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Dharma Kitchen


Nature Has Stories To Tell

Carrie H

I’ve been thinking about trees (and nature) a whole lot lately. Well, I am always thinking about trees and sensing them and communicating with them on some level. On Sunday morning, though, I put on my Tree of Life necklace for the first time in a couple of months. It ended up being a guided move in more than one way.

I spent part of the morning at Peace Tree Farm in Kintersville with a like-minded gardening friend. You may know Peace Tree by its really cool succulents, coffee plants, fig trees and other beauties for sale at the Easton Farmers’ Market. (They also do veggies, herbs, and so forth—in fact, they are the exclusive herb partner farm for Wegmans in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. They have rows and rows of basil to prove it.) Peace Tree is primarily a wholesale spot that sells beautiful and unusual plants, herbs, and flowers, and twice a year they open their doors to the public. You can score a whole mess of awesomeness for very little money. You’ve been warned!

Lloyd Traven of Peace Tree Farm in Kintersville examining the mullein plant.

Lloyd Traven of Peace Tree Farm in Kintersville examining the mullein plant.

Peace Tree is rather progressive and ecologically minded. Many of the greenhouse’s operations are controlled precisely by apps on their phone. They practice IPM (integrated pest management) and many measures that are organically minded (this is another post for another day, the issues with the term “organic.”). One of the owners, Lloyd Traven, showed me their mullein, a plant with tremendous healing capacity on its own. It serves as a banker plant—a host for beneficial bugs that then go out and attack pests in the greenhouse. They’re situated at specific intervals.

Lloyd then explained to me how they have been in communication with someone in their industry who is working on the ability to dial in the lighting to the right frequency and duration—is it better, for example, to have a burst of light for a short period of time, versus a lower frequency that is more sustained? (Take a guess.) And what is that optimal light frequency? Fascinating stuff.

Let’s just stop for a moment. Could you imagine if humans had such capabilities? If we knew how to dial in our own light to the precise measurement? If we knew exactly what would nourish us and when, and what to say yes to, and what to refuse, down to the right frequency? It might not be as quantifiable as it is for the botanical world, but we kind of do. Most of the time it’s unconscious. Sometimes, if we are actively working with this kind of energy, we can gain access to its revelations on a regular basis. Sometimes it’s fleeting, like quicksilver. We are human. It’s normal. But ultimately, this information is available to us. We don’t always hear it, act on it, or integrate it. It’s called intuition. Or you can call it your gut. Or your heart. My chakra knowledge tells me it’s all connected anyway. But I digress. Sort of.

I dive into the natural world because it is humbling and grounding, and gives me a sense of deep reverence for processes that have nothing to do with humans. When it comes to nature, we remain small in comparison. We really are subservient, despite our insistence and often destructive behavior to the contrary (speaking in broad brushstrokes here). In comparison to nature, we know so little, but we can learn if we listen and observe. (And ask good questions of people who know stuff. That helps immensely.). We really are humble servants of Gaia, in need of all the healing she can get. (I often send energy to the Earth, especially if mine is very high—it literally grounds me.)

These are so similar to my necklace, it’s not even funny. Positive Waves Trees.

These are so similar to my necklace, it’s not even funny. Positive Waves Trees.

(I also encountered a woman who makes trees with different crystals, and attaches the wires to rocks. I mean, it’s rocks, trees, and crystals. Three of my favorite things. Or maybe two—crystals and rocks are semantically different but maybe that’s all.)

Earlier tonight, I took a dusky and misty walk through a favorite spot near my house. I had been in the kitchen for part of the day and needed to surround myself with green, break a sweat and change my perspective.

It was one of those walks where everything looked animated yet in repose. Arrested development, you might say.

What I encountered were trees that were full of grace, beauty, sadness, and ultimately, stories.

This one, for example, reminded me a little bit of a Brontosaurus; the swoop of the trunk. But it was more graceful than that, as though it had stretched in that direction to obtain what it needed and then settled there. Satisfied.

The graceful dinosaur tree. The picture doesn’t do it justice.

The graceful dinosaur tree. The picture doesn’t do it justice.

And this one; stunted, hollowed out, but left standing. It has seen disease, maybe a lightning strike. It felt like a totem. And it’s likely a home for critters.

Hollowed out.

Hollowed out.

Some of them, either upright or resting on the earth, become homes for other vital things.

And then these—there are always the ones that support each other and in turn, end up creating support, structure and shelter for other life.

The top tree spoke to me of surrender. It was done; it was not going anywhere. It had undramatically, naturally, accepted its fate, and a small holly tree had taken up residence alongside it. The middle one was the result of a dramatic break, as you can see. And the third one spoke of a softness; a gentle, visible support.

My favorite moment, however, was this one.

IMG_5757 8.jpg

There is a sense of near-twinning with these two, but one of them didn’t quite sustain itself. Still, there’s an attachment, a connection between them that cannot be denied. The shorter tree is sighing.

The Summer of Energy

Carrie H

Gather around, friends. I want to talk a little bit about energy. 

It's both visible and invisible, palpable and seemingly inexplicable. It's what enables us to do what we need on a practical level, with our homes, with our vehicles, with our stoves, with our campfires, whatever you use at any given moment to work with heat, fire, fuel, flame. 

It's in all elements: air, water, and earth, too. It's present in trees; their roots, the expression of leaves and colors. It's the processes that transpire at the root level that remain invisible to us mere mortals. It's in the breeze, or the lack of it; the humidity, the gusts of wind that upturn pieces of furniture, the cold, spare air of winter. It's waiting in the stillness of a pond or a lake, or the frenzy of high tide in an agitated ocean. Oh, is it ever in water. I feel the balm and sanctity of water like no other element. (It's all those rose and Epsom salt baths. But I digress).

Props to the people who grow roses. Or anything that comes out of the earth, cultivated, with intent. 

Props to the people who grow roses. Or anything that comes out of the earth, cultivated, with intent. 

But understanding and working with and respecting energy—those are totally different things altogether and a work in progress, right? Sometimes we can do this reflexively as we take in the vibe of a room. But sometimes there's so much happening, the degree of simultaneity so sky-high, that it can be overwhelming; we have to sift, sort, sit with it. And then other times, things move quietly and slowly, as though nothing were happening at all. But that is exactly when things ARE happening. You just aren't privy to them yet. That's where patience and trust come in. 

This has been a very unusual summer, one of Reiki attuning and energy shifts at lightning speed (it's finally slowing down) and multi-dimensional experiences and cellular regeneration and telepathy and releasing karma and an expansion of inner knowningness and signs from the universe and trusting in the unknown more than ever, on every front. It's been about modulating my expression, dialing some things back in challenging but rewarding ways, and amping it up in new and beautiful ways. It's assimilating things that happen and sitting with them. It's waking up with music that was put there while I slept, and about resolving stuff through weird dreams and waking up and going, huh, how about all that. And then getting breakfast ready for the kids. It's seeing the smallest thing on a walk in the woods and having that shift my perspective, make me think, or take me out of my brain altogether. It's seeing the trees smile at you, one after the other. It's synchronicity, serendipity, it's numbers, it's all of it. It's gratitude for the small things when the large things seem insurmountable at times, or more likely, just inchoate. More concretely, it's also the summer of deer and turtles and horses and owls.

Props to Julie Spencer (the Restoration Space) for creating a gorgeous, positive place for all kinds of healing. And for the endlessly quippy signs. 

Props to Julie Spencer (the Restoration Space) for creating a gorgeous, positive place for all kinds of healing. And for the endlessly quippy signs. 

And goodness, energy is about the various kinds of work we do, too, and what we do when we stop working. Sometimes it's about messing up and struggling to focus and making meals and doing all the things of life because there is meaning in all of that, too. It's about work and cooking and blowing off steam when possible and eating Playa Bowls in the kitchen with Alison as we shoot a recipe. It's about not taking any of this way too seriously, either, because no one wants to perpetually live in that kind of spiritual rabbit hole; life needs to be lived (unless maybe you are a rabbit). Sometimes it's about totally checking out for 24 hours or more from the nonessential things so you can just not think about anything. It helps us engage with the beauty of ordinary things, of forgetting all of this super heady, woo-woo stuff and happily be a human doing human things. Being absorbed in a book, or sitting on my deck and looking at the stars and eating ice cream with the boys, or the astuteness of their neverending questions. It's listening to my kittens do parkour all over the house as I type this. (It's also sometimes about binge watching Mozart in the Jungle and eating sea salt potato chips because apparently that's emerged as the snack du jour. Just go with it.)

The other kind of work? My yoga practice and that entire tribe and all the tentacles of light that stream forth from it. It's the work that we do that facilitates the work off the mat. Mastering all the emotions that arise, sometimes in the same practice, and coming out balanced and laughing. It's the magic of the nothingness and everything that coexists in meditation. It is the default setting of laughter and joy that bubbles back up, always.

(As a discursive aside, it happens to also be the summer of long-awaited things: kittens, streaks of red in my hair, and a tattoo. It's also the summer of inadvertent vegetarianism and subsequent weight loss and transforming into a person whose light seems to emit out of every pore. I cannot tell you how many people have made comments on my appearance. I am not a selfie person, but when others start to see things reflected in you, you realize you were reflecting that all along. So I started taking pictures; the radiance began in June.)

Props to Niki Brown for the good vibes, the friendship and the Reiki-ninja color work last week.

Props to Niki Brown for the good vibes, the friendship and the Reiki-ninja color work last week.

It is also about fully and freely feeding the fact that you were always left of center. Still, sometimes you need to gather up any of the flying you-know-whats that remain and, with equal parts grace and gratitude, release them on their way. Conversely, it's also about giving all the flying you-know-whats in the world to your process and the essence of the human emerging, and to those whom you love unconditionally (and vice versa) and whose connections feed your soul (and vice versa). Perhaps that's the most important of all of these ramblings.

But let's burn out the incense, blow out the candles and sit in the dark for a minute. The monkey brain, as my boys' Sensei always calls it, dies HARD, friends. That energy can be so persistent, insistent. We all know this. And so it's also been a summer of sleeplessness, of getting pissed off, crying unexpectedly and having a hard time sometimes with mornings for the first time in my life. And sometimes it's about totally checking out for 24 hours or more from the nonessential things so you can just not think about anything. It's vital. And playing music loudly in your house, or the car. Releases come.

It's about being momentarily frustrated and then objectively surprised when the dying neural programming bump up against new patterns that are taking hold as a more permanent state. That new programming is so full of ease, but the old stuff—it's like a parasite. It needs a host in order to sustain itself. And when it doesn't get fed the same levels of fill-in-the-blank-negative-emotion, it gets really confused. I have actively witnessed old parts of me resisting, throwing up distress signals for attention. You gotta just put your hands over your ears and close your eyes and say "blah blah blah blah I can't see or hear you!" The darkness wants to win. (C'mon, we've all seen Star Wars and those eternal narratives). Or another similar gesticulation. Maybe the middle finger is more your style, or some other forceful gesture. Just go with it. 

Somehow we continue to shift, evolve, and become who we are yet paradoxically remain who we are at the same time, because we were always were that person. It's a slow evolution but with pronounced periods of accelerated growth that only seem to emerge from nowhere. I'm still me among all of the shifts—just a distilled, more crystalized essence. It's a winnowing away and a honing in, peeling the layers. Those layers of old programming are turning to snowy, black-and-white static like on an old rabbit-eared television set. Can't tune them in most of the time. Layers of fear slowly dissolving in the place of patience and trust that seeks acknowledgment and equilibrium. Balance. But not so easily. My impatience, which I believe is the flip side of my enthusiasm for life, annoys the hell out of me. This remains one of the more challenging aspects of Carrie-ness.

I have heard this expressed before, but not quite like this. I can't take credit for it (thanks, Dustin Parent). Anything you know immediately and reflexively to be true, without pausing or thinking or allowing low-vibe shit into the headspace (fear, guilt, shame, blame, etc.), is from the higher self and therefore should always be trusted. I think about this as the new frequencies feel more buoyant and radiant. Those always, always, always win. They also happen to be a lot more fun, and they let in a lot more love.

Which reminds me. If you read this all the way through, I love you. 


When Reiki Makes You So Clear You Get Angry

Carrie H

Here's a new one. Getting a bit pissed off after reiki! 

I had a reiki session yesterday at Yukato Yoga with Amanda of Blending Whispers. I'm at the point now with reiki that I can still be totally dropped into the experience and receptive to messages, but also communicate with the practitioner. This happened about a year ago, and ever since then it's been like this. 

I had a big release, and some more trauma was released, and a really big explosion of tears. We also had some funny messages come through to both of us at the same time. After we were finished, I decided to stay and do the Kundalini practice with the gong meditation with Amanda. (I highly recommend). I left the studio calm but also slightly agitated. One of the things we joked about while I was on the table was "no bullshit." I don't know why that came up, but it was part of our energetic exchange and felt pertinent at the time. Was it ever appropriate. She told me I would feel completely differently this morning. And was she ever right! 

I came home last night to a shit storm in my email. I should not have checked. I went to bed, sweated out some toxins from the process while sleeping, and woke up this morning feeling totally different. Focused. Clear about what was really bugging the shit out of me, clear about what was and was not acceptable, clear about where my power was. Some things that were bothering me, they diminished and faded a bit into the background. Other things, I could see with such clarity and detachment, it was startling. She was right. And there's at least one or two situations that I still don't have any clarity on, so that's where the messages come in....

The best way I can describe it? I woke up with no patience for bullshit, for ambiguity, for lack of honesty, for non-disclosure. It wasn't quite impatient energy, but I didn't feel like some things were worth waiting around for or about. Or whatever preposition. I wanted to give my energy to what gives me energy in return, where there is an easy flow.

Chalk it up to reiki, to Mars, to life, whatever. But I want to just speak the truth. Part of this stems from the fact that my life is full of day-to-day flow and ambiguity and the only center is me, me me. (And my kids, when they are here with me. They keep me grounded.) My normal gut instinct for honesty at all costs has been amped up in the past year. I want to clear out all the cobwebs and create certainty. Yes, that's a little ridiculous and a total human construct and feeble attempt to create order out of chaos. But in some cases, this impulse to clear out the junk is a result of clarity. I am chalking it up to reiki, the Kundalini practice and the gongs. Plus, Amanda set the intention for clarity and patience, which completely resonated. Literally. Yes.

However, clearing out energetic debris means that you have sit with the difficulty and not force things along. This is especially true within 24-48 hours after a session, I think. And especially because one of the messages she got was "surrender to divine will." Speaking honestly--doesn't that sort of force your hand, and the hand of the person you're speaking to? Is that surrender? Not sure. It feels like going against the flow. But what if your flow has been stopped up and reiki unclogged it and all the stuff is just tumbling out? I can't catch it all; that's why I'm here.  

Yep, trying really hard to stay in the flow here.  Often, the brain gets in the way. Moreover, some things in my field right now are asking for attention, and some are receding. And some are doing both and confusing the heck out of me.  So, yeah, what's the flow? It's more ebb than flow. What about this whole divine will thing? I think that divine will made me pissed off this morning and wanting answers! Ha! 

Being in a state of separation is flux personified. I've already processed a whole bunch as it pertains to that loss, but the energies that have surfaced in my life as a result suggest to me I am on fast forward, as a spirit junkie friend told me yesterday. Amanda reminded me, too, that anyone who is "doing the work" is on fast forward. Damn. And you know you can't stop once you start. I learned that 8 years ago. 

Energy is no joke and not to be trifled with; it is to be respected and honored and paid the fuck attention to, if you can work with it, be mindful of it, and be open to what it may be trying to teach you or show you. Or where or to whom or what it pulls you. I have moments of surrender, but my head was so blocked (literally and energetically) that she said everything was stuck. I have absolutely no roadmap other than my intuition and my experiences, and sometimes they aren't on the same page. And sometimes energy triggers latent shit, and it's hard to know whether or not you're being presented with an opportunity to revisit a lesson from the universe that you haven't quite learned yet (and should either surrender to because it is enticing, or run like hell in the other direction out of fear? lessons learned?), or if the surrender is part of the plan and that you have to just trust and go with it and leave the brain at the door--even if that means, yeah, you might be revisiting a lesson. Or two. 

Someone I met recently told me that he doesn't have an off switch, and it reminded me of a Morrissey lyric that I wrote in my high school yearbook--"won't somebody stop me, from thinking, from thinking all the time.... " Suffice to say, I haven't found the off switch for my brain. Yoga and meditation and other things help. They are, of course, fleeting, because you must integrate that practice of detachment and witnessing into everyday life. Trust. Trust. Even though trusting can get you hurt. Practicing compulsive vulnerability, habitually, reflexively, but also carefully. If you don't do that, you never know. You never grow. You never get to solve the mysteries. You have to just trust.