Another Mother For Peace

Saturday, May 6th, 2017

didgeridoodome4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Mother’s day tomorrow everyone. Time for us to endow our mother with caring gestures grateful for her gift of life. We cherish and nourish our own mother and salute all mother’s across the four directions. May rose petals fall sweetly upon you.

didgeteacher

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just had to cancel didge workshop with Mike Vills today due to his dog Jeeters getting sick after they arrived here from Long Beach yesterday. After a few hours it became apparent Jeeters was having bladder troubles. When her futile attempt to urinate become more frequent Mike decided to take his sick dog to the all-night vet in Bakersfield and from there drove her back home to Long Beach. We hope she feels better soon and,while we regret the inconvenience to our students, we support Mike’s decision to cancel his workshop.

didgeridoodome6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile I made a bunch of food so invited those who were registered to still join me for dinner tonight and bring their didges for an impromptu didge circle and then drum a little too so a few may still gather and keep the good vibes flowing.

didgeridoodome2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After Mike got here yesterday we played a little bit together and it was really fun. His didge made it easier to play mine like maybe the sound sort of resonated into my didge and “primed” it to resonate a little better. It seemed easier to do circular breathing while continuing the drone which I can still do but its barely there.

didgeridoodome1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am grateful to artist Joan Desmond for taking these photos of the didge workshop with Mike this past March. After that event Mike gave me a didgeridoo made by his Aboriginal teacher. This didge is made from eucalyptus which is the wood used traditionally. It has a nice drone and, armed with some beeswax and a heat gun, I built up a suitable mouthpiece. To practice circular breathing I took an online course and bought a book in anticipation of Mike’s next workshop which has been temporarily postponed.

 

didgeridoodome

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hopefully we will see all those interested in learning didgeridoo soon. I’ll post on Jeeter’s condition as information comes in and will announce the date of the rescheduled workshop after Mike checks his calendar. ‘Til then…Didgeridoodidgeridoodidgeridooooooo

didgeridoodome5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers!

 

 

Spinning into Spring

Saturday, April 1st, 2017

 

biofield2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recently learned about a magical modality called tuning the biofield which is about using tuning forks to clear energetic obstructions from our energy field. AS a craniosacral therapist I’ve worked with very gentle touch on peoples central nervous system which is their head and spine. But this always involved systems like the meninges and cranial bones and the cerebral spinal fluid. These are palpable structures not energetic. But we also send energy through the body using our hands to help us break up blockages. Now I am learning about tuning forks and am very curious to have my own biofield worked on.

What is the biofield? It is this plasmic container surrounding our body and popularly referred to as our aura. Scientists for the National Institutes of Health studied this and called it the biofield as it seems to be measurable. Eileen McKusick is a researcher who has studied this phenomenon using tuning forks and she has found that our biofield contains the story of our existence almost like the rings of tree. I want to talk about that today since I have been having some issues around abandonment due to problems in my relationships and I think my biofield very much needs a tuneup.

biofield

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Using a tuning fork at 175 hertz, which is a sound frequency, Eileen starts around your feet and hits the tuning fork on a hockey puck to make it ring then she starts combing the energy field. As she gets closer to her client’s body, coming in from the side, her tuning fork will start to increase in sound or get static or turn sharp or flat from the pure tone and it is very audible to not just her but others listening.

This change in resonance on the fork means there is some kind of obstructing energy at this location which can either be physical or emotional. Usually it will be a physical malady such as a sore shoulder or neck but also can be something that happened years before that was painful and went unprocessed and so became a part of the person walled off from feeling. She can feel these areas in the biofield and compares it to the shamanic practice called soul retrieval.

biofield3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

McKusick believes the biofield is a plasma since when she hits these frequency changes they feel like she has run into a wall and that is in the space surrounding the person which extends about five feet out on both sides and 3 feet top or bottom . She uses a technique she calls “click drag and drop” which involves her holding the tuning fork in the area where it’s tone has changed and says it feels like the energetic obstruction gathers around her tone like iron filings gathering around a magnet. Then she moves her fork toward the nearest chakra and holds her tuning fork over the chakra which acts like a vortex to take the energy off the sound and back into the body where it can be processed and cleared.

 

Another discovery she made about the biofield is it contains all of our experiences as it has been with us since inception. The farthest away is our earliest gestational life in utero and the closest is more immediate in the present. As she discovers these areas in the biofield she will get an intuitive hunch describing the emotion and the age it happened. She says if a person is 40 then half way out the biofield will correlate to when they were 20 and so forth. She will ask them what is a sadness around age 12? And the person will admit they lost a parent of some other trauma that happened.

tuning-the-human-biofield-26-638

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eileen has worked with researchers into energetics such as Dr. Karl Maret of The Dove center in Palo Alto and Dr. Richard Shwarz of the university of Arizona who are also studying these fields. She is now an international lecturer teaching her discoveries around the world. She discovered it after using it on her massage clients and pretty soon all they wanted was her tuning forks which were making huge changes for people and her practice grew too busy so she started teaching others her technique and now she is doing distance healing and online classes like the one I am taking with her. She wrote her thesis on the subject and also wrote her book and has a manufacturer making tuning forks out of a special alloy to handle the healing practice she subjects them to.

I have ordered her favorite tuning fork and hockey puck which you hit to start the fork singing. I’ve also bought her book and am taking her class online after watching her youtube videos.

I have been resonating with sound recently after having a bought a gong a year ago. While working with the gong I discovered other sound modalities I like including koshi chimes, a friction mallet on the gong to make whale songs and a sansula which is a kalimba on a membrane. The geodesic dome we are building on my land has this high ceiling which collects and resonates sound so I’ve held Tibetan signing bowl sound baths and most recently a digeridoo workshop in there all because I am attracted to sound. Maybe it is an intuitive attraction to balancing my own biofield that causes me to pursue sound and amplify it in the resonant dome.

metabolic theory of cancer

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is always something new to study and another recent discovery is the metabolic theory of cancer and how we should be eating lots more fat such as flax, chia, hemp hearts, avocado, walnuts, olives, and coconut oil which are all vegan sources for me, but for others add grass fed butter and wild Alaskan salmon. This has to do with burning fuel more efficiently in the mitochondria of our cells to avoid disturbing these energy centers which have everything to do with the metabolic causes of cancer as detailed in a book I am reading called Tripping over the Truth which I will talk about in a future blog

metabolic theory1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another book I am nearly finished with is called The Other Brain which refers to the white matter or glia in our central nervous system. This white matter is made from myelin which are glial cells instead of neurons which are the greay matter. Myelin protects nerve axons with these sheaths helping our neurons synapse better. Myelin is made from cholesterol so I am really taking steps to ramp up eating seeds and recently just made a recipe from my Czech friend consisting of poppy seeds, sunflower seeds and flax seeds, mixed with applesauce and dates then dried as a healthy energy bar.

glia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope all this works as my brain is feeling a little fried these days due to relationship struggles abounding in my life. Praying for peace in my heart and mind and for all my relations.

glia1

Didgeridoo Bliss Sat Chit Ananda

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

didgecircle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello Didge fans,

We’re holding a workshop for the didgeridoo at the dome in a couple weeks. Incredibly, learning to circular breathe in order to play my didge was my New Year’s resolution this year! When I learned about Mike Vils, a Didge master from Long Beach, CA who wanted to teach a didge workshop at the dome I was up for it.

 

didg-class2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The dome is still under construction so I suggested an alternative venue but acoustic resonance is important in sound healing so we will be holding the workshop in the dome where we are presently plumbing it for water and installing bathtubs. We will move all machines to the periphery and hold our workshop in the center where the acoustic chamber is most resonant.

 

didgeclassaussie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mike will also play a concert with his Didgeridoos giving us a personal experience of the ancient soundscape discovered by Aboriginal people in Australia. Mike has studied the didge with both Aboriginal experts and American maestros. He makes his own didges and will be bringing several for people to play with an option to buy them after the workshop if interested.

didges

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unsurprisingly, Mike also facilitates drum circles and will lead a drum circle after the workshop. Bring your drums and percussion instruments or use one of ours. Sparkling water, herbal tea and hors d’oeuvres will be served during these events.

 

drumcircle

 

 

 

 

 

 

Following all the sound activities in the dome we will walk back to the main house to share a savory vegetarian potluck. I’ll make soup which can feed everyone so people can bring something easy like juice if they don’t feel like cooking and still enjoy the evening camaraderie.

The workshop is limited to didge availability. Pre paid registration is required before the event. Call me at 760-379-1587 or email me at shaktideva@mchsi.com. Looking forward to mimicking the sound of the earth’s rotation into spring…

 

Valentines Day 2017

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

the heart chakra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where has my blogging passion gone? Since I missed posting in January I’m wishing you Happy New Year here on Valentines day and a Happy V day too.

There has been some upheaval and as usual also excitement. I’ve closed my two morning classes at my home studio while concentrating on teaching afternoon classes. I am considering adding a beginners course on Tuesday evenings at Yogaya in Bodfish.

Tribe

Writing articles for the local newspaper is a great way to market my business indirectly by positioning myself as an expert. Even though I still have to pay to advertise specific classes, writing an article will encourage people to think of me when they want to learn more.

My first article – on meditation – was published in the Kern Valley Sun last month and another article – on the vegan diet – has been submitted and approved and will be in an upcoming edition. Of course I will write about yoga and craniosacral too. It’s just that right now these topics piqued my interest in an article.

I’ve also opened a new website at Rambling Nan to promote my freelance travel writing business and earned access to a couple of conferences which I publish about on my blog as well as send the stories to online article databases called “ezines.”

Yoga Class

The new semester of classes is in full swing at CSUB with three back to back yoga classes on Monday and Wednesday mornings. The studio where I normally teach was flooded during the rains last month and the entire wood floor has been torn out.

Our classes have moved to a room called the Solario with huge windows opening into a walled patio. Even though its not on the grass, hopefully holding class outside will be allowed when it starts warming up.

Storm Brings Friend From Afar

My friend Ros from South Africa came to visit. We picked her up in Bakersfield in John’s Land Rover due to needing 4 wheel drive to get out of the valley which was under 6″ of snow that morning. As we drove Ros home through the Kern canyon, boulders rolling down the cliffs caused authorities to close the road just minutes behind us. When the road re-opened a week later, we drove Ros back to the Amtrak station.

zambezi

 

 

 

 

 

 

Testimonial

It was a great visit with a dear friend I hadn’t seen in a long time. We met 30 years ago when she and her kids stayed with us while they were rafting the Kern with the raft guide boyfriend Ros met on the Zambezi river in Africa. She wrote a review for my Facebook page:

The Enigma that is Nancy Ivey

I have had a mostly pen pal (that lovely old fashioned medium of letter writing to maintain a pen-friendship with someone) friends with Nancy. Having met her during my adventurous days of kayaking and river rafting on the Kern River and beyond, here in California, USA in 1988 through 1989. Then we briefly reacquainted again in 2003 when I visited and discovered her deep and profound academic abilities, studies, degrees and beginning of many further study diplomas in all things philanthropic towards her fellow humans. Along with all that that sentence conjures up in her academic fields, she also had qualified as a professional yoga teacher. I was delighted to do several yoga classes with her, at that time, and she started me on my present long love and almost daily yoga asanas, both in a studio situation of organised yoga as well as my own pranas and asanas for my daily health and wellbeing within my own home. We also shared a deep and profound compatibility in both organised religion (I am a Roman Catholic), Christianity as well as a respect for all other creeds, cultures, faiths and doctrines.

However, and this is where her life of academia and ability to express a simple truth for her fellow human being and our general health and well being became of more interest to me. I was hoping for a mere escape from stress, anxiety, city living and pretty poor health by coming up to a mountain retreat and a true friend who will provide me with a ‘soft place to fall’ for a few days. Of course, her yoga classes by now interested me immensely. During our constant albeit haphazard pen pal relationship over the years, I had followed her surmounting studies and knowledge of all things yogic, philosophy, food & diet, health, massage, deep tissue and Swedish, etc, for not just well being but actual healing, culminating in her latest endeavor and studies of Craniosacral Therapy for healing ailments. Nancy is the quintessential philanthropist. And so I arrived, a wreck of a friend, sadly in need of restorative regeneration, which I thought I would bravely keep from her. Thinking, in my simple non-academic way, that merely a few yoga classes would do the trick. One look at me, my limp from a very recent aching hip, my sallow pallor from ceaseless migraine headaches, stresses and familial strains, an age old shoulder ailment – she knew without my telling, that I was in sore need of her administrations.

Typical of the quiet, gentle, unassuming Nancy, she eased me into agreeing to a few yoga stretches a few hours later before the welcoming, warm and friendly wood-burner of her front parlour. Added to her ceaselessly consummate way of giving to others to assist them out of their pain and anguish, she even lowered me onto her very impressive, imported all-sheep, woolen yoga mat and we easily performed a few stretches there in sheer, blissful comfort. It felt so good.

After dinner, I then had to admit to her that although the stretches had done me a world of relaxation, I was going to retire to bed with an incessant headache bothering me all the way up from San Diego. No sooner said, than out came her massage table, and I was tranquilly lulled to sleep by my very first introduction to Craniosacral Therapy. I think it could be more described as – in a subliminal state of quietude, maybe even a meditative state (which I have to admit with all my years of yoga I have never been able to fully attain or achieve – I got a bad dose of what the yogis call “monkey mind”), because I heard her telling me incessantly exactly what she was performing on my body. Not that I could understand all of it naturally. Fully clothed one could still feel the gentle touch of the almost air or silk like quality of her hands over my body wherever she found a troubled or painful spot. Lingering on those that I had actually told her about, but finding others untold, I would say due to her immense tabloid of studies and understandings of the human body, its anatomy and form, and many of its ailments too. She appears to be a past task master of quietly and intuitively diagnosing whatever ails one.

Upon finally going to bed, I announced with glee that my hip, for the very first time in approximately six weeks, was pain free. As too my headache, a little longer to dissipate but which was completely gone by the time my head finally touched the pillow.

Oh it was marvelous. I slept like the proverbial angel. All thanks to my personal healing angel, Nancy Ivey. Bodfish Canyon. California.

Thanks for reading this post and for continuing through the review. With the added two mornings free I hope to post more regularly. In honor of the tone of the day I leave you with my dear Rinpoche’s call to Sojong:

Call to Sojong

Mantra recitation, prayers, ascetic displines,
Even if one practices them for a long time,
As long as one’s mind is distracted,
They become simply futile.        
 – Shantideva

Dear Dharma Friends,

Thoughts are powerful forces that drive our life. They’re conceptual patterns that give us a sense of self and personal life that has a continuum of many events through a whole stream of recollections.  Thoughts are so powerful that they can make us happy or miserable. When we take a look into them we find they are storylines about what is happing right now in our life as well as the past and future. They don’t have to be in alignment with reality as along as we believe them they have power over us and dictate to us what to believe.

Perhaps, many people in the world believe their own mind which goes unchecked from the time they arise to the moment when they fall asleep. This is some kind of mental and neurological habit that belongs to unawareness. Through believing our thoughts, like a storm, strong emotions can arise and their energy can dominate us. As a result, we can lose not just wisdom but even basic common sense, which is usually not regarded as profound, but necessary to function in everyday life. The very root of problems at a personal as well as societal level may be this unawareness.

Even the most beautiful spiritual practices may not transform us as long as we’re living in such a state of mind. As Shantideva pointed out in such a direct fashion, sometimes we could be doing Buddhist practices with zeal or some emotionally charged devotion, yet our whole practice can become comforting compulsions if awareness is absent. Awareness has many flavors and forms such as the mindfulness in Theravada and the Rigpa in Dzogchen. The magic of awareness is that we hold our thoughts while feeling that we’re much bigger than our mental events. Then, we can see the ephemeral and insubstantial nature of our thoughts. This sense of us being bigger than our thoughts arises naturally as we do sitting meditation. That might be what Buddha called sky like mind.

Let me invite you all to reflect on this subject during this upcoming Sojong. We might like to check-in with ourselves and find out how much awareness we practice in daily life. We can take this occasion as another important time to renew our commitment to the path and to the practice of awareness.

With palms joined,
Anam Thubten
 

Circle Game

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

lake-nature-forest-christmas-tree-island-mountain-snow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Merry Christmas everyone! Yesterday we put up Christmas lights after decorating the tree the day before. It’s cold enough to snow and we’re keeping the home fires burning. And the glass kilns too as art glass production ramps up to foster the festal season.

If you’re looking for the perfect gift for a cat lover I’ve made several fused glass cat ornaments in a variety of colors to hang on the tree. Or perhaps you’d like your own set of fused glass plates or bowls to grace your holiday table. Dichroic turtle buddies offer whimsical delight. Peruse the glass ware on display at Yogaya Studio in Bodfish which is open by appointment only until after New Years.

Centering Spiral

solsticeequinox

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our northern hemisphere enjoys its farthest tilt away from the sun as we approach Solstice tomorrow, Dec. 21. The longest night of the year and shortest day.

I just learned that being out in the sun gives us excellent nitric oxide that pushes the blood through our veins and into the capillary beds. It’s an excellent article in one of Dr. Mercola’s newsletters that I’d like to share, especially since one of my questions is how to increase circulation to my skin where it can plump up the collagen since my skin feels so dry yet I drink alot of water that doesn’t stay in my cells.

I just found out via this article that the sunshine pulls the blood into the skin through the osmosis at the capillary beds which then propels the blood back through to the heart; so not just the heart pumping is cardiac health.

It is a breakthrough for me because as much as I know about vitamin D and its importance in helping us resist cancer, mental illness and bone problsunbatheems, now I also know it promotes skin anti-aging and heart health so here we go. I am committed to buying myself a teak lounge chair with comfortable outdoor cushion and laying out everyday for 20 minutes and I will meditate at the same time while gathering critical free medicine for mental and physical health. Merry Christmas to myself!

Here’s a synopsis from the article:

Interestingly, the work of Gerald Pollack, author of “The Fourth Phase of Water,” was instrumental in helping Cowan understand the function of the heart and how blood flows if it isn’t being pushed or pumped by the heart.

First off, if any pumping action were to be involved, it would actually have to occur at the capillaries because that’s where the blood stops and needs to get moving again. However, the solution nature came up with is far simpler. As the blood moves up the venous tree, the blood vessels narrow and eventually coalesce to come back to the heart.

This narrowing of the vessels makes the blood flow faster, in and of itself. Valves and muscular contractions also play a role. However, the primary way blood moves has to do with water. As Pollack has described, water can exist in four phases, not just three. The fourth phase of water is formed by the interaction of water and a hydrophilic surface.

“What happens with that is you form a gel layer, or protective layer, on that hydrophilic surface, which is negatively charged. Therefore, the opposite of positive charge is dissolved into the bulk water in the middle of the tube (capillary or blood vessel) … All you need is a hydrophilic tube, which forms a gel layer, which is negatively charged, and then the bulk water is positively charged. The positive charges repel each other and that starts the flow going up the hill,” Cowan explains.

Sun, Earth and the Human Touch — 3 Key Principles for Healthy Blood Flow

Pollack has also clearly demonstrated there are three natural energies that result in separation of charges that create flow:

1. Sunlight charges up your blood vessels, which increases the flow of blood. When the sun’s rays penetrate your skin, it causes a massive increase of nitric oxide that acts as a vasodilator. As much as 60 percent of your blood can be shunted to the surface of your skin through the action of nitric oxide. This helps absorb solar radiation, which then causes the water in your blood to capture the energy and become structured.

This is a key component for a healthy heart. The ideal is to be exposed to the sun while grounding, meaning walking barefoot. This forms a biological circuit that makes it work even better.

2. Negative ions from the Earth, also known as earthing or grounding. This also charges up your blood vessels, creates a separation of charges, creates more positive ions and allows the blood to flow upward, against gravity.

3. The field effect or touch from another living being, such as laying on of hands.

As noted by Cowan, “The best thing is to be, more or less, with shorts or naked on the beach, with the saltwater, which acts as an electrical conductor, holding hands with somebody you love. That’s how you structure the water.” Sun exposure, grounding and skin-to-skin contact are three prevention strategies that, ideally, everyone should be doing. It doesn’t get a whole lot easier or less expensive than that.

“The water is a battery. Those inputs separate the charges, charge the battery, the battery does work and it starts flow. That flow, just through Bernoulli’s principle, which is the wider it is, the slower it goes, [when it] narrows, it goes faster. That is the reason the blood moves, in a nutshell.”

Birthday Love

portlandwierd

 

 

 

 

 

 

The day after yoga classes ended at CSUB, I drove to Portland with my partner John to visit my cousin and learn new techniques in art glass at her glass studio.  She taught me to paint with frit on clear glass then apply a colored backing to get a wonderful Christmas plate. She also taught me how to wire wrap a pendant with silver wire to make a beautiful necklace. I learned how to slump a deep cone bowl (lower slower longer) and made a stringer baguette plate full of color. A colorful tack fused koi fish and some Christmas ornaments are headed to recipients on my Christmas list.

Just before leaving for Portland I spent my birthday money buying a church percussionist’s percussion instruments and table after enjoying an impromptu drum circle at my birthday party. The drum circle was only about five people but it was still easy to ride the groove and add percussion along with drums. I am still keeping fingers in the drum circle mojo even if it’s been awhile since we’ve officially gathered in the dome.

I cooked an entire vegan birthday dinner for my dear friends making my favorite polenta black rice casserole with mushroom gravy and olive tapenade on top. The most delicious sweet potato soup you ever tasted began our savory dinner while we enjoyed festive margaritas featuring fresh squeezed lime and grapefruit juice afterward.

The Tinker, the Tailor, the Candlestick Maker

Even though I haven’t written a newsletter in awhile or posted much on this blog I have been honing my skills for writing travel stories to help fund my adventures afield and even launched a new blog called Rambling Nan that you can subscribe to and comment on. It is helping open doors to satisfy my curiosity for new experience and training.

Yoga classes at my studio in Bodfish will undergo a shift to a term-based session instead of always ongoing. The new term begins in February for 8 weeks starting Tuesday February 14, from 9-10:30 am and ending on Tuesday April 4. An evening class will be offered on Wednesdays from 4-5:30 pm, starting Wednesday February 15 and ending Wednesday April 5. A beginners class will be featured on Thursday afternoon if students are interested and I encourage you to contact me via my contacts page to add your name to the roster for any of these dates.

The 8 week session will cost $80 and must be pre-paid before Friday, February 10. Prospective students missing out on the original start date will need to wait until the fourth week in the term when I will open the class to add students to the remaining four weeks of the session for $50. If you are interested in trying out our alignment based postural yoga classes in a congenial group setting at a well-stocked studio call for more information or email me at shaktideva@mchsi.com.

May your holidays be filled with good company, excellent food and warm shelter for you and all your relations. Namaste!hummingbirdnest

 

 

 

The Consciousness Frontier

Sunday, November 27th, 2016

prayerflag

The Mind & Life Institute recently held their International Symposium for Contemplative Studies (ISCS) in San Diego from November 10-13, 2016. The intention for these gatherings is to provide a venue where scientists, contemplative practitioners and scholars can bridge the divide between objective science and introspective practices to help promote behavioral change and human well-being.

Over the next several days of the symposium participants explored this interdisciplinary field where scientists and scholars collaborate with contemplative practitioners, philosophers and thought-leaders to share their latest research on mindfulness and other related practices. Stimulating conversations arise easily in this venue as people network with each other to encourage and foster the mission of the Mind & Life Institute which is to reduce suffering and enhance well being by integrating science with contemplative practice and wisdom traditions.

Organizers describe the intention for their event:

ISCS brings together scientists, scholars, artists and contemplatives to explore distinct though overlapping fields of research and scholarship using a multidisciplinary integrative approach to advance our understanding of the human mind. Together we examine how training the mind through contemplative practices may lead to insights that promote enhanced health and cognitive emotional functioning, increased social harmony and reduced suffering. ISCS encourages and shapes the cohesive interdisciplinary field of contemplative sciences to collaboratively explore the significant potential that lies within the human mind to create more just, tolerant and flourishing societies.

It seemed like a perfect synchronicity to hold this conference just after the recent election. Peaceful, loving spirits gathered together in harmony and awareness exploring the potential for a future to be possible.

Seeds of Changemindliferitchie

The Mind & Life Institute was formed in 1987 as a collaboration between neuroscientist philosopher Francisco J. Verala, the Dalai Lama and lawyer Adam Engle. These humanitarians wished to explore the possibility that contemplative practice presents modern science with valid methods for studying human experience. Recognizing and applying these valuable resources advances scientific theories about consciousness, emotion and cognitive processes.

The Institute lists the Dalai Lama, who is the spiritual leader of Tibet, on its Board of Directors and neuroscientist Richie J. Davidson as well. Ritchie visited the Himalayas with a team of researchers at the turn of the new millenium to measure the effects of meditation on experienced monks. Eventually a few of the monks trusted him enough to visit his lab at the University of Wisconsin, Madison for further state-of-the-art brain imaging data.

Davidson’s collaboration with the seasoned meditators led to brilliant discoveries into neuroplasticity and how the monks can reroute neural ruts just by thinking of compassion or mindfully breathing in a spacious awareness of the present moment. Davidson’s work is presented in the book, Train your Mind, Change your Brain by Sharon Begley.

French monk Mathieu Ricard was one of Davidson’s first monks to be studied with FMRI (functional magnetic resonant imaging) machines that show pictures of different areas firing in the brain in response to mental states of mind. Correlating the activated brain regions with subjective feelings shows that when one side of the brain is active we enjoy well-being and happiness versus activating the opposite side which correlates with depression.

I was introduced to Ritchie’s work in 2002 at a yoga workshop on yoga for depression. In 2005 I attended a Mind Life sponsored Dialogue between neuroscience and Buddhism at Stanford University. In 2007 I attended the American Academy of Religion’s conference in San Diego and first learned of the field of “contemplative studies” at universities like Rice.

At Stanford I learned of B. Alan Wallace and followed up by attending meditation retreats with him in Santa Barbara. He led me to Susan Kaiser who teaches mindfulness to kids and I brought my daughter to her workshop at UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC) in 2008. In 2012 Rinpoche Anam Thubten visited Bakersfield and his luminous nature inspired attending silent summer retreats with him in beautiful natural areas.

All of this effort to learn mindfulness really stems from Ritchie’s research on neuroplasticity and rerouting negative mental states through meditation. Negative thoughts can literally kill us as suicide sadly illustrates. “Why do you have to die because of one emotion?” asks Thich Nhat Hanh a Vietnamese Buddhist monk who advises us to center our attention at our “navel,” to stabilize ourselves during emotional storms.

A Communication Device

mindlifemusic

My introduction to the first day of the event started Thursday night where I listened to the yoga of sound with tabla and sitar players on the stage at the Harbor Sheraton Hotel’s Grand Ballroom following a lovely hosted wine and dinner reception underneath the pine trees on the Bay View lawn in view of the harbor. I had arrived too late for the opening ceremonies but just in time for the festive reception and musical interlude.

Ritchie Davidson and Mathieu Ricard kicked off the gathering in a keynote conversation where they discussed their perspectives on the collaboration between neuroscientists and contemplatives over their fifteen-year history together. Investigating the science of well-being from both philosophical and scientific paradigms allows researchers to examine the elements of well-being from Buddhist and scientific perspectives. Reinforced by these major traditions, the presenters recommend developing secular programs to cultivate well-being.

After the long drive from my home in central California and sated with the beautiful food (which included ample vegan fare to my happy surprise) and spirits while soaking up sound, I settled in to drive south to my friend’s house in Imperial Beach who was hosting me during the symposium.

Child of the Morning Rosy-Fingered Dawn

Richard Freeman and Mary Taylor’s yoga class in the ballroom was packed at 6am Friday morning. They were leading an Ashtanga yoga class which is a type of yoga lineage emphasizing vinyasa’s or “sequences of postures linked to breath,” such as sun salutations.

After saluting the sun we did several different poses from standing to sitting while applying elements including focusing our gaze and working with breath to unify mind and body in an experiential awareness. It felt great to energize with yoga that morning and left me refreshed for the day ahead.

There was a broad range of scholars at this conference including scientists, philosophers, educators, activists, practitioners, and business professionals. Mindfulness research, as it was demonstrated through an ubiquitous graph that showed up frequently in presentations, has exploded in popularity and is being applied across multiple venues.

Many young people attended and it was very refreshing to see such avid and brilliant scholars embracing academia with their heuristic and phenomenological – as well as distinctly quantitative and data-backed scientific – evidence to establish the veracity of down-regulating reactive habits patterns of the “default mode network” in our brain.

Soul Retrieval

mindlifestudies

Friday’s keynote speaker was Zindel Segal, PhD, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto and a senior scientist at a research institute for Addiction and Mental Health. Dr Segal described applying mindfulness meditation to promote wellness to depressed patients in recovery and is the author of several books including The Mindful Way Through Depression.

Segal described his work with Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) for treating depression and other mood disorders and noted the shift in public perception of mindfulness which was “risky” to mention in the field of mental health 13 years ago. Training people in mindful techniques encourages them to become their own therapist and is considered the maintenance version of cognitive therapy which is useful when mental afflictions are latent or quiescent.

Segal said small amounts of negative moods can trigger depressive views. This ruminative, cognitive approach elaborates sad moods into memory.

Citing a poem on insomnia by Billy Collins, Segal illustrated the phrases in the poem that serve as antidotes to a negative view. These elements include:

  • Relationship or to recognize the familiarity of insomnia, “my oldest friend.”
  • Tolerate exhaustion, “sack of exhaustion.”
  • Curiosity which conveys a stance that’s different from reactivity, catastrophizing and judging.

Another protective technique in MBCT is called de-centering, as in dis-identifying from our thoughts to defuse our mood. Segal believes MBCT supports people by teaching them skills that help them recognize their automatic slip into negative thoughts and teaches them to rethink their thoughts as mental habits. Curiousity replaces identification which helps people think about their experiences from a different perspective.

Segal stated that a home practice in meditation is critical to learn decentering skills as training in mindfulness helps people calm their executive center and activate experiential centers. According to Segal’s research, not only will 8 weeks of meditating 40 minutes a day, 20 minutes morning and evening, lead to increased resilience in the present term, it also extends for up to 24 months of protective influence emerging from the 8 week sessions.

In summary, Segal emphasized the importance of the ability to de-center as a critical protective factor in mindfulness therapy. Learning mindfulness helps people be agents of their own change. They recognize their vulnerability and commit to a formal mindfulness practice to strengthen their capacity to decenter from their thoughts.

Irish Scientist Studies Robotics for Parkinsons

While interviewing attendees, I met Denise McGrath, an Irish researcher from University College Dublin who flew in from Ireland for the conference and was staying in a nearby Air BnB.

Denise studies the area of health and human movement mechanics and focuses her research on Parkinson’s disease. Her work includes analyzing people to assesses their propensity for falls or test them for Parkinson’s while also educating community groups about the disease.

Denise was a Fulbright Scholar at Harvard during the summer of 2015 where she studied at the robotics lab to research the possibility of developing a device that could be worn on the leg to mobilize the frozen limbs of a Parkinson’s patient.

Over the days of the conference, I kept running into Denise who became my friend and by the final day we were planning a research project together between our two universities. Networking with like minded scholars and scientists is a happy benefit of the symposium.

Calming the Fluctuations of the Mind

cathykerr

For this biennial symposium, scientists, researchers and scholars gathered together from a multicultural and inter-generational arena, across a myriad of academic disciplines and from several noteworthy universities. I sat next to a group of young people speaking French during lunch outside on the grass and sat next to a  young man from Korea attending the University of Virginia at one of the keynote speeches.

I attended a lecture by a Swiss researcher and interviewed an immuologist named Mathias from Germany working at Scripps institute on a vaccine. I met Walter, a Silicone Valley based inventor of an app called “Inward” that encourages mindful moments of focus throughout your day.

I ventured to thank the panel of a group of scholars who were supposed to be presenting with their mentor Dr. Catherine Kerr who passed away that morning after a long fight with cancer. Beginning their panel with the sad notice of their mentor’s untimely passing they proceeded to share their papers knowing that Catherine would want them to do that.

Their panel was on embodied mindfulness and included a presentation on yoga. Another presenter shared his research on modern day floatation tanks to facilitate serenity and cultivate meditative quiescence. Neuroscientist Dav Clark from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine shared his research teaching Chi Gong to children 8-12 years old suffering from Attention deficit disorder.

I learned about operative conditioning and how to triangulate on behavioral change through breath awareness, loving kindness and open monitoring from psychiatrist Judson Brewer, MD, PhD who talked about the “neurobiological underpinnings of contemplative practices” during his presentation. This helps decrease the default mode network which is usually lost in internal narratives.

Brewer encouraged people to avoid the idea that it is “me” doing something and explore the effort of “no self” which is linked to deactivating the default mode network. He advises us to ponder the question Who is it here who gets full of self? He cautions that a sense of self is helpful to inform a time stamp necessary to function, but not if we get too caught up in self. We then get addicted to a me-society which perpetuates self-grasping.

Transdisciplinary Approach

mindlifejohndunne

Buddhist scholar John Dunne, PhD talked about investigating the phenomenology of mindfulness-related practices from a cognitive perspective in his lecture on the challenges and opportunities of this transdisciplinary study.

Describing the mechanics to doing this kind of work he said there needs to be something that brings together a community of researchers working on some problem. There must be a critical element they want to solve within a guild structure, which Dunne calls this long-term training apprenticeship and social integration.

A purpose of the long-term training, he suggests, is to locate researchers within the social identity of the “guild.” We’re in a kind of apprenticeship. What we’re learning are distinctive techniques and skills for the production of knowledge, including:

  • recognizable rhetoric: “lingo”
  • authority structures and epistomology to regulate individuals
  • spatio-temporal places like conferences
  • places where we display our products which are primarily printed publications

Within this transdisciplinary organization, Dunne believes an energetic conversation space arises whose components are the voices of disciplined persons bringing emergent developments from individual components together.

Exhorting us to look deeply Dunne ponders the question that drives the conversation. What are the varieties of mindfulness? The necessary parameters? The outcome of the conversation will be expressed in a formal way in a journal.

To make things happen Dunne advises us to start talking and listening perhaps in a “pidgin” language in order to discover or be given a really compelling problem and reliable context for frequent interaction. Conversations need to be facilitated which can be remote via zoom or video and he exhorts us to write something together as great practice. Academic institutions help by giving resources to facilitate remote conferences.

Dunne suggests the interdisplinary team should be composed of no less than three people, preferably more. The team composition includes the teacher of meditation, a scientist, a contemplative scholar looking at theoretical underpinnings, someone from art or literacy and the “reflexivant” to keep track of the cherished illusions and assumptions an individual displays.

Summing up, Dunne identifies the hubris of thinking that one person has the final account and they can do it alone as a significant challenge. Scholars can’t learn enough neuroscience. All the disciplines are rigorous. Do not assume we can do it all. Contemplative experience is critical.

Applying the Mindful Model

mind-brain-electrodes_8903_600x450

 

One researcher presented on teaching mindfulness to doctors and nurses in medical schools to help them address burnout in their education. Cultivating attention and awareness leads to empathy during the traumas they will face as they start their careers.

Over the course of the next couple of days I attended myriad lectures showing these charts of data captured from FMRI images of brains on meditation. A basic theme of all this is that mindfulness meditation is psychotherapy.

Many researchers presented during poster sessions on applying mindfulness skills to people with insomnia, to help suffers of rheumatoid arthritis, to help opiate addicted mothers, to help displaced military families, to help encourage emotional intelligence and so on.

Jeremy Hunter, PhD and associate Professor at Claremont Graduate University’s Peter Drucker School of Management talked about leadership and how captivating awareness in action was an important link in leadership development.

Hunter created a series of executive education courses to address the Drucker statement that one cannot manage others until they can manage themselves first. The executive program he designed includes 7 weeks of attention training and mastering emotional leadership skills including practice in self-management. Classes are action oriented and results focused.

Hunter identified four “rigors” people should develop as a result of participating in his classes:

  • conceptual rigor: examine their belief systems, judgements and rationalizations
  • perceptual rigor: see what’s going on in front of them through beginners mind – visit their house and see it for the first time
  • somatic rigor: what’s happening in their body and how does that influence them
  • emotional rigor:  visit an art museum or botanical garden or talk a walk to find aesthetic experience

Hunter said earning to create choices is an outcome of the training. Habits don’t give people choices. Investigating life as a series of choices arises from experiencing the present moment and deciding how that helps people make different choices right now. If one keeps making that choice it will lead to a different future.

Stating that the quality of attention is the foundation for quality of life, Hunter acknowledged that cultivating this quality is a healthy response to the rise of authoritarianism in society. He advises us to fight ignorance and create a society that works by giving people community where they can express their values, exercise their strengths and hone their skills.

Hunter acknowledged that the “output” in our Brave New Society is knowledge work which leads to anxiety as we fear we may be missing out on something important. Productivity stems from getting along in our teams so encourage each person to be nice to each other.  He cites the need to study the polyvagal hierarchy to escape aggression and recognize our zone of resilience.

Hunter “bends the future” by transforming his perception. He advises executives to imagine a difficult client not as an adversary but as a friend by changing the story they usually tell themselves about the client due to their “default mode network” replaying a familiar narrative.

Instead, learn to manage our reactivity by practicing healing somatic practices such as yoga. They soften people and help them recognize the good and value appreciation. Hunter says to always find something going well and then apply that to ourselves.

Summing up, Hunter guides people to create a world they want to live in. There is uncertainty ahead. Training perception enables a person to see changing realities more clearly which allows them to manage self and others.

Heuristics

By the end of the day I had picked up some new words including, “interoception” which means attending to my internal states such as how my body is processing my present experience as I attend to my heartbeat or breath.

I learned about scaffolding which means you might practice mindfulness within an overall yoga practice offered by the kinesiology department at a university where you are earning a degree to fulfill your life and reach your goals.

Another term was dereification which is the same thing as decentering described above.

The Extended Mind Hypothesis

warrior2

Philosopher Joy Laine of Macalister College Saint Paul in the UK presented about postural yoga and extended mind.

In the postural yoga tradition the emotional landscape of the individual can be managed through an intelligent practice involving a careful choice and sequencing of poses. According to Laine, one way of viewing such a practice is that of a mind reaching outside of itself in order to transform itself.

Citing the work of scholars on the extended mind hypothesis, Laine pointed out their development of the idea of extended mind in the form of extended cognition. Others advanced the notion that the human mind is fundamentally extended in nature. Specifically, the ways in which habitual actions allow us to use and change our environment is a way of shaping our mental lives.

As a yoga teacher who uses postural-based Iyengar yoga as her meditation, not to prepare her for meditation, Laine spoke from experience as she introduced the extended mind hypothesis currently motivating the work of social psychologists who show how we can effect changes in our emotional landscape on the basis of adopting specific body postures. Laine’s presentation argued that the paradigm of the extended mind is better equipped to theorize about the efficacy of postural yoga than a dualism of mind (brain) and body.

Laine began her talk by citing the ubiquity of neuroscience in the mindfulness revolution sweeping society. But she cautions that a juggler needs more than brain science to hone their skills. They need hand eye coordination. Systematic mental activity results in changes in the structure of your brain. Mind is different than the brain, Laine asserted. It is other than the brain. The cardinal assumption of neuroscience is that mental responses stem from brain activity.

With her background in analytic philosophy, Laine questions where mind stops and begin. Is it within the boundary of the body? Laine references “Ottos notebook.” Otto has Alzheimers and writes down everything to remind him where he wants to go and where it is. Citing the “parity principle,” Laine says that Otto’s notebook plays a cognitive role to function as part of his extended mind network.

To demonstrate how a postural based practice like Iyengar yoga serves as her meditation, Laine asked a volunteer to assume a yoga pose on the stage. Guiding the student into a standing lunge, Laine called our attention to how the posture embodies action in the world. Being effective comes from inner stability. The boundaries between body and mind are more fluid as we interact with the environment through a careful body landscape that is “minded.”

Laine reminds us that social psychologists cite the importance of posture in mental states while Iyengar emphasizes detail in the asana and practicing focuses the body and mind naturally to concentration and meditation. Body awareness and self-cognition invite an attitude of non-judgement and acceptance and lead naturally into a quiet mind which is the substrate of mindfulness.

Neuroscience and Embodied Cognition

mindlifeevan

The final keynote on Sunday was philosopher Evan Thompson, PhD, from the University of British Columbia who proposed that mindfulness include cultural practices and is not fully understood by only studying patterns of brain activity.

He decried the monetization of mindfulness and advocated a different type of mindfulness through altruistic practices. Frustrated with the internalist view of brain that extracts brain from the rest of the body he encourages a different approach which is:

 

 

  • Embodied
  • Social
  • Environmental

Mindfulness is everywhere. In Silicone Valley mindfulness makes your career. But, as Thompson pointed out, a practice for increasing wholeness and concern for others is incompatible with greed and includes the modern fetishizing of yoga which fits with the global capitalist zeitgeist.

The neuroscience of meditation focuses attention on breath, mindful open awareness and loving kindness, Thompson notes, but cognition is the whole person and not just brain areas. Attention is a cognitive emotion. Meditation is posture with an object of attention such as breath.

Thompson cited the “Four E’s” approach of cognitive science:

  • embodied – depends on body to be here
  • embedded
  • extended
  • enacted

How we move ourselves, our perceptions and gestures, are integral components of thought in action. Thompson suggests scaffolding as a useful heuristic structure to build and support our practice by locating the nervous system inside of a body and within an environment. Extended cognition is coupled with the environment.

Dereification helps us view mental processes as mental processes. Thompson advises people to deconstruct and reconstruct their “self” by paying attention, which is constructive and helps them deconstruct by dismantling negative self-schema. Awareness illuminates itself into self-luminous awareness.

In light of this being my first ever contemplative studies symposium I leave feeling very inspired. As soon as I got home I looked up the Summer research institute they sponsor at the Garrison Institute in New York. Since I was drawn to Catherine Kerr’s talk and panel and found out the sad news of her demise I am inclined to dig into her research further. Studying leadership inspires me to learn more about Peter Drucker; and as a yoga teacher I will follow up on Evan Thompson’s book about embodied mindfulness.

I returned home to my university to participate in a scholarly writing class to teach us how to write proposals for grant funding institutions to fuel our research projects. And made friends with a researcher interested in collaborating with me on a project.

This was not my first introduction to Mind and Life Institute and will not be my last. I support their vision and mission and to this end write my story to share their valuable work with readers interested in learning how to train themselves in well being.

 

 

 

The 12 Cranial Nerves

Friday, November 18th, 2016

cranialnerves2

Starting with the vegan conference last month I’ve been going pretty steady in search of professional development. Seek andyou shall find.

Recently, I attended the cranial nerves workshop in Los Angeles taught by Karen Axelrod who also developed this class for the Upledger Institute. Our class launched this new addition to the Craniosacral protocol through the Upledger Institute which is named after its founder John Upledger, a renowned osteopath who pioneered research in craniosacral therapy and established the field as a holistic bodywork practice wrestling it out of the proprietary hands of the medical community and into the hands of laypeople and bodyworkers.

I attended this class in the cranial nerves because as a craniosacral therapist I can affect these nerves since our therapy emphasizes spreading head bones apart to allow free circulation of the fluids and nerve passages within these structures. My mom lost her sense of smell which compels me to learn about the cranial nerves so I can try and help her regain that sense.

cranialkaren

Plus, Karen is my first serious craniosacral teacher and I respect her as a guru and she developed this class and I was with her since she was germinating it so I feel drawn to support her and attend and plus it would just be great to know more about the nerves to help everyone that I work with.

So that’s why I came and I am thankful to my mom who helped me go and Karen who offered the early registration tuition discount so I could go. And also grateful to my friend and massage client Kitt Heilborn who let me stay at her fun place in Canoga Park.

Karen was not my first craniosacral teacher as I started out training by attending an Introduction to Craniosacral Therapy class in Thousand Oaks for a couple of days before deciding to invest the considerable sum of money into taking one of the usual four-day workshops which are the standard training platform.

However, Karen was my Craniosacral 1 teacher and shortly after that she was a teacher’s aide in my Craniosacral 2 workshop.  This was eight years ago and I remember then that she was studying the cranial nerves and offering day-long workshops on them which I wanted to take as I had read about them but needed much more practical training and reinforcement.

Gathering Chi

garlandhotel

 

The workshop was held at the Garland Hotel in North Hollywood at the junction where the Hollywood and Ventura freeways connect near Universal Studios. It was a beautiful environment in a convenient location right off the freeway. We received a special rate on parking which would have been $22 a day for self-parking at the hotel, otherwise.

Several participants traveled from their homes nearby from Playa Del Rey to Glendale and Orange County. Those who’d traveled far were encouraged to stay at the venue with a discounted room rate offered to attendees. Some people used Air BnB in neighboring areas while others stayed with friends or camped in beach areas further north.

Our class included 22 students with 4 teachers aides to assist us while we practiced on each other. There were only two men attending, one of whom was a rolfer which is a pretty deep tissue style of massage. Craniosacral is extremely soft touch the whole opposite spectrum as rolfing. Some attendees had come from as far away as Colorado and Arizona while others of us gathered from nearby areas.

Karen began our class by describing why she had developed this class which was due to a gap she saw in our core training which really didn’t emphasize much understanding of the individual nerves and locations and effects. Instead our training emphasized an understanding of the membrane system which are the meninges and these contain all those nerves and structures like the brain and endocrine glands, etc.

During early craniosacral training the neuroanatomy of the system was enough which was why I didn’t learn the cranial nerves so good, as it was overload. So we take this umbrella approach to the craniosacral system in our early training. But eventually one seeks deeper understanding especially in light of what we do with our techniques. Karen described how her effectiveness increased when she started applying her understanding of the cranial nerves to her therapy work with others.

Overview

cranial-nerves

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are 12 pairs of cranial nerves and they create our sensory systems such as sense of smell, sight, taste, hearing, balance. These nerves also regulate breathing, heartbeat, digestion and other autonomic processes that keep us alive.

The first nerve is the olfactory which is an extension from the base of the frontal cortex so it is actually part of the brain. The sense of smell is our oldest sense. It is the first one to develop. I’ve heard the sense of smell described as a mainline to the limbic system, the emotional brain.

rose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The olfactory bulbs sit on the cribiform plate which is on the ethmoid bone between the eyes. Nerve fibers come up from the nasal concha or cavity at the top of the nostrils through tiny foramina or holes in the cribiform plate. There are mucous membranes to translate the chemical sensations of a smell molecule being inhaled into a solution the nerve fibers can pass on to the olfactory bulb. Hence, a common cause for the loss of smell is dry nose.

Our practice to release a restricted olfactory nerve was to learn its anatomy and that it is a sensory nerve bringing information into the body instead of a motor nerve directing some activity to happen. We examine its nucleus in the brain, its trajectory to the target organ such as the ciliary fibers in the nasal concha and the anatomy of the structures supporting it like the ethmoid bone and the cribiform plate.

Principles of Engagement

cranialnerves

Some guidelines to working with nerves were to float them distally since nerves branch out toward the periphery. A tenet of CST therapy is to follow the tissues in the direction of ease and not direct the body.

We also determine facilitated versus inhibited nerves to deem whether nerves are either excessively firing, which can irritate the end organ and send sensory messages back to create a feedback loop perpetuating a debilitating condition. Or whether a nerve is inhibited; such as being restricted in firing to the end organs which, in the case of the vagal nerve, the inhibition of the heart can lead to sudden death.

After a general overview of the cranial nerves and their loci in the brain and brain stem we learn which nerves provide sensory and motor innervation or both.

We review the general properties and structural location of these nerves within the floor of the cranium and brain and learn the intracranial membranes through which nerves pass on their way to the cranial foramina or holes in the skull allowing nerves to innervate all target organs like face and neck.

When working the nerves we maintain a neutral intention to not try and work on a particular issue or toward an outcome but rather trust what the body wants to show us while we assess with a general overview within a rubric of principles like:

  • blend and meld
  • follow the tissue
  • trust what we feel
  • treat what we find
  • use the least amount of exertion to facilitate release.

For Whom the Bell Tolls

We learned about contraindications to craniosacral work such as any condition adversely affected by a change in intracranial pressure including aneurysm, strokes or concussions to name a few.

We also learned that nerves become dysfunctional due to a variety of reasons including:

  • osseous restriction within the cranium or cervical region
  • inflammation
  • injury, disease or traum
  • demyleination as in fibromyalgia
  • poor intracranial cerebro-spinal fluid (CSF) pressure or intercranial vascular pressure
  • poor vascularization and blood flow to the nerve which get oxygen from arterial blood

Over the days of the training we follow the tract of each particular nerve, for instance the olfactory:

cranialnerve1

Sensory receptors run from nasal mucosa in the nose up through the ethmoid bone and back to the olfactory bulbs of the cerebrum. Here the fibers synapse with the olfactory tracts of the frontal lobes . THe tracts then travel posteriorly through the brain to the subcallosal and hippocampal gyri. There is another synaptic juncture here with fibers going to the pyriform and hypocampal areas of the brain. Then associated fibers connect these areas with the tegmentum, the pons and the thalamus. Reflex connections are also present that provide communication between the olfactory system and the nuclei of several cranial nerves.

After the theoretical overview we began learning the individual nerves and applying practical techniques to help them.

Summing up her review of the principles we would be applying over the course of the workshop, Karen reminded us that the mission of craniosacral therapy (CST), according to Dr. John Upledger, is to “contribute toward helping people soften and become more humane.”

Meet the Tissue

cranialbaserelease

To work with cranial nerves we applied skills we already use in our craniosacral techniques but just perceive our palpation at a deeper level. We evaluate and treat these nerves with a variety of techniques, including:

  • measuring the inherent movement of the craniosacral system
  • treating fascial restrictions by following tissue movement along the direction of comfort
  • directing energy through the conductive body
  • encouraging cessation of the craniosacral pulse for a moment of release of nerve compression at the cranial base
  • spreading bones to release compressed foramins where nerves exit bones
  • mouthwork, since so many nerves are impacted by the maxillae and other bones of the hard palate
  • positional release which presents an opportunity for restricted nerves to unwind
  • temporal decompression at the mandibular joint since this region affects the reticular alarm system and the trigeminal nerve
  • and finally, utilizing the significance detector such as when the cranial rhythm stops abruptly when we are on a particular region which is a signal to sit with the sensation

I’ll leave it at that and if you are interested in learning more about this contact Karen Axelrod through her own website or the International Alliance of Healthcare Educators IAHE website. Suffice it to say, I learned alot that I am still assimilating.

One of the best parts was actually getting lots of craniosacral therapy for myself as it had been a few years since my last workshop and I was happy to return to the community of practitioners. I recommend this class “Craniosacral Therapy for Cranial Nerves 1,” as an excellent overview of the 12 pairs of cranial nerves and for teaching us skills to apply our techniques toward benefiting people suffering from troubling conditions related to these nerves.

If you are interested in receiving craniosacral therapy or inviting me to attend your therapy workshop or retreat please contact me on this website and I will respond promptly.

 

Day of At One Ment

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

heron-crossing-the-road-stuart-wilson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While studying religion at CSUB I learned about all the holidays observed by the world’s religions. Since I’m also into health the rituals associated with fasting always appealed to me.

Today is Yom Kippur in Judaism which is the day of fasting and culminates the High Holy Days of the Jewish New Year. It’s the beginning of a new cycle which began 10 days ago and closes today on Yom Kippur where observant Jews fast all day to purify themselves while praying for absolution from their sins over the past year.

yomkippur

 

 

 

 

 

 

What does this mean to me? It means that as I seek forgiveness for my sins it is also time to forgive the sins of those who have injured me somehow. Karma is give and take. If someone absolves me reciprocity is integral in nature.

Years ago, after reading an article about forgiveness, I learned that as long as the person committing the unforgivable act admitted to the injured party that they took responsibility for the crime and would make necessary reparations then forgiveness could begin – as long as the injured person felt suitably remunerated for their trouble.

Rinpoche Anam Thubten has a way of always speaking to the heart of whatever is in my heart so I will let him shed light on this holiday in a randomly chosen letter from the archives…

anam3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Everyone,

This wonderful thing called “human life” is quite fragile. Conditions around us are always changing. We are beckoned to wake up to such reality in times of loss, separation, and illness. When we look from this point of view, we realize there is no more time to waste. Each moment is invaluable, and can be dedicated to living the true purpose of this existence. The question is, “What is the true purpose of this existence?”

There are lots of answers out of there. Many of them can be just a belief system people made up without rooting it in profound reflection. The answer we find in the Buddha’s teachings does not stem from the prophetic revelation of a mighty being in heaven, nor from a voice of an all knowing spirit, channeled through someone. It is from the courageous penetration into the core questions about life. In this sense, one can say the Buddha’s answers are more reality oriented, and less myth based. They lean more towards science with a touch of transcendence.

samsara

 

 

 

 

The Buddha’s answer, regarding the purpose of our life, is to learn to let go of attachment, and to develop insight and compassion. These are the sadhana or true spiritual practices. Everyday should be a day to cultivate such sadhana. Many of us already know that dharma is a lifelong path that is merely a process of growing and maturing inside with the periodic miracle of satori. We just have to have a lifetime commitment to the awakened path.

In the end, we have to learn to discover an unfathomable joy at the heart of this existence no matter what is going on. Then, life is always complete in itself without missing anything. We’ll rise above and find peace in the midst of all challenges. The secret of learning how to do this is to always give our heart to the true purpose of life.

The 15th of this month is going to be another Sojong day. I invite all of you to take time to reflect upon the teaching above and, make a strong vow to dedicate everyday to live in according with Buddha’s wisdom. May our fellowship be a source of inner light.

With palms joined,

Anam Thubten

 

 

Full Moon Equinox

Friday, September 16th, 2016

dscn3477

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello World!

Good to be back typing on the ol blog again. This has been a great summer for adventure and discovery. I didn’t look back after springing from CSUB.

Teacher Training

Summer started out with me graduating from Medi Yoga teacher training with Swedish teacher Helen Lynch. Medi Yoga is based on Kundalini yoga and is utilized by hospitals in Sweden as preventative medicine.

Even before teacher training started, a 30″ symphonic gong had fallen into my hands since most Kundalini yoga teachers play the gong, as did our Medi yoga instructor.  I bought a DVD to learn to play my gong and have been adding a few minutes of gong bath at the end of my regular classes.

dscn3490

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was great learning about chakras and kundalini energies while studying Medi Yoga. Pranayama plays a significant part in the practice. It is very relaxing and I liked the arm stretches so there were some fun postures in it that I will never stop using.

I will integrate Medi Yoga postures into my other classes, for sure, as I enjoyed them but I need to mix things up more. And we used a lot of music which distracts me.

The kundalini yoga mat we got as part of our teacher training is a merino wool mat from Germany. These are the best mats in the world. They aren’t good for standing poses but in Medi Yoga all the poses are seated or lying down. I sleep on my mat outside under the stars.

4th of July

dscn3455

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Portland bound, via Idaho, John and I set off on a week-long summer jaunt to visit his friend who has a home on a lake in Idaho where we stayed a few days and enjoyed fireworks on July 2nd over the lake.

We left Cascade, Idaho on the 4th of July and drove to Portland, Oregon arriving at my cousin’s house just before dinner and a whole second night of fireworks over her neighborhood in North Portland.

While in Portland our cousins wined and dined us and gave us a comfortable room upstairs. We visited a British pub (for my British boyfriend to enjoy the ambience of Merry Ol England) after seeing the new Star Trek movie at a 3D theater.

We visited more cousins in Oregon City for a wonderful evening of excellent wine, savory dinner and shimmering conversation in their exquisite home.

My cousins have a large professional glass art studio attached to their home and they host bustling classes of eager glass artists which includes yours truly. I visit my cousin every year to learn new art glass techniques and develop as a fused glass artist.

dscn3470

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dome Grows Thick Skin

John is starting to apply the color coat on the dome. We are looking forward to getting the dome water tight before winter and it is already equinox and we’re still finishing stucco. Our color is a cream color to keep it cool in the hot summers.

Women’s Spirituality

Last night I participated on a panel via webinar and video for a class at my alma mater in San Francisco, the California Institute of Integral Studies. The panel was for a class devoted to helping Women’s Spirituality scholars at the school learn how best to leverage their degree for a sustainable living.

goddessart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I talked about the importance of purpose. First of all find that mission which mine was protect the earth. Then how can I do that within the parameters of my capacities so get lots of training and do your research. Then learn marketing, and get used to technology and social media to attract people to your business.

Learn SEO and build a website using free training available online and minimal marketing costs via servers and open source software like wordpress. Themes and free tutorials by theme designers help you pull off a sufficient website for minimal investment but if you’re serious hire a professional. There is a lot to learn about analytics to improve page ranking results in cyberspace.

Free MOOCs – Massive Online Open Courses – offer amazing opportunity to continue your education for free as you figure out what you need to do to reach your dreams. Learn content writing to attract your audience and copy writing to persuade them.I also suggested learning mindfulness to not get caught in negative thoughts and also to learn renewal techniques like yoga and eating vegan food.

I had fun on the panel and saw a couple dear friends, one of whom was on the panel with me –  Dr. Louise Pare – who leads women’s spirituality and transformative movement out of Ashland Oregon. Briefly I saw my beloved teacher and mentor from CIIS, Dr. Mara Keller, sit down on the couch behind the teacher who was conducting the class. I smiled at her before she slid out of view.

The Greater Mysteries

meteorite

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The summer brought a comet into the solar system not visible by itself but we saw wildly bright meteors from the comets tail flashing across the night sky.

And one of those heavenly luminaries landed on our property in the guise of my beloved daughter Shannon who moved next door and is living in my mom’s guest house. We have a bit of a family commune and it feels so good to see each other everyday.

One of the things I learned at CIIS was about the historical existence of the Eleusinian Mysteries of Demeter and Persephone in classical Greece. This is a religion of the Mother Daughter Goddesss that pre-dates Christiantiy by 1500 years and existed as the predominant religion in the region for over 1200 years.

Dr Keller is a preeminent scholar and expert in these Mysteries which were celebrated twice a year by pilgrims. The Greater Mysteries took place over nine days each fall in ancient Eleusis. And the Lesser Mysteries were held in the spring.

eleusinianrelief

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Greater Mysteries reenacted the story of Demeter the Earth Goddess whose daughter Persephone was abducted by Hades and disappeared from her mother’s life. While grieving Demeter searched for her daughter, the land withered and people died from starvation so Zeus finally told Hades to surrender Persephone. Upon her daughters return the two Goddesses exulted in their reunion and happiness flourished across the land once again.

This was basically a ritual container for those stung by the arrows of death and loss of loved ones as wars in the region were ongoing. To me it holds an archetypal “form” symbolizing the closeness that mothers share with their beloved daughters. I know the joy of Demeter at the return of Persephone.

May we all enjoy balancing our own cycles as we synchronize with the planetary equinox when day and night lasts equally long.

Vacation

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

strike

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoying this first week off from classes at CSUB. It was a hectic quarter as CSU faculty across California were preparing to strike during the third week of this spring quarter. At the 11th hour administrators and chancellors conceded the legitimacy of what the faculty union wanted which was a timely pay raise.

Dome is Quickening

stucco

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yesterday was my official first day off. Instead of driving to school that morning I headed up to the dome to help John apply another batch of stucco to the exterior walls. We are working on the dome again after a fiscal windfall loan from my mom in March.

Stuccoing is a huge job. We had to adhere wire wrapped paper to the exterior walls first with nails. Then mix the first of three coats of stucco which is almost like cement. The first coat of stucco is the “scratch coat.” Then we apply the “brown coat,” and after that, the final “color coat.”

After applying the second coat of stucco, John is adding architectural embellishments such as framing all the windows and doors and even defining the corners with molding that he applies stucco to as well. The extra touches add elegant refinement.

Medi Yoga Teacher Training

In a couple weeks I will graduate from Medi Yoga teacher training led by Swedish yoga teacher Helen Lynch (aka Hilly). Hilly leaves today to present Medi Yoga at the International Association of Yoga Therapist conference in Virginia where she will be a key note presenter on opening night as well as lead a large class on Sunday.

mediyoga

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Medi Yoga was developed in Sweden and is based on kundalini yoga, a type of yoga emphasizing music, mantras. breath control, energetic locks, mudras, meditation and moving yoga postures linked to breath. It is very different than the alignment based postural yoga that I teach so there is much to learn.

Vegan Cooking Class

lentil-soup-550x376

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This past April I co taught my first demonstration-style vegan cooking class to a group of children at a housing complex in East Bakersfield for their after school activities program.

A yoga student from CSUB had asked me to teach vegan cooking to the community where she runs the activities program after hearing me talk about vegan food during yoga class. She explained it was a primarily poor Hispanic community who wouldn’t have exposure to vegan food.

Maria’s Kale & Spinach Lentil Soup

If you attend morning yoga classes at Yogaya Studio then you know Maria who is a Hispanic yogini also into cooking who recently turned vegan for health reasons. SInce I was coaching her vegan transition, I invited her to assist me in teaching the class to the kids. She was happy to do so and when I suggested a possible menu of raw stir fry with raw cauliflower rice, Maria countered that lentil soup with kale and spinach might be more suited to their situation since it would be cheap and nourishing.

Maria and I prepared the recipe so I could sample it and write down the ingredients to print a recipe for Maria’s original dish, which was so delicious that I gave my first batch to my mom, who had a cold, and promptly made another batch for myself.

kalespinach

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the day of the class I prepped all raw ingredients at home but left a few whole pieces of onion, garlic, celery, kale and spinach to demonstrate prepping techniques then loaded ingredients and cooking equipment into my car ready to drive to Bakersfield.

A Juicy Treat

While waiting the 40 minutes it took to cook the soup during our class, I made “infused water” for the children by cutting up two oranges into slices and placing the slices in a pitcher of water, mashing with a potato masher to squeeze juice out of the slices and then pouring to drink. At first we just poured the water and the kids looked dubious at the barely colored “infused water” in their glass. But then I said, “Who wants an orange slice with their drink?” And all the kids came forward to get an orange slice and suddenly the drink was very popular with lots of refills.

orange-water

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maria was able to talk Spanish with the two adult women who also attended our class. Maria shared her enthusiasm for the simple and delicious nourishing dish. She also highlighted the affordability of the food due to the proximity of Vallarta grocery store in the neighborhood only a few blocks a way.

After receiving an eager response to the whole pieces of spinach and kale I introduced by way of talking about what ingredients were in our soup, I showed a couple of celery sticks to demonstrate one of the vegetables I had already pre-cut. When I offered the celery stalks to anyone who wanted to take them home everyone’s hand shot up so I cut the celery stalks into sticks that were eagerly eaten as a perfect snack.

celery

 

 

 

 

 

 

While writing out Maria’s recipe, I included information about the particular foods we were using including kale, lentils and spinach. After introducing the recipe and its plant-based ingredients, I noted the antioxidants in kale that protect the eye. As one young boy watched the dark green vegetables simmer in the soup, he looked up at me and said, “it’s good for our eyes.”

child eyes

 

 

 

 

 

 

When it was ready, we ladled our kale and spinach lentil soup into small bowls for everyone to sample. As I walked among the children refilling their glasses, I happily heard one young boy exclaim to his neighbor, “I’m a vegetarian.” Hope springs eternal in my heart at sentiments like that.

Everyone wanted seconds to take some home to their mothers and we scraped the pot clean. Maria and I felt like angels as we sailed home after first stopping at Vallarta market to pick up more wonderful veggies for our next vegan cooking adventure.

It was great working with kids again and I think it gives me a possible direction on where to launch my vegan cooking career. Can we all become as little children?