Tag Archives: spiritual growth

Evolving Through the Seasons

As you likely know by now, I’m a bit stuck on the word “evolution”.  Even as a young child, I was almost obsessed with how things grew and couldn’t get enough of Darwin’s theory of evolution.  My mother humored me with these passions, allowing me to grow carrots in a wheelbarrow that she dubbed as my personal garden. marnws2 “Specimens” from my prized crop (carrots that were about 2 inches long….) remained in the freezer until they could no longer manage the elements.

I will never tire of talking about evolution.  While I’ve moved on from growing miniature produce, I will forever immerse myself in learning new ways to help others expand their souls to their highest potential.

Conscious evolution is just that—becoming and remaining conscious of how we can best grow, then taking action to make change a reality.  While scientists say that the human body has evolved about as much as it is going to, our soul’s evolution is infinite.  What does this mean for you and I?  It means that, if desired, we can continue to grow beyond our everyday challenges so that we thrive throughout every moment of life.  By aligning our lives with the needs of our soul, we can reach radiant living—or at least create a much more joyful and content experience of the human condition.

marnws3Evolution is a process.  It requires patience, perseverance, and commitment.  That’s why I can’t provide an answer when clients ask me how long it will take to complete therapy.  For those who believe in reincarnation, as will be discussed in future newsletters, evolution of the soul is clearly an ongoing development.  We are presented with lessons throughout each lifetime to help us learn and evolve, sometimes repeating patterns until we outgrow certain circumstances or dynamics.  In the case of this lifetime, our evolution is still up to us.

As cliché as it might sound, awareness really is the first step.  If there is something that you want to outgrow, whether it be an unhealthy habit, an old relationship pattern, or a thought or feeling that no longer serves you, we must first become aware of this imperfection, identify any obstacles to change, then take steps to get our evolution underway.

My Soul Health Model provides the blueprint to radiant living, but remember that evolution is a slow process that requires us to make a conscious marnws4commitment to our infinite growth.

As a gift to you, I invite you to sit back, relax, and take yourself on a journey to your soul’s evolution by watching the visual meditation offered below.  Allow yourself to gently explore the growth you have already witnessed, as well as ponder the change that is yet to come.  I hope you enjoy your journey— feel free to forward this meditation to anyone you know who also needs a gentle nudge on their path to evolution.

The Light of Consciousness

(Taken from Chapter 4 of Soul Health: Aligning with Spirit for Radiant Living)

11 Nov picReaching radical consciousness of emotions means you are mastering the language of your soul. You have earned your advanced degree in understanding the human condition and consciously committing to your evolution. Strangely enough, once you get the hang of it, the work not only becomes easier, but also more light-hearted and amusing along the way. You learn to laugh with your soul each time you see that you are reacting to your old habits of the human condition. You give yourself a break and move through difficult emotions much more quickly and easily.

Which do you want—to heal a wound or to evolve beyond it? Even the question elicits a radiant response! There is something inexplicably exciting about feeling like you can outgrow your old skin. There is an energy behind it—a momentum—that once begun doesn’t want to stop. This is the soul’s radiance urging you toward your evolution.

Emotions carry energy. And because everything around us consists of energy at the most basic level, it stands to reason that we are most attracted to things that make us feel light. Moths to a flame are drawn to an external light they seek as their own, and die in the pursuit of reaching it. We, however, are able to pursue our inner light, and our emotions are nothing more than a signal pointing the way to find it. But unfortunately, we get mired in the human condition and buried in our emotions instead of using them to find and return to our inner radiance. We all know people who emit a simple yet desirable brightness or light. Much like the moth, we are instinctively drawn to these individuals and want to catch a bit of what they seem to have and that which we seem to lack. This light is for our taking, but we must find it within ourselves.

In essence, we are all beings of light.We are meant to emit brighter and brighter radiance if we allow ourselves. This happens only if we evolve, and we evolve only if we use the voice of our soul to do so. If we do not, our lights dim and we just fizzle out. There is no more light and no sign of growth.

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

 

The “Contraction” and “Expansion” of Evolution

When it comes to soul health, it is necessary for us to experience times in our lives when we both contract and expand. What does this mean? Essentially, it means that there are times when pulling back to evaluate, rest, or recharge are more important to our evolution than the times when we perceive ourselves to be growing and expanding. The truth is, both contraction and expansion are necessary processes in our evolution. While we might avoid or resist either process, it is important to embrace the ebb and flow as a necessary part of our growth.

As many of you know, 2015 was a particularly challenging Sick Tree aka SoulAyear for me. The long-term illnesses and loss of both my mother and a 16 year-old dog, multiple unexpected car and home expenses, a very busy work/travel schedule, stressful family dynamics, and health concerns of my own left my own “tree” feeling rather wilty. Although I take pride in self-care, regardless of what I did, I just couldn’t muster my typical amount of energy to do much more than see clients, go home, and sit on the couch with my pups. I was spent.

I “measure” my energy in percentages, and early this year, I estimated that I was functioning at less than 25% of my typical energy level. My tank was pretty much empty. In order to “fill up”, I set upon practicing what I preach about Soul Health by cutting back most activity, canceling classes and workshops, minimizing any extra commotion, and basically pulling back on anything that wasn’t absolutely necessary to get by. Anyone who knows me also knows that I don’t like to slow down. However, I had no choice but to “contract” in order to assure a future “expansion”.

fall-newsletterBeing a travel junkie, I scheduled a long weekend at the beach, took another extended weekend away at a retreat center, and planned a trip to several national parks in July with my best friend, knowing that visiting majestic sights is one of my most effective medicines. Sure enough, by August I was feeling much more like myself. Another important healing “salve” for me is to learn something new. So, throughout the summer,
I also underwent some further training that will enable me to provide many more healing and educational opportunities for others. I just returned from another soul-nourishing workshop that left me feeling much more integrated, excited to launch some new services, and much, MUCH clearer about what I will be doing in the near future.

The moral of the story? My forced “contraction” was exactly what I needed for my evolution. If my energy hadn’t been so low, and had I not heeded my typical words of healing wisdom, not only would I not have acquired my newfound clarity, but I also wouldn’t have the energy it will take in order to implement the plan that has formed over the last year. Contracting from the world helped me heal and restore so that I could expand and grow.

Although I don’t like to think about cutting a tree to look at it’s rings for signs of growth, they do clearly show that contraction and expansion are necessary parts of life. The thinnest rings indicate times of slower growth and stagnation, while the wider rings illustrate what happens when it is time to thrive and develop. Like my own reduction in activity, trees need these times of seeming stagnation in order to store up energy for the next seasonal expansion.

Fall is a natural time of contraction, one when many people pull back from typical activity to reflect and recharge for new growth in the spring. The season provides the opportunity to re-evaluate where your growth has taken you and also where you want to be in another year. Make use of this beautiful and symbolic season so that you, too, can embrace the ebb and flow of your evolution.

Social Health: Soul to Soul Relations

(Taken from Chapter 5 of Soul Health: Aligning with Spirit for Radiant Living)

We are all dependent on one another, every soul of us on earth. ~~ George Bernard Shaw

09 Sept picHumans are pack animals—we are meant to be with people. No matter how “independent” we think we are, we still depend on those around us for at least some things, and we obviously wouldn’t have been brought into the world without the help of others. In most cases we could not survive, let alone thrive without the help of parents or other caregivers, teachers, friends, neighbors, pets, and others. What makes the world go around is our connection with others and the sense of community we receive through these interactions.

All of our relationships can have a direct impact on soul healthIf I were to guess, I’d say nearly 90 percent of people come to therapy because of their relationships with others in their lives. Depression, anxiety, grief, adjustment, low self-esteem, job stress, body image, weight-related concerns, physical injuries, traumatic events, anger management, abuse, and even some ongoing physical health concerns can be attributed to either present-day interactions with others or to the ideas, values, or beliefs we were taught as children.

The social branch of soul health encompasses all the relationships we have in our lives. This chapter discusses the many types of connections we have with other people, not only those close to us, but also others we may see less frequently—store clerks, dry cleaners, mail carriers, receptionists, pharmacists, manicurists, massage therapists, hair stylists, and even coffee baristas. Many people, including me, also consider pets and other animals to be significant contributors to our overall social health. No matter how connected we are to those who appear regularly in our lives, they are all part of our personal flock.

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

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)

 

Inner Peace and Soul Health

(Taken from Chapter 10 of Soul Health:  Aligning with Spirit for Radiant Living)

Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul. ~ Marcus Aurelius

Inner peace is described as a state of being mentally and spiritually centered and calm even in the face of discord or stress. This might seem impossible given that the circumstances of our human condition present many opportunities to become enveloped by the stressors of everyday life. Finding this inner equilibrium, regardless of the turmoil we may experience, is considered to be the ultimate consciousness. When a person can reach this level of enlightenment, they are clearly on a steady path to their soul’s evolution. Many spiritual traditions, including Buddhism and Hinduism, emphasize the attainment of inner peace as the key element of daily practice. Much like spirituality itself, finding inner peace is an individual process— that which brings peace is often unique to the individual. However, common to all is the desire to reach this internal solace.

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  • When was the last time you felt complete inner peace?
  • What circumstances allowed you to reach this state of being?
  • What happened to interrupt your peace?
  • Is there one thing you could do every day to instill a more permanent sense of inner peace in your life?

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

Incan Initiation: Awakened, Alive, and Awestruck in the Andes, Part I of III

DSC_5788Anyone who knows me is well aware that travel is a main source of nourishment in my own path to Soul Health.  I simply can’t live without it.  One of the most important things I’ve learned about myself during my travels has to do with how I decide where and when to do my next trip.

Years ago, I saw a picture of Machu Picchu, probably in a National Geographic or Scientific American magazine that my older brother had been reading.  I was mystified by the ancient ruins and fantasized over visiting there someday.  As time went on, I traveled to various national parks within the United States and was always enamored by the natural wonders I would see.  I had visited a few Native American ruins such as Mesa Verde and various burial mounds, but I had never been as drawn to a native culture as I was the Crystal City at the top of the Andes mountains.

For some reason, I realized I was supposed to visit Peru before I turned 40.  I was at a place in my life when I was reasonably established in my psychotherapy practice, had pursued various spiritual retreats within the United States, and was ready for an excursion that would stretch my limits beyond my previous adventures.  So, why not head to the famous Incan ruins?

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I began reading as much as I could about this amazing culture.  I read about the controversial history of Hiram Bingham discovering Machu Picchu, as it is unclear whether this archaeologist actually was the first to stumble upon the ancient ruins.  I read about others who had traveled to this curious site and had experienced a variety of otherwise unexplainable spiritual events.  All the while, I would glance through group-led excursions to see what kind of trips felt like the best fit for me.  I came upon a 10-day journey created by an American tour company, but led by a Peruvian guide, healer, and “bridge person” by the name of Jorge Luis Delgado.  The trip included stops at various sites in the Sacred Valley of Peru and allowed for 2 full days at Machu Picchu, which was my main target of the excursion.  I booked the trip, cleared my schedule, and set out to prepare in whatever way I could for this mystical journey.

As part of my preparation, I did some meditation to see if there was anything I needed to be mindful or aware of in taking the trip.  All I heard was the word “initiation”.  I didn’t exactly know what this meant, but it was loud and clear and so I just went with the idea that this was the beginning of something to come—some sort of opening or awakening that was yet to be discovered.

I didn’t know anyone on the trip before I joined it, but quickly connected with a person also by the name of Kathy who was from the D.C. area.  I also felt connected with a woman from Florida—a person who also worked in helping others, as well as a man from Australia who had flown halfway around the world to join us on this journey.  The group was small—12 people total, but lent itself to a wonderful and deep experience for each of us.

031cMany amazing things happened prior to reaching Machu Picchu.  But what happened in this sacred place was both baffling and awe-inspiring.  We arrived in Aguas Calientes, the village at the base of Machu Picchu in time for lunch.  We got settled, grabbed a bite, then hopped the bus up the Andes to spend the afternoon at the ruins.  I wept all the way up the mountain with the beauty of the Andes permeating pretty much every cell in my body.  Just breathtaking.  Once within the gate, Jorge did a short talk and awareness exercise, then walked us around the corner to see the ruins.  Once I saw the sacred city, I burst out crying and didn’t stop for the entire time we were there that day.  I was absolutely consumed with the magnificence of this incredible place.  I had decided after my first picture to put the camera away so that I could fully absorb the energy this sacred space had to offer.  I could tell that some of the other members of the group were unsure of what to do with my reaction, but I really didn’t care.  Frankly, I didn’t have control over how taken I was in the place…. I just was.  That entire afternoon, all I heard through my tears was “Welcome Home”, over and over again as I passed through the sacred walls.

The next day proved to be even more incredible, which seemed impossible.  After a morning ceremony and a hike up Huayna Picchu, the steep mountain that sits in the background of all of the famous pictures of the ruins, we were set free to enjoy whatever we wanted for the afternoon.  Some chose to return to the village to do some shopping, but myself and the other Kathy stayed to meditate and walk through the ruins one more time.  Because I had read quite a bit, I was very familiar with the temples held within the ancient city, and decided to take a seat up near the guard house that overlooks the ruins so I could get a bird’s eye view of the entire complex.  After about 30 minutes of meditation, I opened my eyes and just slowly glanced around as my counterpart was finishing her quiet time.  As I swept the ruins with my eyes, I happened to look upward into the clouds and nearly gasped.  Just then, my friend opened her eyes and I took the opportunity to ask her what she saw up in the clouds—whether to see if I was hallucinating or to confirm what I saw, I wasn’t sure.

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Clear as day, a “40” appeared in the sky above us.  I sat for a moment in amazement, then hurried to dig into my backpack to grab my camera.  I took the picture just as the “0” started to dissipate, but the picture clearly shows the numbers, 4-0.  The area above Machu Picchu is a no-fly zone, so no skywriters made those marks.  No other clouds were around the formation, and yet, in my mind, there’s no way that it was a random event.

That “40” in the clouds was my confirmation that I was supposed to be there before my 40th birthday, and as it turns out, it was also the sign that my “initiation” had begun.

The rest of the trip was wonderful, but somewhat less eventful.  A few other curious things happened, but for the most part, the “40” was the cue that something big was unfolding.  I just didn’t know what that would be.  However, I did hear during another meditation that I would be returning in 2 years, something I hadn’t even considered given that I felt this was likely a once in a lifetime-type trip.  Apparently, not.

When I tell people about this experience, I am met with the gasps of others, particularly when I show them the picture of my Initiation Clouds.  I keep a picture on my refrigerator at home and on my desk at work.  That day is a clear reminder of my awakening into a whole new level of consciousness.

On that day I confirmed to myself that we really do have to listen deep within and follow through with the ideas that come to us, whether or not they make sense at the time.  For whatever reason I saw the picture of Machu Picchu years ago, it was the planting of a seed for my own spiritual and personal evolution.

I also realized that our consciousness allows us bits and pieces of “remembering”, meaning that had I not resonated with that initial viewing of the picture, I would have never read more about the Incan/Peruvian culture, nor would I have booked that trip years later.

We are conditioned to think our way through life rather than steer our lives through our inner knowing.  Consciousness implies a cognitive process, but really, it goes beyond this to access the wisdom held within each and every one of us.  Although I had had other experiences that confirmed that I needed to follow my gut—or listen to my soul, as I often tell others—this particular event cemented my belief that our experiences are here to guide us to our true path.  Our job is to learn to listen.

Now I’m looking forward to guiding others throughout the Andes Mountains to help them along their own path to awakening.  For more information, go to www.soulhealthtravel.com/peru2015 to see my Awakened, Alive, and Awestruck in the Andes Soul Health Journey through the Sacred Sites of Peru” guided tour with guest leader, Jorge Luis Delgado.

(See Part II in a few weeks to hear about my 2011 trip to Peru for an 11-11-11 ceremony.  This trip was about “Completion” and provided yet another amazing experience of awakening to my own inner wisdom.)