Relationships: When Good Communication Skills Aren’t Enough

by Barry Kerr and Kristine Gay

All kinds of wonderful books and workshops teach good communication skills and tools. How many of these do you practice?

  • Respect timing. Ask permission or schedule a time.
  • Talk in turns. Give your partner a chance to speak.
  • Use “I” statements. Using the word “you” tends to sound like blame, accusation and judgment.
  • Listen without anticipating, judging or constructing your next reply.
  • Be able to repeat what your partner says so he/she feels heard.
  • Listen to understand and negotiate an answer that works for both of you.
  • If necessary, take a break and come back to it later

Do you feel that you know and have tried these, yet somehow, you and your partner keep looping through old arguments, never quite resolving anything? Why?

The above are great skills and without them, things can often go awry. However, by themselves, they don’t necessarily get down to the real issues causing the tensions between you. If you both aren’t able to become aware of and bring forward the deeper feelings of your experience, you’ll just keep sliding past them, continuing to believe in the surface story of your symptoms.

So, how do successful couples get past this common problem?

  1. By accepting that when two people share their lives, their bodies, their fortunes, it’s unavoidable that they will experience many, many conflicts. Compatibility is important, but the goal cannot be to eliminate conflict.
  2. Conscious couples recognize that each partner will react to conflicts in their own way, feeling emotional triggers unique to each of their life histories.
  3. The goal becomes to discover why you are fighting, what’s underneath the surface dispute, and then take responsibility for your part in it.

In working with couples that come to us for help, it’s this deeper level of commitment that makes the difference in outcome. Without each being willing to explore and share their own inner experiences of emotional reactions and psychological habits, they will never understand how they trigger each other, subconsciously, in ways that have less to do with the current situation and more to do with experiences from earlier in life, often childhood. For example, that resentment over the TV remote control may actually reflect a life pattern of people pleasing that started in childhood, nothing to do with your partner.

When couples begin to act as allies, rather than as opponents, they learn how to turn conflicts into explorations of self. This is when relationship gets awesome. Partners can search together for clues and pieces of the past to heal and transform so that the present can be liberated from habitual reactions and reframed.

Without this, relationships can become tiring, stale, or broken. Repeated disputes can become “silent” standoffs, played out sometimes in seconds, but affecting every part of a couple’s existence, including their sex life. It’s deadening. And after a while, they can become blind to its affects.

So why do people resist getting help? Well, people tend to have “good” reasons. They don’t want to hurt their partner with the real truth or upset the apple cart and risk more instability or feel out of control or lose what little good they have. They may think they’ve communicated as best they can.

In our work, we help couples discover their blind spots. Each time it happens is an incredible, liberating and energizing breakthrough for both people. It takes so much energy to stay blind and repressed. When couples renew their willingness to be emotionally honest with each other, as conscious partners, not only do they typically find more authentic resolution to their conflicts, but they can also create a more vibrant bond of attraction and excitement. Each feels the synergy of the relationship affecting their own sense of personal growth and fulfillment. There is gratitude and love, even though more conflicts are inevitably on the horizon. Vulnerability and honesty is a strong aphrodisiac.

Families and society have not done a good job of modeling this for most of us. The good news is that it can be learned from couples that have done the deeper work and know how to teach and coach in safe and nurturing ways.

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Why Husbands Resist Marital Counseling

by Barry Kerr and Kristine Gay

When is the best time for couples to ask for professional help? The simple answer is: as soon as possible. In fact, we would recommend to anyone single and looking for love to add to your list of “must haves” in a partner the willingness to ask for outside help when either partner feels the need. Why wait until years later, after the relationship has developed inevitable challenges, to find out your partner is just unwilling to seek help. Such stubbornness is probably reflective of just how much this partner is unsuitable for attaining the level of vulnerability and intimacy you long for in your life. So, why not talk about that at the beginning of the relationship. If your potential lover is agreeable to the idea at the start, then you can know that if and when you reach a point of feeling lost or stuck, you can agree to ask for help.

Unfortunately, most couples don’t talk about this possibility until there are severe problems. By then, their lives have merged deeply, sharing a home, finances, children and families. The stakes are high.

In heterosexual relationships, it’s typically the woman who, after repeatedly trying to talk about their problems and running in circles of argument and emotional stress, first considers asking for professional help and then presents the idea to her man. Men typically resist the idea, at least at first.

There are various reasons why men are slow to agree to counseling or coaching. In general, men have been conditioned to be self-contained. It’s a warrior stance. One doesn’t show feelings and vulnerability to strangers or anyone who might turn against you, which includes just about everyone, even one’s wife.

Now this certainly isn’t true for all men, and with each generation, there are more and more men discovering the freedom and peace that comes with emotional expression and vulnerability. However, it’s still a minority of men. And even amongst those who have gained more emotional intelligence, there is an available default mode of withdrawal and silence that society still accepts as normal for males.

For many couples, the roles are reversed in this regard. It’s the woman who is more withdrawn and resistant. In gay and lesbian couples, either party play out either role. But, in general terms, it’s typically men who fit the pattern.

When men do choose to come to us for relationship coaching with their wives, we are always cognizant of this dynamic and do our best to create a safe environment for them, allowing time for them to observe our attitudes, how we talk about problems, whether we assign blame or take sides. They need to know that we will understand a “male” point of view, not make assumptions from a strictly female perspective and not talk “about” him.

Men often experience females in rapid-fire discussions about the men in their lives, in ways that leave men feeling slow and left out. It’s well known that women tend to be quicker with emotional awareness and expression and men tend to need time and patience. This is one of the advantages of how we, as a male and female couple, bring balance and trust to the couples with whom we work. It’s a very different experience for a husband to have another man in the room as compared to facing off alone in a counseling room with two women. And the same is true for wives, by the way.

Many men feel they have tried to explain themselves to their wives, only to be misunderstood and have what little they have vulnerably shared be thrown back in their face, distorted from the intended meaning. The heightened emotions of the moment often rob from the patience and objectivity it can take to communicate accurately. In this emotional turmoil, men typically feel lost and confused while women feel frustrated and righteous. This creates lack of trust for men, both toward their wives and toward vulnerability and intimacy in general.

This is one reason that we, Barry and Kristine, offer ourselves in service as a couple. Having both a male and female counselor present can restore trust in the process more quickly. When a wife is having a difficult time hearing her husband accurately, it can be helpful for her to hear her husband’s thoughts interpreted by another woman or by another man or both. When a husband experiences his wife actually receiving an accurate version of his personal truth, he will feel motivated to share more, and will welcome the help he may have resisted at the start.

Another reason men resist counseling is that they often perceive their wife as seeking a professional to validate the complaints and blames they hold against their husbands. Why would a guy want to step into that land mine?  Especially if he’s not feeling at fault.

And the truth is that many women do enter couples counseling thinking they are totally right, their husbands are wrong, and their husbands need to hear a professional point that out. Unfortunately, there are some counselors who will do just that. We believe that is counterproductive.

In our experience, love relationships are symbiotic. Whatever is going on, and however it may look one-sided on the surface, there is a mutual responsibility for having created the dynamic. Typically, each partner feels victim, and is oblivious to their own subliminal behaviors that feed into attracting the reciprocal behaviors from their partner. Partners who want to blame are often surprised to discover their own contributions to the problems. Some don’t come back.

It’s not unusual for us to see a wave of relief pour over a husband’s face when we address this concept. In our experience, men typically are not afraid of accepting responsibility for relationship problems once it is established that neither party is solely at fault. Rather, each has some contribution that needs addressing. The work is in discovering what those pieces are, how they relate to each other and how each person can change their own inner patterns that fuel the behaviors.

When couples reach this level of mutual understanding around their relationship dynamics, an egalitarian energy is created which can grow into a new excitement about themselves and their lives. They can re-discover the flame that initially inspired their attraction and restore their feelings as individuals who are learning, growing and evolving into more fulfillment. We have witnessed men who enter relationship counseling with trepidation, and whatever the outcome of the relationship, emerge with a newly discovered excitement about personal growth and relationship potential.

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Is Your Life Story Even True?

by Barry Kerr and Kristine Gay

Do you talk to yourself? Who doesn’t, right? The only people who take allot flak about this are the ones who do it out loud. And even some of them are tolerated, if it’s only momentary and doesn’t turn into too much drama. Yes, we all do it, but it’s what we are telling ourselves that makes the difference in how well we feel.

Our egos, to a great extent, are created as a result of all the things we tell ourselves about ourselves and our life. From the beginning of our lives, the experiences we have are recorded in our deep memory cells. Many of them affect us at the time in ways that challenge us to make sense of them. So, naturally, our rational minds interpret the events in some way to help us feel safer, more in control, and protective of ourselves.

The younger we are, the more likely our interpretations are made within a very limited, ego perspective and lack the life experience to give insight into other people’s behavior. Typically, we believe that whatever happens to us, is our fault and however we are treated is because we deserve it. This can create patterns of guilt, shame, and poor self-esteem. The important part to realize about this phenomenon is that most of these interpretations happen tacitly, outside of our conscious awareness and become part of an ongoing story of life that informs our conscious thoughts and feelings.

In effect, we are making these stories up as we go. Yes, there are real and measurable aspects to the events that happen beyond our subjective perspectives, but as we all know, different people can experience the same exact events and have very different interpretations and resulting feelings. And this is the key: the interpretation, the story we tell ourselves, not the event itself, determines the emotional experience. There is never anything inherent in any event that “causes” our emotions. It seems that way to us because how we interpret the event can happen instantly, without our awareness.

After years of similar events with similar interpretations, we create deep-seated habits of reactions to life, never questioning how we are interpreting what we experience. At some point, it can begin to feel as though life just happens and forces us to have bad feelings, over and over again. We can create long life stories of pain and suffering in which we are, of course, the victim, because we have no choice in it, no power. “This is just me”, we might say, “It’s who I am”. Then, we can feel stuck.

The path to spiritual consciousness requires that each of us become aware of this phenomenon of story telling and take responsibility for the stories we tell ourselves. Much of the powerful, transformative healing and growth work that we do with clients in our practice is to help them go to the deep inner awareness of experiences in their past to discover at the conscious level the interpretations of life events they created at various ages.

We do this in a way that is not led by the rational, logical and limited mind. It’s not analytical. Rather, we create with our clients an energy dynamic that enhances their ability to call on their soul, their divine spiritual source connection, to lead the way. This awakens an intuitive pathway toward what needs attention and the information needing to come into consciousness. Just as important, this soul-based approach allows our clients to strengthen their awareness of their own divine being and bring the light of unconditional love and compassion to themselves in whatever life memory they are exploring. It’s a gentle, quiet, and patient process. It doesn’t dismiss the rational mind. There is thinking and communication that happens throughout, but we subject our human minds to the will of spirit, allowing soul to inspire and lead.

In this way, we bypass the hard-wired habits of subliminal thinking and storytelling that has accumulated over many years and we get down to the larger, broader and more complete interpretations of events that seemed unavailable at the original time. This heals. It doesn’t deny the pain that existed at the time, but it empowers clients, from a more complete perspective, a more true perspective, including an evolved awareness of divine existence, to generate positive emotions around events that have plagued them for decades and have fueled negative habits and choices.

When clients choose to do this deep work with us repeatedly, core pieces of their life story begin to evolve, affecting layers and layers of sub-stories until at some point, their entire life story naturally shifts into a higher, more life-fulfilling version. This more complete, more true version results in better feelings, more happiness.

To be clear, we are not talking about simply denying the past pains in our lives by merely asserting some virtuous sounding platitudes or repeating mantras of blissful desires. That is what we call spiritual bypassing and only serves to rebury our emotional patterns into subliminal blindness. No, the affective spiritual work is to be with the difficult emotions as they arise and allow them to connect us to the deeper awareness stored in our body. Doing so is how we heal the past, keep ourselves present to the present, and avoid creating further subliminal patterns of suffering.

Of course, as life continues, more stories get created. But now, the interpretations of new events are created with more conscious awareness of the larger paradigm of spirit, soul, compassion, evolvement, and the challenges of limited ego perspective. Our wounded “inner child” no longer makes our choices. Instead, we invite our soul to lead, bringing intuitive awareness to our human minds and hearts in real time, as events unfold. This absolutely changes the patterns of emotions we create for ourselves to a more positive frequency. This can have profound affects on our body and physical health.

If you are interested in exploring this kind of healing and growth for yourself, please consider contacting us. We’d love to tell you more and help you determine if this work and we are a good match for you. Our one-person personal retreats are most powerful and life-changing. We also offer periodical sessions in our healing center in Madison, Wisconsin or by Skype or phone.


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Politics and Spiritual Consciousness?

by Barry Kerr

not thinkingRegarding the current U.S. presidential election cycle, everyone can agree on this: Thus far, it’s been full of surprises, raw and revealing, and highly polarizing, even within each party. With ecological, economic and social disasters on a global scale looming before us, there is a groundswell of demands for radical change, increasing people’s passion. The tensions between the established status quo and the forces for change, progressive and otherwise, are starkly apparent.

For those of us who have been on the path of universal spiritual consciousness (and you know who you are), the choices may seem obvious. The political agenda that Bernie Sanders presents is remarkably aligned with the enlightened concepts and values that long-time new agers, mystics, healers, progressive activists and other visionaries have been tracking for decades as part of the more comprehensive evolutionary shift from the Age of Pisces to the Age of Aquarius. As the planets Uranus and Pluto have squared off with each other seven times in the last five years, the shadows and secrets behind the paternal façade of the established powers and institutions have been revealed for all to see, informing the popular consensus for what needs to be changed. Younger people, who were born into this shifting consciousness and with no sentimental attachments to an older, white-washed version of Americana that confuses capitalism with democracy, and who are free of any psycho-emotional involvement with the old religions, have no problem identifying the inevitability of what the Sanders movement represents for humanity’s future. At this point, one needn’t be a spiritual sensitive to feel the relevance of the Aquarian vision permeating the gestalt of human consciousness. It’s only a question of time.

And indeed that is the fundamental factor for us spiritual types to wrestle with, isn’t it? Time? On the one hand, as we become more and more attuned to our soul and to divine consciousness, we come to know, without doubt, that everything is already in perfect order, all is well, and there is nothing to fear, personally or collectively. We are all loved and safe beyond imagination and this world is but an illusive journey we experience to inform and individuate our evolving souls. And in that context, though humanity may be evolving into the new Aquarian Age, and the stark contrasts of the current election cycle may truly be signals of some readiness for the collective consciousness to manifest those ideals at a practical, political level of our existence, how much importance to time and timing shall we give?

Personally, I waiver on this from day to day, or more like hour to hour. Sometimes, as I read about the latest developments or read an opinion that doesn’t square with my own, I feel an urgency to participate in the political debate, make another donation, or help get out the vote. In those moments, my sense of timing tells me that this is the election when enough people have awakened to the illusions of the status quo and that the seemingly impossible can actually happen. The synergy of collective consciousness and personal wills can conspire in integrity and intention to override the past patterns of political fear, hopelessness and manipulation. If enough people will vote from faith, and not from fear, the slow wheel of human progress can turn a notch or two. If enough of us who have seen past the illusions and limited thinking of Newtonian physics and victim-based spirituality can join our souls’ awareness together and make use of the powers we have discovered as individuals to create miracles in our own individual lives, then together, we can make real the “hundredth monkey” principle, and spread a contagious virus of hope and awakening. Such action, by necessity, flies in the face of “common sense” and “political practicality” and “seasoned” political wisdom, which themselves are well-intentioned postures within the old paradigm of fear and limited thinking. Thus, the choice is starkly present.

At other times, I pull back from the frantic fray of politics and gauge it, and everything else for that matter, with that sense of timelessness that removes all urgency. Again, I know it will all turn out ok. All our souls will survive and all wounds will heal. Yes, perhaps this is the time and the election where a major shift will appear in the political and social contract, but maybe it’s just an opening blossom, not an actual fruition, but necessary as a prelude to what’s next.

And here’s where it gets tricky, right? If the Sanders movement does not prevail this time, then what IS next? What needs to be next? How the heck can we know? More importantly, as part of the current set up for what’s next, do those of us who see the inevitable needed changes stay focused on those changes with the personal power that constitutes each of our votes. In other words, do we continue to lean into the power of integrity and faith as we vote, applying our hard-earned knowledge of the laws of creative and conscious manifestation, sticking with Sanders in the general election, or do we retreat, for the time being, to the old fear-based reality, voting for Clinton as the lesser of two evils. If not Sanders, what? How afraid are we willing to feel? How hopeless can we be in the face of a seeming darkness to come? Is it all doom and gloom? Or is there a divine possibility for change and evolution that can spring from either dark scenario, in ways that defy our logical abilities to predict?

Having long ago been disillusioned of the idea that our purpose in being human is to transcend our humanness, most of us in the universal spirituality movement have come to understand that our fulfillment, both as humans and as divine souls, is to embrace our humanity and learn how to open our bodies, minds and hearts to allow more of our divine soul to stream through our human being. This requires an ability to stay consciously connected to our much larger spiritual self while at the same time be willing to fully engage with life, with people, with relationships, with society, and with the messy political realities that are part of that fabric. Passively watching as the rest of humanity determines a future is not an option. However, believing that I am responsible for all that happens is also not an option. I must participate. Indeed, I have no choice. Even if I don’t vote, my mere attitude, passionate or neutral, is an energy that I contribute to the collective whole and which plays its part in creating the outcome. So what do I do with my little piece of energy? Limited thinking, based on a past paradigm? Or proactive intention, drawn from our soul’s unity wisdom? Fear? Or love?

Some say only “privileged” people can afford to think like this. I think they’re correct. We have chosen to incarnate at a time in human evolution when we can make a huge difference by applying the wisdom and courage we’ve attained through countless lifetimes of experience. To play that role in the human collective history is certainly a privilege and a responsibility that would be a shame to waste. Do we all need to vote the same? Not necessarily. The universe has an elegant way of connecting our lives in ways we cannot yet comprehend. Following our intuition and hearts is key to our effectiveness, whatever that implies for each of us.

Barry Kerr, a soul-based, evolutionary astrologer, has 35 years of experience with an international clientele. He and Kristine Gay, a licensed psychotherapist, are owners/practitioners at Inner Essence Center in Madison. Both have extensive training in soul-guided healing of mind, body, heart and spiritual systems. Barry offers astrology, energy healing and transformational coaching by phone, Skype or in person in Madison, WI. Inquiries are welcome – free 15-minute consultation to explore if this is for you. Visit for more information or email Barry at


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Your Body’s Super Power

This month, we offer this article by Gay and Kathleen Hendricks, internationally renowned authors and teachers of conscious living and relationship. We trained with the Hendricks for two years and incorporate many of their concepts and tools into our own work with individuals and couples. hands over heart

You have a certain super power within you. This power can produce two very different  outcomes: It can subconsciously drive your life and your relationships, leaving you confused and frustrated. Or, you can consciously use this power to your advantage. This power flows through your emotions. More importantly, your ability to detect and understand your emotions are a powerful asset or liability in the connection you have in your relationships.

The problem is that reading our own emotions is tricky, and expressing them can be even more challenging. When you’re feeling a difficult emotion, all you know is that you want it to go away. We deny our anger because we think anger is “bad” and we don’t know how to express it. We stuff our sadness down, or try to make ourselves happy with some kind of quick fix or distraction. This conditioning to ignore our emotions has made it very difficult for us to know what we are even feeling.

Our automatic responses kick in, and we end up acting on the emotions reflexively without ever even understanding them. And because we don’t truly understand exactly what we are feeling, we lash out or make decisions that hurt us and our relationships.

Even though you’ve been feeling your emotions your whole life, you probably don’t actually know exactly what it is you’re feeling and why.

Men learn to repress fear and sadness, while women get conditioned to hide their anger. A woman might feel depressed because she feels overwhelmed with motherhood, but deep down she’s actually angry at her husband for not being more proactive. Instead of expressing her anger, she bottles it up and it comes out in other ways: she doesn’t want to have sex, she’s impatient with him, or she pulls away and turns to friends to support. He knows something is wrong, but doesn’t know what it is, and intimacy breaks down.

A man might get mad at his wife for talking to a handsome stranger, and he’ll lash out or sulk or withhold affection. But anger isn’t at the heart of his behavior — fear is. He’s worried he might lose her, and inadvertently drives her away with his misdiagnosed anger.

You’ll be a hostage to your emotions unless you understand how they are secretly running your life. But decoding them isn’t always easy, especially after years and years of suppressing them, not understanding them, and letting them run you without your conscious knowledge.

Luckily, you have a built-in emotion decoder that’s always available to you. And this emotion decoder is at the heart of all of our teachings, because it works faster than your brain, and is virtually foolproof when you know how to use it. We all have it, but we’re conditioned to ignore it.

Fortunately, we can quickly learn how to undo this negative programming, and tap into the power of our most valuable emotional asset: our body. Your body is intimately connected to your emotions. Before you can even name a feeling, your body has already registered it. In fact, your body is so finely attuned to your emotions, that it’s the best translator you have for what’s really going on for you.

Your body is constantly giving you cues to help you understand what you’re really feeling. Think about the heavy feeling in your chest after you’ve lost someone you cared about. Or the tightness in your throat just before you go on stage. Remember the last time your stomach was in knots when you were worried about something.

These connections between your emotions and your body are quite straightforward. But your body may be sending you other messages that are much more subtle. For instance, did you know that chronic headaches are often linked to unresolved anger, and that stomach issues tend to show up out of deep-seated fear? This might sound hocus pocus or New Age-y, but we’ve seen it happen all the time. And that’s because it’s impossible to fully repress strong emotions like these. Emotions have energy, and if you don’t fully allow yourself to feel them and express them, they show up in body symptoms.

And these misunderstood emotions mess up your relationships. Aside from the discomfort these body sensations cause, repressed emotions make themselves known in other ways, like passive aggressive comments, emotional withdrawal, cheating, lying, and impatience. Yet we often bypass what our bodies are trying to tell us. We use our intellect to think our way through emotion.

But analyzing emotions doesn’t work – unless you learn to listen to what your body is really telling you, you won’t know what you’re really feeling. And you’ll make decisions that aren’t in the best interest of what you and your relationships truly need.

Bring two people into a relationship with their own confusing set of emotions, and you can see why keeping a positive connection can be so difficult.

In their programs, Kristine and Barry will teach you how your emotions are driving you and how to express them so that you can build the intimacy and connection you want. Visit their web site here:


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The Rules For Being Human

The following “rules” are extremely simplified, but pretty much sum up the wisdom of the ages.You are enough

  1. You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it, but it will be yours for the entire period this time around.
  1. You will learn lessons. You are enrolled in a full time, informal school called life. Each day in this school you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons, or you may think them irrelevant and stupid.
  1. There are no mistakes, only lessons. A lesson is repeated until it is learned. A lesson will be presented to you in its various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it you can go on to the next lesson. However, the more you learn your lessons, the more empowered you will be to create beauty, peace and joy.
  1. Learning lessons does not end. There is no part of life that does not contain its lessons. If you are alive there are lessons to be learned.
  1. “There” is no better than “Here”. When your “there” has become a “here” you will simply obtain another “there” that will again look better than “here”.
  1. Others are merely mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects to you something you love or hate about yourself.
  1. What you make of your life is up to you. You have all the tools and resources you need. What you do with them is up to you. The choice is yours.
  1. The answers lies inside you. The answers to life’s questions lie inside you. All you need do is listen and trust.
  1. You will forget all of this.
  1. And then you’ll remember again.
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Are You Ready To Face Your Demons?

Individual Healing and Growth Retreats: a new model

by Barry Kerr and Kristine Gay, LCSW

face down your demons copyIn the long evolution of human consciousness, it’s harvest time! People are awakening to the experience (not just the belief) of who or what they are; spiritual beings in physical form. At this time, the synergy of collective karma makes it easier than ever for individuals to quickly move through long-standing karmic patterns to take conscious control of their lives and create positive life experiences. People want meaningful transformation.

This time of rapid change can be very challenging for individuals to navigate, typically involving confusion, worry, strained relationships and loss of direction. Even if one has become consciously aware enough to reach out for guidance from someone more experienced, the pace of change can feel overwhelming. Insights gained from books, workshops, coaching and therapy are difficult to integrate into one’s daily existence. One can walk away from a healing or therapy session with centered clarity and peace only to fall back into old ingrained habits, discomfort and “more of the same.”

HealingThis growing desire for spiritual growth and transformation is showing up as a new trend in vacations. Google this topic and you’ll see that many people spend large amounts of money and vacation time in group tours to exotic and mystical sites where they hope, perhaps with the help of a healer or shaman, to experience a powerful change, or at least some insight. Others choose to invest their vacations in retreats, spending days in meditation, yoga or transformation workshops, asserting that the most exotic and mystical sites are inside themselves. Either type of getaway can be a wonderful time of renewal and growth, but for many, the desire for a more profound, immediate transformation has demanded a new type of “getaway.”

Some psychologists, healers and coaches have seen how this planetary dynamic is playing out and, fortunately, are creating new services to address the needs of those clients who are at the precipice of radical inner change and want a more intense and faster process to guide them. These clients want persistent and sustained attention to clear the wounds and inner patterns that block their progress.

Personal one-on-one, transformational, intensive retreats are such an up-and-coming method for advanced healing, growth and renewal. Unlike group retreats, where attention is divided among many, sometimes hundreds of participants, an individual two or three-day retreat is designed to focus on just one person. The facilitators are there each day, all day, giving their unconditionally loving, focused attention and skills to one client throughout the day, using therapy, mindfulness meditative techniques, energy healing, role playing, astrology and a variety of other interactive modalities. This results in a laser-like process that responds to a person’s own unique complexities, needs and readiness. Most importantly, the process supports clients to remain in conscious self-awareness, bringing to the surface and releasing yet undiscovered aspects of subconscious patterns that previously sabotaged progress when no one was paying attention. Individuals typically make major strides in mastering their inner dynamics, moving into self empowerment and joyful freedom.

e3286d4b3c277d45a2b15daf7d5d9e4e_SHow would you know if you are ready for this kind of “getaway”?

Maybe for years you’ve been reading self-help and spiritual books, attending workshops and classes, getting healings and practicing growth tools, and still you’re not experiencing the potential you’ve come to long for. You might feel that you just can’t go on the way you have anymore, but you don’t know how to move forward. There is still too much pain and fear, and too many obstacles, and you long to be free of them.

Perhaps you’ve been seeing a therapist or coach for months or years, and though you’ve realized some progress, you feel stuck. Maybe you’re experiencing dissonance with family and friends, career and work, and/or living situations.

You might be living a functional, “successful” life, yet you know you are missing something important, more meaningful, that prevents you from creating inner peace and contentment, and experiential connection to your soul and divine source.

If you believe you’re ready … you probably are. It’s time for a “getaway”!

Kristine Gay and Barry Kerr are owners/practitioners at Inner Essence Center in Madison, WI. Kristine, a licensed psychotherapist, and Barry, a certified life and relationship coach and astrologer, each have over 35 years of experience, including extensive training in soul-guided healing of the mind, body, heart and spiritual energy systems. They offer transformational intensive retreats and/or ongoing sessions. For more information, visit  

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Guidance for 2016 from Christ Consciousness

We are posting this channeling by telepath, John Smallman, as it says so well what we would like our readers, clients and students to remember. – Barry and Kristy

“Do not be alarmed as a number of unexpected events unfold quite early in 2016. Much has been going on at deeper levels of the human collective as you prepare yourselves collectively and individually for your awakening, and the effects of those preparations will start to become apparent in various areas of human endeavor. There will be much to intrigue and delight you in 2016 in spite of the ongoing disagreements and conflicts occurring across the world, which the mainstream media tends to use to further develop their fear-driven agendas which would encourage you to believe that things will only get worse!

To awaken is to become free. Free of all the emotional and psychological baggage that drains your energy fields and undermines your enthusiasm for life, leaving you depressed and unmotivated as you struggle with your daily round of worldly commitments – commitments that seem only to increase in number no matter how many you resolve and leave behind. The illusory world in which humans appear to interact as separate individuals, with each one seemingly in an almost constant battle for survival while seeking desperately for love and acceptance, is a very demanding and exhausting environment. But every one of you chose to be here at this time to undergo and grow from the lessons that you set upon your path before you incarnated, and to assist humanity in general to awaken.

You do each have an essential purpose on Earth in every moment, but uncovering that purpose and allowing it to emerge and change your lives is not that easy, although it is simple. Simple? Yes, it is simply to be Love in action!

However, the world in which you experience life as humans seems so real and dangerous that to just live seems to demand almost all of your personal energy and resources, leaving little time or motivation for your essential spiritual task. When you feel threatened and fearful you erect defenses and conceal yourselves behind masks that disguise your true identity. You have been doing this for so long that you have forgotten that your true identity is as one with each other and with God. Instead you fear one another, even in the most intimate of relationships, because betrayal of trust has become endemic.

The only way out of this quagmire of fear is to let it go and allow Love to direct you in every moment. But, because your unreal and threatening environment appears so real to you, that seems to be an insane course of action, one that is bound to end in disaster. Over the eons wise ones have come among you frequently to demonstrate this way of living, and while for the most part acknowledging the wisdom of the lessons they have taught and demonstrated, you have convinced yourselves that they are somehow “special,” and that what they did and how they lived is impossible for “normal” people.

Now, with the power of the Tsunami of Love flowing freely across the planet, more and more of you are feeling its effects and are reassessing your lives and the way you are living them. You are recognizing that life is intended to be a far more uplifting and satisfying experience than a purely materialistic life style can ever provide, and so you are turning inwards to engage with meditative and contemplative practices. These practices are enabling you to find within you a sense of peace and resilience that confirms for you that your true nature is indeed spiritual, while giving you the strength to remove your masks and operate daily from that place of inner strength by engaging with Love instead of with fear.

You are, as most of you well know, spiritual beings of great power and creativity having a temporary limited experience as humans within the illusory world that you built when you made the decision to be separate and to accumulate the strange but utterly unreal knowledge that life separated from your Source would allow you to investigate. You knew that separation was impossible because there is only All That Is which is Oneness, extant in an infinite creative field where Love is the power that makes all that is possible possible.

By entering the illusion, the unreal and temporary environment that you had constructed for some temporary and seemingly promising diversions from your natural state of limitless creative ability, you lost sight of and then totally forgot Who You were. That was Your intention, it was to be part of the game, but God, understanding how lost, frightened, and confused You would become, instantly provided the means for you to retrieve Your memory, awaken from the dream, and return to Your divine Home, even though You had never left.

Yes, what You constructed in order to play with the sense of separation was and is very convincing once You engage with it and seemingly find Yourself within it. Split into innumerable myriad individual entities each of whom felt alone, abandoned, insignificant, and of little if any value in the apparently vast universe in which you found yourselves, fear arose. Fear is utterly unreal, and therefore You had never experienced it. But, within the illusion, it arose because You were now apparently a tiny and insignificant individual desperately attempting to survive in a very hostile environment in which others, just like you, were dealing with the same issues in myriad different ways. The experience was, and remains, overwhelming.

In order to survive you chose to limit your awareness so that the illusion’s vastness and your insignificance would be hidden from you. This limited the amount of fear or terror that you might experience. However, in the last few centuries, your scientists have begun to realize how vast the illusion is, and that shocking realization has led you to seek an escape from your seemingly complete insignificance in the larger scheme of things.

Throughout the ages of the illusion there has always been what has come to be called The Perennial Philosophy, after a recent book of the same name, whereby it is seen that all the world’s major religions have always offered the same basic spiritual message, a message of unconditional Love. However, as these religions became established and mainstream the message became corrupted because the first followers of these loving beings – the founders of these religions – on whose beliefs and ways of life these various religions claimed to be based, almost invariably sought to attain personal power and influence through their connection to the holy one. Consequently most religious organizations, instead of showing Love in action, built power bases from which their leaders could draw enormous material benefits while subjugating the masses of separated souls, who were desperately seeking salvation, by convincing them to surrender their sovereignty and instead support the hierarchy that then used that support for its own nefarious purposes.

Now awareness of this corruption has become so widespread that the elite bloodlines who have enjoyed, engaged in, and used these corrupt practices for eons, can no longer control humanity. Humanity has, as we have remarked before, made the collective decision to awaken into their true heritage as unseparated divine beings at one with God. And that decision is irreversible. You will awaken, because it is your and God’s Will that you do so, and because you are already awakening.

Your main, indeed your only task is to be loving in every moment. You know that Love is always the answer, regardless of any question that might be asked, because with Love there are no “ifs” “ands” or “buts.” So, Walk Your Talk! That is how the world changes, by people, just like you, walking their talk. It does not change through rhetoric, discussion, or argument, let alone through war and conflict, it changes one person at a time, and now is the time when all persons are changing together.

The will to change exists, because it is the divine Will. So does the intention, because you have all had enough pain, suffering, and war. Therefore be sure to go within daily and hold God’s Light on high by intending to be a conduit or channel through which the divine field of Love, the Tsunami of Love flows freely and abundantly in every moment to all on the planet. The results will astound you.

Your loving brother, Jesus.”

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Arguing – an addiction?

by Barry Kerr

(This is a revised version of an article I published in Natures Pathways magazine in January, 2014 and previously published on this blog.)

Like a good argument? I don’t mean an emotional fight. I mean a good intellectual, logical argument. The kind that Socrates would approve of. If your answer is “yes”, then congratulations; you may be smarter than most others around you. Or do you just feel that way.

It doesn’t take much to pull some of us into an argument, if it’s about something we care about. It gives us a high, adrenaline rushing, feeling purposeful and in our mastery. Some of us can go for hours. Sometimes, if our opponent is worthy, we even learn something new, with no hard feelings on either side. Right? Well, if you are have mostly good experiences that draw the other people closer to you, then you might be well balanced with this talent. But, if your finding that at the end of arguments, you don’t feel so good, and other people are feeling even worse, then it’s time to look at how your talent for logic is misplaced.

When our need for argument is out of balance, our overconfident and forceful demeanor pushes people away. What we think we are “proving” is usually getting lost in a mileau of hurt feelings and a loss of trust and respect. This is especially surprising for those of us who consider ourselves more gentle, non-aggressive types. It’s certainly not our intention to overpower people, is it? Aren’t we just trying to build common truths and understandings?  Helping others see the truth? Using calm, rational words?

Unfortunately, argument seldom serves those positive intentions when done within personal relationships that matter to us. What might start as an agreeable argument between two people will usually evolve into a one-sided need to make one’s point while the other side is struggling to find a way to end the whole thing and move on. Unless we are willing to drop it in a timely way, others leave our company with bad feelings.  If we repeat this pattern over and over again with those close to us, they eventually choose to keep their intellectual or physical distance from us. We even risk losing relationships. We are left feeling smart and “right”, but emotionally, we are not rewarded.

I caught on to my own tendencies to argue many years ago. As I observed myself in it, I continued to discover different reasons why I had developed this bad habit. The reasons sprang from deep in my gut, from my places of insecurity. The discoveries resulted from my willingness to do deep healing sessions on myself. I can still be drawn into an argument, but it doesn’t run me anymore. Most of time, I am conscious enough to catch myself before I go there, choosing instead to address my underlying needs in a more effective way.

The expressions below are merely cerebral versions for my own inner truths. By themselves, they don’t really capture the fullness of insights, understandings, feelings and experiential realities of what they represent. They are each like a brief travel brochure outline of a much longer journey.

WHY I ARGUE by Barry Kerr

I argue because I need to be right.
I need to be right because, if I am not, I am wrong.
If I am wrong, I will lose respect.
If I lose respect, I am not worthy of being loved.
If I am not worthy of being loved, I will not be loved.
If I am not loved, I will be alone.
If I am alone, I will be sad  and I will suffer.

I argue because I need to be right.
I need to be right because I need to save you from being wrong.
If I don’t save you from being wrong, you’ll be in danger.
If you are in danger, I may lose you.
If I lose you, I can’t love you.
If I can’t love you, I will be alone.
If I’m alone, I will be sad  and I will suffer.

I argue because I need you to agree.
I need you to agree because I’m afraid I might be wrong.
If you agree, then I have proven my conviction.
If you don’t agree, then I’m left wondering if I am wrong.
If I can’t prove I am right, I am confused.
If I am confused, I am in danger. Those who aren’t confused will have power over me.
I will lose….everything.

I argue because I need you to agree.
I need you to agree because I don’t like disagreement.
I don’t like disagreement because my mind wants resolution.
If my mind cannot find resolution, it doesn’t feel good.
I am my mind, therefore I will suffer.

I argue because I’m good at it.
Even if can’t convince you, I can feel superior, because I argue better.
Even if you are more educated, I can feel superior, because I argue better.
Even if you are more talented, I can feel superior, because I argue better.
Even if you have more money, I can feel superior, because I argue better.
Even if you are better looking, I can feel superior, because I argue better.
Even if you are more masculine, I can feel superior, because I argue better.
Even if you got the more beautiful woman, I can feel superior, because I argue better.
Even if you ARE the beautiful woman, I can feel superior, because I argue better.
Even if you deny me what I want, I can feel superior, because I argue better.

I argue because it rewards me.
Teachers notice my fine mind.
Friend and peer admire my articulate reasoning.
Though other guys have big muscles, athletic prowess, or seductive charm,
some of the attractive females prefer my “wisdom”.

I argue because I’m avoiding my feelings.
If it’s all about convincing and proving, then I get to stay in my head.
I don’t have to acknowledge what my body is saying, sometimes screaming at me.
I don’t have to acknowledge my feelings.
I don’t have to fully feel my feelings.
I don’t have to know I am afraid, and feel it.
I don’t have to know I am sad, and feel it.
I don’t have to know I am angry, and feel it.
I don’t have to know I am joyful, and feel it.
I don’t have to know I am lusting, and feel it.
If I don’t have to acknowledge my feelings, and feel them,
Then I don’t have to take responsibility for them.
If I don’t have to take responsibility for my feelings,
Then I can avoid making difficult decisions about my own welfare.
If I can avoid making those decisions,
I can continue to blame (or credit) others for my life.

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Creativity: 5 Ways To Shut It Down

by Barry Kerr and Kristine Gay

Are you creative? For some, it’s an easy answer: “Yes! All the time.” For others, the question feels intimidating: “Sometimes, maybe, but not compared to others.” Does that second answer sound like you?

At times, creativity can feel competitive. Art, music, and other contests judge people’s creations. And if judged very high, someone just might make money and become famous. Those are the people that are truly creative, right?

Well, here’s the secret about creativity: It’s not about comparisons. Creative urges that focus on comparisons actually morph into imitations. That’s not innately a bad thing. Imitating can improve technique and skill, and very good imitators can also make money and become famous, but it’s not the same of creating.

Most of us shut down our own creativity by confusing the two. Let’s say you get a creative inspiration; a song, a dance, a recipe, anything. It might be in a spontaneous moment like singing a song while washing dishes or dancing at a party. Or it might come in an ongoing series of imaginings that seem to be building on a vision of a more “designed” creation. Either way, you can feel it in you. Something about it feels uniquely personal and the thought of being able to express it into action and form feels fun and enlivening. That is your passion. That is the wellspring of your joy.

However, what happens next is critical to whether you let that creative juice flow outward or get bottled up inside you. If your thoughts turn toward comparisons or judgments, watch out. You’re likely to lose your juice. Here are a few examples of typical life-sucking thoughts you might have:

“People are watching.”

“How embarrassing.”

“But look how good he is.”

“No one’s going to like this.”

“I wish I knew how.”

“I’m not talented.”

All of these thoughts are ways your ego can shut down your life force and disconnect from your soul. Yes, it’s your ego that is afraid of being judged as not good enough or selfish. But, your soul wants to be expressed without concern for judgment and comparison. Your soul has a beautiful intention that only your ego, your unique personality can express into the world. Nobody else can possibly do it like you can.

  1. Do you need to know what your soul intention is before you risk acting on it? No! Just feel the potential for fun and joy, then act. Follow your bliss.
  1. Do you need to know exactly how to go about doing it? No! Trust the thrill of delight you get by taking action, taking risk. Learn as you go. It’s ok to fumble.
  1. Do other people need to enjoy you as much as you do? No! Some will, some won’t. Who cares? If you aren’t enjoying it, then most certainly nobody else will either. Often, there doesn’t even need to be anyone else present for you to be creative. You can dance in a crowd or dance alone at home. Either way, it’s about you enjoying your expression. Some creativity is actually better done alone, like writing or painting.
  1. Does it matter how well you do? No! Your soul doesn’t care about winning. But if competition tends engage your ego to fire up your creativity, then use it. Your soul wants to be felt, by you and others. When you are authentically in your passionate expression, feeling your joy in it, that’s what matters. Some may judge you as “less than” and frown. Others will connect to your joy and passion and feel it as a gift of your unique expression, undistracted by comparisons. That’s the real “win.”
  1. But, isn’t the purpose of self-growth/spirituality to get rid of the ego? No! Spirituality leads us to know that our ego is a temporary illusion of self, not who we really are. Once we know our true self (our eternal soul), we practice surrendering the ego to serve the soul. However, by strengthening the ego, including our personality, we give our soul a more powerful instrument through which to express. Creativity develops our ego in alignment with our soul.

Follow your bliss and create more joy in your life.


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