Wednesday, December 11, 2013

In-the-Body Meditation

A few recent blog posts introduced intuitive Tool #2 for people with diabetes (and people without it): centering your awareness right behind your eyes – or getting into the driver's seat of your body.
woman driving from The Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes blog

The first post on this tool noted that "taking control of what you’re paying attention to – and placing your attention on yourself, from yourself – are tremendously empowering acts."

You learned how to do that in the following post. Not that it's hard. In fact, the key to using any intuitive tool is to focus on it but without a sense of trying or a feeling of effort.

Next up was a post on playing with this centered awareness. Specifically, that blog post taught you how to start using your own attention to heal yourself. 

What's so great about being in the center of your head, or your sixth chakra, rather than other energy centers or chakras? That's the question asked and answered by the next post about Tool #2. Essentially, this energy center offers you certainty, clarity, and neutrality. The other major energy centers have great qualities too, and the post quickly summarizes them. (For instance, ever had a gut feeling, or just knew something off the top of your head?)
tire from The Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes blog

So here we are in the last post about this tool, which is to say that taking time each day or so to sit down, close your eyes, gather up your awareness, and start placing it on your personal energy space is an effective, healing, refreshing style of meditation.

Meditation is your spiritual happy hour – but start with a hard-won, happy five minutes.

When you sit down, close your eyes, and get into the center of your head, you start to clear rather than override energy. It’s not the only way to do that. You might go for a walk on the beach, treat yourself to a spa treatment, get on your Harley, or take a vacation, and lo and behold – you’re refreshed. You’ve taken the charge of other people’s energy out of your space and out of your head. You feel pretty clear and comfortable with yourself. You find you can actually think for more than a couple of minutes.

rainbow raindrop from The Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes blog

But then you get back to your life. The cleared-out feeling generally doesn’t last long even if you’re used to handling lots of energy demand. The competition for your attention starts up pretty quick. Your attention fires off toward different points. You feel overloaded. Where the heck did you go?

So as a daily coping strategy, you may start to override this load on your space by leaving the body energetically. Hanging out somewhere above your head while working. And afterward, spacing out. Where’s the beer?

The alternative – simply retaking your attention – is more effective in the long term.

If you’ve never started to meditate before, that’s fine. If you have meditated but in a different way, that’s fine too. As you take time for the next week or so to bring your energy into the center of your head, you’ll probably both be drawn to it and fight it.

That’s why it makes sense to just start to do it for five minutes once a day. More often, if you feel like it, is great! But don’t feel inadequate or guilty if you’re taking only five minutes a day, as you get used to this tool. Gradually build up to more time and keep adding the easy tools that the next blog posts will outline. But do give yourself a break about the process if it feels new to you as you get used to sitting in stillness and (in your mind's eye, or your imagination) looking around.

So, you decide to simply sit down somewhere and retake your attention. Feet on the floor, sitting up straight, you bring your awareness into the center of your head.

Hang on, and find a bit of amusement (Tool #1) because all those people out there who have your attention and who want to maintain it will then decide to call you, email you, and knock on your door. They don’t want you to take back your attention. I guess that means you’re doing something pretty powerful. 

Give yourself permission for these five or ten or more minutes to ignore them. Remember, if you need an excuse, think of it as a medical necessity.

meditation flower graphic from The Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes blog

Or once you plan to sit down on that couch without the TV or laptop on, you’re suddenly compelled to wash the dishes, pining for a clean and empty sink as you have never done before. Or you have an uncharacteristic longing to clean out the garage.

Give yourself an A. All this means that you are doing a great job of reasserting control of your own energy space. It means that you’re learning to manage your attention – that is, you’re learning to manage all the competition for your attention. And as a diabetic who needs to keep an eye on your energy and blood-sugar levels, that's crucial.

It’s OK to bounce around.

Now you’ve made it to a chair, you’ve closed your eyes, and your awareness is snugly behind your eyes, or at least somewhere close. And you start to hit all the things in your space vying for your attention. 

Little bombs, small lit-up or loud or otherwise insistent pockets scattered throughout your space, start to go off. Things you’ve resisted. Things you’re competing with. Worries. Images. Memories. Concerns. Past, present, future. In short, various packets of charged energy.

Or you might notice a lot of thoughts running through your head, not unlike the translation running under the images in a foreign film. Suddenly you’re possessed by the need to analyze these thoughts. To think. To solve problems. To make lists.

All of this is excellent. It’s to be expected. It’s part of the process of getting back into the thicket that at the moment is your own energy field. Don’t fight any of it. Find a speck of attitude in which this deluge is funny. Wow, you must really be important if all this energy has to load up in your space.

Know that every time you noticed one of these energy packets, one of these thoughts, one of these images, you cleared some of the energy from it. If you heard the thought, if you saw the image, you de-energized it more. Success. Shortly, you’ll learn a couple of other tools to de-energize these intruding packets of energy.

It will get easier and go faster. The longer you sit there, the more times you sit there, it will get easier for you to find your own energy space. Even amid the various demands, you’ll find yourself enjoying the respite. Your body will relax. Your head will start to clear out. Your stress will decrease. You’ll feel more here.

Avoiding the nap syndrome.

Here’s another experience you’ll find as you close your eyes to get into the center of your head: the nap syndrome. You will hit some stuck pain in your energy field and nod off. You will “go unconscious.”

sleepy guy from The Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes blog

Here’s a simple technique to avoid nodding off. Once you’ve closed your eyes and brought your energy into the center of your head, bring your attention to your breath. 

For a moment or two, watch your breath coming in and out of your nose. Don’t regulate it. Just observe it as it enters and exits the body. If you feel that you’re nodding off, exhale just a couple of seconds longer than you naturally would. Then relax and let the inhale come as it will.

What in your universe could use your attention?

Now, do one last thing after you stop reading. Give yourself one last gift for digesting all this information. Consider what in your personal universe could use some attention from you.
  • Be right in the center of your head. You’ve done it two or three or more times now so it’s starting to be more familiar. Find that space behind your eyes and let your awareness settle in there. 
  • No problems to solve. No demands to answer. The thoughts pass by. You’re giving yourself a moment to just be, with your attention behind your eyes.
  • From this space, ask the question, What in my personal universe could use some of my attention right at this moment? It could be a person, place, or thing. It could be in the past or the future. It could simply be your diabetes, or something specific related to it.
  • If you get an answer right out in front of you, gently place your attention on that answer. What part of your universe needs your attention? The answer may not make sense. Just accept it. Your job. Your partner. Your diet. Your elbow. The high school senior prom, whenever it was held. Place your attention right on that. Just look at that thing in your mind’s eye. 
  • After a minute or two, release your attention from that concept, that picture. 
  • Pat yourself on the back. Open your eyes.
  • Touch your face. Yawn and stretch. This takes you out of the light trance you just got into.
Trust this knowledge: with the power of your tangible, focused attention, you just energetically created a change in your world. Your attention released something stuck; it created a healing.

copyright © 2013 Lisa Bernstein

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Eavesdrop on Your Body

writing illustration by Anthony Russo from The Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes blogShortly after I was diagnosed with diabetes, I decided to write down what my body was saying to me about having this condition.

I postulated that I would just listen and take dictation. I recorded the first things that came into my head that I imagined as the communication from my body at that moment. Here’s what I heard, and wrote:

Take care of me
I am your system
I am your lifeblood
I am a network which communicates with itself
I am a network of information pulsing within the world
I transmit what you need
Feed me
I unfortunately must be plumbed with a needle
In a haystack
In a dimwit
In a bad girl
In a durable item
In a shining woman with tresses of auburn and a gown of netted gold
In an arched cathedral where you once stood witness and sang
I am your support to find your signals
I am your trampoline
I’ve got nothin’ but love for ya, baby
I’ve got some pain for you too
I remind you with each pinprick that you have skin
I remind you that you have borders which any prick can’t get into
I communicate in infinities of systems
But all can be known with the inner eyes
All my organs pulse with knowledge
Feed me
Know me
I’ll make up for letting you down
Work with me
Play with me
I’ll nourish you
I’ll shine for you
I’ll be strong and sturdy
Through me you will cry, but then you will laugh
And eat!
Feed me
And I’ll feed you back
I’m all yours

I found myself near tears at points with the baldness of the truths that my blunt body stated. And I was impressed by the imagination and perhaps ancient memories it seemed to offer. I didn’t want it to be a finished poem; I was happy to just have it, a communication from the body like a message in a bottle pushed urgently to shore.

typing from The Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes blog
Afterward, I felt rather tender toward my body, appreciative of its ups and downs, its loyalty throughout this and other challenges. I felt forgiveness – toward my body, and from my body toward myself.

Try this little exercise, also called "free writing." Find a spirit of childlike playfulness. No judgments, just listening. You don’t have to be a writer to do it. The outcome doesn’t have to be “good writing.” It doesn’t have to be poetic or meet any other standards.

pink journal from The Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes BlogPick up a pen, or go to your computer. Pretend you’re just taking dictation. Don’t stop to revise. Don't stop at all, in fact. Don’t censor. If you don’t hear anything, write the first thing that comes into your head. Don’t wait for something “good” or “inspired” to come to you. It may feel like junk or nonsense at first. At some point, you'll start to get meaningful stuff, even if you don't see it that way while you're producing it. 

If you have a specific issue you've been working on, ask your body to talk to you about that. It could be weight gain. It could be exhaustion. Just ask, and "take dictation" from your body as it tells you something in response. See what flows from your awareness down your arms, onto the page or screen. Start.

No one else has to read it. Or you may want to share it. You’ll have fun, and you’ll feel surprise.

Whatever other emotions arise, just allow them to be there in your experience for a few minutes. Then take a deep breath, and exhale. Put away what you write someplace you can find it, so you can pull it out and read again.

I know that one thing you’ll feel is relief: one always does in the face of intimate truth.

The communication from my body shown above was written decades ago. The other day I decided to do this exercise again. Here's what came out:

You make me work so hard
And yet I love to stretch out
Here in the middle stretch, in fact, 
It’s a bit more challenging to keep taking the next step
Yet what else are we here for?
And what alternative do we have?
Yes, this dull ache is still here in the right hip
But so many other dull, or not-so-dull, aches have come and gone
I know you’re better at handling the flaring-up pains
Those dramatic, cry-it-out, think-it-out, emotional waves
But here I am just carrying you through
I need you to notice this
If I were a horse, would you give me an apple?
If I were a dog, would you massage me more?
In fact, I’ve noticed, you do massage your dog a lot more often than you massage me!
It’s OK to take it easy, you know
And I’m more resilient than you sometimes remember
So, baby, let’s get ready for the rest of the race
Or is it a marathon? A marvelous, a Malomar, 
A mistake, a message, 
A missive, or a mistress? (no – that last one is me) – 
Maybe it’s more than you bargained for,
All this living, and yet I know my duty,
To live, to revive, to restore, to regret, 
To resurge

copyright © 2013 Lisa Bernstein

Saturday, November 2, 2013

What's So Great About Being in the Center of Your Head? (More on Tool #2)

So what’s with all this talk about being in the head? What about being in the heart or other parts of your body?

As the previous posts touched on (, when you get into the center of your head, you bring your awareness into the sixth chakra or “third eye.”
getting centered in your sixth chakra behnd your eyes from The Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes blog

It’s fine to be in any of the other major energy centers, or chakras, from the first one at the base of your spine to the crown, or seventh, chakra on top of your head. Each one has its own abilities, and you access them most fully by focusing your awareness in that chakra.

However, for consciously getting in synch with your body – whether in meditation or just walking around in the world – the sixth chakra often works best. This energy center offers you certainty, clarity, and neutrality. It gives you “clear seeing.” When developed, this ability translates into clairvoyant perception – when you are in a light meditative trance – of the energy movie around you.

Let’s contrast the sixth chakra with the fourth chakra, near the heart, which holds your abilities and information related to affinity and caring. Gathering your awareness and energy into your heart chakra for most of your meditation is not the most helpful thing you can do, because when you use your intuitive tools from this space, everything you do is colored by caring and the desire for closeness. You won’t have as much perspective. You might love everything you pay attention to or be overcome by other intense feelings. 

chakra illustration from The Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes blogYou might want to use your heart energy to heal others, to fix situations. But if you do that from your heart, you won’t be doing it from a neutral point of view. You won’t see things as clearly. And you won’t feel as certain about what you’re noticing. You’ll have an agenda.

The heart chakra is a fitting place to center your energy when you’re engaged in loving and affectionate activities. Also, chances are you already know how to be in this energy center. It’s more culturally acceptable to love than it is to see yourself, others, and situations without bias or competition. Being in your heart may feel more natural to you than being in the center of your head, where you’re simply looking and communicating. So practice something you’re less familiar with, which offers a great deal of power to see truth.

In addition, you don’t want to interfere with the important physical work of the heart by doing a lot of energy work from this chakra. Let your heart muscle pump blood; let your feelings of love and like and hatred and dislike flow in and out of your heart chakra. Feel close, feel distant; feel. But when you want to find a quiet space to simply be, perceive, get back in synch with your body, consciously and confidently release energy that isn't really you, and call back in the energy that is, bring your awareness to your sixth chakra as we’ve described.

The center of your head is such a relaxing place because of the neutrality, clarity, and certainty it offers.

To illustrate this further, think of your first chakra at the base of your spine. From the center of your head, just imagine it. (Notice how you want to go there energywise as soon as I mention it? That’s the habit of sending your energy wherever someone points you to.) This is where your survival information is stored. Here your fight-or-flight mechanisms are triggered: great, useful information if indeed your physical survival is threatened. If you’re having a physical emergency, you immediately leap into your first chakra at the clanging bells of adrenaline. 

But normally, you don’t want to be engulfed in that stressful, save-my-life response. You don’t want to sit in the middle of pure survival data when instead you’re seeking a restful, calm, clear seat in your body. You’re looking to release stress, not experience it.

get neutral from The Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes blogThe other main chakras also are rich with abilities and information: the second chakra, where you experience emotions and sensuality, where you might experience a “gut feeling”; the third chakra, a crucial one for diabetics as it’s related to the pancreas and controls will, identity, and running the physical body; the fourth, the heart chakra, which we’ve just discussed; the fifth, or throat, chakra, which contains your communication abilities; the seventh, or crown, chakra, where you might “know things off the top of your head.” 

But as you can see from these quick descriptions, none of these offers the neutrality of the sixth chakra or center of your head. Here is where you imagine, visualize, or perceive what’s happening energetically, “see it in your mind’s eye.” And as yet another saying attests, we humans are wired so that “seeing is believing.”

If meditation is about getting into communication with your body and your energetic field, it’s good to listen from a point of neutrality – because the body has both positive and negative things to tell you. You’ll be able to hear all of it better, and respond better, not from your survival impulses, your emotions, your finicky diabetic issues of control, your heart, your communication center, or the top of your head – but from the unbiased seat in the middle of your head where you simply see.

Having a geographic area in my space where I can anchor myself, and feel more neutral and certain, helps me enormously in managing my diabetes. When I’m having low or high blood sugar and start to veer into spaciness, feeling disconnected from my body and my abilities, I can gently yank my attention right behind my eyes. This simple adjustment helps me to get back into the moment, to assess what I need to do to remedy my physical situation, and to just generally carry on.

meditating guy from The Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes blog
Remembering to place my awareness there throughout the day also keeps me on a more even keel, reducing stress, which in turn smooths out my blood sugar, blood pressure, and even heart rate.

All this is augmented by taking time out with eyes closed for a few minutes or more each day to use this tool – sometimes even on the bus, at a site where I’m consulting, or anywhere else.

copyright © 2013 Lisa Bernstein

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tool #2, continued: Play with the Power of Your Attention

Attention is a physical thing. You’re standing in line, or sitting in your car, and for no apparent reason you suddenly turn to see someone staring at you. You perceived that person’s attention. It had a weight you could sense.

Attention is tangible: you can feel it.

Depending on the quality of that attention, it may have felt as soothing as a warm bath, as stimulating as a cup of coffee hitting your blood vessels, or intrusive and painful, a “cutting glance.”
attention button from The Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes blog
Gathering up your attention and placing it
on your self  is a healing act.

Attention may even be healing. I like it when you pay attention to me. Give me your attention for a minute. You have craved someone else’s attention just as others have craved yours.

You can rely on one thing that can be the most soothing thing to your body: your own attention.

Yet starting to gather your attention can feel difficult or weird at first.

Initially, it may feel like tough going to gather up your awareness into the middle of your head, only because you’re not used to it and you’ve probably never been validated for doing it. As the last post explored, most of us have been conditioned to look outward for what matters, and to follow others’ agendas about what we should pay attention to. 

Unless you’re a monk or a nun (and maybe even then), it’s a daring act to step back from the commotion and take the time to clear out your own overloaded head – and then to just rest there, start to notice your body’s responses to what you’ve been perceiving and doing, and finally, begin to zero in on the next steps you want to take in your life. 

To do all this gives you back a lot of power and control. So it naturally sets off some alarms for you – and others. Relatively extreme fears or anxieties may pop up for you as you do something as simple as sit still in a chair for, at first, let’s say, five minutes. You may irrationally wonder if you’ll somehow be punished or isolated from the tribe. You may feel that you absolutely must bolt from the sofa and grab a diet soda. You’re used to thinking about your future, your car, your bank account, your spouse, your ex, your job, your parents, your kids, and now and then, world environmental catastrophe. 

out-of-body note from The Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes blog
If your energy isn't occupying your body,
then who or what is?
That’s what people have always told you is productive and worthwhile and what a good, nice person does. You must be a lazy, selfish jerk to just sit there for a few minutes and not do anything except to start to pay attention to yourself. Or you must be a weirdo to not have your eyes on a screen of some kind, or an electronic device in your hand.

You’ve got a good excuse, if you need one: diabetes. You have to get yourself into clear communication with your body.

What you’re starting to do here is a style of meditation, one that’s not “transcendental” but takes a different approach, based on bringing your awareness into the driver’s seat of your body. It’s important to start out doing it not by transcending or consciously placing your awareness above your body, but by re-owning and re-occupying your body. You’re not occupying Wall Street here, just your original physical home.

The extreme things that knock you out of your body most are illness, pain, and discomfort. Discomfort can occur for lots of different reasons; you might feel energetically attacked, or you might feel physically unsafe. 

Generally, it goes against all your training, and perhaps your inclination, to deal with these factors by truly connecting yourself again with your body. Everyone else has taught you to manage pain by fleeing the body, energetically speaking. Let your spirit travel into a fantasy. Drink. Take a pill.

Actually, I have no problems with the moderate use of any of these strategies, and sometimes one does need to take a pain pill. But I prefer to have a choice about what strategy I want to use, and I want to use awareness tools in concert with other ones. I don’t want to have to be semi-unconscious in order to function.

Plus, spending more and more time out of the body creates a vicious cycle in which it becomes harder and harder to get in there and enjoy your space. If your awareness, your energy, aren’t filling and holding and enjoying your body, whose is? If your own energy presence is not occupying your body, a lot of other stuff starts to collect there: random data and stimulus from the day that your body encounters, feelings that you’ve had and taken on from others and other energies build up unattended.
feeling scattered from The Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes blog
You feel scattered when your awareness and your energy
are outside of your body.

Like a foreclosed house where no one’s living, an ignored body can find itself with accrued grunge and spiritual squatters. So getting into the body is a way of kicking out a bunch of junk that’s crept into your physical space. That’s one definition of healing.

In any case, just on the principle of pure feistiness, I don’t want anything or anyone to dictate where my awareness and attention can or cannot be relative to my body. And I don’t want to be dictated by habit or culture to abandon my body just because some things are going on with it that I didn’t ask for or because that’s what everyone does. My body goes through enough with diabetes without my getting all spacey on it.

Addressing what’s going on with me starts simply by placing my tangible attention in and on my lovely body, just as it is – fat, thin, high blood-sugar or normal, tired, vigorous, gorgeous, ugly, strong, weak. Wherever and however it is. Mine.

Right now I’m patting myself on my thighs as I write this. Good body.

This time, with your awareness in the middle of your head, give your body some much-needed attention.

Once again, read the actions described below, then take a break from reading and do them. If you forget where you are, it’s fine to stop, open your eyes, and find the next thing to do in the list, then go back to the process. You don’t have to be perfect before, during, or after. 

When you get used to this, you won’t need a list: you’ll just get into the center of your head pretty instantly.
bright eyes from The Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes blog
To get back into the driver's seat of your body, bring your awareness
behind your eyes.
  • Close your eyes. Be aware of the wall behind you. 
  • Be aware of the wall across from you. 
  • And now be aware of the walls on either side of you. 
  • And then add to that awareness the ceiling and the floor below and above you. Be aware of all four walls around you. Notice any effect that has on your body. 
  • Bring that awareness to your face, then to the top of your head. 
  • Then be in the middle of your head. Literally. Be in the middle of your head. That's a point directly behind your eyes. 
  • From the middle of your head, be aware of the distance to the top of your head. 
  • Be aware of the distance between you and your face or your forehead. 
  • And be aware of the distance between you and either side, left and right, of you. 
  • Notice what that feels like. Does it have any effect on you? 
  • Notice your hands, but be aware of the distance between you and your hands. Notice what your hands feel like from the middle of your head. 
  • Now, as you’re in the middle of your head, be aware of the distance between you and your breath. 
  • Here’s a fun part. Ask what in your body could use some attention from you? Please look at the body in your mind’s eye, with your eyes closed, and ask it where it needs your attention. Be specific. 
  • Give your attention to that part of the body. Gently place your attention on that spot. Just notice it. 
  • Go to the next spot. Just notice it. Breathe and exhale. 
  • Find one more place in your body that needs your attention. Just put your awareness on it. Say hello to it. One more inhale. Exhale. 
  • Repeat as much as you’d like to right now. Or maybe you’re done. 
  • Take a deep breath. Wiggle a little in your chair. Touch your face. 
  • Stand up, stretch, and yawn. 
Did that feel good? 

If you want to further explore or relish the experience, create a spiritual mechanics notebook for you to write
flower illustration from The Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes blog
Locating your awareness inside your body
feels good.
in about the experiences you’re having with these tools (the kind you can hold in your hands or your electronic version). Start an entry about what that exercise felt like to you. What happened? What did you notice? Surprises, discomfort, comfort? Let yourself write a little.

More to come soon in the next post!

copyright © 2013 Lisa Bernstein

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Tool #2: Get Back into Your Body: Bring Your Awareness into the Center of Your Head - Part 2

Continued from the previous post,

The first step to getting into your body is bringing your awareness into the center of your head. 

This tool is not hard to do. I’ve taught it to people over the phone who instantly feel comfortable using it. I’ve even taught it to second-graders.

baby with awareness in the center of its head from The Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes Bblog

Here’s the step-by-step, highly aware version of doing it consciously for the first time. First, read the activities described below, then close your eyes and do as much as you can remember. When you’re done, open your eyes and check whether you did it. Repeat as needed.
  • Find a quiet space to sit down by yourself without distractions. 
  • Ideally, put both feet flat on the ground. Sit up straight, which helps your energy system get into alignment. It’s better to not lie on the ground while starting to do this, because you might doze off. 
  • Close your eyes. 
  • Raise your hands to either side of your head and lightly touch yourself just above the ears. Imagine a straight line through your head that connects your two hands. 
  • Now move one hand to lightly touch the middle of your forehead and the other to touch the back of your head. Imagine a straight line through your head that connects your two hands. 
  • Notice that point where the first line and the second line intersect. Bring your awareness there. Now your awareness is behind your eyes roughly in the middle of your head. 
  • Bring your hands to your lap. 
  • Let your awareness settle into that space a couple of inches behind your eyes. 
  • Notice how that feels. 
    bring your awareness behind your eyes from The Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes blog
  • Imagine a horse galloping across a meadow. Let the image go. Keep your eyes closed. 
  • Check if your awareness is still in that space a couple of inches behind your eyes. 
  • From behind your eyes, postulate that there’s a small movie or laptop screen (but no actual laptop or movie projector) immediately in front of your face, about 8 inches away. 
  • Let yourself see a rose – any color or shape – on that screen. 
  • Take a deep breath. Look at the rose. 
  • Now fold up that screen and let it spontaneously combust, leaving nothing behind. 
  • You may find some sense of pressure or congestion there in the middle of your head. That’s natural. It may have been awhile since you’ve been there. And nature abhors a vacuum, as the saying goes. 
  • Take a deep breath, and as you exhale postulate that you’re releasing any unwanted energy from anybody or anything else from inside the middle of your head. It’s yours. Breathe, exhale, and repeat as much as you want. 
  • This place where your awareness is is your property. No one else owns it. 
  • Be mildly amused at any trespassers luring you into chatter, or any distractions. Just let them pass through as you enjoy sitting in the middle of your head. 
  • You might start to look around, with your eyes closed, at the center of your head. What does this space look like? If you’re inspired, start to redecorate it. If not, just notice. 
  • Touch your face, which brings you back into the present and helps take you out of the light trance you just got into. 
  • Open your eyes. 
  • Notice where your awareness starts from now, in terms of your own physical geography – still behind your eyes? If not, where else? 
Congratulations! You did it.

Notice how you feel. Resist the urge to judge or evaluate. Right now, you’re gathering information for yourself.

Now, as you keep reading these words, with your eyes open, bring your awareness back behind your eyes. Keep reading these words from that place in the middle of your head. Your awareness is comfortably seated in that place inside your head, while you read this page.

You’ve just put yourself in the driver’s seat of your body.

in the driver's seat from The Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes blog

With your awareness just behind your eyes, you put yourself in the driver’s seat of your body. The pilot’s seat; the control room.

This spot is the location of the sixth chakra, which is related to the pineal gland in the endocrine system, our “third eye.” You have access to a clearer view by using your awareness from the sixth chakra. Here, you have greater neutrality and certainty. 

Lightly touching your temples and then the front and back of your head simply helps you remember where the middle of your head is. You may feel silly doing this, but feeling a bit silly is actually a great intuitive tool. Seriously. I mean – uh – really. As an earlier post explores (, a readiness to see the humor in things is one of your most helpful spiritual tools. Approaching the use of intuitive tools with a leaden seriousness isn’t going to get you anywhere. It promotes a feeling of deficiency, as if you need years of study to access your own intuitive abilities and as if you couldn’t possibly have the expertise needed to use them.

Ditch that idea. Postulate that this intuitive tool is fun and that you can do it. 

Anyway, as you become used to finding the middle of your head and letting your awareness settle in from behind your eyes, you may not need to make these gestures. But giving yourself a geographical grounding of where your head actually is can be a great tool if you feel so overloaded that, to change the saying a bit, you don’t know your head from a hole in the ground. 

There you are, with your awareness snugly settled in the middle of your head. You’re already getting more experienced, aren’t you, at bringing your awareness back into that place. Look around the room. Look out the window, if you’re near one. Notice the distance between where your awareness is and what you’re looking at.

You’ve just gotten back into your body – a powerful place for a diabetic, or anyone, to be.

Don’t try hard. If you notice that feeling, you’re using your body, not your spirit, to handle energy.

Notice that you don’t need any effort to do any of this. The body loves effort. The spirit does not. In fact, effort – the feeling of trying really hard – gets in the way of using spiritual mechanics. The body likes to exercise and it experiences exercise as physical work. If you are noticing that “trying hard” feeling, it means you are using your body – not your spiritual tools – to do spiritual mechanics.

The more effective way to handle energy is to use energy tools from the center of your head, in your sixth chakra. You wouldn’t ask your dog to solve a math problem. And you wouldn’t ask your sixth chakra to catch a ball. Use energy tools to handle energy, and specifically, use your sixth chakra to do so with neutrality and certainty.

sixth chakra or third eye from The Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes blog

In fact, one of the factors contributing to your diabetes and to difficult blood-sugar control probably is that you’re using your body, not your being, to handle the energy of situations and communications.

Of course, the need to try hard is familiar. You’re used to it not only because your body likes it, but because probably you’ve been encouraged to work hard and try hard in school and at home. Well, in the arena of meditating and using energy tools, you’re off the hook. Don’t try. Just do. But do from the center of your head.

For instance, I notice that when I’m in a room that feels chaotic to me, I get a feeling of pain or tightness in my belly. 

Often I don’t feel quite “safe” energetically or even physically in a chaotic environment, whether it’s a big crowd or a small gathering. To be more exact, a couple of inches above my belly button, my body starts to feel tense. I learned that this is the location of my third chakra (more on this later); when I feel challenged or threatened, I tend to respond by trying to control what’s going on in the room using my third chakra. Ugh, chug; I get that feeling of pushing a big rock up a mountain. I’m aware of that feeling of physical effort – which is odd, because all I’m doing is, let’s say, sitting on a chair or standing at the edge of a room.

These are clues to me that my body is going into effort in its attempts to fix something going on around me. Once I have that awareness, I can shift tactics. One of my very first tactics is to note where my awareness is. Is it down in my gut trying to calm the room? Or is my attention scattered all around the room? Or have I left the premises, awareness-wise, because I couldn’t handle what was happening right here, and now I’m thinking about work or my car or a recent conversation? And my next tactic might be – breathe, exhale, and bring my awareness right behind my eyes.

target image from The Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes blog

Now I’m centered in my own space. Whew, what a relief. At least from this vantage point I can see a bit more clearly and feel a bit more comfortable. I’m in my own body, and my own driver’s seat of that body. And that’s really one of the best places to simply be while being aware.

copyright © 2013 Lisa Bernstein

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Tool #2: Get Back into Your Body: Bring Your Awareness into the Center of Your Head

Here's a post on Tool #2 of the eight essential intuitive tools I promised (in the blog post to share with you. I learned how to practice these tools in the late 1980s at the Berkeley Psychic Institute, but I've seen few, if any, good written explanations of them. And of course this explanation gives my own insights on why this tool is so important and how to use it. 

With this tool, you get back into the driver's seat of your body and energy space by bringing your awareness into the center of your head. It's especially important to diabetics – and to anyone wanting to re-own your body and become healthier. Look for Part 2 about this fun tool soon.

If you’re reading this after a long day, you may feel that everyone and everything you encountered over the past 12 hours have been tugging on you for your attention – your kids, coworkers, and boss; the phone, television, advertisements, social media; and pulsing icons on your computer or mobile screen.

why you may need to re-own the center of your head, from The Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes blog
Yo, over here, this is important, look at me! 

When you stop to think about it, your environment may resemble a carnival of demand. Everyone wants you to place your awareness on them – for different reasons.

You make them feel valued. You can solve one of their problems. An advertiser wants you to buy something. An employer wants you to produce something. Some person – even someone you love – or some institution wants to control what you do… You can start adding to the list yourself. Or...maybe not.

Considering all that, it’s amazing that you can sit down and read this blog post.

Yet with all this hubbub, probably no one has come right out and said to you that your awareness is such a treasure. No one has emphasized that taking control of what you’re paying attention to – and, dare I say it?, placing your attention on yourself, from yourself – are tremendously empowering acts.

Tool #2 of the eight essential intuitive tools gives you a way to center your awareness within yourself. From there, you can more easily choose what you’re paying attention to.

With this tool, you come back into your body.

Your most valuable spiritual asset is your attention – yet you learned very early to give it away.

The programming begins in early childhood, when we’re too young to fully manage what we do with our attention. Class, look at the whiteboard, please! Quit drifting off, pay attention! Gathering up the attention of a group can veer into controlling that attention; one obvious example is the military. Once we are trained to hand over control of our attention to others, the habit of looking outward, and feeling we are scattered outward among what we're looking at, is continually reinforced by the patterns of our modern lives.

So what’s the problem with that? It’s exhausting, for starters. As your attention zings all over the place, your body is taking in and even recording a great deal of extraneous information, which can be tiring and distracting to you. (Ever had an unwanted commercial hook looping in your brain?) On a subtle level, this same chronic repetition of data is happening a thousandfold in your personal energy space if you don’t find a way to discharge it.
Mrs. Potato Head looking distressed from The Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes blog

For another, you probably would rather pay attention to things that fulfill your own agenda rather than the agendas of other people and institutions – or at least make a choice about it.

Finally, as a diabetic, you have a host of reasons for being able to focus on yourself when you choose to: noticing possible high and low blood-sugar levels. Reducing stress. Shifting away from the massive programming coming at you about consuming a highly processed diet. Nurturing your overall well-being physically, emotionally, and energetically.

Amid all that demands your attention, notice your desire to be present now.

Despite the clamorous competition for your attention drawing your focus from your own physical and energetic space, you do need and want to take breaks from looking outward. I’m spaced out. I don’t feel present. I can’t get into focus. These phrases signal discomfort with the ingrained habit of displacing your energetic focus onto lots of different targets.

Many of us have good reason to not want to pay attention to what’s happening in our bodies and immediate vicinities, such as physical or emotional pain or distressing circumstances that we’d rather not face. Some of us use external attention-shut-off valves like alcohol and drugs.

Still, eventually your body and being will send up flares signaling that the external stimuli have become too stressful to handle. Or signaling that the external shut-off valves aren’t working, or are causing their own problems with excessive use.

You may have found activities that force you to stop your attention from zinging around and to get into the moment because your physical survival depends on it. For instance, climbing rocks, or jumping out of airplanes; you simply can’t do these things and be distracted if you want to avoid dire consequences. Or maybe just the opposite works, with a domestic approach, in which sewing, cooking, gardening, and other homey pleasures are a kind of meditation that turns off the din and demand and that lets you find your own calm center again.

Here’s an approach to consider: collect your attention and put it on yourself, instead of thinking that all the important things are out there.

What a radical concept: the idea of gathering up your attention from everything else, letting go of the extraneous chatter, and getting back in touch with yourself. It’s a simple act, but a powerful one.
focused girl from The Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes blog

Think of your being taking a happy hour. A mini-vacation for your spirit. A time-out in which you step away from the uproar, ignore everyone else’s demands for a few moments, and pay attention to yourself, from a point within yourself, in the most direct way possible.

You as a being can be many places at once, can leap from one focus point to the next, can truly move faster than the speed of light. Your body, however, is earthbound. It’s affected by gravity. It doesn’t do time travel. Your body knows how to be in just one place at a time. So keep your body company, for a change. Get your awareness into your body again – at least for a few minutes a day.

To be continued soon in Part 2.

copyright © 2013 Lisa Bernstein

Saturday, August 3, 2013

"For the Wordless Body," A Poem About Diabetes Written Shortly After Diagnosis

As readers of this blog know, diabetes has been a great teacher for me. Here's a poem I wrote a couple of years after being diagnosed (with type 1). It's published in my book from Wesleyan University Press called The Transparent Body.
cover of The Transparent Body by Lisa Bernstein (Lisa B) published by Wesleyan University Press

(You can order the book from my website:, or from Amazon at If you buy from Amazon, please buy a new copy directly from them rather than another seller, otherwise I won't see any of the proceeds.)

The feeling of first grappling with being officially diabetic rushes back to me when I read this almost three decades after writing it. And much of it remains relevant to my relationship with this constant companion, who brought me into closer communication with my body and helped me know myself better as a spirit.

For the Wordless Body

the muscle constricts with thirst.
The scent of citrus in the urine,
sugar leaking
into a film across the eyes.
Morning fills the windowpane,
a lit rectangle to be hungry in. I hurry
past buildings, counting out streets,
a self with words
and a hollowing silence of cells.

Language punctures
the skin.
Slimmer than a pen
the syringe shoots the insulin.
The sweetness of tangerines
lingers in the bloodstream. The injection
combusts it into strength and heat.

Body, christened again
you burn too well, flushed
as an infant and shaking for food.
A frantic mother, I bend to you.
At night I fake the bravado
of a teenage boy pinching
a girl's bare leg,
the needle poised above my thigh.
For years you absorbed what I fed you,
then denied.
Now you try to refuse
the sweet essence that keeps us alive.

So I am vigilant
for the sake of eyesight and limbs,
grateful to have seen this particular death
and to walk away. I forgive us
this defect, the first defection
to the dissolving silence
trailing me like a cloak.
It falls from my shoulders
when my arms rise, awkward
and bare, a child's A
against the light.

copyright 1989 Lisa Bernstein

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Intuitive Tools for Diabetics and Others

toolbox from
You can carry around a practical set of spiritual tools

You already know that caring for your diabetes isn't just about caring for your body. It's also about paying attention to your mind and spirit.

To put it another way, diabetes asks you to help regulate energy use in your body. That means you're already, whether you know it or not, focusing on your personal energy flow. That's what you're doing when you're tweaking your diabetes self-care in response to stress, emotions, and other energetic challenges.

But this can sound vague and mystical. What exactly are we talking about here? 

Diabetes is the thing that led me to hone my skills as a clairvoyant reader of the human energy system. But you don’t have to become a clairvoyant reader for diabetes to help you access more of your personal power and intuitive abilities. 

A good way to start getting a handle on your own energy system is to use eight intuitive tools that I can teach you. They're accessible, illuminating, and fun.

The upcoming posts will teach you how to practice an intuitive style of meditation that involves relaxation, visualization, and working with your energy anatomy. You can bring these tools into your daily eyes-open life too.

I already posted a couple of blog entries about the first tool: calling up a sense of amusement. Check it out: part 1, and part 2,

You can start using these tools for five minutes each day and spend more time at it from there; even five minutes a day will create beneficial changes for you. You’ll also learn to apply these intuitive tools to your non-meditating life. They will take some steady practice, but I’m betting you’ll enjoy it.

You will learn how to:
  • Release stress, and avoid a good deal of it in the first place
  • Get back in synch with your body
  • Replenish your body and spirit
  • Create personal boundaries to feel safe and sane
  • Handle a variety of situations and settings
  • Get to know and enjoy your own energy and the energy of others
  • Visualize and create new outcomes in every area of your life 
  • Be more amused, neutral, and forgiving – well, more of the time
  • Know yourself better and experience what you know as the divine or God
The specific diabetes-related benefits include:

tools from
  • Improving blood-sugar control and other physiological variables
  • Making healthier choices about diet, exercise, medications, and the details of diabetic self-care
  • Finding your diabetes easier to manage
  • Discovering ways out of depression, which is more prevalent among diabetics
  • Working better with your medical team
  • Communicating more effectively with insurance companies and medical providers
  • Gaining the support you need from family and community
  • Navigating the variability of the diabetes experience with more success and self-forgiveness
Enjoy! And feel free to contact me about a private reading and coaching session. Email me at lisabmusic at hotmail dot com or use Twitter or the contact form here:

copyright © 2013 Lisa Bernstein

Saturday, June 15, 2013

New Testimonials

A few testimonials from 2013 were just posted on my intuitive services site. I'm grateful, and as always, eager for the coming week's readings.

Please get in touch if you're interested in a clairvoyant reading, which includes healing and some coaching as appropriate to you. You can email me at lisabmusic at hotmail dot com or contact me via the form on the contact page at the site whose link is given above. Questions welcome!

Selected 2013 Testimonials

Thanks for taking so much time with me last night. I appreciate your insights and intuitive observations. It was remarkable to me how well you homed in on some of the issues of my past/present and the image you saw from my childhood. It opened up a whole train of thought that was very illuminating. Also want to compliment your delivery, which is calm and compassionate. It's always a challenge for me to open myself up to someone I don't know (therapy was never something that worked for me), and you made it feel safe, and nonjudgmental. I can see you have a gift for this work. Will definitely recommend you to anyone who asks. – S.B., musician, Berkeley, California

Thank you, Lisa. I found the reading to be very enlightening, powerful, and clarifying. I must set something up again." – Mrs. Rebecca Reyes, Stockton, California

light blue pattern from lisabintuitive.comThe reading was a great experience. After a good night's sleep, I felt so light and almost had a perma-grin the entire next day. I appreciate your gift. – C.J., California

“Lisa was the center of attention at a recent Tarot Card Reading / Cocktail party I had with my friends. Everyone was complimentary of Lisa's skills and attention to them throughout the evening. She was very accommodating - staying on much later than originally planned in order to provide everyone in attendance a chance to meet with her individually. I would recommend Lisa - she was the highlight of the party! – Andre B., San Francisco

copyright © 2013 Lisa Bernstein

Monday, June 10, 2013

Spiritual Mechanics Is Not About Self-Improvement

Spiritual mechanics is not about self-improvement or trying really hard. It’s about being who you are. 

As I use and teach spiritual mechanics, one of the most empowering ideas I work with is this: It's not about taking you from a state of badness to a state of goodness. It's about being more of who you are.

While intuitive tools will very likely benefit you enormously as a diabetic and a human being, they’re not about self-improvement or improving others. They’re about connecting with your essence, your authentic, unique being, your self. This is the foundation for becoming more capable at creating what you want.

First off, as you start to use intuitive tools, you start to work with your body.

It may seem like a contradiction that doing spiritual work means working with your body. But if you think about it, it makes sense: once you home in on being aware of yourself as an energy being, a unique spirit, you get some separation from your body, and along with it, more awareness of and -- I hope -- communication with your body.

You want that communication to be largely positive -- which is a rarer experience than you might suppose.

Most of us are constantly giving our bodies negative judgments: your body is too short, too tall, too fat, too thin, too white, too black, too toned, too muscle-bound. Or maybe we’re giving our bodies positive judgments that contain with them the shadow of disapproval. Rarely do we look at our bodies and simply accept them.

Poor body; it’s a wonder it carries on with such fortitude and resilience in the face of this onslaught of judgmental communication, like a loyal dog who loves and stands by you no matter what you tell it. The effect of advertising’s pervasive messages about our bodies has only augmented our individual self-judgment.

Diabetes can bring with it another layer of negative self-judgment and body-judgment.

Often, as we step up to respond to diabetes and control it – a positive activity – we adopt another layer of self-judgment: your blood sugar is too high or too low, your measured cholesterol and blood-pressure levels are in or out of the desired ranges, you’re walking how many minutes per week?, you’re ingesting the right or wrong amount of carbohydrates and fats, etc. Diabetic self-care means another stream of judgments about our bodies. We want to do the diabetic self-care activities, which are necessary and valuable, but we want to remove from them blame and self-judgment. Make choices, analyze what works, but take away that layer of "bad girl" or "bad boy" from the equation.

Want a break from judging your body?

Allow yourself a few moments to simply be -- and to be in your body -- without judgment.

First of all, when you sit down to use intuitive tools, you are giving yourself time and space to simply be. That’s how it works. You start to settle into your body and acknowledge where it is in that moment. You don’t criticize the body and you don’t praise the body. You just be in the body and greet it where it is. Once you’ve gotten your body more comfortable, more fully owned and occupied by you, you can start to do other things in your energy space.

The key is to approach these spiritual activities with non-judgment, or neutrality. You’re not doing them with an eye toward improving yourself or other people according to a checklist; instead, you’re just looking, seeing, choosing, and then changing what you’re looking at, using your mind’s eye. Meanwhile you’re allowing your body to release any energy that feels like tension or discomfort (more tools on exactly how to do that to come in later posts -- but it also works if you just tell yourself that it's OK to release what doesn't feel good).

Instead of aiming to “be better,” you aim to “feel better.” This means, at its core, becoming and expressing more of you who are. You can home in on who you are each time you use spiritual mechanics.

Stop trying, for a change.

Also, you’ll get to practice an attitude related to neutrality: not trying. Your body loves to strive, to be in effort. Go running, wash the floor, climb a mountain. Sweat, grunt, feel that you’re working and accomplishing something: that’s what the body loves, and it’s how we’ve been trained to measure achievement. This can be great fun.

But intuitive activities work differently. When you’re in your mind’s eye, you don’t need to try. Imagine a horse. Imagine your mother’s face. Let them float away. There, you’re already practicing an ability that you instinctively possess. 

In contrast, that feeling of trying hard in spiritual work/play means that you’re using your physical energy, rather than your intuitive abilities. As you test out one or two tools, you’ll see that not trying, while it may seem paradoxical, is a delightful respite from the more striving approaches you’re probably used to in your waking life, or maybe even in previous spiritual activities. 

And of course, once you get used to using your intuitive “not trying” skill, you’ll be able to draw on it more easily while doing physical things, whether it’s following a hunch in the moment or hearing and responding to your inner guidance system as you make little and big choices throughout the weeks.

copyright © 2013 Lisa Bernstein


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Diabetics Are Already Primed to Use Spiritual (or Energy-Awareness) Tools

blue waves illustration from Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes blog
Everyone can use basic spiritual tools to feel better, but diabetics are especially primed to do so. 

While you handle the daily, often-challenging tasks of diabetes self-care, you can use a set of eight accessible spiritual or energy-awareness tools to become healthier and have a better time. In fact, the first activity (diabetes self-care) goes hand in hand with the second (using spiritual, or intuitive, tools).

Using these energy-awareness tools should not replace the program you and your diabetic support team have come up with to take care of your body. Instead, the spiritual mechanics I'll go on to teach you complement conventional medical programs.

Whether you’re a type 1 or type 2 diabetic, whether you’ve been told you’re pre-diabetic or at risk, whether you use insulin, pills, or other forms of medication, or you control your diabetes wholly through diet and exercise, you’ll find that practicing the intuitive tools I'll describe in the upcoming posts reduces stress, makes you feel better, and causes your own energy to run more smoothly.

It also will help you remove blocks to taking care of yourself and enable you to find reservoirs of self-healing. This in turn is likely to improve your blood-sugar control and help your other physiological systems run better. On top of that, you’ll gain rewarding insights about yourself and your life, and better tactics for creating the outcomes you want to create.

Intuitive abilities are in your hard-wiring as a human being.

You are wired to possess fundamental intuitive abilities. In fact, as a child, you knew how to use your intuition, although maybe not in an organized or conscious way. This knowledge was probably lost, forgotten, or hidden in the process of growing up, when intuitive abilities are often derided as childish, fantastical, useless, or at worst, crazy. 

glassy blue illustration from Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes blogBut you still use them, and have glimpses of yourself doing so – when you have a “gut feeling,” know something “off the top of your head,” and respond to other messages from your inner guidance system that just happen to steer you right.

Diabetes can be a doorway back to those intuitive abilities. Why? Because what these abilities really involve is working with your energy. We diabetics already pay attention to energy management, responding to energy fluctuations inside and outside of ourselves and noticing how they are reflected in our blood-sugar levels and other physical responses. Using intuitive tools simply gives you a way to work with your energy on a deeper level.

Managing stress.

Probably the main way you’ve come to think about managing energy is in terms of “stress.” Without a doubt, any of the stresses our bodies experience, whether mental, emotional, physical, or situational – whether from work, relationships, family, the institutions we interact with, our physical environment, our behavior, or the food we put in our mouths – can make diabetes more difficult to manage and can foster other physical disorders and illnesses. 

Even fun stress can create adrenaline surges that throw off our blood-sugar control. Most damaging, however, according to many scientific studies, is the experience of incessant stress. This ongoing interference may well have been the last straw tipping our bodies into diabetes to begin with.

Using spiritual mechanics reduces external stress. It also helps you release stress-causing internal blocks in your energy systems. 

In other words, spiritual mechanics are a toolbox of actions to respond to what’s going on in you and around you amid the flux of each day.

What are your energy and your energy space?

Now that I’ve thrown around the term “energy," it wouldn’t hurt to define it. “Energy” can mean:
  • The capacity of a physical system to cause change or perform work 
  • Physiological fuel 
  • Strength, vitality, usable power 
  • The resources to act, think, exist 
  • The essence filling all matter, living and inanimate 
  • A spiritual substance that is you; your spirit 
  • Information 
How can this untouchable substance be felt, known, seen, controlled, played with, and harnessed by you?

Diabetes thrusts the awareness of energy in our faces. Whether your body resists the use of insulin (type 2 diabetes) or doesn’t produce enough of it (type 1, and some type 2 diabetes), diabetes means you’re unable to turn physical fuel into energy without help. 
red and orange circles from Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes blog
That is, diabetics are already engaged with the dilemmas of energy use in our bodies. Hence we’re primed to learn more about how we use energy in both obvious and subtle ways. 

That means learning about the human energy anatomy: each person’s space, or vibrational field (also called the aura) and the seven main energy centers (also called the chakras).

What is the difference between your personal space and everything else? How can you give energy to yourself, and use your own energy? How can you get rid of energy that keeps and causes pain and discomfort -- and attract energy that feels and works better for you? How can you differentiate between being responsive to those outside of your energy space and being responsible for them? How can you create outcomes you want?

Read on; more posts to come soon.

Or contact me now for an individual coaching session along with a mini-reading. (I'm running a special through April 2013: pay what you can afford. Can't beat that!)

copyright © 2013 Lisa Bernstein