Last Saturday was a beautiful, breezy early June evening, with clear skies. I was the first one there, and I saw Jaime first, as I drove up up the long driveway, and then Alan. They were sitting across from each other, two opposing points at either side of the grassy clearing. Alan's yard is beautiful, and the perfect setting for an outdoor event. Many trees shelter the area which in Rehoboth, Ma. I was 30 minutes early, which would make everyone who knows me laugh, because I am notoriously 20 minutes late for everything. I was excited about attending this event, as it was the first outdoor sound event that I could attend in 2022. I parked my car and found the perfect spot in the yard for me to unpack my bag of fun. I laid out my yoga mat, put on my lightweight hoody, took my drum and rattle out and carefully propped them against a tree that was perfectly situated, in the yard. The rest of the attendees started trickling in over the next half hour, making the circle complete. Some I knew from other Sonic Field events, and others were faces I hadn't met before.
Sonic Field offers a signature Sound Immersion. The event typically starts out with Jaime or Alan giving a descriptive introduction and welcome to folks, as well as the itinerary for our time together. We are warmly greeted, and invited into the space. We find a seat or spot to lay down in. We are asked to set an intention, which could be a prayer for someone else or an affirmation of our own need. Alan will then start us off in the sounding. The tones are relaxing to start and really allow for participants to allow rest into the space. After we are literally transformed in our bodies from this frequency of instrumental and voice sounding offered and that is unique every time I participate, we are then invited to join in. There are handmade spare drums and rattles available for use, and for purchase if anyone feels inclined.
Sharing the Love
We are invited to drum and rattle and sing and dance, with Alan starting us with a simple beat. It isn’t about how well someone sings or whether or not we carry the beat well on the drum. We begin to express ourselves. It is here where the intentions and prayers that we each brought, that were baked into our hearts and bodies as we passively rested in the sacred sound frequencies at the beginning, are brought down to our fiery bellies, as we power the collective intentions in community in the form of drumming, voicing, dancing and expressing ourselves in the community. After we have the opportunity to beat our drums, shake our rattles, dance and sound our voices like a pack of wild wolves, howling at the moon (at least, that's how I felt on Saturday night!!), Alan and Jaime bring out 1 or 2 large gathering drums, where we stand in 1 or 2 circles, depending on the group, venue and vibe. We pause for a moment, as we are again asked to bring our intentions or prayers back to our awareness. From there, either or both of our hosts will begin with a beat, and we continue to play, dance, beat and use our voices In sacred circle around this large, hand made, gathering drum life force. We continue to express ourselves in this beautiful heart thumping way, sending our intentions, emotions, healing vibes up and out. Letting go of whatever we need to, back to the Earth. Releasing with every collective beat of the drum, pounding our feet into the Earth. Sending the prayers and intentions to wherever they need to go.
We are slowed down sound and light waves, a walking bundle of frequencies tuned into the cosmos. We are souls dressed up in sacred biochemical garments and our bodies are the instruments through which our souls play their music. -Albert Einstein
The Journey of Feeling
Typically, the only words I have at the end of these events to verbalize my gratitude are “wow, that was totally awesome”. Pretty weak for such a profound experience. I am literally dumbfounded after each event. Tongue tied because the energy of my body is vibrating to the point that I am distracted and overwhelmed by how good I feel. The peace that these experiences instill in my heart and bones is beyond any vocabulary I have. There is something about this entire experience - from the passive immersion, to the group beating and rattling, to the heated sacred circle of drumming together, it truly can’t get dumbed down to words. I will keep trying!
This past Saturday night, during the Immersion segment, I had propped myself up against Alan’s tree, legs were out in front of me, eyes closed and I was wrapped in my blanket. I felt the vibration of the Earth, and the wind moving the trees in a subtle chorus. Alan began playing the digeridoo. My hips trembled and my bottom and my legs seemed to soften in a pretty dramatic way, as if I was growing roots and becoming one with the ground beneath my yoga mat. Although it felt like I wasn't, when I finally opened my eyes, I was in fact still sitting there with others. I had not grown physical roots, after all. I definitely went somewhere else as I listened to the sounds. At another point, when I heard the flute, and the guitar, I felt strong emotion, like I remembered something, and I let tears flow. Again, this doesn't happen every time, but those tears needed to flow. When Alan began to share his wide ranging voice, and Jaime shared his, it softened me even more. Their voices hold a power that must be experienced in person. At that point of almost sleep, it truly felt like an ensemble of hundreds joined them with the tremendous and resonating ranges of sounds that they emitted. I kept my eyes closed and just rested in it all.
Last Saturday was a special night, because we were outside, and because there were so many really beautiful people there experiencing the magic of this event. The sharing that happened at the end of the night by many, especially the newcomers was deep and beautiful. Not everyone shared, and there is really no pressure to say a single word, but we all stood their together and held space for each other. I can't say that I know what everyone was feeling, but I do know that we stood their for quite awhile. I imagine that my body wasn't the only one still buzzing like it was made of happy bees, buzzing in harmony. Many of us joked that we never wanted to leave the space. As we lingered there, a single lightening bug danced above us like a star within our reach.
We need this.
I want you to feel the sounds of the flutes, the drums and the glorious digeridoo, and recognize your body and how it hums along. How the sound touches your bones and organs as if it is pushing you to heal. I want your skin to hum and heal your body from the outside- in. This is what happens during a Sound Immersion with Sonic Field.
An experience with Sonic Field will leave you feeling amazed at what just happened. These are just two guys from southeastern New England, who facilitate a welcoming, therapeutic and expressive space for all. I want you to join in and bask in the love and openness that truly validates what it means to be a human in our best possible form. What it feels like to be free, and to express yourself with absolutely no judgement. I hope you have the opportunity to join Sonic Field in one of their upcoming events and feel for yourself the purity that resides in our human form and how beautiful we can be in a space that is cultivated from our own well intentioned hearts.
Being outside in Mother Earth, the trees, and all of her living, beating, end-of-spring creatures is nothing short of a miracle. I am at a point in my life, where I crave loving community and nature. I crave the need to express myself in whatever way I can in a healthy way. Saturday night sound is an opportunity to release the anxiety that a work week and life overall brings, and any anger that I didn’t even know I had, yet somehow gets released without even trying. I truly feel acceptance and love and everything good that I am grateful for in humans during and even days after these experiences. These sound events anchor my weeks and they are raising the vibration of my own soul. I did not know that is what would happen to me, when I experienced my first event with them, but I sure am grateful for their facilitation, and for the community that I have connected with at all of their events.
I experienced my first sound event with Sonic Field in September of 2020, outside at Alan’s house. I have joined them in building my very own drum at one of their Drum and Rattle building events at The Soul Purpose , and am excited to be attending another Drum and Rattle build event in July at Quantum Health & Wellness, where one of my oldest and dearest friends will join me to share in the experience of creating our own sacred sound tools. In March, I spent a full day with Sonic Field, for their inaugural class Intro to the Art of Sacred Sound Healing, offered at The Soul Purpose, in Swansea, MA.
Updated: Jun 9
I got a new therapist. I met with her in person this week for the first time. It was exciting and also annoying. I remember the hard parts of therapy now. I was always good at talk therapy. I like to share. But there were times in the many years that I had with my former therapist of 20 years, that I didn’t want to go. The accountability piece. I didn’t want to have to explain my actions and how they made me feel in so impulsively doing them. I wanted to eat some cheeseburgers, smoke my cigarettes, and numb myself. I was in what seemed like a never ending self-sabotage cycle in my 20s and early 30s. I would come out of it for a bit, and then do something new and healthy for a while, and then as soon as I started to feel good, I would fuck it up again and get back to self-loathing and throwing my hands up. I was self-destructive to the point where I think it frustrated many of the friends I had at the time. I gave up. I was the poster child for doing everything half-assed. I would give up. Whether I was making wrong choices with relationships, or overeating to the point of being sick, I knew better than anyone how to hold myself back.
As someone with a looming diagnosis of Bipolar 1, I forced myself to go to therapy because for me, it was life or death. The alternative could be another stay in inpatient, and another psychotic break. After my 7th hospitalization in just 5 long years, I listened to the doctor and the therapist out of fear for my life. I took Lithium and saw a therapist. I had almost killed myself on the highway while driving recklessly and completely manic. I was put in jail for driving under the influence. Only thing was that I was not under the influence of any substance at all, but my own brain. That scared me, as did the months following with no license to drive and needing to take the bus to the bank that I worked at since on hiatus from school. Trips to court. Expensive lawyers (thank God for my parents) and another setback.
I took the advice of so many doctors. I followed that recipe for 20 years. I had many difficult roller coasters in and out of self-sabotage cycles through those years, and eventually, I learned how to like myself enough to break that cycle. Meeting someone who loved me for me, and then marrying him certainly helped. Getting a great job and excelling at it. I always thought I was the dumbest, ugliest, messy, and worst person in the room. Everybody else was way better than me. I believed that in my mind. I do not have anyone to blame for those feelings. Perhaps this was my sickness, and the environment I got well in. But this was my truth. I hated myself. I would start every sentence with someone new in my life that “well, I am bipolar so….” In other words, I am a fuck up and here is my badge that proves it. Don’t put any faith in what I can do, and don’t you dare think that I have a brain. I would also let people think that I was dumb because it was easier. I was disconnected from my heart back then, and only in my beautiful and super active brain.
There is a lot of sad feelings that come up when I think about my 20s and 30s, but I truly don’t regret any of it. I know that I would not be where I am today, a person who is open and willing to learn from others, who is finally feeling and experiencing an open-hearted connection to my own soul, and to a beautiful and growing community of people of energy healers, chaplains, intuitive teachers and friends who also live from their heart spaces.
It was 23 years ago, next week, when I had my last psychotic episode. I am married, and have a great life now, and it sure as shit was not easy. It still isn’t easy. I had this great therapist for so many years and she literally saved my life multiple times because I forced myself to see her, even when I didn’t want to. Sure, plenty of times I skipped, but I showed up more than I ditched. When I stopped seeing her and my psychiatrist in 2018, they were cheering me on. They made me feel like I was some kind of rock star. I actually felt uncomfortable with their praise (I still don’t do well with that!). They were proud of how far I came, having known me from when I was newly diagnosed and a numbed out frightened woman with no connection to anything beyond how to survive each day.
Playing small still comes back to haunt me. I do it naturally due to my conditioning. This conditioning may never be fully broken, but I am happy that I am aware when I regress a bit and do that. And when I am not aware of it, having a therapist will be wonderful.
I am paraphrasing our conversation a bit but she basically said that, you don’t have to use air quotes when you talk about journeying, drumming, Reiki or how Kundalini Yoga makes you feel, and you don’t have to use words like “supposedly”, as if you need to play small, like the Spiritual life you are leading isn’t real, or it’s some kind of phony belief system that you are making light of because everyone else is freaked out about ever talking about something so provocative. You don’t have to minimize how much this work is helping you be more compassionate and open.
It is amazing all of the work I do, with teachers, shamans, energy healers, so much work and I feel my body now, and how much it is changing, and how much space I have in my brain. I don’t just run my mouth about my feelings now, I actually feel them in my body. I don’t drink or take any medication now. I do not numb and binge to the point of getting sick. I never imagined that just learning mindfulness strategies like meditation, yoga and slowing down the constant doing would make my thinking brain perceive and learn so much! I am 46 and I have never wanted to learn as much as I do now.
I like this new therapist. She is attuned to energy work. When I started going over my story, I was talking fast in the interest of time, and she actually told me to take a breath. We sat and meditated for a couple of minutes. With my history and diagnosis, I felt the need to tell her the major events. I dumped out my high level story from the first time I was hospitalized in 1994, and the subsequent major psychotic events that happened in 1996, and 1999, with a whole lot of medication adjustments, outpatient stays, depression, loss of my grandparents, and my entire connection to creativity, and spirituality that came with living mostly in safety, and how medication that saved my life, but also numbed me out.
She is going to be good for me. I left there feeling contemplative, and she is going to help me progress from where I am right now, which is in a place of newness. I feel happy that I took it upon myself to see someone again. I know that things are getting harder in my relationships because I am not necessarily the same person who likes to talk about the same things that I did even a year ago, never mind 3 years ago when I really started to open my heart and intuition with my introduction to yoga.
Mental health awareness is so much about recognizing what doesn’t sit right in your own mind and body and knowing that there are people that can help. None of us needs to walk this path alone. And we don’t have to wait until we are in crisis to seek help. This is the beautiful part about being human. Connection is always possible.
Originally published on Medium on June 2, 2022
Updated: Jun 9
My path is not for others to understand or critique. My path is not linear, nor clean. It isn’t in the least bit efficient to anyone else but me. So many times I have felt impatient, like, how is this the way when it is so hard and seemingly impossible to navigate? I would try to follow my orderly and super linear friends with admiration. Dying to be like them because life seemed so much better organized and in order. I have gone through this life on a messy, asymmetrical spiral of spiny bramble of thorns and itch causing leaves, and all things hard and impossible to follow. I constantly compared myself to others, and like all humans, I am conditioned to do what the masses do, and to strive for some sort of unrealistic perfection. I will no longer sacrifice my own heart and soul’s mission, or walk another path because someone wants to feel like they are in charge and that somehow, they deserve the validation more than I deserve to walk my own damn path. My energy gets bogged down by the needs of others, but the truth is, I don’t owe anyone anything when it comes to how I live, and what I do to maintain my wellness.
Springtime is full of living on the edge of dark and light
The joy of growing season and all of the vibrancy coming through with our northeast sun finally raising higher in the sky! The shabby brown leaves and burnt pine needles are giving way to green growth. I didn’t make room for the growth like I had intended to this year, and right now, I feel as though I am suffocating under a big pile of dead leaves. Like I am salamander, still wanting to hibernate, but finding it hard between the warmth of the tricky sun by mid day, and the seemingly — only by comparison- frigid cold at night. I will continue to grow, and thrive, and some of that is not in my control. Some of it is uncertainty, allowing life to happen, but it will happen. I do trust that I am being guided on this path, even if I feel that I am left exposed, and dangerously vulnerable in a cold and closed off world. All of my leaves that were my coverage were swept aside by some inconsiderate human who thought for sure they were cleaning out the clutter and making things better. That’s life and that’s death on this planet. So much chaos, and so much confusion. The hardest part of that is accepting that is what we are, and contrary to popular belief, we are limited. We can’t morph our physical form into the Creator or God, and have no faults at all. We feel inadequate and afraid because we were taught that we are only worthy of God’s love if we are good and virtuous. If we strive for perfection. But who says what is “good” or virtuous, but other humans? We have these expectations of our selves that are completely impossible and self limiting. As humans, our jobs are not to place limits on ourselves and certainly not on others, without first reaching a bit beyond the edge of our own limits, and striving, failing, and exploring. Our mind is unlimited and can go literally anywhere that we let it. And as paradoxical as it is (just like life), our mind will also try to limit us. We are born human, and our bodies that we get to live in, are vulnerable. It is our only job to feel into the boundaries of our bodies and to re-direct our limitless minds into what we need for this journey. When we spend all of our time doing things that we do not like or to make someone else in our life feel better (or worse), while not honoring our own needs, we are draining our own life force battery. We literally only have so much time and energy, and being mindful of how we spend it is the solution to so much peace in our lives. I gave up watching the news and scrolling for endless hours on social media. It was mostly because I felt anxious and sad all of the time, but the side effect was a peaceful heart, at least some of the time. I stopped habitually tuning into stuff that I have no control over about three years ago, around the time when I first began to deepen my practice of yoga and meditation. I need my alone time. The world goes faster than I am able to consistently go. I get swept away and I take on the energy of others when I am not fully present and aware. This is who I am, and why I don’t always say yes to social events. There are times when I need rest, and my brain needs to recharge. This is mental health awareness. It is not me, telling you a story of someone else who suffers or suffered from depression, and how everyone should feel bad and treat them without stigma. Or how they overdosed and or, committed suicide and no one saw it coming. I read a lot of posts about mental health awareness, being that May is mental health awareness month, someone declared. Every single day needs to be mental health awareness day. How do you feel today? What are you struggling with? How do you feel in your body? Focus inward, not on anyone else but you. We are all crazy, compulsive, addictive and have major healing to do. If you have the tiniest bit of self awareness, you know that this is true. When I go out in public, and happen to witness someone screaming at a sales associate at Target, over there not being in stock of something, I feel it. I feel that we are just trying to keep up, and it’s never going to happen. So we get angry and don’t check in with ourselves, we lose ourselves to the buzz of the collective highway of constantly doing. There is no fucking way we can live and go as fast as we do in this world, with all of the buzzing and bright lights and information being exploded onto us from all angles, and still be aware of our limitations, and also of what we need, and when we should rest. There is no way to have compassion for ourselves, and there is certainly no way to empathize with others. Awareness comes with practice, and it comes when we check our hearts with our intuition, and realize when we should stop and hug our loved ones, and when we need space to be alone. We cannot handle everything. We are limited, and every time we allow our bodies to slow down, and every time we engage in practices that slow down the mind, we are taking care of our own mental health, and replenishing our well within. We build our own walls to stay functional, to move faster, have more money, or whatever else that gets in the way of feeling. The closed heart club, in my definition, are the folks who consider themselves worthy only when they are doing, producing, and excelling, and less when they are feeling and finding compassion for themselves, and for others. Closed off, not as an intention, but because all of the noise of the world numbed them, and caused anxiety into what became a habit and way of life. Maybe our past pains and trauma have built these walls for us, and we are surviving. Maybe we are doing all that we can to not fall apart at the seems. If that is the case, please allow yourself to accept help, and allow yourself to rest. Do whatever you can to take it one moment, one hour and one day at a time. It is hard work to ask for help, but also, life saving and courageous. I feel this about every person I have ever met who has owned up to their need to improve themselves. This is why I think addicts who seek recovery are the most courageous people of all. I’ve never been able to understand the seriousness of it all, the seriousness of pride. People talk, act, live as if they’re never going to die. And what do they leave behind? Nothing. Nothing but a mask. - BOB DYLAN One of the strengths that I have in this life, is that I do spiral. I do pivot and wander. I have a tendency to step out of a rhythm from time to time. It’s like I can flow, but I have to go into retrograde sometimes. Turn the opposite way. I embrace change naturally. And I Spiral. This is different than regressing into old habits, or self sabotage because when I go retro, I basically feel like I just look into some of my shadows; my old dark corners that I was too busy or scared to get into before for various reasons. I step back in, to feel the feels, and then I return. I return with a new perspective somehow. This is very new to me. I was on self sabotage cycles for my entire life, living in polarity, and not coincidentally, diagnosed Bipolar 1. The more I avoid social trends and the masses, the more I step into my own soul, and its purpose while I am lucky enough to live here on Earth; the more open, clear and adaptive to new teachings and personal creativity, I am. For the first 33 years of my life, I conformed because I thought I had to. When I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder at age 23, after 5 years of manic episodes and hospitalizations, I was so scared! I followed what I needed to do to conform, survive and be in this fast paced world. I was too sick not to. I would not change how that happened, because I do not know that I would have lived if I did not accept help by going to therapy and accepting that medication was what I needed to get well at the time. It was not an easy lesson, and not without many relapses early on. My 20s were not a happy time in my life, to put it mildly. Now, I am maintaining my health through mindfulness and wellness. I allow myself to go into retrograde. I prioritize my self care, and if I do not feel drawn to something, I do not do it. More and more, I let my heart lead. I change my mind. In order for our heart to truly lead, we need to have boundaries for people in our lives. Many people who knew me when I was down and unsure of myself, are now gone from my life, or extremely hurt by how I prioritize now. We are distant, and I have no animosity there, but found this to be necessary. I no longer live from shame and duty to be the perfect friend, daughter, etc. That is tough for some to digest, especially when the relationship was entirely about trying to fix Julie, and about manipulation or control from the other, or about gossiping about others in order to avoid talking about our own feelings. Embrace your beautiful body, and allow your mind to take a break by doing a mindfulness activities like yoga and meditation. Start small. It doesn’t have to be polarity that we live in. I spent 5 years not knowing whether I was schizophrenic, or some other type of crazy. And another 20 years of living out of survival from a diagnosis that crippled my heart, mind and numbed my spirit. I made it through, but with a fearful judgement that was a consequence of years of precautionarily setting the limitation on myself because of my diagnosis. There is only the way you feel on the inside. There is only your journey, and the path you chose to get there is completely up to you, if you only stop and listen to the signs and connect with your own beating heart, and your higher power, guides and God of your own understanding. If you pause enough, you will realize that you have Divinity within you. When I hear someone insult someone who is going through the pain of substance abuse, and all of the highs and lows, I pray for them and their judgment. As humans, we all have the capacity to release our self limiting beliefs that hurt ourselves and others when we judge them. It is Mental Health Awareness month, which is a great reason to connect with your own heart. I could give you a whole bunch of advice of how I connect to my own heart, which for me includes a lot of time meditating, breathing and practicing yoga, as well as time alone writing, walking out in nature, or getting into a sacred circle and drumming and singing to express myself in community. I process and sit in my emotions, and at times they seem unbearable. But I do not force myself to walk a straight line. I will not numb the pain. I do not promise that I am going to be productive every single day, and that I am going to do routines that hurt my body more than help it, just to punish myself. I always prioritize self care, and if that means I am not going to work, or I need to go to sleep early, that is what I do. My heart remains open, and actually opens more when I connect with others. This is one of the most beautiful parts of being human. When I take a chance and smile at a stranger who might not smile back. When I share vulnerable moments with people, and when they share their stories with me, my heart stays open. When I allow a pause to my busy day to feel and be empathetic to someone else. When I take a risk and tell someone that I love them. I do not have time left to get in arguments about whether I am right or if I am wrong because all I really have time to do right now is feel, unless I am working, which is totally different and there, and with conscious practice, I stay neutral in high stress situations. On my path, I am not meant to dive deep into why I am “right” and you are “wrong”. It is not my role to explain why you should do anything at all, and why what I am doing is better. I have already done that, and that part of my journey is over. I will write, I will dance, I will practice. I will learn more ways to connect with God, my guides and I will continue to learn and develop my gifts to share so that one day, I can truly help others on their path. I honor help that I get from mentors, friends, teachers and complete strangers who I never imagined would teach me anything. Mental Health awareness is something that I have every day. But you know what, it’ s not about the mental health label and diagnosis that I carry and used to wear as a self-limiting badge. I would introduce myself as Bipolar, before telling people my name. For me, being aware of how I feel every single day, is how I stay healthy. I could go back on medication, sure. If that becomes the only option, I surely will. But for me, I must continue to follow my heart, and intuition. I have moved on from survival to growth and thriving, but this requires maintenance and self check ins. Some days, I am miserable. I am so sad and hurt that I feel almost unbearable pain in my body. But, I connect in some capacity with my body, and then when I drop into mediation, which could be practicing conscious breathing, gentle movement with yoga asanas and kriyas, or it could be chanting, writing or wandering out into the woods and allowing myself to feel the Earth beneath my feet, and to touch the trees out in nature. Each time I connect with my feet on the earth, I feel in my heart of all hearts the unconditional love that our Earth provides for all of her creatures. When I feel sad and lonely, I know that She holds me and She loves me. There is no shame with unconditional love. There are many paths that you can take to get to the same place. You need to find it for yourself. And once you think you are on the right path, it is ok to check yourself, and ask if this is still the path, from time to time, or if you need to turn a different direction. The important part is honoring your own limitations, so that you can then honor the beauty within you, and tap into the well within you. Originally published on Medium on May 9, 2022