INNER ALCHEMY | karen johnson

Intimacy, Relationships and Trauma

Relationships are one of our deepest issues tapping into the deep-rooted and innermost conditioning of our inner self.   

Relationships are all about intimacy and that can be daunting and risky especially for someone who has never had a model of how to build a healthy, emotional relationship.  It can feel out of reach. 


Forming Relationships

Creating relationships, after experiencing difficult situations in life or hurtful experiences with those who raised us, is not easy and that feeling can escalate if what we experienced taught us to view the world as threatening or ourselves as inferior. 



Trauma occurs when an experience is threatening or overwhelming, and we are unable to integrate it.  If you experienced a difficult childhood:  emotional, sexual and physical abuse or you were neglected or abandoned as a child, this can make trusting another feel frightening and foreign. 

When someone thinks you matter and treats you that way you start to believe that you matter as well. 


How We Learn

Ever wonder why you behave in a particular way in your relationships?  And then somehow continue repeating the same mistakes? 

Most likely it’s related to your attachment dynamic which directly relates back to childhood.  It is something most of us don’t even think about but did you know that your ‘attachment’ can determine how healthy your relationships are?

What in the beginning was an adapted reaction to cope with inadequate bonding can continue on and be carried into our relationships.   If we experienced trauma, we might feel numb or frozen and we may constantly be looking for help or getting ready to ‘fight or flee’.


How We Bond

Do you feel insecure, ignored or overlooked in your relationships?  The ability to form and sustain relationships is essential to our well being.  Just like breathing it’s a fundamental need for emotional connection, physical contact and support. 

Attachment research shows that infants have an inherent, genetically determined system that drives them to attach to their primary caregivers whether or not the caregivers themselves are responsive.

Our history of attachment with those who raised us will be played out and, in all probability, will continue to repeat as we grow and become adults.   Identifying your attachment style helps you recognize patterns and change your behaviour and the dynamics of your relationships.


Attachment Dynamics

There are 4 attachment styles running the gamut from where a child is confident if their caregiver disappears that they will return.  To the opposite end where there is total withdrawal from a caregiver and as the individual grows, they find it difficult to make relationships as they have developed no trust.

Our history gets played out as we’re creating relationships. 

Maybe you’re facing challenging patterns showing up in relationships, low self-esteem, emptiness or lack of trust.  Perhaps life is good but you sense something is missing.  You feel like you can never relax or just be yourself.  Is it time to discover more about yourself and experience more joy, vitality or connection? 


SECURE Attachment

Has a good trust in self and others.  Satisfying relationships with both men and women.  Can be present in life and relationships in an embodied way.  Strong self esteem and respectful of others.

Someone who had primary caretakers who provided a secure base from which they could venture out and explore independently but always return to a safe place.


AVOIDANT Attachment

Could be a loner.  Minimizes importance of relationships.  Difficulty in expressing emotional needs.  Can excel intellectually.  Many friends yet ­­it tends to be superficial.  As relationships move to a deeper level where vulnerability surfaces it may be very triggering for the individual.

Someone who was left alone too much.  Caregiver distant or absent.  Caregiver has never been safe meeting emotional needs.  Eventually the child may deny their need, even though it’s there, and avoid contact and remain isolated.



In relationship may be insecure.  They may be anxious, a little needy, worried about partner going out with friends or having separate interests.  In extreme situation they could be controlling, possessive and jealous. 

This would be someone whose caregivers weren’t always there when needed and didn’t get as much attention as they needed.



Some avoid relationships as they don’t always understand how to trust.  Or make relationships but they never last long and that supports a belief that it would never work out.  They keep proving their distorted belief of not being worthy.  Sense of safety not there and can need to fight or flee.

Parents had addictions or had to look after parents as well as themselves from a very young age.  Could have been in the hospital or experienced some kind of separation where they decided that if you’re not going to be here for me, I don’t need you.  Their experience may be blocked from their consciousness.


Who We Are Now

We are all born hardwired for secure attachment, although fewer than half the population will have had a secure attachment experience   

It is important to know no matter where we fall on the spectrum that secure attachment is our innate default and we can return to that as we heal and make new connections in the world. 

For those of us who are stuck, paralyzed, avoiding or not knowing how to make healthy connections, we can start by understanding ourselves a little bit more.  Even appreciating some of our defenses that have kept us safe in the world.

How empowering to be able to identify your attachment profile.  To understand the way you see the world or relationships is not something you adopted but was embedded from the start as a necessary protection to get you through.  Embrace those quirks and insecurities that sometimes get triggered. Instead of fighting, struggling or trying to avoid, take a moment and just acknowledge. 


Conscious Acknowledgement Experiment 
“I acknowledge sometimes when I come face to face with my own vulnerability I might want to run and hide but perhaps if I acknowledge that it’s not easy when I feel vulnerable it will create some space and maybe I will run and maybe I won’t.  What if you can elect to synchronize with the fear and that creates a shift.   If you don’t it can make it impenetrable”.


My work is designed to help you restore your synchronized patterns, repair and heal relationships.  Receiving help to resolve early trauma comes in many ways.

The critical element is forming a healthy relationship that exists over time with a romantic partner, a friend or a therapist that allows an individual to trust, repair and resolve issues with their attachment dynamics.

The goal is to relieve unnecessary anguish and to unleash the essential passion and aliveness that is within you.



Inspiring Change through Empowerment… bringing balance to the body, mind and spirit

Karen Johnson

Shamanic Healer | Somatic Experiencing Trauma Resolution | 
Energy Medicine Specialist | Inner Alchemy Toronto


Meditation and Your Sensory System


The reason we meditate may be as distinct and individual as we are.   Inside of us there is an endless source of inner peace, stillness and joy.  Even while our world is speeding up around us, no matter how crazy or unmanageable life feels, we can always tap into this flow which restores equanimity and balance.

Meditation helps you acquire the capacity to align with the vital force of the universe and the primordial energy that infuses everything.  Cultivating a meditation practice allows you to slow down life.  Not suggesting that you must live a slow life: when you meditate, you create a space of stillness allowing you to slow down within your inner space.

Inner space is the part of the mind normally inaccessible through ordinary waking perception.  Inner space consciousness and the essential soul are one and the same.  Inner space is an ever-changing, evolving field of potential.  You may experience yourself as vast and expansive, a sense of beingness and connection to the entire universe.   A sense of being at peace.  This always opens you up to possibilities, creativity and a myriad of insights.


Zooming In

Meditation brings us to a deeper awareness into different facets of our life.  Not unlike taking a photo with your phone, you zoom in on the screen to see certain qualities of the picture.

Right now, what creates my experience?  I feel my body and then I take a breath in, and again feel my body.  I see if I can stay in my body.  Everyone knows their body somewhat but, in this moment, I pay deliberate attention to my body.

There is one thing that always carries us quickly back to our body and our own distinct rhythm.  It’s our own breath… the breath of life which was there with us from the very start.  Breath is a movement and it has a rhythm.  When I am moving too fast, feeling anxious and stressed, or detached I return to my constant companion, my breath.  My breath helps me come home to my body, myself and my own rhythm.  This is the foundation of meditation which always begins with awareness and my breath.




We deepen our meditations further when we focus attention on body sensations.  Your breath is here and also your body sensations are here.  When you start to place your focus there you amplify the scale of clarity.

When I am busy with living my life and mega focused on my outside world, I lose touch with what’s going on inside of me.  If I close my eyes and bring my focus back to me, at once I am aware of a myriad of perceptions, awareness and sensations going on.

If I then place my focus on my external environment, I now see many more details and have more clarity.  My breath brings me back to my sense perceptions and also back to the present moment and to my heart.  Perhaps now I can feel more space.  I can view situations, others or myself with more of a mindfulness, openness and compassion.  You have entered inner space where there is more awareness and you have more capacity.



Some have called the inner space a place to observe or witness our internal process.  An interesting question is, if I can witness my breathing what in me is aware of me witnessing my breath?  What part witnesses the breath?  What part is aware of my felt body sensations?  If I increase my focus on my feet, hands, or the aliveness of my body what part of me is witnessing this?

When I meditate what I know and trust is I am alive and I am breathing and there is some part in me that witnesses this.  These are the pieces that help me to be grounded and centred.  


Your Sensory System 



Inspiring Change through Empowerment…
bringing balance to the body, mind and spirit

Karen Johnson

Shamanic Healer | Somatic Experiencing Practitioner |  Energy Medicine Specialist | Holistic Healing | Ancestor Trauma Healing |

Transform and Understand Anger

Everyone gets angry.  It’s a normal response to disappointments, betrayals, unfairness, and confrontations.

Have you ever tried to hide your feelings when you’re angry?  It’s pretty difficult.  Whether we act out or go into a deep freeze, it makes itself known.

Anger is not good or bad – it’s what we do with it.  Some are afraid of their anger or judge it wrong to feel it in any way. With uncontrolled or disowned anger, we make terrible decisions, harm relationships and our physical bodies, it can even grow into aggression and violence.

The truth about anger is that it can be a positive energy source for us as long as we acknowledge and direct it appropriately.


How it Effects Your Body                         

It’s helpful to understand what happens when anger is triggered.  Every emotion creates change in our brain chemistry and physical body.  Feelings like anger, fear, frustration, resentment and shame can be overwhelming.  Without warning our body is flooded with physical sensations.

Anger looks different on everyone:  some grit their teeth, turn red, others remain calm, go quiet, or for others it’s to cry and shout.  However, what happens in our brain is the same for all.

As anger builds your body’s muscles tense up and your heart rate increases.  Chemicals are released inside your brain causing an explosion of energy lasting a few minutes and leaves you needing to take protective action.  It hijacks your attention as you become fixated on the target of your anger.  It distracts us from being present and available.



Anger tells you something is amiss.  Emotions surface as our brains gather memories and past experiences to assess if the current situation is dangerous and what we need to do to protect ourselves from being hurt again.  Then we store it for future protection.

Unfamiliar and highly emotional experiences create different patterns of activity in our brains other than calm and safety.  When similar circumstances arise meeting this criteria, our system alerts us and lets us know if it is safe or unsafe.  It is important to know that the brain can give distorted information.  The brain recognizes the same pattern of intensity but never evaluates content, whether that experience was good or bad.

Nervous System

At a basic level the nervous system allows messages to flow between brain and body.  Sometimes this energy gets stuck in your nervous system if it has not been processed.  Never gets integrated.  Never released.  It’s recycled and replayed over and over.  What we are in fact reacting to is unintegrated energy trapped in your nervous system and not the current situation playing out in your life.

Change the Conversation

All emotions serve a purpose.  Anger, as any other emotion, influences us and can motivate us to make decisions and take action.

Anger is a sign that something is off.  To deny your anger allows it to continue to fester and grow:  we can become irrational or unpredictable.

The first step in transforming the anger you’re experiencing is to bring awareness to it.  By acknowledging your anger, the situation alters and allows some releasing to begin.

The anger has alerted you that something is not working and needs to be brought up to date to reflect who you are today.    It can help map out the hidden pain that is often sitting beneath the anger.

~ In mastering how to express your anger – you unlock your power.  You have possibilities.  When anger, shows up instead of immediately following it into a blind reaction, can you allow yourself to take a pause and a deliberate breath?  This creates a space and allows you to begin to defuse some of the anger.  You might consider all experiences that come as opportunities for awareness and growth.  They are here to serve your highest good.

~ When we get angry there is a burst of energy that surges forward.  The force of this energy can push us to move beyond our normal limits, and do things we didn’t realize we were capable of.  If it is disowned or projected anger it can sometimes have disastrous consequences creating chaos and conflict in our life.  Sometimes we invent all sorts of things we would do to the person or situation that caused the anger.  That’s a lot of imagination at work.  What about harnessing that into a positive channel?

~ It we approach people with accusations or blame they immediately become defensive.  Allow yourself to consider where the other person is coming from.  Why did they say or do that?   I wonder what they were thinking and feeling?  This can only help you develop an understanding of the other, as you build communication with compassion and empathy.

With awareness we can transform what is holding us back.  As we change, we learn how to use it wisely leading the way to live an authentic life.

Inspiring Change through Empowerment…
bringing balance to the body, mind and spirit

Karen Johnson

Shamanic Healing | Somatic Trauma Healing|  Energy Medicine Specialist | Inner Alchemy | Ancestor Inherited Trauma |

Power of Silence – Unlocking InnerSpace

We live in a world where many of us are frequently overwhelmed.  A silent pause becomes vital for real connection with your true self.  Focused, deliberate silence has the power to restore balance and inner peace.  Silence stills you.

All of us are interested in healing and living authentically.  If we want to be healthy, we need to cultivate times of silence in our lives.  Not the cut off isolating silence that many may live in but a silence fostering connection with the inner voice of your true self.  When you are unable to hear your inner voice, it can leave you feeling lost or numb.


Drowned out by Noise

Have you noticed that life seems to be getting louder?  So much noise surrounding us.  Noise is not only about sound, it is also about sensory overload:  the constant hum and stimulation to all our senses, emotions and how you think.

Many feel afraid of silence and are constantly avoiding it.  They will find anything to fill the void and have lost touch with the wonders that silence can bring.

In my 20s silence was unbearable and I dreaded the emptiness it created.  I always needed some sort of distraction going on: silence left me feeling unsettled and uncomfortable.  I didn’t realize then it wasn’t the silence I was trying to avoid, it was myself.   I hadn’t yet experienced meditation or had any sense of my spirituality or living in an authentic way.   I didn’t know who I was and, in retrospect, think I was afraid of finding out.

The trouble when we experience this constant bombardment of noise is that it becomes an obstacle to our own inner calm, peace and our connection within ourselves and our transcendent experiences.


Authentic Silence

Silence is not isolation:  insight, wisdom, and peace come to us in the silence.

Silence is a mysterious and immeasurable realm and can be a profound and underrated, underutilized resource in modern-day society.

Have you ever sat and let yourself listen to nothing? In silence we hear new sounds and enter into new realms.  Experiencing authentic silence in your heart allows you to welcome the divine grace that streams within the silent sounds.

Silence is not absence … silence is the presence of us all.





Mindfulness | 5 Minute Practice

Start by focusing on your breath and watching your thoughts roll by without getting tangled up in them.

With 5 minutes of mindfulness at the beginning of the day it helps you move through your day centred, with clarity, calmness, and presence.


Mindfulness | Balancing Break

If you feel out of balance at any time during the day, take a moment and allow yourself a slow, deep breath, and tune into your body.  Feel your feet on the ground.  Let your awareness move slowly up through your feet and then up your legs and hips.  Then the trunk of your body and to your back and shoulders.

If you detect any tension along the way just breathe it away.  Gradually move your awareness’ to your arms and hands and then to your neck and head.  Take another deep breath and feel yourself here… in the present moment and return to your day.


Inspiring Change through Empowerment… bringing balance to the body, mind and spirit

Karen Johnson

Shamanic Healer | Somatic Experiencing Trauma Resolution |  Energy Medicine Specialist | Intuitive Consultant | Family Constellation Therapist | Mindfulness Practices

Shapeshifting Obstacles into Advantages


Change always starts with confusion… difficult to be creative and inspired if we cannot allow chaos or confusion in.  We are not born to live life in pain, confusion and sadness rather to transform our lives through greater knowledge and understanding of ourselves and the world.

The faster our world moves and the more chaotic our lives, the more instability we all face. This unpredictability influences our bodies, relationships and environment.   There has never been a better time to use the primordial art of shapeshifting to help guide us on our journey.

Enter into the world of higher energy and celebrate the symbiotic relationship between nature and humans.  When in balance this is a place of harmony, peace, serenity and wholeness.


What is Shapeshifting?

The core principle of shapeshifting is the process of transforming from one energetic state to another.  Based on the philosophy that everything is made up of energy, we are all linked to one another through this energetic field.

It is our ability to change the shape of an energy field.   The purpose is to amalgamate with the strength, wisdom, and power of what you are joining with to obtain new learnings.


Shamanic View

A shaman is someone who journeys to other worlds and uses the wisdom and energy from these other realms to affect change in this world.

Shamans describe shapeshifting as another element of ‘the dream or dreamtime’ and the world is as we dream it.  To change ourselves and to change the collective we need to shapeshift the dream which is our perceived reality.

Shapeshifting remains a potent way of creating change.  Stimulating a wider scope of your consciousness through the power of journeying and bridging the gap to access the subconscious and superconscious.



It always begins as a dream.  The world we experience today once started as a dream in the hearts and minds of visionary people who believed they could create change.  That same power of creativity is held within you.

If your objective is finding a new direction, feeling comfortable within your own skin, changing your career, improving relationships, working on the collective and changing the world, it is essential to recognize that everything begins as a dream.


Changing the Vision…
Changing your Reality

Imagine a world where you could fine tune how you perceive your life and create real influence and transformation in your reality.

Shapeshifting allows you to transcend that threshold.

To shapeshift adjust how you see your life.  Summon transformation into what you have identified as your perceived reality.  Suspend and eliminate dysfunctional patterns, release inherited trauma, and reorient and reconnect to your purpose and passions.  Redirect your energy towards more spectacular outcomes and you change your reality… and that of the global collective.

How to Shapeshift in Modern Times



Inspiring Change through Empowerment…
bringing balance to the body, mind and spirit

Karen Johnson

Shamanic Healer | Somatic Experiencing Trauma Resolution |  Energy Medicine Specialist | Intuitive Consultant | Family Constellation Therapist