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How to Master the Art of Listening

I have been working in the field of energy healing for a little over ten years. I became interested in energy work after I began to have repeated unusual experiences with my hands and my vision coupled by a total anxiety meltdown. This led me to receive my very first energy healing session where I was desperately looking for answers and resolve. My session did not disappoint and my path in energetics has continuously gained momentum ever since. What I love most about holding space for others, is witnessing the light bulb turn on inside illuminating intrinsic truth. We all hold the power to heal and to become more balanced and whole.

Through my work I have discovered that learning is a continuous journey, but the one thing I know for a fact is that mastering the art of listening is life changing. When we listen, we can recognize and hear what we need becoming more aware and more in tune with our needs emotionally, physically and energetically. This process also empowers us to understand others with expanded compassion and awareness. Every experience you have has learning in it if you look for it and take the learning and integrate it. Not only can you listen more deeply to your own needs but you can also listen and learn from nature. If you pay attention in nature, there is a teacher within all plants, trees, animals, the ocean, the mountains, EVERYTHING has teachings if you desire to listen. All that is required is creating space within you to listen.

This seems so simple but listening is a learned skill. It takes practice opening up the space inside you to listen, to honor how you are feeling what your body is saying to you. When we do things like deny our true selves, we miss messages and make mistakes in our choices. However, when we listen to emotional and physical cues, we become attuned to subtle spiritual and energetic signs. In this state we are primed to hear messages from guides, angels, loved ones who have passed on, our higher selves, and more. So, it is important to take the time to master the essential skill of listening.

Pay Attention

Begin by noticing the messages your body sends you and respond with an action that shows you heard. For example, if you are thirsty your mouth and throat will be dry, so drink water when those signs first appear. Also, take breaks when your body is tired, and eat foods that nourish you. Choose sleep over your to-do list when possible. Move your body through dance, walking, and stretching. Nourish yourself—try taking salt baths, give yourself a foot massage, or maybe buy yourself flowers or a special candle.

Embrace Your Emotions

When you are upset, slow down and get grounded. Allow yourself to fully feel your feelings and notice what is upsetting you. For example, if you are angry, embrace the anger instead of denying it. Ask it why it is here. Maybe you have a good reason to be mad. Cry when you are sad. We are conditioned to suppress our feelings, but if we bottle up emotions, these emotions will manifest themselves in our body in various unhealthy ways.

Explore Your Spirituality

In addition, begin to explore your energy field, your soul, and your higher self. Turn off your phone or computer. Try meditation, practicing visualization or simply lay your hands on your body and check in with how it feels. Connect with nature. Become familiar with your energy anatomy. Tune inward and connect where we are all one. Everything is energy, and everything is interconnected. Find that well of unconditional knowing and unconditional love inside you, in others, and in the earth. There are many ways to find this, the journey in finding this is part of the awakening process. Seek out support as needed and begin to listen to the messages that will change your life.

Download the free app called “Insight Timer” and try my free yoga meditations. These meditations are designed to encourage listening, developing a better sense of self and have integrated energy healing visualizations.


Sharlean Windus is a local energy healer and intuitive development guide. If you are interested in learning more, you can find her at www.classiquespa.com where she practices energy healing and offers reiki mentorship classes. Or visit www.sharleanwindus.com to find classes and events such as sound baths, meditation, reiki certification, and more!

Wellness Around the World: Latvian Summer Solstice

latvian summer solstice celebrationMy name is Datza and I was born and raised in Latvia. I’m currently a teacher and owner of Datza Studios here in cozy Eastlake neighborhood. Latvia is a tiny country by the Baltic Sea, just across from Sweden, east of Poland and west of Russia. Yasss, we were part of Soviet Union but we have way a different language and culture. Proud to be pagans, proud to be Latvians!

I love love my country but somehow life brought be me to US. First, it was east coast for a few summers and a little over 15 years ago – Seattle. Change is constant and life thrives on change; it is the essence of the 2nd chakra and the story of my life. It’s also one the main teachings of Yoga (union of mind, body and soul).

Yoga for me is more than just asanas, yoga is the practice through which we are able to liberate ourselves and create the freedom we desire (in the yoga universe we call it Moksha). I’m more than grateful for my Yoga Teacher Training at Samadhi where most of the teachings were about yoga philosophy and most of the practice teaching was done after the regular hours with friends, other trainees and our mentor. Shout out to Jennifer Isaacson, Kathleen Hunt and Steve Shiva!

garden yogaIt’s been over 10 years since I was introduced to yoga and I constantly find similarities between yoga and my upbringings in Latvia. As pagans, we believe that there are higher spirits and nature Gods who guide us, who help us, and who can also destroy us, if we are ignorant to their messages. Yoga sutras states:  “Ignorance is the seed of the suffering.” We have our Earth, Wind, Sun and other gods similar to Hinduism where there is Kali, Shakti, Shiva etc. We have Latvian mythology symbols weaved into our clothing, put in our houses, and even on our bodies. We accept that mood and energy levels change, and when we get sick the first treatment would be natural remedy – herb tea, mixture etc. Ayurveda would be the word we know here and is a sister of yoga!

We have always been taught to live in the moment – the power of NOW. We believe that happiness is freedom and you become more free by getting together and singing and dancing (which is pretty much a must for every event), whether it’s a name day, birthday or other festivity. Every 4 years we have a National Song and Folk festival when Latvians from our country and abroad come together for a week and express themselves through singing and movement.

Did you know that Latvian language is one of the closest languages to Sanskrit? Did you know that we still celebrate summer solstice and it’s a national holiday? Summer solstice celebration is the biggest festivity in Latvian culture, same as the Deities celebration in Hinduism (celebrating deities like Kali, Shiva etc.)

latvian summer solstice attireIn Latvia we call it “Jani” and it is always the night from June 23 to June 24 when all Latvians participate in joyous festivities just like the ancestors did centuries ago. “Jani” celebration dates back to middle ages and is a celebration of nature and the changing of seasons mixed with all traditions.

Yes, it is a national holiday!  Everyone tries to get out in the country to their relatives and our friends and just eat, drink, dance and sing.

I can tell you for hours and go in details but to keep it short yet sweet, there are few things which are just plain mandatory and you will find during the celebration:

  1. Bonfire – definitely the hallmark of the festivities. We sit by the bonfire and wait for the sun to come up. Late in the evening when the bonfire becomes smaller, we jump over it which signifies ridding people of their burdens. Couples jump together and the magical force of the flames binds them for life. The bonfire also helps to keep the insects away.
  2. Latvian food– must have “Jani”cheese (a sour cheese made with caraway seeds) and beer. Gotta keep our bodies alive all night long!
  3. Garlands for everyone made of oak leaves or wild flowers – they were believed to have magic powers during the summer solstice. Houses are also decorated with birch oak and rowan branches to keep the evil spirits away.
  4. “Field Trip Into the Woods” – it is believed that the Summer Solstice night is the only night when one can see the mysterious and mythical fern flower. No one really has seen it yet, but it is a great excuse for couples to wander into the unknown. The fact is, 9 month later there are lots of newborns.
  5. Stay up till the Sunrise – we are up in the North and daylight on the “Jani” night is only a few hours. If you end up falling asleep by the time the sun rises, you will be sleepy all summer long and who wants that? At dawn, one should find water and wash their face in order to have a fresh glow all summer long. Walking through the morning dew is said to bring wealth.

summer solstice bonfireSummer Solstice from early childhood has been the highlight of the year because finally we could stay up all night, wander around in nature and see family and friends getting silly, yet happy.

I’m more than stoked to announce that we will be celebrating the Summer Solstice and National Yoga Day on Friday, June 21st at our Studio – Datza Studios.

Most of our studio teachers will be there to guide you through their own variation of Sun Salutations since the Sun is what we celebrate on Summer Solstice. In between, Teju (professional story teller from India who is going back on her travels after the event) will educate us on Creator (Brahma), Preserver (Vishnu) and Destroyer (Shiva) and how it is linked with the summer solstice even though down in India they don’t celebrate it (too close to the equator).

The best part – you will feel and look good since after the practice there will be a Nordstrom beauty pop-up with oxygen facials and other goodies.

For more info & to register, follow this link.


Datza Telmane is a local yoga teacher and owner of Datza Studios in Eastlake.

Wellness: Create Your Own Definition

Wellness is a buzzy word these days.

It’s an umbrella term that we can apply to almost anything, and the amount of wellness modalities, practices, and rituals that are out there is frankly overwhelming.

So how exactly do we define wellness for ourselves? Some people might think that wellness is waking up at sunrise and meditating or practicing yoga. If this is your version of wellness, that’s amazing! For me, it’s not at all realistic. But for a long time (and until just very recently!) I thought that this early-rising, lengthy ritual of morning wellness was THE epitome of wellness and what I needed to do in order to consider myself a “well” person.

The truth is, we are not allowed to beat ourselves up with things that are good for us (learned this from a former life coach). If we read self-help books, we can’t punish ourselves for not following their guidance. If we practice yoga occasionally, we can’t berate ourselves in class for not coming more often. If we buy into this cycle of negativity, our vision of self-care and attainable wellness practices will become narrower, and narrower, until we’d rather just call the whole thing off.

What I’d like to propose, is instead of viewing wellness as something that we are grasping for, to view wellness as something that we already do (!) and can layer on to. I have a few suggestions on how to do so below, but above all I want to give you permission to create a new definition of wellness for yourself. One that is free of any outside influence, unique to you, and that you actually enjoy!

food as wellness“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

This is the simple motto of US-based journalist Michael Pollan who explores this idea in his book and accompanying show, “In Defense of Food.” When it comes to nutritional wellness, keeping it simple is the way to go. I also no longer force myself to eat “healthy” foods that I don’t like. If you don’t like the currently trending “super food,” don’t eat it! It’s much easier for me to nourish my body when I eat foods I enjoy.

Add movement to your meditation.

A seated meditation practice has always been difficult for me, so I was really excited when I was recently introduced to Kundalini Yoga / Meditation. It’s weird, but the repetitive movements that you perform in sets or “kriyas,” are incredibly powerful for moving stagnant energy and uniting mind and body. I would highly recommend going to a class for the full experience, but you can also find short and impactful Kundalini meditations on Insight Timer, Youtube, or Alo Moves

wellness teaUp-level the ways you already take care of yourself.

Some days, I wake up late and seem to move straight into my day without even taking a moment to be intentional or breathe deeply. But what do I always do before leaving the house? Brush my teeth and go through my skin care routine. These are ways I already care for my body (but didn’t really count as wellness), and by adding an extra layer of intention like adding a drop of essential oil to my dry brush, or lovingly massaging lotion onto my body, or even listening to my favorite song while brushing my teeth, has allowed me to practice self-care without adding a lot of extra time or steps. What are the things you always do that you could add a little intention to? Here’s a list of 45 small self-care practices if you need some inspiration.

 

Reinvent your definition of wellness.

I will assume that because you are here, you most likely have an interest in wellness. But if any of my words don’t resonate, that is totally okay because I am not for everyone and even more importantly, everyone is not for you! As you chart your own wellness path, you get to choose who your teachers are, where you attend class, and what kind of inspiration you take from those around you. Wellness is incredibly personal, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. My mission through Three Moon Collective is to introduce and share many kinds of wellness in hopes that they resonate with our community. If you’re interested in being part of this community and exploring wellness with us, I’d encourage you to sign up for our weekly newsletter here, or explore our Collective of diverse wellness practitioners.

For a daily dose of wellness, follow us at @threemooncollective on Instagram. 


Hannah Exner is the founder of Three Moon Collective and still creating her own personal definition of wellness. Follow her at @hannahexner or send her an email at hello@threemooncollective.com. This blog post originally appeared on Head + Heart

Wellness Around The World: Curanderos in Mexico

My name is Rafael Toledo but just about everyone calls me Kiko. I was born in Texas, first generation American of Mexican parents. I spent every summer in Mexico as a child then at 15, I moved there. From there I lived in San Diego, Florida, Beijing for a bit, Seattle and recently a little island offshore called Vashon. I studied biology and chemistry in college and worked as a research scientist in neuroscience for about 6 years before completely changing careers. I initially became interested in wellness because of experiences I had with my father and the world he introduced me to at a young age. Which brings me to a topic that extends wellness past our southern border: Curanderos, aka Mexican Alternative Healers.

My father practiced traditional pediatric cardiology but quickly became frustrated with its limits and inefficiencies and began to explore alternatives. He began in Mexico and let me tag along as an 11 or 12 year-old kid. We visited and interviewed dozens of Curanderos. They were somewhat underground, though not hard to find since most people hesitated to admit visiting one, but visited nonetheless. There was plenty of wonder in these visits, especially for a curious boy. Dark smoky rooms filled with a roller-coaster ride of quiet whispers, frantic screaming, cry-sobbing, flicking out demons and curses, as well as rolling eggs along the body and cracking them open to expose black, smelly and spoiled yolks. Lots of candles and incense and chanting. I loved it, and thought it was quite the adventure.

Recently, we’ve come to appreciate many of these ancient practices – Ayahuasca, Tepezcohuite and Nopales to name a few. But it was a bit different in the late 80’s. These remedies were seen as superstitious and a just a little bit backwoodsy (before backwoodsy was a good thing). The conclusion we came to after many sessions and interviews was that in many cases, yes, the herb, oil or tea helped. But more than that, folks needed a space to unload. To talk about their taboo desires and anxieties disguised as demons. Metaphor manifested as reality. Most people wouldn’t go to a Curandero for a broken bone and the good Curanderos (there were crooked ones as in any industry) would send away people with more serious maladies.

No, most would visit for those hard-to-pinpoint ailments. The pains traditional medicine is terrible at diagnosing, let alone correcting. It’s so much easier to unload, inspect and let go of emotions and uncertainties in a dark room smelling of burnt herbs with a cup of pungent tea in your hands than it is with a cardiologist and his unblinking notepad in a sterile medical facility. As the child of an MD, I know this first hand.

What I took away from those experiences, as well as my stint in science, was to try to keep an open mind. To try to not judge what works for others as a way to heal. To not be intimidated by new words or concepts and use it as an opportunity to learn. To not let the uncertainty of something lead me to grasp at the first person with a purported cure. To question, experiment and be grateful for what works for me and put aside that which doesn’t. To challenge the things I don’t understand, but to try and be willing to listen to the response without prejudice. To take the best of time-tested remedies (the healing power of Manuka honey is real ya’ll!) and those developed by science.

After all, the best science is just an interpretation of Nature. The powerful results of meditation are as real as the life saving capabilities of a heart transplant.


Kiko Toledo works in video production and lives on Vashon Island with his wife Lindsey. Feel free to tell him about your favorite backwoodsy remedies or ask about what they use in Mexico at @rkikotoledo. Or if you’re as interested in seeing the various sides of the world as he is, say hello at @ramblinhombrefoto

Nutrition – A Health Journey

a healthy balanced mealMy name is Kerry Smith and I’d like to take you on a little health journey with me.

For many years my health was declining and I suffered from a lot of symptoms. To name a few: adrenal depletion, depression, kidney stones, gall bladder removal, carpal tunnel, osteoarthritis, food allergies, seasonal allergies, high cholesterol, benign arrhythmia, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Graves disease, inflammation, and severe leaky gut (malabsorption syndrome). Whew! It wasn’t a fun time of life. I was taking over 30 pills a day, including supplements and digestive enzymes. I was reluctant to leave home because of the severe lack of energy. Some days I could barely get out of bed.

When I did go places, I would have huge anxiety that I might not get to a bathroom fast enough when I needed to. After many doctors and lab tests, I eliminated the food allergens (including gluten and dairy) and started on a 10 year journey of personal trials and research to find relief and healing. I had such severe leaky gut that labs showed I wasn’t absorbing nutrients at all. Needless to say, I was extremely discouraged, feeling hopeless and thinking that I would never heal.

whole foods are the key to healthThe good news though, is that I was introduced to some amazing whole food plant powders that I COULD absorb, and the rest is history. Because they were readily bioavailable and because I was so nutritionally depleted, I could feel the nutrients going through my blood stream within a couple of hours. I thought of it as “Veggie Crack”! I had so much energy I couldn’t sit still. It was crazy.

After 4 months my labs showed that my nutrient levels were coming up, my hormones levels were increasing, and I felt so much better! People were commenting on how much better I looked. My skin was glowing, and I had boundless energy.

I have gluten and dairy allergies, so I never eat them, but I can now eat most any other foods when before I could only tolerate bone broth and a few lightly steamed veggies. My labs have continued to improve. In fact, my cholesterol dropped almost 100 points. I haven’t had any kidney stones, my heart rate has stabilized, I have no seasonal allergies any more, and I am off all my medications, including thyroid meds. And if that isn’t enough good news, I no longer have leaky gut symptoms!

kerry's health journey takes her everywhere!I am so healthy that when I had a complete hip replacement a year ago, 2 weeks post-surgery I walked in to the doctor’s office with no walker, only using one crutch as a precaution. He told me I could ditch the crutch. He said I was in the top 5 percent of his patients for fast healing and he operates on a lot of athletes! I was a 65-year-old woman with osteoarthritis!! Three months after the replacement, the doctor sent me on my way to travel and hike around the country, no follow-ups necessary.

I have been traveling with my husband in our Airstream trailer since June of 2018. I would NEVER have been able to do that, even 2 years ago. My health has changed so dramatically that this is my lifestyle now, my new normal, and I love it!


Kerry Smith is the founder of Granny Owl and a wholesome lifestyle blogger and advocate. Follow her health journey on her Instagram and on her website, or connect with her via email at kerry@grannyowl.com.

Looking for more nutrition support? Browse our Collective of recommended and referred nutrition-focused practitioners.

The Key to Parenting Peacefully

peaceful parentingI’d like to offer a parenting reframe here around children’s behavior.  Rather than your child giving you a hard time, they are having a hard time.  You may have heard this before, but take a moment to really think about it and consider this:  all behavior is an attempt to meet a need. This goes for adults and children.

Thinking about it in this way is so helpful when interacting with your child and when trying to do the emotional work with yourself.  If you find yourself stuck repeating a behavior that you’d rather not, get curious about what need that behavior is trying to meet.  When you dissect it in this way, it becomes that much easier to find another way to meet that need in a way that actually serves you.  

So if you take that same idea and apply to your child when they’re behaving in a way that is less than desirable, look past the behavior.  See through their eyes. What is going on for them?

An example from my own experience: My son can get very obnoxious when he wants to play with his sister.  He’ll start taking her toys, hitting her with his blanket, etc. It is soooo easy to get annoyed and show anger towards him. Why can’t he just leave her alone?!  

But when I look closer, when I take the time to pay attention, I can see that he is doing it in a good spirited way, despite the fact that it’s pissing off his sister.  I can see that he really just wants connection, or maybe he wants play. Sometimes it can be difficult to figure out the need under the behavior (this is true for ourselves too).  But I know when I get curious and I put myself in his place, I can see that he just doesn’t know a better way to meet that need for connection. He’s not a “bad” kid.

So I step in and offer gentle guidance.  There is no punishment involved. To punish would be to punish for him acting like a 3 year old…which he is. AND a punishment wouldn’t teach him anything about empathy or meeting his needs. All it would do is shut him down.  He might learn to no longer do that behavior, but at what cost? At the cost of developing a deeper understanding about himself, his needs & how to meet them. And at the cost of connection with me. I don’t believe in making a child suffer for going about meeting a need as best they know how.  I do believe there is a way to teach him the valuable lessons through peaceful means.

what peaceful parenting looks likeNow let’s look at me.  If I were to have gotten angry and lost my cool with him, that would have been a less than desirable way to meet my need for peace.  I could have shut that shit down. He would have cried because I yelled but hey, he would have stopped bugging his sister. Less than desirable because it didn’t actually create peace.  

I know you Mamas know how chaotic it can be with little ones. Sometimes you just want everyone to get along, at a reasonable decibel and for the love of all that is holy, give me just 5 freaking mins of not needing me so I can think straight.  

parenting together

The beautiful thing about peaceful parenting is that responding to this scenario with calm, gentle guidance is that I create peace in that moment. I source it for myself…and for my children. Had I flipped my lid, I would have not only contributed to the chaos and lack of peace, but I also would have been modeling chaos and a lack of self control for my children…the exact opposite behavior I’m hoping for from my children.  

AND on top of that, it was a mini moment of connection. It built trust between us & fostered a sense of security. He trusts and feels safe that I am here for him and will do my best to help him get what he needs without making him feel wrong or bad for doing his best.


Written by Peaceful Parenting Coach & Collective Member, Sarah Gimel. You can learn more about Sarah on her Collective page or on her website.

Endometriosis – A Health Journey

My Endometriosis Story

I had painful periods for over 20 years, starting when I was 16. I accepted this as normal and incurable all the way back then. What medicine could not fix, I was told pregnancy eventually would. I thought the pain, nausea, vomiting, etc. were just how my body worked, endometriosis was never part of the conversation.

About 15 years ago, I started developing other symptoms as well, such as GI issues, yo-yoing thyroid hormone levels, abnormal ovarian cysts, and malabsorption issues that no provider could fully diagnose. These additional symptoms were weirdly cyclical in a way I could not pinpoint at first, but after multiple tests and procedures – ultrasounds, an MRI, a colonoscopy, tests for parasites and many blood tests – found nothing really wrong with me, I started keeping a detailed diary of my symptoms.

Because I had long accepted the incurable nature of my painful periods, my diary was initially a way for me to keep track of these “other” symptoms, but over time I started to wonder if they actually could be related to my periods. My symptom diary led me to think back about when I first started to feel sick and began to try different herbs and foods as remedies. That took me back 20 years to the first time I felt sick on my period – I was so ill, vomiting so much that I couldn’t leave the bathroom, and I was in pain.

Once I noticed that connection, I began to research with the knowledge that all the symptoms I had outside of my period were way worse during my period – so maybe that was the place of origin. After watching a documentary called Endo What?, I started to suspect I had endometriosis before any provider had a chance to diagnose me.

endometriosis excision post-operation

On February 18, 2019, I had surgery to excise endometriosis. At the same time, my gallbladder was removed, as well as my appendix. My gallbladder was chronically inflamed and functioning at a level of only 3% – only the second lowest level my surgeon had ever seen, and the lowest was 0%. My appendix was scarred and wrapped around behind my colon, where it was attached. Endometriosis was found on my sigmoid colon, cul-de-sac, rectovaginal septum, left and right uterosacral ligaments, left and right pelvic sidewalls, and my right ovary was scarred down with endo and attached to my pelvic sidewall.

Almost every day, I notice myself feeling better. It’s crazy because since my symptoms were so chronic, I had learned to live with them – and with some of the symptoms the truth of their existence occurs to me when I no longer feel them. I am going to pelvic physical therapy to address the dysfunction that is happening in my muscles and nerves after years of pain and symptoms. I’m working on getting stronger through movement. Endo is a chronic, life-long condition, but I am hoping I continue feeling the benefits of excision surgery and other lifestyle modifications. It is possible I will need more treatment later, but I will cross that bridge when I come to it

In the last week, I have also been diagnosed with celiac disease, and I hope that going strictly gluten free will alleviate even more of my symptoms. This is all a process, and I hope that in 6 months, I feel better than I have in many years.

freedom from endometriosisFor so long, women’s health has been focused on fertility, and I think that it’s the truly upsetting thing – that we are only concerned with a woman’s health when it hinders her ability to conceive. Even the stages of endometriosis correspond mostly to fertility – the higher the stage, the more infertility is expected. But the stages do not illustrate how much pain or symptoms are present, nor do they indicate where in the body endometriosis was found.

As women our health is tied to our menstrual cycles and the hormones made by them, but fertility or lack thereof is not the only indication that a cycle has gone awry. And, we need our hormones for more than just reproduction. I read this somewhere and can’t recall where: Would a man ever be told he doesn’t need testosterone until he’s ready to be a father?

As a yoga teacher and someone steeped since childhood in the world of “unconventional” medicine, I often notice anger in those who hear my story. They are frustrated at how long it took for doctors to listen to me and for me to find skilled care. It is true that Western medicine took a long time to diagnose me, but naturopathic, functional medicine did not diagnose me, either. And highly specialized, highly experienced Western medicine has also saved me with endometriosis excision surgery and detection of celiac. There are so many providers out there on both “sides” who want to learn more and want to do good, but the true symptom profile of endometriosis is still unknown to most doctors and patients.

To many, it is still seen as simply painful cramps, and trouble with conceiving. In my body and in the bodies of so many other women, it is much, much more than that.

endometriosis resourcesEndometriosis Resources

  • EndoWhat.org – start with watching the documentary.
  • Nancy’s Nook Endometriosis Education – an online patient community on Facebook. This group is more for research purposes than support, though you will find support as well through education.
  • Greater Seattle Endometriosis Group – also a community on Facebook. They host meetups throughout the year, and have more localized PNW resources than Nancy’s Nook will. I found my pelvic floor physical therapist through this group.

About Endometriosis

(info from Nancy’s Nook, EndoWhat, etc.)

  • Endometriosis – when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus that sheds each month during a period implants itself in places outside of the uterus. It can be found on the ovaries, uterus, uterine ligaments, appendix, bowels, fallopian tubes, lungs, liver, brain, etc. It causes inflammation and pain (though some can have it without any pain).
  • Endo can be found in anyone born with a uterus, and, though rare, has also been found in cis men.
  • Laparoscopic excision surgery is the gold standard of treatment today, and reoccurrence rates are much lower than for ablation
  • Endometriosis is rarely seen on imaging tests, such as ultrasound, MRI, or CT scan. The only way to definitively diagnose and treat endo is with surgery.
  • Excision does not equal ablation – ablation is like burning the top layer, leaving the “root” of the lesion intact. Excision is removing the lesion at the root.
  • It takes an average of 10 years for a person to be diagnosed with endometriosis.
  • Hormonal birth control (includes Lupron, Orlissa, and the Pill) is often prescribed for endometriosis, but its use is now understood by endo specialists to be palliative only. Hormonal birth control does not shrink lesions or make them disappear. If it helps symptoms, that is great, but beyond that it does not treat endo. Lupron and Orlissa often have terrible side effects that do not go away once the medication is stopped.
  • Pregnancy is not a cure for endometriosis. While many people do have a reduction in symptoms while pregnant, that is not true for everyone. And symptoms can come back with a vengeance after pregnancy and breastfeeding are complete.
  • Hysterectomy is not a cure for endometriosis. Endo is a disease that by definition occurs outside of the uterus. Removing the uterus does not remove endometriosis. Removing the ovaries (an oophorectomy) does not cause lesions to shrink either – endo lesions can make their own estrogen, so they do not need the ovaries to persist.

Going to the Doctor – When you think you have endo (but also anything else)

Some of these are my own, some I’ve heard along the way.

  • Make a list of concerns you want to cover, and any questions.
  • Make a separate doctor’s appointment for each concern you have (i.e. don’t tack on a question about possible endometriosis to your yearly check-up – give it its own space.)
  • Be direct and as concise as can be.
  • Practice describing your pain and when you have it. Is it hot? Stabbing? Does it feel like pulling? Does it happen all the time? How long have you had it? Do any movements or positions make it better, or worse?
  • ALWAYS ask for records, and read them. It is much easier to do this right after the office or hospital visit rather than years later. It is in my record from an ER visit in 2011 when I had classic appendicitis symptoms “patient admits she may have overindulged at her wedding two weeks ago.”  
  • At the end of the visit, re-cap what was covered with your doctor, so that you both are on the same page.
  • If the treatment does not work, and you still think that doctor can help you, go back and say the treatment did not work. Or if you find the answer through another provider, share that record with your previous doctor, so they get feedback.

Written by Collective member Lindsey Toledo, a local yoga teacher who lives on Vashon Island. Follow her on Instagram, or stay connected by joining her email list or sending her an email.

MAPS: A Self-Healing Framework

Through my studies in psychology, mindfulness and meditation, Buddhism, Mysticism, diverse spiritualities, metaphysics, and self-compassion I have learned quite a bit about the practices of self-study and internal listening. While there are many methods that we I use with myself and clients to engage in this process of being present with what is in order to heal and rebuild a deeper connection with the heart, one that I feel called to share with you is one that I developed a few years ago. Through my own process of sitting with my heart and the layers of beliefs and feelings that arose, I intuitively found this self-healing method which I call MAPS. It is an acronym to help provide a framework for somatically grounded, heart centered, shadow work and healing, which breaks down into 4 basic steps:

M: Mindfully notice the suffering that is present.

This is the step where we consciously tune into our experience of suffering on a somatic, emotional, and cognitive level with mindfulness. We bring our mindful attention to our bodies and notice the sensations that arise, becoming curious about them. We bring our mindful attention to our emotions and identify the different feelings that are present, being open to them. We bring our mindful attention to our thoughts, and notice the content, pace, flavor, and quality of them without judgement or following them.

A: Allow the feelings to be present.

In this step we take our mindful noticing of our suffering even further by truly accepting what our experience to is by allowing it to be. By letting go of our minds (now that we have noted our thoughts we can release them with gratitude) and allowing the felt experience of our emotions in our heart and body we give space to the shadows to be known and understood by welcoming them into the forefront of our consciousness.

P: Peel back the layers of feelings and beliefs to get to the core of our present suffering.

After we become mindful of our suffering, and allow it to be, we are ready to work with our heart to understand our suffering. With gentleness and compassion ask your emotion what it is believing. An answer will arise, and in this first layer of belief it may be one you are familiar with from your regular conscious experience of this suffering. With all answers that arise, allow them to be. In that allowance of the belief to be seen and heard, another emotional layer will appear in response to it. After allowing the next emotional layer to be present and felt, again ask this feeling layer what it is believing. Again, an answer will arise stating a new belief. This will again be followed by another layer of emotion. With mindful compassion, gentleness, and allowing we continue to peel back the layers of feelings and beliefs until we find the core of our suffering. This is the place of not only the core belief at the root of our suffering, but the core wound that began it. This is something you will intuitively know and feel. There will be a sense of a bottom to it, and you can recognize it often because it revolves around feeling unworthy in some way. This step is the meat of the practice and depending on the shadow we are working with and how hidden it has been from us (i.e. how many layers we need to go though to get to the core), it may go by quickly or take some dedicated sitting time.

S: Soak with self-compassion.

In this final step, after we have identified the core belief at the root of our suffering, it is time for healing this wounded aspect of self with self-compassion. There may be tears, perhaps a lot of them. There may be moaning and/or sounding. There may be the desire to punch a pillow or stomp your feet. There may be exhaustion and silence. In whatever way it is that your heart wants to express this core wounding, allow it. By allowing and witnessing this expression, you begin to release the emotional energy of the suffering, freeing yourself from it. When the expression has come to its completion, you now have the honor and opportunity of becoming your own source of compassion and healing. By placing a hand on our heart with a compassionate touch and speaking to yourself in a compassionate tone, offer yourself the compassion that you need to hear and receive. This could look like acknowledging the suffering, and the pain of this core wound and the core belief that arose from it. It may include offering yourself forgiveness and understanding. It may be the offering of loving words and affirmations to yourself. It may involve the recognition of how this suffering is common to humanity. It may be the declaration of a commitment to more deeply love, accept and protect yourself in the area of this wounding. Listen to your heart for guidance, as it speaks through you and acts as both the source and recipient of your compassion. The heart will let you know what it needs.

When this process feels complete, continue to listen to your heart. What do you need next? How does your self-compassion continue outside of this sitting practice? Whether your heart guides you to make a cup of tea and watch a movie, to take a shower or a bath, to go out into nature, or to call a family member or friend, continue to strengthen your connection to your “heartuition” and deepen your healing and integration process by listening to the wisdom of your own heart.


Written by Alicia Sunflower of Sacred Spiral Healing Arts
Counselor · Medicine Womxn · Artist

Going to PT sucks…and I’m a Physical Therapist

Guys – I’m going to level with you. I hated the thought of going to physical therapy (PT). I hated the idea of having to be someplace at a certain time. I hated the thought of doing something I didn’t want to do, and I hated paying $40 a visit for it. So I didn’t. And I limped around for 1.5 years until I had a “Come to Jesus” talk with a friend and decided I was too young to be limping.

So I got on board, made an appointment, went to a PT that someone recommended to me, and laid it all on the table. She listened to me and let me vent a bit as I gave her my long history of aches and pains. I’m also fairly certain I told her I was going to be a “bad patient”, and then she pointedly asked me, “do you want to get better?” My response was, “I’m here, aren’t I?” (side note: I knew this was the wrong answer, but I couldn’t help myself!)

First rule of PT: if you don’t actually want to be there, you’re not going to get anything out of it.

It was after my first or second session, that I started thinking about the bigger picture – that being someplace physically is not the same as being “all in” and mentally present. That half-assing it wasn’t going to work and I wasn’t going to measure up. So I dug deep and decided I was going to practice what I preached. I was on time for each of my sessions, I worked hard at it, and I got better.

But that’s not really the lesson I’m working on teaching you guys. I’m here to tell you that I know what it’s like to be on the other side; to be a patient and to not want to be there.

My first session was an hour long, spent one-on-one with my PT where she asked me a lot of questions! We spent a good chunk of time going over what brought me there to begin with, how long I had been in pain, and what my goals were for PT. She typed while I talked, and then she took at look at my body; she watched me walk, squat, monitored my movements in my hip and spine, and also measured my strength. After that, she walked me through her findings.

What I loved was that Jen asked if I wanted to be the patient or a PT patient (most PTs are terrible patients!). She took me through the mechanics of what she saw and the plan she would like for me. The most important thing, was that she asked how I felt about that plan and if I had any input that needed to be added. To all you readers out there, this is the most important thing I can teach you:

Find a PT who values your opinion and recognizes that you know your body better than anyone else! The only way you will benefit from PT, is if there is a true partnership between you and your PT.

Being the patient was terrible! I sucked at the exercises – they were all hard and made me feel super klutzy. I knew they were valuable, but man did I break a sweat. Jen chatted with me through all my exercises to keep my mind distracted, but made a point to check in and see how my body was feeling. If I was in pain or uncomfortable, she also made it a point to re-direct my body if it was going haywire and moving of its own volition.

After my first session, I felt rough because my body was tired; but also felt incredibly humbled. Most of us challenge our bodies on a daily basis – 90 min yoga classes in heated rooms, 75 min spin classes, 10 mile obstacle course races, etc; but these itty bitty exercises put all of that to shame. Standing on one leg with your eyes closed on an unstable surface is LEGIT.

Because I’m a terrible patient, I didn’t do nearly as much of my homework as I should have. Once I told Jen that, she tapered my exercises down each week and would say things like “how many exercises are manageable for you this week?” Being able to choose made a big difference in my mental shift from “homework” to “exercise I choose to do”. They were still tough, but I made it a point to do them daily!

I’m not sure that I can pinpoint the exact session when it all clicked, but what I can tell you is this:

When I sat down to write this article, I realized that what I got out of those sessions was more than physical.

Yes my hip got stronger, but so did my mind. I learned that I can always push myself to do “one more rep”, that I can be completely unwavering when it comes to doing a hard exercise. I learned that the mind-body connection is one of the most important connections we have and shouldn’t be undervalued. Lastly, I learned that all of the things I tell my patients are things I truly believe in:

Your attitude can change your pain, sleep matters, and having a good relationship with your PT can be inspiring, insightful, and one of the most powerful agents in helping you achieve your goals. So find one you like!


Sejal Gajarawala is a local physical therapist with 15 years of experience. She believes in a holistic and comprehensive approach – along with manual therapy – leads to a mindful treatment. She can be reached at: sgajarawala@gmail.com

Energy Forms & How to Set Them

Each morning I take healing walks. During my walks I set a series of energy forms that are particularly helpful for keeping us balanced and processing amidst the tremendous social, emotional, spiritual, political, and environmental upheaval and change of our current time.

These forms came from the beings Kwan Yin, Miriam, and Leah (not me), channeled by my long-time mentor Linda Crawford, an empathic healer and therapist in Massachusetts. These forms are equipped to replace the energetic grounding practices many of us have used for decades (rooting into the Earth) when Earth herself is in a state of massive change. These times call for a grounding tool that can be stable amidst massive change and movement. One of these forms is gyroscopic. If you haven’t ever seen a gyroscope look up a video, it’s spinning keeps it steady even when it’s axis tips or it hops to another location.

To set the forms:
I have described a visual of the forms below. Imagine the visual in your mind’s eye, then allow the mode(s) you experience energy to confirm your setting of the forms.  For example you may experience energy in pictures, little movies, energetic/physical sensations, colors, sounds or words, scents, or taste. Visualizing the energy form in your mind’s eye is all you need to set the forms, and don’t be surprised if you get your own sensations that accompany it. I like to set my forms as I walk. It feels important to my process and growth to work at this spiritual level while also moving physically through the world. However, you may find it is much easier to concentrate on setting the forms while in a seated meditation or stillness. Experiment with what works for you.  You could even pair each one with a yoga asana that embodies the energy you feel from it.

Form 1: Pranic Tube/Central Power Core
See/feel/locate a circular column of white light 3” in diameter reaching from the heavens down along your spinal column and down into the core of the earth. At your heart feel a tuning chamber of unconditional love and acceptance, that tunes all this white light/charged pranic life-force energy and sends it out to all parts of your body.

Form 2: Universal Heart Chakra (the gyroscopic form)
Between your heart and solar plexus chakras place a basketball-sized spinning golden ball of light, with a denser band of golden light at its vertical midpoint. Notice that as you move this Universal Heart Chakra stays steady.

Form 3: Labradorite Form
From the crown of your head to the base of your spine (in the same geographic location but on another dimensional level than the Pranic Tube/Central Power Core) set the form of a 4” square column of Labradorite-colored light (think winking greens, blues, golds, and oranges within a base of translucent deep grey). At both the crown and base of the spine a hopper shape flares out from the square column parallel to your shoulders and hips. These hoppers would appear triangular when viewing you from the front or back and have a shallower (4”) side profile. Once the hoppers are set ask to connect your Labradorite form to the Labradorite Net or Web, which has been with Earth since her beginnings and connects you to all those beings working to bring forward the Divine Feminine on Earth throughout all times, levels, dimensions and lifetimes.

Using the Forms:
Now your forms are set! You are ready to do any healing/balancing work you need to through them. To do this I use whatever is up for me at the moment. These forms will help you balance literally EVERYTHING!!! It can be current events, anxiety, shame, anger, gratitude, joy, power dynamics, hopes, I dedicate all that I am working with through these forms.  Even through the INSANITY, massive flux, and chaos of what is happening in the world with the presidency, white supremacy, xenophobia, famine, sexism, and environmental devastation—all very much up in our collective for us to face and heal in heal in humanity and in relationship—I am able to keep my personal balance through the use of these forms.

How to do it:
When you notice a pattern, a thing out of balance, a physical discomfort, or a strong feeling (I dedicate gratitude and joy too, to benefit the collective!)  Say the following:

“I dedicate this _____ to and through the web, for the benefit, blessing, and healing of all beings who may take benefit and blessing from it throughout all times, levels, dimensions and lifetimes for the greater good of all.”

Often my first dedication scratches the first layer of the thing and will start a release of emotion. I continue with what emerges from that layer until I get to the foundation/root of the pattern. After I am done with setting my forms I journal each dedication I made, this helps you to ground the work allows you to grow in your use of the forms and track what you are working with. Much of what needs to be worked through in this current time are distortions of Ignorance, Intolerance, and Power. So, you can add this to the dedication too, starting with:

“I dedicate the ignorance, intolerance, and power related to____to and through the web…”

When you do this work know that you are healing a pattern for yourself and the collective simultaneously. I imagine it as a dual-ended violet flame of healing that burns both inward and outward simultaneously. When something triggers me in the news, I do inner work related to it, for example:

“I dedicate all parts of myself that turn those in need of help away, distance myself from others, or build walls to protect myself to and through the web…”

And I also work with the outward distortions so I am healing both the piece of the pattern I hold personally and part of the collective pattern to ease the balancing and shifting of that pattern in the world.


Written by Leah Nguyen, Artist-Healer and Creator of Planet Paint People.