The Cook Awakening

Archive for the ‘Spiritual Practice’ Category


June 15, 2020
Posted in: Grief, Life on Life's Terms, Meditation, Seasonal Change, Spiritual Practice

A client who’s been working with me for over a year has recently been able to more fully access a core piece of suffering. We’ve both known it was there, but it took time to establish enough safety for it to come clearly into awareness.

The doorway in was to look at the way her Inner Critic was attacking her. (I’ve written more about the Inner Critic here and here.)

“She has bad genes”, was one of the things her Critic said. Bad genes.

My client’s mother is a first generation immigrant, and comes from a people whose women are often beautifully dark eyed, dark haired, and voluptuous.

In order to be “good enough” to truly belong here in the US, my client learned to measure herself to a standard of “Whiteness”. Her mother’s people don’t look like Brittney Spears, one of the images she learned to emulate growing up.

These are the waters we swim in. It goes unquestioned, until the suffering in it becomes impossible to ignore. And, some of those standards play out in the larger context as violence — the threat of violence against, or the fear of violence from anyone who doesn’t conform to these images of what we have learned to view as “normal” — whether that be Whiteness, financial security, health, body shape and size, images of femininity or masculinity, etc.

On the Ladder

May 1, 2020
Posted in: Life on Life's Terms, Spiritual Practice

I’ve been dizzy. Feeling weird in my head, like my brain is a bit dislocated. Having a hard time connecting with my quarantine pod, my husband and two nearly adult kiddos. Tired. But, I can’t necessarily sleep, just feel tired. COVID-19 has changed our lives, and not much feels familiar.

I’ve been studying the Polyvagal Theory, research mainly associated with Stephen Porges, in my training with the META Institute. If you’ve studied the Polyvagal Theory, you can probably skim through the next 4 or 5 paragraphs, they’re a pretty basic explanation of that.

The Ventral portion of the Vagal nervous system is mainly located in the face, throat and neck. We are at ease when we’re in Ventral Vagal response, when we’re connected with people we feel safe with, when we can co-regulate our nervous systems together and find a feeling of security. This is the most complex part of our nervous system, the most recent to develop in evolution. It’s what gets activated, I’m convinced, when we’re at temple or church or on retreat with our spiritual communities. Our nervous systems need community to function properly, to be “happy”.

Many of us are used to hearing about fight, flight, and freeze as part of the Sympathetic nervous system response when we feel threatened, but in actuality how that works is a little more complicated.

Being Human

April 6, 2020
Posted in: Grief, Life on Life's Terms, Meditation, Spiritual Practice

Welcome to the realities of COVID-19.

Living in times of crisis can cause a variety of reactions. What are you noticing?

If you’re in quarantine or sheltering-in-place with access to the news, anxiety is likely no stranger to you. You may be on the front lines in health care or other essential service. You may be one of the many who have suddenly lost your livelihood. We are powerless over these events that are affecting the whole world.

I was just texting with my brother — “This seems to have really cured me of any daddy complex I might have had that someone in charge would save me if ‘things got bad’.”


If you’ve read anything I’ve put out over the years, you know spirituality is my jam. What I mean by spirituality is pretty broad. My main interest is in what works for YOU. What is your edge that needs leaning into? Spiritual practices needs to be attuned to your personality.

Spirituality may sound like some lofty term that refers to something outside our everyday life. Maybe not particularly useful or accessible when there’s a damn pandemic going on! This is real life!

Can we redefine the term, please? Maybe call it “Embodied Spirituality”? “Human Spirituality”?

A life of Spirit that honors our Humanness so completely that there’s no separation between the two.

One of our tasks now, in order to remain as calm as possible and carry on, is nervous system regulation. That means calming down when we’re scared or angry. Waking up if we feel frozen or confused. Connecting if we feel lonely and sad.

Your Unique Self

March 8, 2020
Posted in: Life on Life's Terms, Living with Health Challenges, Spiritual Practice

I have a few clients that are struggling with needing particular kinds of support in the world. Needing social or disability services that are not easy to get.

Many people have heard me say that the nuclear family is a failed experiment. This normalized expectation for us all to be “independent” is warping our humanity. I view the process folks have to go through to receive services as part and parcel of that. Folks have to “prove” that they’re incapacitated in quite dehumanizing ways to receive basic support. And, usually they have to prove it over and over again.

Given that many folks needing assistance are also living with a history of trauma that may actually be causing the need for assistance, we really have a system that is severely off the mark. A system that compounds the injury it professes to try to salve.

A couple of examples – if someone is suffering from TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), making them responsible for filling out complicated forms to receive assistance is cruel. To offer them assistance filling those forms out with a worker who is not trained to understand the needs of someone who is not neuro-typical, who is impatient or shaming, compounds the cruelty.

I have a memory, early on in my Lyme diagnosis and treatment, of a certain receptionist in my doctor’s practice. I had some fairly significant neurological symptoms — short term memory loss, brain fog, slowed down thinking processes. This person was sharp toned, impatient when I had a hard time remembering the names of supplements I needed to order, or putting together disparate pieces of information about my treatment plan. I remember feeling ashamed, and nervous about having to talk with them.

Welcome to 2020!

January 9, 2020
Posted in: Events, Integrating Lifestyle Changes, Life on Life's Terms, Seasonal Change, Spiritual Practice

It’s a big time. Can you feel it? It’s obvious on the planetary level, so much conflict and structures breaking down politically and environmentally.

Most people that I talk to, clients, friends, and family, are experiencing the last year as being a time of deconstruction in many ways. Some examples include:

༄ Feeling like identity is breaking apart
༄ Loved ones dying
༄ Relationships ending
༄ Important events being canceled for reasons beyond their control
༄ Being assailed by doubts about whether what’s really desired is possible
༄ Feeling betrayed by loved ones
༄ Deeply understanding that patterns of being (jobs, relationships, living situations) are totally unsustainable, and not knowing what to do about it

It can feel like trying to pick up sand or water with your hands and having it just run through your fingers.

There are astrological influences that are at play right now that have been effecting the last year or more. I want to give a shout out to Emily Trinkaus who explains it all far better than I can. Here’s a recording of her class describing the Pluto-Saturn conjunction that’s happening on Sunday, January 12th, and will be felt for a few days, and will lay in energies that will last 35 + years, and this is her class on the Cancer full moon lunar eclipse happening tomorrow, Friday, January 10th.

Sacred Pause Revisited

December 18, 2019
Posted in: Events, Life on Life's Terms, Meditation, Seasonal Change, Spiritual Practice

This is an article I wrote last year around this time, edited to feel current to today.

It can seem overwhelming. The holidays. Crowds, traffic, the stimulation of gatherings and lights and cooking and eating, so many words. Kids wanting, wanting, wanting. Tummies rumbling from too much yum. Perhaps there are financial stresses in the mix.

Or, it may feel lonely, if you don’t have the energy for it all, or if community feels distant.

I have a memory of our dog, Jazz, the best dog in the world, who, for her first 5 years, would get so excited when we went to the dog park, she’d run and run and run with every dog she saw. At first we thought it was fun. Look how happy she was! She’s such an extrovert, look how she loves to chase and wrestle with the other dogs!

Jazz in motion

Until we realized, what we were seeing as fun, at some point became frenzy. We started to put her on the leash after she’d run long and hard when we’d see froth on her lips. And, you know what? There was clearly a feeling of “oh, thank you for saving me from myself” in her manner as she’d flop down next to us at the park bench.

In a different way that feeling can be there when we have too much isolation. Like water that becomes fetid without enough movement, you can see that the things growing in it are not healthy. Drinking that will make you sick. There can be too much inward movement, too, leading to stagnation.

All of nature runs in cycles and spirals of expansion and contraction. Breathing. The heart beating. The seasons. Sunrise and sunset. Birth and death.

We need the out-breath. We cannot breathe in constantly — we’d literally burst. The sun can’t be up forever, we’d be scorched, and the other side of the earth would be frigid.

This Saturday is winter solstice, the shortest day/longest night of the year. This is the bottom of the earth’s out breath. (Or, some say it’s the top of the in breath. Either way, it’s a powerful transition point!)

She needs a pause. We need a pause.

As I’ve written before, the days don’t immediately begin to get longer after solstice. There is a pause, a still point.

That still point is sacred. Many spiritual traditions emphasize noticing what happens on subtle levels during the pause at both the top and the bottom of the breath.

The still point is a beautiful time to say a prayer, in whatever way you do. That could be formal prayer. That may be setting intentions (think New Year). That may be gathering around the table with blood or chosen family over food that human hands you know have touched and loved. That could be as simple as finding your way to your open heart and asking that you be shown the way through. Many light a candle at this time of year to anchor their intentions, to invite light into their deepest longings.

All of nature needs the in breath, the out breath. All nature benefits from the still point of the transition between them, too.

I encourage you to pay attention to this pause that the earth is experiencing. We’re not separate from nature. How can you find your way into the sacred pause of your life? Is it making sure you have a minute or hour in nature? Maybe it’s remembering to connect with the physical sensations of your breath while you’re waiting in the insanely long line at the grocery store. Perhaps it’s putting away your phone and computer, and turning off the TV for an hour before you go to bed and just sitting quietly.

Were you able to see the full moon rising last week? It was glorious over Portland.

The Cold Moon — December full moon over Portland, OR

The seeds that are planted at this time of year can bear rich fruit come springtime. Don’t miss this opportunity to pause.

If you’d like some support in learning to slow down, or focus your energy differently as we move into the cold season, remember my New Year special is in effect now — if you are a new client, your first month of counseling is half price when you commit to 3 months of working with me. Read more about that here.

And, Sovereign Self, a women’s group and Deep Communication Circle™ meets this coming Friday, December 20th at 10 am via Zoom video conference. Read more about that here.

Wishing you all blessed holy days, however you celebrate them. Wishing you a nourishing connection with the pause in the world, however you can feel it. Blessings, blessings, blessings.