Many Kinds of Trauma Can Hide While the Impact Deepens


Contrary to popular belief, traumatic stress does not automatically mean you will suffer from what would be called ‘post-traumatic stress disorder’. The shock of trauma can evoke many kinds of reactions. My recent work in Cambodia taught me this new term: “BAKSBAT”, which translates into English as “BROKEN COURAGE” or ‘double-fear’.

As a child who lived through the horrors of the post-Vietnam era’s Khmer Rouge Killing Fields, Cambodian psychiatrist Sotheara Chhim notes only 2-3% of the impacted population in post-conflict Cambodia would meet the diagnostic definition of PTSD. Instead of PTSD, a significant number of Cambodians survivors who were truly impacted suffer from something different — what was called ‘broken courage’ … ‘baksbat’. This led him to suggest post traumatic stress (PTSD) may be a Western response to trauma rather than a universal response. Baksbat, which has been defined as a Cambodian ‘cultural syndrome‘, is expanding our understanding about reactions to trauma – and recovery approaches. In his article on the subject, Dr. Chhim says, “Baksbat appears to be an idiom of distress with some degree of overlap with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and or dissociative features, but further research is required to flesh this out.”

Let’s examine this more so we can understand it,

image credit: Free Image on Pixabay –

Symptoms of broken courage are psycho-physiological, psycho-social and psycho-spiritual. Take a look at the 24-item self-report “Baksbat. Broken Courage Inventory” below. It is divided into three experiential clusters:
1) psychological symptoms,
2) cultural symptoms of ‘broken courage’ and
3) erosion of Self

Chhim found baksbat was a reaction to coping with “a traumatic shock from which there is no escape”.

Frankly, I believe ‘broken courage’ is a good description of what many are dealing with after 3 plus years of pandemic isolation, coping with an onslaught of “shocking losses from which there was no escape”: interpersonal and societal conflicts, economic loss and continued uncertainties, along with political anxieties and violent global crises. Even as COVID Crises begin to unwind, many of us continue to live in a sad, economically unpredictable and violent world while also coping with floods, hurricanes, earthquakes and firestorms.

In Cambodia baksbat triggers can range from the sudden loss of a loved one, to combat shock, to a landmine accident, to being frightened by spirits or ghosts, to being chased by wild animals. Healing includes: medical interventions and medication if needed; psycho-social interventions; judicial and community testimonials; spiritual interventions, like Buddhist ceremony for deceased ancestors robbed of this sacred community tradition; compassion; and forgiveness for both survivors and Khmer Rouge perpetrators of genocide.

Confirming the importance of culture is interesting. It reminds us how mental health is multifaceted and includes:
~soothing the soul spiritually;
~tending to physical needs materially;
~caring for ‘psycho-social’ emotional needs, (which includes a need for justice); and,
~changing one’s actions, ideas, and beliefs
in relationship to oneself, others, and the world around us.

Taking the latest pharmaceuticals paired with cognitive – behavioural – management – of – symptoms is not enough to fully restore one’s innate courageous creative spirit, joi de vivre, and inner peace.

If our response to trauma is, in part, culturally defined, then best treatment strategies would be integrated into Western psychology’s protocols – those tried-and-true cultural healing practices and folk-medicine traditions used by non-Western cultures before colonization. The capacity to build genuine culturally integrative trauma recovery protocols hinges on acknowledging and ending the viral spread of a consumer-culture that extends the reach of modern Western European / American influence. While it may offer some benefits (like financing roads, bridges, water filtration systems and hospitals for example) it also promotes social, political and economic conflict, cultural genocide, and justification for going to war, which ends in massive trauma and millions of lives lost. Naming our complex response to all this turmoil from which there appears to be no escape as ‘broken courage’ makes sense to me. What about you?


In my next few blog posts I will share some of the Cambodian physical, mental, emotional and spiritual self-care approaches, as described by Cambodian colleagues who completed my CITIS two-day series of workshops in Phnom Penh. It is with their permission that I share, for educational purposes, what I learned from them, so all of us may learn and grow together. Many key staff of the Community Mental Health Hospital, under the direction of Dr. Chhim, operated by the Trans-cultural Psycho-social Organization-Cambodia (TPO) were in attendance at the program and had much to share as we explored burnout prevention, compassion fatigue, responding to survivor’s guilt and recovery from ongoing multi-generational post-Vietnam war trauma that continues to burden the Cambodian population.

This program was the dream-child of sponsors from the Angkor Institute of Consciousness (AIC) and the Canadian Institute for Transpersonal and Integrative Sciences (CITIS). I have immense gratitude and appreciation for all those collaborators who helped make this program possible including: AIC’s Director Dr. Julie Bonitha Svay, Harold Finkleman, CITIS Co-Chair; and TPO’s Director Dr. Sotheara Chhim, along with TPO staff and participants.

© February 17, 2023. Permission to reprint for educational purposes is granted by Dr. Beth Hedva and Harold Finkleman, CITIS.

Journey From Betrayal To Trust Seminar

I am excited to share the news about the release of a Czech edition of my book, Betrayal, Trust and Forgiveness, just published by Maetria, a publishing house in Prague. (Publication was first delayed because of the pandemic, and then further delayed due to the war in Ukraine). . . .

Maetria is offering  a unique online Seminar which will act as both trauma recovery workshop and Ukraine Crisis fundraiser. Please enjoy this interview with me and Maetria’s Jakub Moulis where we are discussing the book and upcoming Maetria Seminar:

Interview with Maetria’s Jakub Moulis

“The Journey from Betrayal to Trust” on June 14, 2022.
6–9 pm CEST in Prague
10-am-1:00pm MDT in Calgary

Workshop Fee: 600 CZK / $33.08 CDN / $25.73 US

Online Workshop on Zoom in ENGLISH with Dr Beth Hedva and Czech Translator

This seminar is for “All those who themselves struggle (or help others) with trauma and shock from injury should be there. Through storytelling, experiential process, and practicing Dr. Beth Hedva’s T-R-U-S-T meditation, you will gain methods to awaken your essence and reconnect with the meaning of your life.”

(Registration form is in Czech…If you do not read Czech, copy and paste Czech words into google translate)

50% of the workshop fee lends support to the over four million refugees flooding into neighboring countries (including over 250,000 in the Czech Republic) through the efforts of People In Need Ukrainian Emergency Appeal Selected by Maetria, this local NGO is “founded on the ideals of humanism, freedom, equality and solidarity. We consider human dignity and freedom to be fundamental values.”

I hope you can join us for the workshop, and please share with those who might benefit.

Thank you!

Happy New Year – Welcome to 2021

Here is my preview of how YOU can get the most out of 2021.
— 2021 By The Numbers and the Stars — is one hour long. It is worth taking the time to watch it (in small doses or all at once. My recommendation is: Sit down with a cup of tea and a notebook and click on the video below. I hope, together, we can optimize 2021’s amazing possibilities and help prepare for the challenges and opportunities to come..

Click on the video below to watch
Welcome to 2021 by the Numbers and the Stars (1 hr)

Making Sense of 2020

Eleven months ago, on January 12th, 2020, long before the Covid pandemic hit the news in North America, I was invited to offer perspective on what was to come in 2020. Using the ancient practices of numerology, astrology and tarot, I explored how we could bring our gifts forward, despite foreseeable challenges. Take a look at the video as you reflect on this last year and reflect upon what you (and we) were meant to learn in 2020. PLEASE . . . Share what you have learned . . . Tell us what practices you used to stay healthy amidst the challenges you may have faced. . . and how you have brought your soul’s gifts forward . . .

ALSO– I hope you can join me for a peek into 2021 on December 13th, ONLINE at Yoga Nova Studio’s 2021 By the Numbers and Stars. 60% of your $25.00 fee for their educational fundraiser supports Women In Need Society to help disadvantaged women and their families this winter. Scroll down for details or to register Contact Yoganova ph: 403- ph (403) 478-0771 e:

December 13th 330-430pm ONLINE $25 [A YogaNova Fundraiser: 60% donated to Women in Need Society]

Sunday December 13 at 330pm Dr. Hedva will be offering a look ahead to 2021 through the ancient practices of numerology and astrology. What makes learning with Dr. Hedva so incredibly unique is her depth of knowledge in both these practices and her ability to help us manage whatever it is that life has in store from us. Do not miss this opportunity to learn from a true guide and healer.   $25 REGISTER NOW

Learn the Tarot

6 Sundays Beginning January 17th, from 330-530pm,

Take this exciting opportunity to work with world-renowned Dr. Hedva on one of her passion projects; the classical tarot. Dive into the deep wisdom and insight contained in the images of these cards and this system. This course will change your understanding of the tarot and of the messages within this classical art. $420 [A YogaNova Fundraiser: 60% donated to Women in Need Society]

To register Contact Yoganova ph: 403- ph (403) 478-0771 e:

Dr. Hedva held core faculty appointments in Antioch University’s Department of Clinical Psychology, and John F. Kennedy University’s prestigious Department of Consciousness Studies in California. Dr. Beth Hedva made her reputation by blending ancient and indigenous cross-cultural healing practices and spiritual traditions, with modern psychological best practices to promote an integrative approach to community health and wellness. Dr. Beth Hedva is a licensed Psychologist and a Marriage, Family and Child Counsellor. 

Additional resources include access to video content from Dr. Hedva’s library of online learnings. You will need to purchase the universal Waite Tarot deck outside the primary cost of the course. Dr. Hedva is donating all of her proceeds to help disadvantaged women in the New Year. 

2021 By the Numbers and the Stars

Yoganova Studios Presents 2021 with Dr. Beth Hedva
We are very lucky to have the support of Dr. Beth Hedva as we move into the New Year.  It goes totally without saying that 2020 has been a challenging year—the one thing we might all still agree on is that we are happy for it to be coming to a close.  Dr. Beth Hedva is an internationally recognized authority in the field of change and has led an illustrious career studying and teaching all over the world.  She made her reputation by blending ancient and indigenous cross-cultural healing practices and spiritual traditions, with modern psychological best practices to promote an integrative approach to community health and wellness.  Please look at her website to learn more about her offerings and working with her:

Sunday December 13th at 3:30pm Dr. Hedva will be offering a look ahead to 2021 through the ancient practices of numerology and astrology.  What makes learning with Dr. Hedva so incredibly unique is her depth of knowledge in both these practices and her ability to help us manage whatever it is that life has in store for us.  Do not miss this opportunity to learn from a true guide and healer.

Next year we are re-offering our “Learn the Tarot” workshop on Sundays from 3:30-5:30 over 6 sessions.  Registration is available now.  Dr. Hedva is donating all her proceeds to help women in need.
2021 By the Numbers and the Stars
Sunday, December 13th at 3:30pm
Investment: $25.00
To register Contact Yoganova ph: 403- ph (403) 478-0771 e:

Learn the Tarot
6 Sessions beginning Sunday January 17th 3:30-5:30pm
Investment: $420

To register Contact Yoganova ph: 403- ph (403) 478-0771 e:

Stress Reduction and Self-Care in Response to Covid-19

Below is an edited transcript of the Yoga Nova Live Stream from March 26, 2020.

“I want to thank you Natalie for the invitation to be able to share some really simple techniques and steps that all of us can use to create calm and reduce stress during these times of high anxiety as a result of the Covid virus.

These are the same tools and techniques that I developed for Recovery Workers and First Responders of the two largest and most deadly disasters of this century. These easy-to-follow steps are to help you help your family help your friends, and help yourselves also, to be able to calm yourselves and extend help and care to others.

Right now each of us is a First Responder—just because this is a pandemic reaching each of us worldwide.

These tools worked for survivors and victims of the 2004 Southeast Asian tsunami; and victims of the earthquake in Haiti in 2010 where they also suffered a cholera epidemic following the earthquake; and the tools that you’ll be learning here, today, can really help you as well.

Let’s start with our first step.

Step 1: Connect to Your Own Inner & Outer Healing Resources

The first step is to be able to CONNECT to your own inner healing resources and outer healing resources.

Inner healing resources are available to us with every breath we take. We know from yoga that each breath contains not only oxygen that soothes and calms the body by relaxing the muscles–AND a subtle spiritual energy that strengthens the nervous system and soothes and calms the soul–with each breath you take.

So let’s start right now with a few long slow deep breaths. It takes only 90 seconds of long, slow, deep breaths to be able to activate oxytocin and begin to counteract the stress of cortisol that runs through the physical body.

Begin by breathing in and out to a count of four: In – two- three- four, and out-two-three-four, in-two-three-four, and out-two-three-four, Just notice how the chest rises and falls with each breath you take, bringing a gentle massage to the internal organs of the body, and your muscles – relaxing the body as you breath in….

With each exhale letting go with stress…

Just allow yourself to keep doing slow, deep breathing as we go through each of the five steps.

Connecting to inner–and outer resources is especially important. We’re doing physical isolation to contain the virus; but, that doesn’t mean we need to be emotionally isolated from others who we care for and love. In fact, it’s especially important to find ways to reach out to those we care for, and to those who care for us.

Another way to enhance oxytocin is to engage in compassionate, caring conversation with people that you know– and even those that you don’t know–like with connections through social media and chats on-line focus on extending to others through caring conversation. We’ll be talking more about that in our third step.

When we are connecting with healing outer resources, it’s important to get information, certainly, but also remember limit information overload. Watching television all the time to find out what’s happening now with the virus can actually add to your stress.

Instead, limit how much you’re taking in, and begin to observe, and modulate and notice how different activities and situations are impacting you.

Step 2: Begin to Observe Yourself & The World Around You

This brings us to step 2 – begin to OBSERVE yourself and the world around you – including the people around you–with what we call mindful awareness.

Mindful awareness is enhanced by the breath, and so as you breathe in and out scan your body scan your thoughts and your emotions.

Notice if you’re having experiences of tension in your body.  Perhaps your heart is pounding, or you have a dry mouth. Perhaps you’re noticing that you have digestive issues, or difficulty sleeping maybe even nightmares–these kinds of physical symptoms are absolutely normal symptoms when we’re facing uncertainty and feeling a little bit out of control.

We can soothe those feelings by becoming aware of them — breathing in to the experience — and then just putting its side — and returning to the breath.

It’s also very common to notice if you’re having emotional feelings like feeling worried about the future,  or having doubts about what’s going to happen, perhaps feeling irritable or angry, or even scared, or a little more short-tempered. These are common and normal reactions to feeling out of control.

And so it’s important to begin to find ways that you can connect with your own inner sense control– Which brings us to the third step—DEEP LISTENING to ourselves and others

Step 3: Deep Listening to Ourselves & Others

We can take control of becoming aware of what it is that we’re going through and find ways to share feelings with others and also to listen to others with the ears of your heart–to have compassion for ourselves and others–because we’re all in need self-care right now.

Every single human being has a need to feel heard, seen and understood.

So when you are sharing your feelings continue to stay present with yourself by breathing into your feelings– appreciate what you’re feeling and name it — and share your thoughts, feelings and experiences in words–whether it’s by writing in your journal, or when you share with a family member you happen to be isolated at home together, or perhaps by a phone or video conferencing call with friends.

Remember, when we put our feelings and thoughts into words–when we name a feeling–it actually contains the energy. It gives us a handle on it.

It’s important to realize when we share with friends there’s nothing you need to do other than simply listen.  Listen with the ears of your heart — and keep breathing — to help you stay present with them, no matter what it is they happen to be going through.

Because as we share our feelings and our experiences with another, we hear ourselves… And we gain insight and understanding into what it is we actually need right now. This brings us to Step 4.

Step 4: Engage Insight, Intuition, & Creativity

and, that actually is the fourth step – to ENGAGE INSIGHT, INTUITION AND CREATIVITY to ask for guidance from yourself and your own inner knowing Self about what you can do right now to create healing and calm for yourself and others.

The experience of intuition and creativity is one of the opportunities for healing right now.

One exercise that I often like to do with groups is to have people create a title on five pieces of paper:

  • one page for the body
  • one for the spirit
  • one for the mind
  • one for our emotions
  • and then one for our energy

and begin to brainstorm: Create a list of ways you can attend to and offer care to yourself energetically, spiritually, emotionally, physically, and mentally.

For example, did you know only 10-15 minutes of self-massage or giving a massage to someone else will begin to release soothing oxytocin in the body. Oxytocin allows the whole body to calm down, and this begins to soothe emotions too. Even if we’re alone we can do self-massage. And certainly if we’re sequestered with family, this is a wonderful way to engage in self-care. Giving healing touch and massage to someone activates the release of oxytocin for both people.

When you add the breath to that –breathing in and out –it’s a double dose of relaxation and soothing ourselves.

Enhance your intuition by engaging your creativity…

Engaging in the creative arts is a very powerful way to enhance the experience of bringing forward our creative energy to help ourselves and others. There are very distinct creative tools used for healing all over the world in every culture I’ve ever worked with.

This includes:

  • singing and writing songs and stories
  • music, playing music, playing an instrument
  • dance and movement
  • prayer and meditation, quiet contemplation, silent reflection
  • connecting with nature– getting out in nature, taking a walk and breathing the fresh air; and that can even include connecting with a pet if you have a pet at home

Creative Arts are universal healers. The arts connect us with our inner Creator… inspiring our creativity and imagination…Start with creating new routines at home. Like breakfast, lunch and dinner time; playtime and work time; create time for household chores, time for connection with others and also life-renewing solitude to connect with yourself. All that goes better with music in the background to inspire the soul (instead of spirit breaking ‘breaking news’).

Consider what you can do right now today to create calm and self-care for you, and also for family members, and those you care for.

We’ve actually found in psychology studies how extending care to others actually helps us connect with our own inner strength and inner creative resilient spirit... which brings us to the final step.

Step 5: Empower Self-Care

step five: EMPOWER SELF-CARE for yourself and for all of those around you.

As you stay in contact with, and aware of, all of those around you in your immediate environment, and those who you are reaching out to via video conferencing, or telephone calls, or texts, or emails – this capacity to encourage self-care – by becoming a model to self-care yourself – encourages others.

Your example contributes to the extension of healing to our communities.

As you become aware, these practices that I’m describing become on-going:

  1. Connecting to yourself and others in healing ways
  2. Being mindful and using the breath to continue to return to your center
  3. Deep listening to be present when sharing feelings
  4. Using intuition and insight to create your next step to reduce stress – Ask yourself: “what I can do right now that can help?” and then
  5. Empowering Self-Care — Leading by example

Keep practicing Self- care: Do what helps over what hurts. Follow intuition, creativity and guidance. . . AND become an example for others. This how you actually extends self-care to others and help all of us.

In closing today, here is an example of self-care that was done by a young friend of mine, Georgia, the 8-year-old daughter of Bianca Sinclair, who trained with me in Embodied Awareness and is a Certified Embodied Awareness Facilitator. This is what Georgia drew when she was asked to draw a picture about:

“What can I do to find my peace when I’m upset or worried?”

Georgia, 8 years old, daughter of Bianca Sinclair, Certified Embodied Awareness Facilitator

So think about what you can do to encourage self-care for you, your family and your friends – – and share that with us on this blog.

RECOVERY or DISCOVERY: Embody Awareness in 2020

I think ‘recovery’ may be a misnomer. It objectifies who and what we are in essence. Discovery is more what is required of us….to take off (dis-cover) what conceals the essence of who and what we are in our core—in spirit—To learn to wrap that ENERGY in nothing more than awareness—and then to embody who we are.

The etymology of cover is Old French stemming from the word covert, which translates as hidden.

Our inner core-our essential nature and spiritual Source has been hidden, covered over with all kinds of physical conditions and social-conditioning

Photo Credit: Alex Grey, 1985. Oil on Linen. Each Panel 12 X 12 inches. The above image was published on to display a sample of the artwork in: Sacred Mirrors: The Visionary Art of Alex Grey. Published by Inner Traditions. No copyright infringement intended. For more images of Alex Grey’s exquisite visionary art go to

In essence, we are all pure energy taking a multitude of forms. Heat and temperature, sound, light, bio-protons, molecular vibrations… transmitting and emanating fields of force that create and re-create our experience of LIFE…

It seems, instead of honouring our intangible inner essence, we often relate to the eternal energy within us as though it is an object.

So… I question the idea of ‘recovery’ from trauma, pain and suffering which (yes) just comes with living in a body while interacting with each other.

Seek to discover what is beneath, and at the core of this beautiful animal body that houses us with so many layers of reactive nerves that stimulate glands and bodily functions–releasing hormones and other signals—all wired to our over-active territorial reptilian instinctive brain, triggering our emotionally reactive old mammalian limbic brain–despite logic and abstract understanding provided by the more evolved, thoughtful new mammalian brain (which is capable of integrating all those signals using the right and left hemispheres of the cortex).

Photo Credit: Meditation on Inquiry licensed for reuse (pixabay)

Even though there may be more promotion these days to re-cover, to merely up-date yourself —like recovering a piece of furniture—now with a more acceptable cover – more social-media savvy, more Madison avenue ‘beautiful’, a better brand to represent the ego-self, with a new style of relating to ourselves and others as objects, while continuing to cover over the extraordinary spirit at the core of being.

Are we simply to re-cover what has been hidden with a new ego- a new persona?  Are we making an object of our inner Self–as we relate to ourselves and others at the surface level only?

At best, maybe we aim to re-cover the eternal spirit with a ‘higher’ Self, expressed through an ego that is in greater harmony with that which was (and remains) covered over.

What has been hidden beneath innate body-reactions, beneath social conditioning, beneath learned spiritual practices, the rituals we worship and other conditioned responses?

Be Bold

DIS-COVER rather than re-coverAsk questions rather than provide answers. Explore, and keep being curious. Then explore some more. The Source of energy at our core is infinite and eternal. Define yourself, for and from within yourself.


How do you discover the essence of who you are as a Spiritual Being? 

What helps you embody and express Eternal-Essence while living in your human form

This is the time to Dis-cover who and what you (and we) are, in essence–discovering the deeper truth of our essential unity with every ‘thing’ that exists- animate and inanimate, tangible and intangible—all emitting Creative (and destructive) forces-all working in concert with an even greater Mystery.

2019 – A Year of New Perspectives

Tarot images for 2019

Are you ready for a new perspective on life… and to play the part you are here to play… while our world appears to be turning upside down?  2019 is inviting us to get over our hang-ups and take a new look our lives, our communities and life on our planet. We need to look at life from a completely different perspective.

The secret of how to do this is encoded in the ancient symbol system of numerology, and depicted in the images of the tarot.

If we add these numbers together: 2 + 0 + 1 + 9  = 12 = 3. In the Tarot the number 12 is symbolized by ‘The Hanged Man’.  The number three represents the unbridled creative energy symbolized by the Empress — the Great Earth Mother who has the power to create and re-create life on our planet.

This Divine Feminine energy is the One within each of us who has the power to bring us to live new life– to give birth to fun, joy, love—and the beauty of Life in harmony with ourselves, each other our beautiful planet Earth, and all life on the Earth.  No wonder the Hanged Man is coming along to help us (personally and collectively) get over ourselves and get a new perspective on life!

Hanged Man + Empress

In order to get the most out of 2019 we need 4 primary skills: 

  1. Make friends with mystery and trust your intuition (High Priestess – 2)
  2. Demonstrate trust through the courageous risks you take (Fool – 0)
  3. Become a clear channel and communicator of your divine life’s purpose (Magician – 1)
  4. Bring your light into the world for your own sake and for the sake of others (Hermit – 9)

IF YOU LIVE IN CALGARY — On January 5th, I have been invited to offer a unique workshop on how to awaken these inner resources in Calgary. 

Here are the details:

WHERE: Mount Royal Neighborhood (SW Calgary), T2T 0P8 (Pre-registration Required)

WHEN: January 5, 2018 (2:00-5:00pm)

PRICE: $25.00 + 5% gst ($26.25 e-transfer until January 4) or 35$ + 5% gst starting on January 5 or at the door

TO REGISTER: E-mail to secure your spot!

Seating is limited. Social to follow… please inquire upon registration!

If you can not make it to the workshop… journal on each of the above four qualities… and share your insights with a friend. Share wisdom, encourage each other to communicate who you are and what you are here for as you make your contributions to others for your own sake and for the sake of others.

Expansion, Contraction and Polarization

Expansion, contraction and polarization are the hallmarks of our current age. How do you find and return to your center amidst this cycle of accelerated change?   Numerology is a wisdom-tool used by the ancients that can help us understand how to work with polarization.

In the Western Mystery Tradition the number 2 represents an archetypal Feminine Force which symbolizes the creative potential and receptive nature of the universe.  Aboriginal teachings call this “The Great Mystery”. This ‘Great Mystery’ includes everything that exists: complementary forces and contradictions, point and counter-point, and that mystery within human consciousness that is able to find the point of balance between what appear to be opposing forces.


Since the year 2000 we began a new numerological cycle that is marked by the number “2”.  We have entered a new millennium that shines light on the awakening of the ‘great mystery’ that has the power to bring us into harmony and balance within ourselves, with each other, with our environment and our cosmos. Though for many, the awakening of the Feminine Spirit within our world (and within ourselves) has seemed to launch swinging from pole to pole amidst a multitude of uncertainties, rather than resting in the equipoise.

Ultimately this aspect of the Feminine Spirit represents the principle of wisdom, harmony and balance.  This place of inner wisdom exists in both men and women, boys and girls. It is in every thing that exists.

Image result for yin yang

Like the Chinese Yin-Yang symbol, the Western image of  black and white pillars symbolize duality: expansion and contraction, masculine and feminine, outer and inner, what we call ‘good’ and ‘bad’. It also represents the positive and negative poles of one’s life experiences (personally, and collectively).

The first decades of our new millennium have been full of contrasts: We have experienced extreme polarization and unprecedented examples of our collective ability to transcend conventional and historical barriers. Horrors like 9/11 which highlights socio-economic disparities between rich and poor / urban and rural / economically more developed and less developed nations are at one end of the continuum. Add to that environmental catastrophes, like rising ocean temperatures which put the marine ecosystems in jeopardy. Between world-wide environmental and human made disasters, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC) in Geneva, said, (in 2014) we could expect a 60% greater chance of needing to flee from our homes compared to the previous four decades.

At the other end of the continuum, examples like humanity’s global response to the 2004 tsunami in S. E Asia we can (and choose to) collectively move beyond our fears to extend a new vision of hope and help across cultural, racial and socio-economic divides. Likewise, despite reports in 2016 Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development reporting a 650% rise in terrorist fatalities in the world’s more developed nations (as witnessed in  Paris, France, the UK, the US and other more developed nations), the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), Global Peace Index reports suggest we are actually living in a more peaceful world.   For example, the 2016 Global Peace Index,  recorded higher levels of peace in 93 countries, based on finding lower levels of extra-judicial killings, torture and state-sponsored terror, along with the withdrawal of all but four military forces from Afghanistan, (out of the 50 countries that provided assistance).

Polarization shows us where we stand, and shows us what we need to learn in order to come to balance, peace and harmony. Personality clashes and power-struggles arise on both personal and collective levels.  Conflicts are reflections of our personal and collective need to grow in wisdom and call us to learn new ways of relating to each other.
Related image
Jungian depth psychologists suggest the resolution of opposites happens on both a personal and collective level when we recognize and accept each person, and every culture or nation is full of contradictions, and because of this, others may act differently than us, or be different than we expect.  In the image of the High Priestess, the moon’s reflective light symbolizes intuition as revealed through self-reflection and insight. Self-reflection and insight are the resources one needs to resolve the tension between opposing forces in one’s own nature.

It is common to react emotionally when someone is different than us, or when we feel different from them. Guilt or shame about being how we are, perhaps blame, pain or aggressive feelings may come up. For some, laughter, uncertainty or discomfort arises. Power struggles are common, as we try to make others conform to our expectations, or we try to comply with their expectations of us as a way of resolving the discomfort of these ‘shadow’ feelings. The shadow is a term coined by C. G. Jung, and it represents those rejected, unconscious and uncomfortable parts of us, traits we deem to be socially unacceptable.  These traits vary from person to person and culture to culture. Learning to be present with differences, (instead of placing a value judgment on differences) is called ‘owning the shadow’.  Soon it becomes clear, feelings that surface–guilt, shame, blaming, pain and other feelings– are reactions. These emotional reactions are reflections of our own patterned responses and socially conditioned experiences.

The truth is, we all contain both strengths, (which are identified as constructive, positive characteristics) AND weaknesses, (based on vulnerabilities, needs or so-called negative traits) which, when disowned, denied or deemed socially unacceptable, become unconscious destructive forces in the personality of an individual, culture or nation.  Oddly enough, a distinctive blend of strengths and vulnerabilities define the personality of an individual, culture or nation, and distinguish us as unique.

It bears repeating: polarization and confronting our differences show us where we stand, and reveal what we each need to learn in order to grow in wisdom.

Instead of judging or condemning one another for being different than us, or different than we expect, we make peace with ourselves and each other by accepting we each have strengths and weaknesses, gifts and flaws.  We can, and are learning to appreciate and accept our differences. This allows us to extend compassion to ourselves and each other when we face blind spots, weaknesses, flaws, ignorance or lack of insight.

As we give birth to honoring and respecting the Divine Feminine expect to see a new kind of balance of power emerging, over the next decades (and over the next 2000 years).

The focus for this cycle of time is to create and maintain a world based on harmony and balance between what appear to be opposing forces: expansion and contraction, male and female, outer and inner.  Western Mystery traditions call the alchemy of seemingly incompatible elements transmutation. In Hindu culture says this weaving and blending of opposites is called ‘tantra’.  Tantric spiritual practices, ranging from philosophical studies and subtle mediation practices to sacred sexual practices for couples, will become ever-more popular over the next cycle of time as women and men come to love the ‘other’ within, and in partnership with each other .


[2] US Daily Review, Global “Peace” Improved in Spite of Pockets of Unrest. Posted on June 13, 2017

Own The Shadow: Learning to Love the ‘Other’

Instructions: Take a moment to reflect on a situation from the last decade that evokes harsh criticism or judgmental attitudes. Perhaps you can remember a time you felt angry and resentful toward someone and talked about them behind their back, or engaged in gossip about a family member, co-worker or former friend.  Perhaps you were the object of gossip and suffered from ostracism, or felt shame or embarrassment about your own mistakes.

ACTION:  Use reflections on gossip, judgment and anger to explore your own shadow.

  • Make a list of the negative traits by listing your judgments, criticisms or frustrations.
  • Next, circle the one that has the most energy.
  • Now reflect upon your personal, ancestral or cultural history with regards to that trait.
  • Observe the psychic pattern and how it impacts you.
  • Notice how old you were when this pattern got set into motion.
  • Imagine what your earlier self really needed at that time. It is normal, natural and human to have needs.

Forgive yourself for being a needy, dependent human being. Instead of self-hate, recognize and accept your needs. Now imagine what would have fulfilled your needs then? What would have helped, instead of injured or hindered your growth?



Make a commitment to care for yourself, to sooth your fears and heal underlying injuries.  Identify resources that can help you care for yourself, sooth your fears and heal. Practice self-forgiveness first. Forgiving is linked to gratitude.

Ask yourself:

  • “What have I gained, or learned about myself, my strengths and weaknesses?
  • What is the universal teaching in my experience?
  • How is my experience a reflection of the human condition?
  • What was this experience for-giving ‘to’ me?”

Notice how self-forgiveness leads to forgiveness of others for their human frailties.  Share your wisdom, gleaned from your life-experience.  Become a resource for others who may be in need of similar healing.

Deep Listening

{ Listening Buddha }

Some of us think our way through life, others feel our way through.

See, hear, feel and perceive the subtle flow of hidden forces at work in your daily, ordinary life.  Clear your mind, open your heart and expand your awareness. We learn to listen to ourselves by listening with our whole body and soul.  Open your inner ear, and listen to the quality of the sound of your inner voice.

Do not get caught in the content of the words–instead notice the quality of energy in the thoughts. Allow your whole body to speak to you.  Notice where the energy arises.

  • Acknowledged sensations, and breathe into them.
  • Assimilate your experience, slow it down by taking a few deep breaths–and feel it in your body.
  • Appreciate the energy in the physical felt-sense, and let it shift into an emotional feeling.
  • Allow the energy to keep moving. . . Notice if memories, images, pictures or other impressions arise.
  • Let your intuition begin to put the pieces together and your create insight and meaning out of your experiences.

[image credit: Heaven Can Wait 2010]

We learn to listen to others with the same sensitivity.  To acknowledge what someone is saying.  It helps to slow down (and breathe) as we listen and take in what is being said, so we can appreciate the emotional quality of the energy behind what one is saying.  You may even have images, picture or other subtle impressions that give you insights into another’s experience. This capacity to listen deeply to another is enhanced by embodied awareness.

In one of our embodied awareness seminars, a participant Stacy said, “Deep listening has been beneficial for me both personally and professionally.  I have found it has increased my awareness of felt sense and my understanding of emotions (mine and others). It has also increased my confidence in my intuition. I practice deep listening within dyads and with family and friends the feedback has been right on…..Yes! I am right! ”  In the past I have always doubted myself so I am so grateful for the opportunity to really solidify this practice for myself and increase my capacity in such a profound way. It is creating expansion in all aspects of my life. Deep listening is allowing me to become more embodied completely”.

What changes  for you, when you listen deeply to yourself?

What changes when you listen deeply to others?