HEART CHAKRA:  In the heart chakra we focus on relationships. Relationship with self, other, the whole green world, and relationship with the vastness of the cosmos and all the beings of spirit who love us. All of these relationships provide us with an opportunity to open the heart and genuinely CONNECT with other. It sounds so easy! I myself have definitely been CONNECTION CHALLENGED! Most of us have found that it takes some work to get beyond our hurts and pain, beyond our defense strategies and lovingly connect with other.

From now until Valentine’s Day I have committed to the practice of focusing on my heart and opening my heart more. I invite you to join me in this practice. This morning my beloved orange tabby cat jumped up in my arms and gave me the best lovie. He rubs his cheek on my cheek and purrs up a storm. My job is to stay very present with that and open my heart to deeply receive it. We will explore RECEIVING LOVE and other issues in the HEART CHAKRA workshop Feb 11.


Freedom Horse Collage 100dpi 260

 I imagine all of us have had our share of anger, as it is a natural and normal human emotion. Anger is fundamentally a defense strategy. It arises from the solar plexus area of the body to protect us from being treated with disrespect or harmed in any way. Although anger can cause much harm, it is fundamentally a healthy emotion.

Can you imagine what it would be like if, as a child, all your angry emotions were strictly forbidden?  I once worked with a client “Sue” many years ago who’s mother was very inconsistent. One minute she was supportive and sweet, and the next she would fly into a rage over the smallest infraction. Sue was furious about her mistreatment, but she also learned early on that it was not ok for her to have any angry feelings toward her mother. She could not risk threatening the attachment relationship with the person who also gave her nurturance.

Fast forward 30 years, and we find Sue with a lot of pain in her body. Her anger got packed into her tissues after years of a chronic “clamping down” pattern. She came into therapy to work on this, but every time we touched her anger, fear would arise and she would disassociate.

First, we had to work on her belief systems, so she could give herself permission to have her anger. We had to separate the past from the present and future. It was unsafe then to have her anger, but it is not unsafe now.

We then moved to the felt sensation of anger in her body. It started as a contraction in the solar plexus area. As Sue’s capacity to stay present increased, the congested energy began to soften and move up toward the throat chakra, where it met another constriction. It took a while to open this constriction, because it meant directly expressing her anger. Eventually the backlog of repressed anger moved out, and Sue began to feel much more alive. She was able to express her anger appropriately and attract more loving people into her life.


Ancestor Spirits bdr 260I know of many people, including myself, who experience the world as unstable and uncertain. A quick glance at the environmental, social, political and economic events on the planet can, at times, induce and instant fear response. I found myself working regularly on the task of pulling my brain/mind up and out of fear.

The “house of fear” in our brain is the amygdala, which resides in the lower brain. One thought can fire off the amygdala. When I wake up in the morning and feel a little anxious, I know my amygdala is active. To create an upward spiral and raise my consciousness to a more positive state, I need to activate other regions of my brain. Oddly enough, the next step I take is to energetically open and spin my heart chakra. This activates the insula, which responds to soothing touch and food. It is also responsible for the feeling of love. By lovingly connecting with myself I spiral myself up to the mid-brain. I usually start feeling a bit better at this point.

         Some mornings during my meditation, I desire to go even higher up the spiral and connect to my spirit guides. I start spinning the pineal gland area of my brain, and my crown chackra. I also do some vigorous breathing and draw the energy up my spine to the crown, and then upward beyond the crown chackra. I call in my spirit guides and ask a question.

Sometimes it takes me a while to “connect” with them, so I have to practice patients here. Once I connect 2 things happen. This first thing is that I feel an in-pouring of love and light, which feels very good!  The second thing is that I do get some verbal guidance, which helps my mind relax and quit worrying.


reach out 260One of the fundamental needs we have as a young child, and continuing all the way through adulthood, is attunement. Attunement happens when the caregiver “gets” the child. Imagine a mother is holding her toddler, and the toddler wiggles to get down. When the mother let’s the child down she is in tune with the energy and needs of the child.  Frequent mis-attunement can lead to a damaged sense of self, which can create negative beliefs around feeling unworthy and unvalued and unsafe.

         Many years ago I worked with a client who told me the story of her first period. Her mother was notoriously unavailable, being emotionally shut down, working full time, and going to collage. The client asked several times for her mom’s attention. When the mother finally listened to the report of the period starting, she replied by saying: “Oh, I hope you are taking care of it.” The client did not know how to “take care of it!” Since the mother was unable to attune to both the client’s emotional and physical needs, she turned to her older sister for support.

          In the session the client talked about the wave of shame and embarrassment she felt because of her mother’s lack of attunement. The client described how she retreated deep into her heart chakra and created an energetic shield over her heart. We began to work on her heart. Inside we found a young one hiding deep within. The little one asked: “How did you find me?” She was reluctant to be seen or contacted, so we acknowledged her fear and desire to hide. Then the little one reached out her hand for connection, then jumped in the lap of the client for a hug.

         The client’s continuing work was to stay connected with the little one and attune to her needs.


Healer sml bdr 260I have noticed that in many spiritual traditions the ego is considered a negative thing, and in many psychological traditions it is considered a positive thing. What is the truth in this matter? As we explore this issue, let’s take a peek into the many ways the ego shows up in the energy field. The first place I notice the ego in the field is at the edge of our auric bubble or “egg”, which is often about two or three feet outside of our physical body.  If the shell of the egg is very rigid, there is a good chance this individual has a strong ego. The firm personal boundary correlates with a strong sense of personal self. Such an individual is not overtaken by another person’s energy or opinions. From a psychological perspective, this is healthy. From a spiritual perspective, being overly self-referenced can create an artificial separation between self and other beings.

       The second place a strong ego shows up in the energy field is in the “character armor.” Parts of the energy field, a few inches outside the physical body, solidify into shields or plates of protective armor. This is usually in the torso area.  Such shields are created to protect us, and they also end up limiting our capacity for authentic connection and intimacy. If one of the goals of the spiritual path is to cultivate “intimacy with all of life”, then ultimately the fears and beliefs that keep the shield in place need to be examined and reconsidered.

       I have also noticed that many sensitive souls easily feel the energies around them. They may be psychic or intuitive, but also loose themselves in other people’s energy. These people do not have a strong enough ego boundary.

       The ideal ego boundary is both strong and flexible. It can contain our own energy yet open to authentic connection with others, open to nature and the spirit world. While we are developing a healthy ego boundary, we need to also work with our mind. The term ego has often meant “ego identification”, which means we are thoroughly self-referenced and our belief system does not extend outside our sense of self. Many spiritual traditions encourage us to wake up out of this kind of ego identification.

         So we see that the ego has both negative and positive aspects. On the path of transformation it is important to get a sense of the state of your own ego, and evolve it to a more functioning energetic organ.


healing child 260In my psychotherapy practice, I work with a lot of people in the 20 something age group. These beautiful young people are working on becoming empowered in the world, and are often aware of their hurt inner child as well. Fairly often there is some repressed anger in their system. As they begin to differentiate from the family of origin, they become more aware of the needs that were not met in their childhood.        Let us imagine a client named “Beth”. Beth’s mom was emotionally unavailable and Beth was very angry about it. Numerous times she would complain to her mom about how she just didn’t “get” her. These complaints would often turn into shouting matches, or “temper tantrums”.  When Beth brought the issue into therapy, we tuned into her body. There was a strong gripping or contraction in her right shoulder area. I guided Beth into physically grounding and centering, and the sensation in the shoulder increased. By staying present with it, eventually the energy began to soften and move. Through the course of the session, it moved all the way down her torso and leg. Eventually it began to release out her foot. I asked Beth if there were a kick somewhere in that contraction, and indeed there was. The contraction was a frozen “action impulse” that wanted to kick her mom.

       While the energy release was happening, we explored the expectations of the child. The child wanted authentic contact, and was very angry about not getting it. Both the wanting it and the anger were wholesome emotions for the child, and I helped Beth see that. We then moved toward her adult. I helped Beth see that although her child wanted authentic contact, her mother was simply not able to provide it. She did not have the capacity. I encouraged Beth to quit expecting that from her mother. I helped her realize that as a young adult, she was now 100% responsible for her own nurturing. She must learn to give it to herself, or draw in people who could give it to her. At this point Beth began to feel guilty for her child “demanding” her mother nurture her, so we spent some time working through the guilt. At the end of the session Beth decided to write a letter to her mother apologizing for her tantrum. She was well on the way toward healing the unconscious expectations of her inner child.


Y1DTfXN9During an introductory psychotherapy session I often do an energy chakra reading. This serves as part of my intake process. When I offer a reading, many people are curious about how a reading interfaces with psychotherapy. Let me give an example. Let us imagine that a prospective new client, “Jane”, is considering psychotherapy. She has a lot of trouble with her work life. She changes jobs frequently and never seems to be satisfied with work. On more than one occasion, she has been fired. When I read into Jane’s Solar Plexus chakra, I sense a lot of constricted energy. There is a big knot in her belly. I see an image of her inner child hiding in the back of a cave. I also see an image of a heavy male energy. I tell Jane about the child image, and mention the male energy. She starts telling me that her father was often critical, angry and verbally abusive.

         The Solar Plexus chakra is about empowerment in the world. Our personal will lives there. When this chakra is fully functioning we can move through the work world more effectively. The abuse Jane experienced has left its mark in her chakra. With this information we can now design a treatment program for her. I utilize a combination of body-centered awareness, mindfulness, inner child work and other healing modalities, to treat her work challenges and restore her Solar Plexus chakra to full functioning.

The Heart Chakra

cosmic heart 260We are now in the season of the heart, and I would like to explore one way we work with the heart in ARCHETYPAL ENERGY PSYCHOTHERAPY.  Let’s imagine a client named “Sue” comes in for therapy. She has had trouble manifesting a significant relationship for several years. During the intake I learn that her mother was often emotionally unavailable, and often mean. Her father was an alcoholic. When I have her scan her body and energy field, she reports a tight congested spot in the heart chakra. She also names some sadness and anger.

          As the session progresses, a question arises for her mother: Why weren’t you there for me? Sue had a hard time even asking the question out loud. We would pause after each time she said it, and check in with her heart chakra. The pain and contraction initially increased, as it came more into her awareness. There was a lot of sadness, and some guilt. When Sue would remember the good parts of her mother, she felt guilty for asking this question. We worked a bit on understanding that we can have loving feelings along side hurt and anger.

         As we continue to work, the congestion in Sue’s heart softenes openes up, so we moved on toward receiving goodness. At this point I had Sue imagine the perfect mother, an archetypal mother. Her perfect mother would be soft, consistent, kind, present and affectionate.

         Why do we imagine the archetypal mother?  The research in neuro-science has shown that imagining an event activates the brain in the same way as experiencing an event. In this case we are talking about the insula in the brain. The insula registers soothing touch and nourishment, which the perfect mother provides. By imagining the archetypal mother, we actually grow new nero-pathways in the brain, and eventually over-ride the negative mother memories.

         Initially Sue had a hard time receiving the touch and attention from this archetypal mother.  Since her mother wound was pretty deep, it may take a while for her to fully change her neuro-pathways. However, a lot of the pain and heaviness in her heart chakra shifted. We did make some significant progress in this session, and Sue will continue visualizing receiving nourishment from the archetypal mother.

The Negativity Bias of the Brain

  C 5 disks  stuck energy 260    Have you ever found your mind caught in a negative thought loop? If you have observed this you may be wondering why it seems so easy to “go negative, or stay negative”. We as human beings tend to have our attention drawn to the  negative.  Dr. Baumeister and colleagues, in his work, “Bad is Stronger than Good”, noted there is strong support for the notion that negative information generally has a stronger pull on attention than does positive information. It turns out that the wiring of our brain is the culprit for this fact. Other research indicates  that negative things stick out and make a lasting impression much easier than positive things. Generally speaking, when people are presented with a range of trait information about a target individual, the traits are neither “averaged” nor “summed” to reach a final impression. Rather, negative things move to the front of the line, and are remembered the most.  When traits differ in terms of their positivity and negativity, negative traits disproportionately impact the final impression.

      If you form a negative belief about another person and store it in your memory, it may take 7 to 10 positive things to soften your view of that person. Many people, however, do not want to change their view of another person. It takes quite a bit of mindful awareness to choose to let go of a negative belief. Negative beliefs are wired into the amygdala of the brain, that spot where fear gathers. Once we decide that something is fearful, we are in no hurry to reassess. In the field of neuroscience they discovered that startling experiences go immediately into the long-term memory circuits, and positive things do not. It may take up to 30 seconds of focused attention for an experience to go into long-term memory. It is no surprise, with life’s many daily challenges, that many people have gotten stuck on the negativity loop. The good news is that there are many tools available to counteract the negativity bias of the brain.

Ways we Avoid Pain

Our body is designed to move toward pleasure and away from pain. For most of us, this translates into developing complex strategies as a way of avoiding pain. Do you recognize any of the following in your life?

ORAL: If you didn’t get enough nurturance in your early life, it is easy to develop an oral strategy. Food, beverages, or nicotine can all activate feel-good hormones and help us avoid pain. (connection, love, nurturing)

ACQUIRING THINGS: When we buy something new, feel-good hormones are released in the brain, and we experience pleasure. When this becomes an entrenched strategy, we need to shop a lot! (connection, nurturing)

SEXUALIZED STRATEGY:  Once a person becomes sexually active, it is easy to get drawn into the power and pleasure of sexual energy. When we habitually turn toward this energy, we may be avoiding pain.  Sometimes this pattern takes a seductive form when we enjoy the power of drawing others toward us in this way. Often this strategy precludes true intimacy. (connection, autonomy love)

SELF-RELIANCE:  If we did not receive the support and nurturance we needed as a child, we could develop a strategy where we “do it all ourselves” to cover up the pain of feeling unsupported. (Autonomy, safety, trust

WORKAHOLIC STRATEGY:  Some children and adults figure out that if they keep themselves busy all the time they don’t have to feel their uncomfortable emotions. By shifting your awareness away from your body and feelings and focusing on work, you avoid the pain of messy emotions.  (connection, attunement, respect, love)

DECEPTION: If you were a child in a dysfunctional family and it wasn’t safe to “speak your truth,” you may have developed a deceptive strategy. This deception can show up in a variety of ways. You might lie, or puff yourself up to look more competent than you feel. You might become manipulative, charming, or seductive. All of this deception is in place to protect yourself from feeling pain. (attunement, trust, autonomy)

PEOPLE-PLEASING AND SELF CENSORSHIP: If you have this strategy, you go out of your way to get the other person what they need, often at your own expense. You don’t ask for what you need, or clearly voice your preference. Often this strategy is fueled by the fear of conflict or feelings of unworthiness. (autonomy, nurturing, mirroring, self-expression)

INTELLECTUALIZING: In our culture at large we are encouraged to think instead of feel. It is pretty easy to develop a strategy where we do just that. (connection, attunement, trust)

CONTROL: If you have this strategy, you try to manage the uncertainty and unpredictability of life by trying to control details, or control the people near you. (trust)

VICTIM IDENTITY: In this strategy a person plays the “powerless” card. This lets you avoid any fear, shame, pain, discomfort, or loss of relationship that might be required if you take responsibility, speak your truth, or stay present during conflict. (trust, connection)

SCREEN ADDICTION: One of the latest and most popular avoidant strategies involves gluing yourself to your smart phone or other screen.  Those little bits of electronic contact can keep you very distracted from the whole range of emotions and sensations moving through your being. (connection, nurturance)

ARROGANCE:  This strategy displays as a subtle or not-so-subtle sense of superiority. This often masks feelings of shame or unworthiness. (trust, connection)

These strategies arise from unmet needs in our early life, which can be grouped into five main categories:  CONNECTION, ATTUNEMENT, TRUST, AUTONOMY, HEALTHY SEXUALITY.