Interpreting a FeatherWalk: Express your Intensity

IMG_1128Today, while walking outside, I found three words, on the ground.

Intensity,  written on a piece of pink styrofoam.

Gas, printed on a utility panel sunken into the ground by time and weather.

Express, printed on a blue plastic bag.

Bits of trash lying on the ground – and yet, with my inner compass set to read the world, these things formed a pattern which spoke to me about something important – something that means a great deal to me.

I also found, a pile of Y-shaped sticks, swept from the trees by the weather. So many Y-shaped sticks that I began to feel that I should gather some of them. And as I gathered my bouquet of sticks, a memory began to flicker…

I was 28, sitting in the office of M.B. Dykshoorn, a psychic.  In his thick Dutch accent, he was explaining why, as he was reading my energy, he was holding a Y-shaped stick (or Y-shaped piece of metal).

He said that it helped to divert the flow of intense energy, which flowed into the back of his neck as he worked. It felt, he described to me, like being zapped by fire – or electricity, and holding the stick made it hurt less. 

It was just a passing comment in an hour-long conversation about other things and I didn’t know why it had stuck with me all of these years until I made the connection.

You see, I’m experiencing a sharp pain lately – a pain which also feels like fire is zapping me. Only for me, it doesn’t hit in the back of the neck, it hits at the place behind my heart.

For the past week, I’d been thinking about it a lot. Though it lasts only a minute – or less – it’s very intense.

It feels as if a burst of liquid fire suddenly breaks free from the base of my spine and races upwards, burning intensely as it rises until it stops, right behind the heart, and shakes my body like a rag doll. Fortunately, I’ve only felt it three times – but truly, one time would have been enough.

I don’t want to feel that pain again.

The first time it happened, I was on meditation retreat. We’d all just experienced a brief shamanic journey. A meditative experience in which we’d located an entry point to the ‘lower earth’ and climbed down to explore. We were asked to simply let what happened happen and to allow an animal spirit to guide us. We were also asked to locate our shadow.

Looking back, I can see that this was an ill-advised, and ill-managed undertaking. Shamanic shadow work is not a game. It’s a powerful spiritual practice and needs to be carefully supervised by a trained shaman. And the post-journey process is a time for further exploration and unfolding. The effects of even a brief visit to this deep realm of the psyche can be life-changing and can reverberate long after the journey is taken.

Yet, even with all of my own training, I’d blithely entered the process, trusting my meditation teacher, a psychotherapist with many years of experience.

With a steady drumbeat keeping the rhythm, our journey began.

I crawled into the earth and walked through a wide tunnel, awaiting the arrival of my spirit animal. A bee flew up, greeted me and moved on. A crow hopped by. They were there, as they often were in my spiritual travels, but they were not my guides for this day’s journey.

A brown bear appeared from around a corner. He walked beside me. Here was my guide. I could feel his silent warm strength beside me. I felt safe and protected.

The group leader had told us to look for our shadow.

I found mine directly ahead in a shallow cave, a huge fire monster who grew taller when he saw me. To my horror, I saw that my mother lay at his feet. She was face down, and seemed to be asleep. The fire monster’s right foot was pressing into her body between the belly and the heart. Looking back today, I realize this is the location of the Manipura chakra. He was draining her power.

Enraged, I raced toward him, shrieking my own fire and chasing him into the depth of his cave. I didn’t need him to die, just needed to get my mother out of there. Which I did. I carried her to a safe corner of the cave.

I was just turning to go when I felt the heat behind me and turned to see that the fire monster now held my father, sleeping beneath his hot foot.

Again, I raced toward him, and rescued my father. I lay him beside my mother – and the brown bear accompanied me back out of the cave.

I returned to normal consciousness feeling heroic and strong and all was well until it was my turn to recount my journey experience to the group.

Suddenly, my whole body began to shake and a slash of white-hot energy poured from the base of my spine and seared upward in a column of liquid fire until it stalled at the back of my ribcage and I burst into terrified tears.

Unfortunately, my group leader wasn’t able- or qualified – to manage my experience. “Try not to be so emotional,” he suggested.

I never wanted to feel that pain again, either. 

But six months later, in another circle, I was attempting to explain the counseling work that I do when the white hot fire began streaking up my spine – and the whole-body shaking started.

I cut myself off and tried to hold myself together. I didn’t mention what had happened, hoping that the other people in the circle thought I was just nervous.

Then, about a year later, while working in the heart chakra during yoga teacher training, it started again.

As I felt the warning signs – the twinges of sharp pain at the base of the spine, the shaking, searing heat moving upward, I clamped down, stopping it.

But then… I grew curious. Was this something that was supposed to happen? Was this frightening emotional-physical experience unique to me or had others experienced it?

Was there something I could do? My yoga teacher and I discussed kundalini – and we both thought that this might be my way of experiencing that flow of upward moving energy.

She suggested that when it happens, I might lie down on my yoga mat and let it be there. That I might let the heat move inside of me while watching it, in the same way that, during another meditation, I was able to watch the energy of love move inside of my own heart.

And that was really good advice – and felt right to me. And I’ll try it if the thing happens again.

So, back to those Y-shaped sticks…

I found it reassuring that these sticks and that memory of M.B. Dykshoorn had emerged just now, while I was learning about the fire monster.

I found it doubly comforting that the sticks and memory arriving with these three words:  Intensity, Gas, Express. 

To me, it added up to a message about managing the intensity of the power (gas) that is seeking to express itself through my body. Power that I’m cultivating – and calling for and, perhaps even generating. Power which I’m getting used to in this very physical dance between matter and light.


On the walk, I also found a strange bit of hardware, which I brought home to show my husband. And he said, “That’s a ratchet – a tool which you use to give you more leverage – to make it easier to work with something which is tight – to loosen it upend make it easier to work with. ”

He then added, “Nuts and bolts. It’s how the whole world is held together, in nuts and bolts.”

My takeaway from this remarkable flow of guidance: Express your Intensity. Here are some nuts and bolts – some tools – to help with that.

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  • Anna

    It has moved me. Not being understood by the group leader. being concerned that you wouldn’t know how to manage it. Your decision not to curb your emotions. So good you found the way and a person who was able to honour you and your experience. To honour the intensity that, I feel, is not to be discouraged. Great post!

    • Amy

      Thank you! I’m so grateful that you read my post and left this lovely comment. And yes, it was hard to be misunderstood but I learned so much from that experience. I learned how important it is, when I lead groups, to be super-sensitive to people’s genuine experiences – and to be honest when I don’t know what to do. I also learned that I am okay, even when hard things happen to me. I can handle these energy flows.

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