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Rave Reviews Book Club’s Spotlight Author Sherilyn Powers

Today it is my pleasure to host Rave Reviews Book Club’s Spotlight Author Sherilyn Powers. In today’s post Sherilyn focuses on the phenomenon of “morphing” as it applies to allergies and sensitivities. It is a phenomenon with which I am all too familiar. I first heard about this so-called morphing in relation to allergies and sensitivities at the Environmental Health Center-Dallas, where I learned that when someone is sensitive to a food within a particular food family, it may not be long before that person develops sensitivities to other foods in that same family. To counteract this tendency for sensitivities to evolve, Dr. Rea, the center’s founder, recommended a four-day rotational diet to his patients. I followed this diet for about four years until I became so well after following Dr. Rea’s treatment program and receiving energy balancing from the healing team at A Healing Place in Richardson, Texas, that I was able to return to my normal eating patterns, based on a heart healthy diet with organic foods whenever possible and filtered water always. So … are you curious about morphing? See what Sherilyn has to say about it. While you’re at it, support her on social media and visit her website. You will find links below.

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Sherilyn Powers is the author of I’m Not Crazy I’m Allergic! In her book Sherilyn explores how exposure to seemingly harmless foods and substances could be related to reactions like panic attacks, depression, uncontrollable crying, brain fog, body aches and pains and many more.

I'm Not Crazy I'm Allergic by Sherilyn Powers

Morphing reactions?

Speaking to people with allergies every day, I’ve come across a very interesting phenomenon:  allergies/sensitivities that “morph” or change seamlessly. Sometimes so seamlessly that it takes a long time to realize it has happened.

And by “morph,” I’m don’t mean a worsening of reactions, though this can happen, too, but actually a change in the type of reaction and even the form of the food to which they react.

For example, a lot of people I know can’t drink milk. It gives them stomach aches, excess mucus and even diarrhea, to name a few symptoms. These people have no problems with yogurt, cheeses or even ice cream, so they don’t consider themselves allergic to dairy, just lactose intolerant.

It gets interesting, however, when suddenly someone’s reactions evolve from just reacting to milk to reacting to the next food up the line, which seems to be yogurt or ice cream. These new reactions can present with symptoms similar to those they had after drinking milk, or they can be totally different.

After that the softer cheeses, and finally hard cheese, can also provoke reactions.  Once that happens, dairy can sometimes no longer be tolerated at all, and drinking milk may cause debilitating reactions where it once only caused a bit of mucus.

I found the same type of thing happened to me with gluten.  Before I found out I had Celiac disease, I had a lot of very interesting reactions to gluten. I had eaten it my entire life and had never known it was the cause of my so-called “IBS” (irritable bowel syndrome).

When I finally started to suspect a wheat allergy (I knew nothing about Celiac disease at the time), I noticed I had lesser reactions with some gluten-containing foods than others (e.g., spelt and kamut), and I found I could more easily eat foods prepared one way rather than another (toast vs bread, for instance). At that time, I had no idea that gluten was a factor. I just knew I tolerated certain foods better than others. It was after I was diagnosed with Celiac disease that I was able to put it all together from my notes.

How many people would have noticed the difference between how they felt having milk and cheese or eating toast and then eating bread?  I probably would have missed it, too, but I had been sick and had eaten nothing but toast for a week. I went from that to eating an untoasted sandwich and my throat began to swell up. That rather caught my attention.

This doesn’t happen with everyone, but I’m using these examples to point out that allergies/sensitivities are not static. Just because drinking milk makes you sneeze one day, it does not mean that it will still make you sneeze three years from now, or that only milk, among all dairy products, will elicit a reaction.

When you are trying to discover what your allergies and sensitivities are, don’t forget that cooking and processing foods can sometimes not only change your reaction, but also can influence whether you have a reaction at all.

Sherilyn Powers’ contact information:

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/imnotcrazyimallergic

Twitter: @SPowersINCIA

Website:  http://imnotcrazyimallergic.com

 

 

 

Kathryn C. Treat: Daughter, Sister, Wife, Mother, Grandmother, Author, and Loving Friend. RIP

A year ago today Kathryn Chastain Treat died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage. I published this post in her honor after I heard the sad news from one of her daughters. To mark the first anniversary of Kathy’s death, I am re-publishing my 2014 post.

Nothing prepares you for sudden loss. Not training, not faith, not personal fortitude. When loss occurs suddenly, the first reaction is disbelief, followed by a nearly all-encompassing paralysis of thought. At least, that’s how it was for me when Kathy Treat’s daughter Laura told me of her mother’s sudden death this weekend due to a cerebral hemorrhage. How could it be otherwise? A person I had known as a vibrant fully engaged human being, someone who had been a dear friend to me for over twelve years, was suddenly gone. And the only thing I could think of in that moment, the thought that was repeating in my mind, was that I had to write about her. That thought drove me to my computer.

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Kathryn Chastain Treat is the author of Allergic to Life: My Battle for Survival, Courage, and Hope. In her book, Kathy shared her years-long battle to recover from mold exposure in her workplace and detailed the various treatments she underwent, some of which worked and some of which did not. If there were dominant themes that tied her story of illness, survival, and triumph together, they were her out-sized courage and her decades-long quest to educate doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel about multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). And she was a great guide and friend to others with MCS. In her blog posts, she shared information about the various treatments that had worked for her and others, pointed a finger at the sources of pollution— industrial, commercial, and personal—that harm all of us, not just the chemically sensitive, and supported other bloggers who were helping to shine a light on the environment and health, as well as the increase in the incidence of MCS. She was also a loyal and dedicated member of the Rave Reviews Book Club, who served as the club’s first Membership Director until illness and the loss of her father required she take a less active, but still utterly engaged, role. Finally, and certainly most important to a retelling of who Kathy was, she was a devoted daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, and friend.

I met Kathy in January 2003 at Dr. Rea’s clinic, the Environmental Health Center-Dallas, under what were trying circumstances for both of us. I had been in Dallas since October 2002 under treatment for chronic and acute exposure to type II pyrethroid pesticides, which are still considered in the United States to be safe for people and pets. Kathy, who had initially been in treatment at Dr. Rea’s clinic for mold exposure in 2002, had returned to Dallas to have her uterus and ovaries removed in January 2003, an ordeal she wrote about in detail in her book. While a hysterectomy is stressful and debilitating for most women and recovery is not easy, Kathy’s was made even more so by the knowledge that her uterine and ovarian tissue contained high levels of trichothecene mycotoxins, toxic secondary metabolites or byproducts of mold.

Despite the obstacles to recovery Kathy encountered and the debilitating bouts of dizziness, compounded by anaphylactic reactions to medicines as well as to the testing of antigens that would eventually bring her allergic reactions under control, she remained determined to help herself and to be a friend to the other patients she met at the clinic and the Regina Coeli apartments, where we met.

As people do when they are joined in adversity, Kathy bonded with several patients, and I was one of those fortunate to meet and bond with Kathy. As she recovered from her surgery and became stronger, we shared the time we were not testing at the clinic, sitting in my apartment and not Kathy’s because in addition to MCS I had also unmasked for sensitivity to electromagnetic fields. In my apartment I was furthest from the strongest sources of EMF radiation in the apartment building, and I could manage best there. Kathy, considerate and thoughtful, made it her business to learn about EMF sensitivity and helped me with tasks I could not manage on my own.

One of those tasks was washing and drying clothing. I needed to avoid going into the laundry room when the washers or dryers were running. Since there was no schedule for use, invariably I found myself having to move my clothes to the dryer or take them out when someone else was already running a wash or dry cycle in another machine. I had been depending on friends I had made at the apartments, but finding someone at the right moment wasn’t always possible. Kathy said that Regina Coeli needed to have a laundry room schedule, and I agreed. We sat one afternoon working on a grid by two-hour time segments for the use of the washers and dryers in the laundry room. Later that evening when we had finished, I presented the grid to Earl Remmel, the proprietor, who loved the idea and hung up a grid-like sign up board in the laundry room for residents to fill in. EMF exposure problem solved! And it was Kathy’s idea.

When it was time for me to leave Dallas for an environmentally safe house in Santa Fe, Kathy and another friend, Anne, helped me pack up to leave. I had been in a healing crisis and was in too much pain to do much of anything except rest. In Santa Fe, Kathy and I kept in touch while she was in Dallas and after she returned home to Merced. Since I was still recovering from EMF sensitivity, we could only exchange handwritten notes. It was not until a few months later that I could begin to have telephone conversations, albeit short ones to limit my exposure to EMF.

As I healed from EMF sensitivity with help from Deborah Singleton and the healing team at A Healing Place, I could once again use a computer and speak on the telephone for longer periods. Then Kathy and I could exchange emails about the book I was writing and Kathy’s plan to turn her journal entries into the story of her battle with mold exposure. Kathy was one of my biggest supporters as I was dealing with the various stages of editing and proofreading with my publisher. In turn after she had decided to self-publish and had entered the editing process through a friend of her daughter Laura, we explored the many avenues to publication.

Kathy published Allergic to Life: My Battle for Survival, Courage, and Hope in August 2013. She planned and cooked for her launch party, choosing an outside setting, one that would make it easier for her to be in a large group of people. If everyone followed her request not to wear scent, then she could mingle easily and not be exposed to the outgassing of materials as she would have in an indoor setting. The party was a success, of course.

In December 2013 Kathy told me of a new online book club, of which she was to be a founding member. The brainchild of Nonnie Jules, Rave Reviews Book Club would promote Indie writers and their work. Although I was published by a small publisher in the UK, Kathy said I would be welcome, and she urged me to join. I am glad I did. RRBC has been incredibly supportive on social media and is a home away from home for beginning and seasoned writers. Their promotional activities have brought me and other writers followers on Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress and increased sales.

The fact that I have a WordPress blog at all is due to Kathy’s guidance and help. When my book website was hacked and used as a phishing site, it had to be taken down.  After working with a young computer geek for several weeks to try to restore it, I realized that it was a lost cause. Kathy volunteered to guide me in setting up a WordPress blog. She helped me style my page, connect it to social media with the right widgets, and taught me in telephone conversations how to edit and post. Within a day my blog was running, and I began posting.

Kathryn and her husband, Rick.

Kathryn and her husband, Rick.

Just as she was a loyal friend to me and to others, she was devoted to her family. And they figure prominently in Allergic to Life. Anyone who reads Kathy’s book will learn of her devotion to her parents, sister, husband, children, and grandchildren. She writes movingly of her feelings when she was in treatment in Dallas and had to miss birthdays and other celebrations with her daughters back home. Her family returned that devotion and love in many ways. They were supportive of Kathy while she was in treatment in Dallas and at home. Kathy shared photos of family holidays in her blogs, where her family wore Tyvek suits to protect Kathy from mold exposure. They de-scented themselves for her and made their homes as environmentally safe as they could so Kathy could visit. Kathy and I had heard stories from other clinic patients whose families were not supportive and made no effort to help the person in treatment. We had both felt so grateful that our families had stood by us through treatment and afterwards.

Kathy was an ordinary woman who walked an extraordinarily difficult path with courage and determination. She mastered the technical terms of the health consequences of mold exposure and educated those who would listen. She was a role model for me and many others. Her kindnesses and achievements will not be forgotten.

Kathy, I will miss you, my dear friend and fellow author.

In Loving Memory of Kathryn Chastain Treat

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Kathryn C. Treat passed away on Sunday, December 21, 2014, at 2:20 a.m. (California time).  On Friday, December 19, after having a wonderful time at the Rave Reviews Book Club’s virtual Christmas party, in a virtual chat room with her fellow RRBC VIP Lounge members, Kathryn said that she was not feeling well and was going to leave.  Shortly thereafter, she suffered a hemorrhagic stroke and then lapsed into a coma.

Kathryn was an honorary board member of the Rave Reviews Book Club, where she served as Membership Director from December 2013 until September 2014.  Kathryn is the author of ALLERGIC TO LIFE:  MY BATTLE FOR SURVIVAL, COURAGE AND HOPE  She inspired and encouraged many with this book, so if you have not had the pleasure of reading it, please head to Amazon and get your copy.

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Kathryn was a dedicated member of RRBC until her passing, and she was one of the most supportive members the club had…not just to one, but to all.  Kathryn leaves to mourn her husband, her mother, her sister, her two daughters, a son-in-law and three grandkids (whom she adored more than life), as well as her entire RRBC family.

Let us remember Kathryn and honor her memory by always being kind to one another and by always offering our support to another.  It’s what she did.  It’s how she lived.  It’s who she was.  In honor, many blogs across the world are memorializing Kathryn today with the same post that you see here.  If Kathryn touched your life in any way, please share your memories and comments below.  Since everyone who knew Kathryn may not yet know of her home-going, we ask that you also share this page on all your social media forums.

We have erected a memorial page on the Rave Reviews Book Club site that will remain.  Please stop by to leave your comments and memories of Kathryn, so that her family will get a sense of just how loved she was by so many.

THANK YOU!

PS:  As a member of the Rave Reviews Book Club and someone whose life was touched by Kathy, I am participating in the worldwide blog today as Kathy is laid to rest. My thoughts are with her family, and I send them love. In an earlier post I wrote about Kathy and her courageous fight both to educate others about multiple chemical sensitivity and to survive a workplace mold exposure that had turned her life upside down. You can access it here: Click.

 

Breathe! Inspiration from Arianna Huffington’s Book Thrive

41y2X6GOT8L._AA160_[1]I recently began reading Arianna Huffington’s Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder. The book was a Christmas gift from my future daughter-in-law, Colleen Leddy, who had attended a Thrive workshop earlier in the year. She had texted me about her wonderful experience, and I made a mental note to buy a copy of Huffington’s book. One thing led to another, and I never placed that order. Consequently, I was really pleased when I opened the gift box and found Thrive. Since I was right in the middle of reading London by Edward Rutherfurd, a book I highly recommend to both seasoned and aspiring writers for a study of Rutherfurd’s approach to historical fiction, I couldn’t start Huffington’s book when it arrived.

Over the past three days, however, I’ve read about 150 pages of Thrive, but I’ve already found so much to recommend that I thought I’d take this moment to reach out to all of you who are celebrating the beginning of the new year. For many of us the end of one year and the beginning of another is a time for reflection on what has gone before as well as what is to come in our lives. Not exactly resolution making, reflection is a way to take stock and to dream or plan. I was thinking as I read those first 150 pages that part of Huffington’s message speaks to reflection in our daily lives through the mindfulness practice she recommends.

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The training I received at A Healing Place in Richardson, Texas, led me to incorporate mindfulness in my daily life through the practice of meditation. Living on a mountain, isolated at 8,000 feet, for nearly nine years after my introduction to mindfulness, or awareness, made that incorporation easy. Those of you who have read my book, Intentional Healing…or have been following my blog for a while know that I attribute my full recovery from multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) not only to treatment at Dr. William J. Rea’s clinic in Dallas but also to the spiritual healing I received from energy medicine practitioners, Navajo medicine men, and the self-care awareness and energy balancing exercises I was taught at A Healing Place.

Obviously, my own experience with the health-enhancing benefits of mindfulness made me receptive to Huffington’s message that a successful life needs to be redefined from the current metric of working to career achievement through sleep deprivation and exhaustion to, instead, in the words of her subtitle, “creating a life of well-being, wisdom, and wonder.” And to make this point, Huffington backs up her recommendations with a great deal of research supporting the benefits of mindfulness, not just to us but to the organizations, businesses, and institutions for which we work. The data are convincing. I highly recommend you read Thrive.

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What is mindfulness? If you’re new to the concept of mindfulness, you can think of it as paying attention to who you are and how you feel in the moment. It is as simple as paying attention to what you are eating and how you are eating it. A friend of mine attended a Natalie Goldberg writing workshop in France this past summer, where mindfulness was incorporated into every activity and task during the program. Eating in silence with mindfulness, paying attention to the scents of the foods, noticing how they felt on several levels as they chewed, allowed the writer participants to open their focus and their ability to write about the experience. Did I mention that they also had to be unplugged from social media—no smart phones, tablets, or computers except for a brief window each day? Something Huffington would have applauded.

Deborah Singleton, founder of A Healing Place, taught me that breath and thought are the two most important tools to enhance wellness in the bodymindspirit. Huffington has incorporated both of these tools in her approach to a successful life, one that is balanced between the planning and execution of tasks in the workplace and at home with living in the moment, which is what mindfulness is all about.

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You can take the first step toward cultivating mindfulness by focusing on your breath. As I was taught at A Healing Place, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth slowly. Think of letting go of all that does not serve you. And relax. Feel into every part of you—head, mouth, nose, throat, shoulders, arms, hands, torso, legs, and feet— as you sit in a chair with your feet on the floor. Focus on your feet. Think: I let it all go. This is something you can do in the middle of your work day right at your desk. Even one minute in this focus will enhance health and improve concentration.

If you’re fortunate to be working at one of the companies mentioned in Thrive that provides meditation classes or quiet rooms for mindfulness, then spend a few minutes bringing yourself into balance by de-stressing through breathing. Enter the quiet room. Sit in a comfortable chair with your feet on the floor. Close your eyes and imagine yourself in one of your favorite places. Is it in a garden? At the seashore? By a lake? On a mountain top? Notice your surroundings in your sacred space. Feel a soft breeze on your face. Experience the warmth of the sun.

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Take a deep breath in through your nose and gently blow it out through your mouth. Feel your breath move from the top of your head through your body and into your feet. Send your breath from your feet into the floor below and down into the earth. Don’t worry about what floor you are on. Just see and feel your breath moving through those floors and into the earth. Feel your connection with the earth.

Notice areas of tension in your body. Breathe through those parts of you and think: I let all tension go. Feel it move into your feet and down into the earth. When you feel relaxed, gently bring your focus back to your breath as you leave your visit to your favorite place. Within yourself, express gratitude for your moment in your sacred space. Remember that you can return there whenever you want.

When you are ready, open your eyes. Nurture your body with a cool glass of water and a healthful snack such as fruit or nuts. You will return to your tasks refreshed.

Every day take a few minutes to be in the moment, noticing how you feel and relaxing the tension in your body through breathing. Over time, this refreshing break will develop into an automatic reflex that kicks in when you are feeling stressed. As you continue to practice mindfulness, your awareness of who you are in any moment will enhance your health and allow you to see other people in a more compassionate light. The benefits for you, your employer, and the world at large will grow and grow.

Blessings to all!

My thanks to Google Free Images for the wonderful visuals in this post.

Good News? and Bad News About Pesticides in U.S. Waterways

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In a New York Times article on September 12, 2014, Michael Wines reported the results of a study by the U.S. Geological Survey that collected data on pesticides from 1992 to 2011 at over 200 monitoring locations. The bad news is that the study found pesticides and herbicides in nearly every waterway in our country.

The good news, however, and decidedly the good news is for only two types of waterways, is that levels declined from the first decade of the study to the second in agricultural streams and other streams other than urban streams. As Wines writes: “From 1992 to 2001 17 percent of agricultural streams and 5 percent of other streams had at least one pesticide whose average annual concentration was above the maximum contaminant level for drinking water. But in the second decade, from 2002 to 2011, the survey found dangerous pesticide concentrations in only one stream nationwide.” And the reason for this decline? Regulations to control the monitored pesticides forced manufacturers to focus elsewhere.

Before you start celebrating, however, you should know that, as Wines points out, this decline was a decline in name only. In fact, as the use of pesticides became more heavily regulated, manufacturers turned to substitute chemicals. In urban streams, pesticide levels above the threshold for aquatic life jumped from 53 percent in the first decade to 90 percent in the second. Part of this jump was attributed to two pesticides—fipronil and dichlorvus, both heavily used in household products, such as flea collars, roach killers (fipronil) and no-pest strips, and dog de-wormers (dichlorvus). As the use of other pesticides became more heavily regulated, manufacturers turned to fipronil and dichlorvus as substitutes. Thus the sudden increase in those pesticides during the second decade. Furthermore, the U.S.G.S. study did not monitor pyrethroids or glyphosate (brand name Roundup).

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Although I have no experience with Roundup, I can speak to pyrethroids from firsthand experience. In Intentional Healing: One Woman’s Path to Higher Consciousness and Freedom from Environmental and Other Chronic Illnesses, I described my acute exposure to deltamethrin and delta dust during a visit from exterminators. Let’s start with some background: Type II pyrethroids, such as deltamethrin and permethrin, are sold to the public as safe for domestic use. Safe for children, pets, the elderly, for humans in general. How do they work? They attack the nervous systems of insects through sodium-ion channels. The principal effects of pyrethroids as a class are various signs of excitatory neurotoxicity.

Humans, as mammals, have many more sodium ion channels than insects. And the symptoms I experienced when the exterminators started working—tachycardia, inability to organize my thoughts, breathing difficulties, burning that began in my scalp and spread throughout my body— seemed to indicate that my nervous system was being affected. I later found out at the Environmental Health Center-Dallas that my nervous system had, in fact, been affected. Despite the assurances I had received that pyrethroids are safe for humans, I was harmed by them. Just as the nervous systems of insects are attacked by pyrethroids so, too, was mine.

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What does the EPA have to say about pyrethroids? The EPA has found no harm to human beings, situational harm to pets (that is, if products are not used correctly), and a great deal of harm to aquatic organisms. The following was copied directly from the EPA website:

Pyrethroids are highly toxic to aquatic organisms. Because the pyrethroids can accumulate in sediments, risk to sediment-dwelling organisms is an area of particular concern. Recent water quality monitoring efforts in California have identified pyrethroids in sediments of water bodies adjacent to residential/urban areas. These monitoring data, coupled with additional pyrethroid-specific data submitted to the Agency, highlight existing concerns regarding residential uses of pyrethroid pesticide products and movement into non-target areas through runoff or spray drift that may occur during applications.

To reduce exposure to water bodies from non-agricultural and agricultural uses of pyrethroids, the Agency deployed the following labeling initiatives.

Environmental Hazard and General Labeling for Pyrethroid and Synergized Pyrethrins Non-agricultural Outdoor Products – Revised February 2013 – To reduce exposure from residential uses of pyrethroids and pyrethrins products, EPA implemented a 2009 labeling initiative, with minor revisions in 2013, requiring revised Environmental Hazard Statements and general Directions for Use for pyrethroid and pyrethrins pesticide products used in non-agricultural outdoor settings. The label statements spell out good stewardship and best-management practices and clarify how these types of products are intended to be used.

These label statements serve to reduce the potential for runoff and drift to water bodies that can result from applications of pyrethroid end-use products in residential, commercial, institutional, and industrial areas, applied by both professional pesticide control operators and residential consumers.

Pyrethroid Spray Drift Initiative – In the reregistration process for permethrin and cypermethrin, the Agency determined that the existing spray drift language for pyrethroid agricultural products needed to be updated to comply with FIFRA. Because of similarities in use patterns, and concern for exposure to aquatic resources, the Agency believes that this updated label language is necessary for all pyrethroid products used on agricultural crops. In a letter from the Agency (PDF) (6 pp, 75k, About PDF) dated February 21, 2008, registrants were instructed to incorporate the revised spray drift language onto their agricultural labels, and submit the amended labels to the Agency.

Do you now feel protected from toxic runoff? I don’t.

It may be the height of folly, or just another example of the hubris we exhibit toward our place among living organisms, to think that a substance that is deadly to any living creature will not pose dangers to ourselves. I know I am not a lone case. Since the incident in our home in 2002, I’ve met many others who were harmed by pesticides thought to be safe for humans. At the Environmental Health Center-Dallas, thousands of patients have been treated for exposure to toxic chemicals. And the EHC-D is only one of hundreds of clinics and medical practices around the world devoted to treating people who have been exposed to toxins.

If we want to safeguard the environment for ourselves, our families, and the generations that follow us, we need to adopt a new way of thinking about unregulated and regulated pesticides, herbicides, and chemicals. If we think that everyone who uses chemicals will do so in a responsible way, then we are closing our eyes to human nature. If we accept that the substances used to kill insects won’t harm us or our children, if we believe that the pesticides and herbicides we spray on agricultural fields that eventually work their way into our water systems won’t harm aquatic life or the animals (ourselves included) that eat fish, then we will continue to degrade ourselves, the earth, our oceans, and every living creature.

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If, like me, you want to regulate strongly the manufacture and use of chemicals by supporting the watchdogs who work to protect us, then get involved by following the work of organizations that inform us and petition for legislation to protect us. Here are just a few of those groups:

The Environmental Working Group—www.ewg.org

The Sierra Club—http://sierraclub.org/

Greenpeace—www.greenpeace.org

Mother Jones—www.motherjones.com

Earth Times—http://www.earthtimes.org/

Environmental Health News—http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/

Through these organizations, you’ll have access to the latest environmental developments and political news related to the environment as well as to online petitions so that your voice can be heard. I urge you to take a stand. Speak up for the earth and all of her children.

My thanks to Google free images for all but the last of the visuals in this article. I photographed this nature scene in Sherwood Gardens in Baltimore during one of my meditation walks.

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Kathryn C. Treat, Author: Has Life Passed You By?

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As  a member of the Rave Reviews Book Club, I am always happy to support a fellow member’s RRBC blog tour. Today I have the pleasure of hosting Kathryn C. Treat, author of Allergic to Life: My Battle for Survival, Courage, and Hope. Kathryn is the RRBC Membership Director and a very dear friend. We met in 2003 at Dr. Rea’s clinic, the Envrionmental Health Center-Dallas, where Kathryn was treated for mold exposure and I, for pesticide poisoning. We bonded then and have been friends ever since.

Kathryn’s book shines a spotlight on multiple chemical sensitivity and the precautions that must be taken to avoid further exposure. Her story is one of determination and courage. You can support Kathryn by purchasing her book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble and following her on Twitter, Google, and Facebook. Better yet, join Kathryn at Rave Reviews Book Club. It’s an experience you won’t want to miss. Tell them Kathryn sent you. Here is Kathryn in her own words.

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“I pray to God for answers. I ask for His support and encouragement. If I have to live in this pain, in this bubble, in this life of isolation and loneliness the rest of my life, I don’t know what I will do.

Recently I was in contact with a friend who is also a mold survivor.  We talked about isolation.  In fact isolation seems to be a general topic and matter of woe among fellow mold sufferers and those suffering from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS).

I soon began to realize that once my life had changed and I was no longer able to attend indoor functions, be among large crowds, go shopping or out to lunch, I also wasn’t being called or visited.  A majority of my treatment took me far away from home to Dallas, TX.  The longer I was there, the less I heard from others.  It was hard going through all that I went through by myself.  I thought when I finally came home, I would be totally well and everything would be the same as it always was.  I soon began to realize what it must feel like for a soldier to return after many months away at battle.

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I also began realizing what soldiers must feel like after returning from an extended tour of duty. How do you assimilate back into your life? Things keep going on and moving forward but you aren’t there to participate in the moving forward. People carry on conversations but you feel like you were dropped in the middle of a story without access to the beginning. So you just sit there, and you listen but don’t speak.

Things were different when I returned home.  I was still sick and still not able to visit in the homes of friends or go out.  So much had happened after being gone for almost a year (2003) that I felt lost in conversations.  Someone would talk about something that had happened and I wouldn’t have the faintest idea what they were talking about because I hadn’t been there, hadn’t been involved in life at home and hadn’t witnessed changes that took place.  In this depressed state I wrote:

Life Passes Her By

She sits and stares out the window and she doesn’t recognize anything

Life has passed her by and nothing is the same

Where was she when all this happened?  She was here but

Life passed her by

Buildings were built and buildings were torn down

People arrived and left;

People were born and others died

Life passed her by

People divorced and others married;

People found new jobs and new hobbies

Where was she—she was there but she did not participate in life

It passed her by

She reaches out but touches nothing;

Life is just past her grasp

She stretches and bends and tries again

But life passes her by

She talks to people but it is a jumble to understand what they say

The life she missed is just out of her reach

Life passed her by

Life may pass us by but we can choose to keep letting it pass us by or we can choose to find a way to stretch a little further and grab hold of it.  We can choose to find a way to participate again.  Is life passing you by?  What can you do to reach and grab hold of it?

Kathryn and her husband, Rick.

Kathryn and her husband, Rick.

Allergic to Life can be purchased at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  Signed copies may be purchased at Kathryn’s website.

Connect with Kathryn:

Kathryntreat.com

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allergictolifemybattle or BeMyGuest

The Authentic Self: Becoming Aware of Energy and Energy Flows

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Someone asked me the other day how I was able to follow energy flows in my body. My answer was that I could feel energy and sense if it was flowing in a certain direction. Although that seemed to satisfy my questioner, it made me think about my journey toward becoming energy sensitive.

images[4]As with others before me, I came to energy sensitivity through what seemed like an endless spiral of illnesses that appeared to culminate in sensitivity to electromagnetic fields, causing me indescribable pain. For those of my readers who are scratching their heads and wondering what sensitivity to electromagnetic fields is, here is a very brief primer. So-called EMF sensitivity is a change in perception. Whereas most people can use iPhones, computers, tablets, televisions, telephones, and be near running appliances and high-voltage wires without perceiving the EMFs that radiate from these devices, people with EMF sensitivity cannot be within seven to ten feet of one of theses devices or, in some cases of higher EMF emissions such as from a cell phone tower, within a quarter mile or more of the emissions without experiencing acute pain. An EMF-sensitive person feels or perceives the energy from EMF-radiant devices as pain in the body, and many times the emissions precipitate brain fog and confusion, shaking, tremors, tachycardia, immune system effects, and more. I have known some EMF-sensitive people who experienced these sensations at even greater distances than what is described above.

jhp4f226e8a425f81.jpgLuckily, when my perception to electromagnetic fields changed, I was referred to Deborah Singleton, founder of A Healing Place, and her team of energy medicine practitioners. Through their guidance, I learned to work with my energy flows so that I could release from my energy fields the EMF emissions that had become perceptible to me and, thus, stop the pain of the exposure. I outlined this coaching and my recovery in Intentional Healing: One Woman’s Path to Higher Consciousness and Freedom from Environmental and Other Chronic Illnesses. In the end, what began as a disability turned into a tool for sensing energy. Check the end of this post for a grounding and releasing exercise for an EMF exposure. Please share it with someone who has EMF sensitivity and cannot use a computer.

Not all people who sense energy flows, however,  develop this new perception through illness. Sensitivity to energy can be learned in a gentle way through meditation and coaching. Energy medicine practitioners are sensitive to energy, but anyone who wants to enhance the body’s natural healing processes can learn to be aware of and follow energy flows in the bodymindspirit. As Deborah Singleton taught me, energy responds to breath and thought. Enhancing your body’s natural healing processes by keeping your energy open and flowing is as easy as breathing and thinking (visualizing or using your imagination to see your breath moving through your body).

Let’s try this easy exercise. Use your imagination to “see” a cone of white light radiating from several feet above your head and into your crown. While inhaling through your nose, “see” the light move into your body–through your head, into your trunk, and down into your legs, pooling in your feet. When you exhale gently through your mouth, “see” the white light move into the earth and down to the earth’s core, or center. Let your light connect with the light you “see” in the core; color doesn’t matter. It could be Kelly green, fire engine red, lemon yellow, sky blue, lavender, purple, gold, silver, indigo, and various shades of the primary colors. Then inhale deeply through your nose, “seeing” the light  come up into your feet. While exhaling through your mouth, “see” the light move up your legs, through your trunk, into your head , and out your crown. That light will join the light that circulates naturally around your body.

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To see the cone of light above your head, watching it as it enters your body and goes to your feet, is to see the first or primary flow. The primary flow feeds all of the flows in the bodymindspirit. The second flow runs in opposite directions for women and men. In women the second flow begins in the bottom of the right foot, travels up the right leg, trunk, arm, neck and into and around the right side of the head, flows over the crown, and descends down the left side of the head, neck, arm, trunk, and leg into the left foot, joining the flow that begins in the right foot. Its trajectory is oval, and it is also thought of as the “oval flow.” In men the second or oval flow starts in the bottom of the left foot, travels up the left leg, trunk, arm, neck and into and around the left side of the head, flows over the crown, and descends down the right side of the head, neck, arm, trunk, and leg into the right foot, joining the flow that begins in the left foot.

Let’s try a breathing and “seeing” exercise for the second flow. See the light that begins in the bottom of your foot (right for women and left for men). As you inhale deeply through your nose, see the light move up your leg, into your trunk, arm, neck and the side of your head to the top of your head. As you exhale through your mouth, see the light descend down the side of your head, through your arm, trunk, leg, and into your foot and “watch” as it joins the flow in your opposite foot. “Watch” the flow circulate for three cycles as you breathe in through your nose and exhale, blowing out through your mouth.

1239394_f248[1]The third flow is the circular flow. Visualize a hula hoop of white light moving clockwise around your body. A healthy third flow can be seen or sensed as a fast-moving cylindrical column of light around your body. When you breathe light up from the earth, it travels up the body and out the head, joining the circular flow.

The fourth flow is the spinal flow that begins at the base of the spine, travels up the back of the spine, over the head, and down the front of the spine, mingling with and feeding each chakra. As you advance in understanding the flows, the fourth flow will be understood in a different way. For now, however, thinking of it in this way is a good start.

Let’s use some of this new understanding of flows to release an EMF exposure.

Grounding and Releasing Exercise for an EMF Exposure

If you know anyone with EMF sensitivity, please share the following grounding and releasing exercise for an EMF exposure:

  1. Stand on the earth wearing leather(not rubber)-soled shoes (protection for beginners, this requirement can change later with proficiency) or remove shoes and stand on the floor in your home. Whether you are outside or inside, position yourself where you can see a clock.
  2. See a cone of light above your head. While inhaling through your nose, “see” (visualize or imagine you see) the light move into your head and through your body to your feet creating pools of light. While exhaling through your mouth, “see” the light move into the earth, and with a thought send the light to the core of the earth.
  3. Join your light to light you “see” in the core. For beginners, it is easiest to use Kelly green, a deep rich green the color of grass, the color of an emerald. Inhale, bringing that green light up from the core to your feet. As you exhale through your nose gently, “see” the green light move through your body and out the top of your head. Imagine yourself as a fountain spouting green water or think of yourself as the Jolly Green Giant. These were images Deborah suggested. For me, they were effective. You may feel tingling in your feet, a good sign that you are grounding. Don’t worry if you feel nothing. That sensitivity may come later.
  4. Now focus on your circular flow. See it moving around your body in clockwise motion. With a thought stop the flow (Just think: Stop! Reverse!) and send it counter-clockwise. Look at your clock. Let the circular flow move in reverse for no more than two minutes the first time you try this exercise. Later, you can let the reverse flow continue for up to three minutes. Never longer! As this flow reverses, you may feel a pins and needles sensation. That is to be expected if you are sensitive. You are releasing EMF emissions that have pierced your perception. Think: I let the EMF go.
  5. At the end of two minutes, or three if this is not the first time, with a thought stop the flow (Just think: Stop! Return to clockwise movement.) and send it back to clockwise rotation. Watch this flow, now clockwise, for one minute. You want to make sure that the flow is steady.
  6. Ground yourself, that is, connect your energies to the earth as described above. Then think: I am grounded. I close myself to all but my highest truth.

All of the energy-balancing exercises I learned at A Healing Place helped me when I was recovering from multiple chemical sensitivity, but the above EMF-clearing exercise saved my sanity while I was at the height of EMF sensitivity.

If you had EMF sensitivity and you have recovered, what helped you? Please share your story by leaving a comment. If you still have EMF sensitivity, what do you do to help yourself? I invite you as well to leave a comment.

 

 

My Writing Process Blog Tour and Giveaway

 In conjunction with “My Writing Process” blog tour, I will be giving away a $10 Amazon gift card to one of the readers of this post who leaves a comment. Here is how it will work. At the end of this week, I will write the name of each person who has left a comment on this blog on a slip of paper. All slips will go into a hat, and I’ll have my husband draw a slip from the hat. An Amazon gift card worth $10 will go to the person whose slip he draws, so be sure to leave your email address for possible delivery. The giveaway will close at midnight on Friday, April 4, 2014.

My Writing Process Blog Tour.

I was fortunate to be asked by my friend Kathryn C. Treat, author of Allergic to Life: My Battle for Survival, Courage, and Hope, to join “My Writing Process” blog tour. Kathy and I met in 2003 at the Environmental Health Center-Dallas. Our friendship began as we supported each other through the rigors of testing and treatment at the Center and developed long-distance by telephone and email. Little did we know, all those years ago, that one day we’d support each other as authors. I have admired Kathy’s strength and determination to recover from environmental illness. She applies those same qualities to her new tasks as an author, and she has taught me a great deal about social media and promotion. I have her to thank for my WordPress site, which she helped me construct after my book website was hacked. To find out more about Kathy and her journey through environmental illness, you can check out her website or her blog. Here, thanks to Kathy, are my thoughts on my writing process.

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What am I working on?

From 2004 through 2012 while we were living in Santa Fe, New Mexico,  I visited Navajo country, the Jicarilla Apache reservation, and Northern New Mexican pueblos, attending sacred dances and visiting sacred sites in a three-state area. On many trips, I was fortunate to have the company of my friend Christine Gregg, a sacred pipe carrier and sweat lodge keeper, who is a member of the Katala Okolakiciye, a traditional Lakota women’s society. Sometimes, Christine’s apprentice, Esther Maria Lindner, accompanied us. On one of our trips we traced the journey of the JemezSummer 2010 and Emma 005 maidens, who were sent by their elders under cover of night into Navajo country. This is only one of the historical events I researched for a book I envisioned that would tell the story of a remarkable Navajo headman who lived in the first half of the nineteenth century and played the dual role of encouraging his people to go into captivity and then, through negotiations with one of the U.S. Army’s ablest generals, of leading his people out of captivity, not to a U.S. Indian reservation but to their homes within the sacred boundaries of Navajo country. I am developing this story line now. At the same time I’ve been developing the theme of the Authentic Self–Higher Self or Soul–through my blog posts, sharing what I’ve learned about getting in touch with that side of ourselves through breathing and visualizations and developing awareness of the human energy system.

Jennie and Christine at Angel Fire

Jennie and Christine at Angel Fire

 

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I wear many hats as a writer. While some of my blog posts fit neatly into the bodymindspirit genre, many of the topics I choose to pursue identify me as a writer in the field of public health, a calling I’ve followed since 1989. Whereas in earlier years I wrote and worked with experts primarily in the fields of substance abuse and cardiovascular disease about topics assigned to me through the consulting companies for which I worked, now I write about the environment and its effects on health, not surprising since my health was affected by exposure to environmental toxins. I still accept commissions for public health and medical science editing with my husband, Roger, who is a retired physician and epidemiologist. We’ve had the privilege of supporting the Initiative for Vulnerable Populations, based at the University of California Berkeley, editing journal articles, a book chapter, presentations, and press releases.

Why do I write what I do?

I write to make a difference–a difference in the lives of the people I reach, a difference in the fields of public health and medicine through facilitating the communication of ideas and findings from research. I write about things that matter to me greatly. Isn’t that a part of man’s need? To make a difference somewhere? Or at least to think we are making a difference, part ego and part Authentic Self, reaching out to fellow travelers.

How does my writing process work?

My process varies with what I am doing, but usually the basics include (1) an idea or concept, (2) research, (3) consultation with an expert, if appropriate, (4) a rough draft, (5) review by others, and (6) final draft. For my next book I am venturing into historical fiction, with lots of room for imagination, but even for that work, a retelling of the life of Barboncito and his ancestors, I spent years researching and visiting the areas to be included in the settings.

Nomination
That’s it for my writing process. Now I have the pleasure of nominating another writer whose work I’ve been following. Remember to check her blog on Monday, April 7, 2014. Here she is in her own words:
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Meglena Ivanova

10154390_824339720913663_1921104990_nMy name is Meglena Ivanova. I’m Bulgarian author, blogger and essayist. I live in NYC with my husband, bearded dragon /lizard/ and abnormally strange cat. When I’m not writing, reading or blogging, I enjoy gaining insights into the psychologies of other cultures and times. I’m also into dancing, movies, and Apple products. Occasionally I like to write short (usually about mystical, mythological creatures and old but sacred objects that are described in ancient legends) fiction stories.

Cover-1Where people can find me:

•        Websitehttp://meglenaivanova.com

•        Blog – http://meglenaivanova.wordpress.com

•        Twitter https://twitter.com/

•        Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/pages/Meglena-Ivanova/505904209458076 

•        Google + https://plus.google.com/118088705452693219921

•        Linkedin www.linkedin.com/pub/meglena-ivanova/44/110/630/

•        Pinterest –http://www.pinterest.com/megidivam/

•        Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7216923.Meglena_Ivanova

•        Smashwordshttps://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/MegiIvanova

I’ve Been Honored with a Liebster Award for Blogging!

Wow! My wordpress blog debuted on January 19, 2014, and I’ve just been nominated for a Liebster Award by Meglena Ivanova. Many thanks to Meglena for this honor!

The Rules:

You must link back to the person who nominated you.

Answer 11 questions from the person who nominated you.

Nominate 11 new bloggers and ask them 11 questions.

You cannot nominate the person who nominated you.

You must let the people you nominate know they have been nominated.

Here are my questions from Meglena:

photo_1072_200602141. What is your biggest goal in life? My goals  have changed as I moved from childhood into young adulthood, then adulthood, and now my senior years. I suppose they were all achievement oriented in the beginning. With maturity and a spiritual awakening, they’ve become more process oriented. So if I were to choose one process-oriented goal, it would be this: to interact with everyone I meet through my heart.

2. What’s your dream job? I am in my dream job. Writing gives me joy andjhp4f226e8a425f81.jpg contentment.

3. Would you rather follow your heart or your head? No contest: my heart every time.

4. If you are allowed to do just one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? Write, write, write!

5. What do you think of this expression: Where there was fire, ashes remain? If one thinks of fire as purification, what remains is the purest essence of what was. It reminds me, of course, of the phoenix that rises from its ashes, the process of birth and rebirth—much like reincarnation of the soul that returns to complete lessons not fully learned in previous lifetimes or the spring summer fall winter cycle of nature.

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6. What’s the best gift you’ve ever given and what’s the best gift you’ve ever received? The best gift I’ve ever given was to an organization for research in women’s health. I set up a template for writing a grant proposal. Not only did that approach win the research money that first year, but every year thereafter. The best gift I’ve ever received was when my son was born. I had been trying to have a baby for several years. After miscarriages and several interventions, a healthy child was born, for which I shall be forever grateful.

7. What ability or skill do you most wish you had (that you don’t have already)? I do not have a quantitative bone in my body. I would love to understand mathematical and statistical concepts.

8. If you could vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go? Straight to Italy, touring north to south and west to east, tasting all of the regional specialties.

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9. What would you do without electricity for 3 days? Isn’t that what some residents of NYC had to cope with after Hurricane Sandy? A younger person might answer this question in a different way. As seniors, my husband and I would have to consider a number of safety issues related to leaving and returning home, since we live in a fourth-floor condominium.  Since we exercise regularly, access would be manageable. Food during the three-day period would take resourcefulness, but I’m sure we’d work things out. Work would be difficult, especially if I were working on  something with a deadline. For entertainment, I’d do what I love to do when I’m not writing, that is, read. I’m never bored with good reading material around.

10. What is your favorite book/author? Hands down, it is Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. I’ve re-read it every year since it was first recommended to me.

11. What’s the biggest problem facing the world right now and if you alone could solve it, how would you do it? Lack of regulation of the manufacture of chemicals is one of the biggest environmental issues the planet faces. Solving this problem would take the combined forces of researchers and governments in every nation. If, therefore, I ruled the world, I would mandate that every chemical be tested for environmental safety, that is, safe for the air we breathe, the water we drink, the animals and fish we depend on for sustenance, the fields we plant, the food we grow.

I nominate the following bloggers for a Liebster Award:

1.  Kathryn Treat

2.  Natacha Guyot

3.  Joe Abbate

4.  giftfromtheheartshareandcare

5.  Danica Cornell

6.  Nonnie Jules

7.  Stella Wynne

8.  JV Carr

9.  Darlene Craviotto

10. Shirley Slaughter

11. Molly

Congratulations to all my honorees. I selected you because your blogs inspire me in many ways. Don’t stop writing about what matters to you most. You have an avid follower in me.

To claim your award, please follow the rules above. Here are your 11 questions:

1.  Who are your role models in your professional life?

2.  Who are the people who have inspired you in your personal life?

3.  Choose one thing in your life for which you are immensely grateful.

4.  Give one example each of how you make the chemical, emotional, mental, and physical environments in your home safer for you and those you love.

5.  Choose one person in your life to whom you can tell almost anything without fear of judgment.

6. If you could choose another profession, other than the one you are in, which would you choose?

7. How would you like to be remembered?

8. What do you do for recreation?

9. What is your favorite family game, i.e., something you play or played with your children?

10. Who is your favorite poet?

11. Is there a song you like to sing?

That’s it, everyone. Have fun claiming your award.

Thank you, again, Meglena for nominating me for the Liebster Award.

Color Meditations: Nurture your Chakras

jhp4f226e8a425f81.jpgOne of the questions I am asked most often is this: What did you do to help yourself recover from environmental illness? Although I benefited from several therapies, the two I credit with putting me on the path to recovery are treatment at the Environmental Health Center-Dallas, founded by Dr. William J Rea, and energy balancing at A Healing Place, founded by Deborah Singleton. For me, this combination of traditional Western medicine and energy medicine was most effective. As I reiterate in author talks, healing paths are individual. What worked for me might not work for someone else. I share my story to let people with environmental illness/multiple chemical sensitivity know that recovery is possible.

In my blogs I share some of the meditations and visualizations I learned to keep myself energetically balanced in order to support the natural healing processes of my bodymindspirit. Anyone can enhance health and vitality by taking a few minutes each day to strengthen his or her energy system by supporting the chakras, or main vortices of energy that are located along the spine. Consider the following.

Chakra Color System

Chakra Color System

Are you a green person or a blue person? Do you wear red, or does the color yellow predominate in your wardrobe? The last time you bought a tie, were you surprised the tie that caught your attention was purple and you owned nothing purple? Do you have days when the only color that appeals to you is sky blue and you absolutely must wear it?

The bodymindspirit has a subtle way of telling us what we need to bring ourselves into balance. Often, when we have a compulsion to wear a certain color, we are receiving a message that the chakra in which that color predominates needs a little support. If, for instance, one morning you are drawn to wear red, your root chakra might be asking for attention. If, however, you are drawn to wear yellow, your solar plexus might be speaking to you. Let’s review the colors of the chakras and issues typically associated with them.

We need to be aware, however, before beginning this review, that although we think of certain issues as being associated with individual chakras, issues, events, and emotional states have system-wide effects. Every component of the energy system is connected to every other component. If a practitioner tells you, for example, that you are holding sorrow in your heart, he or she might be sensing an energy block affecting the flow of energies into and out of the heart chakra or receiving information about the loss of someone dear to you that is manifesting in the heart. Nevertheless, the flow into and around your other chakras and through the major and minor flows in your body will also be affected, as will the quality of your energy bodies. Anything that leads to imbalance affects all of you. Armed with this information, we can now look at the individual chakras.

chakras

In the first, or root, chakra the color red predominates. Issues associated with this chakra include personal safety, personality stability, and groundedness. I’m sure you’ve heard someone you know referred to as “flighty” or “not grounded.”  An energy practitioner might see or sense this ungroundedness in the flows into and out of the root chakra, or detect damage to the root chakra from past events. For instance, if your parents did not provide a safe environment for you when you were a child, there might be structural issues that need addressing. Again, these issues, arising from life events, have widespread effects on the bodymindspirit and will have played a part in shaping how you see the world and how you relate to everything on it and in it, including people, places, energies, and every manner of creature within your environment.

The second chakra, or sacrum, is thought of as the governing chakra of sexuality and creativity—from the creation of new life in the womb to the creation of characters on a page, a work of art, or a movement in a symphony. The predominant color of the sacrum is orange, but as with all the chakras, many colors, representing different energies and states, can appear in the sacrum. It is here that information comes forward quite often about your relationship with your mother or father, your partner, or your child. Structural anomalies or blockages in the sacrum typically affect your attitudes toward sexuality and govern how you relate to your sexual partners. They can also block creative flow. Often, so called writer’s block can be traced to changes in flow into the sacrum.

In the third, or solar plexus, chakra the color yellow predominates. Will and determination are governed by the third chakra. It is here that we often receive messages that alert us to danger or fraudulence. We say that we had a “gut feeling” about this or that, and that feeling guided our decisions. The following story illustrates the power of this chakra. Someone I love dearly was walking to a subway entrance on his way to work early one morning. He was listening to music on his IPod, so he couldn’t hear street sounds. He passed what he took to be a street person, wearing a hoodie and rummaging through a dumpster.  He had no sooner passed the dumpster when a gut feeling stopped him suddenly and he whirled around to find the street person, who had run toward him with his hands raised as if to hit him, not two feet away. The street person stopped, realizing he would have to face and fight his alerted potential victim, and quickly ran away. When I asked what my loved one had felt, he described feeling as if he had been punched in the gut. “The feeling was so strong. My first instinct was to turn around, and I’m glad I did.”

The fourth, or heart, chakra is the center of the chakra system and the repository of love. Kelly green is the color of the heart chakra, but rose pink can predominate when we experience love. Feelings toward others, as well as feelings toward ourselves, move through this chakra and are modulated by this chakra. The heart chakra is the brain of the spiritual self. Thinking with one’s heart and not one’s head is often thought to originate in the authentic self or soul. The heart chakra serves as a transmitting station between the lower chakras (one, two, and three) and the upper chakras (five, six, and seven). Let’s pause for a minute at the terms “lower” and “upper.” Some people mistakenly believe that the upper chakras are somehow superior to the lower and that the goal of spiritual growth is to process through the lower chakras in order to focus and remain in the upper chakras. Nothing could be further from the truth. Each chakra serves an important function within the chakra system, and spiritual growth is facilitated through each chakra. If you attempt to live only through the upper chakras, you create an imbalance that can impede growth and health.

Through the fifth, or throat, chakra we speak our truth. Sky blue predominates. Issues related to shyness, ability to present ourselves and our needs, in fact, most presentation skills, are associated with the fifth chakra. If you have difficulties speaking before an audience or you’ve been told many times that you need to speak up for yourself, then you may be dealing with what Anodea Judith in Eastern Body, Western Mind: Psychology and the Chakra System as a Path to the Self terms a deficit in the fifth chakra. If people find it hard to be in your company because you are a non-stop talker and carry on incessantly about things that irritate you or just tend to dominate the setting you occupy, then you might be dealing with what she deems an excess in this chakra. Of course, these issues relate to every chakra, in particular the solar plexus, and are tied to questions of will and dominance.

The sixth chakra, or third eye, has traditionally been thought of as the portal to inner vision and communication with other dimensions, the spirit realm, and the soul. This traditional view has been expanded to include the understanding that head and heart communicate, and as they become conjoined more closely, communication centers in the heart. The predominant color is indigo that is infused, as are all the chakras, with great light. The third eye is the conduit that taps into Source for the great ideas that have moved mankind forward in every field. It is through this chakra, therefore, that we can fall prey to hubris unless our head and heart are in balance.

The seventh, or crown, chakra is our connection to God and Spirit. The predominant color is white moving toward lavender, and the light of this chakra reaches up into the heavens. It is the conduit of the energy source that constitutes the primal flow through the body and into the earth, illustrating the dictum “as above, so below.” Balance in this chakra is essential for groundedness and, of course, for balance in all of the chakras. We are said to have our meetings with our guides through the crown chakra, and those who experience NDEs (near-death experiences) tell of hovering above their bodies and observing the efforts of rescue workers and physicians to bring them back to life.

Color meditations support the chakras in several ways. First, by focusing on a particular chakra we increase its power through the universal law that we give energy to the object of our focus. Second, when we work with the dominant color of a chakra we reinforce the vibration of that chakra since each color has a unique vibration that corresponds to the vibratory pattern of the chakra.

All meditation sessions begin with grounding. Sit in a comfortable chair with your feet on the floor. Remove your shoes and wiggle your toes. Picture a cone of white light above your head.  Take a deep breath in through your nose. As you inhale, visualize the light moving through your head and body to your feet. See your feet become pools of light. Watch these pools expand around your feet. As you exhale slowly through your mouth as if blowing out a candle, send the light deep into Mother Earth. Breathe normally.

Choose a destination. You can see yourself in a garden, by the seashore, in the mountains or woods. If you choose woods, for instance, allow the woods to unfold in your imagination. Do you see a path of light? Follow that path to an opening. What do you see? A waterfall? A pool of water? What color predominates?  Red? Green? Yellow? Whatever color you see, let the color speak to you. If it is green, for example, your heart chakra may need support. Walk into the gentle waterfall or pool of green light. Allow your bodymindspirit to soak in this color. Place your right hand over your heart chakra. Breathe the color into your heart chakra and out again. Can you feel tingling or pulsing from your heart chakra? If you don’t feel tingling or pulsing, let it go and move on. If you feel something, remember that feeling. You are sensing the flow through your authentic self. You can continue to explore the woods for other colors or choose to end your session and return.

When it is time to return, see yourself walk back down the path to where you started. Breathe in through your nose and slowly out through your mouth as if blowing out a candle. Wiggle your toes and fingers. Slowly return to yourself.

As you continue your meditation practice, awareness grows and opens you to your bodymindspirit, an essential part of expanding your consciousness. The benefits of color meditations, therefore, are several: increase in the power of the chakras through focus, reinforcement of the vibration of each chakra through connection with the vibration of its color, support of the natural healing processes in the body through deep relaxation and balance of flow within the energy system, as well as growing awareness of the authentic self.

Disclaimer: All healing paths, while they share certain things in common, are unique to the individual. Nothing I write in my blogs should be construed as medical advice. All decisions about physical and mental health should be made in consultation with your physician or other licensed or certified health care practitioner.