Why Do Good People Sometimes Do Bad Things?

By Dr. Steven Mintz

The Role of Cognitive Dissonance

Have you ever wondered why people you know who seem to be paragons of virtue sometimes deviate from ethical norms and do the wrong thing? Just about everybody knows such a person. But, what causes them to act that way in a particular situation? I was interviewed for my views on these issues by the Pakistani magazine, The FEEEL.

We can start the discussion by examining the concept of cognitive dissonance. It holds that there is a disconnect between how we think we should behave and how we do behave. This could be due to ethical blind spots, or the inability to see the ethical dimension of a problem.

Most people deal with cognitive dissonance in one of three ways:

Change one or more of our attitudes, behaviors, or beliefs so as to bring the two into alignment.

Acquire new information that outweighs the dissonant beliefs.

Reduce the importance of the beliefs, attitudes, or beliefs.

A recent example of cognitive dissonance is the number of people that paid a broker with connections to get their kids admitted to the best colleges. Two holiday stars that caught up in the wrongdoing are Felicity Huffman and Lori Laughlin. These are otherwise ethical people who deviated from ethical norms in order to achieve a desired result namely the admission to a college of their choice in a situation where their kids probably couldn’t meet the rigorous standards for admission.

Rationalizations for Bad Behavior

People who act unethically generally provide rationalizations for their behavior. Underlying these explanations is the concept of situational ethics where decisions are made in a subjective manner and based on the underlying circumstances. The problem here is the decision-maker lacks an ethical foundation to tell right from wrong and allows each situation to detect right and wrong rather than rely on ethical norms such as honesty and integrity. A person of integrity would never engage in pay to play schemes.

Another rationalization is what’s going on now with respect to K-12 kids cheating on online tests and explaining it away by saying remote learning is so difficult or that the teacher doesn’t teach so cheating is acceptable. This is just another form of situational ethics.

Another rationalization is to say the decision was a on-off affair. It only happened this one time and then I’ll go back to being ethical. The problem here is the so-called ethical slippery slope phenomenon. In other words, once you cheat in one area, especially if you get away with it, you are more likely to cheat again and it becomes an unhealthy pattern of behavior.

Another rationalization occurs in many workplace ethical dilemmas. It is to explain the need to be a team player and not rock the boat. Here, you may be concerned about retaliation if you don’t go along with what your boss has asked you to do. The culture of an organization may contribute to bad behaviors.

To better cope with these situations, ask yourself the following questions:

Would you normally consider this action to be wrong?

Are you excusing bad behavior by blaming others?

Are you blaming the victim to excuse your bad behaviors?

One test I use in teaching ethics to college students is what I call the social media test. Ask yourself: How would you feel if the decision you are about to make was discussed on social media? Would you proud of it? Would you be able to defend it?

Emotional Intelligence

The underlying cause of bad behaviors is often a lack of emotional intelligence. Simply stated, emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions. There are five elements of emotional intelligence including the following.

Self-awareness. Being conscious of your own feelings and motives. You know how your emotions affect yourself and others, and you don’t allow your emotions to control you.

Self-regulation. You don’t make impulsive decisions. You think about the consequences of an action before deciding what to do.

You think about the big picture and assess how your actions will contribute to long-term success.

You are not self-centered but empathize with others and your situations. You tend to be a good listener, slow to judge, and understanding of the needs and wants of others.

It’s also important to know the signs that can indicate a lack of emotional intelligence including the following.

Trouble being assertive or taking charge.

Don’t handle feedback well.

Hold grudges.

Can’t move past your mistakes.

Feel misunderstood.

Judgmental, easily offended, and have difficulty maintaining relationships.

Allow your emotions to control you rather than being in control of them and acting accordingly.

Coping Skills

There are ways to develop coping skills and strengthen your resolve so that cognitive dissonance does not occur. Instead, your attitudes and beliefs are in harmony with your behaviors. The most important is to understand the triggers that can lead to bad behavior. This may be due to placing too much trust in others and not in your own feelings and ability to distinguish right from wrong.

Ethics education is important. This provides a foundation for rightful behavior and develops the characteristics to enable a person to not only see what the right thing to do is but have the skills to make that decision and carry through with ethical behavior.

Training is important especially where workplace ethics is concern. All organizations should commit to ethics training to develop a strong culture that says to employees: Do what we say which is in concert with what we do.

About Dr. Steven Mintz:
Dr. Steven Mintz (www.stevenmintzethics.com), author of “Beyond Happiness and Meaning: Transforming Your Life Through Ethical Behavior”, has frequently commented on ethical issues in society and business ethics through his Ethics Sage blogs. His Workplace Ethics Advice blog has been recognized as one of the top 30 in corporate social responsibility. He also has served as an expert witness on ethics matters. Dr. Mintz spent almost 40 years of his life in academia. He has held positions as a chair in Accounting at San Francisco State University and Texas State University. He was the Dean of the College of Business and Public Administration at Cal State University, San Bernardino. He recently retired as a Professor Emeritus from Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo. Mintz received the Accounting Exemplar Award from the Public Interest Section of the American Accounting Association.

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Strategies to Manifest Mindfulness in the New Year

By Dr. Patrick Porter

People across the globe are determined to make 2021 better than its predecessor. If we’ve learned anything from 2020, it’s the importance of our health and wellbeing. The pandemic brought “mindfulness” to the masses as it created a rare opportunity for us all to breathe, reflect, and focus on the most important aspects of life. Many people (who would otherwise not engage in mindfulness activities) started journaling, meditating, and other practices to ease anxiety and cope with the chaos. The traumatic events of last year forced people to make their mental health a priority. It comes as no surprise that “mindfulness” is at the top of many New Year’s resolutions lists.

Practicing mindfulness is one of the best things you can do not only for your brain but also your body. Mindfulness activities have been proven to help people reduce stress, prevent burnout, boost productivity, and so much more.

As a Neuroscience expert, I am frequently asked about the subject of “mindfulness.” Here are some of my top strategies to manifest mindfulness and incorporate it into your daily routine:

1. Train Your Brain to Achieve Your Goals
Keeping our brain active by creating new pathways is called neuroplasticity, and it’s a key aspect in achieving our goals. This is what keeps us creative, resilient, upbeat and engaged in life, which sparks our imagination and helps us visualize our accomplishments. Setting goals is important, but you will be unable to achieve them if you don’t know the steps to get there. The more you imagine your goals as being achieved, the better you will be able to focus on them. You can visualize your future and work to manifest and realize the goals you set. Think of it as getting something from your room: if you can see the object you’re going for before the lights are turned off, you are better able to find it in the dark. If you walk into the dark without any light prior, you’ll stumble much more along the way. This is the power of focusing on your goals and visualizing yourself achieving them. Focusing on your goals allows you to accomplish smaller tasks related to the goal which gives you more energy to continue to work at it. Focus and energy are important characteristics in achieving your goals.

2. Lean into the Available Mindfulness Resources & Find One that Works for You:
Because the idea of “mindfulness” has risen in popularity, there are many tools and resources available to facilitate and enhance mindfulness practices. With the rise of technology, we have more access to tools and resources to help us learn how to better practice from mindfulness. Participating in mindfulness even once a day in the middle of your day has been proven to provide great benefits. Studies show that you can reclaim up to 80 percent of the energy you had in the morning by having a mindfulness practice, like BrainTap. BrainTap is a resource that facilitates brain waves that help bring your mind to a state of healing, rest, and relaxation, such as found in deep sleep.

3. Be Mindful of Screen Time:
How much of your day do you spend looking at a screen? Often, we go from looking at a little screen (our phones) to looking at a medium screen (our computers) to looking at a big screen (our televisions) to looking back at the little screen before bed. All these screens and harmful blue lights are depriving the brain of much-needed downtime. Though technology has given us great resources to improve mindfulness, we must be cautious to use this technology wisely. People today are being constantly stimulated, which makes impactful mindfulness impossible. The brain needs periods of rest because this is when it solidifies information and stores memories, which cannot happen when the brain is constantly stimulated.

These brain-boosting tips can help anyone, regardless of the stage of life they are in. It’s crucial that we remember to take care of our brain, strengthening it, nourishing it, and resting it, like we do with the rest of our body. As you practice these exercises, you will recognize a difference in the way your brain functions and remembers throughout the day—and your life.

About Patrick K. Porter:
Patrick K. Porter, Ph.D., is an award-winning author and speaker who has devoted his career to neuroscience and studying the brain. As the creator of BrainTap®, Dr. Porter has emerged as a leader in the digital health and wellness field. BrainTap’s digital tools and apps bring mindfulness and meditation practices to the next level and have made tremendous advances in helping mental, physical, and emotional health issues. BrainTap has been praised for helping people relieve symptoms associated with stress, insomnia, pain, and much more.

For more information visit: www.braintap.com

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The Death Penalty: Cost And Public Opinion Support Biden’s Plan To End It

By David Dozier

A study in California revealed that the cost of capital punishment in the state has been over $4 billion since it was reinstated in 1978. Since California has executed 13 prisoners during that time, the cost per execution is more than $307 million. Other financial facts about the death penalty show capital cases in some states costing millions more than life imprisonment.

So, more people are asking: Is it worth it?

Cost is one factor people sometimes don’t consider in the debate over the death penalty. The complexity of seeking it and carrying out an execution is a long and expensive process. Many capital cases are appealed, and incarceration on death row can span 10, 15 or 20 or more years. And with capital punishment costs imposing a burden on state government budgets that are already stretched, it’s more cost-effective to commute death penalties to life imprisonment without parole.

But cost is just one reason that President-elect Joe Biden should work toward ending the death penalty in the U.S. As part of his criminal justice reform platform, he has pledged to abolish the federal death penalty and to give incentives to states to stop seeking death sentences. (Currently, capital punishment is authorized in 28 states.) Another reason to end the death penalty is its ties to racism. The Biden-Harris administration plans to address racism on many fronts.

Awareness of the killings of unarmed Black people by police has heightened the sensitivity of White Americans to racial injustice and prompted protests. The death penalty is targeted at persons of color: Black Americans make up 13% of the U.S. population – but 34% of persons executed since 1976.

Too often, the death penalty is a poor man’s punishment. District attorneys are more likely to go after poor defendants who are trying to fight for their lives with overworked and underpaid public defenders. DA’s sometimes put dirty cops above the law by refusing to prosecute police who kill unarmed persons of color. That’s because police unions and prison guard unions pump lots of money into DA political campaigns. But if a Black man kills a policeman, police and police unions will push DA’s to seek the death penalty.

A third reason the death penalty should be eliminated both in the U.S. and around the world is because it is cruel – a barbaric and sadistic violation of human rights. It is pure hypocrisy for a nation such as ours to view itself as a beacon for human rights while ranking seventh in the world for the number of executions we administer. Executions are a form of torture that violate the Eighth Amendment prohibiting the federal government from imposing cruel and unusual punishment.

The U.S. government under President Donald Trump in 2020 carried out the most federal executions ever in a single year. But under Biden, the pendulum should swing; the question is how much on a state level. Meantime, it’s good to see public opinion shifting toward the elimination of the death penalty. Using an unbiased question, a 2019 Gallup poll on capital punishment showed 60% of Americans favored life in prison for murder while only 36% preferred the death penalty.

Public support for the death penalty has dipped near a 48-year low, and at the same time there is a bipartisan movement in state legislatures and Congress to end it. Many politicians and ordinary Americans are bothered by executions of innocent people. For every nine prisoners executed, an innocent death row inmate is exonerated. DNA science and advances in law enforcement have cleared numerous death row inmates.

As Biden enters the White House, numerous Democratic lawmakers have already written to him about their objections to the death penalty, asking him to sign an executive order to eliminate federal executions and calling capital punishment unjust, racist and defective. And conservatives in several states have pushed back against the death penalty, saying it is too costly, inconsistent with conservatives’ opposition to abortion, subject to error, and not an effective deterrent.

The momentum of states toward abolishing the death penalty, and the strengthening bipartisan footing against it on state and federal levels, make Biden’s goal of ending capital punishment a stronger possibility. You can measure the cost of the death penalty in many ways – in terms of public policy and sheer, enormous dollars; in morality; and in racism. But any way you slice it, it comes out as wrong. The Biden Administration has a great opportunity to get it right.

About David Dozier:
David Dozier (www.DavidDozierBooks.com) is the author of The California Killing Field and an internationally recognized expert and speaker on mass communication, public relations, and communication management. Professor emeritus in the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University, Dozier is author or co-author of over 100 books, book chapters, articles, and scholarly papers, and his works have been cited by other scholars over 4,000 times. Among his numerous honors are: the 1990 Pathfinder Award from the Institute for Public Relations Research and Education for his contribution to original scholarly research in the field; in 2008, named Outstanding Educator by the Public Relations Society of America; in 2009, named a Research Fellow by the Institute for Public Relations; in 2014, recipient of the Norma B. Connelly Public Affairs Service Award “for exceptional meritorious service to the U.S. Navy Public Affairs.” Dozier received his doctorate in communication research from Stanford University.

Remember the ‘Resolve’ in Resolution

By Cyndi Dale

Several years ago, my son Gabriel was brainstorming ways to make money. Apparently he didn’t think he would receive enough for Christmas—not an amount adequate to purchase that mighty amazing electric guitar, anyway. And so, he was establishing various tasks by which he could fleece mother of as much money as possible. How about twenty dollars for a flushed toilet? How about another hundred to clean it—just the top, of course? Upon hearing too many refusals, he chose another recourse. A threat.

“Mom, if you don’t let me make money, I’ll become a lawyer when I grow up.”

I think the idea was that he could then sue me for everything I was worth.

Every January, the turn of the calendar is synonymous with the word “pause.” Most of us want our upcoming year to differ, at least in part, from the previous one. So we set resolutions.

A resolution is usually defined as a goal or a promise. We decree that this year, we’ll lose weight, meet a mate, break up a bad relationship, or exercise. That’s great—but we have to remember that another definition of the word is “the process of resolving something.” We can’t create the future until we embrace, reflect upon, and with kindness, release the past. And maybe, we need to make a few changes.

Most of us review the past as if flipping through the pages of a book once read, stopping at the turned-down corners to peruse the most important moments, lessons, and events. Some storylines are painful. Life is tragic. It is full of undeserved pain, hurt inflicted by others on us; and even worse, harm we’ve caused to others. Some narratives are happier. Life is comedic, glistening with the serendipitous. We seemingly can’t—or don’t know how—to have one without the other. If we really desire a better future, however, we have to be a little more intentional than simply read the highlights. We have to dig.

We have to dig for the selves we’ve buried.

We lose so much of ourselves on the way. That five-year-old who was hated by her mother? That ten-year-old who was yelled at by dad? That first real life partner, the one who cheated on us? We’ve left so many ages of ourselves behind, thinking we’re better off without them, when the truth is that whatever—whoever—we fail to bring “up to date” continues to run our lives. That five-year-old will continue to attract relationships based on hate. The ten-year-old has either become an alcoholic or partners with them. And broken hearts just keep on breaking—or breaking the hearts of others, don’t they? If someone hurts us, we’ll either hurt others the same way or become vulnerable to people who are all too happy to scald us with the same hot water.

New Year’s Eve is a perfect time to pay tribute to who we are and have been by listening to the “village within,” the various selves that have been hurt, damaged, confused, or treated with unrecognized kindness and civility. Taking an hour or two for quiet reflection is a good start. Sit in silence or listen to calming music and ask the unremembered selves to appear. There might be quite a queue.

Let each present him- or herself and ask what occurred that made them feel like they had to remain hidden in the past. Most of the time, your inner selves will present detrimental or abusive memories. Sometimes, however, they’ll hold up a joyful event, one you’ve forgotten to remember and so, are having a hard time repeating. As the adult in the process, treat the inner self in the way you wished an authority would have. If you are confused, ask your higher self to assist. This is the part of you that knows it is connected to God. Or ask the Divine to help more directly. Finally, remember to reflect on the word “change.” Are there any actions you should take to complete this healing? To alter the present so you can forge a more fruitful future?

We don’t always have to walk the road of the distant past. Sometimes more recent inner selves require a listening ear. Maybe we forgot to say, “I’m sorry,” to someone we love. Maybe we need to say the same to our self. Maybe we need to pepper the universe with more thank you’s.

Peering through the looking glass backward is only half of the New Year’s blitz. Once we’ve jettisoned the anchors to the past, we have to decide where we’re going to head. Why set sail without a course?

Most of us confine our goal setting to New Year’s Eve, but it’s not a process to rush. Pause. Take time to savor your desires, one at a time. Ask your heart if an objective is really all that important or if you’d rather spend the energy a different way. We might want to buy a new house, but do we need to? Is the outcome worth the effort? Might we be better off spending more time with our kids or taking up a hobby? There’s that negligent ten pounds. Do we really want to pretend that we’re going to shed them or would we rather work harder and buy a new wardrobe? If you don’t get an immediate answer, meditate on the subject for a few days. Let the process unfold the outcome.

It’s also important to examine the motives for our goals. It would be a sad world, for Gabe to become a lawyer just because he’s mad at his mother. The truth is that people we set objectives for the wrong reasons all the time and then live in regret, yet another way of hiding in the past. That potential artist? The writer? The super-duper accountant or horseback rider or business consultant? He or she is still secreted in a corner of our hearts while the adult self cloaks itself behind medical garb or apron or cowboy boots or some other attire that doesn’t suit us.

Above all, remember the “two sides” to resolutions. There’s the part that concerns the past and the part that regards the future. In the middle, is our divine self—the self that can be contacted in any pause. Between heartbeats. Between breaths. Between thoughts and actions. We can visit this place, this space within ourselves, once a year, like most people do. Or we can decide to live there.

Maybe Gabe won’t grow up to be a lawyer after all.


About Cyndi Dale:
Cyndi Dale is an internationally renowned author, speaker, and energy healer. She is the author of 27 books on energy medicine, intuition, and spirituality.
www.cyndidale.com

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It’s Better to Give and Receive

By Christine Arylo

“It’s better to give than receive” — six seemingly innocent words you have likely heard but don’t give a second thought. Seems like good counsel for being a good human, right? But look more closely. Instead of seeing just another nice saying, use your wise-woman eyes to see another unconscious program running your thoughts and actions.

If it’s better to give than receive, how might that affect your choices for how you show up in your relationships? At work? For yourself? If it is better to give than receive, wouldn’t it follow that you should give as much as you can, even if you don’t have it to give? If it is better to give than receive, what might be the impact on your capacity to ask for or receive support from others?

Is the lightbulb turning on yet? If it is better to give than receive, no wonder why when someone tries to give you support — a compliment, help, money, kindness — you experience a knee-jerk response to give back. We women cannot just receive. We feel we must give, too. If we don’t return the giving, we feel guilty or selfish, and proceed to sacrifice ourselves in some other way to make up for it.

Give or receive. It’s another duality reality! Here the internal tug-of-war makes us believe we must choose between giving (to others, our work, and the world) and receiving (for ourselves) what we need.

But why should you have to choose receiving or giving? Why can’t you have both? It makes no sense to have to choose between supporting others and receiving the support and resources you need. If this is an abundant Universe, as the ancient sages teach, with infinite possibility, as the scientists say, shouldn’t there be enough for everyone to both give to others and receive for themselves?

Don’t let the simplicity of what I am sharing fool you. The “it’s better to give than receive” program seems harmless, but within our hearts it’s wreaking havoc. I see it like an insidious parasite that’s wormed its way into our internal operating systems, making it crazy challenging to stop sacrificing ourselves for the good of others, and we can’t see why. Did you know that parasites can make the animals that host them act unnaturally, in ways unhealthy to the host but beneficial to the parasite? This particular self-sacrificing parasite compels you to work and relate in unnatural and unhealthy ways, including giving too much and draining your reserves even though you know better. The result? You bankrupt yourself.

If you can reveal the specific ways you overgive, you become empowered to shift the imbalance.

I am going to break down for you the most common ways women overgive of their life force (that is, energy, love, and attention) and their resources (including time, money, and support) and as a result deplete themselves. I call these the OVERgiving Imprints, or the “OVERs.” This will give you language to illuminate the deeper emotional imprints that, like a parasite, drive you to keep sacrificing yourself. One thing to note before we dive in. This will require self-honesty. Because the ways in which you overgive in many cases are how you have come to value and define who you are. How’s that for deep?

The 13 OVERgiving Imprints
Read through each of these OVERgiving Imprints with the intention of revealing which might be running in your internal operating system. Pause after each to consider if it rings true for you, by asking, Have I been or am I…?
1. OVERcaretaking: You overempathize with and caretake others. You feel, take on, and carry other people’s stuff — worries, concerns, needs, and life or work challenges. You take over-
responsibility for people, projects, organizations, issues, or the world.

2. OVERcompensating: You feel the gaps or the needs with a project, organization, or family member and then fill them in or fulfill them with your life force, money, or time. You make up for what other people can’t, don’t, or won’t show up for.

3. OVERconnecting: You spend a lot of your energy and time connecting with others — at home, at work, online, at networking events, and more — but leave little space for connection with yourself. You spend too much energy and time “out,” not enough “in.”

4. OVERcontrolling: You plan, strategize, and organize, leaving nothing to chance. You allow no space for others to step in or lead. You overcontrol how things work and flow.

5. OVERdoing: You rarely stop moving. Resting makes you anxious. You are perpetually busy. You find it hard to do things that are not productive, just for pleasure. You go to sleep and wake up with your to-do list.

6. OVERefforting: You work harder and longer than is needed, giving 110 percent when 80 percent would do. You believe hard work is what makes you successful or valuable, so you work harder than others, giving everything your all.

7. OVERextending: You give, spend, or invest more money, time, and energy than you have. You stretch yourself to the point of stressing and depleting yourself. You don’t have the resources and time you need, because you’ve given them to others or spent beyond your capacity.

8. OVERfocusing on the future: You obsessively think about what could or will happen. You get so focused on the goal, outcome, or plan that you pressure yourself to keep moving until you “get there.” You waste your life force on all the anxiety or frustration you feel about the future. You don’t receive or savor the joy of the present in the process.

9. OVERindulging: You eat, drink, spend, or binge-watch TV more than is healthy, to compensate for the lack of nourishment, support, love, and care you receive. In the moment, your indulgence feels good or numbs you, but you end up with a physical, emotional, or financial hangover.

10. OVERperfecting: You put too much time, energy, and effort into make something an A+ when a B would do, stressing yourself and others out. You pay attention to details no one else sees, wasting life force for little return. Or you procrastinate about completing things, trying to perfect what no one else cares about.

11. OVERpromising: You say or impulsively blurt out “Yes, I can!” when you know you can’t or before you’ve even paused to consider whether you can do what’s being asked. You take on more than is possible to do in the time or with the resources you have available, and then you have to deliver.

12. OVERprotecting: You’ve learned to protect yourself so much that you can’t receive the love, attention, and care you need. You block physical affection, support, and intimate connection, or you waste energy chasing relationships that are not fulfilling or supportive.

13. OVERworking: You give so much to your work that your relationships, health, and happiness suffer. You tell yourself that one day you’ll have time for fun, love, and pleasure, which never happens, because there’s always more work.
Chances are, you relate to more than a few of these imprints; most women do. But usually one, two, or three are most present and pervasive now.

What we are revealing here together is much deeper than a few mental beliefs you can positively think or “affirmation” yourself out of. Self-sacrifice and taking it all on have been imprinted onto the psyches, cells, and hearts of women at deep generational and cultural levels. These ways of doing, being, working, mothering, taking care of others, and valuing our worth have been passed down from generation to generation for centuries. Now it’s up to our generation of women to break the cycles of self-sacrifice for ourselves, each other, and the girls and women to come.

About Christine Arylo, MBA:
Christine Arylo, MBA, is the author of “Overwhelmed and Over It”. As a transformational leadership advisor, three-time bestselling author, and host of the popular Feminine Power Time podcast, she is recognized worldwide for her work helping women to make shifts happen — in the lives they lead, the work they do, and the world they wish to create. Arylo offers workshops globally and lives near Seattle. Visit her online at http://www.OverwhelmedandOverIt.com.

Excerpted from the book “Overwhelmed and Over It”. Copyright ©2020 by Christine Arylo. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

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GAIN Resilience and Reduce Stress

By Greg Hammer, MD

Two potent inducers of stress are (1) uncertainty about the future and (2) a world that does not comport with our wants and needs. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic brings both conditions and rampant, world-wide stress. Stress causes increases in adrenaline and cortisol in our bodies, increasing our heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar. Acute stress may be adaptive, enabling us, for example, to escape a predator by focusing our attention and directing blood flow to our muscles so we can run faster. When stress lasts for days, weeks, and even months, however, it is maladaptive. Chronic stress has adverse effects on our immune system as well as our heart and blood vessels. Chronic stress also induces changes in our chromosomes akin to aging. We are all better off learning how to reduce such stress by becoming more resilient in the face of adversity, especially during the current global coronavirus crisis.

There are four core pillars of resilience: Gratitude, Acceptance, Intention, and Nonjudgment. Together these principles form the acronym, GAIN. We can practice GAIN beginning with a 3-minute contemplation or meditation each morning; this will prepare us to remind ourselves of these essential elements of resilience throughout our day. Examples of thoughts we might embrace during this time of extraordinary stress:

1. Gratitude: We all have much for which to be grateful. Let’s consider how much better off most of us are than our ancestors were 100 years ago during the influenza pandemic of 1918. During that crisis there was little communication – no internet to keep people updated or able to Facetime with friends and family, poor sanitation, and far too few hospital beds and other essential resources to manage the critically ill. There were not enough ambulances, caskets, or burial sites for those who had succumbed to the virus. Bodies were moved to bedrooms in homes, where they often remained for days or longer. Nowadays we have much improved access to medical care, food, and other necessities. As bad as things are, they could be much worse. We do indeed have reasons to be grateful.
2. Acceptance: As the Serenity Prayer reminds us, we are well served to discern between those things we can and cannot change and accept the latter. During this historically difficult time there is much that we cannot change. Let’s open our hearts to the pain and suffering of others and ourselves and abide there, accepting these feelings. We did not create this pandemic and we cannot cure it. We can only manage to remain safe by practicing social distancing while staying in touch with our loved ones by text, email, Facetime, and other means.
3. Intention: Our brains are wired with a negativity bias. We remember feelings and events that are sad and painful while often losing track of the wonderful moments in life. The good news is that we can use our intention to re-wire our brains. A good example is the “Three Good Things” program initiated at Duke University (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZ4aT_RVHCs). Simply thinking of three good things that happened during our day as we prepare for bed each evening improves our sleep and happiness. This practice is easy to embrace and requires no time – we simply need to be purposeful and diligent in embracing it regularly. Our brains remain plastic, or changeable, even during adulthood, contrary to what many may believe. We simply need to deploy our intention.
4. Nonjudgment: We tend to continuously compare ourselves to others and form judgments of good or bad. “He is smarter than I am” or “she is not as athletic as I am.” The process of constantly categorizing and judging is exhausting and detracts from our happiness. Unfortunately, we tend to judge ourselves most harshly. Fortunately, there is an alternative – we can simply view the world and ourselves with open minds and hearts and adopt a sort of “benevolent indifference.” This is not to be confused with being jaded or crass, but rather means that we can rest our judging minds and enjoy things just the way they are. Again, we did not create this world and we can do little to change it. Let’s simply accept the way things are without judgment.

The GAIN practice can help us be more present. We tend toward obsession of the past and future in ways that are maladaptive, distracting ourselves from being present. While it is adaptive to savor our past pleasurable memories and learn from our mistakes, it is harmful to be stuck in thoughts of regret and shame. Similarly, with thoughts of the future – it is adaptive to look forward to good times and plan to put food on the table, but maladaptive to ruminate over thoughts that bring fear and anxiety. Due to our negativity bias we tend to catastrophize, meaning that we focus on the worst-case scenario, even though this rarely comes to fruition. Happiness indeed resides in the present moment. Consider your happiest times – laughing with others at a hilarious joke or event, connecting with a friend or lover, enjoying a moving concert or painting. All of these experiences are devoid of thoughts of the past or future. We are “right here right now.” Mindfulness means “paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally”, according to its founder, Jon Kabat-Zinn. By embracing and employing the elements of GAIN, we are more mindful, resilient, and happy.

About Greg Hammer MD:
A pediatric intensive care physician and pediatric anesthesiologist, Dr. Hammer cares for infants and children of all ages as well as their families as they endure very stressful times. Dr. Hammer is the author of the soon-to-be-released books “GAIN Without Pain: The Happiness Handbook for Healthcare Professionals”.

A popular guest lecturer, he frequently speaks around the world in order to share his philosophy with physicians and other medical professionals. Dr. Hammer’s clinical focus is in pediatric cardiac anesthesia and pediatric critical care medicine. His research is in developmental pharmacology and immunology, and he has an active laboratory with multiple ongoing studies in these areas.

He has published widely on topics related to pharmacology and perioperative care of children undergoing cardiac and thoracic procedures as well as organ transplantation. Dr. Hammer is a health enthusiast and meditator, utilizing a non-duality and mindfulness-based approach, including the GAIN method.

He is a member of the Stanford WellMD initiative. He is currently the Chair of the Physician Wellness Task Force for the California Society of Anesthesiologists and a member of the Wellness Committee for the American Society of Anesthesiologists. He has been a visiting professor and lecturer on Wellness at institutions worldwide.

He teaches GAIN to medical students, residents and fellows at Stanford. Practicing medicine is a privilege. It is immensely rewarding. Yet more and more physicians are suffering from burnout. In order to provide an efficient and effective antidote to burnout, Dr. Hammer created GAIN Without Pain, a four-step process of meditation and mindfulness. GAIN is an acronym for Gratitude, Acceptance, Intention, and Nonjudgment. GAIN practice can substantially reduce stress and increase well-being in as little as three minutes a day.

You can learn more at www.GregHammerMD.com.

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Wearing a Mask is Unmanly….

….and Other Reasons Female World Leaders are Doing a Better Job Beating Coronavirus

By Marian E. Lindberg

What do countries such as New Zealand, Germany, and Taiwan have in common? Aside from having successfully reduced cases of COVID-19, all three have female leaders.

The connection has drawn attention, and is no coincidence. Not simply because these countries’ leaders are women, but because as women they do not carry the baggage that can prevent male leaders such as Donald Trump from taking science-based measures such as setting and respecting national standards for wearing masks. That is, concerns about their manliness.

Current rhetoric in political circles is rife with undertones of manliness. When Jeff Sessions decided to recuse himself from the Russia investigation, Trump disparaged him as “very weak” and not “being a man.” He refers to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer as “that woman from Michigan.” Amid the wave of protests triggered by the death of George Floyd, he has pushed for governors to “get tough,” telling them, “most of you are weak.”

Trump takes us back to an earlier era when accusations of unmanliness in politics were less coded. . In the late 1890’s, when President William McKinley sought to avoid war with Spain over its brutal treatment of Cubans, Theodore Roosevelt, then a Navy bureaucrat, accused McKinley of having “no more backbone than a chocolate éclair.” Jingoist newspapers agreed, calling McKinley a “goody-goody man”—or no man at all. The New York Journal published a cartoon depicting McKinley as an elderly woman pushing a broom against the will of Congress and “The People,” represented as menacing ocean waves. The caption read “Another Old Woman Tries to Sweep Back the Sea.”

Roosevelt and other hawks declared that war against Spain would strengthen American men, who had become too “soft” in their view. If men were stronger, the argument went, women would give up their quest for the vote and focus on being wives and mothers, satisfied that the nation was in good, manly hands. As sociologist Michael Kimmel has written, “The story of America [is] a story of proving and testing manhood.”

In the face of the threats we are confronting today, including a pandemic and climate change, it is important to remember that even in the 1890s a large number of men did not support a martial definition of manliness.

Senator David Hill of New York, for example, asserted that whether to fight Spain was not “simply a question as to whether we were brave enough people to enter upon the experiment.” As historian Kristin Hoganson writes, Hill “and like-minded leaders regarded the Cuban issue not as a crusade but as a policy issue to be settled by sober statements and foreign policy authorities. In effect, they contended that the kind of manhood that should govern foreign policy debate was…that of the dispassionate, educated expert, someone who exercised restraint and sober judgment.”

That sounds a lot like the debates over how to respond to Covid-19: medical expertise and the virtues of compassion and restraint versus assertions of individual “freedom” to do as one pleases. And rhetoric around the pandemic is as rife with undertones of manliness (or lack thereof) as our political rhetoric overall. Just look at the signs on highways entering Manhattan that read “Cover Your Face in Public. We are New York Tough.” And at President Trump’s constant scoffing when asked why he doesn’t wear a mask—which he has said would make [him] look ridiculous for prioritizing health over business. How unmanly.

When it comes to Covid-19, unlike manliness, different approaches can be measured objectively by numbers of cases and deaths. By that measure, heads of state in places such as New Zealand, Germany, and Taiwan who imposed isolation measures early and relied on medical experts to inform their policies clearly saved lives. Free from concerns of manliness, they responded to a major problem dispassionately, based on “sober judgment” and without regard to bravado.

It can take more strength to tell people not to act than to encourage their aggressiveness. The leaders who imposed swift quarantines showed such strength. The adverse economic impacts of curbing movement and commerce were easy to anticipate, but the upside was not clear: what if the quarantines did not prove effective in reducing virus transmission and death?

Today, few officials would argue that a course of action is right because it is “manly.” A statement such as “I want American manhood asserted” (Sen. William M. Stewart, R, Nev., speaking in 1897) would be considered as retrograde in 2020 as “men working” signs.

But concerns with manliness persist just below the surface. When Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said he was willing to die to save the economy, that echoed men such as Stewart and Roosevelt. Faced with an enemy unbeatable through physical force, Patrick turned to dying for his country as a supposedly heroic option.

Yet Covid-19 teaches that strength is not the same as physical power, nor is strength male or female. Those who insist on characterizing Covid-19 as an enemy in a war must accept that in this war, the men and women who made us stand back may have shown the strength we most need.

About Marian E. Lindberg:
Getting to the truth has been the constant in Marian E. Lindberg’s career, first as a
journalist, then as a lawyer, environmentalist, and author. Her new book, Scandal on Plum Island: A Commander Becomes the Accused (East End Press) is the product of extensive research into a 1914 trial and reveals the origins of homophobia as a federal policy.

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Persephone, Seasons & Tarot

From Stacey B. (aka TarotPugs)

Springtime marks the return of Persephone from the Underworld (Hades) when the flowers and trees begin to blossom again and her descent marks the beginning of autumn, but how can we relate this to the tarot?

The minor arcana is associated with the four elements and the four seasons and depending on your practice, it may look like the following below:

• Wands – Spring / Summer
• Cups – Summer / Spring
• Pentacles – Autumn / Winter
• Swords – Winter / Autumn

For the purpose of this post, we’ll use this method:

• Wands – Spring
• Cups – Summer
• Pentacles – Autumn
• Swords – Winter

So how does this all connect with Persephone, the Queen of the Underworld?

Her return to the upper world (Earth) is around the Spring Equinox and her descent beginning around the Autumn Equinox.

However, when we observe the Earth as a whole, Persephone is always in a duality state.

As Persephone rises to be renewed in one hemisphere to mark the beginning of spring known by her name of Kore, she also begins her descent in the other hemisphere to mark the beginning of autumn.

The back and forth of birth and death, spring/renewal, autumn/decay happens twice a year that even in the flourishment of springtime, there is still a hint of Persephone as the Queen of the Underworld.

Persephone, Springtime & Tarot

When working to understand ourselves, our renewal and what we are reawakening after the long sleep of winter, we can turn to the Ace of Wands in the tarot.

The most iconic image of the Ace of Wands in many tarot decks that are based on the Rider Waite Smith (RWS) tarot system depict a wand with buds and leaves growing from it and sometimes falling from it.

New life and vitality are being created, rejuvenated as the Earth below begins to thaw and awaken.

We can examine simply by gazing at the Ace of Wands or when we see the Ace of Wands in a tarot reading during the springtime and ask:

What is being reawakened?
• What is giving me new life from deep within the depths of my unconsciousness?
• What seeds have I planted that are ready to grow now?

These questions can be elaborated and carried through as if a string of thought all the way in the remainder of the Wands suit.

Find and name what is being reawakened, stirred and sprouted from your unconsciousness and watch it grow and mature through the rest of the Wands – from the 2 of Wands until the 10 of Wands when you are then overwhelmed by what has been created.

That’s when the Cups (Summer) happens, the Ace of Cups, to remind you that what you have created is a blessing and that even though you may feel overwhelmed by your creation, your cup is over flowing with love and abundance.

Carry this love and abundance of what started as a seed in the springtime from the Ace of Wands, the seed that Persephone had given you from the depths within, and it flourishes and grows.

Persephone starts as Kore in the springtime, flourishes to her bounty, and then in the Autumn returns to the Underworld and depths as a cycle of life.

Persephone, Autumn & Tarot

When autumn soon arrives again after enjoying what we have created, gave birth to and flourished, we realise our mortality, our finality, the physicality of it all, that all eventually returns back to the earth from whence it came.

When examining the Ace of Pentacles, it becomes as if a token to enter the depths below into Hades.

Charon, the ferryman, must be paid to cross the River Styx, the Ace of Pentacles coin grants this favour to begin the journey across.

As you go further in the suits of the Pentacles, down into Hades and the world where Persephone rules as Queen, you may ask when you see Pentacles cards in your readings in the autumn:

What do I hope to reap?
• What must I leave behind?
• What will my legacy be?

These questions can be elaborated and carried through as if a string of thought all the way in the remainder of the Pentacles suit.

Find and name what has been manifested, created and matured from the springtime and summer, and observe what will be laid to rest so to give nutrients to what will be recreated in the next springtime.

After this, comes the Swords (Winter) and everything from previously in the year comes to rest and the work is done silently and quietly under the surface.

Reflection on the past, processing thoughts and ideas, coming to terms, even travel in the Underworld until finally reaching the end of the suit of Swords when you can finally release and surrender to all that was and be ready to be renewed again in the springtime.

Seasonal Tarot Journey with Persephone

Working with the minor arcana and Persephone can be done through meditation, ritual or journaling to explore the seasons and your own development through the seasons.

Start with the minor arcana suit that corresponds with the season that you’re in now where you live and begin the journey from the beginning of the suit and ask yourself questions along the way how you feel you’re progressing.

Continue the journey until you reach the next equinox or solstice, then begin the journey again with the next suit corresponding to the season.

To add more spirituality to the process, you can work with Persephone to follow her journey along with the seasons.

“Persephone,
blessed daughter of great Zeus,
sole offspring of Demeter,
come and accept this gracious sacrifice.”

– excerpt from Hymn to Persephone (The Orphic Hymns by Apostolos N. Anthanassakis and Benjamin M. Wolkow, The John Hopkins University Press ©2013)

About TarotPugs:
Stacey B. is a psychic tarot reader, Usui Reiki Master (Distance Healing Specialist), Animal & Pets Reiki practitioner, crystal healer, chakra energy healer and eclectic witch focusing on dark goddess spirituality and features Rocky & Rosie, a.k.a. the Tarot Pugs which can be found at tarotpugs.com.

Cleaning – Magical Style

By Deborah J. “DJ” Martin

Spring has officially sprung in the Northern Hemisphere and for many of us, thoughts are turning to spring cleaning. I wouldn’t advise putting forth that kind of effort just yet. Even here in the southern Appalachians, the pines haven’t finished contributing their sticky yellow pollen to the cause (theirs, not ours).

Whether it’s heavy-duty spring cleaning or just everyday tidying up, add a little magical oomph to it. Make up cleaning solutions the same way you’d do a potion, injecting intent into it. Then clean with purpose, reciting your favorite cleaning chant.

Some ideas for you:

Diluted white vinegar is an all-purpose household cleaner. Lemon is considered a purifying herb, not just magically but in the mundane world, too. You can add a few drops of lemon essential oil to a spray bottle filled half-and-half with water and white vinegar and use that in the kitchen and bath. It also works great on windows. Alternatively, fill a quart jar with half water and half white vinegar, then add the rinds of two lemons. Allow it to infuse a couple of weeks, shaking it once a day. Strain, then pour into your spray bottle.

One of my favorite ways to clean is to make an infusion of rosemary, soak my cleaning rags in it and allow them to air dry overnight before using. Rosemary is also one of those herbs that’s considered purifying both magically and mundanely. (Did you know? Hospital used to smudge sick wards with rosemary even as late as World War I.) I add the rest of that tea to the water I use to wash my floors with.

For carpets or rugs, add about ten drops of essential oil to a cup of baking soda. Shake or stir well to distribute the oil through the soda. If you don’t have the essential oil you want, mix about a quarter cup of dried herbs into a cup of baking soda and allow it to sit for a week or two before using. Sprinkle the soda mixture on your rug or carpet and allow it to sit for twenty to thirty minutes before vacuuming. Hint: you can punch holes in the metal lid of a jar with a big nail. This makes sprinkling much easier and more uniform.

Make an infusion of your favorite cleansing herb and spray it on the bristles of your broom before doing a ritual sweeping.

If you change your linens with the seasons, layer either lavender sprigs or bay leaves between them when in storage. This will not only keep them smelling fresh but deter bugs.

With so many of us stuck inside during these times, even more so than the usual winter hibernation, tensions are probably running a little higher than normal. Lavender, German chamomile, and passionflower are all good herbs to relieve stress and calm the air. You can use those essential oils in oil warmers, put the dried herbs out as bowls of potpourri, or infuse them into a cleaning solution.

Other herbs you may want to consider using: cedar, hyssop, bay, peppermint, or thyme. These all smell divine and are great for purification.

Happy Cleaning!

About Deborah Martin:
Deborah J. “DJ” Martin, whom many call the “Herby Lady”, has a lifelong fascination with plants. A witch and Master Herbalist, she is the author of four books on herbs as well as an urban fantasy series. She lives with her husband and several crazy cats in the southern Appalachian Mountains. You can learn more about her and her work at http://www.authordjmartin.com, and find all of her books here.

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What Every Woman Needs to Know About Her Energy Body

By Lisa Erickson

Interest in the chakras, reiki, and energy healing has exploded in recent years, with many of us turning to these modalities for greater wellness and empowerment. What isn’t as widely covered is how women’s energy bodies differ from men’s. Learn how you can get the most out of working with your feminine energy body – including help for healing from sexual trauma.

Rochelle was a new massage therapist having trouble managing enough clients per day to pay her bills, as she felt drained after just one or two sessions.

Lauren was a health-conscious yoga practitioner who did everything she could to take good care of her mind and body, but suffered such extreme fatigue during her period each month she was effectively sidelined from her life for several days.

Beth was a long-time meditator, but after the birth of her first child found that her usual meditation practices provided no relief from the heaviness and anxiety she was frequently experiencing.

Shari was a 50-year old woman struggling with perimenopausal symptoms, questioning the direction her life was headed, and fearing she was going backwards.

What do all these women have in common? They all were experiencing shifts in their energy bodies but didn’t know how to work with them. While an increasing number of yoga classes and energy body workshops help us connect with our primary energy centers, or chakras, most of the time chakra mappings are presented as the same for men and women. But there are differences in how women’s energy bodies function that any woman can benefit from knowing.

Our energy body serves as the interface between our physical body, our psyche, and our spirit. Chakra mappings in particular developed within both energy medicine and spiritual traditions around the world, and in the 20th century were even viewed by psychologist Carl Jung as a way to map different aspects of our psyche. The chakras offer many doorways into healing and empowerment, and hundreds of different methods for working with them including yoga, breath work, reiki, guided imagery, meditation, mantras, mudras, affirmations, crystals and more.

However, most chakra mappings and tools don’t account for the differences in how men’s and women’s chakras function. While at the spiritual level the energy moving through the chakras is ungendered, at the interface level between the chakras and the body, there are differences that mirror the physical differences between men and women. Trans and pan gender individuals will often experience the chakra patterns associated with the gender they most strongly identify with, or aspects of both. While male-female energy body patterns exist on a spectrum, rather than simply being binary, knowing about these differences can really help finetune chakra work.
The most important difference is that women’s energy bodies tend to be anchored in their second chakra, located in the pelvis, while men’s tend to be anchored in their first, or root chakra, associated with the tailbone, legs and feet. These two chakras serve as the foundation for everyone’s energy body, and so we all need to work to heal and strengthen both, but the differences in anchoring have real-world implications for women and those who identify as female.

The primary difference is that women’s energy bodies are more centripetal and tend to pull in and absorb other’s energies. While anyone can be empathic, women by default tend to be more this way. This is because the second chakra is receptive and ‘yin’ in nature, and so having their energy bodies anchored here means women’s energy bodies are more receptive in general. It also means women’s energy bodies are more adaptable and fluid, which can be a good thing when in a positive environment. But it means women need to pay more attention to energetic boundaries in daily life – something most women resonate with as soon as they learn of it.

Take the example of the masseuse Rochelle from above. She couldn’t understand why she felt so drained after just a couple of clients, when physically she still felt strong. The issue was energetic, not physical – she was unconsciously taking on energy from her clients. The reason was partly technical, based on this tendency of the feminine energy body, but also based in personal conditioning – like many women, Rochelle had patterns of people-pleasing that caused her to open up her energy body to others in a way she didn’t need to give a good massage. After learning to work with her root and navel chakras to create a simple, but effective energetic boundary, Rochelle was able to change this tendency, and work with clients successfully without draining herself.

Women’s energy bodies also experience cycles and phases in sync with their physical reproductive cycles and phases. While we now know that both men and women experience hormonal cycles and shifts, for women it is much more pronounced, in the form of menstruation, pregnancy, perimenopause and menopause. Each of these life events comes with its own energetic shifts, and learning to work with them can be key. For example, a woman’s sacral chakra waxes and wanes with her monthly cycle, at its strongest and most emanating at the peak of ovulation, and at its most sensitive and inward-facing during menstruation. While most women can’t organize their lives around their cycle, making even small accommodations can be helpful. For Lauren, the yoga practitioner who experienced extreme fatigue, allowing herself extra rest time and additional focus on her navel chakra during menstruation helped her to reduce the fatigue – and enabled her to tap into the deep contemplative energies available to her during this time.

Post-partum is another life phase in which women can benefit from understanding the energetic shifts occurring. Like Beth, mentioned above, even women with good support and self-care routines can find themselves struggling after birth. Not only is a woman dealing with physical fatigue and hormonal shifts, her energy body is adjusting to an additional energy line in the form of the mother-child bond. While a beautiful form of connection, if a woman leaves this line open all of the time, never learning to close it when she can to experience her energy body’s singular power and integrity, she will often feel ungrounded or uncentered in addition to fatigued. Because the sacral chakra is a woman’s energy body anchor and mother-child lines are centered there, post-partum a woman may also feel as if she can’t access the energies or functions of her upper chakras, with all of her energy pooled downward. Tools to help close the mother-child line when needed, while still maintaining a healthy loving parental bond, are key to a woman’s post-partum physical and mental well-being.

Perimenopause and menopause too are opportunities for energetic and spiritual growth, but are often not recognized as such. We tend to view them as medical events, or as endings. But perimenopause – the years preceding menopause when a women’s body and energy body are beginning to transition – are characterized by surges through the chakras linked to personal growth. Each chakra has particular ‘lessons’ and themes associated with it, and depending on where a women’s greatest obstructions to owning her power lies, she may experience discomfort in her body or psyche as these obstructions attempt to clear. If a woman can stabilize her energy body at this time and engage with energy healing and personal growth modalities, she can enter menopause truly feeling like she is coming into her most powerful and fulfilling time.

For example, Shari from the intro found herself feeling adrift and unfulfilled in her career, in addition to experiencing insomnia and nightly hot flashes. Once she was able to identify her feelings and stabilize her energy body, she began to feel much better. She also began a chakra meditation practice that helped her to smooth the shifts in her energy body as they were occurring. As this unfolded she found herself contemplating a shift in career that felt positive and empowering, and realized it had been coming for a long time. Her shift into menopause from that point was physically and psychologically smooth.

Chakra work should never replace medical and holistic healing advice, but it can play an important role in a woman’s healing and growth. Sexual trauma healing is another area where this is especially the case. Because the second chakra is linked to sexual energy and is also the anchor for a woman’s energy body, sexual abuse and assault can have a particularly damaging impact to a woman’s sense of her own power, and all of her chakra functions. Working gently at this level to clear shame, fear, patterns of hypervigilance and disassociation can be an excellent modality for sexual trauma survivors who are intimidated by the idea of physical body work, or of talk therapy. In other cases, chakra work can be a complementary method to these modalities. For a woman, healing and empowering her second chakra is instrumental to full body, and full psyche, healing.

The wonderful thing about chakra work is that anyone can engage in it, and there are multiple access points. Some people relate more to visualization, some to physical triggers like sound, others to affirmations or emotional memory. Everyone can find a connection point with their chakras, and once they do, can work with them anywhere, anytime. For women, understanding these differences in their chakras and energy body functioning in daily life can help unlock the full potential of their self-healing and manifesting abilities.

About Lisa Erickson:
Lisa Erickson is an energy worker specializing in women’s energetics and sexual trauma healing and author of Chakra Empowerment for Women: Self-Guided Techniques for Healing Trauma, Owning Your Power & Finding Overall Wellness from Llewellyn Publishing.

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