Forget everything you know about the Windy City—there are plenty of high-vibe happenings in Spiritual Chicago, says Andrea Kasprzak…
The Windy City may be better known for the Cubs than the cosmic, but it’s not all deep dish pizza and boozy baseball fans. When it comes to tapping spiritual Chicago, you just have to know where to look. Here’s our itinerary for a day of crystals, yoga, and high vibrational cuisine.
9AM :: Kundalini Yoga at Sat Nam Yoga The second you step into this cozy, sanctuary-within-the-city you’ll want to curl up on a white sheepskin rug and never leave. Take a kundalini class in the sun drenched front room, shop for sage and crystals in the store, or book a treatment with some of the area’s most sought after healers. Not to be missed: lunar tune-ups in the outdoor courtyard during monthly new and full moon rituals and cosmic vinyasa (yoga and symphonic gong immersion under the projection of the stars).
11 AM :: Soak at Float Sixty Whether you consider sensory deprivation tanks a spiritual experience or a just a slightly trippy way to spend an hour, you’ll never regret the experience. Head to this River North haven to soak in style. The industrial cool space features tons of tubs, a meditation room to hang out in post-soak, and a grooming area. Try the Samadhi Tank for a super cool intergalactic womb-like vibe.
1PM :: Juice and Crystals at Infiniteus Kill two birds with one (high energy) stone at this Wicker Park rocks and juice shop. First, hydrate with a cold-pressed juice or purified alkaline water amidst massive amethysts and orange calcite covered tables in the cafe. Then, hit up the back room to shop for gems and crystals. Owner Alex Drummond is super knowledgable and on hand to help. Bonus: they’ll even deliver your gems and juices to your door.
2PM :: Gong Therapy with Mason Pain Transportive, elevating, and a little bit other-worldly, getting gonged by sound therapist Mason Pain offers deep release on a higher level. Surrender to the healing vibrations of three gongs, as well as singing bowls and chimes. Sessions begin with Yoga Nidra to open you up to maximum receptivity.
3PM :: Nut Milk at Owen + Alchemy Think you’re over juice after too many cleanses? This gothic cool Logan Square juice bar from Anne Owen and Jared Van Camp may change your mind. Try the nut milks. We suggest the dessert-y 54 (raw hazelnut, cacao, cinnamon, vanilla bean, raw local honey) or the fresh and creamy 59 (young raw coconut juice and young raw coconut meat).
4PM :: Tarot Reading with Laura Gonzalez Laura, a self-described Mexican witch, has felt a true connection and psychic insights since childhood. Tarot card reading is her passion and it shows. Sessions are meant to offer guidance and clarity. Go deeper by asking specific questions. Laura’s hyper presence makes it easier to digest tough truths.
5PM :: Reiki with Jerry Mikutis Clear energy blocks and connect with a like-minded sensi soul during a session with Reiki healer and yoga instructor Jerry Mikutis. Her warm personality and magic touch puts clients at instant ease.
6PM :: Vegetarian Dinner at Green Zebra Bar and ballpark snacks may get first bill, but there’s still plenty of high vibe, creative and veggie-centric places to grab a bite. Case in point: Green Zebra. Fresh, local, and elevated, the West Town restaurant is a standout not to be missed. Small plate dishes like the Hen of the Woods mushroom pate and fermented beet tartare with borscht yogurt, candied pistachios, and dill pickles are plated to impress.
8PM :: Crystallsage Massage atRuby Room Cap off the night with a Crystallsage Massage at this Wicker Park healing hybrid space. Sessions start with a flower and gem essence spray and reading. Move into a treatment room for an intense 90-minute massage featuring Himalayan salt crystals for serious grounding. After, shop for crystals and spend the night in one of the upstairs rooms.
Heal the instrument of your voice to not only speak but also live in your truth, says Emma Whitehair… Artwork: Dr Steve Hinkey
The throat is a physical bridge between our body and mind, while its chakra governs our communication and search for truth. It’s the most powerful but also the most vulnerable of all seven chakras, and with so many of us struggling express our true needs, a blocked throat chakra is more common than a cold these days (even if the “symptoms” could feel the same).
If this chakra does not have a healthy flow, not only will your relationships with others be difficult but you will not be receiving clear guidance from your intuition. On the other hand, however, once beautifully balanced, negative experiences are transformed into wisdom and ultimately you are open to a higher level of consciousness.
My business is PR and writing, and no one who knows me would think I had any blocks in the area of communication. However, what can’t be seen is that I’ve had a pretty much permanent, choked up feeling for, I don’t know, months, years…lifetimes! It’s hard to tell as I only properly noticed it early this year, when I started to really get tuned in to Self.
At its most intense, it’s an energetic constriction like a noose around my neck, but mostly it’s a lump in my throat, like I’m on the brink of tears—even when there’s no apparent reason for it.
After googling ‘throat cancer’ and ‘thyroid problems’ then giving myself the all-clear (with a deep sense of relief!), I found myself drawn to a chakra workshop with James French advertised at the Yoga Loft in London—I was ready to find out if this throat funk was a spiritual malady.
On this two-day course, I discovered that Vishuddha (the Sanskrit name for the throat chakra) has a developmental age of 7 to12. Probably no coincidence that this was when my parents divorced and I was packed off to a strange boarding school. I also learnt that the corresponding sense of this fifth chakra is hearing, giving me the excuse I was looking for to connect with sound healing practitioner, Ashera Hart, who I had met a few days before.
Ashera had hosted an incredibly powerful sonic breath + gong bath event, that had been listed by The Numinous, which had helped open my throat and started to stir things up in that area. Wondering if my unbalanced Vishuddha could be realigned further with the power of sound, I made the most of the opportunity to have a one-to-one session with Ashera in my home, while she was in London (rather than her usual base of Bali).
After this session, I met up with my healer, psychotherapist Fiona Arrigo to help me process what my body had shown me. She explained that traumas to the throat chakra are often connected to early childhood issues; when, if we experience emotional pain, we encounter separation. She commented that my adult vocal personality—which “on the surface is ballsy, clear and wise” is in juxtaposition to the inner child—who swallowed down her tears, and never expressed how she felt.
I asked by subconscious to say out loud the stories I may have been holding onto, and one resonated deeply: “no one is taking care of me…I’m alone.” And with that tears of relief fell down my cheeks. It all suddenly made sense—that part of me, the child, who had swallowed her sadness, was physically manifested like a bitter pill, stuck in my throat for over 30 years.
Fiona reminded me “to meet the understanding that we ARE alone in this life.” She also explained that the feeling I encountered during the sound healing, of being held, was the Universal holding, and in that moment, I had flipped my scratched record. Rather than archived pain, I had experienced something way more profound—a spiritual embrace so meaningful it had helped heal that source fracture.
My journey with this continues. Read on for 10 STEPS I’ve investigated to help with starting to CLEAR YOUR THROAT CHAKRA.
:: STEP BACK IN TIME :: What unexpressed emotion or story are you holding on to? Once that’s understood, then it’s important to try and change the record, in order to free yourself. Byron Katie’s The Work might do it for you. Alternatively, perhaps you story is more complex—could it be from a pre-verbal era, or another life?
I spoke to Sue Minns, who’s book ‘Bodies & Souls’ touches on the throat chakra (as well as the others) and she explained the following to me:
“Chakras are like micro-chips of soul information that are links to our past experiences on earth, and connection to where we came from. The throat chakra, if holding negative memories, will become a bottleneck, a block to our true Self expression. Many of us (especially as women) have had gruesome deaths as a result of speaking out, spreading the word, saying the spells.
The throat is the chakra of secrets and lies, whispers and screams—and of speaking your truth without fear. A historical ‘block’ will obstruct cosmic, divine energy coming through the Crown and Third Eye to reach the Heart. It will short circuit at the throat if it cannot pass through. The central column (Sushumna) needs to be an open conduit between heaven and earth so that we can remember both our source and our purpose on this earth.”
:: SOUL MANTRA :: “The 1st Law of Healing—all disease is inhibited Soul Life. The job of the healer is to lift the downcast eyes upward unto the Soul, and the Soul does the work” – Dr Steve Hinkey
So how do we allow the soul to work its magic? Mantras should allow the soul to take position naturally and Steve gave me these to use to unblock the throat chakra:
Because ‘I am…’ is so powerful, and soul infusion the ultimate achievement: “I am the soul infused throat”.
To use if starting to experience, or resist tension in the throat: “I am wanting to know my soul’s process, as it expresses itself through my throat chakra”
As no-one evolves without loving what they have, including dis-ease, this as a good all-rounder:
“I love myself as I am”
:: SOUND HEALING :: Ashera Hart hosts The Frequency Shift solfeggio journeys, which encourage a Theta brainwave state, through healing vibrations, helping you access intuition, transform limiting beliefs and most especially—clear energy blockages.
I attended one of her ‘Sonic Immersion’ events (at Kind Yoga in London) which was a blissfully relaxing 90-minute experience. With the Zobet (solfeggio) healing frequencies along with sounds of the ocean, the cosmos and nature, Ashera accompanied this with an ethereal vocal invocation, tuning forks, chimes, shamanic drum and percussion.
We were told we may have dreams that night, that might reveal what is unresolved and one of mine was quite interesting. The throat chakra’s traumas can include alcoholism and yelling—both themes which were visited while in an abstract and gentle dream featuring my much loved childhood pet dog…
:: CONSCIOUS COMMUNICATION :: Which means honoring your feelings, understanding your needs and kindly requesting that they are met. With authentic expression however, comes responsibility. There’s also a delicate balance between being honest and tactful, and on some occasions silence is golden.
Voicing irritations and raising one’s voice, for example, can pollute the throat chakra, as can gossiping, blaming, criticizing, or any other type of negative communication. If you start thinking in these terms, try to raise the vibration before saying anything. Also use this checklist:
Is what you are about to say true?
If so, is it necessary to be said, and does it need to be said by you?
If the answer is yes, ask yourself if what you are about to say is kind/compassionate/loving.
Hearing is the fifth chakra’s sense and therefore listening is one of its most important realms of communication. That means listening to both your inner voice, and the voice of others. I think I may have an overactive Vishuddha, as I speak super fast (often with no filter) and sometimes feel impatient while listening.
With this in mind, I have made a conscious effort to start listening more intently, giving the other person my full undivided attention, putting away any devices and waiting (patiently!) to hear the them out completely before jumping in. This helps me to read between the lines and decipher others’ real needs, in order to respond in the right way.
:: THE AH MANTRA :: To cleanse and purify any impure energy of speech, let the “AH” sound fill your throat for a few minutes.
One of the most powerful mantras on the planet, this sound is found in the name of most deities: Tara, Buddha, Krishna, Yah, Yeheshua, Saraswati, Wakantanka, Quan Yin, etc., along with many of the sacred words (Amen, Alleluia, AUM).
‘AH’ is also a sound related to the throat chakra, so it’s no coincidence that ‘AH HEM’—is the sound unconsciously made when a person clears his/her throat. While on a more conscious level, the Buddhist mantra ‘OM AH HUM’ is explained by my yoga guru Cat as “translating to body, speech and mind—speech being an integral part of having a harmonious co-existence with all living beings and speaking up for those who may lack a ‘voice’.”
:: USE YOUR VOICE :: As long as the intention is pure, ANY way that you use your voice will help draw fresh energy through your throat chakra. I touch on the benefits of singing in this story and you can also hum, whistle, groan, sigh—ask your body what sounds need to be released, and just go for it, dialing up the volume if need be.
:: TEAR JERKERS :: The throat is where I store my tears, and those that came with discovering my stuck story were beautifully cathartic. And as I know there are more to come, as part of my healing I chose my moments to indulge in deliberately triggering a little cry, with film.
When we watch weepies, it releases not only emotion, but also oxytocin, aka the love or cuddle hormone, which also regulates crying. A boost of oxytocin gives feelings of bonding, empathy, trust and maternal behavior, and it can’t differentiate between actual human beings and flickering images of them. If, like me, you have stuck emotion to release, this 10-minute supercut of tear jerking movie moments should have you sobbing in no time, letting those loving feelings wash over you. You’re welcome!
:: MUSIC :: As sound is Vishuddha’s sense, music can also be a powerful activator. Partly down to some of the lyrics, melody, story or my personal associations, these tracks seem to resonate with the emotions stored within my throat chakra, allowing me to feel and heal.
What would be on on your Vishuddha playlist?
:: YOGA :: Correcting one’s posture is key when re-aligning chakra’s, and these two yoga asanas, should help open up and/or activate the throat:
Fish (Matsyasana): Not only does this stretch the neck, it also strengthens the neck muscles needed to balance and stimulate the throat chakra.
Shoulder stand (Salamba Sarvangasana): considered the Queen of all yoga poses, because of its amazing healing abilities. Doing shoulder stands regularly is an excellent way to keep your thyroid healthy and helps sufferers of asthma (like me).
Two Pranayama exercises that also bring heat and stimulate the throat chakra are the Ujjayi and lion’s breath.
:: HEALING ROCKS :: You can re-balance Vishuddha by stimulating its reflex points in the feet and hands: the connection point of the big toe with the feet, and halfway down the thumb. I’m taking this a step further by wearing a memento mori, which I had made by Zoe & Morgan, that hits this point of my left thumb. A gold ring depicting a skull with diamond eyes on angel wings. A little reminder of both my mortal and immortal self—to help me be more conscious and stop sweating the small stuff!
Zoe & Morgan have also created this beautiful throat chakra ring. Featuring Aquamarine, the stone of the sea, which helps the throat chakra to open, and communication to flow like water.
Other stones that are good for rebalancing the throat chakra include: lapis lazuli, blue topaz, turquoise, chrysocolla, sodalite and my favourite—sapphires, which I wear on a necklace and ring. Try wearing these stones so they sit on your throat chakra for the full healing benefit.
:: TRUE BLUE BABY I LOVE YOU :: Considered a hue for health, blue’s calming effect helps restore balance to the throat chakra, and for me, my blue healing comes from connecting with the ocean. My happy is getting out under blue skies (ether—the throat’s element) whenever I can, and in the sea at least every few months. However, when that’s not possible a pool also does the trick. So treat yourself to a spa day, and the immersion in water as a kind of soul soothing, spiritual cleansing.
A Unicorn among women, designer and textile maven Victoria Keen is among the most magical of the creatures in the Numiverse. From her high vibrational yoga line, to her encyclopedic knowledge of the esoteric healing arts, this woman walks the Numi walk – and then some. Here’s this week’s peek into a very Mystical World…
:: MATERIAL GIRL ::
My Label V-Keen is my label. I am a textile and clothing designer, among other things, and I’ve been rocking my original hand drawn textiles since 2002, making printed everything from yoga leggings to wool cashmere suits to furniture. My ethos has been high vibrational clothing made in NYC since the beginning. And I love print. A LOT. Chisato Tsumori’s work does it for me – it’s fantastic, whimsical, over the top and amazing.
My Shoes I don’t get to wear them enough, but I just used my favorite Balenciaga’s in a recent Goddess Tribe shoot I did. I got them in a Barney’s sale, and I had my son Zephyr in a front pack while I tried them on. The other ladies shopping were applauding, it was a pretty hilarious sight. I haven’t shopped that Barney’s sale again, but this winter I plan on making myself some hand felted boots in the style of the Mongolian Nomads.
My Fragrance For years now (like 10!) I’ve been obsessed with my friend’s hand made line out of Vermont, called Lunaroma. Her Neroli I can’t live without. It makes me feel powerful and reminds me of ancient Egypt in a way I can’t explain. In fact, I just read that Neroli was a beloved scent of the priestesses of Isis….
My Jewels Since I was a kid I’ve always been fascinated with the ancient human practice of body modification. I love unusual ear piercings with intricate set ups, and there’s a black diamond encrusted hoop for my daith I’ve been pining after.
My Pampering I love a facial from Britta Plugg in Williamsburg when I want to pamper myself. Way beyond a facial, she uses the most incredible organic products along with heated salt stones and light therapy to induce an out of body state of relaxation. Love it!
My Home My home is its own colorful universe. I share a live/work studio with my partner, our 6-year-old son, our Frenchie pug, a fish tank, a veritable jungle of plants along with my entire V-Keen inventory and samples, my library of books, a 28” wind gong and various instruments, my many collections of photographs, masks, crystals, travel treasures, and of course all of my fiber art and crafting supplies… We don’t have a couch or a TV, but it works somehow.
My Food I am a total kitchen witch and elixir mixer, in fact I just made some saffron infused full moon ghee…and a love potion I’m digging lately is rose and tulsi tea with muddled raspberries and mint, aloe vera, lime, raw honey and sprouted chia seeds, with Rose Quartz and Opal gem essences. Beyond!
:: MYSTICAL WORLD ::
My Awakening Morning rituals are my favorite. I have been evolving my own very personal dinacharya for a while now, with many specific steps I can do in under twenty minutes. Here is a simple morning offering I made last week. I lit a candle and connected with my ancestors, spirit guides, and animal totems.
My Sign Gemini Sun, Leo Rising, Scorpio Moon #hardcore
My Mantra “All day you make because delight is in the making. You make because by making love comes in” –Ann Filemyr (from the We-Moon Calendar 2014)
My Healer Making things with my hands is my personal Prozac for self-soothing. I’ve also done a lot of work with my biofield (aura). Some of the healing methods I’ve experienced and loved are Transformational Breath, Sound Balancing, DNA Potentiation, ThetaHealing, Past Life Regression, and Matrix Energetics to name some. Currently I’m doing Vikaz. It’s still mysterious to me what happens in each session and I can’t quite put it to words, but it has been incredible and a lifesaver this last year.
My Transformation This year I made a decision to take a pause with my clothing line, which I have been full on with since 2002, to pursue my love of sound and energy medicine. It was terrifying to go into that unchartered territory, but also hugely transformative to give up an identity I had carried for so long. In that space, so many new projects have sprung up I’m feeling more creative than ever.
My Mission Ultimately, my mission in life is to weave together all of my widely different and disparate interests and life experiences into a living breathing form of art that’s completely unique to me.
Spiritual scene queen Victoria Keen on the ancient healing modality that suddenly feels so modern.
Being a seeker and practitioner of Sound myself, I’m excited to check out Petroglyph this November 8th at Sage Center for the Healing Arts in groovy Woodstock, NY. Petroglyph brings together indigenous instruments like Gongs, Didgeridoos, Native and Shamanic sound tools and unfolds them to create frequency domains that are excellent for journeying and transformative dreamtime experience.
The Sage Center for Healing Arts is dedicated to increasing awareness around Sound therapy, and the founder Phillipe Pascal Garnier, former magazine art director turned Sound Healer, was kind enough to answer a few of my burning questions. Garnier found Sound after seeking alternative therapy from a recommended surgery for the vertigo he was experiencing brought on by Meniere’s disease. He travelled to the Upper Amazon in Peru to work with indigenous spiritual healers, profoundly altering the course of his health and his life.
So what is Sound with a capital S? Everything around us vibrates, thus makes sound to which we are all interconnected. Heard and unheard sound are actually the make up of our reality. Once we accept this truth, we can see reality as a myriad of tunes we have to harmonize with. Some will resonate with us more than others. Resonance is “the magic word” when it comes to opening up and connecting with the awareness of the vibrational world we live in, and it can teach us how to live it better.
How is Sound Healing so ancient and so modern at the same time? In modern times we have come to understand that Sound Encoded Intention was the first medicine used by our indigenous ancestors and, in fact, continues to be used to this day. All cultural traditions of the world used sound as vibrational medicine or as gateways to travel energetically in what is called a shamanic trance, to gain a better awareness of who we are in relation to the universe and to bring healing to individual members of their communities.
So, to some people that could mean loosing your s*** to a sound system at Burning Man? Let’s make an important distinction between sound healing and modern music. Music is organized sound that the brain can make sense of. It can easily follow where the notes are going, and expect the next one to be, where as working with unorganized sound brings the mind to the present moment, to the now. The cascading effect of an untamed scale brings the mind of a patient to “still point,” open to receive the energy flowing with the frequencies to manifest a sound massage.
But you still use instruments, right? Sticks, stones and whistling hallow bones were the first tools used by our ancestors, then the sacred conch shell and didgeridoo came to be used as more elaborate healing instruments. Most of the instruments used today by Sound Practitioners come from the past, ie. Himalayan Singing Bowls, Gongs, Chimes and Bells, etc.
I’ve heard Sound Therapy described as the medicine of the future, and it certainly seems like all the cool cats are into it… Sound has always been used to expand our consciousness, and it’s an important key to the awakening taking place around our planet. It just brings you to the present moment. That’s why it is also sometimes called Sound Meditation. It can be seen as a type of meditation, and enough research has been done on the benefits of meditation for creating wellbeing in modern life.
What would the world look like if we all took a regular Sound bath? The more people who come to the realization that we live in a world of frequencies, the more awareness there will be about the connectivity of all things. The root of the word “healing” is “wholeness,” and Sacred Sound shows us the road to the Unified Field Of Consciousness, a future of Oneness and Equanimity.
A last word on Sound Healing? My advice to all: BE THE SOUND YOU WOULD LIKE TO HEAR.
Petroglyph perform live at the Sage Academy of Sound Energy on Friday Nov 8 2013. For information and tickets click here.