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Shamanism
Shamanism is an ancient healing tradition that connects humans with the healing connective power of nature and all creation. Shamanism can be used to describe the ancient spiritual practices of many native, indigenous cultures, which taps into the esoteric practices of nature, ancestors, and the spirit world. Within Shamanism is the path to connection and harmony within ourselves and our relationships to others. 

Shamanic medicine may include spirit animals, spirit guides, drums, rattles, energy circles, and nature. The primary principle of Shamanism is that everything is connected - the spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental, and if one of these elements is in disharmony, it will create disharmony within other elements of the oneness of yourself. 

The Shamanic practitioner steps into the unseen world to locate the cause of disconnection and works with the person to help them to heal themselves. Some tools used in shamanic work may be soul retrieval, cord cutting, drum journeying, and extractions etc. 

As with all Shamanic works, one is advised to remember that it is not the Shamanic Practitioner that is doing the work, but the Great Spirit of the Universe - the Field of Infinite Possibility if you will or God. Spirit works through the Shaman to assist in facilitating the healing. 

The participation of the client is imperative as intention plays an enormous part in one's own healing. It is up to the client to choose, through the Shamanic practice, to release their role in suffering in order to allow Spirit to provide the opening of self-healing capacities of the mind, body, soul, and spirit. 
Energy Healing - Reiki
Breaking the word into two parts, the generally accepted definition of Rei is "universal" with an inference to higher knowledge or spiritual consciousness; God consciousness if you will. "Ki" is Japanese for life force energy. So, the Japanese definition would be something like "the spiritual consciousness within the universal life force energy." The Chinese translation cuts to the chase. It indicates that there is no real tangible way to describe the enormity of this energy, thus, their translation reads "the life force from beyond the beyond." John Sparks, Insight Awareness Owner & Reiki Master

Reiki is an energy healing technique, originally formulated in Japan, and is used for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is administered by the "laying on hands" so to speak and is based on the idea that an unseen life force energy flows in us, through us, and all around us, with the natural ability to provide physical, mental, and emotional healing and wellbeing. If one's life force energy is low or out of harmony with itself and with others, then we are more likely to get sick, feel stress and anxiety, and acquire dis-ease. If one's life force energy is in harmony and working at a higher vibration, then we are more capable of leading a happy, healthy, harmonious, and energetic life. 

Reiki treats the whole person, including the body, emotions, mind, and spirit, likewise, creating many beneficial effects that include feelings of relaxation, peace, security and well-being. Those undergoing reiki treatments are often able to tap into the spiritual side of their existence, communicating directly within themselves and with the field of infinite potentiality of this universe.

Reiki is a simple, natural, safe, and effective method of self-healing and self-improvement that everyone can use. Reiki works well alone and in conjunction with other medical or therapeutic techniques to help restore health, healing, and recovery. 

Our bodies have the ability to heal themselves. All we need to do is allow  for the facilitation of harmonizes of the body, mind, spirit, and emotions to remove imbalances and to restore our natural ability to heal ourselves. 
Some Known Possible Benefits of Reiki are: 
Reduce or Remove Stress, Anxiety, and Depression
Promote Relaxation
Assists in healing bodily dis-eases, illnesses, and infections
Assists in removing inflammation
Reduces, Relieves, or Removes Pain
Provides Emotional Clarity and Harmonization
Supports Spiritual Awareness & Growth
Supports the Body's Immune System
Assists the Body's Self-Healing Ability including Detoxification
Compliments Other Healing Modalities
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Sound & Vibrational Therapy
"If we accept that sound is vibration and we know that vibration touches every part of our physical being, then we understand that sound is heard not only through our ears but through every cell in our bodies. One reason sound heals on a physical level is because it so deeply touches and transforms us on the motional and spiritual planes. Sound can redress imbalances on every level of physiologic functioning and can play a positive role in the treatment of virtually any medical disorder." 
-Dr. Mitchell Gaynor, director of Medical Oncology and Interactive Medicine, the Cornell Cancer Prevention Center in New York

Imagine the sound of your favorite song. Close your yes and feel the vibrations of the song... the sounds... the beat... the vibration... Hence, the power of sound and vibration. For thousands of years, people have lived, loved, relaxed, and meditated to soothing sounds including the sound of a fire in a fireplace, waves lapping upon the shore, bells, chimes, and more. The benefits of sound and vibrational frequencies are myriad and have been for more years than we can count. 

Sound & Vibrational Therapy, also known as vibrational medicine, employs the sound, vibrations, and frequencies of the human voice, along with the resonance of tuning forks, crystal bowls, Tibetan singing bowls, gongs, tingshas, bells, crystals, and more. These healing implements help us to go beyond relaxation and stimulate our bodies self-healing mechanisms into body, mind, soul, and spiritual healing.

While many may look at this healing modality as a "new age" method of healing, this practice goes back to ancient cultural practices in which indigenous community healers used chants, drums, bowls, singing, chants, and more to help relieve pain, restore health, and to bring seekers into a meditative state. This mind-body modality has been used for thousands of years by thousands upon thousands of healers in every culture known to man. 

Sound and Vibrational Frequency Therapy is based on the idea that all illness or disease in one's body is characterized by blockages in the body's channels on some level. When there is a blockage, the organs in question cease vibrating at a healthy frequency, and thus, it results in the body and mind experiencing some type of dis-ease. Through Sound and Vibrational Frequency Therapy, one can break up, dissolve, and release these blockages through our physical, light, and etheric bodies. Because the chakras, bones, and organs all possess different resonant frequencies, different types of Sound and Vibrational Frequencies work for different areas of one's body. When one's body is restored to a healthy state of being, then each cell, organ and the person's whole being returns to harmony, restoring one's harmonious state of mind and removing dis-ease. 

Primary to the benefits of sound & vibrational frequency therapy is the ability to promote relaxation, relief from ailments, reduction of stress and anxiety, and clearing of one's mind through meditative states. This type of therapy is often used to reduce the effects of treatments of chemotherapy and other medicinal treatments in the western world. 

Sound & Vibrational Frequency Therapy is noninvasive and relaxing. You can receive this treatment while sitting, lying down, or practicing yoga. The choice is yours. According to Dr. Mitchell L. Gaynor, an oncologist and clinical assistant professor of medicine at Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York and the author of The Healing Power of Sound, "When the heart rate is relatively steady, and breathing is deep and slow, stress hormones decrease." That is significant, he said, because stress can depress every aspect of the immune system, "including those that protect us against flu and against cancer." And according to Amrita Cottrell, the founder and director of the Healing Music Organization in Santa Cruz, Calif., ultrasound, which employs vibrations in frequencies above the range of human hearing, has been used therapeutically for many years. "When the body is sick, it could be a cold, a broken bone, an ulcer, a tumor, or an emotional or mental illness, it's all a matter of the frequencies of the body being out of tune, off balance, out of synch," she said. 
"Vibration can help bring that back into balance."
"For thousands of years people have used meditation to move beyond the mind's stress-inducing thoughts and emotional upsets into the peace and clarity of present moment awareness. The variety of meditation techniques, traditions, and technologies is nearly infinite, but the essence of meditation is singular: the cultivation of mindful awareness and expanded consciousness." 

-Deepak Chopra
Yoga & Meditation
There are a multitude of precious gifts that can be found through the practice of meditation. Some of these gifts include the benefits of mindfulness - being one with one's self, finding yourself on the most intimate level, and seeing yourself at the level of pure consciousness. Other benefits include calming the mind and body. Relief from stress, anxiety, and post traumatic stress symptoms. Developing a keenness of mind and releasing the constant chatter of the mind's security matter, which works non-stop to tell us what to think, what to do, how to live, constantly reminding us of the past in an effort to protect us in the now. 

Physically, meditation has proven to have the ability to provide ample health benefits including lowered blood pressure, physical stress symptoms, restful sleep, and a myriad of other health concerns. 

Still, others meditate to receive relief from the anger, fear, jealousy, hatred, and other painful thoughts and feelings that often flood the mind & body. Still others come to meditation to find greater self-understanding, to increase their intuitive powers, or to improve their ability to concentrate.

It is accurate to say that the purpose of meditation depends on the meditator - but it is also true that anyone who meditates regularly receives profound benefits on all of these levels - physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. 

Here are just a few scientifically proven benefits of meditation:

  • Relief from stress and anxiety (meditation mitigates the effects of the "fight-or-flight" response, decreasing the production of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline)

  • Decreased blood pressure and hypertension

  • Lower cholesterol levels

  • More efficient oxygen use by the body

  • Increased production of the anti-aging hormone DHEA

  • Relief from insomnia

  • Relief from physical symptoms of illness 
New research also shows that meditation restores the brain. A landmark study conducted by Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital found that meditation literally rebuilds the brain's gray matter, in as little as eight weeks of meditation. People felt calmer and also produced changes in various areas of the brain, including growth in areas associated with memory, empathy, sense of self, and stress regulation. Harvard concluded that 
        
 Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist through the day. This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing.

The National Center for Health (NIH) states that  meditation may be helpful for a variety of conditions, such as high blood pressure, certain psychological disorders, and pain. In addition, some research suggests that practicing meditation may reduce blood pressure, symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety and depression, and insomnia. They go on to say that meditation is generally considered to be safe for healthy people. 

To learn how to meditate or to schedule meditation workshops, call us at 708-663-5572.

What is Yoga?

In Sanskrit, the word yoga means union or connection. In a philosophical sense, however, yoga means the conscious connection of the limited ego self with the unlimited, eternal, higher Self. 

When one thinks of yoga, her or his first association might be with the physical practice called asanas: moving through the yoga poses and practicing yogic breathing, but yoga is so much more. Yoga is an 8-fold path lifestyle system that when practiced, can help to produce a universal consciousness that reflects love, joy, peace, kindness, gentleness, and the ability to focus on and achieve one's goals. 

Choosing the right path of yoga for you may seam daunting. Here are 8 types of yoga that are well-known in the Western world.

  • Hatha Yoga
Hatha is known as the physical branch of yoga. The Sanskrit term Hatha has a twofold meaning. This word can be broken into "ha" which means Sun, and "tha" which means moon. In this context, Hatha refers to the balance of perceived masculine aspects - active, hot, sun, and perceive feminine aspects - receptive, cool, moon -- within every human being. Hatha yoga is a path toward creating balance and uniting opposites. Another definition of Hatha is physical, force or exertion which is taken to mean, the physical discipline of exercise including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodly postures to lead one's self ot the path of realization and consciousness. 

There are other, non-physical, branches of yoga such as Bhakti, Kriya, Raja, and karma yoga. The physical-based yoga is the most popular in the U.S. and has numerous styles. Hatha yoga classes are the best for beginners since they are usually paced slower that other yoga styles. Hatha classes today are a classic approach to breathing and exercises. If you are brand-new to yoga, Hatha yoga is a great entry point to the practice.

  • Iyengar Yoga
Iyengar Yoga was founded by B.K.S. Iyengar and focuses on alignment as well as detailed and precise movements. In an Iyengar class, stuends perform a variety of posters while controlling the breath. Generally, poses are held for a long time while adjusting the minutiae of the pose. Iyengar relies heavily on props to help students perfect their form and go deeper into poses in a safe manner. 

  • Kundalini Yoga
Kundalini Yoga is equal parts spiritual and physical. This style helps to release the kundalini energy in your body said to be trapped, or coiled, in the lower spine. These classes really work your core and breathing with fast-moving, invigorating postures and breath exercises. These classes can involve chanting, mantra, and meditation. 

  • Ashtanga Yoga
In Sanskrit Ashtanga is translated as "Eight Limb path." Ashtanga yoga involves a very physically demanding sequence of postures, so this style of yoga is definitely not for the beginner. It takes an experienced yogi to really love it. Ashtanga starts with five sun salutation A's and five sun salutation B's and then moves into a series of standing and floor postures. In Mysore, India, people gather to practice this form of yoga together at their own pace -- if you see Mysore-led Ashtanga, it's expected of you to know the series. Vinyasa yoga stems from Ashtanga as the flowing style linking breath to movement. 

  • Vinyasa Yoga

Vinyasa means "to place in a special way" and in this case yoga postures. Vinyasa is the most athletic yoga style. Vinyasa was adapted from Ashtanga yoga in the 1980s. In Vinyasa classes, the movement is coordinated with your breath and movement to flow from one pose to another. Many types of yoga can also be considered Vinyasa flows such as Ashtanga, power yoga, and prana. Vinyasa styles can vary depending on the teacher, and there can be many different types of poses in different sequences. 

  • Bikram Yoga
Bikram Yoga, often referred to as Hot Yoga in its generic term is a wonderful practice if you are looking to sweat. Bikram Yoga is named after Bikram Choudhury and features a sequence of set poses in a sauna-like room -- typically set to 105 degrees and 40 percent humidity. The dequence includes a series of 26 basic postures, with each one performed twice. 

  • Yin Yoga
Yin Yoga is a slow-paced style of yoga with seated postures that are held for longer periods of time. Yin is a great class for beginners, as postures can be held from 45 seconds to two minutes. Yin can also be a meditative yoga practice that helps you find inner peace. These classes are relaxed, as you're supposed to let gravity do most of the work. 

  • Restorative Yoga
Restorative Yoga focuses on winding down after a long day and relaxing your mind. At its core, this style focuses on body & mind relaxation. You spend more time in fewer postures throughout the class. Many of the poses are modified to be easier and more relaxing. Like Iyengar, many props are used and are placed just right such as blankets, bolsters, and eye pillows. All of the props are there to help you sink deeper into relaxation. Restorative yoga's main goal is to help cleanse and free your mind (revised from MindBodyGreen).

The 8-fold path of yoga is as follows focuses on these 8 elements of spiritual awakening & enlightenment. Starting from the Yamas and continuing clockwise are:
  1. Yamas: One's responsibility of spiritual awareness in society.
  2. Niyamas: One's responsibility of personal behavior towards one's self. 
  3. Asana: Physical postures that serve to connect body, mind, and spirit.
  4. Pranayama: Mindful breathing.
  5. Pratyahara: Control of senses.
  6. Dharana: Control of the mind.
  7. Dhyana: Meditation. 
  8. Samadhi: Absorption of pure bliss consciousness. 
To schedule yoga classes or to learn more about the 8 paths of yoga, contact Cassandra at 708-663-5572.

Intuitive Channeling
As an intuitive channeler, Cassandra will lead you through a session of deep introspection, calling on your own higher powers, to assist you in acknowledging information needed to help you move forward to your higher vibrations. These sessions include a variety of healing modalities. To schedule a session, contact Cassandra at 708-663-5572.
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Yoga for Social Justice



Having trained with Sean Corn, Hala Khouri, & Suzanne Sterling as a facilitator for http://www.offthematintotheworld.org/ ; Cassandra speaks on the role yoga plays in action, liberation, and social justice in the U.S. and around the world. Join us for an upcoming workshop or event.

Having completed Yoga, Purpose & Action Leadership Intensive and Facilitator Leadership training with Off the Mat, Into the World, Cassandra supports yogis in becoming conscious and effective community leaders. Within each workshop, we cover topics like social justice, sustainable activism, and embracing differences while connecting with our passion and purpose. We do this through linking bodywork with effective social and environmental justice practices. Moreover, we look at the polarities of our own passions and pains, which allow us to focus in on our desired purposes and goals for ourselves and for humanity. 

Through utilizing the tools of yoga, meditation, and self-inquiry to create conscious, sustainable change on a grassroots and global level, this practice helps us to cultivate self-awareness, while we learn how to move through our own discomforts, in an effort to become more effective leaders in our chosen paths. off the Mat's purpose is to help us sustain change for ourselves, our community, our nation, and our world through personal, cultural, and global transformative practices. Allow Cassandra, as an extension of this phenomenal program, to create a program for your specific needs. 
Soul Coaching
(Coming soon)