Honor your unique gifts, regardless of what others think

bird-singing copyM— writes,

I am feeling very depressed. I recently had surgery and I’m doing okay. However, I feel emptiness and anxiety. I have studied with a medium for 15 years. She recently passed away. I feel I did not progress enough. I need guidance.

Dear M—,

Patterns of behavior have a way of repeating themselves to solidify into a nexus of self-destructive beliefs and concepts that originate from a desire for belonging, approval, and acceptance within a sociocultural context.

We are a collective of angelic beings who protect and guide humanity on a course of evolution that has always and will always continue by the grace of the One Creator in All whose unconditional, loving presence is the prime directive for all life to proceed onward in evolutionary upgrades to higher and higher frequencies of energy.

Avoid negativity, dearest one. Surround yourself with people who support and nurture you in your fullness—people who inspire and uplift you. When you set this mindful intention in your life to be uplifted by your surroundings and the company you keep, you will find that your social circles change: old friends vanish, and new ones appear, seemingly out of nowhere; to help you, to show you something new, to awaken something within you…. Be open and receptive to the blessing of new people coming into your life.

Island_of_Crete,_Greece

You must try going to new places where you’ve been reluctant to go before, while you’ve been locked into a routine that has become dull and stifling to you. This includes restaurants, music performances, church social events, exercise classes, and cultural events. Be on the lookout for notices about these happenings in your area, and we could also encourage you to consider traveling to a foreign country—Have you considered the islands of Crete?—for rest, renewal, and spiritual connection. Blessings await you there.

As for your previous “studies with a medium”, it is clear that you are a medium, and you must cultivate your special gift. Why are you afraid of it? …because of how others will react? …what they will think? …how the religious authorities would condemn and admonish you?

Ask yourself: Do you want to live your life for someone else, to fulfill other peoples’ standards and expectations, or do you want to live your life fully as who you are, regardless of what the people around you want you to be?

For years you’ve compromised an important and powerful gift that has been given to you by God to help many people. We recognize that mediumship has been vilified and ill reputed. We find this to be a misfortune for humanity. Mediums can serve as tools of God for humanity’s uplifting at this time, a gift that can only be received by highly attuned, sensitive people like yourself—a gift that must be treasured, nurtured, cultivated.

Be brave, dear one—and find the company of friends and places where you can comfortably immerse yourself in a deepening of your studies.

There’s no conflict of interest between being a medium and worshiping God in whatever way you’ve embraced in your life. Ignore the negativity from those who fear that which they do not understand. Trust yourself, and honor yourself.

Consider spending more time watching videos of people who inspire you and whom you admire in your chosen field of study. You seek to progress in your understanding and practice. It appears there will be a special retreat on the Island of Crete where you will discover much in the way of renewed insights, inspiration, and deeper understanding.

Pay more attention to how you communicate with your immediate family members, especially your husband. There are patterns you’ve fallen into that negate your wholeness and beauty. When he speaks to you negatively, try ignoring or deflecting his comments by focusing on the positive. Smile more (even if you have to fake it). The point is this: Avoid engaging him in a downward spiral of negativity that leaves you both feeling drained and discouraged.

An attitude of “I only accept love in my life” might be a good place to start—to hold this intention in your heart and carry it with you throughout your daily activities, including your interactions with close family members.

mother and baby birdThere seems to be ongoing tension and struggle with your oldest son. Is this true? A battle of the wills has been ensuing…. Consider how he could feel that you don’t trust him. He has reached an age where he needs to assert his independence and withdraw from needing you to direct and assist him.

Can you let go more and grant him the opportunity to grow? It’s like a baby bird learning to fly: Momma has to push the baby out of the nest and watch him struggle as he tries to fly. He may not be so good at it, at first. That’s okay. He needs to learn to use his own wings and not depend on yours.

You’ve been an excellent, nurturing mother. We want you to release yourself from believing that you haven’t been good enough. You’ve done everything you can and your love is pure. Trust the love you feel for yourself, your family, for God, from God.

bird flying

Are you singing enough? There was a time when you lifted your voice up to God in heartfelt worship and praise…but not enough lately. Find music you can sing to… Play the music… loudly if you have to… and sing. Sing! Like a bird.

No shame in using your voice for what it is designed to do—express your heart.

We are proud and happy for you in this new growth that you will discover as you bravely try new activities, find new friends, communicate lovingly, and honor your God-given gifts.

 

Blessings upon you, lovely harbinger of playful, melodious birdsong. Sing! …and soar as high as you want to go!

-End of Life Reading-

I wish you blessings on your life’s journey. Thank you. —Parama

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About the Author

smiling-in-rainbow-blanket.jpg

Parama K. Williams, MA, LMT, CYT is a published author with a Master of Arts in Education and fifteen years of international experience as a U.S.-Certified/Licensed Massage Therapist and Yoga Teacher. She is an avid practitioner of yoga and meditation.

As the author of Ascended Master Readings, she provides Life Readings to help people find solutions to everyday challenges and to discover their unique life’s mission.

Parama offers therapeutic massage and yoga classes internationally. She currently lives in Central America, where she writes, travels, and offers ongoing classes, workshops, and retreats. 

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Finding peace after the loss of a family member

V— requests a Life Reading, seeking guidance and insights to many questions about personal wellness, marriage, spirituality, and life’s purpose:

birdMy son passed away last year. I’ve had some deep insights into my spirituality and some real indicators to our connectedness to the other side of the veil—an awakening, perhaps.

Why am I so unbelievably exhausted and unmotivated? The exhaustion seems to be getting much worse. Medical tests show that everything is normal. How do I fix this?

I have since had shamanism presented to me numerous times, although I have resisted. I am having trouble finding help on this new path. I feel like I am adrift.

Is this the path meant for me? Will I find a mentor?

And why can’t I seem to find my spirit guides? … Or, have I found them, and I just don’t know it?

I see so many images when I meditate, but I can’t seem to make sense of them all. Even when I’m not meditating; for example, just closing my eyes during emotional moments, I still see images. (I swear, I’m not crazy!)

What am I supposed to do with my life? How do I make my time here on earth meaningful? What’s my purpose, and how do I find the energy to pursue it?

How do I find joy in life again? Everything that’s going on in the world seems too overwhelming. So many bad things are happening…. I sometimes feel nauseous hearing about it on TV or social media, to the point where I’ve stopped watching the news…. I’m seriously considering shutting down my Facebook account. It’s really sickening and heartbreaking—all this hate in the world.

My husband is…. a difficult person. Although, I’m sure I’m difficult too. Am I being selfish when I think about leaving him, or should I just suck it up and try harder? Is this relationship my life lesson in patience and compassion? Is it more honorable to stay together?

In the past, I was intuitive and good at seeing the big picture, but now, I can’t see the forest for all the trees. I used to be really confident and grounded when I was younger, but now, I just feel so off kilter.

What is happening to me?

Life Reading by Parama

wolfYour son’s death has left a void in your external world, but you still feel him on the inner plane. Connections can never be lost.

“Daddy, Mommy,” your son says, “I know you miss me, but I had to leave. It was my time to go. Some people get a whole lifetime—I only got twelve years. I learned what I needed to learn, and you taught me well. I know you wanted to save me, but it was my time to go.

“Please let me go. I want to move on, too. But I can’t, because you are holding on so tight to your guilt – wishing you could have saved me.

“Let me fly! I want to fly. When you look up and see a bird with its wings outstretched, hovering above you, you’ll know it’s a sign from my spirit, having united with the Almighty One God.

“Remember me, but let me go—let me fly—let me be free and live forever in your hearts. Mommy, Daddy—one day we will reunite. I know, because the angels tell me so. And we will be happy together, forever with God.

“Take down my bedroom, my play toys, the favorite truck of mine that always makes you cry, and please, for my sake, give it away to a charity so that some other child can play the way I once did. This will please me, bring me joy, and help set our spirits free.

“Please… I want to see you happy again. I want to see you play together the way you used to play with me.

“You can’t make me come back, but you can be happy now. You have each other, and that’s a gift from God. I’ll never forget you, … ever, ever.”

The spirit of the wolf walks with you and protects you. The wolf is a fierce guardian of what you hold dear. Ask for protection and guidance from God, and then close your eyes, listen, and pay attention. A wolf—a guardian spirit gifted to you from God—is a fearless, loyal, dedicated provider and protector for you, especially as you consider bringing another child into your family. You will know when you are ready.

An unhealthy substance addiction has sapped you of energy and consumed your creativity. Seek support to free yourself from these chains. Ask God to help you…. Cry out if you must.

Have you let yourself cry over the loss of your son?

Find a loving, supportive friend from your local community whom you trust. You’ve known this person a long time, and she has great wisdom and a deep understanding of who you are. Ask her to listen to you talk about your substance addiction. Receive her unconditional love and support. Rely on her whenever you feel tempted to indulge.

Drowning out the pain cannot make it go away. Denial can only amplify your pain, until it consumes you—all of you. Will you let this happen? You don’t want to feel your pain, so you have found a way to justify your addiction, as if you were entitled to indulge in self-destructive behaviors.

This is extremely taxing to your nervous system, throws your hormones off balance, and exhausts you.

The time has come to fervently—Start now—seek healthy outlets to vent your emotions, which you’ve managed with great effort to stuff deep inside of yourself.

Using your chosen art medium, capture the images you see in meditation or when your eyes are closed. Give the images your own expression: Give them a voice, a shape, and free them from being trapped inside of you.

A new dance can only begin when you’re willing—and ready—to let go of whatever’s holding you back, get up, and embrace your dance partner.

people-dancing-silhouette-icon-25When you first met your partner, you used to dance, play, and explore together. You’ve stopped taking the time to enjoy being together.

Ask God to renew and rebuild your life. Regenerate yourself and your relationship through God’s love and your love for each other. You can do this. What seems to be “difficult” about your relationship will transform as you express yourself more and more.

Unburden yourself from guilt.

Rely on trustworthy friends to help you. Don’t expect your partner to fulfill your needs for support. It’s too much right now. If you build a solid support network for yourself outside of your primary partnership, then over time, you will find that your marriage improves, your perceptions change, and you will be able to enjoy life together, as you once did.

Be patient in your relationship, and do your fair share. You’ve both been struggling, so do not add more burden by expecting the other person to save you from your pain. You must do this work for yourself, in your own heart, with the help of God and your trusted support network.

Have you and your partner considered building a new house or an addition to your house? This could be helpful for you to do together: a collaborative project, creating something new together.

dust-devil-vs-tall-bike-burning-man-2010Consider a vacation getaway with your partner soon. This will help you find new perspectives, as well as giving you needed time alone together. You’ve been vying for many peoples’ attention in personal and professional matters, leaving you little energy to focus on each other’s needs.

Don’t let other people compete for your attention: You must choose where and to whom you will give your attention. Start with yourself and God.

You have done well to maintain professionalism and commendable performance at work. Continue to apply yourself in your craft, for your work serves as an outlet for your creativity—a means by which you can reconnect with your joy … You must ask for this…. You must make the necessary adjustments in your work routines, schedules, and workspace to allow for uncensored, raw, unlimited self-expression.

You’ve been holding back too much, denying yourself the opportunity to unleash your passion in your life, because you fear rejection or judgment from others. Ask yourself, “Is this worth it? What do I gain by giving into my fears that others will judge me?”

bikeA new bicycle awaits you and needs repair. Start there. Design the bike according to your own specifications and paint it however you desire. Let the bike be a metaphor for your own body…. Build yourself a new body, a renewal in the spirit of God’s love, in self-love.

Love yourself as God loves you, and do not deny yourself the blessing of joy and lightheartedness! When is the last time you had a cathartic belly laugh with friends over some hilarious joke, a story… a movie? Seek out the opportunity to laugh more! Watch funny YouTube videos if you must—anything to get your body convulsing in fits of laughter!

Whether alone or with trusted friends, your laughter will bring you to tears…. will lead you to anger… will open the door for forgiveness… and will, finally, give you peace.

By the time you parade your new, decked-out bicycle through the streets of your summertime celebration, you will be ready to meet a special person who will become a teacher and mentor for your spiritual path.

Look out for signposts pointing the way.

Of course, you will know when you have met your teacher, who will appear at first to be a “nobody” (almost invisible), but as soon as you engage in a conversation, his words will speak to your heart. You will feel refreshed in his company, enlivened by his energy, and inspired by his example.

Life has many twists and turns. One thing leads to another. Nothing is ever lost—not even the people who’ve come into our lives for some time, then gone away.

We are all precious pearls on the same string, coiling and spiraling itself through space, keeping us eternally connected through the unconditional, divine, perfect love of our One Creator, the One God who knows all. Trust in this always.

-End of Life Reading-

I wish you blessings on your life’s journey. Thank you for writing. —Parama

How yoga works: the relationship between prana, your thoughts, and your chakras

chakras labelledWhat is the real purpose of yoga?

Whether you are a beginning or advanced student of yoga, it is important to understand how yoga works, why it works, and how to maintain an effective yoga practice. There is a relationship between the inner, subtle energy of the body (prana), the quality of your thoughts, and whether your energy centers (chakras) are blocked or open.

I would like to thank my teacher, Geshe Michael Roach, for sharing the teachings presented in this article, which has been adapted from his lecture, “Principles of Yoga: How Yoga Works” given in Tucson, Arizona in 2004.

To fully understand the purpose of yoga, we have to understand how yoga works. First, let’s explore how prana flows through our inner bodies. We have 3 main channels of energy in our bodies: (1) the central channel (sushumna nadi), (2) the left side channel (ida nadi), and (3) the right side channel (pingala nadi). According to the ancient Vedic text, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, there are 72,000 channels in the body, but these three are the major channels. Inside the central channel flows a subtle physical energy called prana, or inner wind. Your thoughts are riding on this energy called prana.

Your central channel (sushumna) starts between the eyes, goes right under the skull and down your back, inside the spine. The spinal cord has formed around your central channel, the ancient texts say, like ice forming around a twig, or like an ice cream cone that has been dipped in chocolate. The central channel goes down to your perineum, which is the base of your sexual organ, whether you’re a man or a woman. The central channel is translucent. It has a crystalline quality to it, and if you could hold it in front of you and see through it, you would see a fiery golden color inside the central channel.

In Sanskrit, the central channel is called sushumna. Su means good. When you repeat it, it means “really good,” so sushu means “really good”. And then mna is where we get the word “hymn”, which means “a holy sacred song”. So, sushumna means “beautiful song.” When prana is flowing freely through the central channel, you have pleasant, happy, healthy thoughts and feelings. You feel joy, generosity, kindness, love, etc. The central channel is the ecstasy channel, the joy channel.

When you have an orgasm, all the wind flows into the central channel and out from the side channels. That’s why an orgasm feels so good, and why it’s highly addictive: The entire world wants it! To have an orgasm is a profound, powerful desire. According to the ancient texts, The only other time you get all the winds collected into the central channel is when you die.

The two side channels of prana run alongside the spinal column, where the central channel is located. The left side channel, called ida nadi in Sanskrit, means “white as a sheep.” The right side channel, called pingala nadi in Sanskrit, came into English as “pink.” It means “a reddish-pink color.” The two side channels are the reason why we have two halves of our bodies: the left and the right side. That’s why we have two nostrils, two eyes, two hands, etc. Our physical bodies have formed around the two side channels of inner energy. The two side channels run down the left and right sides of your body. The two channels follow alongside the central channel except at the nose, where they extend down to the left and right nostrils. Then, they go under your skull, inside your spine, and go down, curve around, and come up at your perineum, at the base of your sexual organ.

Imagine three pipe cleaners side-by-side, representing the three inner channels where prana flows through your body. At certain areas in your body, the two side channels cross over the central channel and then cross back, creating a knot. This knot chokes the central channel (sushumna). Then, the prana cannot flow freely through the central channel and instead gets re-routed into one or both of the side channels.

When the prana is flowing through the side channels due to a knot in the central channel, then you have negative thoughts, feelings, and emotions. The central channel is then choked, and prana cannot flow freely through it. What happens then? You were being kind, nice, and feeling happy. Then there was a traffic jam. You started feeling angry and frustrated. Maybe you had thoughts about cutting the guy off or giving him the finger. Your prana started moving in the right side channel (pingala nadi), in which run our thoughts and emotions related to anger, sadness, and shame. This choked the central channel. Now you are not feeling kind and happy.

The worst place for this to happen is directly behind your heart, at the anahata chakra. Anahata means not struck, like the sound of a drum with no one beating the drum—the sound of your heart. There are three twists around this chakra. This is the only place in your body where the side channels twist around the central channel three times. It is the most difficult chakra to open for this reason. The most difficult thing to do is to love people and to be concerned about loving people.

When the side channels cross over the central channel, that’s called a knot—a granti. When you have your next positive, loving thought, it has nowhere to go, because the central channel is choked. Then, like a clogged pipe, the central channel gets “backed up” above and below the knot. This build-up of pressure inside the central channel causes it to burst! This is what creates a chakra, which means “wheel.” The chakras are caused by a knot in the central channel, resulting in a build-up of prana that spurts out as a wheel.

Let’s consider being in a traffic jam. You are now feeling angry and frustrated. Then, you start having thoughts about cutting people off so that you can get to work on time. Your prana starts flowing through the left side channel, which has to do with fear, greed, and craving. Every time you have a negative thought, it chokes the central channel. In your desire and your anger, you’ve ruined your day, because you can’t perceive anything as pleasant, because of the knot in your central channel. You arrive at work feeling angry and upset. You are easily frustrated and lose your patience easily. You feel especially annoyed with that irritating guy in the next cubicle. You have cravings for junk food. These are all disturbing, negative emotions that result from prana running through the left and right side channels. Your central channel, your joy and happiness channel, has a knot, and prana cannot flow freely through your central channel.

What would happen if you could untie these knots in your central channel before work? What if you could make sure that prana was flowing through your central channel? If you could avoid these knots, what would happen at work? You would have a better day. You would not get angry during the traffic jam. You would have patient, loving thoughts. You would arrive at work feeling happy and peaceful. You wouldn’t feel irritated by that guy in the next cubicle. You would feel creative, focused, fulfilled, and happy.

The purpose of yoga is to release the knots in your central channel so that you can have kind, loving thoughts. If you practice some exercises in the morning that loosen these knots, then your job will change. Your life will change. This is how yoga works: It changes the way you perceive your world, because it changes the flow of subtle, inner energy (prana) in your body.

The heart chakra is the most difficult place to loosen the knot in your central channel. The only place in your body where the side channels twist around the central channel three times is at your heart, where your spine is, where the central channel is coming down. That is why it is so challenging to love people and let people love us. You have to open the heart chakra in order to feel love for other people. How do open the heart chakra? You untwist the three knots! Thus, we practice twists in our hatha yoga (asana) postures. Granti moksha means “to free up the knot.” Twists open up the chakras by loosening the knots around the central channel.

In hatha yoga, there are specific postures (asanas) that twist and stretch the body in different ways. Each yoga posture is designed to open specific energy centers (chakras) in your body.

Classically, there are seven chakras located in front of the spine, from the base of your spine all the way up to the crown of your head. Stretches direct inner wind (prana) out of the side channels and into the central channel. When you practice locks (bandhas) in yoga, you pressurize and direct prana to flow up the central channel, from the bottom to the top of your spine. Linking one posture to the next with steady breathing (vinyasa) distributes the prana evenly throughout all the chakras.

In an effective hatha yoga practice, the yoga postures must be practiced in order. You open up the bottom chakras first, and that frees up prana to the middle chakras, and that lets prana flow to the top chakras. Moving from the bottom chakra gradually up to the heart, throat, 3rd eye, etc. is more powerful than moving down, because you are trying to get prana to flow up to the crown chakra, where you can experience feelings of bliss and ecstasy. But in order to get there, you have to first open up all the chakras underneath. That is the purpose of yoga.

Why would anyone take a vow of silence for one year?

I have taken a one-year vow of silence, meaning that I will not speak with anyone … for an entire year. I know, you’re asking, Why would anyone want to do something like that? Good question.

I have been preparing for this since 2008 by practicing with month-long vows of silence every few months.

Inspired by Baba Hari Dass and other masterful teachers, I have made this commitment because I believe that if I want to see peace in the outer world, I must cultivate peace within myself first.

Many of my friends and family members find it difficult to understand why I choose this practice. One can imagine the many benefits. But only by committing myself to the practice can I learn, grow, and realize these benefits for myself and the people around me. I have to try….

How to relieve menstrual cramps naturally

When I am having painful menstrual cramps, often the last thing I want to do is exercise. I was taught to believe that exercise makes cramps worse. I have discovered that this is simply false. Yoga can relieve menstrual cramps instantly, when practiced with awareness. Last week I was having unusually painful cramps. I thought it would help to take a break from my daily yoga practice, pop an Advil, and stay in bed. But I forced myself onto my mat and began a rigorous practice of sun salutations and weight bearing poses in a vinyasa style flow. At first my cramps got worse and I almost stopped after a few minutes. Instead, I kept going until I broke a sweat. Little by little, pose by pose, the cramps went away. I noticed that deep breathing had a lot to do with this. I experimented with shallow breathing and the cramps instantly returned.

Mother Parama in Bound Side Angle Pose

Parama in “Bound Side Angle” Pose

I think the poses I chose also had something to do with the cramps going away. I included a few deep standing twists in warrior and utkatasana (chair pose). I ended with seated twists: ardha matsyendrasana and marichyasana. I avoided inversions like headstand. From my experience, doing upside-down poses while menstruating feels unnatural: the flow should go down and out, not up and in. Most importantly, it was a vigorous practice. I increased my heart rate, sweated, and maintained deep, steady breathing.

I ended with a little bit of “mental yoga.” I prayed and asked for my cramps to be a reminder of the pain and suffering of other people. I prayed that I would be able to somehow feel pain on other peoples’ behalf, thereby helping them suffer less. I asked specifically that every time I feel the painful sensation of the cramps, that I don’t focus on my own pain, but instead that I channel the sensation into lessening the pain of other people.

I don’t really know if it was the yoga, or the prayer, or both that made my cramps go away completely for the rest of the day. I did not need the Advil. I felt motivated and energized. My yoga practice had an instantaneous, long-lasting effect.

Understand karma, and know how to live the life of your dreams.

I created an easy way to remember and practice the 5 yamas (ethical disciplines) and 5 niyamas (personal disciplines) of yoga. I wear these 10 disciplines like a rainbow-colored “glove of karma” on my hands, easily reminding myself to observe them throughout the day. These 10 disciplines are part of a complete yoga practice.

My thoughts, words, and actions matter. Nothing I think, say, or do goes for naught. Every single thought, word, and action has a karmic effect. Therefore, I choose the highest and the best thoughts, words, and actions – every day, throughout the day.

Try it! Hold your hands in front of you, palms up. Begin with the right hand. Start at the pinky finger and move toward the thumb.

On Your Right Hand: 5 Ethical Disciplines (Yamas)

  1. non-violence
  2. truthfulness
  3. non-stealing
  4. chastity
  5. non-grasping

On Your Left Hand: 5 Personal Disciplines (Niyamas)

  1. cleanliness
  2. contentment
  3. austerity
  4. self-study
  5. surrender to God

A complete yoga practice includes these 10 disciplines, as well as physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation.