Tag Archives: emotions

How Emotions Help Us Evolve: Explaining the Karmic Connection

IMG_5321Do you embrace the times when you feel depressed?  Does sadness bring you down or pump you up?   Can anger be a good thing?  Is anxiety your friend or your foe?

Most people don’t like emotions.  They avoid them, stuff them down, and feel they make us weak when they arise.  However, emotions are the most definable part of the human condition.  While some animals do express some feeling, human beings have the privilege of experiencing the widest array of emotion.  We are also the most able to observe and process our emotions, regardless of whether we view that as a blessing or curse.

Stop to think for a moment about how emotions have changed your life.  Would you have learned whatever you were supposed to learn without them?   Would you have known that something was amiss if you didn’t experience the discomfort?  How did your emotions alert you to something that needed your attention?

Emotions help us to evolve.  They are the cue that something is misaligned in our lives and the alert that something needs our attention.  Without emotion we would not grow.

Embedded in our emotions are the lessons of life—the “karmic” opportunitiesFullSizeR to evolve.  Although many view emotions simply as a chemical imbalance, their impact for growth goes far deeper.  Karma is the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding fate for our future as well.  In other words, when explored, many people can see how they have grown from the challenges they have experienced in life.  Their “karma” is expressed and stimulated by their emotion(s), and once the lesson is learned and a new course of action is taken, the feeling dissipates.  Peace and contentment inevitably follow.

In my therapy practice, I’m constantly asking, “What do you think you are supposed to learn from this experience?”  While some resist the idea that something good can come from their situation, they soon realize that there is a great deal of empowerment in being able to consciously consider their circumstances, which allows them to heal and, better yet, evolve.  Once a person makes sense of their predicament, both their worrisome thoughts and emotions are put to rest.  This is conscious evolution.

How often do you dismiss your emotions?  How have you avoided them?  Do you allow your soul the time necessary to explore what the message might be behind your discomfort?

marnws4Soul Health is all about aligning each branch of your life in order to create and experience radiant living.  Emotions are simply a cue to act on something that is getting in the way of your sense of peace and balance.  Consider spending a few minutes each day assessing your emotions to help you identify what might need some attention in your life.  This investment of time will pay dividends in your ability to evolve in such a way that helps you reach your highest potential.  In doing this, you will resolve any karma that may be urging you to grow and you will “graduate” to the next level of enjoying the human condition.  In this way, emotions are just the cue—you are the agent of change.

Joyful Soul

(Taken from Chapter 12 of Soul Health:  Aligning with Spirit for Radiant Living)

Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live. ~ Norman Cousins

06 June picI have long lost track of how many people have entered my psychotherapy office bringing with them their sorrows, but leaving behind any sense of joy. They have lost their enjoyment and feel as if their zest for life has completely disappeared. When asked, few can say what used to make them smile, let alone remember the last time they really laughed. When I ask what they do for fun, the all-too-common answer is “nothing.” Certainly, when people are anxious, depressed, grief-stricken, stressed, or in any other state of turmoil, their experiences of joy are rare. But reacquainting with what brings them joy is guaranteed to free them from the gravity of any challenging circumstance or situation.

Our soul is nothing without joy. Without joy we are void of all light that reminds us why we live. In times when the human condition has us in its darkened grip, our experience of joy is less tangible, and so is our connection with our soul. We cannot see as clearly how to make decisions that suit our wisest ally, and we often go further off track rather than closer to our inner wisdom. Consequently, it’s not unusual for people who are distressed to report that they no longer know who they are, as their despair further disconnects them from their soul.

Our sense of joy—or lack of one—, thus, serves as another measure of our soul health. Our sense of joy is much like the pilot light for our inner ally—as long as it is lit we are still experiencing at least some pleasure in life and are able to tolerate the darker sides of the human condition. However, when that light is dim or snuffed out, nothing seems to matter—not even oneself. Therefore, awareness of what brings us joy is of utmost importance to our overall health. Essayist Logan Smith notes, “If you are losing your leisure, look out; you may be losing your soul.” Indeed, our souls do define us; and if we don’t listen to them, we will never find our way back home to this inner ally. More tragic is the risk of losing who we really are.

Joy stems both from the fun and leisure we create06 June pic2 in our lives and from the meaning we place on the activities we choose for recreation. Individual recreational needs may differ as widely as the people on the planet do. What we all have in common, though, is that fun and leisure not only buffers the unpleasant aspects of our human condition, but also fortifies or feeds the soul.

The recreational branch of soul health relates to both the fun and the leisure we allow, invite, or create in our lives. There is a difference between the two, though. We experience fun through “acting playfully”—reacting in a light-hearted, humorous, or jesting manner —at home, work, or social situations. Leisure time, however, allows us to find respite from our responsibilities—personal and professional—which usually represent the heavier aspects of our human condition. Both fun and leisure are necessary in fortifying our soul and promoting its evolution.

Unfortunately, most people don’t make or take time for fun and leisure. In a 2010 survey, an online travel agency found that only 38 percent of Americans use all of the vacation time they were allotted. This may not be surprising, given the standards for long hours of work in this country; however, the physical and emotional cost may outweigh the praise we get for the long hours worked. In fact, there is often a direct impact on physical health when people don’t take time to relax. One researcher found that people who don’t take time to slow down from daily life may find it harder to relax in the future since the neural pathways that produce feelings of calm and peacefulness become weaker, making it increasingly more difficult to shift to less stressful states of being. This demonstrates that our bodies are indeed restored when we are at rest or at play—and that this is necessary in sustaining our well-being.

(To read further, purchase Soul Health: Aligning With Spirit for Radiant Living at www.drkatherinetkelly.com, www.amazon.com, or www.barnesandnoble.com)

 

Grateful for Gratitude

Gratitude is a salve for the soul. In challenging times, it is easy to slip into the doldrums, allowing our souls to dim. But despite the difficult realities of the human condition, our ability to remain grateful can serve as the best anecdote to all of life’s problems.

Thankful listWhat is your biggest struggle right now? What is dragging you down? As you focus on these concerns, you will notice your energy and mood taking a dive. Now, take a few moments to list at least 5 things for which you are grateful. How has your mood changed? Do you feel more energy? Now, list a few more positive things about your life. See how quickly your outlook improves?

Emotions are seductive. When we allow our attention to drift toward sadness, worry, or grief, these feelings seem to pull us in, inviting us to feel the insidiousness of each emotion. Like a vacuum, our psyche draws us deeper into whatever it is that is disrupting our lives. However, by injecting gratitude into any situation, we can not only prevent a downward spiral, we can also raise our consciousness about what we are supposed to learn from life’s challenges.

During the last several months of my mother’s life and the two months since her death, gratitude has greatly soothed my soul. I remain grateful for the many beautiful experiences we shared and the invaluable time spent with her in her final weeks and days. I’m well aware that the upcoming holidays will likely stir the grief of my recent loss, but I’m already actively working on lessening this by allowing the many memories of years past to enter my awareness, taking note of the blessings, joy, and laughter that permeated our annual events.

gratitude

As the year winds down, take stock in the gift of gratitude. Allow yourself to realize that life could not only be much worse, but also that it is much more tolerable—and even enjoyable when we become grateful for what we have, who we are, and the ways in which we have grown.

Most important, give thanks to yourself for investing in your growth and evolution—the most priceless gift you could offer your ultimate soul health.

Love Through Loss, Not Loss of Love

Loss can mire us if we let it. A myriad of emotions can erupt when someone dies, catapulting us into sometimes overwhelming levels and kinds of grief. I was guilty of this during the seven years following my father’s death at age 21. But now I understand both loss and love differently and can now embrace this inevitable part of life.

tree_hands____by_tine85When we lose someone or something, a void appears, forcing us to recalibrate our lives regardless of what is no longer there. Allowing yourself to become conscious of what I call the “grand matrix”—the web of consciousness in which we all play a part—can help you understand how loss can propel us forward, despite a feeling that we just can’t go on.

Everyone experiences loss. And with every ending, there really is a beginning. Whether you lose a loved-one to death, experience a shift or break-up of a relationship, undergo an unexpected end of a job, or endure some other form of loss, it always provides an opportunity to grow and evolve. At first, we may experience great sadness, depression, anxiety or dread. However, as part of entering the new era of love consciousness, we are charged to remember that these emotions are all based in fear, not love. They are all normal reactions to life events, but each one offers the opportunity to examine our lives, redefine our direction or purpose, and/or re-evaluate our actions and motives. In shifting to a more loving approach to the experience of loss, not only will we move through this passage of life more easily, we will also be enriched by the experience along the way.

My mother’s health has been deteriorating for the last several years, but holding hands has worsened significantly in the last few months. It has been an ongoing challenge to see her struggle and know that she will not be with us for long. In looking back at how I reacted during my father’s last few weeks and the subsequent seven years, I know now how mired in fear I was at the time—concern for both my own future and my mom’s, regret for how the relationship was left, sadness for what could have been and what would never be, anger—well, at the world, I suppose….. and so on. I now recognize that all negatively-charged emotions are fear-based and actively work to live a more love-conscious life.

On a recent trip to Colorado for my mother’s 86th birthday, I arrived to find her exponentially worse than she was a month prior. I decided at the beginning of the year that whatever happened with my mother’s health, I would commit to remaining in love-based compassion rather than fear-based frustration or sadness. The result has transformed me. When she became tired, short, or cranky, I worked to affirm her discomfort rather than take it personally. When she turned the conversations back to herself—like many people who are sick, in pain, or pre-occupied do—I worked to release my frustration and understand that she is experiencing her own crisis of the human condition. When she asked me to help her get out of bed every 45 minutes throughout the middle of the night, I did my best to remain patient and recognize how losing her independence must be affecting her.

heart in handsThe result of all of this? She has told me that she loves me more often in the last year than ever before. She has connected with me soul-to-soul in ways I never would have imagined. She has listed the ways she appreciates me—ways in which she wouldn’t have previously noticed or mentioned. On one particular night during my last trip, she had been particularly restless—both from pain and worry about her future.  After the 4th or 5th time of calling me to her room in the middle of the night, she once again made the request. Having had minimal sleep for the previous three nights, I admittedly stumbled out of bed mumbling to myself, “What, now???”. When I walked into her bedroom, she held out her arm and said “I just want to tell you something.” When I leaned over and took her hand, she said, “I just want you to know how much I love you.” My heart melted, I returned the words, hugged and kissed her, and then decided to spend the rest of the night in the recliner that was in her room, which comforted her enough to be able to rest more easily throughout the rest of the night. Her loving message was a cosmic reminder that love conquers all.

When I committed to living through love-consciousness, it opened my mother to it as well. When I decided to live in love and not fear, our interactions became more authentic and deeper. When I responded through love regardless of the situation rather than reacting through fear, it eased the pain for both of us. In other words, by choosing to remain in love regardless of the impending loss, we both experienced multi-fold levels of this sacred emotion.

love consciousness grid

Living in love consciousness through the “grand matrix” touches every life around us, and most of all enriches our own. But often we become stuck, resentful, and mired in our fear-based grief, instead of looking at the loss—or potential of one—as a new beginning, an opening, or fresh start. Whatever the type of loss, living in love will always raise the bar on our overall soul health and will allow your soul to grow swiftly beyond your fear-based grief.

Take some time to explore how you live in fear in times of loss. How can you shift away from fear-based living and commit to a more love-based life?

The End of an Era: Lessons From Cheetah

parakeetMy parakeet died.  After 27 years of owning pet birds, my last one made her transition and went on to soar through bluer skies.

I know this may sound like the theme of a bad sitcom.  To those who have never hosted a feathered friend in their home, this occasion may not seem like a big deal.  But when you’ve experienced the morning songs of these amazing prehistoric-age creatures for nearly ten thousand days, it is, in fact, a great loss—one which will take a long time for me to fully accept, and one in which will undoubtedly take months to adjust.  No more morning songs, no more weekly cage-cleaning, no more seed and feathers scattered on the floor around her home.  Essentially, these are habits and memories, but the end of this era goes far beyond these simple tasks.  It reaches through the closure of many other facets of life as well.

I received my first parakeet as a gift for my high school graduation, which means in some ways, that the legacy of that time is over.  It marks yet another form of grieving for my father’s death, as I bought my first Cockatiel soon after his passing.  It marks much of my education, as my feathered friends accompanied me on my many moves to complete my training.  It marks my move to North Carolina to take my job at the medical school, as they adjusted to the new climate.  It marks a shift in the energy of my sunroom, where they had long sung to the birds outside.  It marks the end of a repeated conversation with friends as their sounds joined in the gatherings held in their space.  And it also marks the end of owning a pet which few do—as most opt for the furry types, rather than feathered.  I still haven’t filled the space which held Cheetah’s cage.  Like other forms of grieving, it just doesn’t feel right to try to replace something that held so much meaning.

Charles_Darwin_01

I talk a lot about evolution.  In high school I was nearly obsessed with the topic, dedicating much of my time in biology classes learning about Darwin’s theory, the journey of man, the futuristic images of what creatures might be yet to come, and any other aspect of development that might explain who we are, how we’ve come to be, and where our lives might take us in the future.  I also remember studying Egyptian mummification, having been equally preoccupied with the history of King Tutankhamun—more  commonly known as King Tut.  As I wrote in my high school Biology II term paper, mummies were prepared in such a way to allow the soul to travel to the afterlife in a protected and honored way.   Yes, I still have this paper tucked away in an old file, along with the one on Darwinian theory that I wrote a year prior.

king tutSome might say that I’m still obsessed, given that my work as a holistic psychologist has taken a turn toward evolving our soul as well.  Brought up in a family that practiced Catholicism, I was taught that the next chapter involved only the choice between heaven or hell.  But having taken many biology classes, this theory didn’t add up.  However, unlike many individuals who study the hard sciences, I didn’t go down the path of nonbeliever; instead, I spent my time wondering why such an amazing brain and body would only get one chance at life.  Although my family and friends occasionally joked about past lives, it wasn’t until I really delved into studying world religions that I came to understand that other options and ideas made more sense.

With further exploration, I then became even more convinced that a single shot at life made no sense.  Why in the world would we travel through life only to find that the game was over?  What was the point in traversing the trials and tribulations of the human condition if the final outcome was only fire and brimstone or airy clouds and harps?  Cognitive dissonance led me to examine the possibilities—both through insatiable reading and through deep meditations and hypnosis sessions which led to my own excavation of past truths.

It now all adds up.  My obsession with the fish to ape….   The soul’s journey to another dimension or lifetime….  And the importance of getting life “right”.  In essence, my study of evolution helped me evolve as well.  Now, I firmly believe that each lifetime is simply one stop in our “soul cycle” or one hop on a lily pad to get us to our next destination on the journey.

Morty

All of this to say that death no longer gets me down—it only makes me pause to consider what’s next.  Having lost my dad at an early age, and all of my aunts, uncles, grandparents and a dog by the time I was in my early 30’s, I’m pretty well versed in the process of letting go.  Two months ago I had to say goodbye to another furry friend, as I laid my 16 year old beagle/shepherd mix to rest.  And now my last parakeet has essentially flown this earthbound coop.  Instead of spending my time lamenting about the past, I now look toward the possibility of running into my human, furry, and feathered friends and family again—each time offering the possibility of expanding my awareness and evolving to yet another level of wherever this life spiral will lead.  The end of each era is part of this evolution—part of the letting go in order to step into whatever comes next.  Yes, there’s a pause.  Yes, there’s a void.  But not for long.

The end of Cheetah the bird is no more than the end of an era—and the beginning of another.  Here’s to our souls soaring together again, sweet bird.

Emotions and the Soul

(Taken from Chapter 3 of Soul Health:  Psychological Health—Symptoms? Or Signs from Your Soul?)

emotions[1]

The biggest challenge during times of emotional upset is to recognize crises as opportunities—and then to recognize which branches of soul health need work.  In the Chinese written language, the same symbol is used to describe both a crisis and an opportunity; however, the meaning shifts depending on the context.  Similarly, emotions can ellicit either a reaction or response depending on our circumstances and how we interpret the emotion.

Although our emotions arise naturally from the human condition, we always long to regain some level of contentment, which is the natural state of the soul.  If anything is the death of the soul, it is the refusal to learn life’s lessons, choosing instead to deny our feelings rather than work through them.

We all want others to understand us and fully embrace our experiences of the world.  We want them to affirm us by hearing and understanding us.  But how can they hear us if we don’t hear ourselves?  How can we embrace the messages of our own soul if we shut our ears to its voice?  We don’t stand a chance of evolving, let alone living, if we ignore our inner wisdom.

(To read further, purchase Soul Health: Aligning With Spirit for Radiant Living at www.drkatherinetkelly.com, www.amazon.com, or www.barnesandnoble.com)

Awakened, Alive, and Awestruck in the Andes, Part III – A Guide to Home

Given the previous two blog entries about my trips to Peru, you can see that my adventures go far beyond the physical.  I didn’t know this would happen until I went the first time, but now I expect a widening of experience and a deepening of connection, both with myself and the land.

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After I returned from my second trip in 2011, I began talking more with a close friend about her own interests in visiting Machu Picchu.  As it turned out, she began remembering brief glimpses of scenery that she had never seen in published pictures, but ones that I had captured during my first trip there.  She described certain scenes and I produced images that matched what she had seen during meditations and energy sessions.  As we talked, we came to realize that our connection went beyond our friendship in this lifetime and dated back to my memories of having been a priestess several centuries prior.  Her own memories included images of being an Incan warrior, which explained her strong need to protect me in this lifetime.  When we first met in 2005, we had no idea that any of this would unfold.

We decided to plan a trip for 2013, but various things stopped our journey.  Because we both have a great deal of trust in the Universe, we knew it just wasn’t the right time.  However, once summer of 2014 rolled around, we knew we needed to make our move.  Everything went smoothly in planning, which affirmed our aspirations to go, but we also realized that, once again, this was more than a simple adventure.

15Throughout the summer, we talked and pondered what might take place and what we were going there to do.  My friend is a energy healer and through a couple sessions, several in-depth conversations, and a few meditations of my own, I started gaining clarity that we were to return to Machu Picchu to finish what we had started so many years ago.  We were there to help the mass consciousness make the shift from fear-based living into one of a more enriched and desirable love consciousness.

Anyone who has kept up with spiritual literature understands that there is a major shift going on in our world—one that is far overdue, and one that is very much needed in order to restore our planet to a more cohesive and amiable way of living.  You see, hundreds of years ago, a shift occurred that instilled fear as the main element of human life—causing discord, disconnection, wars, and hatred of all sorts.  That was the point in time when true love—unconditional, nonjudgmental love—became a thing of the past.  But despite what one might say by watching the news, the shift is occurring and many people are being called to re-instill loving consciousness in their own ways to create a collective “oneness” once again.

Although we knew this was our mission, we had little idea what we were supposed to do.  We had both collected some prayers and rituals common to the Peruvian culture, but until we visited Machu Picchu, we were unsure how the ceremony would transpire.

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When we arrived in the Crystal City, I realized that the ruins were partitioned off differently than two years prior.  Apparently, due to unruly tourists, the paths previously taken had now been re-organized to guide visitors through the ruins and sacred temples in such a way that you must follow a designated path instead of roaming freely.  We walked through all of the ruins of Machu Picchu, stopping at the Guard House, Inti Watana (sacred pyramid), the Condor Temple, the Royal Residence, the single tree in the plaza, the Artisan’s Wall and all other sacred temples throughout this amazing ancient city.

Although the guided paths didn’t keep us from visiting the parts of the ruins that we felt we must, it did create a bit of a maze-like journey to our main destination, the Sun Temple.  Once at this temple, we paused as we faced the tomb held within.  This moment proved to be the key to opening our awareness for what we needed to do the next day, but also served as confirmation that we were there for the right reasons.  As I stood facing the tomb, I became overwhelmed with emotion and started crying.  My friend came and stood to my right and placed her hand on my shoulder.  Soon after this, I glanced up toward the wall of the entrance to the tomb and saw our confirmation—a giant heart-shaped stone embedded in the wall, just above three steps that had been carved as part of the incredible structure.  46 I gasped and pointed to what I saw, and she too, was stricken with the awareness that we were in the right place—and apparently at the right time to complete our mission.  In my previous two trips to this sacred city I had stood exactly in that same spot but never noticed the heart-shaped stone.  However, on this third trip, it was clear that I was supposed to come face to face with that essential feature of the Incan artistry to solidify our mission.  (The three steps located just below the tip of the heart represent the underworld, the present world, and the upper world—the ascension process.  And because the tip of the heart meets the tip of the top stair, we realized it represented the ascension back to love.  Our mission was both blessed and confirmed.)

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Once we were able to compose ourselves, the clarity came for what we were there to do.  We spent about 20 minutes laying out the plans for arriving at dawn the next day, calling the mountain spirits (the Apus, as the Incans called them), saying some Peruvian and Incan blessings, then moving near the tree in the plaza to complete our call to the Universe to re-instill the love consciousness.

We awoke the next morning and did just as we planned.  The interesting part was that no one questioned what we were doing and no one interrupted our ceremony.   Although we had onlookers, it felt completely natural to do our work as if it were a daily task that had always been done.

56 At one point during the ceremony,  we were both overcome at the magnificence of the view above the Sacred Valley.  The clouds were extraordinarily beautiful and the sun broke through at just the right time and created a heart as the light bathed the crystal city.  Because we were in the middle of the ceremony we didn’t stop to take pictures.  But once we had completed our task, we were once again blessed with flowing images of clouds, mist, and sunlight and at that time we were able to snap a few pictures.

Our job that day was complete, but our work never ends.  I know others around the world who have been called to summon the love energy as well, both in the Andes and in many other corners of our planet.  I know we were blessed to be called to do our work that day, but I feel more blessed that I am one of many who are working together to bring our consciousness back to where it belongs—reinstating  the love energies so that our souls can grow and evolve.

Once again, I’m called to return to Peru.  But this time I am called to lead others “home”.  In creating and planning the Awakened, Alive, and Awestruck in the Andes Soul Health Journey, (see   http://www.drkatherinetkelly.com/peru2015.html ), I worked with Jorge Luis Delgado, the shaman I traveled with on my first two trips, to combine the best of both journeys into one trip.  As the itinerary was set, I began to understand that this was not simply a trip, it was once again something bigger.   While I once led an ancient population away from the Crystal City for safety as the country was being invaded by the Spaniards, I will now lead people back home to experience their own awakening.

I am honored to be a part of others’ journey to this home away from home.  Magic and awe guaranteed.