where the Divine connections get sparked and uplifting changes can transform you.

Starcat’s Favorites: A Cozy Nest

cozylightI confess – I’m a “glass half full” kind of person. So of course, despite the icky colds going around in my family, I’m looking on the bright side. Which means, for me, plenty of time for reading (I’m really enjoying my former neighbor Lynn Flewelling’s Casket of Souls) and writing and plotting and planning and drawing and blogging. Curled up in fuzzy purple blankets in my Hello Kitty PJ pants and warm sweater. Drinking cranberry-juice-and-mandarin-seltzer-waters and eating hot soup.

Right now I’m especially excited for two reasons (neither of which has anything to do with football – sorry BlackLion!). Here they are: 1. I received my (first-ever) Leonie Dawson 2015 Life and Biz Planner in the mail today! and 2. I finally got back to work on my novel-in-progress, Patterns in the Void. Woo hoo!

I’ve also had time to collect some cool links to share with you this weekend. Enjoy!

So, in discovering Leonie Dawson, I’ve been laughing aloud at her fun and outrageous style, and also picking up some great ideas. Here’s a list of her favorite productivity hacks, and for my fellow bloggers, her sage advice after 10 years of blogging successfully.

Ever tell someone they have too much time on their hands? Um, yeah, don’t.

I adore this list of 20 Habits of Highly Authentic People.

Yes, I realize we’re past the Winter Solstice, but this article still feels relevant here in the depths of winter.

Are you an old soul?

Have a beautiful weekend!