Helping the Dying

IMG_2149This year I found myself in situations where I experienced death firstly of friends who lost their sons aged 16 and 13 and recently my mum.   My mum died of ovarian cancer on the 20th December 2013 after spending three weeks in hospital.

Perhaps you have found yourself in a situation where you have never experienced death or know nothing about dying.  Or you have a loved one who is ill and dying and have no idea what to do.

I think this is how most of us feel.  We have such a culture of fear and denial of death that we fell hopelessly inadequate in the face of it.

“Death is a subject that is evaded, ignored and denied by our youth-worshipping, progress-oriented society” says Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in the Death: The final Stage of Growth.  Yet death fills our television and movie screens, news reports and other media. We almost have become apathetic to death, until it touches us personally. We experience death in relationships, our jobs, and our goals and we think nothing about how this is similar to the death of a loved one.  Somehow there is a split in our psyche: Death is part of our violent world “out there”.  But we don’t accept it “in here” by coming to terms with our own mortality, by preparing in life to meet death.

The mysteries around death and dying are unnecessary.  There is no reason for us not to learn to care for the dying.  In fact, there is every reason we should, because caring for those we love, or for any reason during their final days, is the last greatest gift we can offer the person.  In fact, learning to come to terms with death we allow our ego to step aside and provide the space for the dying to die.

I had limited, in fact no experience on how to prepare my mum for death.  I suspected that my shamanic perspective of her transition would need to be addressed differently to her.  I also understood that death was perhaps not a subject matter discussed in detail within the Anglican church she attended.  Traditionally in African customs, death is a taboo subject, it is seen as a pre-emptying a person’s death.  I recall too, how one of my friends was horrified that I had approached the subject of funeral arrangements with my mum while she lay in hospital.  This got me thinking of how so far removed my circle of peers are around the subject of death.  It’s almost as if death does not exist.

While grappling for a method that I could use to assist my mum with a process she would be comfortable with. I recalled when I took refuge as a Buddhist, in early 2000.  We were introduced to the concept of dying, by one of my teachers, Rob Nairn, who had written a book Living Dreaming and Dying.  In it Rob offered a modern psychological perspective to the Tibetan Book of the Dead.  In helping the dying he outlines some principles we can follow which I found very useful in approaching the out there to help my mother in her transition. These principles may be useful for those not familiar with the shamanic processes around dying.  I will discuss in my next blog Why are we afraid to die from a shamanic perspective in relation to the in here,.  I believe it is important that we address death in all aspects of our life and not only in assisting others theirs.  For how can we help someone die, when we have not addressed our fears around the concept of death in our own personal life experiences.

The principles outlined in the book Living Dreaming and Dying are as follows:

ATTITUDE

We are all going to die.  We need to check our attitude towards death in general

  • Reflection – at the end of a day sit quietly and watch the setting sun. Notice how the day fades to night and the light leaves the sky, observe the ending.  Observing this allows one to accept reality.  We are impermanent, all of us.
  • Open and Honesty – Be honest with yourself and with the dying person.  There is a perception that we should not tell the person they are dying.  I experienced this with my mum – the doctors were treating her to a barrage of well-meaning but transparent lies and pretense. “We are conducting a few more tests to establish how to go about treating you.  We don’t know the extent of the cancer”. This is cruel and unnecessary.

COMMUNICATION: LISTENING, TALKING, TOUCHING

This is all about energy flow.  When we have problems or difficulties, we seize up and go all quiet, tense and withdraw.  Psychologically this is dangerous because it stops the normal healthy flow of energy, like a knot in a hose pipe.  As the water pressure reaches the knot this fills us with tension and increases our stress, causing us great suffering.  We all know this and instinctively know we have to let it out.  The most common way of doing this is by:

  • Talking – people approaching death usually need to talk, to be spoken to and heard in a real and sensitive way.  Often people have unresolved issues in themselves and with others.  To help them deal with this, through simple prays, affirmations or forgiveness prayers if the person is open to it.
  • Listening – try not to focus on the words only, hear what the person is voicing in the words.
  • Reading – select passages from their favorite book or poem.
  • Touching – use touch as another means of communication, this could be massaging their feet or hands and or holding their hands etc
    • Savor the Past – as death approaches we sometimes allow problematic issues to overshadow us and relationships.  We can reverse this tendency in a beneficial way by reminiscing, by revisiting happy and positive periods with old friends and family.  In Africa, congregating for a funeral is a way for family and friends to reminisce about the dead person, this is usually done through song and dance.  The world witnessed this at Nelson Mandela recent memorial and congregation at his residence in Johannesburg.  Interestingly, in  Shamanic teachings,  some of our medicines are story telling and dance. This is not to deny and suppress past unhappiness but to bring balance and happiness into the present.  A happy mind is more relaxed and more at peace.  Allowing the heart to know some gladness in the face of death.  While dying this triggers a spontaneous re-run of our entire lifetime like a fast-forward movie.
    • Releasing the Dying –  it is important to understand that when a person is  in coma they can hear you.  Or perhaps there is no chance of a recovery.  The person dying may be hanging on out of concern for someone who is still alive.  That person could be you, and you need to talk to the dying person.  Tell the dying person that you are okay, and they need not feel responsible for you.  Allow him/her to face their new future.  Tell the person you love them and you will miss them, but that their passing is not the end of the world.  You will survive and they must go on their way.
    • Don’t Play Games – avoid saying things like “Everything is going to be all right”.  This is usually not true in life and we do not know what state the dying person’s mind is in.  All we can do, is our best by providing a peaceful environment for them and help them resolve issues.  Being honest will help a dying person.

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NEGATIVE AND PAINFUL EMOTIONS

Sometimes we can help a dying person deal with negative and painful emotions that well up as death approaches.  The classic process of dying involves some or all of the following stages. These are denial, anger, bargaining with G, depression and acceptance.  In addition other reactions are mixed up with fear, anxiety, hope and guilt. Interestingly, I have observed the dying process as not being particular only to a dying person but I too experienced them in my grieving process. I swing between the denial, anger, acceptance and anxiety.

Remember that a dying person is experiencing the death of the body, and not the mind. Keeping in mind that energy does not die, a dying person is in transition from Form to Formlessness.  In this knowledge, I find the comfort, knowing my mum has only transitioned into higher energy dimension.

COMPASSION

It is good and useful to know theories and techniques that may help us cope with a person whom is dying. But this is all worth nothing if we lack compassion and the desire to help.  If you have the desire to help and care for others, you will instinctively do what is needed.  Even if you feel inadequate, your caring and loving will communicate itself to the dying person as a great comfort and blessing.  I often felt very inadequate witnessing the pain my mother experienced, but put on the brave face and gave her all the compassion I was able to give her.  However, once I was alone, I cried allowing myself to release my pain in watching my mother die.

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I am deeply humbled and blessed to have observed my mother dying. This may seem to be a insensitive statement, for in all this I am aware that my role going forward is to be of service to others whom will experience a loved one dying.   And for her courage too for co-creating her process of death, for in doing so, she has healed and ensured her future descendants of not experience the suffering and pain she endured.  I shall eternally  be Great Full and Thank Full to her for being my teacher in this life time.  I shall miss her physical presences every day.

I dedicate this post to my mum, Elizabeth Shirley, for you are Proud Spirit.

Resources that you may find useful:

Forgiveness Prays:

  • Blanket forgiveness – “ I forgive myself, I forgive everyone, I forgive all past experiences I am free”
  • Howard Wills http://www.howardwills.com/prayers
  • Ho’oponopono –“I am sorry, Please forgive me, I love you. Thank you”

My discussion on PowerFm on Wednesday 2 September 2015.

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Intuitive Healing & Energy Medicine

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  What is Reiki Healing?

Reiki is an ancient hands-on healing system. The practitioner acts as a conduit for unlimited life force energy as a means to enhance the body’s natural ability to release blocked energy on the emotional, physical, and spiritual levels. This profound deeply relaxing therapy allows the body to equilibrate thus restoring health and harmony of the body, mind, & spirit. Distance healing is effective.

crystal_bowlsSound therapy

Uses tuning forks that produce certain healing sound frequencies that resonate with the body to support healing. Sound Healing is an energy-based non-invasive treatment that is similar to acupuncture. Precision calibrated tuning forks are applied to specific acupuncture and acupressure points to access the body’s Meridian and Chakra energy systems. These tuning forks represent a natural harmonic series based on the orbital properties of the Earth, Moon, Sun and planets. Their rich resonance and vibration connects with and supports the body’s natural frequencies.

It brings us into alignment with the cycles of the Cosmos known since antiquity as the Music of the Spheres. The tuning fork is struck on then placed on the body or held near the ears. The sound waves of the forks vibrate and travel deeply into the body along energy pathways, affecting human physiology and reaching places not easily accessed by traditional medicine. Applying the forks stimulates and balances the body’s physical and subtle energy field to promote healing and inner harmony. Listening to the forks speaks to us deeply by connecting with our vestibular system, within the inner ear canal, and accessing our sense of motion, balance, space, memory, and healing.

energymedicine_7_1328089738Tuning forks are used in sound therapy instead of acupuncture needles on meridian points, reflexology points and any relevant blocked or painful areas of the body to re-establish the natural flow of energy.
Frequency vibrations transferred to cells using these tuning forks, cause spiking of nitric oxide that sets off a cascade of physiological events directly influencing health, well-being, state of mind and consciousness. Vast scientific research proves these numerous benefits beyond any doubt.

signing bowlTibetan singing bowls are made of 7 different metals which resonate uniquely according to their shape, size and the proportions of the metals mixed into them. The undulating pulsating sine wave sounds of these singing bowls entrains the brain into deep relaxation, alpha and even deeper theta states.

What is Chakra Balancing?

When we are in a state of ill health.  By this I mean in ALL areas of your physical, emotional and spiritual bodies. the chakras may be distorted, out of alignment or even stagnant.  When this occurs, life force energy cannot flow in and out freely and the physical body may suffer.  Stress, inability to express emotions, over emotional expression, beliefs congruent with our Truth, disconnection from a higher power, unhealthy diet and lack of exercise, exposure to toxicity etc.  can cause the chakra system to close down.

Each chakra resonates with a particular frequency of vibration and are integral part of energy healing.  Chakras are balanced by inviting them back to their natural state of vibration and frequency using colour, light, sound, aroma, energy work, crystals, stones and sacred geometry.  By stimulating the senses in a favourable way, the nervous system and therefore, the chakras are balanced.

In my healing practice I utilize all these methods in an hour long session.  Ensuring one leaves feeling WHOLE – to bring back to balance, all aspects of your emotional, physical and spiritual bodies.

What is a Shaman?

shamanic-healingIs a practice that involves a practitioner reaching altered states of consciousness in order to encounter and interact with the spirit world and channel these transcendental energies into this world. A shaman is a person regarded as having access to, and influence in, the world of Helping Spirits and Guides who typically enters into a trance state during a ritual and practices divination and healing.

The term “shaman” is presently often used as an umbrella term referring to a variety of spiritual practices (medicine woman or man, sangoma,  or traditional healer are some common names).  The word “shaman” originates from the Evenk language (Tungusic) of North Asia and was introduced to the west after Russian forces conquered the shamanistic Khanate of Kazan in 1552.

Shamanism encompasses the premise that shamans are intermediaries or messengers between the human world and the spirit worlds. Shamans are said to treat ailments/illness by mending the soul. Alleviating traumas affecting the soul/spirit restores the physical body of the individual to balance and wholeness. The shaman also enters  supernatural realms or dimensions  to obtain solutions to problems afflicting the community. Shamans may visit other worlds/dimensions to bring guidance to misguided souls and to ameliorate illnesses of the human soul caused by foreign elements. The shaman operates primarily within the spiritual world, which in turn affects the human world. The restoration of balance results in the elimination of the ailment.  The shaman understands that there is an invisible world of consciousness and energy that envelops and informs us, and that organizes all physical reality, even how we will live and heal and die.

I practice a synthesis of traditional (ritual and ceremonial), core shamanism and holistic energy techniques.  For I believe the old ways of doing things no longer serves us.  In our fast pasted society, people are too busy, or weary about digging deeper or find it difficult to separate their religious beliefs with Spiritual work or resist searching to the core of their discomfort.  The methods I employ allow for a gentle way to uncover the core patterns and limiting belief systems that keep us stuck in the old paradigm.  Giving one the tools to break free of limiting beliefs, behaviors and erase imprints of disease from the luminous energy field (LEF), to create health, joy and inner peace. I liken it to peeling an onion, one layer at a time.

What is Core Shamanism?

“After having personally practiced shamanism, shamanic healing, and shamanic journeying for more than half a century, I can say that there is nothing I have encountered in reports of the spiritual experiences of saints, prophets, psychedelic drug experimenters, near death survivors, avatars and other mystics that is not commonly experienced when following classic journey methods using a drum.”

—Michael Harner

drums 2Core shamanism is practiced by modern shamanic healers the world over.  It consists of the universal, near-universal and common features of shamanism, together with journeys to other worlds a distinguishing feature of shamanism.   A shaman enters a state of consciousness through classic shamanic non-drug techniques such as sonic driving, listening to a rhythmic percussion.  This could be a drum or rattle.  They journey to the invisible world of spirits and connect with their and the clients spirit allies for healing work.  These Helping Spirits are available to help everyone, and it is the role of the shaman to reconnect clients with their Helping Spirits, thereby restoring the relationship between the two and restoring their personal power.  Imagine for a moment, the effort one places in building a relationship with a new romantic partner or friend. In these relationships we place a lot of energy building this into something solid.  This same effort needs to be applied when working with your Helping Spirits.  And so, once a relationship has been re-established I provide the client with tools to continue building on this new partnership.

Holistic practices involved encouraging people to learn shamanic work – one need not become an initiated shaman to learn how to “journey” for yourself.  The old ways of relying solely on a shaman to connect with your Helping Spirits is one of the old ways that do not work.  It is imperative that we all learn how to re-connect back to source!

images (1)In my workshops, spiritual coaching, vision quests, sweat lodges and treatments I share ancient strategies for working with this invisible matrix of the Universe and to meet your Helping Spirits and Guides and experience this magical invisible world yourself.   In order that you live a life as a Spiritual Adult and ‘dream your world into being

Protecting Your Space

“Energy flows where attention goes – MAKIA”

Smudge kit

Spring  has finally arrived in the Southern hemisphere and hope the cold spell we have experienced the past couple of days will pass soon.

I’ve been wracking my brain on how to formulate this blog post around the concept of providing some shamanic tools for clearing and protecting one’s home. There are a various ways of doing this, but for the purpose of Spring, I will share a simple but effect method.  Of course one is strongly encouraged to engage in the services of an initiated shaman for more complex clearing.

Firstly, it’s important to understand that we are energy, our possessions contain energy and so to our home.  If you are not clearing your home environment often, you pretty much leaving yourself open to any and all types of energy to enter – a welcome mat, so to speak.  So, claiming back your power is vital.

How do you do this?

Make it a habit to clear your environment as often as you feel it appropriate.  For instance, after a dinner or luncheon party, clear your space. Especially as the weather warms up, and the urge to entertain beckons. Remember, that  the people you invite into your home have, quite frankly and are likely to have left some of their energy (negative and positive) in your home. All unconsciously, of course or not.  Or if you move into a new house or apartment.  In this case, a clearing would include the clearing the property and asking your helping spirits, guides and the spirits of the land for protection and blessings.  It’s important and I would encourage you to seek the services of an initiated shaman to do a through job.  For instance I clear my home, once a week, however my healing room and yoga studio I do daily.

Why bother?

Clearing your home has the added benefit of opening up your space for your gifts.  If you have planted your seeds (goals and dreams) as I wrote in my previous blog, Spring – Sowing your seeds http://tinyurl.com/phxf8j4 ,  this next process helps open the way for any blockages that may effect the free flow of energy to you within your home environment.

Another good idea is to clear your own Auric field (human energy field) – especially if your work environment involves meeting different people each day or you may spend time in shopping malls, restaurants or over crowed places.    A simple way to do this, have a bath with a handful of course salt added to the bath water.  Either use course sea salt or Epson salts.  These are inexpensive and ready available in supermarkets, or health shops.  To make them more appealing, add some dried lavender or your favorite herb to the mix.

How to clear the energy within your home

smug sticks

What you will need:

  • Sage smug stick (or Impepo – African sage)
  • A smugging feather (a single feather will also work)
  • Shell
  • Matches or lighter
  • A bowl with river sand
  • Your intention – in this case to clear your home of all negative and or by-gone energy

Method

  • Open all the windows and doors
  • Light the Sage smug stick, and allow it burn for a few moments and blow the flame out, so that you have a gentle smoke
  • Move through each room of your home, focusing on the corners of each room, brushing away with the feather.  Use the motion as if you are sweeping away the energy out of the room
  • Open all cupboards, and wardrobes and continue to use your smug stick to clear the energy
  • Once you have completed this process in all the rooms of your home, put the smug stick out by placing it into the bowl of river sand to kill the smoldering.  And also, so you can re-use the smug stick for the next time.

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After completing your house clearing, it’s a good idea to bless your home with the following method I found to be very effective.

Blessing Your Home

Use 9 Bay Leaves in half a glass of Salt, to bless your house and dispel any negative energy.

Bay leaves are used in Spell work for protection, exorcism, psychic vision, good dreams and repels negative energy.

Salt absorbs negative energies and bad feelings, it is probably the best known protector in magic.

Putting these two together and it is like a super spell that will get rid of any stale or negative energies that are surrounding you or your home. This spell has been done for thousands of years, in the Spring. When people did a ‘Spring Clean’ they would put the cup of salt and the 9 Bay leaves around the home, to clear out any stale or negative energies – Source WICA Teachings

Notice, once this process has been completed how light you feel and the energy within your home is different.  Enjoy.

Bay leaves in a bottle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Om Hotep! Peace and light

Ahoh!

Mitakuye Oyasin – We are one!

Vision Quest Diary

Day One
I am pretty excited to be holding my first solo Vision Quest, it’s been six months in preparing and scouting for the appropriate venue. Yesterday I hiked to a nearby farm to enquire if we could hike up the mountain (aka Kopje). Ironically the farm rents out horse stables and provide horse riding lessons.

Symbolically this is awesome, “EH” in runic magic is the communicator and considered the Shamans drum beat which sends out sounds allowing one to journey into other dimensions or worlds. EH is the saddle, which one can ride, helping one over obstacles, giving one courage and strength. The drum is also a very powerful communicator. The Native American Indians originally believed to be a big wild dog or sacred dog.

And so, all participating on the Vision Quest arrived and working in community, we covered our sweat lodge frame with blankets and prepared the fire pit with Grandfather Rocks. After a light breakfast we set out for our nature walk.

The first thing I noticed on my nature walk was a Rabbit, as it bounced away into the forest. There I observed my fear bouncing away. I found that amusing and in a way confirmation of where I am at this moment on my Red Road of life. At first I had no intention of climbing up the Kopje, as I felt I had done so the day before while scouting for an appropriate nature walk. But something propelled me up to the top. It was interesting in that, there has been a veldt fire recently, and the ground cover was a carpet of black burnt grass. Amongst all this, were rocks and in between aloe plants that had been in the thick of the intense heat, yet still alive.

I felt as I walked up the Kopje how ironic the scene before me reflected life. Fire representing destruction and re-birth, the aloe plants representing humanity. We live our lives with so many challenges and difficulties and given a chance Spirit will guide us out, we need to ask for their intervention and hang in there for the help to arrive. Or we could remain fixated in our old ways, refuse to change and take the consequences by being burnt ? Or we could accept full responsibly of our own actions, allow the symbolic healing (with fire). Trusting that a new birthing will happen, just like the aloe flowers I noticed on the Kopje, who survive under the most extreme temperatures.

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I continued to the top of the Kopje, silently be amused with myself. In my past lives I had spent an awful long time up on the mountain ” contemplating my navel” and here I was back again. A full circle has been completed in my opinion.

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On my way down the Kopje I noticed a beautiful orange and black butterfly hopping from one rock to another. I attempted to capture it on camera, but alas, she was too shy. Being aware that there was no need to do so. At the foot of the Kopje I came across an ant hill – once again the symbolism on my nature walk was very profound for me.

As the sunset, we all made our way back to base camp. As the last vintages of the winter light disappeared, we settled into the Sweat Lodge for our first sweat. Grandmother Moon graced us with her presence that evening, shining her light on us as we rested for the night.

Ahoh!

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Crying for a Dream

“The Lakota Sioux word for Vision Quest is Hembleciya (ham-blay-che-ya). The word Hembleciya translates to “Crying for a Dream.” This refers to the “Quester” both physically and internally crying for a Vision or Sacred Dream. Sometimes this ceremony is called “going up on the hill,” because people would often go to a nearby mountain or butte to complete their Vision Quest.

Typically the quest is completed deep in nature, far away from civilization. At times it can be done closer to where people live, but located in a pit dug deep into the ground. The person on the Vision Quest either chooses or is told the location for their Quest. They are also instructed in all preparations and on how many days and nights the quest will last by a Medicine Person/Shaman (aka Holy Person). This Medicine Person will guide the Quester in all aspects of the ceremony and provide spiritual support and  guidance.mesa-arch-canyonlands_65569_990x742

A vision quest is a rite of passage in some Native American cultures. The ceremony of the Vision Quest is one of the most universal and ancient means to find spiritual guidance and purpose. A Vision Quest can provide deep understanding of one’s life purpose.

A traditional Native American Vision Quest consists of a person spending one to four days and nights secluded in nature. This provides time for deep communion with the fundamental forces and spiritual energies of creation and self-identity. During this time of intense spiritual communication a person can receive profound insight into themselves and the world. This insight, typically in the form of a dream of Vision, relates directly to their purpose and destiny in life.NativeAmericanSymbolMeanings

In many Native American groups the vision quest is a turning point in life taken to find oneself and the intended spiritual and life direction. The Vision Quest is often used as a Rite of Passage, marking the transition between childhood and full acceptance into society as an adult. A person’s first Vision Quest is typically done during their transformative teenage years. When an older child is ready, he or she will go on a personal, spiritual quest alone in the wilderness, often in conjunction with a period of fasting.

The vision quest is the learning and initiation process of the apprentice under the guidance of an elder”

Answering the Call

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Answering the Call is a two year shamanic intensive designed to put you on the path of your destiny and lead by initiated shaman, Ursula van Graan.  Answering the Call is an introduction to shamanism for anyone unfamiliar with these practices, or those who “have the calling”, or on a personal journey of self mastery and in search for connection and union to the Spirit world. The shamanic tools shared in the Answering the Call come out of  world wide ancient shamanic arts.

Learn shamanic tools that empower you to:-

  • Work in deeper union with the Spirit world.  This helps you to “wake up”.
  • Work in direct relationship with your Spirit Helpers.  This helps you get out of the play pen and step into your Souls purpose.
  • Master your False Self and work in union with your Authentic Self in everyday life.  This helps you to grow up to be a Spiritual Adult.
  • Walk in the world on the path of your destiny as an empowered, self aware Spiritual Adult with a Whole and Courageous Heart.

Awaken into the sacred dream the Universe is dreaming of you.

Answering the Call opens each participant to transformation, to change, to pay attention to the true calling of one’s Authentic Self while working with direct relationship with their Spirit Helpers.

Shamans believe that the true calling is the dream the Universe is dreaming of you.

Come learn the contemporary shamanic tools to allow that dream be realized through the actions of your life. Universal Shamanic traditions and cosmology will be drawn from ALL cultures, mainly Afrikan, Native American, European, Hawaiian, Aboriginal, Toltec, Siberian and Kabalistic.   Therefore each cycle will be eclectic and practical for everyday living.

REGISTRATION

For additional information or to apply, fill out the below contact form: