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Have You Ever Woken Up In The Middle of Night Paralyzed? You’re Not Alone

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How many of you have ever woken up unable to speak or move? If you have, you are not alone.

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This phenomenon is called sleep paralysis. It may last a few seconds, several moments, or much longer, and usually occurs right before you are about to fall asleep or wake up. Many people report feeling a “presence” that is often described as malevolent, threatening, or evil, and often feel terrified while it’s happening.

The presence can be seen, felt, and even heard. People also report unique experiences like the sensation of floating or being outside the body. They believe the phenomenon to be an extremely spiritual one.

In the modern medical world, these experiences are defined as hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations (0), which is often the explanation when modern views of spiritual experience are combined with medical ideas that label them as psycho-pathological. It is well understood that sleep paralysis coincides with physiological mechanisms in the brain, but the strange feelings individuals have when experiencing sleep paralysis are still puzzling to scientists. The idea of spiritual experience as an explanation for a bizarre and complex phenomenon has been suppressed, thus discouraging discussion of it in modern society. (1)

“Beginning in college and graduate school I was particularly interested in the beliefs of ordinary people, especially the ones that were treated as nonsense in the academic world. The academic world treats spiritual belief in general that way. I was interested in alternative medicine at the same time for the same reason. Right from the beginning I was convinced that ordinary people are smarter, are more sensible than they’re given credit for by scholars, and that traditions that are widespread and deeply held probably have more rational basis, and more observation built into them than the theories that I was taught in graduate school. I couldn’t believe that all the beliefs of ordinary people that are not part of the academic worldview were nonsense. I have the impression that the academic world might be a little too narrow, and that regular people might have something to offer about it (sleep paralysis) through their experience and what they believed about things. There are beliefs that are based on experience that have been dismissed as superstitious beliefs that bear much more investigation, these are experiences that are built into the spiritual traditions all over the world. In the modern western world, for at least the past one hundred years, these phenomena have been explained on the basis of psychopathology. So the discovery that those experiences are common and that they occur among ‘normal’ people, that they are not in fact indicative of any type of disease, has tremendous importance for medicine. This isn’t a new phenomenon, we erased the knowledge of these experiences from the cultural repertoire.”

– Dr. David J. Hufford, Ph.D, Professor Emeritus, Penn State Medical School (1)

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Almost all scientific approaches to sleep paralysis assume that the experiences it causes are hallucinations and dismiss any other theories. Just because there are measured biological and chemical activities occurring during sleep paralysis does not mean there is a causal relationship between the two. There are other things we must take into consideration and, as quantum science is showing us, there are definitely worlds within our world that we are not yet able to perceive easily. There is definitely a non-physical aspect to science in general that we are just beginning to wake up to.

“The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence.”

– Nikola Tesla

Spiritual Experience

Modern scholars have found spirit and spirituality difficult to define and, as mentioned earlier, usually place these topics within the circle of ridicule amongst the scientific community. Many reading this probably have a good idea of the terms that fit under the umbrella of “spirit” or “spiritual.” They involve out-of-body experiences, visits from entities not of this world, near-death experiences, frequency, vibration, and more.

It’s important to realize that many experiences people have within the “spiritual” realm occur when they are fully conscious, awake, and alert, and not during what sleep researchers call sleep paralysis. It’s quite possible that our level of scientific understanding is not advanced enough to explain certain phenomena, so sometimes they are grouped into the category of hallucinations, even though they are simply things we do not understand and cannot yet explain scientifically.

At the same time, some of what people experience during sleep paralysis could very well be hallucinatory, although I don’t believe this to be the case. I am very open to the idea that what is experienced for some during “sleep paralysis” is indeed intertwined with the true nature of reality — a reality we clearly do not yet fully understand. The point is we don’t know for sure, and for the scientific community to assume and label them as definite hallucinations and as a figment of the imagination is limiting.

Scientific evidence for out-of-body phenomena is sorely lacking, but it’s difficult to add to this body of research when so much of it is suppressed. I’m referring to developments within the world that are classified for the sake of national security. Recent leaks from the NSA were responsible for the very first public disclosure of a black budget, and the Canadian government was recently outed for muzzling scientists. (2)  This coincides with the remote viewing experiments that involved the intelligence community and Stanford University, among others. (3)(4)

Yet there is some science and official research behind these types of phenomena, though it lies within the hands of the intelligence community and remains highly classified, as with the experiments conducted at Stanford University. Among the varied hallucinations associated with sleep paralysis, out-of-body experiences and vestibular motor sensations represent a distinct factor. (5) Remote viewing is the ability of individuals to describe a remote geographical location up to several hundred thousand kilometres away. This phenomenon has been proven time and time again, and shortly after its publication the program was shut down by the Department of Defense.

We have many examples of phenomena that would fit under the “spiritual” umbrella, and who are we to say that sleep paralysis experiences are imagined? Sometimes, ideas and concepts can be a threat to power, to control, and to the overall perception humanity has of reality as a collective. If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. If the planet changed the way it looked at sleep paralysis and other inexplicable occurrences, surely this would contribute to one of the biggest paradigm shifts the planet has ever seen, and this is exactly what is continuing to unfold on planet Earth today.

Remote viewing can be defined in multiple ways. It’s the ability of individuals to describe a remote geographical location up to several hundred thousand kilometres away (even more) from their physical location. – See more at: http://www.collective-evolution.com/2013/08/08/shocking-discoveries-made-studies-confirm-the-reality-of-remote-viewing/#sthash.L5wdaoUm.dpuf
Remote viewing can be defined in multiple ways. It’s the ability of individuals to describe a remote geographical location up to several hundred thousand kilometres away (even more) from their physical location. – See more at: http://www.collective-evolution.com/2013/08/08/shocking-discoveries-made-studies-confirm-the-reality-of-remote-viewing/#sthash.L5wdaoUm.dpuf
Remote viewing can be defined in multiple ways. It’s the ability of individuals to describe a remote geographical location up to several hundred thousand kilometres away (even more) from their physical location. – See more at: http://www.collective-evolution.com/2013/08/08/shocking-discoveries-made-studies-confirm-the-reality-of-remote-viewing/#sthash.L5wdaoUm.dpuf
Remote viewing can be defined in multiple ways. It’s the ability of individuals to describe a remote geographical location up to several hundred thousand kilometres away (even more) from their physical location. – See more at: http://www.collective-evolution.com/2013/08/08/shocking-discoveries-made-studies-confirm-the-reality-of-remote-viewing/#sthash.L5wdaoUm.dpuf
Remote viewing can be defined in multiple ways. It’s the ability of individuals to describe a remote geographical location up to several hundred thousand kilometres away (even more) from their physical location. – See more at: http://www.collective-evolution.com/2013/08/08/shocking-discoveries-made-studies-confirm-the-reality-of-remote-viewing/#sthash.L5wdaoUm.dpuf

“The ridicule of these phenomena is a level of social control. Scholars, academics and elite intellectuals in general constantly describe these things as, if not indicative of insanity, them being primitive, and being the product of a lack of education. These concepts in the realm of anthropology and history are taken to be the product of imagination.”

– Dr. David J Hufford (1)

My Experience With Sleep Paralysis

When I was a child, I remember having a number of lucid dreams. They seemed so real and I felt completely conscious during the experience. I was able to do whatever I desired while dreaming. My first experience with sleep paralysis didn’t occur until I was a little bit older. The very first time it happened, I remember suddenly waking up from a loud bang, a bright flash of light (although my eyes were closed), and a loud ringing in my ears. I could open my eyes, but I couldn’t move my body. It was almost as if my brain was awake but my body was still sleeping. I was terrified, and the reason I didn’t open my eyes is because I felt the presence of two beings on my left side, and two beings on my right side, and I didn’t want to see. I have no idea if they were real or not, or if I was simply dreaming..

Keep in mind that experiences like this can occur when people are totally conscious, driving down the street, going about their everyday lives. Many people have totally conscious experiences with things that seem to be beyond our understanding, and they are not paralyzed or asleep. I have also had bizarre experiences while conscious, which might contribute to my bias on this subject. I do believe that what people experience during sleep paralysis is more than just a trick of the mind. This particular experience I had during sleep lasted approximately five minutes, until I totally regained consciousness.

On another occasion, I again woke up in the middle of the night. I could open my eyes and I was totally aware of my surroundings. I was on the road in a hotel room by myself, I could see the TV, I could see the lamp in the corner of the room as well as the chair. I could not turn my head but I could look around. Although my eyes felt heavy, I could still open them. I couldn’t move and was pretty scared, and I remember thinking, “not again, why is this happening to me.” I saw a dark, shadowy figure come through the window that seemed to be about five feet tall. I was on the left side of the bed and the window was in the right corner of the room. It came across the room and across the foot of my bed to the left side of my head. It put its mouth up to my ear and started to whisper rapidly. I could not understand what it was saying, but it was whispering extremely fast.

I had a few other experiences after that which were pretty scary, and I started to desire more because I realized that although I couldn’t move, my consciousness was still there. I was still awake, alert, and able to perceive the environment around me. The next time it happened, I assured myself that I would not react in fear, and that I would instead embrace the experience and try to “play” with it, explore, and use this state of consciousness for further discovery about a potential world we are not usually able to experience. The next time it happened, I reminded myself to stay calm, enjoy it, and see what happens; this time I actually wanted to communicate with whatever I perceived to be there. When I did this, nothing presented itself. I still couldn’t move, but didn’t try to jolt myself out of it. I tried to float out of my body and was successful. I fully floated out of my body, but could only go so far, about one meter. I tried to go further but it was as if I was still attached to my body. This was a very cool experience, but unfortunately, after making the decision to try to manipulate the situation, the experience ended and I never had it again.

These type of occurrences are definitely intriguing, and nobody, including scientists, should dismiss the experience one has during sleep paralysis as illusory. The scientific community should be comfortable in a place of neutrality, instead of characterizing something as false without sufficient evidence to back up the claim. There is no need for ridicule. I hope I’ve provided enough information within the article, as well as adequate sources, for you to further your research if interested.

If you have experienced this phenomenon, I’d love for you to share your experiences within the comments section. Thanks for reading.

Sources:

http://tps.sagepub.com/content/42/1/11.abstract

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15881267

(5)http://www.newdualism.org/nde-papers/Cheyne/Cheyne-Cortex_2009-45-201-215-1.pdf

http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/pastoral/sites/Hufford_Spiral.pdf

(0)http://arts.uwaterloo.ca/~acheyne/S_P2.html

(2)http://o.canada.com/2013/09/22/new-york-times-criticizes-harper-governments-alleged-muzzling-of-scientists/

(3)http://www.princeton.edu/~pear/pdfs/1979-precognitive-remote-viewing-stanford.pdf#sthash.LJSMW1Ny.dpuf

(4)http://www.irva.org/library/pdfs/puthoff2001cia.pdf

(1) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qhS_47BqoY

http://www.princeton.edu/~pear/pdfs/1979-precognitive-remote-viewing-stanford.pdf#sthash.LJSMW1Ny.dpuf

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Full Moon In Gemini: Learning, Healing, & Inspired Action

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We are having a Full Moon in Gemini on December 11th-12th, depending on your location. This is the peak of the Lunar cycle that began with a New Moon in Sagittarius on November 26th. The energies of the Full Moon are strongest in the days surrounding it yet its astrological configurations still play a part over the following two weeks. You may also start to see its themes build up following the New Moon prior to it.

Interestingly this Full Moon occurs on 12/12 for most of the world and at 12:12am in the EST time zone. The year 2019 adds to 12 as well (2+0+1+9= 12). This can be interpreted in different ways, however, the thing that I would like to point out is that 12 is associated with completion and astrologically with Pisces which is the final and 12th sign.

This is not only the last Full Moon (and complete lunar cycle) of the year but the last one of the decade. In the Universal time zone it will be occurring at 5:12am, with the number being associated with change. This Full Moon will be followed by eclipses that are ushering in the new decade which also fits with this 5-12 energy.

Full Moon’s are a period in which we feel a push-pull between two opposing signs, in this case being the Moon in Gemini and Sun in Sagittarius. It can play out as either a conflict, integration, or some sort of dynamic playing out between the energies of both signs.

We can feel this opposition happening individually within us and/or we can also experience it play out around us with some people (or circumstances) expressing the Sagittarius side and others expressing the Gemini side. In some cases, Full Moon’s can also reflect/trigger some sort of change which may apply more in this case when considering some of the other factors mentioned in this article.

Gemini is a Mercury ruled Air sign with a strong mental orientation. It is communicative, articulate, informative, social, inquisitive, clever, multifaceted, versatile, witty, agile, and dualistic. This sign is also associated with the immediate environment, the neighbourhood, siblings, commuting, reading, audiobooks/podcasts, mail, and writing. Negatively, Gemini energy can be scattered, superficial, gossipy, inconsistent, two faced, and lack emotion.

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Sagittarius is a Jupiter ruled Fire sign motivated by passion, exploration, and beliefs. It is broadminded, freedom loving, philosophical, optimistic, visionary, expansive, aspiring, risk taking, and big picture oriented. This sign is also associated with higher education, media, sales/marketing, religion, morals,  travel, foreign lands, and other international matters or pursuits. Negatively, Sagittarius energy can be unrealistic, pretentious, judgemental, excessive, blunt, preachy, and have a hard time comprehending limitations.

Both of these signs within this polarity are about learning and communicating what they know. The difference between them is that Gemini leans more towards sharing/learning knowledge from a variety of sources while Sagittarius leans more towards developing its own perspective based on the synthesis of what has been learned and experienced. Gemini can also be more factual in comparison to the idealistic Sagittarian energy.

Full Moon Square Neptune & Quincunx Venus-Saturn-Pluto Conjunction

This Full Moon is separating from a square with Neptune which is strongest in the day leading up to it. This can be good for creative, spiritual, compassionate activities especially if they are linked  to the Gemini-Sagittarius themes mentioned above. However, this can also reflect confusion, impracticality, delusion, escapism, and unreliability.

Venus is separating from a tight conjunction with Saturn and moving towards Pluto at the time of this Full Moon. In the days leading up to this, there could have been more serious or restrictive energy around Venus ruled areas of love, friendship, money, values, or pleasures.

Perhaps a need to be more disciplined, responsible, committed, restraining, or realistic could be a theme. Obstacles, limitations, cautiousness, or endings may have also come up. This can be good for stabilizing, solidifying, building, or taking a mature approach towards things pertaining to Venus.

Pluto in the mix can add more heaviness to this energy. However, Venus makes its conjunction to Pluto in the following two days, after its interaction with Saturn. The themes mentioned above may be followed by or combined with intensity, passion, obsession, secrets, empowerment, evolution, transformation, or even some sort of purging and release. This can also be a period of revealing or getting clear around Venus issues.

This Full Moon is in a quincunx aspect to this Saturn-Venus-Pluto conjunction. This can create a disconnect between these issues (mentioned in the last two paragraphs) and our feelings or other things going on in our lives. This can also reflect challenges and irritations which may  require adjustments.

Jupiter Newly in Capricorn Trine Uranus in Taurus

On December 2nd, Jupiter entered Capricorn and will stay there for the next year. It joins Saturn, Pluto, and the South Node in which it will be making conjunctions within 2020. Overall, Jupiter in this sign connecting to these planets can be good for different types of growth around worldly goals, ambitions, structures, and towards building anything with the long term in mind. It can also bring some endings around these things as well.

Jupiter forms a trine with Uranus in Taurus which is strongest from this Full Moon until the following week with it peaking on December 15th. This can be good for learning or expansiveness towards something new, unusual, unconventional, technological, metaphysical, scientific, or perhaps even revolutionary.

It can also be connected to beliefs, travel, and other types of exploration. For some people it can manifest as sudden luck or bring some sort of freedom. Considering that this aspect is occurring in Earth signs, it can play out around material, physical, financial, or practical matters.

Mars Trine Neptune, Sextile Saturn, Pluto

Mars in Scorpio is in a trine with Neptune in Pisces in the day leading up to, and few days following, this Full Moon. This can reflect actions that are inspired, creative, spiritual, imaginative, or compassionate. Activities or efforts involving art or water may also be a theme. For some people it can be magical on a sexual level, however this also depends on how the Venus-Saturn-Pluto aspect (mentioned earlier) is playing out which can bring some heaviness to relationships in some cases.

Mars then moves towards a sextile to Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn which peaks from December 17th to 23rd. This is good for applying ourselves in a way that is practical, realistic, responsible, thorough, stable, focused, tangible, or purposeful. Efforts towards bringing more structure or building towards something may be a theme. This can help us to be more focused, overcome obstacles, making productive changes, and uncovering things to assist us in making progress.

Eclipse Season is Approaching with Neptune, Chiron, and Uranus in Transition

In the two weeks after this Full Moon we will have a Solar Eclipse in Capricorn on December 25th/26th followed by a Lunar Eclipse in Cancer on January 10th/11th. Neptune recently ended its retrograde, Uranus finishes its retrograde in a month, while Chiron is transitioning out of retrograde at the time of this Full Moon.

All of this combined shows that the period from mid-November until mid-January is a time of transitions, changes, and new developments. Eclipses can reflect beginnings, endings, and even evolutionary developments in specific areas of our lives that can begin to play out in the six weeks prior up until the six months following. (I will be writing separate articles on these eclipse, join my mailing list here to ensure that you are notified when they are published)

Planets, and other celestial bodies like Chiron, going from retrograde to direct can help us progress forward in new ways in areas connected to what they represent and how they are interacting with our personal astrology charts. I covered Neptune going direct in my previous article and will be covering Uranus going direct in an upcoming eclipse article. However, the most significant one at this point is Chiron as it is transitioning during this Full Moon phase. Its themes will be coming up more strongly.

Chiron is associated with old wounds, trauma, blockages, negative patterns, and other issues getting in the way of our potential, self-expression, and the embodiment of our highest selves. It is also associated with the solutions to our healing, awareness, and achieving wholeness.

It is about developing a different relationship with our wounds by turning them into strengths or working with them in a more positive way. Chiron is the maverick, it is unorthodox, holistic, and can bridge things together that are normally separate and are not thought to be compatible with each other.

Things To Consider During This Period

Is there anything new or different that you’d like to learn at this time? What have you been inspired to do in the last few weeks? Do you need to take into consideration certain facts, instructions, or details in order to fulfill your aspirations?

What has been coming up for you in regards to Venus issues of love, friendships, values, creativity, aesthetics, money, and pleasures? Do you need to address anything pertaining to these things? Have any issues or themes connected to your wounds or negative patterns come up? What do you need to do to heal/address this and move forward in a more empowered way?

These are just some examples of what you may be experiencing during this period; however, there may be other variations of this energy playing out. If you wish to do any sort of intentional release connected to what has come up it is best to do so anytime after the peak of the Full Moon or as it is waning over the following two weeks. The exact moment of it will be on December 12th at 5:12am Universal Time. You can click here to see what that is in your time zone.

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Looking for astrological insight into what is going on in your life? Or perhaps looking to better understand your life and its potentials? Get a personalized astrology reading with Carmen (author of this article) specific to you based on your exact birth date, time, and location. Click here for more information or to order. 

Holographic 2020 Lunar Calendar

An art piece and lunar calendar all in one. This calendar features moon phases for every day of the month for the entirety of 2020.

Hologrpahic foil set on a dark 11" x 11" poster makes the moon's phases shimmer as light strikes them in this unique art piece.

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11 Things Everybody Should Let Go of Before 2020 – Easier Said Than Done Of Course

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    2020 is coming up, and below are some personal transformation tips to explore and reflect on.

  • Reflect On:

    Why is new years always a time for resolutions? Can we begin taking the steps to implement resolutions on our lives that we feel inspired to make starting right now?

The new year is almost here and it’s often a time when we all start to think about what we want to change for the next year. I’ve never been much a fan of the whole cliche of changing because of the new year, but why not embrace it as a time where we can reflect at least? That usually leads to change!

Do a quick reflection right now. Do you feel like you have followed your deeper knowings and desires this past year? Have you engaged your passions much? Do you feel you got caught up in the stresses of life quite often? Did you feel judgement, negative self talk and anger were a big part of your days? Reflecting on how you’ve felt over your year and being honest with yourself about it gives you the chance to know how to adjust and move forward from this moment forward whether it be the new year or not.

I’ve found in my own life that if I don’t pay attention to how I feel, what I create, what’s playing out in my life and take responsibility for it, it doesn’t change. It stays the same, I experience the same emotions or stagnant feelings, and I don’t move forward. But the moment I decide to take it into my own hands, I see how much I’m not a victim to what happens.

11 Things To Let Go of Before the New year

1. Stop all the negative self talk – It’s first because it’s probably one of the most important. The more we talk poorly about ourselves, to ourselves or others, the more we disempower ourselves and empower all the things we wish to adjust about ourselves. Observe it, take note of it, and kick it. It’s not helping you.

2. Choose one bad eating habit and kick it! – Taking care of and fuelling your vessel is one of the most important things we can do in life to stay mentally, emotionally and spiritually healthy. Pick one of your worst eating habits and aim to cut it out completely in 3 months. Whatever it might be, be honest with yourself and make it happen. Then take on the next bad eating habit in 3 months.

3. Let go of chasing ‘success’ – So often we put up goals or plans for ourselves yet have this tiny limited scope of what success is. Next thing you know we bring stress, worry and fear into the equation throughout the whole journey because we may not be totally in line to hit this pin prick point of what success looks like to us. Instead, do your best to take the steps needed to get to where you want to go, but let go of the lure of success and what it looks like and means. There’s no such thing as failure. (more)

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4. Kick the idea that you cannot achieve or follow what’s in your heart – So often we have our ideas of what we are excited or passionate about, but let it go because we think we can’t do it or because it’s unrealistic. Instead of believing every word of that, take ONE step. One step towards making engaging your passion or exploring a dream. The one step will lead to the next and the next, but you have to take the first one. Plan out that first step and take it! A quick side note to this, be sure to reflect on making sure that your dreams are actually yours, and not just what your parents, society or friends are telling you to chase and go after.

5. Let go of the idea that you should run from your problems – We often get into this mentality that we just need to “get over it.” In theory, this sounds sorta good, you move on from things that happen in the past or something to that effect. But by just forgetting about it, did we really move on? No, it gets triggered again later or lies dormant as a resented event etc. Instead, let’s face our problems and truly move past them. Journal about it, talk to someone else about it. Put the cards on the table to someone who cares about you and who can help you move past it. Pick someone who will see the bigger picture and be honest with you. You have all it takes to move past what challenges you.

6. Stop comparing yourself to others – This is a big one. So often we are looking at others and using what they have, do or are to compare it against us and make up a story. This whole game can make us sad or feel down about ourselves or it can feed our ego in a big way. Let it go, respect everyone’s journey, including your own and stop the need to compare yourself to others.

7. Stop judging others – Judging other people can become a habit and an addiction. It’s like something we can’t stop doing sometimes! Take a moment the next time you judge someone and observe it. Ask yourself why you did it, how did it make you feel? Etc. Make a conscious effort to stop. (more)

8.  Stop the blame game – Blaming and pointing fingers when it comes to our challenges or what happens to us doesn’t allow us to look at and observe how we might have created or aligned with an experience to help make it happen. I’m not saying there’s nothing others can do to hurt you, I’m simply saying take responsibility for how you feel and don’t even point blame, it doesn’t help us.

9. Stop worrying and trying so hard to fit in and be accepted –  This is something far too many of us do just to save face and not be “the weird one.” The reality is, it’s more ‘weird’ to be a version of yourself that isn’t genuine or real simply because you want to be accepted by others. It’s a choice you can’t maintain forever and the longer it goes the more uncomfortable you will feel. Be you, accept yourself, be genuine and don’t try to make others do the same when. Let it happen. Trust.

10. Let go of the need to control everything – Sometimes we can’t take a step forward in anything because we don’t know all the answers or all the variables. This is our obsession with control sometimes. Yes, observe a situation and make the best choices available to you, but don’t worry so much about needing to control or know every detail about it. Learn to leave things up to trust and knowing that things will work out as they need to. This doesn’t mean be reckless, just that you don’t need to control everything, person and detail.

11. Stop procrastinating – This one goes with everything on the list. Stop putting it all off. Whatever it may be. The changes listed above, the hobby you want to, the career you want to explore, or the thing you want to tell to someone important to you. Stop putting it off and just do it!

Holographic 2020 Lunar Calendar

An art piece and lunar calendar all in one. This calendar features moon phases for every day of the month for the entirety of 2020.

Hologrpahic foil set on a dark 11" x 11" poster makes the moon's phases shimmer as light strikes them in this unique art piece.

Buy yours here!
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Consciousness

Sympathy vs. Empathy? Brené Brown Explains The Crucial Difference

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    There is a difference between sympathy and empathy — although many of us don't realize it, in an attempt to help we may unknowingly be making things worse for our loved ones.

  • Reflect On:

    When someone is hurting, we often try to "fix" the situation. What if we just sat with others who are struggling . and allow them to feel their feelings and offer them the space to do so?

For the most part we strive to be there for our friends and family members during difficult times. However we don’t always realize that in an effort to assist, often using positive reinforcement, or comparison techniques we might actually be making things worse. Sometimes, we are unintentionally showing up in all the wrong ways for our loved ones. It’s important to know the difference between sympathy and empathy and how these reactions could either create more pain from unmet needs for those who are struggling or allow the space for a deeper connection and understanding by offering the space to others to feel their feelings.

Brené Brown is an expert on the topics of vulnerability, shame, courage and empathy. She has written 5 New York Times Bestsellers and offers us all a deeper insight to the potential for much deeper authentic connection with others and to ourselves as well. The following video contains a cute little cartoon paired up with Brené’s words describing the difference between sympathy and empathy.

Sympathy Vs. Empathy


“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” ~ Brené Brown

It’s funny how we think we are being helpful, but as it turns out we are unknowingly brushing off the feelings of others. Offering sympathy instead of empathy is similar to when we tell people to “think positive,” as it bypasses actually allowing ourselves to feel our emotions. When our loved ones are having a hard time with something, we are quick to try and fix or change the situation instead of just allowing it to be.

It’s as if we are all just so afraid of letting the pain be there, that we try to brush it off as quickly as possible. Unfortunately as described in the video, this isn’t actually helping, but providing a temporary band-aid instead. In turn, the people who are in pain often don’t feel emotionally met and can feel even more upset, even though they know you have good intentions. To be fair, for the most part we haven’t been taught these emotional skills so many of us are lacking in that department.

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The Importance Of Feeling Our Feelings

This is a good reminder to not only allow others the space to feel their feelings without trying to change them, but for yourself as well — to give yourself the time and space that you need to feel what’s happening inside of you.

If something comes up, and emotion is starting to build up inside of you, instead of grabbing your phone, eating something, or using a substance — try feeling it fully instead! It can be very helpful to label the emotion you’re feeling, i.e. I feel hurt right now.

Then feel it, feel it fully, cry if you need to, feel where it hurts in your body, do whatever you need to do to allow yourself to actually feel the emotion.It will help to process and release it, that way you won’t have to hold onto it, or store it in your body.

As a good friend once told me,

“See what there is to see, feel what there is to feel and you will heal. “

This might sound simple, and that’s because it is! It’s a lot easier to process and feel our emotions than to stuff them down and ignore them, which inevitably will cause more pain and suffering down the road.

Feeling our feelings, who would have thought? 😉

Much Love

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