Category: Empowered Living

Blog: Reflections on Endurance and Trust at the Summer Solstice

Blog: Reflections on Endurance and Trust at the Summer Solstice

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

As the Shelter in Place order continues to stretch into the foreseeable future here in the Bay Area, the days are stretching longer and longer into the night as we approach the summer solstice. June 21 is the longest day of the year and its night is the shortest night. The solstices and equinoxes are important moments in the Sacred Stream‘s calendar. This is a time where we come together at our quarterly drum circles to honor our relationship to the sun and its relationship to events on the earth. The marking of these moments of the year is a time-honored tradition in many cultures. Bonfires have been lit across the world for millennia in summer solstice celebrations. Native Americans celebrated with fire as well, and the Sioux people have the special initiations of the Sun Dance during this time. One aspect of the Sun Dance initiation involves helping initiates focus on the development of endurance and trust.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we cannot come together in person as we have for every summer solstice since 1995. However, we can still reflect about this moment in time together. Endurance and trust are two qualities that are helpful to reflect upon as we enter into our 16th week of Sheltering in Place here in California during a time of increasing social unrest. This is a time where our capacity to weather difficult and unforeseen circumstances is being challenged as the protests to demand racial justice uniquely highlight the complexities of our situation.

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Blog: Conscious Parenting while Sheltering in Place

Blog: Conscious Parenting while Sheltering in Place

By Joanna Adler, PsyD, CHT

The demands of parenthood have perhaps never been so daunting as they are now during this Shelter in Place. Parents now need to be their children’s teacher, coach, friend, and parent, without assistance or break, while also doing their own jobs, caring for their house, etc. Parenting is already the toughest job there is, but add in the uncertainty and overwhelm of COVID-19, and uninterrupted childcare duties for months with no end in sight, and we have an incredibly tall order.

As a Depth Hypnosis Practitioner and clinical psychologist, I have had the opportunity to counsel many parents over the last months, and as you all probably know, parents are struggling!! The effect of being thrown together 24 hours a day is wearing on even the most skilled of parents.

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Blog: Look for the Blessings

Blog: Look for the Blessings

By Joanna Adler, PsyD, CHT

In Isa Gucciardi’s upcoming book on Tara and the Sacred Feminine, she recounts a story told by the Tibetan Buddhist teacher Bokar Rinpoche about his flight from Chinese occupation in 1959. He was only 18 years old when he had to make the dangerous crossing of the Himalaya mountains with a group of 60 others. Early in the trip, the group asked for a divination from the Tibetan goddess Tara to help them plan their escape. They were told unequivocally they were not to take the easy route, but instead they were to travel over a steep mountain pass where if it snowed, the journey would be quite difficult.

They did indeed encounter a snowstorm, and were told by a group of nomads that they were being pursued closely by Chinese troops as they attempted the high pass. They lost many of their belongings down the mountainside as the pack animals struggled and lost their footing in the deep snow. The snow blinded them, and yet they had no choice but to push on. In the end, they made it safely over the pass and into Nepal.

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Blog: The Importance of Staying Grounded

Blog: The Importance of Staying Grounded

By Judah Pollack

There are stories of Polynesian Wayfinders laying down in the bottom of their boats feeling for a long wave, their backs like a needle to the compass of the ocean. I’ve heard of Inuits in the Arctic finding their way in the midst of a blinding blizzard because they know which direction the snowdrifts form. Similar stories come out of the desert where the San people can orient through a sandstorm because they know the directions of the dunes.

These are stories of people deeply connected to the earth. This state can be rare for modern, digital humans. We hurtle through our landscapes at extraordinary speed. Most of us do not know where on the horizon the sun will set tonight, nor where the moon will rise. Some of us cannot even see the horizon. We rely on GPS to guide us through the streets of our own cities.

We find ourselves cut off from the signs and symbols of the swirling whirl of the earth and cosmos — the very cycles that gave birth to our internal rhythms. When is the last time your bare feet touched the bare earth? In short, we modern humans suffer from a profound lack of grounding, or connection to the earth and its cycles.

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Blog: Liberation through Song: The Activism of Miriam Makeba

Blog: Liberation through Song: The Activism of Miriam Makeba

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

Miriam Makeba is perhaps one of Africa’s most famous musicians. I became aware of her when I was about eight years old. I was growing up near Honolulu as Waikiki was becoming a destination. In the evenings, as the sun was setting, all the hotel bars along the beach had musical shows, many of them right on the beach. Invariably, the person who was supposed to be watching me started having cocktails at about 5 o’clock at one of these bars. This meant I was free to cruise the different hotels along the beach, watching the shows.

Most of the hotels featured hula dancers and Hawaiian music, but one hotel had a band that also played African and Caribbean music. They almost always played Harry Belafonte and Miram Makeba’s recorded music before the live show. I loved the songs they sang together, and I always made a beeline to the beach in front of that bar to hear them in the evenings.

As I got older, I learned more about how Harry Belafonte and Miriam Makeba worked for social justice. I learned that Miriam was famous for her resistance to the social system of apartheid in South Africa. It was through her music that I learned about apartheid, which segregated whites and blacks and kept blacks in poorer, often substandard living conditions. I was appalled to learn about apartheid, and as I followed Miriam’s life, I struggled to understand how it persisted the way it did.

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Blog: Life in the Time of COVID-19

Blog: Life in the Time of COVID-19

By Laura Chandler

I’m fired up! I just read the most myopic “opinion” piece on a well-respected news site and it has me boiling. Not only is the news site prominent, the positioning of this opinion piece was, too. I like opinion pieces. I often learn things when I read them. However, after reading this, I was left feeling irritated and wondering how anyone could find this opinion useful. I am not going to site the article here, simply because I feel when people behave in this way, they are pretty clueless that they are behaving badly, and I don’t want to bash anyone. What I would like to do is point out the significance of focusing on what is important and what we all have to learn. This isn’t going away anytime soon, and we need to develop some tools for coping if we haven’t already.

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Blog: How Integrated Energy Medicine Heals

Blog: How Integrated Energy Medicine Heals

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

Integrated Energy Medicine is the most subtle aspect of Depth Hypnosis, and also one of the most important features of the model. In addition to providing access to information about subtle experience influencing presenting symptoms, it is an important tool in healing.

With Integrated Energy Medicine, fields of light and sound can be focused by practitioners and guides to help clients move through resistance and blocks. These fields are used to support clients working at any level. They are especially helpful for those who are venturing into new and sometimes uncomfortable spaces within themselves for the first time. They can also be used to reconfigure and retrain patterns of experience and behavior arising from the deepest levels of the psyche.

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Article: Breathing through Discomfort: What Yoga Taught me about Depth Hypnosis

Article: Breathing through Discomfort: What Yoga Taught me about Depth Hypnosis

By Denise Colby, Ph.D.

“Yoga saves your life.” It was my trademark phrase around the yoga studio, and what I offered to anyone who asked for my opinion on the practice. In my nearly 20 year engagement with yoga, I’ve found the practice to influence and mirror just about every aspect of life off the mat. Like my relationship to Depth Hypnosis, it started out as a tool I engaged with for a particular purpose and eventually became a way of life. These two practices weave themselves together into a beautiful tapestry of healing and transformation for this very corporeal, very human experience that we are all having. What I have found over the years is that there’s a lot of Depth Hypnosis in yoga, and a whole lot of yoga in Depth Hypnosis. A mindful dedication to this combination of practices creates a powerful vehicle of transformation to support the healing process.

In Depth Hypnosis, we are deeply engaged with the process of encountering ourselves in all of our darkest spaces. The shadow self is bravely and compassionately explored so that we can heal our trauma and unwind the false beliefs and patterns that we have held about ourselves and reality for much of our lives. Depth Hypnosis is a somatic practice that addresses trauma or energetic imbalance through the body itself, ultimately re-wiring our circuitry to bring about understanding and peace in our past and current experience. For those who have suffered bodily trauma or other experiences that have made the body feel like an unsafe place to be, a significant piece of the work of Depth Hypnosis is simply reestablishing safety and connection to the body. This is no small feat.

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Blog: The Inspiring Activism of Rigoberta Menchu

Blog: The Inspiring Activism of Rigoberta Menchu

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

I find inspiration in the stories of people who have seen a need and tried to meet it. Be they healers, activists, politicians, leaders, or every day people who do the right thing in a difficult situation. These are people who stand up to oppression, or try to bring justice to places where none exists. For that reason, I have decided to create this series on Inspiring People.

Rigoberta Menchú Tum is an activist for indigenous rights in Guatemala. She was born to a poor family of K’iche’ Maya descent in rural Guatemala at the beginning of the country’s civil war, which lasted from 1960 to 1996. She became an activist against human rights violations committed by the Guatemalan armed forces during the war.

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Article: Interview: Plant Medicine as a Spiritually Transformative Experience: Challenges to Integration in the Modern Context

Article: Interview: Plant Medicine as a Spiritually Transformative Experience: Challenges to Integration in the Modern Context

ACISTE recently had an opportunity to interview Isa about her views on the use of psychotropic plant medicine for psychological and spiritual transformation. Given the recent resurgence of clinical interest in the use of psychedelics for treating mental health concerns, we hope this two-part (Feb/Mar) interview will encourage therapists and others to further educate themselves about the unique integration needs of those who choose to engage plant medicine for healing and guidance.

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Blog: How Depth Hypnosis Helped Me Become a Better Parent

Blog: How Depth Hypnosis Helped Me Become a Better Parent

By Melanie Robins

When I put my infant daughter onto the bed, my hands could not bear to hold her for one more second. It was as if the hot, bubbling rage ripping through my veins had thrust her from my arms to protect her from getting burned. As she landed on the bed with a giggle, the spell broke and I was slammed back to consciousness. While she thought we were playing an exhilarating game, I knew I needed help.

Regretfully, the story does not end there. I did this more times than I can stomach. As her will came forward, there was more resistance around sleep and more frustration for us both. The constant need since birth for me to participate in her sleep process took its toll. While not every day was horrible, there were some difficult and shameful moments where I blew my top and yelled, slammed doors, and shook with rage.

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Special Announcement: Sacred Stream Listed as a Top Place to Try Shamanism on Head + Heart

Special Announcement: Sacred Stream Listed as a Top Place to Try Shamanism on Head + Heart

We are thrilled that the Sacred Stream has been named one of the top places to explore Shamanic ceremonies in San Francisco by Head + Heart, an online platform that helps connect people with mindful events, experiences and community across the USA and Canada. The Sacred Stream offers classes and training programs in Applied Shamanism, including certification in Applied Shamanic Practice & Plant Medicine Integration. For more information about our classes and training programs, visit our Applied Shamanism website. Here you can find articles, videos, podcasts, and other resources to support you in your study of shamanism.

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Blog: Encountering the Self: My Journey with Depth Hypnosis

Blog: Encountering the Self: My Journey with Depth Hypnosis

By Denise Colby, Ph.D.

The most critical choices I have made in my life have rarely been the ones that were researched, well thought-out, and intentional. At best, I’ve stumbled into them, and many times I’ve been full of resistance and struggle. These have been the watershed moments that could only be seen and understood in retrospect. Only after I’ve witnessed how a single, hesitant “Yes” could totally change the course of my life. There have been a handful of these critical moments, but perhaps the most significant has been my encounter with Depth Hypnosis.

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Blog: Creating a Value System for your Child

Blog: Creating a Value System for your Child

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

When you are a parent, it’s necessary to understand your own value system. As a parent, your responsibility is to guide your child to the best of your ability. One way you can guide them is by knowing what your values are and teaching them to your child by example. If you don’t know what your values are and what values you want to impart to your child, it is important to sit down and figure them out.

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Blog: Compassion, the US Open, and a Blueprint for Saving the World

Blog: Compassion, the US Open, and a Blueprint for Saving the World

By Laura Chandler

Something remarkable happened at the US Open this year when Naomi Osaka (currently ranked #1 in the world in women’s tennis) defeated 15-year-old tennis sensation, Coco Gauff in the third round. Naomi consoled a crying Coco on the sidelines. She told her it was alright to cry, then invited her to stay and join her for the post-match on court interview where she praised Coco for her talent. This display of sportsmanship was not only kind; it illustrated something even more significant about human nature and our ability to be strong and compassionate, simultaneously.

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