One of the first things we often learn when we are beginning to become aware of our own own life force energy, is "grounding". This is about bringing our energy fully into our bodies so that we can think more clearly, respond appropriately to a stimulus, and to be able to be present with ourselves. In short, it helps us think, to know ourselves, and to simply be.
There are many ways of grounding... the most common seem to be along the lines of imagining dropping some kind of energetic line from your body into the earth. Sometimes the visualization is being like a tree, growing your energetic roots down into the earth. Either way... it's you... sending your energy downward.
This is fine, but it's only half the equation. And for people who have a lot of earth energy, it can evoke their shadow side of being overly anchored, finding it difficult to create the desired change in their lives, and to thinking ahead, or reflecting back on their lives.
There is a principle in physics that I think applies here: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. That is, sending your energy into earth is only one half of being grounded. Bringing earth energy up into your body is the other half.
Here's an exercise for you to play with:
Take a nice deep belly breath in... release slowly. Become aware of your body. Notice that your body has an experience of weight. This is about the principle of gravity. You are exerting pressure on the surface of the earth.
Physics says that since the ground isn't crumbling away beneath your feet with each step, earth is also exerting a force upward on you.
Let your attention sink toward your spine. Can you move slightly back and forth until you find where you feel that energetic balance between you pushing down on earth and earth sending lifting energy back up through you?
Earth is actually offering you energy to align with. It is lifting you up. Earth is supporting your presence. Simply because you are embodied. That is enough to make you worthy of a relationship with earth.
You can further engage this energy by considering the traditional grounding vision of growing your roots into earth. This is yang (masculine) Earth energy. Now tap into the yin (feminine) Earth energy... which is the energy rising. You can invite it through the soles of your feet... up your inner legs... to the base of your spine... and all the way to the crown.
Cultivating this balanced relationship with earth is important because it means that the stability and support is always available to you from a safe source. I've found that healing my sense of trust, and for clients who find it difficult to trust, having a relationship with the earth and with spirit (which I'll talk about another time) are invaluable resources.
We did this exercise, and many more, on our Body Wisdom Healing Circle call the first weekend in January. If you'd like to join us, there is still time, we are just beginning our Hero(ine)'s Journey for 2016. It's free. If you can't make the live call, there are recordings.
Do you try to follow seasonal patterns or a Medicine Wheel / Wheel of the Year concept and find it difficult to connect and feel in sync sometimes? I have to admit that I do. And, I've been wondering why. Here are a few things I've noticed about why I feel out-of-touch sometimes with my own walk around the Medicine Wheel (north/earth, east/air, south/fire, west/water - or a variation of that).
1. I guess I'll state the obvious first, which is that industrialization and technology can buffer us from the truth of our environment. We can keep the lights on long after the sun goes down, and we can be warm when it's cold outside. But for me, this doesn't explain my sense of disconnect completely. There's something else.
2. The environment might not be synchronistic with the ideal of the season. My local area often does not reflect the seasonal energy. This probably doesn't happen to too many people, but I live in coastal Central California, and so our weather patterns don't really reflect the systems of the four-element Medicine Wheel. In the summer it's a paradox of dry and foggy... in the winter our grass grows green and lush because it is our wet season. And... perhaps obviously... it doesn't snow here. So that cozy wintry thing is often interrupted by 65 degree days. Just so you don't feel like California gets all the good weather... warm summers are punctuated by days of drizzly 55 degree foggy days too. Funny place I live.
3. The people around you might not be in synchrony with the season either. The hustle and bustle of the winter holiday season is a current example... and my lazy summer days of not having to get up to get kids to school feels like another. This is decidedly not true for everyone, but since I'm self-employed I get to set my own schedule. I guess the thing here is that our schedules have become detached from the seasons per-se. We operate independent of seasonal work.
4. This relates to #3, but there's something funny about how busy we all are. My dad was raised on a farm, and I know they worked hard all year round, so I don't want to idealize rural living 60 years ago as somehow less demanding. It may just be what we put our attention on these days... rather than having a task that takes time for us to complete (say feeding livestock, repairing fences, or crop care) we spend little time on any given task and jump quickly from one to the next.
Is that why we're so tired? We're taxing our ability to keep up with ourselves?
I don't have answers to this... I'm seriously just musing on this "out loud". I've just been noticing... as I do every year... that I have a tendency to "run late" with the seasons. Autumn is always very busy, and I tend to like it, right up to the beginning of December when I finally want to slow down. But at that point the light is about to return and the grass is growing lush... and I feel like I've missed something. It makes me feel like I'm always trying to catch up with "where I'm supposed to be".
So, if you've been feeling a little "off" of the season... I'm wondering if anything I said above rings true? How do you feel you fit with your environment?
I'm thinking more about this as we are beginning the Hero(ine)'s Journey in the Body Wisdom Healing Circle this in January. Where is it that we "begin"? What do we need to have in place in order to embark on a journey back to ourselves? Where do we align ourselves for reference?
If you haven't signed up for the 2016 Healing Circle we are working through The Hero(ine)'s Journey. We set the space for our beginning in December... and in January we are heeding the Call To Adventure... locating our reference points in the body and mind as we embark on our healing path.
I read this blog post called Could Female Self-Hatred Be The Real Cause Of Autoimmune Disease? It's definitely worth a read. Sarah Wilson, who suffers from autoimmune disease has tried lots of remedies for her symptoms, and has realized that there's something else... something underneath the flare ups. Self-hatred. Tension. Anxiety. Not enough.
I often have clients who exhibit symptoms of autoimmune disease. A few have been diagnosed. And I'd posit that it's not unique to women, and that there's a second piece of the puzzle.
So... women. Yes, approximately 80% of the people diagnosed with autoimmune disease are women. This could be due to the differences in the immune system of men and women. It could also be that men and women will be found to have different symptoms of autoimmune disease. That remains to be seen. I suspect that men are going to be found to exhibit more neurological symptoms and nerve problems, whereas women have more inflammatory issues. That's just a guess based on a few male clients... so don't quote me on that. Besides, I'm not a doctor.
When I work with clients, we delve into their cellular function. We ask questions of the Whole Body Wisdom about what is happening there. And people with autoimmune disease often register as having a secondary infection... of pathogens that do not actively infect human tissues, but lay dormant, waiting for bacteria or viruses that they CAN infect to come by. These dormant colonies are the ones causing the inflammatory response, and yet they are not registered by the immune system because they are not virulent to humans. So, the conundrum... the body can see the EFFECTS of these things, but cannot locate them directly. Some days are good days when the colonies are very quiet, and other days they start communicating with one another to see if there has been an influx of cells that they can infect... and there's a "flare up".
Now, I can't diagnose, so when I'm with a client I stress that this is metaphorical. There are parallels between the body and the mind and the emotions... and the environment that shows up in one is likely to show up in another. That's how stress causes physical damage with or without an autoimmune issue.
As the writer of the article points out, it can be very difficult to clear these thought patterns that we're not good enough, that we're unlovable, and that we're not measuring up... because we can always find evidence for it due to human imperfection. And yet, I find, that it's relatively easy to address that same pattern when it shows up in the cellular function. When we move into the cells, we leave behind the story about WHY we're not good enough. And, in absence of the story that we use to anchor our beliefs about our worthiness or lovability, it's easier to clear those patterns.
It is about believing... that we are more powerful than anyone has ever told us. Actually, the placebo effect proves it. When we believe, we can make things happen. Choosing to believe is the key. I remember moving from my academic biology work into the healing realm. Sometimes I just had to go with what I had experienced, rather than what I could logically explain.
You have nothing to lose by believing that you are powerful. You have nothing to lose by believing that you hold the possibility of healing yourself. Find the root of the thought that you aren't enough, and ask yourself if you really, truly, in your heart, believe that. I don't believe it about me. And I don't believe it about you.
Did you know that the brain is hardwired to remember the things we fail at, that make us miserable, and to be fearful of what might happen? Rick Hanson has several books on the subject and has a training program to rewire your brain (which I actually have not done, but love the concept of).
Did you know that the Titanic had a sister ship called the Olympic that sailed successfully across the Atlantic so many times that it became known as "Old Reliable"?
Well, unless you heard the NPR story about that topic, you probably didn't know about the Olympic. That's where I first heard about it too.
But it fascinates me. That our brains are hardwired to notice the struggles. That we can be our own worst enemy when it comes to cultivating happiness. It is our fear... when we perceive that something COULD go badly... that comes up. This fear, of being wrong, unworthy, unlovable, "losing face"... drives us to grasp and cling to our image, and we forget that... most often... things go well. Historical case in point, the Vietnam War. We failed at that war, and left hanging our heads. And yet, it was followed, not by a precipitous decline in our country, but some of the most prosperous years we had known. In fact, our fear of looking bad went largely unfounded. But there were huge consequences of the fear. We stayed in a situation that wasn't working... and we paid a huge price.
I wonder if there are parallels for many of us. Of course, there will be a difference in degree of the fear, the perceived fallout, and the consequences of basing our actions on our fears. But, do you see where you have feared a nebulous outcome... and it's kept you stressed and stuck? Do you see where you talked yourself into doing something you didn't want to do because you were afraid of not doing it? Or where you did something hastily, based on fear, and suffered for it? This fear, it encourages us to find balance... to be true to ourselves... and to embrace our values.
This year, 2014, is about noticing and releasing those fears... maybe even facing a few of them to find out that the repercussions don't match the fears we had. It is time to release shame, to express our essence, to live fully as the people that we truly are. This year is an invitation to be more present with yourself, spend more time and money doing what you truly value, and knowing what those things are!
So, I am going to make an Olympic Invitation to you: today, notice three things that went well, were successful, or otherwise made you feel truly happy at your essence. Write them down. Put them somewhere that you can remember to notice and absorb into your being, the happiness that is around you. Notice that the Olympic made it... over and over again. Awareness is a fundamental piece of changing your experience into the life you want to live!
Early morning at the labyrinth. I find it anchoring to walk my prayers. And while the last few weeks have been a flurry of intensity and unfolding around me, I've been able to stay grounded... clear in who I am, what I do, and where it is appropriate for me to get involved.
As always, this is a learning experience... some of this I have travelled before... some I have not. Like the path of the labyrinth, what seems to be familiar is not the same as doing exactly the same thing over again. Even though I retrace my steps coming out of the labyrinth, I'm headed a different direction than the last time I was in that spot. As I walk back and forth I realize that there's always a movement toward the center... not of the labyrinth, but of me. It reminds me not to go too far in one direction, with my body or my thoughts, because my being is in the center... the center is home. It reminds me not to get overly involved in someone else's reality... that their reality often doesn't have anything to do with me. I can choose to support, but I can't live anyone else's life, or make choices for them based on what *I* think is right... and in truth, I don't want to. I have my hands full with my own life.
The labyrinth reminds me how important it is to be fully present at the center of my own life. How important it is to meet myself where I am, to flow with making and remaking decisions and commitments in each moment, and to make sure that I take care of myself so that I can be present for others.
I noticed how much this labyrinthine pattern is present in our lives... as we wind our way in, checking in with ourselves, meeting our needs, and being self-referential. And then, we spiral back out... to carry our gifts to the world as best we can express them at any moment. That repetition becomes a cycle, a homeostasis, where we are constantly in motion.
Last week we went camping, which always provides me with an opportunity for one of my favorite practices. It's a simple practice... just being still in nature and noticing whatever comes to my attention. One morning at our campsite I watched this woodpecker. She (I don't know that it was a female... it's just my chosen pronoun for this story) moved progressively closer to me as I watched... Then she drummed a few times, looked at me, and she flew away. She was beautiful and poignant, and I felt connected to her in some way. She had my attention and I thought over what I know about woodpeckers and what I might be aware of in my life that was related to her.
For me woodpeckers signify voice... as each species has a characteristic drumming pattern. They are common in forests with mature trees, as they depend on the infrastructure of large trees for their nest holes and for food. Because they are birds, they also signify freedom. They are not bound to two dimensions... they can rise to great heights... among the canopy of the trees... and so are closer to spirit.
So, for me, woodpeckers bode well for having created a reliable infrastructure in life... and that whatever I am currently building is likely to have a strong foundation. I also see woodpecker as indicating a unique voice, a singular way of being in the world, that is also on a conscious well-built foundation. She reminds me to care for my unique expression of life in all ways... mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically. She reminds me that this awareness... of myself from many facets, is what brings me closer to Source.
Thank you dear woodpecker! I am honored by our interaction and the gifts of awareness you bring!
I guess Emily Dickinson answered the questions I posed at the end of my last post. What it would be like to find yourself at the top of your To Do list? It would be ceding from the union that is our cultural consciousness. It would be sovereignty... like wearing a crown... like becoming the queen. It would be acquiescing to the truth that in order to live your life... to make your choices... must set down the definitions and names others have handed you... in favor of your own truth.
I'm ceded—I've stopped being Theirs
The Earth Element in Chinese Medicine is associated with the late summer. The moment when things are stable but bountiful. The fruits of the spring and summer labor are mature... the intentions of the Wood Element have ripened through the action of Fire... and here we are to enjoy them and celebrate.
The Earth Element reflects our stability in time and space. It is because of our rootedness in the earth that we are supported, nurtured via our roots, and given a reference point or an axis around which the constellation of the bits of ourselves circumambulate. The Earth Element within serves as a unifier... a magnetizer... holding our patterns of emotion, behavior, and beliefs close by.
In daily life this might appear to be our strengths... the things we do well and relatively effortlessly. We can get in touch with the Earth Element through acknowledging what we are good at... finding the sweetness in the bounty of ease. This is Earth... where we are held, where our hearts feel light and happy. What are the things in your life that provide your heart that supported, loved, and connected feeling? What do you do that feeds your heart and makes it grow... makes it overflow and want to share? If you're wondering what I'm talking about... if it feels that you've never understood "an overflowing heart", or "feeling supported", or if you're not sure what people mean when they talk about being "grounded"... then you may want to explore with the Earth Element.
It's a unique and personal thing to discover what really feeds you... and the key is being really honest with yourself about what that is. It can be difficult to face sometimes, when what really nurtures your soul is not in alignment with the role you've agreed to fill with your family, friends, and/or communities. Misalignment between the day-to-day life and the true essence that lies within are among the most common forms of stress in our lives. A sense that we're not being true to ourselves... that we've negated some part of ourselves... that we tend to compartmentalize and partition our lives so that they are manageable. However, at some point that becomes a very energy intensive process... and it's possible to start feeling overwhelmed by life. If this is you... can you see your truth within? Can you find your foundation? The thing(s) about you that support your truth... that are constants for you?
Quick story of finding an Earth Element truth about myself. I had an advisor in graduate school who had to introduce me for a talk when I was graduating. He and I had a mixed relationship... and I'm sure that he wasn't overly fond of me. When he introduced me he said that I was "persistent"... and my first though was "Seriously? THAT'S the nicest thing you could think to say about me???". And yet, over the years I've come to realize that it was a great compliment... and it is a great truth for me. It is a foundational piece... something I look back through my life and can see always. It doesn't mean I didn't flounder... that I didn't misappropriate my persistence... but it really was always there. So when you're looking to connect with the Earth Element... settling deep within... imagining yourself as a tree... with roots comfortably and deeply in the ground... with a strong straight trunk... and leaves dancing in the breeze... connect with your truth... your inner fire... you will see what is always there for you.
I'm an explorer of inner realms, a pattern observer, and an invitation maker. I believe that healing the world starts within.
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