Telling Stories Wtih Tarot

This is a sample of part of a series of classes that I will be conducting in the months ahead. The example used is only a small piece of what will be covered in the class. Be on the lookout, eastern and central Iowa, for more information about these classes.

The Tarot is amazing. It is so adaptable. Sure, you can “tell fortunes” with it, but that is its most mundane use. In fact, it is my opinion that the “is my boyfriend cheating on me” type of question, so often asked of casual Tarot readers, is an insult to the deep, eternal wisdom that is Tarot.

Tarot is a tool for self development. This is especially true when talking about the Major Arcana, the 22 cards that have wonderful names like The Fool, The High Priestess, The Tower, etc. These cards are no less than a road map of the unconscious. They are archetypal symbols that speak to our deepest selves. What’s more, each card contains a lesson, a story if you will, to give us a sense of how to attain the state intimated by the card. This is done through the Hebrew letter that has been paired with each card. This is very handy, as there are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet. Divine providence, perhaps?

Hebrew is one of several languages that have been considered the language of creation. I’m not here to argue the pros and cons of any of that. I use Hebrew because that is language that the Western mystery tradition has used. And it works for our purposes, especially since each letter has multiple associations and a meaning all its own.

So, let’s tell a short story. storybookI’ve decided to use one of the scarier cards of the Major Arcana as an example: The Devil (number 15 of the 22 – I’ve already talked a little about this card here). Really, this card isn’t scary at all. It is a simple reminder of the deception put over on us by our senses. That is to say, the world, as we perceive it, is an illusion. The reality which lies behind this illusion is God’s energy, the very stuff of creation itself. This actually meshes quite nicely with some of the tenets of modern quantum theory. Oh, those ancients. They knew a thing or two.

At any rate, the letter for this card is ayin, which not-so-coincidentally means “eye,” the sense organ most of us rely on as our primary way of gaining information about the world. To get more of the message behind this pairing of card and letter, we need to spell out the name of the letter. For example, in English when we spell the name of the fourth letter of the alphabet, it’s done thusly: dee. Well, ayin is spelled with three letters also: ayin-yod-nun. Don’t worry about the details now, just take my word for it. I’ll guide you along.

Since each letter has a Tarot card paired with it, we can look at those cards to help us out. The three letters and their cards are: Ayin (Devil); Yod (Hermit); and Nun (Death). Laying them out right to left, the way Hebrew is written, we get:

13 - Death 9 - Hermit 15 - Devil

You can see the letter for each card in its lower right corner. Several stories are possible for each arrangement of cards, by the way. That’s part of the beauty of this process. So let’s look at these three briefly. We’ve already talked a little about the Devil. The Hermit is the light of God showing the way. Death isn’t death at all. It signifies a transformation, a radical change. Taking this information and reading right to left, the message is: In order to see the illusion for what it is (Devil), one must concentrate on the light of God (Hermit), which will lead to a transformation of perception (Death). Using just the letters in the same order, we get: Use your inner eye (ayin) to see what God is truly giving you (yod means “hand”) in order to plumb the depths of the unconscious for an answer (nun means “fish” and, by extension, the deep water of the unconscious).

Once you have a vocabulary of associations to the cards and letters, lots of stories can be told with the same arrangement of cards. I didn’t want to cross your eyes (your ayins?), so I kept it simple today. This same process can be extended to the names of the spheres on the Tree of Life (see here and here), or to other words and phrases. The layers of meaning are many, and informative.

Keep an eye out for my class series, where we will explore the intricacies of the Tarot for personal growth and spiritual insight. Coming soon!

Alternative Medicine in France

by Candida Maurer, Ph.D.

Michael and I were fortunate to be able to take a trip to France in May and one of the things we did was to explore how alternative medicine is used there. I’d like to share some of our impressions with our Eastwind friends.

First, France is a marvelous country with a culture that could teach many of us in the U.S. a great deal about handling some of our health issues.

French flagThe first thing we noticed in Paris is that in spite of it being a huge city (approximately 12 million people), it is much quieter than a huge American city. In 9 days in Paris we literally never heard a loud radio, or loud music, or even other loud noises, coming from cars or apartments. Parisians are very aware of each other and of containing themselves in a way that Americans have never considered. Perhaps this comes from living in such close quarters with each other but it is certainly part of their culture to realize that they are responsible to each other for the type of environment that exists.

Along this same line, we learned that in French hospitals, quiet is stressed as necessary for healing – quiet and rest are prescribed for every patient. Additionally, homeopathic therapies are widely used by both allopathic physicians and alternative medicine practitioners. It is not at all unusual for a hospitalized patient to receive some type of homeopathic remedy along with more Westernized approaches to healing.Homeopathic stuff

Homeopathy is particularly popular in France, where it is the leading alternative therapy. In 1982, 16 percent of the population used homeopathic medicine, rising to 29 percent in 1987, and to 36 percent in 1992. In 2004, 62 percent of French mothers used homeopathic medicines in the previous 12 months. A survey of French pharmacists was conducted in 2004 and found that an astounding 94.5 percent reported advising pregnant women to use homeopathic medicines.

Homeopathy is popular not only among the French public but also among the French medical community. As many as 70 percent of physicians are receptive to homeopathy and consider it effective, and at least 25,000 physicians prescribe homeopathic medicines for their patients. Homeopathy is taught in at least seven medical schools, and there are numerous postgraduate training programs. Courses in homeopathy are taught in most of France’s schools of pharmacy, and also taught in some dental schools, veterinary schools, and three schools of midwifery.

Another interesting facet of the French healthcare system is that, in general, if you’re not feeling well, or you have some symptom you wish to have treated, your first stop is your local pharmacy. Pharmacists are trained in first aid, in homeopathy, and in nutrition, as well as in the use of prescription medication. If the pharmacist thinks you need to see a medical doctor, you are referred to a doctor from your pharmacist.Caduceus statue

I stopped in a pharmacy in Cassis in order to learn about their system and to see what would be recommended for my chronically dry left eye. The pharmacist looked at me closely, asked me some questions about symptoms and nutrition, and recommended a homeopathic remedy called Optique. He also said that I could try some Bausch and Lomb eye drops that were literally 1/10th the cost of what they are here in the U.S., but since I had tried them before and not found relief, he recommended eye drops that are made of hyaluronic acid at a particular level of concentration.

Now I’ve been taking liquid hyaluronic acid orally for some time for my joints and have found it to be a miracle (no kidding). Hyaluronic acid is a natural substance found throughout the body that is concentrated in joint capsules, skin, and eyes and I credit it with saving my knees and my chronically dry skin. We sell this type of hyaluronic acid which is called Synthovial Seven.  As wonderful as it is, the oral form has not been helpful for my eyes.

I walked out of the pharmacy with the Optique and the hyaluronic acid eye drops in hand, and of course, I tried them immediately. Within minutes, my eye that had been scratchy and red and tearing uncontrollably became soothed. The tears stopped and the redness and itching disappeared. Wow!

Interestingly, though Optique can be purchased in the U.S., these magical hyaluronic acid eye drops are not available in our country. A completely natural substance that is available all over Europe, that has been shown to be beneficial for large numbers of people with dry eyes, is not available here. Hmm. As the French would say, “quel domage” (what a pity!).

Of course I went back to the pharmacy the next day and bought as many bottles of eye drops as I could, and I’m hoping to find them in U.S. stores soon! This is just one of the many differences in healthcare philosophy that we encountered in France. Stay tuned for more . . .

Being with the Holidays (Candida Maurer)

The two words I hear most often when speaking with others about holiday stress are “obligation” and “guilt.” Though we love our families, the holidays have become a time when many of us have lost our ability to say “no” to requests from family and friends and we end up doing things that we really have no desire to do. We’ve all been raised on the holiday movies and books that depict an idealized time of family love and togetherness. Although this is how many of us experience the holidays, many others of us feel burdened, pressured, overwhelmed, depressed, and guilty. Trying to live up to this idealized fantasy of holiday get-togethers is often much more stressful than it needs to be.

First, it’s important to have some established routines that we stay with during holiday times. These can be as simple as a daily walk, a phone conversation with a good friend who can listen when we need to blow off steam, meditation, or just taking a nap. Realize that it’s helpful to give ourselves permission to do something we actually want to do and then stick with it. Sometimes this may even mean that there are holiday events that we don’t attend. If this is the case, try to find a sense of accomplishment in the choice to avoid events that are painful or difficult.

Second, it’s good to have a realistic sense of what to expect from ourselves and our families during the holidays. It is helpful to look back on past holidays in order to have a model of how different people in our lives act and react during get-togethers. When we divest ourselves of the fantasy of “White Christmas” and focus instead on how Uncle Henry got drunk last year and started a fight with Aunt Jane, expectations begin to move into a more grounded appraisal of the reality of family life. If anger or stress are occurrences in our households, it may be a good time to go for that walk! And really, no matter how wonderful our family is, there are times when each of us needs to take a “breather” (and of course I mean this literally!).

The other fantasy that gets us into trouble is the idea that somehow the “right” kind of get-together along with the “right” gift, the “right” food, etc., is going to create the perfect family time and that happy White Christmas. Unfortunately, or actually fortunately, there is no such thing as the right kind of get-together. The thing that creates rightness in every situation is a sense of inner peace and acceptance. We only have control of our own sense of peace, and this is what we can concentrate on through practices such as meditation, yoga, and breathwork.

We can also create happiness and peace in ourselves by giving to others. In this season of giving, it is helpful to think about those less fortunate and to give what we can to alleviate the suffering in those we observe. However, there is a crucial lesson here — we cannot make others happy! Happiness and peace come from within and nowhere else. If we get stuck believing that we can make someone else happy, we only end up making ourselves unhappy.

Finally, the thoughts that help me create a less stressful holiday are thoughts of the true holiness of this time. The long nights and short days remind us to go inward as we spend evenings by the warmth of firelight or surround ourselves with the lovely twinkling lights of Christmas. During this time the sun moves into the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. The Solstice has been considered to be a holy event for many thousands of years for it represents a new beginning, the time when the darkness begins to recede and the sun returns. In many cultures, the Winter Solstice represents a time of rebirth, and it is no accident that the Christ consciousness is seen as being born during this time period. So, in the end, I think of the holidays as a chance for me to reflect upon that which is receding, and that which is coming into form, and to honor the process of the season’s change. Happy Holy Days!

An Exciting Addition To My Practice (Pamela Sabin)

 

I love sharing my Integrative Massages with my clients.

My latest addition is something I call “Sticks and Stones™”. This is a combination of warmed Bamboo sticks in different shapes and sizes with Hot Stone Massage. Together it is smooth but deep. I’ve taken “Bamboo Fusion” a step further by adding the stones. The Japanese name for bamboo is take and the Chinese call it chu. Thus, they are called cho sticks by some practioners. The massage itself promotes circulation, sensory nerve perception, and lymphatic drainage, providing a deep sense of relaxation and well-being.

An added benefit for the practitioner is that using the bamboo sticks helps to reduce stress and strain on hands and fingers while still allowing for deeply penetrating maneuvers. I love the dance quality the massage takes on. Many times the client can’t tell if I am using my hands, stones, or the bamboo. It lulls them into a very deep state of relaxation.

What makes bamboo hard and straight, yet flexible and light, is that its outer cell walls are covered with silica. This creates a crystalline-like matrix, much like that of a quartz crystal or our own connective tissue. Some practitioners believe that releasing tension or fascial adhesions held within this matrix can help restore and rebalance the body’s electromagnetic field.

Crystalline-like matrices are known to exhibit two specific properties: piezoelectricity and pyroelectricty. Piezoelectricity is activated with pressure and pyroelectricity with heat. These two properties are believed to contribute to some of the healing effects seen in bamboo massage.

It’s just one more exiting reason to experience the Eastwind Healing Center.

Call me at 319-337-3313 for your Sticks and Stones™ Treatment today!

How I Deal With Stress (Pamela Sabin)

When first asked to write about how I deal with stress, I thought “I’m too stressed to do this right now.” But seriously, it’s been a thought provoking assignment. So, here are my thoughts . . .

My first instinct is to talk to someone about my situation. I’ve never been accused of not talking enough (every report card that I ever got in Elementary said “NI”-needs improvement, talks too much in class). It’s not so much about having someone listening and telling me what to do, or even telling me if I’m right. It’s having someone present with me and allowing me to express “how I feel.” That’s it. It’s that simple. You can argue with facts, but not about how someone feels . . .

To quiet the “Mind Frick” that comes with being stressed I will go into a meditation. At least 20-40 minutes to be in that “God Space.” Tthere are several meditations that I like to choose from:

1.) The 3:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m. Disturbed Shen Meditation. You get up . . . wide awake in “shoulda-coulda-woulda “mode. I sit up to empty the mind, using my mantra and just observing the breath.

2.) The Lawn Mowing Meditation. One of my favorites. There is no way you can be spaced out bobbing and weaving through the tree limbs, swing set, steep hills – dodging all the wild creatures that go zipping out of their hiding places, including getting dive bombed by swallows. It requires full attention in the present. Especially when your lawn mower catches on fire because some mice have built a nest in the motor while it was sitting idle in the shed.

3.) Entertainment Meditation. There is no way one can be stressed out when you are singing at the top of your lungs and dancing in the shower, thanks to Pandora “Funk Radio.” All you need is a “Soap – Mister Boom Microphone” and your day is off and flying!

4.) The Chuckle Belly Meditation. This requires the help of other stressed out friends, family or co-workers. One person lies on the floor and the next puts their head on the first person’s stomach, then the next head on the second person’s stomach, etc. The first person starts laughing and the whole place is filled with hysterical, side stitching, wailing and tears of joy . . . laughter. An all-you-can-take-in endorphin buffet!

Now that I have finished this assignment it’s one less stress on my list! These are just a few thoughts. Don’t take life so seriously. You are either in fear or love. Choose love. This is just my opinion – I could be wrong. ~Pamela Sabin

Medical Disclaimer: The statements made in this blog have not been evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent any disease. The author of this does not dispense medical advice as a form of treatment for physical or medical problems. The intent of the author is only to offer information of a general nature to help you in your quest for physical and emotional well-being.

Treating Poison Ivy with Chinese Medicine (Sue Dusterhoft)

I am currently in the midst of my annual (or so it seems) poison ivy epidemic.  The first time I had a bad breakout of it was maybe 20 years ago and I was prescribed steroids for it.  Now that I have other tools in my tool chest, I am able to treat it myself using Chinese herbs.  I’m on day two of my herbs and the blisters are definitely expressing themselves, the itching is subsiding by the hour and that makes me very happy.

In Chinese medicine, the rash associated with poison ivy is a form of what is called “Wind on the skin” – Wind being the influence that is characterized by quick movement to new locations.  Itching is one way that Wind shows itself in the body. The fluid-containing pustules, combined with the redness, are “damp Heat.”

I use herbs from the following categories to help me with poison ivy:  cool-acrid-release-exterior (these are “spicy” but cooling herbs that open the pores), cool the Blood (heat in the Blood can cause eruptions such as the bumps of a rash), resolve toxicity (a fancy way of saying “get rid of the irritants,” like urushiol), dispel wind damp (helps to relieve itching and dry the pustules), drain damp (more pustule drying), and extinguish Wind (stop the itching!!).

Sweet relief!

Baboons and Office Workers (Michael Santangelo)

Yesterday, I happened upon a National Geographic video entitled Stress: Portrait of a Killer. Since we’ve been posting about stress and how we handle it, this seemed especially serendipitous. The program deals with two bodies of research – one following troops of baboons, the other following British civil servants. I had to smile at the (not entirely fair) juxtaposition. Interestingly, each body of research had remarkably similar findings, to wit: the higher one is on the totem pole, the fewer stress-related illnesses and problems one has. I guess Mel Brooks was right (though terribly sexist and politically incorrect).

The upshot of the show was that a feeling of control over one’s circumstances is an important determiner of the amount of stress that gets internalized in the form of elevated stress hormones in the blood, decreased immune functioning, more plaque on artery walls, etc. You can watch the entire (hour-long) show here.

Another way to translate these findings, if you don’t happen to be the king, is to discover something that you feel capable in or in charge of, and focus your energy and sense of competence there.

But what did I get personally from all this? A new mantra, of sorts. You see, as explained in the program, the stress response is in existence to protect us in cases of life-threatening events. Otherwise, it’s a waste of adrenaline, and can even become a nasty, habitual state. So, I’ve been going around these last couple of days reminding myself that nothing is trying to kill me right now; I am perfectly safe. (Note: Does not apply when crossing Burlington Street in Iowa City) Without an immediate threat to life and limb, there’s simply no point in being all keyed up. Interestingly, I’ve been basically cool as a cucumber since I started my new mantra.

Give this approach a try. It’s simple and effective. I will chime in with more stress coping strategies later. Ooh-ooh.

Stress and Breathing (Joseph Mizelle)

Ah, stress… the unavoidable toll of having the gift of life!

While stress is indeed a fact of life and impossible to remove from our experience, the choice of HOW we choose to deal with stress is most definitely within our power. Personally, I find that stress can be a fuel for positive growth if we choose to accept our challenges in life as a call for us to grow, change, and respond appropriately to. Having the proper tools at our disposal makes all the difference when dealing with stress.

I am continually amazed at the power the breath has in transforming a stressful experience into a joyful one. In fact – for me at least – one of the surefire signs of stress is shallow, cramped breathing. Taking just a few minutes to consciously breathe deeply can make a world of difference in how stressful a given situation feels. By breathing deeply, we send a signal to ourselves to flow and move with our present experience, and not to resist it. And if trying to resist the flow of life isn’t stressful, then I don’t know what is!

I also find that various forms of meditation and vigorous exercise are all excellent antidotes to stress. Find a practice that you love and use it often. And remember to keep breathing!

Cheers,

Joseph

Folding / Unfolding… (Jenny Wolffe)

 

In early July I made the decision to fold 1000 cranes in 90 days. I had been feeling stuck and frustrated in my work with a personal health challenge and felt that I needed a ‘cosmic boost’, some inspiration, wisdom and Grace. Grasping for answers and struggling for solutions wasn’t helping but still I found it difficult to let go, to simply allow healing to take place.

An ancient Japanese legend promises that folding 1000 paper cranes results in blessings bestowed–a wish granted, health restored, possibly a thousand years of good luck.

Because I seemed to be getting in my own way, I decided to unite my body, mind and spirit in an action that would focus on healing but not just mine–to send blessings to all who suffer and might be in need of healing. So I began this practice….

The first week I folded 12 extra cranes and now I fold 11 each day. I do my best to be fully present with each crane and at the end of the folding process, blow a healing blessing into each one. I’ve been giving them to people, leaving them at work, in hotels, restaurants, and anywhere I find myself sitting with a little extra time. It has done wonders for me and, should you find a paper crane today, may it bless you, too.

Jenny Wolffe