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Christina Merkley: My Right Brain Journey

clip-rightbrainA few posts ago I shared my left-brain journey. Now I’m going to share my right-brain journey. Not as a narcissistic exercise or true confessions but rather to hopefully be of help and service. To give equal attention and merit to the right-brain sides of us, which often gets short shrift or even derogatory treatment in our left-brain dominant world.

If you aren’t sure about the distinctions between left and right brain, see my previous article on this topic here.

Basically the left-brain is the rational, logical and linear side of us. While the right is the emotional, intuitive and embodied side.

babyfaceThe Early Years:
Let’s go waaayyyyy back, like to the moment of birth, LOL. I just seemed to be born with an extra layer of sensitivity. The family folklore is that I was born silent, so the doctor went to give me a little slap to make sure all was ok … and I cried out before his hand reached me. Story of my life … the observer who can feel the vibes in the room as they physicalize.

Like many people who eventually carve out careers as Process Professionals, I was a ‘sensitive’ child. Or at least that is the not-always-so-nice word used to describe me … ‘you are too sensitive’, ‘stop being so sensitive’ etc.

It was only much later, thanks to Elaine Aron (whom I met in San Francisco as she was researching her breakthrough material: The Highly Sensitive Person) that I would come to appreciate and more thoroughly understand this trait that 15-20% of the population is estimated to have.

Is This All There Is?!:
clipdeskjobFlash forward to post university … where I found myself at the tender of age of 24 all set up with a government admin job and home ownership (the definition of success in a provincial capital).

Supposedly great, but I was dreadfully unhappy … “is this all there is?” I appreciated the stability my government job brought, especially financially, but the thought of doing that forever felt deadening.

I craved travel, adventure and also what I can only describe as mysticism (although at that time that word would have been completely foreign to me).

While working full-time, I signed up for two public night courses: comparative religion (based off of Houston Smith’s work) and dream work (based off of Gayle Delaney’s work).

Both helped me explore my quickening inner terrain. Synchronicity often winks in my life as I would meet both of these authors just a few years later. Attending Gayle’s dream group in Mill Valley, California and helping with some research (a big thrill after reading her books from afar) and Houston Smith of all people gave the speech at grad school convocation!

welcometoSFWelcome to California:
In 1993, while on vacation, I met a man on who lived near San Francisco, California. And my silly (maybe wise … it’s a toss up!) 25-year-old self quit her government job, liquidated her assets (at a loss of 50% due to exchange rates … ouch) and moved to the U.S. to be with the man-of-her-dreams and attend grad school (I had discovered the world of Organizational Development and put my chips behind it as my future hedge).

While grad school turned out to be a decent bet, the man-of-my-dreams did not. So I began grad school in a potent state of emotional bereavement and culture shock. Once the initial trauma wore off, The California Institute of Integral Studies in the mid-nineties was an amazing place (delightfully right brained even within the more left-brained biz department).

I absolutely LOVED my OD classes and basked in the range of extracurriculars available: classes in dream work, lectures by alternative luminaries Stan Grof, Brian Swimme, Rick Tarnas and Joanna Macy to name a few.

I worked on campus employed by the wonderful Dean of Students, Cathy Coleman (dining at her Thanksgiving table with husband Ralph Metzner of Timothy Leary fame).

And also attended several Native American sweat lodges.

The older I get the more I appreciate the impact all of these people and traditions have had on my psyche and my own mission.

Enter Graphic Facilitation and Other Adventures:
group-discussion-lgI’ve written much about my journey with Graphic Facilitation over in my left-brain story, so I won’t go into it so much over here on the right brain side. Yes, while interactive-visuals is often considered right brain by most people’s standards (given it has shapes, coloring and doodling), I consider it left brained (given it should also include linear, rational logic too).

I discovered that I most enjoyed Graphic Facilitation performed in Strategic Visioning and Planning settings. I liked the organized left-brain of good planning coupled with the more creative right-brain exploration of the inspirational vision.

clip-ingredient-xIt was here in Strategic Planning that I became increasing curious about ‘ingredient X’ … why was it that we could do the exact same process with different people but the results would vary? Some clients made fantastic progress and some didn’t. Increasingly I became interested in motivation, momentum and resistance. Which is where my right brain journey really took off …

Deeper Down the Rabbit Hole:
It was the late 1990s and I was traveling the globe as a Graphic Recorder with my base in San Francisco. My roommate had turned me on to Sanaya Roman’s work (Living in Joy, Creating Money and Awakening Your Lightbody) and I was just beginning my explorations into coaching and what would eventually become my SHIFT-IT work.

lawofattractionsmWhile helping a woman interested in becoming a Graphic Recorder, I was introduced to the concept of ‘Law of Attraction’ (via the work of Abraham-Hicks) and also to a mysterious psychic/mystic named Seva. She claimed some interesting things about me and predicted my future path, most of which has indeed occurred (more on that later).

In 2000 I donated a kidney to my father. In preparation for and recovery from the operation, I worked for several months with a nutritional and energy worker named Denie Heistand, aka The Body Electrician.

While attending one of Denie’s workshops a fellow attendee had a kundalini awakening during one of the class exercises. While I was in no rush to experience the same it did make an impression as my first introduction to the energetic power that lays within us.

Light Body and Law of Attraction Explorations:
By 2001 I had launched my own independent facilitation practice, Make Your Mark. The 911 attacks occurred later that year. I had been scheduled to be in New York for several weeks that September but in late August all of those gigs fell away (my left brain self was concerned about the business loss but my right-brain whispered to ‘just trust the process’). Later I felt very lucky to have been steered completely clear from the East Coast.

clip-yogaposeHorrified by the scenario that unfolded, I returned that very day to my dusty meditation cushion and my neglected Light Body practices – compelled to do my part to help connect to light during those dark times. 911 was catalytic to waking me up to a bigger picture. And to changing the application of my skills from corporations to smaller businesses and individuals, where I felt more chance of change and true heart can occur.

Law of Attraction and Channeled Guidance:
By the summer of 2002 I had returned to Canada and began the creation of what would become SHIFT-IT Coach, Inc. I deepened my study of Law of Attraction (listening to the full catalog of Abraham-Hicks recordings … which took several years). And used their focus and manifestation techniques to not only focus my blossoming coaching and training practice into being but to also assist my clients in shifting their professional and personal lives too.

I also began a collaboration with The THEO Group and trance medium Sheila Gillette. Over time I involved THEO in my online classes and in-person coaching groups and was asked by Sheila to help her create online options for delivery of her 5th Dimensional material. For a few years I designed and co-lead two THEO programs which they continue to offer.

And, in 2009 I had what I refer to as my ‘contact’ experience. On a bright spring evening while sacked out on the couch watching one of Regina’s interviews, little black and white light orbs appeared in front of me. You can read more about this experience and the further explorations it provoked, here.

Enhanced Creativity:
By this time, I had used visual methods in my process career for fifteen years, but funnily enough never self-identified as an ‘artist’. Suddenly I devoured documentaries and books about various creative people, artists and painters and felt compelled to move beyond the colored markers and wall size paper of my trade into acrylic paints on canvass.

xinamerk-art   xinamerk-art2
xinamerk-art3

My ‘XinaMerk Art’ took on a life of its own and I’ve come to understand the subconscious attraction to my kooky little spiral people … they are about the higher vibrational beings who are routing for humanity to pull out of our negative vibrations and myopic actions. My right brain is always WAY AHEAD of my left-brain in comprehending things.

It’s All About Frequency:
My SHIFT-IT work is ultimately about moving my client’s set vibration or frequency to a higher more satisfying place. Whether I’m doing that in traditional corporate settings in Strategic Planning or Team Development, or with the private individuals who engage me as their business and/or life coach, or through the viewing of a graphic chart or painting.clip-frequency

My right-brain has taught me that it’s not really about the words (or pictures) that are drawn out … it’s more deeply about the symbols, archetypes and beliefs that are evoked underneath. Everything has a tone or mood to it. And it behooves us as companies, people and the world at large to get that tone to as grounded, neutral and integrated a place as we can because we attract from the frequency we inhabit.

Kundalini Awakening:
clip-kundaliniWhile I did not recognize it at the time, all of these inner pursuits were raising my subtle energy called Kundalini. Everyone has kundalini, also named chi and prana. However for some of us, kundalini gets disturbed from its coiled resting place at the base of our spine, and begins a journey of consciousness expansion in our mind/body/spirit. While I did not actively pursue Kundalini (I vaguely knew what it was) it found me nonetheless. And I’ve been in its grip every since. A good grip to be in, but not without its challenges. The consciousness expansion started subtly, with increased sensitivity to light, sound and touch. And with the art streaming through. Then with increases in intuition and empathic connections in my client work.

Always intuitive and tapped into dream land given my dream work background, I waded deeper into shamanism … at least the more easily accessible Shamanism that a white woman from Canada can (Michael Harner, Sandra Ingerman and Hank Wesselman) … my apologies to First Nations friends who feel traditions are being usurped (I hear you).

These practices helped me with the various consciousness terrains I was encountering and how to journey within them. Then, what further boosted the activation of my kundalini was my use of ayahuasca in a facilitated shamanic setting.

Ayahuasca: Master Plant Teacher
green-ladyfaceIn 2012 I had my first plant medicine ceremony.  Ayahuasca is a plant medicine from South America. Its actually 2 plants, cooked down into a ‘brew’.  Let me be intentional about what I write here, as ayahuasca is going through some interesting twists in our modern world.

I am not someone who is into ‘drugs’ and I drink alcohol very moderately.  I am into psycho-spiritual development not psychedelic kicks. I researched ayahuasca for quite some time before I participated in my first ceremony (with skilled support). I was particularly intrigued with Vancouver medical doctor, Gabor Mate’s work with ayahuasca aiding people with severe trauma as an awareness tool for healing. See Nature of Things episode here.



If you research ayahuasca you’ll see that a wide range of possibilities can occur, most involve a lot of purging (from both ends). I was prepared to endure this sort of experience with the hopes that I would ‘go to the next level’ in my inner healing.  What I wasn’t prepared for, and didn’t realize was on the list of possible outcomes with ayahuasca, was a dynamic kundalini rising.  On my very first ceremony, Ayahuasca opened my kundalini like that woman in Denie’s class all those years before.  And I’ve been in flow with that opening ever since.

clip-yogapose2

Living With Active Kundalini:
Since 2012 I’ve been living with consciously aware active kundalini. As I wrote earlier, kundalini was already subtly active in my system before Ayahuasca, although I wasn’t consciously aware of it.  Ayahuasca is a ‘magnifier’ … its helps you SEE what is going on with you and helps you with your blocks.  Mother Ayahuasca brought my kundalini and subtle energy system into my conscious awareness.  She accelerated my awareness and showed me where the physical, mental and spiritual blocks are in my body-mind system.  Kundalini is working away on them as I go about my regular life as best I can during this dynamic process.

In my case, after rising rapidly, my kundalini process slowed at my throat (my 5th chakra).  From 2012 – 2015 it churned away in my throat, jaw and mouth regions. And helped me learn how to better express my authentic feelings and thoughts in both writing, art and speech.  And eventually Kundalini reached my brow (the third eye, or 6th Chakra area).  Along the way I had many interesting phenomenon, including a lot of spontaneous movements in my body and hands (later I learned these are called Kriyas and Mudras).  I also did a tremendous amount of inner work with myself and others, given the deep coaching and mentoring work that I do.

In 2017, I journeyed to South America for my 49th birthday and to do 3 more plant medicine ceremonies. After 20 years of being a Process Professional, I was at a crossroads.  I had helped midwife the Graphic Recording / Graphic Facilitation niche onto the world stage and it was now off and running at fast clip beyond the early group of us who were doing it back in the day. I felt a sense of mission completion and wondered if I ‘was done’ and if I really wanted to take on another life assignment. As the first one was amazing but a LOT of work!

With plant medicines, you always work with an ‘intention’ to focus your experience.  My intention on my first ceremony was ‘whatever you think is for my highest good and next steps’.  Mother Ayahuasca’s answer was to immediately summon my kundalini up my spine into my throat and spontaneous tone a scale of sounds through my voice, then enter into my brow with an internal explosion of great light and heightened sound.  Something happened at that time that I’m still unraveling (was it Makara Point or Bindu or something else?).

Many other things occurred during my ceremonies, including intuitively understanding things about the other participants and their processes and my body being stretched through dances and yoga postures.  The Ayahuascero leading the ceremonies held a safe space but could not answer what had specifically happened to me.   I assembled resources from different angles to help with unlocking that puzzle: Bonnie Greenwald, Kat CourtneyJoan HarriganTara Springett and Kendra Jonas (via Melody).

While I have deep respect for Mother Ayahuasca and the other plant medicines, I’ve put a hold on my use of this tool to focus on my current kundalini process.  I personally feel that while many leaders and groups facilitating ayahuasca experiences are well meaning, they don’t have the individualized or follow up protocols worked out at this point in time for Westerners, especially those who are sensitives, like myself.  I would urge you to be very careful about your choice to use of this powerful master plant teacher (because if you are reading this you too are probably sensitive).  There are other ways to work with the plant spirits.  See Eliot Cowan video below for more info.



chakraParanormal Phenomenon and Abilities:
Some people, and I am one of them, experience various kinds of paranormal experiences and abilities when their Kundalini rises.  I have always been intuitive, however my ability to connect to ‘innate intelligence’  has increased exponentially. While I am primarily a clairsentient and claircognisent (I feel and I know), I have also had bouts of clairvoyance where I see auric colours, grids and astral and other beings.  These gifts come in handy in navigating my own life and also in my work.  In a way, I am a channel, I just don’t do it in the usual way of a clairaudient medium or channeler.  I also believe that I am not special. That all human beings have this capacity if we would only pay attention to and follow it. The more you do, the more it grows.

Bigger Picture: What’s Really Going On?
Early on as a Graphic Recorder travelling the world and later as a Strategic Planning Facilitator (see my Left-Brain story) I literally drew pictures for dozens of corporations who are household names in the banking, medical, high tech, chemical and agriculture industries.  And many of my current students and clientele are embedded in corporate, governmental and not-for-profit settings both nationally and internationally.

I have a very interesting vantage point. And for some time I have been wondering, just what the heck is going on?! As the good people I work with are often in very sick cultures and systems that seem to go against what is actually good for human beings and our vulnerable and precious planet.

My confusion, heartbreak and frustration has lead me down some pretty interesting rabbit holes: Chris Hedges, Annie Jacobson, Conscious Media Network, Jon Rappoport, Catherine Austin-Fitts, Daniel Sheehan, Sphere Being Alliance  and Steven Greer / Unacknowledged. Also see my post on A Graphic Tool for Galactic Visioning.

With the changes in my own energetics I’ve studied a myriad of systems and techniques including BodyTalk, Matrix Energetics, Energetic Synthesis, Paul Selig/The Word and Systemic Constellations.

Private Coaching or Public Online Courses:
As my Kundalini Process has been reshaping me, I’ve have been pleasantly surprised that some in my Organizational Development and Graphic Facilitation network are also intrigued by my more Right Brain skills. As well as new clients being attracted specifically for my Right-Brain gifts.  In my private coaching practice I handle a wide range of Left-Brain and Right-Brain needs of my international client base.  I also host my Practical Energy Work 1 and Practical Energy Work 2 online courses.  In addition to the fuller spectrum of whole brain courses I offer through my SHIFT-IT School.

clip-smiling-laptopStill Reading?!
LOL. Are you still reading? I’m assuming only certain people have the interest or fortitude to read this far. Thank you for doing so.

For some readers, this is ho hum stuff (been there, done that, got the tee shirt).

For others, this is OUT THERE stuff … and this tale is either intriguing you or making you run the other way!

For those that resonate I sincerely hope my tale is validating, that perhaps your own journey is reflected in some of what I write and you feel seen, understood and hopefully less alone. It’s you that I wrote this for. It ain’t easy being green as Kermit so wisely said. But it is valuable, needed and heroic.  Please keep going.  Our world needs you!!!

Wishing you all the best in your own unfoldment!

Christina Merkley

The SHIFT-IT Coach


© 2017 Christina L. Merkley

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Christina Merkley, "The SHIFT-IT Coach" is a Visioning and Strategic Planning Expert specializing in Visual Thinking and Energy Work. Based in charming Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, she works deeply with individuals, partners and conscious businesses to define and manifest what they truly want. And, trains other Process Professionals in her innovative ways of working. For more information visit: www.shift-it-coach.com and www.visualcoaches.com


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Posted in Inner Work, Notes From Christina, Xinamerk Art
5 Comments
5 comments on “Christina Merkley: My Right Brain Journey
  1. Thank you, Christina! Reading your unfolding story connects me to you and to that which is bigger than ourselves. I so appreciate your vulnerability and strength – the candid and real. You are an inspiration!

  2. Jeff says:

    I loved reading this. What a profound journey and you share with such courage and clarity. Thank you for your gifts to the people around you.

  3. Leigh Murray says:

    I ready the whole thing! I fee so fortunate to have found you and look forward to the work. Now that I know more I realize how deep this can go.
    What an amazing journey you are on.

  4. claire says:

    Your art is amazing and your words flow as beautifully as your craft. inspiring through your blog!

  5. Bianca says:

    amazing story, thank you so much!

    i wish to enroll as possible it will be in your Energy Work Course and Visual Coaching.

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