Notes from the Session

Notes from the Session on Feb 23, 2014

Zero Balancingetheric meditation Session with Melinda

Session Intention:  Clarity

Within five minutes a belief came right up to my consciousness!

Surfacing Belief: “I can’t trust men”’

The movie of my life ran through my mind reviewing all of the betrayals I suffered at the hands of men from 6 months of age through the present.

I asked myself:  Is this belief true?

Myself said:  Apparently!

Me:  Are you absolutely sure it’s true?

Myself: Well, in fact not only can I not trust men, I can’t trust women either…the truth is, I can’t trust anyone…not even myself! 

I’ve betrayed myself more times than any other single person!

Me:  What if you could trust everyone?  Play with that belief.

Myself:  “I can trust everyone.”

I can trust that humans will behave like humans and human beings cannot be trusted to be any certain way on any given moment.

When I choose to believe “I can’t trust people”, I am being too simplistic.  Trust is incidental.  For all of the betrayals I have suffered there are many more equally significant experiences of support and love. 

Why does one betrayal cancel out one-hundred acts of love?

 Myself: I am seeing an expanded view of this discussion.  Beyond the single belief that I can or cannot trust humans, I am realizing that all beliefs are concepts.  The human mind conceptualizes, that is, it takes its limited body of experience (finite) from the limitless pool of possible experiences (infinite) and creates a theory based on that incomplete experience.  Beliefs are human perceptions attempting to bind the boundless!  Beliefs are our attempt to control that which cannot be controlled. 

Trying to make the infinite finite is the labor of all beliefs.  A belief implies that the same outcome will happen over and over again…that there is a truth that can be depended on. 

Not so in this Universe.  We (this Universe) are a living, breathing, infinitely expanding experience.   Nothing can be depended on.  Nothing is finite.  Nothing is true. The only constant is change. 

There is no belief (human concept) that is supported by our universal experience…without exception.

Me:  So where does this leave us?

Myself:  In any given moment, I recognize that I am in an ever-changing environment, in which nothing is as it appears, and all is expanding and evolving perpetually.  I survey my environment and use discernment to determine my next step. 

Human beings can only be trusted to be themselves, unpredictable.

I perceive myself as more than this body and mind, this human being. 

It is in that experience of “more than this” that I choose to trust.

I trust in the Tao.

A Letter to my Soul Mates

etheric meditationI wrote a letter this morning and I share some of it here because it speaks to all of my new and old heart connections…
I have often felt awe at the connections I have with you and others in my life that are beyond my ordinary understanding. I can only imagine that we are interrelated throughout many lives as I recall a book I once read called Return of the Revolutionaries. Dr. Epstein explains about “Soul Groups.”
Soul Groups are individuals who make a pact on a soul level to move through lifetimes together; changing roles, changing gender, race, ethnicity and interrelationships. A friend in one lifetime may have been a wife, child, parent, or someone else in a previous lifetime. The group has a common thread running through all their lives and relationships. I think he called it the Soul Group Mission. It is a large-scale mission, shifting the global thought field. The group Dr. Epstein tracked in his book was revolutionaries in the American Revolution and continue to walk the cutting edge of revolutionary thought regardless of their occupations in this life. (Oprah Winfrey is an incarnation of one of the souls he tracked.)
When I read the book, it rang true for me. I have noticed that in the past 20 years, and especially in the past 6 years, the friends that I have deep heart-felt connections with, practice healing methods that are outside the mainstream view of medicine. They include art therapists, organic farmers, teachers, writers, actors, sound healers, energy workers, yogis, bodyworkers, psychologists, movement therapists, physicists, shamans, and non-traditional nurses and doctors.
I think that our “soul group” chose the mission of changing the worldview regarding healing.
I have no doubt that you and I are partners in this soul group and that we are affecting the global field with our beliefs and actions regarding the way healing happens.
Interestingly, it is a return to indigenous ways supported by modern science. Quantum physics has now proven what the ancient mystics intuitively knew: every thought-form put into the field affects the field.
All fields entrain themselves toward the strongest, most organized field. Our thoughts draw to our awareness from the unlimited Universal field of all-potential the experience we are having.
The most intriguing and thrilling aspect of my life is the repeated experiences I have that support this belief. When I meet someone from my Soul Group, we both experience a feeling of remembering and reconnecting on a soul level. The level of comfort and communication is deep and immediate. I am smiling as I think about what the future is holding for us, just waiting for us to think the thought!


Point of Perfect Balance

glider launchThe man I live with is my best friend. Our story includes the fact that we met when I was eleven, he was thirteen, and when we reconnected in 2008, we had not seen each other since 1970. That gap of thirty-eight years is filled with a couple of interesting stories but today I am writing about what happened last night.
George has been flying every day this week giving sailplane rides to boy scouts. There is a camp near us and every summer the boy scout leaders schedule a week of rides for the boys who are at camp. G seats two boys in the backseat of his glider, they launch and he gives them a fifteen to twenty-minute thrill doing “wing-overs” and “drops” (think fifteen minutes on a roller coaster at 2000 feet above the earth!) He circles and lands, and loads up two more. This goes on all day…for a week. He gives around twenty rides a day.
When he got home around six last night he said he felt like he was still flying. I have had a similar experience when I have been on water for a long time. When I get off the boat I have “sea legs” and there have been times when I lie down to sleep and can still feel myself rocking. I suppose it has something to do with the vestibular system righting itself.
G went outside while I was fixing dinner to take a walk around the retreat, stretch his legs and ground himself. The sunset was beautiful and he had the kittens for company as he climbed the hill to stand where the sunset view is best. When he came in fifteen minutes later, he looked me in the eyes and said, “I just found my point of perfect balance.” He proceeded to describe his experience of standing and looking at the sky and listening to the sounds and the sensory information coming in created a “flashback” to “thousands of moments in his life when he experienced great joy.”
I said, “Can you take me there…now?”
I followed him outside. We walked west to the fence, and then followed the path that climbs to the high point on the south fence line of the property. He stopped, turned, and faced the setting sun, which was fading into the horizon. I stood in front of him and we breathed and grounded together in silence, taking in the environment. I heard the sounds of the farm animals coming from our neighbors across the road. I felt the cool breeze move across my face and hair. I saw the new moon, to the left of the setting sun in the palest of blue skies. I felt G’s body standing behind me and I heard his deep breathing.
He began to speak, describing to me what he was experiencing. He said it was easy to bring back the sensation that had captured him moments before. It was a feeling of “being in perfect balance within the Universe.”
He continued, “I know that there is no longer a need to seek. I am in the place I have always sought. As I stand here and take in the sensory information, with lightning speed I transport through my life, thousands of images flashing through my mind, all of which connect to this moment. Every sight, sound, smell and feeling sensation is linking me to an experience from my past that has the same emotional flavor of joy. I am in the space/time point of perfect balance and I can return here whenever I choose.”
I am looking forward to sunset with G tonight.


yoga 3

A new day dawns
Two women will be arriving soon
They want to learn “yoga.”

To teach yoga is not a simple thing.
In fact, I cannot “teach” yoga, I can only lead one down the path of yoga.
It is not the yogi who teaches, it is the practice from which one learns.
Yoga is a lifelong journey home to oneself.

To many, yoga means asana.
Poses of the body which stretch, strengthen, and create balance.
Asana teaches the body to sit in stillness.

To some yoga means breath.
Breath is an anchor to bring attention to the body.
Pranayama teaches the mind to focus.

Beyond the postures and the breath lies the heart of yoga.
Five Yamas name the behaviors and attitudes of a Yogi toward the world.
Five Niyamas name the behaviors and attitudes towards ourselves.

Pratyahara is withdrawal, release from temptations of the senses.
Dharana is contact, focus of the mind in a single direction.
Dhyana is connection, moving the mind in one direction like a quiet river, communicating with a single object of attention.
Samadhi is merging, mind becomes one with the object of its attention.

Meditation is the practice of Dharana to prepare the mind for Dhyana through which one might reach Samadhi.
No longer a “me” separate from an “other.”
Only one.

A journey of discovery inward towards truth.
The experience of who I AM:  One with All That Is and All That Is Not.

yoga saying

Birthday Sandwich

English: Flowering Ocotillo Fouquieria splende...

 Flowering Ocotillo Fouquieria splendens photographed above Hawk Canyon at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, CA, USA.

Vista of the Anza Borrego desert landscape.

Vista of the Anza Borrego desert landscape.

Tomorrow is my birthday. That makes today birthday-pre and Sunday birthday-post. I think of it as a birthday sandwich. It’s just an excuse to create three days of “I’m going to do whatever I want” instead of one. It’s especially convenient that my birthday is on a Saturday this year so I have a long week-end of Birthday.
I have a theme for my birthday sandwiches. It’s been an ongoing theme that began when I was fifty. I decided to celebrate my birthday by doing something I had never done before. That first year I went on a solo road trip for the first time. I flew from St. Louis to Seattle, rented a car and drove down the Pacific Coast camping on the beaches of Oregon and California and visiting a couple of friends along the way. It was a two week trip culminating in San Francisco where I visited my sister and then flew back to St. Louis. Prior to this trip, I had been reclaiming my life and this solo trip far from home was a significant act of reclamation.
I was raised under the control of a great and powerful father. He is a man who commands respect and whose word was gospel in our house. It never occurred to me to go against his will as a child. I left his control following graduation from college and moved into a relationship that mirrored my life as a child. I married a man who was very “old school” in his beliefs about family and the roles of men and women. I was so conditioned in this way of thinking it took ten years before I cracked the shell and began to push my way out.
My rebirthing was not a sudden thing. It was a long, slow arduous process. Little by little I tested my boundaries and pushed against the resistance that held me in check. I chose my battles carefully and measured the fall-out against the progress. I was beginning to realize that I had a will of my own and it was ready to be heard and honored. I realized that what Chery thought mattered…to me.
For twenty years I midwifed myself. With the support of a few good friends and a lot of therapy I made my way home to myself. A spiritual meditation and yoga practice and my CranioSacral Therapy business were the most significant structures that supported my becoming. I started to meet people who saw in me more than I was able to see in myself. Those sweet souls who came into my life and “saw” me held up mirrors that allowed me to begin to see myself as they did.
I have continued to celebrate my life each year on my birthday by doing something I have never done before. Often I go somewhere I have never been. The list of birthday events include a trip to Paris, a sailplane ride, a meditation retreat with Gangaji, and last year some friends and I celebrated at a dance retreat in MardeJade, Mexico.
Tomorrow, G and I are going hiking in a remote location not far from our home where there are pictographs and ruins in the Anza Borrego Desert. After the hike we are going soaking at the nearby hot springs and on Sunday we are going to visit a camel farm where we will get to ride a camel for the first time!
Doing anything for the first time is a symbol to me that life is a celebration of new beginnings. Each day is an opportunity to experience a new me that didn’t exist yesterday and explore my surroundings with fresh eyes and an open heart. Life is a blessing to be lived not a problem to be solved, so let the fun begin.

The Better to See…

Big Sur and fog on a typical day in June. Phot...

 Big Sur and fog on a typical day in June.

“Those are some blue eyes you’ve got there, young lady,” she said softly.
“The better to see you with,” I replied.
What am I seeing and what are others seeing in me? How would my perception of my world change if sight left the equation?
I met a man at Esalen a few years ago. His name was Buddy. Buddy was blind from birth. He wore those naked shoes, the kind with toes that have a thin rubber sole that forms to your foot. He told me they had made a big difference in his feeling of security when he walks. Buddy has a blind person’s cane for feeling in front of him but he doesn’t use it much.
The first day he arrived his friend who worked in the kitchen and had guested him on campus took him into the lodge after it was closed so he could feel his way around without any people to deal with. He memorized the placement of the tables and benches, the serving tables, the drink bar and the rest rooms. The next day he was navigating by himself without his cane. I was pretty impressed!
He was eating alone so I sat next to him and introduced myself. In the course of our conversation I learned that he had lived in St. Louis (so had I) and we knew common neighborhoods. I also learned that he was a massage therapist (so am I) and we made plans to do a trade. I don’t know what attracted me to this man at first, perhaps I was so blown away by his independence. He seemed fearless to me. By the end of lunch, with a goodly portion in his beard, I had a found a friend. Enough so that I offered to clean the salad from his beard which got a laugh and welcomed “go for it!”
For the rest of the week Buddy and I hung out. I gave him a CranioSacral treatment and he gave me a massage. His ability to sense tension in my body and know how and where to touch was exquisite. We enjoyed each other’s company. We shared stories and I was continually educated about what life is like without eyes. Not really different from life with eyes!
“How can that be?” I asked him.
As best I can recall, this is what he told me. “We come into this world with varying degrees of sensitivity to our environment. We “read” our surroundings with our senses. You and I are sitting here in the same environment. The fact that you can see and I cannot doesn’t change our environment. I am probably hearing and smelling things that you are not. You are seeing things that I am not. We are both taking in information about our surroundings which is influencing us. We make choices in part based on what we perceive from our environment. My choices and yours may differ because of something you see that I don’t…or something I hear that you don’t. None of that really matters in the end. What matters are peace of mind and feelings of joyousness. These don’t come from sight. They come from insight. They come from gratitude for life in all its forms regardless of the challenges we face.”
I am inspired to be grateful whenever Buddy comes to my mind…not grateful that I can see…grateful that I met him. Ironic this, that a blind man helped me see the world more clearly and live more fearlessly.
Blessings on you, Sweet Buddy, wherever you are.

Out of Chaos

I used to pride myself in my ability to maintain order. My house was neat with no clutter. My mantra was “everything has a home” and it was my job to find a home for each thing I owned and make sure if it wasn’t being used it was “home.”
This kind of orderliness has its advantages. I can always find what I need. I can relax and admire the beauty of the order I have created in the few moments it occasionally exists. While I was living alone it was easy. When I’m sharing a home it’s more challenging…in fact it’s a job that takes a lot of time. Getting your space mates to buy into your compulsion to have everything in strict order is impossible if they don’t already own that particular behavior pattern.
The worst aspect of this lifestyle is I can never relax at home. There is always something that “needs to be done.” If I sit and look around there is going to be at least one thing that is not in its home. The feeling that is created in me is a state of unease, and the sense that I need to “fix” it.
My home is in a state of chaos at the moment. I have been traveling a lot for the past few months and I am also building a retreat center here at my home. The combination of not being here to try to keep order and the influx of people and materials is creating a lot of disorder. I cannot keep up with it.
Something in me is shifting. I am moving into a level of acceptance for this chaos. I can’t say I am enjoying it but it isn’t making me crazy. I can look at a room that is in need of cleaning and organization and see it as a work in progress…and that is okay with me. It doesn’t all have to be done now!
I would never have allowed guests to come and stay with me in this state of chaos in the past but two friends just left and another has arrived and I am not worried about what they are thinking about my big mess. I don’t care. It doesn’t seem important anymore.
I have relaxed and slowed down. I am allowing life to sort itself out without feeling as if I am the one who has to do the sorting. In the midst of the disorder and chaos, I am keeping calm and stillness inside myself. I am scheduling my priorities rather than working my way down a to-do list. I am rejecting old patterns and the ways I was domesticated. I think chaos is being myself.
I am reminded of a quote by Francis Ford Coppola, the renowned film director. He said, “Anything you build on a large-scale or with intense passion invites chaos.” I am building something on a large-scale with intense passion so there we have it! I just brought a kind of order to my disorder by hearing that.
My favorite shrink, Carl Jung, said, “In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.” I’m going with that!



Yesterday was a homecoming.  We left Sedona early in the morning and drove eight hours arriving at Mountain Valley Retreat just as the sun was setting.  When we turned the corner at the Salton Sea and headed into the mountains I felt a surge in my heart-space.  I announced to my car mates, “These are MY Mountains.”  I felt an unexpected sense of belonging to this place I moved to four years ago.

Home. What is this concept of home and what gives me a sense of being home?  Home was the Black Hills for most of my life even though I left there when I was 18.  I lived in several places before landing in a rural setting on the Mississippi River near St. Louis.  It took a lot of conscious work to get myself to accept Brighton, IL as home.  I remember sitting in the middle of a medicine wheel I created in my woods and doing a cord cutting ceremony to release myself from the Black Hills so I could become rooted where I was.  I had a sense that Spirit wanted me to “bloom where I was planted” even if it wasn’t a place I thought I wanted to be.  When my son and daughter were born and I was raising them, they helped me accept the Illinois farm as home.

When they were grown I left and moved into a tiny cabin out in the woods on a lake.  It was the first place I had lived that was a singular choice.  I was alone for the first time in my life and I was home.  The feeling of freedom and expansiveness I felt in that place was unique and exhilarating.   I lived there for two years as I mined my soul to discover who I was without the trappings of my marriage and the farm I called home for almost forty years.

I describe the move I made four years ago to California as “falling off the cliff.”  I packed my few belongings at the cabin, picked up a few pieces of furniture from the farm and drove to California to this remote place in the mountains northeast of San Diego.  I had never spent time here; I had no family near and knew only my childhood friend that was my connection to San Diego. I had no prospects for a job.  Once I landed, I now realize I was in a kind of shock state for about a year.  I was very reclusive and I wasn’t home, in the language of the Medicine Wheel, I was sitting in the Children’s Fire.

Slowly, over three years’ time, I gathered myself to this piece of land and began to settle.  Tiny roots started to find their way into the sandy desert soil and as I began the process of grounding myself I explored my surroundings and found a few kindred spirits living nearby.  In late 2012 I decided I was going to stay here and build Mountain Valley Retreat.  I made a conscious commitment to be the
steward of this land and create a safe haven for others who are seeking deep connection to the Earth.

When I turned the corner yesterday and looked into these mountains I felt a feeling of deep connection that told me the shift is complete.  This is where I belong.  This is neither the home of my birth and childhood, nor is it a temporary stop-over on my way to somewhere else.  This is where Spirit is telling me to stay.  I have made my final landing.  I am committed and rooted to this place for the duration.  I am Home.

Praying the Medicine Wheel

Medicine wheel of the Lakota Native American p...

Medicine wheel of the Lakota Native American people (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“I, Chery, surrender judgment and control and embrace with compassion and gratitude each moment of my life as it unfolds.  I welcome myself with open arms and vow to see in myself the loving, beautiful human I see in others.”

I will be leaving Sedona tomorrow and driving back to my home, Mountain Valley Retreat, in southern California.  I have just spent a week assisting Suzanne Scurlock-Durana with my dear friends and colleagues who gather from as far away as Scotland.

We return annually to begin our new year with this retreat called Release and Renewal.  This was my eighth year to pray the medicine wheel with Suzanne.  It has been a deeply profound experience since the first year which helped me find my voice, step into my power and out of an unfulfilling marriage. This week has been an equally painful, exquisite exploration into the depths of who I am.

The medicine wheel we walk in Suzanne’s teaching comes from a number of Native American traditions.  She has drawn from her teachers to create an effective prototype.  I am not attempting to teach the wheel in this writing.  Rather, I am sharing with you what I heard in each lodge and the final prayer that I wrote after our week of work.


Children’s Fire

As I sit in the Children’s Fire I listen to my authentic voice within.  I hear that my ability to drop inside and sit in stillness and allow the truth to emerge is growing.  Thank you, Spirit, for your support as I carve out more time each day to sit in stillness and simply allow.  (The early morning hour, just before sunrise, is my best time for this visit into stillness.)

Men’s Lodge

As the sun rises I begin my walk around the Wheel pausing in each Lodge to find the wisdom that awaits me there if I am ready, willing and able to hear it.

In the Men’s Lodge I name the question or issue at hand. Great Spirit, May I continue to rest back into your support, trusting that life is unfolding in a vision of sacred perfection.  In each moment may I meet my experience with an open and compassionate heart. Grant me the wisdom to allow what is before me to simply be what it is.

Peace Chiefs Lodge

I accept my humanness in all its forms, the light and the shadow, and ask for continued clarity to see with discernment.  By your grace, may I let go of all beliefs that don’t serve me and my need to share my opinions with others.

War Chiefs Lodge

Thank you for the courage to stand strong in my resolve to stop judging and controlling myself and others.

Singers and Mediums Lodge

Thank you for helping me to recognize the origins and patterns of my judgmental and controlling nature.  Help me to release these patterns that no longer serve me and step into acceptance and love for what is.  I don’t need to know all. Show me my next step.

Women’s Lodge

I sit in patient, grounded silence while the mind-mud settles and my vision becomes clear.

Council Lodge

All parts of me say a wholehearted yes to surrendering control and judgment and my need to be right.  I am safe in the loving arms of Spirit.

Hunters and Gatherers Wisdom Lodge

Thank you for supporting my intention to begin each day with renewal to connection with Spirit.  I vow to listen continuously to the wisdom of my all-knowing.  Thank you for supporting my vigilance to staying fully present in each moment and meeting my experience with a grateful, compassionate heart.

Dog Soldiers Lodge

Thank you for the wisdom and compassion to recognize and hold my vulnerabilities including them in all my decisions.


Great Spirit,

Thank you for your constant, loving support.

I continue to rest back and trust that life is unfolding in a vision of sacred perfection.

Help me to meet my experience with an open and compassionate heart and give me the wisdom to appreciate what is.

By your grace, may I release all beliefs that don’t serve me and let go of my need to share my opinions with others.

Thank you for the courage to stand strong in my resolve to stop judging and controlling myself and others.

Thank you for helping me to recognize the origins and patterns of my judgmental and controlling nature.  Help me to release these patterns and embrace what is.

I sit in patient, grounded silence while the mind-mud settles and my vision becomes clear.

I give a wholehearted yes to surrendering control, judgment and my need to be right.  I am safe.

Thank you for confirming my connection with Spirit and supporting my commitment to listen to my All-knowing.  I vow to be vigilant to presence and meet my experience with a grateful, compassionate heart.

Thank you for the wisdom and compassion to recognize and hold my vulnerabilities…including them in all my decisions.

Thank you, Great Spirit, for loving and supporting me every step of the way.


The Joy Thief

I woke up today and wrote page 11. It was about my process of working an issue with the Medicine Wheel, a Native American tool. I finished the page, named it Men’s Lodge, and promptly deleted it as I attempted to save it to my blog site. It is gone to the ethers never to be retrieved.
Page 11 is now being re-written and the prompt that has come forward is “Joy Thief.”
I have a sense of the way things “should” be in any given situation. My mind is always projecting its idea of what is “right.” My ideas of how things “should” be rarely coincide with what actually is and I have a compulsion to make the “necessary corrections” to bring reality into alignment with my personal vision.
I find it an interesting “coincidence” that I deleted my writing this morning which was about things not being as they “should” be. I “shouldn’t” have lost my work and my joy at what I had written was dashed to bits, not by what I had done, but by my reaction to what I had done. I felt stupid and angry and looked for someone to blame. In my anger state I got in the shower to attempt to reset myself. When I realized the irony of the event I started laughing at myself and the charge lifted.
I am aware that my frequent experience of seeing the world as askew in some way is a “joy thief.” In those moments when I am thinking, “This is wrong! What can I do to fix it?” my joy is snatched away.
The judgmental mind develops as a part of our survival mechanism as children. A level of discernment as to what is safe and unsafe is necessary to make healthy choices in the world. In me, that mechanism went on steroids when I was eight and my heretofore safe world was made unsafe by a child molester.
Understanding why I am a judgmental person who is very attached to her sense of right and wrong doesn’t change the fact that I am robbed of joy every time I think I “know better.”
So the questions I am working are
• “What if I stopped seeing through the judgmental eyes of right and wrong and saw the world through a neutral lens?”
• “How would my experience shift if I could appreciate the complexities, paradoxes and inconsistencies of nature?”
• “What if I realized that the senseless absurdities and illogical foolishness that abounds is not mutually exclusive with perfection?
• “What would it feel like if I expanded my perceptual lens wide enough to recognize that the Universe is a state of perfection?”
This blog has been written in a number of sits throughout the day when I could grab a few minutes and it feels very different from the “instant downloads” that come in the wee hours of the morning…not a disclaimer, just an observation.