Saturday, June 21, 2008

Ask and Your Body Will Speak

I created this art piece the other day and titled it "She Asks Her Hand Why it Hurts." In this scene, these whispering birds represent the kind of dialog we can have with ourselves regarding our own discomfort. Sometimes I imagine a little voice in my mind which asks a little voice in a part of my body (such as my hand), "Why do you hurt?" or "What do you need?" When I listen carefully, I can usually hear a response. The hand might say, "I worked too hard today" or "I gave too much to others this week" or "You forget all about me when you work on the computer." When I can quiet the clatter in my mind for a few long breaths, I usually receive some insight. What do you hear when you ask a part of your body how it feels?

Try this:
Find a quiet place where you can focus inward. Locate an area that you are curious about. Perhaps this area causes you pain or maybe this area is just confusing to you for some reason. Whatever the case may be, ask this place some questions as if it were a close friend or loved one. Ask your questions with curiosity and compassion and be open to hearing whatever it is your body has to tell you.

You can follow up this exercise by writing down the dialog as if you were writing a short story or play. Feel free to give this body part a personality, too! Is your elbow crabby? Is your stomach an excited teenager? Is your neck shy and reserved? Make this body part come to life and give its voice a chance to speak!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Writing from Your Body Workshop!

"What people don't realize is that writing is physical. It doesn't have to do with thought alone. It has to do with sight, smell, taste, feeling, and everything being alive and activated. The rule for writing practice of 'keeping your hand moving,' not stopping, actually is a way to physically break through your mental resistances and cut through the concept that writing is just about ideas and thinking."

Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones

Do you feel and hear all that your body has to tell you? After all, as John Lee writes, your body is “home to all that has happened to [you], and it remembers.” In this hands-on workshop, we will explore the ways in which paying attention to our bodies can deepen our writing and our writing process. By engaging in some breath, movement, and writing exercises we will begin to feel how removing physical blockages in our bodies can in turn dissolve some of the creative blockages we feel when writing. We will also learn to listen to our body's messages and allow these insights to inform our writing.

This is a workshop comprised of doing. We will try not to analyze in this workshop; we’ll give our analytic minds a much-needed siesta. We will write from our guts, our hands, our spleens, our throats, and our blood vessels. We will begin to explore how telling the story of our bodies can help us to reclaim our creative, knowledgeable, and truth-telling physical selves. Come prepared to move, feel, and create with an open mind.

This workshop is for both beginning and seasoned writers.
No experience necessary!

When: Sunday, July 27, 2008; 1:00-5:00pm

Where: Rising Bird Healing Arts (Roosevelt District of Seattle)

Cost: $100 (or $80 if you sign up for the "A Year of Living in Your Body" series)

To Register: Email Courtney Putnam at

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Some Thought for Thought

Right now I am dipping my toe into Shakti Gawain's Creative Visualization: Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Life. I've been thinking a lot lately about the power of my thoughts, and Gawain's book is taking me to a deeper level of understanding the subtle (and not-so subtle) ways I can impact my life by changing the way I think.

Here are two excerpts from the beginning of the book I particularly resonate with:

"One law of energy is this: Energy of a certain quality or vibration tends to attract energy of a similar quality and vibration. Thoughts and feelings have their own magnetic energy that attracts energy of a similar nature."

"When we are negative and fearful, insecure or anxious, we often attract the very experiences, situations, or people we are seeking to avoid. If we are basically positive in attitude, expecting and envisioning pleasure, satisfaction, and happiness, we tend to attract and create people, situations, and events that conform to our positive expectations. So, consciously imagining what we want can help us to manifest it in our lives."

This "like attracts like" idea makes sense to me. I have seen this phenomenon happen to many others -- as well as to myself -- in both positive and negative ways. I have felt myself grow and flourish in connection with my positive thoughts and I have seen myself attract troubling situations because of my worry or negative self-talk.

What might happen if we could hear each other's thoughts? Do you think we would hear loving, kind words or self-critical mantras? Imagine how the energy in a room might shift if people's thoughts shifted from negativity to positivity? What impact might this have on your relationships, your family, your workplace, or your neighborhood?

Try this:

Create a statement that encompasses a positive thought or vision for yourself. If you tend to have negative self-talk regarding your body image, think of a wonderful statement about your body. If you feel fearful speaking in public, create a statement that empowers you to feel calm, peace, and power when you are in front of a group.

Write this statement down and tape it to a place in your home which you pass by frequently. Perhaps it's your bathroom mirror or your bookshelf. Each time you pass this note to yourself, stop, take a deep breath and read it like you mean it. Now this might feel contrived and hokey at first, but after a while I bet that you will notice a difference. Many people notice a shift at some point, when they realize that they actually
feel and believe in their statement.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

They've Got the Right Idea

I took a cue from my cats today. After many days (or has it been weeks?) of gray and rain in Seattle, there was a spontaneous sun burst this afternoon. I let the cats out and they went to sunbathing immediately. I knew I had to get out in it, too, so I took a lovely walk, soaking in as much vitamin D as I could.

My question to you all is how are coping with the cooler, cloudier spring this year? What are you doing to stay positive, healthy, and vibrant even when it's stormy outside? I'd love to hear about your experiences and coping strategies!

peace and blue skies,

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A Little Bit of Lemon Balm...

...goes a long way.

I had never tried ingesting lemon balm before (that is, before Monday). I had grown it in gardens and enjoyed that lovely lemony scent, but I was not aware of its healing properties.

After a visit to my naturopath on Monday (yes, the amazing Greg Yasuda!), I started on my path of drinking lemon balm tea. Greg asked me to drink three cups of lemon balm tea a day to help with my anxiety. Apparently lemon balm has long been used to help calm the nervous system:

"Lemon balm ( Melissa officinalis ), a member of the mint family, is considered a 'calming' herb. It was used in the Middle Ages to reduce stress and anxiety, promote sleep, improve appetite, and ease pain and discomfort associated with digestion (including flatulence and bloating as well as colic). Even before the Middle Ages, lemon balm was steeped in wine to lift the spirits, help heal wounds, and treat venomous insect bites and stings" (

I purchased dried organic lemon balm at The Herbalist here in Seattle. Oh my, if you haven't toured this herbaceous place, you must! It is wall-to-wall with colorful bottles of tinctures and remedies, as well as bulk dried herbs. I steep one tablespoon of lemon balm, add 1-2 drops of stevia if I want it to be a little more sweet, and sip away.

The warmth of the the steeped goodness calms my nervous system right away and the lemony taste lifts my spirits. I think I shall now add lemon balm essential oil to my practice. Off I go to the Herbalist once again!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

A Post of Links

It seems I am in a stage of accumulation. I am gathering ideas from many directions and processing different healing modalities, philosophies, and concepts. And I have some marvelous friends who keep sending me information and ideas that keep me inspired and engaged. My mind feels quite full right now, but it is filled with such fascinating things. I thought I'd share some of these things with you now.

The amazing Laila Atallah is offering yet another free workshop! Tomorrow (Monday, June 2) from 7:00-8:15pm at the Tully's in Wallingford, she presents "3 Steps to Interviewing Confidence." For more information about this workshop and her upcoming free events, visit Laila's website HERE.

Last week, my friend Dorothy lent me a most marvelous DVD called You Can Heal Your Life, which is produced by Louise Hay. If you are not yet familiar with Louise Hay, I highly recommend learning more about her and her perspective that if we can change our thoughts we can change our lives. Very powerful stuff. To view a snippet from the DVD, click HERE.

My bodywork colleague and friend Bethanie Sand is, among other things, an Ayurveda practitioner, and she has helped me to understand my dosha. A dosha is your mind and body type, often thought of as your constitution. I'm mostly Pitta. What are you? To take the Dosha Quiz, click HERE.

Years ago, when I wasn't in the healing arts profession, a friend of mine introduced me to Aura Soma, which is a system of learning more about yourself by the colors you resonate with. I was just recently reminded of my experiences with Aura Soma and found a great free reading online. To check it out, click HERE and choose "Free Reading."

Have fun clicking and linking!