Making the choice | Touchstones of the Sacred | Touchstones of the Sacred

Archive for February 2010

Making the choice

February 11, 2010 By: Matsya Siosal Category: Living with Intention, Mind Body Spirit


Too often I find that my mind is dancing in anxious mincing steps, a useless and distracting chatter of 20,000 questions, what-ifs, to-dos, don’t forgets and should I? Do I want to? Do I have to?

This has got me thinking about what it takes to be at the helm of my life. When I think of the source of calm, creativity, and balance within me, I picture a room with smooth sunlit floors – an expanse of dark chestnut wood, worn to a waxy sheen with the passing of eons. Here in my inner sanctum is pure, clear space and I have no need of a table or chair, pen, computer or even a glass of water. Here it’s all really, truly OK.

So that feeling of inner peace, of needing nothing but what is already within, how do I access it, nourish it, practice it, embody it, live from it? It is up to me to choose, yet how exactly do I make the choice? My contemplation, experience and study have led me to this:

First it is essential to identify your intention as vividly as possible. Take the time to craft this vision so that you focus your intention on a clear target.

Return to this vision again and again as daily practice. By doing this you reprogram your thoughts and begin to align the entire vibration of your being with your intention.

Build a collection of cues and anchors that remind you of your intention. A mental picture, an affirmation or prayer, a piece of sacred jewelry, art or music, or some other ritual or charm that you can return to again and again.

Perhaps most important of all, enjoy your successes no matter how small. It seems inevitable to fall short of perfection, but we are cheating ourselves if we don’t appreciate and savor progress.

Sacred Art

February 10, 2010 By: Matsya Siosal Category: Sacred Art


In addition to the tools, resources, and teachings available on Touchstones of the Sacred, we are also a vessel for sacred art. The beauty and meaning of such artwork inspires and supports living a sacred and intentional  life.  One of the artists featured in our growing gallery is Julia Weaver.

Julia’s work has been featured in New Age Journal’s Body and Soul, Mandala Healing Kit and other publications. She co-facilitated a workshop for children with Julia Butterfly Hill and Jane Goodall at the Kinship with All Life conference in San Francisco. In response to September 11th  Julia creates large-scale community interactive Peace Mandalas called “One World One Heart”.

Julia is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice, with 30 years experience incorporating the arts as a healing modality, and is an exhibiting and widely collected visionary artist. Julia offers local and residential workshops in the SF Bay area , across the US and England, and soon S. America! Julia also offers dolphin swim retreats in Hawaii and Bimini.

Available in our gallery are 9 of Julia’s uplifting and inspiring images. Each image is available as a museum-quality archival giclee print; signed, dated, and numbered (limited editions of 100). The prints are mounted and ready for matting and framing. Some images are also available as greeting cards. To view Julia’s work and for more information click here.

If you are an artist whose work is influenced by your connection to the sacred and are interested in showing your work on our site please contact

Raw food retreat

February 04, 2010 By: Matsya Siosal Category: Mind Body Spirit, Raw Food

The power of retreat

Taking a time-out from our regular day-to-day lives is essential. I find that I need to unplug and take time away at least quarterly. For years I have longed to go away to a health spa recently I mentioned this to a friend who shares my passion for healthy, intentional living. Soon we were planning for a long weekend of raw food, juicing, walking, yoga and relaxation at the Oregon Coast.

The beauty of raw, organic plant foods

Raw or living foods are regarded by many as the most beautifying and nutritious to consume because many vitamins, enzymes and other live, beneficial constituents are destroyed by the heat of cooking.

Contrary to what most of us are taught, a plant-based diet can provide all of the essential vitamins, minerals and amino acids required for optimum health. Many raw foodists are attracted to the lifestyle because it makes one feel, as Celedra put it, “like you are vibrating with the planet”.

Mindfulness, vitality, and connection

My friend and I stocked up at the co-op before we left Portland and over the 72-hour weekend we ate nothing but fresh, raw, organic foods. We made up our own recipes and relied on some from Jennifer Cornbleet’s book Raw Food Made Easy for 1 or 2 People.

My taste buds came alive and the earthy-juicy-sweetness of the fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds that we ate were so satisfying! We both noted that we needed and wanted to eat less food than we’d expected. Not only do raw plant foods taste better, I find that I can really feel the nutrients assimilating into my body, like puzzle pieces clicking into place – instant vitality!

Ongoing rewards

When a retreat is over the challenge is to sustain the fresh perspectives we attain while away.  The gifts of this weekend are many; perhaps most notably I’ve returned home with a heightened appreciation for the intricate perfection of nature and continued mindfulness about what and when to eat.

Touchstones of the Sacred would love to hear from any raw food enthusiasts! How does raw food impact your body, mind and spirit for the better? Do you feel closer to the divine or your truest essence through a raw lifestyle?

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Spirit: Book 3

February 03, 2010 By: Julie Clayton Category: Living with Intention, Mind Body Spirit


The Stone Boy and other stories (1996)
By Thich Nhat Hanh

Parallax Press

Published in 1996, The Stone Boy remains a perennial favorite of mine, written by Zen master and teacher, Thich Nhat Hahn. He is a master storyteller and poet, and this collection of short fictional stories explores the universal themes of love and compassion, against a backdrop of Vietnamese culture and his own spiritual experiences. I personally appreciate being introduced to another culture, and particularly when the author is able to show how the thread of human connection transcends the visible world. These stories are infused with cathartic wisdom that permeates your soul, and showers you with sparks of inner awakening to the sacredness of all life. If words define our reality, this clustering of words articulates a mindful and luminous world of interconnection.

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Imagine if you will

February 02, 2010 By: Pamela Wright Category: Living with Intention, Mind Body Spirit


“Dreams are today’s answers to tomorrow’s questions.” – Edward Cayce

Dreams are defined as an imaginary mindscape during sleep, fantasy, vision, reverie. We all experience dreams in one way or another, whether we are conscious of them or not. They offer us hope, insight, and pleasure. Alternately, dreams may also awaken trepidation and confusion. At the least, these moments of rumination are thought provoking and attention-grabbing. They might also, with deeper consideration, be mind maps for problem solving, affirmed synchronicity or the foretelling of future events – all powerful learning tools.

Other cultures value the dream life as much or more as the waking state. Native Americans consider their dream world sacred as do the Australian Aboriginals, who for centuries have respected dream time as a means of guidance and wisdom. Carl Jung believed they were windows into the unconscious offering insight into the self,  healing and personal growth. Dreams may be psychological in nature, offering a metaphor as a means of deciphering an issue at hand. Intuitive dreaming guides and confirms what we are aware of on a deeper level. Precognitive dreams, perhaps less frequent, predict events that will occur in ours or someone else’s life.

In Second Sight, Judith Orloff  clinical psychiatrist and intuitive,  recounts numerous studies of clients who have used their dreams as an avenue for restoring themselves. If we pay attention to them, dreams can be powerful guideposts when making choices  about relationship, career or health. This requires an intention to look at them consistently. Going to sleep at night with a question and opening to the possibility of answers or direction is a good way to begin. Notice when you wake the images, feelings and words you witnessed. Keeping a dream journal is helpful also; you may ultimately find patterns or themes in your night travels.

For me personally, dreams have been therapeutic and transformative. Nightmares have been openings to letting go of the outdated, difficult events of my life. Inspired and artistic nocturnal viewings have offered me insight into my creative side –food for thought and development as I traverse a crossroad. Other times we may “meet”  people we know and love, or others with whom we are working out problems. “Dreams are illustrations –from the  book your soul is writing about you.” In a place where we spend precious many hours, why not avail ourselves of this gift? Use the dream world to light your path, open your heart and discover.


Spirit: Book 2

February 02, 2010 By: Julie Clayton Category: Living with Intention, Mind Body Spirit


Dying Was the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me (2006)
By William E. Hablitzel, MD

Sunshine Ridge Publishing

This book is a rare gift that reminds us of our divine grace on the path of life. A gem of heartwarming wisdom about the beauty and courage of the human spirit, you will want to share this book with your friends and enemies alike. Taboos around death in the Western world might make us want to shy away from any book title with the word “dying” in it: be assured that this book is about life and living fully, even—and especially—in the face of the inevitable.

Sooner or later, each person in the book realizes that the healing in dying, or in life circumstances in which we metaphorically die, comes from one life-affirming choice: to fully embrace each moment that life offers. We are touched by these people’s fragility and their strength, for we’re not simply reading stories, we are being included in intimate and life-changing moments. That some of the people in these stories are dying (and eventually pass) from their condition is not a failure for physician or patient; it is, for both, their greatest inspiration for living.

Dying was the Best Thing that Ever Happened to Me baptizes readers in a well of profound heart wisdom that is deeper than any one person or single act. Each story spills like a waterfall into our own heart of wholeness, reminding us that we too are here now because we have said yes to life.

Please join me tomorrow for the final book in this series.


February 01, 2010 By: Matsya Siosal Category: Living with Intention, Mantra, Malas, Meditation, Mind Body Spirit

Lakshmi, Hindu goddess of wealth & prosperity

The word abundance comes from the Latin word for “overflowing” and indeed the word carries with it the energy of a boundless, rushing spring creek and the ultimate joy of a heart brimming with love and compassion. At its root the word refers to a state of prosperity in all aspects of life including our material, spiritual, and emotional situations and outlooks.

For many of us it is difficult to tap into this state of grace. Whether we are tired from working and parenting, or are in the throes of searching our souls, a state of mental, emotional and spiritual abundance soothes a worried heart and assures us that what is, is enough, and that with time, patience and intention, more of what we need and desire is surely forthcoming.

Abundance is also a powerfully magnetic state of mind that draws to us the tools, resources, opportunities and connections needed to actualize our intention. A simple and highly effective method for cultivating abundance is the use of affirmations. My favorite abundance affirmations are:

Abundance is flowing to me from expected and unexpected sources.


My natural state is abundance and joy.

I began using the first mantra during a particularly harrowing period of financial uncertainty. Within days I noticed a shift in how I felt. I began to expect good things to come my way. This opened the door to being able to see solutions when before there was only doubt and dead-ends. Even before more money started to come in I felt a sense of possibility and certainty that the tide had turned.

The second affirmation is chanted as a mantra and corresponds to my jade, garnet and carnelian mala.  The energy of those rich and regally hued stones align us with prosperity and success while supporting motivation to ensure we proactively seek our dreams and goals.

An affirmation or mantra soon becomes an anchor for our attention, a touchstone that we may return to as often as needed. The mantra triumphs over fearful, doubtful and ultimately destructive thoughts that keep us from experiencing abundance; and with consistent practice and intention, the seeds of a coming harvest are sown.

Part 3 of 3: Spirit

February 01, 2010 By: Julie Clayton Category: Living with Intention, Mind Body Spirit


Spiritual Tools for Conscious Living

When contemplating  which books to highlight for this final installment of Spiritual Tools for Conscious Living, I realized something I hadn’t previously identified. While there are valuable and profound books that offer systems, teachers, and tools toward awakening and the process of enlightenment (what I call applied spirituality), it is the storytelling books that I was drawn to. Inquiring within about the differences, I realized that more profound than the differences is the presence of a common theme regardless of the path illuminated: it is only through the heart that we can have a spiritual experience.

The Institute of Heartmath states, “When you feel genuine hope, care, and compassion, your heart is sending harmonious and coherent signals to the brain/mind, replacing feelings of separation with a sense of connection. The heart and brain are aligned and in sync.” Spiritual storytelling evokes this range of feelings, activating these coherent signals—and we have a direct experience of connection, and to our own spiritual essence.

Join me over the next week as I explore three books whose stories greatly impacted my spirit. Following is book 1 of 3.

Bridge Between Worlds: Extraordinary Experiences That Changed Lives (2009)
By Dan Millman and Doug Childers

New World Library

This is a compilation of 40 true-life stories of dramatic and miraculous events that permanently and profoundly changed the lives of their authors. They are stories of healing miracles, out-of-body realms, redemption, letting go, perseverance of faith, angelic intervention, and transformation in many unexpected guises—each offering an expanded vision of reality that opens us to the possibility of something beyond the ordinary.

Each story invokes the mysterious and the miraculous: while reading we are connected to a higher vibration that is both us, and not us, but is in sync with our spiritual essence. Vicariously it is our miracle, our mystery, and our life that is changed, just by reading these accounts. They are food for the heart-mind.

Since I missed the original version of this book, published in 1999 as Divine Interventions, I thoroughly savored reading this for the first time. However, some things are worth reading (and publishing) over and again.


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