2020 Thanksgiving

Perpetual Thanksgiving

2020 Thanksgiving

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” –Marcel Proust

2020 has been a hard year, I know. You have been affected, to a greater or lesser degree, by powerful forces, including a pandemic, sweeping the globe. However difficult this year has been for you, is exactly why it’s so important to reflect on all you still have to be grateful for.

You are most likely not gathering this year for a traditional Thanksgiving feast, complete with a raucous game of touch football during half time. Here at home, how about we all go back to the true meaning of Thanksgiving . . . and give thanks.

Gratitude is more than a quick thumbs up for the pumpkin pie; true gratitude is a path to the divine. Henry Ward Beecher, the 19th century clergyman and social reformer who always focused on Christ’s love, said: “The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.”

The ancient root of the word gratitude, gwere, means “to be in contact with the Divine.” Gratitude is a way to unleash a flow of positive energy in and out of your heart, and to open to the love of the universe that is available to fill you. Gratitude can transform your mood, shift you into your Higher Self, and connect you to Spirit.

So what do you have to be grateful for amidst the fears and worries that travel through the air as surely as droplets of the virus?

Start with your health. It may not be perfect, but you’re alive and breathing on your own (unlike so many of our fellow citizens on this planet today, who are on ventilators). Thank you, thank you for the chance to still be here, to appreciate the stark beauty of a winter sunset, the smile of a happy child, the ability to give praise.

Maybe you’re grateful for having a week or a month or, thank God, a year of sobriety under your belt. Being thankful for one day at a time is a good practice for everyone.

Your pets may be providing the companionship you can’t enjoy with other humans during this trying time. Their unconditional love (in the case of dogs) and noble tolerance (cats) of your perceived flaws are certainly worthy of thanks (and treats). Being grateful for their safe and non-judgmental love opens your heart effortlessly.

Gratitude is how you make your heart sing. When you are occupied with remembering those who have helped you along the way during this past year, your heart is happy. It’s interesting to note that you can’t be feeling grateful and unhappy at the same time. And as Piglet long ago noticed (thanks to A.A. Milne), “…even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”

Just last evening, I reconnected with an old friend and spent an hour doing something utterly frivolous: singing! Seriously, just the two us, singing to each other over Zoom, doing hilarious, impromptu duets, and laughing at our mistakes and off-key moments. Let’s all be grateful for Zoom!

Like everything else, there is a spectrum of gratitude, ranging from being thankful the sun is shining to down-on-your-knees, head-bowed gratefulness when your life or that of a loved one is spared. It includes your attempts to be grateful for those who have made your life more difficult; that challenge can humble your ego and give you the opportunity to raise your own vibration.

When you are filled with gratitude, you are connected to everyone and everything in the web of love that sustains the universe. Giving thanks for all that you yourself are, for those in your Covid bubble, for the people, plants, and animals in your environment, and around the world, brings you into the present moment and into the presence of spirit. In the words of Shakespeare, “O Lord that lends me life, lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.”

Above all, dear student, my heart is full of gratitude for you, for generously sharing your spiritual journey with me. We are one in Spirit, and I am grateful for your companionship and support as, together, we walk toward home.

walk exercise

Today Is Take a Hike Day!

walk exercise

Nietzsche said “All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.” Going beyond the 19th century philosopher, I would add that walking will not only let you think great thoughts, but will also relieve you of the stressful ones. And who doesn’t need that these days?

You might be having trouble sleeping these days, with all that’s happening in the world with the pandemic its personal fallout for you. You’re stuck at home a lot—hunched over a laptop, sitting in front of the TV, sitting around the table eating more than you should. Sitting, sitting, sitting.

Where are you going to go? You used to walk through airports on your way to someplace other than home, but not now. No walking up and down the aisles of the grocery store: your groceries get delivered. No walking even from the car to a restaurant, as meals get delivered right to your car or your home. Amazon delivers everything and anything; all you have to do is walk to your front door. Doctors get delivered to your screen for telemedicine, and you only have to move as far as your computer to sit in front of Zoom for a business meeting (remember, you can be seen!).

Do you know what’s happening to your body as you sit, sit, sit? According to studies analyzed by the Mayo Clinic, those who sit for more than eight hours a day without much body movement have a similar risk of dying to smokers and the obese. Sitting for long periods increases blood pressure, high blood sugar, abnormal cholesterol levels, and leads to excess fat around the waist—all together, it’s known as metabolic syndrome.

The good news, from studies of more than 1 million people, is that 60 minutes of moderate physical activity each day can counter the problems posed by too much sitting. Stand up every 30 minutes—stretch, walk around for 5 minutes. Stand a bit when you are on the phone or watching TV. Look into whether or not a standing desk would work for you; they are very affordable. 5 minutes here, 5 minutes there, and voilá, you’ll have an hour by days-end.

You’ll burn calories (in studies, women who walk had less body fat than those who don’t), maintain your muscle tone, and improve your ability to move as you age as well as your mental well-being. As researchers at NMHU (New Mexico Highlands University) found: “The foot’s impact during walking sends pressure waves through the arteries that significantly modify and increase the supply of blood to the brain.”

Walking is a cardio exercise that is low-impact on your joints. If you haven’t been much of a walker before, start slowly, going just a block or two. Work up to 30 minutes a day of walking, less time than it takes to cook a meal. Even a short walk each day strengthens your heart and lungs, and reduces your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis.

And it reduces stress. Walking releases those natural painkilling endorphins, lifting your mood and making the day sunnier inside you. And you’ll be far more able to do away with insomnia if you’ve had a good walk.

Last, but far from least, walking gets you out of the house and into the natural world. If you’re in a rural environment, take note of the rhythms of nature—the colors of fall leaves, the crisp air, the flight of birds. Even in an urban area, you can still find trees and plants. Connect to the natural flow and beauty around you. Walk in the early morning to sing along with the birds. Walk at sunset to bathe in the glory of colors. Walk at night and absorb some lunar energy. John Muir, the great naturalist, said, “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”

It takes no special equipment. It doesn’t cost anything. It doesn’t require a lot of planning, or athletic ability. As an old proverb says, “one step at a time is good walking.” Just get up, grab your house key, put on a hat and mask, and go for it!

2020-TheRealMeaningofEmpathyBlog

The Real Meaning of “Empathy”

empathy

When I was a child, I learned a very important lesson from my father. I was barely big enough to climb into Daddy’s pickup after he was done with work on Friday nights, when he’d drive around our small town to give away bags of oranges to the hungry. Along the way, much to my mother’s chagrin, he would often hand over his coat to someone who looked cold. A lawyer in our little town, and a Representative at the State Capitol, he used his influence to develop social justice programs to help the needy in our state. And when I became a lawyer and joined him in his practice, he taught me to take on pro bono (for free) clients along with the ones who could pay. Daddy was a sterling example of empathy in action.

We need a lot more empathy in the world these days. With 50 countries around the world ruled by dictators and despots right now, the concepts of representative government, respect for civil liberties, and human rights, have morphed into a general attitude of “let them eat cake.” Unfortunately, today’s authoritarians seem to be, more and more, supported by the middle class. The result is untold suffering for millions of people.

Empathy is a word we’ve heard tossed around a lot lately. But what does it actually mean?

It means that when your friend’s aunt dies of Covid, you don’t say, “She’s in a better place.” When your neighbor loses his job, you don’t cheerfully announce, “See the glass as half full.” How many times have we all said when there has been a disaster, “our thoughts and prayers are with you,” instead of actually helping those who were impacted, thereby effectively bypassing the real work.

“Spiritual bypass” is a way to avoid or escape from uncomfortable emotions. Spirituality becomes a defense mechanism when it sees only “light and love” and does not acknowledge the authentic nature of all the elements of life, including the terrible truths of pain, suffering, sickness, and death. It’s like a politician flying over the scene of a fire or flood that caused massive destruction and loss of lives. It might make a memorable photo-op, but from that great height you can’t see the pain of a child who has lost a parent, feel the grief of a family that has lost its home, or inhale the stench of burnt carcasses.

So how can you react in a truly spiritual way to the suffering of others?

You can say, “I understand how hard this is for you. I know how sad I felt when my favorite aunt died a couple of years ago. What can I do to help: want to take a walk or can I bring you a casserole?” You empathize with their situation because you have experienced pain in your life and you connect through your common humanity.

While hugs are off the table right now, remember what you felt when you saw Princess Diana stop to hug a child? It wasn’t only her dazzling smile that made people love her; it was her compassion and her ability to connect with people. The Nigerian-born Baron Adebowale, a member of the House of Lords in Great Britain, saw the face-to-face work Diana did with the homeless and said, “Her humanity spoke to their humanity.”

That’s empathy. Your humanity speaks to someone else’s humanity. Your heart goes out to their heart, energetically. It’s like seeing those exhausted and overwhelmed nurses crying in the hospital hallway after they have held a phone up so the loved ones of a person dying alone of Covid can say their goodbyes. Your heart aches for the nurse, for the person who died of this viral scourge, and for the person on the other end of that crushing phone call. And for the others you know who will experience that pain until this pandemic, which has already killed over 1.27 million people around the globe, is over.

In January of 2010, a major earthquake in Haiti killed over 300,000 people and left 1.5 million without homes. A few days later, Hollywood actor Sean Penn landed in Haiti. He saw tens of thousands of people living in tents and lean-to’s and he set about digging drainage ditches and latrines, getting food and water supplied to the camp. Penn stayed on the ground in Haiti for months and continued to return there over the last 10 years. The nonprofit he started to focus on Haiti has now been expanded to respond to natural disasters in the Caribbean and Florida. Penn backed up his humanitarian ideals with both his money and his time (a far more valuable resource).

Empathy shows an understanding of someone else’s experiences because you yourself have experienced pain and can relate. Identification is the key. You connect to another, looking past differences and appreciating your commonality. You hurt; I understand because I have also experienced being hurt. Skin color, political affiliation, religion, gender—those are just the trappings on top of our common humanity and are irrelevant in that moment.

Katie Couric, when she was a co-host on NBC’s morning show, Today, did an incredibly empathetic act when she underwent a colonoscopy on air to underline the importance of testing for colon cancer; her young husband had died of the disease and her concern for others’ health led her to transform her personal tragedy into public good. That’s empathy, showing the unglamorous aspects of her personal life in order to help others avoid the same loss and grief.

Many young stars, who often come from very humble beginnings, are conscious of their ability to direct attention and empathy towards those who need help, and many do a lot of in-person volunteering along with writing checks. Taylor Swift teamed up with the Governor of Tennessee to combat internet sex crimes. Miley Cyrus works with underprivileged kids in the US and Haiti. Emma Watson, the Harry Potter actress, is known for her work in girls’ education in Bangladesh and Zambia. Selena Gomez is determined to help stop hunger for children in Africa. Popstar Nicki Minaj donates both time and money to a small village in India.

Empathy in action is not the same as sympathy. Sympathy means you feel sorry for what someone else is experiencing, while empathy means you actually feel what someone else is experiencing. The more we develop empathy – personally, in our institutions, and in our governments, the better our world will become. And empathy is different from being an empath. An empath is an emotional sponge, the opposite of energy healing: it is one of the first things I teach my energy healing students to avoid, as it is the opposite of the energy exchange desired.

Empathy may be the most important thing you can teach your children, as my father taught me. George Clooney, who often works for social causes, became a father for the first time in his 50’s. He said about his twins: “I want them to be interested in things. I want them to be compassionate about other people’s plights. Because that’s the thing, you know? You have to have some sort of empathy.”

So empathy is what we need. And you’ll feel better about yourself and the world. Empathy increases your communication skills and allows you to connect with others. When you can feel what another person is going through, when you listen more than you speak, you can respond in the best way possible. It helps you regulate your own emotions when you see a situation from another’s perspective. From an energy medicine perspective, your heart chakra energy is going to their heart chakra energy, and since energy knows no bounds of space or time, it’s instantaneous and effective. And did you realize that developing empathy is one of the best ways to benefit your health? When you see the world through the eyes of compassion, you are better able to handle stress, are happier, have less depression and anxiety, and a stronger immune system. You’ll be spreading a more positive and caring energy. When we all come from a place of empathy, it will create that same loving vibration in our families, our communities, our governments – in the whole world.

2020-3WaystoBeatStressNowBlog

3 Ways to Beat Stress Now

Are you stressed out? Perhaps even at this very minute you’re feeling overwhelmed. Stress is part of your body’s natural fight-or-flight response to danger, and it’s necessary. Your ancestors needed that adrenaline rush so they could run away from tigers, avalanches, and enemy tribes and you need that adrenaline to escape real physical danger as well. The stress response can help you pull through a difficult time, as long as it’s only temporary. What you don’t need or want is a constant underlying stress—that type of all-the-time stress is often the result of an imbalanced first chakra, and is hugely detrimental to your health and quality of life.

But there’s hope! In fact, clearing and balancing your first chakra is something you can do relatively easily with energy healing techniques to help ground you and reconnect you to your body.

Chakras: the Governors of Your Health

If you’re familiar with yoga or energy healing, you already know that chakras are focal points of energy in your body that line up along your spine. There are seven body chakras, and each one corresponds to different body parts and emotional and mental arenas. Together, the seven chakras govern all areas of your life, from relationships to affluence, communication to career, and every aspect of your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.

When a chakra is clear and open, it spins gently, moving energy in and out between your personal field and the universal field of energy. You need this fresh energy from the unified field to nourish you and keep you healthy. If your chakras are imbalanced or blocked, your energy flow becomes blocked as well, which can result in all kinds of health problems. A distorted first chakra can lead to issues with your immune system, your legs and feet, your tail bone and colon, and your bones.

Chronic Stress and the First Chakra

If any of your chakras are distorted, it can cause stress, but the most classic cause of chronic stress I see in people is the generalized anxiety created by an ungrounded first chakra. This is the stress that sometimes fades but never disappears, and often occurs even when there are no external stressors.

If you experience constant stress even when life is relatively calm, and you have some of the physical symptoms mentioned above and/or any of these other common symptoms of an imbalanced first chakra: a “spacey” or “floaty” feeling, trouble with organization or focus, fatigue, problems sleeping, or feeling like a victim, your first chakra probably needs some attention and healing.

Causes of an Imbalanced First Chakra

Distortions in the first chakra can be caused by any type of violence or trauma that made you feel unsafe, especially if you experienced the event as a child. Abuse, abandonment, divorce, accidents, and illness are all common triggers for distancing yourself from your body because it’s too painful or scary to stay. This is a defense mechanism I employed myself—shutting down my first chakra and leaving my body to survive the pain of an abusive childhood. What it took me years of energy healing courses, working with spiritual teachers and healers, and meditation to learn was that the only way I could heal the trauma was to be in my body. You can really only protect yourself from harm if you stay present and stay connected through your root chakra.

Your Base, Roots, and Foundation

Your first chakra is your foundation. It is located at the base of your spine and it’s the base of your whole chakra system. What happens if you try to build a structure on a wobbly foundation? The structure will be unstable at best, and at worst, collapse completely. Trying to construct a strong chakra system with a weak base chakra is like trying to build a house on a lot made of Jell-o.

You need this base, this foundational first chakra, to be charged and healthy, or all the rest of your chakras and your greater wellbeing will suffer. This is why a blocked or distorted base chakra leads to chronic stress: how can you relax if your whole energy flow is unstable? Feeling unsafe and uncertain is a likely indication that your first chakra needs a tune-up. http://www.amazon.com/Truth-Heals-What-Hide-Hurt/dp/140192302X

You can also think of it this way: your first chakra is like your roots. It keeps you firmly planted in your body and grounded. In fact, in Sanskrit, the word for the first chakra means root support. The root chakra governs your connection to Mother Earth and its job is to support and sustain your life. In order to grow tall and strong, a tree must spread its roots far enough into the soil to be able to holds its ground while also accepting nourishment from its surroundings. In order for you to heal yourself and grow your spirit, you must plant your roots and get grounded.

Here are three great ways to get grounded and beat stress:

1. Spend time in nature.

Because the first chakra is so closely connected to earth energy, one of the best ways to clear, charge and balance, your root chakra is to interact with nature. Reconnect your body with the earth by walking barefoot directly on land—a grassy field or a sandy beach is a pleasant and soothing way to absorb earth energy. Go for a hike, sit next to a tree (or hug one!), or let the sun warm your skin. Just being outside or touching stone, wood, or water will help to ground you.

2. Meditate.

Twenty minutes of meditation twice a day is ideal, and the more you do it, the more you will notice the grounding and calming effects. Like energy healing, meditation is cumulative, meaning the results build on the previous efforts, so keep it up and the benefits will continue to increase! If you don’t already have a successful meditation practice, please let me teach you. https://deborahking.com/courses/learn-to-meditate-with-deborah/
It only takes several hours to learn how via download and it will totally change your life; it certainly did mine.

3. Focus on your body.

Body-focused activities like yoga, pilates, massage, martial arts, or other forms of exercise are a great way to become more body-centered and grounded. Remember, one cause of first chakra distortion is disassociation from the body, so reaffirming your bond with your body can go a long way in healing your first chakra.

If you’d like to learn more about charging and healing your first chakra, and the rest of your chakras, check out my free video training here