Sunday, November 22, 2009

Are We Hardwired for Empathy? Research says yes.

This is a repost from

UC BERKELEY—Researchers have found compelling evidence that people who are more empathetic possess a particular variation of the oxytocin receptor gene.

Published in the journal Proceedings in the National Academy of Sciences, the findings by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, support other research showing that oxytocin plays a major role in countering stress, says study coauthor Sarina Rodrigues, assistant professor of psychology at Oregon State University.

All humans inherit a variation of this gene or “allele” from each parent. The study looked at the three combinations of gene variations of the oxytocin receptor. The most empathetic—able to get an accurate read on others’ emotions were double "GG"—that is, they had two copies of the “G allele.” In contrast, members of the AA and AG allele groups were found to be less capable of putting themselves in the shoes of others and more likely to get stressed out in difficult situations.

“This is the first study to suggest that a tendency to be more empathetic and stress reactive than others may be influenced by a single gene,” notes Rodrigues.

Informally known as the “cuddle” or “love” hormone, oxytocin is secreted into the bloodstream and the brain, where it promotes social interaction, bonding and romantic love, among other functions.

But while nature might have given some of us the DNA to be more empathetic, those who are not in the GG group should not despair, Rodrigues says. “There are plenty of people in the AA or AG gene pool who are empathetic, caring individuals,” adds Rodrigues, who is not a double G but counts herself as caring and empathetic.

If you know you’re not in the GG group, you might just have to work harder at making social connections, she explains.

In the study of some 200 young men and women of diverse ethnicities, participants, who provided DNA samples, filled out questionnaires that gauged their levels of empathy and their ability to read emotions displayed in eye expressions. Those with the GG variation were better at reading eye expressions than their AA and AG counterparts.

Participants were also were given stress reactivity tests, including one that measured their heart rate as they awaited loud blasts of noise. While female participants were found overall to be more sensitive to stress, both men and women in the GG group maintained a lower heart rate in the face of the sound blasts.

While the findings might inspire science fiction musings about genetic screening for caring professions or even for sociopaths, they point to positive applications, Rodrigues says.

“Not everyone is going to be a touchy-feely person,” she adds. “We should reach out to people who aren’t because research shows it’s better for everyone to be socially connected.”

The study was funded by the Metanexus Institute and UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center.

UC Berkeley news:

Friday, October 23, 2009

Comment on the Sweat Lodge Deaths

There's been a lot of press lately about the sweat lodge deaths in Arizona.

These headlines can possibly scare interested people away from an experience that has been used without any drama for thousands of years.

These are the times when a bridging of the Native American and white/black/latino cultures is happening, and so one unintended aspect of these deaths is that they can bring about cultural communication and understanding, even though it is under tragic circumstances.

In the press, there has been only minimal exploration of the historical uses of sweat lodges. Some of it, rightfully so, is clouded in mystery. That's because the ways, the uses, and especially the effects of the sweat lodge are not immediately apparent to the outside observer, especially the western outside observer. It's somewhat akin, I would imagine, to the outside observer who looks at masonic culture and traditions as portrayed by Dan Brown -(I happen to be reading the Lost Symbol right now!).

I have had the privilege to partake in traditional ceremonies facilitated by Native Americans, American Indian, whatever you want to call it (because some Indians certainly would never call themselves Native Americans) - for 6 years now. That's not a lot of time, as any true Indian would tell you, however, one thing is for sure: there is no reason to be scared of the sweat lodge. I have many clients who are interested in these ways and are pursuing them in their local areas from those who are trained.

A trained sweat lodge leader is one who has been chosen by Spirit, and one who has endured years upon years of rigorous testing and training. A lodge or "altar" would never be passed down by an elder unless the individual has passed many, many tests of endurance, heart and strength. The sweat lodge leader must be strong enough to withstand the sickness of ALL those who are in the lodge. By sickness I mean karma, bad decisions, generational DNA influences, trauma, accidents, illness - all sorts of nasty stuff, whatever comes up. It can be a very, very difficult path to follow. It is NOT to be taken lightly, nor is one's decision to enter a sweat lodge.

The sweat lodge leader is most likely is not profiting from their use of sweat lodges, although it is custom in today's society to give the leader of the sweat lodge a monetary donation after the lodge. The fact that the leader of the Arizona lodge, James Arthur Ray, is charging $10,000 per retreat has been used as criticism from some. However, his retreat included a lot more than just the sweat lodge itself. The only person who truly knows what happened at that lodge is Great Mystery and Creator - and that's probably the way it should stay.

One enters a sweat lodge for a higher purpose. I have seen many people enter a lodge to test it out once, twice, or a handful of times. That's fine and it's intended for that. Every single sweat lodge that I have ever been to has been an EXCEPTIONALLY welcoming and SAFE place for ALL people.

There's been criticism from Indians, who say they would never cram 60 people into a lodge. In my experience, the most I have ever seen in a lodge is around 20-25 people. Any more than that I don't think the sweat lodge leader could be fully attentive to every person's healing experience.

Thankfully, I have had teachers and mentors whose goal in life was to extend these Indian traditions and understandings to ALL people. Understand that many Indians don't want their traditions passed on to white people. Many still have deep-seated, generational distrust of white people.

While understandable, this is what I am using MY LIFE to pray for. I am using MY LIFE, with the use of my gifts and every ounce of strength, to pray that this old DRAMA be healed. ONCE AND FOR ALL.


Monday, September 28, 2009

2012: The Return of the Great Mother by Christine Page

By Christine Page, M.D., GreatMystery.Org

It is said there will be a return of the feminine in 2012, portrayed in the symbols of the Virgin, the Mother, and the Crone. This emergence of the feminine inherently implies a death, or diminishing, of masculine energy. According to author, teacher and Cancun Prophets Conference presenter Dr. Christine Page, this change of tides, or shift in feminine/masculine power, can be seen as “the completion of the hero’s journey.” She shows not only how the myths of the feminine and the masculine incarnation relate to our personal journey toward 2012 and a new consciousness, but also how we can use the lessons of these symbols and myths to prepare ourselves for the coming changes.

Welcome To The Greatest Show On Earth

“Congratulations—you are among a select Group of souls who won the lottery to be here, on this planet, at this time! The prize not only ensures you a front row seat but also the unique opportunity to cocreate the future of the human race. Your contribution, along with that of other awakened souls, will create a blueprint, which will influence your ancestors and the next 26,000 years of human existence. This is what you have been working toward during your many incarnations; this is the moment you’ve been awaiting. This is a time to remember.

“For the first time in 26,000 years, our sun and, by implication, the Earth is aligned with the dark rift of the galaxy, the Milky Way. The path of interstellar dust is known as the “black road” by the Maya and leads us directly to the galactic center.

“According to the ancient people who observed the skies night after night, the Milky Way represents the great mother and the great serpent, both synonymous with death and rebirth, the essential ingredients of transformation. The dark rift is seen as a symbol of both the open vagina of the mother and the gaping mouth of the serpent. Whatever the symbol, the message is the same: this is the portal through which we are born, and it is to here that we will return to die.

“To the indigenous people, this center represents the heart of the great mother. It was here that king-priests and shamans would travel to receive the insights and wisdom that could be translated into reality for the well-being of the land and its people. It is seen as the portal to multidimensional reality, parallel worlds, the void, the place of nothingness and the ocean of possibilities, accessible in the past only to the elite or those in deep meditative states. Now, at this extraordinary time, its riches are available to all of us if we can step outside our limiting belief patterns and rekindle the innocence and joy that allow us to harmonize with the pulse of the great mother.

“We are like children in a candy store, and the great mother is offering us an unlimited array of goodies. Yet, if our hearts and minds are still locked into a particular paradigm of belief concerning ourselves and the world, all we will see and select are the candies with which we are familiar, and we will pass by the rest. This is certainly a good moment to take a risk.” —Christine Page, M. D.

CHRISTINE R. PAGE, M.D., began her medical practice in London in 1978 and combined it with homeopathy in 1989. She is an international seminar leader on subtle energy and energy medicine, having created a three-level training program to enhance the power of intuition for health care professionals. She is author of 2012 and the Galactic Center: The Return of The Great Mother, Frontiers of Health: How to Heal the Whole Person and Spiritual Alchemy.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Breath of Light with Margaret Gilfoyle: Reflections on the Work

Had a very nice trip to Laramie, WY. It was my first time back in the energy of the snowy range since leaving in 2005. It felt very nice and quiet.

We did Breath of Light work with Margaret Gilfoyle. It was my first time meeting Margaret, and it was done by invitation from Johnna Nunez, a dear friend & former student.

The work was done on a massage table inside a tipi. Very warm energy in there. I laid my head down on the mat, and then Margaret proceeded to bring in the energy of the spirits that she works with. Very gentle energies worked on me for over an hour.

I've been on an energy work kick lately - getting some good spiritual chiropractic. I found myself floating off into many different worlds, many different colors & vibrations were experienced. At one point, a very strong male spirit came in, he seemed either Native American or Asian in his energy. He was at my left and working on my hips. There was a lot of energy being released in my hips and in my occiput. My hips are still adjusting three or four days later; they were a bit tight during yoga today, but I digress. Anyway, I started to quiver all over my body - it felt like almost too much to handle. Felt like I got a little feverish too. I was praying very hard, calling in the Light. Every time I would have the thought to call in the Light, the beings spoke through Margaret and they would say "thank you for assisting, thank you & blessings to you." If you ever needed proof (I don't) that every thought is real & can be heard by spirit, then this work will prove it to you. During an intense part of the work, I felt like I was growing a beak. Yes, I was turning into an eagle and my eyes were getting stronger, my nose bigger, and my shoulders ached in my back because I have been growing wings. This is not some imaginatory hallucination, it's for real.

At the end, I felt like I do sometimes at the end of sweat lodge ceremonies. I feel clean, and yet I also feel like I ran a marathon. My legs were wobbly & weak, but in a good way. The energy was "reset" in several respects. My lungs were able to take in a huge amount of oxygen and breath.

I've been getting even more sensitive lately. Thus, I find that I need to receive energy work more than usual. What about you? Are you having similar experiences? I think we're ALL getting more sensitive as we prepare for the coming SHIFT. Is it not true?

Just wanted to share a few thoughts on this wonderful experience. THANK YOU Margaret and all the beings in spirit for assisting me in helping to release whatever needed to be released! Margaret, your gentle energy and intuitive perception facilitated a tremendous spiritual movement. Thank you THANK YOU for the Breath of Light!

May all of us be made STRONGER through GENTLENESS.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Test Your ESP & Psychic Experience Forum for Empaths

Found a great little psychic test website that I'd like to pass along.

You can test your psychic ability with a series of fun & interesting tests.

I spent 30 mins this morning; seemed to have great success with the number test, not so much with the others. Interesting how for empaths & highly sensitive, often our psychic ability rests on the fact that it may need to be connected to a person in order for it to be optimally effective. When emotions or other people are involved, the psychic answers can come through with ease.  We learn how to develop our psychic senses in my instructional package The Complete Empath Toolkit.

Computer psychic tests are impersonal and may throw empaths off.  Beware of the psychokinesis test! I tried it once and decided it was better to avoid it; (I once sent sparks flaring from my TV by having the brilliant idea to do Reiki on it). I already know I have psychokinesis, I don't need to ruin my computer by proving it!

Looks like a great site to share empath and psychic experiences as well.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Taking care of ourselves as Empaths

I got a comment in the last blog that said "I'd wish you'd write more." I do too! So I'll take this opportunity to check in a bit more often!

I've picked up a bit of a bug this week, and most likely because I can do a better job balancing my stress. So, I am going to do three things I haven't done in awhile.

1) I'm going camping. I am getting outdoors and away from all things electronic, and letting nature heal!  We can all do this more often. (I spend the majority of my week either on the phone talking to clients in my coaching or classes, or on the computer updating my sites and writing the next book (yes, it's coming next Spring).
2) I am going to have a healing session. I haven't done this in at least 6 months. Far too long! As empaths, a general guideline would be that we need someone to help us at least every two months, if not more, especially if you're in the midst of purging all the stuff you've accumulated your entire life.
3) I am going to see a doctor. It's sometimes easy to overlook the importance of western medicine. At times it is important, especially when dealing with acute symptoms.

So, let's take this opportunity to ask ourselves, "Have I nurtured myself lately?" If the answer is no, then pamper yourself for a day or two. Go to a spa. Eat out at a nice restaurant; get dressed up & go out on the town. Invite a friend over for dinner. Take a nice bath. Get some nice essential oils or buy a your favorite lotion or scent. Get outdoors. Purchase something of quality as a reflection of your esteem for yourself.

Most of all, keep the faith & keep moving onward!


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Empaths at Omega Institute: Reflections and Perspectives

Had a wonderful time with other empaths at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY. I was honored to do a workshop on empath sensitivity with an amazing turnout!  I compiled this video with some of the reflections of the empath participants who were generous enough to be interviewed on camera.

Also, if you'd like more empath activities and a chance to experience a workshop in your town with me, please visit my website here & let me know.  
Here's a video summary:

Michael Smith

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

2012: Spiritual Manifestation & Attraction are Quickening

I have noticed lately that whatever I think about seems to come into reality quicker than ever! I hesitate to use these words, but I've heard friends & clients call this new awareness "freaky," "weird," and "scary." Indeed, this speeding up is causing us pause, because it means we must be extra careful with our thoughts! What comes out of your mouth today will soon be coming into Reality tomorrow.

There's an explosion of interest in 2012. What some call The Shift is happening RIGHT NOW. Others call this the Quickening, or the Ascension. There's a new movie about this Shift and also a new book by Lee Carroll regarding this.

In preparation for this 2012 Shift, Carolyn Cobelo and I are organizing a Sacred Journey to the Yucatan to explore Mayan Temples coming in early June (with a smaller test-run happening March 22-29). We will explore the prophecies of the Mayans and focus on rejuvenation as we spiral into our new age of global consciousness.

This is all very exciting. And yet, on the other hand, this infusion of LIGHT also means that Darkness is being pushed to the Surface.

Anything incompatible with Light is being forced to leave. Thus, with the current chaotic state of our world, see the Darkness for what it is; simply a reflection of the tremendous infusion of Light that is happening right now.

We are not able to get away with our little Lies to ourselves any longer. We cannot take any shortcuts any longer. We must Face up to what we've individually and collectively created.

I hope and pray that you continue to soldier on in your Spiritual Journey. Don't let the Darkness get you down. Take great caution with your thoughts and intentions.

Most of all, I pray that we all be extra VIGILANT in this special time about our thoughts, our language, and our own Power, for our Power is increasing every day.

In Peace,

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I Can See Why Ghosts Exist

I can see how ghosts exist.

Just got up from a dream; still a bit bleary eyed.

The full moon energy wreaked havoc with my sleep, and for that I'm grateful. I had fantastic visions.

One of the things I "saw" was how emotions and memories can cause us to get attached to times and places in our lives.

When I was in college, I was manager of our college radio station. This was before the internet & all that. I would go down to the studio in my free time and play around, making shows, commercials, anything with total joy and exuberance. And all for probably 10 listeners at any given time - we had a 5 watt transmitter at a small residential campus on an island in the deep forests of central Minnesota.

In my dreams, I was back in the studio. Only it looked very different now. In the dream, I was confused. I knew it was the studio, yet it now looked very different. In the dream-state, I retraced my old physical steps, remembering where the offices were, where the records were kept, and where I used to walk to get to those records.

I was faintly aware of some other people who were slightly aware of my presence. They noticed me, but they didn't notice me, if that makes sense.

Did I bi-locate into the current physical space? Was I shifting into the future? Was I partly back in the past?

I haven't the slightest idea.

Yet something tells me this is related to why ghosts exist.

When we love (or hate) things so much, there's a certain part of our Soul that is encoded with memories and emotions that are related to Physical places. We can go back to those places at will.

Anyway, I'm rambling here. Felt important to get these vague impressions out.

I haven't had my morning coffee yet!