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Create New Neural Pathways

Neural pathways send information from our nervous system to our brain.  Think of them like familiar routes.  We typically revert to the same routes we know to get us where we want to go.  This is not to say, that there are not other routes.  However, when we are talking about our psyche, it is not always so easy to simply go a new way on your way home.  We establish familiar routes in our psyche as children using the resources we have which are taken from our environment, our experience of that environment, and also through what we have learned from the people who are closest to us, how they do it.  

The more we do a behavior, the more reinforced it is to continue to do it that way. That's why making positive change is so hard.

However, every time you veer from the ordinary way you do things, you give your brain a glimpse at a new possibility. But you'll have to reinforce the behavior if you want it to stick. This is why I love doing rituals, they claim change in their symbolic approach. Symbolism and ritual are powerful ways of making new neural pathways, powerful ways to initiate change.

Change is a constant necessity if we are to live our best life. We have to adapt to the people and experiences that are always different around us, and do so wide open to meet the moment in its full capacity.  

A simple ritual to ignite change, would be to identify a pattern or a way that you are doing something that is repetitive and then trying a new way.  For example, if you go to your favorite restaurant every Friday and order the same thing every time, try ordering something new next time.  To make this into a ritual, light a candle, ask your Spirit guides to support you, write a statement on a piece of paper, such as 'I am open to new beautiful experiences.' and then place the paper beneath the candle.  Everything is connected, so this simple act of choosing a new dish to try at your favorite restaurant, might ripple out into other areas of your life.  I think its important to add the ritual aspect with the candle and the positive statement to shift the energy. Otherwise, you might call in a bad experience when you try the new dish because your psyche isn't open to receiving it in a positive way.  So, the ritual allows an opening to receive the new experience in a positive way.

You can apply this process to bigger changes you want to make in your life.  If you identify a pattern that is unhealthy, you can work on building a new neural pathway that supports the change.  Also, know that its not easy.  That's why you have to reinforce it so much.  Let's take the example of someone who keeps choosing unhealthy romantic relationships in which they fall for someone who is unavailable.  You'd have to look at where and why you established this pattern to begin with.  If the root of the pathway is that you don't believe you are worthy of someone staying and fully loving you, then you have something to work with.  You will need to build a new pathway that seeks out those who are only available to love you. You will need to rewire the part of you that believes he/she does not deserve love that is available.  And then you will need to strengthen the pathway within you that will seek out available lovers.  Each person will do this is a unique way. But you can apply the same idea we used with the restaurant here.  Set your new intention, and affirm it. "I am worthy of an available partner."  You can say this each day while you light your candle and visualize a partner who is present with you. Do this for one month and see if anything shifts. Further, doing healing work on the part of you that built the old pathway will be important.   

 

Shadow Work

Knowing our own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darkness of others. - Carl Jung

I like the way Robert Bly describes this, as a black bag we are all dragging around behind us.  The darkness, or unconscious (the black bag) holds our wounds.  The wounds are key to our healing.  I've never personally met someone without wounds and the most conscious people I have met, have done extensive work on healing and integrating what is in their black bag.  The most fascinating part about the darkness or the black bag, is that we aren't usually aware of what is inside until we look.  And yet, the contents of that bag are contributing to our reality and the experiences we are having in our lives.

Buddha In The Rubble

An excerpt from my poem titled 'Buddha In The Rubble', currently published at Cicatrix Publishing
Which I wrote to go along with this photo.

"If I fall apart
I'll dig through the bones of the wreckage,
find my wish granting remains,
try hard to break of the larger half."...

I took this photo on a photography day trip at an abandoned military residential complex in the desert. I wanted to find an abandoned playground but when I saw the pile of broken concrete I knew this was the place for the mask to come to life. I purchased the mask a few days prior at the Tet Festival.  I asked my friend to put the mask on and use her whole body to laugh.
The resulting photo speaks to me deeply about letting go when things have crumbled.
We continually build anew, we adapt, we get wiser with more respect for impermanence and a new intimacy with the things that actually matter.

Signs From The Universe

In July of 2013 I attended an improvisational dance training in Tucson, AZ.  On one of the days I was lead on an odd visual journey that I wrote about in my poem 'Signs From The Universe' which is currently published in the literary journal 'All Roads Will Lead You Home.  You can read it here.

The journey began, as I said in my poem, with me leaving my hotel and seeing a photographer doing a photo shoot with a woman in a nun outfit and high heels.  She was in the corner of a stucco building and there was harsh contrasting shadows from the building framing her body.

On my way to dance class I passed a boot store that had been long out of business.  The sign outside intrigued me.  I got out to photograph it and I saw that the makings of the word 'Self Care' remained.  
 

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At my feet, beneath the sign, there was a letter S.  This is the kind of experience where life is a moving metaphor.

At lunch time, I went to The DeGrazia Gallery and spent some time in the shrine.  I am eternally intrigued by contrast and the visual opposition of the Mother Mary shrine to the nun from the morning, was very inspiring to me.  Here are some photos of the Mary Shrine from the DeGrazia Gallery.  

Full Moon in Aquarius

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Break outdated agreements / Wash away patterns that diminish you
 

This full moon feels ripe for some good pattern clearing as we move into the final months of the year.
What agreements have you made with yourself or others that are not supporting your higher good? Have you agreed to be unseen, unheard in anyway in any area of your life? Sometimes we make these agreements silently, unknowingly.
The full moon illuminates the night, the dark aspects of the psyche, so that we may be whole like her.  What new patterns can be initiated today? Agree to be your full, present, valuable loving and fully loved self.  If you find a pattern to the contrary, light a candle and let it go, take it to a river and set it free.  There are many ways to let go, to create anew and the moon is on your side.

Hanged Woman

My self portrait version of the traditional Hanged Man tarot card titled 'Hanged Woman' is on the cover of Dirty Chai Magazine, along with 2 other photos inside  The hanged man is about gestation, it's the metaphor of the caterpillar cocooning before it becomes the butterfly.  It's the necessary wait while things flower around us.  And it involves trusting in the unknown, trusting that you are headed in the right direction despite taking no action, allowing things to unfold divinely.