I'm not one of those people that gets super excited about their birthday. I generally try to celebrate each day of life, so in a sense birthdays are no more special than any other day. In fact, I don't recall many special birthday moments. I think this is due, in part, to the fact that the memories we hold on to most are the painful ones. At first this seems counter intuitive. Why would we cling to the painful memories instead of the pleasant ones? Actually, we are programmed to hold the things that hurt us (in Sanskrit, these are samskaras - mental impressions stuck within our subtle body) so that we can heal those old wounds. This is where our growth in life comes from.
So, I have started thinking of my birthday as a day of rebirth. This year, I allowed myself (almost) a complete day of doing exactly whatever I wanted, spending several hours reading Anatomy of the Spirit (I highly recommend it), by Caroline Myss, on cakras 2 and 3. I have spent the past several months tired and worn out due to saying “yes” when I needed to say “no,” and from not taking that deep rest and down time that I needed and deserved. There are always lessons to be learned, and that is what makes life worth living. In the book, Caroline Myss mentions stories in which clients had to "call back their spirits into their body." I realized that I needed to do this. Or more correct, I needed to unbury my spirit from the pile of "real world junk" that she was buried under. My energy was running low and I was struggling because I could no longer hear my spirit guiding me. She was buried because I momentarily lost sight of what was really important in life – being in this world, not of it.
Getting lost is so easy to do, even for people who have strong yoga and meditative practices – present company included.
After reading, I drew a bath and laid in the tub (it was a day where I got to do whatever I wanted) where I reconnected to my spirit. I allowed myself to release years of patterns that were no longer serving me. (Note: I can only let go of the ones that I am aware of. Meditation takes care of some, and then as life unfolds, still more patterns will become clear, so I can learn, work through, and release those. It's never ending.) But for now, I could feel the life force once again moving within my body. I am reborn and ready for this new year of my life.
Another happy rebirth-day.
Have you ever felt disconnected from your spirit? How do you keep yourself connected?
Before I move into the restful time of turning inward as we move into the darkest part of the year, I have put in some serious time for workshop and event planning. This work and sense of accomplishment will make the upcoming hibernation all the more sweet. I’m certainly look forward to some deep rest.
This time of year is a time we so often, instinctively, turn inward and allow for introspection and rest in order to plant new seeds, allow them to take root for the springtime, and shed things we are ready to let go. We do this by settling down, embracing the darkness of the day, and resting. We eat seasonal foods and drink warm beverages. We curl up by the fire with a loved one or an extraordinary book. We allow the world to fall away as we fall into ourselves. We reflect on the year and all the things we've done and the things we didn't get to do. We regroup. We make a new plan for the new year. We give ourselves that deep healing rest.
With the Winter Solstice comes the darkness: an aspect that means gloom and doom for some and freedom for others. At times we must travel a great distance in the dark. And sometimes, we must do it alone. It's at these times, when, if we remember our own light, we can make the journey less scary and a little more dim. We can pull ourselves out. When we recognize our own light, we regain our strength to continue the journey without wanting to give up.
And when I say we must go there alone, I mean the inward journey. We each have a journey and no two are alike. It's the journey with all the twists, turns, plenty of bumps, and no handy road map. Recognizing our inner light is recognizing that these are the times when we must turn to our practice with steadfast determination. The practices that lead us back to ourselves. It is our practice that holds the answers. Our practice is the road map. We often feel so lost, but the instructions are with us at all times. We just have to remember them, and we have to remember to use them.
"Your right is to the work alone, but never to its fruits." ~Bhagavad Gita
So I encourage you, as we move into this momentous Winter Solstice – unlike anything we've experienced within our lifetime, to allow for rest, make time for your practice, get on your mat, and dust off your cushion. You will be grateful that you did.
I came home late at night several weeks ago after a wonderful evening of teaching, followed by al fresco dining with some of my workshop students. Mind tired, but belly and heart full, I went outside to take in the beauty of the night before turning in.
While I was outside with the dogs, I saw a strange creature on the fence. I quickly came inside to grab a flashlight, and my husband, so he could check it out too. In the dim light of the night, my imagination had already begun to go wild. I was sure it was a small alien creature attached in this awkward pose on our fence and was doing my best to keep the dogs away for fear that it might attack them. They, of course, were paying it no attention. Note to self, these dogs will do no good in event of an alien invasion.
To our delight (and horror), it was a Cicada in full process of molting. Yikes! But at the same time, what an opportunity to see this in action. I still have half a cringe on my face as I am typing and with good reason. That shell is certainly alien in nature as it still hangs empty and lifeless on our fence. But it's definitely got me thinking, is this how we view change for ourselves?
Change can definitely be ugly, foreign, and certainly feel alien in the midst of it all. If we shed that layer we are certainly moving out of a place where we are comfortable. I mean, shedding your entire shell? That's got to feel like losing your home, your safety, and security. That's definitely how it feels during change.
As we crack through those outer shells of our own being and shed the layers of ourselves that we no longer need, we are really letting go and opening up to a part of us that contains more beauty and more awareness.
Sometimes removing that ugly layer can be truly scary. But if this is what we are leaving behind each time we change, maybe we shouldn't be so afraid after all?
Jenn White, Yoga Educator, Meditation Teacher, and Owner of Embodied Bliss, began her journey of yoga and meditation in 2004 while recovering from a back injury. Feeling lost, restless and seeking something more from life, she found her path through meditation.
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