After the Storm

  

Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can’t go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does. Margaret Atwood

This morning I woke up and wept. Afterwards I feel as if a storm has blown through me. That tension and anticipation, moments before the storm hits, the release of torrential winds and rain, and the subsequent freshness and sense of cleansing and calm that comes after really good downpour.

One of the greatest lessons I have learned in the last few years is the patience to allow my emotions to come and go. I’m not saying I stay ever-calm or enjoy these storms, but I do mentally buoy myself with the understanding that they are a force unto themselves, and they will pass.

For years I medicated uncomfortable emotions with all kinds of panaceas – from alcohol to love to food – and for years into addiction recovery, I would get on the phone and talk, talk, talk about my feelings to anyone who would listen. I never learned to just allow them, to just sit with myself without panicking or having to judge or create a big story out of the experience.

What I discovered over time is that feelings, like the weather are in constant flux. And if I can just be with my feelings, just be present while they ebb and flow – or dance and wail while they storm and rage – they will always pass away and shift into another state. 

Heraclitus – the Greek philosopher – believed flux and change was the central theme to life. Like the ancient Chinese philosophers he understood the paradox of non-dual thinking epitomised so beautifully in the yin yang symbol. There’s no sense of fixed polarities between opposite states, just a constant shift in balance between different states of being. Movement, flux, change.

Unlike his predecessor Thales who believed water was the great unifying element, Heraclitus though it was fire. What’s interesting here is the shift between all creation being of the gods, to an understanding of a more earthly and nature-originated source. The Greeks like many ancients, saw the inherent wisdom within the very nature of things, and then applied this wisdom to human life.

The Greeks, like many ancient cultures, associated the four elements with different aspects or humours of the human body, particularly in relation to medicine, but also as a study of emotional temperaments. Water was generally associated with the feminine, the lungs and the brain.

In modern Western esoteric traditions, think here of the imagery in the tarot, water represents the emotions, the psyche, the flowing, unpredictable, sometimes hidden aspects of human nature.

  
In Hindu philosophy the element water is one of the five great elements, or Panchamabhuta, is associated with water devas or vasus, with Chandra (the moon) and Shukra (Venus) who represents feelings, sexuality, intuition and emotions.

The Mantrapushpam, a sacred text of the Rishis, explains that the moon and the waters support each other, and draws a parallel between the waxing and waning of the moon, the effect on the tides, and the mind vacillating between emotions of grief and happiness.

Emotions are like the tides, in constant flow and flux, and the connection between emotions and the element of water is archetypal. Water doesn’t move in a straight line from point A to point B, it meanders and goes around things – solid things like rocks and trees and land masses. A lot like the emotional nature, water ebbs and flows, it can rage and damage, or be calm and soothing.

Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong. Laoxi

And what about the connection between water and tears, that has always fascinated me. Why does salt water well in my eyes when I’m feeling emotional?

These past months have been, hmmm, let’s keep the language PG and say ‘challenging.’ I felt right back in the deep end of life again, frantically treading water.

My dad has been sick, again. Every time, it’s that emotional roller coaster of not knowing if we are going to lose him. Not even if, but when.

My son is struggling at school. I think I try to hold things together for his sake, it’s not ideal when your main parent has an emotional breakdown. So as soon as he left for a weeks holiday with his dad, the pressure of the past few months dammed-up emotions broke though.

So I wake up, alone, and it feels like there’s a race to see if my head or my heart is going to implode first. My thoughts eddy me from one overwhelming scenario to another, wave after wave of emotions crash, culminating in a massive cry.

At the extremities of human feeling, language becomes the language of tears. John O’Donohue

At the same time, I was reflecting on the sacral chakra, located around the lower belly. The sacral chakra is considered the energy centre of our senses, emotions, sexuality and creativity. The Sanskrit name svadisthana translates as ‘the dwelling place of the self’ and ‘sweetness,’ so it is our own sweet place.

This chakra is associated with the element of water. Like water our sacral chakra is in constant motion. Tap in for a moment to your feeling state, your emotional sense, you senses of sight, smell, taste, touch and sound. Notice the constant stream of ideas, of creativity that streams through your mind. It’s in a state of movement, of flux, isn’t it?

I’m always looking for synchronicities in my life, I think ideas and concepts come together at a particular time for a reason. These seemingly random ideas began to coalesce into a theme for me.

Maybe I navigate through life like water?

 

I often berate myself because my emotions seem to loom so large and dictate so much of my behaviour, but what if that’s just how I am? What if like a body of water I do swell with the rains, and get churned up by the wind? Only to be restored to calm again. What if I do tend to flow around or over obstacles instead of moving them? Maybe there’s nothing wrong with that?

I know I have a great affinity with water. Particularly the ocean. I took my son away on a road trip, we crossed the bay on a ferry and drove along the Great Ocean Road which transverses the Southern coast of Australia. The next day we awoke outside of Lorne, a truly spectacular place where the bush land meets the ocean. Sleeping by the ocean had worked its magic and I felt that the crisp sea breeze had blown my mind clear, decluttering and clarifying. I walked down to the rocky shoreline and allowed the waves to crash over me.

Sitting on a rock with the ocean crashing over me, singing my soul song, I imagined myself a mermaid. Tapping into some primal aspect of myself that never feels completely happy on solid ground. Between worlds. In the liminal zone.

The doors to the world of the wild Self are few but precious. If you have a deep scar, that is a door, if you have an old, old story, that is a door. If you love the sky and the water so much you almost cannot bear it, that is a door. If you yearn for a deeper life, a full life, a sane life, that is a door. Clarissa Pinkola Estes

My dreams take place in a watery world. As a child I would dream that I awoke in my bedroom and that it had a door in the floor that opened to the sea. I would swim and swim from azure shallows to a dark, churning ocean. Then find myself at the shore, back amongst people. Sometimes I just swam away.

I have an old pattern of trying to be someone else. Somewhere along the line, I got the message that I was not okay as I was and I needed to change in order to be worthy of love and acceptance. What if it’s one of my gifts to be so emotional? Well, perhaps ‘gift’ is stretching things a little, but what if I just have to accept that aspect of myself.

Forty years after learning my wild nature was not acceptable, I am still beating my head against that wall of trying to be different, but what if I just be who I am? What if I accept that plenty of people won’t accept me that way, but that’s okay. If emotions drive me, then perhaps it’s time I learned to flow with that force. Or at least to not fight it.

I tell you, we are the people of the sea and restless, wind-tormented still have no will but the water’s will. Traditional Irish poem

Our culture tends to dismiss emotion, to see it as weak and unmanageable. We tell people to “pull yourself together” and “swallow a load of concrete and harden up.”

We all feel emotions, some of us more than others, and some of us are more expressive about our emotions that others. So what’s the big deal, why are we so afraid of feeling?

Emotion is energy in motion, it is the moving out of energy from the unconscious into the conscious mind so we can deal with it. An emotion is like a message from within, and we need to be receptive to the messages.

Understanding that emotions move like water, gives us a clue to how to experience them. If we are in a strong current of water we can expend a lot of energy swimming against it, or we can go with the flow, and save our energy for paddling once the power has dissipated from the current, or in this case the emotional charge.

Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters. Norman Maclean

   
It’s hard being watery in a world that loves hard edges and grid lines and efficacy of A to B without meandering. My life, the true life that inspires me, all happens on a meander. Even that word makes me deeply exhale.

At best in our society we are encouraged to talk about our emotions, “and how did that make you feel?” The favourite go-to line of therapists. While I think naming our emotions is valid to a point, what our body surely wants is for us to FEEL them. I find now that excessive talking only creates and embeds a story around my emotional state, which may even entrench rather than release these feelings.

So how do we release emotions? We feel them. We allow them, honour them, dance in their rain, fly with their winds, bask in their sun. We stop resisting, denying and suppressing them. We allow our watery natures to flow.

Water is so fundamental to life. Our bodies are mostly water, we live on a planet that is mostly water, where all forms of life evolved out of the waters. We all come from the waters of the womb.

The water element is at the heart of evolution. All of life has come out of the sea. The matrix of life began in the primal soup that stirred in the beginning. Life crawled out of this water onto land. In a strangely ironic parallel, this is also the way human life begins. John O’Donohue

Our modern lifestyles tend to be quite rigid. Most of us work in jobs where we are expected to be somewhere at a certain time for a certain time, often sitting still, working on a computer.

And yet this inner ocean needs to move, to ebb and flow. How do we create a safe space to be in this sacral chakra energy?

May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children. Rainer Maria Rilke

Dance is a wonderful way to reconnect with our own sweet place. In traditional cultures dance is used as an important part of their ritual practice, as well as for the emotional and spiritual release it provides. Dance literally puts our energy into motion, releasing emotion, awakening our senses, freeing up tension in our body and connecting us with the deep essence of our spirit.

In Chakradance, the element of water comes through the sacral chakra. This is the feminine centre, a centre that holds the key to our emotional life, to our sensuality. In the dance we visualise stepping into a stream and being washed clean of any stress or tension. Then we dance from the hips, our bodies undulating like water. Stimulating the natural ebb and flow of our being.

A lake carries you into recesses of feeling otherwise impenetrable. William Wordsworth

Dancing allows all parts of me to engage in a delicious whirl of sensory experience, all the conflicting feelings and emotions and demands of my life get to come up and play, express themselves, are rearranged, and often dissipate or transform into something completely new.

Instead of life feeling disastrous. It feel like a dance of delicious imperfection.

 

But that’s in the dance. Then the music stops and I have to live it. Some days I stay in the dance, I maintain this perspective. But others… My desire to flow comes crashing down amongst all the conflicting needs and desires of those around me.

Some days I swing from some makeshift peace and acceptance of my life to abject terror that I’m letting everything slide. That I’m a slack mother, a negligent daughter, a bad friend, a haphazard worker. As a business owner I feel I should be doing so much more. As a woman I feel I should be socialising, dating. But I’m tired and deflated. There’s an apt word. Deflated.

I once had so many ideals for life and this world. Now I often feel jaded. I still believe in love and peace as perfect principles, but I also accept, as someone who’s lived in this world for over four decades, that much of the time these principles are not what motivates us, even the best of us.

I try very hard to be loving and kind but some days I’m hanging on by a thread not to just scream and shout and hit people. Some days the thread snaps.

I think this world forces me to be rigid and strong, and I suppress my watery nature. I freeze up. A few months ago I had an experience that affected me so that my entire sexuality and confidence in myself literally froze. I kept functioning but I felt nothing. George Clooney himself could have walked up and kissed my hand without the merest flutter of recognition in my body.

I just let myself be. Chakradance has taught me that these blocks will shift when they are ready to. I could see it was a self-defence mechanism. There was too much hurt so my feelings froze.

Shamans dance with their spirit guides and power animals to be empowered with spiritual life force. And to release what is no longer needed. Chakaradance taps into this shamanic practice, as well as the energetic aspects of the chakras. As my class danced in the sacral chakra, I felt that energy stir. That divine feminine that had shut down began to awaken.

Anodea Judith says that when we awaken these ‘frozen’ parts of ourselves, there is a thawing out stage. And like the recovery from frostbite, going from numb to thawing can feel excruciatingly painful. There is a reason we freeze out our emotions, they sometimes hurt. A lot.

Alongside the thawing is a tingling, very much like that sensation of blood retuning to a numbed limb. It brings sustenance and life. It reminds that there is always healing. The challenge is to let go of fighting this process. To resist thawing because it hurts blocks the life force that wants to move through me.

Maybe life is in the struggle. In the struggle and the letting go. Flux, movement, change.

Always be like water. Float in the times of pain or dance like waves along the wind which touches its surface. Santosh Kalwar

  
Maybe that’s the deliciousness. Like the fresh air that comes with a big storm, that washes away all the tension and makes everything feel new again, even just for a moment.

It feels that life is truly seen in those fresh moments. It may feel crappy. I may be tired of always having to be strong and kind when I’m tired and sad and just want some strong arms around me. But I do it. And then suddenly there is a moment. When my teenage son who is driving me crazy walks past and I feel in my bones the miracle of his creation and his growth from a baby into this burgeoning young man. And I trust that he’s going to be okay, that his life will burst from him in its own unique way and I don’t have to control or manipulate that.

And I sit with my dad and he gets sicker and frailer and I remember the man who made rude jokes at the dinner table, and always had gravy in his beard, and made you smile for ten minutes with the sun in your eyes while he took a photo, only to find there wasn’t any film in the camera anyway. Who took me so much to heart when I begged him not to embarrass me by shaking my male friend’s hand, that when my friend stuck his hand out, it took dad several awkward attempts to untangle his own from behind his back.

It hurts this life. It hurts to love. Because inherent in love is loss. Inherent in every moment is loss, just look at nature. Constantly recycling life from leaves to worms to raindrops.

It’s perfect in its imperfection. Because a perfect world would have no pain, would it? And yet pain is part of it.

My greatest asset is the pain I have navigated in life. That pain allows me compassion for the pain of others. To try to spiritually bypass suffering is possibly missing the entire point of being on a spiritual path.

Using our emotional suffering can be an in to developing compassion. The Buddhist practice of tonglen, in its most simplified form, is to allow ourselves to mentally connect with all sentient beings that suffer in the same way we do. And then radiating loving kindness to all suffering beings, by definition, including ourselves.

Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognise our shared humanity. Pema Chodron

I suppose the point should be made, that in all this talk of letting my emotions flow, I don’t mean venting them at someone else’s expense. I have been accused of being insincere at times because I will hold back expressing the full force of my emotions. I will exercise restraint and wait until the storm clears before communicating. Otherwise, well, it’s not pretty. Obviously at work I deal with all kinds of people who have all kinds of emotional effects on me. But I have to keep that in check, that’s just being professional.

So when I talk of expression and release of emotions, I am referring to finding appropriate ways to do that, in the right environment. Releasing emotion at the expense of another person is more akin to abuse than healthy release.

After 17 years in recovery groups, I’ve heard a lot of platitudes. Some still irritate me, but others despite their somewhat cloying tone, are helpful. One such platitude is to ‘act better than you feel.’ I like this because if doesn’t discount my emotions, it just reminds me to check myself before acting on them.

Is this insincere? Yes and no. It’s perhaps inauthentic, in the sense of complete self-expression, but who does that? Who doesn’t filter their behaviour in some circumstances? Imagine the chaos if we all just acted how we felt all the time. “Sorry, I just can’t parent/work/show up today because I’m having a feeling.” Or just venting on the people around us all the time, imagine if we told our partners the depths of our feelings towards them at all times, or our mothers? That’s not helpful authenticity, that’s just careless self-absorption.

This is where the work of Russ Harris, author of the Happiness Trap, amongst others, comes in handy. Authenticity can be expressed at an emotional level sure, but is that really going to benefit us and the people around us? Most likely not.

Authenticity at the level of our values, and the behaviours associated with our values however, can be of benefit. When I know what my values are, and identify how to act them out in my life, say loving kindness and respect for others, I may not be able to unleash the true nature of my feelings at all times, I may have to take some time out to process and calm down before I can respectfully communicate with another person, but that’s not inauthentic, it’s just putting my value systems ahead of uncontained self-expression.

Do I manage this all the time? Hell, no! Have I told you how emotional I am?

No. I try. And often where I fail is with the people that matter most. I can be restrained at work, but at home, with those relationships closest to my heart, that’s where it gets harder. But I try, I practice. I meditate and try to own my stuff as best I can. Progress not perfection. Yes, another cloying platitude.

I think this balance between awareness of our authentic self and our connectness to others, to all of life, is the basis of all spiritual practice. 

You used to think that it was so easy, but you’re trying, you’re trying now. Gerry Rafferty 

The point, is I think, that if we can mindfully experience our own emotions, and find healthy forms of expression, like dance or creativity or a good brisk walk, then we have a better chance of first, developing self awareness and second not venting unto others. We can also begin to see how these passionate emotional charges can be channeled for creativity and self-expression in constructive rather than destructive ways.

Which is why I’ve discovered, and I don’t think I’m alone here, that I need clear boundaries in relationships. Like my river banks, boundaries allow me to flow easily, to see where I need to go, otherwise I just disperse my energies everywhere and dry out.

And in my own life, this is what I’m pouring my energy into. It’s contained, but flowing.

And then every now and again we can allow ourselves the leeway to not be perfect and to have ourselves explode all over the place with emotion and hope the people around us love us enough to forgive.

For whatever we lose (like a you or a me), It’s always our self we find in the sea. e e Cummings

As I reflect on my affinity with water, I remember the day I found my soul song as I waded in rock pools near the thrashing ocean. I was distraught with emotion, with the wretched, wrenching pain of lost love. I hummed a song that resonated in my mind at that time, and somewhere between that melody and the ocean’s roar and hiss, my soul song came. It is a sad song, the wail of a siren calling for redemption, but it has great power. It reminds me that my own strength and power has come from sadness too.

The danger for water is stagnation. Is becoming so contained as to be stuck without its essential life force which is flux and flow. I see that in my own life. Disheartened in love, deflated in my dreams for my life, I have been merely going through the daily motions of life.

I sleep a lot, my dreams being an escape or release from my stuckness.

It’s taken me months to write this post. I have allowed time to flow and I know feels like it’s time to get some momentum going again. I am stagnating. I realise that any change right now would be beneficial. I find a simple change to my routine, early rising meditation, regular exercise, very basic things can get me moving and flowing again.

I need movement, when I allow my body to sit or rest too much, I lose all momentum. The time for resting and recuperating is over, it’s time to get moving again, to move those waters and let them flow on.

The undiscovered vein within us is a living part of the psyche; classical Chinese philosophy names this interior way “Tao,” and likens it to a flow of water that moves irresistibly towards its goal. To rest in Tao means fulfilment, wholeness, one’s destination reached, one’s mission done; the beginning, end, and perfect realisation of the meaning of existence innate in all things. C.G. Jung

This post is long, I know, if you made it this far you’ve done well. I thought about editing it down, but the whole point was the process of emotional flow and it’s taken me three months to go through this process. At the beginning I felt flooded with emotion. Then, as those storms subsided and I sat with the feelings, I eventually became stagnant and stuck, through moving, both physically and energetically, the flow has begun again.

What I have learned is that I can’t force or fast-track this process, trying to control it only adds to the pressure. The best I can do is make peace with wherever I find myself, to understand that great things come from sadness and grief, these are our shadow times when we get to dig deep and tap into unknown reservoirs of strength and power. 

And then to be grateful, ever so thankful, when I get to rise up out of the depths and sun begins to shine again.

And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person you walked in. Haruki Murakami

  

Blessings!

Art by Katherine Skaggs katherineskaggs.com

What is love anyway?

ray_final

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight For the ends of being and ideal grace. I love thee to the level of every day’s Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light. Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Finding myself bemused by my New Year intentions, that one repeated word intrigues me. Love. What does that even mean?

These are my intentions, by the way. I can’t even remember them, so I certainly don’t expect you to!

Love myself, Love the natural world, Love animals, Love people, Love my work, Love my space, Love my spirit

I don’t know if it’s the Valentine’s Day hangover, but that amount of love is making me feel a little nauseous.

Love is a word so overloaded with meaning, both societal and personal. Poems and songs are written about its lofty heights. It’s the word used to describe both our most precious relationships and how we feel about a good cup of coffee or a new dress.

What did I really mean when I wrote these intentions to love so widely and completely?

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you simply, without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I do not know any other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you, so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand, so intimate that when I fall asleep your eyes close. Pablo Neruda

To love myself or love nature, is that the same kind of love? Does it need to be? Could these intentions be an exercise in stretching my ‘love muscles’ – and you can get your mind out of the gutter, right now. There’s more than one kind of love, y’know.

1082136050

There are so many different kinds of love. Love can mean like, adore, adulate, care for, worship, cherish, yearn for, hold dear, pine for, enjoy, like, delight in, savour, fancy, admire… you get the idea. Other languages and cultures are much more nuanced in their expression of love – with words for which you need a whole sentence in English.

Saudade (Pronunciation: saw•’day•djee – Portugese) n., a strong feeling of missing someone you love.

In his wonderful article on the subject, philosopher Roman Krznaric, writes that the Greek language distinguishes at least six different ways as to how the word love is used.

The ancient Greeks were just as sophisticated in the way they talked about love, recognizing six different varieties. They would have been shocked by our crudeness in using a single word both to whisper “l love you” over a candlelit meal and to casually sign an email “lots of love.” Roman Krznaric

The first kind of love was eros, named after the Greek god of fertility, and it represented the idea of sexual passion and desire. Something the Greeks saw as a frightening loss of control, not the desirable state of constant arousal our modern society views it as.

Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. Neil Gaiman

eads-And-At-The-End-Was-The-Beginning-2

The second variety of love was philia or friendship, which was valued more highly by the Greeks than the sexuality of eros. Philia describes the deep friendship that developed between men who had fought side by side on the battlefield – it epitomised loyalty, sacrifice and the sharing of deeply affecting experiences.

We’d never know how high we are ’till we are called to rise; and then, if we are true to plan, our statures touch the sky. Emily Dickinson

Ludis was the Greeks’ idea of playful love, such as the affection between children or young lovers. Think of flirting, teasing, bantering and light-hearted fun.

The fourth love was agape or selfless love. This was a love that you extended to all people – compassion, charity and an empathy for all people (and all living things).

Pragma was the deep understanding between long-married couples, who demonstrate compromise, patience and tolerance.

It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages. Friedrich Nietzsche

The Greek’s sixth variety of love was philautia or self-love, of which there were two kinds. One was a narcissistic self-love, where you became self-obsessed and focused on selfish ends. The second type was the idea that if you have a healthy self-love, you will have plenty of love to give others.

Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them. Leo Tolstoy

eads-And-At-The-End-Was-The-Beginning-1

Krznaric suggests there is a correlation between the lack of attention given to these non-sexual, non-romantic forms of love and the modern obsession with romantic love, and with finding ‘the one’. The Greeks clearly articulated that expecting one person to fulfil all our love needs was completely unrealistic.

So it makes sense that there are different kinds of love, and perhaps we are designed to experience them all. Like getting all our nutrients, perhaps this longing for the ‘one’ is a manifestation of unfulfilled love in other parts of our life. Too much focus on the meat and not enough vegetables. (Okay, that pun was intended.)

On a recent shamanic journey, I was shown another aspect of love, receiving. One of my regular animal guides, the wolf, took me on a journey that showed me how resistant I am to the love and support all around me.

Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love. Rainer Maria Rilke

row_3

As the western world celebrates – or commiserates – Valentine’s Day, I wondered why we laud the romantic love above all else?

Feeling triggered by the ebbs and flows of my own heartbreak, I found the constant emphasis on that kind of love demoralising. A guy from an online dating site asked me ‘what had reduced such a beautiful, intelligent woman to this?’ I found that strange. I didn’t feel reduced. I wanted to meet single men, it seemed like the place to do it, was I missing something?

Adversity is like a strong wind. It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are. Arthur Golden

And then, after some last minute cancellations, I found myself waiting for the last remaining Chakradance attendee who was a no show. Abandoned on Valentine’s Day. Uh oh.

eads-Magic-Runs-Thicker

Then tears came. I wish they didn’t. I wish I could write that I’m all strong and warrior-like, but I’m not.

As I sat in my beautiful studio, feeling alone and abandoned. Opening my eyes a sliver of light from the red candle flame was kaleidoscoped by my tears. So unexpectedly beautiful – the outlines of angels and holographic tribal images. I began to play with my tear-filled eyes. It’s a fine line between pleasure and pain…

Love is so short, forgetting is so long. Pablo Neruda

Unable to reconcile the Valentine red hearts, roses, and chocolate idea of love; the light and sparkly new age all-embracing love; and the love that has left me so bereft,  it occurred to me that love is so much deeper than the use of word suggests. The love of mother at her child’s sick bed. Of a husband as he holds his dying wife’s hand…

Love is a risk. The risk of the loss of that which we love. Love walks the razor’s edge between unconditional love and devastating, debilitating attachment.

What is to give light must endure burning. Viktor Frankl

blakcmagic

Love is an act of courage. The courage to remain open after the heaviness and shards of hurt rain down on us. In the birth/death/rebirth cycle, grief is an inevitable part of love.

Grief reunites you with what you’ve lost. It’s a merging; you go with the loved thing or person that’s going away. You follow it a far as you can go. But finally, the grief goes away and you phase back into the world. Without him. Philip K Dick

Martin Prechtel is the author of Secrets of the Talking Jaguar, an autobiographical account of his initiation as a Mayan Shaman. His lecture series on Grief and Praise is a simple yet profound insight into the false distinction between love and loss, positive and negative emotions.

It is an interesting reflection on our modern desire to both suppress grief, whilst simultaneously expressing it in unhealthy and unhealing ways, on Jerry Springer, Facebook, from a bar stool. Most of us lack the real community which would hold us as we safely grieve.

It’s so curious: one can resist tears and ‘behave’ very well in the hardest hours of grief. But then someone makes you a friendly sign behind a window, or one notices that a flower that was in bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed, or a letter slips from a drawer… and everything collapses. Colette

Prechtel talks about grief and praise as part of the same continuum, as a yin/yang process where one always contains the other – it must or it is devoid of any real depth. Love and praise are only of substance if there is a connection involved where the loss would be felt deeply.

I love my cup of coffee but if I spill it, I’ll be upset for a moment and annoyed, but there’ll be no real grief. My dog on the other hand… The same goes for grief. We only grieve that which we have deeply loved. If there is no grief, there was no real love.

The darker the night, the brighter the stars,
The deeper the grief, the closer is God! Fyodor Dostoyevsky

tumblr_mv1x0rXJZD1qzi5wbo2_1280

Perhaps this kind of community, Pretchel speaks of, where people can bear witness to our pain and our joys is something we have to create in the modern world, we don’t live in extended families and tribes, and if we break down in the street we are more likely to be carted off to the psych ward than given a cup of tea and a friendly shoulder to cry on.

Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break. William Shakespeare

In a society where it is not safe to grieve, we abandon ourselves before anyone can abandon us, and withhold emotions because we fear it is unsafe. This repression and denial of grief manifests as all kinds of psychosis and physical symptoms, passed down as psychic wounds from generation to generation. These tribal and ancestral wounds are energetically lodged in our base chakra and can make us feel unsafe and insecure.

You won’t find these wounds on an x-ray or ultrasound, yet they will emerge from within when it is safe, if the timing is right, and you have the tools to process and honour them, if you give them the words they need to take flight, you can finally grieve them.

Each of us has his own rhythm of suffering. Roland Barthes

james-R-eads-jearaf-9

I was fifteen the first time tried to take my own life. That wasn’t the last time. That medicine cabinet still stands in my mother’s bathroom. Whenever I see it, I can still feel the ache of that girl.

As she emptied the pills in her hand. Her tears as she swallowed them, really thinking it was the end. Of what she thought she would find there. Relief, escape from the burden of an open heart.

Instead of a white cadillac to the clouds, I vomited until I bled, and there were tearful confessions, remonstrations, and resolutions.

It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure. Joseph Campbell

I don’t know what makes someone that thin-skinned. I don’t know why things never bounced off my skin the way the did off other people’s. Why the stings and arrows all got wedged in my heart.

This has been my journey. Being born with an over-full, ever-open heart. Experiencing shame at a too young age. Learning that people would stop loving me if I wasn’t good enough.

Someday you’re gonna look back on this moment of your life as such a sweet time of grieving. You’ll see that you were in mourning and your heart was broken, but your life was changing. Elizabeth Gilbert

Open heart. Broken ever wider. Yet when I journey there I see a beautiful garden growing in the ruins.

Maybe it’s okay to be alone in my garden. It’s beautiful. It lives. I am grateful.

So it’s true, when all is said and done, grief is the price we pay for love. E.A. Bucchianeri

I am grateful for my body
I am grateful for my heart
I am grateful for my spirit

Bless!

Images: http://www.jamesreads.com/

Let it be

mary

Life is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be experienced. Joseph Campbell

It’s always fascinating for me to sit and ponder the many – seemingly diverse – thoughts, insights, experiences and conversations I have had across the week, only to find a lovely synchronicity emerging when I sit down to write.

Last week I spoke of my realisation that I tend to be very grasping in my approach to spirituality – amongst other things, well, everything really.

This week I have seen an impatience, alongside this tenacity, I want it all and I want it now. Move over Veruca Salt…

To experience a synchronistic event is to necessarily be changed at our core. Paul Levy

My friend came over on Saturday night, we are both studying druidry and we had a lovely meditation ritual together. After a robust discussion of all aspects of life, the universe and everything, he said something that resonated with me.

Interestingly I know he has said this to me before, but I never really got it until he said it that night.

He talked about how easy it is to misconstrue spirituality and emotionality. Emotionality is all about feel-goods. Don’t feel good? White-light that sucker, affirm it away, have an exorcism…

I mean I’m being silly to demonstrate a point, but there is certainly an element of this thinking in many New Age practices. Only love and light are acceptable, all other experience must be ‘cleansed’ away.

4711812117_4ce154b6aa_b

True spirituality, he argued, makes no value distinction between light/dark, good/bad feelings. All experience is honoured, all aspects of life are a reflection of the nature of existence and it is the value judgements on these aspects as good/bad, light/dark, and the ego-based reactions to these judgements that are the issue, not the experience itself.

I haven’t done justice to his words, but hopefully you get the gist.

Life is cyclical, death/rebirth, growth/decay, day/night, summer/winter – all cycle round in their perfect balance and order.

No tree, it is said, can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell. C. G. Jung

I was listening to a spiritual podcast last night, the host is lovely and very earnest and interviews some really interesting people. Last night it was Anita Moorjani who has an amazing story of spontaneous healing after a near-death experience.

The energy produced by the interview and the callers asking questions was palpable. Both the interviewer and interviewee were in tears by the end.

I felt very moved and then I thought “Aha! Emotion!”

Synchronicities by their very nature demand our active participation, as they are not something we can just passively watch and remain unaffected by. Paul Levy

So I think while an emotional reaction to hearing a story or watching a powerful ocean break waves on the shore, or standing in a sunny verdant glade at dawn, can be an ‘in’ to connecting with spirit, it can’t be the be all and end all.

After this initial ‘in’, to the heart, there must be some substance. And this substance for me, comes from a practice. In the same way a romantic relationship starts on emotion, but needs to develop into something more substantial than feelings for it to last.

And I am the first to admit I am a real sucker for the emotion-bursting experience. Yet I also see that if that is the sum total of my spiritual practice, well, it’s pretty meaningless.

Synchronicity’s inherent revelatory nature is ultimately offering us the realization that we are playing an active, participatory and hence, co-creative role in the unfoldment of the universe. Paul Levy

8674366599_5ed4da540b_b

As such I am in training to be a druid. I know, I know, it brings up old images of Doctor Who and hooded cults at Stonehenge, but when I read more about it, it is actually a beautiful nature-venerating practice, that honours all the things I believe in.

 It is also the practice of my ancestors the Celts, and it has strong shamanic influences. It venerates music and storytelling, and nature worship, as key spiritual practices. It’s so me, it’s not funny.

Actually it is kind of funny. It makes me laugh. I’ve been searching my whole life for something, and it’s been here for thousands of years.

Druidry honours music and creativity very highly, so it fits in beautifully with my Chakradance practice.

One of the many beautiful aspects of Chakradance, is the influence of Jung’s archetypes on the imagery for the chakras. As such there is a focus on both light and shadow, which has made the practice incredibly powerful for me.

Honestly, as someone who after experiencing life as my own private hell, swung the pendulum way too far the other way and tried oh so hard to be oh so good for way to long. All this achieves, as my friend so eloquently reminded me is a larger shadow to deal with when it inevitably pops up. Which it will. It’s like Neo trying to fight Mr Smith in the matrix.

So any spirituality worth it’s salt will acknowledge and honour the shadow. Yin and Yang, night and day, light and shadow – where would we be without both? It’s like trying to paint with only bright colours, or listen to a piece of music with only the white notes.

Whenever I dance the throat chakra, I see images in my mind’s eye of women wearing blue robes. Sometimes they seem ancient Grecian or Roman, sometimes they are timeless, this week I saw only one woman, intend of three and I intuitively felt that she was the Mother Mary.

Being unmediated manifestations of the dreamlike nature of reality, we can interpret synchronicities just like we would interpret a dream. Paul Levy

5492315360_b61cd638d8_z

Now for those of you who have not done much visualising it can be hard to describe what happens. Also it’s different for different people. Some people are all visual, others have other sensory input. I have some visuals, not very strong, almost like the reflection of light through a stained glass window, they are getting clearer with practice. My strongest sense is clair-sentience, it comes as an insight supported by a strong gut feeling.

So in this dance where I saw the Mother Mary, I visually saw the image and then I sensed that it was an image of the Mother Mary. So here’s where it can get tricky. This to me is an archetype, so what I’m experiencing is an image that the collective unconscious, as interpreted by my consciousness, associated with certain ideas.

Archetypes are the image-making factor in the psyche, informing and giving shape to the images in our mind and the dreams of our soul, and as such, they insist on being approached imaginatively. Paul Levy

Obviously Mother Mary is holy, revered, devoted, sacred, a loving mother and a universal image of compassion and truth. Also, in the last few weeks I find myself listening to the Beatles album Let it Be, and the title song with the soothing words of Mother Mary resonated deeply in me.

When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom ‘Let it Be’. The Beatles

Don’t force just let it be.

It is easy to think that synchronicity equates with simultaneously but it doesn’t always. Often what Jung talked about was that time spent considering a certain insight where suddenly it seemed that every conversation, every image, every occurrence has some relevance and meaning to this idea.

To quote Jung, “Synchronicity is no more baffling or mysterious than the discontinuities of physics.” It is the place where causality and non-causality overlap and become somewhat murky. It is only our ingrained beliefs in the nature of causality that creates ‘intellectual difficulties’ and makes it appear unthinkable that such events could exist and simultaneously be meaningful. “But if they do, then we must regard them as creative acts, as the continuous creation of a pattern that exists from all eternity, repeats itself sporadically, and is not derivable from any known antecedents.”

Continuous creation is to be thought of not only as a series of successive acts of creation, but also as the eternal presence of the one creative act. C G Jung

4711812117_4ce154b6aa_b

This has been my experience in writing this blog. My focus on intention, my open and curious mindfulness to nature and the world around me, has created a perfect petri dish for synchronicity to flourish.

I will often have a few concepts floating around my mind and then these concepts will play out in the world, in my relationships, my interactions through art and reading, and of course, my Chakradance.

This week I had a conundrum. I am planning to run 9 week cycles of Chakradance next year. Saturdays really suit people but I work alternate Saturdays at my day job. At that rate the 9 week cycle was going to take about six months. It also clashed with me going to Bali in May for shamanic training.

I realised I couldn’t find a solution, so I waited for inspiration.

It came pretty quickly in the form of some discussion on the Chakradance facilitators forum on Facebook. A wonderful virtual community of teachers where people ask really helpful question and the group shares their experience. So one facilitator asks about the way people structure their courses and another responded that she run the cycle over 6 weeks, doing two chakras a week.

Now this is not earth shattering, I know. But it seems to be how things work, if I let them. I had an intention and it wasn’t working, I paused for reflection and guidance, and then the solution appeared.

Sometimes the wait is longer and these synchronous events occur slowly over time.

At the moment I am feeling a bit pressured, there’s lots happening in my life, and other areas of my life where I would like lots to be happening have slowed or stopped. The archetype of the blue ladies reminds me of peaceful silence, reverence, patience, temperance, compassion and trust.

And I see that sky blue of the throat chakra everywhere. It causes me to pause and reflect on these messages from my unconscious.

With a personality like mine, the complete opposite of the above, it’s no wonder they have to keep coming back, again and again!

Affirmations:

I acknowledge a world beyond my senses, a truth beyond my intellect, a wisdom beyond logic, a power beyond my limits, a serene design, despite any distressing display.

I open myself to every transformation that is ready to happen in and through me.

I understand that both negative and positive events can be synchronicity, and both are here to serve me.

I trust that the universe will allow what needs to come to me, when it needs to come to me

Even if I am changing and I cannot yet see the reality changing to match me, I know that everything is different, and will be, because I am different.

You can’t force synchronicity. It seems to only occur in the optimal conditions. It is only by allowing and trusting in the unfolding of life, the mindful attention to each moment and the open awareness and teachability to notice the symbols as they emerge, only then can it happen.

Bless!

Images by Stephen B Whatley 

Further reading:

Catching the Bug of Synchronicity by Paul levy

Ocean sized

il_570xN.608946460_q7gm

Wish I was ocean size
They cannot move you
No one tries
No one pulls you
Out from your hole
Like a tooth aching in a jawbone… Jane’s Addiction

Last week I was a Chakradancing shaman-priestess of the Goddess. This week I am a librarian huddled in the Romance section of the library in the midst of a nervous breakdown. Why? Heartbreak, disappointment. You know, the usual suspects.

I thought, nay, I was dead-sure, that I was training in shamanic ways in Bali in February. It was all a happening thang until work said ‘no’ to me taking leave at that time. And then, I just lost the plot. I mean emotionally, I didn’t go postal and shoot up the library or anything. My rage is within.

As such, I really haven’t wanted to publish a post until I ‘felt better.’ I’ve been procrastinating, not wanting to write what I was feeling. I was in such a positive frame of mind last week. This week, not so much.

Feeling that I’d be contradicting my “I’m not broken” statement by, well, having a breakdown, I just wanted to hide away and not write anything.

But then the clouds cleared enough for me to realise that being unbroken is not the same as being unaffected by life. Of course disappointment and heartbreak will affect me deeply. Of course I feel devastated when things I have proclaimed to love and want don’t come to fruition for me.

That’s not broken, that’s the opposite of broken. That’s real.

It ain’t easy living…
I want to be
As deep
As the ocean
Mother ocean. Jane’s Addiction

So I realised this week that I have some odd ideas about how I ‘should’ be – and how I ‘should’ react to things. Just because a relationship isn’t working doesn’t mean I’m not devastated when it ends. People, many people, told me when my marriage ended that I was “better off without him.” And perhaps I was, didn’t mean it wasn’t the most painful experience of my life.

People also tend to say “it’s not meant to be” when we miss out on opportunities that we have set our hearts on. It may be true, but it doesn’t diminish the sharp stab of disappointment.

I was made with a heart of stone
To be broken
With one hard blow
I’ve seen the ocean
Break on the shore
Come together with no harm done… Jane’s Addiction

il_570xN.492804725_42yu

And if, like most people, you’ve weathered your fair share of loss, grief, and disappointment in your life, that latest hurt is inevitably going to feel like one more cut, along with the other thousand you are in the process of healing from.

So after beating myself up for crying at work, crying in the shower, crying in the car, listening to Adele very loudly, and crying some more, I finally gave myself a break.

Don’t be ashamed to weep; ’tis right to grieve. Tears are only water, and flowers, trees, and fruit cannot grow without water. But there must be sunlight also. A wounded heart will heal in time, and when it does, the memory and love of our lost ones is sealed inside to comfort us. Brian Jacques

And I thought, so what if you’re overreacting? So what if it’s not meant to be? So what if it’s not the right time for you to study shamanism in Bali with a man you love dearly? So what if there’s plenty of fish in the sea?

It hurts. It really hurts. So pump up Adele and sing along as loud and with as much tears and snot as you need to get through this and honour your feelings.

And what I found when I surrendered to the feelings of loss, sadness, disappointment, rage and grief was that they were like waves. They’d come in and ‘whoah!’ Whoosh off I’d go. It would feel intense, overwhelming, literally like I was dying of pain. And then. It would subside.

It reminded me of my dear friend, G. I reached out to her in solidarity in the late stages of my pregnancy. I knew her, but not very well. But I had no friends who had had babies and I was scared. She had traversed that magical, mystical rite of passage into motherhood with such grace.

When I asked her what labour was like, I think I said. “Is it painful?” And she laughed. She said. “It helped me to see that it came in waves. So I’d ride the wave and it would get really intense and then it would break and the next wave would build.” That made the pain manageable.

I am the wind which breathes upon the sea, I am the wave of the ocean. Amergin

il_570xN.492752164_7sm7

I’ve used that analogy a lot since then. We also rang each other everyday during our divorces. On any given day, one of us would be an absolute cot-case and the other would be doing a bit better. That’s why friendship works, don’t you know, because we are not all crazy on the same day!

We were like wounded soldiers leaning against each other for support, staggering away from the battlefield. Sometimes we’d miss each other’s calls and just a simple text “the storm has passed” to let the other know we were okay.

I find it fascinating, these analogies of storms and waves. Jung believed water, particularly the I ocean was an archetype for the subconscious.

Nature is the only place I feel sane this week. I’m practicing being in nature with all my senses. Closing my eyes. Hearing the sounds. Feeling the breeze. Smelling the earth. Tasting the air.

I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.” Sylvia Plath

Sensing removes me from thinking and brings my focus into the present moment. It’s also incredibly lovely. We miss so much when we are stuck in our heads, thinking, ruminating.

Nature is ever expansive. When we observe the horizon and the vastness beyond, when we listen to the sounds the go on infinitely beyond the audible. When the smell of flowers and leaves and salt-sea air fills our noses and mouths with scent and tastes that stir the deepest most ancient recesses within us. Everything expands. Our vision, our senses and our spirit.

In nature, our spirit pulses and resonates to this throb and thrum of life. The mental chatter becomes just a small part of a greater cacophony. Thoughts drift away. Emotions are soothed. Our bodies calm down into the steady, strong heartbeat of the earth.

The hard thing, I think. Is trying to decide what to do when my head starts hurting, and my emotions rage out of control. Take this Bali trip, for example. I was so sure it was ‘meant to be’.

There are many tangled threads of want, need and desire. I want to do shamanic training, Bali is the closest place to do the training I want to do. I’ve been wanting to go to Bali for years. I haven’t been away without children for 15 years. My ex has been to Asia at least 10 times in the last 5 years. The most recent time was for his honeymoon a few weeks ago.

My ex getting married rocked me more than I had anticipated. It was not the usual kind of jealousy – I don’t want to be with him. It was just the reminder that in the five and a half years we have been separated he has travelled extensively, bought a house, and gotten married. And I, well I haven’t.

Should you shield the canyons from the windstorms you would never see the true beauty of their carvings. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

il_570xN.546484178_94t0

My love was going to Bali with me. So it seemed like such a golden thing. Shamanism, love and Bali sunsets. So when work said no to leave, I was gutted. All these different disappointments came into play simultaneously.

I kind of lost the plot. I needed to cry and all I could do was crouch at the back of the library pretending to shelve the romance novels. And cry. Yep. Pretty pathetic.

I mean I thought, to myself, ‘you could quit your job.’ I really thought about it. I mean if this was my destiny, that would be the right thing to do. But I have a child. Taking those kind if risks seemed crazy. And what if it wasn’t my destiny? What if it was just my wilfulness?

There are no easy answers. My friend also says God’s will should be effortless. Meaning it should unfold without angst. Do I believe that? I used to. I’m not sure what I believe anymore.

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on. Mary Oliver

So I didn’t get what I wanted. Instead I’m trying to get to a different shamanism course. I applied for a great role at work, and went to an interview. Because life goes on. It just does, so I may as well too.

And I’m teaching Chakradance! It is the most wonderful, nurturing experience. I really feel like I am a shaman when I lead a class.

Last night in the third eye Chakradance, where we dance our dreams into reality, I saw myself in a – fabulous feather outfit, complete with head-piece – leading a huge group of people in a dance journey, standing on a lush green hill. And I just couldn’t stop smiling. It’s okay. It’s all okay. It’s going to be okay.

il_570xN.492752164_7sm7

Just now I received an email from the Shamanic teacher. He lives in Bali, he does courses there year-round.  ‘It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay.’ Whispers the universe.

So why do I create such big waves in my life? Why can’t I just be calm? Why can’t the ocean be calm all the time? Because things need to be churned up sometimes, a good shake up allows the detritus to rise to the surface and be dumped on the shore. It’s part of the cycle.

Divinity is in it’s omniscience and omnipotence like a wheel, a circle, a whole, that can neither be understood, nor divided, nor begun nor ended. Hildegard of Bingen

It reminds me of that scene in the movie Parenthood. Steve Martin’s character has just discovered – after losing his job – that his wife is pregnant with their fourth child. He’s sitting at his kid’s school concert, which goes haywire, and he begins to feel as if he’s on a roller coaster. At first he’s panicked, but then he remembers his grandma saying “Life is like a roller coaster, just hang on and enjoy the ride.”

Surfing the waves is like being on a roller coaster, it’s out of control and terrifying but simultaneously exhilarating. A calm ocean is peaceful, but there’s no movement.

In this way, experiencing emotional suffering can be a healing opportunity. Events can trigger an emotional response, say sadness, anger and grief, these emotions may be stored in our subtle body, our energy meridians and even our physical body, and as they are stirred up by this fresh experience we can release them.

So re-feeling of the old pain of our lives is a vital opportunity to address old patterns, thinking and emotions and to let them go.

To do this we must honour the feelings, we must let go of judgement and criticism. For me this means not berating myself for being over-emotional, over-sensitive, and over-reactive.

The reality is I grew up in a home where expressing emotions was discouraged, then I spent the next twenty years suppressing my emotions in various ways, of course I have a surplus of emotion ‘stored’ in my system. I’m I the process of a massive emotional detox. The truth is, in our culture, if you have embarked on a spiritual path, most of us are.

sunny day laguna beach

Our culture doesn’t support emotional expression very well. We don’t have appropriate rituals and support for trauma. In traditional shamanic cultures, if someone suffered a loss or trauma, after three days the whole community would gather and the shaman would perform a healing and soul retrieval.

Can you imagine? Every car accident, assault, medical procedure, break-up, loss, grief, trauma you have suffered in your life, being acknowledged and healed at that time, so your body didn’t have to bear the accumulation of this pain.

But that’s okay. I don’t live in a shamanic culture, that doesn’t mean I can’t use their wisdom and practice to heal and release these emotional wounds.

As such I have been journeying this week, going into a state of non-ordinary reality to seek guidance on how best to work through the things that are coming up for me.

Gentle nurturing support is what I received. Guidance to take baths and ground myself in nature. The body and spirit will process this, given time and the space to do so. By honouring the work of my soul, by listening to what emerges for me in my life, I get to release off baggage and clear space for my true spirit to emerge.

This is what Frank MacEowen, in his book The Celtic Way of Seeing, calls “the conscious process of soul refinement.”

Affirmations about nature from bmindful.com and healingwithcrystals.net.au:

My spirit is nourished by spending time in nature
I am blessed to have the richness of nature around me.
When I commune with nature, my own blessed spirit is renewed.
Today I will spend time alone in nature.
I live naturally in all ways.
I live in harmony with all that is around me.
I am completely refreshed after communing with nature.
I accept, release, and allow space for the exchange of energy.
Natural diversity inspires wonder and awe in me.

Nature is always in flux. Waves crash on the shore. Leaves fall from trees. Nature always letting go and coming together anew. Let go. Rides the waves. It’s okay.

The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful. e.e. cummings

Bless!

 

Art by Robin Mead Designs

Reflections on water

exposeme3

Throw your pain in the river
Leave your pain in the river
To be washed away slow. P J Harvey

After work I walked down by the river. Walking by water has assumed a mythical symbolism for me. Some of my most spiritual memories – times when I felt that surge of connectness and knowing my place in the world – have come walking beside a river.

May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children. Rainer Maria Rilke

At times when I have felt most lost in life, the river has imbued me with a sense of life force. As a teenager wagging school taking refuge by the Yarra River. In Ireland, feeling lonely walking by the River Shannon. Walking by the Thames, feeling the weight of human history that has sailed that river.

Fresh out of rehab, riding a bike beside the Mississippi River in Minnesota, suddenly all the colour returned to my world. My vision changed from sepia-toned to vivid hues of blue and green, and yellow and brown. My heart bursting with life force after years of chemical anaesthesia.

For whatever we lose (like a you or a me),
It’s always our self we find in the sea. E.E. Cummings

So I was reflecting on water. Is it just me, or does everyone find water incredibly inspiring and soothing? I don’t think it’s just me. We are more than half water, it makes sense that at some level our beings just resonate to it, long to be near to it. Submerged in it.

Rivers have always reminded me of the magic of life. Sandra Ingerman

Ever since the earliest of recorded times, people around the world have been drawn to the therapeutic qualities of water to cleanse, heal, and relax the body. Water is crucial to life – humans, animals, and plants dry up and die when they do not have water.

Water is considered a purifier in most religions. In the Buddhist tradition, water symbolises serenity, purity, and clarity of thought.

The Ancient Greek philosopher Empedocles believed that water is one of the four classical elements along with fire, earth, and air, and regarded it as the ‘ylem’, or basic substance of the universe.

Our first relationship was with water. Sandra Ingerman

Nurtured in the watery world of the womb, it is easy to surrender to the subtle healing powers of water.

As Sandra Ingerman explains in her book, Medicine for the Earth, most of us receive comfort from water – who hasn’t been hypnotised by the rhythmic sounds of the ocean, or soothed by watching a river flow by? “Water stimulates the body’s natural ability to relax, and the only way a body can begin to heal is when it is in a relaxed state.”

feet effects

Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Margaret Atwood

The sound of water – waterfalls, babbling brooks, or ocean waves, soothes the binaural rhythms of the body.

Last weekend I went swimming in the ocean. The water was so cold that I splashed and shrieked and groaned and swore, and in making these spontaneous sounds felt a huge emotional release. It was so cold my whole body throbbed and tingled, making me feel invigorated and fully alive – every cell in my being singing out.

I swam around the cliff to a hidden cave I know of. I sat there and meditated for a while, supported by mother earth in the rock cavern, soothed by the sound of the water, and the blue of the sky.

I wish I had a river so long,
I would teach my feet to fly.
Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on. Joni Mitchell

Water plays an important role in many legends and myths. There are stories of mythological water beings and gods, stories of heroes that feature water in some way, and even stories of isles and continents forever lost, submerged in water.

Water deities were especially sacred to the Celts as they were believed to control the essence of life itself. To the ancients, the movement and life-giving power of oceans, springs, rivers, and lakes represented the supernatural powers of the deities who lived within, and as such offerings to appease these deities were commonplace.

The Celts regarded rivers as bestowers of life, health, and plenty, and offered them rich gifts and sacrifices. J. A. MacCulloch

warrpath

Water is the most primal of all archetypes. Across all cultures, water is seen as the element that drives creation.

Water is the commonest symbol for the unconscious. The lake in the valley is the unconscious, which lies, as it were, underneath consciousness, so that it is often referred to as the ‘subconscious.’ Carl Jung

Jung believed the archetypal nature of water was a reflection of the emotions and the unconscious. Water represents the often unknowable depths of our inner life. It can both sustain life and be a threat to it when it rages out of control.

A lake carries you into recesses of feeling otherwise impenetrable. William Wordsworth

Like the duality of water itself, water gods and spirits could be benevolent or malevolent. Lakes and springs were often ruled over by gods of warmth and healing. Rivers, wells, and streams were often ruled by goddesses. Over time, the darker aspects of those deities became more prominent.

Morgan Le Fey, Nematona, and Nimue, are water deities associated with the legends of King Arthur and the Holy Grail. The Lady of the Lake is a powerful deity of life, death, and regeneration who appears across British and Northern European folklore. She is the guardian and holder of the sacred sword Excalibur, which she gives to Arthur, and takes back at the end of the Arthurian and grail stories.

Her story exaggerates the archetypal aspects of the feminine: life-giver, nurturer, seductress, lover, manipulator, and destroyer. She represents the feminine nature of water – its fluidity, sensuousness, and seductive nature.

Moon river, wider than a mile
I’m crossing you in style some day
Oh, dream maker, you heart breaker
Wherever you’re going, I’m going your way. Andy Hamilton

The Norse God Odin gained his great wisdom from a fountain known as Mimir’s Spring, ‘the fountain of all wit and wisdom’. Odin asked the old man who guarded it to let him have a drink. But Mimir, who well knew the value of the request (for his spring was considered the source of all wisdom and memory), refused unless Odin would consent to give one of his eyes in exchange. Which he did.

In “Brother and Sister,” a Grimms’ fairytale, a witch curses the streams of the forest so that anyone drinking from them will change into an animal –  with the aim of cursing her two stepchildren. The spring itself warns the children of the danger, so that they can avoid drinking from the cursed water.

duck

For us modern folk, children of science, it may seem childish to give stock to such myths and legends, and to see spirits in nature. Yet as I practice Chakradance and teach it to others, as I read Jung, and become fascinated with shamanism and druidry and ancient nature-based religions, I keep returning to these archetypal beings, the spirits of the elements, of water and earth and sky.

There is another alphabet, whispering from every leaf, singing from every river, shimmering from every sky. Dejan Stojanovic

As a child I climbed trees and found solace there, nestled in strong branches, hidden by its leaves, this bridge between worlds, connecting earth and sky. In the ocean, and rivers, and lakes, I found nurture. My body suspended, free of the heaviness of gravity and the hard bitumen I played on at school. I could float, suspended, as if flying. Under water was another world, with the sounds of the ‘real world’ dulled and distorted by the breathing of the waves.

The doors to the world of the wild Self are few but precious. If you have a deep scar, that is a door, if you have an old, old story, that is a door. If you love the sky and the water so much you almost cannot bear it, that is a door. If you yearn for a deeper life, a full life, a sane life, that is a door. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Stories, myths and legends hold great wisdom. Their words operate at a psychological and spiritual level. Storytelling was a way of both transmitting great truths, but also keeping the energy inherent in the story alive.

According to Stefan Stenudd, myths are the instruments to discover and utilise the collective unconscious. Jung’s collective unconscious is “an inherited part of the psyche, a fundamental driving force, a container of great truths, and the only trustworthy guide to self-realization.” The unconscious with all its wisdom is hidden in the depths of the mind, and it is myths and stories that hold the key to it’s discovery.

Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters. Norman Maclean

In Chakradance, the element of water comes through the sacral chakra. This is the feminine centre, a centre that holds the key to our emotional life, to our sensuality. In the dance we visualise stepping into a stream and being washed clean of any stress or tension. Then we dance from the hips, our bodies undulating like water. Stimulating the natural ebb and flow of our being.

Always be like a water. Float in the times of pain or dance like waves along the wind which touches its surface. Santosh Kalwar

Water soothes our emotions when they run over, tears flow and the water cleanses and purifies us. I have not cried this week. I know the tears will come, in their own time. Like the rains that fill the river, and the droughts that dry it up. Nature has her cycles.

Well, you can cry me a river, cry me a river
I cried a river over you. Arthur Hamilton

riverside

Waterfall Relaxation Meditation by Buddhanet.net

A beautiful waterfall of white light is flowing down on you. It flows down on your head, helping your head to relax. You feel your head relaxing. It moves down over your neck and shoulders. Your neck and shoulders are relaxing. Now it flows down over your arms. You feel your arms relaxing. It flows down your back. Your back is letting go and relaxing. It flows over your chest and stomach, helping your chest and stomach relax. You feel your chest and stomach relax. It moves down over your legs and feet. You feel your legs and feet letting go and relaxing. The beautiful waterfall of white light is flowing over your whole body. You are very peaceful and relaxed.

Affirmations on water:

Dr Masaru Emoto, in his books “The Hidden Messages in Water” and and “The True Power of Water”, describes the effect of positive affirmations on water molecules. He suggest the most beneficial affirmations are those of love and gratitude, and who better to affirm those than Louise Hay, taken from her book, “You can heal your life.”

So get down to some water, and everytime you drink a glass of water, say something positive to it first. Maybe just say thank you in recognition that clean, drinking water is not a reality for everyone.

In the infinity of life where I am,
all is perfect, whole and complete.
I support myself and life supports me.
I see evidence of the Law working all around me
And in every area of my life.
I reinforce that which I learn in joyous ways.
My day begins with gratitude and joy.
I look forward with enthusiasm to the adventures of the day,
Knowing that in my life, “All is good.”
I love who I am and all that I do.
I am the living, loving, joyous expression of life.
All is well in my world.

Bless!

winter summer

 

Sources:

Stefan Stenudd Myth

Celtic Gods and Goddesses

The Religion of the Ancient Celts

Water Spirits as Fairies

Medicine for the Earth: How to Transform Personal and Environmental Toxins by Sandra Ingerman (Three Rivers Press 2001)

Too much of a good thing

casais,abrazo,couple,love,emotions,photography-f4448973d768b633de1e1fedb590c880_h

E-motions are energy in motion. If they are not expressed, the energy is repressed. As energy it has to go somewhere. Emotional energy moves us, as does all energy. John Bradshaw

Yeah well, MY emotions are certainly energetic this week. I should have known, that on the week of focusing on the sacral chakra, I’d be hormonal and emotional.

I was emotional even driving to work this morning. The dog threw up on the carpet right before I had to leave home, I forgot to (a) brush my hair (b) bring a hairbrush. I limped into 7-Eleven (my foot is hurting again), after dropping my beautiful new fluorite crystal on the road when I got out of the car – it smashed to smithereens.

Let me embrace thee, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course. William Shakespeare

7-Eleven was out of hairbrushes. The girl just stood there looking vacantly at the empty drawer saying “they’re usually here.”

By this stage my emotions had reached boiling point. I limped back to the car and drove in tears, raging against all the deities I’d ever prayed to, that they were no friggin help at all. And despite realising that on the scale of world issues my hormonal morning probably rated pretty low, I was not happy with the level of service I was receiving.

Tears are a river that takes you somewhere… Tears lift your boat off the rocks, off dry ground, carrying it downriver to someplace better. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

jl-embrace

I stopped ranting and crying when I realised the cars around me were giving me a wide berth, “stay away from the crazy/road-rage lady.”

Now let me say, there was more behind my emotionality than I have mentioned here. I am still very affected by seeing my dad so unwell lately and my relationship is… I don’t even know what it is. We are either having a break up or a break through – I’ll keep you posted as news comes to hand.

The sacral chakra is all about feelings, emotions, inhibitions, connectness with others, sexuality, sensuality, femininity – all the warm, soft and gooey stuff of life.

Our task must be to free ourselves… by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and it’s beauty. Albert Einstein

The main function of this chakra is emotional flow. The sacral chakra is located at the lower belly. Its Sanskrit name is svadhisthana, meaning sweetness. It is associated with our connection to other people, creativity, energy, confidence, and sexual health.

A person may be disconnected and cold towards others if this chakra is under-active. Or if its overactive, they may seem needy, overly emotional, and co-dependent. Yes! I realise I have an overactive sacral, I see that too, thanks for pointing it out through.

I had thought that over-active chakras were a good thing, I mean you can’t have too much of a good thing, right?

We all begin the process before we are ready, before we are strong enough, before we know enough; we begin a dialogue with thoughts and feelings that both tickle and thunder within us. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

2005_embrace.yr_.hrt_

Mostly I try to keep my emotions under wraps. It’s better that way, they scare people. After years of learning to ‘act better than I feel’ and ‘fake it til I make it’ and other such stoic affirmations, I now – mostly – project the demeanour of a very calm, together person. People say it to me all the time “you’re so calm.” Yeah. Except when you are behind me in traffic on a bad hormone day.

Physically, the sacral chakra governs our sexual development, our reproductive and urinary systems, including the kidneys and bladder. The sacral chakra corresponds to the ovaries and testes, the endocrine glands which regulate sexual development, reproduction, and the hormones oestrogen and progesterone.

The sacral chakra is about feeling and sexuality. When the sacral chakra is open, your feelings flow freely, you can experience intimacy with others, your creativity flows, and you can express yourself without being over-emotional.

The gesture of the amorous embrace seems to fulfill, for a time, the subject’s dream of total union with the loved being… A moment of affirmation; for a certain time, though a finite one, a deranged interval, something has been successful: I have been fulfilled. Roland Barthes

According the Curative Soul common psychological symptoms of an unbalanced sacral chakra are: eating disorders, addictions, low self-confidence, dependency issues, low libido, and unbalanced emotions.

Common physical symptoms of an unbalanced sacral chakra are: kidney problems and urinary tract infections, chronic lower back pain, sexual disorders, infertility, gynecological problems, dysfunctional menstrual cycles, and problems with the intestines, spleen, and gallbladder.

A healthy woman is much like a wolf: robust, chock-full, strong life force, life-giving, territorially aware, inventive, loyal, roving. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

According to Caroline Myss, “The challenge of the second chakra is to learn what motivates us to make the choices we do.” This centre governs our need to control other people. We are connected via our sacral energy to everyone and everything we want to control. In this way we both ‘invest’ our energy in the need to control others, and are affected by others who desire to control us.

71603-couple-cute-embrace-hug-love

All our sexual desires, memories, competition, shame, and envy are recorded in this chakra. Sexuality, power, money and creativity meld together in a melting pot of desires in this centre.

The sacral chakra energy holds the power of choice to create your own reality. The creative potentiality of the sacral chakra can be moved by trust and love or by fear and negativity. Our emotions can impact the choices we make and thus the consequences we have to deal with. Feelings of blame, shame, guilt, unattractiveness, insecurity, neediness, dependency sap our energy through this chakra.

Sacral chakra is where ideas come to be born, if our creativity is aborted the scars are recorded in this energy centre. Health issues of the reproductive organs can be as much linked to stifled creativity as to sexual memory.

Wherever thought goes, energy and life force follow. Caroline Myss writes that the second chakra gets unbalanced by stifled creative energy, money and sexual conflicts, power struggles, life energy directed into dead-end relationships or jobs, and control tactics that do not follow the spiritual rule to “Honour One Another.”

How do we disconnect our energy circuits from people or objects that sap energy? The first step is awareness. Check in often and notice where your thoughts are. Are they with you in the present, or have they drifted off to the past, the future, or with some person or object? Next, mentally cut the connection and literally call your spirit back. Calling one’s spirit back is not a one-time event; it’s a practice. Jule Klotter

the-embrace-estefan-gargost

The term ’empath’ seems to be a new age buzzword of the moment. It basically describes a state were folks, like me, are strongly affected by their own and other people’s emotional energy. Clarissa Pinkola Estes talks about this as a need to grow a thicker skin. Instead of walking around with our nerves jangling in the breeze, it’s important to be able to feel an appropriate and manageable level of emotions.

Caroline Myss explains that this chakra yearns for a connection with the sacred. It is a fundamental need of this chakra to have a daily nurturing rapport with the sacred.

Try this morning meditation by Caroline Myss to balance the sacral chakra.

Allow the truth ‘Honor One Another’ to penetrate your body.
Move your attention gradually up your spine to your lower back, hips and genital area.
Feel the fire and vibrant energy of this area.
Focus that energy toward the key areas of this chakra:
Relationships: Who am I going to be with today?
Work: What am I going to do today?
Money: How do I feel about it today?
Creativity: What am I going to create today?

embrace-andrea-barbieri

Manifest plainness, embrace simplicity, reduce selfishness, have few desires. Lao Tzu

Deedre Diemer, in her book, The ABC of Chakra Therapy, writes that when are chakras are open and balanced, it means we have the ability to be more or less open as the situation warrants. In a room alone with our lover we may choose to be very open, not so much at work.

The chakradance of the sacral chakra is my favourite. Dancing with my hips and belly to middle-Eastern influences music, I feel this chakra flow. Using the imagery of a stream flowing through me, I can finally let go of the build up of emotion and be cleansed. I connect my the divine feminine. I become divine and glow with my sensual nature. I feel my creativity flow.

Last night I ran a bath. The sacral chakra resonates to the element of water, to the flow of water. I poured wild orange and geranium oil in, added some sea salt and let the emotional storm melt away. I asked that this excess energy flow down the drain with the water. Then I slept.

It seems to me, the name of this chakra ‘sweetness’ alludes to its proper balance. When we are sane and calm, when our emotions flow gently and appropriately, when we are neither bitter nor naive. When our desire for love and creative thirst is sensual and pleasurable, but not grasping and needy.

There is a time in our lives, usually in mid-life, when a woman has to make a decision – possibly the most important psychic decision of her future life – and that is, whether to be bitter or not. Women often come to this in their late thirties or early forties. They are at the point where they are full up to their ears with everything and they’ve “had it” and “the last straw has broken the camel’s back” and they’re “pissed off and pooped out.” Their dreams of their twenties may be lying in a crumple. There may be broken hearts, broken marriages, broken promises. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

beautiful-couple-dance-love-sun-favim-com-128359_large

Affirmations by Natalie Southgate:

I relish the sweet exchange of intimacy and connectedness.

Pleasure is a good and valuable part of my life.

I give myself permission to fully enjoy my sexuality.

I allow abundance and prosperity into my life.

I allow my emotions to flow through me in a healthy way.

I am open to experiencing the present moment through my senses.

The universe is full of sweetness and beauty.

 

 

Bless!

 

Read more at:

http://www.myss.com/library/practice/morning.asp

www.eclecticenergies.com/chakras/introduction.php

http://www.chakra-anatomy.com/sacral-chakra.html

http://theresekerr.com/the-sacral-chakra-the-key-to-your-emotional-well-being/

Images:

Title image

Jiali Ji Embrace

Embrace Your Heart

The Embrace Estefan Gargost

Embrace Andrea Barbieri

 

Constant craving

GoddessMeditation11

Life itself is the proper binge. Julia Child

It has dawned on me that this little ‘experiment’ of mine, this wide-eyed and unsuspecting foray into “I wonder what would happen if I just put my seven intentions out there?” has begun to take on proportions akin to opening Pandora’s Box.

Think of young Charlie entering the Chocolate Factory, senses enlivened, beliefs challenged, reality turned on its head. Nothing is impossible: there’s Oompa-loompas, you can fly, or be transformed into pure energy and beamed across a room, or launch through the roof in a great glass elevator with dreams of unlimited abundance.

Now that I come to think of it, that’s pretty much exactly like the metaphysical journey I have embarked upon.

Intuition is our primal sense. Long before we are introduced to rational thinking, we sense life. Caroline Myss

As part of the facilitator training course I am undertaking, each week I connect by phone with my Chakradance mentor. When I spoke to her last week, after my rather intense third chakra experience (see here), and discussed moving on to the heart chakra, she said, rather optimistically, “this should be a lovely, restful place for you.”

Even as she said it, although I tentatively agreed, I knew I was not getting off that lightly. Right there I set my intention for the week. Because intentions do not have to be either conscious or positive, don’t you know.

And the heart, I mean really? Of all the energy centres, surely this is the clanger. (You can see how I set myself up here, mentally, right?)

Reflecting on the heartbreak in my life, much of it in my imagination, starting with reading ‘Great Expectations’ and ‘Wuthering Heights’ as a pre-teen, onto the stream of boys who didn’t even notice me (whom I never so much as looked at, never mind spoke to, so shy was I). I realise I have been in a near-constant state of unrequited love of one form or another my whole life.

People worry about kids playing with guns, and teenagers watching violent videos; we are scared that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands – literally thousands – of songs about broken hearts and rejection and pain and misery and loss. Nick Hornby

Or reading books about broken hearts and rejection and pain and misery and loss…

My heart is always aching for something or someone. As K. D. so poignantly sang, “constant craving has always been…”

Even through the darkest phase, be it thick or thin, always someone marches brave, here beneath my skin. K. D. Lang

This craving has been in me forever. It pulsates from within, alternating waves of pleasure and pain, directing little electrical impulses out into the world to scan for the remedy. At various times in my life I have attempted to satiate this craving with a procession of people, tricks, treats, and such things. There are times when I still think a new house, job, lover, body, accolade, or just a massive block of chocolate will fulfil this craving. Alas, the world of the physical has failed to sate me – maybe the journey into the heart and soul will prove more effective.

The dance of Anahata – the heart chakra – is soft and gentle and loving. The guided imagery invites the energies of the earth mother to enter through the base chakra, and the sky father through the crown chakra, to meet and dance in the heart. I’m sure you can imagine how wonderfully divine this union feels.

The reason angels can fly is because they take themselves lightly. G.K. Chesterton

The heart chakra is energetically connected to our relationships with others. In the last couple of years, there has been a giant spotlight shining on this area of my life. It makes me very uncomfortable. (Ha! At best it makes me uncomfortable, when I’m not writhing in all-consuming pain, that is.) While I have some truly beautiful and loving relationships in my life, I also have some not so healthy ones.

The pattern that is emerging in this dynamic, the archetype if you will, is the matyr or victim. It is the aspect of me that doesn’t speak up, accepts substandard behaviour from others, justifies madly, but ultimately unsatisfactorily, why it’s okay for them to treat me like this, and then becomes drained, as all my energy races off to these unreciprocal connections.

If you allow people to make more withdrawals than deposits in your life, you will be out of balance and in the negative. Know when to close the account. Marc Chernoff.

Interestingly the archetype of the heart chakra is the lover, with its shadow, the pretender. Initially the pretender sounds like a ‘player’ in the worst, most deliberate sense of the word. A heart-breaker.

That’s not something many of us would want to acknowledge in ourselves. Yet, when I sat with this idea, and thought of it as the polarity to the lover, a different picture began to emerge. Who hasn’t pretended in relationships, from the “no, your bum doesn’t look big in that,” to the “I’m busy,” when actually I’m upset, to staying in a relationship past the point of knowing it is not serving the highest good of either person? Do I pretend things are okay when they are not? Hells, yeah.

If I got rid of my demons, I’d lose my angels. Tennessee Williams

Why do we do this? I say we, as I am sure I’m not alone here. For me, there are several key motivations: security, fear of change, fear of hurting someone, and fear of pain. I pretend in order to avoid these things, and yet experience has shown me that the pretender only hurts myself and others in the end, because she doesn’t trust in love and truth as the ultimate authorities. She tries to manipulate things to be secure and happy, she is truly a player of hearts, not a lover.

As such, I am home with a seized-up back. That’s what happens to me when the emotional release gets too intense, my mind takes over, my body packs it in, and all I can do is rest or walk very gingerly.

Having been here before, it doesn’t frighten as much as it used to, when I would entertain fears of never walking again, and even worse never dancing or being able to do yoga. Now I just get angry at myself for not being more spiritual, as if there was some magical way to bypass this experience.

There’s an old, well-worn energy of ‘I’ve wrecked everything, I never do anything right, now my life is ruined’. And yes, I know when I articulate it, that sounds like a teenage tantrum, but when I’m in it, it is totally real. Like, totally.

As a result of my unhealthy relationships with myself and others, and my lack of energy flow, I turn in on myself, and attack my own already depleted system. Since I’m talking archetypes, that’s classic victim right there.

The wound is the place where the Light enters you. Rumi

It is only really occurring to me now, the truly profound link between my fourth intention, vibrant health, and the fourth energy centre, the heart chakra. To be vibrant is to be in possession of all my energy, which suggests I am not leaking energy through unhealthy relationships and emotional attachments.

A vibrant person knows how to hold their energy: I respect myself, I have healthy boundaries, I expect and receive loving behaviours from others. I am passionate in all my endeavours. I am authentic and true to myself.

This is what the heart chakra teaches me. It teaches me the difference between force and power. The heart chakra is infinitely powerful, yet uses no force. Like a fire that radiates heat, without diminishing it’s flames, the heart radiates love effortlessly.

Power is in the now, force is trying to push the now into some future point in time and space. Force is trying to make something happen. Power just is. It is the natural state of the heart chakra. It is accessible only by allowing and trust.

The heart teaches me the greatest wisdom is to always ask “what would be loving to me right now?”

We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be. Jane Austen

The answer to that was allowing myself the most gentle, loving, powerful healing I could find. As soon as I set this intention, out of my wallet fell my friend’s Reiki business card. “Okay, angels,” I said – yep, I’m talking to angels now – that sounds fine.

The healing session was amazing, my friend told me that my energy flow up and down my chakras was gridlocked, like a manic street in India, where all the drivers had decided to go in different directions at the same time, it was stuck. She moved the energy and it was utter bliss. The mental fog cleared, the heightened emotional states dissipated. Ah!

When your energy vibrates at a frequency that is in direct alignment with what the universe has been attempting to deliver your entire life, you begin to live in the flow and true miracles start to happen. Panache Desai

Freed from the mental and emotional gridlock, I could finally experience the flow of my heart energy. (I previously wrote about the heart chakra here.)

The sankrit word for this chakra, Anahata means ‘unstruck.’ Meditating on this concept I intuit this as meaning the heart is ever pure, ever ‘unstruck’ by life’s hurts. The pain I feel at times in my heart is a mental construct I have not been able to let go of. But my heart energy is sound, intact. She sings her sweet song that I could hear, if only I clear away the debris.

Man is made or unmade by himself. In the armory of thought he forges the weapons by which he destroys himself. He also fashions the tools with which he builds for himself heavenly mansions of joy and strength and peace. William James

What appears to be happening to me, as a result of my explorations into the world of intentions, is that I have discovered a world beyond the physical, a world of information and energy that operates invisibly, until your vibrational energy resonates highly enough to experience it.

Caron, the Reiki master I met this week, put it beautifully. The physical world is dense in energetic terms, so we can see and touch it. The emotional world has a higher vibration, but most of us can still sense it in others, even if we can’t measure it or see it, we know when we walk into a room and someone is quietly seething with rage. It’s like love, we can’t measure it, but we know how to feel it when it’s there.

A human being is part of a whole, called by us the ‘Universe,’ a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. Albert Einstein

When we become attuned to our chakras, we open ourselves to experiences beyond the physical; higher vibrational experiences. And because we cannot see them or measure them objectively, or even sometimes describe them adequately in words, there is a feeling that they are not real, that they are, at best, products of an over-active imagination, and at worst, symptoms of psychosis, or a ruse designed to falsely elevate the practitioner to a ‘visionary’ or ‘cha-ching guru’ status.

Now I am not going to pretend to be an expert on any of this. I feel like a little girl in the dark at a great museum, shining her weedy torch-light on amazing masterworks, but only seeing a fraction of what is there: the gold of Tutankhamen’s tomb, the hair of a Botticelli angel, mere glimpses of something that only hints at the majesty of the whole.

The struggle of the mind to keep itself free from every sort of bondage–to remain curious, open, unsatiated in all its relations with nature–is tenfold more difficult than the cultivation of a stable, satisfying point of view, but a thousandfold more precious. Gardner Murphy

The other day I had an hour to kill, so I headed to my favourite esoteric store to buy a book and (another) pack of oracle cards. On the drive over, the thought popped into my mind that I should see if my favourite tarot reader was available. If it was meant to be, she would be, if not, not, I thought.

As I entered the store there was a woman standing directly in front of me, with the loveliest, most welcoming face, she looked up at me and I spontaneously said ‘Hi’ like she was a long lost friend. I’d never seen her before in my life.KATHERINE-SKAGGS-1102.WHITE-BUFFALO-CALF

It turns out, she was the fill-in reader for the day, an amazing woman with 35 years experience, and yes, she was available at the time I was.

I had the oddest sensation of angels clapping their hands with glee at the two of us finding each other in such a serendipitous way.

She gave me an amazing reading, in no small part due to the energy she brings as a beautiful wise woman, an elder, she called herself. I felt like we were absolutely destined to meet, that she could be a wonderful mentor for me.

Katherine-Skaggs-1050.CROW-WOMANThe first card she saw, from the bottom of the pack was courage – from the French word ‘coeur’ meaning heart. “Your heart chakra is open and loving, I can see it clearly, your block is mental.”

What a relief. Mental? Is that all. No problemo! I mean seriously, after the pain of the week, both physically and emotionally, the news that my heart was fine and dandy was a HUGE relief.

The reading was beautiful, full of goddess images of meditation and women’s circles, of wisdom and knowing. The reading highlighted many of my intentions, and showed me how so many are manifesting.

The intentions of home, community, purpose, health, abundance, joy, and love are all manifesting in my life, as a direct result of the intentions I have made and nurtured in this blog.

“You bring the truth through your creativity” she says “you are a light bearer.”

At the end of the session, filled with energy and excitement, I was uncharacteristically forward, I asked her how I could see her again, she gave me her card, and I nearly fell off my chair. The image was almost identical to one I drew as a mandala after my heart chakradance. A heart with wings and flames.candy card drawing

I have never been entirely convinced – although ever hopeful – of the concepts of destiny and soul connections. I am now.

Apart from the beautiful and amazingly accurate reading, and the powerful sense of synchronicity, the great piece of wisdom she imparted was in response to a question I asked her.

As part of an astrological spread, where she laid out 12 cards for each of the astrological houses each of which correspond to an aspect of my life, in this case, home – she drew the beautiful ‘Patience’ card. As you can see it is a gorgeous image of a woman meditating with light and stars all around her head. And below is another Chakradance mandala drawing of mine. Oh now, this is just getting spooky!pleides card

Looking at this beautiful image reminded me of how I feel in meditation practice.

“That’s how I feel at home!” I cried.

“But why can’t I maintain that feeling out in the world, in my relationships, at work? Why do I get so drained by people?”

She replied that the key is loving ourselves. When we love ourselves, we don’t give ALL our energy away, we keep what we need. We take care of ourselves as well as others. She told me to repeat the mantra “I love myself”, before going into the world, before a tough meeting, a job interview, anything where I am engaging with others. She said when we are in fear we give away our energy, but when we love ourselves we maintain our energy.

And it’s not spooky at all. It is just rather confronting to the logical mind that a seemingly random thing like Tarot can delve so deeply into our psyche. But that’s a foray for another post!

chakradancemandala1She also emphasised a need for me to connect with a women’s circle, the desire for meaningful community. Fortuitously, I was off to the first session of a Reiki Chakra Meditation group that very night. I had signed up for this group, run by a lovely friend a few weeks ago. It was such a strong intuitive ‘ding’ that I should go, and I am so grateful. We laid out yoga mats and pillows and blankets and meditated and talked and laughed, it was like a spiritual slumber party.

The meditation was so beautiful, I was in a field full of yellow sunflowers, surrounded by woodlands, and then a deer doe came to me. The vision then shifted to a paddock at my aunty’s home, where my cousin was leading me by hand, through the long summer grass and dandelion flowers, towards the dam, one of my very favourite childhood places.

community cardAfter the meditation we all discussed our experiences and looked up the meaning of the various imagery we had encountered. The image of a deer represents a gentle safe place at a time we are feeling endangered or threatened – so perfect after the week I had. The yellow flowers represent my personal power, gentle, radiant, and still. The childhood memory was a place my inner child felt safe and happy.

I walked out with such a big smile on my face after a really challenging week.

Practice meditation. You’ll find that you are carrying within your heart a portable paradise. Paramahansa Yogananda

So this week has taught me to just go with it. Emotional up and downs, intuitive dings, synchronicity and spooky deja-vu, just going with the flow and letting myself be guided by my inner wisdom has been the most powerful and empowering experience for me.

The image of the turtle repeated in my card readings – the reminder to go slowly, to take refuge in my shell as needed. That love will unfurl in her own time.

Living from the heart. Releasing the need to remain tight and controlled. Letting the unfolding happen. True that.

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. Anais Nin

Affirmations for the heart chakra, as you say them, emphasise a different word each time and feel the difference (thanks to Candy Van Rood for this affirmation technique):

I love myself.

I LOVE myself

I love MYSELF

I am love

I AM love

I am LOVE

I LOVE

I love

I love

Bless!

 

If you would like to contact either of the amazing healers I mentioned in this post:

Reiki with Justine at Seven Points Healing http://www.sevenpoints.com.au/#about

Astrology and tarot readings with Candy Van Rood http://www.transformationalastrologyandtarot.com

 

If you are interested in Chakradance http://www.chakradance.com

Or the chakras themselveshttp://veda.wikidot.com/the-chakras

 

Find your archetype here:https://www.archetypes.com/Community

http://www.myss.com/library/contracts/three_archs.asp

 

Title image here

Card artwork by Candy Van Rood here

All other artwork from the Mythical Goddess Tarot Cards available here by Katherine Skaggs