I love being on the cusp of the new year. It feels like the slate has been wiped clean and anything is possible. I always give thought to what I would like to accomplish in the coming year. Sometimes it’s one or two simple things, but most years I dream big. I often dream too big, without thought to how many hours are actually available for all of the things I want to tackle. I’ve learned to be more reasonable with my time and try to keep my intentions achievable.
This year I categorized my intentions by the element they most related to – earth, air, fire, water or spirit. It was a good check to make sure my plans will keep me balanced. It’s great to want to have a hugely successful career, but if it doesn’t leave time for creativity or exercise or spiritual pursuits it might not be worth it. When you look ahead, are you thinking about balance?
Below is a summary of my intentions for 2015. They all are much more specific, of course. Each has a deadline and is achievable and measurable. For example, “I will complete my work, pass the final test and graduate from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition on February 22, 2015, after which I will be a fully certified holistic health coach.” With intentions like that, I can easily track my progress and remember what I need to schedule time for.
What are your intentions for 2015? I’d love it if you would share some in the comments below, or link to your own post about your plans for the new year.
A couple of months ago I started a new exploration of the Chakra system by linking chakra energy into the interconnected web of life through the spirits of animals who embody that energy. Now that I am pretty grounded in Muladhara’s energy, I’ve begun to look at the second chakra.
Svadhishthana is the center of watery, flowing movement and creation. The animals that share the energy of the sacral chakra have a relationship with water and the creative process.
The crocodile governs the second chakra. He easily transitions from water to land and back again, but it is in the water that this chakra’s work happens. Crocodile goes deep into the emotional world, then resurfaces with new creativity.
With playful grace, the dolphin embodies freedom. Although living fully in the water, dolphins must surface to breathe air like a land mammal, representative of the duality of nature. It time they surface is a renewal of sorts. Dolphins seem to have an intuitive understanding of and a feminine friendliness towards us humans.
The life-cycle of a frog has made it a symbol of transformation across many cultures. In Native American traditions, frog medicine is cleansing and healing, and associated with life-bringing rain. Frog’s cleansing takes place on the emotional level, where true healing begins.
The busy beaver is the builder of dreams. Ever creative, the beaver works hard to manifest all it desires. Yet there is a sense of balance with beavers. They work when it is time to work, eat when it is time to eat, and play when it is time to play. Beavers have strong family relationships and often work as a team. In the group, each is honored for its contribution to the whole, bringing beaver close to the source of oneness – the original creative energy of existence. Beavers’ work transforms their environment in a harmonious way, so each place they leave behind is reborn in their wake.
During the last few months I have experienced a great deal of uncertainty and change, and a pretty tough sugar detox. Throughout, I focused on grounding and staying connected to the Earth Element. I planted my roots firmly and weathered the storm of change. Now I am flowing through life with much more ease, and getting reacquainted with Water.
Scorpio, a water sign (along with Cancer and Pisces) was rising when I was born. Perhaps that’s why, despite my strong Earth roots, I have a bit of gypsy in me. Water is movement, growth, sensuality and creation. Water is cleansing and healing. The Water Element governs your emotions, particularly love and compassion, and your intuition. When you think of Water, think of lakes, rivers, oceans, springs, otters, fish, autumn, twilight, and the colors blue and silver.
Some ways you can connect to the Water Element are:
- Sensual dance. Learn to belly dance (yes, guys can belly dance, too) or grab a partner and explore the Rumba or Salsa.
- Take a bath. Add some relaxing essential oils or bath salts and take a long, cleansing soak.
- Drink a glass or two. Purify your body from the inside out.
- Walk in the rain. Notice the gathering puddles and the ripples the raindrops make. Watch water roll off leaves.
- Sit by the ocean, a lake or a river. Watch the movement. Contemplate the power of the flowing water to change the landscape.
- Read poetry. Open up to the experience of emotions.
- Give to charity, or volunteer. Cultivate your compassion.
I am a Chakra junkie. I love exploring the energy of the Chakra system, and I am always looking for new ways to connect with and experience that energy. Lately I have been seeking to link chakra energy into the interconnected web of life by invoking the spirits of animals who embody that energy into my chakra work.
The first, or root, chakra – Muladhara – is the center of earthy, stable energy. The animals that bring that energy are solid and heavy, with one exception.
Despite weighing 10,000 pounds, elephants walk softly on the earth. Nurturing elephants fare well in their often harsh natural environments, and demonstrate a strong commitment to their group’s protection and survival. As a symbol of safety and strength, elephants can be called on to support first chakra explorations. In addition, the gentle eyes of the huge elephant are full of ancient wisdom. The elephant is a worthwhile companion for your grounding practice.
Ox represents strength, endurance, stamina, prosperity and productivity. These characteristics reflect the energy of the first chakra. Consider a pair of oxen as your guardians while you settle into a deep, rooting meditation.
Mole is neither heavy nor strong, yet offers a strong connection to the earth. Moles represent the ultimate in groundedness. Ask mole to teach you about eating right, an important first chakra lesson, by sharing her knowledge of herbs and roots.
To connect to the spirit of these first chakra animals, you can simply meditate on them or their qualities. You might also try imagining yourself in the body of the animal. What would it feel like to move like an elephant, an ox, a bull or a mole? You can also call on them as guardians during any root chakra work.
Can you think of any other animals with first chakra spirit?
Ever since I was a girl, I have been creating altars. From memorials to pets that had passed to a candlelit desk for contemplative studies to a full ritual altar at the center of a circle, I love the act of setting the stage for my intentions. Sometimes I find places where nature has created an altar of sorts: a sheltered cove between sand dunes with an interesting layout of shells, a hollow in the roots of a tree, or a mountaintop with an amazing view. As I think of these altars, I know they are sacred space. But why?
I love Peg Streep’s book, Altars Made Easy: A Complete Guide To Creating Your Own Sacred Space. In it, Streep defines sacred space as “a physical place where the divine or the supernatural can be glimpsed or experienced.” She sees sacred spaces as those places where we get in touch with that which is larger than ourselves. For me, it is the feeling of smallness you get when you stand on a peak and look out at the landscape spread out below, or the sense of wonder invoked by watching a candle flame dance. Sometimes the natural arrangement of objects, or simply a sense of the presence of a higher power, makes a place sacred.
Perhaps this, more than the need to “conquer” nature, inspires adventurers to climb the highest mountains or dive deep into the sea. Mountaintops, ocean reefs and the like are places of wonder and awe where we sense that which is beyond, yet within, ourselves. Even deep in the woods, or in your own backyard, nature offers such places. If you’ve ever stopped to contemplate a knot of tree roots, a circle of wild flowers, or the engineering of a perfect bird’s nest, you have felt it.
In Altars: Bringing Sacred Shrines into Your Everyday Life, the author, Denise Linn, notes that the human psyche yearns for the mysterious and wondrous things that bring meaning to life’s ordinary moments. Being in sacred space fills that need and nourishes the soul. Indoors, a display of objects, when imbued with meaning by the individual, becomes holy. Even a grouping of photos, placed with intention, can elicit a sense of connection, gratitude and wonder.
Take a look around your home, your yard, or the places you frequent. Where have you found or created sacred space?
(Perhaps my Pinterest board devoted to sacred spaces will inspire you to create or find your own altars.)
“A wee child toddling in a wonder world,
I prefer to their dogma my excursions into the natural gardens
where the voice of the Great Spirit is heard in the twittering of birds,
the rippling of mighty waters, and the sweet breathing of flowers.
If this is Paganism, then at present, at least, I am a Pagan.”
Today I am in Syracuse, New York, to lead “Elemental Yoga” at the annual Central New York Pagan Pride Day festival. My workshop is from 10:00 to 10:45 a.m. Afterwards I get to spend the remainder of the day connecting with and learning from others who, like me, look to nature for their spiritual inspiration.
Pagans are an eclectic group; their diversity makes them interesting and fun. Their practices may be formal and structured or spontaneous and casual. There are numerous subsets under the Pagan umbrella. Pagans may worship deities from classical or tribal mythology, practice shamanism or magick, view futurology, community or ecology as religion, focus on the Divine Feminine, or simply venerate natural phenomena. Most chose their spiritual paths, rather than following the religions of their families.
At today’s festival we’ll be celebrating the upcoming autumn equinox, as well as doing lots of networking and community building. My husband will be manning the Adirondack Earth Lore booth to showcase his amazing woodturning, and I’ll be hanging out there discussing yoga and healthy living with anyone who will listen. We’ll do some drumming. I’ll watch bellydancers. And I’ll be showing folks how to connect with the energies of Earth, Air, Fire and Water with yoga.
In the area? Come on over to Onondaga Lake Park and join the fun!
As you approach the fall equinox, you may find yourself connecting to the energy of change. This time of year, when the trees are letting go of their leaves, encourages deep cleaning. Whether it’s your home, your body, your career or your lifestyle, it’s time to clean it out, dust it off, and welcome change.
Reiki is a powerful platform for change. Regular sessions, through self-practice or with a practitioner, offer gentle yet powerful support that nourishes you and clears a space into which you can invite the season’s newness.
Reiki can lessen the anxiety and pain often associated with change, so you will feel more able to incorporate needed health interventions or make lifestyle changes. Reiki can also clear the mind, enabling you to better evaluate the sometimes conflicting choices before you, so you can make important decisions with greater confidence.
When approaching change, it is important avoid making choices based on fear. Surrender to your Reiki experience, perhaps savoring the breath, allowing your awareness to drop within. Your session will bring you toward balance, and you will be better able to sort through your options, and see possibilities you hadn’t considered before. Regular Reiki sessions support you to make wise, timely changes, ones you can sustain, and which, in turn, will sustain you.
For me, self care is about making conscious choices to address the needs of my body, mind and spirit. Reiki is one tool in my self-care regimen, an over-arching support which gently guides me towards what my body needs to restore balance and wellness. In this way, Reiki opens us up to change, welcoming the newness of natural health.