Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Healing Nest Has Moved!

Nest Becoming, mixed media, 8" x 9"


I've been busy in WordPress Land getting my new website and blog ready for public viewing.  I'm still working on the nooks and crannies, but I am happy to announce that The Healing Nest (complete with all the posts from this blog) have been moved over to WordPress here: http://healingnest.wordpress.com.

I'd love to see you at the new site, and I look forward to adding more of your website and blog links to the new site. 


The cawing crow heralds a time for change!  Follow me, will you?

peace,
Courtney

Saturday, July 10, 2010

What's Hiding Under Your Bed?

Saving the Sun, mixed media painting on foam core, 4' x 5'

My partner and I bought a new bed frame this weekend (impetus: so I can store my mini trampoline under it!) and discovered this old art piece sandwiched between the box spring and mattress when we disassembled the bed. 

When I found this piece, I had that feeling you get when you find money in an old birthday card, or when you find that one sock that has been missing its pair.

I created this painting in 2007 in honor of the one-year anniversary of my business. The little superhero bird with the "W" on his chest is my partner Walter, who has always been my biggest fan and support during the ups and downs of my being a one-woman show.  I am the bird in the heart of the sun, trying to reach for success with my beak.  I'm not yet sure who the haloed hawk represents, but I do feel like it is a protective presence.

So for the past three years I have been sleeping on this art piece, which I now call Saving the Sun, perhaps absorbing its radiance, its hint of possibility for success and abundance and joy.

So here's my task for you today: check under the bed, between your mattress and box spring, behind your headboard.  What do you find?  There has got to be something that's living under the bed or something you stowed away for safekeeping (or secrecy, perhaps?).  Now write about whatever you find there.  Go for 10 minutes.  Write fast.  What is the history of this thing and why is it where you found it? If you found nothing, think of someone you know - or even a character in a movie - who stows something under or near the bed. Don't analyze too much. Get out your pen and paper or keyboard and write!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Surrender

This Year's Answers, visual journal page


"There are years that ask questions and years that answer." 

~ Zora Neale Hurston

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Breathing Out, I Smile


Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment,
I know this is a wonderful
moment.

~Thich Nhat Hanh

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Visual Journaling Workshop

One week ago Saturday, I hosted a group of six women who participated in my visual journal workshop. Here are some pictures from the fruitful and inspiring event:

What is so powerful about visual journaling is how this art form is all about freedom. The answer to every question is yes. There are no rules. There are no restrictions. There is no right way to create.

Using words and images together in visual journaling, we connect that very old part of our brain (our lizard brain) of image-making (think cave paintings) with our conscious mind (the frontal part of our brain) using words. How dynamic it is to bring these two aspects of our consciousness together to express how we are feeling right now in the present moment -- without our inner critic interfering.

We started off the workshop by doing a fast page. I gave the women only 10 minutes to create their first page. This way, they sped past their inner critic, leaving him/her/it in the dust. When you work fast, the inner critic has a difficult time interjecting. So we sprinted for our first art-making activity and everyone reported that their pesky inner critic either did not appear or was as least stumbling to catch up.

One of the participants, Wendy Lee Lynds, posted her pieces -- and her experience in my workshop -- on her blog Off the Cuff Collage. Click on her blog link to read about her personal insights as well as to view her gorgeous, critic-free pieces.

If you are at all interested in visual journaling for yourself, it's easy. Take a journal, notebook, old datebook, or any bound book and start smearing paint, pasting collage images, gluing words, and writing thoughts. Take 5-10 minutes. It's like freewriting: just go! When you're first starting you may not even wish to look back until you've created a few pages so you keep your forward momentum. This process is about your personal expression, not about creating great art (although I guarantee you will love much of what you create anyway).

There is a fantastically funny and insightful woman with a You Tube channel who talks all about visual journaling. Someday I hope to be as spontaneous and carefree as she seems in her videos. Check out her show called SuziBlu here. I particular like this video about creating layers in your journal.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

On Father's Day: The Biggest Room

This short piece was recently published in Weave Literary Magazine and I thought it only appropriate that I share my essay on Father's Day -- a complex day for me that brings forth a raw poignancy; a deep sadness; and a fierce connection to a man whose mere presence in my life made me feel strong, capable, and unquestionably loved.


Just when I think I’ve finally stopped being the girl who brings her dead father into every room with her, I enter Costco.

Costco is not only the largest room I’ve ever been in, but it is an awfully big room to bring a dead man. He’s bound to get lost. And so am I. A living room is cozy, my loss cradling my feet like a cat; a kitchen is well-lit and warm, my grief burning like the oven’s heat; even a Bartell’s, with its nice short aisles can hold my absence as I search for the perfect pen. But a Costco disperses people with all that space and then compresses them with all that stuff, and in the end a girl who is trying not to bring her dead father with her everywhere she goes is suddenly confronted with the fact that not only is she bringing her father into that gargantuan warehouse, but that he is already here.

My father loved Costco, so entering that shiny concrete-floored, fluorescently-lit building is like entering my father’s not-so-secret, but somewhat sacred room. My father loved deals and he loved gadgets and Costco rarely disappointed him. The way I remember cereal as a kid was in its giant form – 32 ounces of Grape Nuts and three-pack Chex cereal. I think Costco made him feel he could provide for his family: no one ever ran out of cereal in our house (and many of us ate cereal two to three times a day). He bought large canisters of vitamins, 48-packs of toilet paper, polo shirts in every color, six-packs of boxer shorts, three-way flashlights, leaf blowers, and golf-swing training equipment.

After my father died of kidney cancer in August of 2008, my mother transferred my dad’s Costco card to me. I’m sure she had to provide a death certificate as she has had to do with almost every change she’s made in her affairs. Yes, Ed Putnam is dead. He will no longer be shopping at Costco.

My partner Walter and I arrive at the Costco on 205th on a Friday afternoon to make the exchange—to transfer the shopping rights from the dead to the living. I show my I.D., explain that I am my mother’s daughter, and they take my picture for my new “Executive Member” card. In my nervousness, I decide to give a double-thumbs-up to the camera and my picture is printed in black-and-white pointillism awkwardness. I look like I am missing an eye and several teeth. I also look like I’m about twelve.

With my new card in hand, I decide it is only fitting that I make my first Costco purchase – to honor my dad in some way by choosing something fitting, sensible, something I really need. Show dad that I am practical, responsible. Instead, I go searching for trampolines.

When shopping with my father at Costco as a kid (and even as an adult), I always remarked how much I wanted a trampoline. A big, round, blue-rimmed trampoline used to hang from this Costco’s ceiling. “Dad,” I’d say, “We really need that trampoline. It would fit perfectly in the front yard and maybe we could even use it to clean the gutters.” I knew the gutters part would make him think just a little – and he did pause – but he rolled his eyes, patted me gently on the shoulder and said, “not today.”

My dad was a man of few words. Sometimes there were no words, I just imagined them. At times I thought we were telepathic, but I think I was just very good at reading him. And deep down, I knew that “not today” often meant “not ever,” but my dad was too kind to be so definitive. He lived in the present moment and clearly, the trampoline would not fit in the car, and it was summer – no gutters to clean.

For some reason Costco no longer has hanging trampolines. Actually no trampolines at all. I find myself searching through aisles of sheets and pillows while Walter checks out the vacuum cleaners. When I turn the corner I see the men’s polo shirts. There he is. My father and his polo shirts – the shirts he loved to buy in bulk and the shirts my mother often disdained. I approach them cautiously, like they might disappear if I move too quickly, and then I begin to cry. The absence cannot be contained in this place; it just rises and then falls again like rain.

I am surrounded by all the things he used mull over, rifle through, touch. And I know he hasn’t touched this exact six-pack of Champion athletic socks, but I touch them anyway, and wonder if this should be my virginal Costco purchase. But then I can’t see so well, what with the absence raining down on me, coating my eyes, and I end up stuck between racks of DVDs and boxes of wine. I look up and I’m standing right under an eight-foot wide Halloween bat, its wings spread, eyes glowing red. My dad would have loved this bat, as he loved all holiday decorations.

I call Walter on my cell phone: “I’m lost,” I say, “I’m stuck.”

“Where are you?” he asks.

“I’m by the wine and under a big bat!” I yell into the phone because I can’t hear myself over the clanging shopping carts and screaming children.

“You’re by the vats of wine?” he asks.

“No,” I say, crying more, “I’m standing under a bat. B-A-T. I’m sad and I’m stuck and my dad’s polo shirts are here and I don’t know what to buy!”

“I’ll find you,” he says,” and then repeats for clarity, “And you’re standing under a bat, as in screech! screech!?”

“Like screech!” I confirm and collapse the phone.

By the time Walter reaches me I’ve reached maximum overwhelm. “My dad is everywhere, but he is not here,” I say as Walter holds me in the women’s underwear section. He holds me long and tight until I feel myself calm a bit, gain more focus.

I feel the pressure of my purchase building. What would Ed buy? Nuts, I think, my dad always bought nuts for his blood sugar, so Walter escorts me to the canisters and I choose almonds. And soap, my dad would buy soap. These things don’t feel particularly profound, though they feel practical and useful and things my dad would have bought on any given Sunday afternoon at Costco.

With my 40 ounces of almonds and clear soap two-pack, I stand in a long line, watching people hauling their boxes and cans, jars and jugs onto the conveyer belt. When it’s my turn I hand the cashier my new card, half-expecting her to say, Ah, you’re Ed Putnam’s daughter. Welcome to Costco, but instead she barely glances at my picture for verification. I spend my first $17.65 on soap and nuts as Ed Putnam’s daughter, always his daughter, in the biggest room where the dead and living will ever meet.

**

For more information about Weave Magazine, or to purchase the latest issue from which this essay comes (Issue #4), you can do so here.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Reiki Master Training

Last week I ventured to Orcas Island to participate in my Reiki Master training. It was a profound experience -- one which has deepened my experience with Reiki healing and has given me a sense of calm and groundedness that I haven't felt in such a long time.

So what does this mean now that I am a Reiki Master? It means that I have been attuned to a higher (deeper?) level, that I can attune others to give themselves Reiki, and that I can now conduct Reiki trainings. I plan on giving Reiki I and Reiki II trainings at the end of summer and during the fall, so stay tuned for more information.

Here are some pictures from my transformative experience on Orcas:


In this last picture I am taking a little nap with Saber the cat, who I bonded with during the retreat.

If you are interested in getting trained in Reiki, feel free to email me with your ideas and questions about your path with this subtle, yet powerful healing work!

peace,
Courtney

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Rising Bird Spring 2010 Workshops!

Art, Healing, and Personal Growth Workshops this Spring!

Pendulums, Muscle Testing, and More!

Saturday, April 17, 2010: 3-5pm

The question of this class is, "What is your body telling you?" The answer is, "Just ask!" This fun, hands-on workshop will introduce you to the art of using the body's inner wisdom. By learning techniques of muscle testing and using pendulums, we will listen to the body's subtle energy that is constantly giving us feedback. But are we listening?

Come with an open mind, comfortable clothing, and a pendulum of some kind (it can be one you purchase or a necklace (metal) with a fairly heavy pendant).

When:
Saturday, April 17, 2010, 3-5pm
Where: Rising Bird Healing Arts
Cost: $30 (cash, checks, credit/debit cards accepted)
To Register: email Courtney Putnam at cputnam@rising-bird.com



Celebration of the Body Workshop
Saturday, June 5, 2010: 1-4pm

How often do we honestly, whole-heartedly, and authentically celebrate our bodies? I don't think we do this enough, or sadly, even much at all.

This workshop is meant to help you find ways to celebrate your physical being on a daily basis--honoring your curves (or lack of curves), soothing your scars, healing old wounds, and giving thanks to this "skin that you're in."

Using guided meditation, breathwork, journal writing, and art creation, we will uncover ways to celebrate our bodies in profound and meaningful ways. Please bring a journal and any images you're called to use for art making.

When: Saturday, June 5, 2010, 1-4pm
Where: Rising Bird Healing Arts
Cost: $60 (cash, checks, credit/debit cards accepted)
To Register: email Courtney Putnam at cputnam@rising-bird.com


My Life in Words and Images: A Visual Journal Workshop
Saturday, June 19, 2010: 1-4pm

Since the beginning of the year, I have been diligently creating visual journal pages in a beautiful datebook. Every week, I complete two-three entries and feel that I am learning about the state of my life, addressing my current issues, and exploring my emotional currents with depth, color, and creativity.

Visual journaling allows you to write, doodle, sketch, paint, and collage in order to process your thoughts and feelings in an easy, non-threatening way. This process also allows you to tap into the verbal, visual, and kinesthetic aspects of your creativity.

A variety of beautiful journals/datebooks will be provided for your choosing, as well as many images and art materials with which to play. Feel free to bring any images you are called to work with in your art-making.

When: Saturday, June 19, 2010, 1-4pm
Where: Rising Bird Healing Arts
Cost: $60 (cash, checks, credit/debit cards accepted)
To Register: email Courtney Putnam at cputnam@rising-bird.com

Monday, April 5, 2010

Jumping to Fertilize Your Brain!

My friend Bev recently introduced me to local author John Medina's new book Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School. I'm devouring the insights in Medina's book and felt the need to enact his first principle, which is "Exercise Boosts Brain Power." As Medina whole-heartedly believes, exercise helps the brain function better by stimulating BDNF (this stands for Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor), a protein which is like a fertilizer for the brain. Imagine Miracle Grow sprinkled on your brain cells to help them grow! In Brain Rules, he writes, "All the evidence points in one direction: Physical activity is cognitive candy."

So in honor of Medina's work -- and my philosophy, "When you're stuck, move" -- here's a little video I produced (in one shot, without edits as you'll be able to tell) to show a little something I do to fertilize my brain at three o'clock in the afternoon.

Enjoy!


video

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Confidence or "I'm Not the Only One?" or "Nurturing the Sink Hole"


confidence–noun

1. full trust; belief in the powers, trustworthiness, or reliability of a person or thing.
2. belief in oneself and one's powers or abilities; self-confidence; self-reliance; assurance.
(source from dictionary.com)

Except for a few examples, almost everyone I know confronts their own waning confidence from time to time. Despite outward appearances, why do we suddenly find ourselves raking through self-doubt and climbing over thorny hedges of distrust? We can look at our lives from the outside and say, "Everything looks fine. Actually, everything looks pretty damn great," and yet here we are feeling a sink hole of despair growing in our guts. Many of us keep this sinking hole a secret because we don't want to reveal that we struggle with confidence. Why would we want to expose our lack of confidence and risk feeling even more vulnerable?

I say that it's time we share our struggles, and to expose a very common human experience, but I'll get back to that in a bit.

From an energetic standpoint, what we are experiencing when we feel a lack of confidence is an imbalance in our Solar Plexus Chakra. This chakra is the third chakra of the body, located below the breastbone, near the diaphragm. When this chakra is out of alignment, we may feel confused, have trouble making decisions, feel depressed and unconfident, and distrust our gut instincts. Sound at all familiar?

So what can trigger a sudden plummet in self-confidence? I believe each of us answers that question in a different way. For me, criticism, even when for the most part positive in nature, triggers in me a cascade of self-doubt. Perhaps my perfectionism has something to do with this. From a very young age, I noticed a strong desire in me to not only be "perfect," but also to be liked -- by everyone. Now this is not possible, and I know this, but something in my energetic body still holds on to that worry of not being perfect and not being liked. And as much as I try on a new paradigm of "not caring" what others think or how I perform, I often slip back into that thorny hedge and feel a little scratched up.

What, for you, triggers a distrust in yourself? This would be a good time to get out your journal and start writing. Write about what unnerves you, unglues you, makes you feel less than your joyous, confident self? Write fast. Go.

The first step in taming the self-doubting voice inside you is by naming it. Where does it come from? What is its story? Expose it to the light. Share it with others. When we share our vulnerabilities, I believe this makes those around us give gargantuan sighs of relief, as if everyone's energy is saying, "thank goodness I'm not the only one" and "you, too?"

Conversely, have you ever been in a room full of people who are holding tight to their confidence, as if on a leash, and you can tell they are so fearful to let go? Letting go means admitting human vulnerability. Letting go means understanding what's really at the end of that leash -- is it true, authentic confidence or an act of preservation, of saving face?

The thing is we don't need to feel miserable about ourselves, but if we do during moments when we are out of alignment with our sense of personal power, it's okay to explore it, admit it, and even "go" with it. Instead of fighting your feeling of distrust, go into it. Dive in and explore it. Who are you in there? What does it feel like in this place of low self-esteem? Is it rigid and cold, murky and moist, dark and cavernous, dizzying like a teacup ride? What is at the root? Tug at that root a bit to understand it. Then take a deep cleansing breath, taking in all your self-loathing or self-doubt or even little minuscule unsettling feelings, and incinerate them. That's right: burn these feelings that don't serve you and breathe out their remnants as invisible smoke. And instead of wishing them away, transform them. Breathe out peace or love or hope or confidence or calmness.

Acknowledge + share + explore + breathe in + incinerate + transform into something lovely.

Do this as many times as needed until you feel yourself lighter. You may notice that your diaphragm is able to expand and contract fully and deeply. You may feel a glow inside you, similar to the sun. You may feel more love toward yourself and others. You may experience forgiveness.

Whatever you feel, I hope that you know that you are indeed "not the only one" and that you begin to feel inner peace replace that sink hole. Maybe even a sunflower will sprout there.





Saturday, February 27, 2010

You are the Giver and the Receiver

I just purchased this card for myself at my local Whole Foods Market. I was drawn to the plum purple colors and most certainly the self-affirming message of self-trust. This card is a Papaya! production created by one of my artistic heroes Anahata Katkin.

Not only does the message of the card inspire me to write a blog post highlighting Katkin's creation, but I am struck by the fact that I often buy myself greeting cards. Does anyone else do this? It occurs to me that we needn't wait for cards to arrive in the mail or on our birthday. We can in fact make greeting card purchases a regular routine, and these small gifts should be for ourselves.

I am almost tempted to write myself a message in this card (and I just may do that). I do know that I want to frame the card and place it near my desk where I write and create art. The reminder to trust myself is essential for me in my creative process; I often need to remind myself to follow my intuition, to scope out my hunches, to listen to the colors circling in my mind, and to taste the words in my journal like ripe strawberries, appreciating each red burst.

Buying yourself a greeting card is a form of self-care. Self-care involves listening to what you need and following through with action steps. Maybe you need a massage or a walk or acupuncture or green beans. Maybe you need a hug and tea and a foot bath. On the other hand, maybe you need to give yourself a card and a bouquet of flowers to remind yourself that you are worthy, loved, and admired. Maybe you should try being both the lover and the loved, the admirer and the admired, the talker the listener, the giver and the recipient.

Try this:
Buy (or create) a card for yourself and find a use for it. Write yourself a note in it (and even mail it to yourself!), frame it and place it in a significant place, or simply hang it on your fridge. This card is for you, from you. Cherish it as you do yourself.


Note: If you are in love with the "Trust Yourself" card like I am and you can't find it in a local store, you can always buy it online at Papaya! here.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Cultivating Joy

Cultivating Happiness, 8" x 10" encaustic by Courtney Putnam

"Sometimes comfort isn't an action, but an open heart that you bring to a situation. Acceptance for others is rooted in accepting yourself. If you are tired today, emotionally vulnerable, or angry and frustrated, make room for it. Learn to gently say, I accept all of myself. I hold my feelings with tenderness, love, and comfort."

--Collette Lafia, Comfort and Joy




Thursday, February 11, 2010

Interconnection & Empathy


Human beings are interconnected spiritually, emotionally, mentally, even physically. Everyone remembers this occasionally, with a little shock of recognition. Take breathing, for example. What could seem more personal than our breath? Yet humans all over the world share your air. As songwriter Tom Chapin sings about recycling, 'Someone's going to use it after you. Someone's gonna need it when you're through.' Our physical swapping doesn't stop with the nostril stuff, either. It's mind boggling to realize that Planet Earth uses, and always has used, the same water supply. Dinosaurs drank from pools that, many water cycles later, have filled up bottles at your local convenience store, bottles that bear that mystical label Coca-Cola. In fine print those labels should read, 'Recycled over eons from mountain lakes, jungles, and city sewers; distilled from the sweat, blood, and tears of
every race that has lived on this earth.'

- Rose Rosetree, Empowered by Empathy: 25 Ways to Fly in Spirit

Imagine what it is like, then, for someone very empathic. Imagine how swapping the air with other human beings, feeling their energy acutely, and tasting the water that contains eons of many different life forms could make someone extremely sensitive feel completely overwhelmed.

That is how I have felt most of my life. When I was an adolescent -- maybe 10 or 12 -- my mother said to me: "What a gift it is that you are so sensitive, Courtney, and yet I am so sorry that your sensitivity makes life so hard for you." I remember being entirely understood in that moment. My mother's words blanketed me with assurance that I was not crazy; in fact, her words indicated that I had a gift. At the time, I pictured a strange package set out before me: a beautiful gold box with a silver bow. Inside, though, contained my worry over the puppies in the pound, apartheid, and the Holocaust (for some reason, those were my "big three"). I also held in that gift box my worry over falling off the balance beam during my routine, my concern for the girl down the street who had cancer, and anger at my peers who made fun of gay people.

No, life was not easy for me. I watched Sophie's Choice and Dry White Season. I read Virginia Woolf and thought about the importance of a room of my own. I spent many Friday evenings as a teenager watching Hitchcock movies instead of going to parties. I rarely raised my hand in class for fear of hearing my own voice, and my struggle with speaking in front of others worried me for years.

Later I discovered that some of my feelings (and even bodily sensations) were not entirely my own. I picked up on others' emotions, felt others' pain, and even sometimes knew what someone was thinking before they spoke a word. Sometimes I would even pick up stomach aches, headaches, and even hangovers from others. On a subconscious level, perhaps I was trying to be Mother Theresa of the empath world: I was trying to take others' suffering away.

As Rosetree writes, "Unskilled empaths suffer." Yes, indeed. This became clear to me the year my father was sick with kidney cancer. My left kidney area often ached. I felt nauseated a lot. And on the day my dad had the worst time keeping anything down, I threw up later that night. Ultimately, I feel I took on my father's fears and pain, and as a result I began having panic attacks.

Empathy doesn't have to be this painful. It took me 33 years of my life to realize that not only was I empathic (and not "damaged" in some way), but to see that I was not skilled in managing my empathy. I am now learning how to "turn down the volume" of my empathy. I liken this to the tuning that acupuncturists do with the needles. They can increase the intensity or lower it by twisting the needles. Often times I turn up the volume of my empathy when I am giving my massage and energy work sessions so I can tune into my clients fully. When they leave my space, I turn the volume back down and create an energetic boundary, which reminds me that I am me and my client is my client. I break the energetic connection we just had so that I can feel what I feel in my body and in my heart and know that it belongs to me. Sometimes I breathe a little matra: "I breathe in Courtney, I breathe out who I am not. I am me."

My mother was right: my empathy is a gift. But it is a gift I must fine tune so I don't feel so much internally-driven pain. If you find yourself experiencing stress due to over-empathizing with others, try that breathing technique I mention above:

Breath in: I am [your name]

Breathe out: I am not anyone else.

Breathe in: I am me.

Repeat several times until you feel calmer and more centered in yourself.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Sound Life

Tweet! 6" x 6" encaustic by Courtney Putnam


"We often speak of desiring 'sound' lives without realizing how telling the phrase is. By focusing on the sound of my life, I can alter and improve my life. What is the tone of my voice? What is the tone of my environment? As I focus on the 'pitch' of my life, I can create harmony. My voice, the music I choose, even the tone of my prayers--all these factors contribute to my life's being 'sound.'"

--Julia Cameron, Transitions

I don't know about you, but the coming of spring alerts my ears first. Yes, the days are getting longer (thank goodness for light!), but the birds are emerging from their hiding places--their little wintry nooks--and they're talking!

Spring seems to be arriving early this year in Seattle and I can hear it coming. With this awareness of bird sounds, I've also become more aware of all the sounds in my life. For instance, I've been hearing my own voice a lot more lately now that I am teaching a college writing class. This is new for me. I'm not a "talker" and here I am listening to myself say things that I usually reserve for writing. Last night, I returned from teaching with a hoarse voice. I actually liked feeling that hoarseness. I've spent most of my life holding back speech, reserving it for creative expression, and hoarding it away for fear of being "wrong" in some way. That hoarseness is a sign that I am taking risks. I like the sound of that.

I also like the sound of music with a bit more of a light beat to it. This fall and winter I listened to a chakra chants album over and over. My partner would politely ask me to turn down the volume at bedtime when I wanted to listen to those deep, almost Gregorian chanting sounds. He'd say, "Doesn't that feel a little intense?" At the time, no it didn't feel intense, but now, now that spring is coming, those chants feel too deep and heavy. I am searching for light sounds -- music that makes me think of the flapping of birds' wings.

And I think I'm wanting to feel lighter in general. I want to surround myself with light and lightness. Let me fly. Let me hear the wind spiral in my ears.

What sounds are you drawn to right now and what sounds are you ready to return to the depths of fall and winter for their own hibernation? How do you want your life to sound? And are you finding ways to make it so?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Winter Special: Tropical Immersion

After my December trip to Maui, I knew I had to create a special bodywork experience inspired by my trip. This special is full of Hawaiian flavor, scent, and wisdom, and I am delighted to offer this two-hour experience to you through the end of March 2010!


This winter, open your mind, body, and soul to the healing energy of the Hawaiian Islands. Give yourself the gift of warmth, light, and bodywork during these cool winter months.

This Tropical Immersion Special includes the following experiences:

• an aromatherapy foot spa and full-spectrum light therapy

• hot tea and a tropical snack

• a Hawaiian Oracle card reading (choose your Hawaiian animal spirit guide)

hot stone massage using smooth basalt river stones

• your choice of tropical aromatherapy used throughout the session

Cost: $140 (cash, checks, and credit cards accepted). Gift certificates available.

To make your appointment, contact Courtney at cputnam@rising-bird.com or (206) 228-9124.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Listening to Your Body (and Cooling the Flames)

I started reading Thich Nhat Hanh's book Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames recently. My friend Angela recommended this book to me and I now keep it on my bedside table for little doses of reading before bed.

Right now I am delving deeply into the chapter called "The Language of True Love." I have been thinking about anger and how it relates to language because for the past few weeks I have had terrible pain in my jaw (left TMJ area) and now in my left neck muscles. I know there is something to be learned by this pain. I know this pain is not purely physical in nature. I feel this pain has to do with my throat chakra and my speaking my truth.

I also think that this pain has to do with anger. After all, when we are angry or stressed we tend to clench our jaw, tighten our neck muscles, and stop breathing properly. These all create a hostile environment for the throat chakra -- a chakra that is the gateway from the lower chakras to the upper chakras, the smallest channel in the body for energy to flow from one chakra to the next. If the feelings of the heart aren't accepted and communicated via the throat, we can experience physical or emotional pain.

I received a massage today as part of my journey to soften the pain in my neck and as I was lying on the table the idea (not the feeling) of anger emerged. Am I angry about something? Has something gone unexpressed? I began to have a dialogue with my neck and jaw -- one of curiosity and compassion. This internal conversation reminded me of a passage from Hanh's Anger:

"When you are angry, your anger is your baby and you have to look after it. It is like when your stomach is upset, you have to go back to yourself and embrace your stomach. Your stomach is your baby at that moment. Our stomach is a physical formation, a physiological formation, and our anger is a mental formation. We must take care of our anger in the same way we take care of our stomach...."


After the massage session, I felt like my neck was this baby to look after, to console, to comfort. I also felt like I needed to listen to this baby and to let it scream if it needed to. (BTW, no screaming yet, but if need be, I will let 'er rip!)

What physical pain are you experiencing right now -- from the tiniest of annoyances to major discomfort -- that could use some attention? What, beyond your physiology, might be contributing to this discomfort? And what might happen if you listened to this part of your body and cradled it like a baby in need or your care? And in your dialogue with this part of your body, what emotions reside there? Is there anger, fear, sadness? Allow yourself to feel what emerges, and most likely this awareness will lessen the pain.

I am glad to report that my neck is feeling much better this evening, but I also feel like there is more left on my journey of discovering what this area of my body needs to communicate. Next to my Anger book I also keep a journal, so I am ready to record insights and messages as they arrive. Perhaps a dream will reveal some insight tonight....