Monday, October 29, 2012

The Bluster Before the Storm

This morning I asked my daughter Meredith to take photos of the stunning foliage we are blessed with on our property.  From our upstairs window it's a blaze of blustery red.  Downstairs, waves of rippling gold leaves heave,  sway and swirl. The lawn is a crinkly carpet of yellow and tarnished brass.  It  casts a light like no other time of year.  The kitchen and great room are bathed in coppery radiance, like the light that streams through the stained glass of a cathedral.

I want her to photograph it to post for Michelle, our daughter in Italy for a semester, because she's missed this annual display and it will likely be gone after Hurricane Sandy blows through.

I venture out for a walk, umbrella in hand, just in case.  It's mild and gusty, perfect for a good aura cleansing!  I send prayers on the currents -- safety for all, especially friends in vulnerable places.  I plant my prayers for the Earth herself, honoring her awesome transformation process, willing to shift with her.  Requesting a most benevolent outcome for all beings as the hurricane crawls up the coast.

So in this auspicious year, very near the cross-quarter day of Samhain, (Celtic for "summer's end," more familiarly known as Halloween), we mark  the start of the dark half of the year.*  Mother Earth is ushering in this time of inward reflection by dancing like a swirling dervish over land and sea. 

At the pond, swaths of wind shudder across the surface like the rustling train of a lady's gown.  Almost all the leaves are fallen.  There is the radiant burning bush.  A string of leaves clings to a vine, fluttering like  Tibetan prayer flags.  Bittersweet has woven itself along the split-rail fence.  The long, leaning grasses of the cattails are fading to straw.  The leaves fly in a tumult -- head over heels or like spinning tops, their stems whirling in a spirally descent onto the water.  At my feet, at the end of the dock, they float, still colorful -- speckled red, mottled pumpkin, crimson flame.  Overhead, the clouds are alive -- low, grey, scudding across the open sky. 

A trio of geese fly overhead, honking and flapping in unison.  A lone swan bleats.  Sparrows hop among the twigs gathered for kindling, restless.

I'm poised in this space between earth and sky.  On the cusp of the dark part of the waning year.  Wanting to save it via photography.  And also willing to let go of what needs to be released.  All these elements -- the trees, the pond, the air and the sky -- are our teachers.  They show us how to yield to change.

Let's see what Sandy has in store for us.  I get home without having to call in a rescue, without having to open my umbrella.  We stow the pumpkins in the garage for safe-keeping until the storm passes through.

*  Sharynne MacLeod NicMhacha, "Samhain," Llewellyn's Witches' Date Book 2012, p. 115

Resonance, Rhythm, Creative Self-Expression: Fifth Chakra Balance

Last week's meeting of our meditation series, Sacred Silence:  Connecting to Your Inner Compass, introduced the group to fifth chakra dynamics.  The fifth is located in the throat, so common ailments like a sore throat or a stiff neck may indicate some balance is in order.

We begin by transitioning from our everyday world of cares and duties -- into our space of rest and renewal -- with a breathing exercise and simple invocation.  We are learning  the calming benefits of a few minutes of conscious deep breathing.

Then we go around the circle for a  brief update from each.  Our circle consists of busy professional women juggling lots of work responsibilities as well as some who are home with children.  Every one of us needs time apart for reflection.  Our meditation practice is a centering tool in a chaotic world.

My energy awareness tip this week is to show the women how to see energy.  It's easy!  Are you practicing ladies?

Then we review the issues of the 5th chakra by watching the power point presentation I created. (Can you tell how happy I am with my technical prowess?!  Would not have happened without my IT person, my daughter Meredith.)  We learn that in the fifth chakra we have our creative identity, where self-expression is vital.  Here we have the right to speak and hear the truth, but how many of us were raised to keep family secrets?  When we are taught to lie, or asked to believe a lie -- our throat chakra suffers.

When the throat constricts, we may have a fear of speaking, be extremely shy, have a weak voice and a poor sense of timing (why did I just say that?).  We may have difficulty putting our thoughts into words.  On the power point we have  the stuttering king from the movie The King's Speech as an example.

Someone with an excessive fifth chakra, on the other hand, can't stop talking!  The powerpoint shows a cartoon woman with her mouth wide open. The words spilling out:  "Blablablabla...." You can't get a word in edgewise!  This person is a poor listener, interrupts often, dominates with a loud voice and enjoys gossip. 

Balance in the fifth?  Martin Luther King.  He exemplifies the resonant voice and a masterful sense of timing and rhythm.  We are drawn him; we want to hear what he has to say.  People with balance in the fifth live creatively, expressing themselves in any number of ways -- dancing, cooking, writing, singing, painting, photography.  The options for creative self-expression are as varied as we are as individuals.  What activity do you get lost in that 'gives voice' to who you are?

We also discuss healing practices for fifth chakra imbalance -- neck rolls, chanting/toning, journaling, practicing silence.  To speak our truth with love reflects vitality flowing through your throat chakra.

For our meditation, we had the Dali Lama himself chanting OM (On CD.  If he was in Wethersfield you would have heard about it.)  His voice echoes and reverberates through the silence.  The sound vibration is soothing --gentle, strong and loving.  I invite everyone to hum or tone along with him.  After the meditation we practice OM breathing (thanks, Mary), activating our fifth chakras.  After this, we feel clearer.

In closing we enjoy the group energy we generated together over the course of the evening.  We sense it flowing around our circle as we hold hands -- recieving it with our left hand and giving with our right, picking up a little heart energy along the way.  We are grateful for this little community we are creating together; we take the group energy with us back out into the busy world.

Someone mentions getting home in time for the presidential debate and we laugh and groan.  Maybe, in our newly-recovered sanity, we'll record it and watch it later?  We want to enjoy, for the rest of the evening, the stress-free zone we have created for ourselves.

Because of hurricane Sandy there will be no meeting tonight but we will meet for the next two Mondays, November 6 and 13, to cover the remaining two chakras.  All are welcome to join us.  Please call 860-563-5682 so I can set a place for you in the circle.  The fee is $10 for an evening of peace and quiet.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Self-Acceptance (Just Do It!)

Our meditation circle met again last Monday evening to learn about the heart chakra.

This is the center of our being, poised above our three lower chakras and below our upper three.  In this center, we strive to balance the earthly and the spiritual, the inner masculine and feminine, love of self and love for others.

As I presented characteristics of a person with a deficient heart chakra -- cold, critical, narcissistic -- everyone nodded; we all know people who isolate themselves, avoiding the joy and intimacy of unconditional love.

But how can heart chakra energy be excessive?  How can we love too much?  Here we talked about love that's given with strings attached.  Sometimes it's a smothering feeling: "If you loved me, you'd eat this lovely meal I spent all day preparing and you'd skip your zumba class tonight and spent the whole evening with me!"  Someone whose heart chakra is running excessively is demanding, clinging and overly-sacraficing; they give to others in order to get their needs met.

Someone with a balanced fourth chakra is self-loving, compassionate, and empathetic.  Because they care for themselves, they are able to give generously.  Caring for ourselves isn't  selfish; it's a pre-requesite for service.  When our inner well is  full and replenished, we can offer others a drink. 

One addition to our energy system anatomy this week had to do with the colors of the chakras.  The rainbow light that's cast by a prism hanging in the sunlight? Those are the glowing, vibrant hues that radiate from our chakras.  The first is red, the second is orange, the third is yellow and so on.  We visualize these when we explore our inner territory in meditation.

In our meditation this week, we focused on our breathing.  Deep breathing is such a powerful healing practice -- we can't do it enough!  We practiced inhaling, letting the belly expand and drawing the breath up, up, up into our lungs (fourth chakra organ).  As  we do so, our rib cages gently flare outward.  Then, while the breath flows out on the exhalation, we allow our rib cage to pull back together  and bellies to contract, deeply expelling the breath.

Do this for ten minutes and transmute stress and agitation into clarity and balance.  Guaranteed.

After several of these deep cleansing breaths and getting settled on our cushions, we begin our meditation.  Progressive relaxation helps.  Knowledge of our inner workings helps.  Guided by Spirit, I lead the group  to an inner fountain of inexhaustible love and self-acceptance. Mantra:  I deeply and unconditionally love and accept myself.  This inner wellspring flows with vibrant, emerald green light.  It is Source energy, available to us always.

Please join us on Monday evening October 22 when we explore the fifth chakra, center of creativity, communication and self-expression.  We begin at 7 pm.  The fee is $10.  Bring a cushion or two.

Join us for another evening of Sacred Silence:  Finding your Inner Compass.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Igniting Your Personal Power

A Summary and an Invitation

Here's a review of our last gathering, the third in our workshop series, Sacred Silence:  Finding your Inner Compass.

 Homework (always optional) from our previous meeting included creating a sacred space at home as well as a self-care challenge -- what can you do to take care of your self (for a change)?  One woman, noting that in her entire career she had only taken 4 sick days, invited herself along when a friend mentioned she was going to the beach.  Excellent choice for nurturing one's self.  Another  shared how she decided to use her mother's hope chest in a spare bedroom as an altar; she had already begun collecting meaningful objects to place there.  A+ on our "energy homework"!

I also presented an addition to our energy anatomy -- liberating and manifesting currents.  The liberating current flows upwards -- from the dense realm of the earth up through our divine awareness  The manifesting current flows in the reverse direction, enabling us to bring our inspiration  from the ethers downward into reality.

Over the last three weeks, we've moved from the solid ground of the first (tribal) chakra, through the fluidity of the second (emotional) center, to igniting  fiery autonomy in the third chakra.  We looked at the variables that enable us to be "in our power" as well as obstacles that leave us feeling dis-empowered.  We scratched the surface of how to recover our inner authority.

One source of inner authority is the higher self.  For the meditation, I led the group on an interior journey where the higher self was invited to make "herself"  known.  This aspect of ourselves, connected to All That Is, presented an exquisite gift to each meditator.  The wisdom of the higher self is available to us at all times, if we can clear space for her -- which we are getting better at each week.

Next Monday we visit the airy realm of the heart chakra, the bridge between the upper and lower chakras.  Please join us, all are welcome.  Call 860-563-5682 to register.  The cost for this evening of peace and quiet is $10.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Misty Morning

This foggy morning I can't see the end of my street.  It's like that scene from A Christmas Carol, when Scrooge is making his way home through the streets of London.  The lamp light is shrouded in fog when a horse-drawn coffin passes by and disappears into thin air.  It leaves Scrooge blinking, famously doubting his senses.

These impressions echo something I read yesterday in Stuart Wilde's Infinite Self:

This sacred and holy journey -- the journey away from ego toward the infinite self -- is a journey through a fog.  You're only going to be able to see a few steps in front of you.

Right.  I get it. 

Let me back up here. 

This week, the town where my family lives, in upstate New York, has been rocked by tragedy.  A beautiful young woman, 18 year old Alexandra Kogut, left her hometown for SUNY Brockport last month.  Last weekend she was beaten to death by her boyfriend.  I'm not clear on the details; he may have been a former boyfriend, but he traveled to see her and now she's dead.

The entire town, where both the victim and the perpetrator grew up, is in mourning.  Last night when I called my sister, she was on her way out to a candle-light vigil.  My niece graduated with this girl, class of 2012.  My nephew is in the same grade as her younger sister.  My parents know her grandparents.  Someone posted a tribute on facebook, photo after photo of groups of kids, laughing and smiling, with their whole lives in front of them.

Or so it would seem.

At my sister's request I settled into meditation to send healing.  I tried. I tried not trying.  But it felt futile, too late.  It seemed to me that there is no healing.

So here I am groundless, lost in the fog.

Since there's no making sense of it, my only option is to place it on the altar of reality -- this horrible thing has happened -- and give it to the Great Goddess of nurturing and healing to lead every stunned person wherever it is they need to go.  To accompany them through the realms of sadness and immeasurable grief.

My prayer is that they find relief and peace.  But it seems to me that there will never be relief or peace.  I watch my mind wrestling in the roped-off  ring of my awareness, valiantly trying to pin down a much more muscular challenger -- a chain of events that have it clearly overwhelmed. 

And yet there's that part of me that's witnessing this struggle.  This larger awareness, like the overhead light that illuminates this whole inner boxing match, is somehow able to contain the tragedy and my futile attempt to understand it.

When I can find this part of my being, which seems strangely outside of time and space, there is relief.  There is peace.

Alexandra has returned to her infinite self.  May she spread pebbles of peace in the path of her loved ones as they integrate their senseless loss.