Stretch The Alchemy of Self-Healing Discover your ability to self-heal—and the science of sound—at Wellspring this October. By Erin Ward Ambi Sitham is just one of the luminaries you can learn from at Wellspring this October. For tickets and more information, click here. Wellness industry professional discounts and scholarships available! In the 17th century, alchemy was a lifelong devotion to the belief in the seemingly magical possibility of transforming base minerals and matter into gold. Alchemists held objects in fire and darkness for a prolonged amount of time to achieve transformation of the object, or what was referred to as “the stone.” It was an effort to take what existed and turn it into something better. In the early 1900s, revered psychologist Carl Jung published his great work Psychology and Alchemy which examined the psychological metaphors of the alchemical process and the work of the early alchemists. Jung purports that the psyche can undergo a similar radical transformation through the heat of dedicated work and the pressurization that occurs when we step into psychic or spiritual discomfort. We can turn our stone—the dark and painful pieces of ourselves—into gold, our optimal way of being in the world. Going Through the Fire One of the main tenets of Jung’s psychological alchemy is that in order to get to the gold, we have to go through the fire. It is not easy to face the darker parts of ourselves, but the only way to emerge is to undergo that process of opening to the flames, the pain that comes with rejection of patterns, routines, and thoughts that aren’t serving us. Modern-day alchemist, Ambi Sitham, helps her clients to find healing by going into their own metaphorical darkness and finding their unique light. Since she was a young girl, Ambi says, she was an alchemist in the sense that she wanted to help turn people’s pain into something that served them. At a very young age she found connection with the lunar cycles, a very important consideration for the medieval alchemists and an important symbology for Jung’s metaphor. Ambi focuses on the creative and transformative properties of her modern-day alchemy. “[Alchemy] is both a spiritual and creative process that allows us to either manifest what we desire, or to transform what is seemingly undesirable into what is desirable,” says Ambi. The Long Road to Transformation As a coach, energetic healer, mentor, and business consultant, Ambi infuses her own experience of going into the fire and emerging anew to help catalyze positive changes in the lives of those with whom she works. No stranger to the darkness and pitfalls of life, Ambi left a successful yet emotionally-turbulent career as a corporate lawyer to pursue what had been with her since childhood: the ability to navigate difficulty and act as an agent of change. Though the path to beneficial change can be hard, Ambi encourages her clients to start simple. She offers a few ways to practice self-care especially when feeling overwhelmed, stressed or fatigued. “Immersing [oneself] in water is a great way to wash off the day energetically and to again ground and connect to higher self,” says Ambi. “I am also a big believer in lunar rituals. I make a manifesting list every new moon for the lunation ahead and a release list (which I burn) every full moon. These lunar rituals are so simple yet effective and help us navigate the continual ebb and flow between releasing and manifesting.” Shifting Within as Well as Out Besides ritual and physical meditative practices, Ambi also touches on the importance of perspective. She often refers back to the mantra It’s happening for me, not to me. When she hits a rough patch, she always asks herself why it may be happening, and looks for the lesson in the experience. Through the process of alchemy, this then allows Ambi to draw the sparks of light out from the darkness. Alchemizing starts with the reframing and unpacking difficult situations as well as the thoughts and emotions that result from those situations. In a culture where progress equates with power, Ambi offers the teachings from her own teachers that have helped her to achieve peace in the moment: “[There is a] spiritual importance of being happy with what is and peril from complaining because it immediately takes you out of your center and your spiritual self,” she says. “There is a tendency in western culture to compete and to compare and to be too busy doing which immediately creates lack rather than just being, and in that being, being grateful for what you have, focusing on your own life and being in flow with your path,” says Ambi. One of Ambi’s modalities of healing that she employs with her clients is the power of sound. Ambi uses planetary gongs, chimes, and quartz crystal bowls—which are each attuned to a different note which represents a different chakra/energy point in the body. For Ambi, sound healing presents an access point, through intelligent sequencing of frequencies and vibrations, to facilitate relaxation and healing. The power of sound is such that according to Ambi changes brainwaves from beta waves to alpha (relaxation), theta (meditative state), and delta (sleep) waves, helping to calm and settle the mind on an unconscious level. — Erin Ward is a freelance writer, yoga teacher, and instructor at Wanderlust Hollywood.