Category: Blog

Blog: Embracing the Feminine

Blog: Embracing the Feminine

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

As I am preparing to return to Menla Retreat in the beautiful Catskill Mountains in Phoenicia, New York to teach Embracing the Sacred Feminine with Robert Thurman, I am struck by the change in public discourse around the feminine experience that has occurred since the last time we taught this class together. With the ascendance of a president who grants permission, through his words and actions, to publicly humiliate women without negative consequence, others have become emboldened to repudiate women’s rights. This repudiation, demonstrated in the U.S. Senate, demonstrated in the struggle for women’s reproductive rights, and demonstrated in the rejection of a woman president can only be a function of a larger misogyny. Misogyny has always been part of the cultural fabric – not only in the U.S., but also in many, many other cultural settings. Yet the current bald demonstration of it at this point in our history is shocking.

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Blog: Coming to Peace Within Yourself

Blog: Coming to Peace Within Yourself

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

In my book, Coming to Peace, I focus on how to resolve conflict in families, communities, and between individuals. Just as important, I also attempt to help people understand the deeper reasons conflicts arise in the first place. Often the causes are far more complex than a simple misunderstanding between people suggests.

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Blog: Psychoactive Plants Part 3: Researching Mystical Experience

Blog: Psychoactive Plants Part 3: Researching Mystical Experience

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

I am very excited about a book reading we have coming up at the Sacred Stream Center on March 9. Listening to Ayahuasca, Rachel Harris’s groundbreaking book on working with the Amazonian plant combination ayahuasca is helpful and eye opening. It deals with the realities of working with plant medicine and offers ways of integrating the experience. Finally, someone with a background in psychology and research takes the journey with you!

Rachel and I sat down over tea to talk about her book and she shared some surprising insights with me. 

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Blog: Psychoactive Plants Part 2: Plant Wisdom

Blog: Psychoactive Plants Part 2: Plant Wisdom

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

In the last post we were exploring the complications that can come out of working with psychoactive plants in the wrong setting. There is so much to understand about the way plants’ biochemistry interacts with our own. I am referring not only to psychoactive plants, but even just plants that we use for food. We could spend a lifetime studying these interactions and never fully understand the deeply magical state of interdependence that scientific investigation reveals about the way we live in relation to plants.

Having worked with hundreds of people who have sought assistance in understanding their experience with psychoactive plants, I can point to some very consistent themes regarding how psychoactive plants work with our psyches.

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Blog: Psychoactive Plants Part 1: Set and Setting

Blog: Psychoactive Plants Part 1: Set and Setting

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

In Ariel Levy’s article “The Drug of Choice in the Age of Kale,” in the September 12, 2016 edition of The New Yorker, she describes her experience as part of a circle of participants who came together to drink ayahuasca tea at an urban yoga studio. Her report is highly informative and not unlike some of the stories people have brought to me after similar gatherings, where people have been inappropriately exposed to others’ uncontrolled experience of parts of their minds they may have never encountered before.

Ayahuasca is a powerful combination of plants that, like other psychoactive plants, can reveal the inner worlds to those who ingest it, sometimes in very surprising and even difficult ways.

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Blog: Space Clearing Part 2: Earth Wisdom

Blog: Space Clearing Part 2: Earth Wisdom

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

In the previous blog post, we talked about removing the imprints of past experiences from a location through the shamanic practice of space clearing. We discussed positive effects of space clearing, such as making a workspace more conducive to the productivity and general well being of the people working there or making a home more attractive to potential buyers.

We also talked about how shamanic processes work outside of time, which makes it possible to help people who died many years ago. Similarly, shamanic processes done in one place can affect events at a distance. This aspect of shamanic practice was at work in a clearing the Sacred Stream Space Clearing Society completed last fall.

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Blog: Space Clearing Part 1: The Energy of Spaces

Blog: Space Clearing Part 1: The Energy of Spaces

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

Have you ever taken a hotel room and, within an hour or so of being in it, find you are grumpy or fearful and you don’t know why? You might say that the space has “bad vibes.” Conversely, maybe you have found that you really enjoy going to a family member’s or friend’s house because you feel happy just being in their home. You might say something like, “The energy feels really good there.” But what does it mean for a space to have good energy? And how does a space get bad vibes?

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Blog: Standing with Standing Rock

Blog: Standing with Standing Rock

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D. and Laura Chandler

The brutality that has occurred at Standing Rock for so many months now reminds us of a history steeped in broken promises, outright lies, theft, and genocide. This is not new, yet it persists in new ways. When indigenous peoples lost their lands over and over again to the insatiable European appetite, a precedent was set; one that held nothing and no one sacred. Now history is repeating itself in North Dakota where the Sioux Nation is making another brave stand in the face of overwhelming force. But this time it is not just the Sioux who have gathered to protest and defend what is sacred.

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Blog: Integrity in the Face of Hate, Separatism, Exclusion

Blog: Integrity in the Face of Hate, Separatism, Exclusion

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

This week has been difficult for many people who are concerned about the resurgence of hate crimes and the general mood of separatism and exclusion that seems to have taken hold across the country. The U.S. is not the only country where this kind of separatism has occurred. The Brexit vote in the United Kingdom was fueled by the same fear and rejection of those who are different. And this is not the only time in history where there has been a strong surge of nationalist ideology driven by hatred of those who are seen as “other.”

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Blog: Healing the Divide: How to Find Our Way Back From Negative Intention

Blog: Healing the Divide: How to Find Our Way Back From Negative Intention

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

For the last year, our psyches have been under attack. Every waking moment of public life has been a bombardment of political partisanship and bellicose assertions. Even those of us who unplug from television and other forms of media have not been immune to it. There has been a general sense of unease and fear in the air and no matter which side of the political aisle you take your seat, you are bound to be feeling some sadness, confusion, or anger as a result of the accumulation of negativity experienced this past year.

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Blog: Ask Isa: Setting Boundaries to Negativity

Blog: Ask Isa: Setting Boundaries to Negativity

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

Question: I would like to know what you think about the idea of people being a mirror to us. For example, if you find yourself irritated by someone who is always crabby with you, are they a mirror to you? Or are you just meeting someone crabby or irritating?

I really appreciate this question. Because so many of us, once we have dedicated ourselves to the goal of becoming more conscious human beings, can find it challenging to discern how to use everyday difficulties as the means for moving toward this goal.

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Blog: Exploring the Unknown: Plants as Guides

Blog: Exploring the Unknown: Plants as Guides

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

In my previous post, I mentioned giving a lecture on shamanic healing to Integrative Medicine students at the University of California, in Berkeley. Many students had questions about the traditional shamanic use of plants that alter the state of consciousness and offer insights beyond an individual’s normal perceptual capacity. These students had ingested such psychotropic plants “recreationally,” and as they tried to integrate their experience into their everyday life, questions had arisen for which the students did not know how to get answers.

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Blog: Exploring the Unknown: Dreams

Blog: Exploring the Unknown: Dreams

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

I have been a guest lecturer in the Integral Medicine class at the University of California at Berkeley every year for the last ten years or so. Sometimes I lecture on alternative therapies like Depth Hypnosis, and sometimes on methods of healing that are found in shamanic cultures. During the past few years’ lectures, the students have really perked up when I have talked about the way in which dreams are viewed in shamanic cultures. The students are always surprised to hear someone actually talk about their dreams as being an important aspect of their experience.

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Blog: Ask Isa: Aging and Radical Self-Acceptance

Blog: Ask Isa: Aging and Radical Self-Acceptance

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

Question: When it comes to maintaining one’s aging body, where is the line between self-love and self-loathing?

I don’t consider maintaining your body an act of self-loathing unless you are doing it in response to some kind of negative view or thinking. You have to look at the motivation behind what you are calling maintenance.

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Blog: The Two Truths: Finding Meaning in Difficult Situations

Blog: The Two Truths: Finding Meaning in Difficult Situations

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

In a recent dinner conversation with friends, the Buddhist concept of the Two Truths came up. In Buddhist philosophy, the Two Truths offers an explanation of the nature of reality. The discussion wound around to how I introduced adapted elements of the Two Truths to students in the Depth Hypnosis Foundation Course. This adaptation is a bit like an overview, making the concept a little easier to grasp and apply in a Western context.

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