Developing Your Personal Spirituality

Spiritual Development

My personal understanding is that human beings are healthier when they come together to share ideas, and that no idea is absolute in nature, nor is there any set of beliefs superior to another; the foundation for all our beliefs come from our individual moral intelligence. Think of the core of your moral foundation like the trunk of a tree that is held firmly by each individual [root of] moral understanding. The branches of the tree can represent the behaviors that result from our core beliefs; The more we trim the branches and refine our behaviors, the healthier and more open the branches become. The fruit that blossoms on the tree can represent the gifts we receive — and share — from following our morale; The more we share the fruit, the more of it we produce.  Like trees grow toward the sky, we know we are developing our spirituality when we move closer to the light and experience that feeling of growth. With all due respect toward any religious readers, I do not believe a person needs to take on a religious label to grow into a very strong and very intricately branched tree that produces fruit in abundance.

Beliefs are personal, subjective, and changeable. To be more specific, let’s look at our core beliefs as primary beliefs. While our primary beliefs are likely to stay the same, they too can shift. For example we could all agree that deliberately murdering someone is immoral. This is a primary belief. A secondary belief, however, could mark an exception. “Killing another person is okay if it is done so to save oneself, or another person” (disclaimer: this statement is not specific to my personal feelings). The point is, some may agree, and others may strongly disagree with that statement. And the statement itself could have multiple meanings. So we can see that our personal spirituality is extremely specific and individualized — even for someone who follows a religion. When a primary belief shifts, so do the secondary beliefs. We all get a little uneasy at the thought of changing our minds.  Spiritual development is an ongoing process. One just doesn’t “become enlightened” and suddenly has  figured things out. We can experience enlightenment and even exist in ongoing states of it. But storms pass, and we face challenges. We are human, and we are imperfect. We learn, and we evolve.

Those of us who don’t follow a specific religious belief system (or are moving away from a previous system of beliefs)  seek understanding through personal experience and through the wisdom of others. To be healthy, our spirituality should be in harmony with the other aspects of ourselves. Our spiritual self should be harmonious with our working self, physical self, emotional self, and our interpersonal self (relationships) in that each of these areas is necessary and come together to form the whole of who we are. Things tend to come out of balance at times, and we may need to focus more on one area than another.

Be Flexible, But Be Grounded

I’ve been questioned for being Buddhist, Wiccan, New Age, among other things. But the fact is, I have no label and I follow no one set of teachings. I even find myself in disagreement with some of the people I look up to the most! Before you dive in to another person’s teachings, take a little time to research the whole of his/her philosophy. Be mindful to consider your personal feelings on specific teachings from that person, even if you generally agree with most of what he/she has to say. Take your time. For example, I had a recent interaction with Ralph Smart as I voiced some concerns to him. Ralph Smart has a YouTube channel that I watch from time to time and I usually enjoy his philosophy. He said to me, “I believe that unity is the way forward.” Which I agree with. I could say that this statement is one of my primary beliefs. But my secondary belief is, sometimes separation can be the way forward. There are other differences in Ralph’s ideas and my own — he promotes that you should quit your job to follow your dream so you can have more free time. Not something I personally agree with (and will be writing about soon in a post about the importance of work and diligence!). But this doesn’t mean I should condemn him for having different ideas.

Spirituality in Social Media: Warning Signs!

On the other hand, I’ve observed and researched some spiritual “movements” online that are downright dangerous. It is easy to be mislead when you are at a low point in life, especially for children and teenagers who are growing up in the Information Age of computers. Cult leaders have a way of making their mission seem welcoming, appealing, and safe — but the agenda is far from the proverbial mission to “change the world”. Sometimes these so-called “spiritual teachers” are only out to gain fame, money, and power. It is important to point these things out because it is so easy for people to start an online “movement”. Here are some signs of cult leaders for parents:

Signs of Cult Leaders

  • Leader’s history is questionable
  • Leader does not reference anyone outside his/her teachings
  • Leader defends himself/herself as being “right” when questioned
  • Leader demonstrates conflicting philosophies
  • Leaders actions are inconsistent with teachings
  • Leader manipulates positive messages
  • Leader guilts followers into offering money or gifts
  • Leader offers only mystical explanations


Be Confident in Your Own Beliefs

“A true master tears down all the patterns that the ego has built its world out of. A true master tears down all the ideas, all the conceptions, all the wrong beliefs, all the biases, all the bigotry.” — Evan Rock


Be confident to live in accordance with your TRUE beliefs. Be confident to discover them. : )
Have a great week!

Accept :: Trust :: Journey On (in that order)

Photo (c) Olivia Joy St. Claire


Special circumstances sometimes send us off to new environments that we would have never expected. Have you ever noticed when this happens out of the blue, that these situations often become your “perfect fit” — just what you needed at just the right time? Well, I’ve noticed it, too.

A friend of mine was recently offered an opportunity to study fine art photography near coastal Maine over the winter. Our interactions during her stay have brought us closer, and her mind is wide open to an entirely new world of possibility. Another friend is presently situated on the southern shores. She was given an opportunity to spend a whole month in a beach cottage at a time that fit perfectly with what she is currently going through. What a gift! Sometimes, you just never know where you’ll end up, no matter how perfect the plan is — or, was.

Destination: Unknown

Each and every one of us has the ability to tap into our true purpose and experience life to the very fullest. When we notice little incongruities piling up, this is a good indicator it is time to journey on. To advance. Evolution time’s a-comin’.

A Chopra Center hypnotherapist has been collaborating with us at work this week. Today I was fascinated during a lesson in handwriting analysis (excited to study further in the coming weeks). Not only did the demonstration light a fire in me, the little piece I had written was the kind of writing I hadn’t done in awhile — metaphor, prose, and nostalgia all wrapped up together — and it felt great to get creative! What was most interesting is what I wrote had less significance than the way in which it was written. She was able to describe past life events accurately, and to make suggestions about current obstacles I was facing. She was able to determine things about my relationships that were accurate. “I am not a psychic,” she joked, simply meaning — there are so many truths staring us right in the face, and we can discover them if we start to recognize the clues. We begin to notice patterns and grow our intuition. We open up to possibility.

In life, sometimes the destination is less important than the paths we take to get there. How those paths shape us spiritually and emotionally might even alter the course completely. And sometimes, there is no ultimate “destination.”

Accept. Trust. Journey On, Journeyers : )


Have a great weekend!

Goodbye, Alcohol. Hello, Goddess.

It has been almost a year since I decided to leave alcohol behind me for good. The effects of this change have been just absolutely incredible, even though I don’t consider to be myself a person who drank all that often. In 2012, I did a 110 day pure detox, and found it very easy to abstain. In the past, I enjoyed unwinding after a long day with wine or a dark beer. I preferred to have a few drinks when going out with friends or celebrating at an event. It felt fancy to finish off dinner with an irish coffee when dining out downtown. For me personally I had developed a false belief that there was a connection between alcohol and social functions, unwinding, and even stress relief on certain occasions. But that all changed last year after a night out with old friends on my 34th birthday that wasn’t worth the extra sugar and empty carbohydrates OR the unexpected hangover. The very next day I knew I was finished forever. I realized alcohol no longer had the same effect for me as it once did, and had been noticing that since well before the 110 day detox in 2012. Even a single glass of wine made me groggy and foggy. But the real motivation was that I had already been incorporating healthier ways to unwind, socialize, and relieve stress — and none of them included alcohol. The combination of practicing veganism and daily yoga — now in the absence of alcohol — has left me with a long list of improvements and discoveries since I made the choice to abstain. Weight loss clients transforming their lifestyle who are making changes to improve their diet often choose to abstain, and it makes me smile every time!  Here are some of the things on my list of discoveries to support and encourage anyone reading who may also be considering leaving alcohol behind them. It’s more than worth it!

Reasons to Abstain & Awaken Your Inner Goddess

1. More Conscious of Water Intake. Alcohol affects our hydration levels more than we realize. Even if you drink water during alcohol consumption, this doesn’t make up for the extra water loss you’ll experience due to the diuretic effects of booze (so even a couple glasses of wine can have a dehydrating effect on the body). It’s true, you actually end up releasing more fluid than you consume when drinking alcohol which is especially bad for someone who doesn’t hydrate appropriately to begin with. When you abstain from alcohol and focus on hydrating the body, your skin looks and feels healthier, you help keep the pancreas and liver clean (reducing your risk of developing diseases and/or cancers), and you might even shed a few extra pounds. Drinking 12-24 oz of water within 30 minutes of waking even improves your short term memory over time!

2. Clarity. Abstaining from alcohol, even if you’re not a heavy drinker, allows you to experience mental and physical sensations of total clarity. You’ll find yourself instead turning to biking or hiking to “unwind”. The surges of energy you experience from being totally alcohol-free are priceless. For me, having even just one evening of wine throughout the week took a day or two to feel energized again. Not worth it! I always encourage weight-loss clients to abstain from alcohol for the first 21 days, and to observe the effects on the body and mind when (and if) they decide to reintroduce it during the course of the program. Clients undergoing hypnosis often report an increase in mental alertness within the first week of therapy. Practicing meditation also greatly enhances mental alertness with repetition.

3. Increased Confidence. This was an unexpected side effect. While I’ve been using hypnotherapy and confidence meditations for more than 2 years now, there was a surge in confidence when I chose to permanently refrain from alcohol. In the past, I felt that it “loosened me up” in social settings. But what I’ve found since is more powerful than I could have imagined. Simply saying, “No, thank you, I don’t drink” with a big smile on your face often catches people off guard. It’s oddly euphoric to experience a level of self-regard for one’s physical and mental body that overpowers any desire for the temporary pleasure of having a drink — which does nothing to serve the physical and mental body. More importantly, the example it sets is surely goddess-like (or god-like, to address the men reading). It just feels better all around, in every situation, to know you are choosing to serve your mind and body only the absolute best.

4. Health Improvements. The health benefits you receive from being a non-drinker are endless. Alcohol consumption affects literally every part of your body! Here’s a great article I found on . The article was written by Ann Pietrangelo and medically reviewed by George Krucik, MD, MBA.

5. Elegance. Something I’ve personally experienced — **especially with consistent yoga practice** — is improved balance and overall gracefulness. I feel more feminine; aware of my body even down to how I take care of it. I’m sure that isn’t totally connected to an absence of alcohol, but it has certainly enhanced aspects of my femininity!


The Bottom Line

The bottom line: choosing to abstain from alcohol is one of many ways to deepen your sense of self, to deepen your sense of Oneness with All, and to open up further to the self-love you’ve been cultivating. <3


The 3 Biggest Signs You’re Operating From a Higher Frequency

Low Vibration VS High Vibration

When we exist in a state of lower vibration, we are likely to experience feelings of despair, overwhelm, short temperament, negative thinking, and general feelings of lack. However, we can consciously (and unconsciously) move our physical and mental states into higher frequencies as we evolve spiritually, mentally, and physically.  We might not consider that making positive changes for ourselves has the potential to alter our body chemistry, but it most certainly can (and does)! Typical high-vibration characteristics are peacefulness, mindfulness, regard for others, regard for one’s own physical and mental health, feelings of abundance, feelings of natural euphoria, joyfulness, and interconnectedness (humans, animals, universe, etc).

So how can you be sure that you’re operating at a more elevated state of being? Here are three of the biggest signs I’ve pinpointed along my own exploration.

1. Noticing Recurring Themes

Right now on the planet Earth, it is warmer in Antarctica than it is here in Ohio. While the last couple of winters have been more wintry than in a long time, I remember heavier winters during my youth. It seemed that we bundled up and went outside no matter what the temperature, and the more snow the better. However, as an adult who commutes to work each day you are less thrilled when you hear about the 7-10 inches of snow expected.  You learn to start your day about an hour earlier, drive cautiously, and to be forgiving when other drivers are being overly cautious. Then again, you can never be too cautious driving on snow and ice. The recurring theme in my life as of late has been patience, most mornings for the last couple of months. But I’ve noticed the theme of patience turning up in other places as well. I’ve noticed that when I demonstrate patience in situations that demand it, not only does it enhance the experience but it also allows me to recognize other little lessons, snippets of beauty, and interactions that I might have otherwise missed.

Whatever theme is currently turning up in your life on repeat, you are wise to claim this as an opportunity for deepening your practice in this area.


2. Learning to Practice, Instead of Avoid

When you develop a desire to practice those recurring themes, in addition to simply recognizing them, this is the second step, and you are on your way to approaching challenges with a totally new mindset! You are not only recognizing the themes that are calling out to be mastered, you are becoming eager to practice getting better at those themes. And trust me, there will always be new themes that stand out to you. This is your subconscious mind letting go of old patterns and embracing a new way of growing from what was once a past struggle. You are on your way to confidently facing new challenges as they arise in your life because you understand the importance of practice. A definite sign you are increasing your vibration!

3. Facing What Appears to Be the Most Difficult Task

My yogic mentor, Ali Kamenova (the Inventor of Interval Yoga), suggests that when you are working on a new series, do not avoid the postures that appear to be the most challenging. Spend more time on them, master them. This is the perfect advice for any new or aspiring yogi! The most challening postures are the ones that test your balance and push you in your ability to synchronize your mental and physical awareness (my favorite aspect of yoga). These are the postures that need to be worked with the most, because working through them connects the body and mind in a way that strengthens them both. In the same way, when we begin to recognize that the most challenging tasks in our lives are the ones we should be prioritizing as “most important” and are willing to do so with a calm, collected, determined attitude — this is a sure sign you are evolving and are increasing your vibration from within. Well done : )

 I hope you enjoyed today’s post. I’ve seen many other posts on this subject, and I’m sure everyone has their own experiences with regard to becoming a High-Vibration Being. Please feel free to share your ideas in a comment below! Thanks for reading.

Have a beautiful weekend, see you soon.


5 Tips for Being a Great Listener

(c) 2009 – 2015

Hi there! It feels great to be writing another post as the blog is now settling into a rhythm. Today, I have coworkers, clients, and friends to thank for helping me grow as a person simply by helping me come to understand the art of listening. For me, a typical day of work involves seeing anywhere from 5-10 clients who are making important changes in their lives. Whether I’m conducting live personal hypnosis sessions or simply coaching clients in setting and achieving goals, it is crucial to be an active listener. My job is not to solve problems for anyone, but to facilitate growth by helping clients draw their own conclusions — the conclusions that are best for him/her and that best fit his/her lifestyle. If you are still reading, you are probably wondering: How can I be a better listener? 

1. Availability. Reliable friends, successful coaches and therapists, and effective leaders have all figured out the importance of being there when they are needed the most. Of course, this doesn’t mean leaving your schedule open for every subtle whimper. Being available does not mean you should open yourself up to being someone else’s doormat; but, reaching out to someone in need by simply checking in once in awhile shows how much you care.

2. Non-Attachment. Without getting emotionally wrapped up in someone else’s story, a great listener is able to stay focused on his/her own journey following even a deeply moving — or potentially draining — interaction. Great listeners understand how to create balance between sharing emotions while maintaining his/her own direction. In other words — don’t make someone else’s situation so important that you neglect your own personal responsibilities. I spoke with a client today who has found that, in cultivating a mindful approach to listening, she was able to walk away from a negative interaction without taking any negativity as she went on to attend her scheduled yoga class that evening. “What I’ve learned through this,” she explained, “is that I don’t have to let another person’s negative attitude influence my own state of well-being, that what’s theirs is theirs, not mine.”

3. Succinct Suggestions, Relevant Opinions, Great Questions. Only offer advice if it is asked of you, and keep it brief. No one has the right suggestion for someone else’s situation; advice is subjective. And it’s great to be honest, but keeping your opinions to a minimum helps keep the focus on the person’s situation. Asking thought-provoking questions rather than offering solutions is often the best way to keep the focus on the person and their unique situation.

4. Dare to Not Compare (Your Life to Theirs). Honor your integrity by sharing an outside perspective, but also honor the uniqueness of the other person’s position. Rather than comparing your own personal experiences to theirs, make them feel that their situation is special when the news is great, and help them understand that they are not alone by sharing others’ stories (not yours) when the news is not-so-great.

5. Being Trustworthy. Confidentiality is very important to someone who discloses personal information to you, so keeping it between the two of you is paramount in being a great listener. If you choose to open yourself to someone and it compromises the integrity of your relationship with another person, suggest they open up to someone else, or commit to keeping the conversation between the two of you. As we mature, it comes without question to keep another person’s personal matters private.

These are my own suggestions, and certainly not the only ones floating around. If you have your own tips for being a great listener, please share them in a comment below! Thanks for reading : )

Dreams, Alive.

© Amy Parrish 2013

Mesmerized, having undergone a recent awakening (inspired by Michael Stone) that maintaining a strong focus on inner work does not have to suggest we detach ourselves from reality, nor should inner work be sought as a means to solely transcend reality. I was stuck on this point last year. A close friend and I spent countless hours in conversation discussing detachment for the purpose of reintegration. She actually posted a blog on Broadway World about this — you can click here to see her post and thoughtful insights into that spawned her own personal revolution.

We can’t stop at transcendence. Meditation, yoga (or other physical movement, connection to the body), spiritual connection, days or weeks spent in nature… what is the purpose of it all? To simply transcend it only separates us; to stop at transcendence is ultimately denial towards what we were born into. To live in a perfect world full of bliss cannot move us forward into growth. Yes, it is important to step away from ourselves and even from the world at times, but prolonged detachment stifles our personal and interpersonal evolution.

In the book “Into the Wild,” by John Krakauer, we see the vibrant journey of adventurer Christopher McCandless come to an end when he realizes the relationships he has neglected in his time of solitude. John Muir, a Scottish-American environmentalist, fought to preserve the connection between self and nature. Like McCandless, Muir spent much time in solitude fostering this connection to the wilderness and opening up to the spiritual self. Many spiritualists throughout history focus intently on transcendence. Yet we cannot shut out the world around us and expect to be true to ourselves. This puts relationships at risk, causes communication skills to  suffer, and distorts our worldview. Our place here includes interaction with others, some of which may not share our worldview.

So when we detach, if we do so with reintegration in mind, that is — coming back with something to offer — we foster growth within ourselves as well as among others. We open ourselves to what has enlightened others. We humble ourselves to the lessons of all. So may we thrive within, so that we might thrive throughout. May we participate in the world. It is through our relationships and our shared experiences that we live fuller and more meaningful lives.


What do you stand for?

This year, will not feature any work with photography clientele, and I’m working to remove / rearrange my former photography portfolio to an entirely new location.  A separate journey, and one that is now more personal than it once was. Any work I choose to share in the future will be shared at the following location:

I will still share personal photos I have taken on that complement the blog subject matter : )

I’m very inspired by Vivian Maier and her approach to photography. She had such a profound respect toward the nature of photography, the intimacy of creating, and (from what I observe) her intention being simply to connect with her subjects.

Non-attachment includes releasing yourself from parts that no longer serve the purpose you seek in life. To anyone changing directions, my advice to you is to take all the time you need, and do what feels right… and do whatever it takes to be certain about what feels right! The most difficult part of transformation is being completely honest with yourself, where you stand with your values, and how you want to prioritize those values. It has certainly taken longer than expected for me! This has taught me a lot about being okay with not knowing what to expect. And of course, aspects of ourselves that we aren’t particularly fond of will surface. But all in the name of moving forward and maturing into the type of individual who thinks and acts in a way you (and others) can be confident in.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.

And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.” — Marianne Williamson

Boundedness Gives Shape to Life

“Boundedness gives shape to life. Self-centeredness gives the illusion of freedom.”  – Arthur Dobrin, Psychology Today (


Going into the new year with discipline, non-attachment, and total openness in mind. Life presents the challenge of finding balance between freedom and duty. Something yoga teaches is the concept of present awareness; as you move the body, connecting your movement with the breath, you find yourself wholly in the present moment. This is the perfect message from Michael Stone going into 2015. Everything from the food we offer the body, to our perceptions of others, to our daily tasks, to the thoughts we choose to give power… may we be

“totally engaged with our lives, [attentive to] the aliveness of present experience, [attentive to] your action in the world, and [attentive to] the effects of your actions.” — Michael Stone

Have a wonderful new year!:)

To Sum up the Year.

Blue Ridge Mountains at Devil’s Courthouse.


Life Offline. . .

Description: Anonymous, aware. We must build from the inside. We can only know the inside if we continue to listen, consistently. Only small fragments left now, of a previous online persona that now feels more like a dream passed. Much more comfortable these days, situated safely and quietly. Pursuing what passions live on the inside. “Out of the loop” but very much alive, functioning, and well. The joy of motherhood intensifying as my child matures. The joy of inner growth coming to fruition. The blessings that greet me with each new face met. The number of individuals on the planet who simply long for the same things as myself, and likely you as well. The peculiar way we are always right where we need to be. Eyes opening, heart opening, mind opening. The ability to give love freely. Beautiful things surrounding every moment that deserve to be acknowledged. Striving.

Today I met the most beautiful man at the library. He was perhaps in his 60′s, accompanied by a young chaperon, probably in her late 20′s. He was mentally underdeveloped/slow, if you base that on what society considers “normal”. And he received so much joy from reading a book about animals. The pair shared some details about their connection with me. We shared laughter. And we exchanged strong, positive energy. I wondered what it must be like to go through life needing a chaperon. But I also wondered what it would feel like to not know life as we now know it. He sat there enjoying the book and its photos while most others typed away on laptops, or texted on phones. This man was so open, joyful, gentle, and kind.

The human soul, alive, and offline. Tonight I sit in deep contemplation and gratitude. If a tree fell in the forest, would it make a sound? Well, it would to those around. Just because it isn’t happening online doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Life is good, as I write while listening to a pregnant, glowing neighbor strumming and singing.