Before class Saturday morning I was listening to a podcast with Pádraig Ó Tuama, a poet, theologian and healer living in Ireland. His talk was moving and spoke to many things I had been contemplating about how to come into relationship and conversation during hard times. He has a beautiful presence and profound wisdom and I highly recommend giving it a listen. Near the end eh shared a poem that made me really stand up and listen, in fact, I listened to it several times. While his lens is Catholicism, everything he was speaking to spoke to my practice and why I practice. I shared it in class and several folks felt the same way, so here I am sharing it with you. Enjoy...
"Neither I nor the poets I love found the keys to the kingdom of prayer and we cannot force God to stumble over us where we sit. But I know that it’s a good idea to sit anyway. So every morning I sit, I kneel, waiting, making friends with the habit of listening, hoping that I’m being listened to. There, I greet God in my own disorder. I say hello to my chaos, my unmade decisions, my unmade bed, my desire and my trouble. I say hello to distraction and privilege, I greet the day and I greet my beloved and bewildering Jesus. I recognise and greet my burdens, my luck, my controlled and uncontrollable story. I greet my untold stories, my unfolding story, my unloved body, my own love, my own body. I greet the things I think will happen and I say hello to everything I do not know about the day. I greet my own small world and I hope that I can meet the bigger world that day. I greet my story and hope that I can forget my story during the day, and hope that I can hear some stories, and greet some surprising stories during the long day ahead. I greet God, and I greet the God who is more God than the God I greet. / Hello to you all, I say, as the sun rises above the chimneys of North Belfast. / Hello."
For many of us, the first month of 2017 has been one of great challenge. At for many more, the past week or so has been a time of grief, anger, hurt and dispair. It is an incredibly challenging time to navigate and can leave us feeling depressed, depleted and exhausted.
While it may seem that there are so many things outside of ourselves calling for our attention, our action and our energy, we also must recognize the importance of maintaining self care routines. If we push ourselves to the bring of exhaustion or worry, we have very little to give and may find that moving forward becomes increasingly difficult. I encourage you to take time to set practices and space for self care. Now is the time to lean into your yoga and meditation practices and to ensure that you are doing things that nourish you in both body and spirit.
This year's winter solstice marked the darkest day in over 500 years. For many of us, this feels like an accurate representation to what we're
both in our outer and inner worlds. There is a sense of darkness that feels insurmountable and unshakeable. I have spoken with many people who feel overwhelmed by our current political and social climate and feel immobilized by their feelings of sadness and grief. And yet others I have spoken to have been mobilized by their anger and struggling with where to direct that energy.
It feels like many of us are looking for tools and frameworks of how to work with what we're feeling. For me, I have turned to my yoga community and its teachings to help me bridge the gap of action with intention. And yet as I’ve started to watch what is unfolding in the community I've seen a lot of interesting dialogue around "being positive," "focusing only only on love" and I have seen many teachers and students alike coming down on one another for negativity or the righteous anger they are expressing. I have to say say, as student of yoga and human being I am troubled by this.
“The Moon, in Qabalistic tradition, is called the Intelligence of Interrelatedness and is though to have an affinity for the occipital region of the brain (the round curve at the back of your heard). In esoteric metaphysics, the occipital region of the brain is said to be connected to every point in time and space. Through the Moon we are connected to the universe. An idea to entertain (in your occipital) is that this region of the brain is the portal through which images cross from our minds out into the world, where they become real.” - Caroline Casey
Both the 6th chakra and the moon invite us to dive inside in and explore our inner realms. They both explore the fruits of dream time and our power to be active participants in the world we dream up. As I explored this further, I came across the passage above from Caroline Casey about the moon. It seemed fitting, this idea of the moon's residence in the back of the skull and that like the 6th chakra it created this bridge between our own mind and the world.
"The real voyage of discovery consists of not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust
As we traveled through the lower chakras, we explored the elements associated with each. The first chakra is associated with earth, the second water, third with fire and the fourth with air. The throat chakra is often spoken of as being associated with the element of ether, which has a very light and etheric quality, but moving out of the throat, we leave all traditional element behind (a note here, that sometimes the throat is considered to embody the element of sound). The sixth chakra, is sometimes spoken of as embracing the element of light. While light is not an element in it the most traditional sense, it certainly has elemental qualities and given the 6th chakra association with sight, light makes perfect sense in this context.
Right now it can feel like there is so much going on in the world. We can spend our whole days plugged in to social media, the news and the TV to keep abreast as to the ever changing world we live in. It is an information overload and can be a good reminder for me of all the information we bring into our physical and energetic system through the eyes, and, especially in our "plugged in" society. It is also an important reminder of how rare it is that we turn all of that off.
"Let your beauty manifest itself without talking or calculation.
You are silent.
It says for you: I am.
And comes in meaning thousand fold,
comes at long last over everyone.”
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
While the throat chakra is most often associated with sound, as our vehicle for communication, our ability to listen is also inherently connected into this energy center. We tend to be a culture of stimulus, we are constantly plugged in--to our TV, to our phones, to music and to our computers. Its hard to get away from stimulation and noise in our busy lives. I sometimes forget how much noise I have gotten use to experiencing. When my partner and I take a weekend away out of the city, I am always amazed at the sheer expansiveness of being in an environment without all the bustle of the city. Its amazing how it shifts my energy and my mood simply to find a quieter space in my life.
The heart chakra holds a unique place in the chakra system as it governs as a bridge between the lower/physical chakras and the upper/spiritual chakras. It is the melding of the gross and the subtle here with love that we find the true union of the physical world and the spiritual world.
If, as we've discussed in previous posts, we have built walls, blocks and other protection around the heart, running this energy becomes increasingly difficult. Lower chakras can atrophy without the touch of the divine, and upper chakras have trouble staying grounded without the the touch of physical reality. We need both kinds of energy and the heart is the bridge. Use the following practices to fortify the bridge of the heart and bring your energy into alignment in the chakras
"Just as we open and heal the body by sensing its rhythms and touching it with a deep and kind attention, so we can open and heal other dimensions of our being. The heart and the feelings go through a similar process of healing through the offering of our attention to their rhythms, nature and needs. Most often, opening the heart begins by opening to a lifetime's accumulation of unacknowledged sorrow, both our personal sorrows and the universal sorrows of warfare, hunger, old age, illness and death. At time we may experience this sorrow physically as contractions and barriers around our heart, but more often we feel the depth of our wounds, our abandonment, our pain as unshed tears. The Buddhists describe this as an ocean of human tears larger than the four great oceans. As we take the one seat and develop a meditative attention, the heart presents itself naturally for healing." -Jack Kornfield, A Path With Heart
Working with the heart is scary business for most. We've all been hurt at some point in our lives and as a result we want to protect ourselves. I see many clients for intuitive work who have shields, walls and other sorts of energetic protection around their hearts. This is natural, we've been hurt before and we want to keep from getting hurt again. Yet when we create barriers like this it also makes it harder for us to receive love and we create this feedback loop of protection and inability to open to love which often leaves us feeling more and more unloved.
Yoga teacher, sound healer and explorer of the inner landscape. Join me!