Solar Eclipse 8/21/2017, Letting Your Heart Light Shine!

Solar Eclipse 8/21/2017, Letting Your Heart Light Shine!

A total solar eclipse will be taking place on Monday August 21st, and be visible across a wide swath of the continental United States this year. There is great excitement, all over the United States for this rare and inspiring celestial event. Many are planning special trips to just be on location to witness the eclipse at totality. Campsites and hotels are booked out, and appropriate solar viewing equipment is selling like hot cakes. But beyond all the physical, material aspects of viewing and experiencing an eclipse, there are questions of “What does it all mean?” “What is the significance of this event?” “How will it effect my life?” And “How can I best be prepared for it?”

Now, I’m not an astrologer or astronomer by trade, but there are a few graspable concepts from astrology and astronomy that are well worth taking into perspective as you seek answers for how this total solar eclipse might affect you.

First and foremost, please understand that from an astronomical point of view, a solar eclipse takes place at the new moon, or the “dark” of the moon. This takes place when the moon is in the same part of the sky as the sun. In the case of the eclipse, the face of the moon will actually appear to cross over the face of the sun, passing in between the Earth and the Sun over a broad strip of the earth. The moon, in effect, blocks the sunlight, and for the time of the eclipse we actually experience what it is like to be in the moon’s shadow in the middle of the day.

From an astrological perspective, the new moon is generally considered a time of going inward, and a time of new beginnings. The night is dark, the stars are their brightest, perfect for inward contemplation and setting down plans for the next cycle of your life. With this particular new moon, we need to further understand that this eclipse is taking place while the sun and moon are together in the astrological sign of Leo the lion. This happens to be my birth sign, so I have a significant amount of first hand experience with it’s characteristics.

Leos generally like to be the center of attention. They love to be on stage, with all eyes on them. The sign of Leo the lion is a fire sign, and as a fire sign it seeks to generate heat and shine the light. One can say from this, that Leo craves stardom. And for each and everyone of us, whether Leo or not, the energies of August cause us to take the time we need to explore the ways in which we are, or can be, the star of our own story.

Now what is interesting this year is that there are actually 2 new moons in Leo… the first happened just a couple of days ago on July 23rd, and the next will be on August 21st the day of the solar eclipse. With two new moons in Leo this year, a rare event in itself, and the second one being an actual total solar eclipse, there is special emphasis given to how we formulate our sense of our own inner stardom, how we clarify the vision of who we are, and who we can be in the world. The important admonition here is that the best way to actualize who you truly are as the star of your own life, is to find your way to connect directly to your heart.

Now we all have experienced an overbearing Leo from time to time. They can be demanding, extroverted and obnoxious. And so, that energy is possible to become exaggerated during this double new moon in Leo with a solar eclipse year. And that is also why it is extra important to connect into and through your heart at this time. That is perhaps easier said than done, but with practice, you will be able to get closer and closer to this realization. The problem is that we in the West are so often conditioned to come from our head, or our belly, and the entire region of the heart is nearly unknown territory.

So, that is where the work lies. During this special Leo time period, between these two important new moons, leading up to the total solar eclipse, your work is to find the pathway into your own inner heart space. You need to come to know your heart space, your heart’s truth, your heart’s deepest feeling and knowing. From there, you can become the true star of your own life. Not just a showboat with an obnoxious need to demand the lime-light, but a true warrior of the heart, with truth and compassion at the core of your shining light.

pathways-of-qiThe light that shines thus from the heart will warm and enlighten, not scorch and burn. Take time to fin your pathway into your inner most truth in this auspicious time, and share your light with the world!

For myself this is a special year. I will turn 58 years only on August 22nd, the day after the eclipse. And this is the completion of 30 years in my career as a Shiatsu Therapist and Instructor. These three decades have been packed with incredible healing experiences, challenges, growth, triumph and disappointment. And it strikes me as fitting that my 30th anniversary as a shiatsu therapist is being attended by such a powerful celestial event.

heartmind-shiatsu-meridian-gestures-and-functions-chartAs my gift to you, I’ve created a special offer from my heart to yours. I have created a special coupon 30for30!!! for all my books, chart, DVD, and Mp4 digital training programs. This month you will be able to buy all my extant works at 30% off the regular retail. Just log onto the store, make your selections, and in the coupon filed write in 30for30!!! and you’ll see 30% melt off the price of your purchases.

And for those of you attending my Pathways of Qi weekend in Boulder, Colorado, August 19 and 20th, I’m offering an extra special Eclipse Preparation 30% off fees for the event. Simply select the Pathways of Qi / Exploring the Meridian Medicine Wheel course in the online store and enter the coupon code: save30%pathways. This will reduce the weekend price to just $187 for the entire 12 hour course. I’m excited to be guiding this journey, at this auspicious time, to apply the ancient wisdom teachings of the Pathways of Qi to the essential journey to the center of your heart, to know your hearts truth, and to shine the light on your true nature as the star of your life story!

I am so happy to share these timeless teachings with you, and so grateful that you have chosen to make HeartMind your trusted source for healing, wisdom and support along your life path.

 

30for30!!! Celebrating 30 years in the Healing Arts!

30for30!!! Celebrating 30 years in the Healing Arts!

meridian chart 11-17Join with me in Celebrating thirty years in the Healing arts! Take 30% Off for all my books, chart, DVD, and Mp4 Digital trainings, with the coupon code: 30for30!!! Now through my birthday, August 22, 2017!

It was on just such a summer day, July 1987 that my full-time professional Shiatsu career began. The SweatLodge leader (my first lodge of many!) was making prayers about how we would each serve in the coming Earth Changes. When he said, “Some people will be movers and shakers, but most of us will just help people out, day by day!”  I heard my calling loud and clear. “Just do Shiatsu! You can do this!”

In my Leonine personality type, I’d always made up this story that I was supposed to do great things. And yet, that was such a daunting prospect it actually stopped me from moving forward. An example of this was my feelings about my singing. I always wanted to sing like Pavarotti. But since I was in no way capable of singing like Pavarotti, then I didn’t pursue my singing as a career at all. (May be a good thing that i spared the world… but not really…) Being myself is the actual key that was difficult for me to unlock.

Then in that SweatLodge, my two years of Shiatsu study at the Ohashi Institute finally came together in something that I was very capable of. A baby step forward, just “helping people out day by day.” And from that beautiful moment my full time practice has unfolded, now over three decades! I am humbled and grateful for the many gifts, and the many beautiful healings, with many amazing and wonderful people, on this powerful and meaningful life journey!

To celebrate with me, you can now order any or all of my titles for 30% off!  On the checkout page, simply enter the coupon code: 30for30!!! in the coupon field, and WahLah, your price will melt down 30%!  Offer good from now until my birthday, August 22nd, 2017. For those of you planning to enroll in my HeartMind Shiatsu Professional training, this is a great time to purchase all your books and charts for the training!

Let’s all help the human race to a brighter future, simply helping out our brothers and sisters… day by day!!!

30for30!!!

Four Archetypes – Part 2, The Warrior and its Shadows!

Four Archetypes – Part 2, The Warrior and its Shadows!

The Warrior Archetype is directly related to our sense of our personal power and our alignment with what we hold most dear. A healthy mature warrior behaves in alignment with values that have been tested and cultivated in the crucible of experience. These values are also aligned with an aspect of the “greater” society which surrounds the warrior. The pivotal question in exploring and discovering your core values is “Whom do you serve?” And that doesn’t just have to be a person, but it can show up as a set of principles.

I once had a conversation with a gentleman from India. We met casually one day at a local park. We were both Dads, and our children were off playing on the monkey bars and swings. It was a cordial conversation. In my naivete, as a middle American white male, I asked him, innocently enough “Do you have a guru?” Even after I spoke it, I felt self conscious that I may have projected my ignorance upon him. Gratefully, he was kind enough, and took no offense, and simply responded calmly. “No, I do not generally follow men. But I follow principles.” I nodded my appreciation for his kind reply, and our children’s needs variously swept us away.

The point here is that the mature warrior has contact with and is dedicated to a set of principles that are a guiding force in his or her life. Sometimes these will be principles and values that are espoused by others. One’s culture, ones lifestyle, ones choices all align around a set of values for living a good life. And the warrior stands for those values, is willing to fight for those values, and would even put their life on the line for those values.

A good test for your values is to use some form of “truth-0-meter.” This is where you test your values against what you consider to be your highest truth, the one which you hold most dear. There is a certain voyage of discovery to find out just what these are, but one of my favorite clues is to test something for its relative weight or light. If a feeling is heavy and dark, that is an indication that it is a non-truth. If it is light and airy, and gives a buoyancy to your step, that is an indicator that it is a truth. Truth will always lead to lightness, and buoyancy. Non-truth, to heavy darkness and a sense of suffering.

When a warrior aligns with such truth, there is no argument that can be made, nor that needs to be made. It simply is. Now there are many ways in which we will fight around on our journey to truth, fact, and the many stories that get made up along the way. The mature warrior sorts through the obfuscations to get down to the deepest truth that for them they hold most dear. That is a journey indeed. As one of my favorite quotes from Anon reads, “The road to truth is under construction!”

Add to this that our judgements and feelings do not actually derive from actual events, but rather from the stories we tell ourselves about those events, and then you have recipe for seeing that this is quite a large undertaking. The work you must do here, is to own your stories, to sort them out, and to see how you have been reacting to a clever story that you have told yourself. That is true warrior work, indeed!

Now, along the way to this truth, and the actions you need must take to stay in alignment with it, there are two likely shadow characters who show up. These are shadows of the mature warrior. They could be called immature warriors. They are the Bully and the Coward. Already, those terms may have set off lights in your consciousness. One person I shared this with even said, “Oh yes, and there are cowardly bullies, and bullying cowards!” Indeed the Bully and the Coward show up with some regularity and interchangeability in our worldly walk.

First, you can see that Bullies are likely in possession of only a half-truth, or an “alternative fact.” They tend to stick very strongly to their guns, and need to put up a large blustering front. They rarely walk easily and confidently, but rather cut through the air with a swagger and a demanding aspect, as they use a level of brute force, and prey on others fears or perceived weaknesses. If you are watching out for your own inner bully, look for a feeling of not being fully in alignment with a deeply recognized truth. You’ll tend to justify yourself, act defensively from fear, rather than love, and then use power in a way that doesn’t feel clean or good.

Now for Cowards, it is the flip side of that coin. Fear will tend to run the day. Standing in your truth, especially in the face of other strong figures who do not agree with you, causes you to slink away, and avoid conflict at all costs. As such, the Coward stands up for nothing. They are, in the words one friend once used “A fart in the wind!” Nothing there, spineless, retiring, non-combattive and ultimately you can’t count on them for anything substantial.

Now in many respects the Coward has a self preserving instinct that could save their life. “He who runs away, lives to fight another day!”  In such instances, cowardice may actually be wisdom! And the bully, well they may unwittingly be moving the needle forward for a cause that may well be beyond their knowledge. There havoc a bully can wreak ultimately can lead to a level of reconciliation of some deep problem in society. Pain can be a powerful motivator for change. In either case, the grasp on a deep and enduring truth is essentially missing in the bully and the coward. If you do not know what you are fighting for, then your fighting will be anemic, and you may end up being brash and stupid. And if what you’ve been fighting for eventually proves to be false, then in the best of worlds, pray that a deeper truth may reveal itself.

Years ago I saw a PBS series on the history of the Western United States. The Indian Wars brought about the decimation of all but a remnant of Native American culture, and left deep scars across the land. In one particularly poignant interview, a native American descendant shared his experience of reconciling this terrible history. He told the story of his four-day vision quest, where he went up on the mountain to fast and pray for truth and insight into the pain of what his tribal family had been through and what his just response should be.

He reported wrestling with the demons of anger and vengeance, spending days plotting the violent acts he would commit to gain retribution for the wrongs done to his people. He shared that before he went up on the hill, he always wore a black hat. And his heart was black with the pain and suffering of this terrible history. Then, upon the dawning of the last day of his quest, he was reduced in tears, and when he saw the sun rising, he knew that he must forgive. The past was the past. What was done was done. Taking revenge would only lead to more suffering and perpetuate the cycles of pain and retribution. He must forgive, and dedicate himself to peace. He swapped out his black hat for a white hat.

That is warrior work! The work of a mature warrior is to wrestle with the great forces, to not act rashly out of reaction, from clever stories told inside your head, to watch out for the rising of the bully or the coward. To plumb deeply into the depths of your truth, and live from that place. “Whom do you serve?” Indeed. Here is where the work is to be done.

Let these stories inform you on your own Warrior’s journey. Added to the Lover’s shadows of Mama’s Boy or Addict that we explored in Part 1, you can begin to get a fuller picture of how various strong archetypal forces can be identified and worked with appropriately on your road to mature balance in this world.

Stay tuned for the next post in this series. Four Archetypes – Part 3, The Magician and its Shadows!  In this next post, I will explore how the good magician serves the world, and how the Trickster and the Know-it-all can enter in and really mess things up!

And remember, this is not about judging these shadows as wrong. The work is merely to identify them. And the thing about a shadow is, that it is actually a natural result of a shining light. The trick is to not get lost in the shadow as if it were truth. Rather, you call it out, see it, turn toward the light, and put the light firmly back in the driver’s seat!

Until next time, keep your eyes open for the Bully and the Coward.  Dig deep for the honest truth that resides and abides. That is the foundation for a true, mature Warrior stance in the world.

 

 

Four Archetypes – Part 1 of 4, The Lover, and its Shadows

In a recent conversation with a dear friend and ally, I received the transmission of a rich tapestry of information on the four primary masculine archetypes. I found the information so immediately helpful that I want to share it with you all. It has great relevance to life work and to work in the healing arts. So often, it is simply a matter of providing a key insight to help a person shift out of a negative pattern, and into a positive one. And although these archetypes have been identified as masculine, I believe women too will recognize their presence and relevance to their own walk through life, both as women, and in their dealings with men. I’m going to present this dense and provocative material bit by bit, so stayed tuned. In this article I’ll give a brief overview, and then a deeper dive into The Lover archetype.

For those of you who have a background in archetypal studies, the work I present here is rooted in Jungian archetypes, but I did not draw my own sourcing for this article from Jung directly, and so I leave the relationship with his work up for more scholarly opinions. But beyond the qualifications of the sourcing, what I’m most interested in here is to explore the practical application of these ideas to life and practice. And so… with that said… off we go.

There are four primary masculine archetypes, the Lover, Warrior, Magician and King. Each of these archetypes has a fully mature expression in the world. The Lover is devoted to truth, beauty and love. The Lover is youthful, and innocent and romantic, sometimes naive, and honest to a fault. The Warrior is devoted to duty, honor, service and “getting the job done.” The Warrior answers the question “Whom do I serve?” and then devotes himself/herself to the required tasks of that service. The Magician is devoted to transformation, growth, wisdom and the knowledge that brings about positive, even magical outcomes to challenging situations. Finally the King is devoted to the realm, to order, sustain alignment with truth, and uphold the common, cherished values that are essential to life in the realm.

To see each of these in a deeper and broader context, the power tool that we use is the existence of pairs of Shadow archetypes that accompany each of the mature expressions. The thing about it is, that many of us live in a world run by the shadow archetypes more than the mature archetypes, and as such we may wonder why life often feels chaotic or not moving forward in the desired direction. I’m going to explore these shadow archetypes with you and invite you to reflect where and when these shadowy figures have gotten their hands on the wheel, and how you might go about wresting the wheel back from them and setting your life on a course more in alignment with a more mature and effective course of action in the world.

Let’s start with a brief exploration of the Shadow Lovers. These manifest as either the Mama’s Boy (Daddy’s Little Girl), or the Addict.

For a Mama’s boy, or Daddy’s girl, this shadow is forever jumping through hoops to attempt to please, appease or rescue, or be rescued by “Mama.” A Mama’s boy is lost in being able to express their own truth and love freely and generously. Rather, their expression of love is always falling into the trap of appeasement, going along to get along and not making waves. As a result the Lover here has become but a shadow of its true self, hiding away who one truly is inside.

The Addict has many of the same attributes of the Mama’s Boy in terms of the sense of a false self, but in this case the goal of the addict is simply to avoid pain at all costs.  Consequently would be objects of affection are used as a kind of “fix.” There is no doubt that the Junkie loves the needle, and is driven by the substance to consume it, to reach the desired state of consciousness. For the shadow archetype of Addict, the driving mechanism toward connection and intimacy is the search for the euphoric high and the easing/forgetting/avoiding pain, instead of a true and honest resolution of painful experiences. Also, being dreamily lost in pursuit of an elusive, ultimately unobtainable Shangri-La through means that could only be described as “short cuts,” the Addict is sadly driven forward with no real commitment to deepen and grow.

I invite you consider this, have you been living from an immature Lover point of view? If so, you may notice a feeling that you are forever playing the victim. In order to break this cycle, the only thing you can do is call out the shadows, for what they are, just that… Shadow motivations that are lost in fantasy! When you see your Mama’s boy or your Addict dropping into the drivers seat, call them out! Say to them “Hey, you aren’t eligible to drive. Get out from behind that wheel!” Give them a seat in the back seat, and let then them know a few comments could be welcome, but no more will they be allowed to control the ship. This requires a commitment to conscious awareness, essential in the formation and growth of a mature adult approach to life.

Keep alert for the next time you may fall in to Mama’s Boy or Addict Shadow archetypes, and rededicate your choices to express a mature Lover in all your relations. Devoted to Truth, Beauty and Love, the mature, golden Lover brings great healing to a deserving world. May you find and realize this deep love in all that you do, and with all whom you meet.

Stay tuned for Four Archetypes – Part 2, The Warrior and its Shadows! 

Until next time, go with Qi,
Matthew

To live a life in the Healing Arts is a great honor and privilege. This August, I am celebrating my 30 year anniversary of  the start of my career as a Shiatsu Therapist. Three decades of practice has been deeply fulfilling, and I’m excited to celebrate this landmark with Three different offerings of my signature Pathways of Qi course in three different locations. I do hope that you can join me for one or all of these workshops, soaking up inspiration from the Healing Wisdom traditions of the world.

Elevate Your Bodywork – Boulder

Elevate Your Bodywork – Boulder

HeartMind Shiatsu | Free Demo

HeartMind Shiatsu | Free Demo

Come to the HeartMind Shiatsu Free Demo and get a first hand experience of this wonderful bodywork therapy. Meet the faculty, explore the modality, receive a free HeartMind Shiatsu sample. Find out how the HeartMind Shiatsu Professional Training could be the right program for you to take your healing skills to the next level.

Mat-based Bodywork Therapy, What it is, and Why it is important!

Mat-based bodywork therapy (performed on a mat on the floor, with the receiver fully clothed) is one of the most powerful and efficient methods of bodywork therapy in the world. And it is certainly the most versatile in approach, positioning and tools for addressing a myriad of presenting conditions and concerns.  There are movements and approaches to the body in mat-based bodywork therapy that simply cannot be done on a standard massage therapy table.  Indeed, they would be dangerous if attempted there.

Mat-based bodywork therapy demands that the practitioner maintain a high level of physical conditioning. If one does not possess sufficient physical agility, or does not have the desire to gain it, then indeed they should not even consider training in the discipline. But if they do, the power, versatility and benefits derived from mat-based conditioning are exceptional, and will provide the practitioner with effective self care for life.

What is essential in mat-based bodywork therapy is excellence in training. There is just simply a right way to do it that promotes the longevity of your practice, avoids personal injury and provides you with personal care that is second to none. The secret lies in mastering the essentials of cross-patterned coordination. Coordinating upper and lower body across the midline is the most natural way of moving, the safest, most stable and the most sustainable over the long term. This cross-patterned coordination is at the heart of any good movement system, and it is especially important in mat-based bodywork. As such, the training provides far reaching benefits that go well beyond the actual choreography of the form itself.

There are a few schools of mat-based bodywork, notably Thai massage and Traditional Japanese Shiatsu, as well as what has become knows as Acro-yoga. At HeartMind Shiatsu, our focus is on the traditional Japanese skill set, with flavors of Thai and Acro-yoga added in as accent. These other styles, generally do not emphasize cross-patterned coordination and so they are sprinkled into the HeartMind Shiatsu curriculum sparingly. What is of paramount importance in our school of mat based bodywork is skillful coordination across the midline that supports your balance, strength, and the safe longevity of your practice.

In addition, what makes HeartMind Shiatsu so effective is not only the mat-based versatility, and the cross-patterned coordination, but also the depth of Classical Chinese Medical theory that grounds the work in a traditional healthcare system thousands of years old.  With HeartMind Shiatsu our focus shifts away from muscles, tendons, ligaments and the physical tissues of the body to the actual life energy, Qi, flowing through those tissues in the many subtle yet palpable channels of Qi energy flow. This gives us the power and versatility of an ancient and timeless medical system that allows us to provide outstanding therapeutic services to our clients.

In our full 500-hour professional training you receive more that 160 hours of training in the HeartMind Shiatsu method, with 70 hours of supervised clinical practice to hone your skills. In addition, we provide you with 100 hours of Classical Chinese Medicine (20 of which are learned through a practical study of diet and nutrition), 100 hours of Western Anatomy and Physiology, Business, Ethics and a thorough training in the vital energy art of Qigong. The content meets national standards for the professional practice of Asian Bodywork Therapy as set forth by the AOBTA, America’s oldest and most respected association of dedicated Asian Bodywork Therapists.

Now mind you, there are many powerful, effective and brilliant bodywork therapy systems that are performed on a table. If that is your calling, by all means pursue it. But if you seek a critical edge, and an approach that will not only serve your clients with a vast range of approaches, but also help you to achieve and maintain optimal conditioning for life, helping the world, doing work that you love, then HeartMind Shiatsu training could be right for you. And even if you find that you eventually only work exclusively on a Massage Table, the mat-based education will serve to ground you in an effective body management style that will richly inform and safeguard your work at the table for the longevity of your career.

To find out more, we highly encourage you to take our introductory workshop Elevate Your Practice. In this engaging workshop, we introduce you to a full personal cultivation, self-care exercise practice, teach you the fundamentals of excellence in mat-based bodywork, help you ground into your center, awaken your awareness of energy channels, and guide you through a sampling of advanced mat-based body manipulations. This workshop is designed to give you a thorough overview of the versatility, power and vitalizing effects of mat-based bodywork. It is not, and should not be construed as professional level training in the technique, though it will teach you the vital principles of the practice. If you find that this is the work for you, then we encourage you to enter our full training and pursue national certification in the method.

Come IN from the Cold and Warm UP this Winter!

Come IN from the Cold and Warm UP this Winter!

Elevate Your Healing Bodywork Practice!

with Matthew Sweigart, CI

February 3-5, 2017
Friday evening: 6-9pm, Saturday & Sunday: 10am-5pm
Registration open now!

Come IN from the cold and warm UP this winter! Come share warmth and connection with fellow travelers on the healing path. Enjoy this inspiring, hands-on exploration of the healing arts.
This workshop will include fun, invigorating movement, healing touch, and profound self development as you give and receive innovative, heart-centered bodywork.
You’ll learn one safely performed Flying HeartMind Shiatsu lift that will astound and amaze you and keep your clients coming back for more!

Elevate your practice to the next level!

Free Demo Jan. 26th, 6-8pm
Bodywork Bistro Living Arts Center
3825 Iris, Suite 300, Boulder, CO

Weekend Workshop Fees
$267 by Jan. 26th  ($297 thereafter.)

*This course is included in the 500-hour HeartMind Shiatsu Professional Training.
* Based on the popular Harmonizing Heaven & Earth DVD and Companion Manual.

Welcome 2017! Free HMS Demo, January 26th!

Welcome 2017! Free HMS Demo, January 26th!

Join The Holistic Healthcare Revolution!

Free HMS Demonstration Evening

January 26, 6-8pm
With the faculty of the HeartMind Shiatsu Professional Training

Bodywork Bistro, Living Arts Center

Make 2017 the year you take a giant leap forward on your healing arts journey!

Come learn about the holistic touch therapy training that everyone is talking about! See a live demonstration, receive a free sample session, learn about national certification in the rewarding profession of Asian Bodywork Therapy, and find out the details about training to become a Certified HeartMind Shiatsu Therapist

The start of a new year always comes in with a fresh wave of energy, inspiration, possibility. To complete an entire annual cycle, and give yourself that fresh start is exciting and invigorating. At HeartMind Bodywork, we are excited to take the joys, lessons, discoveries and growth of the past 6 years in Boulder, and enter into 2017 with the exciting prospect of launching our 500 hour professional HeartMind Shiatsu training.

Spurred on by the desire to get our graduates recognized and fully certified at the national level in Asian Bodywork Therapy, we’ve expanded our programming and laid out an exciting training calendar. Beginning in March 2017 our newest offering of our Basic Training will also be the start of our full 500 hour Professional Training.

Explore this website to learn more about our program, and come to our Free HMS Demonstration Evening, January 5th, and discover first hand how HeartMind Shiatsu training could be the right next step for you.

Make 2017 the year you take a giant leap forward on your healing arts journey!

 

The Five Freedoms, and the Five Elements

The Five Freedoms, and the Five Elements

In my recent Pathways of Qi, Exploring the Meridian Medicine Wheel workshop in Chicago, I introduced the idea of the five freedoms. These are essential to exercise in the presence of unconditional love for a true, full and deep sense of wholeness and self-acceptance. They offer a sure way to escape the struggle of toxic shame and self-deprecation, and to claim and exercise them is a significant piece of ongoing personal cultivation.

The five freedoms simply stated are: 1) to perceive, 2) to think, 3) to feel, 4) to want and 5) to choose. In order to live fully from our authentic and realized self, we practice affirming our five freedoms.

  1. We affirm our own unique perceptions of the world around us. We have the ability to see, hear, smell, taste and feel the truth of our experience. No one else can tell us what to perceive, though conversations with others regarding their perceptions may shape our perceptual experience. What is essential here is to know that ultimately it is our right and responsibility to trust and grow our own perceptions.
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  2. We affirm our right and responsibility to think for ourselves. No one can do our thinking for us, though perhaps many have through the art of persuasion tried to influence our thinking. Even education in a system can be a subtle form of external conditions shaping our thoughts. Again, what is essential here is to realize that we are ultimately responsible for our thoughts, and knowing when and how to express them in a good way. Sinclair Lewis’s character Babbit was a perfect example of someone who struggled to find his own original thoughts. Of course, this is a caricature of a human being, but it can be hauntingly real if you tend to be overly influenced by the strongly expressed opinions of those whom you invest with authority.
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  3. Affirming your rights and responsibilities to your feelings is an essential skill to develop in order to live a highly functional life with a minimum of victim thinking. To me, this area is the one that ultimately is completely our own. No one can tell you what to feel. No one can make you feel anything. Your feelings are your own. No more can you say “you make me mad.” Rather say,” I find that I am mad when I reflect upon your behavior and your words.” And that is where your work begins. To own your feelings is to have the ability to be strong in your authentic self-expression. To know what you are feeling in any giving moment or setting is to have in your consciousness the power you need to be fully alive. To learn to navigate your own inner emotional landscape and to fully own the rights and responsibilities that go with your emotional being is perhaps the single most important task you can undertake.
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  4. To affirm your right to what you want, and what you desire is another essential step on the path of personal freedom. And it is founded on the previous three freedoms. If you are free to perceive, think and feel for yourself, you will be clear about what you want and desire in your life in any given moment. And here the art of being in relationship is most sorely tested. The fact that there are so many choices, and so many things, places, experiences, available to us to chose from, and that everyone has their own unique set of tastes and needs, the art of doing things together that everyone in the party agrees they also want is a high art indeed. of course if we were completely alone, we might always in every moment find that what we want is never in conflict with what others want. Yet this is not the case. We live in social settings, and in order to maintain social harmony, there are often compromises, or delays and a need for a great deal of flexibility. But the clearer you are about your own desires, you can use them to point the way to your best outcomes. And like the Rolling Stones song tells us, “you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime, I think you’ll find, you get what you need!”
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  5. Finally the right to chose is the last essential step on the path of freedom. Based on all the previous freedoms, your own personal choice is before you. No one can ultimately make any choice for you. You must make it inside yourself, and then work to actualize it in the world. Make a commitment to the world you wish to live in, the choices you make to devote your time, attention, energy and love to, and watch your world come into focus and begin to yield fulfillment and satisfaction. yet at the same time, see that this freedom demands stepping up to your rights and responsibilities. If you have chosen for  yourself, then you have no one else to blame. This is not easy! For many, the idea of having another person chose for them can lead to a sense of relief. Gosh, I admit, sometimes it’s just hard to know exactly what the right choice is. And giving that over to a trusted friend or advisor can really help guide the way. But that is the key… a trusted friend or advisor must also always know that ultimately your reaction to the choice and alignment with the choice is essential. For myself, I like to use a “non-human source” as a guide. Some sort of divine or spirit being to help guide me. There’s a lot to be said for the line in the Lord’s prayer “Thy will be done!” To align yourself with the divine purpose for you is a profound key to fulfilling this final freedom.

So now that we are familiar with the five freedoms, how do these relate to the Five Elements. For this, I draw the link to the daily cycle of energy flow.

Perceptions I see as related to the Metal Element and the Wei Qi field. Our contact with the world around us is the first edge of experience.mgq-large-intestine

Thoughts relate to the Earth Element, our nourishment and rumination energies. We take things into us, and we roll them around in our mind’s eye. The spirit level here is known as the Yi. The Yi is the rational intellect and it falls in the purview of the Spleen Channel energies.mgq-spleen

Feelings / Emotions I give to the Fire Element, the element of the Heart and Small Intestine, Triple Warmer, and Pericardium. These energies are deeply related to our inner world of truth, interpretation and essential self-awareness and realization. There is a strong argument to be made for the emotions to be rooted in the Water element as well, but here is where I see Water being most closely related to realm of wants and desires.poq-pericardium

Water governs the deep, driving forces that shape our motivations into life. Our Zhi, our will forces are here in the Kidneys, and they arise from within us, even from our unconscious. One can even say that Heart is the awareness that we are conscious of, and Kidney the awareness that is revealing itself as we go along. There are few places in life where this is more clearly revealed than in our wants and desires. An old German song speaks of Hans, who has everything he wants. But what he wants he doesn’t have, and what he has, he doesn’t want! And yet, he has everything he wants! We can all relate to this in one way or another as we seek that elusive feeling of fulfillment and satisfaction along the journey of life.mgq-bladder

And finally, to chose, simply put, this is the realm of the Wood Element. Our Gall Bladder and Liver are charged with the task of making the strategic choices at each step of the way. To weight the two sides (or many sides) of any given situation and to take the ultimate responsibility of making the choice. And then once the choice is made, to learn and grow, striving ever onward in life toward the goals and rewards that await a “job well done.” mgq-gall-bladder

So these are the correlations. And in the task of fully embodying your five freedoms I encourage you to look and see where you may be weak or strong, need attention, or can rest confidently in your sense of achievement. If you struggle with your emotions, practice Fire Element cultivation. If you are not sure about what you perceive, check your Wei Qi field and develop your Lung and Large Intestine Qi. Apply this to each of the five freedoms, and use the Five Elements and their corresponding meridians to access the energy you need to more and more fully realize those freedoms in all areas of your life. And any place where you see your freedoms being compromised, slow down, pause, take a break and honestly assess where you are at. Then affirm once more your right and responsibility to be fully in your perceptions, thoughts, feelings, desires and choices.

I encourage you to take this into your life and put these five freedoms into action. In so doing, you will eradicate the monster of self-deprecation and banish the demon of toxic shame from running your life forever. And further, make a commitment to surround yourself with others who affirm your right to your five freedoms, and also claim the right to their own. It can be a lot of fun to be in a dedicated group of beings on the path of freedom. Let freedom ring!

And… See you in class!

Matthew