Spiritual Warriorship and Reiki

“As a spiritual warrior you have not set out to destroy or eliminate any evil and there is in no enemy. There is only what is unconscious, what is in need of your healing presence.”

I love the pairing of spiritual and warriorship. It inherently challenges our understanding of courage and action. In western culture our understanding of warriorship is often brutal and violent. It’s about taking aggressive and dominating actions in order to create so-called positive change. It’s about eliminating enemies by any means necessary to restore peace. Yet as a spiritual warrior the path only leads to surrender and the only mission is to love what is in most need of attention. As a spiritual warrior you have not set out to destroy or eliminate any evil and there is in no enemy. There is only what is unconscious, what is in need of your healing presence.

Spirituality is often misunderstood or misrepresented as purely a means to acquire peace, love, and bliss. When I first began the healing path, it was a bit of a rude awakening. It was absolute chaos. All of my most unwanted and unloved parts started coming up to the surface of consciousness. Past trauma, pain, fear, depression, everything that had been pushed away and avoided at all costs was knocking at my door. I remember going to a mentor in tears, overwhelmed by all the intense energies and emotions asking for help. She said, “Yea… transformation and healing look a lot nicer on paper.”

“When we bring awareness to what is most painful within us, we allow healing to occur. The alchemy of healing resides in our divine, unconditional presence.”

When you embark on a healing journey you find that it has nothing to do with acquiring or controlling or reaching some state of eternal grace. You begin to understand that you cannot acquire peace or love because that is who you are. The spiritual journey is offering your innately divine essence to what is in need of healing, now. You are asked to bring loving presence to what is hurting, confused, scared, and contracted in this moment. When painful emotions arise you go right into it, willingly. You offer your presence, vulnerability and deepest love. You open to what is often avoided. You sit with what is suppressed. You invite acceptance to what is unacceptable. When we bring awareness to what is most painful within us we allow healing to occur. Things begin to move and transmute. The alchemy of healing resides in our divine, unconditional presence.

When discomfort arises our go-to actions are to suppress, resist, avoid. We distract ourselves and push away what is asking for our immediate attention. We believe that this emotional pain is an indication that something is wrong, that this is bad, that we have failed because we are feeling something other than happy. Yet the truth is, when emotional discomfort arises we are being presented with an opportunity. We are offered a chance to be with and integrate what has been unconsciously ostracized and dismissed. When we seize this opportunity in the moment we open a door for transformation to occur. Awareness is the ground of healing.

“Please consider donating any amount you can to my GoFundMe campaign. Help me serve others through Reiki and song. My 30th birthday is on December 23rd and is quickly approaching. You can give me the greatest gift as I step into my next decade.” www.gofundme.com/allisoncaw

Navigating such intense and turbulent emotional waters is by no means easy or pleasant. That is why it is called spiritual warriorship. It asks you to bring forth your innate courage to open to what no one wishes to see and to what nobody wants to admit. It’s about being with truth, indiscriminately. It’s about allowing your self to be whole once again by congealing all your fragmented so-called broken parts with loving-kindness.

As spiritual warriors we are asked to be a champion of surrender, a soldier of peace, a bringer of love and acceptance. This is why I love Reiki and how it offers endless support on the path of spiritual warriorship. Reiki is universal life energy; it is the love from which life grows. Reiki is everywhere and in all things. As the practitioner I serve merely as a channel through which this energy can enter the body and activate our innate biological healing abilities. Essentially, through Reiki, we offer energetic presence to the body so that it may restore balance and wholeness. For me, Reiki is an essential companion on my spiritual path because it provides an expansive but safe container in which I can offer love to my most fearful and unloved parts.

“The truth is nothing is broken, I don’t have control and there is no enemy. Every time I offer Reiki I am reminded of this.”

As you can imagine the practice of Reiki can be challenging to the ego. We like to think that we have control and that we must force healing to occur by getting rid of or correcting what is bad . When we initially think of healers we think of someone doing something in order to make someone “better”. When I first began with Reiki and started my self-healing practice I often was under this impression. I confused healing with aggressive tactics such as correction and elimination. I thought if I could just make my mind shut-up, if I could get rid of this depression, if I could destroy my fear, then I will be healed, then I will have achieved spiritual warriorship.

Reiki subverts and challenges all of these misconceptions. If ever I go into a treatment, whether it’s for myself or another person, with an approach that something must be fixed or eliminated, Reiki keeps me in check. The truth is nothing is broken, I don’t have control and there is no enemy. Every time I offer Reiki I am reminded of this. We are simply here to give loving witness to what is suffering. We are simply here to offer ourselves as channels of unconditional presence. We are simply here to be with what is. When we do this, healing is given to the whole.

The past two and half years I have walked with Reiki and it has been the greatest gift as I’ve navigated my own healing journey. Now as a Second Degree practitioner of the Usui Tradition I am feeling called to offer myself to the community so that I may give back what Reiki has gifted me. I am starting my own Reiki practice. It is a big transition that I’ve realized needs and deserves support. In order to give I must also open myself to receive financial backing to help transform my home into an open Reiki practice and recording studio.

Please consider donating any amount you can to my GoFundMe campaign. My 30th birthday on December 23rd is quickly approaching. You can give me the greatest gift as I step into my next decade. Help me serve others through Reiki and song. Healing takes many forms and each of us are here to bring it forth in our own unique way. However for the benefit of all beings, we must always begin with ourselves. Thank you for being here on this planet in these challenging times. Thank you for what only you can bring into this world. Thank you. www.gofundme.com/allisoncaw

Photo credit: Sienna Pinney

The Creative Process is a Healing One; “_____”, An Opera

Please consider donating to this deeply moving and palpable piece about the creative healing process. View the Indiegogo Campaign for more information. We are down to hours before the deadline!

Off and on for the past year I have been working with Ethelyn Friend and a company of artists on an inimitable piece of art called “_____”, An Opera.  It is an Opera that is improvised, meaning that the music is created on the spot by pianist Gary Grundei and the ensemble of performers every night. To see the performance is to witness the creative process first hand.  In addition to the improvised musical score there are sections of the show called “Windows”, during which the protagonist, the Writer, literally roles a dice deciding by chance the character, the song and the quality with which it will be sung.

The Opera takes place in a small Victorian House, which allows no more than 16 viewers a night. It feels like your very own personal performance. Each audience member is given a small origami box with tiny gifts inside including a bell, a flashlight, ear plugs and a candle along with a special program. Audience members are encouraged to interact and contribute to the performance through the use of their bell and flashlight. They can ring for a moment of stillness, of mindfulness or they can shine a light on whatever they choose.

 

Yet, the truly breathtaking aspect of this show goes beyond its experimentation. The works greatest gift lies in the story itself, based on real events, which reveals the creative process as a healing one. The story is about an artist, a woman, the Writer, who is in the midst of writing an Opera. The audience watches while the Writer discovers her creation as it unfolds. In the vein of Jungian archetypes, the characters she imagines into being are the various aspects of herself. Theres her innocent child-self, her highest self/the all loving and all accepting divinity within, the part that is broken/ostracized/unloved/forced into shadow, the ego maniac, the often blinded and silenced consciousness who bears witness to it all.

Please consider donating to this deeply moving and palpable piece about the creative healing process. View the Indiegogo Campaign for more information. We are down to hours before the deadline!

As the story unfolds The Writer is confronted with the traumatic memory of childhood incest. The story she is writing begins to unearth what has long been buried. At first she is in denial. She tries to “delete” this part of her story. When the characters begin to reveal the truth she tells them “not yet”, in an attempt to prolong the inevitable. For a time the Writer’s tactics of interruption, procrastination, and distraction are successful. However, eventually the truth can no longer be avoided. All her parts begin to coalesce, joining forces and each raising their voices in an attempt to shine light on this shadow. Through her own divine wisdom and fearlessness she opens herself to her full, unedited, unsuppressed story. She finds herself face to face with her buried suffering, looking directly into the  darkest part of herself. She sees for the first time how she has become frozen and stuck, unable to move forward by the unprocessed trauma of her past. She allows the shadow to step into the light and places it in the warm and clear seeing embrace of loving-kindess. She creates space in which her shadowed trauma can be expressed and reborn.

So much of the healing process within the performance is expressed through the voice. With an ensemble or performers steeped in Roy Hart vocal training, the piece expresses the voice as the muscle of the soul and does not shy away from its darkest parts. As the shadow is revealed, the voices of the ensemble sonically convey the messy heights and depths, the lightness and darkness of what it is to be human. An “Aria of Broken Sounds” follows a song exclaiming the intensity and richness of human suffering, “Soul at the White Heat”. The piece travels from gorgeous operatic and sing song tones to the shredded, powerfully raw voices that culturally we are taught to suppress and silence just like our beautiful shadows.

To say that working on this piece has changed my life is not an overstatement. Living inside of this story for over a year and performing it night after night undoubtedly has had an effect on me personally. I imagine the same can be said of my incredible collaborators, although I will not speak for them. Unknowingly at first, and then very clearly, I found myself working with my own shadow, my broken bits that I shove to the side wishing they would go away. Through this process I have begun to viscerally perceive how all my parts, the divine and the painfully ugly have a place within me.

Before each rehearsal and every show we had a routine of reading random excerpts from the works of Pema Chödrön. She reminded us nearly every day that our main challenge in being human is to come to know and befriend ourselves, all parts of ourselves without discrimination. The Roy Hart practice too, teaches of the equanimity of all sounds, the high, the low, the beautiful and the ugly. If all sounds arise from the soul then all sounds must be treated equally. Healing and personal transformation begin with awareness and integration. This is what this piece has been teaching me. And from what our audiences have shared, the piece has offered more than any of us could have ever imagined. I am forever grateful to this creative process and those who bravely led the way on this incredible journey.

While “________”, An Opera is up and running and has had an entirely sold out run, we are still trying to raise funds. Our intention is to continue sharing this deeply moving work with many more audiences beyond this 3 week run. Please consider donating to the Indiegogo campaign. We only have till midnight tonight to reach our goal and we are currently only at 66%.  Thank you and many blessings.

Libretto by Ethelyn Friend, Music live-improvised by Gary Grundei with Ensemble
Directed by Erica Terpening-Romeo
With Allison Caw
Jessica Cerullo
Barrett Ogden

All Photos shot by Siena Pinney

 

Trump Sheds Light on our Collective “Shadow”

“By bringing our shadow into the light of consciousness, we create the potential for transformation and healing to occur.”

In the political chaos, insanity and fear of our current election I’ve been drawn to think of our collective consciousness. What role does Donald Trump play in our collective consciousness, in our collective psychology? He has given rise to people who seem to be driven by hatred, discrimination and violence. People who have felt silenced or pushed to the edge of our society by “political correctness”, have been given a voice and feeling validated by the candidacy of Trump. To me, what seems to be happening is that Trump is at last shedding light on our collective “shadow” and creating the potential for healing.

Continue reading