Sunday, September 30, 2007

Rain Medicine

The rain is full force today, and I am resisting the temptation to call this rain “awful” and “terrible.” I am trying to embrace autumn after all, not be cruel and call it names.

This morning I drove my partner to Granite Falls, WA to the Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America where he received a Shingan Joju Kigan ceremony (a Shinto ceremony for “realization of heartfelt wishes”). This was a birthday gift and a surprise, and it was during our time that I actually felt the pleasure and cleansing power of rain—a sensation I have not felt in a very long time.

The grounds around the Shinto temple are landscaped with bamboo, stone structures, fountains, and other beautiful adornments from Japan. As we walked in the rain toward the temple, I noticed how quiet it was. I heard our steps crunching on the rocks so clearly, and I heard the rain’s sweet patter on the autumn-hued trees and plants around us. I looked up at the sky, gray as it was, and said aloud, “This rain feels cleansing.” I said it almost as a question, as if I couldn’t quite believe my own words. I closed my eyes and surrendered to the sky, letting the water hit my skin, causing little streaks, almost like tears. But these clearly weren’t my tears and this rain was not melancholy: it was gentle and comforting somehow. And refreshing.

After the powerful and centering ceremony, my partner and I walked the grounds just a bit more. Near the path to the river was a stone statue of a frog. As soon as I saw him, his placement made sense to me, for Frog is often associated with water and cleansing energy. In David Carson’s Medicine Cards, he writes, “Frog medicine is akin to water energy, and the East on the medicine wheel. Frog teaches us to honor our tears, for they cleanse the soul.”

This passage made me wonder about the purity we must attain each year here in the northwest after months of fall and winter rain. It also made me recall moments of my own tears and how they have seemed to purify me by my release of built up pain. And I think of the tears that flow for some of my clients during our massage or Reiki sessions; I welcome these tears with open arms and some of my clients are surprised by this reception. I tell them, “This session is about you, not just your muscles, not just your sore back; it’s about the whole you, so if tears must come, we will let them flow. And we will attend to all of you.”

Carson also writes, “Like Frog, we are asked to know when it is time to refresh, purify, and refill the coffers of the soul.” It occurs to me that autumn and winter may be just that for me – a time to refill the coffers of my soul. And perhaps like frog, I can learn to appreciate these drippy, soggy days because they remind me to honor the deep waters within me.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Inner Wisdom

Even though it may not feel like it sometimes, I believe that you know you the best.

This thought came to me the other week when a woman I'd just met asked me about my astrological sign. When I told her I was a Sagittarius, she said excitedly, "You must be a people person! I can tell you are!" A feeling of confusion washed over me. And an image from my childhood flashed through my mind:

My parents are expecting company. We've spent the whole day cleaning; it was my job to straighten the living room. I hear an unfamiliar car roll into the driveway. My heart starts to pound. I hear two sets of footsteps climb the steps to the front porch and then I jump at the sound of the door bell's ring. I rush to the big brown chair and squeeze my body under it, roll into a ball.

A "people person" I said to myself over and over, trying to make it stick. I love people, particularly one-on-one; I love connecting to others; and I love helping people. This was all true. But, a "people person"? I take a deep breath, take in those words and they just don't seem to fit. I tell my partner this story when I get home. He laughs out loud and says, "I think you're more of an animal person." I chuckle. There's some truth in that.

This encounter (and my explorations about it) made me realize that there may be a lot that gets in the way of our full understanding of ourselves at any given time. But I feel that we each know our body and mind the best, for we are the ones who live in our own skin. Others can help us see things we've been ignoring, guide us to explore an issue more deeply, and point to other ways or modes we might consider. But I believe that when we really listen to ourselves,
really listen, we know ourselves to the very core.

Your sense of intuition and inner knowing is part of what the Sixth (or Third Eye) Chakra* is all about. This chakra is about seeing and processing the world around you and your own own internal world. It is about trusting what you feel and know. And this trust is hard to come by sometimes; self-doubt is a persistent visitor to many of us.

As a way to listen deeply to the wisdom of your Third Eye,
try this:

Make a list of attributes that other people commonly associate with you (feel free to call up a friend for some ideas). Write this list without censor or judgment. Now, light a candle, focus on the candle's flickering light, and sit with this list. When you're ready, take some deep breaths, focus some energy in your third eye area (feel free to touch this area if you feel you need a stronger connection), and begin to circle the attributes that you truly feel represent aspects of yourself. Now notice what's missing. What words or phrases uniquely represent you? Now add these words to your list and circle them. Do you feel this list now truly represents you?

Sometimes I do this same exercise with a difficult decision I need to make. I write a list of "shoulds" -- all the possible actions I could take, including ones that make me cringe. I sit with the list and start my candle meditation. Then, I focus on my Third Eye, letting my inner wisdom guide me, and I begin to circle the actions that I feel most resonate with me. Sometimes I have to re-visit this list for a couple of days before I trust that I know the best course of action.

How do you feel you are guided by your inner wisdom? What does the wisdom of your Third Eye have to tell you?

*Some more details about the Sixth Chakra:
The Third Eye is located in the center of your head, just above eye level. The color associated with this chakra is indigo. When this chakra is blocked or out of balance, we may experience headaches, nightmares, eye strain, blurred vision, and a sense of feeling mentally "foggy." Gemstones thought to aid in opening this chakra: amethyst, moonstone, sugalite.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Reasons to Love Your Body

"She Learns to Love Her Body," mixed media collage painting with wax.

Try this:

List 20 reasons why you love your body. Think of all the ways your body supports you, gives you feelings of delight, and adapts to so many situations and circumstances. After listing at least 20 reasons (I know you can do it!), choose three to focus on more closely. Now draw a picture of each of these three reasons. What colors, textures, or symbols represent the appreciation you feel? Feel free to post these art pieces around your home, particularly in places where you may need a little reminder to love your body a bit more (i.e. the bathroom mirror). Your body is amazing; remember to give thanks regularly.