How to Rescue a Butterfly

butterflies[This post was inspired by a recent dream.]

In my dream, I was traveling with two women somewhere out in nature, we could have been in Yellowstone National Park. We paused at one of the turn-outs to take in the beauty and get some fresh air. I looked over the concrete barrier down towards a tranquil stream. I noticed a gigantic (I don’t just mean huge, I mean, larger than your face) butterfly beating its wings frantically, but going nowhere.

I mentioned this to my two friends – “Look, there’s a butterfly trapped down there! Somehow the tip of its wing is stuck under one of the rocks. We need to save it!” I briefly discussed with the friend to my right how it’s even possible for a butterfly to get a rock stuck on its wing. We came to the conclusion that the swift moving water, and the series of rapids was probably enough momentum to dislodge a rock, and the butterfly just happened to be flying low enough in the exact moment the rock stopped moving to get trapped.

I turned to ask the friend on my left what she thought, and saw that she had climbed over the concrete barrier, and was bouncing down the embankment to the stream. I watched her jump across boulders to rescue this large and precious butterfly. She carefully picked up the rock and the butterfly graciously and gratefully flew away.

But what does it mean?
When I woke up after this dream, I was overcome with emotion. Oftentimes I associate myself with the symbolism of a butterfly, and I felt grateful that at times when I feel low, I have friends who are willing to rescue me. Sometimes removing a rock or a burden can happen in an instant – a positive conversation or a heartfelt hug. For me, personally, lately the ‘rescuing of the butterfly’ has come in the form of validation, acceptance, support, and encouragement from those who have often seen more in me than I was currently seeing in myself.

The symbolism of the dream seemed pretty obvious – hey, we should be grateful to our friends who are willing to help ease our burdens, who remind us that we ought to be free to fly… who can see us in our time of need, and rescue us – even if it’s just reminding us that if we keep beating our wings against the rock, we could cause serious injury. (Believe me, I could go on and on with different interpretations of the meaning behind this dream… but I won’t because if you are reading this, you are capable of doing that yourself.)

But what does it REALLY mean?
Now, you might think that’s a sweet little story, kinda cute, and maybe even a little bit cliche – but it doesn’t end there. A few days later, I was thinking about this dream, and I wondered why I didn’t go rescue the butterfly. In the dream, I was always sitting… sitting in between these two friends. And guess what – I was paralyzed from the waist down. I couldn’t move. I could not have gotten up, crawled over the barrier, down the embankment, etc. because I WAS THE TRAPPED BUTTERFLY.

The dream took on a new level of meaning for me. I couldn’t have saved that butterfly! In fact, the true significance of the message was to recognize that the butterfly (me) needed saving! But, from what? I stopped to ponder why I felt trapped, what was weighing so heavy on me?

And this is where things got really interesting for me.

I was feeling weighed down by my attachment to the outcome of certain situations. I felt heavy and burdened because I was buying into the idea that I needed to do it all, be everything to everyone, be the leader, and the drill sergeant, and the hall monitor. I was willingly dragging other people’s burdens behind me like a bag of rocks and I hadn’t been able to see what it was doing to my Spirit.

Was I really trapped? Did I really need anyone else to SAVE me? Nope. Not at all. Through my dream I was revealing a truth to myself – that I needed to release myself from my own attachments to just about everything… everything that is not in my control to influence, persuade, convince, affect, change… And as I applied this new insight to my life, I instantly felt lighter – free to fly.

What weighs YOU down?
And now I ask you – what weighs you down? What keeps you feeling trapped, stuck, heavy? In what ways do you perceive you need to be rescued, when what you might need is simply a paradigm shift?

by Janet Louise Stephenson

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An Acupuncturist’s View of the Human Body



Joe Siuda

As is the human body, so is the cosmic body
As is the human mind, so is the cosmic mind.
As is the microcosm, so is the macrocosm.
As is the atom, so is the universe.
– The Upanishads.

It’s been said that what you focus your attention on expands, deepens, and amplifies. That has certainly been true of my experience of the body when I was introduced to a different viewpoint of what it was through my years as a practitioner of acupuncture and Chinese medicine.

Let’s look at the skeleton. The bones of our body give us structural support and allow us to move. As a child and young adult I was dimly aware of this if I thought about it at all. The long bones of the body were like pieces of rebar to me, no more alive than a rock. In physical anthropology we studied bones more in depth. Age, sex, ancestry and other characteristics of a person are all “written” in the bones and can be decoded by the anthropologist. Bones were alive, constantly reshaping themselves to external forces. A runner’s shin bone may look elliptical in cross-section, whereas the shin bone of a walker may be more cylindrical. Bones are piezo- electric. An electrical current passes through the bone when stress is placed on it, signaling the body to fortify areas of stress. If bone is so responsive and malleable, how much more so is soft tissue? As an intern I was amazed at how much “empty space” I encountered while needling patients where needles could pass right through.

Acupuncturists deal with the body’s electrical system on a daily basis. Nerves signal electrically. While the experience of pain and suffering is subjective and difficult to gauge, the pain signal can be measured in millivolts. Acupuncture meridians have an electrical component and a commonly used handheld locator/stimulator measures the electrical resistance of the skin. Acupuncture points are thought to have lower electrical resistance with “active” points (points in need of treatment) having less resistance still. Acupuncture points with the lowest resistance are often treated electrically, especially on the ear. Electro-acupuncture on the body has long been used to override pain sensations and promote healing. Points are sometimes treated with light (laser and LED) and sound (tuning forks). The ability to treat humans with light and sound as well as electricity implies that we are beings of frequency.

Ancient Chinese saw the body as a microcosm of nature and the universe. This is similar to the western hermetic concept of “As Above, So Below” and arguably the biblical “On Earth as it is in Heaven”. Acupuncture meridians connect every part of the body to every other part, not just on the surface as shown on acupuncture charts but internally as well, much like waterways traverse the planet. Specific areas on the limbs are classified well, spring, stream or river points. Organ functions were understood metaphorically to be an interaction of five elements: Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, and Metal. Climactic factors such as heat, or wind were known to have a direct impact on health and also had internal counterparts. For example a patient’s experience of arthritis might be seen as a pattern of wind, cold and dampness.

Not only is the body seen as the universe in miniature but different body parts are used as an image of the body in miniature. “Microsystems” are where ancient philosophy and quantum physics meet. In reflexology, the foot is often used to represent and treat the whole body. Acupuncturists are often taught an ear micro-system where the ear is imaged as an upside down human form in fetal position with the center of the lobe area corresponding to the eye. Theoretically any body part may be used as a micro-system but some systems are more intuitive than others and/or more clinically effective. The body seems to exhibit holographic and fractal properties and acupuncture points often demonstrate powerful non-local effects.

Do you have a health problem? Don’t get too attached, as it might not be yours. It may be changed through the application of something as immaterial as light, sound, electricity or magnetism. Moreover YOU might not be there at all. If our body exhibits holographic properties, what does that tell us about the macrocosm and our influence on it? Being the change we wish to see in the world may be more profound than being an elevated drop in a collective ocean or even the ripple effect. The whole universe is within you.

by Joe Siuda

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Suicide Questions

live-and-let-liveTragedy struck close to home this week with the painful announcement that a family member of a close friend had committed suicide. At times like these, being empathic feels more like a curse than a blessing. I feel acutely the agony of those he left behind — his wife, his daughters, his parents, and all those who loved him. In their struggle to understand the journey that led him to make this fateful choice, they lean on their faith, which is now amplified by the hope of forgiveness, redemption, and a merciful God.

I want so badly to tap them on the shoulder and politely interrupt their mourning to ask them if they would like some insight into this man.
I wonder if it would provide relief or more turmoil for them to know that their beloved did not share the family’s religious views; that he only pretended to because it was easier for him than facing their condemnation. I wonder if the slightest bit of Unconditional Love — the kind that is not predicated on the fulfillment of a pre-defined role or maintaining a certain set of religious standards — might have given him hope to continue living.

Though his family ponders why he would choose to take his own life, I do not. I understand very clearly the depths of his despair. The fear of his family’s alienation kept him trapped.  He spent his whole life struggling to reconcile the glimpses of his inner knowing with the doctrine that was shoved down his throat. He was expected to swallow every bit of the dogma whether he enjoyed it or not, with no consideration for his own personal preferences.
Yes, I understand the torment of a deeply spiritual man who never felt free enough to explore outside of ‘the box’. I do, however, have an entirely different set of questions:

·    How often within the family unit, does one member suffer silently, fearing the judgment and persecution of those  who claim to love her/him the most?
·    When did our culture start withdrawing love and acceptance as a means of punishing the dissenters?
·    Why is the fear of disapproval so much stronger than the courage it takes to trust our own feelings?
·    Why should anyone feel the need to hide their true self? Especially from their loved ones?
·    Do parents and family members understand how damning their condescension and criticism feels? Do they care?
·    Why does it take something as drastic as a suicide for others to consider an alternate, compassionate approach?
·    Is it possible to prevent others from making a similar choice?
·    What would it take?

When I look at this situation, my heart aches for every person who is affected by his death. The loss of a father, son, brother, and friend is tremendous — and when you add the weight of confusion and guilt, the burden may be quite difficult to bear. We can all stand to learn from their experience.

If you recognize yourself as one who is trapped, I am grateful you are reading this. You need to know that you are not alone. Your thoughts and ideas have a basis outside of the limited trappings of religion and you are valued for your uniqueness. There are others who deeply empathize with you and are willing to offer you encouragement and support as you build up courage to acknowledge your truth.

And for the rest of us — we can do more to reach out to those who feel isolated within their own circle of family and friends. Let us extend unconditional love and acceptance to everyone. I invite you to co-create an environment of safety and trust, so that our friends and family members have full confidence they can explore their own questions without fear of condemnation or any kind of repercussion.

by Janet Louise Stephenson

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Looking Within To Find Your Spiritual Direction

inspirational quotes clipart 5Growing up, most of us were told to pay attention, some of us (ahem) probably more than others. What our parents, teachers, relatives or others meant was to pay attention to what we were being told. But no one ever told me to pay attention to myself by listening to the voice inside of me. Don’t get me wrong, listening to others can be fine, because we can learn a lot from their experiences, however nothing beats the little voice when we want information unique to us.

I never knew the voice inside of me even mattered. For a long time I just thought it was my imagination working overtime. I began to realize however, that the messages I was receiving were almost always right. That’s when I started to understand there might be more to it than just imagination and there were more ways to get information than just externally.

To quote a line from one of my favorite movies, Peaceful Warrior, “ I want you to stop gathering information from outside yourself and start gathering it from the inside. It’s the only way people can find the real answers they are looking for.”

I believe the real answers in our lives are found by looking inside of ourselves. The mind is great for the everyday, mundane things. Does the yard need mowing? Do I need to go to the grocery store? But if you want to know why you’re here on earth, or why you’re stopped in some area of your life, the mind can’t help you. Because what’s in your mind has been put there by you or others, (parents, teachers, relatives, television, etc.) and that never seems to include deeper spiritual meaning that is unique to you. To find answers that no one else has for you, you have to look to your heart, the inner voice.

What is the inner voice? Have you ever had a strong feeling about something? A premonition? A little voice, if you will, telling you to do or not to do something. How often has it turned out to be right? Following that voice is following your heart and sometimes it’s in opposition to what your mind is telling you to do.

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Welcome to Questioning The

awakeningWhat exactly does “questioning the truth” mean?  It’s another way of saying, “question everything.” Most everyone already questions things they either don’t know or don’t understand, but they rarely question what they already believe to be the truth. Why? Because it’s something they already know for sure; so why mess with it? But whether you realize it or not, truth is always changing.

If you think about it, I’m sure there are things you believed days, weeks, months or even years ago, that you no longer believe to be true today. Some of those truths may have really been entrenched in stone and thought were absolutely unchangeable, but suddenly with nothing more than a little new information, your belief changed. New information or understanding may have made you to look at something in a new light and caused your beliefs to change, transforming them into new versions of the truth. At the same time, those same truths that are rock-solid for you may not be true for someone else.

Where did these beliefs come from that we sometimes hang onto so strongly that we will argue their case, often in the light of evidence to the contrary? In other words, how did these beliefs get into our minds to start with? The list is long: parents, teachers, books, mentors, pastors and television are only some of the ways. Oh and don’t forget blogs!

Everyone wants to tell you what to think and what to believe. That’s not my goal. My purpose is not necessarily to get others to think like me or believe what I believe. I just want to stimulate people to question everything, even what they believe is the truth. Since we know that truth can change, the question is, “Is there a limit to the beliefs that can be challenged?” If you think that the answer to that question is no, then I ask, “What else do you know to be true that possibly isn’t?”

Start questioning everything today, because the clock is always running. Or is it?

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