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Human BEing or Human DOing?

June 1st, 2019

Reminder to everyone that ‘your best’ doesn’t mean pushing yourself to your breaking point. ‘Your best’ means the best you can do while being the best you. Get enough sleep, give yourself breaks, listen to your limits. ‘Your best is better when you’re happy and healthy.”
-author unknown

In the last article for Pagan Pages Magazine, I wrote about the Maya Prophecy of the Fifth World and the new spiritual energy we have been living in since 2012 “where we are being asked to raise our consciousness and step into a new kind of balance with the cosmos and the Earth.” (Engrácio, Pagan Pages, May 2019) Recently, I’ve noticed a fairly radical shift in my own spiritual journey that’s impacting the way I live my life more positively. I’ve been practicing slowing down to turtle pace and using this powerful prehistoric totem to guide me.

In
my life, my body has been one of the greatest teachers for how to
live in balance. Recently, it has been forcing me to pace myself
after a two-year period of autoimmune illness where I really didn’t
have extra energy to burn. This meant that I had to become really
aware of how much energy I had at any given moment and choose wisely
how I spent that energy–if at all. This had its challenges,
however, I realized that for the first time in my life, I understood
what was driving the autoimmune illnesses in my life. Author Oriah
House (Mountain Dreamer) summarizes the belief system that I
discovered feeds into autoimmune illness: “I
was taught to ‘go at’ things. Studying, working, writing,
organizing, yard work, house cleaning, sewing, reading, praying,
fasting: You name it, in my childhood anything worth doing was worth
doing fast and going at it hard.” In shamanic medicine sickness,
illness and disease are present first in the spiritual realm before
manifesting in the physical body. So this means that the longer the
imbalanced patterns are played out in the physical, more likelihood
that the body will begin to show signs of wear and tear until a more
serious ailment takes hold. Thankfully, I listened to this last big
“knock” and so my body didn’t have to keep screaming at me in
order for me to institute changes. The last two years, autoimmune
illness gave me a gift of helping me to see everything I was missing
by racing through life in order to accomplish goals and make my life
count: I was losing quality of life, which cannot be found in pushing
quantity.

One
of the spirit animals I’ve worked with for about a decade now is a
sea turtle. This wise ancient animal made it possible for me to keep
up my physical exercise the last two years by shifting me into the
element of water. Every time I tried to work out on land, I was
exhausted for days and spent hours sleeping to recover my energy. I
noticed that this didn’t happen during my early morning swims. In
fact, I gained energy and had no body pain after my aquatic sessions.
Every morning, I put my fins on and shapeshifted into a dolphin, a
whale, or a turtle with a prayer they would show me how to heal my
body; this strategy worked. I noticed how effortless, dreamy, fluid,
and meditative my workouts became. Most of all, I was further honing
the law of putting in minimum effort to gain maximum efficiency; I
was learning to conserve energy by just putting the right amount into
completing a task. Sometimes this called for creative solutions so I
could maintain integrity with what my body was telling me. For
example, if someone came into my swimming lane that swam faster than
me, I didn’t increase my speed to “keep up,” but rather doubled
back so I could keep swimming at my own pace while staying out of the
faster swimmers’ way. I imagined the pain, tension, and illness in
my body being transmuted by the salt water and asked my spirit guides
to cleanse those waters of anything that could harm others.

When
I reflected back at how I was in my naturalness in my early
childhood, BEing was a state that I was in all the time. I knew this
state intimately. In fact, I sought out wholeness by going into
nature for extended periods of time: watching ants march back and
forth to their nests, timing how long it took a slug to make it from
one end of my garden to another, and watching tall cedars sway in the
wind for hours. When I entered school, I started to feel like I was
losing control of my life and was often scolded for dreaming instead
of DOing something productive. I started to conform and forget about
that BEing state that got me into so much trouble–even though I
knew intuitively how important it was to my feeling of well-being. I
became so stressed out that by the time I was in grade four, I
started losing my hair and was diagnosed with alopecia (an autoimmune
illness). At that young age, I had already developed the pattern of
just “going at” things hard until I crashed physically.

As
an educator for twenty years, I love the message in the article
“Let’s Stop Stealing Time from Our Children” and have found it
to be really wise advice that goes a long way towards valuing how
children develop and what they need to be healthy: mind, body, heart,
and spirit. We don’t have to worry that children won’t learn, we just
have to create conditions where they keep learning in healthy ways.
Creating emotionally safe, developmentally appropriate environments
where children have time to explore their inner worlds in natural
spaces is essential if we are going to turn back the tide on this
frantic pace of living we’ve created in our society. I’ve watched
a worrying trend in education since I began teaching that puts a lot
more pressure on young children to perform academically in ways that
they simply are not developmentally and neurologically designed to
achieve at those ages. For example, neuroscientists know that the
human brain is not ready to engage in reading until around the ages
of seven to ten years old. And yet, we have been creating curriculum
goals forcing teachers to ensure that preschoolers and primary aged
children know how to read before they hit this neurological age
bracket. Not surprisingly it’s the kindergarten teachers who have
pushed back hardest against this policy: “[T]hey were unanimous and
unwavering [in advocating for] play time and rest.” I’ve seen
more depressed and stressed primary aged children in recent years
than I used to see as a beginning teacher and that worries me. As I
advocate for the rights of children, I also find myself parenting my
own inner child in gentler, kinder and more loving ways.

As
an adult seeing these harmful patterns in a different light, I
started to apply these turtle lessons in the pool to my land-based
life. I scrutinized everything I was putting my energy into and
consulted with my High Self in ceremony to see what was essential and
what was not. I took action by cutting way back on volunteer
projects, disengaging from relational conflicts that could not be
resolved at present, and anything that didn’t feed by passions. I
started to bring into my world things I enjoyed doing that served no
purpose except to bring me pleasure (i.e. knitting, sitting in my
garden with a cup of coffee watching the birds, playing ukulele,
watching films). I discovered that what Prentis Hemphill says is
really true and kind: “Boundaries are the
distance at which I can love you and me simultaneously.”
Saying no to some things allowed me to say yes to myself and to my
health. Although some folks might have been disappointed with some of
my decisions to remove my energy from certain situations, the higher
perspective I received from Spirit assured me that life will go on
with or without my presence and this was a freeing thought. I hope I
am becoming a role model by making the shift inside myself that
children can see and emulate.

I
don’t know where this journey will lead me, but I do know that I
can no longer go back to measuring my success by how much I get done
or produce. I am feeling so much better today after all the
spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical healing work I’ve done.
And I have to say that I didn’t do this alone; I enrolled the help
of friends with a healing background to support me, I hired help to
clean my house when I needed that, and I worked with medical
professionals who have respect for spiritual practices. I am so
grateful for the whole journey and I am looking forward to the
adventure my turtle is leading me on step by slow step. If you are
feeling burnt out, I encourage you to begin looking inside to see the
patterns that need to change in your life. What will you give your
energy to? What will you stop giving your energy to? Who can you
enroll to support the changes you need to make to come back to a
state of internal balance?

Resources:

article: Living in the Fifth World Prophecy

article: Let’s Stop Stealing Time from Our Children

“Leap
of Faith” art by Lucy Campbell

***

About
the Author:

Jennifer
Engrácio

has been a student of shamanism since 2005. Jennifer is a certified
teacher who has worked with children in many different education
settings since 2001. She is a certified shamanic coach, reiki master,
and lomilomi practitioner; in addition, she runs Spiral Dance
Shamanics. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, she now lives in
Calgary, Canada with her life partner.

Engrácio
participated in self-publishing three books that are now available:

The
Magic Circle: Shamanic Ceremonies for the Child and the Child Within”

Women’s
Power Stories: Honouring the Feminine Principle of Life”

Dreaming
of Cupcakes: A Food Addict’s Shamanic Journey into Healing

For more information go to: www.spiraldanceshamanics.com

Dreaming of Cupcakes: A Food Addict’S Shamanic Journey into Healing on Amazon

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