Stream of Consciousness Blog

Sacred Stream Solstice and Equinox Drum Circles

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

On the fall equinox of 1995, the Foundation of the Sacred Stream held its first drum circle. There were only five of us, but we happily settled into the Redwood Room, a room literally made of redwood in an old house in San Francisco, CA. We drummed together, focusing on a journey about the season. The shamanic journey is a method of going inward to connect with inner guidance that usually takes a form drawn from nature. The sound of a repetitive drum or other instrument helps people alter their focus, enabling them to perceive information coming from within.

I didn’t realize it then, but this circle would be the first of many. During every solstice and equinox since then, we have hosted a drum circle to honor our relationship to the seasons. When I look back over the years, I see the hundreds of faces that have passed through these circles. At some circles, we have had more than fifty people in attendance. At others, only a handful. But everyone who comes is looking to connect with the earth and the season in a meaningful way.

The Shamanic Practices of Space Clearing: Part One

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

It was a foggy summer day in 2003, and as I was trying to ascertain if the fog had any intention of clearing, the phone rang. I answered it and the voice at the other end spoke in a hushed tone, “Look, you are going to think I am crazy, but I think we have ghosts. Someone said you might know what to do about that.”

The woman calling was one of the administrative managers at a non-profit foundation that had taken up residence in the Presidio, a former military installation that had been turned over to the National Park Service several years before. When I assured her that I didn’t think she was crazy and that there might be something I could do to help, she opened up.

She said, “Well, we have a whole section of our offices that people are just refusing to work in. Some say they feel chills when they go there, others say they see shadows in the ladies’ room mirrors, and we often hear the doors open and close when no one is near them. The electrical system has shorted out for no apparent reason at least four times in the last three months. We really don’t know what to do. We are paying rent for that part of the building, and we need to be able to use it.”

As it turns out, they were housed in a building that had been a military hospital from 1898 until it closed in 1994. Many wounded soldiers spent time recovering in that building. There was also a psychiatric ward, and many people who had experienced a great deal of trauma passed through the building for nearly one hundred years.

Finding Myself on the Path

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

In the summer of 2013 Thupten Jinpa, His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s principle English language interpreter, asked me if the Foundation of the Sacred Stream would be willing to host a group of Tibetan Buddhist monks from the Gaden Shartse Dokhang. His former monastic house had fallen on difficult times, and he felt a year-long cross-cultural exchange tour in the United States would help them out of those difficulties. I had no idea what it would entail to host such a tour, but if Jinpa asked me to create a bridge to the far side of the moon, I would figure out a way to do it. I was honored to be asked, and there was no question in my mind that I would help him.

Are All Past Lives Traumatic

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

Question: It seems like all the past lives I contact with Depth Hypnosis are traumatic in nature. Do we have happy past lives?

The concept of reincarnation is found in many spiritual traditions. To my mind, the tradition that best articulates the relationship between our previous lives and our current life is Buddhism. In that tradition, there is a concept called a “sanskara.” A sanskara is an imprint that contains information about the focus of the mind at the time of death. The information contained in this imprint is considered to be at least part of the focus upon which the next lifetime is based. For this reason, Tenzin Wangyal, a well-known Buddhist teacher, says, “If you want to know what your past life was, look at your current life. If you want to know what your future life will be, look at your present life.”

Buddhist Perspectives on Death_Podcast

This episode features a talk by Isa Gucciardi, Finding Meaning in Loss, which she gave at the Reimagine End of Life Conference in Berkeley, CA. In this thoughtful and uplifting talk, Isa encourages us to create the spaciousness required to truly be with the experience of loss, grief, and even death. She examines ways of navigating loss, and explores Buddhist perspectives on theme, while also offering practices that will help us approach death, our own and those we love, with awareness and grace.

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

You may have read my article, “Driving with Bob,” which talks about the existential fun that is a feature of driving around with Robert Thurman. We have had many adventures behind the wheel, as I often volunteer to take him up and down the California coast to his various commitments when he is out West. It is always a pleasure for me to be able support him in this way, and, as I point out in the article, there is seldom a dull moment with Bob around. We did have a moment driving in traffic on the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge the last time he was in town that could have been a bit duller to my way of thinking.

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

I am often asked how people can know if the shamanic path is a path that is right for them. Of course, this is a very important question – but only the individual can really know if the shamanic path is right for them. When people ask me this question, I ask, “Have you had anything out of the ordinary happen to you? You may have had anomalous experiences – you may have felt a shift in the light and a sense of a presence of something unseen. Or perhaps you have vivid dreams while those around report never dreaming, or perhaps you have had an illness or a calamity befall you which has changed you and separated you from those around you. And you may have set off on a path to try to understand these experiences.” If this is the case, it is likely that education related to the shamanic path will be helpful to you.

Raise the Roof Benefit Concert and Silent Auction

The Sacred Stream’s Raise the Roof Benefit Concert and Silent Auction is happening on September 8 and aims to raise funds for repairs at the Sacred Stream Center. The evening will feature Grammy-nominated, Bammy-award-winning composer, pianist, fiddler, singer-songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Barbara Higbie, internationally renowned electric cellist Jami Sieber, award-winning singer-songwriter Laura Chandler, and other special guests. There will also be a reception before the concert and silent auction featuring some stellar items.

The Lotus & The Rose: An Evening with Matthew Fox and Lama Tsomo

Join co-authors Matthew Fox and Lama Tsomo as they discuss how their traditions provide the medicine we need to navigate contemporary life. Following a brief reading from their new book, The Lotus & The Rose, the authors will engage in a dialogue and share practices you can use in everyday life.

Spiritual Maturity and Depth Hypnosis

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

People often ask me if Depth Hypnosis is like psychotherapy. If psychotherapy is a process of identifying psychological disturbance and then talking about it, possibly while working with prescription drugs to reduce symptoms, then it cannot be said that Depth Hypnosis is psychotherapy. In Depth Hypnosis there is no process of diagnosis and no use of medication. Rather, it is more a process of inquiry and discovery – particularly about client experience that might be hidden or unknown.

In “The Ten Lessons of Psychedelic Psychotherapy, Rediscovered” Neal M. Goldsmith suggests that it might be more accurate to look at symptoms of imbalance such as anxiety and depression as an indicator of spiritual immaturity rather than as an indicator of psychological pathology. This is an intriguing idea – and certainly one that resonates with the practice of Depth Hypnosis.

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