Monday, November 25, 2013

The Dark Months By Charyn Gant

Photo by Sarah McMurray
 During the holiday season, which started with Halloween for many of us, it’s going to be real easy to ignore the needs of our spirit and neglect answering inner messages and prompts. Needless to say, this would be no bueno.

I believe we are more emotionally fragile during the dark months of Fall and Winter than at any other time of the year. We have less light and many people get Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.). Less light may also mean less motivation. Because the veil is thin, people are leaving and we are remembering those who have already departed (i.e.: Dia de los Muertos). Unresolved issues bubble up for us to acknowledge, address and transform. The dark months ask us to go within, harvest what we have sown for the year and then visualize next year into creation. Transformation is a must if we want to step into bigger, more bodacious shoes for the coming year. Then there are all the other daily choices, decisions and occasional dramas we have to deal with.

So with all those possibilities swirling around, we’re bound to feel ignored and depleted. Everyone has their own indicators as to when their spirit is low, fragile and in need of care. It is vital for us to pay attention to those indicators so that we tend to our spirits in a timely matter otherwise we may end up sick and dispirited before the holiday season gets into full tilt. It doesn’t take much to listen to your body and what it’s telling you; you just have to stop and listen.

Just recently at work, I started feeling that feeling. I know, so vague. Unfortunately, words are a poor substitute for our emotions and often misrepresent what we really feel. Sometimes descriptive statements are better. My description: I felt like I had been tossed one too many times in a tiny boat and was getting bruised and battered. My body and spirit felt gray and heavy. I was also sensitive and a bit weepy. It would take me another week for me to sort things out. I was bunched and had too much on my plate. I was spinning and discouraged from the feeling of running in place. I had old issues bubbling up to be acknowledged. I could go on but you get the idea.

An “inspired suggestion” came to me that would apparently provide a balm to my overstretched spirit: give myself a foot bath. Eh. Okay. But just thinking of that soothing hot water and lavender had me salivating. And oh yes, it absolutely did the trick. It would have been very easy for me to ignore what my spirit was telling me a just keep plugging along; but I bet you dollars to donuts, I would have paid for it later on.

So it’s time to ask: what care has your spirit been urging you to do that you have yet to pay attention? What are the indicators you receive when your spirit is low and in need of tending? Do you answer or ignore them? There is no such phrase as “I can’t” or “I don’t have time”; the real reason is: “I don’t want to”.

If I had not listened to the call of my own spirit, I would have in fact been telling myself that I’m not important, not worth my own time, not worth my own love. The sad fact is that I do it far too often and I know I’m not alone.

If you have been pulling the same stuff with yourself, it’s really time to change. You are important, worth treating yourself kindly and lovingly. Answering the call of your spirit when you get those indicators IS an act of self-love. It’s time to realize that when we listen and honor the call to care for our spirit FIRST, everything else can fall into place… and we feel good.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

At Home in the World by Erina Patrick

Digital art by Sarah McMurray
Home is more than a residence.  For me, it represents not only hearth but heart as well.  The idea of home has a certain emotional comfort ingrained within the concept.  Hence the phrase, "feel at home" is used to express feeling relaxed and comfortable. I believe that there is also a sense of security and sanctuary associated with "being home."
I keep the physical space in my home free of clutter in order to maintain a Zen-like feeling within. I have added personal and spiritual touches throughout my home: there are pictures of nature, mythic creatures and depictions of several deities grace my walls. I also have three vision boards that I have made. A vision board is a collage with careful intention behind each image word or phrase contained therein. It is designed to help inspire your vision of what you would like to manifest in your life; think law of attraction powered poster. My refrigerator door also doubles as clip board for inspirational quotes, prayers, poetry and a variety of magnets.  I like to consider it organized chaos hinting at mild O.C.D. with random bits compiled in an orderly puzzle like configuration.
In a psychological sense home and family are closely linked in my mind. There is the home I was born into comprised of the members of my family, and the central Oregon County and community I was raised in. The actual house I was raised in is gone now. There is a Welsh word that conveys this bitter sweet loss of a one time home:  Hiraeth.  There is no direct English translation, but it loosely means, “homesickness for a home to which you cannot return.”  Instead of looking back at loss I look forward to what the present has to offer.
It has been almost three years since I set sail for Maui but still feel a close connection to my roots.  I regularly converse with family over the phone and walk the steps of my old stomping grounds in my dreams.  And from time to time, visions of snow swirl in my head as I sleep without so much as a sheet in the Maui heat. I remember my past, but don't dwell on it; as I take steps towards creating the future I desire.  Each step makes my dream clearer and closer at hand as I work to find my niche in the world.
I find that I feel at home whenever my heart is open and I allow myself to let go of trying to control things.  I simply go with the flow of life and immerse myself its endless river.  As a single woman, I have yet to form a family of my own.  However, I find that I am far from alone as I have fostered friendships with many wonderful women and a few great men; one of whom is particularly special to me.  
I believe that love is the truth unveiled and the greatest human achievement. I believe family includes more than just my family of origin.  It’s also the family I find as I make my way through the world; the kindred spirits that I have shared interests and close connections with, my local community and the global community. If indeed "home is where the heart is," how large of a range is your home?  Does it span multiple time zones?  Could you extend the borders to encompass the globe?  Life evolves as should we and love is the way we grow beyond our limitations, love is the motivating effort behind extending ourselves towards others and expanding our understanding of ourselves, the world and our role in it.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

5 Elements of Chinese Medicine By Heather Lindsay

Photo by Sarah McMurray

Chinese Medicine is based very much in the natural elements of our World.  This way of looking at life can cross the boundaries into any culture, religion, and way of life because it is what we physically live in - nature. The five elements illustrate the movement of life, all of which we are a part of. These elements - Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water - are represented in each of us. However, one element tends to guide us most. Examples of what each element embodies are seen through color, seasons, movement, aroma, and emotions. Which one resonates most with you?
            Imagine the springtime - everything is suddenly alive! What stands out to you after a long winter over the barren land? Is it the sudden vibrant burst of blossoming trees and flowers of every color imaginable accented by the emerald green background and sharp smell of new growth? Do new ideas come to mind in how to accomplish your desires and needs? The gifts of this element; clarity, vision, and creativity; give rise to how to move onward and upward with life. How will you frame and design your life’s path?
            Ahhh Summer... A time for friends gathering together. Or the offerings of summer may be cuddling in the arms of a loved one and giggling about shared memories on the porch as fireflies light up the sultry evening sky. Both scenes bring up the gifts of this element - partnership, passion, and love. Are you aware of how everything is connected? This element reminds us of the relationship of everything that passes through our lives. Do you know this interconnectedness with yourself to the one sitting beside you - and to the world?
            There are five seasons in Chinese Medicine. Late summer is the additional one. Yet, this season is still quite known to us. Outside it is humid and dense. It is the time of the first harvest. When all that you have been working for bares fruit. The gifts of both Earth and mother are synonymous in that they bring forth and nurture all we have sown to move forward through life. What do your thoughts turn to when you seek sustenance? How can you ripen and then harvest your greatest needs?
            The crisp, pureness of autumn... A brown leaf crinkling in the wind... Grief in letting go. The breath outward ~ inward to the vast space of self’s’ residence. A time of recognition. The gifts of this element are found in the space created through surrender and release. As you fall into the temple of self ask - “Is there anything I can let go of? Can I learn from the gems that remain?”
            Winter... ssshhhhh... Snow falls silently. The barren landscape conceals the depths below where much waits to happen. Winter’s truth is in not rushing around as we often do but in being still, quiet, and restful. This is the time within. Perhaps much seems unknown and fearful as we wait. The gifts of this element lay in the depths of darkness where knowledge can become known. Here is where we can explore, reflect, and find our true self. This time of peace can you rest in your deep self courageously and find your own inner light to guide you onward - and soon upward into spring?
            This is a way of looking at life through cycles.  It is very healing as you begin to identify with yourself in this deep way. Sometimes just getting outside and taking a walk is the BEST thing you can do, or try turning the t.v. or music off while you wash dishes or do housework so you can listen to the quiet for a few minutes, or maybe call your best friend and have a real heart to heart with them, or maybe just maybe write your story of who you are and where you hope to go would help bring healing answers.  Anything you do differently then you usually do will open a new door to exploring your elements of who you truly are.  You never know what may come tumbling out.