A Bystander’s Guide to Suicide

A Bystander’s Guide to Suicide

For whatever reason, the Universe has seen fit to make me a magnet for for the highly traumatized and downtrodden. Astrology tells me it’s my 29th degree moon in Cancer. Other intuitives tell me it’s because I’m a healer. Broken people are attracted to my energy like moths to a flame – drug addicts, sex addicts, narcissists, schizophrenics, borderlines, depressives, stage five clingers, and anyone who just needs a fucking hug (and I don’t even like hugs. Don’t touch me unless you’ve known me for at least six months).

While many of these scenarios have played out on multiple occasions, the one that seems to recur most frequently is me having a one-on-one with someone contemplating ending it all. A couple of weekends ago, I once again found myself in the suicide boat, attempting to convince an acquaintance from college not to jump overboard. By now, I’ve got a pretty good handle on the situation, I think.

I have experienced depression, but not to the depth that those who have considered or attempted suicide have. Being an empath, however, I do understand, with cold clarity, the kind of soul sucking hopelessness that often accompanies it. I understand, from personal experience, how we become trapped in our own thoughts, unable to see the way out. I understand how, in the right moment, when those two elements occur at the same time, taking your own life seems like the best and only solution.

I am and have been deeply connected to people who have and still do battle with depression and suicidal thoughts. Some of them have lost that battle. Some of them have managed to hang on, if even by pure accident. And for the ones who have, I’m glad you’re still here, and I love you. Even if we don’t speak often, or at all anymore, due to circumstances beyond my control.

I did a mental inventory a couple of months ago of all the people in my life over the years who had been clinically depressed and/or suicidal. Thirteen. Four of them were people I was romantically involved with to some degree.

There was Tim, a guy I knew from high school and briefly dated in college. We stayed good friends afterward. He dropped out of school temporarily after being diagnosed with depression.

There was my first love, who would never admit it and I was too young to recognize it, but it was most likely a contributing factor to the train wreck of a four year fucked up off-and-on non-relationship we had, which, coupled with psychological abuse, completely obliterated my self-esteem, led to my first depressive episode and brought me to the edge of an eating disorder, but those are much longer stories for another day.

There was Sean, who I also dated briefly in college and through a bizarre twist of fate, ended up being roommates with my first boyfriend from high school. He killed himself a couple of years later. I went to his funeral. It was hard, not just because of him, but because of all of the different friends we had in common. Collective grieving is an interesting experience. (Funny side story- I actually met a girl after I moved here that knew him. All these years later and he still mysteriously somehow knows everyone I know, even halfway across the country.)

One of my close friends from back in St. Louis tried to kill herself five times. I practically had to kick down her front door to get her to engage with human contact again after the last one.

There was a kid from back home about seven years younger than me. He tried to overdose on prescription pills when he was in high school. We talked about it after the fact.

There was a guy I knew from a Facebook group I used to manage, who I was texting during his first two attempts.

This isn’t all of them, but you get the picture. The list is long. Too long.

When Sean died, I saw how devastated his family was at his funeral. That angered me. At the time, I thought it was a selfish act. Years have gone by and I’ve been more thoroughly exposed to the internal struggles of people close to me who suffer from depression, and I now have a better perspective. I don’t begrudge anyone for feeling so much pain that they simply want relief from it. It’s not my place to judge you. Your choices are your own. You have sovereignty over your own body, your own life, and I can understand how ending your life may feel like the only way you can gain any semblance of control.

For those considering jumping overboard…

I don’t believe that depression and anxiety are something that just happens for no reason, and I also don’t believe that it’s a life sentence. I don’t believe that people have to be medicated for the rest of their days to simply cope with it, and I don’t believe that “it’s just the way it is.”

There’s no shame in how you feel, but there is hope. I believe in hope. I believe that there IS hope. Even when you can’t see it. And it’s my hope that you’ll be able to find it, in your darkest moments and the depths of your suffering. We were not made for that.

It is my hope that when you can’t find hope for yourself, when you can’t see the light, that you’ll reach out to someone who can show it to you. Someone who can lead you out of your darkness. Always remember that it’s temporary. No matter how frequently it comes or how long it lasts, it’s still only temporary. And with hope and help, it can become fewer and further in between, and the moments of joy, more frequent.

I don’t like the word “cured.” I do like the word “healed.” To be cured from something suggests that it had power over you and you needed an external antidote to save you. To be healed suggests, to me, that you’ve had the power all along. And I do believe that depression stems from unhealed trauma. Sometimes that trauma is so great and so multi-faceted that it’s overwhelming to even think about healing. Where the fuck do you even begin?

Depression, along with many other mental illnesses, are less a disease of body, and more a dis-ease of the soul.

It takes time to heal. It takes courage to push through and commit to continuing to heal. And it takes even more courage to reach out and ask for help. Sometimes we don’t know how. Sometimes we test the waters with vague statements, just to get a sense of how it will be received, and when it doesn’t feel safe, we withdraw. Sometimes the people we want to approach for help aren’t equipped to do so – even some professionals.

One of the most difficult things for anyone suffering from this, in my experience, is how alone you feel, especially when the people around you can’t relate, and aren’t able to help you. You feel like a burden when you find someone you CAN lean on, because leaning on them makes you feel safe, but a single person can’t bear the weight for both of you. That’s why having a support network is so important. A group of people who are able to provide a safety net for you is so much stronger than a single individual, to give you connection during the times when you feel the most disconnected.

And the key IS to connect. Connect with someone who loves you and let them do that. Let them love you. Let yourself receive it. Let it lead you out of your darker moments. Let it help you hold on, just until tomorrow, because tomorrow can make all the difference.

For those of you holding the life preserver…

If I’ve learned anything from these situations, it’s that you cannot make yourself solely responsible for another person’s well being. And it isn’t fair to you for them to make you solely responsible, either.

Your name is not Jesus. You’re not a savior. They cannot and should not carry the weight of this alone, but neither should you. No matter how much you love them, their healing is, ultimately, their responsibility. You’re job is first, to simply hold space.

What does it mean to hold space?

It means to offer a safe, nonjudgmental environment. Validate emotions. Listen. Be receptive. Be supportive (being supportive does not equate to fixing things). Let them know that they don’t have to be alone, if they choose it.

Secondly, your job is to help them find more support, preferably from a professional, and perhaps other friends and family.

Most importantly: maintain boundaries. Know where your responsibility ends and theirs begins. This is a collaboration.

For those of you who find yourself being “the” person, if YOU need support (and believe me, sometimes you do), or guidance about what to do, I’m happy to lend an ear and some advice.

Everyone… take care of yourselves.

Everything That’s Wrong With The Body And Sex Positivity Movements

Everything That’s Wrong With The Body And Sex Positivity Movements

I try not to write critiques anymore, and the reason is because instead of raging about what someone else is doing, I could be doing something constructive that helps myself, or writing something constructive that helps someone else. Promote what you love, don’t bash what you hate, and all that jazz.

However, I also recognize that on occasion, a righteous criticism is necessary to cut through the bullshit. That criticism is even more righteous when it’s meant to cut through chatter in my own industry and/or area of expertise, and especially when I’m ready to call bullshit for the sake of all the other people out there who may need to hear this perspective. In that regard, being critical is helpful.

I’ve done this previously with people who think you can only think positive thoughts and spiritual bypassing and I’m about to do it again on a wholly new topic which actually kind of relates back to spiritual bypassing in a roundabout way.

Spiritual Bypassing

A term coined by psychologist Robert Masters to describe the practice of empty spirituality devoid of real personal development. In spiritual bypassing, a person “acts” spiritual without actually doing the internal work to develop real spiritual understanding, often resulting in stunted spiritual growth, repressed emotions, inflated ideas about their own level of enlightenment, and a plethora of other detrimental activities and ideas.

Since this spring, I’ve really been working on my Instagram presence. Part of that means checking out what other people are doing and seeing how they’re using the platform. Throughout that process, I have observed a lot of conversation happening among influencers about body positivity, feminism, and owning your sexuality.

I’ve observed on Instagram that people seem to be able to create entire platforms off of these “positive” concepts, and yet the content they’re putting forth seems to still be rooted in the very thing that they claim to stand against  – and they don’t even realize it.  The end result being that they actually end up perpetuating the very thing they purport to oppose.

On Body Positivity…

I literally can’t scroll through an Instagram search feed without seeing butt cheeks, side boob, workout mirror selfies, and women in their underwear.  I honestly don’t have a problem with nude photos. I think the human body is beautiful. I think the female body is especially beautiful. I think photography is art, and these kinds of images can evoke emotion and important conversation when used in a skillful manner.

Posting 1,038 professional photos of yourself is not it, especially if your purpose is to make other people feel better about themselves, and I’m about to elaborate for you, in great detail, exactly why this is the case.

Let’s be honest. Most of us – dare I even say ALL OF US – women have struggled with our body image. Some of the most beautiful women I know have amazing bodies and the way they talk about themselves is heartbreaking. My best friend from college is 5’10” and athletic as fuck, and she talks about how gross she is all the time. Another friend just weighed herself for the first time in forever and realized she’d lost 40 pounds. She texted me a picture of herself at the pool a couple of days later and asked me if she looked fat.

Obviously, this comes from a deeper rooted issue of self worth, the physical body is simply an easy target. I know many men who deal with the same issues.

Some of us, however, have taken that self-loathing to whole other level and engaged in destructive eating and exercise habits in a failed attempt to try to feel worthy. I was one of those people.

Frankly, it’s a miracle that I didn’t develop a full blown eating disorder in my early 20s and I’m thankful that I didn’t, but that didn’t stop me from obsessively monitoring my 600 calorie-per-day diet while working out five days a week or abusing prescription diet pills.

I understand the importance of representing all types of bodies in the media. Everyone should be able to see someone like themselves represented. But I also recognize that body dysmorphia doesn’t fucking care about that.

Dysmorphia is when your perception of your physical body is skewed in a negative way, and you hyperfixate on one or more physical flaws – either real, or imagined. It exists on a spectrum and most people have dealt with it to some degree at some point, if not on a regular basis.

We like to think that the reason women hate their bodies is because marketing and advertising has bombarded us with images of photoshopped stick figures. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it were that simple?

The real reason we have these issues to begin with is a bit more complex, and it’s because our culture has placed an inordinate amount of emphasis on our bodies as being synonymous with our beauty and our self esteem – it has it’s roots in patriarchy and the way women have been taught to perceive themselves, and that message has been beaten into us from the day we were born.

Let me restate that for emphasis in case it got lost in translation: It’s not (exclusively, or even mostly) the images we are being bombarded with on a daily basis that’s the problem, it’s the psychological connection that’s been forged between the physical body and our self-worth.

Unless you have a body type that is vastly different from the average human, it doesn’t matter how many pictures you post of your half naked thicker-than-the-average-runway-model body captioned with, “You don’t need to count calories #ilovemyself #ImBeautiful #BodyPositive,” because you still fit a societal beauty standard and you’re still placing an emphasis on physical appearance as a source of self-esteem. Regardless of how shitty you may feel about yourself, people are still going to look at you and feel shitty about themselves, and then they’re going to feel doubly so because “obviously” you’ve conquered your body issues and why they fuck can’t they?

You cannot tell someone with body issues not to obsess over their body or compare it to other people’s bodies while simultaneously shoving pictures of your body in their face. It just doesn’t work.

“What’s that, you say? You have body issues? You don’t need to compare yourself to other women! Now, behold this posed, professionally shot photo of me in my underwear. Not only that – that’s all I’m going to post. EVER. Follow me for more body positive deliciousness!”

It’s fairly absurd when you think of it that way, yes?

“I’m posting a no-makeup selfie today to let you know that you don’t need to wear makeup to feel beautiful. Nevermind the fact that I’m 22, perfectly tan, have no wrinkles or blemishes and most likely spend a ridiculous amount of money on skincare. I just wanted you to know that it’s ok for you not to wear makeup, too.” 

You’d might as well be Adriana Lima walking around with no makeup on saying, “Look, you can be like me!” No, I can’t, because even without makeup, you’re still a god damn supermodel. 

Faulty logic aside, there’s a bigger problem with the story here. The well meaning message of “don’t compare yourself to others,” is actually a subliminal form of emotional invalidation.

Let’s say I’ve been comparing my body to other people’s bodies for years. It’s an ingrained part of my behavior. I’ve got 99 neural pathways that all lead to feeling like shit. Feeling like shit is basically like a drug for me at this point.

Then you come along and you say, “Don’t do the thing that you’ve been doing your entire life. It’s super easy. Look at me. I did it.” Then I try to not do the thing, and I fail. And I fail again. And I fail again. Then I start to feel like shit for feeling like shit because you’re telling me I shouldn’t feel like shit, and that starts a whole new shame cycle.

It’s basically telling people not to feel what they feel (emotional repression and invalidation) while simultaneously failing to give them the actual tools to work through and release the negative feelings and the beliefs that underly them on a psychological, emotional, and energetic level…most likely because the influencer in question hasn’t actually worked through their own issues, either, and their entire Instagram account is just pictures and posts of them trying to convince themselves to believe the things they’re telling everyone else to believe and their own self-image is just as distorted as everyone else’s.

Uh oh. Secret’s out.

Now, since I’m the type of person who says “Don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions,” I’m going to provide solutions.

If you want to be a body positivity role model and you want to do it in a less destructive way that people can actually connect with and heal with, here’s what you do:

Step 1: Stop posting professional photos of yourself 24/7. Not staged. Not posed. You think posting photos to the public dressed in sexy lingerie or sprawled out on a beach in a bikini is being vulnerable, except it’s not. Especially not when it’s retouched or posed with professional lighting, etc.

Post REAL pictures of yourself. That’s the whole point, right? To show what REAL women look like?

“But professional grade photography, that’s how we’re supposed to build our brand!”

If body positivity is your brand, then you’re telling the wrong story.

Branding is partly what got us here in the first place. You really want to change the game? Then stop playing it and GET REAL. What a radical thought.

Step 2: Show some real vulnerability. Don’t act like you’ve mastered shit that you haven’t. Be raw with your struggle. Own your story and stop sugarcoating it. Let people know that you’re in this, too. Of course, that first requires getting really fucking honest with yourself and that’s not something most people are willing to do. You’re definitely not being honest with yourself if you can barely bring yourself to post an authentic photo of your body.

The story is not “Look at what I’ve done! You can be just like me, let me show you how.” That’s your fucking ego talking. The story is “I am just. Like. You. We can do this together.”

Step 3: Don’t do it once it a blue moon. Do it all the fucking time. Balls to the wall. Walk the fucking walk. I’m so tired of influencers talking about how “authentic” they are when they clearly don’t even have the faintest inkling of what that really means.

Step 4: And here’s the most important solution. SHOW people that their worth is more than their body. SHOW them. Don’t just tell them. That MIGHT mean that you focus on other shit that isn’t your body, like who you are on the inside.

By most societal standards and outside opinions, I’m beautiful. People tell me that all the time and they have my entire life. But I do not always feel beautiful, and I’m not going to pretend that I do.

What does authenticity look like? It looks like this:

I remember the first time I recognized that I didn’t feel beautiful. I was in second grade. At eight years old, I was looking at myself in the mirror and wondering why other people thought I was pretty, because I didn’t. In my greatest moments of self loathing, I contemplated plastic surgery, and the dialogue in my mind always came down to, “Do I hate myself enough to carve up my own body?” The answer was no.

As much as I may have hated my body over the years, I have always been exceptionally aware of the fact that there are other people out there who would kill to look like me.

I once asked someone I loved if he liked my body. He said yes. I was curious to know how another person perceived my physical appearance and whether or not he’d find certain things I actually disliked to be attractive, so I asked, “Why? What do you like about it?” He said, “Because it’s yours.”

I’d never felt so seen or so loved as I did in that moment, to know that someone saw me as more than a body and valued me as more than an object.

That’s what we need to be pushing. That’s what creates self-acceptance. Not 30,000 photos of you talking about how you’ve (allegedly) accepted your comparatively mild case of cellulite.

Sometimes, I DO feel beautiful. Those days are becoming more frequent. I try to celebrate them, but I’m also going to be really honest about the fact that I didn’t always, and a lot of days I still don’t.

You know how many professional photos I’ve posted on my Instagram account? Exactly ONE, because I’m not trying to convince myself or anyone else that I’m pretty. The more I fall in love with the person inside me, the easier I am on the person in the mirror.

On Being “Sex Positive”…

The sex positive movement is a great thing. It’s helping our culture move out of this puritanical mindset that we have toward something that we all pretty much do and that a lot of people are really uncomfortable with. I once interacted with an adult male who could not even use the words penis or vagina because he carried so much fear and shame around sex – he called them a “p” and a “v.” We should all be comfortable enough to talk about sex openly in a serious manner in order to be able to have healthier attitudes toward it.

That being said, I don’t have any hangups, generally speaking, with the concept of sex or expressing sexuality. I’m pretty unattached to it, in that I’m not necessarily obsessed with sex but am also not averse to it in any way. I know a lot of people who carry around a lot of shame in regard to sex but I don’t believe I’m one of those people.

While I was raised in a conservative Christian environment, I never really latched onto the “sex is a dirty, awful thing” mentality – maybe because my parents avoided the subject at all costs and left me to my own devices to learn about it from friends at school.

The only other potential influence was church and the one thing I remember being told there was that you should wait until you’re married. I didn’t personally put a lot of emphasis on that, myself. The thing that was important to me was that I wanted to be in love.

Unfortunately, initiating and maintaining a relationship with someone I actually loved proved to be difficult, due to having spent the majority of my life as an out-of-touch, emotionally stunted ice queen, which only served to reinforce my self-worth issues. I didn’t lose my virginity until I was 24.

This may seem uncomfortably personal, but oddly, it’s one area that I’ve never had any hangups about being completely transparent about, even as a teenager when all of my friends gave me hell about it since they’d all lost their virginity when they were 14. Nevertheless, it didn’t stop people from making things up and spreading rumors about me. I’m sure I wasn’t the world’s first virgin slut and I won’t be the last.

When I finally did lose my virginity, it was basically just to get it over with. I was tired of feeling like a freak. By that time, my self-worth had pretty much bottomed out. Even though I had only had four sexual partners until I got married, they were mostly one-night-stands or guys that I only dated for three or four weeks. Some of them were people that I’d completely lowered my standards for and my boundaries were so nonexistent that I allowed myself to be pressured into things that I wouldn’t have agreed to in a healthier frame of mind.

I vividly remember crying in the bathroom of my apartment after having sex with a guy I was kind of seeing that I didn’t even really like that much or want to even have sex with. He put a lot of pressure on me even though we’d only been dating for a short period of time. I finally gave in and waited for it to be over with. I cried because it was the fourth time I’d had sex and I still hated every minute of it. I thought I was never going to be able to enjoy it.

I can actually say, with total certainty, that was the rock bottom moment of my life.

As it would turn out, it was just him that I hated, not sex, though I never did find much fulfillment in a casual shag.

And so, to this day, I highly prioritize deep emotional connection over purely physical or surface level connection. Hence why I have a quality over quantity mentality, but I do believe that you can have short-lived, mutually respectful and even meaningful trysts that are experienced in a healthy way if that’s what you’re into.

That being said, like anything else, and maybe even more so than anything else, sexual energy can be twisted, compressed, and warped from something that’s beautiful, natural, and meaningful into something that keeps us chained to our lower consciousness. God damn, people love to fuck up a good thing.

I’m not talking about people with out of the ordinary sexual proclivities or fetishes, at least not directly. What you do in your bedroom among consenting adults is your business. What I do promote, however, is having an awareness of why those things have manifested the way that they have, especially if you feel an underlying sense of shame around it. And that’s what I’m talking about in this post.

Being a polyamorous empath, and interacting with more people in the poly community in New York, I am quickly realizing how many fall into the latter category. There’s so much toxic shame and self-loathing (manifesting as sexual confusion) masquerading as sex positivity, it’s utterly unreal.

Similarly to what I discussed about the body positive movement and how some people’s behavior is actually an overcompensation for their underlying sense of insecurity about their bodies (which is effectively a form of repression because they’re trying to force themselves to be positive when they actually don’t feel positive about their bodies at all), this same dynamic plays out in the realm of sex positivity.

If you’re engaging in behavior that makes you feel shameful, you have to explore the internal source of that shame. You cannot heal shame by ignoring it and jumping on a bandwagon that embraces the overlying behavior without any form of introspection.

I shared all of those very personal things earlier to show that I do have some experience in the realm of approval-seeking as it relates to sexuality and I can smell a self-esteem crisis from all the way across the internet, which leads me to my next soap box…

It’s one thing to embrace femininity and own your sexuality. That comes from a place of power and confidence. You own that. It lives within you. It initiates desire in others, it does not require it from them. It is self-sustaining.

It’s wholly another to hypersexualize yourself because you’ve mistaken your self-worth to be equivalent with how desired you are by others. That’s a gaping black hole inside your soul that sucks in any and all attention around it that it can possibly pull into it’s gravitational field. That comes from a place of emotional starvation and lack. It’s founded on a massive sense of insecurity, and it will ruin you.

Unfortunately, I see a lot of the latter dressing itself up as sex positivity on Instagram, and even female empowerment. And yet it’s the very antithesis of female empowerment, because it leaves your value completely beholden to how fuckable men on the internet think you are, and YOU WILLINGLY CHOOSE IT.

You know how to tell the difference between the two? 

A truly empowered woman has no need to call attention to her sexuality. Her essence commands it, regardless of how much or how little clothing she is wearing. She has presence. She glows. She doesn’t need to be, or try to be overtly sexual. She just is, by her very nature.

Her allure isn’t derived from primitive lust. Her sensuality resonates from within the depths of her soul, and it’s synonymous with kindness, grace and vulnerability. She’s a god damn goddess and she knows it.

Sex is a power play, in many cases. When you base your self-worth on being desired, you put your personal power in the hands of other people, and they can take it away at any moment. Your sexuality becomes a manipulative game of cat and mouse. An empowered woman knows her worth and she knows that it lies within her at all times.

You want to see an example of what sex positivity looks like when it’s done right? Check out Alexandra Roxo.

Once again, I come bearing solutions, or at least a question to ponder:

What’s your motivation? Your REAL motivation?

But like I said earlier, to be able to truly answer that requires getting really fucking honest with yourself and that’s not something most people are willing to do.

Body and sex positivity are not specifically my platform – authenticity as a path to healing and self-love is. But body positivity and sex positivity are aspects of authenticity that do have to be examined and integrated before you can truly be free to be yourself. No matter how hard you try, you’re never be able to force yourself to feel positive about pieces of yourself that you’ve been hiding for years. There’s a process of self-examination, acceptance, and release involved that requires rigorous self-honesty. And this is where this post ties back into the concept of spiritual bypassing.

My goal with this piece is not to shame people or even judge them. We’re all on a healing path and sometimes we go down a few dead ends. What this was meant to do was pull back the curtain on the shiny exterior of Instagram branding and take a look at the dysfunction that lies underneath so that you don’t have to go down that road, too. But hey, we’re all a little dysfunctional underneath, everyone is on their own journey.

All I’m trying to say is, I would love it if people – especially those who are attempting to portray themselves as role models for other people or poster children for a positivity movement – were a little more honest with themselves and their audience about where they actually are in this process. But as is so often the case in the land of Instafame, what you see isn’t always what’s real.

[/end rant]
The Oxygen Mask Analogy

The Oxygen Mask Analogy

God knows I love a good fixer upper project. I’m the queen of the come up, and I’ll turn another man’s trash into treasure all day err’ day. My steps kids joked that Thrift Shop was my theme song. I have an entire Facebook album of shit I bought from Goodwill and upcycled. I decorated my entire wedding with stuff from Goodwill, and then at least half of my house.

This excellent, innovative ability to see untapped potential, revitalize and make use out of broken or unwanted things takes a turn for the worst in other parts of my personality, when I try to revitalize and make use out of broken people.

“But Ashley, isn’t that what a healer does?”

Helping people heal becomes problematic when you’re using it to avoid healing yourself.

That can look like a number of things. For me, it manifests as, “I’m the strong one. I don’t need help. I can take on your problems as well as my own, and we’re going to focus on yours first because mine aren’t dire.”

But there’s plenty of people in the world whose problems are more dire than your own, and you’re always going to be able to find one. The storage closet of projects not-yet-started in my basement proved that. In this analogy, it means you’re always going to be prioritizing other people’s dire problems ahead of your own, and that means you never actually fully focus on your own healing.

To use the oxygen mask analogy – it’s not just the equivalent of putting on someone else’s mask before your own. It’s trying to put oxygen masks on everyone else on the entire fucking plane before you put on your own. YOU’RE GOING TO DIE before you get to row seven.

You don’t realize you’re doing it and before you know it, you’re crying yourself to sleep at night, breaking down in the shower, your hair is falling out and your immune system crashes because you’ve been under a tremendous amount of emotional stress that’s built up over all the years you’ve gleefully ignored it while helping everyone else. You wake up one day and you’re entire fucking life fell apart while you were busy fixing other people’s problems. I’m speaking from personal experience here, obviously.

There will always be another project, so you’d might as well make yourself one.

Take it from me. I finally put on my oxygen mask. I can save a whole plane now instead of being that idiot who thinks that martyring myself sounds like a glorious way to die.

Baby Steps

Baby Steps

Iposted this to my Facebook group already, but thought it was worth sharing (and adding to) for the blog. This is going to sound really silly to some of you, I’m sure, but I just reached a really big personal care milestone.

I’ve had a lot of hip/lower back issues since 2015 and they have been getting progressively worse, particularly since I moved. I’ve also had very limited flexibility in my right hip, probably even longer than 2015.

I first noticed it when giving myself a pedicure/clipping toenails. I could bring my left foot almost up to my chest, no problem, but I couldn’t get my right foot anywhere close.

Since January of 2016, I started making a serious effort to stretch on a fairly regular basis.

I just noticed today that I was able to almost bring my right foot up the same way I can my other leg. It only took two years.

The thing is, I’ve had to learn how to make time to take care of myself. I used to put things like this off because I had work to do, or things to clean (all of which boiled down to taking care of other people before myself). I always told myself that whatever I needed could wait. Until it couldn’t wait anymore, and I was (still am) consistently in pain, started losing my hair, and my immune system crashed and I was sick with a respiratory infection for 10 out of 18 months between 2016 and 2017, and got the stomach flu for the first time in 13 years.

I had to learn how to prioritize my own needs and stop sacrificing them for the benefit of other people. I’m still learning, but I’m getting better at it. And, as you know, that prioritization created a lot of really big life changes for me.

Additionally, I’ve been taking vitamins for hair growth since November to try and get some of my hair back, and I noticed this weekend that I have a lot of baby hairs growing in. And it is very much like baby hair – all crazy different lengths. Which is why I cut off my hair this weekend to allow it all to catch up.

 

My next big project is to allow myself to spend money on myself without feeling guilty.

Guest Blog: Energy Healing 101

Guest Blog: Energy Healing 101

This is a milestone for In My Sacred Space. It’s my 100th post (and it hasn’t even been a year just yet!). I started this blog last summer and it’s one year anniversary is coming up pretty quickly. It’s grown so much in such a short time! I don’t know what I imagined it would be, but I never thought hundreds of people would care to listen to what I have to say on a regular basis. 🙂

Today, my friend Tara Olowoye of Crystalline Dreams. is going to talk a little bit about energy healing. Tara and I participated in a little distance healing experiment a few weeks ago that you might be interested in reading about over on her blog once you’re done with this one.

In case you are unfamiliar, the type of energy healing that Tara does can be done from a distance anywhere in the world, and be just as effective if she were right there in the room with you. 


Energy Healing 101
by Tara Olowoye

The Law of Conservation of Energy states that, “Energy can be neither created or destroyed; it can only transform from one form to another.”

Energy is usable power.

Healing is simply remembering who we are and where we come from…remembering our Divinity.
So energy healing, then, is working with the body’s energy field to help it remember its Divinity. Sometimes, this can bring about deep physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental healing.

Types of Energy Healing

Energy healing comes in multiple forms; the two I work with are Reiki and Crystal Healing. Reiki is an ancient form of healing where the practitioner channels healing energy through her/his crown chakra and down through the arms and hands, placing the hands on or just above the recipient’s body. Often, the recipient will feel the practitioner’s hands turn very warm.

Crystal Healing is working with gemstones or crystals (I use the terms interchangeably) for the same purpose: to bring about physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual healing. Crystals are a Mother Earth-created, all natural way to work with our bodies. With no side effects and different ways of using them, crystals are a perfect addition to any wellness regimen.

How do crystals work?

Each stone carries a particular vibration, just as the energies in and around the body carry vibrations. Crystals resonate with those energies and help balance them. I often use the chakra system and its colors to determine what needs to be used where. For example, if someone has a sore throat, I will find a light blue, calming stone such as Angelite or Blue Lace Agate to place on the throat.

When I work on a client, I use both Reiki and crystals to help her/him transform stagnant energy into well-being. Clients have seen a reduction in headaches, better sleep, and more overall happiness. They also report that, during our sessions, they feel energy moving through them, whether it be waves of warmth coursing through their bodies, a feeling of being levitated, seeing images, colors, or deceased loved ones, or feeling their bodies spin in circles.

In our work, my clients and I do not create or destroy energy, we merely transform it for their well-being and helping them to remember their Divinity–and I often learn something new in the process, too!

tara-olowoyeTara Olowoye is a wife, mother, healer and the Owner of Crystalline Dreams. She uses a unique combination of Reiki and crystal healing to help clients with various issues, including insomnia, stress, and general mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Tara earned a certificate in Intuitive Wellness from the Pyramid Holistic Wellness Center in Rutland, Vermont, in 2013. For more information about Tara and her work, visit www.crystallinedreams.co.uk.

Essential Oils for Chakra Balance and Healing

Essential Oils for Chakra Balance and Healing

I have another guest blogger today and it is none other than my own mother, talking about essential oils for chakra balance. Her list of essential oils for chakra healing are in the article below. Chakras are the energy centers within the body through which energy flows. Different chakras are tied to various emotional states and physical parts of the body and when a chakra becomes blocked our unbalanced, physical symptoms can manifest in areas which are tied to that chakra.

Before we get into today’s post on essential oils for chakra healing and balance, a quick announcement: You’re invited to join In My Sacred Space on Facebook! It’s my new closed Facebook group for people who read my blog and like the things I post about on my Facebook page. Feel free to join me and other like-minded people. Who knows, you might have some fun 🙂


Essential Oils for Chakra Balance and Healing

by Cheryl Crites

In today’s world, it’s easy to see the many threats to our health, including chronic high stress, poor diets, exposure to toxins, and emotional dysfunction. And when it comes to our overall sense of wellness, many of us feel overwhelmed and even out of balance.

In many of the traditional healing systems of Eastern medicine, this “imbalance” is described using chakras.

What are Chakras? In the ancient, thousands of years old tantric and yogic traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism, chakras (which is a Sanskrit word meaning “wheel” or “vortex”) are energy points or channels that give life and vitality. When one of these chakras becomes blocked, there is an imbalance of energy that results in illness and poor health physically and mentally.

I like the terminology “Electromagnetic Field (EMF).” Chakras are electromagnetic centers along the spine of our EM fields. You can read more on Chakras in my Blog, “Are Chakras New Age?”

Essential Oils For Chakra Balance

There are numerous ways to counter the imbalance that can occur in our bodies’ chakras. These include massage, reflection, crystal healing and meditation. But another often-overlooked therapy to enhance the body’s chakra state is the use of essential oils for chakra healing and balance.

Essential oils are the life-enhancing “essence” of plants, shrubs, flowers, trees, roots and seeds and are 1,000 times more potent than herbs. Essential oils have been revered for centuries in traditional medicine for their healing properties to the body, mind and spirit – including chakra balance and healing.

Just as important is that the numerous contemporary scientific studies now confirm that traditional be benefits of essential oils.

Before I go any further, I have to emphasize that not all essential oils are created equal. Ninety-eight percent of all essential oils are produced for taste and smell purposes only. This is your cosmetic grade oils, oils that are put in a lotions, perfumes, soaps, the oils that are readily available at your local health food store, drug store, etc.

These are diluted and frankly, they simply do not work and are sometimes toxic, doing more harm than good.

To get the best results use therapeutic grade essential oils and use the highest quality oil possible.

Which Essential Oils Are Best For Chakra Healing and Balance?

There are singles – oils made from a single substance – and blends that contain a blend of multiple singles as well as oils that are synergistic for chakra healing, making even more of an impact.

essential oils for chakra balance and healing

Single Essential Oils Chakra Balance & Healing: Root Chakra

  • Vetiver
  • Sandalwood
  • Patchouli
  • Cedarwood
  • Ginger
  • Cyprus

Essential Oil Blends for Root Chakra Healing & Balance:

  • Grounding
  • Abundance
  • Valor

Apply to the bottom of the feet and the spine.

essential oils for chakra balance and healing

Single Essential Oils for Chakra Balance & Healing: Sacral Chakra

  • Ylang Ylang
  • Clary Sage
  • Rose
  • Rosemary
  • Patchouli
  • Jasmine

Essential Oil Blends for Sacral Chakra Healing & Balance:

  • Peace & Calming
  • Harmony
  • Inner-Child
  • Forgiveness

Apply below the navel.

essential oils for chakra balance and healing

Single Essential Oils for Chakra Balance & Healing: Solar Plexus

  • Juniper
  • Basil
  • Lavender
  • Bergamot
  • Geranium
  • Ginger
  • Lemongrass

Essential Oil Blends for Solar Plexus Chakra Healing & Balance:

  • Harmony
  • Sacred Mountain
  • Acceptance
  • Release

Apply between the navel and the rib cage.

essential oils for chakra balance and healing

Single Essential Oils for Chakra Balance & Healing: Heart Chakra

  • Rose
  • Geranium
  • Jasmine
  • Cedarwood
  • Ylang Ylang
  • Eucalyptus

Essential Oil Blends for Heart Chakra Healing & Balance:

  • Acceptance
  • Humility
  • Joy

Apply to chest area over the heart.

essential oils for chakra balance and healing

Single Essential Oils for Chakra Balance & Healing: Throat Chakra

  • Roman Chamomile
  • Tea Tree
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Patchouli
  • Hyssop

Essential Oil Blends for Throat Chakra Healing & Balance:

  • Hope
  • Valor
  • Envision
  • Believe

Apply throat area.

essential oils for chakra balance and healing

Single Essential Oils for Chakra Balance & Healing: Third Eye (Brow) Chakra

  • Lavender
  • Rosemary
  • Clary Sage
  • Patchouli
  • Helichrysm

Essential Oil Blends for Third Eye (Brow) Chakra Healing & Balance:

  • White Angelica
  • Awaken
  • Dream Catcher
  • Transformation

Apply between the eyebrows.

essential oils for chakra balance and healing

Single Essential Oils for Chakra Balance & Healing: Crown Chakra 

  • Frankincense
  • Sacred Frankincense
  • Myrrh
  • Lavender
  • Jasmine

Essential Oil Blends for Crown Chakra Healing & Balance:

  • Three Wise Men
  • Gathering
  • Inspiration

Apply on the top of the head.

If you have question about essential oils for chakras such as oil quality, references, blends or just simply how to get started shoot me an email to or visit my website.

Click the image below for a full size view.

essential oils for chakra balance and healing

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