Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Elemental Appreciations for Autumn

Traditionally, September 22 marks the first day of Autumn as the Equinox. Astrologically speaking, Libra, often denoted as a balance scale spans September 23 to October 22.

autumnroad

Photo Credit: Valentin Sabau

However, Celtic tradition says Autumn (Lughnsadh pronounced LOO-nah-sah) starts around August 1 as the beginning of the harvest season. Scots would use the word Hairst (Pronounced Hair-st Hair like “hair” and “st” like stop) or harvest to denote this time. My goodness, there’s a lot of tradition surrounding harvest time! Regardless, autumn ushers in a time of balance to prepare for the coming of winter (Alban).

Fall’s a time for self-reflection.  Journey deep within first asking ourselves about our personal balance as we prepare for the cold season, which will often arrive much sooner than we anticipate. Beginning some inner work now makes the heart and spirit sources of inner-joy and warmth.  An inner-voyage helps us identify lifestyles that no longer serve us or actions that disrupt our life instead of nourishing it for the expected time of cleansing. When an outside winter world becomes inhospitable, the better prepared inner world… inner self will help us through because we harmonized during harvest. Meditation can be a good avenue for deeper contemplation allowing the inner-self to surface. What fruits have we produced? What can be harvested from our lives that may be shared by me and others for nourishing our whole being, body, mind, spirit?meditation-2486763_1920

Harvest time generates opportunities for sharing, giving, and celebrating. These opportunities embrace cultures throughout the world and have for centuries, probably back to the time of Stonehenge.

sunrise-938998_1920

Photo Courtesy of Sally Wilson

This season embraces sharing and giving thanks for the provisions of Mother Earth as she has done her part in the cycle of planting and harvesting. Inhabitants plant and cultivate the land they have in their charge. The inhabitants give back to the earth and each other through turning the soil in preparation for new planting in the spring (Imbolc) and sharing the bounties of the harvest. It’s such a festive time of reaping. Celebrations emerge as a natural sequence rewarding the labors of the previous seasons. 

Integrated with the celebrations, sharing emerges with the sense of community solidifying relationships with friends and loved ones. It’s so easy to eat locally grown, healthy meals throughout the seasons. Focus on the foods that are in season. Depending on where we live, the nutriment of that region should predominate our diet. This practice encourages a healthy diet. Several varieties of foods are more accessible in the present day thanks to new modes of transport.

cornucopia-1789664_1920

Photo Courtesy of Jill Wellington

Local apples may adorn the table now. Yet, when local supplies run low, they’re shipped in from elsewhere to supply the demand, perhaps even another part of the globe. The same may be said for vegetables, meats, or fish. Eating local is healthy for the body, but it’s also viable for a stronger community and economy. There’s nothing wrong with obtaining imported foods occasionally. Just try to focus local to appreciate the sense of community and to support each other. Share the harvest through trading or giving the fruits of gardens, potluck meals, or providing meals for those unable to care for themselves. Sharing through gatherings elevate the senses, playing music, dancing, expressing gratitude to one another, give away what no longer serves you. This process also teaches us the magic of simplification of life.    

Harvest ushers in a time of culmination which can include finishing projects, even saying goodbye to people and habits that no longer serve us well.  While Mother Nature passes the peak of her full maturation, we may also begin to say goodbye to the year and all that we have accomplished. We may grieve some at harvest time, often a natural progression in the flow of life. Those finding themselves carefully woven with nature’s rhythm, the very heartbeat of Mother Earth, may enjoy saying goodbye to some things now. Feeling overloaded with the transition may create increased pains from stress and tension. This can be a time to seek forms of bodywork to reconnect with the flow of life’s rhythm through Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Yoga, or a therapist for massage or energy work, like Reiki.

people

Photo Courtesy of freestocks-photos

A deeper connection to Hairst teaches us about relationships, community, self- care, and the nurturing reminder that who we are now is not a permanent state. So, think on flowing, growing, uniting with earth and our community. We are part of a cycle that affects each of us individually and collectively on every level. This is the natural cycle, a wheel of life. No state is permanent, and the closer we align ourselves with the natural world around us, the closer we become to ourselves and each other.

Embrace the elemental appreciations for Autumn.

Note: Special appreciation to Meghi Aine Ni Domhnaill for her inspiration to write this blog

Advertisements

What Are Chakras Anyway?

Here are the basics.  Several books and articles are available on the subject of Chakras.  In its purest form, the word Chakra originated from the ancient language known as Sanskrit and means “wheel of light.”  Chakras are wheels or spirals of energy interacting with layers of energy fields that interact with our physical body.  For exampchakras-310119_1280le, each Chakra resonates with a specific musical note.  When the musical note is created, the associated Chakra responds.  This may explain why certain sounds or music cause reactions to some listeners.

There are several Chakras throughout, above, and below our energetic bodies, but I would like to look at seven primary Chakras.

To begin, the Root Chakra, near the base of the spine, usually associates with the color red.  It focuses on natural, primal instincts, grounding, survival, and the will to live. It’s primal in nature.  An imbalance of this Chakra may cause frustration, insecurity, lack of grounding, or anger.  Areas of the body that may be affected include kidneys, nerve or blood disorders, lower spine, feet, or legs.  The Root Chakra resonates with the earth element, the astrological signs of Aries and Taurus, and the planet Saturn.

Next, the Sacral Chakra, usually identified with an orange color, is near the lower abdomen below the navel.  Its purpose centers on desire, pleasure, creativity, the will to feel, reproduction, and to express emotions.  An imbalance of this Chakra may real symptoms of repression, inhibitions, control issues, holding on to old relationships, worry, and lethargy.  Areas of the body affected may include the bladder, appendix, lumbar region, reproductive organs, and intestinal or digestive track.  The Sacral Chakra resonates with the water element, the signs of Gemini and Cancer, and the planet Jupiter. 

The third or Solar Plexus Chakra, near the upper abdomen where the ribs come together, is yellow. It’s considered the seat of one’s personal power, self-interest, the will to think for oneself, and clearing lower regions.  When out of balance, there can be signs of nervous dysfunctions, inner rage, depression, abusive behavior to others, dominance, or states of being obsessive.  Physical imbalances may show up in the liver, pancreas, stomach, gall bladder, upper abdominal disorders, or signs of poor circulation.  The Solar Plexus Chakra associates with the element of fire, the astrological sign Leo, and the planet Mars.  The commonly referred to a sense of “fight or flight” feeling originates in this same location.  You can tell when it activates because you may feel a tightness well up at the solar plexuschakra-3131632__480

The fourth is green, known as the Heart Chakra, and is at the center of the chest next to the heart.  The heart focuses on love, joy, compassion, and radiance to transform, to bridge, and to connect with others and the immediate environment.  An imbalanced Heart Chakra may lead to covetousness, coldness, dissatisfaction, resentment, greed, hostility, or bitterness.  Physical disharmony of this Chakra may affect the heart, blood, circulation, blood pressure, palpitations, ulcers, arms, chest, thymus, and hands.   The Heart Chakra resonates with the air element, the signs of Virgo and Libra, and the planet Venus.

The Throat or fifth Chakra is at the center and base of the throat. It’s blue and focuses on the will to express oneself and communication.  An imbalance of the Throat Chakra may manifest as being withdrawn, throat infections, laryngitis, hysteria, over self-concern, selfishness, possessiveness, or hyperventilation.  The areas of the body most likely affected include respiratory issues, bronchial, lungs, thyroid, parathyroid, vocal problems, ears, and mouth.  This Chakra works with the element of air, the signs of Scorpio and Sagittarius, and the planet Mercury. 

The Brow Chakra is indigo blue, sometimes referenced as the third eye,  and in the middle of the forehead.  As the seat of the mind, it focuses on intuition, clairvoyance, visioning, wisdom, and imagination.  When the Brow Chakra becomes unbalanced, there may be signs of egotistical behavior, short-sightedness, loftiness, or being overly authoritative.  Physical symptoms may relate to the pituitary gland, brain, sinuses, insomnia, nervous system, eyes, nose, ears, and headaches.  The Brow Chakra identifies with the light element, the signs of Capricorn and Aquarius, our sun, and the moon.

The seventh and final is violet (and sometimes white) and called the Crown Chakra, at the top of the skull. It’s about the higher will, searching for the truth of life and being, spirituality, and it is the seat of the soul.  Imbalanced conditions may include weakened psychic ability, a lack of understanding, creative, physical, mental, and spiritual exhaustion, being overwrought, migraines, or nervous tension.  The natural areas usually affected by this Chakra are the upper brain and the pineal gland. The Crown Chakra resonates with the element of higher thought, the sign of Pisces, and the Universe.

reiki-4133336__480

This is just a basic overview of a profound subject and, as mentioned earlier, there are several books available on the subject.   This has hopefully helped broaden your understanding of this ancient and magical subject, The Chakras.

 

What Is Detoxing?

Detox, a term found on boxes of herbal teas, recipes for healthier living, or even titles of dietary workshops. Detoxing, in a fundamental sense, is the process of eliminating the unnecessary or unwanted, typically from our bodies.  The term becomes more popular in the fall and Spring encouraging people to do so in preparation for the coming change in a season.


detox 1

Let’s start with when.  Generally, we should detoxify our bodies at least twice a year as a preparation for new activities associated with a change of seasons.  Fall and Spring prepare our bodies for the next season’s demands on our bodies, namely, Winter and Fall.  A Fall detox flushes our bodies of unnecessary substances adapting it for consuming fats to warm the body during winter.  The Spring detox eliminates accumulated fat used to fortify us in the winter season.  Our four-footed friends, particularly those that hibernate, do this naturally while we need to be reminded.  Why? We’ve forgotten how to listen to and hear our bodies, like so many other aspects of our life.

A standard method for detoxification utilizes clearing herbs in a tea taken from once to three times daily.  Several commercially prepared blends offer recommended consumption methods for good results.  If you do have questions or concerns, an herbalist or your doctor should help to identify the most beneficial process for you since we may respond differently to certain herbs.

    Another method uses foods.  Certain foods, like dandelion and burdock, may aid in detoxification.  It’s fascinating to consider the first plants that typically sprout through snow-covered grounds are ideal for detoxing, namely the dandelion and burdock.  It’s almost like the earth is trying to tell us something…    

.Detox 1

Now, let’s look at how often we should detoxify.  A good rule of thumb is the suggested seasonal approach, but you can detoxify your body most anytime… within reason.  Again, if in doubt, seek counsel from a nutritionist, herbalist, or your doctor, since certain times would not be good choices for detoxification.  Some of those times may include when your system is compromised such as pregnancy like a condition resulting from sickness or disease.  Under those conditions, detoxification would not be recommended, unless under strict supervision.  The detoxification could be counterproductive and debilitating when the body needs nutrients for strength.  It’s usually advisable to nourish the body first, then consider detoxification.

How long should the detoxification last?  A good detox can take seven to ten days.  That length should give the body enough time to adjust to the herbs or supplement used, then rid itself of the unnecessary accumulated “stuff.”  There are those that simply detox from time to time when it “feels right”; also acceptable as long as they exercise moderation and recognize when to seek guidance.

What are the tangible results besides elimination?  Many people experience feelings of empowerment and clarity.  Weight loss may occur from a Detox too, but losing weight should not be the motivation for this form of cleansing.  It can also help settle emotional issues.  Since the focus of detoxifying is elimination, we may find ourselves eliminating emotional baggage during the process, including sadness, anger, or fear, to name a few.  Since some may seem more emotionally sensitive during a Detox, meditation and other methods of working with one’s inner self may be a worthy pursuit when combined with detoxification to create even more positive results, not only physically, but emotionally.

    One last time, if you have never experienced detoxification and/or if you have any questions or concerns, seek an herbalist, nutritionist, or the advice of your doctor.

    Detoxification can be an enjoyable experience and a method to promote holistic living.

Wholistic Living – A Glass of Water

Glass of WaterWhen we exercise, receive a massage, or see our doctor we may hear, “Drink plenty of fluids,” or “Keep yourself hydrated.”  

Try an experiment.  Take a glass of water and hold it at arm’s length.  While holding the glass, consider this, how much does it weigh?  Depending on the weight and size of the glass, it can weight from perhaps eight to twenty-four or more ounces.  (Still holding the glass?)  Here’s a fact, regardless of the absolute weight, it will become “heavier” the longer you hold on to it.

Holding the glass for a few seconds, no big deal; but after only a few minutes, the glass begins to wear on you causing stress in muscles.  After several minutes, you may begin to feel an ache in your arm right up to your shoulder.  If you held it for an hour, you may develop a headache or exhibit some other form of exhaustion, but you would know the cause.  Holding on to the glass of water causes pain and discomfort.  Just put it down for relief.

Holding on to a simple, and potentially refreshing, glass of water has caused your body and muscles to stress to the point of debilitation.  The level of discomfort is directly proportional to the time span we hold on to the glass of water.   The longer we hold on to it the more discomfort it causes and that’s the way stress affects our lives.

We know a little stress keeps us sharp, but too much can cause us to snap just like a guitar string, not stretched enough, the string sounds dull and raspy, too much and it becomes irritating with a potential of breaking.  If stretched enough, it turns out a great sound.  StressedStress is also subjective because we all handle stress differently, but too much is just like the glass of water or the guitar string, too much will eventually have a negative affect on us physically, mentally, or emotionally.  Just like you know when to stop holding on to your water glass, stop holding your stress before you break.

As for positive stress, identify the right amount of stress for you that creates refreshment and pleasant music in your daily life. Utilizing and transforming stress can make you more productive and less self-destructive.  Like so many other factors of life, utilizing the proper amount of stress is all about balance.  Know when to stretch and when to loosen to create your personal sense of bliss.

There are many ways to relieve stress.  Pick one that works for you, but most important relieve your stress daily.  Some ways to loosen up and relieve and transform stress include regular exercise, massage, walking, meditation, playing music, reading, or just sitting in comfortable shady spot with a cool refreshing glass of water.

Hold Glass of WaterNext time you pick up a glass of water, ask yourself, “Am I holding on to any unnecessary stress?”

Wholistic Living – A State of Mind

Buddha meditation You are what you think.  If you think about being sick continually, you either are or will become sick.  You can place yourself in that state of being.  If these statements are true then their opposites must also be true.  We really are what we think.  These statements ultimately relate to a state of mind, and attitude.  Our attitude can dictate or at the very least influence the result of a given situation or circumstance.

There is a sacred order of survival in survival skills, meaning when we are faced with hazardous and potentially fatal odds, we begin to think and react from a primal state of mind… to survive, to overcome the odds.  Primitive skills teach a sacred order of survival; shelter, water, fire, and food.  But without the proper attitude the chances of our survival are greatly diminished.  Simply put, if we believe we will not survive or give up trying, we will most likely perish.  If, however, we believe we will survive, we just increased our chances of living several times over.  So, even to survive we should maintain an attitude that we will do just that, survive.

Our wellness and the desire to live holistically depends on our attitude, our belief that we can and will live our lives better than we have in the past.  If the desire is great enough, we will make this goal a reality, but it involves the necessity of change.  We need to change a portion or portions of our lifestyle to create change in our life and our state of wellness.  And change takes effort.

Many speak of New Year’s Resolutions in the sense of needing to begin in January.If they don’t begin in January, they believe they have failed and given up trying.  When we seek to improve our state of being, physical, emotional, or spiritual, we can begin the process of change anytime, as long as we actually begin.happiness

Once we begin, we must continue the journey and not give up part way through.  If our goal is to lose weight, lower cholesterol, and become healthier, begin with the proper attitude that you will do your best to accomplish the task.  You will do it to survive and this will create a new way of living, living healthy, living holistically.  To begin the process is a noble cause.  To accomplish the goal is a fundamental victory that can lead to even greater accomplishments in life.  Healing and seeking a healthier lifestyle doesn’t begin with which program, which diet, what club to join, or how much weight to lose, it begins by having a survivor’s attitude, a winner’s attitude, that you will finish what you started.  See yourself, visualize yourself both healthy and well.

Whether you begin in January or April, begin, begin, begin.  Once the commitment is made don’t give up your journey to wellness, claim the state of mind of living holistically.Closing Thought

Wholistic Living – Exercise Within Your Personal Bounds

Snow SkiingThese days of modern conveniences reduce our level of physical activity.  We often find ourselves sitting, idly standing, or doing some sort of repetitious activity that doesn’t require much physical exertion.  Changing to a healthier lifestyle includes a level of exercise that works for you.

These days of modern conveniences reduce our level of physical activity.  We often find ourselves sitting, idly standing, or doing some sort of repetitious activity that doesn’t require much physical exertion.  Changing to a healthier lifestyle includes a level of exercise that works for you.

Everyone won’t do the same level of activity in any exercise program.  Our body type, age, physical limitations, gender, even blood type can influence the type of activity that suits us best.   Not everyone can or wants to train in martial arts.  Some may want to take Yoga, Tai Chi, or Qi Gong instead.  Running works well for some, but jogging may work better for others.

As seasons change, so do the activities, unless you live in an area where seasons don’t affect outside activities.  With winter upon us in the Northeast, the outside use of canoes, kayaks, and hiking gear may be exchanged for snowshoes or cross-country skis.  In the spring and summer accessories are switched again to accommodate the season.  Outdoor activities may be substituted by more indoor workouts through a gym or in home exercise accessories.

Age doesn’t mean we stop our activities.  The lifestyle remains active with activities that harmonize with our age and physical abilities.  Maybe we used to run five miles a day.  Now, we run three.  Also, you’re never too old to start an activity.  People in their 50’s or 60’s begin new higher impact exercise programs, but they approach them gradually and sometimes with a qualified trainer.  Level and intensity of activity should be in harmony with age.  There are always exceptions, but the key is… listen to your body.

TrainerBeginning a new activity may be challenging particularly if you’re in a mixed age and gender group.  If you are uncertain of how to approach a particular program, seek a fellow knowledgeable participant who could act as a mentor or seek a qualified trainer.  A good trainer, that is genuinely interested in the individual, is a real asset to any program.  If there isn’t a formal teacher to help you ease into a program that works for you then go slow.  Some physical stiffness or discomfort can be expected, but too much may be a case of exceeding your physical limitations.  Again, take your time.

Stretching before and after any physical activity is always beneficial.  Stretching warms up the muscle groups, prevent injuries, and curtails some stiffness and aches and pains.  Cardiovascular exertion warms up our heart when the physical activity is demanding like martial arts.  Stretches and cardio workouts should begin slow and work toward a peak with a short cool down to keep yourself limber and in tune for the more intense portion of a workout.  Regular massage is also beneficial to keep your body flexible and in proper tone.  Someone who works out regularly can receive a massage every week if they like, but they can often go four to six weeks between sessions, unless there’s an event or injury.

Above all, consult a medical professional or trainer to determine which activities to perform or avoid for your lifestyle.  Chances are you’ll be able to perform some activity within the bounds of your physical abilities.  Your life and health will improve even if you have to go slow at first because of physical limits and weight.

Physical exercise isn’t about impressing others. Your opponent is you.  Do the best you can each time. Go at your own pace.  The benefits will be reaped in time.  Physical exercise through QiGong, Tai Chi, swimming, the local gym, hiking, snow shoeing, running, martial arts, yoga, aerobics, walking, or what ever else, it’s all about improving your life.

Take time for you and exercise.Group QiGong Pic

Messages from Nature – Bear Facts On Introspection

ImageAs the winter cold arrives and the snow begins to blow, it’s time to embrace what Native Americans call Bear Medicine, a time to go within.  Introspection can be both rewarding and challenging.

Bears embrace myths, legends, movies, cartoons, ageless stories.  Even Smokey Bear, has brought awareness to the public to protect forests from careless fires.  By the way, Wikipedia says Smokey Bear is the longest running public service campaign in the United States.  But, what can we learn spiritually from bear?  I’ve known people with spirit names that included “bear” as part of their “name” like Quiet Bear, Gentle Bear, Big Bear, and Sleeping Bear.  The names say certain bear-like qualities are attributed these people.  I’d like to focus on those bear qualities and see how they can improve our lives.

A basic quality of Bear Medicine teaches us to go within and examine our inner being.  This is drawn from the bear’s instinct to hibernate in the winter.  It typically eats more than in the fall, storing up fat reserves to endure the cold months of winter.  Bear lives through the winter off the stored reserves from within.  

ImageThe spiritual lesson says we should store up enough spiritual energy and well-being within to prepare for life’s lessons, that often feel cold and cruel.  Instead of evading the lesson, stop, go within and tap into the much needed spiritual reserves.  The normal way of life is to externalize.  When a lesson enters one’s life efforts are made to cover it through expressing through anger, frustration, stress, fear, or over indulgence instead of going within to identify the reason and lesson to be learned.  Be like bear and try going within

Evaluation is another quality Bear Medicine.  Consider this.  A mother bear gives birth during the winter and brings her cub(s) out when she feels and knows they are ready to face the outside world.  She does not allow them out until they are ready.  She has evaluated them closely in the den, watching their subtle actions, reactions, emerging personalities, and frailties.  If she senses crucial short comings the cubs remain in the den.  She remains there as well, only venturing out long enough to feed herself and close enough to keep a watchful eye on the den.  

We can learn a great deal from mother bear.  Evaluate our lives and pay close attention to the fruits of our lives, including our children.  Are there parts that are weak needing strengths?  Are there ways we can evaluate our children, instead of criticize them?  Do we need to add more to the project before it’s presented for all to see?  Do we throw something together in a haphazard manner just to get it out or do we take our time, doing the best we can before its presentation.  If there is a good side of pride, this would qualify.  Be like bear and evaluate our life and our offspring.

ImageFinally, consider nurturing as a quality of bear medicine.  Return to the analogy of mother bear and her cubs.  She not only evaluates she nurtures her offspring.  She accepts the responsibility of having offspring.  She cares for the cub’s growth.  She encourages its development.  Nurture includes seeing to the cub’s physical needs or nourishment which is the origin of the word “nurture” which means to feed.  The origin also means to cherish.  Just as the mother bear cherishes her cub or cubs enough to defend them with her life if necessary. 

The bear medicine of nurturing in application to us as human beings would include not only how we care about all our projects and efforts, but, just like evaluation, our children as well.  Care over the growth and well-being of children whether as parents or teachers.  Encourage the growth, encouraging them to do their best and help them when they fall short of our or their expectations.  See to the physical needs of the children in proper nutrition for the body and soul.  Above all else, cherish the children.

When bear is seen either in real life, through stories, myths, legends, or a Smokey Bear poster think of the medicine of bear and how we can venture within to become better brothers and sisters to bear.

Image