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Simple Solstice Ritual

“Whatever you do, don’t try and escape from your pain, but be with it.  Because the attempt to escape from pain creates more pain.” – The Tibetan book of Living and Dying.

solsticeI’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of suffering lately.  Many of people have gone through struggle, loss and up-upheaval this past year or years.  Lots of healing and change and struggle is being called of us, from us, for us.

I have been un-well for some time and it’s gotten a hold of me.  It’s bonded me and shackled me into the pain and discomfort and dare I say…self-pity. Here’s the bold truth…I’ve been struggling, I’ve been suffering.  For some reason I have a hard time putting that out there, perhaps it feels vulnerable, the why of the matter I am unsure.  I usually try and exude a positive, accepting vibe about my illness but lately…I just can’t.  I haven’t been well.  I’m having a small pity-party. (Or maybe a full blown romper lol).

Part of me wonders too if people don’t want to hear about suffering.  We live in a society where people are uncomfortable with it, with pain, with loss, with heavy, dark emotion.  We don’t like to hear about it or sit with it. Let’s face it, we’ve been taught not to talk about that stuff, not to burden other people with our problems.

People are uncomfortable with pain and often just want to offer an quick solution or idea so we can move us out of pain and suffering.  The intention is absolutely loving but sometimes we just need to be held, to be offered space to feel darkness, sorrow and pain and that’s tough for many to offer because they don’t know how to do so for themselves.

So I’m aware that my pattern is that get quiet and isolate and battle with the struggle in a sword fight all on my own when I’m in pain or struggle.  (This is why I’ve been quiet in my writing…sorry folks, it’s a bad pattern I’m working on).  In fact, I want to own that I’m suffering and say it’s okay and that I need connection in suffering and I imagine you do to.  I need to know I’m not alone and I’m learning that I absolutely am not!! And that we all have suffering, so let’s get talkin’ bout it and supporting each other while we move through it….yeah?!  🙂

What I’ve been learning and reading from Buddhist texts is that life is suffering.  There will always be suffering, we all will suffer at various points in our life whether physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually and really all that we ought to do is accept this notion.  There is suffering in life.  Say it with me, “there is suffering in life.”

This is an easy and yet tough concept that I’ve been playing with.  I’ve been trying to sit in my suffering, like really move into it.  I close my eyes and settle into the suffering in my body and it’s weird…it dissipates, it softens,the edges sting less.

Perhaps it’s from not battling what is, there is a gentle release in my body. The defenses soften.

So, often when I’m “suffering” with physical discomfort or even emotional discomfort I try and battle my way out of it with thought or action or even will power.  I positive affirmation out my yin-yang to try and pretend I am not suffering or to adjust out of it.   I fight what is.  I fight the truth of discomfort and pain while I try to cover the Truth with a lovely balmy protective salve, rather than accept and allow it.  My mind and body separate, battle for control, argue and I end up exhausted, depleted and still feeling under the weather.

So the last few nights I’ve allowed my “suffering” to be my meditation.  To soften and melt into it and allow the moments to be there.  It is freeing! Like radically freeing.  I even get a slight buzz on the inside, a elation, a joy, a meeting of sparkly truth that I can feel.

Here’s a brief summary on some Buddhist teachings (very brief) from http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/buddhism/bs-s03.htm

“Suffering is a fact of life. There are four unavoidable physical sufferings; birth, old age, sickness and death. There are also three forms of mental suffering; separation from the people we love; contact with people we dislike and frustration of desires. Happiness is real and comes in many ways, but happiness does not last forever and does not stop suffering. Buddhists believe that the way to end suffering is to first accept the fact that suffering is actually a fact of life.”

So on this Winter Solstice (in the Northern Hemisphere), and the darkest day of the year, I invite you into your own darkness, your own pains and wounds and simply let them be there. Melt into them for a few moments as a Sacred Witness to what is at this moment. Where do you feel struggle in your body?  And can you just move into it, gently, softly, lovingly?  See what happens.  And like wise, move into your joy and happiness as it sways in your life as well. We will all move through the tides, the highs and lows of life.  May we do so consciously, lovingly and with awareness and acceptance.

Simple Solstice Ritual:solstice2

On this lovely Solstice, get out your paper and pens.  Light a lovely candle or two, perhaps some incense, get yourself a cup of tea and have a divine union with yourself and Creation on paper.

  1. What have been some of your struggles this past year?  List them and underneath them, write about the gifts, the benefits, the positive outcome(s) of these struggles.  What did you learn or acquire from the struggle?
  2. What were some of your highlights this year?  What sacred and special moments really resonate in your soul and heart?
  3. What wishes do you have for yourself and the ones you love this coming season and year?

Enjoy this lovely day of darkness, retreat, rest, and reflection.  I honor you and your path.  I honor you and your joy as well as your suffering.

And so it is.

If you feel called and would like to get more soul nourishing goodies, I invite you to FOLLOW THE BLOG.  I’d be tinkled pink 🙂

Photo2:http://yukoart.com/blog/happy-winter-solstice/

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Teachings from A Grouse for the New Moon & The Winter Solstice.

solisticeFor those of you who do not know my house has a pet grouse.  And we have a history!  It all started last year when this grouse appeared out of the speckled forest in our back yard.  It seemed friendly enough, never flying away in fear, generally just curious.  It always came about and explored what we were up to until one changing day when it hopped on my son’s back and scared the poop out of him. Now you’re messing with my baby Mr. Grouse and mama’s got a problem with that.

I chased that bird away into the bush on countless occasions, one time with a broom, only to have it follow us over and over again.   Last winter we were enjoying a nice day sliding down the hill in the yard and it decided to jump on my back as I slid down.  I jumped off my plastic, green slide in terror and hid under it and using like a shield until my husband stopped laughing enough to chase it away.

This winter the grouse has been M.I.A. and quite frankly I was at peace with that.  But yesterday, as I drove home from a medical appointment I slammed on my breaks and came to a dead stop. The sun glared in my eyes as my mouth dropped open in disbelief.  Twelve, grey, confident grouse strolled across the road with their chests puffed up in the air walking slowly and commanding road.  The hair on my arms stood up and I knew those grouse were sending me a message.

In her book Medicine Cards, Jamie Sams connects the grouse to the sacred spiral.   She asks us, “Analyze the way you move through your world.  How do you picture yourself in the act of “locomotion”…What word would you use to describe the way you move through both the material and spiritual worlds?…is your movement compatible with your greatest desires and goals?”  She also speaks of the grouse being an ancient symbol for birth and rebirth.  The sacred spiral is also a symbol of personal power, a feminine symbol that we used to paint on our bodies for ceremonies and vision quests, a symbol of visioning to the center of creation, down the sacred spiral and towards the center and still spot of a tornado.

This message fit well as I have been really exploring my energy lately and witnessing how much I push myself and how much I pull back.  And in my self-assessment I’ve come to realize that I’m really good at pushing myself and I rarely pull back my energy on my own accord but usually out of collapse. I typically go from a state of pushing, pushing, pushing to a grinding halt…stopped dead in my tracks with inertia and exhaustion.  The experience of pulling back is not gentle or subtle, it’s extreme and fierce. It’s forceful and out of desperation, a need for recuperation and a catching of my breath for survival.  Like everyone else I’m learning to exist somewhere between inertia and a thousand miles a minute and moving away from the extremes.  I do know this, for every action there is an equal or greater reaction.  So when we move to one extreme, there is always the opposite extreme waiting for our arrival.

My yoga class is showing me it’s in the small shifts that we can gently move to and from our edge.  Whether it’s in doing every second sun-salutation instead of every single one or maybe it’s taking a half pose instead of the full pose.  Sometimes it’s using modifications or props for support rather than pushing to the far edge of triangle pose and into injury or exhaustion.  Maybe its letting the dishes dry in the sink every so often or reading a good book instead of doing the laundry every second night.  I found it to be quite playful to try and find balance in a gentle, subtle, loving way in my every day life instead of just pushing and getting through these few days and then falling ill or finishing my weak in a state of depletion.

I’m aware too that I’ve over-done myself to the nards so much that when my body is pushed past her limit just a bit she reacts angrily and with an autoimmune flare up.  So I’ve had to learn the luscious lessons of pulling back from the edge this year and now I find myself wanting to live in the pocket of it, not pushing past it, and not quite pulling back from it either.  Just dancing in the swirling energy of the edge, and following it’s changing parameters on each day, in each moment at each season.

As I reflect on 2014 I realize now this year for me was in many ways about pausing.  It was about stillness, reflection, contemplation, absorption, rooting, grounding, filling up the tank and restoration. Not the easiest of years’ for an over-doer.  This year has been in many ways about sitting damn close to inertia and letting that be my edge.  Our edges move, it’s not always where we think it should be, or even where we want it to be but it is where it is.  It changes daily, weekly, monthly and yearly.  All we can do is simply allow it to be where it is today and do our best to honor it.  I had a couple goals for 2014 I did not accomplish but I can see now as I reflect now that I couldn’t move my energy out to accomplish that goal when I was taking the year to pull my energy in and fill up in preparation for 2015, a year of manifestation.  There is a wisdom to our edges that is supernatural and purposeful.

So as we close this season, may you and I dance the sacred spiral of the Grouse.  Allowing ourselves to at times push, at times pull back, all while being gentle and subtle, not aggressive or forceful.  May we at times simply observe our energies to be as they are without a desire to change them.  I encourage you to allow yourself to fall into a slower, more reflective pace for the winter season and dream the dream like the great dreaming bear who hibernates in the caves of Mother Earth.  Fill yourself up with visions and dreams for the new year ahead.

I genuinely feel that learning about the 28 day lunar cycles and its’ connection to our 28 day menstrual cycles will help us find our edges.   So invite you to witness how as a new moon approaches we are often in low energy, like a seed just being planted into the soil and allow yourself to be softer, gentler and slower during this time.  The moon is dark and requesting us to reflect, imagine, and dream the vision for the seed we are planting.  I always notice that the 3 days before a new moon I am often more tired and low energy as the end of a moon cycle comes to a close and a new moon cycle is preparing for release.  Witness too that generally at a full moon, we are typically more energetic, vibrating, buzzing and hatching our goals and allow our edges to expand further and wider.  We have more energy, we are at our peaks as the moon shines brightest in the sky.

May this upcoming New Moon & Winter Solstice on Sunday be a time for you to sit…reflect…dream…imagine your goals for the upcoming 2015 year.  See them in your mind’s eye, see yourself doing and being in the next year to come.  Dream the dream and dance the sacred spiral of the Grouse.

Aho! And so it is.grouse

Look for more one day classes and short essays on teachings of the Sacred Feminine, Moon Time & Sacred Spirals in the New Year.  It will be a great year. 🙂

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“We are born as wild mountain lions but live most of our lives like sheep, forgetting and denying whole parts of ourselves.”  Lynn Andrews.