Stream of Consciousness Blog
By Elizabeth Brinkman Day, Ph.D., CHT
“Give me your tired, your poor/ Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” These iconic words from Emma Lazarus’ 1883 sonnet, “The New Colossus,” gracing the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, are far from actualized in our country. The day before the Statue of Liberty’s inauguration in October 1886, the New York State Woman Suffrage Association met, agreeing that the statue was a symbol of hypocrisy, given that the monument was representing Freedom as a majestic female in a State where women were not yet free to vote.
By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.
As part of Tarka’s “On Death” issue, I have been asked to speak about the approach to death that my tradition, that of shamanic practice, follows. Some of the questions I have been asked to address are: What is death from the perspective of your tradition? What transmigrates, if anything, from the perspective of your tradition? What key text, verse, or poem offers insight or clarity around the experience of death? How has an experience of death in your life informed your teaching? What is a practice that directly addresses our relationship with death? I have tried to address all of these questions in this short exploration of the shamanic worldview regarding death.
In his book about the Australian Aboriginal experience, Voices of the First Day, Robert Lawlor offers a statement regarding Aboriginal views about death which are reflective of a larger, more general shamanic worldview. He says, “Death, in the Aboriginal view, is not a termination or a dislocation from this world to another; rather it is a shift of the center of one’s consciousness to invisible, subjective layers that are substrate to, and involved within, the natural world of mind and matter.”
By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.
The wind is cold and biting. I hear the neighborhood kids playing in the fallen leaves all around the Sacred Stream Center as the late afternoon sun is setting far too quickly. I rarely put the electric lights on in the Sacred Stream Sanctuary, because the room has stained glass windows on the eastern, southern and western sides of the wood paneled space. Throughout the day, I know what time it is by gauging where the light is falling in the room. Now, it is fading fast behind the 100-year-old arched stained glass that engulfs the western wall.
This is the fourth time in the solstice calendar that we have cancelled our quarterly drum circle. We have come together to mark the solstice or equinox since 1995. When the spring equinox circle was cancelled in March of this year, it was jarring to realize that our traditions could so easily be abandoned. Now, with the winter winds, it does not seem surprising at all that anything we may have planned does not occur as we thought it might.
As we look into the darkening nights, we are all facing obscurations on so many levels. The pandemic promises to continue to break infection records. Our political landscape both nationally and internationally is fraught with so much danger. The climate crisis deepens as our fellow creatures continue to withdraw from the earth. Since human time began on earth, the winter solstice season has been a time when people have looked into the yawning darkness and wondered if the light would ever return. We still ask this same question, and its import is multiplied across the many layers of complexity we are facing.
On this episode, Laura is joined by chart-topping traditional folk artists Aryeh Frankfurter and Lisa Lynne to discuss their new album, Harmony House. Lisa and Aryeh are veterans of the music industry with thousands of concerts played and millions of albums sold. They speak with Laura about the inspiration for Harmony House and their secret to longevity in the music industry. Also, Aryeh gives a demonstration of the nyckelharpa – a traditional Swedish instrument that dates back to the 14th Century.
Formerly with Windham Hill Records, Lisa Lynne has sold over one million albums and all of her records have reached the top 20 on the Billboard music charts. Well-known for his own independent releases, Aryeh began playing the violin at age three years old. He has toured with and recorded with artists from a variety of genres, and played concert halls throughout the world. Both Lisa and Aryeh play a wide array of instruments including the celtic harp, nyckelharpa, cittern, bazouki, bandura, mandolin, violin, viola, and cello, just to name a few.
In this video with Isa Gucciardi, you will learn about samatha meditation, which can help you step outside of your usual way of thinking about things. You will learn how to focus on your breath and learn how this can help you bring your mind into a calm, aware state. You will be able to work experientially so that you have an opportunity to try meditating with help and guidance. As you practice meditation, you can develop a broader awareness of yourself and the world around you. You can learn how to focus and concentrate better in your everyday life. This can help reduce anxiety and help you feel better. Developing relaxed focus can also help you solve problems and make decisions with more self-confidence. For more information on meditation, see sacredstream.org.
Have you ever walked into a room and felt a sudden loss of energy? This experience is often difficult to quantify or describe, but anyone who has encountered this problem knows there is something that is creating a difference in their mood. From a shamanic point of view, psychic imprints from events that have occurred in a space can continue to effect events or circumstances there after the original event has occurred. To remedy imbalances caused in this way, shamanic practitioners will clear the space. In this video, Isa Gucciardi describes how to recognize when a space needs clearing, as well as some basic techniques for clearing space. For more information on Applied Shamanism, see sacredstream.org.
Video: Applied Shamanic Healing Practices: Part 2: Techniques that Can Help You Maintain Better Personal Boundaries
Shamanism is an ancient wisdom system that has been practiced around the world in many different cultures and in many different times and places. Shamans are the doctors, mediators, educators, diviners, and ceremonialists of the communities they serve. In this video, Isa Gucciardi explores a common experience that we often do not have words to explain. This is the experience of feeling weighed down by others or the feeling of being drained by someone else. We usually think about these experiences as a problem with personal boundaries if we understand them at all. In shamanic forms of healing, these phenomena are well understood and are described as a process of “soul part exchange.” Isa describes how soul part exchange occurs and how it can be remedied. For more information on Applied Shamanism, see sacredstream.org.
On this episode, Laura Chandler is joined by activist and New York Times bestselling author John Perkins, to speak about his latest book, Touching the Jaguar: Transforming Fear into Action to Change Your Life and the World. They discuss John’s work as an economic consultant and what that taught him about the global economy. Laura and John also talk about his extensive study with shamans from around the world, in particular the Shuar people of Ecuador, and what he learned from them about facing our fears and transforming Death Economies into Life Economies.
Shamanism is an ancient wisdom system that has been practiced around the world in many different cultures and in many different times and places. Shamans are the doctors, mediators, educators, diviners, and ceremonialists of the communities they serve. In this video, Isa Gucciardi describes the causes and symptoms of power loss, an imbalance considered to be at the heart of many forms of mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual illness by many shamanic healers. You will learn how to recognize power loss in yourself and in others, and learn how a shamanic form of healing called power retrieval can help restore vitality. For more information on Applied Shamanism, see sacredstream.org.
By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.
I am sitting in the garden at the Sacred Stream Center as dusk is falling on September 22, the fall equinox. Usually, we would be calling the community together at the fall equinox drum circle, and the garden would be humming with conversation. It is quiet here now. There is just the sound of the bubbling fountains and the calling of the birds enjoying a late afternoon bath.
This is the third season where we have not been able to come together for the drum circles which we have held since the mid-1990’s on every equinox and solstice. In March, at the spring equinox, we were all adapting to the new reality that the coronavirus created as we practiced social distancing. We could not come together to welcome the new season as we have been doing for decades. By June, at the summer solstice, we were hoping that the solstice would mark a new coming together. But a resurgence of coronavirus in California dashed that hope. And now, here at the fall equinox, I am reflecting on the passage of time as we continue to socially distance, fearing yet another predicted resurgence of the virus between now and the winter solstice on December 21.
On this episode, Laura Chandler is in conversation with producer and director, Paul Howard, talking about his latest documentary, Infinite Potential: The Life & Ideas of David Bohm. Bohm was a visionary physicist and explorer of consciousness, who Einstein called his “spiritual son” and the Dalai Lama called his “science guru.” Bohm’s explorations led him to intuit a hidden order to reality––the Quantum Potential––that underlies both the microscopic world of subatomic particles and also the macro world of stars and galaxies. In this episode, Paul and Laura discuss Baum’s early work, his initial rejection by the scientific community, his relationship with spiritual leaders the Dalai Lama and Krishnamurti, and the intersection of science and spirituality demonstrated in Bohm’s life and his work, the hidden-variable theory.
By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.
“We all share an identical need for love, and on the basis of this commonality, it is possible to feel that anybody we meet, in whatever circumstances, is a brother or sister. No matter how new the face or how different the dress or behavior, there is no significant division between us and other people. It is foolish to dwell on external differences because our basic natures are the same.”
-The Dalai Lama
His Holiness, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, is a role model of compassion and courage for millions of people around the world. He has, almost single-handedly, stared down the Chinese government as it has dismantled Tibet and turned it into a Chinese fiefdom. He has done this without ever uttering an unkind word as he has watched thousands of his countrymen and women die at their hands.
His Holiness, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama was born in 1935 in Amdo, Tibet. His birth name was Lhamo Thondup. When he was two, he was recognized through a series of signs as the fourteenth incarnation of the Dalai Lama. He was sent to a monastery where he studied Buddhist philosophy.
In 1958 and 1959, as he was taking his final examinations, the Chinese, who had been in Tibet for several years, overran the country. His Holiness barely escaped. Thousands of other Tibetans were not so lucky. The Chinese killed and tortured thousands of Tibetans and destroyed many of the monasteries that had housed the ancient wisdom of Tibet and Buddhism for centuries. The losses of the Tibetan people were overwhelming.
By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.
When I was 12, I attended a small one-room school in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Most of us were from other countries, and I was one of the few students who spoke English as a first language. There were a few Saudi children, in spite of the fact that girls and boys were not supposed to be educated together.
The story I heard was that the King looked the other way when he heard this rule was being broken because the children there were from influential foreign families. However, when the headmistress admitted a 13-year-old Saudi girl, the King closed down the school overnight. He was furious that a girl was being educated past the age of 12.
I had been told that I would be sent to a boarding school in Lebanon, and I was excited about the prospect. When I arrived for the last day of school, I found two of my classmates crying in the corner of the room. They were both Saudi. I asked them what was happening. They were upset because they had been told they could no longer pursue their studies.
In this talk with the San Francisco Dharma Collective, Isa Gucciardi explores the phenomenon of Spiritual Emergency and learn how to recognize it. She explains how various Buddhist practices can help bring balance for people who are trying to integrate this experience, both within themselves and for those around them.
On this episode, Laura Chandler talks to New York Times bestselling authors Gay Hendricks and Carol Kline about their latest book, Conscious Luck: Eight Secrets to Intentionally Change Your Fortune. Gay and Carol offer a lot with their book—they remind us of things we may have known, and teach us some new things as well. They share their own experiences with creating luck in their lives, and explore what makes luck more than just random chance.