Turn and Face the Strange: Changes at Body Talks Therapy and August’s New Moon Solar Eclipse and Healing Circle

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Let’s connect once again on Sunday, August 20, at 6:30pm, to celebrate the New Moon Solar Eclipse and all she reveals, at my residence in Lititz, PA. Parking spots are limited, so you must RSVP in advance. Cost is $10.

 

The New Moon Solar Eclipse peaks on Monday, August 21. The eclipse will be visible from the Northwest to the Southeast of the United States. We won’t see it here in Pennsylvania, but we’ve likely begun to notice a shift well in advance and will continue even after.

A new moon solar eclipse brings into our awareness all that we’ve hidden from ourselves that we didn’t want to see. It’s time to return to wholeness and balance.

My ancestors believed that while in the astrological sign of Leo, we’re encouraged to acknowledge our inner royalty and honor ourselves in more dramatic ways. We’re called to become better friends to ourselves, set healthier boundaries, focus on self-care versus abandoning our own needs to meet others’, and step into our power.

When we spend time immersed in the drama of government corruption or arguing with people who live in fear and intolerance, we become drained and give away our power. We forget that our light is alchemical and can transmute hate. If we remembered and lived each moment as though we are the changemakers, here to share our gifts and create a new reality (because we are), what would we do differently? With whom would be share our precious time? Where would we plug the leaks?

With so many inner and outer changes upon us, it may be helpful to ask ourselves what’s important to hold sacred, how to stay centered, and what’s important to release. We could re-evaluate our requirements for those we allow in our inner and outer personal and professional circles and whom to respect as fellow human beings then simply bless and be on our way.

Time Has Changed Me 

One effect of the person transformation in which I’ve been engaged this summer is a desire to orient myself differently as a healer. While I’m proud of my hard work in obtaining my credentials as a clinical social worker and the financial and educational investments I’ve made to maintain licensure in Pennsylvania, the current paradigm of psychotherapy feels a bit weighted and outdated to me. I’ll continue working with current clients in that role for as long as you ask.

Meanwhile, I’ll work with new clients in the capacity of bodyworker (or somatic therapist), energy healer, and/or coach, which will afford me the freedom and creativity to construct the truss of a more effective way of practicing so that I can later bridge the divide between old and new. I’m not abandoning psychotherapy; it is a mix of science and craft that has served humanity well for decades. It simply requires an upgrade.

Further, to ensure the sustainability of Body Talks Therapy as a community offering one-on-one services in an era that has become a bit chaotic for some, I’ve made changes to some policies (which you can read and download here). Engaging in inner exploration, growth, and integration with me by your side is an important personal and financial commitment to Self. I promise to continue to prepare well in advance for and respect our time together and ask clients to do the same. I consider it the highest privilege to be a part of your journey.

As of next week, I’ll require payment when scheduling sessions, and I no longer offer refunds for sessions canceled within 72 hours of our planned time. Clients have the option of engaging by phone or video when unable to see me in person.

Ch-ch-changes 

(Thank your for patience as I get ridiculous with the theme here.)

I’ve never seen so many monarch butterflies in one summer, and it’s not over yet. Meanwhile, I’m still in a cocoon phase, dreaming of what’s to come with regard to workshops and group gatherings here at Body Talks Therapy. Surely as I change, so too will my approach to facilitating community. You can look forward to more news on that before harvest time.

Now I’d like to encourage everyone to frolic and play as a Leo would, basking in the August sun, swimming in sweet summer waters, and connecting more deeply to your own inner fire. Join our next New Moon ceremony and healing circle. It’s going to be a potent one.

Allison Brunner, LCSW, RM, Body Talks Therapy

Ditch Doom & Gloom and Birth a New World While Living It

A friend observed recently that I smile most of the time and seem “oddly at peace” in the midst of what feels to him like the Apocalypse.

“What Apocalypse?” I asked. I pointed to the lush green countryside, to squirrels chasing each other up a tree, and to orange lilies blooming near a horse pasture.

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While joking, as many people have, that my head must be in the sand, he pulled out his iPhone and tried showing me CNN’s web site.

I held up my hand, assuring him that I know well that current news reports a plethora of horrors each day. I don’t deny any of it or pretend it doesn’t exist. I know that people are suffering and that others are freaking out. Polarities (good/evil, kind/cruel, conservative/liberal, war/peace) have become more extreme.

What lay hidden in the collective, residing formerly in the world’s subconscious, has begun to shift into our conscious awareness so that it may be acknowledged, healed, and brought back into balance. This process, whether personal or large-scale, can look wild and messy, or even frightening. Meanwhile, entire systems are crumbling, creating space for those that better serve our highest good to arise. Whereas in the past we waited for others to lead us out of despair, we’ve become the leaders proposing heart-based solutions aligned with our noblest and wisest intentions.

When I utter these truths, some people insist that I must express concern over current threats to our safety, sovereignty, and basic humanity, lest I be deemed callous or privileged. “Aren’t you worried that XYZ issue will affect you directly?” Or, “You’re lucky you don’t have to care.”

In fact, I do have to care. What affects the least of us affects us all regardless of the way we categorize ourselves. I care so much that I’ve dedicated my life purpose to designing a brighter tomorrow. But I’ve chosen a new manner of engaging, and it’s one I share with you here in case it resonates. I invite you to try it to heal yourself personally, as a community, and to impact others globally without having to take on the heaviness of the planet.

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Years ago, I read or listened to hours of news each week, educating myself on the problems of the world. I immersed myself in humanity’s miseries, believing that if I felt others’ pain it meant I cared more deeply. I brooded with like-minded friends. Unified in our outrage, we insulted privately and on social media the intelligence of peers, family members, neighbors, coworkers, and strangers alike who disagreed with our views. We argued, resisted, and protested our way through conflict, believing our cause was just and our strategy true.

My friend James came to visit me one day in 2010. “You’re listening to the news,” he said when I opened the front door. When I asked how he knew, he said, “I could hear from outside [the anchors and pundits] yelling.” When I turned off the TV, my ears rang in the silence. I stood motionless for a bit, noticing how tense I was and how much anger my body held. My forehead and temples throbbed most times I tried tuning back in again thereafter, so I ditched my cable TV subscription and stopped listening to NPR during my morning commutes.

As my nervous system recalibrated over the next half-decade, there was a slow and deliberate adjustment in my attitude towards other human beings. I understood that we’re more alike than different, unified in our desire to feel safe and loved—even if our ideas of what the means or the end look like are different.

Neither humankind nor my physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual health were any better for my former us-versus-them mentality. It took me several years more though to admit that in my self-righteousness, I’d created little of service to the greater good. Rather, I’d mostly added fuel to the fire.

Fast forward to the Presidential election campaign of 2016, when people played the game of duality by aligning with Red, Blue, Green, Independent, Progressive, anti-Trump, Hillary haters, pro-Earth, anti-establishment, conspiracy theorists, Tea Party, etcetera. They vilified each other, bickering, name-calling, tweeting, blaming, and shaming on Facebook, podcasts, and other media outlets paid to shock and awe us into a perpetual stupor of conflict and battle.

I was disturbed by the division and tried pointing out how destructive it all was, thereby drawing more attention to the problem.

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“What you water grows,” a mentor told me once. I thought of her wise words when I realized that no one paid attention to or wanted to hear my Chicken Little rants about how we were all creating the very thing that we hoped to avoid.

So I considered instead the seeds I wanted to scatter, ones that would blossom into a world beyond winners and losers, filled with unity, harmony, peace, and love. Instead of talking about these qualities, I needed to embody them as best I can; it’s a daily practice of being the change, one in which I’m imperfect (and that’s okay). When the road gets bumpy or I’m feeling out of alignment with what I’m creating, I simply acknowledge what’s present, give it space to be felt without reacting from it, and then shift my attention back to my heart center.

We live in a realm of infinite possibilities; within them, in each now-moment, we have choice regarding which reality we want to create. There are some complexities to this, of course, but for the sake of this essay, allow me to demonstrate what I’m talking about.

Become cognizant for a moment of how you long for our world to look in 5, 10, or 20 years. Anchor it by visualizing and feeling it.

Peek then at a mainstream national or world news Web site, for example, or turn on the news for just one minute. Glimpse briefly at the social media pages of your like-minded friends who are the most outspoken on political matters. Notice the emotions that arise from within you and their associated physical sensations in your body. I wonder, from your current experience, do you feel inspired to create what you desire from a place of joy, happiness, or inner-peace? What would you end up creating from that space?

Alternately, I invite you now to become aware of your breath. Take a few moments to come back to center, remembering all that you love about your life and the people who are part of it. With your eyes open or closed, begin to notice everything that is already in alignment with your dreams. Mentally, emotionally, and physically note the ways in which the world is already exhibiting that which you envision. Keep a checklist as evidence, and seek out data to add to it each day.

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Imagine moving from here toward that which you wish to birth; as you do, notice your experience. How does it compare to your experiment with the former example?

Play with the latter daily. Give yourself a few weeks and reassess. You may or may not experience symptoms like those of a detox or withdrawal from the drama and noise or the ego gratification of touting how “right” you are (I sure did!). This is normal, and it’s more tolerable when we note the extra time available to play, have fun, hold doors for people, send love notes, exercise, and make people laugh.

How has your perception of the world changed? Do you feel more empowered, connected, and motivated to lead a movement toward the one you intuited lay just beyond the horizon? Does it feel as though you’re already living it now, and can this help you build momentum? What changes do you feel called to make in your life in order to sustain this state of bodymind?

Ask yourself now about whether or not you need to keep hearing the “bad” news and debating with people who have different opinions or viewpoints than yours. Do those behaviors still serve your purpose? It’s OK to be honest; your experience may be different from mine; it’s not right or wrong.

Feel free to send me a message describing your discoveries or whether you’ve begun to perceive through new lenses, seeing pots of gold where once there was gloom at the end of your rainbows.

Allison Brunner, LCSW, RM, Body Talks Therapy

Being With Brokenness: a New Workshop With Erin Miller Shrader

By Erin Miller Shrader of Sacred Grove Wellness, reprinted from her blog

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There is a story in the Jewish tradition about the beginning of the world. I am familiar with Rachel Naomi Remen’s telling of the story, as it was told to her by her grandfather. In the beginning, God created the world as light. He placed this light within vessels and sent them out into the world. Somewhere along the way, the vessels broke, scattering this perfect light in all directions. The work of creation, and of humans in particular, is to see this holy light throughout creation and to restore it to wholeness. This act of restoration is called Tikkun Olam. You can hear her telling of the story here: https://soundcloud.com/onbeing/rachel-naomi-remen-the-story-of-tikkun-olam

 This story deeply resonates with my experience of life on Earth. From my very earliest memories, I could sense that something was amiss. Something seemed broken. There was always a feeling of longing and exile for me, for as long as I can remember. This sense has been the seed of my path throughout life, and I consider it now to be a great gift. My longing to discover the root of this brokenness, and to heal within myself and the world, has lead me into some truly remarkable experiences and has guided my connection to many amazing people.

This brokenness manifests in our lives in many different ways. Some days we hardly notice the places where we are cracked or dented, while other days we feel utterly shattered. Most of us have experienced long periods, or seasons of our lives that are suffused with this energy of brokenness. While terribly painful, I have come to see that these seasons are some of the most precious and sacred of our lives. The Buddha called this state dukkha, which translates roughly as suffering or unsatisfactoriness. He believed that this was a prerequisite for awakening, and a universal condition for human life. One of my favorite teachers, Shree Rajneesh (or Osho as he is most commonly called), states that the movement toward Yoga, or union, is not possible without dukkha. It is this brokenness and the hopelessness that it engenders that makes wholeness possible.

What is beneath this brokenness? What is the root of the suffering? What is possible when we turn toward the suffering with compassion and gentleness? I am eager to explore these questions and to offer some fruit from my own practice. Please consider joining me at Firefly Hollow on August 19th from 2:00-5:00pm as we explore this turning toward brokenness both in ourselves, and in the world.

Registration is open to all and available through Firefly Hollow Wellness Center. 

Body Talks Therapy Community Members Facilitate July’s New Moon Gathering

Temperatures finally heated up last month, and we’ve had few breaks since! Regardless of where we go to escape, the humidity is pervasive, pesky even indoors.

Something deep, down inside of me (a nagging gut feeling) has worked similarly. It has demanded my attention, followed me around, and gotten persistent by becoming physically and emotionally uncomfortable when I’ve tried ignoring it by staying busy. It has called me into deeper silence, stillness, a place you may have encountered if you’ve ever tried a sensory deprivation tank (which I highly recommend). Like the summer heat, my need to go deeper into this experience of personal transformation hasn’t yet broken.

Some members of the Body Talks Therapy (BTT) community have described similar experiences recently (more on that in a later post). Yet others have sent me text messages and e-mails expressing the need to stay connected to each other in-person.

I want you to know: I hear you. This is your community, after all, and as a BTT member pointed out: We need each other now more than ever to move forward in our collective mission to heal the planet. (I feel you on that; I’ve never sensed the urgency more than I do today.)

You don’t necessarily need me though to facilitate the connection. As I am a healer, so are you (even if you don’t get paid to be). While each of our journeys looks unique, we’re all heading to a similar destination. And there has never been a hierarchy here; you are my peers.

Thus, BTT community members will hold space while I get my fill of mine this month and possibly the next.

Join the BTT community on Sunday, July 23, for our next New Moon gathering. Registered Nurse and Penn State University Lecturer Whitney Nevins will lead the group around a fire pit at my home in rural Lititz, at 6:30pm to 9:00pm, rain or shine. (Bring bug spray and a blanket or lawn chair. I’ll provide free citronella bracelets! We’ll move inside if it rains.)

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Frankly, this was what I had envisioned when I created BTT: a community of artists, healers, and other Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) that would grow and become something greater than I. So if you have a special skill set or desire to be of service to like-minded and like-wired folks or to join forces with each other to serve humankind in the way you feel called, reach out to me and let’s chat.

Our newest member, Registered Nurse, Yoga Instructor-in-Training, Spiritual Director, and owner of Sacred Grove Wellness, Erin Miller Shrader, has already begun offering spiritual counseling at the BTT Lancaster office. I’ve discovered personally how intuitive, compassionate, and gifted she is. I’m confident as well as honored to recommend her services. Erin does not tell you what to believe; she witnesses your unfolding and assists you in accessing your truth.

Meanwhile, I hope that all of you are enjoying the season. Summer can be an HSP’s delight, with temperatures inspiring us to spend more time in nature and motivating us to dive into the creeks, lakes, and oceans that soothe our nervous systems so splendidly!

And I promise that when my personal retreat ends, I’ll share in future posts all of the gems I’ve discovered. For now, I look forward to sitting beside you on the New Moon!

Space for humans and cars is limited for the New Moon gathering, so please carpool with other members if you can. RSVP to receive the address, directions, and instructions on where and how to park your car. Cost is $5; please pay cash upon arrival.

Allison Brunner, LCSW, RM, Body Talks Therapy

 

Spiritual Director Erin Miller Shrader Now Offers Counseling at Body Talks Therapy in Lancaster

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Spiritual director, yoga teacher, Registered Nurse, mother, wife, and friend Erin Miller Schrader

“One of my first memories occurs around the age of 4. I am on the swing set in our backyard in the hour just before sunset. I feel the breeze on my sticky summer skin and watch the last golden rays of sun dancing on the treetops. Suddenly a sense of deep recognition fills me. It feels like home. Like belonging, and peace, and incredible joy. Like a deep exhilarating sigh through my whole being.

For the rest of my life, I have been finding ways to re-experience the magic of that moment and to help others have that experience. I have come to understand that I was resting in our true and eternal nature in those precious moments.

“As a spiritual director, yoga teacher, registered nurse, mother, wife and friend, I find ways to move in the world that help us all to experience the homecoming and the joy of our true nature. I have also had many experiences of feeling deeply exiled from this joy, what has been termed the Dark Night of the Soul, or Spiritual Crisis. Even in those times, when I had no felt sense of the Holiness of my nature, I blessedly carried the memory of my child self and drew hope from it like an amulet.

“It is my great joy in this world to aid others in accessing their own experience of deep joy, peace and belonging. My work is to help you create your amulet, something to hold when the darkness sweeps through, as it inevitably does in this Earth life. One of my favorite quotes from Ram Dass captures my work exceptionally well: “We are all just walking each other home.”

— Erin Miller Shrader, Sacred Grove Wellness

For more information or to schedule an appointment with Erin at the Body Talks Therapy office in The Lancaster Trophy House at 237 N. Prince St., Suite 303, Lancaster, PA, call (717) 870-4225 or e-mail onesacredgrove@gmail.com

From Dark Night to Rebirth: Psychotherapy and Counseling for Spiritual Awakening and for the Spiritually Awakened

“When I get through this, I will help others do the same,” I vowed on a chilly December afternoon as the winter-white light barely shone between thick raindrops pouring against my bedroom window. Huddled beneath blankets and feeling lost in mental darkness, I focused on my breath and tried to create space for the emotions that were arising. The future reality I’d just created with my heart and mind—that one day I’d offer others the comfort I longed for in that moment—brought me peace.

For this was my Dark Night of the Soul (also known as a spiritual depression), on the heels of the most profound spiritual experience (or kundalini awakening) of my life.

About a half-year prior, I’d awakened from the dream in which I’d played the role (as we all have) of someone who was unlovable or not enough, that I was a victim, and that I was unsafe. It was more than life-altering; it was lifetimes-altering. For weeks after, I wandered around as though I was watching a movie in which I’d once been an actor who didn’t know I was acting and mistook each scene for reality.

Upon realizing the truth of who I was (perfect, holy, divine, powerful, and so much more), I experienced a shift in my sense of Self. I’d broken through Abraham Maslow‘s apex ceiling of self-actualization and reached self-transcendence.

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Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

 

Everything beautiful outside of me I perceived as a reflection to my own beauty and an expansion of my Self. Peering into the eyes of a cottontail rabbit, hearing a coyote call at dawn, watching the moon rise at dusk, or gazing at bright-white clouds against sunlit-blue skies, I could easily cry or laugh with the kind of bliss we feel when in love!

I was in love with myself. Madly. Passionately. For the next several months, I was on a honeymoon with the All-That-Is.

Because I had allowed in so much light, literally and figuratively, by summer’s end I sensed my inner shadow elongating. What had remained unacknowledged or lay dormant in my subconscious, cells, energy field, and ancestry was illuminated, calling out to be healed.

My experience was more intense than it needed to be; I learned later that this had much to do with some deep-down beliefs I held regarding personal transformation and growth having to be painful (more on that a few paragraphs later). If you can relate, though, to some of what I describe following, please know that it is temporary. Seek the support of a spiritual healer, shaman, or a transpersonal psychotherapist trained in kundalini syndrome if your symptoms are similar. (They can be easily misdiagnosed.) [i]

I began to doubt my recent peak experience, wondered if I’d made it up or was tricked. I grew increasingly uncomfortable. I was ultra-sensitive to sounds, tastes, light, color, smells, texture, and other people’s emotions. I seemed to have sprouted antennae that sensed the subtle differences in the vibrations of people, places, and things. The grit, grime, and angst I once found endearing in the city where I lived for 16 years aggravated my nervous system. It mirrored what within me was releasing as I shed layers of who I was not.

Spoken words and even thoughts projected colors and images in my mind; those that were negative affected me physically and emotionally. I lost interest in my friends and in the activities that once inspired me.

Fortunately I’d read books, letters, and personal accounts by Thomas Moore, Adyashanti, St. Theresa of Calcutta, Pamela Kribbe, Eckhart Tolle, St. John of the Cross, and others during years prior, which described experiences similar to mine—so I understood that I was not crazy.

Yet I had expected miracles, a diploma for acing Earth School, a portal to exit the matrix of human existence (not yet understanding that my role was to anchor “heaven” on earth).

“The miracles you seek are in the mundane,” said a shaman who became my guide. She too had once traversed the Underworld and, like Persephone, emerged intact. “You want to see heaven? Look in a blade of grass.”

Her laughter and her calm certainty that I was going to be OK were the soothing balm for my soul and medicine for my heart. As the months wore on, she not only reminded me of sacred mysteries I felt I’d once known, she sat shiva by phone as I grieved my former self.

On Good Friday, the day collective awareness was on death and resurrection, she told me gently, “The belief that this has to be hard is just a belief.” No one expected me to carry a cross and be crucified, she pointed out. Light pierced through the darkness. I laughed. She laughed with me. And when we hung up the phone, I laughed myself to tears.

The spell was broken.

I’ve kept my promise to extend a welcoming hand to you too as you cross the bridge between harsher duality-based living and the world that together we are birthing. I understand that it can feel disorienting at times, but I also know that our intentions are powerful enough to navigate this transformation with grace and ease.

I write this now for two reasons:

1. To encourage you to put up lights in your Dark Night, to rename it Bright Night or whatever name you choose, and celebrate. We’re not Jesus. We’re not Persephone. We’re the co-creators of a new reality filled with peace, joy, unity, and unconditional love. And we can make this fun.

2.  You don’t have to “wake up” alone. Yogi, spiritual director, Registered Nurse, and awakened supermom, wife, and friend Erin Miller Shrader of Sacred Grove Wellness has begun offering counseling and energy healing part time at Body Talks Therapy‘s Lancaster office.

I too will continue to offer somatic, psychospiritual depth work and energy healing to assist you (whether awakened or awakening) in bringing compassion into your own shadows and fully embodying your Higher Self. I’ve found that the more healing work we do in preparation for our awakening, the easier it is to navigate the purification process when it occurs.

Meanwhile, know this: What you feel now is an indication of what’s leaving you because it no longer resonates with how bright you’ve become; the discomfort is not who you are. Breathe. Try not to think of how long it will last, for the mind can create more suffering. Stay in the present moment; it is a portal to healing past and future.

Sing. Cry. Take salt baths. Cook gourmet meals. Dance.

You are not alone. And you are so loved.

Allison Brunner, LCSW, RM, Body Talks Therapy

[i] Spiritual transformation impacts us physically, emotionally, and mentally, so trust your instincts, heed your inner wisdom, be kind to yourself, and use caution. Take good, physical care of yourself, because being human is divine. Safe and slow can be the most powerful way to accessing the ultimate love within.

 

A New Way to Love: Put Yourself First and Allow Others Their Journey

Allison Brunner, LCSW, RM, Body Talks Therapy